May your May be as Marvellous as Mine

Isn’t May just the greatest? The sun is (occasionally) shining, the bank holidays are rife and my birthday is soon!!! Not that I’ve been given everyone daily updates on just how close it is (10 days)…Considering I’m 26, I think I may possibly be far too excited about birthdays. I was reading some blog inspiration posts and one of them suggested I do a wish list for my birthday. I’m not sure if I’m quite up for that this time around, but I promise I won’t let you forget it’s coming!

May Tulips

 “March winds and April showers bring forth May Flowers”

 In other news though, Hans von Manschaft has finally made it back from the doctors to drive once again after having his tubes cleaned and his looms replaced and who knows what else. There was a slight fear he may not recover, and I told TMM in no uncertain terms that if this is the case, he is not allowed to pick the next car. We will be buying either a tank, a smart car or a motorbike with a side car and he will be forbidden to put his cursed fingers over any of it. However, after much lamenting and poor Martin the Mechanic spending most of his evenings and free time on it, Hans was returned to us and we can now glide down the motorway at the recommended speed and not have to worry about any slight inclines hindering our progression.

Now that a new car is off the table (touch ALL OF THE WOOD), it appears my desperation to save has slightly taken a back seat. Last weekend I was convinced we were going to have to spend all our savings and we were going to be put even further behind our schedule of getting a house, a wedding and more pets (meaning we then went and bought a £30 Chinese because we were sad). However we were saved from having to dig deep into the gold hoard, which of course meant I then went and had a hair cut, new glasses and a new(ish) phone. Clearly I do not understand the concept of being frugal at all. However I do look fabulous so there is that.

Going along with my stylish new lady haircut, I’ve been trying to continue in the vein of being a bit more grown up. I’ve still been exercising (though somewhat more sporadically). I even researched and did my own personalised circuit routine (and laminated it!) though Jesus Christ does it make my thighs hurt like an absolute b*tch! I better end up with legs like Wonder Woman by summer. I also cleaned the kitchen to within an inch of it’s life last weekend. I mean, there were different sponges, various vacuum attachments and every spray bottle of cleaning fluid I could find. I do feel a little sorry for the neighbours who had to put up with my flinging open the windows and singing along to some early 2000s classics like Sum 41 at the top of my voice whilst scrubbing various sides down, but by the time I was finished it was almost sparkling. Admittedly, it probably took a little longer than it should have done, because I really do DESPISE cleaning and had to take regular five minute breaks to lie on the floor and wail a bit. Depressingly, the oven is already splattered with food again (seriously, wtf man? It’s a vicious cycle of never ending mess. How do people cope?!) but I’m trying to view it in a Budd-istic fashion as a metaphor for the circle of life. Or something like that anyway. It’s either that or cry.

We’ve also had a little bit more free time recently as poor Molly has had to go in to hospital. She’s had another fall (as old people do. Notice, once you’re over 60, you don’t fall over, you “have a fall”) which is her second in two months and when Ross went round last Monday, he found her mostly non-responsive and a little delirious. The ambulance was called she was pronounced severely dehydrated and suffering from an infection and she must have been feeling awful because she didn’t even flirt with the paramedics. Usually she’s all over medial professionals like a rash – she once slapped a nurse’s arse and asked us if we thought she could become a lesbian, and she’s tried to kidnap more than a couple of visiting doctors. It’s such a shame because she’d been feeling a lot better recently and was so happy – partly due to her snazzy new hair cut I think. Anyway she went straight into the hospital and since then we’ve had sporadic updates on her progress (apparently she was due to have a liver scan – though if they can even find it they’ll be lucky. I’m pretty sure it’s just a pickled little whiskey-soaked prune by now) so we’re going to go and do a drive by this evening to see if she’s back in. Hopefully she’ll have been released for terrorising the staff and be back to her arm chair and Benji dog before she knows it.

However, this does mean that we’ve had no time limit on our activities this weekend for the first time in a few years, so we decided to go for a nice long drive down to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire. This way, TMM got to hammer the car (we actually got over 70 miles an hour. It was like being in a rocket), and we got to utilise our National Trust cards a little further afield. The Abbey itself was absolutely glorious, even if Ross was a bit miffed because we somehow managed to miss the one day of summer in Stoke and hit all of the drizzle). We’ve been binge watching Vikings recently too (an awesome program full of superbly attractive people, excellent hair styles and gratuitous use of axes), so we were already in a suitably historically mind-set – Ross had to stop me from pillaging the National Trust shop in true barbarian fashion and annoyingly said I wasn’t allowed to shave a tonsure on his head (such a spoilsport).  

We discovered that Fountains Abbey was set up by 13 monks who’d been expelled after some disputes in the early 10th century and were basically adopted by the Archbishop of York and allowed to set up a new Abbey. They seemed like a pretty rough and ready lot and were excellently self sufficient – and I mean who doesn’t love a rebellious monk? The Abbey sits alongside Fountains Hall (which we didn’t actually get chance to go and see) and it sprawls fantastically alongside the River. I’ve got a bit of a thing about old buildings – I always feel slightly overwhelmed by them and though I’m not a believer in auras and things like that, I can’t help but try to imagine the stories of the lives of the people there. I got a little bit melancholic this time too, looking at the great halls. I anthropomorphise everything, and I felt a little bit heartbroken at the prospect of such a magnificent building having lost it’s true purpose; from having once been filled to the rafters with Gregorian chants and religious fervour to being a tourist attraction. That being said, there was still a quiet splendour about it and we enjoyed poking around every nook and cranny and trying to imagine what it must have been like in its prime.

 Fountain Abbey

 Me doing my best monk impression. Demure and understated as always.

We also had a turn around the Studley Royal Water Gardens which were created by John Aislabie (a disbanded Politician who moved next door to the Abbey and thought he might as well set himself up some fancy buildings and gardens from which to view the Fountains land). It’s got ornamental lakes, mini temples, follies and a selection of hidden little lookouts and that whilst beautiful in it’s own right, I found it oddly narcissistic and almost gratuitous sitting next to the hulling ruins of the Abbey. Still, we enjoyed sauntering round and watching a rather large swan display his dominance by fluttering his HUGE wings at various screaming small children. There were also a couple of rather posh statues, one of which was a naked man apparently taunting a tortoise with a sausage. We were all a little bemused by that, but that’s seemingly what those old politicians liked. Overall though it was an excellent day and I would definitely recommend it for anyone.

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 But what’s the message?

I think we’re becoming quite regular on the National Trust scene now, and we might have a couple of other little day trips out planned next week, because it’s my BIRTHDAY WEEK (HURRAY) in case you’d forgotten. People keep trying to tell me that having a whole week of celebration is overkill, but they’re idiots and I don’t need their negativity in my life. I think a week is the prefect amount of time and means I can do my visitations and treat the whole thing like an Indian wedding. I categorically refuse to work on the day of my birth as it is and haven’t since I was old enough to skive (I only had to do that once, thank god because I’m such a nervous rebel), and I’m not about to start now. I’m excited because this means that not only can I have some proper lie-ins (TMM and I have wildly differing opinions of what constitutes a lie-in. He thinks 10am is late enough whereas I know that it doesn’t count unless you’re still in bed by lunch time), I get to do a little camping in the homeland, see various family folk, go and see the first Harry Potter film with a live orchestra AND get a weekend trip to Hay on Wye with the team. We were hoping to go abroad because I am desperate for sun, but we’re all skint and some of us (JON) haven’t sorted our passports. Still, I sharn’t be at work so I’m definitely not complaining. I am looking forward terribly to welcoming in my 26th year with a restrained and classy bang.

Photo Credit – @r_h_pendebury 

Sense and Smearability

Bonjour mon petit filous.

I really struggled this week with what to blog about (and you should all be immensely proud I didn’t just give up and not write anything – personal growth that is). Considering I feel like I’ve been the busiest bee there has ever been, there hasn’t really been that much I can actually write about. Someone suggested I do another post on Molly, but she’s been incredibly boring recently and hasn’t made the effort to be particularly noteworthy at all (I have shouted at her for it, but she’s been poorly so I can’t be too harsh). I’ve also tried look at the news, but I mainly end up hopeless and depressed whenever I do that. Except when it’s something about Justin Trudeau’s butt, though I’m not sure if I can justify a whole post on that. Though I totally could. Just saying. That man is wonderful in all ways, and it’s nice that his bum reflects that.

Though I can say that on the news-front, I have enjoyed watching videos of Emma Watson giving what-for about her Vanity Fair magazine cover; she is such a babe. Like her, I do find it almost inconceivable that in this day and age, people (specifically the media) still struggle to understand the concept of Feminism. When will we realise that by identifying as a feminist, you are not trying to bully other women, bully men or in fact do anything other than ask that women be allowed to do whatever they want with their own bodies and minds? Emma Watson has boobs and Emma Watson should be at liberty to do whatever the hell she wants with them without having to defend her choices. I mean, it’s not like we’re all grown ups living in a society that is supposedly one of the most advanced in the modern world…

vanity fair

(photo curtsey of Vanity Fair) 

FEMINISM, huh (yeah) what is it good for? Absolutely EVERYTHING! 

Speaking of things specifically linked to the joys of being a lady, this week also heralded the not so joyous event of my first smear test. I was a little unsure about mentioning this, but being as over half the world’s population have a vagina, and should (if able) be attending something similar, there isn’t much point in being squeamish. Now, whilst I am a firm advocator of such examinations and the importance of them in regards to women’s health, I can safely say that it is Very Not Fun. Surprisingly I was not as embarrassed by the whole “foof showing” as I anticipated, which was a positive outcome. The nurse was very no nonsense and after the amount of time I’d spent making sure the entire lower half of my body was as impeccable as it could possibly be (Including freshly painted toe nails) I kind of think I was ready. The rest of the event was not quite as great though. I mean, who knew cervixes could play hide and seek? Not I! But apparently, very much like the rest of me, my internal lady bits are all about remaining safely inside and unseen, and the term “fettling” was used which is not something that instilled me with confidence. However, she has made a note for next time – a kind of treasure map for future cervix hunters, so that’s something. I just have to wait for my result now, so fingers and (perfectly painted) toes crossed everything is hunky dory and my cervix can live to hide another day.

Mainly though, I’m just going to have to tell you more things about my life. There are going to be no morals or profound messages at the end of this, so it’s purely a narcissistic exercise. Sorry.

On each other’s encouragement, the Man Muffin and I have been being VERY HEALTHY (to a degree). Long gone are the days of chocolate pillows for every meal (which I’m still a bit bitter about). Instead there is fruit and yoghurt for breakfast! There are dried banana snacks! There are meals that sometimes have up to THREE portions of vegetables! Shit is getting serious. MM has also been working the cross trainer on a tri weekly basis – he likes to come in and rub his sweaty forehead on my cheek in the morning as proof of how far he’s done, so that’s “nice” too. I have said I might possibly maybe think about having a go again, but I don’t want to push myself too hard, as I am the most insanely lazy person. I have agreed (somewhat truculently) to do the Plank Challenge with him, meaning we have to plank for increasingly lengthy times on a daily basis. So far I have managed a totally of 40 seconds, which I think is more than enough, but Ross is very PE Teacher-eqsue in his encouragement. Bastard.

I’ve also got back into reading like WOAH as well which is super great. I had a bit of a break over Christmas, spending my time doing mindlessly soothing sudokus, but I am now back into it with a vengeance. I’ve recently finished The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (and the sequel) which greatly spoke to my childhood memories of Farscape and Firefly. Adventures in space are always a winner in my eyes, and I enjoyed these two so much I even wrote a little thank you to the author – who cheerfully wrote back! I’ve also just completed The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley and am a bit weirdly obsessed with it. I’ve been forcing it on people desperately so I can have someone to talk about it with. Beautifully visual (with the help of a synesthetic main character) and very intelligently written, there’s also a great little twist that caused a good bit of controversy on the Good Read’s discussion board (and was therefore obviously something I was All About).

 

Please read this book. Please. I mean, just…please

Both were ridiculously enjoyable and I thoroughly recommend them both if you’re between books at the moment. I’ve just taken a slight detour to some Arsene Lupin short stories, who’s always been a firm favourite (Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was a French gentleman thief and your kind of not really there), but I’ve been promising the Man Muffin I’ll read The Master and Margarita for the longest time, so I’m going to pick up that this week if only to appease him. If I can get that finished before next week, I’m back to my book a week quota and that is always grounds for a celebratory trip to Waterstones.

Otherwise things are continuing pretty much as they always do. I’m hoping this week will bring various exciting events and inspirational situations for next week’s post. If not, mainly I’m going to be hoping Molly pulls her finger out…

 

 

Tis the Season to get blogging

Happy Holidays one and all! I hope everyone is very merry and stuffed to the absolute gills? We are but half way through our festivities as I type – the perks of having family who see fit to strew themselves throughout the country with gay abandon. Odd though it may seem to some, I actually quite enjoy travelling here, there and everywhere in an effort to catch up with everyone. Admittedly, Ross might not feel quite the same, but such is life for me as the eternal passenger. There’s something very comforting about driving down long country roads with a book in hand and a footwell full of presents. 

A lovely little view

This year, very much like last year, we mostly asked for charitable donations to be made in place of presents. On one hand – disgustingly hipster (but come on, have you seen our glasses?!), however on the other hand it’s just right for us. We already have so much stuff it’s like living in a hoarders dream palace, and as much as I love presents it just seems more logical and in the spirit to ask people to put their funds towards those who need it. On no account does that mean I expect anyone else to give up their presents though – and indeed I have still received some lovely gifts that are much appreciated. A year long National Trust membership from my wonderful madre and step padre has already been utilised, and Ross and his clan have outdone themselves on my behalf.

Anyway, we’re off to the wilds of Wales now (second time) for dinner the third, after a quick stop off at home to see the team and give the cat some much needed cuddles (or is that see the cat and give the team some much needed cuddles?

would like to say that this picture looks a lot more like a hostage situation than a cuddle, but he was actually enjoying himself immensely. Honest.

We’ve had to leave Molly for a few days as well, though worry not – she’s not been deserted. She’s being looked after by a friendly lady from down the road who has happily offered to walk Benji and take Molly to hers for a festive tipple. It was a lovely goodbye though, I feel she’s outgrown the years when she threatened to overdose in case we thought about not coming back. She just told us to have a lovely time and be safe on the roads, and then gave us the most adorable hugs and kisses – it was like being cuddled by a crinkly little Yoda in a purple dressing gown. She might be a tyke some times, but gosh she’s a sweetheart too. I did a bit emotional afterwards, but that could have been the couple of glasses of sherry I had to down in quick succession, because by god she will not allow the festive season to go by untoasted.

Still so much to look forward to – I hope you’re all planning on slobbing about and eating your own body weight in leftovers during the next few days. We’ve got a bit more travelling (surely not! I hear you cry) and then some nice little day trips planned (hurray for ikea and Snowdon!), so I shall leave you now, but wish you all many felicitations and good will in the year to come. See you on the other side. 

My Pet Old Lady (and friends) Volume 1

As promised, here lies the first of many instalments updating the world of the adventures and exploits of our dearest pet old lady, Miss Molly.

For those of you not in the know (or those who’d enjoy a refresher course), Molly is a superb old lady who lives in the next village along from us. Born and bred in Keele, she has lived there (and in houses each within a 3 mile radius of each other) for all of her 92 years. Thanks to a chance set of circumstances including but not limited to; a pair of starving students, a regular pub goer and the promise of ready money, we were introduced to her as potential dog walkers. Just to set the scene for you – this was four years ago and we’ve seen her pretty much every day since.

Living alone as she does (Molly has had the greatest misfortune of being able to find a husband but not keep him. Such are the issues of not marrying until you’re 60 and then trying to cram 3 little old men into the marital home in quick succession) Molly’s only companion is Benji; a ginger collie dog with the physical capabilities of a leper but the mental personality of a hyperactive child. As deaf as Molly herself and on a diet that consists mostly of stupidly expensive dog pouches mixed in with leftovers and whiskey, he is a ridiculous specimen of canine-hood. With no record of how old he was or where he came from, Molly picked him up from a local kennels and named him in honour of her previous doggie companion – a chocolate lab called Benji who’s cremated ashes reside in a box somewhere in the spare room.

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Please enjoy this incredibly rare picture of the lesser spotted Benji not losing his sh*t because there’s someone looking at him.

To sum him up succinctly though – he is complete mental, mucky to a fault and horribly aggressive when the mood takes him and as such his personality matches Molly to a tee; he is her soul mate in every way. As old as she is though (and as ageless as he is) she cannot walk him, much to her chagrin, and this means that Benji requires a chaperone to take him on a daily jaunt down the lane, come rain, shine or torrential hailstorm. This role includes such highlights as making sure to NEVER take him off his lead (being deaf and mental, he is prone to run off in any direction and not be seen for days at a time), stopping him from savaging any furry passers by (many a time we have received bemused looks as we’ve hoisted him into our arms and carried him resolutely like a growling yelping carpet down the road) and trying to scoop up distressingly liquid poops (that’s the whiskey diet for you – shout out to Ross for never backing down when faced with the truly noxious creations that come from that dog’s butt). We are the latest in a long line of locals/students to take up the mantle and we have done so with much aplomb.

However, as much we mutter under our breathes about the pair of them or share sidelong glances with each other before getting out of the car in a manner similar to a condemned man walking to the gallows, it can’t be denied they’ve provided plenty of fuel for the literary fire. As trying as they can sometimes be, they’ve both got hearts of gold hidden beneath their wrinkly, pickled exteriors.

I’ll shall leave you now with that pleasant introduction (and somewhat terrifying mental image), but worry not! This disastrous duo will play recurring roles throughout the blog – a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead for the modern ages if you will. Expect more news around early December time…the Christmas Fair approaches.