31 January 2009

Saturday Satire - Castaway

A New Zealander was washed up on a beach after a terrible shipwreck. Only a sheep and a sheepdog were washed up with him. Looking around, he realized that they were stranded on a deserted island.

After being there a while, he got into the habit of taking his two animal companions to the beach every evening to watch the sunset.

One particular evening, the sky was a fiery red with beautiful cirrus clouds the breeze was warm and gentle a perfect night for romance.

As they sat there, the sheep started looking better and better to the lonely Kiwi. Soon, he leaned over to the sheep and put his arm around it.

But the sheepdog, ever protective of the sheep, growled fiercely until the man took his arm from around the sheep.

After that, the three of them continued to enjoy the sunsets together, but there was no more cuddling.

A few weeks passed by and, lo and behold, there was another shipwreck. The only survivor was a beautiful young woman, the most beautiful woman the man had ever seen.

She was in a pretty bad way when he rescued her and he slowly nursed her back to health. When the young maiden was well enough, he introduced her to their evening beach ritual.

It was another beautiful evening red sky, cirrus clouds, a warm and gentle breeze - perfect for a night of romance. Pretty soon, the Kiwi started to get "those feelings" again.

He fought the urges as long as he could, but he finally gave in and, realizing he now had the opportunity, leaned over to the young woman, cautiously, and whispered in her ear,

"Would you mind taking the dog for a walk?"

30 January 2009

The Stranger

A few years before I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche. My parents were complementary instructors: Mum taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future! He took my family to the first league football ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mum would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated to honour them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol.. But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly and pipes distinguished.. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced - strongly by the stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents and myself yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER asked to leave.

More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' house today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.

His name?..... .. . Television

He has a wife now.....We call her 'Computer.'

How do you view that 'Fat Controller' in your house? I am glad when it is Summer and we can sit outside and chew the fat, not goggle at the box in the corner..

29 January 2009

I got an award

Janet over at Adventures in the 32-Aker Wood gave me an award - Thank you so much..

I'm supposed to pass it on to up to 8 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude (either 8 or 10 depending on which blog you read). Technically this is for women posters so sorry to exclude 50% of my reading list and I may not quite live up to the 'proper' terms of the award, so apologies if this messes it up.

So to the following, I pass this award to :

Annette - who comes up with some truly wonderful posts that make me think
Elaine - Who has a wonderful gentle sense of humour
GemmaK - a great girl with a knack for technology and bigger issues
Holly - I love her patience, and her writing style
Sally - I love her tales about Hamish the West Highland Terrier and their adventures
FireByrd - Someone who inspires me to delve deeper into my Psyche
Barb - Adversity may be a daily issue, but this girl takes it on head first and comes up smiling
Scribbit - Who has genius in her fingertips with posts to make you think, to write and to do for yourself
and lastly
imbeingheldhostage - A great Mom, living in adverse conditions being a US citizen trying to fathom out Norfolk.. not easy at the best of times.

OK, so I failed, that's 9 but go on shoot me. All of these Girls listed above are on my daily read (along with many more I will admit but I couldn't list them all and I think they all deserve the award).

Who would you give it to?

28 January 2009

Interesting talk

We (where I work) have a monthly staff meeting, which is usually a good time to jot down notes of things I have still yet to do, have a social cup of coffee and a cookie; so not usually that interesting I hear you say.

Until this morning, we had a presentation from one of our Heads of School, in the Health School and being a service department we only usually get to hear about what they do and what they are involved in by means of official publications ie. the staff magazine.

Jo did a great talk, and involved us in parts of the presentation. Some of the more interesting things I learnt was :

1) If you are going to pour a glass of orange juice, drink it or the benefits from any vitamin C in the drink are going to disappear very quickly.
2) Carrots are actually very good for you, as is Broccoli and with 1) is the reason for the state to promote 5 fruit/vegetables a day as vitamins at source is better than vitamins in a tablet form.
3) Our University was behind some of the technology involved in glucose testing machines used by and for Diabetics... though I doubt I can get hold of one of these for SOH.. but you never know.
4) Two of our neighbours are involved in doing something called Smart Materials, which not only has a health link but also a security link...

I guess it goes to prove that sometimes paying attention during a staff meeting can provide useful information but on this occasion was entertaining as well as interesting.

27 January 2009


It's not very often that I get a puncture, but it is always at the wrong time and in the wrong place and this is so wrong you wouldn't believe it.

SOH went to check on the bikes, a pre-check to ensure that all is well before we can get back on them; and loh and behold there was a nail in my back tyre. Which means one of two things, a call to the AA to see if they can help to repair it (until I can get a new tyre fitted), or call Ian from Bike Motor Works to see if he will pick it up and fit a new tyre.. either way it is going to cost in the region of £150 incl fitting... and the worst thing about it is that the tyre wasn't that old.

Safety must come first in my book, one of the issues I addressed when deciding to take up motorcycling as a hobby was never sidestep the issue of safety; you only have one life and I was determined to look after as best as I can (sharp knives and carrots aside).

Oh well, what is money for if not for pleasureable purposes, still it isn't as bad as the cost for Dickiebo's roof...

26 January 2009


Because today is Australia Day, a day to celebrate the founding of the continent, a day to be thankful that land was seen after so many days at sea and the british flag raised over the virgin colony. While this might be seen as controversial, especially to the native Australians that were displaced by the colonists, it is nice that Australia takes the time to celebrate itself and it as a country by the citizens.

Why Envy, probably because although today is full of blue skies and sunshine, it isn't warm nor is it a state/bank holiday.

Envy because England, though we have a patron saint, we don't celebrate England day, unlike the Irish on St Patricks Day, the Welsh on St Davids Day, the Scots on St Andrews Day and even the Cornish on St Piran's day.. we are the only one in our nation who doesn't seem to have much to celebrate nor the willingness to do so.

Why Envy, because I would love to be in Australia today, to experience the day rather than hearing about it second hand..

Happy Australia Day!

25 January 2009

Burns Night

Tonight is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, and celebrated with a Burns night Supper (or Dinner)

Generally this means serving Haggis; a sheep's stomach stuffed with a mixture of spices, oatmeal and offal might sound unappetising, but it's surprisingly good to eat, with the traditional bashed neeps (also known as swedes) and chappit tatties (mashed potatoes).

If you are not making your own Haggis, then choose one in a natural casing rather than any other sort for the flavour and allow 200g per person as an average serving based on the fact that the day would have been spent energetically walking the hills or you just like the meat content, but otherwise between 100-150g should be ample if you are including a soup as part of the meal (but please make it cock-a-leekie)

Finish the Scottish feast with creamy cranachan (a mixture of oatmeal, cream and scottish raspberries) , more whisky to "toast the lassies" and a resounding chorus of Auld Lang Syne. Robbie Burns will be proud.

SOH and I will not be doing anything of the sort, even though he has scottish blood in him so we are settling for the whisky.. and blasphemously will be drinking Irish Whiskey at that...

Happy Burns Day Dinners to those that will be.

ps and as the clocks move forward faster in Australia their National founding day, Australia Day will start at lunchtime today but something I will write about more tomorrow.

24 January 2009

Saturday Satire - The Letter Home

Dear Mum & Dad,

I am well. Hope youse are too. Tell me big brothers Doug and Phil that the Army is etter than workin' on the farm - tell them to get in bloody quick smart before the jobs are all gone! I wuz a bit slow in settling down at first, because ya don't hafta get outta bed until 6am. But I like sleeping in now, cuz all yagotta do before brekky is make ya bed and shine ya boots and clean ya uniform. No bloody cows to milk, no calves to feed, no feed to stack - nothin'!! Ya haz gotta shave though, but its not so bad, coz there's lotsa hot water and even a light to see what ya doing!

At brekky ya get cereal, fruit and eggs but there's no kangaroo steaks or possum stew like wot Mum makes. You don't get fed again until noon and by that time all the city boys are buggered because we've been on a 'route march' - geez its only just like walking to the windmill in the back paddock!!

This one will kill me brothers Doug and Phil with laughter. I keep getting medals for shootin' - dunno why. The bullseye is as big as a bloody possum's bum and it don't move and it's not firing back at ya like the Johnsons did when our big scrubber bull got into their prize cows before the Ekka last year! All ya gotta do is make yourself comfortable and hit the target - it's a piece of piss!! You don't even load your own cartridges they comes in little boxes and ya don't have to steady yourself against the rollbar of the roo shooting truck when you reload!

Sometimes ya gotta wrestle with the city boys and I gotta be real careful coz they break easy - it's not like fighting with Doug and Phil and Jack and Boori and Steve and Muzza all at once like we do at home after the muster.

Turns out I'm not a bad boxer either and it looks like I'm the best the platoon's got, and I've only been beaten by this one bloke from the Engineers - he's 6 foot 5 and 15 stone and three pick handles across the shoulders and as ya know I'm only 5 foot 7 and eight stone wringin' wet,but I fought him till the other blokes carried me off to the boozer.

I can't complain about the Army - tell the boys to get in quick before word gets around how bloody good it is.

Your loving daughter, Sheila.

23 January 2009

One of the places we visited

While we were down in Cornwall over the New Year we visited Mousehole (pronounced Mowzzle), for many reasons it is a charming and sweet little Cornish village but one with a sad recent history. On 19th December 1981 the lifeboat the Solomon Browne set off to rescue the men off the Union Star a cargo carrying coaster in need of help.

No-one knows for certain what happened that night as there were no survivors from either the lifeboat crew or the ship they went to save and the lifeboat house at Penlee (just outside the main village) now stands empty as a memorial to those who were lost in the disaster.

Every year on the anniversary the village switches off the christmas lights, and the village lies in darkness, a fitting tribute to the men who lost their lives trying to save others.

On one of our last days in Cornwall, we visited Penzance to try and find some Cornish Tartan Ribbon, and as we headed back to the car we noticed this little souvenir shop was open and as we still had a few minutes we went in.

Both of us were attracted to the lifeboats on the shelf and when we picked it up we knew we had to have it - the reason.. was this..Someone had written Penlee on it.

So it now sits on our shelf, a reminder of the good and the bad times that Cornwall has to offer.. So if you have any pennies to spare, and the RNLI (who really deserve government funding) are a good cause to give to.

22 January 2009

Caution They are out there... walking among us...

One day I was walking down the beach with some friends when someone shouted....'Look at that dead bird!' Someone looked up at the sky and said...'where???'

They Walk among us!!

My colleague and I were eating our lunch in our cafeteria, when we overheard one of the administrative assistants talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the beach. She drove down in a convertible, but 'didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving'.*

They Walk among us!!

I told the girl at the steakhouse register that I wanted the half kilogram sirloin. She informed me they only had an 500g sirloin. Not wanting to make a scene, I told her I would take the 500g steak instead of the half-kgr.

They Walk among us!!

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car it's designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped She keeps it in the trunk...

They Walk among us!!

My friends and I were on a Lager run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount....

They Walk among us!!

I was hanging out with a friend when we saw a woman with a nose ring attached to an earring by a chain. My friend said, 'Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her head?' I had to explain that a person's nose and ear remain the same distance apart no matter which way the head is turned...

They Walk among us!!

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area. So I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. 'Now,' she asked me, 'Has your plane arrived yet?'...

They Walk among us!!

While working at a pizza parlour I observed a man ordering a small pizza to go. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time before responding. 'Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces.

YepThey Walk among us!!

Sadly, not only do they walk among us, they also reproduce!!!!

Apparently, this is supposed to be a depressing time of year, or the most depressing day of the year - with all the credit crunch news, the jobs being lost and companies in administration it's nice to know that some things probably will never change.

21 January 2009

It's cold outside....

Overnight the temperatures dropped and this morning we have woken to blue skies and frost, but as pretty as it is, it isn't going to last as the weather forecast is for storms coming in from Greenland. So not only is it going to get colder, wetter and potentially drop some white stuff (or snow though it is likely to be sleet) on us but we are going to have days of it rather than just a few hours.

SOH and I are hungry to get the bikes back out on the road again, we would have done so last saturday except that we were kept busy with other tasks and this weekend he is working so it will have to wait a little longer.

The urge to ride again is growing stronger by the day, and as we head towards Spring, with hopefully the promise of long, warm and sunny days (yes I know I live in Lah Lah Land) and the start of the riding season events we are eager to get going and ensure the bikes have passed the Winter safely.

On a lighter note, if you want a laugh please click here for some spetacular failures...

20 January 2009

You know when you are having one of those days..

Well Sunday was mine…

Because we didn't get back until very late on Saturday night (I think we arrived home in the wee small hours of Sunday morning) we had a bit of a lie in, and a lazy morning so dinner was to be the evening.

SOH and I had a nice breast of lamb in the fridge, I got the very sharp boning knife out and proceeded to dismember the ribs from the meat (leaving as little as I could on the bone) and then trimmed off the excess fat to leave a nice flat surface which I spread with garlic stuffing. Now I am not known for my dexterity with sharp knives or hot objects, which doesn't bode well in the kitchen but most of the time I can manage getting away with just the odd burn (or two) and a nick in the skin in places though I do have some interesting scars on my hands and arms from earlier 'incidents'

Can you see where this is going yet?

Well the lamb went well, the stuffing duly placed in and the lamb rolled and tied into a gurt big sausage shape with string.

SOH had peeled the potatoes, which were to roast in Duck fat (sorry this is not a diet zone) and also some carrots which were to roast in olive oil (they develop a lovely sweetness if you do this).. well the chopping of the potatoes into relevant sizes with a chopping knife went swimmingly well (they almost were all the same size, this is important as you want them to cook at the same time) but it was the fiendish carrots that had blood drawn.

SOH keeps the knives well and truly sharp, something I am fairly incapable of as I seem to blunt them worse than normal, anyway while I was cutting the last carrot into batons the knife slipped in my hand (that's my excuse anyway) and slid through my flesh like a hot knife through butter.. But did I swear… yep, all bleeped out in this post… grabbed some kitchen towel and applied pressure and elevated the aforementioned digit while musing what to do next.

SOH was upstairs getting his stuff ready for work, and I asked if he could come and give me a hand (not mentioning what for – don't be silly, didn't want to scare him), he grabbed the first aid box and put a dressing on… about 30 seconds later the blood is cascading through that one and down my wrist.. surprisingly as it is only about ½ inch long, the cut, not the digit. SOH then applied a pad, and over the top of that a large white bandage with orders to keep it dry, and apart from the tenderness it didn't manage to bleed through that.

The lamb tasted absolutely lovely, and was served with the potatoes, carrots and fresh savoy cabbage… mmmm

19 January 2009

Holyrood Castle

One of my highlights of working for the Royal Household was the treat of a week in Edinburgh in July when the Edinburgh Tattoo was on and various other things happened like the Holyrood Garden Parties.

My accommodation was just outside the gates in a stone building, for some reason all the other girls were inside the Castle, but because I was in the kitchen's I got to be with the chef's all outside. So at 7am when I was due to start work, I would get up get washed and dressed and head over to the kitchens.

I had been there for a couple of days, getting used to the kitchens (very different from Balmoral, London and Windsor as they were smaller and more compact) when one morning I pushed open the tall metal gates only to have it fall off the hinges. Luckily one of the coppers on duty managed to grab it in time for me to make a hasty run for safety (otherwise this may well not have been written) and him and his mate propped it up against the wall while they called for the maintenance man to mend the gates.

Afterwards, my fame (or is it infamy) spread as the girl who broke the gates.. being a naive you thing I wondered if my career was to be blighted by these events but luckily not as I stayed for a further couple of years.

It was at Holyrood, I was instroduced to the morning bap spread with honey.. makes a great breakfast and one I still enjoy when in Scotland.

18 January 2009

Finally the Christmas season is over....

SOH and I attended the last of our Christmas occasions with the post Christmas Dinner last night in Lincolnshire... glad it wasn't as cold as it has been over the past few weeks; it would have been pretty miserable at -9 deg C driving over 150 miles on the round trip.

So our Festive season started on December 6th and ended on Jan 17th, a sum total of 7 weeks.. and all related to the BMW club.. now perhaps we can look forward to other things in the next few weeks; like Valentine's Day, Spring, getting out on the bikes again..

What are you all looking forward to?

17 January 2009

Saturday Satire - Can Cold Water Clean Dishes?

This is for all the germ conscious folks that worry about using cold water to clean.

John went to visit his 90 year old grandfather in a very secluded, rural area of Georgia.

After spending a great evening chatting the night away, John's grandfather prepared breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast. However, John noticed a film like substance on his plate, and questioned his grandfather asking, "Are these plates clean?"

His grandfather replied, "They're as clean as cold water can get them. Just you go ahead and finish your meal, Sonny!"

For lunch the old man made hamburgers. Again, John was concerned about the plates as his appeared to have tiny specks around the edge that looked like dried egg and asked, "Are you sure these plates are clean?"

Without looking up the old man said, "I told you before, Sonny, those dishes are as clean as cold water can get them. Now don't you fret, I don't want to hear another word about it!"

Later that afternoon, John was on his way to a nearby town and as he was leaving, his grandfather's dog started to growl, and wouldn't let him pass. John yelled and said, "Grandfather, your dog won't let me get to my car".

Without diverting his attention from the football game he was watching on TV, the old man shouted .


16 January 2009

The promised pictures

This is Barnie, aka Barncoose... much more inquisitive and always the first to check things out... She already has a couple of nicknames, one of which is Barnie Big Ears as her ears are amazingly big; but very cute!

Barnie leaps around the cage sometimes kangarooing on her back legs, so the tank they are in is already looking very messy and in fact last night they were removed to their new second hand cage... both girls were very good at being handled and didn't even try to bite.

Tolgus, or Gussie, is much more skittish than Barnie but very prettily marked with her white belly and feet. We had a problem with the water bottle, not supplying water and put a dish in it which Gussie is taking a long drink from in this pic. In fact later Gussie learnt to punch the water bottle to release the vacuum so we believe that she is probably the more intelligent of the two while Barnie is more the explorer and a bit of a klutz at heart.

The two of them were quiet for about 5 minutes after the move and then they were off, this picture was taken after about 20 mins and they were both climbing the back wall to explore their surroundings... the green hammock is furlined for their comfort and the other toys came with the cage courtesy of a freecycle member who came forward after I asked if anyone had a cage for 2 rats.

15 January 2009

Introducing ......

Last night we arrived home, at just before 7.30pm with our new pets a pair of eight week old Dumbo's and while we watched them scamper around their new playpen we mulled over some names... some were dismissed, and others considered but by 8.30pm we had christened them :

Tolgus - Black with a white underbelly (to be known as Gussie)
Barncoose - White with a brown head and a white flash on her nose (to be known as Barnie)

Both are female, and have different characters. Barnie is the more outgoing of the two, exploring first while Gussie tried to stay in the carrier until the last possible minute and I had to assist her in moving to her new home with a gentle push.

When they had tentatively explored their domain, they then started playing together, first one getting the better of the other but it soon turned around to the other one winning again. It was fascinating to watch them interacting together bouncing around and tumbling in a heap when they got tired they would curl up and sleep.

Pictures to follow later, as we didn't want to get them too stressed last night..

If you are still curious..then we are now the proud owners of two female Dumbo rats and the litter tray is because they can be trained to use one to save messing up their cage so not a bad clue but not what you may have thought either

14 January 2009

Plan B

SOH and I are off to choose our own 'Salt & Pepper' as the animal rescue centre are making us jump through hoops to prove we are suitable owners... so much so that we now feel totally alienated by them as to our suitability to even manage the goldfish in the water feature as we are so obviously lacking in common sense and practical amenities. Ah well, so much for a well thought out plan of adopting an unwanted animal; chalk another failure up on the board against us.

So tonight we will be heading to our local Pet Supermarket to see what they have in stock and whether the one's we will choose will at least be our choice and not Hobson's.

Tomorrow we hope to have some news, pics and other choice tidbits of information as to what/whom 'Salt and Pepper' actually turn out to be.

First Impressions

You know that first impressions are important? Sometimes not always...

My arrival at Balmoral was in the middle of the morning, just enough time to get shown to my room above the old stable block behind the main castle, get changed and head down to the kitchens to be shown my duties which were many and varied.

We had kitchen porters to do the heavy stuff, and peel potatoes but with a small portion of the staff at Balmoral, we all had to pitch in and help. My main duty was to ensure that all the chefs had what they needed and keep supplying cups of coffee/tea as well as prepare the breakfast for them...good job that I had been a dab hand at cooking bacon and sausages... I let someone else to the eggs..

The chefs always ate separately to the rest of the kitchen staff, we ate with the mere mortals, they would not lower themselves to our level and always made sure they had the best stuff for themselves; perks of the job I suppose.

We worked split shifts, after lunch was served and the kitchens cleaned, we were free until 5pm when we would start the evening service so usually had a couple of hours off to either sleep, chat, watch tv or just relax.

Because I was used to walking the dogs, I used to take myself off on the hills, after first being told which roads I was allowed to walk on; there was one specific road that came from the castle down to the river which was reserved for the royal family and the hangers on. One particular afternoon, when the hills were gently bathed in light drizzle I was out on the hills getting progressively wetter so up went the hood of my dufflecoat, and my hands in the pockets and I headed back down to the Castle.

I could see the solitary figure of the woman as she walked down the road from the castle, with her clear plastic umbrella protecting her from the worst of the rain, and realised my path and hers were going to cross at the point the road and the path met at the river.. It didn't occur to me who it was at the time, only that they shouldn't be on that path as it was strictly verboten.

As I slid gracelessly from the muddy path onto the road, about 3 ft away, she lifted her umbrella and said "Good Afternoon, quite muddy isn't it?" and I realised that I was in fact being addressed by HM the Queen... I mumbled something, I think, it may even have been a word of English - I am not really certain and we both passed on our respective ways. HM on her walk and me down by the river back to the castle.

I often wondered after that incident as to what she thought of her latest employee as to be greeted by a moron must have made her wonder what was going on back at the servants Quarters..

- No news yet on S&P... will update after 1pm as that is the earliest we can hear... but we do have a fall back plan.

13 January 2009

Mr William Stone

Mr William Stone, yesterday sadly died, one of the last remaining British veterans of World War I he joined the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday, and was involved in Dunkirk in the second World War.

The others are 112-year-old Henry Allingham and 110-year-old Harry Patch, who both live in Britain, and 107-year-old Claude Choules who lives in Australia.

I read the Last Tommy, the story of Harry Patch who served with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, it is a very enlightening book and not just of the horrors of war but of the lifetime that Harry has lived through.

How it began....

In 1977 I joined the Royal Household staff as a Kitchen Assistant... Dogsbody to you and me, but to a 19 year old girl, temporarily working on a pig farm until something better came along, this was intriquing enough to apply for. I will admit when I saw the advert in The Sun (not the most up market paper Britain has ever had) I thought it was a joke and wrote a letter applying for the position, not certain whether I had wasted a postage stamp.

I headed off for a long weekend to Paris with the family, not expecting to hear anything else about the job and wondering what to do careerwise, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the French capital. Nb I actually enjoyed it better when I revisited it in 2000, which shows that sometimes first impressions are not always correct.

When we got home on the Monday afternoon, there on the mat was a thick envelope, with the royal crest on it, inviting me for an interview on Friday. Can I admit to making my Mum phone the 'office' to accept on my behalf.. ::hangs head in shame::

Bless her, Mum even came to London with me, as the interview was at Buckingham Palace, now I don't know whether this was to ensure I went or because she wanted to go, but I was interviewed for over 2 hours and during this time she enjoyed a cup of tea and some generous hospitality from the guys in the Royal Art Gallery adjoining the entrance to the kitchens.

We heard the following Monday that I had got the position (I am not certain who was more delighted, me, my Nan or my Mum... Dad was just glad I had a job at the end of the day), and I was to start the following Monday, reporting for duty by 2pm.

It was my first time working away from home, and I will admit to being a bunch of nerves, but they were very kind to me on arrival, sorting out uniform, dealing with all the paperwork, showing me to my room which overlooked the Mall (well ok if I leaned out far enough I could just about see it) and I was informed I was going to be travelling to Balmoral overnight on the sleeper the following day.

That first night was strange, not being used to the bed, the noise, the fire engines or police racing through the streets at all hours, and not having any official duties on the Tuesday except to unpack and meet the staff.

Below stairs (lowest rung of the ladder) there were some 200 staff, footmen, butlers, maids, chefs, porters, etc... all different levels, but all eating in the main staff dining room. The middle staff (secretaries, clerical staff etc) ate separately to the main staff, and then the upper staff (heads of department etc) ate separately to the middle staff.. who said classes were long dead hadn't met these people.

I was travelling up to Balmoral with four other people, so we were transported to the train station after dinner that evening, our luggage was taken separately and would be waiting at the other end.

The journey up in the sleeper was weird, another new experience, and after than I paid extra to have my own cabin if I wasn't sharing with anothe member of staff as the woman I shared with was intimidating and made me feel like I was invading her space just by being there; I was glad when it came to an end at Aberdeen.

While we waited for transport to Balmoral, we enjoyed a full Scottish Breakfast from a cafe just by the station, another first and it was lovely, just what we needed after a night's travel and I don't recall feeling hungry until much later that day.

Tomorrow.. First Impressions, and news about our Adoption of Salt n Pepper...

12 January 2009

Monday Mornings

It might be mild, but wet and miserable.. which begs the question, would we rather have it continually cold and dry or grey, dank and wet? I know which one I would vote for.

We visited our prospective pets, currently named Salt and Pepper (though this is very likely to change), on Saturday and filled in the adoption forms, we won't hear until Wednesday as to whether our application is successful. These days being a childless, petless couple seems to count for nothing with animal rehoming centres.

This was after spending a fair amount at the Pet City place to ensure we have suitable food, bedding, litter tray lining, toys etc.

Yesterday, we spent tidying up the living room and making space for S&P's new home, it seems rather empty at the moment, but we hope soon for the patter of tiny feet to bless our house. Of course SOH and I can't agree on which one is going to be 'ours' and the only fair thing will be to wait and see who gets picked by whom (they not us).

No clues as to what S&P are, you will have to wait and see when the great reveal will show you but I think you will be a little surprised.

11 January 2009

Sunday Reflections

Was it really a week ago we got back from Cornwall? where does the time go so fast... next thing you know we will see the first primroses (actually SOH found a primula in flower in the garden, but with the heavy frosts I don't know whether it has survived yet or not).

We have had the oil tank filled up, which cost £319 inc VAT so that should be it for the rest of this year, unless the fiends controlling the weather keep the coldness up until June in which case it will be about half the bill for heating and hot water.

Cornwall, we had a great holiday in a wonderful little cottage, two up and two down. A double bedroom with a four poster bed, in Helston home of the floral dance.

We arrived at 4pm, just as it was getting dark, we opened up the cottage to find that it was really nice and decorated with christmas decorations. We unloaded the car, and settled in with a cup of tea.

We found that the owners had left a card and a present for us of a chocolate treat and a plate as a reminder of our holiday. I can't recall such a kind gesture before from a holiday cottage owner, so thank you very much Crecia and JJ we had a wonderful holiday together in the cottage and it was just perfect.

The bed had been made (again many thanks to our hosts), and after a meal of sausages in bread rolls with a glass of wine to celebrate our arrival in Cornwall we retired to in front of the television. This was our only drawback, we had only four terrestrial channels which limited our viewing to either dvd's or what programmes were on TV.

The bathroom elicited howls of laughter when we spotted this dodgy character lurking in the corner, my first thought was how spooky, but we realised that it was actually a cover for the vaccum cleaner and I thought then it had to be worth a picture for the blog.

We had a wonderful week in the cottage, and with Helston town centre a few mins walk away, not to mention the fish and chip shop opposite the cottage, we didn't really have to spend a lot of time cooking. It is definitely a place to come back and visit and we have said as much in the cottage's visitor's book.

10 January 2009

Saturday Satire - Wisdom

The 98-year-old Mother Superior from Ireland was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her last journey comfortable.

They gave her some warm milk to drink but she refused.

Then one of the nuns took the glass back to the kitchen. Remembering a bottle of Irish whiskey received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened and poured a generous amount into the warm milk.

Back at Mother Superior's bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother drank a little, then a little more and before they knew it, she had drunk the whole glass down to the last drop.

'Mother,' the nuns asked earnestly , 'please give us some wisdom before you die.'

She raised herself up in bed and with a pious look on her face said, 'Don't sell that cow.'

09 January 2009

I was touched by a story

Bob Perks wrote the snippet I wish you enough and the best part I have reproduced here.

How often do we say nice things to someone we care about? I know I don't do as much as I could and therefore I dedicate this to SOH, who is very special to me and who I love very much.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

So when I say now, I wish you enough when I leave a comment on any other blog it is to remind me of this post.

08 January 2009

Sage as Interviewed by GemmaK

1. Which single world event has had the most impact on you, either emotionally or practically?

The Falklands War, it was the first ‘real’ war that British troups were involved with in my lifetime, and I can remember it clearly especially the phrase used by the journalists about the planes “we counted them all out and then counted them all home again”. The fighting spirit of Britain came alive then, and the communications from the battlezone were all too frequent and real. I was glad when they retook Port Stanley and the guys came home. I wish they were not in Afghanistan, but see Q3.

2. If you were offered a chance to visit one place within 200 miles of your home all expenses paid where would it be and why?

I would love to visit Sandringham House, the one royal residence I never worked at apart from the royal yacht; I tried my hardest to go to both but never managed it as it has limited staff accommodation places. So if I had to pick out of the two, it would have to be Sandringham.

3. If you were given Gordon Brown’s job for six months how do you think you could make best use of the time?

I would want to ensure that equitable access to dental and optical health care was provided to British citizens, it is the absolute minimum anyone could do.

Secondly, I would want to equip the troops out in the battle zones the best protective gear that money could buy; these guys risk their lives for us and need the best we can give them.

Perhaps the fat cats in parliament who seem intent on claiming every subsidy known to them could just for once not have a pay rise this year and certainly not one above inflation figures.

4. If you could change your career/profession what would you make the change too and why?

I want to become a registrar of births, deaths and marriages, it has a certain appeal to me though I am not certain my sense of humour could always be kept in check especially when trying to write some names down neatly on certificates.

Why, because it has a sense of appeal to me, I like dealing with people and I can be compassionate (stop laughing SOH), and it involves travelling.. means I could use my bike.. more importantly it is a job that could take me to Cornwall.

5. What reduces you to tears?

The sight of dogs animals behind bars in kennels/rescue homes, abandoned, unloved, unwanted… my heart goes out to them as I wish I could take them all home with me.

Cheers GemmaK

If like me, you want to be interviewed, then drop me a comment and I will contact you to send you 5 questions.

07 January 2009

Great Truths

  • Raising teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree

  • Wrinkles don't hurt

  • Families are like fudge, mostly sweet … with a few nuts

  • Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground

  • Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside

  • Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fibre, not the toy

From AnneDroid
  • Time is a great teacher. Unfortunately it kills all of its pupils

About Growing Old :

  • Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional

  • Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get

  • When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you are down there

  • You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you used to get from a roller coaster

  • It's frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions

  • Time might be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician

  • Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone

06 January 2009


Hog Day Afternoon prompted this post, when he wrote a comment on the Saturday Satire Post - The case for the Prosecution.

Years ago, Dad used to work as a Night Porter at Moore House Hotel in Aspley Guise, and he used to travel down to work at 11pm, which co-incided then with pub closing time and the local plods were out and about trying to catch drink drivers.

They duly flagged Dad down, with some excuse, and asked if he had had a drink.

Dad duly responded with yes, he had and was duly breathalysed.

This turned out to be negative, and the officers concerned were asking him what exactly he had drunk that evening, and Dad's response of a cup of coffee went down like a lead balloon with Bedfordshire's finest.

After a momentary silence, the officer said "when we asked if you had a drink tonight, we meant alcohol"

Dad simply looked at him and replied "you didn't specify that at the time, you asked if I had had a drink and I told you I had, you then didn't enquire what it was I drank. If you had asked the right questions you would have got the right answers."

The officers couldn't say very much, just told him to get on his way.

When he told Mum and I the following day, we laughed along with him. It was just the sort of dry humour he had and I could imagine his conversation with the Police Officers and their disappointment in thinking that he was driving after drinking

05 January 2009

Back to work today

As with the majority of the country, we had to return to work today. Rather I did as SOH has a few more days before he starts working again.

At some point overnight, we had a coating of snow, not so bad as it might have been and at least we didn't have to travel back yesterday in rain or snow; it was bad enough with the spray from the motorway as the red car looks distinctly black at the front.

As I speak now we have blue skies and sunshine, but it is cold and looks like it will remain so for the forseeable near future. I don't mind the cold, but I do miss having a dog to go for walks with. If we had the lifestyle where we didn't have to work or had someone to look after it while we were away it wouldn't be a problem, but nuts and bolts are that we don't and until we change one or the other we won't be getting one anytime soon.

However we don't plan to be completely pet free, we are both looking forward to getting a couple of pets soon, and I think SOH was surprised that I would be happy with his suggestion. We will let you into the secret when we have established our happy household with the occupants, until then you will just have to keep wondering what I am on about.

I will do a post on the holiday, but have a bit to catch up on today.

Hope everyone has a happy New Year

04 January 2009

Home again jiggety-jig

SOH and I got home about 7pm, after something hot to eat (we had a KFC) brought on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, and unpacking the car (putting it away in the carport as the weather forecast was for ice and snow) we were shattered and had an early night.

Thankfully SOH did all the driving home as I was snuffling with a headcold most of the way home which was irritating as we had managed to miss most of the colds and flu that was going around; SOH did better than I with only a bit of a runny nose for 48 hours.

We stayed down in Cornwall an extra night to watch Cornish Pirates play Otley, it was a freezing cold day, but the sunshine was surprisingly warm when and if you could get out of the wind. We enjoyed the game, but the referee was so obviously favouring the other team and it was no surprise when the fans started booing some of his decisions. However the Pirates beat Otley 55 to 13 (with Otley's points only being scored in the first half of the game) so perhaps justice was served best.

As we drove across Bodmin and Dartmoor, there was snow on the tops of the hills and in the shaded areas, we watched as the temperatures dropped from 6 degrees in Redruth to o degrees as we got home, but last night when we checked before going to bed it was dipping to -2 and due to get a lot colder tomorrow.

It has been a good holiday in Cornwall, and we look forward to many more this year.

03 January 2009

Saturday Satire - The case for the prosecution

A policeman was being cross-examined by a defence lawyer during a trial. The lawyer was desperately trying to undermine the policeman's credibility....

Q: "Officer -- did you see my client fleeing the scene?"

A: "No sir. But another officer subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender, running several blocks away."

Q: "Officer -- who provided this description?"

A: "The officer who responded to the scene."

Q: "A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?"

A: "Yes, sir. With my life."

Q: "With your life? You trust your fellow officers with your LIFE? That is one hell of a claim to make. One hell of a claim. You really trust your fellow officers that much?"

A: "Yes sir. I do."

Q: "Let me ask you this then officer. Do you have a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?"

A: "Yes sir, we do."

Q: "And do you personally have a locker in the room?"

A: "Yes sir, I do."

Q: "And do you personally have a lock on your locker?"

A: "Yes sir."

Q: "Now then, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your LIFE, why is it that you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you that share with these very same officers?"

A: "Well, you see, sir -- we share the building with the court complex, and sometimes it has been known for lawyers to walk through the locker room."

01 January 2009

A New Year Dawns

Windy and cold but blissfully not wet. A good morning walk with the dogs, borrowed from SOH's neice led us over the mine workings outside of Redruth, perfect to work up an appetite for the Cornish Roast that we have been promised.

We stayed up until gone midnight last night, to see the New Year in and heard the neighbours letting the fireworks off so it wasn't an early start to the morning but no sore heads either as too many viruses and colds prevented a lot of drinking.

Tonight we are back to the cottage, and a nice warm log fire with a nice hot chocolate (hopefully) and then on Saturday we are heading over to Camborne to see the Cornish Pirates play rugby before we head back home after a final visit to friends and family.

Hope everyone has a lovely New Year so far, and continues to have a great year ahead of them.