Sunday, 19 September 2010

Guillotine Gaffe

Look, we wanted some neck of lamb, right?  And we knew the word for lamb.  And we were in Bayeux, and there was a butcher close to the war museum, so we went in to get our dinner for the evening. 

Unfortunately, there were about, oh, I dunno, at least SEVERAL different cuts of lamb in the window and we hadn’t the faintest idea which one was neck.  We thought we knew, but it could have been collar and that would have been a DISASTER.

So MrCat, being the designated French conversationalist on our trip, was pushed forward through the door.  There were three or four customers in there and, as luck would have it, they were all French (wouldn’t you know it!).

“Bonjour”, said the butcher (that’s French, that is.  It means “hello”. I am FLUENT, me).

“Agneau” said MrCat, who had “I AM ENGLISH” written all over him.  The shop went silent and I swear the butcher had his hand raised with the meat cleaver in it, expectantly, like something out of Delicatessen.  (It is quite possible, however, that I’m saying this for dramatic effect and it bears no relation to the truth.  That’s for you to decide).

Anyway, MrCat gathered himself to make his point and at that moment, for reasons I cannot explain,  I inexplicably did this chopping motion with my hand across my neck.

What I was trying to say was “neck cut”, but I realise now that it could have been misinterpreted as some typical English mockery of La Revolution, and that unspeakable unpleasantness with Madame Guillotine, and Robespierre and Desmoulins and all that wig wearing nonsense and lace cuffs.  And heads rolling down the Place de la Revolution, pursued by mad Gallic personages.

Why does my entire life always come round to lace cuffs and fops?And in this case, a potential diplomatic incident which could have totally destroyed Anglo-French relations.

Anyway, the butcher had the good manners to smile, and gave us a splendid dinner, and for what it’s worth I would have supported La Revolution although I draw the line at beheading.

To be honest, I draw the line at mild punching.  Actually, make that a very hard stare and a look of disappointment.

In our next installment we shall verily expounde on the diverse variety of war memorials and suchlike, with a brief detour to Honfleur which is a town very pleasing on the eye, but well packed with tourists, for shame!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Life’s Rich Patisserie – Bayeux Pt I

No, no, I mean tapestry, sorry.

Bayeux was great. Abso-bl**dy-lutely great. And we didn't forget the sandwiches this time, which made it even greater. Mighty, in fact.

When I was a wee slip of a girl, an entire academic year was taken up in a tutorial room with lovely Mr Hodges and slightly less lovely (borderline insane if you ask me) Dr Edwards. Lovely Mr Hodges was everything a stereotypical history lecturer is supposed to be - quiet, comforting, a bit sleepy, cuddly like a small bear (large bear in his case, but never mind). He also wore clogs. There you go.

Dr Edwards used to run about at high speed and tell us off. On one memorable occasion he stopped a lecture after 5 minutes and told us all to get out, just GET OUT, I REFUSE to continue this lecture because not one of you has bothered to do your assignment (I had, as it happens, but he wouldn't listen and anyway, the prospect of an afternoon off made it not worth arguing the toss about).


You’re not allowed to take pictures of the tapestry, so here is some wool in a shop in Bayeux

The point is (there is one, yes), that both of these intellectual giants mentioned the Bayeux Tapestry with tedious frequency as a primary source to the point where we'd all doze off at the mere mention and wish to goodness that Queen Matilda had never gone to needlework classes, or had stuck to embroidering sequinned pants (as mentioned in another post). But I was so wrong.

The tapestry "in person" is awesome. You can get a wee bit blase if you've spent your life looking at history things, but I could have spent all day in there. Which would have gone down like a lead balloon as it would have caused a pile up and people would have either fallen over in a heap, or pushed me headfirst out the exit. It's a bit like seeing the Crown Jewels in the Tower, you have to move along and try not to hold everyone up.


Here is a little sainted person in a church in Bayeux. Gasp in awe at yet MORE ARCHES!

Best of all, the audio tour was most definitely not rubbish. No made up nonsense about shiny swords, Matilda's lingerie or what William had for breakfast. Not unless these things were actually on the tapestry before your very eyes. Just facts. FACTS FACTS FACTS. Sparkly facts. You walk along, each panel is numbered, and the beautiful RADA trained voice in your ear tells you what's going on in each segment. Perfect.

And the best bit? The smiley horses. I loved the smiley horses. In order to highlight the fact that everyone, even the animals, were convinced by the rightness of William's invasion expedition, the industrious tapestry ladies sewed in a whole boatload of hooved characters, grinning away as their ship took them to certain death, or at the very least a very tiring and uncomfortable afternoon near Hastings with no time for oat breaks. And there they were - cartoon horses, embroidered centuries before, someone taking the time and trouble to give them smiles which are still visible to us all in 2010. Did the seamstresses all laugh about it at the time? Was it a private joke? Was it done to amuse a child? Did someone tell them to do it to impress the Duke and upset the Saxons, or was someone trying out a new stitch? I don't know, but it was beautiful. Just...beautiful.

And that, my friends, is why I love history. It is real and it is human and it is about people who are the same as us, just with longer frocks and less bandwidth.

Imagine getting that kind of finish on a garment from Primark? I don't think so, ladies.

In our next installment we really will (yes, verily and trulye) visit the French butcher that we didn’t have time to scribe about this time because we are verily disorganised and in a bit of ye olde rush.

Monday, 6 September 2010


I have been on holiday (yes, again.  It doesn't happen often so don't begrudge me).  I come back and what do I find?  A dead phone line and no internet connection.  And there I was, ready and eager, nay GAGGING, to update you on the rest of my highly exciting cake tour of Normandy.

I tried to build my own modem using a tin can, a selection of coloured strings, some glue and a pair of net curtains but, as you can imagine, this isn't really working out. I'm not terribly good at electronics.  Using a mobile phone to blog will only make me angry, mainly because my mobile was designed by Satan himself for the sole purpose of annoying me.  So best wait for the engineer to call, whenever that might be.

I shall sulk in the meantime.  You see if I don't.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Normandy Day III – Mont St Michel

Well, this day started as an utter, utter disaster.  In fact, it was possibly one of the WORST days of my ENTIRE LIFE!

We forgot the sandwiches.

Even now, the memory makes me shudder.  We also forgot our cameras as they were both in my rucksack – WITH THE SANDWICHES – and the rucksack was not in the car with us, but on the kitchen table in the Gite, severalty billion miles away.

Much slapping of palms on foreheads followed, but technology being what it is, we had our mobile phones.  And in France, you can always find food.

msm5 Never mind the monastery – where’s the flippin’ cake shop!

Mont St Michel is mighty fine.  It’s a veritable layer of historical slices, like an angel cake (oh Lord, the food trauma is still with me).  From the Norman arches to the 18th Century facade, from the crypt to the cloisters – it is a beautiful, architecturally intricate building.  You would be hard pushed not to find something to appeal.

In a post from many months ago I pointed out (quite correctly, as it happens) that 18th Century history is a complete and utter waste of time, so there are no pictures of the main doors into the monastery. This is because they were no doubt built by bewigged fops and powdered dandies, the sort of wasters who totally failed to turn up and show their support at the Battle of Culloden in 1745 and thus left England in the hands of the wicked Hanoverians. So I have NO TIME FOR THEIR ORNATE DOORS!  I give you, instead, the rather beautiful arches of a previous (and far more interesting) era of history.


I am a Norman Arch and I don’t care who knows it.

And here is St Michael, who seems to be in something of a foul temper.  He has obviously just realised that St Gabriel has raided his rucksack and run off with his sandwiches.  We’ve all been there, believe me.

msm6 I’d put brie in and everything.

For my next blogging installment, I shall describe the lovely and picturesque town of Bayeux, the treasures of the tapesterie, an encounter at the butcher which produced much mirthe and gaiety with the local inhabitants, and a thought provoking and interesting diversion at the war museum.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Please do not put knitting needles in your eyes

Normandy Day Two – Caen.

Caen is lovely.  Really, it is.  You’d never know it was horribly destroyed during WWII because it looks “just so”.  There are the obvious things, like the Norman churches and castle, but aside from that it’s pretty and elegant anyway.  It all fits, and it is all lovely.

But let’s get something out of the way first.  I’m on holiday, right?  And this woman I don’t even know has said that she likes Orangina.  I have a holiday to enjoy here, things to see, people to eat, and what do I do?  I take a photograph of a sexually provocative zebra wearing a swimming costume and drinking from a bottle of Orangina.  I do this because Silverpebble – as I’ve said, a woman I’ve never met – has said that she likes that particular drink.  BLOGGING MAKES YOU DO DEMENTED THINGS. 


How many levels of wrong is this?  Five?  Six?  I’d say about twenty at the very least.

These things are all over the place.  If it’s not a zebra, it’s an antelope, a polar bear or a disgruntled gnu.  Truly I say to you – the French are bonkers.

Their ancestors, however, knew how to build.  My goodness, didn’t they just.


This is Abbeye Aux Hommes, where that big, fat dingbat William the Conqueror is buried.  Or rather, where his femur is buried.  Amazing that the only thing left of him is a slender bone, considering the fact that he literally exploded when they tried to ram him into the space reserved for his cadaver.  I love an exploding monarch.  Henry VIII exploded as well.  It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, really.


And here is Abbeye Aux Dames where Matilda (remember her?  She of the lovely silver frock, damask corset, emerald encrusted knickers, ruby studded bra and basalt lined 15 denier tights), is buried.  Yes, that’s Matilda, the poor woman forced to marry said big, fat dingbat.  For that selfless act alone she should have a massive church with flashing lights over the bell towers.  But wouldn’t you know it?  She gets a smaller church than he does.  And yet – I prefer hers.  The simplicity and clean lines are less spectacular, but there’s a quietness and calmness about her church which I preferred.


In between these two ecclesiastical delights, we visited the Chateaux where, to my absolute joy, we encountered a man wearing a T-Shirt bearing the legend “I STILL HATE THATCHER”.  Well, frankly, had I not been carrying a camera and a bottle of water, I’d have shaken him firmly by the paw.  But perhaps that’s just me and most normal people have let that one go, moved on, dispensed with any traces of bitterness, gnrrrrrrr…….

Oh, hang on, I forgot the food.  After we left the Abbeye Aux Hommes we ate some delicious sandwiches that MrCat had prepared.  For those of you interested in these things they contained brie and rosette, and, in my case, traces of cucumber.  The bread had been bought fresh that morning from our local boulangerie.  I say OUR local boulangerie but it was MrCat who got up early, went down there and purchased the goods (along with the obligatory pastries), so in truth it was HIS boulangerie, not mine.  But never let it be said that I let facts get in the way of a good sandwich.  We ate them on the side of a busy road, paying no heed to the glances we received.

In the grounds of the Castle, there is an art display.  Several rather disconcerting sculptures were poised on tall wooden poles and suspended over the art gallery.  It was only when you got close that you realised they’d been designed by a LUNATIC!

I mean, what on earth is going on here, I ask you?


To my eyes, that is a pig with a man’s head.  Pardon?  I said, PARDON?  And it’s no good saying it looks a bit like something by Bosch (whom I like, by the way).  That simply makes it more, not less, demented.

And if you WILL insist on doing Fair Isle with small knitting needles then what do you expect?


Either read the pattern more closely or use a knitting machine, I say.

Saturday, 31 July 2010


If I was clever and literary, I could do a fancy travelogue, but since I am neither, you’ll get pictures, a few words and be grateful for it (as my mother would say).

We stayed in a little village called Clinchamps-sur-Orne, notable for it’s rather excellent boulangerie, which MrCat visited every morning to provide me with numerous delicacies while I waited in bed for my tea and whatever cake it was he brought back. Which makes me sound like some kind of hideous Queen Bee.  Urgh.

Anyway, our first excursion was on the Sunday after our arrival.  We trekked up to Falaise, the birthplace of William of Conqueror, a man I studied at GREAT AND PAINFUL LENGTH as an undergraduate and for whom I developed an utter loathing surpassed only by my dislike of pineapples.


Hi, my name’s Matilda, and as you can see, I am wearing a lovely gown

Things to note and of which I am proud.

1.  I did not bore MrCat with history.

That is the only thing to note of which I am proud.  But that’s pretty good going, since I’m a notorious history bore.  Especially since I had to bite my tongue throughout the rather fatuous audio tour which consisted of illuminating comments such as “Matilda wore a lovely gown and had some pearls in her hair”, while I stood there thinking “yes, yes, but when was the castle built, what materials did they use and – hang on a minute, who CARES if Matilda had a lovely gown, what on earth does that have to do with the price of fromage and it’s impact on the economic development of Norman England and, more to the point, how do we KNOW it was lovely?  Name your sources, or keep your silence, fools”.


View from the donjon of Falaise

The castle has been seriously renovated, with a new glass floor and some rather nice, albeit somewhat pointless, giant sized chess pieces which look like they were made from the origami kit you bought from your local craft shop and actually bothered to open.


Line up your Audio Cassette and Fire at Will – drawing from the exhibition at Falaise

Don’t be put off by this cynicism.  I get a bit killy when history is dumbed down and in a way I was interested to see that the French are as bad as the English for this kind of foolishness.  Falaise itself is lovely, there is some beautiful architecture, lovely churches and at least TWO boulangeries (in case you’re interested we bought a giant sized apricot pastry).  A very pretty place to sit in a town square and while away a half an hour with a beer and a cafe au lait.  And the castle is magnificent.  Ignore me.  I’m just playing it for laughs.

For my next blogging installment, I shall describe many and varied events in the City of Caen, including a trip to the burial place of William the Conqueror, and diverse and colourful passages regarding sculptings of a very interesting and unusual nature.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Swishy flowers an’ ting

I did this.  Oh yes, I did this.  FEAR ME AND MY GARDENING SKILLZ!

I did this

Actually, the picture makes it look better than it actually is, but I’m all for removing double chins in head and shoulder portraits so what the hell.

The garden project is a long and protracted affair and shall be blogged boringly anon.  There’s only a few of you here anyway (as mentioned before, the probation officer, the bailiff, the tax collector and a selection of hangers on from the pub) so I can bore for England unhindered.

As of tomorrow I am off to Normandy with MrCat. I gave him a list of places I’d be happy to go on holiday and left him to it.  At one point I was packing my walking shoes and sou’wester for a trip to the Peak District and was quite surprised by the “right, we’re going to Normandy” email I received about an hour later.

Splendid stuff.  And it was with great joy that I was able to inform MrCat that my first year as a history undergraduate was spent studying “The Norman Conquest”.  This was not, as one might expect, fixated on the year 1066.  It was about the whole Norman thing from the time of Rollo right through to 1066 and beyond – the ecclesiastical, administrative and military revolution that the Normans brought about once they’d booted the Saxons into touch (cue lots of booing from the back of the lecture room – that was me, by the way).

Funny really – his face fell when I told him this.  I thought he’d be delighted by the prospect of listening to me rabbit on ad nauseum about the development of the motte and bailey castle.  I can’t imagine why he wasn’t leaping for joy.

Men.  Huh.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Words fail me



I mean, really, what can one say?  Did people actually MAKE this stuff?  Ever?

Monday, 12 July 2010


It seems that nearly all the blogs I read will, at some point, feature flowers.  This is not a bad thing.  But I’m feeling left out and want to do it too.

So for the benefit of my loyal blog followers (all half dozen of them – 2 cats, a couple of probation officers and the bailiffs), I give you some pictures of my new garden.

The herb patch was, literally, covered in ivy and convolvulus when we moved in.  My sister came round and told me she could see a fuchsia under the carnage.  I didn’t believe her, but I set about the weeds with a hacksaw and a flamethrower and LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!


And breathe, ladies…..

And look at this here little treasure…

image Ta-da!

I hope you chaps are halfway competent at identifying and naming plants, as I’ve some unidentified flora I’ll need some help with.  Oh, and any tips at garden design will be very, very, very gratefully received.

<gives everyone a hard stare>


This week, I have been mostly trying to look as if I know what I’m doing in the garden.  I have failed valiantly.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Knickers and pies

That got your attention!

It certainly got mine.

Here are some knickers.  What intrigued me about these items is that their existence came to my attention because I know of someone who actually bought – and therefore wears, yes WEARS – these things.  What madness is this?  To be fair, she’s only got the Anne Boleyn ones, but I don’t really want to dwell on the implications of someone wearing a pair of pants with Henry VIII’s bloated face on them.



In case you’re interested – as I’m sure many of you now are – you can get them here - historical knickers

On a more entertaining note, these knitted pies are the best thing ever.  Just – well, click on the link and look at the sad little faces on those poor wee bunnies….

Pork and Bunny Pie

I so, so wish I’d thought of this!

The link says knitted, but they look like crochet to me.  Good old Guardian, getting it wrong!

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Week end better than Week start

Last week was a ‘mare and I’m glad it’s done.  Having been put on “those” tablets to stop me having bonkers thoughts, things are a lot better.  Almost positive.  Almost, dare I say it, content.  And then I found a lump where no woman wants to find one, so off to the doctor I go.

There are targets nowadays.  You can only wait 2 weeks TOPS, no longer.  Thus I was whisked off for scans last Friday.  This Tuesday, after fretting all weekend, I got the results.  "”Hmmm, there’s a shadow here.  Look, I’m 90% sure you’re ok but….you need more tests”.  Oh poo.  Oh pooey fooey.  And of course a hypochondriac like me will focus on the 10%, not the 90%.  Oh yes.

But yesterday I had more tests and (oh the relief) – “YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY FINE”.  From start to finish all done in 10 days.  Of which more in another blog post.  Possibly.  I may prefer to forget, to be honest.

So I’ve been enjoying the weekend I can tell you, even though it’s mostly involved painting walls and other sundry decorating.

towWinchester in the sunshine 

And “those” tablets.  Sometimes they cause odd feelings of euphoria, extreme ones which take me unawares.  I think this will settle down, but at the moment it’s nuts (in a good way).  Walking back from work along the towpath, for instance.  Spinning around (yes, SPINNING AROUND like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music with arms outstretched) and shouting “WOOOT!” because I saw a moorhen, and then a great tit, and the sun was shining and I thought of the Smallcat and the Catman and how much I love them and how lucky I am.  Spinning right round, like a middle aged record.

 tow2 The moorhen has scarpered.  She’s obviously not a fan of Scritti Politti.

Can I bottle this feeling?  It would make me a fortune.

One word of advice – do not sing out loud whilst plugged into your MP3 player on said towpath, assuming there’s no one else around.  Because there might be, and they might be startled by your appalling rendition of “The Word Girl”.   Oh, the embarassment.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

I am an agent of social decay

Hopefully this is a gentle, cosy blog.  A blog about attempts to crochet toys which mainly go wrong and end up looking like aliens.  A blog where I sometimes mention a lovely little boy and a gorgeous man, and planes plunging at 1000mph into active, exploding volanoes in Iceland, exacerbated by the songs of Bjork.  You know – everyday stuff.

It’s not really about issues, or heavy duty topics, or politics, or the end of the world.  Even during the election one tried to keep it, you know – light.

But today I am angry.  Very, very angry, and I’m going to use this blog to rant.

Frank Field.  Yes, you.  You have suggested that pre school clubs, which enable mothers (note – never the father, always the mother, for we are the ones to blame for social decay, obviously) to get to work by 9am are somehow a signifier of maternal failing.  We don’t love our children, or care about our children, enough to make them breakfast ourselves.

How DARE you, how absobloodylutely DARE you suggest that working mothers are somehow lacking in parental skills and parental love.  How DARE you suggest that because we send our children to pre school clubs - because we have work - that we are somehow failing them, ruining their lives, contributing to this tedious, oft repeated load of old TRIPE commonly known as “broken Britain” (and I swear, if I hear that phrase one more time I will put my boot through someone’s head – and I don’t even wear boots). 

I have breakfast with my son before he goes to school.  We get up a bit earlier you see, Frank.  D’oh!  And do you think I want to work full time?  Do you actually think I want to get someone else to pick my son up at 3.30pm while I’m out there earning the money to pay for the roof over my head?  Affordable housing would help, Frank.  Affordable bloody housing. 

And you always refer to the feminine, Frank.  The “she”, the “mother”.  Never the father.  Never the man.  How does a single mother cope, Frank?  How does she pay the bills if she doesn’t work?  Tell you what, love – how about I become a stay at home mum and get YOU to pay my welfare bills, put me in a council house – or, you know, not, because there’s a shortage of council housing, a shortage of childcare provision too, so I’d find it difficult to get a job once I’d given up work.  Hey – I’d plunge my child into poverty, and then you’d be calling for my head.  But at least I’d be at home, living hand to mouth, stressed, depressed, unable to afford the mortgage, but doing the traditional thing, the way you people want it.  The way it is in la la land, inhabited by none but rich people, people who have something the likes of me don’t have. 


So I can’t give up work, can I?  Because then I’d be a feckless, single mother, spending the taxpayers blessed money on gin and fags, wouldn’t I?  Way to go with the moralising, you out of touch loon.

Catman tells me to calm down and wait for the budget on June 22nd.  But it doesn’t matter anymore.  Even if they don’t cut my child benefit, or cut my child tax credits, the words are out there now.  Frank can’t take them back.  They’ve been printed on the BBC site (although at the time of writing, the stuff about parental failings has been removed – wonder why that is?).  You want signifiers?  I’ll give you signifiers.

The man that David Cameron has appointed to look into “tackling poverty” has signified to me, very clearly, that woman are to blame for all the ills in society.  No word of single fathers (and yes, they do exist, and work as hard as any other single parent, but are somehow exempt from being agents of chaos it would seem), no word of men who walk away from their responsibilities and leave women, quite literally in my case, holding the baby with no job, no money, no support and but two alternatives – throw yourself on the welfare state, or go to work and magically find the vast sums of money for decent childcare (which is scarce, believe you me).  And either one you choose, you will be criticised and condemned.  Simply for being a woman.

Welcome to our Coalition overlords

I would swear copiously at this point, but this is a cosy blog.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Old and New

My mother is 87, my son is 7.  Since we don’t live conveniently close, we rely on the phone to keep in touch.

I can hand the phone to the Smallcat and leave them to it while I get on with household chores in peace.  If anyone can explain to me just what this conversation was about, then answers on a postcard please.

(Obviously, I only heard Smallcat’s side of the conversation).

"I am in charge of the whole world, because I decided what lives there and what shape it is.  There are also baby mushrooms".

"Only trees grow.  Which are completely immobile".


"Derek, the teenage mushroom, is pretty much unconscious".

"I painted my papier mache in a colour called "Party World".  It was as GOLDEN as the SUN!"

"There's an evil swamp of death, but the oil went into it and made it pretty much oil toxic"


"No, that was only the first bit, Nan.  Obviously."


Monday, 24 May 2010

Call this a political protest?

It started near the A33 Junction.  A big field.  A massive great Tory hoarding.  “VOTE FOR CHANGE” it said, for days.  Every time we drove past it, I shook my fist.  Until one day, I heard Smallcat giggling in the back.  “CHANGE” had been replaced by “CHIMPS”.

“I’ll vote for chimps!”, he said “I want chimps in charge!”

Two days later the chimps had gone and the farmer had replaced them with a new hoarding before I’d had a chance to take a picture.  Honestly.  Some people can’t take a joke.

It wasn’t to last.  Following day, same handwriting.  The anonymous chimp supporter had upped the stakes.

conpants (I made poor Catman drive along a busy dual carriageway and pull in – probably illegally although he claims not – just to take that picture).

“I’ll vote for pants!”, said Smallcat, who’d clearly vote for anything that amused him. 

The farmer retaliated with ANOTHER hoarding, which he sneakily hid round the corner, away from the main road, near a tree.  It was so cunningly hidden that only the sharpest of Smallcat eyes spotted it.  This led to unreasonable demands on Catman, who had to pull in at a convenient spot where I handed him the camera and said “no, YOU do it.  I’m not doing it.  Go on – you do it.  You’re better with cameras than I am.  I don’t want to be seen!  Ok, I’ll buy you a drink, then”

nap Quite right too

I don’t know.  The quality of political protest isn’t the same as it was when I were a lass.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Though I say so myself

I’m dead chuffed with this.  It made me go “squee!”.  The intended recipient may have to fight me for it, quite frankly.  Or be subjected to a Paddington Hard Stare at the very least.

This is what the character actually looks like in the cartoon.  He’s the little blue chap.


And here is my version.



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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Ash Death Doom Plane Plunge AAAAARGH!!!

People who know me will tell you that I have quite a nervous disposition. So imagine how agitated I am this morning. The Catman is in Athens at the moment. He went there for a big, fat Greek wedding and he's due home this evening. However, this has just gone off again;

Belch - "pardon me".

I've just checked the BBC website and airports in the South East are open, but the rest of the country appears to be closed. Am I pleased about this? It does mean that Catman can come home after all. Well no, no I am not. That ash is far too close for comfort. I would rather he stayed in Athens all year until every single particle of ash has been hoovered up by a magic, flying Dyson.

Is Catman of a similar opinion? No. He'll probably be irritated by the delay, not refusing to come out of his hotel room until the sky over Europe has been wiped down with a clean cloth. Because that's what I'd be doing. Oh yes.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

I’ve not been entirely honest

I wasn’t REALLY trying to create a woollen version of the Prime Minister. I was making a Totoro for a friend.

For those of you who don’t know who Totoro is, I urge you to buy the DVD “My Neighbour Totoro”.  I did so on recommendation and thought I’d hate it, not being a great fan of Japanese animation ( and I cannot STAND Pokemon).  I also felt it might be just a tad too young for SmallCat.  But from the moment I put the disc in the DVD player, to the moment it finished over an hour later, the pair of us had not moved from the sofa and were enchanted from the word go.

If you look closely, you can see the little fella I’ve been making on the spine of the cover here…


And as luck would have it, the wonderful Lucy Ravenscar produced a free pattern, which I’ve been working on this week.  I strongly advise that you scroll down that link to her Star Wars characters.  If they don’t make you hoot with laughter (in a good way, the woman is a genius), then you have a HEART OF STONE!

Anyway, I’ve got his bib pinned on now, and there’s string everywhere, but he currently looks like this.

How absolutely DARE you accuse me of being a Tory!

Well, quite.  He’s much cuter than that Cameron person, and he’s not currently threatening to cut Child Benefits.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

This is what Elections do to people

In order to avoid biting my nails down to a frazzle, I picked up a crochet hook to divert my hands.  There was so much excitement in Westminster, I thought I’d produce my own woollen representation of the incoming PM to pass the time.  Bear in mind that until the last minute, no one was sure who it might be, so it was all guesswork.  I like to think that I got a fairly accurate representation of our new leader in the picture below.


Oh, come on.  At least I got the colour right.

If only it were not so.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Sundry Discontent

Absence caused by much upheaval.  The unwanted house move has  finally come to pass, amidst many tears from all three of us, because we didn’t really want to go and only left because we had to. 

SmallCat and CatMan seem to have settled in now.  We’ve been here nearly two months, but most mornings when I wake up there’s a split second when I think I’m still in my old house.  Or home, as it was.  This isn’t home yet and may not be for some time.

The move has done strange things to what passes as my brain (I think there might be a cell in there, but I’m not sure).  At some point last month the panic attacks started, which gradually got worse and worse, and were closely followed by – well, even worse than that.  It was like being taken over by mental ivy – it got everywhere and I couldn’t pull it out.  Rather like the stuff which is currently growing in my herb patch and ruining the oregano, (only I’m not a plant and I don’t normally make stews taste nicer, and I’m making light of it now but it wasn’t funny at the time). 

Well.  That took me unawares.  But it is gradually getting back under control, slowly and with assistance, but getting there all the same.  And in the meantime, one good thing did happen, which is that I finally finished the monkeys for Speechless, Mostly.  I expect she’s given up on them, but wonders never cease.

There are three boys, of which two are pictured here…


…and one girl, who is very pretty, and has a bracelet, and is ever so sweet, and is JUST like Lynne I’m sure.  However Ms Monkey, alas, has terrible trouble with her skirt and it keeps falling down.


I think perhaps someone needs to have a quiet word in her ear.

Friday, 5 February 2010

I Hate Barclays

I have not blogged for ages due to housemovenewjobnotfeelingwell syndrome.  And still it continues, but I think it best to write this down, if only for myself, as one day I’ll need to look back on this and recall the horror.  In detail.

I can’t even remember, now, the offers to buy that fell through and the offers from myself that never happened, or were not accepted, as these things happened before Christmas, and that was 100 years ago.  So I cannot really describe the series of events which led me to this point.  However, here is this point.

I have an offer on my house.  I have put in an offer on a house.


Or not.

10th January – checked my credit file.  All debts were wiped before Christmas, so why are these debts still showing up?  Phone the building society arranging my mortgage.  They tell me “those debts must GO.  You cannot give us letters from the card companies telling us they are paid.  They must be removed from your file or we will not give you a mortgage.  No, no, no”.

12th January – I phone Mint and MBNA.  “Please remove that nonexistent debt”, I say. 

“No.  We only upload our data on 29th of each month, so you’ll have to wait another three weeks”. 

“Noooo”, I wail, “the people selling me the house will get anxious if I sit here doing nothing for that long AND THEY MIGHT SELL TO SOMEONE ELSE AND THEN I WILL CRY”. 

“Oh, ok then, since you put it like that…”.

12th January (later that day) – I phone Barclaycard and make the same request.  “Oh, ok, but you have to sign a form first.  We’ll put it in the post.  It will take 10 days”. 

“TEN DAYS! I can’t wait that long.  The solicitor, the Estate Agent, and the sellers will think I’m taking the pee”. 

“Sorry, them’s the rules”.

15th January – letter arrives.  Yay!  I sign it and post it.  Yay.

19th January – I phone Barclaycard.  “Did you get my letter?”. 


“Can you clear my file, then”. 


21st January - “er….why is my file still showing a debt?  People are getting angry”. 

“We can’t do it.  We only do it at the end of the month”. 

I am on the phone to the complaints department immediately.

“Sorry, we can’t do it.  They shouldn’t have told you that”.

“But they did,  twice.  And now I could lose this sale, you numpties.  Even worse, I have TOLD PEOPLE THAT IT IS IN HAND AND NOW THEY THINK I AM A LIAR AND A KNAVE!”.

24th January - “what are you doing about this.  I am getting anxious phone calls from the Estate Agent and solicitor.  You told me you could do this and you haven’t.  Why did you lie?”.

25th January.  Parcel arrives.  It is the biggest bunch of flowers ever.  It is from Barclaycard.  There is a note attached.  “Sorry for the inconvenience”. 

I check my credit file.  The nonexistent debt is still there.  I shake my fist angrily at the flowers, but it is not their fault so I apologise to them almost immediately.  They are too big for the only vase I have left and water spills everywhere.  I have to remove MrCat’s lovely posy from the nice vase to fit them in.  MrCat’s nice flowers are now in a horrible vase and the Barclay flowers are in the nice vase.  This makes me more angry.

26th January – Letter arrives.  It is from Barclaycard.  “Sorry about the inconvenience.  Here is £30 towards the cost of the zillion phonecalls”.

I check my credit file.  The non existent debt is still there. I am mildly mollified by the £30, but still shake my fist aimlessly at the sky.

I phone the mortgage company.  “Barclaycard are evil.  Can you do something about it?”.

“Ok, get them to fax us a letter, telling us that you have paid the debt and we’ll see what we can do”.

3.00pm.  I phone Barclaycard.  “Please write a letter.  It is the least you can do”.

“Ok.  Give us the fax number”.

I give them the fax number of the building society.

“No.  We can’t fax it to them.  We have to fax it to you.  You have to physically be there”.



I pace around angrily.

3.30pm – I phone again.  I get a different person on the line. I have decided to lie about the fax number and pretend it’s mine.  I fear that I will be struck by lightening if I tell this lie, but I am now desperate to get this thing moving, and immolation seems the easiest option.

“Hello, can you fax that letter”.

“Yes.  Can we have the fax number”.

I gulp.  “Yes, it’s 98798798798798798798798”

“Ok, it’s on it’s way”.

I am shaking.  They didn’t ask me where the fax was actually situated, so it’s not really a lie, is it?

4.00pm.  I phone the building society.

“did you get the fax”.

“yes.  Everything is ok.  We can proceed”.


27th January.  I check my credit file.

Barclaycard have cleared the non existent debt which they said they couldn’t do until 31st.  But now they’ve done it after all.

For at least two hours I am unable to speak, or even move, so great is my rage and so high my blood pressure. 

(You’ll be pleased to hear that this is not the end of it.  I am currently waiting for a spectral letter from the Tax Office.  More on this later…)