Tuesday 25 December 2007

Season's Greetings

I could not let the day pass without wishing all my friends a very Merry Christmas.

Have a good one everyone xxxxx

Thursday 13 December 2007

Oh for goodness cake!

I am slapping myself round the cheeks as I write this entry for being so tardy in its appearance on my blog. I was reminded today, by a certain young gentleman who shall remain nameless (although the identity of whom can be easily deduced from those sleuths out there), that I have neglected my duties, and in answer to his query I can confirm that my accursed and diabolical husband has, indeed, been keeping me away from my bloggy duties. I have been sewn into my apron and have been threatened with a fate worse than death if I do not make cake, cake, muffins and cake. I have become Cinders, chained to the four walls of the kitchen with only a wooden spoon and mixing bowl for company these past few weeks. My Fairy Godmother seems to have left for warmer climes, and so I have been left up to my elbows in cake mix. Hoisted by my own petard, methinks.

Yes, but seriously folks, my cooker is in full functioning order and I have, at last, managed to make my Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and this year’s mincemeat. My gleaming machine has been thoroughly christened, and is kissed and caressed every morning in true Gollum fashion. But, I have had to threaten those here with the most wretched physical violence if they leave but one greasy mark upon it. So far it is only Richard who is hobbling around on one leg after being suitably chastised. I think the bruise should be gone by Christmas Day (however, in his defence, he is the only other person here who can be bothered to cook).

You should have seen us getting the gas cylinder down to the cottage from the village shop. In true old Ealing comedy fashion, it was trundled down the lane on a trolley borrowed from the shop. Only trouble was, the tyres on said trolley were a bit on the flat side and it kept veering off into the bushes. I am sure you have all been landed with one of those recalcitrant trolleys in the supermarket that keep steering you into the shelving or, even worse, into the pristine cars parked in the car park outside. Well, our adventure was much the same. I do not like to think what it will be like having to push it up the hill to get refilled. You may shout, ‘stick it in the car’, but it is so big and heavy it would take a crane to get it out again.

I decided to take a trip into Barnstaple on Monday to do a bit of Christmas shopping that cannot be catered for on-line. It has become a traditional festive pastime for me – take the bus into the nearest shopping centre and spend, spend, spend. For the past few years I have gone into Peterborough, which was only twelve miles away or so from where I used to live. This year Barnstaple seemed to be the most obvious choice, so armed with a list, I caught the bus from the village shop and spent the day pushing and shoving like the rest of them.

I found myself travelling back on the ‘school run’ bus, which brings me to the question – what happened to the concept of queuing? Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought that if you were first in line for the bus, an orderly queue then formed behind you, allowing you to board first as a reward for your early arrival at the bus stop in the hope of getting the best seat. However, as seems to be usual these days, as soon as the bus doors opened for business, hordes of school-children lurched forward from the shadows and, somehow, managed to get on first – making my second-in-line place suddenly become about the twentieth. Do these children get a special lesson in the first years of secondary school in which they are taught that they should completely ignore such courtesies, or is that they were just not told them in the first place by their parents?

Sitting under a pile of plastic and paper bags, I squeezed myself into an available seat and settled down for the hour-long journey home. I was treated, as were the rest of the passengers, to listening to the dubious music chosen for us by the youth in the back seat. I can just about put up with that, but why I should have to listen to the intricate details of some 16-year-old’s sexual prowess I know not. Perhaps it is the exuberance of youth? Perhaps I am just a little jaded in my ageing years? But I really do not want to know, thank you very much.

The first thing I did when I got home, was put the kettle on and sit and have a smoke. I was just chilling out when my mobile phone went off, but the signal was bad and I only managed a cheery ‘hello?’ before the line went dead. However, I did see that it was CFZHQ that was making the call. Amusing, I thought. I went upstairs to say ‘hello’ to Jon and it appeared that Graham had tried to call to see if I needed a lift back from Barnstaple. And there I was, supping a cup of tea downstairs – ha ha.

Further to the Kartec saga – guess what? It would seem that the letter worked! We had all our belongings returned to us at the end of last week, by special delivery, and on Friday morning I had a delivery from Interflora. Hmm, I thought. ‘Tis not my birthday. Whoa, I have an admirer! Nothing could have prepared me for the two big bunches of flowers accompanied by a card saying ‘Sorry for the inconvenience, from Kartec’. Way hay. Boy oh boy, did Jon and I laugh. We nearly wet ourselves. To think that they think it will all end there ….. oh no sirree not if we have anything to do with it.

We have all been busy preparing Issue 42 of Animals & Men, which will be posted out tomorrow, and will hopefully be with most, if not all, of our members by Christmas. The 2008 Yearbook will also be available next week, and all those who have pre-ordered it will receive their copy as soon as possible, festive post notwithstanding.

I am excited to say that my book, Ethna’s Journal – a diary of my fictional dark-ages alter-ego - will be published in the next couple of days. I have to admit that this is also somewhat of a nerve-wracking prospect, as it is my first effort to have gotten this far. If you are interested in reading it, details of how to buy it will be on the blog soon.

I think that just about covers the comings and goings down here in chilly North Devon. It will soon be the shortest day and we all look forward to the evenings getting a bit lighter for longer. Soon the turkeys will be able to relax again as the snowdrops start to burst forth from the frozen ground, and life will return to ‘normal’ again after the rush that is the Festive season.

As my daughter sings : “Deck the halls with poison ivy, tra la la la la, la la la la”.

Bah humbug.