24 December 2015

Merry Christmas From Rufus, Buster and Moi



Can't believe it, Christmas Eve and I've mowed the lawn! it's been bugging me for a while. I didn't spend too much time on it and I didn't trim the edges but it looks much better.

Ham sandwich for lunch, then we're off to see Star Wars followed by a bite to eat and a few cocktails at TGI Friday.

I've been writing my cyberspace diary for just over a year now, thank you for reading my posts and the lovely comments you have left. 

I hope you have a very merry Christmas.




21 December 2015

Buster's Diary


Rufus has hurt his paw again, it's very red and sore and he's hopping around on three legs, so no walks for him for a day or two. Our walks are very wet and muddy at the moment, two songs go through SL's mind when we're out - Mud Glorious Mud and Slip Sliding Away. 
Part of our walk takes us across or beside this small stream, depending on the water level.




That's me having run through the water, it wasn't very deep then.



Some kind person has strung this very strong nylon rope around the tree to help get down the bank, it's not a long way down but when it's muddy it's like an out of control slalom course. SL holds onto the rope and abseils down into the water then she wades across. 


Getting out on this side is slightly easier because although it's muddy it isn't quite so steep.

We don't have to cross the stream but it is a nice walk through some fields and it avoids a really bad muddy area. The other day Rufus and SL had crossed over, the level was high, it reached almost to the top of SL's boots. I was still on the other side refusing to cross. SL called me a wuss which I think was a tad harsh, I'm shorter than Rufus, the water would probably have been up to my undercarriage. She tried coaxing me with tasty treats but there was no way I was crossing that stream. SL had to find a broken tree branch to act as a kind of walking pole to help her cross back. She wasn't best pleased.



The problem with weather like this is having to be hosed down when we get home, we don't like that. SL ties us up, goes indoors, comes out with her rubber gloves on and hoses us down, mmm I think some people would pay to have that done to them!! anyway where was I? oh yes, mostly it's just feet and legs, but occasionally it's the undercarriage as well, oh the indignity....



18 December 2015

One Week

Tis a week before Christmas and all round the house

Nothing is stirring, not even the mouse

The tree is up, the presents are wrapped

Mince pie, mulled wine, time to relax




Christmas has always been a much loved and looked forward to time for me, the build up, lists, decorating the tree, stringing the cards up, putting up the outside lights, happily spending most of Christmas and Boxing days preparing food, and always striving to make it perfect. However I now set the bar a little lower, I still enjoy a bit of shopping, a little baking, card sending, present buying and wrapping, but I don’t get stressed if it doesn’t go to plan, I simply say to myself “What is the very worst thing that can happen?” 
There have been a few Christmas disasters - underestimating how long the turkey needed to defrost one year and having to stand it overnight, on a stool in front of the open oven set on its lowest setting. And the time when, after one too many sherries I dropped the roast potatoes on the kitchen floor, a fairly clean floor, but nevertheless a floor regularly festooned with all manner of human and canine detritus. I quickly scooped them up, wiped them with a tea towel and put them back in the oven. My girls were about 6 or 7 at the time and my mother and an aunt were with us that year but no one knew and no one was ill. I confirmed two things from that encounter - life is much less stressful after a few sherries, and a bit of muck doesn’t actually harm you!
The last couple of years Christmas day has been completely stress free, as we have treated ourselves to dinner out. We return home replete and spend the rest of the day relaxing. I do a quiz for my family  - identify TV advert slogans, identify well known company logos, charades, my version of articulate, and this one which I introduced last year - familiar objects from unfamiliar angles. How many can you identify? Answers below.



I love decorating the Christmas tree, and it has to be a real one. I'm not OCD but... I put the decs on the tree in the same order every year! I start with my favourites at the top and the front, then the rest.
Over the years I have acquired lots of decorations, sentimental, old, new, modern and traditional.


These birds were my mum's. When she started to downsize her Christmas trees she gave me some of her decorations. I don't know how old these are, I would guess at over 50 years, I remember them from when I was a little girl. 


This is all that's left of her lovely colourful baubles. 


A fairy has a hard time up where the tinsel glitters
A wand of gold in one hand and a fir tree in her knickers

I bought this lovely fairy in a garden centre sale a few years ago



along with these other favourites, they were bargains


My grandson made this one when he was little


My daughter bought these whilst on holiday


And some fun ones

Time to publish this post, my laptop just had a minor funny turn, nothing as bad as a couple of weeks ago, no programmes were working, my son-in-law did some diagnostics, unistalled and re-installed things and it was ok. I hate it when things don't work and I can't mend them.

 mmm chilli and rice with garlic bread for tea


How do you decorate your tree, do you have a tree, do you have favourite decorations?

How well did you do with the pictures? I think I made them too easy :-)
an iron, the dogs' bowl of water, a box of oxo cubes, spaghetti, a pineapple, a bottle of milk



13 December 2015

Two Weeks

Two weeks before Christmas, Isn't it exciting

Wrapping, baking and lots of sighing

Presents bought, fairy lights checked

Time running out, the house to be decked


I love mince pies and every year I do my own mince pie survey, it's really just an excuse to eat loads of them!


Tesco finest all butter with Courvoisier, £2 for 6: Lovely pastry, generous delicious filling 8/10


Co-op luxury mince pies all butter with brandy, £2 for 6: Very nice, crumbly pastry, tasty generous filling 8/10

Mr Kipling £1 for 6: very tasty 8/10

Tesco 89p for 6: not bad 5/10


The co-op truly delicious mini mince pies £2.50 for 12: These little beauties are gorgeous, 3 topped with chopped pecan nuts and glaze, 3 with a pastry star, and 3 with whisky butter cream 10/10


Aldi crumbly all butter with brandy £1.15 for 6: Very tasty but the pastry is too crumbly, nice filling 7/10

The Co-op Loved by us £1 for 6: Quite nice 6/10


Greggs £2 for 6: Made in store. They are delicious. With a good sturdy shortcrust pastry and generous tasty filling, they taste just like home made 10/10
In a recent survey of mince pies Greggs came out above Fortnum & Mason at £13.95 for a box of 6. Mind you they are beautifully packaged and would make a lovely present for a mum or a favourite aunt. 


6 December 2015

Three Weeks

Three weeks before Christmas and all round the house

Everything is rousing, even the mouse

Cards written and posted, overseas first

Need presents and food, my head’s fit to burst














Here in the UK some charities post out packs of Christmas cards in the hope that people will send in a donation. They are prints of paintings by artists with disabilities, and some of them are very nice, but for many years I returned them because I didn't particularly like most of them, and felt guilty about keeping them. One year I did send a donation but now I am of the opinion that if they send them completely unsolicited then I shouldn't feel guilty about keeping them and not making a contribution. 
Do you receive them, do you keep them, do you donate to the charity, how do you feel about them?


4 December 2015

Threes

Bad things come in threes. I try not to be taken in by sayings, but over the last couple of weeks we have had three domestic problems. The first was the washing machine, it wasn't spinning or draining and despite my son-in-laws best efforts to research online for a fix, none was to be found so we bought a new one. 
Not to be outdone by a washing machine the dishwasher decided to play up. It got to the end of the cycle, I opened the door and was greeted by the smell of dirty water and a well of dirty, greasy water in the bottom of the machine. On went the marigolds, checked the filter, then, cloth in hand I bailed out the water to investigate further, couldn't find a way to see under the filter, so checked the pipes, no blockages so what next? As a serial optimist and one who hopes that things will miraculously repair themselves if you just keep trying! I set the machine on a different programme and - voila it worked, so it wasn't the pump, perhaps it's just that programme that's faulty, I will try it on that one again soon.
Now the central heating boiler is making loud alarming noises, a cross between a revving engine and a huge wind machine blowing through it. An engineer is coming to look at it this evening.

So, kismet or coincidence, I prefer the latter..........

28 November 2015

Ugly Veg

My carrots could be famous! well ok not famous on a national scale, more like here at chez O&P. 
The carrots I grow on my allotment aren't neat or straight, they are crooked, strange and some have been downright rude, resembling all manner of body parts - boobs, bottoms and, ahem, dangly bits. My daughter tells it as it is, she says they are mutants! 


I was reading an article recently how Asda have announced they will be extending their wonky fruit and veg range which was rolled out in 25 stores at the beginning of the year. Labelled "Beautiful on the Inside" the new range features crooked carrots, knobbly pears, wonky spuds and more, all sold at reduced rates. Jamie Oliver has long been a pioneer of healthy eating, he says "If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load. There’s no difference whatsoever in taste or nutritional value. This is perfectly good food that could and should be eaten by humans.”

And he's so right. My carrots don't look pretty, but they taste dam good, they have just grown wonky.  
There are only a few left now, and a few cabbages and some parsnips, the sweetcorn has finished, the brussels and swede were dismal failures, but the purple brocolli is looking good.


The mutant carrot was about to take over the kitchen, the Assasins Creed, dinosaur and canon ball lobber surrounded it on all sides, but to no avail, the carrot was just too strong, only one thing could stop it in its tracks - 


yes the mighty peeler and my worn out chipped little knife with which I can cut, peel, slice and dice anything, almost with my eyes closed, without cutting myself! 
This monster carrot was about to become part of a shepherds pie dinner.


One of my favourite meals

24 November 2015

Scent

Scent, described as "a distinctive odour, especially when agreeable" was originally a hunting term from the Latin
sentire - to feel, perceive, sense. I like the word scent, It's not used much nowadays, I suppose that's because it's old fashioned, having been replaced by perfume. I adore perfume, it's important to me, I couldn't be without it, I wear it most days. I also use body spray from M&S and Next. I like trying new perfumes but my all-time favourite is and always 
will be Chanel Allure. 



The reason I have this little cluster on my chest of drawers is twofold, I like the decorative bottles, and it reminds me of perfumes I have used and liked, should I want to buy them again!


Perfume is evocative, like music it captures moments from the past, nice memories of people and places.   


My mother had one of these spray bottles (didn't everyone then?)
Evening in Paris was an easy one to remember my mum using, it was such a significant blue bottle. 
Then came Coty L'Aimant and later she loved Estee Lauder White Linen.

I think the first perfume I used was 4711, there have been many since then - Tweed, Rive Gauche, Anais Anais, Chanel No's 19 and 5,  Tresor, Youth Dew, Eternity, Lulu which I loved but my boyfriend at the time thought it was too strong! It didn't stop me using it though! 

More recent ones are Coco Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle, and my current favourite Modern Muse. I'm also using Gucci which smelt great when I tried a tester but I can't smell it at all when I use it! I'm sure the testers are extra strength.

I read recently that a perfume called "Suddenly Madame Glamour" from Lidl is a very good likeness to Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle. Both have notes of bergamot, rose and jasmine, both come in glass bottles of pink liquid topped with white lids and both are packaged in white boxes with gold trim.



 Independent tests carried out by the respected Perfumers Guild found that 90 per cent of women who took part actually preferred the ‘fresh citrus and floral notes’ of Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour over Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, with guild founder John Bailey saying the former’s ‘alluring, exotic Oriental accord’ made it a ‘timeless, affordable and classic fragrance’. 

Read more at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2849602/Yes-4-bottle-perfume-smell-good-Chanel.html#ixzz3rB6UIlNa

So I took myself off to the store to try it out. It is a very good likeness and I'm not sure I would be able to tell which was which. There are a couple of significant differences in usage though - I use more than just a couple of sprays so it won't last long, and with good perfume you get that lovely lingering scent the next day on scarves, collars, gloves etc., that doesn't happen with this one, however it does last all day, and at £3.99 a pop compared to £54 (and rising) for the real thing I can cope with no lingering aroma! I've bought two bottles.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” – Coco Chanel


A tad dramatic maybe, but coming from someone so iconic and stylish it ably emphasised how indispensable perfume is. Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time, a bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds.

"Where should one use perfume?" asked a young woman. 
"Wherever one wants to be kissed" replied Coco Chanel.

But that doesn't mean poured on, there is nothing worse than being in close proximity to someone who smells overwhelmingly of a cloying fragrance. Perfume should be delightful and intoxicating, and as far as the opposite sex is concerned, only smelt by someone a little bit closer than is polite!

What is your favourite perfume, how do you feel about perfume, how important is it to you, would you use a cheap one if it was a very good copy of an expensive one?



22 November 2015

A Good Read


Complicity by Ian Banks

Involvement, connection, liability. Are we guilty by association?

Cameron Colley is a substance abusing fully paid-up gonzo journalist hack on an Edinburgh newspaper. His source is tenuous but he senses a scoop and checks out a series of bizarre deaths from a few years ago. Meanwhile bizarre deaths are happening right now and eventually Cameron is questioned by the police. Does he know more than he cares to admit…….

This is an excellent study of the morality of greed, corruption and violence, venturing into the murky depths of human purpose. Stylishly written, compelling, sinister, funny, a very good thriller, thoroughly enjoyed it.

19 November 2015

Bygone Days


A blog I was reading the other day had an old photograph of a young girl on a motorbike probably circa 1950's, which put me in mind of a photo of myself and my cousin J sitting on my father’s motorbike dressed up in my auntie Margaret’s clothes. We loved dressing up in auntie's clothes and jewellery.



Me riding pillion circa 1956



Auntie Margaret was my mum’s sister. She worked for WH Smith at their office in Leeds, she always had nice clothes and lots of accessories. Her bedroom was an Aladdin’s cave of goodies. My mum had nice things too, but auntie was able to afford little extras. She never married and I often wondered why, because in those days most women married and had babies. I’m sure it wasn’t for the lack of suitors. One day I plucked up the courage to ask. She replied that she had had a couple of proposals but she didn’t want the responsibility of another person and preferred to stay single.

My mum’s family lived in Leeds and we would visit at Christmas, Easter and during the summer. 


I only knew one grandparent. My father's parents died before I was born, my mum's father died when I was a baby and I only have vague memories of my grandma.

We lived in Peterborough so the journey on the A1 was straightforward.  Mum sat in the front of the sidecar and I sat in the back. Our 1 case was strapped on the back. That journey seemed to take forever. When my father bought a car I thought we were ever so well off! The journey was more comfortable but still took forever! Even when the M1 was built my father still preferred to use the A1. When I was older, maybe 11 or 12 I would go up for 2 weeks during the summer holiday. I have a vague memory of being put on a train at Peterborough and auntie Margaret meeting me at Leeds. I don’t know if it was a direct journey or whether I had to change trains at some point. My stay was divided between auntie Margaret and two other aunties.



I loved auntie Margaret’s house, probably because it was so different to ours, having four levels! It was a two up two down back to back terrace house with a cellar and an attic. It had a small neat garden. Steps led up to the front door whilst a smaller staircase led down to the cellar. Entering straight into the lounge there was a small kitchen on the left with stairs down to the cellar. The lounge was a lovely room with a big bay window that let in lots of light and sunshine. Auntie had her dining table in the bay. A door from the lounge led up stairs and curved round to the first floor with a bathroom and auntie’s bedroom. Another door led to more curved stairs up to the attic. From the attic I could see for miles, cobbled streets, rows and rows of terraced houses and washing strung across the streets. And I could see the rag and bone man with his horse and cart calling out that familiar “Ragbooone”. 

I enjoyed visiting auntie's neighbours, or taking the bus into the city to meet her during her lunch break. Sometimes  I would meet her from work and we would go to the pictures. She would also take a day or two off work and we would go to Roundhay park or visit her friends and elderly relatives. 


The only one I can remember was great auntie Annie who was profoundly deaf and used one of those huge hearing trumpets. She was very old, very kind and had a terrific sense of humour. 



Me, auntie Marjorie and cousin J

Auntie Marjorie’s house was a two up two down with an attic. Cousin J’s room was on the first floor and I slept in the attic, it was great. J and I spent our time talking, experimenting with make up and going into town to meet auntie Margaret during her lunch break.

Auntie Clara’s house was in Guisley, a lovely cosy semi det that was back to front. It was down a lane, so the front door and hallway were at the back of the house overlooking fields, and the side door and porch were at the front off the lane. Directly opposite was a cemetery with a high stone wall. From upstairs you could see almost all the graves. The room I shared with my cousin M overlooked a grave with a beautiful white stone statue of an angel, I always thought she was my guardian angel. Cousin M’s brother, cousin D had the middle bedroom because he needed the space for his amazing railway set that he had built. It was awesome but he wouldn’t let anyone operate it, we could only watch. 



Me at the front, cousins J, M and D

Holidays with auntie Clara always involved walking into Ilkley, over part of the moors, a picnic, then catching a train back, or vice versa, train there and walk back. On our return we would often have fish and chips for tea. Auntie Clara taught me how to prepare fresh crab. 


Me, auntie Clara and my friend P. She was one of 7 children, her father and my father met during the war and remained friends. They couldn't afford annual holidays so she sometimes went to Leeds with me. 
Happy days.



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