Sunday, December 26, 2010


dear readers, i hope you all enjoyed a happy and peaceful christmas. the peeps had a very low-key but fun time. my boy was born a couple of weeks before christmas, not being able to wait until his due date in january, and so tends to have one big present for both. this year's present was a graphics card for his computer. this is to make the pictures on the screen more realistic, so much so that the virtual world is fast becoming indistinguishable from the real one.

because my boy had already been given his graphics card, herself decided to buy him a new dressing gown and slippers so he would have something to unwrap on christmas day. herself does not do well in crowded shops, so she planned to go along to the nearby 24 hour tesco at an hour when other folks would have something better to do. this plan, like many, did not go quite how herself would have liked.

herself's friend mrs toby spends her time between denmark, where her beloved man lives, and england, where her beloved horse lives. at some point mrs toby plans to locate both beloveds in the same country but for the time being lives a rather peripatetic life. a couple of days before christmas mrs toby was due to visit. at about teatime herself received a text message from mrs toby, who is a little averse to telephone conversations. the text said that mrs toby was stuck in tesco doing her last minute christmas shopping and would be along as soon as she could.

herself decided that there was no time like the present for buying a present and texted back to say she would meet mrs toby by the tills in tesco, and would therefore be able to give her a lift back to our place. mrs toby was easy to find as she was wearing a very big high-viz jacket. herself helped mrs toby to choose which queue to join (a fellow high-viz jacket wearer was in one of the queues and herself suggested to mrs toby that she would be less conspicuous next to someone in similar attire) and then went off to collect the dressing-gown and slippers.

on returning to the tills herself was overwhelmed by the length of the queues, which had increased yet further. the only tills that had no queue were the self-service ones. these are tills where you scan your own stuff rather than a person doing it for you. they have various crafty gadgets to stop you forgetting to pay for anything. herself and my boy have tried them before but they made them feel guilty, even though they were not stealing anything. however, in the interests of escaping tesco as quickly as possible herself approached the machine.

the slippers were scanned and a bleep went off to let herself know that she could put them in the bag. herself had brought an ecologically sound cotton shopping bag with her but the machine seemed to want the shopping to go into its own plastic bag and kept showing a message to that effect. when herself tried to substitute her cotton bag for the plastic one the machine told her that the slippers were the wrong weight. herself gave in on the bag issue and turned her attention to the dressing-gown. again the machine bleeped to let her know all was well and instructed her to place it in the plastic bag. it then told her to checkout and asked her if she had brought her own bag. herself by now was feeling decidedly misunderstood by the machine but thought better of engaging in a debate with it. she went and stood by the window to wait for mrs toby to finish paying. on the way out the alarm went off but as it seemed to be going off all the time herself and mrs toby took no notice.

i will now fast forward to christmas morning. my boy unwrapped his present and was thrilled to bits with it. the slippers fitted perfectly and the dressing-gown was as soft as could be. he tightened the belt.

"mum," he asked, "did you nick this?" he pointed to the anti-theft tag that was still in the neck.

"of course not," said herself, "they must have missed taking the tag out!" in her youth she was something of a dab hand at shoplifting, aided at times by a voluminous cloak which had belonged to her mother. she had to abandon this potentially lucrative career when she decided to train to enter the legal profession, but she has teased my boy with the promise that as soon as she retires she will resume a life of crime, so his assumption was not quite as odd as may at first appear. i should say that my boy is horrified at the idea of having to fetch his mother from the police station and has threatened to disown her if she so much as dreams of failing to pay for her shopping.

it was agreed that as soon as the shops opened they would take the dressing-gown back and have the tag removed. himself stressed the need to take the receipt along too, in order to avoid arrest.

it was not until her maamship and the prof came over for a cuppa that the reason for the tag still being there became apparent. it was when herself was describing her antics with the self-service machine that the penny dropped. the machine had been so busy worrying about the bags that it had forgotten to take out the tag...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010


dear readers, those of you who were paying attention will have noticed that in my last post i referred to being in something of a grump (aunty jos - you are forgiven for misunderstanding whose grump it was - i know it is hard to keep track of events round here). the reason for my grump will now become clear.

as is the way with things round here, i will need to go back several steps to explain how things came about, so pay attention. or make notes.

above is a picture of ellie. she is one of grandma's dogs and is a sort of lurcher. she claims to be 10 years old but i feel this is a demonstration of the vanity of the female of the species and that she is probably older than me.

[editor's note - much more of this sexist drivel, joker, and you will be doing your own typing]

moving swiftly on, ellie is one of two dogs owned by grandma. the other is gemma, who is even older and is rather rotund. grandma believes in indulging her dogs. this has led to them having slightly flaky manners in a number of areas, particularly involving food.

on tuesday grandma had a fall. or in fact two falls, the first being when she was pulled over by ellie on the grass in the park. the second was unfortunately on concrete in the post office, when grandma was opening the door for a lady with a pram (grandma is a lady of impeccable manners, unlike her dogs, and great thoughtfulness). an ambulance was called and grandma was taken off to hospital where it was discovered that she had a fractured pelvis. this is no joke for anyone, but for someone of 80 it was decidedly unwelcome.

the first the peeps knew of this was when uncle martin phoned that evening. arrangements were made to visit grandma the following day. the peeps suggested that grandma's dogs could come and stay while she was in hospital. uncle martin is out at work all day so this was on the face of it a good idea.

the following day the peeps went off to see grandma, and came back with the two lady dogs. young dave was thrilled with having new folks to sniff and pester. i have in the past enjoyed good relations with the lady dogs and was looking forward to their visit. however, while the lady dogs with grandma are pleasant guests, the lady dogs without grandma are an entirely different kettle of fish. to be fair, gemma is no trouble. but ellie was extremely anxious and squealed and fussed. when bedtime came she sat at the bottom of the stairs howling loudly, interspersed with barking. herself came down and settled her into the living-room, shutting the door behind her. but the racket came up through the floor and herself and my boy spent most of the night trailing up and down trying to keep the neighbour nuisance to a minimum.

the following day the whole household (apart from himself, who could sleep through a hurricane) was rather tired. i have to admit i was not at my best. but we are nothing if not adaptable and that afternoon young dave and i took the lady dogs to the park to show them the ropes. when we got back himself had just returned from the pub, where he repaired after work with mr snake-charmer. since herself gave up alcohol she has a tendency to adopt a rather frosty air when himself goes to the pub - you would think he was sitting on a bench sipping absinthe. there is nothing quite so messianic as a convert.

anyway, i digress. himself bumbled around getting the dinner ready for young dave and i and our canine guests. i am not quite sure what happened next but all i remember is seeing ellie jumping up trying to get her nose in my bowl on the worktop and the next thing i saw red and lost the plot. regular readers will know that i am usually a gentleman and no-one was more surprised than i to see ellie sitting on the sofa with a wound to her head. in my defence i can only plead lack of sleep having affected my judgment.

herself rang the local vet hospital and arranged for ellie to be seen. the vet had a look at ellie and gave her some jabs and said she had to come back the next day to be sewn up. that night we had a reasonable night's sleep. i think ellie was feeling somewhat chastened. there was also the added advantage of himself having been banished to the sofa on account of his snoring.

the next day herself was up early to take ellie to the vet hospital. young dave and i and gemma, our other visitor, had a quiet day. at about 8pm herself brought ellie back. the bill was over £500. ellie was wearing a large trumpet collar to stop her scratching her stitches. it had the disadvantage of amplifying her wailing and barking in the manner of a megaphone. she carried on wailing and barking all evening. i have to say i was not entirely thrilled. i may have made this known with a curled lip. later in the evening i may even have let out the odd growl.
when it came to bedtime there was a certain amount of kerfuffle about where the canine members of the household were to sleep. himself had already dozed off on the sofa and was snoring like a train so herself covered him with a duvet and left him there. there followed several hours of too-ing and fro-ing by my boy and herself, trying to settle ellie down and keep me from showing my displeasure with my teeth. himself slept like a baby throughout.

herself decided that if ellie knew that she had human company she might feel comforted. she pulled out one of himself's arms from under the duvet and placed it on ellie. the arm was pulled back under the duvet. herself tried again. this produced an expletive from himself, who was still asleep.

by 2am tempers were frayed. herself could hear the neighbours (the other side to the next doors) muttering through the wall. they are nice people but even nice people find the sound of a dog screeching for hours on end a little trying. eventually herself and my boy fell asleep, to the sound of howling. herself dreamed of dogfights and my boy dreamed of vats of petrol in the back of the car. in the morning the peeps rang uncle martin and recounted the events of the previous couple of days. it was agreed that the visiting dogs should return to grandma's house, where uncle pete would be coming home for christmas shortly. they were duly returned. by all accounts the journey was somewhat hellish, with icy roads and deafening screeching from ellie the whole way. but the minute she set foot in grandma's house it was as though someone had flicked a switch and the racket stopped.

if anyone had thought to mention that uncle pete was going to be at grandma's house the lady dogs would not have had come to stay with us in the first place...

Friday, December 17, 2010

the snood

dear reader, here you can see the young snake-charmer modelling herself's latest creation. herself has taken up knitting in an effort to while away the dark winter nights. her friend the hypnotist has shown her a website where you can look up patterns to knit and find out all about knitting. needless to say, herself has taken to knitting with gusto. you couldn't hear yourself think for the clicking of needles. as soon as it was finished herself wanted a photo of it for the knitting website. as the young snake-charmer was visiting she offered to be the model.

no sooner had the young snake-charmer got into the snood than she let out a massive sneeze and ran towards the kitchen in search of kitchen paper.

"don't get snot on the snood!" wailed herself. luckily the snood escaped harm. after the young snake charmer had worn it for a while she complained of being hot and peeled it off.

it was then the turn of himself to try it:

once my boy had seen how fetching it was he too had a go:

i refused, being in something of a grump. but young dave was persuaded to model the snood, albeit reluctantly:

i somehow feel herself is unlikely to see much of it...

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

the business end

here is a picture of young dave on the beach. my more observant readers will note that he is searching for something to eat. this is one of young dave's favourite pastimes. unfortunately for the rest of us, young dave is not discerning in what he eats. or rather, he is discerning, but not about the same things as the rest of us. whereas i might choose to eat something because it tasted nice, or because it represented a challenge to my skills in craftiness and thievery, young dave selects his foodstuffs on the basis of their microbe content. the mouldier the better would seem to be his motto, especially with things found on the beach or the farm.

this has led to some interesting outcomes. usually they are limited to those of the gaseous variety, but occasionally young dave's gastronomy leads him into more dangerous waters. such was the case last week. i have no idea what morsel set off the reaction but young dave was dashing outside with rather more urgency than usual. this would not have been cause for comment had it not coincided with thick snow.

young dave was introduced to snow some while ago but, as is his way, he had filed the experience under "not particularly edible" and not given it much further thought. so when we had a thick covering of snow in the garden he had pulled up sharp with surprise, before teetering across it looking like someone in stiletto heels. to watch young dave trying to answer a rather urgent call of nature without putting too much weight on his back legs made me laugh until my old sides ached.

the snow remained for several days. this meant that young dave's outpourings left the garden looking like a jackson pollock painting. i had to pick my way carefully round them when leaving my more modest offerings. eventually the snow thawed and the peeps were able to make some effort at clearing up the damage. young dave continued to burble inwardly and produced further colourful delights on the newly cleaned deck. by now he was on a diet of plain boiled rice, having been starved for 24 hours, but there was apparently still scope for artistic endeavour. then we had a very sharp freeze.

by now herself was a little tired of the jackson pollock thing and was pleading with young dave for a move towards the techniques of frank auerbach. frozen pools of colourful dog soup were doing nothing for her already rather low mood. one particularly cold morning she was coming into the house and came across mr next door on his way out. she thought she had better explain.

"in case you see me kneeling in the garden scraping the paving and the deck with a paint scraper, its not what it looks like," she said. i am not sure what this behaviour would look like. the possibilities range from a new found interest in archeology to a case of rapid-onset obsessive compulsive disorder.

"its just that i've clearing up frozen puddles of dog diarrhea," she went on, proceeding to explain about young dave's internal difficulties in more detail than necessary.

"i wouldn't have dreamed of drawing any adverse inference from your behaviour," mr next door assured her, no doubt making a mental note to refrain from offering to assist.

it is just as well that we have kind and understanding neighbours...

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

an unwieldy beast

dear readers, i will not even bother with grovelling about my lack of communication. by now no-one will be here to hear my snivelling anyway. in the past, when life has thrown its little slices of chaos in her direction, herself has been in the habit of drawing comfort from the blog-fodder that it will provide. many is the time when, rather than bursting into tears, she has chuckled quietly at the sheer silliness of it all and consoled herself with how much i would enjoy recounting events to my readers.

lately she has fallen into the habit of taking life a little too seriously and i have had to point out that not only is this bad for her, but it is bad for me too. after all, i have my reputation as a world-famous author to think of. so when the saga of the futon began to unfold, i made sure she recorded events with her camera.

a futon, for those readers who have not had the pleasure of meeting one, is a mattress made of cotton and more cotton, squashed into a cotton cover. it is worthy and ethical and environmentally sound. its one drawback is that it is not very comfortable. that is to say, the only way to make one comfortable is to heave it up and roll it round every day to fluff up all the cotton. modern life being what it is, most futons remain unfulfilled on the fluffing up front. ours was no exception and the peeps had been waking up with aching bones for quite some time. eventually herself decided enough was enough.

"we'll just have to get a mattress with springs!" she said.

"we'll save up for one," said himself, ever the sensible one.

"but you have the money left from your tax rebate," pointed out herself, failing to mention that the money left from the tax rebate had pretty much disappeared after the incident with the cone.

"that's in case of emergencies."

regular readers will recall that herself is not very good at waiting. after another night of a sore back herself decided that this was indeed an emergency. no sooner had she mentioned the mattress idea to her maamship than she had been given details of the correct mattress to purchase and where to purchase it from. an order was duly placed on the appropriate website for mattresses.

herself thought it prudent to mention this to himself on the basis that it would be a rather large delivery to pass unnoticed. once himself had got over his irritability at having his tax rebate usurped he was pleased at the prospect of a comfy night's sleep and asked herself what she proposed to do with the futon.

"i'll put it on freecycle," she said. freecycle is a website where you can advertise things that you don't want so other folks can have them. herself is a frequent visitor due to her de-cluttering tendencies. as soon as the new mattress had arrived the futon was advertised. the peeps left it folded in half on the bedroom floor. as the bedroom is not all that large this meant they had to climb over the futon every time they went in and out.

"never mind, " said herself cheerily, "its only for a day or two!"

the first advert drew some interest but unfortunately not from anyone with the means to transport the futon to their home. these futons are heavy things and are not amenable to pedestrian travel. so herself put it on freecycle again. by now a week had passed. several people got in touch.

the first person arranged to collect the futon on monday evening. mondays are a busy day for herself. she has to take my boy to his college, which is 16 miles away. then she has to drive to work, which is 21 miles in the opposite direction, pretty much going past the house. then she has to spend the day at work, which is not exactly a bundle of laughs these days.

after work she has to drive back to pick my boy up from college, which is another 21 miles. they she and my boy go to sort out the magnificent bonzo (uncle gary lets him out into his field on work days which saves even more driving). this is another 22 miles. then they have to shovel out his stable, get him his hay and water and his dinners and fetch him in from his field. herself then has to spend a few moments hugging the magnificent bonzo and getting all the office nonsense out of her head after which she and my boy drive home, another 9 miles. as it is 2 hours between leaving work and getting home, herself tends to fancy a little rest when she gets in, before she goes out again to a weekly meeting where she makes the teas so has to be on time.

on this particular monday the rest bit was not on the menu. as herself and my boy opened the front door they were greeted by the sight that is recorded in the photo above. while it looks like a rather large person lying down, i can assure you that it is the futon. himself had started to bring it downstairs ready for the person to collect it. it had then got stuck.

my boy dissolved in giggles and proceeded to lie down on the futon. young dave and i came out to see what the fuss was and were almost crushed as it slid further down the stairs. herself edged round and went into the living-room while himself and my boy tried to drape the futon over the banisters. it was not particularly co-operative. himself at this stage began to get tetchy, which set my boy off into further giggles. when himself began to shout herself decided it was time to leave for her meeting.

when she returned later on the futon was no longer on the stairs. herself breathed a sigh of relief. unfortunately her relief was short-lived. as she went into the living-room she was greeted with the following sight:

while she was of course pleased to see yours truly, she was less pleased to see my new bed. as the more perceptive of my readers will have deduced, the futon was still here.

the following day herself got in touch with the next person who had replied. she stressed the general air of the surreal that surrounded the "give away the futon" project and extracted a promise from the potential new owner that they would come that very afternoon to collect it.

tuesdays are the same as mondays in terms of mileage, the only difference being that herself does not have anywhere to go out to once she is home. when she and my boy finally opened the front door on tuesday evening and rushed into the living-room, the futon was still there.

"you couldn't make this up!" said herself, "are we destined to have a giant dog bed with us for ever?"

as she put the kettle on (a figure of speech, dear readers, and nothing to do with being sartorially challenged) the door knocker went. at the door was a man with wonderful boots and long curly hair. he bore some resemblance to an ageing rock star.

"ah, you've come for the futon!" cried herself, dragging him inside and closing the door before he could make his escape. had the man come to try to sell us new windows, or indeed an electric guitar, he might have been somewhat surprised. regardless of his primary purpose in paying us a visit, he would not have been allowed to leave without taking the futon with him. fortunately he was the new owner of the futon. without further ado the beast was heaved into the back of his car and given a send-off more appropriate to the launching of a luxury liner.

the only member of the family who was sorry to see it go was me. i have had to revert to slumming it on the sofa...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

jobz for the dogz

dear readers, i have to start with another groveling apology. as ever. that is, if i have any readers left, which i doubt after all this time. in the cut-throat world of blogging it is important to keep your reader's interest by occasionally writing something.

life has been busy as always. herself has been in the running for a promotion at work which has involved a lot of looking like a grown up responsible person, at least while at work. she was unsuccessful at this and remains a serf, so normal service is resumed on the grown up and responsible front. it appears that what let her down in her ambitions for global domination was the presentation that she had to give as part of the interview. the presentation had to be about reorganising the department. herself's presentation focused on the fact that unless the department made itself useful to its clients and the outside world, reorganisation would be about as much use as rearranging the deckchairs on the titanic. the feedback on her presentation was that she had not focused enough on what was good about the current structure, which rather suggests that she had not made her point forcefully enough.

herself was not helped in her attempts to look grown up and responsible at work by her dealings with the lift. herself works on the 2nd floor of the building. many of her colleagues take the stairs but herself takes the view that as she spends such a lot of her time moving the not insubstantial steaming piles left by the magnificent bonzo she does not need any more exercise. the lift has a lady's voice that tells you which floor you are on, and where it plans to go next. what is supposed to happen when it reaches the 2nd floor is that the voice should say: "second floor. doors closing. going down."

lately the lift has become confused. the voice has been saying: "second floor. doors closing. going up." and then "third floor. doors closing. going up." this is alarming. there is no 3rd floor.

herself told her colleagues about this. they were of the view that the lift was becoming unstable and might break down at any moment. ignoring the possibility that this may have been a devilish plan by management to save electricity and improve the fitness of the workforce, herself decided to be a good citizen and report the fault. she toddled down to the reception desk in the front hall. there sits a lady in a smart uniform who is in charge of dealing with the public, and occasionally members of staff.

"i'd just like to report a problem with the lift," she said. "the lady in the ceiling of the lift thinks she is on the third floor and that she is going up."

the receptionist gave her a long look. herself persevered.

"the lady in the lift is saying 'third floor. doors closing. going up.' when as you know there is no third floor and even if there was there would be no 'up' from there as there certainly isn't a fourth floor."

the receptionist looked desperately round for security but was unable to find them. they were probably chatting to the lady in the lift. the receptionist promised to report the problem to the relevant department and went back to being icily polite to members of the public. i can't help but think that before herself had even made it back to her office rumours were circulating.

there is an upside to herself's thwarted ambitions. she has gone back to working two days a week. this means we see much more of her. and this week she has not been to work at all as she has taken a couple of days off. she decided it was necessary to be around as my old sparring partner lupin has come to stay. this is because mrs lupin has gone off for a few days to recharge her batteries. mrs lupin regularly sings arias to lupin which has led to him singing back, rather less tunefully. given my history with lupin herself thought it prudent to be around to mop up any little spills of blood. i am of course big enough to let bygones be bygones. at least as long as he keeps his skinny nose out of my bowl, and refrains from attempting mahler.

coincidentally, this week the downstairs is being painted. some time ago himself agreed to paint the downstairs during the long summer holidays that people who work in schools need to have. the long summer holidays came and went. himself made a start but sadly term started before he had got very far. herself embarked on a programme of snidey remarks about the half-finished kitchen. then girl in a trench e-mailed to say she would be down this week and would be able to put in some decorating days for the peeps. so you have the makings of a wonderful blog post - lupin, bleeding copiously all over newly-painted white walls as he is pursued by yours truly, while young dave sits with his paws over his ears, praying for a door-to-door salesman to call and distract me with talk of plastic windows.

part of the decorating project is replacing the bookcases with shelves made from old scaffolding planks. herself plans to make a feature of the wood being distressed and therefore less likely to need dusting. i think after being exposed to lupin's singing any wood would be distressed. it might even be tempted towards self-immolation. herself has talked her buddy into building the new bookcases. he is by all accounts a dab hand with a saw. on friday they are going to buy the scaffolding planks.

we are also being visited by mrs captain and her youngfolk. and possibly the captain as well, although he may be otherwise engaged flying a large plane. they are arriving on friday and will be staying at her maamship's house over the road for the weekend. there is great excitement as the peeps haven't seen them for a couple of years. on friday mrs captain is going to be at a nearby village for choir practice with her old choir and will need to be collected at lunchtime on friday. she rang today to make the final arrangements. upon hearing that herself would be fetching scaffolding planks on friday before picking her up, mrs captain said that she could feel some blog-fodder presenting itself in this sequence of events. she has not even heard about the operatic lurcher...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


always wear a seat belt

it has taken me several days to persuade herself to sit down and write this post. on this occasion this is not because she has been uber-busy. it is that she feels something of a twit. i don't see why this should prevent me from sharing what is, after all, a rather good story.

last week our car, together with its boot, was booked in for a service. it was not before time; the poor thing had developed an awful lot of squeaks and groans, what with bombing up and down to see the magnificent bonzo. hosses never live anywhere with a decent road. they prefer their digs to be situated at the end of a bumpy track like the surface of the moon, which, while it may suit a hoss, does not suit a car. our car is what is known as a 4 wheel drive, which in theory makes it more able to cope with the bumps. (i am not sure how you could drive a car with any less wheels. it would surely tip over? ) but in any event it needed a bit of tender loving care.

herself duly drove up to the garage where the work was to be done. as it was some way away, she had arranged to borrow a car from them for the day.

"you'll have to insure it yourself," said the car lady.

"that's fine, i'm covered in other people's cars," replied herself, confidently. the lady gave her the key to a little brand new red shiny car.

no sooner had herself turned the key in the ignition and let out the clutch than there was the sickening noise of scraping metal. herself applied the brakes. outside the driver's door was a cone. this in itself would have been innocent enough, but the cone hid a heavy metal post. i can only assume that the cone had been placed there to alert people to the existence of the post. how herself had managed to get into the car without falling over the cone is beyond me. the man from the garage said pretty much the same thing.

"you'll just have to claim on your insurance," said the man, "its going to need two new doors and quite a bit of other work."

herself gulped. when she said she was covered on other people's cars, what she meant was that she was covered if she bashed into other cars, not if she was stupid enough to bash into a stationary object. her insurance only allows her to bash into stationary objects if she is driving her own car.

"that's easy enough," said the man, "just ring your insurers and put temporary cover on our car, then later on ring them and tell them you have had a crash."

herself explained that in her line of work insurance fraud was frowned on. she also pondered on the irony of the situation. only the day before herself had spent some time telling my boy that under no circumstances was lying acceptable and that 'white lies' were still lies. this conversation had involved various examples of how to avoid being brutally truthful whilst not actually lying.

"if someone says 'does my bum look big in this?' you say something like 'that colour is lovely on you (if it is) rather than 'yes it looks huge!'" she explained.

"but you always say you want to know if your bum looks big!" protested my boy, truthfully.

"well, i do, but then you are my tame clothing adviser," said herself, "you have to be a bit more gentle with other people." i am not sure how much of the subtelty of all this sank in. my boy is not always terribly subtle.

herself did not trouble the garage man with discussions of morality. he did not seem to be that sort of man. the garage man showed her up some steps to a place where customers could sit and have a cup of coffee and read shiny magazines full of pictures of cars with no dents in them. eventually a more senior man came.

"its going to cost over a grand," he said. he showed herself a breakdown of the cost. even with them doing the work at cost price it was still £1,200. this is more than herself earns in a month. herself gulped again. the service would be another £500. there was no option but to take the little brand new red shiny car and drive around in it for the day. at least the door still opened and closed. herself took the precaution of ringing her insurers from the garage and putting the little brand new red shiny car on her insurance on the basis that just because she had stuffed one side of it in didn't mean that there wasn't another post out there waiting to stuff the other side in.

fortunately, himself is sitting on some money from a tax rebate. even more fortunately the money just covered the cost of the garage bill. less fortunately, himself does not like nasty surprises where money is concerned. or indeed at all. herself spent the whole day worrying about how he would react. as regular readers will know, himself is a man with something of a short fuse on certain occasions.

herself was a little wobbly when she got in. himself gave her a cuddle. herself mistook this for an ideal moment to drop her bombshell.

"you've what?" roared himself, backing away from her and standing behind the table, as though bashing into posts was a communicable disease.

"how much?!!" he continued, at a slightly higher volume. herself went off to have a bath. sometimes you are so much on the back foot that you are better off lying down...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the old boot

herself is in bed having a cup of tea before starting on her day so i have pressed her into typing for me so my readers don't get the idea that i have deserted them. it is getting harder and harder to find a moment when she is not tearing around doing things. a chap just has to pick his moment i suppose. (even then, while i was yawning, she was dashing off into cyberspace to check on some new webby thing she has been playing about with! the woman has the attention span of a gnat!)

anyway, back to the point of this post. last week, herself and mr next door decided to go to a car boot sale. i was mightily alarmed at this. the car boot is where young dave and i travel. was she planning on putting us on the roof if she sold the car boot? whilst i am sure young dave would look on roof travel as an adventure, for a chap of my age it would be torture. my old bones are not so good in a draught.

however it transpired that the car boot was not going to be sold. it seems that a car boot sale is some new-fangled idea where you fill up your car boot with all the things that clutter up your house, drive them to a field and sit there all morning hoping someone else will come along who would like to use them to clutter up their house instead. as mad schemes go, this was not one of herself's most extreme, and it had the advantage of getting her out of the house for a while, so himself and my boy were relatively positive about it. that is, until they realised that in order to fill up your car boot with things that clutter up your house, you have to first retrieve them from the various dusty corners where they are located and pack them into boxes.

the whole operation of packing the clutter up was made rather less relaxing by the fact that herself had not grasped this basic point about car boot sales until the night before. or if she had, it had slipped her grasshopper-like mind. and to complicate matters further, the night before the peeps were over at her maamship's having a delicious meal. girl in a trench had concocted a mouthwatering fish pie which was followed by lots of chocolate. by the time the peeps returned home it was nearly 10pm.

himself settled down for a little spell on his laptop and my boy contented himself with wandering in and out making pithy remarks, while herself hauled books, cds and other associated clutter onto the floor. within minutes the living room looked as though we had been burgled. young dave and i resolutely held our nerve and lay pretending to be asleep on the sofa. i know from bitter experience that moving from one's warm spot at moments like these is a mistake. before you know it there will be a pile of junk in your place.

eventually the clutter was bagged up and placed in the hall and something resembling calm returned. the car boot sale started very early on sunday morning so herself retired to bed, to dream of becoming a millionaire from the sale of dog-eared novels and promotional cds.

sunday dawned sunny, as one would be entitled to expect, given its name. herself and mr next door loaded up the car and roared off to the appointed field. mr next door has been under the weather for quite a while and had not been to a car boot sale for some time, but luckily had not lost the knack. herself has only been to one in the distant past, so it was just as well she went with someone who knew what to do. people landed on the car like locusts as they pulled up. unfortunately they were more interested in mr next door's interesting bric a brac than our clutter. this was the theme of the morning, although herself did manage to offload the saddle that came with the magnificent bonzo and which no longer fits him, quite a few of the cds and books, and a jigsaw puzzle.

when herself returned home, himself and my boy gathered eagerly round to find out how much money she had made. it was at this point that a flaw in her marketing strategy became apparent. she tipped out a vast pile of coins and quite a few notes from her purse. himself and my boy counted it all.

"how much did you have as a float?" asked himself.

"i didn't have a float as such..." said herself, sheepishly.

it transpired that herself had no idea how much money had been in there before she went. normally this would not be a problem as herself rarely carries cash, rather like the queen. (although something tells me that if the queen went to a car boot sale she would have a butler handy to count the float.) but on this occasion herself had some money given to her by my boy from when she ordered a game for him on the internet, and more money given to her by girl in a trench when they went shopping at asda. so her moment of triumph was somewhat marred by lengthy calculations and loud laughter.

eventually it was agreed that she had made somewhere between £30 and £50, which was not bad for a morning's work. especially as the work involved sitting chatting, drinking tea and eating chocolate, activities which herself is well-versed in.

the plan is to repeat the experience next week. i feel a headache coming on...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

showing off

dear readers, i have been attempting to get herself to sit down and assist me for some time but this is the first opportunity that i have had to put paw to keyboard. last sunday was a write off from the writing point of view as the magnificent bonzo was in a hoss show. this was uncle gary's idea. uncle gary is very successful with his own hosses in hoss shows. he has a little stallion (who looks very like king charles the first) who scrubs up particularly well and often wins prizes for being the shiniest, hairiest or even simply the classiest little hoss at the show. because of his success uncle gary is asked by other people to show their hosses too. so many a summer weekend finds uncle gary giving one or more hosses a shampoo and set, ready for a hoss show.

uncle gary learned his shampooing skills in his previous career as a hairdresser. shampooing is what is known as a transferable skill. once you can shampoo a person it is fairly straightforward to branch out into hosses. there is the small matter of tails to perfect, but for someone as clever as uncle gary this presented no problems.

so how, i hear you ask, was herself persuaded to get involved in all this? for someone who makes a living arguing the toss with other people she is remarkably lacking in competitive spirit. and, while the magnificent bonzo certainly scrubs up well, herself is not known for her sartorial elegance. it seems that uncle gary sowed the seed a week or so before the show, with talk of it being a bonding experience for hoss and human and being a good opportunity for bonzo to practice his social skills. uncle gary is very good at psychology and knows that fluffy things like this appeal to herself.

it seems that there are classes where it is acceptable for the human to stay on the floor and lead the hoss round. these are known as 'in hand' classes. i have to say that this brought to my mind a rather colourful picture. the magnificent bonzo's magnificent wedding tackle is world famous through these pages and the thought of herself parading round the ring holding it brought tears to my eyes. but it appears that 'in hand' refers to the hosses head rather than parts further south.

anyway, the day before the show uncle gary and little lou gave the magnificent bonzo a bath in special blue shampoo to bring out his white bits. he was then dressed in a rather interesting garment which you can see from the picture. this was to keep him clean overnight (regular readers will be aware that bonzo shares young dave's proclivities in the rolling-in-poo department). herself was lent a tweed jacket by uncle gary and polished her boots up till i could see my face in them. she borrowed one of himself's ties and his white shirt.

the day of the show was sunny and hot. the hosses were put on the lorry and driven to the show. there were hoss vehicles everywhere. mrs rose was due to arrive later with her own hoss, fergus. mrs rose is an old hand at hoss shows, having been the hoss of the year show last year, so she is as cool as a cucumber about it all. my boy was lined up to come along to record the event with his camera. he duly arrived with himself, together with his lunch in the form of a flask of hot water and a tub of pot noodles. my boy is a great believer in being prepared for all eventualities.

the magnificent bonzo was entered in two classes: the best in hand coloured hoss and the handsomest gelding. (i appreciate to the uninitiated that all hosses are coloured, and indeed a black and white hoss like bonzo is less coloured than a brown hoss, but these hoss people are not the most logical souls). the classes involved the human leading the hoss round a field at a walk, then trotting along so the judge could see the fluffy feet in action.

it was the trotting bit that was herself's downfall. regular readers will know that herself had some difficulty in teaching bonzo that humans travel with considerably less velocity than hosses. however with perseverance and patience this has now been achieved. bonzo will walk along at herself's pace. all well and good until the time came to do the trotting bit. having been taught that trotting along with your human, particularly when they are face down on the ground clinging onto the end of the rope, was not good form, it was hardly surprising that bonzo would only walk round the ring. so he was placed last in the most handsomest gelding and fifth in the best coloured horse. herself was very happy with both as even coming in last place merited a rosette and bonzo was the most handsomest gelding in her eyes anyway.

as soon as she was out of the ring herself gratefully peeled off the tweed jacket and tie and got back into her "i never finish anyth" t-shirt. i feel that herself's showing career may have reached its peak. the hoss world will never know what it is missing...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

pastures new

hello dear readers! i have finally managed to get herself to sit still and type for me. as regular readers will know, she has been thrown a little off kilter by the loss of her dad. whereas most people might want to rest and relax when things like this happen, herself, after a short interlude of calm, got back her taste for activity.

to be fair, some of the activity was thrust upon her. there was the small matter of the chickens, for example. one afternoon at work herself received a text from mrs toby to let her know that the magnificent bonzo had seen some rather tasty looking grass over the track to his field and had decided to go over and sample it. he had failed to take into account the fence in the way and had simply launched himself at it in his usual enthusiastic fashion. he had cleared most of it but the top rail had bitten the dust. herself persuaded miss shell, who gives her a lift home from work, that they might need to leave a little earlier than planned. no sooner had she returned to her own desk than her phone rang. it was my boy.

"we're just on the way back from college," he told her.

"oh good," said herself, "i'll see you when i've fixed the fence up at the field." so famous are the magnificent bonzo's showjumping ambitions that this needed no explanation.

"there's a bit of a complication," said my boy.

herself waited.

"i've got a cockerel in the boot." it transpired that the cockerel was surplus to requirements at my boy's college due to being unable to father chicks. had my boy not brought him home he would have been for the chop.

"just as long as you understand that we are not setting up cockerel rescue!" said herself, mindful of the fact that she and her colleagues deal with complaints of noise nuisance in the area. as it was obvious that the cockerel could not live in our small but perfectly formed back garden due to his vocal range he was taken up to the field to share with the magnificent bonzo. he was named george and was temporarily housed in a metal feed bin pending more salubrious quarters being constructed. bonzo appeared to be oblivious to his operatic warblings and indeed took something of a brotherly interest in him.

the rest of that week was taken up with finding some company for george and building him a house. the company side of it was sorted out by mrs rose, who has many chickens. she was able to supply the peeps with a lady chicken who was duly named rose. this was particularly apposite as mrs rose has a husband called george. the accommodation was slightly more tricky. herself designed a chicken house which was to be made from a large crate that the snake-charmers donated, clad with the leftover wood from the horse shelter in the field. true to form, herself went at its construction hammer and tongs. unfortunately the hammer part of this very swiftly left herself with a painful and unusable arm. it appeared from research on the internet that herself had acquired golfer's elbow. for someone who has only played golf once (and that on the other side of the world so presumably using the other arm) this had a certain irony.

the lack of a hammer arm meant that himself and my boy were drafted in to finish the chicken house. suffice to say that there was a certain amount of discord. in fact so much discord that george the cockerel seemed positively melodious. eventually it was finished and the chickens moved in. an electric fence was purchased at great expense to stop them being eaten by foxes and then things briefly calmed down.

shortly afterwards bonzo was due to go to uncle gary's hoof camp for some more lessons. he has now progressed to the module on "keeping your rider calm in spite of squirrels leaping out from hedges and scaring her", to be followed by "putting up with inane hoof-curling sweet-talk from middle-aged women". the latter is essential study for all horses. it takes a strong stomach and an iron constitution to put up with some of the gooey nonsense herself and the Hoard of Menopausal Women come out with.

anyway, on the way back to uncle gary's in the lorry the talk turned to the sometimes tricky business of keeping a hoss up on the windy hill, especially in the winter. an arrangement was hatched out whereby herself would work in uncle gary's stables in return for bonzo's keep. there will still be hay and food to buy but there will be a lot less hassle and a lot more company. so bonzo's friend libby is going back to her owner and the chickens were moved yesterday to uncle gary's. the chickens traveled in her maamship's cat basket and the chicken house followed behind on the trailer. i could have sold tickets to the performance of putting the chicken house onto the trailer. and indeed getting it off at the other end. but eventually the chickens were ensconced in chicken heaven under a tree in the field at uncle gary's.

this morning herself and my boy went up to uncle gary's. when they arrived they saw an ambulance. it transpired that the chickens had been causing trouble. when the horses were being led in from the field george and rose had been making chicken noises and scrabbling around in their house. to a horse unfamiliar with chickens the house would have looked very scary and the horses panicked and galloped off. unfortunately a young person who works there got injured in the middle of it all. fortunately she was not badly hurt but she was very shaken and bruised and everyone felt awful, especially herself and my boy. the ambulance people checked her over and said she was ok to go home so her mum came to fetch her.

so the chickens had to be moved from where they were to somewhere out of the way of horses. herself and my boy spent the morning doing the whole chicken house moving thing again, although they have now for it down to something of a fine art with all the practice. the chickens are now in a new place and all that remains is for herself to erect the electric fence and they will be fine.

i have just realised that the 'small matter of the chickens' to which i referred earlier has turned out to be rather less small than at first appeared. so you will have to wait until next time to find out what else has been occurring...

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

sad news

dear readers, again i have to apologise for not writing for so long. this time it is not just that i haven't been able to get herself focused. our whole family has been low and rather lacking in fun. this is because herself's dad has died.

shortly after the horsebox affair, which my readers will recall from my last post, herself received a call from her dad's wife to say that he had had a stroke. this was not the nice sort of stroke that dogs and horses enjoy but more by way of a sort of brain accident which left him in a bad way. herself went up to wales to see him in hospital and came back very quiet and rather sad. it seems he was not able to talk or move or do very much other than show with his eyes that things were not feeling all that good inside. for someone who had ridden a motorbike until he was 70 it must have been hard being stuck in hospital unable to swear at anyone.

herself rang every night to see how things were. for some time they stayed the same but then went downhill. on 15 may he died.

i was very fond of him. he had a soft spot for dogs and whenever we met he would give my head a scratch and say nice things about me. he was nearly as old as me if you take the dog years/human years thing into account. last week was his funeral and he was given what the welsh call a good send off, with jazz music playing him out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

three wheels on my wagon

dear readers, i was going to fill you in on the progress in bonzo's education since his course. during the course he did particularly well at the module on 'how to tread on your human's foot and make it black and blue for a week'. the following day he built on his progress by jumping out of his skin at a passing shed while out on one of his walks, shoving herself face-first into a clump of brambles and nettles and leaving her face looking like she had fallen out with a tiger. but, true to form, life has thrown up yet more blog-fodder at a speed i find impossible to match.

the latest chapter came about because of herself's wish to continue bonzo's education with uncle gary, who is a first class teacher of both horses and their riders. it is rather pricey to pay for bonzo to be transported around the place so herself has been unable to take him to see uncle gary. the idea of purchasing a horsebox to transport him came upon her the other evening. no sooner had she had the idea than she was bidding on more than one horsebox on ebay. this was a rather risky strategy, although one of the horseboxes was only £5 at this point so the risk of having to embark on a programme of quantitative easing was lessened somewhat. in the event the £5 horsebox soon shot out of herself's price bracket, leaving her bidding on one that was within her budget (or more accurately within her overdraft limit).

herself was unable to wait for the outcome of the auction, and in any event the bidding price was reaching the 'buy it now' price, so herself's shopping finger clicked on the 'buy it now' button and the horsebox was ours. there is a little thing called paypal in ebay which allows you to pay for things very quickly indeed, so herself duly paid for the horsebox and then e-mailed the seller to arrange to pick it up.

it was at this point that things began to unravel somewhat. the seller wrote back to say she would only accept cash. herself replied that the ad had said that paypal would be fine. the seller appeared to have put the ad on ebay on her blackberry (not the edible sort, but a little communication gizmo that my more technically able readers will be familiar with) and had not pressed the correct button. anyway, herself was not to be put off and collared her maamship (who was down for the weekend) to come along with her. young dave and i were not allowed to join them, so what transpired took some time to filter through.

it appears that there were further communications from the seller during the journey, but none of these gave the exact address at which the trailer was stored. so herself and her maamship arrived in a little village in remotest surrey, where the local population was obviously extremely rich, without the foggiest idea where they were headed. they drove slowly around, trying not to look too dodgy, peering through hedges to see if they could see any horses (their combined forensic legal minds had concluded that someone with a horsebox to sell most probably had a horse to put in it). by now her maamship had started to giggle. herself kept trying to phone the seller but, what do you know, there was no mobile phone signal in the little village. i suppose the very rich people who live there send their butlers up to the top of the nearest hill to send text messages on their behalf when they need to contact their mates.

anyway, eventually herself and her maamship turned into a drive leading to a very large country mansion which had a sign saying that tradesmen and those visiting the riding stables should use the track to the left. on the basis that the people at the riding stables would know other people with horses in the area this was as good a plan as any. after travelling up a track for some time, turning round when they came to a dead end (by now extremely conscious that they were being monitored on cctv and probably being tracked by gun-toting private security forces) our intrepid explorers stopped to ask a man who was wielding a hose whether he knew where the seller lived. the man, at the mention of the name, looked as though he had a bad smell under his nose and pointed to a gate.

"they own those woods there," he said, before calling his dogs and retreating into his garden with the hose.

herself and her maamship parked by the gate and let themselves in, pausing to say hello to a bunch of dogs who were unconvincingly pretending to guard the place. a harassed looking woman greeted them, with a tale of woe about ebay and paypal and trailers and banks. she said her husband was on his way, at which point said husband arrived in a very large 4 wheel drive.

the conversation at this point concerned the fact that herself had clearly paid the price of the trailer to paypal and the fact that the seller and her husband had not managed to get the money into their bank account was due to their own lack of a password rather than anything herself had done. in spite of this the man asked herself how much cash she had on her, or whether she could let him have a cheque. she pointed out that as she had only just met him and his wife, and as they were in a wood rather than at an address, she was not inclined to part with any more money. when the man took a slightly lofty tone and said that it might be necessary to come back the following day, the fact that he was dealing with a solicitor and a judge somehow got dropped into the conversation in an effort to convince the man that the horsebox would not be stolen (for my american readers i should point out that our solicitors are rather different to yours) much to her maamship's embarassment.

there then followed a long discussion as to why the trailer was for sale which seemed to involve the sellers having bought it two weeks previously, from ebay. the reason the man gave for selling it so quickly was that his horse was too big for it. herself asked how big his horse was, to which the man replied that it was 18 hands high (a hand is a unit of measurement for a horse, and 18 of them makes for a very big horse). now call me a suspicious old lurcher but i would have thought that if you had a very big horse (and we are talking very, very big - the magnificent bonzo is only 16 hands high), you might just think to measure the trailer to make sure your horse would fit inside it. on the way back to the car, the man invited herself and her maamship into the barn to see his very big horse. herself was rather surprised to see that it did not appear to be an 18 hands high horse and indeed was not much bigger than bonzo. it could of course be the case that the floor inside the stable was lower but the man said the horse bit anyone who came near it so herself was unable to tell.

herself decided that at the end of the day what she was buying was the trailer in front of her and the sellers clearly had some sort of 'grip on reality' issue which she was not going to bother her head about. she and her maamship hitched it up, with the help of the slightly delusional man, and drove off. the minute they were out of earshot herself had pieced together a life story for the sellers, based on one or two facts and a lot of supposition. her maamship was slightly less judgmental, as befits someone who spends their whole week judging. she needs to sit on the fence at the weekends.

it would be hoped that this would be the end of the saga, but there is one final twist which i must share with you. it became necessary for herself to pull into a layby on the way home so a phone call could be made to himself to arrange for him to cook the evening meal (her maamship had promised fish pie but was of course unfortunately delayed). while they were there, her maamship took the opportunity to check the trailer. she was giggling even more when she got back into the car.

"call me pernickety," she said, "but there are only 3 wheels touching the ground. the fourth wheel is spinning in the air!" this did indeed seem to be the case. it was only when they got back to bonzo's field, and parked the trailer by the muckheap, that it was possible to see that the fourth wheel was a different size to the other 3. i feel a visit to a scrapyard in search of new wheels is likely to be the subject of my next blog post...

Friday, April 09, 2010

back to skool

dear readers, bonzo is going on a hoss course! herself came across a lady who teaches courses on 'what makes hosses tick' on the internet and decided to find out more. she was most impressed by the course outline and booked bonzo on straight away. today was the first day, when only the humans went along. herself came back full of how good it was and how nice the people were. one lady sounded particularly nice. she said that she really liked hairy lurchers so herself hooked out her phone and showed the lady pictures of young dave and i. it seems we were just the right amount of hairiness, and of course young dave looked very cute, as he does in a photo (in the flesh there is obviously the olfactory angle to deal with which is not to everyone's taste).

later on there was an exercise where the group had to get into pairs. one of them had to pretend to be a horse while the other one led them along. the one being the horse had to shut their eyes so they could experience how it was to move to someone else's signals. the lurcher-loving lady was herself's partner for this. it seems this lady had been blind for some years but had been given an operation which had restored some of the sight in one eye so she as at some advantage when it came to negotiating round a field without being able to see. after herself had been led round with her eyes shut, she said to the lurcher-loving lady how apposite it was to have the partially sighted leading the blind. luckily the lady had supernatural powers and understood this was intended to be witty or herself could have been dumped into the horse trough.

days 2 and 3 of the course have the hosses along. herself was a little worried about what sort of impression bonzo might make. he is very muddy at the moment as the field has been so wet. when the course lady rang to see about numbers, herself mentioned that bonzo looked rather like a yeti at the moment and she would have to tidy him up a bit. it seems this will not be a problem as they allow yetis as well as hosses.

the plan is for mrs rose, a friend of uncle gary's, and now of herself, to collect bonzo in her hoss trailer and deliver him to the course. he will stay overnight and then come back, with impeccable manners, on sunday evening. or at least that is the plan. i suspect it may take more than the one course...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

lazing on a sunday afternoon

dear readers, i know many of you will have been waiting with bated breath to find out what happened to the dishwasher. would the wonderful engineers manage to fix it or would the peeps be doomed to wash up by hand for ever more?

well, sunday dawned fine and herself was up with the lark to go and feed bonzo and libby. young dave and i tagged along and were rewarded with a walk along the south downs way. on the way we came across a man trying to tempt rabbits into a wooden box. young dave and i were just about to offer a little help when we were rather unceremoniously placed on our leads. we never did discover why the man had not just got himself a lurcher.

i digress. we shot off home and herself set to with gusto preparing a large brunch for her old friend traveling john, who had stayed the night, the snake-charmers and the next doors. there was a lot of frying and grilling, during which young dave managed to liberate several chipolatas. i think he would have settled for one but herself had failed to cut them apart from their fellows before cooking them. of course i had to help him finish them. there ensued a cheerful interlude of munching and chatting. eventually the guests began to head off to get on with stuff.

then there was a knock at the door. it was our aunty! and mr jos! they had come prepared with bags of tools and, hardly pausing for a cuppa, set to work dismantling the dishwasher. they very politely did not comment too much on the battered panels caused by herself having tried to lever them off without removing all the screws. aunty jos even refrained from commenting on herself's failure to keep track of which screw went where. things were going swimmingly until herself offered to help*. she was persuaded to stick to taking pictures of proceedings, so i will leave it to them to illustrate how our wonderful engineers sorted out the beast in double-quick time.

and here, dear readers, you can see a lot of shiny, clean pots and pans! yay!

it only remains for me to say, unaccustomed as i am to this sort of thing, that the peeps, young dave and i are forever grateful to aunty and mr jos. the peeps, for not having to wash up by hand, and young dave and i for the resumption of the canine pre-wash, which was put on hold for the duration due to handwashed plates not getting sterilised afterwards. bit fussy if you ask me but its all water under the bridge now...

*this sentence was actually thought up during the operation by aunty jos, but i am sure she will not mind me stealing it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

don't whine

dear readers, yet again i must apologise for the long gap in communication. things have been busy as usual. herself has been particularly busy. her additional energy has been due to a sudden healthy lifestyle choice. she has decided to give up wine, and indeed all alcohol. this was in part brought on by a desire to put to the test the saying "you can never be too rich or too thin". herself, as regular readers will know, is neither rich nor thin. but the theory is that she will be less poor and less fat under the new regime. and will no doubt live longer, allowing her to nag my boy for the foreseeable future with impunity.

the downside of this is that she no longer sits down and relaxes of an evening with a glass of wine. this has extended the period of frenetic activity each day considerably. spring cleaning is happening with a vengance, including a foray into my boys's room. my boy's room is a place where untold things live under the bed, and spiders swing from the ceiling. or did. herself hoovered under the bed, for what must be the first time since we moved in. this was accompanied by a fair bit of screeching at the sheer horror of it all. but my boy was happy with the result and can now breathe more easily.

the hoovering has not been confined to our house. as part of the 'help bonzo knit his own hay' project, herself has got herself another cleaning gig to pay for his shoes. horses need big metal shoes to stop their delicate little hooves from wearing out. (that may sound a little bitter but since when did anyone ever worry about my paws?) the big metal shoes don't come cheap. so the snake-charmers are going to pay for the shoes in return for hoovering duties.

mr snake-charmer has very dodgy lungs which get irritated by the tiniest bit of dust so herself is charged with taking their new monster dust-defying vacuum cleaner and giving their bedroom a forensic makeover once a week, followed by the rest of the house if there is time. i just hope the snakes keep their heads down. trying to get a snake out of the innards of a hyper-allergenic hoover might prove tricky.

other news - our aunty is going to visit tomorrow! and she is bringing her other half with her! this visit, so soon after the last one, was necessitated by our recalcitrant dishwasher. (i have mentioned to herself that if she had put those anti-calcium tablets in the dishwasher it might not have become recalcitrant but she was having none of it.)

regular readers will recall that a plan was formulated to mend the dishwasher with the aid of a webcam. suffice to say this, like many of herself's ideas, was not a success. it all started promisingly enough. the dishwasher was pulled out from under the worktop, and unplugged (our aunty had placed great store by the unplugging of the beast, no doubt because of the water involved.) herself's laptop was placed nearby with the webcam.

here the first problem became apparent. herself's laptop did not have the correct drivers for the webcam. there was a short interlude while she searched the internet in vain for them. then my boy's laptop was brought down. this too did not have the drivers but, being a pc rather than a mac (don't get me started on that whole thing) was more likely to be able to work with the webcam. but my boy's laptop was equally unable to assist. this was because it requires a little gadget in order to be able to pick up the wireless network and my boy could not lay his hands on the gadget.

herself had a cup of tea while she thought things through. then, before you could say "stick to the day job" she had disconnected all the plumbing from the dishwasher and wheeled it into the living room where big mac, her computer, lives. big mac knows how to use a webcam and has even been known to try skype on occasion. having positioned everything properly and procured a torch, herself made contact with aunty jos. aunty jos was already giggling. i fear she knew what was to come.

"it is really important that you make a note of which screw came from which bit," she said, "mark them with a magic marker or something." herself did not quite understand how important 'really important' was, and very quickly muddled all the screws up. but this was not the main problem. the main problem was that the webcam was of very low resolution. couple this with the dark innards of a dishwasher, illuminated only by a torch, and you are beginning to get the idea. aunty jos was unable to tell her actuator from her elbow. coupled with herself's inability to remove the side panels from the beast without using a crowbar (best avoided dear readers, if you want to use the appliance afterwards) it appeared that the endevour was doomed.

however, in the background was mr jos, who is also an engineer, and a filtration engineer at that (aunty jos is some sort of hydraulic engineer, i think). a plan was hatched whereby aunty and mr jos would come down and deal with the beast in person. i think even our dishwasher will have to admit defeat in the face of two engineers.

so the dishwasher was replaced to await its fate. however, true to form, herself failed to reconnect the drain pipe. this was because the dishwasher is no longer working so did not need to drain. what herself failed to appreciate was that the washing machine was still draining, and without the pipe from the dishwasher, was draining all over the floor.

it is just as well the floor is already ruined from a previous leak. and also just as well that the peeps have not yet got round to having it replaced. the insurers might have pulled a bit of a face at two claims for a new floor within as many months...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

an aunty!

dear readers, young dave and i have found ourselves an aunty! we haven't asked her yet but i hope she will take us on. she is already an experienced aunty to a couple of young chaps who sound like human versions of lurchers so we are hopeful that she will add us to her portfolio of nephews.

our new aunty came to visit at the weekend. she is called jos and is a friend of herself's. she lives a bit of a way away so she stayed the night. my boy offered to sleep on the sofa with young dave so aunty jos could have his bed. or more accurately his sofa - he has a bed and a sofa in his room, but the bed is full of things like guitars and boots so he sleeps on his sofa.

this bed-lending arrangement was necessary because of a certain fear of dogs on the part of aunty jos. young dave tends to make himself comfortable snuggled up on the pillows of guests who sleep on the sofa, and if possible inserts his long and woolly body under their duvet. this is all very well if you are a lover of hairy grey beasts but not so great if they make you nervous. as you can see from the photo, by the second day of her visit, aunty jos had been charmed by young dave to the point where she read him a story about clouds and let him lie in her lap.

as well as being a perfect aunty, aunty jos is also an engineer! we could not have chosen a more useful guest on this particular weekend as the dishwasher had decided to give up heating the water. young dave and i offered to take over dishwashing duties but we were rudely spurned. a brief discussion with our clever guest identified the problem as the element. as himself fried the eggs for breakfast herself and aunty jos got online and found a place that sells elements. herself ordered one, which should arrive in a few days.

however, obtaining an element and getting it into the dishwasher are two very different things. it appears that the element lives somewhere deep in the floor of the dishwasher. aunty jos was of course rather blase about how easy it might be to fit such a thing, being an engineer. herself, somewhat uncharacteristically, was a little concerned about making sure the dishwasher did not become live and dangerous. aunty jos offered to talk herself through the operation on the phone, once the element had arrived, but this still left room for human error.

"how will i know which wire you mean?" she squeaked, "it might all go zap when we switch it back on!"

but a solution presented itself in the form of skype. skype is a sort of webcam telephone thing. herself is going to rig up a web cam pointing into the innards of the dishwasher and aunty jos is going to tell her which bit to do what with. there is an added complication just now in that herself has laryngitis and has very little volume. my boy may have to be roped in to provide audio from our end.

if this proves a success there are plans to post the recording of the whole operation on my blog. watch this space...