Child Quote – sort of.

This morning I spent an enjoyable hour browsing old photos in search of one of Horace wearing wellies.

Last weekend Whizz and I visited Horace and Kerching in their home in Canalshire, a place with only one canal, named after its county town of Clanaster. Are you with me?

While  Magicbhunkshire was an oasis of sunshine in an otherwise flooding and windy country, In Canalshire, it was ‘hissing’ down.

Undaunted, we decided to go to a local and amazing Food Festival in Clitheroe. I’m not making an anagram of this because I think you should visit next time you fancy a weekend away. Clitheroe is very pretty and the food festival was incredible. Every street was lined with stalls run by local food and drink producers, about 140 all told. Despite the torrential rain we managed to enjoy samples of caramel vodka, wine, gin, fudge, cheese and more.

Ready for the rain.

Before we left there was some discussion about what footwear to put on. I had little choice having brought only trainers and sandals. Horace hoped she wouldn’t have to walk all day in wellies but in the end, decided they were a necessary evil.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs she dipped her toe into the top of a boot, not looking at what she was doing because she was  talking to me.

‘Erm,’ I said, ‘You’re putting your wellies on the wrong feet.’

I didn’t think I would still have to help my 30-year-old daughter get her footwear the right way round.

 

On Greed – Mainly the Dog’s

When you get a cute little puppy…

Awww.

nobody warns you about the inconvenience. Well, perhaps they do but you are too in love with the soft bundle of sweetness  to believe it could ever be anything but delightful. It’s a bit like having a baby really.

I was soon disabused of this view when Whizz went to South ‘Ifrica’ to work, and left me, in the snow and mud, to house train the above ‘bundle of sweetness’. I have already talked about this here, so I won’t go on about it.

Milo, now nearly 10, hasn’t become any less demanding. He follows me tirelessly around the kitchen waiting for dropped scraps and acting as a trip hazard. As an obsessive foodie (like me) he once nicked a lb of sausages that were waiting to be barbecued by a dog sitter (I have never done this despite being tempted), and on another occasion stole half of Mavis’s newly iced birthday cake from where it sat on the work top. He achieved this by taking flying leaps at it and carving it into a wedge shape with the side of his mouth. Tumbleweed balls of moulted fur float all over the house, and that’s without his demands for entertainment with tug of war toys and a laser pointer that sends him, literally, round and round the bend.  Being Labrador crossed with Border Collie he needs a considerable amount of walking and ball throwing and when he gets over heated, he wallows in mud to cool off, as you see here.  Sorry about my voice!

Basically, I thought we had experienced every disadvantage possible until two days ago when he worked out how to open the food recycling bin and ate most of its contents including chicken bones and the best part of a buttercream covered chocolate cake.

Both chicken bones and chocolate are dangerous for dogs and Whizz ‘whizzed’ him off to the Vet’s. There Milo remained to be observed and have an X-ray, which revealed that his body was finding it difficult to digest what he had swallowed. Two injections and a course of tablets later and he came home with a copy of the bill.

£279.26!

He peed in the garden for maybe a minute, deposited a number of huge brown logs on the lawn and seemed to feel a lot better.

His final aberration was this afternoon at the beautiful chalk meadow where we often walk him. It was an unhappy coincidence that I had come out in a hurry without poo bags.

He began to give birth to the food bin liner: about a metre long, slimy rope of green plastic that refused to part from his arse. He bowled towards me with 30 cm swinging behind, spraying brown globules from side to side. I got ready to run but this proved unnecessary as he was worried about the situation and every now and again squatted to relieve himself. But the damn thing wasn’t budging.

It was fortunate that I had a tissue stuffed into my ‘special pocket’ and was able to assist with the delivery.

This is not my special pocket but you get the gist.

If you find the horrible article among the flowers and mistake it for a snake, I apologise deeply. I really disapprove of anyone leaving  ‘crap’ in the quarry and promise to return tomorrow with the proper dog walking equipment and put it in the poo bin where it belongs.

Happy again

 

 

 

D Day Invoked Memories

Watching the D Day Commemorations encouraged my mum to share some memories I don’t think I have heard before. This is surprising, because she does share a lot of memories – a lot of times (joke Dad).

Mum was aged 14 on D Day. Her own dad, whom she always refers to in a rather Enid-Blyton-esque way as Father (and her mum as Mother), served in both wars. We children called our grandfather Bampy. He started out as Grampy but that was hurriedly changed when we thought it very funny to call him Grumpy.

I don’t know why we called him Grumpy. I don’t remember ever finding him so, although other members of my family may differ in their opinions of him. My memories of the man – a somewhat straight-laced fellow with a military air, who is now long gone, having passed away at the age of 99 – are of sitting on his knee while he pressed his warm, smooth, pocket watch to my ear to hear it tick. Later I recall his delight at my visits from Sheep Country, especially when I brought my new daughter toddling across his threshold (she is 30 now!)

In WW1 Bampy was at Ypres. I have a copy of the Wipers Times brought back by him when his time in the trenches was over. When he got home he stripped off and told Nanna to burn his clothes. He slept outside for some time. Perhaps the peace and birdsong acted as a balm.

In WW2, as an architect, he had a reserved profession so escaped active service. Instead he became part of the  Home Guard.

Because he had military experience he was made a Sergeant and found himself in command of a gaggle of men not unlike those in the 1960s and 70s TV series, Dad’s Army.

From what I can gather, the Home Guard was very similar to its depiction in Dad’s Army. Bampy’s men had little idea of what constituted a platoon, or indeed the meaning of discipline or rules. On one occasion they were given a rifle. I don’t know where it came from but Bampy was responsible for training his men in its use. One man held it to his shoulder and focused his eye through the sight at whatever he was aiming at. The rest of the group gathered around to watch.

At the last minute, one hapless (or is it stupid?) fellow, decided to check the view the gunner would have. He put his head in the line of fire and was shot through the nose.

Simon Drew picked up a tea towel, Simon drew.

On another occasion the platoon was to practice an assault on a neighbouring village. The plan was for Bampy to spend the night in a guest house in the village and creep out at night to meet the rest of his motley band. Don’t ask me why he had to stay in the village, or where the others were. Anyway, at the allotted hour he rose from his bed, dressed in camouflage and tiptoed along the landing, to be confronted by a snarling German Shepherd dog at the bottom of the stairs. This brought the operation to an abrupt end.

The family lived in Burgess Hill, which was within a certain number of miles from the sea. This meant that access was restricted. All the beaches were covered with loops of barbed wire, and some were also dotted with land mines.

Mum went to school outside the zone. She travelled  by train.  When she stepped onto the platform on her way home she was required to show her ID.  Bampy commuted daily to London and was subjected to the same rule. Their ID’s were different . His was for an adult and hers for a child.

Nanna’s sister, Gladys, was married to Clifford, a dim and alcoholic chap who also served on the home front as part of the anti-invasion force. His duty was to watch for enemy ships and planes from a pill box (Who knew there was so much to learn about pill box design?)

 

‘Father’ 2nd from left and Clifford far right. Sorry it’s a bit blurry.

One man stood on the roof while the other, in this case Clifford, remained inside. I don’t know if Clifford was bored, or perhaps he was practising his gun skills, which I doubt  he learned from Bampy. However, Clifford managed to fire his gun through the roof of the pill box, narrowly missing the poor chap above, who was minding his own business studying the horizon.

 

When at home, my mum, as a member of the Girl Guides, would carry out duties to support the war effort. These included delivering local mail and picking up litter. Knowing all these small details helps me to visualise her life and I am grateful that these moving D Day commemorations have allowed me to hear her stories.

Thank you Mum xxx

Luddites and Banking

Do you ever think about how long you have known some of your friends? Whizz and I have been married for 19 years, and my friendship with the couple we visited  the weekend before last, Cop and Tax, predates this by about 20 years.  In other words I have known them twice as long as I have known Whizz. Whizz recently referred to them as old friends of Lil’s, before realising that now, they are old friends of his as well. We are a couple of old gits… It happens.

The weekend with Cop and Tax , was as fabulous as ever. The couple, who many years ago, relinquished their unpopular careers in favour of self-sufficiency,  always provide a stonking dinner and a healthy country pastime. On this occasion the activity was a point to point.

Two Friends, Oil on canvas by Arthur Kurtz ‎

I will digress here to relate a tale about the last point-to-point I attended. It was with friends of Cop – some of the Hooray-Henries mentioned in this: past post. On that occasion, a rider in one of the races was known to my companions.

‘Never bet on him,’ they advised, ‘He always falls off his horse.’ (When I say bet, I’m only talking a couple of quid, probably less in those days). Needless to say, this ‘chap’ didn’t fall off, he stormed home in first place.

File:Cross country with horse and hound (1902) (14596537038).jpg

Cross Country with Horse and Hound, Peer, Frank Sherman, Published in Horse and Hound 1902

It was the memory of that first point-to-point that prompted me to attend an event of which, in truth, I disapprove in terms of its exploitation of animals. I don’t plan to do anything like that again. The occasion offered a viewing of the Grand National later on, but I’m afraid I refused at that jump. To me, the Grand National epitomises the ugly imposition of man(kind?) over its fellow sentient beings. Sorry race goers it is only my opinion and I don’t plan to throw red paint over you.

During my gambling life I have won nothing, hence, I hardly do it. If there’s a sweepstake at work or maybe a raffle, I invariably pick the option that arrives or occurs  last, or doesn’t arrive at all. The best thing I ever won was in a raffle, a bent, patent-plastic  belt. That is, until this point-to-point. For once I backed horses, to win, in three separate races, and two of them, ones with reasonable odds, passed the finish line in first place. Whoop Whoop, £7.50 profit. It may not seem  exciting to you, but it made my day.

Before we left for the races, Cop and Tax provided their usual, delicious, home-produced grub. Over lunch, Tax, at the grinning behest of Cop,  related her recent experience of banking technology.

Someone, I don’t remember whom, had given her a cheque. I imagine most readers will know that outside the Metropolis, banks are a rarity, and should you happen upon one, human cashiers are as common as elephants’ ballet shoes. Tax found herself at the mercy of a machine. She must insert her debit card and enter the amount, sort-code and account-number. This she did, and with a sense of triumph went home, confident that the total would somehow fetch up in her current account.

Days passed and the money did not appear, so she got in touch with a call centre – more buttons to press but at least she could talk to a human. The sum had not arrived, it must be assumed that it was one of those that had disappeared into the ether. Feeling justified in her mistrust of technology, Tax contacted the donor of the cheque, who checked their account to see whether it had been debited and reported back that it had definitely been through the account – in fact it had been through twice, once as a debit and again as a credit.

Poor Tax will never live down having carefully keyed into the bank machine, the account number and sort code on the cheque.

Someone else who will feel a bit silly, is the person who enabled this sign to appear across the country in a well known supermarket.

Stationary stationery!

Calories in Ikea Desserts 2019