Sunday, 31 January 2010

Twittered out

I gave up on Twitter.  I'm sure it has merits but they escape me.  It just seems so unnecessary.  I suppose because I use Facebook a fair amount I get status updates from my friends and family, and I'm not really interested in anyone else.

It was mildly interesting to look at famous people and see what they were up to, but I'm not really that interested in them either.  So, I thought it was a bit of a waste of time, and I have decided to delete my account. 

That's me.  Firm but fair.  Well maybe not that fair. 


I had a lovely, lovely day yesterday.  Which, frankly, I feel like I deserved after more than 6 weeks of a chest infection with added norovirus* which was making me feel like I was 100 years old and well past my sell-by date.  I still sound like I have a cold, apparently, and can't sing yet, which is a bugger, but otherwise I feel ok.  Hurrah.

So.  Birthday. 

Mr WithaY woke me early as he was off out for the morning, and presented me with some lovely gifts.  He got me a book of unpublished letters to the Telegraph, and a collection of Punch cartoons.  I used to buy Punch regularly when I was a student, and made a scrapbook of my favourite cartoons.  I wish I'd kept it.  I found a postcard of one of them recently, a group of men and one woman sat round a conference table, with the chairman saying "That's an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men would like to make it."  I can remember going to meetings like that when I started working, hundreds of years ago in the 80s. 

He also got me some very posh toiletries which I look forward to trying out.  I shall smell all sophisticated and grown-up.  Marvellous.

I spent much of the morning baking, as we had arranged to have some mates round for dinner in the evening. 

I made:

A treacle tart with lemon pastry, which worked well.  I just sieved a tablespoon of icing sugar into the flour/fat mixture and used fresh lemon juice instead of ice water to mix it up.  I'd have taken a picture, but we ate it all last night.  And jolly good it was too. 

A quiche with all the leftover cheese lurking in the fridge.  Well, it's more of a cheese tart, really, although I sliced a fresh tomato on the top to try and assuage the vegetable gods. 

A cake.  Last weekend's cake was so nice that I thought I'd try to do it again.  Less celery, more sugar stars this time though.

It's slightly less tidy than the one I made last week, but as it's rather lovely home-made strawberry jam oozing out, I don't feel too bad about it. 

Mr WithaY came home mid-afternoon and prepared the main course of fillet of venison with duchesse potatoes and veg, which was jolly fine.  It was a very nice evening, and as the last dinner party we had ended for me at 9.30 when I went to bed feeling like death on a stick, it was particularly enjoyable.

I had three bouquets of flowers yesterday.  THREE.  I felt like a film star.

These are from my lovely Mum, and are on the sitting room table.  Those tulips are magnificent.

These are from Mr WithaY and are on the kitchen table.  The jonquils smell like Spring.

These are from some of our lovely mates and are on the little table next to the sofa in the sitting room.  The photo doesn't do the dark purple flowers justice.  I have no idea what they are.  Anemones maybe?

I love having flowers in the house.  I think I might have birthdays more often.  But without getting older, of course.

Other news:  While I was leaving father-in-law WithaY's nursing home the other evening, there was a truly splendid sunset going on.  I took some pictures on my phone, as I didn't have my camera with me.   I ought to keep it in my bag, really.


That dark shape to the lower right is the same urn I took a picture of the frosted cobweb on.  In case you're not keeping track. 

I completed my first "proper" week back at work for many weeks, and it was ok.  The journey feels like a marathon, but I am sure I'll soon get back into the swing of it, and of course the days are getting longer so there'll be more daylight as the weeks go on.  That helps.  Leaving the house at 6.30am is much more bearable when the sun is up and the birds are singing.  Birds that aren't bloody owls, I mean. 

The walks between Waterloo and the office were not as exhausting as I had been anticipating, and the exercise is certainly good for me.  Maybe all those supplements I'm taking are kicking in.  I certainly feel much more like myself than I have done for a long time.

Oh, we have had some fish fatalities.  One of the female gourami was floating upside-down and twitching last Sunday.  We left her there for a little while, and she stopped twitching, but the upside-down floating continued.  Flushed, I'm afraid.  

There was an outbreak of fish-eat-fish yesterday too, nasty little buggers.  Mr WithaY bought a few more shrimps, stripy blue and white ones this time, as the pink ones had all vanished.  As soon as the new shrimp were put in the tank, the pink ones emerged from wherever they had been lurking.  Bastards.

Anyhoo, I saw one of the new shrimp lying on one of the plant leaves, unmoving.  As I watched, he fell off and drifted down to the bottom of the tank, upside-down.  I'm no expert, but I was pretty sure he wasn't feeling well.  I made a mental note to tell Mr WithaY when he got home, and thought no more of it.  A couple of hours later, we went to check the situation.  The shrimp had vanished, and the cory were looking suspiciously innocent.

Later that same day, I spotted a couple of the tetra fighting over a lump of Something Pink.  It was a bit of one of the pink shrimp.  We looked, and sure enough, there was a little corpse at the back of the tank.  Mr WithaY fished it out and conducted an autopsy. 

We can confirm that the cause of death was not a gunshot  wound, other than that, no idea.   We had no luck gathering epithelials.  I understand from my extensive research** that they are useful in an investigation.

We're feeding them less, as the fish shop man advised, but I am a bit anxious that they'll just start eating each other.  Gah.

Oh, and we still haven't had our oil delivery.  Bloody useless Boilerjuice.  We'll not be using them again.  Over 2 weeks since we ordered it, and no sign.  Fuckers.  And we had snow again yesterday and this morning. 

*The doctor diagnosed me over the phone. Clearly he didn't want me and my filthy vomit-making germs anywhere near him.  A wise man. 

**watching CSI.  It looks pretty straighforward. 

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Celebrations are in order

Happy birthday to me.

Another year older, certainly no wiser. 

Still alive and kicking, hurrah. 

Friday, 29 January 2010


Last night I did my occasional "Big Night Out In London" thing with Tall Richard.   Mr WithaY and I have been mates with Mr and Mrs Tall Richard since I was a student.  I think Tall Richard helped push my long-gone still-lamented first car* on several occasions when it died as we arrived at places in a cloud of black smoke and bad language.  We've spent many hours drinking, singing, telling jokes, drinking, singing some more and quipping.  Happy days.  He is a master of the bon mot.

Their eldest son is now having a whale of a time at university; I remember him before he was born.  Seeing friends' and family's children growing up is the only thing that really brings home to me how time is marching on.  Ah well.

Anyway. I was meeting Tall Richard at his office after work, and was a little bit early, so I sat in the very intimidating foyer for a few minutes while I waited.  The security guards looked at me, but not one of them wandered over to ask me who I was, or what I was doing, or could they see my ID in case I was a random nutjob who had wandered in off the street and was planning mischief.  Strange. 

They have a complicated access system, involving various airlocks, scanners and gates, as so many buildings do these days.  A chap stepped into one of the tube airlock thingies, then as he waited for it to open, he downed a pint of milk from a plastic carton.  Most unexpected. 

Tall Richard and I scooted across to a nice little pub just off the Strand, and I amused myself by showing him some of the old pics I have scanned into the computer and uploaded onto my iPhone.  Ahhh technology.  I almost understand some of it. 

Ate a fine Italian meal, caught up on all the gossip, and made it back to Waterloo in time for the 8:20 train home.  The high life.  I am reading "Starship Troopers" on my iPhone at the moment, which is pleasingly diverting on that long, long journey.  Not much like the film, but so many books are very different from the screen version.

It's a bit of a bugger that the last train home leaves London before 9:30pm.  It rather curtails the possibilities for a wild night out on the tiles.  Unless I can beg a bed at a mate's of course.  I was safe and sound at home by 11pm, and as I don't have to flog all the way to London today, was able to luxuriate in bed till gone 8 this morning.  Marvellous.

Other news:  I'm off to pick up me new specs this afternoon.  I am very excited, it's over 2 years since I had new ones and I am mightily bored with my current pair. 

Do I want an iPad? I think not, probably. It looks like a much bigger, less handy iPhone. I'm still not won over by Twitter, either. I think I might take the wise Mr Farty's advice and just use it to pimp the blog.

Also, welcome back to eloh.  I was wondering where you'd got to. 

*Gavin the Fiat.  I loved him.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


In the car park at the big Tesco in Shaftesbury we saw a builder's van with the name "Crumpler and Son" on it. 

What other trade would I want a Mr Crumpler to turn up for, I wonder?


Ironing and laundry services?

Plate glass installation?

Panel beating?

Gift wrapping?

Tarmac laying?

So many possibilities.  If I ever change my name, I think I will become Lucy Crumpler. 

Also, why has nobody created a childrens' television series/book/top trumps game called "Combat Wombat"?  I might have a crack at it myself. 

There's no plot development or indeed character ideas beyond the name, but if "18 Wheels of Justice" can get made, hell, this must have a future.  I bet they started with the title and worked back from there.  Mr WithaY refers to it as "The Truck of Shame" which is not a bad title either.

Other news:  Finally, finally received the long-awaited letter from the law.   It's only taken them 4 months to convey it 20 miles.  Still, it draws a line under some of the SSFH* loose ends.

That's a bizarrely mixed metaphor.  Sorry.

Also: Twitter.  Hmm, not sure I have got the hang of it yet.  It seems terribly lonely and one-sided.  I like the blog thing, where you write stuff, other people read it, and then comment to tell you (and everyone else) what they think.  It feels like a cheerful and friendly way to communicate. Plus I get to do most of the talking.  Perfect.  Twitter is like dropping meringues into a black hole** and there is no sense that anything you say is registering anywhere else.  Maybe I'll get used to it.

Tried playing my guitar this evening, and still can't sing, which is a bugger.  If that chest infection has lost me my voice I will be very upset indeed.  And my guitar playing wasn't too good either.

*Shit Storm From Hades

**The re-runs of the origianl Star Trek series are brilliant, aren't they?  Those tortured metaphors.  Those wigs.  Kirk's shameless camera-hogging.  The boots.  Just great.

Sunday, 24 January 2010


All the cool kids did it ages ago, but in my own traditional "better late than never" stylee I have lumbered aboard the retreating bandwagon.

I joined Twitter.

If you want to check it out (and I have no idea if I have even set it up so anyone else can see my profile, or whatever it is, sorry), I am there as livesbythewoods.  Yay me. 

Look, here:

So far, I am stalking Simon Pegg.  Not because I have any particular reason to, but his was a name I recognised, so I clicked on it in desperation.  It's a bit like Freshers Week, where you latch onto people so you aren't the only one with no mates, and then spend the rest of the year shaking them off again. 

I will see how long it takes for the novelty to wear off.

What else have I been up to, other than finding more ways to waste my few remaining years online?

Yesterday Mr WithaY and I went to Salisbury, the first such visit since (I think) late October last year.  We picked up the jewellery that Goldsmith's have been repairing and restoring.  Mr WithaY had to have his wedding ring made bigger, as since his accident last year he can't get it onto what remains of his ring finger on his left hand.  (Dan, don't read that post again, you know it made you go wobbly last time.)

I had a gorgeous diamond ring in for renovation and resizing, that Father-in-law WithaY gave me last year.  It belonged to his mother, and is stunning.  And now it fits me, and is all clean and sparkly, and looks completely fantastic. 

I was hoping to have had it back in time to wear to the drinks parties and things we were invited to over the festive season, but it was not to be.  When I took it in (in October) they said it would take about 6 weeks.  Back in time for Christmas, in fact.  Excellent.  Mr WithaY got a phone call a couple of weeks later saying that his wedding ring was ready, and we decided to put off collecting it till my ring was done too.  Save an extra 25 mile drive to the Big City.  We're all about the environment in this house.*

I waited a few more weeks, Christmas came and went in a haze of coughing, antibiotics and terrifying breathing problems, and my ring was put to the back of the "things to think about" shelf in my head. 

A couple of weeks ago I rang the jeweller to ask when my ring would be ready, it having been with them for more than 8 weeks by then.

"Oh! We haven't sent it to the repairer yet," they told me.

I asked them why not, given that they had said it woild take 6 weeks to fix, and they'd already had a lot more than that.

"We never received your written confirmation to proceed," they explained. 

Wait just a minute...they phoned me a week after I brought the ring to the shop, and told me how long it would take to fix, and how much it would cost, and I said "Ok, yes, go for it."  But that wasn't sufficient, apparently.  No.  They sent me a letter (which never arrived, oddly) which I was supposed to sign and send back.  As I never received it, I never sent it back.

Instead of then calling me to check why I hadn't returned their letter, they just sat on my ring (so to speak) and let several weeks drift by.  I assume that if I hadn't chased them about it, they would just have kept hold of my ring (so to speak) indefinitely.


Sadly, I have to wear it on these hideous hands.  This is my incredible turkey-carving scar.  Healing up nicely, as you can see.  And admire the lovely dehydrated wrinkled skin too, it's incredible what gastroenteritis can do to you.



I plan to tell anyone who asks that it is a duelling scar from my days in the Prussian Army.  In 1875.

Talking of letters not arriving, we are still waiting for a very important and official letter from Wiltshire's finest, which they promised me in October, told me they had sent out in mid December (registered post, no less), asked me to chase up at our local sorting office (which I did, they'd never seen it) and then promised to hand deliver two weeks ago.


No sign of it yet.

No fucking wonder people don't feel safe on the streets when even a basic admin task like getting a letter from A to B seems to be beyond them.

Anyhoo.  Deep breath.  I can do that now my lungs are working properly, what a nice change.

Let's think of something lovely.  Kittens.  Chocolate. 

How about kittens AND chocolate all in the same package?


It's a box of chocolates with kittens on it. Could it be any sweeter?  In fact, the chocolates were rather nasty, but the box is a work of art.  Here's a closer view of those little kittens. 



Amazing.  It was like the box designer was channelling the spirit of Barbara Cartland, but with less pink.

Also, today I made a cake.  I am definitely feeling more like my old self.



Mr WithaY asked me what the green stuff on the icing was.  "Celery," I told him.  He wasn't sure if I was telling the truth or not**.


Look, it has layers!  I've never made a cake with layers before.  Jam and everything.

Other excitements over the weekend.  We went to the health food shop and I bought a huge stack of various supplements to help me get back to full fighting strength:

  • Echinachea - boosts your immune system, I have to take it 3 - 6 times a day. 
  • Cod liver oil with garlic - boosts your immune system and wards off vampires.  One a day. Before sunset.
  • Hemp oil - boosts, or maybe skin.  The girls in the shop were a bit vague about it but I liked the sound of it.  One a day.
  • Valerian - helps you sleep, one a day, before bed.  Presumably it's to make sure you don't wake up to fend off the vampires when the garlic capsules fail. 

I'm also taking Actimel every morning which is (presumably) doing me some good. 

I expect to develop superpowers by April.

And back to London tomorrow for work.  It feels like ages since I was last there.  Well, it is.  December the 10th was the last time I went into the office, so it will be a bit weird having to get back into the meat grinder commuting routine again.

Steve Wright was talking about ways to meet a new partner on his radio show this morning.  Apparently you should look around at the other passengers on the train on your commute, and consider whether they are likely to be potential partner material.  I will have to have a good gawp tomorrow and see what I can see. 

I'm not getting my hopes up. 







*No we aren't. 

**It's angelica.  But it looks a lot like celery.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

Eye eye

We had more snow yesterday while I was out having my eyes tested.  It was bizarre, everyone in the opticians shop rushed to the windows and made little noises of dismay.  Disappointingly, nobody smacked face-first into the glass due to not having the right specs on. 

"Ooooh no, more snow!"

"How will I get home?  I'd better phone my boyfriend."  It was 10am.

"Ugh, look at it...and I forgot my wellies, I'll get soaked."

The sheer panic-stations reaction wouldn't have been out of place in a submarine that had just heard the first depth charge.

Needless to say, the snow turned to sleet, then to rain, in the space of half an hour and everyone was able to get on with their lives.

It's been a couple of years since I had my eyes tested, and they have added new and funky tests since I was last in the Chair Of All-Seeing.  They did the usual red/green things, and the "is it better with lens A or lens B" which I always panic about, because after the first two or three lenses my eyes go all fuzzy anyway making me live in fear of coming home with a prescription for The Wrong Glasses.

With hilarious consequences, no doubt.

Anyhoo, I blundered through all the normal tests, had the horrible eye pressure test, where they squirt a puff of air INTO YOUR EYEBALL which is every bit as revolting as it sounds, and waited expectantly for my new prescription. 

"Your prescription hasn't changed," said the 12-year-old optician, handing me the paperwork and my tatty old specs, "but you'll be wanting to replace these, won't you?"   I nodded, ashamed of my skanky old glasses. 

"Oh, you need the photographs of your eyeballs, and you have to do the peripheral vision tests.  My colleague will do that for you."

She booted me out of her tiny (and frankly foul-smelling) office, handing me over to her colleague.  I don't know if it's a condition of employment in there, but none of the staff were over about 5'2".  It was like being in Munchkin Land. 

The peripheral vision tests were conducted in a sort of curtained-off alcove in a corridor.  They had fitted a curtain track to the ceiling, and rammed a desk and chair against the wall, meaning that you could just barely squeeeeeze into the seat, then have the curtain pulled around you.  It was like playing hide and seek when you're drunk, wrapping the curtains around yourself and imagining nobody can see you. 

I wedged my fat arse in there, the teeny staff bustling past every two minutes, leaned over the PeripheroScope and obediently clicked a button every time I saw a light flash in my peripheral vision.  All was well, apparently, but it was disconcerting. 

They made me wear an eye patch.  I am convinced that the only reason for that was the comedy value.   

Then I had to move to another tiny curtained-off alcove and have photos taken of the insides of my eyes.  I assume this was to give to me on my way out, like the pictures they take when you ride the log flume at Alton Towers.

The titchy little optical expert faffed about with the machine, on which I had to rest my chin, with my forehead pressed against a padded bar.  It was exquisitely uncomfortable, not least because my spine was making the letter S as I did it.  I mentioned everything was designed for the Wee Folk in there?

Anyway, she fiddled with the settings, moving my chin up and down, apologising and getting more and more flustered.  After a few minutes she went to fetch a colleague. 

"I can't get a focus on the lady's eyeball," she said, perplexed.  Her colleage looked through the machine at me.

"Ah yes, you've got it pointed at her eyebrow," she said. 

Fuck's sake. 

I'm not an expert or anything, but even I know the difference between an eyeball (internal organ, gelatinous, moves around, you can see with it if you're lucky) and an eyebrow (collection of hair, sits on your brow, doesn't move around much*, no use for vision).

Anyway.  They took the pictures, and then I was allowed to extricate myself from the chair. 

"Look at that," said the lady who'd been admiring my eyebrows.  "Isn't that amazing?"

I looked up at the computer screen and saw two photos of the inside of my eyeballs.  They looked a lot like deep-space graphics sent back from a roving telescope.

"Mmm," I said, non-committally.  Well, you don't want to sound vain, do you?

The little optician stood there in rapt wonder for a few more moments, then came to help me choose some new glasses. 

I tried on many, many pairs.  Far too many.  The little elven optician folk kept bringing me more and more, offering them to me as if I was a volcano goddess who needed to be appeased.  It's like when I go shoe shopping.  I inevitably end up coming home with a pair of shoes very much like the ones I am wearing that day.  I was determined not to just get glasses that are the same as the ones I have now, but there isn't a lot of variety.  Small rectangular frames still seem to be very in.  I decided to get two pairs of normal specs, rather than one normal and one sunglasses, as I never wear the sunglasses and it is a waste.  I opted for a pair not entirely dissimilar to my current ones, and a slightly larger pair with a different frame shape.  I might wear them all at the same time, like Professor Branestawm.

Again, after I have looked at about 3 different pairs I lose the will to live and just make a decision to get myself away from there.  By the time I go to collect them I will have completely forgotten what I chose anyway, they could give me any old rubbish and I'd probably not be too bothered.  It'll be a nice surprise when I go to pick them up.

Other news:  I have been trying to get my head back around the day job, having had so many weeks off work with this bloody chest infection.  All I've been doing is reading emails, trying to keep track of what has happened since mid-December, and have a few phone conversations with my colleagues, and it is EXHAUSTING.  Gah.  I hope by Monday I will be feeling less like a pile of cold noodles, and have re-acquired the backbone and stamina to get to the office.

Oh, and the fish are still doing well.  We think some of the freshwater shrimp may have been devoured as we have recently only seen 2 of the 5 that we put in there, but then again, they might be hiding.  They do that, apparently. 

The male gourami is a buffoon, and keeps attacking the thermometer.  Every now and again he swims up to it, then swipes it with the side of his body, making it tap the side of the tank.  I assume he can see his reflection in it, and thinks it's another male gourami, after his harem of lovely lady gourami.  Fool. 

*Roger Moore excepted

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sausage time

Today has been a constructive one in the WithaY household.

We have made:


Spaghetti bolognese.  Which was mighty fine.

Roast lamb (to be eaten tomorrow), which made the whole house smell like the best Sunday ever.



Mr WithaY bought a load of professional mincing and sausagifying machinery, and today was the day it got tested.  He mixed a big heap of venison with some pork sausagemeat, a load of seasonings and spices bought from ye olde seasoning and spice merchants, and two bottles of red wine.  He had a huge mixing vat.

I'm not kidding.

This is with a 6'2" bloke for scale:

He also had a box of sausage skins, something you don't want to come across unexpectedly when you open the fridge looking for margerine.  Just saying. 

Anyhoo, we have a mate who is a chef and (probably) sausage expert, and she and her husband popped over this afternoon to assist with the sausage creation.  I think she and Mr WithaY made about 400 miles of sausages in the end. 

There was a bit of the meat mixture left over afterwards so I fried it up into little patties and we all tasted it.  Bloody lovely, was the general verdict.  The sausages have to mature for a couple of days in the chiller, and then Mr WithaY plans to prance round the village, distributing largesse like the Hogfather.

Other news:  Some other mates acquired a puppy this weekend.  It is a very beautiful black labrador* and has meant that Mr WithaY and I have been having The Conversation.  Again.  There are still a couple available, you see, so we could in theory just go and get another dog. 

Which would be great. 

Because we loved our last one, despite his terrifying behavioural issues.

And we missed him so much, another one would be very welcome. 

And, you know, puppies.


Anyway, the harsh reality is that with both of us working full time in jobs where dogs are not welcome (although I do like the idea of doing my 3 hour commute with a dog in tow, then having him sit under my desk all day in the office snacking on sushi and Pret a Manger crusts) it's just not practical.

But then, neither is making sausages in the garage.   

I met the little chap yesterday afternoon as he was being taken for a walk, and he is charming.  He sat down obediently and did that incredibly cute head-cocking thing at me as I talked to my mate.  He'll be getting a sausage or two, I imagine.

*Well, this is Wiltshire

Friday, 15 January 2010

Great ideas

I think I might write a TV series.

It'll be about an ex-Secret Service/CIA/top military special forces/undercover policeman.   He'll be very handsome, exceptionally fit, have twinkling eyes and a smile that makes men trust him and women bite their knuckles.  He'll be a mysterious, transient loner.  Very cool.

But he needs to have had something dreadful in his past....something to give him a reason to be a loner, a drifter.  Hmm, but what?

Ooh, I know.   His wife and child were BLOWN UP in a huge explosion.  Caused by, um, Organised Criminals*.  Yeah.  So, his wife gone...his child gone...his house gone....nowhere to live, no-one to love.  He's going to be bitter. Driven by a wish for revenge. 


Hmmm.   Driven.  Driven, driven, driven...He'll become a crime-fighting TRUCKER!  God this is gold dust.  So.  A trucker.  Travelling the roads, fighting Organised Crime.   

Now, what kind of a truck?  Maybe a bit like Knight Rider, but bigger.  Bigger and purple.  That's a cool colour for a crime fighting truck.  And not able to talk, that's just annoying.  But lots of techno-stuff inside it so he can pretty much do anything.  Coffee machine, internet access, some sort of satellite tracking system, a bed....oh, everything.  And a constant live link to his mysterious employers at some mysterious secret Government agency or other.  I'll work out the details later.  Or not...who'll care?

This is GREAT.

What to call it.  Something about, oh, trucks, maybe?  And law enforcement?  But he's not a policeman, really.  So....not law.  Enforcement?  Nah.  Right?  Hm, no.  Morals?  Ugh no.

Ooh, Justice!  Yes,  JUSTICE. 

Truck of Justice?  No.

Justice Rig?   No.

32-tonner of Justice?  Hmmm...too weak.

Wait...wait...I know.....18 Wheels of Justice.  Oh yes.  Perfect.

Right, better check the Internet and make sure nobody else has used that title before.


*Not the crappy disorganised sort.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Involuntary detox

Why thank you, yes, I have lost weight. 


By following my very own weight loss plan.  It goes thus:

Days 1 - 31    Acquire (and hang onto - this is important) a severe chest infection.  This will start you off properly by helping you to lose your appetite and begin toning up all the muscles in your upper body as you cough for hours on end.  Make sure you have at least two courses of antibiotics during this premiminary period.

Days 32 -35   Pick up a bout of post-antibiotic gastroenteritis.  Spend 72 hours in bed, shivering, vomiting with terrifying suddenness and running (carefully) to the toilet.  Eat nothing but one banana and a bowl of plain rice (on Day 35) during this period.  Make sure you drink lots of water to make all those trips to the toilet worthwhile, though.

Day 36   Weigh yourself and go "Hmmmm.....lost a stone."

I might write a book.  It's clearly a very successful method.

I can almost see my cheekbones again.  Almost.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


I've got used to the snow now, and I rather like it.  Everything I can see from my window looks somehow exotic and mysterious, transformed by the change in light and colour.  The sky is overcast today, but yesterday it was clear blue, and made the snow glow purple as the sun was setting. 

Plus it's entertaining watching people picking the their way to the garage or the recycling bins.  Mr WithaY spent a chunk of yesterday afternoon shovelling snow from the paths around the house, and scattering rock salt (part of the mighty hoard of out-of-date foodstuffs we obtained from Father-in-Law WithaY's house) to try and make it safer.  I think it's starting to melt a bit now, but more is forecast.  Mind you, as we know, the weather forecasters make it up as they go along.

Today was a big day for the aquarium.  Mr WithaY went to the Fish Emporium and came home with two female Dwarf Gourami, which were introduced to the rest of the tank this afternoon.  The male Gourami was prodding the bag they were in with his nose while they were being brought to the correct temperature, and since they were tipped out into the tank he has been chasing one or both of them like a fish possessed.  Mr WithaY had already rejigged the contents of the tank so that there are plenty of places to hide, so I don't think anyone will get too stressed.

All the little shrimp seem to have gone into hiding.  Apparently they do this for weeks on end, reappearing unexpectedly. I look forward to it.

Other news:  Very little.  I have barely stuck my nose out of the front door for a week.  Tomorrow I need to go and pick up my note from the doctor, so I will probably pop to the shops and pick up some groceries, because I am going bonkers, frankly. 

I think I need a new keyboard for the PC as well.  The keys are sticking a bit, and given that I pound away at them, I expect they are worn out.  I get told off sometimes for typing too loudly.  One friend accused me of using a toffee hammer.  I think it's because I learned to type on a portable typewriter, not a computer, and never learned to do it properly. 

Oh, I finally finished the scarf I was knitting for Mr WithaY.   I had intended to make tassles for it as well but my attempts were woeful, and I gave up.  I will iron it and see how it looks, and if it looks too naked I will have another go.  I'm not optimistic. 

I also finished the course of antibiotics I have been on since Monday, so with any luck my lung is no longer infected and the horrible coughing will diminish.  This is week 6, and I am very, very tired of it.  As you can probably tell by the distinct lack of sparkle in recent posts. 

Normal service will be resumed soon.  I hope. 

Friday, 8 January 2010

Reading between the lines

It's still snowing on and off, in short flurries of fine ice-dust.  I wonder what "the Indians" would make of it.  If you Google the phrase "Little snow big snow" it picks up several Canadian blogs, but I wasn't able to find any actual source of the phrase.  I still like it a lot.


This is hilarious.  I think I could probably have done it just as well myself with a thick black pencil and some grey crayon.  I might try it later.  You just take a picture of someone famous and then draw in as many wrinkles, eye bags, grey hairs and liver spots as space allows, it seems.  I wonder how much "Washington-based forensic artist Joe Mullins " got paid for this stunning piece of work. 

Maybe I should commission a portrait. 

I rather like this as well.  If you can't be arsed with the link, it's a story on the Telegraph website saying that Facebook and Twitter users are "buying more friends" in an attempt to look popular.  Exactly how insecure do you need to be to:

(a) worry about how many friends you have on Facebook/Twitter and

(b) to go to the trouble of "buying" more in? 

I'm a firm believer in quality over quantity, which probably explains why I have a comparatively low number of friends on the old Facebook.  I think with only one or two exceptions, they are real life friends anyway.  People I have actually met.  In the flesh.  With talking and looking and everything.  Incredible, really. 

Social networking.  It's a fantastically lazy way of keeping in touch, and showing everyone the holiday photos without all the driving.  As it is, I can't keep up with everyone, so more would make life even more complicated.  And who's impressed anyway?  I can't imagine what the intended audience for these people is.

Other news:  The Black Lung continues to make me cough till my eyes dry out, but with the added delightful bonus of gagging and spitting.  Yeah, I bet you wish I had a live webcam link, don't you?  I am on the mend I think, but it is bloody horrible.

The cleaners made it here this morning, despite the snow, and were most impressed as I hacked and retched painfully through a conversation with them. 

 "Oooh, listen to you - you should be in bed!"

I was sent up to my study while they chiselled 4 weeks worth of crud off the downstairs of the house.  As they were leaving I had another huge coughing fit, and they stood and watched me sympathetically.

"Good job you don't have a weak bladder," said one.

"Oooh yes, if you did you'd have more than that cough to worry about."

"I was fine before I had my children.  Now, I daren't cough.  Not like that, anyway."


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Little snow, big snow

According to Mr WithaY, "the Indians" have a wise saying relating to snow: 

"Little snow, big snow.  Big snow, little snow."

It means that when "little snow" is falling, there will be lots of it, and when "big snow" is falling, there will be less of it.  He is unable to provide any kind of verification as to who "the Indians" are, or indeed how they measure the size of snowflakes, or the total volume of snow that falls.  How much snow falls in India, anyway? 

None of this stops me from thinking it's a great saying, and one which I intend to trot out at every possible opportunity from now on. 

We woke up to about 6 inches of snow this morning, which has increased throughout the day, giving a pleasing sense that the End Of The World Is Nigh.  The only traffic I saw on the roads for several hours was tractors and the occasional Landrover, braving the elements to get to the garage to buy lottery tickets and fags.  And maybe chicken and bacon pasties.

Mr WithaY went off to work this morning with a spring in his step, Christmas cake in his bag, a shovel and wellies in the back of his truck, ready to face the worst that the weather could do.  I think he was hoping to have to dig out people who were stuck in their cars, and thus get a whole page to himself in next week's local paper.  Mystery Shovel Hero Saves The Day kind of thing. 

He was back home again at lunchtime, one of only a handful of people who made it into the office.  They all made an executive decision to head for home when it started blizzarding again, which I think was a wise thing to do. 

We sat having tea and crumpets this afternoon, and I mentioned that perhaps we ought to go out to the supermarket to pick up some supplies.

"What do we need?" asked Mr WithaY, butter and honey all over his face.

"Bread.  Milk.  Eggs.  Fruit.  Veg.  Just some essentials really."

"We can make bread in the bread machine.  We have some fruit*.  We have loads of frozen veg."  Mr WithaY ticked off the list on his fingers, clearly disinclined to go out in the weather again.  Especially while there were hot buttered crumpets to be had. 

"True.  Oh!  I think we have a carton of soya milk in the cupboard, we can use...hey...where are you going?"

He was off, gone before I even finished my sentence, half-eaten crumpet abandoned on the plate, shoes hastily pulled on, out into the snow to the garage to buy milk.  He really doesn't like the soya stuff, it seems.

I took some pictures from the cosy warmth of the house.  Well, I am still suffering with the Black Lung, after all.

A snowy rose arch.  The climbing plant on it, under the snow is in fact a clematis.  The rose I bought to climb up the other side has mutinied and refused to get any taller. 

A snowy bird bath.  I like how the snow has followed the contours of the bath, making it look like a posh cake. 

A Verbena bush.  In the snow. 

I particularly like the one of Rosemary the Sheep standing in the back garden with a large snow hat on. 

There is no more snow forecast overnight, but as any fule kno, the Met Office simply make up the weather forecasts at random, so I will not be overly surprised if we can't get out of the house in the morning due to ten foot snowdrifts.  

One of my mates once told me the best thing to do was to ignore the weather forecasts completely and simply look out of the window, then dress appropriately for whatever the weather is doing at that moment.  It works more often than you'd think.

 *The kiwifruit that time forgot

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


One of my favourite bloggers, Manuel, has returned in triumph with a shiny new website.

That has cheered me right up.

It also got me thinking about what makes me enjoy other blogs.  Obviously I like mine best, because it's mine, and I know everyone in it, but you know, other people sometimes make me sit up and take notice. 

Being a slightly anal* type, I thought I'd make a list of Things I Like In Other Blogs.  There may also be a subsequent list of Things I Dislike In Other Blogs, but that seems a bit negative.  Plus I am lazy.  And ill.  Did I already mention that?



1)  Humour.  I look for stuff that amuses me.  Not necessarily laugh-out-loud comedy, but stories with a twist in them, something a bit offbeat and quirky.  My favourite blogs feel like listening to a great friend in the pub telling a good story. 

2)  Intelligence.  To be honest, I have seldom read a blog where I thought "Wow, this was written by a halfwit," probably because pressing the keyboard keys in the correct sequence to actually publish anything requires a sort of Plimsoll Line of intelligence.  Typos and minor spelling errors are a fact of life, especially when you write in one hit and haven't worked out how to use the spell check function**, but stupidity is something else.  Showing off your top-notch highbrow classical education is annoying though, probably because I never had one, so am suffused with envy. 

3)  Variety.  This is a bit rich coming from someone whose life can be encapsulated under about three subject headings, but I like to read about other people having wild interesting times, things I didn't know about, places I might want to go to sometime.  I've learned a lot from other blogs, sometimes too much.  Dan, I am looking at you here. 

4)  Pictures.  It took me about a year and a half to work out how to put pictures on my blog, and I love seeing them on other blogs.  Especially if they have captions and/or labels.  Big fan of that.  Yes, I know the LOLCats franchise are teh Interweb market leaders, but I like to see the freelance sort as well.  Antonia is spectacularly good at this. 

5)  Ranting.  Well, any sort of impassioned diatribe really.  As long as it's not too pious and worthy, that just bores me, being a selfish and short-attention span type of person.  But a good rant is usually worth reading.

6)  Swearing.  As long as it is done with style.  Manuel is a past master at this, which is another reason I am glad he's back. 

7)  Good nature.  I'm not a fan of spitefulness, or maliciousness, or deliberate hurtfulness, so I like blogs which are mostly positive.  Not "hello clouds, hello sky" stuff, though, that is too cloying and boring.  Anything that gets spiteful turns me right off.  It is perfectly possible to be grumpy and positive at the same time.  I make it a mainstay of my daily life.

I started my own blog when I had a MySpace page, about 3 years ago now, and it was a way of keeping friends and family informed of stuff in a small way, plus it was a way to get myself back into writing after a very long break.  I mentioned that I was lazy already?  Anyway, I really enjoyed doing it, and when I kicked the MySpace thing into touch, I exported the whole lot across to Blogger, mostly because I was a huge fan of the much-missed Badgerdaddy, and liked the way his site looked. 

It means that the first ever post on here is in fact about 20 posts (short ones) all squidged together, and covers a few weeks, but I can't be arsed to break it all up into individual days.  I assume that if anyone is that interested, they will just scroll down the page.   Do people read archives?  I tend not to.  Lazy.  Sorry. 

Hmm, that went a bit retrospective, which wasn't the intention.  I guess reading Manuel's blog made me feel nostalgic, as he was one of the earliest commenters on here.  Welcome back, matey.  I missed you.

*Stop that

**I do that.  Sorry about the typos and spelling errors.

Monday, 4 January 2010


Managed to get an emergency appointment with the doctor this morning, which was a relief.  Apparently I have both a virus AND a bacterial infection, which is why I felt a bit better after the first load of antibiotics before Christmas, but then much worse again. 

It seems that my body is hosting a tag-team of infections, taking it in turns to overpower my feeble swooning immune system and ravage it whilst twirling their moustachios. can just hear them going "Mwahahahahahahahaaaaa" as they do it. 


Anyway, he's prescribed me some more powerful antibiotics and signed me off work for a week, and told me to come back if I am not greatly improved by the weekend.  He was very reassuring, which has made me feel much better.

Whilst walking around town* for a few minutes waiting for my prescription to be made up, I took a couple of pictures of the hoar frost on the trees.  It is still minus 4 outside, even though the sun is shining.  At least we haven't had any snow recently.

It's very pretty out there.  I'm just glad I get to enjoy it from inside my warm cosy house.

Other news:  All the fish in the aquarium are still alive, which is encouraging.The two little shoals of tetra and barbs are swimming around together, which is entertaining to watch.  The gourami seems to prefer hanging about near the surface, sometimes diving down to the gravel at the bottom, terrorising the leopard cory. 

*Ha.  But I did pop into the butcher to get some mince, and tell them how great the turkey was.

Sunday, 3 January 2010


If you were wondering why it had all gone a bit quiet over here, it's because I still have a fucking chest infection, and feel like shite.  It went away for a few days, then came back with extra phlegm and coughing just to remind me how great it was first time around.  So, back on the phone tomorrow morning to try and get an emergency appointment with the doctor, more antibiotics, and probably some steroids to help me breathe.  I am SICK of it. 

I have had it for over three weeks and it is boring, painful, alarming and disgusting in turn.  Lucky old Mr WithaY gets to hear me cough, choke, splutter, gag, retch and then swear about once every six minutes.  How nice for him.

On the plus side, my finger is healing up nicely.  I will have an Interesting Scar to add to the many others.  Don't you agree, scarred knuckles make a woman look extra-specially elegant?  I bet Audrey Hepburn had knuckles you could grate cheese on. 

Added to the docker's cough I have going on, I am quite a catch, let me tell you.

Other news:  We have more fish in the aquarium.  All the "old" fish are still alive, and the "new" fish are looking cheerful too, so we are very pleased.  Mr WithaY has been doing all the scientific stuff with pH testing, and water changes and gravel sucking* and the like, and so far, so good.  We now have:

5 x freshwater shrimp
7 x glowlight tetra
5 x leopard cory
6 x pentazona barbs
1 x dwarf Gourami

We also had some teeny snails, but Mr WithaY hoiked them out and disposed of them, bloody freeloaders.

Also, the dishwasher was blocked**.  We've had it for about  4 years, and it has always been great.  A simple arrangement, but it works.  We put dirty greasy dishes in, a little while later it beeps, we take nice hot clean dishes out.  It's like having a robot slave in the kitchen, which, frankly, is what I was hoping would happen in the Twenty-First Century. 

Anyhoo, today it beeped, I opened it and instead of hot clean dishes there were hot wet dishes and several inches of hot grey water in the bottom of the dishwasher.  Gah. 

I did what any self-respecting modern woman would do: removed the filters, then poked ineffectually in the water-filled hole with a long spoon before going to ask Mr WithaY to fix it.

We both considered the problem from all angles, poking with the spoon in between discussing probable causes of the blockage, and how much a plumber would cost if we had to call one out next week.

After an hour or so of this useless flapping about, Mr WithaY decided to pour a bottle of Mr Muscle sink unblocker into the dishwasher and leave it for 15 minutes, as per the instructions.  Once the 15 minutes were up, we ran the empty dishwasher on a Rinse Cycle, congratulating ourselves on our amazing fixing skills. 

It beeped.

We opened it.

We closed it again hastily, great clouds of toxic, corrosive Mr Muscle bubbles spilling up from the drains, in danger of seeping out of the edges of the door.

We looked at one another in horror. 

"We've fucked up the dishwasher!"

"No we haven't.  It's just a bit....frothy."

"How are we going to get rid of all that deadly poisonous foam?  We can't put our hands in it or we'll strip ourselves down to the bone!"

"Hmm.  Let's run another rinse cycle and see what happens."

Mr WithaY is a fan of the "Let's See What Happens" school of thought.

We ran another rinse cyle.  Then a third.  We poured several jugfulls of tap water into the dishwasher, hoping to wash away some of the Foam of Death.   We ran another rinse cycle.  After what seemed like many hours of this, the foam level subsided by inches. 

We were winning. 

If you've never stood in a kitchen on a Sunday afternoon listening to the noise a dishwasher makes as it drains, trying to establish what a free-running drain sounds like, you've never lived, that's all I can say. 

*I think there is a more technical term for it, but it escapes me.

**I didn't say it was interesting news.