Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Crying Game

Gawd it's hot. I'm sitting here with a hand-held fan, trying to waft myself to some semblance of coolness in between typing. It's not working, surprisingly.

I was given this particular fan by a lovely mate when we went to her wedding in Gibraltar a couple of years ago, and found it again recently. It's one of those pretty ones with pictures of flamenco dancers on it, and it smells nice when I waft it, possibly of exotic unguents and oils from the East.

Bloody useless for cooling me down though.

I need a punkah wallah. But not like the one in "It Ain't Half Hot Mum". Google it and be astounded, American readers! You'll be glad you did....British television at its zenith. Or do I mean nadir?


Or, and I much prefer this idea, a huge semi-naked muscly oiled bloke with an ostrich feather fan to stand behind me and waft*.

I went out earlier to run a few errands and just walking across town** made me sweat like a really unattractive sweaty thing.

One of my errands involved popping into the library to use their 10p-a-go photocopier. As the sweet lady librarian struggled with the catastrophic paper jam which my 10p single copy caused, I stood by, idly looking around the rest of the library.

And what luck! The Town Crier was there, running an afternoon workshop, one presumes called: "Town Crying: It's Not Just Bellowing."

A small group of people were sitting attentively around a table, on which a selection of be-furred tricorn hats and large brass bells were set out. As I watched, one of the elderly attendees tentatively jingled a Town Crying Bell, then looked tremendously pleased with herself.

My photocopy was eventually rescued from the bowels of the machine, and as I walked out of the library I heard the Town Crier telling the group "Yes, I have all my hats custom-made." Excellent.

*Mr WithaY has already said no. Bah.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

Homes and Gardens

Guess what I did yesterday afternoon. Go on.

You'll never get it.

I did this:


It started the day as a shabby old stone (I think) cockatiel. I gave it a scrub up a few weeks back becasue it looked so tatty, and then I thought "Ahahahahaaaaaaaa, it may just be a dull stone cockatiel today, but some day it could be a fabulous phoenix. With a cockatiel-like crest."

And now it is.

I'm so proud


Other news: The WithaY kitchen garden begins to yield its bounty:


Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Towering Inferno

We had a Grand Day Out on Monday, to Mottisfont Abbey, home of the English National Rose Collection. We drove down to Sussex to pick up my lovely Mum, then headed back up to look at the roses.

Oh my, it was flowery.

And sunny.

I took a bazillion pictures, but Photobucket crashes me out about every 5 minutes so it is just too tiresome to try and edit them to fit into the blog. Another day, when I am less hot* and grumpy**.

Anyhoo. We left Mottisfont after walking around for ages in the sunshine, admiring the glorious house, gardens, trees, swans, trout and one another, and decided to stop off somewhere for a very late lunch on the way back to Mum's.

On the M27 there is a service station with a Costa coffee place. And Costa coffee places are usually not bad. And they do those chocolate twists that I am partial to, so we decided to stop there and have a drink and a snack.

It was getting on for 3 o'clock, so technically it was tea time, and therefore cake was perfectly acceptable***. Mmmm cake.

As we sat, enjoying a drink and a snack (and cake) we saw a ParcelForce van pull up on the hard shoulder outside the car park. There was a small curl of smoke coming out from under the bonnet. Or maybe from the brakes.

It was a fair way away, and hard to tell, what with all the other cars in the car park in the way.

We sat there a while longer, chatting and speculating as to what had overheated in the van****.

Maybe it was the brakes? Or an electrical fault? Or the driver had been making toast with a plug-in toaster?

We enjoyed toasted sandwiches (and cake) and watched the increasingly-impressive smoke. In fact, it had stopped merely curling, and was now billowing. And was that a flame? Why yes, I think it was...

In the space of about 10 minutes, the van went from having a small amount of smoke wisping out from under the bonnet, to a blazing inferno, the entire front end engulfed in flames.

As if that wasn't exciting enough, the grass verge caught fire.

Then the wooden fence around the car park.

It was tremendous.

People started moving their cars and caravans away from the edge of the car park as the flames rose into the air.

The passing traffic on the motorway kept moving but you could see them slow down as they passed, clearly thinking "I hope there were no parcels addressed to me in there."

After about 20 minutes of uncontrolled inferno, the fire brigade arrived, along with three police cars, an ambulance and a fire and rescue motorway truck. And that's when they coned off chunks of the motorway. All the time the fire had been blazing wildly, the traffic had kept moving, albeit a bit slower than usual.

Now, however, there was a mighty tailback in the making.

We enjoyed watching it all as we were going to be heading out the other end of the carpark and were therefore not going to be affected by the traffic chaos. Yay for us.

Other news: I am off work for a little while, as I have gone a bit bonkers. Nothing serious, but I am not in a fit state to be doing a 3 hour commute and then trying to do my job all day.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, expect more posts about cake.

Oh, and I am developing a Brain Diagram for Emma at Belgian Waffle. If you haven't already discovered her, go and visit, she's bloody great.

*Probably tomorrow
**Probably never
***There are rules about these things, after all
****We don't get out much

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Holiday coda

Continuing the fine WithaY tradition of mocking things in other languages, I spotted this in the supermarket.


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Holiday snaps

So hello!

I'm back from France, with a slightly fatter, redder face and a huge mystery bite on my arm that is evolving into something like a giant squishy cow-pox blister as I speak. I'd take a photo but it is too disgusting.

If you have ever seen the Ren and Stimpy episode where Stimpy has a horrible tropical parasite on the back of his head...it's like that. I am wondering if it might eventually hatch into some sort of giant French arm-worm, or maybe just tunnel all the way up into my brain like those slithery things on Star Trek. You know the ones....someone will let me know the name I'm sure.

The trip was most welcome, given that we have had about the worst six months of our lives so far this year. Mother-in-law WithaY was delighted to see us, and went to a lot of trouble to try and keep us amused and occupied while we were there.

The weather was an interesting mixture of Unbelievably Hot, and Terrifying Thunderstorms. Oh, and an afternoon of Gale Force Winds. With bugs. Ahhh, foreign parts. Marvellous.

As ever, I took pictures.

We were in an area very close to the edge of the Pyrenees.


So, I took many pictures of misty mountains.



We visited the Dali museum at Figueres, just across the Spanish border. The man was bonkers.






I rest my case.

We went up into a ravine, which, given our track record, was brave of us.


It was very long, very dark, and a bit like travelling through the mines of Moria*.


They made us wear hard hats, which added to the sense of adventure. See how manfully Mr WithaY is striding into danger and gloom as a result of having the correct protective headwear.

We met several amusing dogs. One evening we went up to a teeny chalet in the mountains for an aperitif (how French!) where there were two puppies scampering around. They were adorable, following the large full-grown dog (no relation) as it greeted the guests and played in the garden.


The puppies were too frisky to actually sit still and have their picture taken together. I daresay if you are interested enough you could Photoshop a composite one of them**.


We never did establish what the mystery wet patch was. My feet got a good licking, though, which is always an unexpected treat when you are out for an aperitif.


One afternoon we were in the local supermarket, when there was a bit of a commotion. A huge Rottweiler came trotting through the shop, heading purposefully for the wet fish counter, a skinny young man in close pursuit. I have no idea if the man was the dog's owner, or a zealous shop employee, but either way, had I been in his shoes I don't think I'd have been trying to grab the dog by the little stumpy tail.

Also, some scenic pictures of the town. Please note the elderly French lady, who I think has to be included in street scene photographs by law.





I know it's incredibly dull to bang on about the Food when you are Abroad, so I will say only this: 2kg of big fat crevettes for 13 Euros. Nom nom nom.

The only slight downside to this short break was the fact that we flew with Ryanair.

Nothing to say about the planes, the staff, even the luggage restrictions, as we were happy to accept that with travel, as with so much in life, you get what you pay for, and frankly, it's more like a bus service than anything else.

But oh lordy. The People. My dears! In the departure lounge*** there was a large group from (as we ascertained from their bellowed drunken conversation) Andover, heading off to the Costas for a hollerday.

They were drunk before they even got on the plane (and I thought airlines weren't supposed to let people on flights if they were drunk?) and continued drinking, shouting and annoying the in-flight staff throughout the trip. At one point I overheard one of the elegant Spanish staff whisper to her colleague "They are like animals!"

So, a proud day for Britain there.

At least we got to leave them in the queue for a stinky chav bus as we fled to our lovely air-conditioned hire car and skedaddled across the border to la belle France. Fuckwits.

So. There you have it. What I Did On My Holidays. Hardly cutting-edge blog fodder but I had a nice time. Which, frankly, I needed.

And it's nice to be back.

*in my head

**but don't


Sunday, 14 June 2009

En vacances

Today I am mostly going on holiday. Back next week, hopefully full of delicious French food* and artfully bronzed**.

In the meantime, here's a picture of a giant pie, as promised.

huge pie


**bright red and flaky

Saturday, 13 June 2009


I woke up in the wee small hours last night with the fiercest attack of cramp I have ever had in my life. The whole of my right calf was knotted solid; it was so painful that I actually woke up screaming.

Which was nice for Mr WithaY.

To be fair, he has plenty of experience of me waking up screaming, but usually it is nightmare-related. This time it was as the result of actual physical pain, so he got to enjoy me trying to stand up to relieve the cramp, whilst swearing and groaning.

Other news: His fingers are healing up well. Next visit to the plastic surgery clinic is in August, and except for when he accidentally whacks them on something (which happens more than you'd think) they are not giving him any trouble.

He plans to mow the lawn later. If we have to make another mercy dash to A&E I will be sure to take photos this time.

I was going to do a big photo-posting with pictures from the Bath and West Show, which we had a grand day out at a while back, but Photobucket is not playing. Maybe later.

There will be pigs! And sheep! And a giant pie!

Bet you can't wait.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Back on the chain gang

Today I am working at home.

It's a glorious day, the washing is on the line, the vegetables have been watered, my work laptop is connecting to the network. All is well.

Meanwhile, outside, they are digging up the road, scraping the tarmac about with giant Transformer-stylee machines, hammering it flat, and then having a shouting contest to celebrate.