Friday, 31 December 2010

Review of the Year


The addition of fish to our Christmas-present-to-ourselves aquarium.  Glad to be able to report that we have only lost a very few over the intervening 12 months, and the ones who are still there look happy.  Well, as happy as fish ever do.  They've grown, and their colours are bright.  And I think one of them was smiling at me.

Snow.  Lots of snow.  Inability to get to work, which started off as fun and exciting, and rapidly became irritating and constraining.  No snow animals, though.  Fail.

Chest infection.  Yes, another bout of the Black Lung. 

Ongoing SSFH fuckwittery from the police, proving that basic administration CAN be impossibly hard if you really work at it. 

Sausage making. Oh yes.  Oh yes indeed.  Watch and be impressed, dear readers.  The hands belong to our friend the chef, the splendid camera work was down to me.  I didn't realise my camera recorded sound. Until I filmed that. 


More fuckwittery from the police.  I suspect that I could say that every month, to be honest.

My blog was stalked by a mad optician for a bit, they added semi-literate comments to the same post over and over. Fool. 

Big, long, fantastic holiday to the US of A was booked, which cheered us both up after the horrible year we had just had.

Joined Slimming World, after deciding that I really couldn't pretend that I was fine as I was any more.  That was a surprisingly hard thing to do, it felt like an admission of defeat and failure somehow.  And now, 10 months on, two and a half stone lighter so far, I realise what a fucking idiot I was for not doing it years ago. 


I had my hair cut at a posh hairdresser in Salisbury.  And it was great.  I will continue with that for the forseeable future I think.   Well, at least for as long as I have a job and can afford it. 

There was a lot of whining about trains.  Again, I expect that is true for every month. 

Minor domestic appliance chaos, and a huge crack in Mr WithaY's Landrover windscreen made it an expensive month. 


April was ALL ABOUT the visas.  Following the SSFH, we discovered that we now need visas to travel to the USA, so we had weeks of incredibly stressful and depressing paperwork and expense.  It all came right in the end, but I can honestly say that if we hadn't already booked the flights and hotel we would not have bothered. 

Mr WithaY went off to Wales for a fortnight to help run the outdoor activity stuff with work.  I don't remember any major domestic appliances breaking while he was away, for a change. 

There was also a degree of ranting about fuckwits on trains.


May saw the continuation of the Black Lung, which had stuck around on and off for about 5 months.  Nice.

The weather improved and we did work on the garden. 

Poor brother in law was taken ill, which was very frightening, but thankfully he is making good progress now. 

Father in law was also taken very ill, rushed into hospital several times, all very upsetting.  Oh, and the nursing home staff dropped him on his head, which didn't help matters.  He is still with us, though, battling on and watching murder mysteries with glee. 

Holiday preparation continued, having the visas meant that we actually started looking forward to it.


We went to AMERICA.  Hurrah!  I can't believe it was 6 months ago. 

We also had the house insulated - been much warmer this winter, so that was worth doing - and did lots to the garden. 

Oh, and I got chatted up by the man who works at the rubbish tip.  Bonus.


AMERICA AMERICA AMERICA.  We were over there for a month, it was marvellous.  Best holiday ever.

I fell over in Nantucket like an idiot and fractured my ankle, not realising I had done so for about 3 weeks.  Gah.  Well, a bad sprain looks like a fracture, and vice versa, apparently.

The weather had been boiling hot the whole time we were away, we returned home and the rain started.  Ah well.


I started my new job, still in London, still in the same department, but in a different team and with a different role.  Still enjoying that.  Good chance that I will be made redundant though, next year.  And to be honest, that would mean that I wouldn't have to spend 6 hours a day travelling, and would probably pay off most of the mortgage, so hey, not all bad.

Had the plumber in to do some minor work on the bathroom.  Ended up with huge holes smashed in the walls and a craving for whiskey.  Looks ok now.


September is all about the Frome Cheese Show.  I am already looking forward to the next one.

We persuaded father in law WithaY to sell his house, and spent many weekends travelling to Dorset to clear his stuff out and take photos for the estate agents.  It's still on the market.  Anyone with £300K to spare, drop me a line.


Had a mini holiday in St Ives with some mates, the weather was lovely, the sea was blue, we saw a seal, Mr WithaY fell over backwards into a stream. Oh, and there were cream teas.  Perfect.

Went to see our MP to try to resolve the ever-present SSFH aftermath. 

I lost my blogging mojo for a bit, but not to worry, it came back.  Like Lassie. 



Return of the Black Lung.   4 weeks off work, antibiotics, chest x-rays blah blah fucking blah.  Again.

Also, visit from two senior police officers to discuss the rather excellent letter which our MP wrote to the Chief Constable.  Had almost 2 hours with them, explained exactly how their actions had affected us, and how incredibly fortunate we are to have a close group of friends and neighbours who looked after us when the SSFH broke over our heads, and basically made sure we didn't do anything stupid at a time when we felt as though we might. 

Police apologised profusely and heartily. Police also said they would pay us a small token amount - NOT compensation, that would imply fault - but as a recognition of what we had suffered as a result of their "poor decision."  We agreed that we would let the matter rest.  We are waiting for a cheque. 

Feel as though a line has been drawn under that now, which is a huge relief.


Snow snow snow.  Frost and fog as well.  Very seasonal.

Catastrophe in the kitchen with a shelf collapse, and about £500 of china and glass smashed all over the floor.  Waiting for a letter from the insurance company.  Gah.

New curtains though.


So, yeah.  We were arrested last summer.  The police turned up at our house at 0630 with a warrant and a battering ram (thankfully not used) and arrested us both on very serious, very nasty allegations.  We were held in the cells for 10 hours, photographed, fingerprinted, questioned under caution and finally released on bail.  Our home was searched, a lot of our property was confiscated for examination, and we both felt as though our world had come to an end. 

A week later we were told that the police would be taking no further action, and all our property was returned.  I was off work for over a month with post traumatic stress, we were both very badly affected, and without the love and support of our friends and neighbours, I really don't know that we would both still be here. 

We've spent a lot of time over the last 18 months trying to get an explanation as to how this could have happened, and why, and who was responsible for the original malicious and unfounded allegations.  We'll never know, as it turns out the police didn't know either.  But they decided to act anyway.  As they said to us last month: "It was not our finest hour."  No, it really fucking wasn't.

As a result of that, we now have to get a visa to travel to the USA.  We have managed to get our DNA, photographs and fingerprints deleted from the central police database, and we have had an apology from the Chief Constable. 

It should never have happened. 

And the saddest thing, to me at least, is that we no longer trust the police. 

But, at least we now have closure, to use a dreadful pseudo-psycholgical term.  And as a result, next year will be a good one.

Thank you to all our friends, neighbours and family who got us through what was undoubtedly the worst few months of our lives.  Onwards and upwards.


Happy New Year, everyone.  Thank you for reading, commenting and hopefully enjoying spending virtual time with me.  Looking forward to the next chapter.

Snack time

Hmmm...a bit peckish.  How about a nice sandwich?  Crusty bread, some ham, a bit of tomato, perhaps.  Just the ticket.

Hey, here's a place that sells sandwiches.  Let's have a look at what they have to offer.

Fresh sandwiches. Perfect.

But wait.

Fresh in inverted commas?   Not Fresh, but "Fresh"?

So how old are they, exactly?  And whose notion of "fresh" is being used to define this?  I bet that a fishmonger and an archaeologist would have very different views on what constitutes "fresh".  And where on that scale would a sandwich maker sit? 

If a sandwich maker is leaning towards the archaeologist's view of "fresh" I am pretty sure that sandwich bread would be a bit too crusty for my taste. 

Also, now that I am examining this sign more carefully, define "local" too. 

Do they mean local to the shop?  The salads are made in Salisbury?  That would be fine. 

Or do they mean local to Wiltshire?  The salads are made in Trowbridge, or Devizes , or even God help us, Swindon?  That's a lot of travelling for a salad.  Over bumpy, bendy, country roads with lots of opportunity for salad joggling and spillage. 

Maybe they mean local to the UK.  Those salads could have travelled from Inverness

Gone off the sandwich idea now.


Wednesday, 29 December 2010


So hello.  Hope everyone is enjoying the festive season.  Tis the season to be jolly, apparently, but I'll settle for "relaxed and cheerful".  Jolly sounds far too much like hard work, and I am too idle for that right now.

Today we went to Salisbury, ready to hit the big city and check out the sales.  In the big city shops, the ones with more than two styles of shoe, or a wider variety of goods than rat poison, ash buckets and mole traps.  It's not like round here, you know.

As we had got up early*, we arrived in town without having eaten breakfast, so we found a cafe and had eggs Benedict.  And it was GOOD.  Not quite as fab as some of the eggs Benedicts we had in America. but not bad at all for a foggy Wiltshire Wednesday morning.

I picked up a couple of pretty tops in the M&S sale, one of which I had looked at when it was full price, so that was satisfying.  Mr WithaY wanted some new jeans, and also possibly a new tweed jacket.  He can't help it.  He's just naturally tweedy.

We made our way across town to the splendid old-fashioned gents outfitters, and I took a seat in one of the big leather chairs while Mr WithaY rummaged through the racks of tweed jackets.  His rummaging soon took him out of sight.  Another couple wandered into view, him looking at clothes with enthusiasm, her distracted and grumpy.

Him:  (Holding up a vibrant green and yellow tweed jacket) What about this one?
Her:  Ugh.  No.  Put it back.
Him:  *sigh*

He made his slow way along the rack, searching, searching, humming a happy tune.

Him:  (Holding a more muted tweed jacket aloft, swinging it about)  Aha!  I like this one!
Her:  GOD no.

He wandered a bit further, looking hard for the perfect jacket, clearly slightly deflated by her dislike of everything he was choosing.

Him:  (Pulling a brown corduroy jacket out of the rack with glee) ....
Her: (Before he even spoke and without turning round to look) NO!

They wandered out of earshot, her still looking furious, him with the crumbling remains of a spring in his step.  Not for long, I'll be bound.

We left without finding anything either, but at least we weren't looking like we were going to be murdering one another with axes before the New Year**.

I bought a new teapot to replace the one that got smashed to smithereens. 

Today I have emailed more photos of the carnage to the insurance people.  It hadn't occurred to me to call the insurance company until Z mentioned it in a comment, and then I thought I'd see how much it would cost to replace everything. 

Yes, I know.  Muppetry. 

And guess what...the total came to over £500.  Gah! 

So, I photographed as much as I could identify, and have sent the pictures to the insurance people, along with the approximate replacement costs where I could find them.

It wasn't easy, a lot of the glass stuff was literally smashed to dust. 

That's all that was left of a very large glass plate my Mum gave me.  I loved that plate.  Fucking stupid fucking shelf fucking collapse.


We also went to Waitrose this afternoon, part of the Big Day Out.  As we walked into the store, an elderly couple were being reunited, surrounded by smiling staff.  It looked a bit like one of those allegorical paintings with Eighteenth Century European royalty posing heroically, surrounded by fawning cherubim and seruphim. 

Her:  They've made three announcements for you!  I've been so worried!

Him:  What?

Her:  Over the speakers...three times they announced that I was looking for you.

Him:  Well I was outside.  By the car.

Her:  Three announcements.  Three!

Him:  I heard NOTHING.

The smiling staff melted away, and the elderly couple left, her still asserting that he had been lost, him insisting that he hadn't. 

Other news:  I have been making sausage rolls.  And readers, they are damn fine.  Father in law WithaY has been much impressed, something that takes quite a lot of doing.

Christmas Day was quiet, we went over to the care home to visit F-in-L, then home for a big roast dinner.  Oh, and The man Who Would Be King on TV. I love that film. 

There was a slight misunderstanding about Christmas gifts.  On our return from F-in-L, I said to Mr WithaY "So...would you like to open your presents now?"

Mr W:  What?  I didn't think I had any presents.

Me:  Of course you have!  Silly!

Mr W:  But we agreed...we weren't going to get presents for each other this year.

Me:  No we didn't!

Mr W:  Yes...we said we were going to buy a new TV instead.

Me:  But we didn't do that.  So you've got presents.

There was a rather awkward silence.

Mr W:  Well, now I feel terrible.

Me:  (Cheerfully, whilst inside I am screaming like a flayed banshee) Oh, never mind...come and open yours.

Good job it's my birthday soon.   Next Christmas I think we will have a written agreement about whether or not we are Doing Presents.  Just to save any arguments. 

Oh, as a cheeful footnote, we went down to my lovely Mum's on Boxing Day and I had lovely, lovely presents from the family.  So yay for families! 

It was great, albeit a bit squashed.  I think there were 16 of us there, at one point we were ALL in the sitting room.  I love Christmas.

*Before 0930.  Fuck knows how I am going to cope when I have to get up before 0600 for work again. 

**Probably.  I'll keep you posted


Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Today was the day that disaster struck.

Yes, disaster.

You heard me.

Settle down, dear readers.  Gather your loved ones close and get comfy.  This is a tale of HORROR.  Of WOE.  And of astonishing, catastrophic breakages. 

I was planning to post up some photos of our new kitchen curtains today.  I know how to live, eh?   I decided a few weeks ago that the thin, feeble, pale, unlined curtains that graced our kitchen and dining room were too depressing and crap at insulation, and that They Had To Go.  I ordered some fabric samples from Next Online and showed them to Mr Withay.  He nodded at all of them, and said more or less the same thing to each one:

"That one's fine."

This, I believe, roughly translates as: "For the LOVE OF GOD stop showing me curtain fabric, woman.  I don't care.  Just pick one, and let me be.  Jeez."

I may be mistranslating slightly, but I think that's the gist of it.

We* made our final fabric selection, I measured the windows carefully and sent in the order, and within 7 days our new curtains had arrived.  All lined with lovely thick blackout insulation, and much, much warmer.  Mmmmm cosy.

We still need to get some more curtain rings as we miscalculated the quantity, the new curtains being much heavier than the old ones, but they are up (mostly) and look lovely.  You can't see the saggy end due to my astounding photography.  I haz skillz. 

Oh, and to prove I am a complete domestic goddess, I also ordered some matching cushion covers.  Yeah.  That's how I fucking roll, man.

So, enjoy the beauty of my (apparently) retro curtains while you may.

The disaster happened today.

I was in the kitchen as it was just getting dark, closing the curtains - aren't they lovely? - when I heard a strange noise, like chinaware clinking.  I looked around dopily, then the big cupboard door slowly opened of its own accord. 

Before I had time to do more than go "Whut??" a dish slid gracefully out onto the floor.  It smashed.

I went "WHUT??" again, and then started screaming in horror as an entire shelf full of china, cast iron and marble slid onto the floor in a sort of avalanche of kitchenware, everything breakable smashing into a million billion pieces.

I think I screamed for about 5 minutes solid as the slow, unstoppable slide continued.  The noise was incredible, and it just kept on going.  Then I stood there looking at the heap of smashed stuff on my floor.  Then I went a fetched a broom.  Then I went to find a cardboard box.  Then I fetched the dustpan.

And then I started crying.

And it was at that moment that Mr WithaY came home from work, to find his lovely wife weeping uncontrollably in the kitchen as she shovelled up the pulverized remains into a cardboard box. 

Look away now if you are of a nervous disposition. 

You may remember that blue plate from previous blog postings when I was bragging about my baking.  No more, my friends.  No more.

Look, I have codified it for ease of reference.  I can't help it, I'm a Civil Servant.  There's a ton of other stuff in there too but I couldn't fit all the text on the picture.   Plus I got bored with the labelling thing. 

Our 6 pint cast-iron Le Creuset casserole dish fell out, and amazingly didn't smash the floor tiles.  There are several large unslightly chunks missing from the enamel on the dish, though, and one handle is busted.  Good job it didn't land on my foot, I suppose.

So, all a bit shite really.

Turns out that the shelf was held in place by 4 little metal and rubber plug thingies, and one of them had weasled its way out, dropping the front of the shelf and causing the Avalanche Of Unnecessarily Destructive Force.


Mr WithaY is going to hammer some batten up over Christmas.  That'll learn it.

I'm still in shock and will need to have medicinal brandy forced between my lips from time to time until I recover.

Otherwise, things are good.  Lots of snow on the ground, and looking forward to Christmas.  Yay. 

*Well, he didn't object to the one I picked.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Rudolph the red - wait, what?

I hope they find their missing reindeer.

It sounds like he'd be pretty easy to identify, though.

Ho ho ho.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas spirit

We've put the Christmas tree up!  I'm so excited.  No, really, I am.

Mr WithaY unravelled 400 miles of LED lights, and went and wrapped them around the rose arch in the front garden, so that is now a vision of glittering be-lighted loveliness.  We put up our tree in a hastily-cleared corner of the sitting room.  It's an artificial one which we bought in 1994, and it looks very pretty, if a little wonky. 

New tree next year, I think.  I'd like a real one, so we might get one in a tub to live in the garden and be hauled indoors for the festive season.  We'll see.

Mr WithaY has carefully pinned up the dozens of small straw dollies in the shape of angels and fir cones all over the hall ceiling, which is very effective.  He gets extra kudos for doing it with a stonking hangover, as well as (he says) the start of a cold.

Yesterday was his work Christmas lunch.  They went to a posh French restaurant in Bath, where he crammed his pie hole with cold meat, and confit of duck, and figs in honey, and all manner of fine wines.  He said it was lovely

I think the trouble started after they finished lunch at about 4.30pm, and went on to the pub.  I was half expecting him home any time after about 5, and even looked at the train times online to see roughly when I might be greeting him into the bosom of his adoring home, hem hem.

Well, it got to 8pm, so I had a bite to eat and watched some TV. 

It got to 10pm, and I checked the train times again. 

It got to 11pm, and I went and played World of Warcraft Cataclysm (yes, yes, I know, I know) for a bit, fully expecting him to be home soon, as the last train gets in at 11.15-ish.

Midnight came and went.

I went to bed and read my book, waiting for a phone call to say "I missed the train and I'm mysteriously stuck in Bath/Frome/Trowbridge/Exeter...will you come and fetch me please?"

Readers, it was almost 1am when he finally burst through the front door.  Drink had been taken, he informed me.

He was very cheerful, having had a delightful meal and then a fun time in various pubs in Bath.  And yes, they'd missed the last train and got stuck in Westbury.  I have done that myself, although in my case the last train was cancelled, and I had to phone home to ask Mr WithaY to come and fetch me.  Which he did without a grumble.

I asked how he'd got back from Westbury.

"Taxi!" he bellowed as he hopped around the hallway trying to take his shoe off. 

"Was that very expensive?"

"Fuck yes!"  More hopping, on a different leg as the other shoe was removed. 

"Why didn't you ring me and ask me to come and get you?"

"Hahahahahahahaaaaaaaa.  I'm not brave enough."


Friday, 10 December 2010


Well, here we are, a mere two weeks from Christmas.  Are we all ready for it, dear readers?  Have we got the mulled wine on a low simmer, the Christmas pudding clamped into the workbench ready to be chiselled into, the turkey nervously fingering its collar out in the garden? 

Me neither.

Although, to be fair, Mr WithaY and I have already made more festive effort than we did over the entire holiday season last year.  We have written and posted our cards, bought a Lidl pannetone, discussed what we want for Christmas lunch - we're hovering on "duck" at the moment, but it may well change - and we plan to put the tree up this weekend.

Last Christmas we did almost none of that.  No tree, as we weren't in the mood to put it up, very few cards and a festive season spent mostly sniffling and coughing at each other.  The aftermath of the SSFH* went on for a very long time, but now we both feel in the appropriate frame of mind to celebrate stuff again.  So that's nice.

All it needs this year is the annual Dinotopia-fest and I will feel as though we are back to normal.

Anyway.  Hasn't it been cold?  I'm well aware that we soft south-western pansies get very little in the way of severe weather compared to those in the frozen wastes up North, but what we do get we make the most of.   We had about a week with real snow on the ground, which was very pretty, and then another week or so of ice on top of that, turning the roads into glass.  GLASS.

Last Sunday, we thought we might pop over to Salisbury, as I was getting stir crazy from a month of housebound coughing due to the ongoing boring chest infection.  The sun was shining, and the snow was melting, and the roads looked fine.  Traffic was moving normally on the main road past the house. 

Mr WithaY's Landrover has been in fine fettle**, so we hopped in and headed off.  As you drive out of our village on the non-main road, there is a sharp bend before you get to the junction with the slightly bigger road.  We went into that bend doing about 20mph, maybe less.  We started to turn the corner, then we lost it and went sideways on a sheet of black ice, sliding gracefully towards the wall. 

Fortunately, there was nothing coming in the opposite direction, and we came to a halt before we hit anything, but it was quite unsettling.  We reached the junction, made an executive decision and turned in the opposite direction to Salisbury, opting instead to pay a visit to father in law WithaY at the nursing home. 

Our trip to the local hospital was less slidey, but it was still pretty cold and icy out there.  I'm glad that they keep X-ray departments so warm.  Having to strip down into a saucy open-backed hospital gown for a chest X-ray would have been miserable otherwise.  I get the results next week sometime, something nice to look forward to. 

The doctor referred me for an X-ray because he was a bit concerned that this is the fourth significant chest infection in two years.  He asked me lots of questions about foreign travel.  Had I been anywhere exotic recently?  Did I do much air travel?  Do I have any close friends who have come back from the Far East lately? 

Other than the flights to and from Boston this summer, I haven't been on a plane for ages.  None of my friends have been anywhere exotic as far as I know.  The closest thing to foreign travel is the bus from Waterloo to the office, which sounds like a lively debate at the UN most mornings, I suppose.

Apparently it's my lower right lung that was "rattling" - the same one that was badly infected last time, so I have a feeling it never went away properly.  Anyone would think I smoked 60 a day.  I have NEVER smoked.  Ever.  Gah.

So anyway.  As my car died, and the roads were too icy anyway, I went for a short stroll the other morning.  I took my camera, because the hoar frost was incredible.  I wore the hat with ear flaps, in case you were wondering.

It was bloody freezing though, so I didn't go very far before realising I couldn't feel my fingers.

How Christmassy is this, eh?  Very, that's how.

I saw some herons and egrets in the river, but by the time my frozen sausage fingers got my camera out, they had buggered off.

Look, there he goes, buggering off.


Now I need a cup of tea.  And possibly a crumpet.  With butter and jam.

Which reminds me, the ongoing weight loss has stalled a little, probably due to 4 weeks of chest infection and 2 courses of antibiotics.  And shitloads of crumpets.

The last lot of antibiotics I was on apparently cause "spontaneous tendon rupture" so I am still half expecting my arms and legs to fall off. 
I'll let you know.

*Shit storm from Hades.  Yes, I am stilll going on about it.

**Unlike my car which died after three days of the cold, and had to have its battery recharged.  I know how it felt, to be honest