Girls With Filthy Cars

Yesterday, my dearest Brown-Eyed-Girl found a mouse living in the glove compartment of her car.

This is not a shock to me, and I suspect, neither was it to her.

Brown-Eyes and me belong in the same car-owner category: Girls With Filthy Cars

You know the sort, we’ve all met them, generous with offering lifts and cheerfully late, with the fuel gauge permanently on empty, the GWFC will storm up to you, music blaring, yakking away on their mobile phone and shout at you to “just climb in”. At which point you will contemplate the mountain of junk in front of you and wonder where, exactly, to sit. There will usually be a dog of some description, either lurking about, leering at you and letting off farts or just the evidence of one; a layer of dog hair, dried slobber and a deeply entrenched smell of wet dog. Crisp packets galore, bottles of drink rolling about, magazines, horse-rugs, at least twenty packets of cigarettes, lighters that don’t work, lots of unopened post in ominous brown envelopes, a variety of half-eaten but unidentifiable items of food and practically a whole wardrobe of clothes. And lots of carrier bags.

As a GWFC myself, I always wonder what the problem is. “Wimp” is my first thought, when I see someone gingerly stepping into my vehicle, or notice their eyes watering when the dog has let one rip. People have actually refused to get in my car (their loss, I am an excellent driver) or insist on hanging out of the window for the duration of the journey because of the ‘smell’. We then lurch off, stamping on the accelerator and brakes with equal enthusiasm as the unsuspecting passenger searches in vain amongst the debris for a seatbelt.

I used to drive a Fiat Panda, which was often referred to as my Hairdryer. And I guess it was very much like driving a hairdryer; small, compact and blowing a hoolie. It was so full of stuff, I could only fit myself in it, although my mothers labrador used to perch perilously on top of everything with a nervous look in his eyes. A policeman pulled me over in the hairdryer once, because he saw me leave the pub carpark and wanted to breathalise me. I passed the test, which disappointed him, so he proceeded to look around the whole car and check the tyres, all of which were ok, then he asked me to open the door to inspect the inside. He regretted it immediately. An avalanche of wet and muddy horse-rugs fell on top of him, shortly followed by the dog. As I tunnelled in, bringing out an array of surprising things, getting more excited as I discovered long-lost cereal bowls, a TV remote control and various missing shoes, I saw the policeman admit defeat.

The hairdryer used to be a bit iffy about starting in the mornings, so in the absence of any WD40, I would lift the bonnet and spray everything liberally with deodorant or hairspray. This worked surprisingly well. The first ever car I drove was called The Budgie. It was bright yellow and I drove it around the farm because I was too young to be on the roads at the time. The Budgie had absolutely no mirrors, grass growing out of the passenger foot well and no back-seats, which made it perfect for collecting sheep in. On the road, this car was hair-raising but going about the farm it was fine, except when I once had to make an emergency stop (a duck made a suicide dash) and Emily the sheep got wedged between the two front seats……. I also had a car that was missing a window, so I used a wheel clamp to stop any buggars from nicking it. The wheel clamp worked wonders for me in other ways too, I never got a parking ticket, however ridiculously parked, with that yellow clamp on.

So all in all I am not surprised in the slightest to find out there was a mouse in living in her car, at least she knows the squeaking is nothing expensive. And my advice to all future passengers of GWFC is; don’t wear white trousers.


Rural Idyll

When friends and family come to visit, I have fantasies of inviting them into my beautiful, idyllic cottage. I imagine that I will have finished all the decorating, there will be fresh flowers in the guest bedroom, home-made bread will be rising in the Aga, I will have completed my over-ambitious gardening project so we can all have civilised drinks on the breakfast terrace, I will wow everyone with my home-made chutneys and apple pies using fruit grown by my very own hands, the bedding will be freshly laundered and ironed, the animals will behave impeccably well, etc, etc.

This is no way ever reflects the reality.

What happens is this:

My guests are always parked up and waiting on the driveway for me to arrive home, because I am so rudely late. So I hare through the gate, slipping on the rotten apples (that I have failed yet again to pick up), full of apologies, which they cannot hear because my over-sized, ridiculous hound is stood on her hind legs, pressed against the window, barking like hell unleashed, slobbering all over the glass and looking really fierce. The guests are bursting for the toilet (of course) so I wrestle with my front door, which, due to the house falling down no longer fits its frame, fall over the coats and shoes and unopened post, all the while being whooped and cheered on by Wally the parrot who is positioned at the end of the hall-way, open the inner front door and race up the stairs before everyone else to flush the toilet chain and check for loo-roll, picking up dirty knickers clothes on the way. Then I slam the bedroom doors shut (best to hide the mess) and shout that they may now use the bathroom.

I do have a downstairs bathroom, but you have to be brave to use it. Placed on the back of the house as an afterthought, it looks like a Swedish sauna and I use it as a dumping ground for things such as a panel saw and disc-cutter. I am also scared of spiders so I have stopped opening the door incase there are some giant ones in there.

Then I survey the astonishing mess in my kitchen. I am lucky in that I have an enormous, plain-glass window across the width of the kitchen that looks directly onto rolling fields, I am always distracted by the beautiful views. The window is single pane and has gaps around the edges because the frame is rotten and therefore leaks and lets in a howling wind, but I love to look out of it.  I do not know, I really don’t, how so much mess happens. I reckon the sheep pop in during the day and have a little party with the cattle and use all the crockery and cutlery to do so.

So I charge about the house, stuffing socks down the sides of the sofas, spraying air freshener and lighting candles to try to get rid of the distinctly pungent aroma of dog farts and stick the kettle on. Whilst the water is boiling, I decide to check the garden for dog poo and discover that yes, my dog does indeed shit at least ten times a day and no, the fairy has not been for the last week so the lawns resemble a training ground for landmine clearance. Hence, the second sight guests are greeted with is me, racing around with a horse poop-scoop and a black bin liner, picking up elephant sized crap in order for them to enjoy their tea or coffee outside, in the rural idyll.  Guests then make their own tea/ coffee, they can see I have my hands full.

As the dog runs through her repertoire of party tricks for the visitors (wall of death around the garden, thorough search of their handbags followed by a smash and grab of an item from it, slobber on the most expensive trousers, loud fart, toy that has been left in the rain is rammed into someones crotch area, and so on) and I reassure everyone that the milk in their drink is supposed to have lumps in it, I usually start to admit defeat. Realisation dawns that my hosting skills have sadly not met my own expectations, I am not Kirsty Allsop or Nigella Lawson, Domestic Goddess, I am an optimist, not a realist.

Without rose-tinted glasses, what I and my guests are confronted with, is a house that looks like a tornado has recently ripped through it. Unkempt, apple and conker-littered lawns, bare, stripped walls with exposed plaster in the living room, no curtains (I hate them) or even rails for curtains to go on, an unholy mess in the kitchen, a conservatory that has been turned into a parrot playroom with a three-man sofa for the dog to lounge on, an avocado bathroom suite with test-patches of paint on each of the walls, mouldy window frames (I don’t know why I find that funny but I do), freezing cold because I cannot afford oil for the central heating, a beautiful Aga that is out of action because of the oil situation and a sad-looking Baby Belling that is borrowed to replace the Aga. There are mice in the house occasionally (I should probably stop feeding them pizza), and earwigs, beetles and spiders (hey, my house is literally in a field) and I will not have them killed, we all live in harmony. My animals are unruly (like my life), my laundry habits are hit and miss, carried out on a need-to-have basis (I only bought an iron and ironing board because one guest refused to visit unless I got one for him to use) and I like climbing mountains, even if they are made of clothes.

But I love entertaining, so I am free with my hugs and enthusiasm, the views are indescribeably perfect and beautiful and best of all, the carvery in the village is only £3.50 per head, so dinner is served!

 

The View from my Kitchen Window


Wally Worcester

Meet Wally

Isn’t he just brilliant? He thinks he is. I love this little bird so much my heart could burst. Since he and I met, it has been one big love-fest. From the very first moment we set eyes on each other, we hit it off. He climbed straight onto my head, gave me a lovely indian massage, created a nest in my hair then helped himself to my flapjack, scattering crumbs all over the floor. How could I not take him home after that introduction?

In addition to his batfink persona https://skiingsaddler.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/im-going-to-faint-get-me-a-cherry-tomato/ , Walls’ also does an excellent impression of a pirate! He struts along, chest out, imagining himself with a cutlass and eye-patch (he’d look so cool with a pirate hat). He regularly challenges my boyfriend to a duel, who always politely declines. Wally loves women, his ideal trip out would be a coffee morning with the W.I. or Ladies Day at Ascot. He is not above launching himself at and attacking any male person, plucking hair from their legs or firing a well-aimed shit from his perch at an unsuspecting ‘offender’.

My words cannot do this extraordinary parrot justice. The pictures may help, he is amazing, just check this little dude out!

 Wally enjoying a prawn. He loves his food and has a ferocious appetite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  This is him in the apple tree having a good scratch. Wally will always look like he has been dragged through a hedge backwards! Unfortunately, his partner of ten years died and he was distraught, that is when we found each other. I am hoping to find him a new mate but he is proving to be very fussy. There are no lonely-hearts ads’ for parrots…..

He helps himself to my drinks when he thinks I am not looking.

 He feeds my dog cheese

Wally has a dark side, he flashes at people!

He ‘fixes’ my hair

He comes to work with me, here he is checking in at reception

Mostly, Wally loves to be outdoors. He is not wing-clipped, which means he has full use of his flight feathers and he is in no way tethered or restrained. He loves to sit on the fence, enjoying the view and chatting to the wild birds. My biggest concern is buzzards, so I keep a careful watch out for these.

We play Where’s Wally? He goes up in the trees, he is a brilliant acrobat and has a great time climbing, when he has had enough, he shouts “yoo-hoo” and I go and fetch him in. Can you spot him in this tree?

If Wally can embarrass me, he does not miss the opportunity. He terrorizes my friends if he thinks they are nervous of him. He is a bit of a magpie and loves all things sparkly (think earrings, watches, bracelets etc) and can be a real cross-patch if he does not get his way. He imitates the telephone ringing perfectly, wolf-whistles and makes various whooping and cheering noises, I love being cheered and whistled into my own house when I get in from work, it is very good for the soul!

Wally and Me

 


MG Equals OMG

I thought I was so cool, buying a sports car, in the snow. Even though it only had two seats, a soft-top roof and was a rear-wheel drive.

I have enjoyed the summer with my ipod blaring out through my car speakers, with the roof down I could punch the air in time to whatever song I cared to butcher with my not-so-dulcet tones.

My dog (https://skiingsaddler.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/pamplemousse/) also thought she was cool, cruising around with the wind in her ears, woofing indiscriminately at unsuspecting pedestrians, from the roofless car.

I fought a hard battle to win the right to buy that car. Everybody (except Aunty Anne) insisted I was completely mad to even think about buying that car. MG’s do not have a good reputation. They are the car that everyone loves to hate. Ooooh, just wait, the head gasket will go, they said. In fact, every time I have so much as seen a mechanic, they shout “head gasket” at me. People waiting at bus stops shout it at me too. So I was sensible, I took out AA Breakdown & Repair cover (they pay the first £500 of every repair), (thank you Jane for this tip). I also took out cover with the RAC and Green Flag, just in case.

But it is such a beautiful car.

Navy blue with a shiny, silver-headed gear-stick.

And did I mention it is convertible?

I can even lower the steering wheel. I feel like Nigel Mansell.

I love all things beautiful. I am that shallow, about as deep as a paddling pool, me. So I bought it.

It is singularly the most expensive car I have ever bought. It is also the youngest. So I expected it to last longer than ten months. Last week someone hit it in the car park of a supermarket then drove off so I have a scratched and dented rear-wheel arch. Bastard.

Today, it let me down again. For the umpteenth time. Today, I did not feel cool.  Standing on the side of a motorway in the pissing rain, during rush hour, without waterproofs and needing the loo, I think I started to hate my car. I even fantasized that a lorry would come past and wipe it out.

It cost me £750 three weeks ago to repair. Tomorrow, when I pick it up from the garage, I will have to part with another £500.

I don’t want it any more.

But where will I find someone who will fall in love with this ridiculous vehicle at the start of winter?

P.S: I have had the head gasket done.

Back when I loved my car, what a poser!


There Were 4 in the Bed

On Friday I visited two very special friends, they Noo cooked dinner (chicken chasseur) and we had a lovely evening. I stayed over, in their beautiful house and slept in the Laura Ashley sofa bed, no less.

And though I love these friends very much, the real treat, the icing on the cake, was sleeping with the girls! When I knock on the door of their lovely, yellow stone terraced house, I peer through the little window and see a river of terriers racing towards the door and am greeted, upon its opening, by smiling teeth and several pairs of legs, wet noses and enthusiastic stump wagging. It is quite the welcome.

Last time I visited there were five terriers in residence, this time there were three, but it’s hard to tell, they all look very similar and go about in a blur, as one. When it came to bed time, the girls sat expectantly on the bed and waited politely for me to get in under the covers. Once in, there was an immediate flurry of activity as each dog burrowed under the duvet, literally. It is quite a sight to see three moving lumps going busily about and I was highly amused. I decided to read for a bit and the girls used this time to move around and find various comfy spots.

I was quite sore and aching from a pole-dancing class on Thursday and as I lay on my stomach holding the weight of a paperback book, I could feel my muscles tightening in protest. Then to my utter delight, as the girls moved around, they walked across my back and it was like a massage! Their tiny paws tip-toeing up and down either side of my spine and across my arms offered the most welcome relief to my poor, sore self.  I’m sure the girls knew, they spent quite some time working out all the knots for me, it was delicious. I would have paid good money for that kind of massage.

The treatment did not end there. When I turned the lamp off, each of the girls took up position and acted as a hot water bottle, one in the small of my back, one across my shoulders and one in the crook of my knees, delivering warmth and comfort better than any hot-stone therapy at some funky spa. They had a sympathetic and sensitive demeanor whilst at the same time being almost business-like in their attitude to getting down to some serious sleeping.

In the morning, I was awoken with a coffee and I got to spend some time chatting with Noo and having cuddles with the girls. I felt thoroughly spoilt.

Because of my aversion to having my photo taken, particularly in the morning, I do not have a picture of me in bed with the girls, but below is a photo of two of them, on the Laura Ashley bed. And if you are ever lucky enough to visit a house with dogs, don’t cringe at the idea of spending the night with them, I highly recommend it, it is a real treat!


Bon Anniversaire

 

Today would have been my dear friends 30th birthday. I will not be sad today, I absolutely refuse to be sad that he is no longer with us today, because I am sad on all the other days. This post is a little bit of reminiscence, for all the happy days we shared.

My dearest, beautiful friend, placed enjoyment at the top of the priorities list. All of my memories of him include laughter, I hear a back-drop of laughing whenever I hear his name. We spent a lot of time laughing, at ourselves, at other people, at the ridiculous nature of life, at our poor driving skills. We found humour in dark situations and hilarity at sombre moments. I often pulled stomach muscles from laughing so hard and for so long.

We photographed peoples ankles, (without them knowing) just for fun.

We regularly had what we called ‘Self Appreciation Days’. Whole days dedicated to appreciating ourselves and each other. An entire day calling ourselves nothing but brilliant, and believing it.  Indulgent? I know, but oh-so good for the soul! 

He was very tall and I am short. Hours of amusement were spent in front of the mirror, laughing at how ridiculous (but still beautiful) we looked.

We never had just a glass of wine, always a bottle, and particularly loved the Winton pubs policy of buy two glasses of wine and get the rest of the bottle  free.

We prided ourselves on being professional smokers, and would smoke ourselves silly. Each cigarette would be lit with much fuss and ceremony, inhaling and holding it aloft, instantly becoming more glamorous and sophisticated with the Consulate in our hands.

The local taxi firm was very good to us. Long into the night, after much wine had been consumed, we would call a taxi and ask them to fetch us cigarettes and bring them to the house, which they always did. We loved to greet the taxi drivers by wearing ridiculous outfits, including a hat, especially a faux-fur dalmatian one.

Victims of our late-night phoning frenzy will recall with bemusement that we used up whole tapes on answering machines with our various witticisms and views in general.

We lived at a hundred miles per hour, rushing from party to pub to party in a social whirl. But sometimes we would just stop, lock the doors and watch re-runs of Spitting Image, laughing ourselves stupid. Or write poetry that got more melancholic as we went late into the night. Sometimes we would listen to Whitney Houston’s Didn’t We Almost Have It All and cry and wail until our eyes were sore and faces all puffy, we thought at the time we were crying because of the deep and touching lyrics but really it was because we were drunk.

Once, we had to pay for a taxi with a bag of satsumas. This still makes me laugh out loud (I am giggling now) whenever I think about it.

Neither of us believed in the mundane, every day chores such as tidying up. We would simply cover up mess or in some cases, cordon off the room with security tape and not venture back in there again.

How we wished we could sing, though we were not blessed with such a voice. We won £30 in a karaoke competition for being so awful and were heckled throughout the whole eight minutes of American Pie, though it did not put us off.

Champagne and cider, red wine and minted lamb, lurpak salted butter and all things bad for you were consumed with relish. Having the music on too loud and driving too fast, writing offensive poems and using the work phone to make personal calls, staying out late and skiving off work, skiving off life, yelling and shouting and laughing our heads off, we did everything in excess. The world was there to be enjoyed and we did exactly that, it is a sadder and poorer place without him in it. Happy birthday to him.  x


Bumstoke

I fear I maybe about to break some rules….. Actually, that’s a big lie, I have no fear about rule breaking and I’m not sure such rules exist anyway, so here goes. I am about to have a little moan about Basingstoke. Basingstoke, aka; Boringstoke, Amazingstoke (lmfao), Blazingsmoke, Bayo and my personal favourite, Bumstoke. And this is why;

I used to live there and now I don’t. This is not a ‘reason’ it’s a statement, which I feel gives me even more right to bitch about it.

A lot of the people are horrible.Lots of my family live there too, they obvs are not in the ‘horrible’ bracket.

Everyone is always drunk. Ok, so I was at a beer festival, even so, people should be ashamed of themselves.

There is a concrete ‘statue’ in Wote Street which is a big penis, it is known as the Wote Street Willy. It’s not actually a penis, but it looks like a giant cock missing its balls and even the local paper refers to it as the Wote Street Willy.

But my big gripe really, is about how Basingstoke never actually manages to get things right. Firstly, they advertised a beer festival with a Victorian Fair that clearly included a Helter Skelter, yet no Helter Skelter was there. Then there are all the other little idiosyncracies that make it an unlovable town, from its traffic congestion and insane number of roundabouts to the Park & Ride scheme I have never managed to locate, it has a huge number of unoccupied, over-priced, unaffordable housing, ridiculous ‘art’ on random islands and ugly bright yellow and blue high-rise flats,  this town is seriously uncool.

 Bumstoke is a really big place with a fairly affluent population. The shopping centre is quite plush, it has had a serious upgrade over the past decade, but you cannot find a bloody parking space. I was lost in the multi-storey car park once for almost two hours. This is completely unacceptable. It is not the only time I have been lost in there but that was my record for the longest period. In summary, to go shopping there, you must allow at least an hour to queue to get in the car park, another hour to find the elusive one space to park in and please ensure you have a generous amount of time to negotiate your way out again once shopping is complete. (I am not even going to mention the hideous crowds, the stupendously small Costa with about 2 chairs in it or the bewildering old town/ top of town/ ground floor and mezzanine level business).

The pubs, which used to be packed when I was younger, you even had to queue to get in them, are now empty. They are all the same. The toilets are awash with urine. A bottle of Smirnoff ice once floated past me in the loos, I had strappy heels on, I was traumatized. Nothing offers anything different so no-one wants to go out. Basingstoke is crying out for a decent nightclub. It would be hugely welcome but it’s piss-poor offering is Liquids. People have died in there. I think that says it all.

If you do decide to go out, in this affluent town, and you do not want to drive, bloody good luck to you. You will risk being attacked if you walk; I know people who have been raped, mugged, beaten up, punched in the face, hit with a scaffolding pole (these were all different people, not one unlucky soul) and you cannot get a taxi for love nor money. Seriously. The taxi situation is a JOKE. And not a funny one. If you want a taxi to take you out, you need to ring before 4pm in the afternoon, this is then followed by a nail-biting wait to see if it turns up. Often it wont. If you phone to book a taxi at 4.01pm and want to book it for say, 7pm, a terribly common accent will say “tonight luv? You gotta be kiddin aintcha? Nuffin ’til abart arf nine”. Everywhere else in the country, you do not need to ring ahead to book taxi’s, you just ring and say ‘can I get a cab now please’, and one arrives, like magic. When I first discovered this phenomenon, I used to call them all the time, just to test it would actually happen.

 To get a taxi home, you run the gauntlet of the kebab vans and chicken shops, which always run out of chicken, then stand in one of two queues for a taxi for around an hour and a half, at least. Neither queue is better than the other, they both have their pro’s and con’s. One queue is conveniently placed next to a Dominoes Pizza, so you can get a snack if it is still open. The queue forms in an alleyway, which gives people the impression it is also a toilet, so it stinks of wee and you have to be careful you are not actually peed on by other revellers whilst your back is turned. This taxi firm also has a giant window which the wenches in the taxi office have to sit in front of and face out. Obviously it is just asking for trouble, so you will often witness people in the queue placing their naked ass against the window (my friend Andy is a regular offender). The other queue is next to a Chinese takeaway, which is always open. The taxi office is set back from the road and it’s windows are caged. You must only approach the office with great caution or you will be karate-chopped to death by the people who work there. They do not like to engage in any conversation with the customers although they will occasionally shout “d-ya need ambulance ahht there luv” when someone collapses in the taxi rank.

Which brings me back to the Beer Festival. Two years ago they ran out of beer by 7pm on the first day. The festival is supposed to be open until 11pm, for two days, this was not a good start, so people were quite rightly cautious about going back last year. This year, they ran out of glasses by 5pm on the first day. You get issued with a commemorative glass with your ticket with the place and year printed on it which you can either keep or return for £1. So they had to re-issue 2009 glasses. Which makes me think they had clearly anticipated running  out of glasses long before they actually did….. But the weather was absolutely glorious, so the festival was packed, the numbers must have far-exceeded their hopes, good for them.

Inside the enormous beer tent, a band played at one end and along one length of the tent was a strip of low tables which served as the bar, beer barrels full of exciting ales and ciders, stacked behind this. The queue for the bar was about six-men deep, the average wait to be served about 30 minutes, so it was best to always have a man on standby in the queue. The band played jolly songs everyone knew, the tent was heaving with people, the queue for the bar politely upright and absolutely no atmosphere whatsoever. Because, despite the beautiful day and the sun setting, the children and mums going home, and despite the great bringer-togetherer of beer, the tent was so brightly lit you needed to wear sun-glasses. It was like the Starship Enterprise in there, a SAD lamp of the highest voltage beating relentlessly down, showing up bad make up and sweaty foreheads. No corner of the tent was unlit. Every square centimeter was beamed upon like a spotlight from space. The dance floor stayed bare. The band were giving it their all. There was a rumour that someone in the crowd tapped a foot in time to the music, but no-one dared admit it. People clung rigidly to their 2009 issue pint glasses, staring straight ahead. How can you possibly enjoy yourself when the usual low-lighting ambience which softly lets you glow, is taken away. Every open pore, each forgotten upper-lip hair, every ring of sweat patch under the arm was highlighted a thousand times. No cheeky groping or sneaky whispering to someone went unnoticed, no quiet word or exchange of secret smiles could take place, no testing out your dance moves or warming up discreetly before chucking some shapes out there. There was nowhere to hide, no place to stand that allowed you to relax. It was such a shame, everyone was itching to get things going, people were desperate to have a good time but felt like they were ants under a microscope. The feeling was palpable. So despite having all the ingredients (almost) of a great evening, Basingstoke still failed miserably in its attempt to get things right.

Until next time Bumstoke, Adios Amigo.