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October 26, 2012

Not too sure what i’ve let myself into, but have offered my experience and services to a charity, well a charity of sorts…it’s all very worthy and somewhat out of character with my other work and history – but lives up to my hippy ideals at least.  The lucky beneficiary of my wisdom is a fledgling, county-wide initiative.  A network for all the small community and environmentally concerned groups across Shropshire.  A place for them to learn from each other, gain experience, and have a unified lobbying platform.  Such wonderful aspirations and ideals.

And so, i met with the council representatives and the founder for, what ended up being, a 2 hour meeting.  I started off being very polite, but by the end of the meeting had essentially taken apart their constitution, explained to them the difference between objectives and aims, described a short-term strategy, taken over all their communications and i will be chairing their next steering group meeting.  Hmmm.  Not so much joined, as commandeered.  But, i think so far, it’s a welcomed coup.  Both the founder and the council sent me emails afterwards thanking me profusely, wishing me luck, and looking forward to working together etc etc.  It’s going to be a challenge – i’ve no doubt about that.  If i thought that the little Belle Vue Arts Festival committee was comedy (which i’ve recently found myself secretary of), it’ll be nothing compared to the mixture of sandal-wearing passives that’ll be on the steering group.  Have no fear, i will be diplomatic.  But firm.  It’s going to be frustrating, but fun, and hopefully, ultimately rewarding.  And when it stops being any of that then i’ll leave.

Obvs, there’s no renumeration involved.  That would be silly.  But…it could grow.  MWAHAHAHAHA…one small committee after another, and soon i’ll be CHAIR OF THEM ALL!!!!  MWAHAHAHA…(hmmm, might finally have lost the plot).



October 17, 2012

Guluup….Guluup….Guluup…ad infinitum

Now, what they don’t tell you, anywhere, about making cider, is the bloody noise of it!!!  We are (well, i say we, by that obvs i mean Adam) starting to get the hang of it, but i have been driven slightly mad(der?) by the fermenting.  It’s like water torture!  Constant guluup-ing of the bubbles, and now we’ve got two stills (am sure that’s not the word, but it’ll have to do for now) on the go, i can’t get a moments peace.  We have at least moved them out of the kitchen, where i work, and into the playroom.  The plus side is that this muffles the sound a bit for me.  The downside is that the playroom now has the distinct smell of booze permeating everywhere, which isn’t exactly the best look for responsible (ahem) parents such as we.  Hey ho.

But, we’ve now invested in a second, bigger press, and a lethal-looking crusher.  The bargain versions that we got off the old man, whilst OK, simply weren’t doing the trick quickly enough, and since there’s still a good tonne of apples yet to be processed, something had to give.  So now we’re in a cycle, scrumping and picking apples, pressing at the weekend, going mad with the guluup-ing during the week, and then all again at the weekend.  Could go on for a while.  We’ve discovered a disused orchard opposite the house, with 4 or 5 trees literally groaning with fruit, that would have all gone to waste.  Such a pity i don’t like cider.  Since we’re set for life for making it…

Where once we had a conservatory, now, well, see for yourselves, just a mess!


October 11, 2012

Do you ever feel like you’re living in some kind of comedy, personal hell?  Surrounded by idiots, drawn to repeating yourself ad infinitum, to no avail, and yet can’t stop from doing it again, and again.

This is my story.

Whilst in Spar last Friday, spuriously buying something ‘essential’ whilst obvs actually in there to purchase copious amounts of sweets and chocolate (impulse buys? not bloody likely), i came across a wonderful piece of POS, which annoyingly for myself i didn’t capture in it’s full beauty.  Essentially, a little chocolate bell for 25p, with a big sign saying ‘3 for a £1’.  I stared at this for a long time, mainly because the spar check-out girls are not renound for their speedy turnaround of customers, not quite believing it and wanting to say something to the other queuers.  I looked  behind me, to a man in his late 60’s, buying two large bottles of Strongbow.  Prejudicially, i assumed that he wouldn’t be in a fit state to get the irony, and so took my observation to the check-out.  “Are those Lindt Bells 25p” i innocently enquired.  “yes” the dour reply. “And 3 for a pound?”. “yes” the dour reply. “Really. Three.  For a pound?” “yes” she was now clearly getting annoyed with my inanity.  I persevered, “So, 25p each, and 3 for a pound?”.  “yes”. “3?  For a pound??!!!”. “yes”.  Meanwhile the drunk behind me had cottoned on, and was at least enjoying the exchange.  Unlike the girl on the till.  I tried again, making it as clear as i could “But, if they’re 25p, i can get 4 for a pound, surely?”.  At least, there was a dim flicker of brain activity, a momentary thought, extinguished almost immediately by “yes, well, that’s what head office have given us, so it’s up to them”.

I returned on Saturday, just to check (and to take a photo), and what had they done?  Only gone and taken down the sign that says that individually the Bell’s were 25p.  So, obvs, i bought one – just to check.  A different girl on check-out this time. “So, these bells are 25p?”. “yes”, “But, it says 3 for a pound?”. “yes”.  “But they’re 25p each right?”. “yes”.  No wry smile.  No recognition of what i was trying to say, just impatience.  I persevered.

And so today, for journalistic reasons, obviously, i bought another (to enable me to take the pictures and have the proof).  It starts again, you can imagine i’m sure already how the conversation goes. “Are these bells 25p?”.  But, to my surprise (and annoyance) the response was “no, they’re 40p”.  What?????  So, rather than change the POS, they’ve changed the bloody price?  Well, all i can say is at least i’ve managed to get 3 for 90p.  Bastards.  Not only have they almost doubled the price, but they’ve put an end to my fun.

And, i tell you what, they’re not worth 40p, even if you can get 3 for a pound.

A tale of two mums…

October 1, 2012

I finally could put-off no longer – having been asked out several times my excuses ran dry, and this Friday i found myself on a townie tour of Shrewsbury.  Heather is lovely; sweet and friendly, and our kids are of a similar age and get on and so we’ve spent many an afternoon together.  She is also the hat’s main source of clothes as her daughter Isabelle is 6 months older and so we are the lucky beneficiaries of many fab cast-offs.  I should’ve realised, as she told me that she was ‘dressing up’, what was in-store, but blithely didn’t bother changing, though i did put on some slap.  And so, we went to the first pub, where i realised the error of my ways quite quickly.  All the girls were wearing their best tight, short dresses.  The men in their best designer shirts and jeans.  I, in my kath kidson (oh the shame) skirt, with dubarry boots and usual long-sleeved vest/jumper combo looked very much the sloane/square.  Obvs no one was wearing a coat, nor tights.  Ah well, i pressed on, matching the chardonnay’s (them) with pints of lager (me).  And to another pub, more of the same…i took off my jumper in an effort to fit in, but swiftly put it back on as we went to sit outside (agh, the cold).  And then to our final destination: Montgomery’s.  Well, it’s plus was that it was free.  But inside essentially a ‘club’ with pounding music (which was actually quite good, old school-ish, not a one direction track to be heard – not that i’d know what that would sound like if it was smashed into my face, tbh – but i certainly recognised the music, though couldn’t talk above it obvs).  And so we danced, and eventually, by 11.30, i’d had enough and we left.  Heather would’ve stayed longer, but she had to get up at 5am the next day, thank god, as otherwise i’d’ve had to make excuses and lose face.  It was a fun night out.  But a real eye-opener as to what Shrewsbury night life consists of.  A lot of fat birds, in tiny dresses, drinking like they were 17, looking like they were 47.  Hmmm.  My god i’m such a snob.  I’m sorry…

And so to Sunday, where we met up with another mum, Nick, but this time at Attingham (the local national trust house).  There was a ‘harvest/apple fair’, and so we bought out apples for identification by an expert (in truth no more than a man with a book, so whilst it was interesting, am not 100% convinced of his expertise nor diagnosis).  The kids ran around playing – Nick too has two, a girl Cosmo’s age and a boy a year older than the hat.  Bless the boy, he’s about an inch shorter than our wee man, and is on-target for being about 6″4′, and the hat only comes up to the girl’s waist – Nick herself is pretty tall so that’s obviously where they get it from.  Was a far more civilised affair than Friday night, lovely meander through the woods, a cup of coffee, and general niceness.  Sadly i wasn’t in my Friday night get-up, but should’ve been, as i’d’ve fitted right in there.

Apple-Storing, Round 2, ding ding

September 26, 2012

Am now firmly relegated to the observing rather than doing camp re cider making.  This, obvs, suits me rather well.  But Ad’s been hard at work, harvesting the meagre supplies that the garden’s donated this year.  They’re ‘ripening’ in the garage as i type.  Not for too long i hope, as that was our mistake last year…but apparently storing them for a wee while increases their sugar (and therefore booze!!!) content.  Am trying very hard not to pinch too many, as now he’s done the hardwork of actually harvesting them before they fall to the ground and rot, have rediscovered my love of them.  Especially the red ones….

Meanwhile, school-farce update:  The daily letters are now to be transferred electronically.  As it’s not environmentally friendly to be wasting that much paper.  Will be intrigued to see how this works, had to create an account at some wonderfully anachronistic site (presumably it takes so long for school boards to agree to moving to email, that by the time they’ve agreed, and bought software to do it, the entire world’s moved on 15 years, and yet they’re tied to using the old system??!?!?!?!?!  Is the only way i can explain it to myself…).  They’d better bloody email me the letters and not just expect me to log on to discover if there’s any correspondence waiting…as they might be waiting a while…life’s too short, and i’ve already got too many email/twitter/blah blah blah accounts to check to add another one to.  Though, that said, obvs the guilt will get to me, and i will end up checking.  Just with a lot of daily swearing.  As the twat Cameron would say, ‘calm down dear’….

Also, big shout out to Cecily – who came and stayed with us this weekend…must have been all the time that she and wee man spent together as bairns that has created some wonderful bond betwixt them.  Not one fight, just amazing, wonderful imaginary play all weekend.  Brilliant.  But even better, as he’s finally found someone who thinks his favourite knock knock joke is proper hilarious (knock knock, who’s there, Dr Cosmo, Dr Cosmo Who?, Dr Cosmo Cosmo)……the thing is, i now find it hilarious too, though more in a hysterical way than anything else…this is what happens when you spend too much time with your own children.  The actually certifiably send you mental.

Show and Tell shame

September 21, 2012

Week 3, and already i am a pariah.  Wondered whether i could pass my forgetfulness off as insouciance, but think, on reflection, that that is far too big a word for a 4 year old to understand, never mind explain, to his friends and teachers.  And so, yes, another Friday comes and goes, and i realise at the school gate that it is ‘Show and Tell’ day…ah.  Damn.  Last week i think i got away with it, as there seemed to be a lot of other parents with similar ‘ooops’ faces, this week however, not quite so much.  Next week, if i forget for a 3rd week running, well, then i certainly will be named and shamed i imagine.  Probably in one of the almost daily letters that comes back.

Am pretty sure that today’s missive, which contained a ‘gentle reminder’ for parents to bring their kids school money in in an envelope, was pretty much directly leavened at me.  And if i don’t remember to buy (and bring in) some wellies on Monday, well, then, i may as well go back to working in an office full-time – at least then i might have some kind of plausible excuse.

And, had the revelation today (bit late), that THIS IS IT.  For the next 18 years (or more??!??!?!).  The first few days of getting to school seemed a doddle, but as the days go on, it is seemingly harder and harder.  With all manner of things to forget, and the inevitable shit from the hat just as we are trying for the 5th time to actually leave the house.  For 18 years.  Ay Vay.  Am not cut out for this.

Obvs wee man not yet had this thought, he can barely comprehend the unbelievable amount of time it is til xmas (already…really….every morning…’is it christmas yet?’  The best being “Daddy, i can’t wait until it’s your birthday”…ahhhh…”cos then it’s nearly xmas”!!!!!!!!!  Hmmm…Daddy’s birthday’s in October…there’s disappointment ahead).  But i’m with him, bring on xmas, then we’ll only have 17.5 years of school runs to go.  But it does feel like an unbelievably long way away…

At Loggerheads…

September 17, 2012

And lo, a cider press has arrived!  Most fortuitously (fruituitously??) there appeared in the local ‘AdMag’ an ad for a press for £18, with little persuading my hero picked up the phone, disappeared round the corner and returned with a fully functioning press, crusher, buckets and other things all for the grand total of £17!!!!  What a bargain!  We then visited the local home-brew shop, which tbh, we thought had closed and moved and so never bothered to go in until now – but in the past few weeks it’s had a lick of paint (bright pink, really?) and the sign that we thought indicated it’s moving was, on closer inspection, a sign for a different shop which had moved.  Well, what an Aladdin’s cave the shop was.  Great for the kids – loads of glass and small items and  buckets for them to play with – and once we’d met the owner, the pink paint made sense.  In her late 50’s, obviously a home-brew officianado, opinionated but a wealth of wisdom, we were there for quite a while…until wee man pronounced loudly that he need a poo…repeatedly.  And so my work here is done.  Now, just for Adam to turn our apples magically into booze.

On Sunday, our wedding anniversary, we took a trip out to Sugnall Hall in Staffordshire, about an hour away, passing through a couple of quaint towns (so blasé about them now, barely worth a mention…) to get to the magnificent 2 acre walled 17th Century kitchen garden that was hosting a celebration of apples (hence our going – to get some know-how from the experts – and for me to have a butchers at what they grew in the kitchen garden).  Highly successful, except that i totally forgot to bring our apples with us to get an idea of what we actually have in the garden, duh.  But they had some really fab 5-colour chard, that i think i might have a go at, if only for the amazing colours – bright orange, red and purple stems with deep green leaves – too cool!

However, we then found ourselves at Loggerheads.  Literally…!  I had wanted to spend our anniversary lunch there for the comedy value, but, typically nowhere was open, and the local pub wasn’t serving food.  I say typically, as have adjusted all too quickly to country-life, where Sunday Opening Hours are almost religiously (ha ha) upheld, with the majority of shops not even bothering to open – a shocker really, but a lesson learned easily after one too many last minute dashes to the shops.  So after a brief stop we continued on and ended up in a random organic farm – Fordhall – which turns out to have been one of the first organic farms, and now a community-owned venture.  Created in 2005, anyone can become a ‘landlord’ – they’ve over 8,000 so far, run as a charity it’s quite a unique place – and they put on an fantastic sunday lunch spread.  The hat amazed everyone by eating most of her enormous ‘child’ portion, and then demolishing a slice of chocolate cake (demolishing being the operative word, had to take her outside, undo her vest, and wipe the crumbs out, leaving a small mound of chocolate mush outside the door…was pretty relieved to see the crumb mountain, as had wanted her to eat the stewed rhubarb with me, but once she saw the cake there was no convincing her that rhubarb would be a much better bet…).


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