Sunday, 29 June 2008

Raspberries! And a bit of a witter.

I haven't played very much up at the plot recently, events and the weather and lets face it a high dose of lethargy have all played there part. Hubby has been faithfully watering our tomatoes, its what I like most about being a couple, when one dips a little for whatever reason, hopefully the other takes up the slack.

Son no.1 had very disappointing news earlier in the week, he received a rejection letter from a company who he had dearly hoped to have secured an apprenticeship with. There were 11 candidates, 2 places. To be honest, hubby and I are at our wits end. He has secured a place at a local college for a car mechanics apprenticeship and ALL he has to do is secure an apprenticeship with a local firm. On all the tests he has had, his mathematical and engineering skills stand him in good stead, one lady said she had Never seen such a high grade. But can we secure him an apprenticeship with a local firm, we cannot. He has sent his C.V. which prove he has worked and is a steady employee, has passed his driving test, not the average 16 yr old, plus follow up phone calls to all of the garages, car manufacturers in Kenilworth, Leamington, Warwick and Coventry. Time is running out, he will be 19 next month, 19 is a critical age (apparently) to do with funding. We are about to head further afield.
Dad is on the treadmill again! (3rd time lucky) for his replacement knee operation. He and Mum were at the hospital for nearly four hours last week, (they had lost his records, couldn't find them and had to wait until our G.P. surgery opened up after lunch before they could get enough information to progress with his tests). Due to the messing around, waiting for xrays, ECG's, blood tests etc etc, my parents who are both on various medications, several times a day and are both over 70 did not manage to find time to have lunch. Of course they survived, but its not good is it and I know Mum gets terribly stressed by events such as this.

The tests did not go well, there was no one qualified to give full information, But, Dad's heart is not good. We will find out more tomorrow as he has a cardiologist appointment.

I can see my Dad is in pain, he is in pain constantly, I hate to see him stumble along with the silent (and sometimes not silent) screams in his head, which I see oh so clearly, just to get across a room. Its painful to see him and its painful if I don't.

Sorry to witter on, its just been a tough week. I've always been a sensitive soul. The week started well, (I have a high level of sarcasm, I'm sure its a protective instrument) when I took son no.2 to have coffee at the new to us Starbucks in our local town. It was going well, lovely coffee, nice bit of jazz to listen to, wonderful comfy chairs and an excellent view of our local town, when...

Four women sat behind me and starting to talk quite loudly about hair removal. Nowt wrong with that you might say, I would agree, but I was completely as nature intended, well my nature at least! i.e. bald. And they talked and they wittered about their eyebrows and the difference between waxing and threading and then legs and waxing and shaving and the amount of time between waxing and the pros and cons of other treatments and then other parts were mentioned, which was quite shocking really as my son aged 16 was in full hearing for 25 minutes. Not solidly for 25 minutes, cause you know what us women are like, we chop and change conversations every five minutes or so, but everytime they changed it to their holiday adventures, for some reason it was brought back to hair. Bearing in mind, I am sitting in full view of two of the ladies, I really felt, very, very sad.

It was not good.

I know I've got to toughen up and I am trying, but you get days like this and its difficult. This was the same week, (I am so sorry to bore you all) that I was applying my make up, such as it is these days. Foundation is a bit of a problem when your bald, Where do you stop! There is no hairline... LOL I can see the funny side of that, and that laughter makes me, me. But then I've learnt and I've removed various products out of my make up basket, to lessen any emotional judders that I might experience. When this week, in my happy little world, applying eyeshadow, eyeliner and then, (I have no idea why) I looked for the mascara. And I kept looking, thinking where on earth have I put that.. and still kept looking and then it was like a smack in the face with a wet fish, (well actually the weight of it was more like a wet dog,, ie, wallop)... Yep.. Don't need mascara.. I was literally stunned by my stupidity and extremely emotional.

I must apologise for my pity party, and lets face it my self induced leakage. I will publish this, (normally I don't) but sometimes you need to let just a little bit out.

So hubby dragged me up the plot today to pick things. Which is the best bit. And I felt a little better.

And we picked these..

and these

and then rain stopped play, heavy bouts, which stopped us picking blackcurrants.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

A preview of hubbys Cobblestone Jumper

I have almost finished hubby's Cobblestone Jumper.
It is a little big! In fact it fits all three of my boys even the very sturdy 16 yr old.





Although its big, hubby is very pleased with it.

Lots of questions for the Tuesday night knitters, how to block? Will it grow? Will it shrink? All of the proper woolen jumpers I've owned in my life have slowly become smaller over time after a wash. But that might be me and my handwashing skills.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Only mad dogs, english men and allotmenteers

Go out in the midday sun!

It really is a case of wanting to do the jobs that need doing when the mood takes you, or when you can fit them in with the english weather.

On Monday I suffered a touch of sunburn. I was up the plot by 11 a.m. and finished working (okay there was a bit of loafing drinking bitter shandies involved) by 6. p.m. I try to remember the warnings of my fellow man of which there have been many, dire, dire warnings about covering my bonce with a hat and suncream and I was faithful to that, there is not even a slightly pink glow from the top of my head. There is however a rather radiant patch on my left collar bone which even though its now Wednesday is still emitting enough of a glow to light up a room! Did I forget to apply my sunblock cream carefully stored at the shed of a factor that would mean even the blondest of folks could spend the day sunbathing in the med to the rest of me? Yep, I did.

Fortunately for me, I was wearing a nicely covering tshirt, (I've found that the strappy type are not really suitable when bending down and gardening at the allotment, far too many appreciative looks, they might be old, but they are male!!) so the damage is located to a small area.

I'm still not quite used to this global warming, or whatever it is. June for me, well in my memory of it based in England and especially in the Middle of England, is hazy and cloudy and to be honest not very often that warm. On top of that is my propensity to forget that I am blue eyed, freckled, (I do try to hide those and there really aren't that many) pale skinned to the point that I invariably have to buy foundation in the palest of colours and that my hair colouring is/was chestnut, so therefore quite alot of red in it and that I will burn when the Sun has her first outing. I did the same last April, when the weather went slightly haywire.

Still, it was a good day, apart from the sunburn and I have to say a blister on my right hand, from doing far too much dibbing with a dibber.. I harvested half of the Japanese onions, hubby helped me dig two areas of the plot and then I planted 7 trays of 3 varieties of Leeks.

Hubby was dashing in and out of the plot, as he was the Taxi service for both boys appointments that day. We are on tenterhooks to see whether son no.1 has secured himself an apprenticeship, everything is crossed, I mean everything. Tense times in the Mandycharlie household.

Son no.2 is nearly at the end of his road of wearing orthotics, he may always walk a little like Charlie Chaplin, but he is no longer in any pain and according to the specialist is within the realms of normality. Just one more tweak for a few months and he will most probably not have to wear them, so that is very good news. Although on a lighter note, he commented that this boys feet are very Wide. I'm hoping the 16 yr old will stop growing and stop growing soon, size 11, extremely wide feet do not come cheap, especially when shoes only last teenage boys a matter of weeks. (although we did have a lucky break this year with a certain supermarket that sells extremely cheap clothing.. )

On Tuesday, the sun shone and Mandy hid, still feeling a tad sore. But, there was work to be done, so when the sun eased off early evening off to the plot she did trot, to hoe, hoe, hoe. I really needed to get the weeds out before the promised bout of rain. I hoed nearly the whole plot, hubby watered the spuds in containers, which takes ages as they require such a lot of water and also gave the toms their daily watering along with giving a sprinkle to all the other veg.

I can't talk about my knitting, it is all secret.. Sssshh..

But this evening, in the time it took for hubby to drive to B & Q, buy what he required, then he side stepped to the office and then drove me home, I knitted another part of it.. Its looking good. :)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

A Fathers Day Feast.

We had some of the first of the season lovely fresh produce from the plot today. I thought they would make a lovely Fathers Day Feast.

First there was a little pounding to be done. Several cloves of garlic, a lemons worth of peel, salt and lots and lots of lovely fresh oregano was pounding together in my pestle and mortar.

Then olive oil and the juice of the lemon was added along with a good half a teaspoon of sugar, just to take the edge of the lemon juice.

Which was then used to stuff into deep to the bone slashes made in a whole chicken, and also to baste new potatoes and onion which were to roast alongside the chicken.

There was then time to make a salad. We were given some Oak Leaf lettuce which went very well with our round lettuces. I then added some sun blush tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh salad onions, some olives and made a dressing with the herby oil left over from the sublush tomatoes then added a little more olive oil and a lemon's worth of juice.

Ten minutes later....

Shortly afterwards, our lovely chicken was ready, which I served with a few of our peas. The onions were divine they melted in the mouth.

And then we had our strawberries macerated in Cointreau and a little golden caster sugar served with thick Greek yoghurt. I am still undecided as to whether we really needed the Greek yoghurt but the boys assure me that we did.

It was lovely!

first crops..

Its been a lovely weekend, yesterday was spent with hubby at the Peace Festival. We used the bus service as it has very kindly been rerouted right outside our door for the next few months. You might say its our very own personal taxi service! This also allows Hubby to have a glass or two of red wine.

Today was spent very gently, I think you get the idea and then a wander to the plot was in order to dig up my Dads fathers day pressie from me. He had a good selection of the following along with a dozen of our eggs. He was very pleased.

First there were Peas.. our seasons first, I've beaten quite a few of the more experienced plot holders, I put quite alot of effort into my peas..

These are Kelvdon Wonder, they taste quite sweet, although I think from memory the Hurst Greenshaft are much sweeter. I shall just have to wait until those are ready to taste test them.

Then there were strawberries, a motly crew of varieties which I've long since forgotten.

Radishes were removed from the parsnip rows as the parnsips have germinated well. Some of these will be too big, but some will be fine.

Then some Japanese onions were picked. Its a little early but we have lots of them and they are taking up valuable ground that I am desperate to get my leeks into. They won't store in the same way that a maincrop onion will, so we need to use them whilst their fresh.

Then some salad onions were picked. Actually these are maincrop onions that will store. But they were planted much too close together, because of lack of room. So I am thinning them now and they make a very tasty salad onion.

Some lovely round lettuces. I'm making a concerted effort to sow lettuce regularly to try and aim to keep us in a regular supply.

And last but not least, some lovely fresh oregano.


So tonights menu is a salad, followed by a roast chicken where the meat has been sliced to the bone and stuffed with lemon, garlic and oregano which has been pounded together. There will be new potatoes and onions roasted alongside until they are nice and sweet and sticky and served with some very fresh peas.

And... strawberries, which may or may not have been marinated in Cointreau and served with Greek yoghurt. I'm not sure yet, I need to bounce some ideas of Hubby.

And on that note, I'm off to go and wash lettuce..

What could be finer.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

And then... there were presents.

I feel so lucky to have such lovely friends. On Tuesday night at knitting, Mary bought me this..


A lovely little book with more than 70 prominent women giving their critique (am copying from the book... can you tell!) of love, success, family, friendships, relations between the sexes and more... To sum it up, its a nice little book that makes you think and makes you chuckle, the perfect combination. Thank you very much Mary.

and then Noelle came and gave me these..

Which are gorgeous and fit me perfectly. I know they are Pomatomus socks as I've looked at that pattern myself and thought it far too difficult for me.. So I am really grateful to have such exquisite socks on my feet. In my delight, I completely forgot to ask Noelle which yarn she used. I've remedied this by sending her a quick email, so I should have that answer shortly.. Thank you Noelle for my lovely socks.

Now, if I can just convince somebody, (anybody will do,) to knit me a pair of Bayerische.....well a girl can dream can't she.

So these lovely little presents cheered me up no end, I am very lucky.

And thank you all for the comments, they made me feel better and it was really nice to have other womens support. Sometimes, you just need that in this harsh world.

Talking about harsh worlds, The Peace Festival is on in at the Pump Room Gardens in Leamington Spa on both Saturday and Sunday. They have a pretty good website if you wish to take a look. I went to the first Peace Festival thirty years ago. I was 12. And I knew I would be in trouble, but you know... I still went. First I went on a CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament) march from the top of The Parade to the bottom. We stopped traffic! (I really got into trouble for that, I can still hear my mother screeching to my father when I told her I'd been on a March.. and then we joined the Peace Festival, which to be honest was a very, very small affair, its good to see how its grown. And then me and my friend (also female, also 12) hitch hiked back home... (we never told her that bit!)

I don't go every year, I try to, but sometimes life gets in the way. Its good, Go.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Birthday, wot birthday?

I have just about recovered my humour enough to be able to blog about Sundays events.

Saturday night (the eve of my birthday) was a lovely night. The boys and I were playing poker until the early hours, which was fun, especially when hubby in all seriousness bet the best part of what would have been the shirt off his back (if it was Real money) on a trio of pairs...! Oh, how we screamed with laughter, I actually couldn't breath for a while, as I tried to explain whilst trying to take gulps of air, whilst laughing hysterically that I had just thrown a better hand away because of his reckless gambling. We must remember to go through the rules carefully with hubby everytime we play.

So everyone went to bed happy, I had no insight at all as to what would occur the next day.

I woke early, (mainly because son no.2 hasn't mastered the art of padding around and closing the front door quietly at 5.30 a.m. on the way to his paper round) happy and eager, ready to get on with the days celebrations.

Hubby presented me with a lovely card, which was a very good start. Then, there was nothing, quickly followed by more of nothing. There were excuses... although hubby remained rather quiet, son no.1 apologised and told me he had left his card at work.. Son no.2 was still at work..

O..kay.. this is going well then..

So, as I had already chosen to wander around the local car boot sale, thats where we trotted to.. It was going okay, although I had started to notice that I was paying for Everything... After about the fifth time I had paid, I said to hubby, "would you mind paying for something?".... "Well, no, I'm penniless" "Wot?" "I haven't been the bank".

"Right so lets get this straight, I have received no presents, no cake, nothing And... you've come out with me on my birthday without any money... "

"Yep, thats it".. A stall holder who I was bantering with at the time, looked incredulous and looked over to his wife, who had also heard our little conversation and looked as shocked as he did and he was so concerned over me, wished me happy birthday and told hubby what a miserable article he was.. (in a jovial way of course) Really, I should have seen the signs well before this, as hubby had scratched around trying to find the 50p entrance fee. Lets face it the moths are fully formed in his wallet.

breathe deeply mandy...

We got home and son no.2 is just trundling his newspaper carrier up the road with a carrier bag attached to the handle waving merrily in the wind with what looked very much like a birthday card inside it. I asked him if it was my birthday card and he just giggled hysterically... We left him to it and drove over to Birmingham. I thought it would be nice to look around there instead of the cotswold villages.

Shortly afterwards we were in Selfridges food hall and I just fancied one of those delicious ice creams, waited in the que, ordered our one scoop (have you Seen the prices!) of each of our favoured flavours and watched as hubby gently stood back, just as we got to the till... I looked over at him and was thinking something along the lines of '.. birthday,, me,, <--- oh yeah, he's got no money..' as I paid, yet again..

I'm still breathing deeply..

But by this point, its becoming a chant in my head.. 'no cake, no pressies, my birthday' in a bit of loop.

We walked over to Rackhams as its the only place I know of in Birmingham that sells wool. On the way, I sort of snapped at hubby and said.. "Are you going to get some money today?" "Oh yeah, soon as I see a bank", he sounds so positive and cheery, he really has no idea whats going through my head. You'd think after twenty years he would have read some of the signs, wouldn't you?

Within seconds we pass a bank, I nudge hubby, "bank" "Oh but look at the que, I'm not waiting in that" I think my jaw dropped just a little bit more and I started to feel very sad and emotional.

I'm still breathing deeply but I'm hitting an emotional brick wall.

Then we pass another bank and he gets money. So at this point ladies and gentleman he does have ready cash in his wallet. Hope springs eternal, well for at least ten minutes...

We get to the wool department and there is a little bit of sale going on and I find 16 balls of a cashcotton in a colour I will wear for a pound a ball. Which cheered me up no end, until that is,, I went to pay and hubby at the till did the backward almost trip over your self maneuver he has perfected so well over the years. Did he get his wallet out of his pocket with a flourish, saying with a happy trill in his voice, don't worry love, I'll pay for this, did he hell as like.

Now, I know Rackhams, I've only been there a couple of times but I know it well enough to know it has a very good Bar in it. By this point, I Need (not want, Need) fortification and they do a very good G & T. He Pays! (I can hear the band in my head playing 'Congratulations', the Cliff Richard version) and whilst I am sitting, allowing the combination of the air conditioning and icy coolness of my drink and of course its alcoholic content to take its desired effect. Hubby gets his wallet out... Am I to get my birthday treat in cash, one can only hope, as a woman of the world, money is a present too which I will quite happily accept. Naww, don't be daft Mandy, he hands me over some cash to help cover my earlier expenses.

I am still breathing, Just! and require another G & T,

We pad back to Selfridges, passing a jewellers, but my hearts not in it. I'm sinking and sinking fast.

I try one last tack, shall we go and see what the Canal Basin is like, seeing the signposts and dimly remembering that there has been regeneration in that area and it would be nice to see what its like. Hubby can't find it and he starts to head home.

I get home go to bed and basically weep and am deeply sad. Friends ring to wish me happy birthday and I basically blub at them on the phone. My sons then present me with a birthday card, no present, just a card. It took me several hours before I had recovered enough emotional strength to open it.

I open my card from Mum and Dad and find a banknote in it, my first and one and only present. Later, much later hubby buys us a chinese takeaway, which I'm grateful for, if only because then I don't have to find and cook something to eat.

The eldest of my brothers sent me a card, which when I opened it in my turmoil made me laugh so much, I rang him there and then to thank him. I shall repeat it for your pleasure..

"Sharon had no chocolate, no alcohol
and she was completely hormonal.
Still, if she could find a man to nag,
then maybe the day could be salvaged."

And then I went to bed.

On Monday, I took son no.2 to Leamington for the day and basically gave hubbys credit card a proper and thorough hammering. So I feel better now.

Oh and hubby bought me a bunch of flowers from Sainsburys on the way home from work. (the middle of the range, almost expensive version!)

Saturday, 7 June 2008

T'is time to tell.

About the gifts I made and bought for Mum's birthday. Before I had chance to write up her birthday, events conspired against us.. So, to celebrate my mothers 71st...

Blackberry Waffle Socks.. (I made these whilst I was away in Boscombe,, see.. I can keep a secret too)



and then some machine washable to use for gardening, Fetchings..


and then I wouldn't normally post gifts that I hadn't made, but these were made by someone with a wonderful gift. They are made from resin, hand painted and to me look quite exquisite, my Mum and Dad loved them.

Mushrooms, both sides, (I found the detail of the gills absolutely amazing!)





Tuesday, 3 June 2008

No rest for the wicked.

We've woken at three thirty a.m. and have been padding around drinking tea since then, listening to the rain. Hubby has a busy day, he has to plod around the Cotswolds to pick up the death certificate, then register the death and then choose the necessary at the funeral directors. The funeral is on Thursday, we are keeping this very low key, mainly because to be honest there are very few friends of his Fathers still alive and secondly and for us at least most importantly, we have a son who is right in the midst of his GCSE's.. So rather than allow our son to worry and get himself stressed, I will not be attending, that way at least we won't have to alert him to what is actually going on until after the event. 16 year olds can quite happily live in their own world, being rather oblivious to yours, which at this moment is rather a blessing.

Hubby is emotionally drained, in a slightly worrying way. He and I thank you all for your kind messages.

You know how you occasionally come across surnames that suit an individuals chosen occupation perfectly, well, our chosen funeral director is a Mr Sole, I think thats rather nice.

Thats it really, I'll blog about happy things soon, I promise.