Thursday, December 24, 2009

now we're cooking

dear readers, here is a picture of our new oven. when we moved into our house the kitchen had been put in fairly recently. there was a rather technical oven which had all sorts of features that no-one would ever use, like steam cleaning. i mean, who cleans their oven?

along with a lot of other features of the house, the oven was a bit temperamental. the people who used to own the house were rather slapdash about reading the instructions before doing things, much like herself. the oven would throw a wobbly when it got to a certain temperature and blow all the electrics, plunging the house into darkness. it became the peeps' habit to warn everyone that the oven was on as it would crash all the computers. this was most frustrating if a chap had just written a musing and had not yet saved it.

herself is fortunate in that she has a dear friend who is an engineer. a series of increasingly technical e-mails were exchanged. it appeared that the element might have gone caput. or more accurately the coating on the element had gone caput. it seemed that a certain type of electrical measuring device called a multimeter was needed to ascertain the cause of the problem.

but no sooner had herself borrowed such a thing than the oven stopped blowing the electrics. however, next the grill went caput. the grill was a dual grill. there was an element that went round the middle and and an element that went round the outside. the middle element was the one that went caput. so anything that was being grilled had to be arranged precariously round the outside and would only half cook even then.

herself investigated how much the spare parts might be. and then investigated how much a new oven from ikea might be, while munching her muesli. she spoke to himself, who is the main user of the oven. himself said he just wanted an oven that worked. herself ordered a new oven online and then polished off her breakfast.

the new oven arrived yesterday. the peeps are having curry for christmas dinner so strictly speaking the oven could have waited. but, as regular readers will know, herself does not do waiting. as soon as she got home from work the lights went off and out came the torch. there was a brief interlude when the lights had to go back on so she could look up on the internet how to get the door of the old oven off but no sooner had that been done than we were back in darkness. the young snake charmer was round being looked after while her peeps were off doing something. my boy and the young snake charmer decided that the house being in darkness would make the ideal setting for a swift game of hide and seek. this did nothing to calm things down. the young snake charmer is off her head with excitement about christmas and cannot stop bouncing up and down.

as the old oven came out of the gap, a load of crunchy burnt stuff fell on the floor. young dave considers it his civic duty to hoover up crunchy burnt stuff so placed himself in front of the gap where the oven had been, munching. herself by now was inside the gap, doing up the new wiring by torchlight, showing her generously upholstered rear end to its full effect.

the young snake charmer decided it might be a good idea to hide among the ovens, polystyrene packaging, burnt stuff and dave. a loud crunch rang out.

"oops! i've trodden on something!" giggled the young snake charmer. the peeps exchanged looks in the gloom, hoping it was not a vital part of the oven.

eventually the new oven was in place, the power was restored and the oven was tested. it worked. amazingly. the bit that had been trodden on was repaired and stuck back in place below the oven. it is a fairly essential bit as it is to keep dogs out of the underneath of the oven. young dave has a habit of getting singed while trying to steal food so it is just as well it was not beyond repair.

baked potatoes were put in to cook. the young snake charmer carried on bouncing. by now my boy's friend from next door had come round, wearing a rather interesting hat that makes him look like a spaniel. my boy's friend turned to my boy.

"can we go upstairs? she's scaring me!"

"i'm going to have 3 porn pies!" said my boy.

the mind boggles...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

a most blogworthy day at the office

dear readers, today's photo has nothing whatsoever to do with my post, save for it being a collection of incongruous things. the thing that would have made a fabulous photo was unfortunately not captured on camera, due to a certain urgency about the proceedings which will become clear in due course.

on thursday herself had a rather tricky start to the day, having got stuck in traffic between my boy's college and her office. she was late for work and on the way into the building she got chewed by the lift doors. due to the lateness she had to cancel a meeting about hovercrafts in order to prepare for the afternoon's court hearing. no sooner had herself done this than her young colleague, whose office has a connecting door, came rushing in, all of a fluster.

"that is positively the last time i take the dog for a walk before work!" she fumed.

"what happened?" said herself, mindful of when the young colleague's dog had eaten a pigeon for breakfast and caused all sorts of cafuffle.

"come and look!" said the young colleague. herself went into the next door office. sitting under the young colleague's desk was a very sweet, very small, brown and white dog. herself works in a large, imposing town hall where people are not even allowed to bring their children to work, never mind their pets.

"i got locked out of my house when i took her out!" explained the young colleague. once herself and the very small brown and white dog had become acquainted herself went to fetch a drink of water for her from the watercooler. she had the presence of mind to put the water in a plastic cup rather than a bowl, to avoid giving the impression that the office had a canine visitor.

the very small brown and white dog settled down and, with a few near misses when colleagues came into the office, remained undiscovered until lunchtime. the young colleague then faced the problem of how to smuggle the very small brown and white dog out of the office. herself, ever the inventor, hatched a plan. or in fact several. the first one did not work. this was that the young colleague would wear herself's baggy coat and secrete the very small brown and white dog under it. this would have worked had the very small brown and white dog not wanted to peer out of the top. and had the young colleague not been rather more generously endowed in the chest department than herself, leaving considerably less room in the baggy coat.

plan b was slightly more sensible. the young colleague's room-mate has a rucksack. this was emptied out and the very small brown and white dog was placed inside. yet again her curiosity was a problem. the head sticking out of the top gave the game away. but herself came up with an idea. she smeared the inside of the plastic cup from the water cooler with peanut butter and placed it in the bottom of the bag. the small brown and white dog was occupied trying to lick it out and kept her head tucked in, thus being removed from the building without discovery.

the rest of the day was less eventful, save for herself getting into an argument with the security guard at the court when he insisted on keeping hold of her camera while she was in court. herself was reduced to spluttering in a pompous fashion about how she had been going to court for 20 years and had never had to hand over her camera, and about how everyone has cameras on their phones anyway.

luckily she had the sense not to berate him about how he had failed to discover her swiss army knife...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

hoss chaos

dear readers, here you can see bonzo the hoss in his field. he is a most magnificent beast and herself has fallen in love with him. he has many funny ways, including a trick where if you tickle him under his chin he sticks out his very long tongue. he gently snuffles herself's face and when he is following her round the field he nods vigorously to let her know he agrees wholeheartedly with what she is doing.

on the riding front things have been less successful. herself has been riding since she was a child, but has not really gained much skill. about two weeks ago herself was gently pootling along the lane enjoying the sunshine. she came to an area of open country and having manoeuvred bonzo through the gate was pootling along the track. suddenly a wind came up out of nowhere. bonzo found this most disconcerting and galloped off, heading towards a very steep slope. herself tugged him round sharply to avoid catastrophe. however the saddle did not realise they were about to turn and slid down. it is not clear whether bonzo bucked before or after this happened but herself ended up on the deck. luckily bonzo is very fond of herself and came over when she called but due to his large size and bouncy nature there was no way of getting back on so herself had to walk home.

the next time herself rode, she decided to ride around the field first to settle bonzo down. he was rather on edge and showed this by galloping off and bucking herself off. this time she landed less gently. bonzo came over, shaking like a leaf, to see if she was ok. she was just about ok but very battered. luckily the peeps have plenty of heavy duty painkillers left from when himself had his kidney op so she managed to avoid completely seizing up but it was clear that bonzo would need a little more training before they ventured out again.

luckily the lovely man where herself used to ride is an expert in talking sense into wayward young hosses. so it was arranged that bonzo would go for a little holiday to his yard and herself would go along every day and learn how not to fall off. the lovely man is coming to collect bonzo on friday. and when bonzo returns he will have a little lady friend to share his field. he is clearly lonely and herself has been searching high and low to find a companion but until this week had no luck at all. the little lady friend is a shetland pony called libby. i am not sure what libby will make of the magnificent bonzo. at least she can shelter from the rain under him.

this afternoon herself went up to the field. before she got there she came across bonzo on the track, chatting to another hoss over its fence. luckily herself had a tow rope in the car, and also luckily she knows how to fashion a halter from a rope from her youthful days of riding other people's horses when they weren't looking. bonzo was persuaded to return to his own field. herself went into mrs collie's house and did her cleaning, peering out every now and again to check the errant hoss was in the correct place. when she had washed the floors she left, carefully locking up mrs collie's house. as she got out onto the track she saw bonzo down the track chatting to the hoss from earlier, just as though nothing had happened. herself was less than impressed with this as she had just spent over an hour sorting out the electric fence, getting a shock in the process.

bonzo was persuaded to return yet again with the promise of food. by now the light was going and it was raining hard. herself stood in the field wondering what to do. clearly she could not take bonzo home. we only have a small house and he is a large fellow. but equally clearly she could not contain him in the field. luckily there are some stables owned by mrs collie's neighbours. herself went round there. a lady was feeding her hoss and told herself that she had had to return bonzo to his field earlier, having witnessed him leaping out over the fence. this did not fill herself with joy. she had thought he had stepped over the fence after it fell down. it was not welcome news that he could jump.

"oh, no - he jumped out. he has a huge jump. i saw him last week jumping backwards and forwards over the electric tape that you put in to keep him out of the muddy patch!"

this hoss is clearly something of a comedian.

the lady who owns the stables arrived and after some discussion about worms and passports it was arranged that bonzo would board with them until friday. herself went to fetch him. he was most impressed with the facilities, apart from the geese, who he took a bit of a dislike to. herself had to rush off to fetch my boy from college and deposit him at home and then she returned to feed bonzo and put him to bed, finally getting home properly at 7pm.

all i can say is this hoss makes young dave look very well behaved indeed...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

matters automotive

dear readers, here is a picture of a car very like our new motor. the new motor is called gerald and the peeps are hoping for a little more luck than they had with arthur the audi. as regular readers will recall, herself bought arthur the audi with the remains of her redundancy money. he was a most luxurious vehicle and went very fast but after some months things went the way of the pear, as they have a habit of doing in these parts.

arthur's little problem became apparent at a most inopportune moment, when the next-doors had borrowed arthur to make an important trip to the west country. water suddenly flooded into the footwell and soaked mr next-door's feet. it transpired that this was a problem not unknown in audi A6s. herself got on the net and read about it in some detail. i will not bore you with the technical details but it all comes about because a very tiny drain hole under the bonnet gets blocked, causing water to pour in through the heater vent.

this would not be quite so bad were it not for the fact that the clever people who designed these vehicles had decided to place the car's brains in the floor. just where the water ends up is the computer that works all the electrics. and what do you know - when the computer gets wet all the electrics go funny. the car locks itself with no warning. this is very funny if the keys are inside and the owner is outside. the car flashes its indicators randomly. this can perplex other drivers. sometimes the indicators stay on and don't flash. this happened when the peeps were towing mrs next-door's car to the garage and could have resulted in a double whammy of an accident. there are many other symptoms of a wet brain in a car, most of which give the impression that the car is haunted.

the local garage was unable to ascertain the cause of the water so herself reluctantly booked arthur into the audi dealers. it transpired that the problem was indeed caused by the blocked drain holes and that it would cost a lot of money to fix. the computer part on its own was over £600. herself could see no option but to have the work done and used up the last of the 'emergency cushion money' which the peeps had in the bank in case they needed to buy cushions in a hurry. the bill came to over £1,000 so it is lucky that we have plenty of cushions already.

the following week, while cruising down a canal in scotland, herself received a phone call. it was the audi dealers, calling to tell her that her car was subject to a manufacturer's recall in respect of a problem to do with blocked drain holes.

"i know all about blocked drain holes," squeaked herself, "you folks have just relieved me of over a grand to sort this out!" needless to say, matters did not rest there. on our return from our hols herself engaged in protracted correspondence with the local audi dealers and audi uk over the refund of the money. it was not until she made it clear that a) she was a lawyer and b) if the money did not turn up pronto she would see them in court, that a cheque miraculously appeared.

herself thought this was the end of the matter. but a couple of weeks later arthur had to go in for his yearly MOT test. he failed miserably and herself had to shell out yet more money to fix him up so he could be driven. £800 later arthur was in the middle of his re-test when the brakes jammed on. the garage phoned herself. it appeared that arthur needed a new brake servant because, you guessed it, the drain plugs were blocked again and water had been sucked into the brake system. the garage stripped everything down and wrote herself a report which she could send to audi. arthur was off the road for over a week while the part was sent from audi, who had run low on stocks of them. this is hardly surprising given this masterful piece of automotive design.

while arthur was off the road herself was lucky enough to borrow her maamship's audi tt, a vehicle of modest size but great style. unfortunately young dave and i are not allowed in it due to young dave's unsavoury habits. also unfortunately, it is a rather low slung beast and could not be trusted to make it up to the hoss's field without becoming impaled on the rocky track. herself therefore spent several happy nights striding along the track to feed the hoss in the dark in the face of horizontal wind and rain. arthur's name was mud, as was the field.

no sooner had arthur returned than herself was yet again in correspondence with audi. this time they did not put up much of a fight and a cheque to pay for the brake servant was soon winging its way to us. by now it had become apparent that a car with greater ground clearance was going to be needed to get up to the field but herself had fallen out of love with arthur anyway so did not feel in the slightest bit sad to see the back of him. and so we are now the proud owners of gerald, having part-exchanged arthur.

gerald is a very pleasant vehicle and apparently has heated seats in the front. not that young dave and i are ever going to get to try them. the heated seats have come in very handy for herself as she is rather battered and bruised, having fallen off the hoss twice in just over a week. i will save that little saga for another post...