Thursday, 30 September 2010

Don't you know who I am? BlogHer top dog... that's who!

Well I bloody never! I bet you can't guess what happened to me today?

It all started off innocuously enough; I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to stretch a pair of Izzy's shoes with a can of hairspray (kid's shoes are expensive you know), when I heard the ping of an email arriving in my inbox.

I eyed the email suspiciously, because it was from someone I didn't know. I pressed the 'open' button with trepidation expecting to be offered meds that could help with my erection. Instead it read:

"Good morning!

I liked your blog post, so much that I selected it to be included on the home page, in the Featured Member section, today.

Congratulations – great post! I hope being featured on the home page will help you attract more readers!


Denise T*****
Community Manager

1301 Shoreway Road, Suite 340 | Belmont | CA | 94002"

Blimey! My bloody blog was featured on the homepage of 'BlogHer' - the biggest female blog website in the world..... a website that attracts 23 million unique visitors a month no less (I lifted that statistic off the BlogHer website to big myself up a bit more). It's a different gravy!

My leap was meteoric. One minute I was trying to stretch an extra couple of weeks out of Izzy's shoes, the next I was an international blogging star [note to self: urgently need to purchase a Fendi handbag, and get some queue barriers for outside my house]. 

So dahlinks, if you want to see my mug staring at you from the homepage of BlogHer, be quick, because I am only there for the day before I disappear into the ether again ..... consigned to my Joe Blogg existence. But for now, it's all so bloody exciting that I could eat a badger!

P.S. Did you know that Russians eat badger? It's being phased out a bit now because they keep contracting horrible diseases.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Happy 40th Birthday to Me!

That's it. Life as I know it is over. Today is my 40th birthday (yeh, the big Four-Oh), and I need to resign myself that the 'just woken up face' of my 30s, is now the 'all day long face' of my 40s. It's a harsh reality, but things just don't bounce back like they once did.

As if that wasn't bad enough, today I realised that I am a decade too old for a Club 18-30 holiday, and a decade too young for a Saga holiday. Man alive, I am in total limbo here.

So what is a girl supposed to do during a mid-life crisis? Obviously I wanted to get it right, so I googled it, but the results spewed forth a plethora of depressing psychology crap, so I decided to invent my own method; I would develop a penchant for translating comedy phrases into Latin for my reader's amusement. Here goes:

Let's run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes it!: Id in summum longurium quasi vexillum tollamus ut videamus utrum quis id salutet, necne!

Yes, I feel much better now.

"So, enough of the Latin crap," I hear you cry, "what did you get up to on your birthday?"

Actually, my birthday so far has been pretty bloody cool in a low-key way. It started at 8.30am this morning when Steve and Izzy came to pick me up so that we could all go to Izzy's Harvest Festival together. I don't know if other countries celebrate this, but it is basically a church service organised by the school, to thank God for a year of successful harvests.

Now stop it! I can almost hear you raising your eyebrows at the thought of me in a church doing God stuff. Ok, maybe it's not exactly my numero uno choice of hang-out, but there are two good reasons why I like going: Firstly, it raises funds for good causes (in this case the Pakistani flood appeal), and secondly, the pride I see on Izzy's face when she sings her hymns and we applaud at the end.

Pic.No.1. Izzy in the church waiting to sing her hymns

It was cool. And not only that, I learned something new during the Vicar's sermon; did you know that there is no word for 'thank you' in Africa? So if you go there on holiday, don't go round calling everyone you meet a rude bastard, because it isn't their fault. [Note to reader: Just to keep things above board, I must stress that the Vicar did not say that last sentence. I added it myself to be helpful.]

Once the church service was over, we dropped Izzy back at school, and Steve had arranged to take me for a birthday lunch. We were en-route in the car, when I asked; "where are you taking me?"

"It's a surprise," he said, "but I can say that it's in Oxford city centre."

"If it's McDonalds, I will beat you with a large branch from my walnut tree," I said, as we arrived in Oxford and parked up the car.

Steve just laughed at me as we strolled up George Street. Then he stopped and opened the door to a ...... Pizza Hut restaurant!

"What the bloody hell are you doing?" I asked him, "Do I look like a Pizza Hut kind of a girl?"

"Nah, more of a 99p Whopper kind of a girl," Steve said, doubling over laughing at his own crap gag. Once he had recovered sufficiently to talk, he added, "I am only joking about eating in Pizza Hut."

"Thank god for that," I said, once more following Steve up George Street.

Two minutes later, Steve stopped again and motioned to a restaurant: "That's where we are going," he said.

"Oh yes! You've done good!" I exclaimed, taking in the Jamie Oliver restaurant in front of me. I hadn't eaten there before and I had wanted to for ages. Woo hoo!

Pic.No.2. Steve standing outside the Jamie Oliver restaurant (called Jamie's Italian) in Oxford

Pic.No.3. The view out of the front window inside Jamie's Italian. Those dead things hanging up are animal flanks. Weird.

Pic.No.4. Dear Mr Oliver, my porcini and chestnut mushroom risotto with lemon and parmesan was really quite fine. I am starting to feel good about being 40

Pic.No.5 Steve's red mullet was to die for. Except that it was served with the head and tail on. Eating something that is looking at you is just wrong

One thing that particularly stood out about the Jamie Oliver restaurant was the service. It was impeccable. The barman knew everything about the drinks he was serving in great detail, and the waiter was able to describe exactly how each dish was cooked and what the ingredients were. Impressive stuff. Would I go there again? Blooming right I would, especially as the prices were very reasonable (even though I didn't pay - Steve treated me. Oooh, I could get used to that!).

Once lunch was over, we picked up Izzy from school and went for a long sunshiney stroll over the fields behind Forest Hill. It was all rather relaxing except for the bit where Naughty George decided to charge at some horses, barking ferociously. What a git. The size of his opponent never seems to deter Naughty George from picking a fight.

Pic.No.6. Moi, Izzy and Naughty George walking through Forest Hill village

So all in all, so far it has been rather a nice birthday, and I suspect, the calm before the storm. I have a couple of friends from the village coming for a few drinks this evening..... should be fun! I shall report back later.

P.S. Before I go, here is one last latin phrase that you can use to impress your colleagues: I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear: Te audire non possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Insurance and iPhones ....... It's a weary path

Sometimes I can be a bit clumsy. When I say a bit clumsy, that is probably a bit of an understatement thinking about it.

Cast your mind back ten years, when there was mass hysteria about the millennium bug wreaking havoc on the world. It was predicted that computers would explode, aircraft would plummet to the ground, radio alarm clocks would start blinking, and the whole planet would be plunged into darkness because of power outages. Oh yeh, allegedly the 'bug' was going to result in dead people littering the streets. And if that wasn't enough, the pundits then said that mob looting would be commonplace, and therefore the remaining populace would be machine-gunned by trigger happy cops. Not in the UK of course, that would be uncivilised. Us mobbers would be truncheoned to death.

Ok, in reality, the millennium bug was a bit of a wash-out, but if you had factored me into the equation, it would have been a very different matter. I could easily have wreaked havoc on a comparable scale, and without putting too much effort in to boot.

Let's fast forward ten years to my cottage in Oxford. In the last year and a half alone, I have managed to lose or destroy the following items:
  • Two Sony Vaio laptops
  • A Denon S302 Home Theatre System
  • A pink Casio Exilim camera
  • 76 wine glasses (to be fair my friends helped me considerably with this one)
  • A 32GB iPhone 3GS
  • The kitchen ceiling in my London house (water leak)
As a result of the above, I am on first name terms with most of the people at the Insurance Companies; so much so, that a number of them would be invited to my wedding if I were ever to suffer a 'mind blip' resulting in me dressing as a meringue.

Anyway, I digress. The most recent casualty in my arsenal of dead gadgets was my iPhone. I killed it in late June whilst using the bathroom. Without going into detail, the iPhone was in my back pocket and as soon as I heard the 'plink' of it hitting the water in the pan, I knew it was a goner.

The insurance claim started off badly because they weren't one of my regulars. The insurance company said that they weren't going to pay up because I hadn't submitted the form within 48 hours of the damage happening. So then the email scrap started:

Me: "Dear Mr Insurance, I refute the fact that you are deeming my claim as invalid because, as you say, it was not submitted within 48 hours. As soon as the damage occurred, I contacted the Apple store directly and they said I should let the phone dry out for 3 days in order to see if it could be saved. This means that your policy of submitting claims within 48 hours is unreasonable."

Mr Insurance (two weeks later): "Dear Dr Dickens, we have reviewed your appeal and agree to replace your damaged iPhone. Please print and fill out the enclosed claim form (yep, it was all done on paper - how 'Ancient Egypt' is that? Pass me the papyrus and feather pen...) and send your damaged phone to the following address........."

Me (three weeks later): "Dear Mr Insurance, I sent you the completed claim form and the damaged phone three weeks ago and have heard nothing from you. Please advise when I will receive a replacement because I am currently using an old mobile phone donated by a friend, and to be quite frank, I am embarrassed to be seen using it in public because it is bigger than a dead badger."

Mr Insurance (another week later):  "Dear Dr Dickens, we seemed to have experienced some delay in booking your damaged phone onto our system, which means that our engineers have not yet had chance to look at it. It will be a further ten working days before we will be able to ascertain whether the phone is a write-off or not, and therefore determine whether or not we can replace it."

[Note to self: Ten working days? "Working days" is a measure that incompetent companies use to try and make their lead times seem shorter than they actually are. Grrr, they have touched the bone.]

Me (one day later): "Dear Mr Insurance, it has now been over two months since I submitted my original insurance claim. Your service is bloody awful, and even worse than that, I am still forced to use an ancient mobile phone that teenagers laugh at, and it is causing me mental distress. I demand that my £30 policy excess is refunded, and that I get my replacement phone within two days. If this doesn't happen, I shall be contacting the Financial Ombudsman. And I might launch a protest march outside your office, with a banner saying 'Towergate Insurance have turned me mental'."

Mr Insurance (5 minutes later): "Dear Dr Dickens, I would just like to confirm that a new phone has been sent out to you today. As requested, we have also refunded your £30 policy excess. It will be paid into your account within the next hour. Please contact me if you have any problems. Warm regards Daniel."

So it was with a certain amount of glee, that this morning, I received a parcel containing this ......

Pic.No.1 My shiney new iPhone. The Bridget Bardot of digitalness

I have no idea what spurned the insurance company into such immediate action, but suffice to say, I once again have a decent phone. And £30 in my bank.

But then something to sprung to mind. I never actually paid the £30 policy excess in the first place. That means that I am £30 better off than when I first submitted my claim.

So here is a question: If I keep the money, does that make me a criminal?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

This is a mish-mash but has something to do with Loughborough

Ooh how exciting, this weekend I was due to drive up to Loughborough to visit my cousin Jane and her partner, Martin (aka Sicknote). On Saturday morning, I put my bags in the boot of my car, Naughty George in his basket in the back seat, and set off on the journey 'oop north'.

Two things marked out the journey. The first was that because it was late September, the weather was quite cool. So I turned up the heating and as the car warmed up, so did Naughty George, and it soon became abundantly clear that he had recently rolled in random wildlife faeces.

"Bloody hell Naughty George, you stink," I shouted at him, as he lay in his basket, staring at me benignly with a couple of flies buzzing lazily around his ear. I wound down the window (yeh, that's how humiliatingly old my car is) and gasped for air.

It was then that I glanced into my rear view mirror and saw a beefy silver sports car following me inches from my rear bumper. One thing became immediately clear - the guy behind me obviously wasn't happy being stuck behind a sedentary jalopy being driven by a lunatic with her head stuck out the driver's window.

As I wound my way down the single track country lanes, the sports car was weaving behind me in an attempt to overtake. Alas, his attempts were futile, and it wasn't until I turned onto the motorway slip-road, that he roared past me like a cheetah on crack, casting a dirty look in my direction as he did so.

"Asshole," I muttered to myself as I saw his tail-lights disappear into the distance. I quickly forgot about the incident and immersed myself in the podcast I was listening to (This Reality Podcas - go listen to it, it's great), and after driving for about ten miles, something caught my attention. Smoke. And lots of it. As I got closer, I realised that the source was a vehicle parked on the hard shoulder, and the vehicle was..... yep, you got it, the silver sports car that had been tailgating me earlier. Ahhhhh ... it's moments like these that make me want to turn religious. The one with the orange sheets and shaved heads. I've always fancied learning to play the tambourine.

As I drove past the car and it's driver, I slowed momentarily so that he could properly see me blowing kisses and waving. My efforts were rewarded with the guy mouthing rude words and flipping me the bird, how excellent is that? I felt vindicated.

After all the excitement of the journey, I was happy to arrive at Loughborough. I knocked on the door, and Martin (a.k.a Sicknote) opened the door.

I took one look at him and gasped: "Bloody hell Martin! What have you done to your eye?" His left eye was a swollen, bloodshot, pussy mess [note to reader: I am not sure that using the terminology 'pussy mess' is allowed, but I don't know how else to describe it].

"A bit of metal flew into it whilst I was doing a spot of grinding yesterday," he replied forlornly.

"Jeez, you've made a right mess of it, it looks well manky" I said recoiling from him slightly and screwing up my nose. 

"Yeh, alright, alright...... " he said, stooping and cowering in an attempt to hide his eye and ending up looking a bit like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Jane had heard me arriving, and appeared in the background, "Alright Cous!" she shouted cheerily, "we had to take him to hospital today, and I've got some great pictures of him in a headbrace waiting for the Opthalmologist to examine him."

"Cool, can I have them for my blog?" I asked.

"Yeh, of course," she said, before adding; "cup of tea?"

Pic.No.1. Martin screwed into a headbrace at the hospital

Pic.No.2. This is Martin. He is scared, and jeez, look at his manky eye

Jane and I sat on the sofa, slowly sipping our mugs of hot tea.

Sicknote piped up, "Can I have a cup of tea too please?"

"I'm five months pregnant, you should be making tea for me," Jane retorted indignantly.

"Yeh, but I'm injured," replied Sicknote.

"Your legs and arms aren't injured," replied Jane with blinding logic.

"You are like the witches of Eastwick, except there are only two of you," Sicknote said before adding, "I'll just do it myself then." He dropped to the floor on all fours and crawled, groaning, towards the kitchen like a man in the desert who has just spotted a morsel of food. You think I am in jest? Aha.... no flies on me..... I got it all on camera.

Pic.No.3. Martin heading to the kitchen to make a cup of tea

Pic.No.4. Martin makes it into the kitchen, exhausted after his journey

Jane looked at Martin crawling along the carpet and turned to me; "Fancy going out?" she asked.

"Damn right I do," I replied enthusiastically, adding, "what is it with blokes going all wussy when they feel a bit ill?"

"Dunno," Jane shrugged, stepping over Martin to get her car keys.

Shortly, we arrived in Loughborough town ready to commence our big night out, and after a couple of hours, things started to get a bit hazy. I know that there was karaoke involved (Jane is a great singer), and that at some point in the night, Jane tried to convince me that I had a moustache. Why? I do not know, but it seemed highly amusing at the time.

Pic.No.5. This is Jane in the pub. And for your information - I do not have a moustache

And I'll tell you something else, Jane sure had some stamina considering she is five months pregnant. By 1am, I was ready to go home, but she was still in full flow. I finally persauded her to head for home at 1.30am by which time I was dead on my feet. Crikey, I think my age is finally catching up with me.

As we crept into the house, I whispered (so as not to wake Sicknote) to Jane; "where am I sleeping?"

"There," said Jane, pointing to the sofa.

"That's barbaric," I said, aghast at the thought.

"There's nowhere else to sleep," Jane whispered back.

"Ok, I'll have to make do," I replied wearily, climbing onto the sofa, and hissing, "good night" to Jane.

The whole while Naughty George was eyeing up the situation, and not being one to miss out on an opportunity, my erstwhile mutt had decided to jump up and sleep on the sofa with me, doing the doggy equivalent of the spoon, except higher up.


Even worse, the two lazy flies were still circling him.

But you will be pleased to hear that after a dubious start (i.e. waking up with Naughty George's bum next to my face), the next day panned out well. Sicknote cooked us an awesome Sunday roast lunch (with proper gravy), and Jane and I spent the afternoon setting up her new blog. YEH! Jane officially joined the blogging fraternity today with Life is so Unlike Theory. Please, go and have a look and give her a boost by following her.

So what about me? I am now back home in Oxford after a great weekend in Loughborough. I have Beethoven's Sonata No.8. Pathetique playing in the background and Naughty George is snoring and farting on the sofa. Izzy is fast asleep upstairs after trying to blag extra 'up-time' by saying she had a tummy-ache. I told her that I didn't believe her and she caved in straight away and went back to bed. I hope that she doesn't pursue a career as a lawyer.

So what have you been up to this weekend?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Chimps embarrassing TV Presenters

Ooh, I must admit, I do like a good 'funny animal' video, so I couldn't resist publishing this one that I spied on the internet. It is a series of three clips..... enjoy!

Vid.No.1. Chimps misbehaving

Video courtesy of Nothing to do with Arbroath.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Gumpher claims the Grizzly Bear Competition

I promised to do an interview with the winner of this week's caption competition, and because I am a really honest person (I wouldn't steal money from a homeless person or anything like that), today that's what I did.

My friend Clare had been asked to judge the competition (because if I had done it, it would look like a fix, even though I am really honest and would never sneakily feed Stilton to a pregnant woman to see what happens), but when she came back with the name of the winner, Gumpher who writes a blog called Mild Rantings, I didn't recognise it.

"Are you sure you were judging the right blog?" I asked Clare dubiously.

 "Yeh, your blog is the one with a picture of a pornographic grizzly bear on it, right?"  She replied.

"That's the one," I said before it dawned on me; Gumpher was a brand new follower of my blog and blimey, she had made a blazing entrance! This was going to make the interview even more exciting.

"Are you sure that Gumpher isn't the blog-following equivalent of 'middle managers'?" Clare asked, somewhat cynically. 

"What do you mean?" I replied.

"Well, you've never heard of 'em before, then they fly in and grab all the glory before disappearing again," she explained.

"That same principle could be applied to Jesus," I said, before the realisation struck me; crikey.... Jesus and middle managers have loads in common; the only difference being that middle managers don't wear sheets and spikey hats, or spend their leisure time nailed to crosses ('it simply ruins the manicure dahlink').

"I wish my manager was like Jesus," Clare said, "I would feel really superior if my boss wore sackcloth and sandals."

Hang on, hang on cotton pickin' minute...... we seemed to have digressed from the matter in hand - the fact that Gumpher had won the caption competition - so I got things back on track by emailing Gumpher and asking her to participate in the interview.

You will be pleased to hear that Gumpher and I exchanged a few friendly emails (Yo Gumpher! You and me are homeys!), before finally, the widely anticipated interview pinged into my inbox. After reading it, one thing became abundantly clear....... Gumpher was a bloke and not a girl, as I had originally thought.

Have you ever done that? Thought you were speaking to a girl but found out it was a guy? It properly freaks you out, which makes me wonder........ why do genders communicate so differently? Anyway, that is a topic for another time. In the meantime... please let me introduce Mr Gumpher........ from the blog Mild Rantings.

Name: Gumpher

Age: 42

Height: 5'10"

Location: Worcestershire, UK

Significant others: Wife, A, Boy 1 ten, boy 2, seven

 Pic. No.1. Gumpher and his two kids on the beach

Occupation: I own a company that provides design and project management for commercial building refits.

What do you secretly dream about doing for a living?: Nothing in particular, apart from the obvious F1 driver. I quite enjoy what I do

What are you a self-declared expert at?: Drinking beer and smoking fags. 

What can't you seem to get enough of?: See above, and sunny days outside with good friends. And scallops.

What kinds of people are you drawn to?:  Active 'doers' I don't like coach potatoes

Favourite colour: Blue

Pets: The naughty spaniel, fatty boombatty ginger catty, and the scaredy cat

If money was no problem, where would you go on holiday?: Thailand, every year instead of when money dictates

What was your proudest moment?: My sense of pride has changed as I've got older. I now get a tremendous glow at seeing the achievements of my boys, however small.

What's your favourite movie?: Cool Hand Luke, The Last Emperor

Have you ever lived in other places, if so where?: Rhodesia, Australia and New Zealand

What do you consider your biggest achievement?: It may sound trite, but it's finding the woman I love and raising a family with her.

What things annoy you?: That moment every year when you realise that you're going to work when it's dark and coming home from work in the dark. It's going to last for months, and there's sod all you can do about it.

What hobbies do you have?: Mostly sport, squash, badminton, golf. Coaching kids rugby now my body has told me to pack in playing.  I always have at least one book on the go.

Name the three websites you visit most often (excluding blogs!): Gwlad, Welsh rugby site, BBC Sport, Shedweb, Gloucester rugby site

Have you ever broken any bones (if yes, how?): Collarbone, ankle, sternum, lots of ribs and fingers, all rugby. See note above re body packing up.

What car do you drive?: A Saab estate that requires journeys to be planned via petrol stations 

What car would you like if money were no object?: Alfa Romeo 8C and a Triumph Spitfire

What character traits annoy you?: Brashness, duplicity and laziness.

What are you going to do once you have finished this questionnaire?: Go and watch boy 2 play football

What are you doing this coming weekend?: Looking forward to a visit from my Mum, rugby training on Sunday.

Please give one random fact about yourself: I've seen three ghosts.


P.S. Annie here - yes I know. I have also asked him to expand the stories about the ghosts. 

P.P.S. Isn't Fatty Boombatty the coolest name for a cat..... ever?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

On Dogs and being Deaf

Blimey, I have had one of those days today. You know the ones; where everything seems to go wrong.

It had all started off innocuously enough. The sun was shining (what in the blazes is that yellow thing out there?!), and I decided to take Naughty George for his daily drag around the fields of Oxfordshire. It all was all going rather well. NG hadn't instigated a fight with any other dogs or barked at any toddlers, and I was feeling on top of the world - walking along in a jaunty fashion, listening to my iPod. Yeh man, I was properly getting into the groove..... (that's what youngsters say today isn't it?).

And then disaster struck. Without any warning, I suddenly went profoundly deaf in my left ear. To put it into context, I've suffered from slightly dodgy hearing for years, but going profoundly deaf in one ear was something else. 'That's it!' I thought to myself, 'my eardrum has finally popped!'

I stopped walking and floundered around a bit wondering what to do next. I mean, what are you supposed to do when your eardrum bursts? I decided to panic a bit (which involved me waving my arms in the air for a few seconds), and then continue with my walk - I mean there was nothing I could do until I saw a doctor.

After about fifteen minutes of hard hiking (and being slightly preoccupied by my loss of hearing), I reached the top of the hill which gives my village (Forest Hill) it's name, and suddenly noticed that Naughty George was missing. The bloody git. He had done a runner. And I only had fifteen minutes to find him because I had to pick Izzy up from school.

I ran back and forth like something out of a Benny Hill movie, and still Naughty George was not forthcoming. Eventually, once the fifteen minutes had elapsed, I concluded that I had to abandon the search and accept that NG had probably died alone and was lying in 2D glory on some road or other. It was a bitter pill to swallow, especially after going deaf.

Suddenly, just as it was looking like all hope was lost, my phone rang.

I put it up to my right ear (no flies on me!), and answered sadly, "hello?"

"Hi, it's Steve here," came the voice, "have you lost anything?"

"Yes, my hearing," I replied with meloncholy.

"How come you can answer this call then?" he asked perplexedly.

"Oh, it's because I've only gone profoundly deaf in my left ear," I said.

"Ahhh, ok... cool," he responded, before adding, "but have you lost anything else?"

"Yeh, my bloody dog."

"Well, on that front, I have some news for you," Steve answered, "I have just found the little git in my kitchen, on his hindlegs, trying to steal food from the worktops."

"But you live about a mile away from where I lost him," I added with incredulity, "and how did he get into your kitchen? You live in a flat for chrissake."

"I dunno," said Steve, "but please, can you just come and collect him? He has embarked upon a woofing volley which hasn't ceased for ten minutes, and the neighbours are complaining."  That's definitely my dog.

I ran down the hill, and into the village, and buzzed the buzzer for Steve's flat. As the door opened, I removed my earphones and was nearly bowled over by a woofing NG. He was alive! ermmmm ..... great.

And then a miracle happened! ....... My hearing returned! I could hear Naughty George's highly-pitched vacuous woofs in full technicolour glory!

"My hearing has come back!" I shouted to Steve with excitement.

Steve regarded the situation for a while before commenting, "are you sure there wasn't a fault with your earphones?" he said, unplugging them from my iPhone and testing them on his computer.

After several minutes, he turned to me and uttered, "you daft moose, the wires to your left earphone have worked themselves loose .... you were never deaf at all."

Pic.No.1.  Back at home, Naughty George feels sheepish about running way

Pic.No.2. And slinks into the house hoping I won't notice

Ok yeh, I felt like a bit of a prick, but the euphoria of not being deaf, and finding my dog alive numbed the humiliation somewhat. Tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

And the winner of the caption competition is ..........

Being the cowardly type of person that I am, I decided to wimp out of judging the caption competition and ask someone else to do it instead [hell if any violence erupts, I don't want to be in the vicinity].

So, I decided to approach my good friend, Clare Jones (of the blog Yes, his name is Gary), to do the honours. She lives in Florida, so I figured that if anything did go horribly wrong, she couldn't easily get to me.

Noticing that Clare's Skype status was showing as 'online', I gave her a call.

Me: Alright Moosey, I need a favour.

Clare: Oh, god, what this time? I still haven't fully recovered from that episode with the pancake and the lizard.

Me: Yeh, sorry about that. But I need you to judge a caption competition on my blog. It's a toughy though; there are lots of bloody funny submissions and quite a lot of them are rude.

Clare: Oooh nice one, why did choose me as judge?

Me: Because you were the only person I know who hadn't entered the competition.

Clare: Not because of my judging prowess?

Me: Not really no. It was more that you were convenient.

Clare: Sigh, ok. Leave it with me.

Me: Cheers mate.

Hence I waited with bated breath for the ping of an email arriving in my inbox, heralding the arrival of the results. I didn't have to wait long. Clare had pondered, laughed, and evaluated, and finally arrived at her decision [Note: if anyone is upset they didn't win, I will forward her address, no worries].

Pic.No.1. The Caption Competition picture

And without further ado.... please may I present Clare's decision...... da dahhhhh!


Thanks for letting me judge the caption competition. My line would have been 'Brazilian please' but this had already been taken by FourJedis... and I nearly awarded it to her .. it reminded me of my mate coming here from England and going for a bikini wax, and the little Asian woman (who didn't speak much English) accidentally taking off far more than my friend was used to...'tres amusant'. However the best one for me was Gumpher... 'After a long weekend in Amsterdam studying the window ladies, Paddington hit on a sure fire winner to make more marmalade cash.!'


Yep, the winner is a newcomer to this blog - GUMPHER! with the highly amusing comment: 'After a long weekend in Amsterdam studying the window ladies, Paddington hit on a sure fire winner to make more marmalade cash.!'

Congratulations to you! Some of my other favourites included: Nicki's 'I hate papsmear day!' and Brennig's 'Look! Just look! Look at my bumhole! It's gone! How did that happen?'

So hopefully, my next steps will be publishing an interview with the winner! But first I have to get the mud out of my kettle. 

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Humiliation - why I spent my weekend with a stuffed rat

Steve (Izzy's Dad) and I take it in turns to look after Izzy at the weekends, and this weekend it was my turn. So as planned, Steve summarily turned up at my house to drop Izzy off. But with an addition. Under her arm, Izzy was carrying a big, ugly stuffed toy rat (with a horrible thick pink tail).

Once Izzy was out of earshot, I turned to Steve. "What in god's name is that vile rat-thing that she is lugging about?"

"Erm ....... the school gave it to her for the weekend," he replied, "something to do with her being the best behaved pupil in her class this week."

"You said the weekend. The whole weekend? You mean I've got to put up with that rodenty thing for more than a couple of hours?" I asked him.

"Ermmm yes," Replied Steve sheepishly, "and you also have to take photographs of what it gets up to at the weekend."

"Look, I hate pointing out the bloody obvious, but it is an inanimate object. It's not going to get up to anything." I retorted.

"You have to pretend it's doing stuff and photograph it," Steve said.

"For the love of all things holy!" I exclaimed. "I am nearly 40 years of age, and you are telling me that my weekend will be spent role-playing with a large stuffed rat? And if that wasn't humiliating enough, I've got to capture it on camera?!"

"Well, yeh. That's about the long and short of it," Steve flinched, before adding, "but you will also need to stick the photographs into the rat's 'school book' so when the children get back to school on Monday, they can discuss what it got up to at the weekend."

Sacre Bleu! The rat has it's own school book? That stuffed, synthetic, static-electricity-generating, dust ball had its own school book? 'HELLO?!' I shout and only hear my own echo, 'Is it only me who realises that the rat isn't real?!'

Sacre Bleu the Sequel! Izzy got rewarded for being the best behaved pupil in her class! I was very proud of her, but could say with certainty that she didn't get that from me.

And so with a heavy heart I took possession of the rat (which was ironically called George, a name which always implies 'git') and set about my task of chronicling his action-packed weekend [What am I doing? What have I become? It wasn't six years since I was selling landing gear to major airlines, and now I was playing make believe with a stuffed rat. That's kids for you that is].

Just in case you were wondering if George the Rat was a flash in the pan fad, I can wholeheartedly assure you that he wasn't. Izzy didn't put flea-infested, polyester-furred, travesty-of-a-rat down for the entire weekend. Here is a half-hearted sample of the pictures for you to look at.
Pic.No.1 Izzy and rat thing bouncing on a trampoline

Pic.No.2 Ratty the rancid rodent on a funfair ride with Izzy and her chum Honey

 Pic.No.3 Yep you got it. That's the rat eating Izzy's banana cake whilst at lunch

So the moral of the story? Listen carefully because I have learnt the hard way. Do whatever you can to make sure that your kid doesn't come top at anything. Sure you will have to adopt a multi-faceted approach which encourages bad behaviour, low academic standards, and the opposite of sporting prowess. But trust me, an under-achieving kid will forever spare you from the rat [taps side of nose]. Yeh, I know - I'm good!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Caption competition - Grizzly Bear

I am a sucker for comedy animal pictures I am. Especially when like this one, they are God-given 'caption competition' material.

As soon as 'the bear' arrived in my inbox, I realised that if we teamed-up, we could probably go far. So I walked to the mirror to do some self-motivation excercises. I pulled a Zoolander expression, and said to myself; "hey bear, [pausing to check that the position of my eyebrows was right], I like you and I want you to feature in my blog." I knew the bear couldn't hear, but I was psyching myself up with gravitas. The bear was on my imaginery casting couch and I was determined that it was going to do it's stuff. And I think it delivered.... go bear go.........

Pic.No.1. Grizzly Bear Caption Competition

Anyway, here comes your part in the fun. All you have to do is add a comment including your best caption for the photograph above.

I will ask a random independent third party blogger (put on your tin hats and hide behind the parapet!) to judge the captions. And as for the winner, I will feature a full-length interview of them on this blog. Oooh, it's all so exciting!

P.S. Jewell won the last caption competition, and she is a very hard act to follow ....   "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Craters and candlesticks

As if tending my scrubland garden wasn't bad enough, it has now been blighted with a mole attack. Yep over the last two weeks, I must have had at least twenty molehills in my garden, each of which required me to don my wellies, grab a spade and pat-down and level the little piles of mud that were deposited on the lawn. It made me properly curse, as in "you bloody, blind, furry, big-footed, red-nosed gits!" Jeez I was properly hopping mad at them.

Sometimes wildlife is crap, and I was sorely tempted to subscribe to

Despite that, I didn't want to kill them (yeh, yeh, I am virtually a Buddhist, but with a hairdo and no orange sheet). The thing with moles, is that they are quite cute looking and have a pretty crap life. Can you imagine being blind and spending your entire time squeezing through tiny mud tunnels? Actually thinking about it, that's probably how Sarah Palin spent her life before formulating her political manifesto.

So, with the molehills levelled, I was sitting at my desk bevearing away at my computer, when I noticed that I hadn't seen Naughty George for a while. This was always a bad omen. Naughty George only does one of three things during the day: 1. sleep in his basket, 2. sleep on the sofa, or 3. partake in reprehensible behaviour. Needless to say, he wasn't in his basket or on the sofa. Sacre Bleu! After briefly searching the house, my hunt took me into the garden, where I encountered this.........

 Pic.No.1. Shit! My dog has no head!

At first I panicked because how uncool would I look walking a dog with no head? And then I realised that something else was afoot. The bloody git had dug an enormous hole in the garden in an attempt to get at the moles, and his head was down it. 

"Naughty George STOP IT!" I shouted, as my dog sheepishly pulled his head from the hole. He blinked at me, and his white eyeballs were the only features visible behind a mask of mud. I surveyed the scene. It looked like NG had been at his task for quite some time because there wasn't just one, but three large wholes excavated in the lawn. The bloody git.

But hey, I learned an important life lesson from all of this: When a dog digs a hole, he leaves a mound of earth behind. But, (and this is the freaky bit) that same mound of earth is never enough to fill the hole that has been dug. What the bloody hell is that all about then?  It's the metaphorical equivalent of voting for Gordon Brown after the recession.

So, with three new craters in my lawn (any ideas how I can turn them into a feature?), the day finally drew to a close and I decided to have a chilled evening on the sofa, reading and listening to music. I must have been pretty engrossed, because I didn't hear the back door of my house open. Yep, I was totallly oblivious until someone shouted "Eh up!" right behind me.

I leapt a mile off the sofa, shouting "JEEZ! F**K!" only to turn round and find out that my friend from the village, Clare, had come to visit.

"You stupid moose!" I exclaimed loudly, as Clare laughed her head off sympathetically, "you nearly gave me a bleedin' heart attack!"

Once she had recovered from her hysterics, she plumped two things into my hands, "here, I've bought you a present," she said.

Let me explain; Clare is an arty type and has a company called Forest Clay. She does amazing sculptures and things like that. And she goes mental if you call her a potter. "I'm not a potter," she says, "I am a bloody ceramicist." Ceramicist? Potter? Who cares? All you need to know is that she can make full size cows out of clay, and that one day, I am going to have one in my garden ..... and have comedy pictures taken with it.

Pic.No.2. Amazing hand-made conker candlestick holders

Her present to me was a pair of hand crafted ceramic candlestick holders made in the shape of conker shells. How cool was that? I was super chuffed! (picture does not do them justice).

"Awww, thanks matey, they are absolutely fabuloso" I said, "fancy a glass of wine?"

"Damn right," she replied, and so, in an unexpected turn of events, we whiled away the evening chatting..........

And by the end of the night, we had decided that we were going to write a children's book. Clare was going to do the illustration, and I was going to do the writing. Hey, if the Duchess of York can publish Budgie the Helicopter (or whatever it was called), surely we could do better? The only thing missing is the storyline ....

We were a bit like the childrens' book equivalent of that Dilbert cartoon where he says; "I hate working here, and I have decided I am going to set up my own business." His friend says "what business is that then?" and Dilbert replies, "something to do with Ebay."

Ummmm, cough, shuffle ....... anyone got any ideas for a storyline......?

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Five year olds have stylists? WTF?!

I don't know. Children these days don't know they're born. In the olden days, kids used to smoke pretend candy cigarettes, needed to get up off the sofa to change the (black and white) TV channel, wore shorts no matter what the weather, and lived off a staple daily diet of meat served with boiled potatoes. There were no computer games, fancy trainers or mandatory seatbelts.

Not only that, but rules of communicating with children were easy - engaging in conversation was considered indulgent - unless of course the kid had done something wrong, in which case you gave 'em a clip around the ear and shouted "you little scamp!" at them. Ahhhhh, there is nothing like giving a kid a good beating to garner respect.

So imagine my surprise when I was getting Izzy ready for school this morning, and her Dad, Steve, called me to say; "Hi, just to let you know I have booked Izzy a 4pm appointment with her stylist today."

I remained silent for a moment, pondering what had just been said. "Stylist?" I said, "she's five, what does she want with a stylist?"

"It's for her hair," Steve replied.

"You are kidding me?" I asked incredulously, "you are paying a proper stylist to cut her hair?"

"Of course, I want it to look nice," he replied before adding; "you can come if you want."

"Yeh, of course I will come.... I want to see what goes on when a five year old gets styled," I said before hanging up. Once the phonecall was over, I turned to Izzy.

"You know what, Iz?" I asked.

"What?" she said.

"In the olden days, children didn't go to stylists; all kids used to have bowl haircuts."

What's a bowl haircut?" questioned Iz.

Being the supermother that I am, I gave her a brief demonstation by placing a bowl on her head and waving a pair of scissors in the air. I wanted her to understand that haircuts in the olden days revolved around practicality - they were short so they didn't require much brushing, and generally incoporated a brutal fringe (what's known as a 'bang' in the US) to enhance vision. Styling for vanity's sake would have been considered a frivolity. Yeh, I know - kids today - sigh.

Pic.No.1. Izzy's demonstration of the principles behind a bowl haircut - oh, for the olden days

Just in case you were thinking that I gave Izzy a bowl haircut, I can categorically confirm that I didn't. Hell she had a pre-paid appointment with a stylist booked for 4pm for chrissake. Giving her a Bowly prior to that would have just been mean. But that doesn't stop me reminiscing about the days when children were considered little more than vermin.

 Pic.No.2. A good old-fashioned bowl cut in action.

We (me, Steve and Izzy) duly arrived at the hairdressers and were greeted by the receptionist who asked Izzy to partake in a consultation........ about how she would like her hair to look. WTF?!! She's five!

"I want to look like Stephanie from Lazy Town," she said in a little voice.

Given that Lazy Town's Stephanie had pink hair, it became immediately apparent that some adult intervention was required.

"She just requires a trim and some layering at the back," I interjected.

"No problem," said the stylist turning back to Izzy..... "and would you like your hair washed?"

"Yes please," said Izzy, standing up so that the pink protective cape could be wrapped around her shoulders. The stylist's assistant (obviously versed in the routine) rocked up and asked Izzy; "Can I get you a coffee - Latte or Cappuccino?"

I jumped into the conversation for a second time; "ermm, she's five, she doesn't drink caffeine..... do you have any juice?"

"Yes, no problem!" she replied breezily and disappeared into the back of the salon.

Pic.No.3. Izzy in the chair with a towel on her head, just about to have her hair styled

It was all a bit surreal, right down to the point where the stylist asked Izzy whether she would like her hair blowdryed straight or curly.

"Straight, please" she said confidently as though she had grown up in salons. WTF!! She is five. She should be in the garden eating worms and making mud pies, not deciding how she wants her hair blowdried!

Or maybe I am just showing my age. Either way, once it was done, I decided that I wanted a coffee to get over the experience, and Steve took us to a little gem hidden away down an Oxford backstreet.

Pic.No.4. Jacobs and Field in Headington, Oxford

The cafe was actually a cross between a delicatessen and cafe, and sold the most marvellous snacks ever. I had a spinach and feta filou wrap to help me get over the shock of my daughter being styled. And a cappuccino. And Izzy (who now looked like a red-haired, short, extremely young version of Jennifer Aniston) had a black cherry pastry. Steve just ate cake. He likes it because it is brown.

So chaps....... what is the right way to deal with children's hair? Should they get sent to stylists or should they get the bowl haircut?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Now is the Autumn of discontent

Crikey, I don't know about you, but the fact that Autumn has arrived so abruptly (the wind is currently howling round my house), has left me feeling unmotivated and uninspired... yeh I know.... me, Lady M (a.k.a the almighty gob) ..... uninspired!  It's because after three months of a cloudy / rainy / frankly shit / summer, I feel cheated. The whole season has been a total washout with no long balmy evenings spent quaffing Pimms and Lemonde, followed by sleeping semi-comatose on the lawn. Yep, the whole episode has been bloody uncivilised and miserable.

Bloody England. I don't know why I don't just sell up and move to bloody Florida ..... not only would I have sunshine all year round, but I could also eat burgers every day and buy a hover round so that I wouldn't have to put any effort into hauling my fat ass around town. Because as far as I can make out, calories in America are like cows in India - sacred - and should therefore never be consumed or burnt off.

In fact, after the summer we have had in the UK, I positively relish the thought of being craned out of the roof of my house on a reinforced stretcher so that I can occupy the sun lounger in my 'sunshine state' yard.

Pic.No.1. Me pretending to live in Florida. I am holding a terrier dog that isn't Naughty George because in the sunshine state everything is lovely and sunny and things like bastard dogs don't exist (Ok, I know you probably can't tell, but Photoshop editing is involved in this photo)

My whole state of discontent was definitely made worse when one of my best friends (Clare from the blog 'Yes his name is Gary') who lives in Florida, called me today to say that she had just experienced the hottest day since 1961. Hey Clare! I am suffering from Autumnal angst! Don't tell me things like that!

As if that wasn't enough, this morning I managed to drop a small piece of toast under the 'F' key on my keyboard, so now there is a crunching sound every time I swear.

Do things get more desperate than this?

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Naughty George does his stuff....... as always

I was just filing the pics from my camping holiday, when I noticed a picture of Naughty George in the melee. It was a picture of him sitting atop a cliff looking all innocent as though butter wouldn't melt in his snout. On his face he had that placid expression that he generally adopts to lull would-be petters into a false sense of security.

Pic.No.1. Naughty George looking all innocent

Naughty George looking innocent? That's akin to Paris Hilton living in a convent.

Day One of Camping

It was 6am on the first morning of the camping trip, and Steve, Izzy and I were asleep in the tent after a cold and restless night. All of a sudden, the peace was shattered by a low-pitched gutteral sound. I covered my head with my duck down duvet and carried on sleeping, but the noise didn't abate.

After several minutes, Steve whispered, "I think the sound is coming from Naughty George."

I groaned under my duvet and begged Steve to investigate. I heard him unzipping his sleeping compartment before exclaiming loudly; "UGH, he is properly wretching, in that he looks like he is going to seriously puke at any second!" 

"Shit, just let him puke outside," I replied sleepily.

I heard Steve unzip the door of the tent and beckon Naughty George to follow. The next thing I heard was Steve shouting to me; "the little bastard has immediately recovered and run off!"

"Christ," I mumbled, climbing out of bed to see what was going on. Everything quickly became abundantly clear. It turned out that NG had smelt someone cooking bacon and had used his wretching as an exit strategy. The evidence being that he was already on his hindlegs at someone's picnic table, trying to pull the sandwich off the plate, whilst the oblivious campers were inside tent putting the finishing touches to their breakfast.

"Quick, get him back," I hissed to Steve. The next thing I saw was Steve (in his Superman underpants), holding Naughty George under his arm, wrestling to remove the bacon sandwich from his terrier jaws. Mission accomplished! The bacon sandwich was back on the plate and Steve (with NG still under his arm) scuttled back and was safely ensconced in the tent once more. I had already returned to bed, and drifted off again, hoping that the campers wouldn't spot the teeth marks in their bacon sandwich.

Day Two of Camping

It was 6am on the second morning of the camping trip, and Steve, Izzy and I were asleep in the tent after another cold and restless night. All of a sudden, the peace was shattered by a low-pitched gutteral sound. I covered my head with my duck down duvet and carried on sleeping, but the noise didn't abate (see where this is going?!).

After several minutes, Steve whispered, "It's Naughty George doing that puking thing again."

I groaned under my duvet and begged Steve to investigate. I heard him unzipping his sleeping compartment before exclaiming loudly; "UGH, he is properly wretching, and this time his whole body is convulsing!"

"Ignore him," I whispered, "he has learned that if he pretends to wretch, he can go outside and steal people's sandwiches."

"Are you sure?" Steve asked dubiously, getting back into his sleeping bag, by which time I was asleep.

Less than five minutes later, everyone was awoken again by an almighty BLARRRGGHHH sound.

"I think it's Naughty George," Steve whispered to me as I blinked myself awake.

"Shit, can you go and check on him?" I asked sleepily, hiding my head under my duck down duvet.

I heard Steve unzipping his sleeping compartment before exclaiming loudly; "The little bastard has puked in the tent!" 

Awww, crap. Why is it always my dog at the centre of these palavers?

I begrudingly pulled myself out of my bed, and mumbled, "don't worry, I'll clean it up."

"No, you don't have to," Steve interjected, "NG has already eaten it all back up."

Jeez, Naughty George never fails to deliver on the gross front.

Day Three of Camping

After a long climb, we were finally on top of a cliff called Harry Rocks and Naughty George had gone AWOL. After frantically searching the undergrowth, I found him rolling around on his back in a great dollop of fox shit. Have you ever smelt fox shit? I can categorically tell you that it is the most pungent, nose-hair-shrivelling, rancid aroma on the face of the planet. And NG was covered in it. Not only was he covered in it, but once he was 'discovered', he broke free and ran at breakneck speed out onto the clifftop, making a beeline for a group of three pensioners who were sitting on the grass eating their packed lunch.

After nearly keeling over from exhaustion in pursuit of him, I arrived to find him sitting (with his placid butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-snout expression on) in front of the elderly picnickers.

"Naughty George, you little bastard!" I shouted, much to the shock and chagrin of the old ladies. But then they made their fatal mistake. They assumed that I was some Cruella Deville type person trying to kidnap an innocent dog, so they grabbed NG and drew him close.

"Noooooooo!" I shouted, but it was too late. The elderly lady had been fox-pooed. It didn't dawn on her straight away, in fact it took her ten seconds of nose-twitching and dog-looking before she realised where the smell was coming from. At which point, she revulsed and flung NG from her lap, lifting her hands up to her nose, a grimace slowly spreading across her face as she realised where the stench was coming from.

"I'm so sorry," I said, scooping Naughty George up in my arms, and edging backwards. The last thing I saw before I turned and ran off, was the pensioner's friends frantically trying to clean the fox shit from her hands using the tissues that had been residing up their respective sleeves (all old ladies seem to have tissues stored up their sleeves).

So all in all.... that's my dog.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Part 2 of my Heathen Holiday

Blimey. Amongst all the excitement of the caption competition, I nearly forgot to do the post on the second part of my camping trip. How could I forget that? Living like a badger, virtually grubbing around for insects and foraging for fruit and nuts. Well ok, it wasn't quite that bad. There was a stove in the tent so that we could cook bacon sandwiches, but I still had to eat them in the open air like a squirrel, with the wind blowing mud onto them and wasps attacking me.... and then I would have to jump around trying to swat them, looking like a mentalist to boot. Methods of barbarism I say!

But hark! I didn't think I would find myself saying this, but there are enjoyable bits to camping too...... once you discard sleeping on the ground, showering in squalid communal blocks, and freezing to death as the temperature drops at night and wild animals posturing outside your tent ........

Oh yeh, I can see you looking at me through squinty, distrusting eyes, and shaking your head in disbelief. Let me explain. I love, love, love hiking and the campsite was in prime hiking territory - it had hills, coastline and forests - and hundreds of bloody miles of it. So that's what we did. We hiked. Except that it was rather unfortunate because I had forgotten my hiking shoes so had to do it in heels and ended up looking like a bit of a doughnut.

Never mind, I got lots of pictures from the hikes, and more importantly, lots of pictures with me in and they were my favourite. Want to peek? .....................

Pic.No.1. This is me on top of a bloody great clifftop called Harry Rocks. If I had fallen over the edge I would definitely have been deader than a dinosaur and flatter than a pitta bread, and they would probaby have had to scoop me up with a spoon

Pic.No.2. I borrowed Izzy's hat and glasses and then tried to teach her the Zoolander pose. On top of a cliff at Harry Rocks. It was very atmospheric and beautiful and I like to think of it as a bonding moment

Pic.No.3 I had to keep Naughty George on a lead at Harry Rocks because Steve was threatening to throw a stick over the edge and shout 'FETCH!'

The next day we went to a scenic spot called Lulworth cove to do yet more hiking. There was a bloody great (and steep) path leading to a landmark called Durdle Door (is is just in England that we call things stupid stuff? For example, there is a village in England called Tiddly Wink ....... I kid you not), so we decided to climb it. Yes in high heels, and yes, with Izzy.  

Pic.No.4. Look at the view! I know, I know ..... I am just one of those people who always looks naturally stylish. Oh and that's Lulworth Cove behind me. It is supposed to be one of the most scenic spots in the UK

Pic.No.5. This is Steve and Izzy climbing the path out of Lulworth Cove and towards Durdle Door. It was steeper than the Great Wall of China, and I think that it could probably be seen from space. Let's put it this way, I had thighs like a Russian Shot Putter when I got to the top (well a teetering Russian Shot Putter anyway, because I was still wearing heels)

Pic.No.6. The view of Lulworth Cove from the top of the hill. I don't like this picture because it hasn't got me in it. It does give you a bit of a feel for how high we climbed. Nearly all the birds we spotted were flying around beneath us for crikey's sake!

Pic.No.7. Once at the top of the mountain, we rounded the headland and happened upon a pair of twin coves with shimmering blue sea. Look! it appears as though there is a bloody great crocodile in the sea attempting front crawl. Sorry to disappoint, but it was only a line of rocks

Pic.No.8. Me and Izzy stopped for a rest before descending to Durdle Door. See that beach ball she was carrying? It went everywhere with her for the entire time we were camping. It came free with a magazine, but I told her that I bought it in order to get 'Parent Points', which is like an invisible Loyalty Card that I invented for use at home

Pic.No.9. Durdle Door is that bloody great hole in the rock behind Izzy. There's probably a technical term for it, but I don't know what it is. Plus, I am not sure what Izzy is doing. I think someone had just asked her 'how much street cred has mummy got?'
Pic.No.10. What's with all the energy that kids have? Izzy had just scaled a mountain, climbed down a cliff face to get to a cove, played in the sea, climbed back up the cliff to leave the cove, and she was still jumping up and down like a demented grasshopper, whilst I was flat on my back like roadkill

Pic.No.11. After seeing Izzy jumping up and down, I had a brainwave that would improve my return hike no end. "Here Izzy, could you carry this back to the car?" I said, "it's only a couple of miles."

And so we eventually made it back to the car. It had been a long hike that nearly lasted for the whole day, and to my mind, there was only one way to satisfactorily finish it off. Oh yes - with that bastion of traditional British cuisine........

Pic.No.12. Fish and chips in Swanage Town. Even better ....... fish and chips at a seafront restaurant where you can smell the salty air and sand. Steve said that we should eat our food outside on the pier, but I told him categorically that I don't mind smelling salty air and sand, but I don't want it in my food and that's what happens when you eat outside

Anyway, before I go, I am going to have a quick rant about the fish and chip restaurant that we ate at. It was called The Parade and was close to the seafront in Swanage. It took 10 minutes to receive our drinks, and a further 50 minutes for our meals to arrive (a bloody long time when you have a hungry five year old with you). Plus Steve ordered a cappuccino that looked like it had been made with phlegm. We also overheard complaints from the tables around us, in particular about the service. So I would recommend that if you do visit Swanage and you fancy fish and chips, go to the other restaurant next door. Yep, right next door.

Anyway, that is the end of my camping tales. It had been a roller coaster ride, and by the end I was itching all over, and desperately wanted to take a shower with a bottle of bleach and a wire brush.

But I was proud. Proud of myself for surviving a holiday without a concierge. Proud that I could live off the land as long as there was a tent with a stove serving bacon sandwiches and tea, and a town nearby with a Fish and Chip shop and amenities. YES! I am like a Sherpa! I should've been in the SAS godammit.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

And the winner is ...........

As part of my ongoing effort to keep you entertained and out of mischief, you may remember that this week I held a caption competition using the following picture.

I have to say that all the entrants were bloody good which left me with a dilemma - who to choose? I pondered the situation for a while and decided that my only option was to panic. My favourite type of panic is the one where you run round a lot, so I did that for a while. But the only thing that happened was that I made Naughty George bark a lot (probably in alarm after wondering what the hell I was doing). And then I realised that my problem still wasn't solved. Pants alive.

Then suddenly I had a brainwave. I would ask someone else, a neutral third party, to do the judging. That way I couldn't be accused of fixing the results, and if any of the losing participants were disgruntled about the result, they would fight with the judge not me. It worked on every level! So with that in mind, I approached Brennig and Sophie Jones from the blog Brennig Jones (and friends):

Hiya Bren and Soph,

How are you doing? We haven't spoken in ages!

Can I ask you a favour? It's an easy one and it involves you being judges of a caption competition.

The post is here:

And all you have to do is pick the best (actually you can pick two if you can't decide an outright winner) and then post a comment saying who you chose.

Are you guys over in Oxford any time soon?

Annie x

It wasn't long before my inbox pinged the arrival of new mail: 

Thanks for asking us, we're honoured! The jury was unanimous (to be unveiled soon)....

Although Bren's unsubmitted submission would have been:

Her: We are not amused
Him: But we are!

Yep, Oxford happens at times.  Bren'll be over there tomorrow and Wednesday.  Soph was over there today

So without further ado, it is my honour to announce the winner of the caption competition as chosen by Brennig and Sophie ................ [drum roll] [more drum roll] JEWELL! From the blog entitled Really?! Wait! What? And the winning caption was:

"I'm thinkin' I could make it look like an accident!"

Congratulations to Jewell! The only problem with winning something like this is that you know that you have reached your life's pinnacle and that it is only downhill from there.

Anyway, I promised to do a biography of the winner for no other reason than I am nosey and like asking personal questions. Oh, and also because I suspect my readers are also nosey and would like to read the answers. So here goes....... Jewell's biography ............... enjoy!

Name: Jewell  =)  Duh!

Age: 30 *cough* *snort* *sniffle* -ish

Height: Most days...4'5 or so (I sit on my ass a lot y'all)

Location: Middle of Nowhere, Missouri, USA


Significant others: The husband him

What do you secretly dream about doing for a living?:
Writing! I've dreamt about being a writer for as long as I can remember! Like any person who wants to write a book, the goal is to write The Great American novel (at least for most of the Americans in the crowd anyway), but I don't shoot that high - I'd be thrilled with NY Times Top 20.  =) 

What are you a self-declared expert at?:
Well nothing really...I'm kinda like a handyman in that I know a little about a lot.  Or, to be a little more exact - I know just enough to be dangerous! =)

What can't you seem to get enough of?: Sleep!!!!!!!  Well that and original is that?!

What kinds of people are you drawn to?: Weird, funny, strong, independent, loving....crap! What kind of writer am I that I ran out of adjectives. Oh well, this should give you a good idea.  In the event that no such person exists, though, the kind of person I would then be drawn to would have 4 legs and fur.

Favourite colour: Previously - rich, emerald green.  Currently - rich, wine colored purple. Only rich colors for me....nothing pastel!  *blech*

What pets do you have?: 3 cats, 1 ghost cat, 1 big dumb diva of a dog, and 1 huge nag of a horse. =)

If money was no problem, where would you go on holiday?: Ok, well see that's just not a fair question.  I won't get on a plane, and I won't be cooped up with people on a boat, so where I WANT to go on holiday is completely different from where I would likely end up going on holiday!  =-p   Where I WANT to go?  Ireland (heredity), England (riding motorcycles and terrorizing the countryside with Annie), and Australia (to
visit one of my bestest internet friends EVER!). Where would I end up? Probably in Colorado to visit my BFF from college since I haven't seen her in 9-ish years.

What was your proudest moment?: Well, that's a silly question. Winning the caption contest of course! I've never won anything! EV-AH!  Outside of that I guuuuesssss I am obligated to say it would be my wedding day.  =)  *snicker*

What's your favourite movie?: Ghost, What Dreams May Come (Hmmmm - sensing a theme here!)   Generally I don't watch movies much because I don't have the patience to sit that long. So if those 2 titles don't give you a hint as to the themes that interest me it should give you an idea of the last time I probably watched a full length movie.  =)

Have you ever lived in other places, if so where?: If you mean someplace wild and exotic like the Caribbean or something - nope.  I'm square like that.  If you mean in the country, well, I grew up in Illinois, met the husband him on the internet (before it was the internet) and moved to Las Vegas, and now out in the Middle of Nowhere, Missouri.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?: Is this a trick question?  Hmmmm - winning Annie's contest. Really, my life truly IS this boring folks...I'm not joking.

What things annoy you?: Ummm - I'm beginning to think that this is a form questionnaire. I mean really, if you've read my blog at all you would learn that pretty much everything annoys me.  If someone is breathing too loudly - REALLY annoying! A politician who's breathing at all - mind numbingly annoying!

What hobbies do you have?: Who the hell has time for hobbies?  Didn't I say above ^^^^^^ something about not getting enough sleep.  Well I guess I would have to say that writing is a hobby since I'm not getting paid for my services (drat!!), but a close second would have to be photography though I'm not what anyone would consider - GOOD!

Name the three websites you visit most often (excluding blogs!): *snort* work is based on internet news sources, so pick a news website.  Any one. Around the US or the world...  I've probably been there more times than even my browser can count in a day, week, month, year. =)

Have you ever broken any bones (if yes, how?): No!  Thankfully!

What car do you drive?: I drive a 4x4 pickup (really!) and a Ford Five-Hundred.  It depends on how hot it is outside, what I need to carry, how long the drive is...blah blah blah.  Just say the sounds way cooler, and I need me some cool!  =)

What car would you like if money were no object?: OMG!  Well I have 2 and 1 that isn't really a car!  So, in no particular order, a Tesla Roadster (because I'm all for looking cool and doing my part to help the environment), 1957 corvette stingray convertible (the absolute only corvette worth anything in my book), and of course a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic.  (Can you tell I've thought about that one before?

What are you going to do once you have finished this questionnaire?: Get a hand massage...Whew!  Ok, well I'll probably work some more (since that's all I ever do), then I might work on putting a post together for the blog to show off my kinda sort ok pictures from the long weekend.  Nah - screw it!  A hand massage sounds waaaay more relaxing!

What are you doing this coming weekend?:
Ummmm....?   Hell I don't know what I am doing 10 minutes from now, and can't remember what I did 10 minutes ago...I'm pretty much the wrong person to ask this question of.

Please give one random fact about yourself:  To quote Popeye, "I y'am who I y'am!"  (At least I think it was Popeye, if not it sounds good!)  I am 100% as I seem online.  I don't see the point in being anything or anyone other than who I am.  Dr Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."  Seems like pretty flawless advice to me. =)    (Oh!
Here's another little fact...I'm a quote whore!)  =)

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