Thursday, 26 February 2009

Hairy moments

Well, an interesting turn of events this evening. Just in case we were starting to feel too relaxed, we were involved in a car crash.

Not our fault, in case you were wondering.

Middle Sis and I were heading off to the hospital to see our lovely Mum (now out of intensive care and on the mend, thankfully), and as we drove along the street, a complete twat came tanking out of a side street, completely failed to stop at the junction, and smashed into the back of Middle Sis's car.

The impact pushed our car into the verge, where we sat looking at each other in shock for a moment, then we leapt out of the car like the A-team on a mission, and confronted the perpetrator.

Boy did he look scared. And with some justification. Two large, furious, already unbelievably stressed women were about to make his worst nightmares come true.

However, his abject and heartfelt apologies, his immediate acceptance of responsiblity and the rapid production of his insurance documents meant we didn't pound him into an oily smear on the pavement.

Middle Sis's car is badly dented, but drivable, and no lights were broken.

His car was much more badly damaged. Ha. Fuckwit.

The reason for his appalling lack of concentration? A fucking satnav. He was blaming his satnav as he leapt out of his car, whereupon Middle Sis delivered an eloquent, pithy and frankly scary lecture on the inappropriateness of trying to program your fucking satnav whilst driving along the road.

So. A little bit of additional stress to make our day swing merrily along. Gah.

Other news: I decided to go and get my hair cut, as I was feeling scabby and dull, and made a spur of the moment appointment at Toni and Guy's, a hair saloon* I have never visited before.

They have vibrating back massaging chairs which you lie full length on when you get your hair washed. That was worth the money alone. And I got the undivided attention of their head artistic director (I think that's what they said he was) who teased, tousled, snipped and primped my hair till I looked fab.

We shall see how long the glamour lasts, but so far I am very pleased with it.

*I love the idea of a load of cowboys sitting under driers having their roots done.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Progress and plans

Things are improving. I am much relieved. Not entirely coincidentally, my back is on the mend, although I still walk like Igor, making distressed gorilla noises.

I can't get my work laptop to connect up, so am going to take this week as leave. My personal laptop is ok, though, so I can hook up to do stuff like this, and check my email, and look at the BBC website. All most useful.

Middle Sister has come back down, so we are planning to do some more work in Mum's garden tomorrow if it's a nice day. Assuming I can actually bend over and stand up again. It might even get me in the mood to sort out my own garden when I get home.

I am desperate to get the patio replaced. I need to redesign the garden layout, bearing in mind we have several immoveable objects (oil tank, gas cylinders, septic tank, sheds) that we will have to work around, and then find the money to get it done.

I want to have a new drive, rear patio, front patio and raised beds in the back garden with places to sit and have a glass of wine if we ever get another decent summer. All the hard standing around the house is shot to bits, and it's not worth trying to fix it. It all needs to be ripped up, the groundwork sorted out, and then everything replaced. I quite fancy a mixture of stone, gravel and cobblestones. But we will see what fits and how much it all costs.

Plus we need to comply with the new regulations on groundwater and drainage, so we don't flood the entire west of England whenever it rains. So. Plans for the summer.

I also want to plant some fruit bushes, raspberries and redcurrants, maybe some gooseberries. However, in reality I will probably just spend the summer watching the rain and wondering where the mole will make his next appearance.

Mr WithaY has taken to addressing the mole as if they are both World War One fighter pilots. "So, Mr Mole, the day is yours. This time. We shall meet again, my brave adversary."

If it wasn't so funny it would alarm me.

Monday, 23 February 2009


Back in Sussex, but this time with my laptop, so am able to sporadically keep in touch with interweb stuff.

Things are slowly improving, so I feel much better than I did, although it is all still very worrying.

Plans for the rest of the week are fluid, and dependent on how stuff develops.

Other news: My back is fucked, as it traditionally is when I get stressed. Yay me.

Saturday, 21 February 2009


Have been down in Sussex for a few days, where my lovely Mum is seriously ill in hospital. Not going to go into detail, but we are all very worried indeed.
Middle and Youngest Sis have been (and continue to be) incredible, while all the nieces and nephews are doing everything they can to help out. Mr WithaY, Bro-in-Law and Bloke-in-Law are towers of strength.

Thankfully so far we've only had any two out of the three of us in floods of uncontrollable tears at once, leaving the third to pat supportively and make cups of tea.

I came home this evening and am heading back down to Sussex again for a few days on Monday morning. Work are being great, and I will try to arrange some even-more-flexible working once I know what the slightly longer-term situation looks like. I'm going to take my work laptop with me so I can at least try to keep on top of emails and stuff if possible. To be honest, though, it's rather hard to focus on work right now.

Thanks for the kind thoughts, they are much appreciated.

Hopefully, normal service will resume before too much longer.

Other news: Fucking idiot women drivers on roundabouts. TWICE on the way home tonight I had to brake sharply on roundabouts (where I had right of way) to prevent potentially tragic t-bone stylee accidents when fucking halfwit women pulled out in front of me. I was in no mood to smile sympathetically and wave them through with a smile. They got glared, gesticulated and sworn at. Fuckwits.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


...anxious, and tired and sad. But hopefully all will be well soon.

Those of you that way inclined might like to say a little prayer.

Monday, 16 February 2009


Work is going ok. The weather has improved. We have several crocuses on the lawn.

That is all.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Hot stuff

I had a pleasant surprise this morning when I weighed myself. Right up until the point where I remembered I'd had a nasty stomach upset for the best part of three days this week.

Still, I did the walk from Waterloo to Victoria on Thursday morning and it was lovely, especially as the weather had improved, and the sun was trying to shine.

In fact, at 0630 as I left the house to drive through the woods, up hill, down dale, under troll bridges and across Hobbiton, the sky was lighter in the East, and there were birds singing other than bloody owls for a change. So hurrah for that.

Mind you, when I left the office at almost six that night, it was snowing hard. Hah. However, by the time I got back to West Wiltshire it was clear, dry and much warmer. The remains of the snow shark are still in the garden, though.

Annoyingly, the local paper this week has a story about a much bigger snow shark in a local garden, but that was made by a whole team of people and it took them all day. Losers.

It also had a four page spread about The Snow, including a Snow Timeline. How useful is that, eh? I might cut it out and keep it so I can remember exactly how the Snow Chronology went, in years to come.

Other news: Today I made a Dundee cake, which looks quite nice. Also made a loaf in the breadmachine that looks like the bread Frankenstein. Not quite sure what happened, it is misshapen and wonky, but tastes fine. With Marmite, at least. And everything tastes fine with Marmite.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Well, I have had a rubbishy couple of days, feeling sorry for myself with a nasty stomach upset. Couldn't have gone down with it last week, when I couldn't get to work anyway. Oh no, had to wait till this week when I was supposed to be in London doing lots of meetings.

I think I am over the worst of it but the last thing I want is to be on a train for 2 hours and suddenly realise that in fact, no, I am not over it at all.


And it was pissing down with rain all yesterday. The snow shark is still there, but looking a bit sad and misshapen now.

But, today the sun is out. Hurrah. I feel less crap than I did, and things are looking up.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Creative genius

So, we had all this snow yesterday. Mr WithaY came home from work at lunchtime, because apparently the whole site was shut down. I was working at home, as I do on a Friday.

We were both home. With a lot of snow.

What would you have done with a half an hour of daylight and some excess energy from having been stuck inside for days on end?

We had a cup of tea and a chat. I went and did some more work. Mr WithaY read a bit. We had another cup of tea.

Then we did this:

Snow menagerie

We made a snow menagerie!

It consisted of:

Snow deer

A snow deer, at rest.

Snow deer 2

Look! It even has a tail!


A snow Great White Shark. Mr WithaY was most emphatic about the species. Obviously it's only a small one.

Snow bear

A snow bear. It looks as though it ought to be wearing shades and a Blues Brothers porkpie hat, somehow.

Oh yes. We also saw our single solitary crocus, bravely peeking out from the deep snow, defying all that the Winter could throw at it.

Frail crocus

All, that is, barring Mr WithaY's size 11 Wellington boots.

Frail crocus 2

As my Youngest Sis commented when she saw some of the photos, we have way too much time on our hands.

Friday, 6 February 2009


Nicked this off Z's lovely blog. Am feeling virtuous because I have been working for 3 hours, so am having a tea and blog break.

Your rainbow is strongly shaded violet.


What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it.

Find the colors of your rainbow at

Patient, eh? Wonder what those who know me in real life think about that. Heh.

Winter wonderland

It's still snowing. It doesn't feel like England at all. Unless you watch the news and see the "not used to snow" chaos out there: cars trapped up trees, cats in snowdrifts, houses sliding down hills.


It's weird to think that there is a whole generation for whom this is the first significant nationwide snow. I seem to remember loads of snowy winters when I was little. Mind you, we were in Germany for some of them.

One of the neighbours has been going up and down the road outside in his tractor with a snowplough blade on the front, which is helpful. Although, if it keeps coming down like it is at the moment it will all be under a blanket again in an hour.

We went over to the pub for dinner last night, as it was too bloody snowy to go shopping, and we have reached the "three scabby carrots, 200 poppodums and dented cans with no labels on" stage in the kitchen. The place was pretty quiet, as you'd expect, but a few more people came in as the evening went on, and we ended up having quite a convivial time.

At about nine o'clock the snow started again, huge heavy flakes that quickly settled, covering the roads. We watched it, with the bar girlies getting more and more excited, until they decided they were going to go out and make snow angels. So I went as well, to watch. I am far too old and creaky to lie in the snow.

Some of the chaps in the pub started reminiscing about Great Dares Of Our Time, triggered by the conversation about the advisibility of making a snow angel in the middle of the road.*

One of the Great Dares appealed to me - a chap had to sit (on a chair from the pub) on the white line in the middle of the road outside, drinking his pint. Apparently all the traffic just slowed down and drove round him.

Another one involved making a chap run naked down the main road to pick up a diesel glove from the garage, then run back. It took ages "because he kept stopping and hiding in the bushes". Excellent.

So. More snow due over the weekend. I just hope I can get to the office on Monday, I am starting to go a bit stir crazy now.

*We decided against it, and used the garage forecourt instead.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Darkness

Gah! The lights all went off just now, plunging everything in sight into darkness.

They came back on again pretty sharpish, but it does not bode well. I see that the pub and petrol station are still on emergency backup*, though. Better get all the candles ready, and torches, and light the fire.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is more heavy snow, so I might have to work from home again. I am missing being in the office, tapping away at my laptop feels quite lonely after 3 days of it.

Got my lovely guitar teacher coming over in a few, so I need to go and get my beautiful Rickenbacker ready. It sounds amazing, and I love it to bits.

Even without an amp, if the bloody power goes off again.

*It's like on Star Trek where they go to life support only. Everything dims, and only the Lottery machine works. And the Shields.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Just checked my email...

*** SPAM ***Women will be singing odes to the majestic monster in your pants.

Where do I sign? I wonder if you can specify the style of monster. I'd quite like a chimera.


The snow is turning to a nice mixture of hail and snow, I shall call it Snail.

I took some photos, as did everyone else in the UK. Look:

snowy bin
Our bin, last night. I spoil my readers.

Snowy lawn
Look! Footprints vanishing into the darkness! It's almost as if a big bloke walked into the garden and was then made to stay there while his over-excited wife took a picture.

Snowy car
A daylight shot of Mr WithaY's truck, please note the proliferation of overhead lines. Most artistic.

Snowy garden
The back garden in daylight, full of grumpy cold blackbirds and scary robins. We have since refilled the bird feeders and put an apple out for them. If you don't placate them, the robin god comes in the night and pulls out all your feathers.

Update II

Still snowing.

It's very pretty, and all that, but it's getting to be a bit spooky in a John Wyndham-ish kind of way.

I just went and threw some bread crumbs out for the birds and they are already submerged.

The crumbs. The birds are still above the snow level. For now.

And yes, I am well aware that if we lived in Canada, or the North West USA, or Germany, or Finland, we wouldn't be making such a fuss. But we have the Gulf Stream, and are therefore the spoiled brats of the Northen Hemisphere with our winter weather.

Monday, 2 February 2009


Still snowing hard. The roads are all snowy, and there is less and less traffic. How exciting!

Wish we'd gone shopping yesterday though, we might end up living on porridge.


Wow, it is really snowing!

Loads! Proper old fashioned snow you can use to go sledging on.

It is quite spectacular. And bloody cold.

I put some breadcrumbs out for the birds a couple of hours ago, and those that were't snaffled up by the starving blackbirds have been buried under the snow already.

It looks like Siberia out there. But with fewer bears.


Sunday, 1 February 2009


I am writing this wrapped in fifty layers of fleece, mittens, ear muffs, gaiters, galoshes and an oven glove on my nose.

We are expecting snow. Up to 5 centimetres, possibly, which is about, ooh, two inches I think?

Mr WithaY has stacked logs next to the fireplace, and I have replenished all the candle holders, so when we get a power cut (as we do whenever there is the slightest hint of dodgy weather), it will at least be possible to keep warm and see where the major obstacles are around the place.

We're going over to the nursing home in a bit to visit Father-in-law WithaY. I'd better pack the Emergency Bag* just in case. That five mile journey could be tricky if the snow really settles in.

Well, alright. It isn't that cold. And it isn't snowing.


But the forecast says tomorrow will be horrific, so I am going to boot up my work laptop later and if nobody has sneaked any meetings into my diary for tomorrow, will work at home. It seems crazy to travel 150 miles in crappy weather to do stuff I could do in my study, wearing my slippers.

Other news: Had a little get-together last night, with some of our lovely local mates, which was fun. Quite quiet and well-behaved, as these things go, but that was partly becasue a large number of the guests had partied a little too hard on Friday night at the pub. Much cider was drunk, and many bad jokes were told. Marvellous.

A guitar was brought in, massively out of tune, so I did my best Nanny Ogg impression, did a poor job of tuning it, and played some songs. People sang**, there was even a spattering of applause from a group who had been enjoying a quiet meal in the bar. As they left (quite soon afterwards, now I come to think about it), they all said "Thank you, very nice." Heh. Yay me.

On Saturday morning, despite slight headaches, we ventured into Salisbury to transact high finance. Once the dull money stuff was done, I bought myself:

1) A new rucksack for commuting with, bigger than the one I have at the moment, so suitable for overnight stays as well as daily travel;

2) A little black handbag which is a bit more appropriate for carrying round the office, and which fits nicely inside the new rucksack, cleverly reducing the number of items I have to carry while I stride through the metropolis;

3) A pretty pink, cream and grey silk scarf from Accessorize which will work with many of my dull suits;

4) A set of short knitting needles and some funky wool to make Mr WithaY a scarf while I am on the train. Long needles are too unwieldy, but these are short so should be ok for commuting knitting;

I also went to get my engagement ring back from the menders, where it has been languishing since well before Christmas. I was quite apprehensive because they were remaking the whole thing, and I was really worried that they might not make it look the same as it had before.

I need not have worried. They have done a superb job, and the diamond looked fantastic. They had cleaned it, and the resetting meant it looked HUGE! Hurrah!

However, when I tried it on, it was much too small.

They had made it the same size that it was, but I hadn't realised how much too small it was for me while I was wearing it. If that makes sense. Anyhoo, when I tried it on, it was much too tight, and I realised that my wedding ring is also too small now.

I have been wearing my engagement ring for 21 years, and my wedding ring for 15, so no great shock there, as I have increased in mass significantly since I was 21.

Sooo, they are both off being sized, and I should get them back in a few weeks. Feels very odd being without them.

And now, a story with a happy ending:

Last weekend I went to the music shop and asked about acquiring an electric Rickenbacker 12-string. In blue.

I found out many sad things....

There is a 2 to 3 year waiting list for a new Rickenbacker 12 string, the prices are going up and up all the time, thanks to the dollar/pound relationship breakdown, and that if I ordered one now I would not be able to fix a price, and would have to pay whatever they asked me when it was ready. So, pants.

However, the man in the shop was very nice, and said he'd do some ringing round of dealers and so on, to see what was available out there. He said he;d call me back.

He called me back on Friday, to tell me that he had some good news and some bad news. The bad news was that the model I wanted, in the colour I wanted was not to be found in the UK. He'd even been on EBay to see if he could find me one, to no avail.

But the good news was that one of his customers had called him that morning to say he wanted to trade in a guitar for a new, rare model which was in the shop. Guess what he was trading in?

Guess what I have in my sitting room, right now?


It's wonderful. It sounds like the 1960s.

*Torch, chocolate, map, de-icer, more chocolate, bottle of water, book, extra chocolate. Everyone should have an Emergency Bag.

**I mentioned that we'd all been drinking, yes?

Picture nicked from