It’s twelth night. Time for all the Christmas deccies to come down. Actually, we took them down on the 2nd. It always seems daft to me to keep them up once Christmas and New Year are finished. It seems like so long ago! Not only that, the living room seem huuuuuuge and so bare but anyway, moving on.
In honour of twelfth night and to nod in the direction of the ghost of Christmas recently passed. Here are a few photos from our Christmas. The eagle eyed among you may notice a few new faces in the family. That’s a whole different story.
Here we go then. Christmas at Booful’s lodging emporium. It’s a little peek into our very private world. The world in which I am the most happy. The world that is a constant round of cleaning, cooking, washing up, cuddles, laughter and joy.
I’d been looking forward to and dreading Christmas in equal measure. Trying not to build up the perfect family Christmas in my mind as that always led to disappointment when I was a kid. So many high expectations that end in a brawl or row. Or like an Alan Bennet play, all going swimmingly on the surface but with all these tensions, fuelled by too much alcohol, too much food and close proximity to family members you haven’t seen from one year end to the next bubbling over.
This Christmas didn’t have any of that. This was like the best bit of Dicken’s Christmas Carol and I felt like Bob Cratchit beaming at the head of the table.
Shaky Jake sneaked in for a surprise visit this morning. He’s not a welcome figure in our house. It’s never pleasant when he visits. To be fair, we were expecting him about two weeks ago so we’ve gone a good six weeks without him popping round, so we really can’t complain.
Shaky Jake is normally known by his other name: canine epilepsy
Without any shadow of a doubt I can tell you that it’s no way to wake up, to the bed shaking like it’s in an earthquake as the dog is having a seizure at 04.30 on Christmas Eve. Poor chap looked like he was going to shake himself apart. Hence, Shaky Jake.
I shot out of bed and tried to keep Douggie from bashing his legs on the dressing table while shouting to a totally bewildered Boofuls to put the light on. He had no idea what was going on. He woke up from a lovely dream to pandemonium. He soon cottoned on though and helped me to keep Douggie safe until he came out of his seizure.
Ah well, I wanted an early start today and I bloody well got it.
Douggie the doggie has never had a seizure from sleeping before. He usually spends an hour pacing, whining, jumping on and off the furniture, barking and generally getting himself and us more and more distressed until it’s actually a relief when he finally does have his grand mal.
Then we spend another hour while he paces, whines…you get the idea.
Today has been a little Christmas miracle for which I am very grateful. Seizure from a deep sleep. Incredibly fast post ictal recovery and now half an hour later he’s fast asleep again as if nothing happened. No pacing. No nothing.
Seizures like this I can relate to.
So. Why did I want an early start today?
I’ll give you a clue * sings* Coming home for Christmas
The family are on their way to Devon, probably setting off about now, and I want everything to be ready for when they arrive so I’m not trying to entertain, cook, clean and get everything under control at the same time. I’d rather like to enjoy my time with them as they are only here for a couple of days. Ok. I might be a bit tired but at least I won’t be stressed. I love a head start! I think I’ll make the jelly for the trifle and then get on with prepping the veg for tomorrow.
Or..or…maybe I might just go back to bed for an hour.
Merry Christmas everyone. I hope it’s all you want it to be.
Yesterday I was trying to explain to our granddaughter, Munki that we are living in extraordinary times, the history lessons of the future.
If you are looking for a good old political debate, you’ve found the wrong blog. I’m just a disillusioned, skint and worried about the future of our country voter, watching with concerned eyes as our country tears itself apart. I’m not clever enough to fully understand it all but here’s my two penn’orth as I see it.
While I was watching the news about the vote of no confidence in Theresa May, it struck me how much like a pack of howling, baying wolves her opponents are. My God, these are the people we trust to run our country.
You know, whether you love or hate Theresa May, you have to admire her fortitude in continuing to do the job of getting us out of Europe after the constant attacks on her from all sides.
I’m bloody certain she’d be able to do a much better job if she was able to concentrate on the task she’s been given, nay, not given, I should have said the job she had foisted on her, instead of constantly having to ward off attacks from those who should be putting our country, rather than their own careers, at the forefront of events.
Like it or not, the country, albeit halfheartedly, voted to leave Europe. I’ll say that again. The country voted to leave. Yes, it was a close vote. If everyone who’s now shouting their mouth off had got off their arses and voted we might have had a clearer picture of what the nation wanted to happen but the result still came out as ‘leave’ and so that is what must happen. Theresa May is carrying out the wishes of the electorate. Whether you, I or she agrees with the result of the vote is irrelevant. The country voted. Last time I looked we still lived in a democracy, although I am beginning to wonder about that.
Poor woman is having to make it up as she goes along. Everything happening now is unprecedented. It’s not like there’s a bloody training manual telling her how to do it, is there? Every single step of the way she is feeling her way through and trying to get the best deal for her country. That, in the face of immense opposition from the EU and while simultaneously keeping a watchful eye over her shoulder for the knives of her own colleagues about to stab her in the back.
I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure no one works at their best under that kind of pressure.
If I had a complaint it would be that we wouldn’t be in this position now if the people of this country had bothered to get off their arses and vote in the last referendum.
Mind you, we were, and still are, being fed so much hyperbole it’s impossible to know the truth from the lies. Does anyone really have the full picture?
I shall keep watching, worrying and getting poorer until it all sorts itself out.
And in other news…A Devonshire woman bludgeoned her husband to death for his refusal to get a bloody hearing test when he so obviously needs one.
A police spokesperson said that no court in the land would convict her as having every single thing she said met with, EH? WOSS ‘E SAY? and “turn it up, love”, amounts to abuse and could be a cause of temporary insanity.
My own personal favourite, is his endearing habit of whipping his head round, jumping like he’s been stung and then declaring, “Wot you shouting ’bout? I never heard a bloody thing.” Precisely, my love. Precisely. GET A BLOODY HEARING TEST!!!!!
Some months ago my friend told me about Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir. I remembered seeing it a couple of years earlier and being fascinated by the concept of totally unconnected people all over the world joining together to sing.
Obviously, I had to go and have a look online and I was blown away by what I saw and heard. Of all the various virtual choir performances I watched I enjoyed Lux Aurumque the best. It is hauntingly beautiful and I was totally immersed in the music and by the faces of the singers from all over the world. Treat yourself and go and have a listen.
My friend, I’ll call her Susan because that’s her name, told me that she was going to upload a video of herself singing. She has an amazing voice and I can well understand how she would want to be part of it.
Then she encouraged me to do the same. “No. I can’t do that. People will hear me screeching. It’ll be awful.” Then she kindly pointed out that no one would hear my actual voice as it was a blend of all the voices together that created the unique sound.
Imagine. A choir of over 8000 people. Ok, actually I can imagine that as I cast my mind back to the proms in the park and 11,000 choir members from all over the country singing together. But this was different. This wasn’t a crowd belting out a song with gusto, dancing, laughing and generally partying. This was grown up, serious singing.
Anyway, after much dithering I decided to go and have a look at the website, read the instructions and then *cringe* film myself singing the words…notes. There aren’t any words, it’s just notes. Anyway, after redoing it many times, until the dog’s ears were bleeding from listening to me, in fact, I uploaded it to the virtual choir website and then forgot about it until this week.
And here it is, the finished product. The images in it are stunning. The music is ethereal and beautiful and if you listen really carefully you can hear me screeching in the background. Enjoy.
When couples first get married and have that “no-one has ever been as much in love as we are’ smugness about them, it’s all about hearts and flowers, bedroom gymnastics, and romantic gestures.
God, I used to see it all the time when I was a wedding photographer. “There’ll never be another wedding like ours”, couples would coo as they glanced smugly at each other. It used to take all I had not to say, “Well actually, love, they’re all much of a muchness.” I always thought it would be too cruel to burst their bubble though so I’d just smile sweetly and agree that they were indeed unique. Often at the same time as wondering if they’d still be together when the ink had dried on their marriage certificate. What? Cynical? Me?
I remember it well. Vowing that we’d get old together and taking all that that brings with it but not being able to imagine it. Ah yes. Fast forward thirty three years. When it isn’t so much bedroom gymnastics as a low impact workout while trying to avoid straining the bits that ache, cramp or just don’t move in that direction any more. Flowers are saved for special occasions, a romantic gesture is giving up the tv remote control and love settles into a comfortable companionship.
When I first got married I had no concept of how marriage would change as the years went on. Some days it’s considered a success to have got through the day and not bludgeoned each other to death. Other days we are completely content when we snuggle up on the sofa and watch a bit of telly together, happy just to be.
What am I wittering on about?
Well, dear reader, let me tell you.
Boofuls had his long awaited hip replacement surgery a little over three weeks ago.
His embarrassment at me having to help him to wash. “I’m your wife”, I told him. “This stuff goes with the job description.” Helping him into and out of the shower while holding a plastic bag over his stitches and using a hand towel like a windscreen wiper to keep any stray drops of water from seeping through. Cutting his toenails, helping him to get dressed and the truest test of love.
Back in the day when I was on my knees in front of him it wasn’t to put his surgical stockings back on. My God, has there ever been a more difficult task than putting on and taking off surgical stockings? How times have changed.
Aside of the personal hygiene stuff. How did I not know that he has six million cups of tea every day? It wasn’t till I had to make them all that I realised. How is it even possible to imbibe that much liquid?
His frustration at not being able to perform everyday tasks and my poor nursing skills have meant that tempers may have frayed a bit recently. We have both bitten our tongues until they are black and blue but we muddle through.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it isn’t the grand gestures that make for a happy marriage. Anyone who tells me they have never had a cross word in their marriage is either telling lies or one of the partners has been severely compromising to keep the peace. I think what it boils down to is still being able to love each other when the romance is in short supply and the reality of advancing years and ill health become part of your everyday life.
Mind you, the occasional grand gesture never goes amiss.
Actually, the strange week started some weeks ago when I was talking to a local business woman via email.
“Oh, by the way, do you know anyone who might be looking for some work? I need someone for a few hours a week.” I quickly put myself forward for the position as Boofuls Towers Lodging Emporium has gone more than a little bit quiet for the winter. Keeping the proverbial wolf from the door has moved higher up my priority list over the last few weeks.
“I haven’t worked in an office or been employed by anyone except myself for over twenty years. I can’t do spreadsheets, never used a PC for many a year, cappuccino drinking Mac user that I am. Boofuls Towers has to take priority so hours will need to be flexible.”
“Ok, come and talk to me.”
So I did.
We agreed that we would give each other a month’s trial and at the end of that time if either of us wasn’t happy then we would call it a day with no hard feelings. It sounded like a plan to me.
On Monday I rocked up at the appointed hour, having quickly prepped, cooked and served breakfast to our B&B guests. Stressed wasn’t in it! Acutely aware that I smelt of bacon and eggs I sat my designated computer and began to familiarise myself with its workings. “Can you just knock me out a quick spreadsheet?” came a cheery voice from the office next door.
Not so much knocked out as dragged kicking and screaming out I eventually managed to produce a fairy passable spreadsheet. A spreadsheet I might add that was promptly laid on one side and not even glanced at.
That was the start of a learning curve that set off in a vertical direction dragging my poor aching brain behind it. “Do this, cross reference it to that, log it on this ledger, that has to be cross-referenced with this, file that, make a note on here and it all has to be spot on as we can be inspected by the FSA at any point. No pressure.”
” No pressure? There were times when I thought I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my brain exploding or my heart exploding from its many palpitations.
At the end of day one I sloped out at the appointed hour crestfallen, tired, headachy and glad to be leaving. On day two I left positively depressed ( is that a contradiction in terms?), the headache had developed to a migraine. Day three I got home to a dog bouncing off the walls demanding to be taken for a walk, a ton of my normal work to do and an alarm on my phone telling me I had an appointment in ten minutes. At that point I burst into tears and admitted to Boofuls that I hated the job.
I hated the quiet, tap tap tap of the computers, I hated the quiet efficiency. I hated the lack of bustle. I hated not knowing what I was doing. I hated being out of my depth and overwhelmed by the responsible nature of the job. On day four I went in and resigned. Although I know my employer was disappointed, I suggested that it was better if I left while I was still completely useless rather than after I achieved a level of usefulness.
I was sorry that it didn’t work out as I’d hoped. If I had enjoyed the job I could probably have coped with the rest of the disruption to my life but I can honestly say that they were four of the worst days of my life. I was so relieved as I left for the last time.
So. What have I learnt from this debacle?
Mostly I have learnt that squiggle shaped pegs do not fit into square holes. Every single person who knows me knew that job wouldn’t suit me, as they all told me later.
Noise, a certain amount of chaos, creativity, music and laughter – along with a good dose of organisation, hard work and responsibility. Those are the elements that will make up the perfect job for me. Hmmmmm.
Some time ago, about April, our choir master told us some news about a possible gig. It’s a biggie, if you can do it, it will be worth it. Other than that he didn’t say much other than ‘save the date’.
A couple of weeks later, he mentioned it again, this time he was much more excited about it. “Guess what? We have been asked to sing at The BBC Proms in the Park in London. OH YEAH!!!!!”
Boofuls, Lashes and I all looked at each other disappointed. “Well, that’s that then. September, we’ll still be busy with the lodging emporium. Boofuls is due his new hip on 10th September, we won’t be going.” We sat and tried not to look churlish as groups of people excitedly made plans for coaches, overnight stays and weekend breaks.
There are times when I hate being a hotelier. All the good stuff happens in summer and we miss it all.
Every week for weeks and weeks all anyone talked about was the Proms and the big surprise. Pfffftttt. Still we smiled and listened to all the planning going on.
Summer flew by in a whirl of faces, sunshine, tons of bacon and eggs and quite a few screaming children.
Then. One day. A message popped up on the choir Facebook page. “I can’t go to the Proms now. If anyone would like my ticket and seat on the coach just pm me.” I looked at the diary and said to Boofuls,”Look Boofuls, we could have gone. It’s quiet next week, your operation has been cancelled till October, we could have done it.” Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.
“You go to the Proms. I know you really wanted to. You take the ticket.”
My mind raced. Torn between really wanting to go and leaving Boofuls, who also really wanted to go but wouldn’t have managed with his lack of mobility.
“No, Boofuls. I’m not going without you. No, it’s not right, we do everything together, No…no…no………………….oh ok then!”
AS much as I’d tried to pretend I wasn’t bothered, I really, really was. All our friends were going on the coach together. I got in touch with the organiser of the trip and asked if the seat on the coach and the ticket was still available. “Oh no! They’ve just gone!!!”
“Wait! Wait! One woman hasn’t decided if she’s going on the train or the coach. If she decides it’s the train, the seat is yours. You can go and buy a Prom ticket online. It all depends on what her hospital consultant says this morning.
We waited and fidgeted until eventually, I got a call back. “She’s going on the train!!!! The seat is yours!!!!”
I very nearly exploded with excitement. I’ve never done anything like this in my life before.
The day arrived.
We met at the coach station at 9.00a.m. Every time another one of the group turned up we all leapt to our feet and started to sing, “It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.”
We got a few funny looks from other waiting passengers but we really didn’t care. There was singing, dancing, lots of laughter and a fair amount of giddiness. Twenty four women, and one man, all singing, chattering and getting stupidly excited that there was a toilet on board. The coach driver informed us sombrely, “Now ladies, I know you are terribly excited that there is a toilet on board but let me tell you, when it’s full, it’s full.”
The journey to London passed in a blur while we sang our entire repertoire. Mae videos to send to our choir master and took selfies, so many selfies. I did feel for the driver. His ears must have been bleeding by the time we arrive at Hyde Park.
I’m going to let the photos tell the rest of the story: Enjoy.
What’s going on? First it was months and months of stupidly hot weather. Now it’s storm after storm after storm. It’s so windy! I wondered if I was going to end up under a fallen down tree, it was so windy. Wild? It’s worse than that, it’s livid! Great for drying the washing except that the washing will end up in Somerset!
Last night I had to take Douggie the doggie for a walk. The rain was sweeping down and I wondered if I should put on my waterproof trousers. Nah!! It’s only that fine rain, we’ll only be out ten minutes, it’ll be ok.
Ten minutes, soaked to the skin later I was trudging upstairs for a change of clothes. It’s true you know. That fine rain DOES soak you through!
Tonight we will be braving the wind, but thankfully not the rain, again when we go out for our nightly stroll and training session on the local leisure centre car park. Douggie the doggie is competing in a heelwork to music Halloween themed competition and we have got a whole routine to put together in a month.
Night after night we train on the car park, watched we know by the leisure centre staff on the CCTV. We know this because as we leave they are occasionally outside the side entrance on a break and make comments such as “Britain’s got talent for you is it then, love?” My answer to that is of course no. Douggie the doggie in that situation would just plonk his backside on the floor and start scratching. Even for a massive dog lover like Simon Cowell that isn’t really much of an act, is it?
What I should do is film Douggie in training when he performs brilliantly time after time and show that to our trainer. The reason being that Douggie has very definite diva tendencies when it comes to performing. If all the elements aren’t exactly right or he feels even slightly ill at ease he just won’t do it.
At a fun charity demonstration a few weeks ago we were all lined up ready to start our routine. Douggie watched me with his eyes shining, ready to do his new dance to music from The Greatest Showman. I gave the cue to start the music. Nothing happened. I gave the cue again. The man doing the music shrugged. Douggie looked at me as if to say, ‘well get on with it, I’m ready’. The music was clearly not going to play.
While we waited Douggie and I showed off a few moves and tricks just so we weren’t standing there like lemons. He did really well.
Still the music didn’t play so we left the arena.
When the music system had been fixed we were given a new place in the line up. IN BETWEEN TWO CRUFTS PERFORMERS!!!
Douggie, clearly thinking he’d already done his bit he wasn’t about to do it again no matter how many people were watching. He flatly refused to play. I jollied him on and he gave me the dog equivalent of two fingers. Oh, the shame!
It’s a long walk to get out of the arena when a hundred disappointed eyes are watching you.
Our trainer has suggested on more than one occasion that I get another dog as Douggie hides his dancing light under yet another bushel while I protest, “But he can do this PERFECTLY at home.” Don’t worry, Douggie. I won’t be trading you in for a collie just yet.
It’s been dentist week in our house. First it was my turn for my six monthly check up and visit to the hygienist, who jet washed my teeth and told me that my teeth are fantastic but my gums are buggered. That’ll be £130 please.
Next it was Lashes turn to be seen. She had the same six monthly check up and visit to the hygienist. Another £130.
Then it was Booful’s turn. One extraction, one false tooth and £335 later Boofuls came home with an aching mouth and an aching wallet.
My God, I missed my way in life, I should have been a dentist! Why did I waste all those years getting a degree in photography? I should have gone on to the far more lucrative world of dentistry.
Today Boofuls had to go back. The new falsie wasn’t fitting well and he was struggling with it. While he was there he questioned the dentist about his discoloured front tooth (Boofuls front tooth, not the dentist’s).
“Well, I can do this to it for £430. I can do that for it for £85 but it won’t last. Which option would you like?” He looked expectantly at Boofuls for an answer.
“Well, are those my only options?”
Maybe the dentist was starting to feel a bit guilty about the ludicrous amount of money he’s taken from us this week so he said:
“Er. Well, I could try cleaning it.”
“What will that cost?”
“I’ll take that option then, please.”
He picked up what looked like a grinding tool and proceeded to scrub away at Boofuls front tooth. One minute. I’ll type that again. ONE MINUTE later Boofuls had a lovely gleaming white front tooth. He’s been grinning a wide mouthed toothy smile all afternoon. To be fair he does look slightly crazed but I’ll let him off with that for today since he’s regained the confidence to actually properly smile after two years of trying not to show his manky teeth.
I’m really annoyed that the dentist has left that tooth looking horrible for so long and would have taken hundreds off pounds off Boofuls to do unnecessary work instead of just doing the clean that took him one minute.
Is it just me or does anyone else think that it’s morally wrong to try and deceive a patient into having expensive and unnecessary work done to their teeth? Gggrrrr.
August is in full swing! The hoteliers’ Facebook groups are full of stories of weird, wonderful and not so wonderful stories of the ‘August People’.
This week we had a very nice Austrian couple turn up for a four night stay.
Boofuls showed them up to their room. “Oh no. This won’t do at all. It’s on the ground floor, I want to be able to open the windows.” Boofuls explained that he could open the windows as much as he wanted because of the giant ‘well’ to accommodate the windows for the dining room below them which is in the basement. It would take Spiderman to be able to get across there and into the room. “No. No. It won’t do. I want an upstairs room.” Boofuls explained that we were fully booked and we didn’t have a spare upstairs room. That was that.
Boofuls went back downstairs.
Two minutes later, the man was back. “Where is the sea view? We booked a four star hotel and a sea view. Where is my sea view?” Boofuls looked at the man aghast. Well, we aren’t a hotel we are a B&B and we don’t have a sea view, not unless we knock down the six hundred year old abbey that stands between us and the sea – and the neighbours house. I’m pretty sure that could be considered un-neighbourly.
“It clearly says on Bonking.effingcom that you are a 4* hotel and you have a sea view. I’ve seen pictures of it.”
Boofuls has the patience of a saint, really he does. I’d have been getting a bit short with the chap at this point.
“Sir, we are a 4* silver bed and breakfast, it does not say the word ‘hotel’ anywhere on our bonkers.com page. Also. Any pictures you have seen of the sea on our page are pictures of the surrounding area. With the greatest of respect, sir, we could not possibly have views of all those different places even if we were situated actually IN the sea, not unless we were a mobile bed and breakfast.”
The man decided that he wasn’t happy and was going to book an actual hotel with a sea view. Boofuls pointed him in the right direction. “I’ll see what I can find and then we’ll move. We’ll pay you for the first night.” Boofuls stopped him right there. “Excuse me but you’ll pay for all four nights. We have taken those rooms off the market for you and we won’t be able to resell them at this stage. They must be paid for.” The man actually paid without the usual argument.
He found himself a room at a sea front hotel and off he went. We know the hotel and we knew that although it has sea views the rooms are a bit grim and they wouldn’t like it there. However, not our problem.
I posted the story on to a hoteliers FB page. The point of my tale was that guests repeatedly fail to do any research and then blame us when they aren’t happy. Expensive mistake.
Anyway, One of our fairly close neighbours said they’d exactly the same situation with an Austrian couple. Austrian? They weren’t called Blah and Blah were they? THEY WERE!!!!
So. They had been to the hotel. Didn’t like it. Ended up at our friends B&B (not hotel), further away from the sea (no views) than we are and on a much busier road. An hour after they arrived they said that the chap had been called back to work so they couldn’t stay..and they left.
Some people obviously have more money than sense. They paid us, they paid at the hotel and then they paid at another B&B and didn’t stay with any one of us.
Tsk. August people. *shakes head* You couldn’t make it up!
Rants, raves and ramblings about whatever takes my fancy