Welcome to Much Malarkey Manor, a bubble of sanity in an insane world. Home to chickens, cats and bees,and Denise - ordinary human being - and Andy the vet. Even when your castle is small there is always room to make much malarkey.
It has all been a bit silly here this evening. I can put it down to one of two things : a) that the weather has been gorgeous today and this has brought forward a spot of Mad March Hareness or b) that we have had such a crazy, hectic week that we have descended into a maniacal hysteria that neither of us can stop.
Either way, Andy and I have spent our evening thus far emailing each other. We are sitting a mere 5 feet apart but that hasn't stopped us developing an interweb communication about the fiscal value of doughnuts against the telephone bill and what Tybalt thinks about it all, given he is such a financial wizard about these things.
And Flora has been playing fetch, which always causes much hilarity.
And we (and by 'we' I really mean 'me') have been plotting our revenge on the people next door because (and this will shock you because it has OUTRAGED me), they have taken to flicking cigarette butts into our garden.
Oh yes. For the last few days I have found between 3 and 5 butts a day in our garden either by the back door or by the path of the lavender walk which is a couple of steps beyond the patio. I am VERY CROSS about this. Words cannot express the crossness I feel, well not words that are suitable for publication on this genteel blog anyway. I suspect, because the neighbours are tenants and they are not allowed to smoke in their rented house and they are all chain smokers, that what they are doing is smoking out of the bedroom window in the middle of the night and just flicking the ends willy-nilly into the night sky.
Well, yesterday when I found three more of these obnoxious articles, I picked them all up, swore a bit and FLUNG them back over the fence. And now, mid revenge plot, I am thinking I could perhaps save them up in an envelope and then go into the letting agency and deposit them on the letting agent's desk OR send them via the post to the letting agency without a stamp so not only will they have to pay postage it will be postage on an envelope of soggy fag ends.
Or I could keep flinging them back over the fence, accompanied by a variety of loud sweary words, or I could go next door, knock and say, 'I believe you may have misplaced these,' or I could send like for like back across the fence in the form of cat poo, which I know isn't really like for like but might as well be given my utter revulsion of cigarettes but then cat poo smells nicer so is probably an unfair exchange.
Of course I shan't do these things for real. Other than keep flinging the offending articles back from whence they came. I am happy to report that I found no butts in the garden this evening, so maybe
my rant yesterday did the trick. I am fast coming to the conclusion that I am not very good at being a neighbour and really am better suited living as far away from other people as possible. Actually, that's not true because our other neighbours are nice and we often chat and we also replaced their fence because they are pensioners and haven't got the money and it was a mutual and neighbourly beneficial thing to do.
Anyway, enough of this. I shall leave you with a silly and a bit of a wild video of Flora Bijou Mybug
playing fetch and me failing to multi-task effectively.
Hair angst is when I suddenly notice my hair after months of ignoring it and decide that something really must be done because it looks a right old state.
Now, although my hair started to go grey in my twenties, and is now, I would say 90% grey (or white, to be exact) it is generally good hair. It is blessed with thickness and it grows well. It is strong hair. I could probably use it to pull a sheep from a bog (what???) but I haven't tried this test of hair strength, mostly because of lack of sheep in the vicinity. And bog. And a combination of the two thereof.
At the moment, it is long hair. It reaches to a point midway between my shoulder blades and provides an admirably swingy ponytail. It hasn't seen a pair of scissors for probably more than 2 years, except for when the fringe-bit starts to dangle in my eyes and I set about it with the kitchen scissors in a manner that can only be described as 'hacking.' I have to have a fringe because I have a high forehead and when my forehead is out is dazzles folk in the sun. And also, because now I am middle-aged, a fringe also serves to hide the lines that are appearing there, thereby saving a fortune in Botox treatments.
Over my life time my hair has been short-long-short-long-short-long ad infinitum. When it is long I think it is better short and when it is short I think it is better long. Basically, I have never been happy with my hair long or short or all the variant lengths in between.
Since the onset of grey it has been coloured various shades through dark brown to reddish brown to light brown/blonde. And I have never really been happy with these efforts either. Not even the time when I was feeling especially daring and had some red 'slices' added. But now, it seems, I am not happy with it being its au natural grey/ white either. For this I blame imminent second Grannyhood, because no matter how you say it, being a grandparent is the most ageing thought a woman in her forties can have.
Actually, it is the whole faff of hair 'doing' that irritates me. Some women like going to the hairdressers. They see it as pamper time, 'me' time, time to have a chat about holidays, a gossip about life, but here speaks a woman who remembers hiding in a greenhouse when she was 7 years old to avoid the mobile hairdresser who visited to administer the 1970s 'pudding basin' style which made me look like a boy.
You go into a salon, sit in uncomfortable chairs, have your neck virtually broken during the washing process, get wet soapy dribbles down the back of your shirt and in your ears, suffer the discomfort of wondering if that feeling on your scalp once the dye has been applied is just 'tingling' or actual 'burning,' endure panic when there seems to be rather more hair being 'trimmed' than the carefully negotiated 'one inch', be abandoned by your stylist when she realises she is running half an hour late and her next customer has arrived and she has to flit between your and them, before finally paying an exorbitant amount of money for the honour of two hours of what is basically torture then going outside knowing this is the last three minutes your hair will look 'salon perfect' because it is bloody well raining. Again.
And then there is also the tactful negotiation one has to manage in order to avoid being talked into buying ridiculously expensive 'products' - shampoo, conditioner, styling gel/mousse/wax, heat resistant blow dry serum, deep moisturising treatments etc etc which, you are warned, if you DO NOT buy to maintain your new 'do' will result in aforesaid 'do' reverting to haystack status within 24 hours.
It is all too, too stressful. And thus I have not been to a hair salon for over two years, and until yesterday, when Hair Angst 2014 arrived from nowhere, (actually it might have had something to do with an ill-timed photograph in which I appeared presented as a mad old crazy cat lady who lived some place in the back of beyond that civilisation had failed to touch and where the weather was inclemently windy) I was very happy with this arrangement in my personal grooming schedule. Or rather lack of arrangement.
And so it is with a sense of impending doom that I am reaching the conclusion that something (and something likely to be very expensive) must be done. Some process must be administered to the locks. Something that will make me look less like a crazy grey-haired Granny and more, well, I don't know what, but, well, something else.
There will be tears before hair straighteners, you mark my words.
Andy follows a blog called My Foray into Food Storage. It is written by a lady who lives in a part of America that is prone to earthquakes and in preparation for being cut off for a few days in the eventuality of aforesaid earthquake, she, well, stores food. Lots of food. I mean, lots. No really - lots. Tins and packets and jars and boxes. She has one seriously impressive emergency food supply. Or one serious OCD problem.
So I got to thinking about what I would put in an emergency food storage cupboard given that a) I don't really have a lot of kitchen space available for emergency food storage b) our cupboards are generally well stocked so that if we couldn't get supplies for a week or so we wouldn't starve anyway and c) previously, at say the mention of a bit of snow being on the way, my idea of emergency storage is to make sure we have enough flour for breadmaking, milk for the freezer, tea bags, tins of beans and toilet rolls. I believe these to be the essential items to tide one through a few days trapped inside one's house.
Andy said that years ago his Dad had an emergency items storage box put aside especially for the arrival of nuclear war. He stored it in their loft. Probably not the most sensible place to store emergency goods, really, given that in a nuclear explosion the first thing that is likely to go sky high is the roof of your house, with that tin of corner beef so carefully put aside ending up two miles away up a tree or some such nonsense. Cellars is what you need for these occasions. The first house I ever lived in had a cellar. Scared the pants off me, the whole 'underground' thing. I planned to hide under the table, put my fingers in my ears and hum really loudly.
Most years, as we enter Winter, I think, 'Shall I store away a few tins and packets, just in case? Just for a bit of variety? Just so the troops don't say, on Day 5 of the Great Snow Chaos of 2022, 'Not beans on toast...AGAIN?' Then I could whip out some noodle and tinned pea concoction and say, 'No! Tonight it is 'Pea-Noodle Beans on Toast!' And wouldn't THAT be a surprise?!
'We have an emergency food storage cupboard,' says Daisy, who has dropped by to ask advice on her ISA investment for the tax year 2013-14.
'Really?' I say. 'What do you keep for emergencies?'
'Well, we don't bother with bulky items like loo roll for a start,' says Daisy. 'We have other methods of keeping the poo tube clean and tidy...'
'...which we shan't go into here,' I say. 'Folks might be eating.'
'Are you sure?' says Daisy. 'I didn't think people were still squeamish about bidets in this continentally enlightened day and age.'
'It is a well known fact,' I say, 'that the majority of Brits who own a bidet use them for washing their feet and keeping aspidistras in.'
'Oh,' says Daisy. 'Odd...'
'So what do you keep in your emergency cupboard?' I say.
'Hobnobs, obviously,' says Daisy.
'Of course,' says I.
'And shoe polish, jelly, custard powder, a Wainwright's Guide to Fell Walking, Marmite, brioche and onion chutney,' says Daisy.
'Interesting choices,' I say.
'...and dried seaweed, coconut in a shell - none of this desiccated stuff - and Sugar Puffs, pan scourers, Lucozade Original, toothpaste, Scrabble, cheesy oatcakes, those tiny pasta shapes you put in minestrone soup, artichoke hearts in a can, pickled cabbage and meringue nests.'
I wait. There seems to be a lack of staple items along the pasta, pulses, rice and tinned tomato front.
'Is that is?' I say.
'Yup!' says Daisy. 'What else would one need in an emergency?' And off she goes to book an appointment with her financial advisor because it turns out I am rubbish at knowing stuff about ISAs.
So here is my Question of the Day ( in the absence of anything more exciting to talk about) - What Would YOU - yes, YOU - put in a cupboard as essential emergency storage supplies?
Sometimes, the Universe seems to work with you. Like when it connects you with a special person for a specific reason (which is the subject of this post but I need to have a ramble first before I settle to the business of the day) or lets you win the lottery (no, I haven't won the lottery - you have to be 'in it to win it' as they say and I am not 'in it' and have thusly saved myself hundreds of pounds over the years), or reduces THAT dress you have yearned for by 70% in the sales.
And sometimes the Universe seems to work against you, like sending leaky roofs, wobbly fences and Vodafone your way in one fell swoop, or making your cat kick your favourite teapot off the kitchen work top or causing your hair to turn grey at an unseasonably young age.
But isn't that what the Universe is all about? Ups and downs, backs and forths, ins and outs, good and bads, highs and lows...
'Okay,' says Daisy. 'We get the drift.'
'Yes,' says Primrose. 'Just shut up and get on with it, will you? We have a Regency back chair to decoupage, and then Elton is expecting us for tiffin.'
(Oh, how a spot of Chicken Cam fame can turn the head of a once sensible hen...sigh...)
So, back to my first point. The thing about blogging is that you never know with whom you are going to connect. I have been extremely lucky. My connections may have been small (how DO people get hundreds of followers???) but they have been extremely high on quality and low on loony faction. Really lovely people, which is why I allow them to stay in the guests suites here at Much Malarkey Manor providing they remember to take off their wellies if they are entering by the front door to save the cherry parquet from scuffing. (Wellies are allowed through the back entrance but please continue to observe the weekly mopping rota - thank you!)
Anyway, a few months ago, the Universe chose to make a connection between me and CT over at countrysidetales.blogspot.com. And we discovered we had a link that connects a special aspect of our lives - and that is being healing channels.
I'm not going to ramble on about that aspect here because it is not the be-all and end-all of who we, as people, are but I would like to introduce you to the new blog CT and I have set up between us, heralding (toots a small trumpet) the start of a new venture for us. The blog is called (toot trumpet again) HometoHeart.blogspot.com and please have a visit if you feel so inclined. I have added a link at the top of the bar to your right, for ease of access, and to show off that I am techno-savvy in this kind of stuff! (Actually it was more trial that error - but I did it, nonetheless!)
We are calling it our 'venture' and goodness knows where it will go or what it will do, but it was something we both felt a very strong urge to do. Like when you know there is half a bar of chocolate in the fridge and even though Colin Firth is on the telly, the pull of the chocolate is greater. (I know, weird concept, but there you go!)
So, that's all for today. Apart from this very cute picture of Tybalt sharing his chaise with Flora Bijou Mybug!
That's final, then. Andy and I are off to the furthest reaches of Scotland. I no longer care that Scotland is dark and cold and wet. I can only think that it will be the best place to go where technology cannot reach us. Of course, it means I shall no longer be able to blog or email, so will have to keep in touch with people by snail mail, smoke signal or pigeon post. But it will be a small price to pay for peace of mind and not having to keep sorting out problems that are not our problems in the first place.
Let me take you back to last December...(wibbley wobbley timey wimey...)
'I've been sent a letter from Vodafone,' said Andy. 'Apparently they are making changes to our account and are going to start charging us.'
'We don't have an account with Vodafone,' said I. 'We never have.'
(And I think it is probably because I am a stickler for proper English and would never engage in business with a company who are incapable of spelling 'phone' correctly. And now, it turns out, are incapable of running a service department correctly, too.)
'I know,' said Andy. 'Apparently if I don't want to continue with their service I have to write and tell them to cancel our account.'
'But we don't have an account with Vodafone,' said I.
'I know,' said Andy. 'But I shall write and tell them this and tell them that we no longer wish to have the account we do not have with them anyway. Just in case.'
So he did. And he duly received a letter saying, 'thank you, we shall cancel your account.'
'But we don't have an account,' said I. 'How can you cancel an account we don't have?'
But nobody answered, presumably because we do not exist.
Anyway, about 4 weeks later, Andy got a phone call from Vodafone. They said,'Would you like to upgrade your account?'
'I don't have an account with you,' said Andy. 'How can I upgrade something that doesn't exist?'
He was quite persistent, this sales guy. Andy kept saying, 'I've never had an account with Vodafone, I do not want an account with Vodafone,' and eventually the sales guy got the message and that was that.
Or not, as it turns out. For today, Andy got a bill for £10.64. From Vodafone. A red top bill, too. We aren't sure what for because a) nowhere on the bill did it say what we were supposed to have paid for and didn't and b) we do not and never have had an account with Vodafone. Also, I feel slightly aggrieved that they didn't even have the decency to send us a first bill for an account we do not have but went straight for the final demand.
(I suspect you are picking up a bit of theme by now. I am sorry if I am boring you BUT I am feeling very testy about this having to sort out corporate cock ups.)
So Andy got on the phone. The p.h.o.n.e not the f.o.n.e. And he was getting cross because it was an automated line and it kept asking for his mobile number before it would connect him to a real person and he kept saying, 'I don't have a mobile number because I don't have an account with you,' and I was feeling anxious because he is already on 3 different types of blood pressure medication and does not need this kind of unnecessary rubbish after a long day at work.
Eventually, through pressing random numbers, he finally got through to a call centre somewhere abroad. And fat lot of help they turned out to be. They kept asking for his mobile number which he couldn't give because he does not and never has had a mobile number with Vodafone, and the upshot is that now we have to go into the local Vodafone shop and explain to them what the problem is because the foreign call centre could not understand what Andy was trying to tell them i.e 'Why have you sent us a final demand bill for an account we do not have?'
I am LIVID! Why should we have to sort out a problem that is not of our making, that happened in a totally random fashion, out of the blue? Why should we have to put ourselves out to go and put right something that should never have existed in the first place? How much kicking off are we going to have to do in order to get Vodafone off our backs? How many more Vodafone encounters are we going to have?
And of course, because it has all been so random we are thinking there might be some sort of scam happening, that someone has stolen Andy's details in order to procure a Vodafone account for which we have been sent a bill.
It is just yet another irritation that we can do without. It is an example of when living in Regency England instead of the 21st century would have been infinitely preferable and that actually, technology can be properly pants on a stick.