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All Change!

Something has arisen which has compromised my anonymity here.  There are people reading who I would prefer not to share my blog with.   So, with regret, I won’t be posting on WHAMH any longer.

The good news is that it’s not the end – it’s just a move.

All new posts will be at my new little corner of the internet.  If you’d like to continue to read, please leave a comment on this post and I will email you the new link.

See you on the other side!

My Life In Instagram

I’ve been sent these Pharmaton Active Life pills to try out by Bzzagent – apparently they’ll give me lots of energy.  Hasn’t happened yet!

Went to see Anna Karenina at the cinema last week.  Although the story was told in quite an odd way (think part-musical, part film, part stage play), it was visually beautiful and I enjoyed it.

Reg was feeling rather under the weather last week, and spent almost all his time dozing on the stairs.  He seems to have perked up now, though.

The blue and green bowl my brother and SIL gave me for my birthday goes perfectly with the new decor in the breakfast room.

Treated myself to a new Clarins lipgloss after losing 5 lbs last week.

When Ashley cleaned out the hot tub last weekend, I’m not sure this is what was meant to happen …

 

Ashley bought me flowers because he felt guilty leaving me alone at the weekend while he and Will went camping.  Ahh, bless!

Healthy (and totally delicious) steak dinner.

Still laughing at this birthday card from William.

Playing on the rope swing during a walk along the river at Bovey Tracy.

Gorgeous early morning sky taken from my bedroom window.

My current mid-morning tea of choice.

 

 

 

 

(Not Very) Many Happy Returns

As you get older, your birthday holds less excitement and expectation than it does as a child.  Nevertheless,  it’s still your special day and it’s nice to have a bit of a fuss made of you and, of course, to receive cards and gifts from your loved ones.

I always ensure that my friends and relatives receive well chosen, thoughtful gifts and cards in good time for their birthday.  At the beginning of each year, I write all the birthdays I need to remember on the wall calendar, and that way I know who I need to buy for and nobody gets forgotten.  Hardly rocket science, is it?

So, about a month ago, I found Ashley hunting in the filing cabinet in my office.  I asked him what he was looking for.  Passports, he says.  Why, I ask.  Turns out he’s checking when my birthday is.

CHECKING WHEN MY BIRTHDAY IS?  He’s been married to me for sixteen frickin’ years, does he seriously need to look at my passport to check when my birthday is?

Earlier that day, I’d seen my brother and sister-in-law, and they’d given me my birthday present, as it was too big to post and they don’t live locally.  I’d put it away in the spare room, as my birthday isn’t until the end of August, and Ashley had seen it and panicked that he’d forgotten my birthday!

Several years ago, my mother- and father-in-law completely forgot my birthday. They phoned up a couple of days later, absolutely oblivious, had a chat, asked what we’d been doing.  Celebrating my birthday last Sunday, says I.   Long silence on the other end of the phone.   Oh, did we miss it?  I was very hurt and upset at the time.

Last night I had mother-in-law and aunt-in-law over for dinner.  We were talking about various people’s ages at one point in the conversation, and I said that I wasn’t looking forward to being 44 next week.  Next week?  says MIL in tones of horror.  Oh.  I always think your birthday’s in September.  Oh, so you’d forgotten again, had you?  Nice.  She then goes on to say that she wouldn’t mind at all if somebody forgot her birthday, because ‘they’d remember eventually’.  I said that I simply did not believe that if Ashley failed to even telephone and wish her a happy birthday on the actual day, that she wouldn’t be upset.  She tried to deny it, but the wind was taken out of her sails when Ashley’s aunt piped up ‘Yes, you would, you’d be devastated.’

I have a close friend whose birthday is a couple of weeks before mine.  She lives about five miles away, and I always either give her her card and present sometime before her birthday if we’re getting together in the couple of weeks beforehand, or deliver it to her house on her birthday or the day before.

Sadly, she doesn’t afford me the same courtesy and seems to think it’s acceptable to give me my present and card whenever she sees me after my birthday.  Once it was October.

To me, that’s unacceptable.

My other sister-in-law completely forgot William’s birthday in February this year.  Last month was her daughter’s birthday, and I sent a card (on time of course).

Last week I had a text from sister-in-law saying that she hadn’t thanked me for her daughter’s present as she’d only received a card, and had I left the present elsewhere (presumably she meant at her ex-husband’s house).

I replied saying that I’d assumed we were no longer bothering with presents for the kids as she hadn’t sent anything at all on William’s birthday, but that I felt I wanted to send a card to my niece, so I had done.

To be fair, she was very apologetic and said that she couldn’t believe she’d forgotten about it.

My side of the family always remember birthdays and ensure gifts and cards arrive on time.  But it seems we are in the minority these days.

To me, the very act of giving timely gifts and cards is a statement of your love/friendship/affection for the recipient.  Forgetting completely or giving something weeks after the event just says in foot high words ‘you are of very little importance to me’.

My husband is also in my bad books birthday-wise.  We are off to Spain with hand luggage only to keep travel costs down tomorrow, hence I shan’t have any presents to open on my birthday, but will have cards.   I mentioned to Ashley last weekend that it would be nice if he’d take Will shopping to choose a card for me.  I know, pititful that I have to even ask, he should think of it himself, but he doesn’t.  Guess what, we’re off tomorrow morning, he’s at work all day today, and he hasn’t taken William shopping.  Nice.

If you’ve got to the end of this self-pitying rant and are still reading, well done.

I’d love to know other people’s thoughts on this – am I unreasonable in my expectations?

Five Things That Are Annoying Me Today

1.  My hopelessly unreliable broadband.  The speed is up and down like a whore’s drawers, if you’ll pardon the expression.  One minute it’s fine, the next it’s completely dead.  Tesco, my broadband supplier, blame BT: ‘It’s a problem at your local exchange, love’.  BT, unsurprisingly, blame Tesco: ‘No problems with your line, madam, contact your internet service provider”.  And so it goes on.

2.   Christmas cards in August.  I went into a card shop to purchase a birthday card yesterday, and there was a HUGE display of Christmas cards.   Before the kids have even gone back to school.  WTF?!

 

3.   Lack of housework and mess everywhere.  At this stage of the summer holidays, I always feel a bit like this, sort of like the post Christmas/New Year feeling.  I’m looking forward to getting back to normal routine and getting my house clean and tidy again!

4.   Posing photos on Facebook.  Is it really necessary to put a whole bunch of photos of yourself on Facebook like this one?  Is it not just a little bit vain and showy-offy, even if you’ve got a lovely figure? (Dreadful skin, though.  Dreadful.  Just saying.)

 

Oh, and she’s not the only one.

I get that teenagers like to publish this sort of pic of themselves, but these are both women in their late 30s.  Get a grip.

5.   I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.  Not pertaining to the above picture in any way, I hasten to add.  Ashley started singing this on Saturday, a propos of nothing, and it’s been going round inside my head ever since.  JUST.  GO.  AWAY.

What’s bugging you at the moment?

 

 

The Power of Twitter

 

It was only a few days ago that I was thinking what a huge time-drain social networking can be, and I’ve also been contemplating giving up Facebook for a while.  But I’m pleased to say that just this morning I had a bit of a result, directly from using Twitter.

One of the many “joys” (*note sarcastic tone*) of living in the back end of nowhere is that broadband provision is slow, costly, and there is minimal choice when it comes to suppliers.  I’ve been with Tesco for about eight years now, and I’ve generally found their service OK, although my monthly bill, just for broadband, is £25.  I chose their most expensive package as I needed unlimited downloads and the best speed they had available.  Which was 2 mb/s.  Yes, laughable, I know.

Tesco recently wrote to me saying they were upgrading their broadband services, and I’m pleased to say that the speed has almost doubled to around 3.5 mb/s.

However, I noticed yesterday that they have rejigged all their broadband packages, and that the most expensive package now is £14 per month.  So I phoned them up, and asked if I could be swapped onto that package.

No, you can’t, came the answer.

Why not?  I asked, fairly reasonably I thought.

Because you’re an existing customer and we don’t have any offers for existing customers.

I don’t want an offer, I just don’t want to pay an extra £11 per month for exactly the same service that other people are getting for £11 less!

Sorry, madam, nothing we can do.  But I’ll note your complaint.

To say I came off the phone steaming would be an understatement.  I was livid.

And I tweeted about it.

Lo and behold, first thing this morning, I had a tweet from Dean at Tesco Broadband, asking for further details, and by lunchtime today, I had been switched to the £14 per month package!!

On the one hand, it’s ridiculous that I had to resort to naming and shaming via Social Media in order to get something done, but on the other, that Twitter’s a marvellous thing, isn’t it?

 

This & That In Instagram

Wow, the holidays are just racing past – I can’t believe they’re more than half over already.  Less than a month now until Will goes back to school.  As usual during the summer break, the house is a tip, my eBay sales have ground to a halt due to lack of time, any form of organisation as far as meal planning and shopping has gone out of the window and the weather is bloody appalling!

And, frankly, who cares?  We’re having a great summer break!

Here are a selection of my Instagram pics from the last couple of weeks:

Will and his friends enjoying lunch al fresco in Torquay on one of the rare sunny days we’ve had this summer.

Pre-dinner champagne and canapes at my brother and sister-in-law’s before heading out for dinner to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday.  I won’t foist the drunken five-hours-later pics on you, but they’re bloody funny!

Loved this entry for our annual village scarecrow competition, poking out of the upstairs window of a house round the corner from us.

One of my favourite tree pics so far this summer.

Apple and banana tarte tatin, as made by our very talented Head Chef at Findon Manor.

Oysters.  Not my bag, but they looked lovely, and those who ate them assured me they tasted good too.

Woolly winter socks.  In August.  Mental, I know.

Glittery nails.  Every girl loves a bit of sparkle.

William and I have been undertaking some epic walks this summer, exploring new places in the countryside close to home.

Brilliant school report – so proud of my boy, who’s worked immensely hard this year at school.

Taken on one of our walks last week.  Somewhere on the edge of Dartmoor.

Beautiful flowers bought by our dinner guests on the evening of the Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Becky Falls on Dartmoor.  Will and his friend Jamie had a great time clambering across the river via the rocks and fallen trees.  It took me back to my childhood, doing exactly the same in the same place.

Will is at karate summer school for three days this week from 10 until 3, which gives me a much-needed few hours to get some bits and bobs done around the house.  This morning I did some ironing and sorted through a month and half of paperwork which had accumulated in my office.

I can’t believe that it’s only two weeks on Saturday until we’re off to Spain.  Mad.

Right, off to clean the loos.  The excitement never stops in this house, I tell ya.

Loving The Olympics

The last week and a half has been manically busy, though very enjoyable, and it was nice to get home last night after a few days away, firstly celebrating my brother’s 40th birthday, then on up to the hotel for a couple of days’ work for Ashley and leisure for myself and William.

Now I am not a sports fan by any stretch of anybody’s imagination – you may occasionally find me tuning into Wimbledon, but that’s about the extent of my interest as a rule.   But something about the Olympics has always just caught my imagination, and I’ve been looking forward to London 2012 ever since the moment seven years ago on a flight from London to Havana when the pilot announced that he had just heard that the UK had been successful in their bid to host the Olympics, and a huge cheer went up through the plane.

Sadly, I wasn’t lucky enough to get any tickets – I would LOVE to have been there for something, anything really, in person, but that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm at all.

I must mention the AMAZING opening ceremony, which we watched at home on Friday evening with friends – adults and children alike mesmerised by Danny Boyle’s triumphant spectacle from start to finish.  To be honest, beforehand I wasn’t that interested in the opening ceremony – to me, the Olympics is all about the sport – but even I was totally blown away by the sheer brilliance of it.  It was all absolutely stunning, but my favourite bit was this …

Just fabulous.

And as for the sport?  I am LOVING the morning to night media coverage of everything from archery to wrestling.  I think the BBC are doing an amazing job, and I was moved to tears this morning as Team GB won their first gold medal of the Games.

I’ve just watched Bradley Wiggins wipe the floor with the competition and win our second gold as well – yay!!

2012 was always going to be a big year for Britain, what with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and the Olympics within a couple of months of each other, but really – and people can say what they like about the Brits – but by God, we know how to put on a bit of do, don’t we?  It’s not often I feel moved to say that I’m proud to be British, but right at the moment -

I’M SO PROUD TO BE BRITISH!

Spelling, Grammar & Social Networking Etiquette

‘Scuse the title, hardly succinct and pithy, is it?

I blame the school holidays – this week in particularly is CRAZY busy, so the fact I’m even sitting here typing anything at all is a bit of an achievement, to be honest.

Anyway, bad spelling.  And bad grammar.  Two of my bugbears in everyday life.  And, sadly, ones that seem more and more prevalent these days.  You’re and your; they’re, there and their; ‘should of ‘instead of ‘should have’:  I could go on endlessly, but those examples seem to be the most common, and pop up on an almost daily basis.

The Daily Mail website is particularly appalling in this regard – I’ve read some absolute corkers on there over the years – surely an organization of that size has proof-readers?

One of those new-fangled light-up road signs, much beloved of my local Council, and which I drive past on a daily basis, is currently showing the message:

‘Drivers – share car’s and reduce congestion’.  Shocking.  Irritates me every day.

And I had a letter from the Tax Credit people a while back which mis-used apostrophes on two separate occasions.  The whole letter was only three sentences long.

Mostly shockingly of all, William’s school report this term contained the word ‘practise’ when it should have read ‘practice’.  I was tempted to circle it in red, put ‘sp.’ in the margin and send it back to them – am still considering doing so.

But the above sort of errors pale into insignificance when I have even the most cursory glance at Facebook on any given day: I can’t believe I know so many people who are verging on the illiterate ….!

Now, I’m lucky in that I’ve always found written English comes naturally to me, and I have a good grasp of spelling and grammar.  Ask me about quadratic equations on the other hand, and I wouldn’t have the first clue …. we all have our strengths and weaknesses, don’t we?  So I do appreciate that it comes harder to some people than others.

But a couple of things happened recently which made me ponder the etiquette of correcting people’s errors in a public forum, which Facebook effectively is.

A few weeks ago I commented on a friend’s status, then a friend of theirs (who I don’t know) commented on my comment saying that my grammar was incorrect.  Apart from the fact that it wasn’t incorrect, I just found it IMMENSELY rude that somebody I’d never met would have the cheek to say that.  I thought it was definitely overstepping the mark.  And I said so, in no uncertain terms.

Then yesterday, I noticed my brother had made a comment on a mutual acquaintance’s status, gently ribbing him about incorrect use of the word ‘hear’ when it should have been ‘here’.

Even I’m guilty of it – on one occasion I corrected my 12yo son’s appalling spelling on Facebook!  He didn’t seem to mind, and the next time he used the same word, I noticed it was spelt correctly, so obviously it worked!

So I just wondered what everybody else’s take on this is – in the context of social networking, is it ever OK to correct somebody, or take the mickey about mis-spelling or bad grammar, or is it an absolute no-no?

What do you think?

 

 

 

The Yummy Mummy Meme

I’ve seen this doing the rounds recently, so thought I’d give it a go.  Not that I consider myself in any way a ‘Yummy Mummy’ – in fact, I actively dislike the phrase!

 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

I usually wake up before my alarm goes off at 6.50, particularly in the summer months with light mornings, and I’m ashamed to say that the first thing I do is pick up my iPhone and check the weather forecast, my eBay sales and my emails, in that order.  In my defence, the only reason the iPhone is next to the bed is that I use it as an alarm clock since my previous one broke some months ago.

Do you shower daily? Are you an early morning shower or evening bath type?

Yes, I shower daily, as part of my morning routine.  If Ashley’s doing the school run, I usually wait until after they’ve departed for school/work, but If I’m doing it, I’ll have showered and dressed by 7.15 am.  I quite often have a bath at the weekend, particularly in winter, usually late afternoon.  I used to spend hours in the bath as a kid, reading, but it’s more of a quick in and out these days.  The bath, that is, people.

Do you wear make up daily?

ALMOST daily, yes.  I have to confess to not bothering with make-up on a Sunday morning before I go to the car boot sale, and occasionally, if I’m not leaving the house all day, I don’t bother.  But I just feel so much better when I’ve ‘done my face’.  As, I’m sure, does anybody who looks at me!

What’s in your make up bag?

The one I carry around in my handbag?  Because the main bulk of my make-up is in boxes and drawers – yes, there’s a lot of it!  Anyway, I carry a small bag around in my handbag, containing (currently) 4 lipglosses (am a lipgloss junkie), a lip salve, a tube of handcream, two miniature perfume samples, and a tampon.

When you’re having a slummy mummy day, what do you normally wear?

Pink knitted Uggs (gotta love that cosy sheepskin lining), and some form of comfy pyjamas, generally.  Slummy is the word.

Nails. How often do you get them done?

I have horrible weak nails which I loathe, and are impossible to grow.  About a year ago I had false nails applied, and got a bit addicted to them.  The cost of maintenance was eye-watering, though, so I changed over to gel manicures, which last about a fortnight.  Then I discovered I could buy the kit and do it myself at home for a fraction of the price, which I’ve been doing since about February.

Your top tip for tired eyes?

Nine hours’ sleep.  Swear by it.

Are you a Starbucks or Costa Coffee kind of girl?

We don’t have a Starbucks within 20 miles of where I live (bloody Devon!) so Costa it is.  I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I do like the occasional one, and I particularly like an iced coffee in the summer.  Although obviously there’s been little call for iced coffee so far this ‘summer’.

How many children do you have/want and why?

Just the one – 12yo William.  Only ever wanted one. And William was the most horrendous sleeper – didn’t sleep through the night EVER until he was 2 (which is probably why I love my sleep so much now!) which would have put me off having any more if I’d been so inclined, I imagine.  I wrote a post on this subject back in 2009.

Where is you favourite place to shop for babies/children’s clothes?

Over the years, I’ve bought many, many clothes from charity shops and car boot sales for Will, and I have to say that these bargains are my favourites – for example the £1.99 I paid recently for a beautiful suit jacket from Next, which Will will be wearing to a wedding later this summer.  He’s getting to the age now, however, that he likes to choose his own clothes – Superdry is a current favourite (which I loathe, but what can you do?!)

Flats or heels, your everyday shoes are?

Heels all the way for me.  Flats at home, if I’m honest, but the second I step out of the door, it’s a pair of heels.  Can’t beat ‘em for adding a bit of glam to the every day.

 

Still Waiting For Summer ….

Although it’s not strictly true that I’ve spent the entire week sitting in the house with the central heating on, looking out at the rain, I have spent a good portion of it doing exactly that.  So this morning I’m taking myself off into town to pick up a parcel waiting for me at Tesco and make a hair appointment, then onto Bovey Tracey for a look around a few charity shops.  And never mind the alleged ‘Worst Storm For Fifty Years’ which is apparently on its way to wreak havoc upon us – it’s not actually raining at the moment, and that’s what counts!

It’s been pretty quiet around here for the last couple of weeks.  We had a fab jubilee weekend despite the crap weather, and the evening of celebrations at Findon Manor was really good fun and much enjoyed by all (and profitable, too, which I guess is the main thing).

While we were in Sussex, Ashley took us to Bognor Regis, where he used to holiday as a child, and he said it hadn’t changed in the last 35-odd years!  It was a bit of a sad place, really, all a bit past its former glory and looking in need of a few quid spending on it, but I guess we didn’t see it at its best, as it was really cold, dull and windy.

 

Although Will only went back to school at the beginning of this week, the end of term is fast approaching and this time in three weeks, I shall be lying in the sunshine in Greece.  I cannot WAIT.

The forecast for the weekend promises more of the same – wet, cold, wind – so once again I’ll be curling up with heating on, a pile of DVDs and a good book and, along with the rest of the country, waiting for summer …