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All Change….

We have just reached a couple of milestones in our family.  My youngest has just officially finished her secondary education, and today has started her GCSE’s, my eldest has handed in everything now for her final major project at Uni, and technically left, awaiting the results of her three year degree by the end of the week, prior to her graduation, and as for the one in the middle.  Whilst many of her Uni friends have finished their first year exams, she, however,  is yet to start hers, but this hasn’t deterred her joining in the celebrations of those who have ended!  It would seem that she has been rehearsing for an audition, to feature in Made in Chelsea this weekend, being swept away to a country residence in Shropshire, for a spot of shooting, jacuzzing, and go-karting as you do!!  Actually this was reality, as opposed to non-reality TV, and what she got up to wasn’t for the cameras, unlike Louise and Spencer last Monday, which was faked for the programme!

She has assured me that the first year of her Psychology degree covered what she already learnt for A Level, which only reconfirms in my mind that a University degree should be condensed into a maximum of two years.  Is it me, or do first year Uni students spend more time on the lash than in lectures?  The financial cost of that wasted first year will only be worse for 2012/13 students whose fees will triple, and as for the cost to those gorgeous, pure, pink livers  … well that will be revealed in later life!  And what is all this shot drinking about?! I swear if you consume your drink quickly, you just have to buy another one .. in my day we made our drinks last!  I can talk from first hand experience that shot drinking is messy!   Maybe the art of Tactical Chundering has been designed to preempt all that liver damage??

The highlight of last week, in fact probably of this year was the Leavers Ball held at Wotton House.


Picture this beautiful venue, and then add stretched Range Rovers, a vintage ambulance, a speed boat being towed, a double decker bus, horse boxes, lorries, a London Cab, an Aston Martin and a Robin Reliant to name but a few modes of transport to the Ball!  Not a pumpkin in sight, but there was gridlock, and vehicles were getting stuck in the mud, still raining at this point but non of the teenage guests noticed as the excitement and anticipation of the event had reached fever pitch!  I hosted a pre drinks party for about twenty girls prior to their arrival at the ball, and was slightly overwhelmed but delighted that the girls brought parents, grandparents, boyfriends and siblings to photograph the occasion.  The weather was miserable but spirits couldn’t possibly be dampened.  Spray tans refused to be streaked by the drizzle, and coiffured hair do’s were determined not to frizzle in the rain!  I have never seen so many gorgeous stunning young ladies in my house at any one time.

And as if there hasn’t  been enough excitement in our house this week, my eldest is being swept away tomorrow morning to Abu Dhabi, being treated by an Arabic Prince, to celebrate the 21st birthday of her gorgeous friends, “The Twins”.  She is due to have a week filled with jet skiing, wake-boarding, sunbathing in 107 degrees of heat, no doubt sipping strawberry daiquiri’s and champagne and eating sushi!  Sounds quite similar to the week I have scheduled …NOT!!!!  Maybe it is time for a change in life for me … yeh!  That will be the menopause!

Rhubarb crumble muffins recipe – Recipes – BBC Good Food.

RIP Mrs Hen

I am sorry to say that after a lengthy battle with ill health Mrs Hen has gone to join her mates in chookie heaven.  She was a feisty old bird surviving her first dog attack when she was nursed back to her feet in a cat basket, getting trapped in a pyracantha bush and having to be cut out, a second dog ambush, and then battled with a mystery lump in her throat for several weeks, before collapsing and becoming trapped under her perch.  Thanks to swift action from a very helpful neighbor, she was put out of her misery quite quickly, and now resides in the vegetable patch, buried with some of her friends.  She was our only girl who layed blue eggs, which made her extra special.  I have called my chicken man at Withy Poultry, and asked if he has any more like her.  Thanks to a feature on Countryfile recently, promoting chickens who lay blue eggs, there is now a shortage of such birds, so I am on a waiting list pending a phone call, possibly not till late June now, when Nugget, Kentucky and Nando will be available for collection.  We still have 3 girls left in the flock, so eggs will be on ration for the time being!

Life always throws up awkward moments when you least expect them, and I managed to create two myself in the last 48 hours!  At my age, I should have probably learnt from the first one.  We have been having an internet kerfuffle for the past few weeks, so I was on the phone to BT speaking to a charming lady in an Indian call centre.  I always think of Slumdog Millionaire when I am diverted to a call centre, so when she said her name was Latika, I couldn’t help myself and asked her if she had seen the movie as the co-star was called Latika!  There was an awkward silence, and I had images of a beautiful girl in a yellow scarf and sari looking embarrassed and uncomfortable at the end of her headset!; she didn’t directly respond to my question (possibly not trained by BT to expect customers to be so direct?) so I tried to steer us back onto my internet problem, which I have to say was super efficiently sorted out , and within 48 hours not only had my new home hub arrived, but our monthly bills have been reduced by £30 as they modified out existing contract.   Definitely worth a call to BT if you are on a contract that hasn’t been reviewed for a couple of years, as there are savings to be had.  Then this morning I had an Ocado delivery, and was greeted by a friendly driver, who had an uncanny resemblance to Matt Lucas, only a bit less chubby, and slightly better looking.  I should have just kept my observations to myself, however, found myself saying “gosh, you really look like Matt Lucas!”  Judging by his reaction, he didn’t take this as a compliment so I diverted him by chatting about the weather and the cost of groceries!  Note to self:  Think before you open your mouth!

For those rhubarb lovers, and I don’t think there are that many, the season is booming and I have started harvesting my crop.  I had a little experiment this morning, and made some Rhubarb, Cinnamon and Almond Muffins based on a recipe from the BBC Food website ….  I got a couple of people to sample them and they have received the thumbs up!  Could be rustling up a little crumble over the weekend, however Roast Chicken will certainly not be on the menu for any more of you jokers on Facebook!

It would be easy for me to start by having a rant about the endless rain, but I have decided to turn this plentiful precipitation into nectar for my garden!  Yesterday the sun actually shone for most of the day, so luckily I had been to Secretts Garden Centre at the weekend and stocked up on several packets of seeds for my vegetable patch, plus some beautiful new gardening gloves.  I have many pet hates, and most of them seem to be related to either Wilfred or my husband.  What I most hate about Wifred at the moment is that he keeps sneaking upstairs, which is in contravention of my rigid house rules “No Dogs Upstairs!’, and he has found a duvet in a vacant bedroom, and keeps curling himself into a tight ball and falling asleep.  It would seem that he has made his own set of house rules, which are possibly linked to the ones below!


Pet hates relating to my husband  include ripping open cereal boxes without following the pre-set guides, using his teeth to open anything including crisp packets and bars of chocolate, holding imaginary conversations with the dogs, leaving streaks of wax on any car he washes, and wearing and invariably trashing my gardening gloves!  I have been married for nearly 27 years (child bride!) comparable to a life sentence for murder, and my most favorite birthday present from my in-laws, was last year when they gave me a stunning pair of cream, soft leather gardening gloves.  They are the only pair of gloves to have lasted the year, and haven’t worn through on the finger tips.  Now they will never get the chance because they were used when replacing the broken window in the Rave Shed and have been totally wrecked and covered with a sticky substance called Hard as Nails Adhesive.  So I treated myself to a new pair of gloves, and chose a colour that is least likely to be worn by my other half!

 

Anyway, sporting my new gloves, and with a variety of seeds, I pottered down the garden and got digging and planting.  I am carrying out a little experiment as I got some Suttons Seed Tapes, which make planting so very easy.  The tapes are like pre-cut strips of loo roll, that have been studded with seeds, spaced out in a way to make your crops grow in a perfectly straight row, making pricking out unnecessary.  For those non vegetable growers reading this, please don’t worry yourself about this fine detail  ..  you can buy your perfectly grown and harvested  genetically modified veg from the supermarket for a fraction of the manpower cost of growing your own!  I planted a selection of veggies including spinach, pak choi, parsnips, carrots, beetroot and mixed salad leaves.  I noticed that the potatoes planted about a month ago, are shooting leaves now, looking just as they should do.  So seeds all tucked up under the fertilized soil, and all I need now is rain .. good job there isn’t a shortage of that then!

 

So yesterday was the big day to set Great Auntie Vera free into the sea at her favorite location …Hayling Island …  the good Lord was looking down upon us  .. the sun was shining and glinting on the water, the wind was light and there were only a handful of people on the beach who had no idea at all what we were up to.  Whilst waiting for the rest of the family to arrive, three bagpipers in full uniform strode past us with their instruments, and for a moment I thought my sister had organised a musical serenade, but this was purely coincidental. The tide was high, my brother wearing his Hunters, paddled out into the sea, my sister said a few touching words of remembrance and I had to stifle my giggles as the ashes tumbled out of the ‘sweetie jar’ and blended into the ocean, during what felt like a surreal family gathering.  And that was it, in a flash and without incident, Vera is at rest … end of!

I am also happy to report that I didn’t make a Sunday Roast yesterday, and fortunately neither yet has Mr Fox.  Although sadly we had another very sick chookie this week, and after spending a night in a Guildford Borough Council recycle box in the conservatory, poor Matilda has also gone to chookie heaven to join Maisie.  She had a respectful burial in the vegetable garden, unlike poor Maisie who got temporarily placed in the wheely bin, and forgotten (out of site out of mind) and regretfully collected by the bin men before her scheduled burial.   On the other hand, Mrs Hen who has been poorly now for weeks, is still pottering around happily… I managed to blag some antibiotics for her, from the vets this week, and have administered them, supplemented with some live yoghurt to rebalance the natural flora in her gut, as you do!  Mrs Hen hasn’t laid an egg for months now, so I promised the Receptionist at the vets that if she lays any more eggs, she will  be in line for the first one, to reward her services beyond the call of duty!

So what else on went on this weekend … oh let me think? .. I know … I allowed my nearly 16 year old daughter to invite 40 of her school friends over to help celebrate her birthday!  Not far from my mind was the previous gathering, when several of her friends regurgitated their alcohol and cocktail sausages into several receptacles in my kitchen, including the sink, my mop bucket and a pudding basin.  So by 10.20 pm I was feeling quite relieved that no significant events had occurred, and was just about to Tweet a comment to this effect, whilst watching Britains Got Talent, when one of her talented friends accidently broke a window in the Rave Shed, shattering broken shards of glass on those unlucky individuals who were dancing on the other side.  I then spent what was left of the party, mopping up blood and dishing out plasters to the walking wounded, whilst my husband was clearing up broken glass.  Fortunately there were no severe lacerations and that was possibly the low-light of the party.  Fighting for a place to win the Parents Got Talent competition for highlight of the party, was either the epic dinosaur impersonation performed by my husband, or the pile of chocolate brownies that doubled up as a birthday cake … taking votes at the end of this blog!

 And now it’s Monday, it’s cold and rainy yet again.  Still refraining from putting the heating on in the daytime, as it is April, I have just made a nice pot of Carrot and Coriander Soup, and I am very tempted to go and get my dear old friend from upstairs ..  my thermal vest!

Brownies or Dinosaur??  It’s your vote that counts!!!

Ashes to Ashes

It’s only two days after my last sighting of Mr Fox, and so far so good .. all chookies  are present and correct for the time being. I have been sending them to bed early, before the sun has gone down, to try and keep them safe from the predator in the paddock!  They seem so blissfully unaware of the pending doom, and are happy to be side tracked with some mixed corn and bread crumbs .. if only they knew!

Today I am multi-tasking and keep getting side tracked myself ..  whilst doing some online research into my latest project, I find myself adding items in my trolley on Tesco.com, while drinking some homemade minestrone soup, with my Blackberry beeping at my side.  My middle daughter had a kerfuffle with her PIN for her bank card, so I am breaking all the rules and BBMing her the new number which the postie just delivered, the tumble dryer is whirring in the background, oh and my mobile just rang with a little update from my big girl after her mornings presentation at Uni.  I am sitting at the helm of mission control (the desk at the front door) with my essential tools, (iMac and Blackberry) feeling a bit chilly.  Earlier, I tried to move mission control, well the iMac actually, into the kitchen in front of the AGA, but unfortunately the wifi wouldn’t connect, so I put an extra jumper on, and de-camped back to the front door.  My husband should be extremely happy that an extra layer was added rather than the central heating turned on!

Anyway, in a moment I shall dispense with technology and write myself a shopping list as I have a few errands to run before school collection time.  I need to pick up the fresh salmon from the farm shop, drop yet another ASOS package back to the post office for a free return, and then collect Great Auntie Vera from the undertakers!  She sadly died last October, and was cremated, and has been waiting in what has been described as a ‘sweet jar‘ by the undertaker, for this weekend hence, so that she can be finally put to rest in the sea at Hayling Island.  She would have been 94 this Friday, and we made a plan to take her to her favorite place on her birthday, and say our last farewell.  I had this bizarre e-mail conversation with my sister yesterday; I suggested we should scatter the ashes at high tide, so Vera would be washed out to sea.  For some reason she thought low tide would be better, because she fancied a nice walk along the sandy beach!  I shall update you after the weekend and lets hope for all our sakes it isn’t too windy, as I am not too keen about the thought of poor Great Auntie Vera being inhaled and returning to Surrey with us!  And also let’s hope there is a screw top on the jar I am just about to collect .. I would so much prefer the Mint Medley option!

So for the last two weeks I have been asking my middle daughter who is home for Easter from Uni, the same question daily … “Is there anything you would like me to wash before you go back to Uni?”.  Each day I have gazed into her bedroom and observed the” floordrobe” where all her worldly goods are strewn; in fact, one day I found Wilfred (our dog) curled up on a brown fleece Onesie.   He was so well camouflaged  I didn’t immediately notice him there!  I have been getting the same reply each day…. “no mum, I’m fine; don’t need anything washed”.  Until that is of course, just now, one hour before her scheduled departure when she asks if I can wash her hoodie!  She has been earning some drinking money by caring for several small children, and has just noticed there is baby snot/milk dribble down the shoulder!  She is so predictable … the next thing will be a message tonight when she arrives back in Oxford saying she has forgotten her laptop charger or her favorite flip flops or her essential ID!  Note to self …  run through a check list before scheduled departure!!

FLOORDROBE

Well, I just served a nice Sunday roast chicken dinner for one soon to be departing daughter and one that has just arrived back from Spain, as you do when your life is just one big vacation, plus my permanent youngest resident !  Afterwards, we combined our collective Tetris skills, and loaded up Marvin the Mini ready to return to Oxford, filling him up with clobber, home baked goodies including Banana & Blueberry Muffins, Leek & Potato Soup and Chilli con Carne, plus an Ocado shop,  leaving a bit of space for her passenger and his belongings.  All my girls have their daddy wrapped around their little fingers, so it came as no surprise, as the farewell hugs were being shared,  that she managed to extort some cash from his wallet which is supposedly to cover her petrol cost;  I am guessing it will be spent in the pub later tonight!  That is, if she can find it;  just got a phone call from the M25 saying “you know that £30 that dad just gave me ..  did you see where I put it?)!!!  I have spent the last 18 years searching for endless misplaced “it’s not my fault” items!

And so the launderette swings into action again.  As one wheely bag leaves, another arrives home full of dirty washing.  I have failed on the delegation of laundry front .. think it is the control freak in me that finds it hard to let go!

Onto my hot topic of the chooks …  we had a very unwelcome visitor in the paddock yesterday.  Mr Fox!  Spotted wandering around in search of his weekend roast, however, luckily he was intercepted and scurried off back through the hedge.  This has now made me feel very anxious for the safety of the girls.  They have roamed daily, pecking at the grass and scratching about happily for almost 4 years now, possibly on borrowed time  Watch this space…

So the Easter holidays have come to an end, the eggs have almost been eaten and  we will find out if enough revision has been done in the next few months!  Four weeks now till the Leavers Ball which will also signify the last day that any of my offspring will wear a school uniform ever again … end of an era.  Four weeks till the end of the first year of Uni for one, and the third and final year for my big girl.  All change!

P.S.  Just as I was adding tags to this blog, I heard a chicken screeching and managed to once again intercept Mr Fox .. no Sunday roast for you today young man!!!  Fingers crossed no mid-week roasts either!!

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