It’s nearly tax return last date for filing time

Hi Blog,

Following on last year’s successful post of ‘Things that I have done to put off doing my tax return’, here we find ourselves again. This means that it is January.  I am not in full procrastination mode yet as I do in fact have weeks before the deadline of 31st Jan-submit-your-Self Assessment form – and- pay-tax- owed – else-you-will-incur-a-100 (british) pound-fine.

This might suggest that you, my dear blog, shall be fully exercised as a blog between now and that deadline.  I shall become a prolific blogger…..temporarily.

It might also suggest that my house, during my Self Assessment Submission Procrastination Period,  will get a shake up and shake out of all things unnecessary ………..’Do we need two dogs? One would cover it. I probably don’t need three children – especially as two have the same colouring and they are all the same sex. I’d better keep the Husband as there is only one of him along with the one teenager.’

The Prodigal

He lives with my brother.  This brother could be likened to Sherlock Holmes – not for his drug proclivity but for his sharp, analytical mind. He also doesn’t care for people nor parties involving people. He’d probably attend a party of him, his dog and maybe his incredible shrinking and expanding and shrinking friend whom he also refers to as Fat Pikey…..to his face.

Now – this brother (and I’m not even going to touch on my deep, deep, deep, true gratitude for him and his wife – the most laid back woman within the Northern Hemisphere but don’t cross her especially if she has her knitting needles out) is the one person that seems to tie the Prodigal up into such intellectual/spiritual…physical (?maybe – I’m not against it if it’s for the good of the Prodigal) knots that the Prodigal appears to be in control of his ……what to call them…….indulgences for self destruction.

In short, the Prodigal, is going well and in no little way is, my brother, his wife – their family, to thank for this.

The Face

As the Prodigal rises from the ashes of despair, the Face seems to be about to trip into the pit.

Did I tell you, Blog, that last November he was suspended from school?

Voicemail from the school secretary:

Bonjour…., blah, blah, blah..et je ne suis pas certain that I want to say zis on ze telephone but when ze Face’s teacher told ze class and one pupil in particular to be quiet, ze Face shouted out zat ze teacher should:

‘Shove a dick in ‘is arse’

Please call me back to deeiscuss.’


 

I’ve deduced (like it? The Sherlock reference?          no? ok) from data that the Face is in a gay relationship with his best friend.

The facts:

-They spend lots of time getting ready to go nowhere

-they share the same bed when sleeping at the friend’s house

-they send kisses emotions  emojis (?) to each other

and by no means the most compelling evidence:

-I found a used condom rolling around my tumble drier (I was lucky it was rolling and not indelibly attached to the inner wall of the tumbling part. I still remember how long it took me to pick off the bits of melted plastic when my husband decided to ‘help’ by putting an anti-peepee mattress protector into the machine).         

This used condom had fallen out of his jeans.   His jeans that he had worn to spend the night at his friend’s house.  And I know he stayed there  because:

Mobile phone ringing.  It’s from the Face. I pick up –

‘Hi Face, what time do I collect you from training tonight?’

‘………..’

‘the face? Are you there?’

‘……’

‘The face??? You rang me. It’s your mother.’

‘Mum? Mum?’

(it goes like this every call)

‘Yes, Face. What time do I collect you?’

Actually, I’ve decided not to go to training. All my friends just happen to be in the Town of Nowhere at the same time ‘

‘What a coincidence.’

‘yes, anyway, can I stay at my friend, L’s house?’

‘What? Well, how do I know that you aren’t making this up and are actually going to a pre-arranged all night drugs and sex party (or about to have physical relations with girl(s), put the used condom in your pocket for me to retrieve from my tumble drier)?’

‘Ok I’ll get my friend to confirm’ – because of course, I would believe him ?????

scramble scramble, friend arrives

‘Oui, c’est L et oui ze Face, il peut rester avec moi ce soir.’

Well, that’s ok then. Why would they lie?

As they were both telling the truth it can only mean that he spent the night with his male friend and it involved a condom.  what else can I be led to believe?      This is a piece of wind up material that both myself and my husband have pounced on and have as yet unleashed.

 

The Professor

Continues to get 20/20 or thereabouts in his tests. Continues to enjoy little maths puzzles that the husband gives him – these are normally questions from the Face’s text book. The Face is now 16.

Has stopped talking to me about football. I think this is because he has realised at the age of 9, how intellectually inferior I am to him so our exchanges are now mostly limited to

‘Where is my Barcelona shirt?’ and ‘What can I eat?’

His love life remains complicated – the girl in question loves him as well as his best friend.  I’ve found her letters to him…and you’ve got to hand it to her – she declares her love for him and him only whilst at the same time demanding that he never shows the letters to his best friend.

I need to give the Professor some singing lessons. What he lacks in melodiousness, he makes up for in volume. He has started to sing hymns. One hymn in fact. Over and over and over and over. I’m sure that the Angels in Heaven can hear him and are delighted.

The Lips

‘When can I have my sleepover that you promised me for my birthday?’

This is now becoming a daily question.

To be fair, his birthday was in September.

As honesty is the best policy (or in other words, the fobbing off was only accepted by him for 3 months), I suggested:

‘The thing is, Lips, your friends are basically a massive pain in the arse.  If they were well behaved, I would have had them over ages ago.’

He nodded his head and agreed.

Does this mean the end of the question? Probably not.

Fatty

Youtube – we watched it together a few weeks ago.  I have to admit that I have an interest in all things slapstick so FailArmy normally gets a viewing from me.  One clip showed an angry faced, big boned American woman stomp up to a car and shouted in the open window:

‘DO YOU HAVE CIGARETTES ?’

Shocked and surprised, the passenger replies ‘No, and I don’t even smoke.’

‘WELL, FUCK OFF!’

We all laughed. I felt a moments shame as I was the responsible adult in the room and I laughed harder than my four children whilst trying to convey that you must never say that and it is bad, bad, bad….

Fatty laughs

he runs out of the room to my husband, sitting at the table:

‘Papa? Papa? Papa?

‘What, fatty?’

FUCK OFF

to my continued shame, I laughed again and harder but tried to cover it up with my hand and jumper.  Very convincing.

 


 

So anyone who has managed to get down this far – WELL DONE! Don’t I go on?

Here’s a photo of something that made me laugh and at the same time, compelled me to buy it……..actually, as my procrastination is not in Full Mode yet, I can’t be bothered to load the photo.  It was a bar of chocolate called ‘Sports chocolate’.

Here is another photo of the Pyrenees at dawn (2 hours drive away hence the dodgy photo with my 200mm lens when in fact, I need a 2,000,000mm lens). Relevant? not very.

Thank you for reading. And expect another blog tomorrow or as soon as I start my nightly Self Assessment Form panic attacks.

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Rocking and rolling – written in haste (so I will repent at leisure)

Blog,

Are we still friends? I’ve neglected you – but, if it helps, I’ve thought of you often!

Now, before I blog about events of the last 8 months let me tell you about my latest obsession (other than taking photos of spider webs and rain covered grass – thrilling, non?)  – singing!  Yes, dear blog, I AM a (very) amateur rock star.

My debut is tonight.  Thank the Lord that it is far enough away to discourage any of my friends down here in Nowhere to come and watch (me FAIL!).

Let’s wind back:

Guitar playing rock n roll Cousin:’ Mumof5, do you want to be a rock star?’

Me: ‘Well, hmm……’   but actually thinking of a sold out Wembley Stadium (yep, who remembers that place? I certainly do after winning tickets to see Michael Jackson following a ….well, as Mother reads this blog, I don’t like to say – anyway, I won the tickets fair and square, got my charming sister and off we went.  I hooked up with one of the crowd monitors (class) and when I met him at a later date, my prince had turned into a Toad…….a short Toad.. with  a bad leg. As my Mother instilled politeness in me, the date continued but for shame…….), me looking twenty years younger and very lean…..oh and tanned…..and wealthy rock cool with a voice like Tina Turner…….  ‘ok then. I’ll do it’

This was back in May. Since then I have assaulted the ears of my family with singing practice.

After the first or second practice, my rock n roll cousin said ‘ you know, you could walk into any band and sing’

Which I took to mean that ‘You’re the best damn singer ever’ rather than, what it literally meant ‘you could (physically) walk into any band and sing’ – it was just a statement.

So, my Ego, after a bit of voice juice on a Friday night, contacted a local band to arrange an audition as they were looking for an experienced rock/blues singer (and not some mum down the road who’s sang into a microphone 3 times and sounds more like someone who sing nursery rhymes than the Rolling Stones).

I turned up to the band practice. It was a very warm evening and as I walked into the music room, the sun was behind me – which is how I like it –  and met the band. Fortunately, I had the foresight to bring some cold beers to make them like me and they were well received…..more than I would be.

‘So hey, mum of 5, great to have you. We’ve got a gig in a couple of days and were just going to run through the set for that night as we’re using this other drummer. So have a look at the song list. All the ones on the left are the ones I sing, you can sing the ones on the right.’

‘ok. Sounds all right’ – so I go to have a look at the list and to my horror realise that I don’t know ANY of the songs on right list but 1 or 2 on the left list.

‘Ready? Brown Sugar – 1,2,3,4’

It was a musical death the like of which I hope I never experience again (tonight? St Cecelia, St Jude, St Anthony (to re find my voice), all the Archangels, Mary, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Howlin Wolf………pray for me).

‘Erm, ok thanks Mumof5, we’ll be in touch’

As I walked out, the sun hit me full in the face  – which is how I don’t like it. Ego wise –  I could liken it to the moment the bucket of water is thrown over the Wicked Witch……Ego just shrivelled up and sank into the ground.

Let’s wind on – Tonight (and probably for one night only):

Singer’s Tips:

  • Be prepared  – which means, do not only meet the band for the first time at your one and only practice
  • Have large print word sheets – which means, you should have got your printer fixed.
  • Do not use handwritten lyrics to refer to – which means, GUILTY
  • Do not strain your voice the day before – which means, do not practice so hard that your throat feels it’s been scratched with sand paper. Do not SCREAM at buggers 3,4, 5 to stop messing and get back into feckin’ bed between 8 -10 p.m. the night before
  • Avoid alcohol – ahem
  • Be energetic on the stage – now – this, dear blog, is tricky. Am I going to resemble a slightly awkward pink – (yes, I have such lovely colouring) flamingo with balance problems, as I try and get with the vibe?
  • Know your cues – ah……well…….

Bugger – ok – I need to stop writing this blog and bleachify the peepee stains around the toilet as the Face is bringing a friend over tonight – a FEMALE friend – who will judge me to be the sloven that I have turned into.

I’ll be back!

Here is a photo of a spider web:

Scrap that as I couldn’t find one amongst my 15,000000000000000000 photos.  Eiffel Tower do you?

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Printemps, poo & voyages

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Bonjour Blog,

Comment ca va?

Moi? Je vais très bien because Printemps is coming.

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ok – that’ll do on the old French and anyway, to say that I am very well is a slight lie as I was in Dublin (again) this weekend and going to bed later than 9 p.m. two nights running (with no mention of the alcohol consumed) plays havoc with my aged skin.

As I was on such a roll, I decided to drink more alcohol upon my return to Froggy Land which could be put under the heading ‘Things not to do when you get home from Dublin’ OR ‘What not to do on a Sunday evening’.

At age 42, it is not enough to congratulate myself on the self control I showed by not getting drunk drunk (this is second stage level; level one being tipsy).  It is also not enough to self congratulate as half a pint of one of those drinks got knocked (self knocked) onto my lap. I’m sure all that iron that is in Guinness (ahem) did wonders for the skin of my upper thighs and bum.  Running around the suburbs of Dublin with wet pants and trousers, a damp vest and very damp shirt in the sultry March weather could also go under ‘Things to avoid whilst in the Emerald Isle’.

This was the reason I was there:

a christening

What has been happening here, you may ask?

Lild Supermarket Dog had to have an operation.  She now feels less of a woman and shall be having counselling for the loss of her womb.

The reason that she had to have an operation was because the vet who performed the ‘Stop the dog having babies’ operation’ bodged it up.  As an aside, that vet has since killed himself. Are these things related?   The Vet-the-2nd told mon mari that Lidl would have to go to a specialist vet in all things reproductive. The husband could feel….literally feel the euro notes flying out of his wallet.  I can’t say that I caught him sharpening his knives to perform the operation himself but I know him well enough to suggest that he thought of it.

Lidl is depressed.

She is depressed as she has been made to wear a plastic cone.

This plastic cone is used as some sort of battering ram against all other species…….like us, the Humans. I feel that she is expressing some of her aggression at being mutilated in the form of ramming us with that bloody plastic cone. She is particularly good at attacking us with it through doorways as we both try to walk through at the same time. The Cone wins every time.

The Children of mine

The Prodigal has been fairly quiet – no news is good news? Definitely in this case.

The Face – has been secretly pumping iron. He must be pumping iron so hard and fast that he has caused some kind of Movement Hurricane which has emptied all of his drawers of every item of clothing onto the floor……along with wrappers and a serving bowl.

The Professor – you can only have a conversation with this child if it involves football.

The Lips – worryingly, he has been quite good recently. This can only mean that he has some grand scheme on the go which will be the downfall of the planet. In the meantime, he has found a pet – a pet toad which he has named Beans. Perhaps Beans shall be the vessel of the Lip’s plan. If I see him searching for his slingshot, then I’ll have to release Beans back to the wild of our swimming pool (and, let me tell you, that place is wilder than say, a wine and canapes evening……hosted by riotous prisoners).

Fatty – shall be 4 tomorrow.  Yes, I can hardly believe that the baby is at such an age. The beginnings of independence display itself. How can I tell?   I’ll tell you how I can tell.  All I have to do is check out the toilet and IF it is covered in poo, then I can tell you that FAtty is exerting his 4 yr old independence by wiping his own bum.

Last week, his Independent streak was doing so well that not only was there poo ALL over the toilet but it was also on the walls and a mirror. How did he manage to get it spread so far and wide?  Let me tell you:  now, after living with 6 brothers and now 5 of my own, I pride myself on being a bit of a Sherlock when it comes to piecing together what (bad) activity has taken place. As Holmes says, we just need to use ‘the data’ and not……NOT listen to the lies of our children.  So the reconstruction went like this:

-Fatty on the toilet enjoying himself (he REALLY loves to sit there right up until the blood stops getting to his toes)

-Reaching and grabbing the toilet paper and having a go whilst still sitting on the toilet. He produces two large, crumpled pooey pieces of toilet paper (probably one entire roll) and as he is still on the toilet the only place for them to be disposed of is? Well, of course – elementary my dear Watson – the floor.

-Job done in his head however he reaches behind to make sure and gets some deposit on his hand. What to do? What to do?

-So as he slides off the toilet seat, he leaves a nice skid.

-His hands are still covered and the only way of getting that off is to first wipe them on the lid of the toilet and then flick around the walls, the last scraps.

Meanwhile, this Mother of boys, has NO idea what he is doing and her spider/poo senses tingle. As she is dishing up the dinner, she sends the Lips to find Fatty.  He comes back and walks past the mother and her serving spoon:

‘Hey, Lips – so, what is Fatty doing then?’

‘Nothing’

‘What do you mean?’

‘he is on the toilet.’

‘oh no – is her doing a(n unsupervised) poo?’

‘no, just a wee.’

‘ok. great. DIN-NER!!!!’

So Fatty comes down and tucks into his meal.

He hadn’t washed his hands

but that’s ok

they got clean whilst he picked up his food and licked his fingers.

Later that evening, after all the kids were in bed and after not wanting to partake in my husbands inability -to- find- anything- to- watch- on- tv- mad- 30 minute- flick-daily-activity, I took myself up to our Big Room which was daring as were we only at the beginning of March and it is unheated. Still, the sofa is quite comfy (and unripped) and I put on a lamp and found a book.

Lidl came up and found me and I could tell that she was enjoying sniffing around…….sniffing around until she found the right place……to squat and pee on the fecking rug!

That was the end of that 2 minutes of bliss.

It was at this point that I discovered the Independent Poo incident of the upstairs toilet.  To be fair on Fatty, when I suggested the events as I had worked out, he didn’t disagree.

The Cone Head

Trains, planes, automobile taxis & a farewell

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Dear Diary-Blog,

The dreary February of the last post? I’ll take that description back.

Let’s re-wind that last 10 days and we’ll do it all with a fine case of flu.

Today – Tuesday

Nothing of note other than I managed to leave the house twice and didn’t fall over once. Me: 1 point   Flu Virus:0 points

Monday

The kids returned to school after a two week break. The collective sigh of relief from all the local mothers created such a strong wind that trees fell, roof tiles were torn from their place, lorries wobbled and swerved all over the highways and byways.

Sunday

A day of contemplation  (or in other words, I can’t remember but it probably involved remaining in my night attire the entire day trying not to fall over as:

Flu Virus: 20  points    Me and my stability: minus 100 points

Saturday

Oooh – erm… this is REALLY stretching my powers of remembering. I’m very grateful for the bright spark who has just released that film about an Alzheimers sufferer – I should try and REMEMBER to a watch it – it will highlight the fate of people like me or like the person I will become.

Friday

Now – I’m back in control, Brain. Watch out.

Friday involved a flight from Gatwick to Toulouse.  A taxi ride from Sevenoaks to Gatwick which was remarkable only in one point: the driver had the most soporific voice that I have ever heard ….whilst remaining awake.   Later,  a ride home with my husband and three/five buggers from the airport. Now – this was remarkable in one sense: I walk (sway) through arrivals and see three neglected children and am about to give the poor street urchins some money when it dawns on me that they are somehow connected to me; I’m looking at them as if for the first time and do you know what I saw?

Yep.

That fear of all mothers when they’ve spent some time apart from the offspring-

They got themselves dressed.

They got themselves dressed in THE most worn out, holey, ratty, tatty, crappy clothes that I didn’t even know we possessed and then went out into Public places.

My husband got himself dressed too.

I think that the hairbrush and soap had been enjoying a rare holiday.

Thursday

Talking my germ ridden, woozy body into being ready to travel and failing.   Booking myself on yet another flight (my 4th) and costing me another 100 euros.  Getting on a not very large aeroplane with a very large brother who is a very reluctant flyer.  Stepping in a puddle and cursing the hole in my boot.  Wearing damp socks for the remainder of the day. Nicking my brother’s spare bed from a previously invited guest – his mother in law.

Wednesday

In Ireland – Spending 6 or so hours in bed during the day with only my germs for company……not my bed but my brother and his wife’s.  Yes, does seem to be a recurring theme – my bed nicking although to be fair, not the same brother. I missed the very event I travelled to Dublin for – my Grandmother’s funeral.

Being outside Nanny’s house as the coffin was brought out and looking around at her sons and daughters I reflected on the life that she had. Remembering things about her – she really was wasted; she REALLY should have been an interrogator or spy master or perhaps, politician. To try and hold any information back from this woman was quite simply a fools errand:

‘And tell me, did ye meet anyone at the dance that you liked better than yourselves?’

Perhaps this only worked with the English cousins? I doubt it.  Clever with a turn of phrase, you would be insulted without even realising it.

My grandmother’s home which featured so much in my childhood family holidays. The swish of the front door; people coming in and out incessantly, or so it seemed when I was young; food being prepared and eaten by what appeared to be half of Dublin but was in fact, just family. The rare moments of quiet – you might find Grandad sitting in a chair in the back room saying his prayers or reading the newspaper cover to cover. Nanny (for this is what we called her), telling you to  go over to the butchers and to make sure he knows who sent ‘ye’ so that he won’t fob you off with poorer quality meat. My youngest uncle, getting up and dressed ready to do a shift in one of the family pubs and talking to himself in the mirror – reassuring his audience (various nieces and nephews) that he is in fact as handsome as Burt Reynolds – admittedly, not as tanned – I would call his shade, Vampire Blanc. The eternal problem of being STUFFED with food – literally stuffed with food and Nanny concerned that ‘ye’ weren’t eating enough. Her gravy. She probably took the recipe secret to her grave.

Walking behind the hearse which carried my 98 year old grandmother after it left her home and slowly wound its way to the church. We were many. My grandmother had had 14 children – of whom, 13 are still living.

As mass ended, the bearers, including my own father, and the coffin passed us by – a mother, carried by her sons ………but not before a woman darted out from the back of the church with a pair of crutches in her hand saying: ‘Did you see where she went? She left her crutches’ and running towards the exit, she just dodged in front of the funeral procession.

The priest, at the door of the church, flicked some holy water and said a blessing before they, the funeral procession,  left.

Tuesday 

Going to the pub. Medicating with two pints of Guinness and paracetomol. Learning from my cousin (one of 100000s) that Che Guevara’s Grandmother was from Galway, don’t you know?

Being shown an unusual West Ham tattoo of a turret with legs and a smiling face, bubbles floating out of the top, upon an unlikely arm – or was this the self medication cocktail granting me hallucinations?

Eating food around a table with my brothers and sister.

Saying the rosary with around 50-60 other relatives in the funeral home where Nanny was laid out. It was a competition – who could complete their part in the fastest time – who could say the most words in the least amount of time.

Noticing the blue, blue – cornflower blue – eyes of an old lady whose forlorn stare was fixed on that of her eldest sister, now at rest with her poor gnarled fingers wrapped around  wooden rosary beads.  I bent to say hello and the cornflower blue eyes flickered towards me and then returned back to their grief.

Walking into a funeral home and wondering if I hand’t mistakenly stepped into the pub except I knew I was in the right place – everybody looked like me and my family.

Going towards the open casket with my cousin. Seeing Nanny look very peaceful with a slight hint of a smile. She didn’t seemed to be bothered by the din that we were all making. Although this was a time of sadness, it was also a time of joy at old reunions, laughter at old times. At 98 years old we couldn’t bemoan her passing too much – she deserved the rest yet she will definitely be missed.

Getting to my brother’s house to spread my French flu germs.

Flying from Bordeaux airport and wondering if there was ever such a boring airport anywhere else on this planet.

Taking the train to Bordeaux airport and thinking about where I was going and why.  Wondering about Nanny leaving Tipperary and going to London when she was a teenager to do nursing training and what a huge change that must have been. Musing on how she found Ireland upon her return, meeting and marrying a widower with a farm who later died when she was pregnant with their third child.  How did she feel? Young, pregnant and grieving.  At some point she went on and married his brother, my grand-dad, a man, as with her first husband, some years her senior. They went on to have hordes more children. What were her dreams? Did she realise any of them?  What I would give to have a conversation with that young woman. Whatever the answers, one thing she did do was give life to an awful lot of people. Not only that but the family she produced are extraordinary in many ways but I shall only list two of them: firstly, that they are so many and secondly, that everybody gets along so very, very well. It must have been her sense of humour that filtered down and acted as a balm to soothe ill will.

Nanny, wherever you are, I am glad to have known you and glad to have been part of your family. I’ll see you again some day.

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A dreary, February Saturday aka Valentine’s Day

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Now there’s an attention seeking headline if ever I saw one………

February is the month I least like (whilst in the northern hemisphere – have to say it wasn’t too tough when I lived in Australia), dear Blog. The ONLY good thing about it is…….pancake day and erm….that I don’t have to do another tax return for at least a year.

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Some things that have occurred during Februarys:

-1952 test drive for tv detector vans (Bad, Bad, Bad)

-1953 – sweet rationing ends (now there IS something positive about February after all).

-1965 Beeching plans for bloated railways (what CAN this mean?)

-1974 Americans end outer space marathon (did they beat all the other species in this race? Who came second? Or they just ended it because the Martians were winning?).

And finally:

-14th February – my charming sister was born. HAPPY BIRTHDAY & Valentines Day! Lucky her? Not really. She doesn’t get two lots of presents on her birthday. Instead anyone who wants to buy her birthday flowers either doesn’t OR takes out 5 mortgages on their home to pay for the ‘Valentine Day’ rate. She doesn’t go out to dinner on her birthday else she is shoved between hordes of disappointed Valentiners looking over their partner’s shoulders for the next best thing to come along before next Valentine arrives.  Ah…..yes, lucky her!  Enjoy your day, sister.

What has happened since my last post:

-We had snow:

What this means is that by the time you’ve put on your three inner layers, jumper, sweatshirt, light jacket, waterproof jacket, body warmer, coat, hat, two scarves, two gloves, four pairs of socks and boots x you plus 3 buggers, you open the door and realise that it is in fact the middle of May.  We’ll have to practice and get our wrapping up faster for next year.

Snowfall here also means is that the snow covered sock-encrusted (Lidl Supermarket Dog – All eyes look toward YOU) doggy caca strewn across the garden is now hidden and readily waiting to be discovered and found within a snowball……….in some child’s eye.

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-We’re on half term holiday

Yes – this is just awful. Who decided to make a February half term last two weeks?

WHO?

If I found out who this was, I would make one of the above mentioned snowballs and stick 5 down the inside of their coat and then wallop them on the back!     Not only is this holiday 2 weeks long – because we had 4 flakes of snow, the week before the schools broke up closed for two or three days JUST IN CASE…………

-The photography mania continues

Not just confined to cover my procastination with regards to putting off my tax return. Turns out, I have become slightly obsessed with all things photo. To the extent that after owning my camera for 8 years, I downloaded the instructions.

Inspirational.

But as I’m pretty thick, I cannot seem to absorb information about ISO and exposure blah blah blah and how they relate to each other.

I bought myself a tripod anyway and reckoned that I would be divinely inspired (aka if I press enough buttons on my camera and keep clicking say…….oh…..5000 times, one of my photos might be decent enough to sell for what? 5 million and then I can retire. You’ll never see a better and well thought out business plan than that and my tripod did only cost me 14 pounds (sterling…….. although my husband pointed out that this was 25 euros and then we had one of those discussions on FOREX where he becomes exasperated by my stupidity which means, in my eyes, that I’ve won).

I badly wanted to capture some stars…photographically.  I waited for a cloudless night, set up my tripod, made some random selections on my camera, opened my windows and then nearly died from cold so decided I’d better put the radiator on to warm up some of that antarctic (this window faces south after all) wind coming through.

Stars a plenty. It truly was a beautiful night.

The door opens and a shaft of light enters the room:

‘SHUT that door and don’t turn on the light!!!!’

I point the camera and click. Now, this is going to take some time to unclick as I’m on loooong exposure (yeah, that’s what I thought).

I hear shuffling, jeans coming off, jumpers coming off and then my underpant (and socks…..of course) clad husband tries to walk towards his side of the bed but he trips over my tripod leg and can’t get past.

‘what the hell are you doing?’

‘You have to wait until the photo has been taken.’

‘It’s February, I don’t have any clothes on and it’s freezing. Hang on…..is that radiator on?’

At this point, I quickly disassemble my tripod, shut the window and deny all knowledge of doing something so wasteful as to have an electric radiator on in the middle of winter, whilst the window was open and THEN……only THEN hear the click of my camera as the shot is taken.


Ok, dearest reader(s)(?), my children think that it is not unreasonable to hang around me whilst I type, holding foodstuffs that they would quite like to eat for lunch.  As one of them can actually read, I shall stop and say, au revoir, leave me a comment, leave me a like (even …..ESPECIALLY, if you don’t like it) until next time.

p.s. Here is photo. Those blurry lights are stars. Impressed?  Well, look – it was either blurry stars of a photo of my husband falling into the tripod…..half naked….and it wouldn’t have been blurry!

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Things I have done this week to put off doing my tax return…..plus other snippets

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Good eve-noon, blog (that’s the time between afternoon and evening. I just made it up),

So the Inland Revenue or Her Majesty’s Revenue C….. erm..not sure what the C stands for. I’d suggest that you all (yes, that’s all 3 of my followers) message me with an answer but that could get me kicked off WordPress.  Anyway, so the HMRC had a deadline today: fill in your self assessment tax return or ELSE.

I’ve known about this since October (and not to mention all the years that I’ve known that I’ve had to do it in a timely fashion). However…….I prefer until I get to the insomniac state of fear and worry before I do anything about it.  This usually involves most of January……and every, damn January for years and years.

Things that I’ve done to put off actually doing what I should be doing:

-re-creating my Flickr account and actively posting. In fact, I’ve so fully submerged myself into this act of procrastination that I’m about to order a tripod and make a dark room.

-Having an illness. No, I’m not some sort of maniacal hypochondriac despite living in  France for the past five year and yes, this is a genuine illness but with a twist. The twist is that with every virus I acquire (and there be plenty) I lose my balance (a hangover from my fandango down the stone stairs last April). Feeling drunk without the fun? That covers it.

-Going through the sock basket. ……………. which lasted about 4 minutes and 29 seconds and then I threw all the 68 or so odd socks, in the bin. Felt guilty in case my husband found out so had to take the bin down to the village bins which required me hanging off walls to keep me upright.

-Feeling the need to learn a collection of Irish songs on the tin whistle and posting them to Youtube where I shall be mortified (and all viewers will be petrified) now that I’m out of my HAVENT DONE MY TAX mania.

Other events from this week:

Last Saturday the Face told me that he got a really bad grade in Science. As I am a reasonable type of mother (lacking, others might suggest), I asked him in which subject:

‘Reproduction’

Which, luckily dear followers, is MY area of expertise having had 5 kids.

‘So Face, what exactly didn’t you understand? As it is QUITE straightforward.’

‘none of it. I dunno. The teacher was going on about all these words and none of us knew what she was talking about. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.’

So I suggested that he revise the lesson and look up the words that he didn’t understand.

Then, I got the huffing

puffing

shrugging

‘you’re just an idiot’ look

Tutting

ATTITUDE

This MANNER of BAD attitude  makes me turn from nice, reasonable Mother to Feckin Lunatic Wildebeest.

‘Right then, Face. What we’ll do then, as you seem SOOO disinterested in learning it the right way is watch a lesson together on YOUTUBE.’

I actually heard his heart drop from his chest and hit his feet and bounce back up again.

I actually felt the heat from his utter SHAME and embarrassment that I should suggest such a thing.

I heard the pin (of collective SHAME) drop as the other 2 also doing their homework around the table, picked up on the absolute horror of the situation even if they had no idea what it was about – they felt the sibling PANIC.

It didn’t help that the first video I found to watch on Youtube began with a very lifelike computerised image of a woman’s hello there.  But watch it we did.

Once it was finished, I found sitting where my full of life 15 year old son had been, a ball of Cringe.  He’s not been right since but my God, does he know the ins and outs of the human reproduction system.

Mondays

The alarm didn’t go off (because some fool of a mother had not set it) so we all woke up late. What an enjoyable start that is.

I managed to get Fatty and the Lips to school 1 minute before being locked out and Fatty said ‘I NEED a poo.’ and no amount of me ‘no you don’t’ would shut him up.

Into the school midget toilets we go. And he sits………..and he sits…………and he sits………’have you finished yet Fatty as I think they’re now calling you for lunch’ ……..and he sits………and then he says ‘Im finished’………and then he says ‘no, I’m not as there is more’………and then I hear parents coming to pick up their kids as it is the end the day and we are still in the cubicle and then he launches himself off and bends over. Great. We’re done. My bobble hat, scarf, jacket, coat and gloves have been effective in making me SWEAT and hard. Thank god that’s over and I can get some fresh air. And then I see…………….I see something that I don’t quite understand…..I see poo poo footprints all around the infant toilet floor.

How could this happen?

How could one slip out and be trodden in without me noticing?

I wiped it up.

It was EVERYWHERE.

But I couldn’t not bleach it. Little hands could be covered in FAtty poo germs and I’d never forgive myself so I had to say in my best fRench to a teacher that FAtty did a poo, it dropped onto the floor and he walked into it. Yep.  I HAD to do that. And it was a very bizarre moment.

Right – Fatty has just sneakily fallen asleep so I must dash and fill him up with coke to see him through to the official bedtime.  I shall leave you one of my procrastinating photos:

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And it has only been a month since Christmas!

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Blog, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

Week before Christmas:

Let’s go back four weeks and to the Nativity play at the Prof’s school.  Held in an old, crumbling stone church down here in the department of Nowhere, the entire school plus family, plus family friends, plus the friends of friends, plus friends of friends of friends, plus people from the next village and then people from the next dozen situated further on, settled uncomfortably on the wooden yet humble pews and awaited le spectacle.  The priest walked onto the altar to kick off the festivities :

priest

‘IS HE A VAMPIRE? MUM? MUM? IS HE DRACULA?’

‘Shhhhhhhhhh Lips’ as I gag him by pulling his scarf up whilst his hat gets pulled down.

‘WHERE is the vampire? Where ? Mum, I CAN’T seeeeeeee.’    This, from Fatty who I then shove under the pew with a pack of tissues stuffed into his mouth.

3 minutes later:

‘So, WHERE IS GOD THEN?’

‘Not in your heart, clearly Lips.’

Christmas week:

Pack bags for Christmas trip in the (virtually bootless) car with:

3 children, 1 teenager, two labradors, 2 adults, clothes for said family, coats, scarves, hats, pillows, food for ooh, what? 3 months, every computerised device we have in the house, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork (which is left undone and brought back with us to take again to (not)do next time we go), gifts, shoes, shoes, boots, shoes, toys, books, drinks, more food, maps, toilet paper, more pillows, blankets, snow tyres …and a toothpick.

Drive the 700000000000 miles – that’s me, driving the 700000000000 miles as my husband informs me that he feels unable to do any of the motorway part:

‘Erm, so you mean, the entire trip?’

Get to inlaws, unpack for one night. don’t sleep. get up and pack. load car and then drive another 3 hours to our destination: a falling down, unheated house in the department of Somewhere.

Unpack the car. Now, what happens is that we are so tightly packed in in the first place that this can be likened to releasing a sealed pack of say, peanuts. The force of air and US that explodes out of that car upon arrival? Well, it affects global weather patterns.

Now, we have a few days of freezing our bits and pieces off INSIDE the house before repacking and re loading the car to go to England from Calais.

As I’m a news junkie I am well aware that I need to keep my doors locked around the Calais region for fear of my kids escaping the car and trying to hitch a lift on the back of a lorry to get to England in greater comfort than they are enjoying.

We FINALLY arrive in Essex to a house which, rather extraordinarily (for my kids) is warm in every room and ‘you can even leave the doors open.’

Unpack the car………(to re pack it 4 days later and make the return trip) to relax in the bosom of my family? No, I need to make sure that Father Christmas delivered early ALL the presents for the 5 boys and wrap all of those presents up!

Boxing Day I manage to sneak out from the kids in my running gear, across to the park ‘lovely. Just the job this, having a good run in my favourite park’ when I hear a guy shouting at me ‘Handicap?’

‘eh?’

‘Handicap?’

‘What do you MEAN?’

‘Are you running for the Handicap Charity Race?’

We pass a lovely Christmas and then start repacking the car….to return…….

And then I fall sick.

On NYE.

Of course.

NYE week:

Sickness

Colder than I’ve been since the last December I spent in that house when I swore I would never pass another week in winter there again……as I said the year before and the year before and the year before…

‘Fatty, bedtime. Go up and do a wee now!’

‘ I already did a wee, Fathead!’

‘What did you say?’

‘I didn’t say nuffink.’

A few days later, we make that 700000000000000000km drive home.

My husband remains incapable of driving on ‘just the motorway part.’

To be continued  – or rather, one day to be edited …..one day but not any day soon. I shall say a bientot and  leave you a photo of something…..I mean, my family.

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Christmas approaches

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Good afternoon blog,

Christmas approaches.

I’m excited. Genuinely. This will be the first Christmas that I’ll spend in England with my charming (witty, good-looking, intelligent, modest) family since 2006.  It’s a shame that my ‘usband will not be joining me and buggers 2-5 (the Prodigal being already there). He is so selfless – offering to stay in France to mind the dogs when he could be surrounded by the cast of 1000s that is my immediate family, all telling witty stories in English and at high volume; eating meat that was cooked in the oven for over 30 seconds yet just under 4 hours; going to mass on Christmas day; enjoying the beautiful harmonies that my family creates when we start the sing song……ah……such selflessness for himself and love of our dogs, Masie (the slightly more intelligent one than we gave her credit for) and Lidl Supermarket Dog (definitely less intelligent than we gave her credit for).

The 798,562 boxes of Christmas presents I had sent to my parent’s house, have arrived. Unfortunately, they’ve taken up so much room that my parents are now homeless……but only until Christmas Day morning. Not so bad.

I’ve warned the kids 3,4 & 5 that if, for whatever reason, we can’t get to England then they don’t get any presents Christmas morning. Of course they were extremely understanding when I told them. I expect the same level of understanding, come Christmas morning, if we are stuck in France……

We now have that drive north to look forward to.  Comfortable – that’s the word I’m looking for – all 6 of us, plus luggage, plus two dogs in our car for what? a mere, 900km……CANT WAIT!

 

Since my last post, what’s been going on down here in Nowhere:

Fatty:

Appalled that some toy of his seemed broken, I said ‘Give it to me and I’ll fix that for you.’

‘You’re not a very good fixer: you’re just a lady.’

My brother suggested that he picked up this attitude from the Peppa Pig series. You see, tv is good for young children. They learn so much about the world and how it works.

Another car

Yes, so my very giving father in law has donated another car for our enjoyment. We now have 4 cars which are parked around the village as we don’t in fact own a garage.

Let me tell you about something that happened a few weeks ago:

We’d run out of gas for the outside oven (yes, you read that right, outside oven and yes, it was November and yes, we live in the northern hemisphere. we have an inside oven, a beast of a thing but I’m not allowed to turn it on until the outside temperature hits minus 50 degrees).  So, my husband decides to go to replenish the gas bottle (yes, we are indeed very backward around these parts) even though we have two football matches in two different locations to go to within another hour.

He leaves.

There is a knock at the door. The Face who is fluent in French, answers it but comes to tell me that there is man and he doesn’t understand him. Why the Face thought that I would be any more enlightened than him, is beyond me.  The man started talking fast about opticians and stepped down into the house…..

at EXACTLY the same time, my husband steps into the house behind him and has that ‘Who the hell is this guy?’ look on his face. It’s a fair question as I don’t know either.

The dogs are barking and jumping up and down around the man.

The man starts to explain. Meanwhile, my husband is telling me, over this stranger, that the exhaust fell off the car halfway to the town and now we only have one (working) car to go to two football matches.

The man continues with his explanation.

My husband is stressed as he now has to take two kids to two matches in less than 10 seconds.

The man continues his explanation and follows me into the kitchen where he pulls out his questionnaire on opticians of France.

I have to tell you, if I were before Magnus Magnusson, Opticians of France would not be one of the topics I would be answering questions on.

However,

I had a go (in fact, when I die, I might put that on my gravestone ‘I had a go’ which is better than the line I liked when I was a bookish 19 year old ‘for men may come and men may go, but I go on forever’ – actually, I still quite like that one).

The questionnaire, which he assured me would only take 5 minutes, took, in fact, 45 minutes. I made up the answers. He made up some too. He gradually began to age before my very eyes with every answer that he tried to understand. The kids, who’d had no interest in me at all that day, seemed to need my immediate attention every 20 seconds. My brain was stretched to maximum output as I only have about 5 sentences in French that I can say and my concentration on listening to French lasts about 15 minutes.

I expect that we’ll never see him again. He probably dropped dead of sheer exhaustion after leaving this house.

And we were still out of gas!

Now blog, I had SO much more to say but I need to go and collect the Prof from school. Later, lucky us, we have to go back to the Prof’s school for their Christmas Spectacle where we’ll all be crammed into somewhere unsuitably small and hot and eye each other up and speculate about each other and not listen or watch what the kids are doing at all. I know how these things work.

Bonne soiree to you as we won’t be having one.

 

Le Paddington Bear goes on a trip to England

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Scene 1: London Bridge Station – Mum of 5 boys and the Prodigal are on their way to a family christening:

‘It’s ok Prodigal, we’ve got loads of time.  We’ll let this train go and get on the next one. That’s how much spare time we’ve got……….I would go as far to say that we’re pregnant with spare time. In the meantime, let’s have another snap of the French Paddington Ours  bear for the Prof’s school project. Do you reckon his foot was already hanging off?’

Scene 2: A coffee shop, London Bridge

‘Madame, we do not accept these 20 pound notes.’

‘Really? Since when?’

‘2010, Madame.’

‘Do you accept Paddington bears?’

(That bloody cheap husband of mine, gave the kids a 20 pound note to buy themselves something with – yes, forget about the fact the Im trying to use it to buy a coffee – he’s the cheap one here, not me!)

Scene 3:

‘Mum, this train seems to be taking its time.’

‘Shit!  Never mind that, hold Paddington up against the window so he can enjoy all that Kent has to offer and how amazed the French children will be to see a photo of that very enjoyment.’

Scene 4:

We have 6 minutes before the christening kicks off at 2 p.m.

Running out of the station, the Prodigal is so desperate for a pee that he does one next to a bus stop on the main road.  Paddington goes too.

I, meanwhile am running UP the LONGEST, STEEPEST FRIGGING HILL in KENT.  Luckily I had the good sense to keep my ultra white mid top girl skate shoes on – set off nicely against my black pvc leggings and green coat. I must have picked up my great sense of style from living in Nowhere in France.

We are carrying one large bag, one handbag, one camera, one pair of shoes, one gift bag, two paper bags filled with the Prodigal;s old clothes as he went to a Gentlemen’s Outfitter just before meeting me.

He looked like an Edwardian gentleman but with pale beige suede lace ups (I guess the sales assistant in the shop wasn’t willing to give advice)  and I looked like a Romford tart. He smelt like he’d showered in litres of  whiskey and I just felt like I’d drunk that amount.

We ran.

Scene 5:

Throwing our bags onto the church bench and changing shoes.

Scene 6:

Banging on the church door, rattling another door, looking through windows.

‘Funny that they should lock us out, Prodigal.’

Scene 7:

2.05 p.m.

Running up the eternal hill this time in black high heeled boots (Lidl – special – e14.99)

We now enter the CORRECT church (what wally put two churches so close to each other?) as the christening is in full flow.

We were HOT. We were breathing hard.  I didn’t dare to take off my green coat as I didn’t think it respectful to flash my pvc legging-ed droopy arse in a house of God, so I nearly vanished into a pool of sweat.

Except

No-one else seemed to be taking any photos.  I hadn’t dragged my heavy camera across Europe to have it lying idle.

I dragged my hot self, ducking down so that no one would notice me (?) across the aisle and sat at the front and then tried to take photos with the flash going off, blinding the priest and baby and then trying to look like I wasn’t doing that……..and failing.

‘hmm, that’s 5 flashes in a row. At one point will the priest tell me to fuc poke it?’

I shall not win any awards for my photos.

And what a lovely day we had!

Later, as we went to leave the festivities to make that long journey back to London and then onto Essexshire, the Prodigal had lost his wallet…..and train tickets…and oyster card….and his mother’s sense of humour.

Part II of ‘a little snippet of a post’ post from Saturday 8th November

Scene: On the plane with the Prof and the Lips

Paddington is looking at the window as the plane starts to take off.  The Lips seems a bit agitated as he feels the place lift upwards.

‘WE’RE GOING TO DIE. WE’RE GOING TO DIE. WE’RE GOING TO DIE!!!!! PROF PROF, PROF!! WE’RE GOING TO DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!’

A little snippet of a post – it’s been too long.

Howdy readers,

No excuses given for not posting for what? 2 months. I’ve been inundated with requests……… Actually, YOUR silence is deafening.

Im at the airport with the prof and the lips waiting to board a plane to Somewhere North. This is their first plane trip since Jan 2010. The airport is an interesting place for them:

1. Became very excited about seeing ‘electric stairs’ aka escalators to people who don’t live in Nowhere

2. The Prof was stressing as he had metal buttons on his coat and how would security let him through.

3. ‘What do you mean you can actually buy food on a plane? And eat it?’

4. Opening a packet of oreos which the Prof was saving for the plane – a save which lasted 15 seconds – one rolled out of the pack, onto the floor, turned 90 degrees, rolled under The weird looking guy (of course) and out, did another turn, rolled another 5 feet and stopped. This small thing became of HUGE interest to my fellow miserable passengers.

5.’Where’s the bin, mum?’

‘Is it that green thing over there?’

Runs off.

Runs back.

‘Which one is it?’

‘Erm, out of the two, i would pick the green one.’

‘That’s a microwave.’

‘So why did you ask me which bin?’

At which point the Weird one throws himself out of the terminal building.

6. At the cafe:
‘Prof, prof – THEY ARE CHINESE. THEM. THERE. They are CHINESE!!!!!’
Says the Lips pointing at the Japanese business men seated at the NEXT table.

And we haven’t even boarded yet….

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