Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Postcard number 4

Hello!  I'm in the library in Harwich, Massachussets, using one of their free WiFi time-limited PCs.  It focusses the mind, only having 15 minutes to use a PC.  Apparently it reboots after 15 minutes and you lose EVERYTHING.  The nice man at the front desk emphasised that several times.  He didn't say it out loud but I'm pretty sure there was a "Mwahahahahaaaaaaa" in his head.

I will have to try for brevity and spareseness of prose, rather than rambling on with no apparent point like I usually do.  Maybe bullet points?  If I could find the right button. 

American keyboards are different.  I just wasted about 45 seconds of my 15 minutes trying to find the @ sign.  It's above the number 2, for those of you who find yourselves in a similar predicament.  My typing, always emphatic and  noisy is multiplied a thousandfold in the silence of a library.  I sound like someone repeatedly whacking a sheet of solid plastic with a small hammer, like an elven shoemaker on a tight deadline.

Gah!  10 minutes gone already.  This is hellishly pressured.  I usually just write more or less in a continuous stream of consciousness, sometimes stuffing photos into the mix, but all I can think about now is GAHHHH LOOK AT THE TIME.

Ooh, also, the return key is small, and right next to the //// key, so I keep inserting lines of slashes where they have no busines to be.  Reminds me of my days as the world's least competent computer programmer. 

So. Holiday.  We're now in Massachessets, on Cape Cod, in the glorious sunshine.  The birds are singing, the chipmunks are frisking on the lawn and all is well with the world.  Later today we are off to the beach. 

Driving through Boston yesterday afternoon was interesting, in a nose to tail kind of way, but once we got through the city it was clear and mostly straighforward.  Crossing the Sagamore Bridge is always fun, it's bloody high up.

Said a sad farewell to our New Hampshire mates, they were incredibly kind and hospitable, and we are determined not to leave it so long next time before we see them again.  

Bah, 2 minutes to go.  It's difficult to be fascinating and witty when you can't sit and gawp out of the window for long minutes in between sentences, or roam the Internet as you look for the correct spelling or a relevant reference.  How did those Romantic Poets do it?  I've got a big white linen shirt on, I thought that was all it took.  Apparently not.

Heh.  Just managed to swap across to a 30 minute PC, so I can add a few more things.  Assuming you're still with me of course.

Driving in America is very straightforward, once you get your head around the whole "wrong side of the road" thing.  The Interstates and turnpikes are fantastic.  They are designed (well, up here at least) with broad strips of greenery, or even a small wood, in between the two carriageways, so it often feels as though you are driving on a single direction road, which is much less stressful than the motorways at home.  Plus it makes looking for wildlife much easier.  I was very disappointed not to see any moose while we were up in Maine.  I wonder if they really exist, or if they are in fact mythical creatures, much like the unicorn. 

Everywhere you go, all the shops sell the inevitable tourist stuff - t-shirts, mugs, fridge magnets, keyrings - and in Maine and New Hampshire they were either decorated with moose or lobsters.  Sometimes both.  We found a shop selling some rather funky t-shirts in Boothbay Harbor, and Mr WithaY and I stocked up.  We are now the proud owners of matching (albeit different coloured) t-shirts that say "Shit Creek Survivor" on them.  How we laughed.

I also have a baseball cap with Maine on the front.  I plan to wear it a lot when I get home. 

The only thing I find odd is the toll stations every few miles.  The tolls vary from State to State, and it seems from road to road.  Some are 75 cents, some are a dollar, some are 3 dollars.  It makes driving that bit more exciting - tollgate roulette. 

Oh, and when we were at LL Bean, the biggest huntin' shootin' fishin' kayakin' gardenin' store we had ever seen, I found a travel guitar.  Yes, I really did.  Reader, I bought it.

The woman at the checkout said "I didn't even know we sold these!"  It's a rare skill I have, guitar-dar. 

It is made by Washburn, and sounds excellent.  It came with a hard shell travel case, a set of picks, a strap and a set of backpack straps, and I love it already.  Yes, I needed another guitar.  Of course I did.  Shhh.  Mr WithaY amuses himself by doing George Formby* impersonations when I get it out of the case. 

Plans for the remainder of our stay on the Cape:

  • Go to a drive-in movie.
  •  Go to Nantucket and look at the whaling museum.  Last time we went over there it was closed for the summer, and we were almost drowned** on the incredibly rough crossing back. 
  • Go to the fire station down the road and take some photos of the fire engines.  I have wanted to do that since our first visit, 16 years ago, and always chickened out.  This is the year. 
  • Train a chipmunk to sit on my hand.  And get a photo as evidence. 
 Holidays.  Aren't they great?

*Formby, not Foreman.  He pretends he is playing a ukelele, not being a boxer, or grilling meat healthily. 
**Not really, but it was scary

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Postcard number 3 (a short one)

Back up into Maine yesterday, to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. As Mr WithaY observed, everyone round here lives by the woods.

Didn't see any moose, but we did see wild turkeys, whitetail deer, chipmunks and possibly an eagle. We also saw a raccoon, two porcupine and a (we think) muskrat but they were all dead at the side of the road. Oh, and we smelled a skunk.

There is a little sign at the side of the road that says "Oceanarium" so we decided to call in. It's a small ramshackle collection of buildings, staffed by some very friendly people, and we bought tickets for the full package. The touch tank, the hatchery, the lobster museum and the marsh walk. We were there all morning, listening to them telling us all about lobsters and lobster-related things. The marsh walk was a bit disappointing. We'd expected something more taxing than 20 minutes of very gentle strolling around the boardwalk in the grounds, but we saw a chipmunk.

Today we head back to New Hampshire and then on to Cape Cod. Hurrah.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Postcard number 2

The much-vaunted thunderstorm of last night failed to show up. Bah.  

So far we haven't been eaten by a bear, crashed into a moose on the Interstate or been flattened by a tornado. So far so good then.

The clay pigeon shooting lesson this morning was excellent. All the more so because I shot quite well, hitting about 2/3 of the clays. Yay me.

This afternoon we drove up to Boothbay Harbor and enjoyed a late lunch at a restaurant on the water, watching small boats coming and going in the sunshine. 

Maine is ridiculously scenic. Blue lakes, green woods, picture postcard skies, it's gorgeous.

We found a little shop selling art and souvenirs. Well, there are loads of shops like that, but this was the only one where all the merchandise is made in the USA rather than in China. I bought a few carved wooden birds, Mr WithaY bought a bronze model of a humpback whale. We felt like patrons of the arts.

Our day began rather well at breakfast. There's a small cafe next to our hotel where we went to eat, and they are unbelievably cheerful in there. Perky, even.

I ordered their "country style breakfast" mainly because it came with "eggs over easy". I have always wanted to know what they are. They're fried eggs that have been flipped over, the yolks still nice and runny. Nom nom nom. 

It also came with bacon and sausage. So far so good. But wait! What else did it come with? Pancakes? Nom nom nom indeed.

My experience of breakfast pancakes is limited. I wasn't expecting a two-plate breakfast.  A schoolboy error. 

Mr WithaY helped me out, but we had to admit defeat and leave some. Pancakes seem to be designed as an efficient method of getting as much maple syrup into you as fast as possible.

Made a change from lobster though.

Last night was enlivened by a family with small children shrieking, stomping and crashing around our floor of the hotel until almost 1am. 

At one point, unable to sleep for the godawful racket, I looked out through the peephole in our door. One of the children, a boy of about 7 I'd guess, was running backwards and forwards along the corridor over and over. Parents. Fuckers.

I found my earplugs and after that the night was undisturbed.

Mr WithaY and I found t-shirts saying  "Shit Creek Survivor" so we bought one each. Seemed appropriate somehow. Mr WithaY also bought a hat with moose antlers on it. It's very stylish.  I foresee many photo opportunities. 

We're having a great time.

Friday, 25 June 2010


We're in Maine, at a hotel with free WiFi. Hurrah.  

The very helpful man at Reception let me use his phone to ring the bank and get my card unlocked, so I'm solvent again. Apparently the bank locked my card because there was a transaction made in the UK in between transactions in the USA. 

That would be because I topped up my mobile, using the miracle that is the telephone system. Gah.

We are waiting for a pizza to be delivered to our room and then we plan to watch X Men Origins on TV. I am loving America. 

Terrifyingly, there was just a Severe Thunderstorm Warning on the TV. Apparently there are storms, strong winds and deadly raindrops heading our way. 

That is all well and good, I've lived through a fair few scary thunderstorms. 

What is really alarming is the loud alarm-clock style beeping and the voice-over on the TV telling us how severe the thunderstorms will be.

We changed the channel. Hopefully there won't be any terrifying warnings while we watch the film.

Oh, and we're off for a clay pigeon shooting lesson tomorrow morning. Assuming that the place hasn't been blown into the next State by a freak tornado or blasted into a smoking crater by the lightning.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Postcard number 1

Excuse the somewhat dull format. I've been using my iPhone to write this, and the editing options are limited.

We're in America! Hurrah! The flight was mostly uneventful, although enlivened by the stewardess chatting to the man sitting in the row in front of us.

Stewardess: Gosh, you look like that guy, you know, the one who killed that poor girl in Aruba.

Man: (somewhat taken aback) What? I look like that guy?

Stewardess: (unembarrassed) Yeah...I mean, you look like a good person and all. But you kinda look like him. Older, though, and kinda heavier.

So. She basically told him that he looks like an old, fat, murderer. Mr WithaY got extra ginger biscuits from his stewardess.

We landed at Boston and had a nerve-wracking wait in the queue to have our passports (and visas) examined. The man who checked our documents was small and wiry, with a face that looked as though it never, ever smiled.  He asked lots of questions about the purpose of our visit. Mr WithaY said "vacation" and I said "holiday" at the same time. He wanted to know the approximate value of the little gifts we had brought for our friends, he asked us that twice. We were both fingerprinted, I had to tuck my hair behind my ears to be photographed - apparently everyone has unique earlobes - and then we were waved through with a "Well, you folks have a good vacation." I have seldom been so relieved.

Our hotel in Boston was a small, old-fashioned motor inn called The Midtown. It was comparatively inexpensive and very handy for the Christian Science Plaza. The staff were lovely. The Irish concierge gave us lengthy (and helpful) suggestions about which Trolley tours to take, and what day would be best for a harbour trip.

We went all over the city on the Trolley, ticket valid for two days, includes harbour trip, and hopped on and off to look at the sights. We went up to the top of the Prudential building, 50 floors up, and looked at the city from there. We went to the New England Aquarium, and spent ages watching the staff in all their Scuba kit trying to catch an injured parrot fish. As they explained, the sharks were starting to look at it speculatively. 

We went to the Imax and watched Avatar on the HUGE screen in 3-D which was captivating. 

We ate more clam chowder than I thought humanly possible, lobster rolls, the truly fine eggs Benedict at a little cafe down the street for breakfast, and of course some ice cream. 

Now we're in New Hampshire, staying with some wonderful friends. We've been shopping (clothes! Shoes! Weird pictures of ducks!), been to see fireworks and sand sculptures, and eaten lobster and steamers.

Yesterday Mr WithaY and I ventured out to the White Mountains and had a trip on the North Conway railway. We sat in big comfy wicker chairs in an elegant Pullman carriage, and admired the scenery at a sedate pace. I loved it. Then we had ice cream.

My weight loss is going to be severely compromised, but I don't care.

Of course there's been fun and high jinks with the admin. What foreign holiday is complete without the bank putting a lock on your cards for no apparent reason? Mr WithaY tried to use his in a cash machine in Boston and the computer said no. Mine was fine. I withdrew cash, paid for stuff in Barnes and Noble, bought stuff in the shops here in NH. Mr WithaY had to call the bank in England and ask them to unlock his card. Yesterday, almost a week after arriving here, i tried to use it abd discovered that my card was locked. So I have to phone the bank and ask them to unlock it.

We bought dollars from them before we came over. I had a lengthy chat with the manager of our local branch about our forthcoming holiday. Even so, somebody somewhere has decided that our cards have been stolen, and helpfully stopped us from accessing our money.


It'll get sorted, it's just a bit tiresome to have to gaff about when we could be doing more fun stuff.

We have a Jeep! When we went to pick up the car from the desk at the airport, the nice lady looked us up and down and told us that the car we'd booked was no good. And when she asked us how long we were here for, and how much driving we planned on doing, she laughed outright.

She upgraded our car by (I think) 3 sizes, only charged us as if we'd gone up by one size, and told the man who took us out to the car park "Give them something nice." We picked the Jeep. It's great.

Today we head North into Maine for a few days. More trees, more mountains, more lobster. And I hope we see a moose.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Departure lounging

Today is all about the packing. 

I have piled up pretty much all my summer clothes in a heap on the bed, and my, what a lot of bright colours there are.  There are many random toiletries, hairbands, scarves, swimsuits, beauty products and a travel hairdryer buried in the heap.  It's like a lucky dip for someone planning a day trip to the beach. 

Mr WithaY is doing ironing.  We have an unofficial task allocation system in this house.  I do the washing, drying, folding, sorting and some of the ironing; he mows the lawns and puts up shelves.  The ironing that I do can be summed up as "all my stuff, plus stuff that isn't too tiresome to iron."  This encompasses teatowels, napkins, pillowcases (sometimes), his t-shirts and some of his less complicated trousers.  Work shirts and trousers with more than one zip per pair, I leave in the basket. 

So, it can build up a bit.  He has been known to go and buy new shirts rather than iron anything. 

Ha.  Just received an email from the airline telling me we can check in online.  Hurrah for technology!  I followed the complicated and repetitive instructions (enter name, and middle name, passport number...and again...yeah, one more time, oh, and your full name again in case it's changed from 30 seconds ago...) only to be met with the flat "Sorry, we are unable to check you in online, please check in with an operator at the airport."  Arse.  So, we'll do that, as originally planned.

Airports are unrelentingly stressful until the point where you are actually on the plane, and then all you have to worry about is the fact that you're in the sky. Gah!  Up in the sky! Above the clouds!  It's just not right.  That passes eventually and you can sleep, or watch a film.  Mr WithaY watched one about ice climbers being lost in a crevasse for days, last time we flew to the States.  I declined. 

Once you land, having enjoyed the stomach-knotting terror of seeing the ground rushing up to you, feeling the plane bouncing wildly down the runway, and trying to quell the strong nausea that the changes in cabin pressure give you*, you get to enjoy Immigration and Customs.  I am interested to see what will happen when we get to Immigration, what with our shiny new visas and all.  We've always just swanned through the normal channel on our previous visits, so this year will be very different.  Hopefully we'll just get to swan through the "Visa" channel.

Anyway.  This time tomorrow we will be somewhere over the Atlantic, all being well.

Other news:  I had my last day in my job yesterday; I start a new one when I get back in late July.  The team had bought me some gorgeous presents, which was kind, and everyone had written lovely things in a card, which I had to wait to read on the train as I knew it would make me go a bit wobbly. 

I popped out at lunchtime to get a few last-minute bits and pieces, which included a beautiful scarf.  It's very fine linen, in a series of muted pinks, greys and lilacs, and will be ideal to wear over a dress, or even over my head in the sun.  I proudly showed my colleague what I had been buying, and when I pulled the scarf out of my bag she went a bit quiet.  Shortly afterwards she disappeared, and was gone for some time.

Later, when they gave me my gifts, another very lovely scarf was in the bag among the treasures.  Apparently they had originally bought me the same scarf I had bought myself, and my colleage had had to frantically rush out and exchange it after I proudly showed her mine.  Heh.

Shows what excellent taste they have, I think.   

When I got back to the railway station, the briar rose in the car park was looking rather fine.

It's caught me by surprise, feeling sad to miss the garden while we're away.  The roses are just coming into full flower, and the peonies will be out next week if the sun shines for a few more days.  I hope that some will be left when we get back.  The fruit and veg should be well advanced, though, assuming that Mr Mole keeps his paws out. 

I will try to blog while we're away, but if not, I'll be back in a month.

Be good.

*Or is that just me?  I feel as though I am going to die when we're landing, all that circling and dropping lower and lower.  After I've broken out in a cold sweat, my stomach lurching violently, I often wish I had.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Shot in the dark

Busy busy busy.  So.  Bullet points today:

  • Fish are off to the Fish Hotel this afternoon, under strict instructions to behave themselves and not disgrace the WithaY name. 
  • Ironing mountain is diminishing oh so very slowly.  I did a load of it last night whilst watching the England/USA match.  Not because I like football, but because I wanted to see if it would be any good.  My verdict?  It wasn't. 
  • Made two loaves of bread in the bread machine yesterday.  First one was dreadful - uncooked in the middle and heavy as lead.  I threw it in the bin, as unfit even to offer the birds.  The second one wasn't much better, but too warped and freaky looking to take to Father in law WithaY as planned.
  • Made "proper" bread this morning, not using bread machine.  Less freaky looking but still not brilliant.  Took it to Father in law WithaY anyway. 
  • There is a mole in our back garden. It is making its way around the perimeter of the vegetable bed.  Fucker.
  • Neighbour informed me that he saw a large black cat jumping out of Mr WithaY's Landrover window, carelessly left open, after setting off the car alarm whilst sheltering from torrential rain.  That explains the dead mouse I found under the front window the other day.
  • Had unexpected and very lovely surprise visit from two of my girlie mates who were on their way home from a week at CenterParcs.  Spent a couple of hours sitting in the back garden drinking tea and catching up on the news.  Am now booked into next June's weekend trip to CenterParcs.  Hurrah. 
Right.  Off to make lunch.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Underwater decor

As some of you may have picked up from recent posts*, we are going on holiday soon.  To Americay-yi-yay, for a month.  A MONTH.  I have never had such a long holiday, and can't wait.

One way and another last year we didn't have a proper holiday.  We went over to France for a few days to stay with Mother in Law WithaY, but as this was immediately after the SSFH** broke over our heads, both of us were too traumatised and shell shocked to really enjoy it.  In fact I distinctly remember a few afternoons spent weeping uncontrollably, sitting in the shade and trying to read a book.  Ah, happy days.

This summer will be very different.  Our plans are coming to fruition.  Shit is coming together. 

When we had a dog, we had to arrange a place for him to stay when we went on holiday.  The kennels, in fact.  They were lovely there, friendly, welcoming, cheerful.  The man who owned it was old, tiny and frail.  He was about 4'10" tall, built like a little spindly white-haired elf.  He'd take the dog's lead from us, then be dragged away at speed, much like a waterskier, around the corner towards the barking of all the other dogs. 

When we'd go to pick the dog up again a few days later, he'd be delighted, wagging his tail and frisking around us playfully. The dog was always pretty pleased to see us as well. 

This year, we have no dog to send away.  No.  We have fish now.  The kennels are therefore not the place to phone to arrange fish-sitting for a month.  We have booked them into the fish shop for the duration.  They will be transported there this weekend in a complex arrangement of plastic bags and boxes, balanced carefully in the car.  Fortunately it's not a long drive.  

The people at the fish shop have reserved a tank for them, which is already being set up to exacting specifications regarding water temperature, pH, chemical compounds and so on.  Mr WithaY has had several lengthy discussions with the fish shop people about it. 

I'm planning on sending the fish a postcard while we're away.

We were down there at the weekend, finalising Fish Hotel business, and picking up a few bits and pieces.  My eye was caught by the display of ornaments that you can put in your fishtank.

When I was little, if you were posh you might have a castle in your goldfish bowl.  Maybe a humorous diver with an airline that bubbled.  Most people just had gravel, perhaps with one or two rocks.

Nowadays, you could film a reasonably decent horror movie using only fishtank furniture.

That's enough to give an impressionable guppy nightmares, surely?

And if not that, what about this?

What kind of animal is that even supposed to have come from?

The more traditional "humanoid skull" for purists.  I like the startled look on Nemo's face there as he emerges from the fish portaloo behind it.   Maybe they were re-enacting the scene from Pulp Fiction where Vince Vega comes out of the toilet and meets Butch. 

For generalised random maritime crap, there's always the boat department.  Or the lighthouse department.   Or the submarine department.   Or the, um, Sydney Opera House department. 

Also, they sell this:

The Holistic Tortoise Diet.  To balance their chakras and that. 

*Yes, I've been banging on about it for months, I know.

**Shit Storm From Hades. 

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Flowers in the dust

I have been getting stuff ready for the big holiday.  The house is full of suitcases, partly because we had to empty out the loft (more on that later) and partly because I have bought myself a new Holiday Bag.  My old suitcase had more or less given up the ghost; the zip was getting unreliable, and it had a horribly squeaky wheel.  The squeaky wheel was so bad that when you dragged it through an airport, small children wept and security guards looked irritated.  I thought it best to replace it. 

Well, it was 15 years old.  I bought it when we got married, it has been to America twice, and all over Europe and the UK.  It's better-travelled than a lot of my friends.

So, to the Internet!  I ordered an Antler Size Zero case on Sunday, it turned up on Wednesday.  That's service.  It weighs something absurd - 3.3kg - and has lots of useful pockets.  I look forward to cramming it full of new clothes on the way home again.  We plan to travel light, and buy clothes while we're over there, as last time we went things were so much cheaper.  Admittedly, we were getting almost 2 dollars to the pound back then, but even so, I expect to find bargains.

I also bought, on impulse of course, a new camera.  My old camera is a Nikon Coolpix L1, and I have always enjoyed using it.  But, and it's a big but, it takes AA batteries and they only last for a few dozen pictures.  So I always have to ensure that I have spares with me, and it's a pain in the arse to keep changing them. 

The new camera is a Canon Ixus, which takes a small rechargeable camera battery, which should last me several hundred pictures. I will buy a spare one so that I can have one on charge while the other one is in use, and it will be more cost-effective in the long run, not having to buy loads of AAs. 

I had a go with it in the garden.  The weather here has been lovely for the last few days, and everything has gone beserk, growing wildly and gorgeously, so I thought I'd take some pictures.

The oriental poppy, we have a huge plant in the front garden which was here when we moved in, and it always delivers a ton of flowers.

Clematis, just starting to go over now, but still looking great.

Different colour oriental poppy.  We usually only get one of these.

Chives.  The bees adore them.

Also, remember I said I broke my glass windchime?  Yeah you do.  Mr WithaY salvaged the bits of it that weren't shattered to a million billion pieces and we have hung them on the rose arch.  We call it the rose arch even though the only thing growing on it is the clematis. That's how we roll.

Other news:  Brother in law is continuing his recovery at home, which is excellent.  Father in law WithaY is in good spirits too, although slightly grumpy about our impending holiday.  Mother in law WithaY is coming over from France next week and will be staying at the house for a few days while we're away, so we need to put stuff back in the loft.

Oh yeah.  The loft.  The cavity wall insulation boyos* arrived on Thursday, as planned, and spent a few hours drilling holes in the exterior walls, pumping silicon-coated fibreglass** into the cavity and then filling all the holes again.  They worked hard, made as little noise*** as possible, and were charming and polite. 

When they'd finished they asked me to do an inspection of their work, and sign off the paperwork.  I asked if I should do that after they insulated the loft.  They said no, the loft team were a different team, and I would have to wait for them to turn up.  In the meantime, if I could just sign here, and here, and then over the page here...ta love. 

The company had already called us to say that someone had called in sick that day and they might not be able to come and do the insulation.  I made my renowned "Middle-aged woman being mildly inconvenienced" noise, which always goes down well. 

The girl I spoke to said "Oh, have you taken the day off work to be there?"  Yes, I told her, I have.  And we've emptied the loft so the house is a tip.  She was very sympathetic, and said she'd try her hardest to get us a different team to come and do the work, so when the cavity wall chaps arrived I assumed they were it.  But no. 

Shortly after they left, job well done, the company called again.  No joy finding a loft insulating team, and the next available appointment is the end of July.  Gah. 

So, back up the rickety loft ladder today for Mr WithaY, and then we'll re-empty it after we get home from holiday. 

Other, other news:  We have bought a new phone for the house.  Our old one had an answering machine which contained a cassette tape (retro, huh?) and was being temperamental about letting us know if anyone had left a message.  The light would flash, but the tape would be blank.  No bleeding use whatsoever.  Now we have a phone with a digital answering machine, and I can wander the house whilst chatting to people.  It's a whole new world. 

*They were from South Wales, and, as it turned out, from a place about 10 miles from where my Mum comes from.  Small world, eh?

**I asked what it was.

***Apart from shitloads of drilling, I mean.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Catalogue of disasters

Today has been a day of almost unmitigated disaster.

To be honest, the whole week's been a bit like an old silent movie, one where the Keystone Cops fall out of cars and people hang from impossibly high scaffolding by their teeth.  But with fewer impressive stunts.  In fact, the only thing that has been remotely impressive has been the volume and variation of my swearing.

Why has it been so disastrous, I hear* you ask?  Among other things, I have been clumsier than a bull in a china shop.  I think, actually, a bull in a china shop would be better able to navigate his way around the house without smashing things than I have been recently.

The Evidence:

1)  Dropped the one remaining Denby Regatta craftsman's mug** that we were given as wedding presents onto gorgeous but unforgiving granite workstop in the kitchen.  Knocked large unsightly chip from the base of the mug.  Superglued chip back in place, doing poor repair job, leaving it all still very visible and unattractive, creating Frankenstein's Mug. 

2)  Got Superglue all over hand (see above), fortunately noticing it before sticking hand to anything or anyone else.  Ran glue-covered hand under kitchen tap for ages, turning glue into concrete-hard crust which took several days to wear off skin.  Was told amusing story by neighbour about family member getting Superglue all over his hand, then sticking hand to TV Times, then sticking TV Times to face in a panic.  Laughed, but was secretly suddenly terrified of doing similar thing to self.

3)  Had long-anticipated haircut.  Failed to communicate requirements effectively to hairdresser, and now have Dusty Springfield stylee haircut with many layers and heavy fringe.  Very sexy in a 1960s way, but not entirely what I was hoping for.  Made my feelings known by saying "Hm, the fringe is a bit different than I thought it would be," and leaving a slightly smaller tip.  Yeah.  That showed her.

4)  Tried to renew car tax online, as will be leaving car parked at the airport for a month while we're on holiday, and bloody tax expires while we're away.  Found out that MoT has expired.  Booked car in for MoT tomorrow.  Arse.  More expense.  Also, why don't we get reminders when MoT expires?  There is a database with all the details on it, why not send out a letter to remind people a month before?  Bastards.

5)  Went to town with Mr WithaY to order dollars for holiday.  Had lengthy Whitehall Farce style session with Mr WithaY and I visiting different banks, building societies etc, going into back rooms, coming back out again onto the street, just missing one another. This climaxed with him going all the way back to the car park to see if I was there, and me waiting in the street, equidistant between the bank and the building society, calling him on his mobile, which was sitting at home, turned off.  Oh, how we laughed***.

6)  Whilst moving all the pictures and fragile treasures from external walls and shelves ready for the Insulation Man's visit tomorrow, managed to drop my gorgeous glass windchime, shattering it into a bazillion pieces.  Wept uncontrollably for 20 minutes.  Have completely failed to remember where I bought it from, possibly John Lewis, possible Bavaria.  Not a fucking clue.

On the plus side, I have lost another pound, making it 17 pounds in 16 weeks.  Slow but steady. 

Also, went to the tip today to get rid of a load of rubbish, and was (I think) chatted up by the man in the little hut.  He was quite a catch, if you like them gold of tooth and red of face. 

*with my sonic ear trumpet

**If anyone can let me know where I can get some more for less than £7 each, I'd be grateful.

***No we didn't.