Monday, 29 November 2010

The snow? All my fault. Sorry.

I am really sorry and I most humbly apologise but I think all this snow may be my fault. You see a week or two ago R6 was looking forward to her birthday which is on Thursday.

"Why does it never snow on my birthday?" she asked looking grumpy.

"I'm sorry R6," I said. "It just never does."

"I want it to snow on my birthday."

"I'm sure you do darling, but don't get your hopes up because it won't. It just doesn't. It snows on H8's birthday (February) and Daddy's birthday (also February) but never yours, or mine (August) for that matter."

R6 was not impressed.

We reminisced for a while about H8's sixth birthday when we took Hnewly6, R4 and H's friend G6 to a soft play centre in Cardigan. It was a little snowy when we left and we spent a few happy hours eating fish and chips, playing (the kids) and drinking coffee (B and I) while my mobile phone rang impotently in my bag with Mum trying to warn me that there was a blizzard on the Preselis. When we came out the roads were virtually impassable and we had to take the low road home at a crawl. Being stuck on a road in your car as an adult is not fun, add your children and somebody else's to the mix and it becomes doubly stressful. The hour and three quarters of an hour we took to do a stretch of road that normally took 15 minutes was the longest of my life.

But no, it was never going to snow on R6's seventh birthday. I was pretty sure of that when she asked me two weeks ago.

Actually it might.

Actually it already has.

It isn't R6's birthday until Thursday but she's more than satisfied with the snowfall we had on Friday which meant her school closed at lunchtime. It may have been just under a week early but as far as R6 is concerned it is more than enough. Especially as it has frozen solid and shows no sign of moving on but isn't thick enough to prevent her friends coming to her party.

Me and my big mouth. This is the first snow this early for 17 years. It never used to snow that much here. We've been here now for 25 years and only for the last few years has it snowed with much significance. I've now bought us all skiwear to cope with the annual onslaught of the white stuff, we've been snowed in at least once each winter for the past two years and the 4x4 we bought seems wholly justified.

We did our annual trip to St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life near Cardiff on Sunday for a present swap and lunch with B's Mum, sister L and her partner JB. It always rains. This year there was snow on the ground and it was picturesque in a Victorian Christmas card fashion. Of course I didn't take my camera because I'm so used to running from house to house in the rain that there's never been chance to take pictures. It was cold but it was lovely which is an apt description for our current state of weather: Cold but lovely.

Now you know I said it will never snow on MY birthday...

Friday, 26 November 2010

And so it snowed (tiddly pom)

This was the view from my back doorstep this morning. A little overnight snowed had iced everything up rather prettily into a Christmas card view. All day it snowed and sleeted. School gave up at 12.30pm and sent the pupils home after they had eaten their lunch. It's now freezing. Who knows what we'll wake up to tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Gallery week 36: Black and white

This week's theme for The Gallery is black and white.

These are my girls on Chesil Beach in July.

A book for a cook

I had a lovely surprise on Monday. A delivery man arrived with an Amazon package for me. Amazon parcels are a bit Maria von Trapp - brown paper packages - and there's always something good within.

Monday's was no exception - a copy of Nigella's new book Kitchen: Recipes from the heart of the home.

It was a present from the lovely people at Appliances Online because I commented on Josie of Sleep is for the Weak's blog about them giving her a hob - a lovely Smeg to be precise - at the very time she needed one most.

Others have been the lucky recipients of Appliance Online's generosity too - and I'm the latest lucky blogger. I don't need a hob though as I already have a gorgeous all singing all dancing one. (Famously, when it boiled down to a decision whether to have a new kitchen or a new cooker - I plumped for the cooker and made do with the kitchen.) But Appliance Online thought - quite correctly - that the keys to my heart lie in the cookery book section.

I love cookery books but I (almost) never buy them for myself. To me they are like boxes of chocolates - a lovely extravagance best saved for birthdays and Christmas. In fact Christmas would not be the same without a new cook book to settle down with so I've already ordered this year's one from my husband. My family has been known to complain too when they ask for present ideas and are given a list which consists exclusively of cookery books. In fact there have been more complaints as I've had my head stuck in Kitchen for the last two days solid. I love it. It's stuffed full of great recipes (including several I'm making for R's 7th birthday next week and some yummy cakes for the Christmas fair next weekend). And there's the famous spaghetti with Marmite recipe which is divine. Don't knock it until you've tried it (unless you hate Marmite of course).

As for Applicances Online they've got a great website which is worth checking out (I've been looking at chest freezers to store garden produce) and you can follow them on Twitter.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Oh Dell, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways…

I love my Dell computer. It’s my contact with the outside world, a conduit to anyone, anywhere at anytime. I do my shopping on it, write my e-mails on it, I blog and Facebook and Tweet on it. I’ve written three fledgling novels on it during Nanowrimos and a fourth too.

But why Dell and why do I love it so? Well I began with another brand and it was okay. I used Amstrads and Apple Macs at work and at home I wanted a PC mostly to write on and anything would do really. But then my children came along and our needs changed. We needed something tough and clever. Something that could withstand its keyboard being bashed by baby fists. I happened to visit our local school and was impressed by the array of smart Dells. I decided that to withstand that sort of daily abuse they must be tough so I ordered one.

I fell in love with my Dell immediately. It was fast, it was sleek, it was good looking. We used it for CBeebies, for writing, drawing, photo and video storage. It took all the punches thrown at it by ham-fisted babies and then growing toddlers and came back for more.

Then it got hit by lightning. We couldn’t kill it, but Mother Nature it seemed could.

Of course we replaced it with a Dell which has twice the memory and a lovely big screen. My children compete to use it. They’ve now moved on to CBBC, Moshi Monsters and Skype. They need it for homework and for listening to music and watching videos. The screen’s big enough for catch-up TV and movies too, so it acts like a second TV. We don’t hide it away, it sits in the corner of the dining room sometimes showing slide shows of our pictures or quietly playing music. In short, we wouldn’t be without it.

But now I have seen one of these.  This does so much more than my current Dell. It’s got WiFi, an HD widescreen, DVD drive and can connect to TV tuners, cable and satellite boxes and gaming consoles. Its glamorous rather than merely smart and hasn’t got a chunky CPU box. Everything is – as its name suggests - All-in-One. That’s not all. You can touch its screen and that pairs with a thing they call Stage which means you can quickly get to your favourite music, photos and videos. For more details watch this video.

I have to admit I’m more than a little bit in lust with the All-in-One.

So what’s a girl to do?

I know!

Dear Santa, I've been a really good girl...
Further information can be found here
the youtube Video

Sponsored Post
Share hosted by Wikio

Friday, 19 November 2010

It's list time again

I’m a bit of a list maker. I’m a great believer in writing things down so they don’t get forgotten and crossing things off once they have been done.

Take this week’s list for example. Number two on it was ‘clear up the kitchen’.  Meaning ‘don’t stop at unloading the dishwasher, do the rest too!’

There were 18 items on the list. I have crossed off 10 of them. ‘Do the ironing’ is a perennial that gets transferred from list to list. If I wrote ‘hide the ironing’ it would be closer to the truth (and I could cross it off!) One of the more perplexing entries just says ‘send e-mail’ but not  to whom or what about so that one’s pretty useless.

This time of year, however, the lists multiply. I now have one for Christmas presents and another for R’s 7th birthday party in a fortnight’s time. I have a list for vital things I mustn’t forget, like picking mum up from the station on Tuesday or renewing the car insurance for both cars.

Then there’s the Christmas card list, the things to do in the garden list and the list written by my mother to remind me how to look after her animals while she’s away. Perhaps the latter proves that the making of lists is an inherited trait…

Not forgetting, of course, the list of DIY projects for my OH and the shopping list I wrote for him of  things to get from Tesco on his way home from work today, and its sister list of ideas for the food we might be going to eat over the weekend.

I have even got a neat little list, on the back of an old envelope, helpfully written by OH with ideas for his birthday which is useful but I’ve got to keep that list safe until the end of next February.

Actually, with so many lists, I can see a time soon when I’m going to need a list of my lists… but perhaps that would be a list too far.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Not quite there yet...

You may remember in a recent post I reported on the finding of a bag of SLR 35mm film cameras. Well I've been out and taken a few pictures with the Canon T70, waited impatiently for them to be developed (nearly eight quid!) and this fennel shot is the best. Quite clearly I need to relearn my focussing techniques (or stick to the auto-focus EON). There's a lot to remember with an SLR and it's strange to go back after years of point and shoot compact digital photography. The photographs have a different quality to digital - although this film went out of date in 2006 so that might have some bearing on the quality. My compact couldn't take this shot even in perfect conditions. I'm not sure I'm going to do much of this a eight quid a throw though!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

A tale of two beaches

Standing in our living room this morning with the November sun beaming down outside we decided, the five of us, that today would be a good day to be outdoors.

Hang on... the five of us? There's only four of us normally - the fifth was a small vole or shrew scuttling about by our feet.

On Monday while watching Spooks I had sensed that I was not alone but dismissed it as tension caused by watching the season finale. Scary things have happened before while I watched Spooks...

Our tiny visitor decided to pop out just as the picnic and wellies were packed and we were about to head out of the door. We've had a this before and learned that it would not go into a live trap. What we have to do is open the door and watch it leave which it did, eventually, after whizzing around the edge of the living room, taking a brief trip into the dining room and finally, heaving itself over the threshold.

We drove to West Dale beach which is the home of great driftwood. Today pickings were lean (we espied fellow beach combers lugging armfuls home ahead of us) but we managed a few armfuls of choice pieces.

Down the steps to the beach.

A heart of stone.

Skokholm island in the distance.
 Full of driftwood and picnic we hopped back into the car and drove further around the peninsula to Marloes sands, a beautiful crescent of golden sand with some impressive geology.

Rows of toothy rocks. You wouldn't want to wreck your ship on these.

The sun is hidden by growing clouds and the sea is showing its fury.

Here comes the rain!
Of course it rained at the point where we were furthest from the car. The wind drove it up the backs of our coats as we ran back ensuring we all had wet knickers when we reached dry safety. Brian, of course, had yet another armful of driftwood. Taking him to the beach is sometimes like taking a Labrador. He arrives back wet and panting with the biggest stick he can find.

Today's full tally of wildlife:
  • One common shrew
  • A barn owl
  • Two buzzards
  • One unidentified raptor
  • Two oystercatchers
  • A small bird that fluttered its wings and said 'peep peep' (sorry, there are gaps in my ornithological education.)

Friday, 12 November 2010


The Dog, pictured left, is a very dark black dog. He is also a high speed dog.

Some dogs might do leaping and diving into water, some might do carrying out the biggest stick, some  might even do walking along sedately stopping for the occasional sniff.

Not Mido.

Mido does high speed zooming, preferably after a rabbit or a fox (yes, I know it's illegal, by try telling that to a dog. He never catches them though...) or even, famously, after an otter we didn't know we had living nearby.

If none of the above are available he will just zoom about aimlessly which is fine until he collides with the back of your knees making you sit down smartly on your bottom usually in something wet and muddy. This happens with far too much regularity - especially in the dark - which is why OH bought The Dog a High Viz jacket.

Now, when it's dark and rainy as it often is in the summer November, The Dog gets to wear his disco jacket and at least you get to see what's hit you the split second before it does.

Except this morning when it was dark and raining and the Man of the House was doing what is His Job*, ie heading out into the dark with The Dog to put the bins out and feed the elderly pony. While he was attending to the latter The Dog shot off after a rabbit and the MoftheH picked out flash of bright High Viz blur with the beam of his head torch as The Dog leapt over our boundary fence and into our neighbour's land.

Moments later the MoftheH was assailed in the dark by invisible black dog minus aforementioned Hi Viz jacket. The vital garment is now officially listed as Missing In Action and the guilty party is now in The Doghouse.

* I should add that my job as Woman of the House is to stay in bed until the slightly more sociable hour of 7am, attend to the needs of the dishwasher and drink coffee until 7.30am by which time I will have turned back into something that can be spoken to and respond with some degree of civility.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Gallery: Autumn

This weeks' theme at Sticky Fingers: The Gallery is seasons. Autumn conjures up images of mighty trees with golden leaves - but it's not like that here on the Preseli Hills. Here trees are stunted because of the salty winds and as soon as the leaves start to turn we usually have a winter storm to blast them off the branches.

What we have today is the calm before the storm. A still day with a crisp frost first thing and the benign smile of the sun in the afternoon. The weatherman says the isobars are clustering tightly in the Atlantic and we're to hold onto our hats tomorrow. Today though the skies are blue.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Beauty and the Beast

I was just about to write a review of Beauty and the Beast, recently arrived in glorious gorgeous Blu-ray Diamond edition, when I remembered R6 has a Belle dress and somewhere there would be a picture of her in it.

So I looked back to 2006 in my pictures folder and found my two little pre-schoolers sweet and innocent and unsullied by school in a succession of pretty princess dresses and then I got all misty eyed and forgot why I had gone into my pictures file in the first place.

Back to the job in hand. 

Which Disney film is your favourite? Beauty and the Beast would definitely be in my top ten. It has a cast of delightful characters a wonderfully comic candlestick and very handsome scary Beast (both as Beast and as Prince Adam) and a very good baddie - Gaston  - with amusing side-kick. There's a charming horse in it too - Phillipe - and of course Belle is lovely. We love it and the new edition (which comes with DVD as well as Blu-ray) also has a host of additional features - backstage films, a quest game, the untold story etc.

  • Set in and around a quaint French village during the late 18th century, Beauty and the Beast follows the fantastic adventures of Belle, a bright and beautiful young woman who finds escape from her ordinary life, and the advances of a boorish suitor, Gaston, by reading books. Meanwhile, off in a castle in the distance, a cruel young prince is cast under the spell of an enchantress who turns him into a tormented beast, while transforming his servants into animated household objects. In order to remove the curse, the Beast must discover a true love who will return his affection before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose. When Belle’s inventor father stumbles upon the Beast’s castle and is taken prisoner, Belle comes to the rescue and agrees to take her father’s place. With the help of the castle’s enchanted staff, she sees beneath the Beast’s exterior and discovers the heart and soul of a human prince.

R6's Belle dress, all golden yellow and flouncy is still going strong. She goes through a phase of wearing it after school from time to time. When it was new we had to pin up the hem it was so long, now it's the perfect length. I rue the day she grows out of it.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

The Gallery: Lawn swimming

This week's theme for Tara's The Gallery over at Sticky Fingers is 'show me the funny'. I'm a day late with this (I blame an inset day on Monday; I think today is Wednesday) and I had a look at the other entries and despaired - they're fabulous.

But then I thought of the funniest member of our household. The one whose whole life is based on the joy principle and thought there must be a photograph of him somewhere doing something funny.

There was.

This is Mido* indulging in his favourite summer sport of lawn swimming. Basically all you do is lie on the cool grassy lawn on a hot day and pull yourself around by your paws saying "arf, arf, argh, arf" or words to that effect. You can do it for hours, if you're Mido and apparently it's the Best Thing Ever. And it makes me laugh.

*He's a rescue dog and arrived with *that name* already intact. In private I call him Mido. In public I refer to him as 'the dog', 'oi you' or (and to give him due credit he came) 'Shadow'.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

How to win £40,000

What would I do with £40,000? Humour me for a moment while I take off on a flight of fancy with forty grand in my pocket.

The cash, by the way, would be courtesy of Paypal which is currently running a weekly draw to win a year’s salary. I’m not sure whose salary (not mine, obviously) but it would be a nice sum of money to win and all you have to do to enter is to use Paypal to make a purchase.

So would I blow it on one big lovely thing just for me? Or would I squirrel it away in a nice safe little bank account somewhere and watch it grow?

No, I know exactly what would happen. I’d tell my children about it and they’d spend it for me.

Would £40,000 buy a seven seater Land Rover Discovery (for me to drive as a taxi for them and their friends), a sports car for Daddy, a Nintendo Wii, a trampoline, Apple iPods, laptops and the entire contents of the Mini Boden catalogue? Possibly – but only with very careful planning.

The Land Rover might have to be a second hand purchase from Ebay but it can then have a lovely new sound system and perhaps a DVD player too from Halfords.

The Nintendo Wii is easy. Woolworths has this lovely package on its website. Helpfully it also has the Apple iPods too and I think a subscription to Napster might then be a sensible option.

As for the trampoline, this one from Toys R Us looks as if it would fit the bill and Dell can supply a couple of very pretty Inspiron laptops so my two expensive little darlings can log on to the Mini Boden website once they’re all bounced out.

So that’s everything except the sports car…  here’s a nice Carrera but perhaps not the one Daddy had in mind

So what would you do with £40,000? Every time you use Paypal you automatically get entered into the weekly draw, so the more times you use Paypal the more chances you have to win. This year’s Christmas shopping could change your life. Go on, tell me how you’d spend it.

Click here for the full terms and conditions.
Win £40000
Find out more
Enter now for your chance to win

Sponsored Post
Share hosted by Wikio

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Things I have learned about running

A few things I have learned about running:

  • Like Muttley you will be motivated by the promise of medals.
  • Running does not make you thin. Actually it might make you thin, it does not make me thin. That's because I am Mrs Greedyguts. It has made me drop two dress sizes but far I'm from Paula Radcliffe proportions (except in height). I'd rather be a slightly - ahem - well covered runner and eat cake.
  • The smaller the dog, the more it wants to bite you. The wraith that nipped you on the soft part of the back of the knee and then disappeared was a collie. The fiend hanging from your arse by its canines is a Jack Russell terrier. Labradors will bounce on you in the manner of the Dambusters but that's okay, they are "just playing".
  • If you run in torrential rain and gale force wind well meaning people will try to rescue you. They will stop their cars, look concerned, offer you a lift and ask "ask you sure" when you decline. They will then watch horrified from their cosy dry cars while you take off your waterproof jacket because you are too hot.
  • One day you will set off on a nine mile run in the full knowledge that you would rather stay at home sticking pins in your eyes. After mile seven you will suddenly feel like a running machine, nay a gazelle, and you will fling yourself along wondering why the whole world doesn't run, like, everywhere man. You will feel peace and goodwill to all men (and women) and even smile at dogs.
  • The next run you do will be hell and you will consider throwing your trainers in the dustbin and taking up the sport of tiddlywinks.
  • Never breathe in as you are passed by a diesel car or a smoker or (worst of all) a smoker driving a diesel car.
  • In the most beautiful, remote and isolated point of your run you will find a used condom.
  • Horses will behave as if you are making towards them down the road with the sole intention of causing their early death. If you run up silently behind them they will run away and their riders will hate you. Riders who have never encountered you running before will think they can out trot you. They are wrong. You will catch them up and piss them off.
  • Those same horses will snore quietly in their fields without batting an eyelid as you run past them. With no rider there's no point in making the effort to act scared.
  • When the sun is out it's too hot to run. Snow and ice is impossible to run in. Rain is a pain because you get wet both inside and out in a waterproof jacket. On two days of the year conditions will be perfect. Those are the days on which you will have dental appointments.
  • You will see masses of wildlife. Most of it squashed flat on the road.
  • Running is the answer to most of life's problems unless your problem is a broken leg and then it isn't.

Monday, 1 November 2010

A heck of a good time

We've just been to Devon (and Dorset) to stay with our lovely friends N and A and had, to quote H8: "A heck of a good time".

We sought (and found) fossils on Charmouth beach, greedily scoffed fish and chips at West Bay, struggled around a wind swept Lyme Regis (too rough for a trip along the Cob - remember how it looked on ITV's Persuasion? That's how it was on Friday.)

We had a barbecue (yes, really. It was raining, but A is a true Scot.) We made Jack O'Lanterns and we wrote on the night sky with sparklers and fireworks.

Did we want to come home? Heck, no.