A Tax rose is but a rose by any other name

Socialise and chat about other areas of your life
679 posts
Mrs Average,

Thanks for the heads-up about holes in pots. I checked and it hasn’t got any in. That’ll be rectified tomorrow…. A case of duelling drills at dawn!

I was in two minds about whether to post about the Monday charity shop stuff. Current affairs may mean that some think I’m being insensitive. But, you know what… Sod it!

It’s not my fault if a bunch of Russian spies go around trying, and sometimes succeeding, in murdering each other. I should imagine being a double-agent earns you no brownie points in the popularity stakes, on both sides.
I feel sorry for the bloke’s daughter – talk about the sins of the fathers visiting their kids – but I’m buggered if the antics of, probably, Putin or Russian Mafia backed lose cannons is going to stop me posting on CUK.

I was going to get SM to take photos with his posh smart phone of my outfits to illustrate this post. But a) He’s a pretty rubbish photographer, and b) I couldn’t wait for him to return from Wales. Patience is not a virtue I’m over endowed with, so I took them myself yesterday.

Maybe I should’ve waited, because they’re a bit blurry, especially the third one. But I like the third ones blurriness; it’s kind of arty. That’s my excuse for using it instead of taking more photos till I got clearer ones.
I couldn’t work out to do a full length Selfie, if indeed you can? So I stuck to that time honoured method of photographing myself in my mirrored wardrobe doors. That way I could get the distance I needed for full length Selfies.
Just one problem. Because I wanted to show the KGBness of my first outfit, and the Winkie-like shoulders on the third one, I could only use the one hand when taking my mobile phone photos.
Have you ever tried to take a photo with a mobile one-handed? It’s bloody difficult, I can tell you; hence the blurriness. The only properly focused photo is the middle one, and that’s because I could use two hands on that one.
I must have taken, and deleted, about 50 piccies after my dawn walk before I got seriously pissed off and bored, and thought, “Bugger it! That’ll have to do…. They’re for CUK’s forum not bloody Vogue for Christ’s sake!”

Where to start? The beginning seems like as good a place as any. I going to get my blood test results and have a discussion about them with the nurse.
The snow had gone, the wind had dropped, the sun was shining and, even though it was still cold, it was clear that spring had finally sprung. So I decided to moth ball my ski jacket and kecks for the day and wear my spring coat (A Karen Millen charity shop find) and a colourful summer skirt (another charity shop find.)

Come to think of it, every item of clothing I was wearing that day was a charity shop find except my bra, knickers and socks. I thought I looked really swish, almost elegant even. So I was a bit surprised by some people giving me funny looks, as though they’d seen a ghost or something.
“No accounting for some peoples taste,” thought I. I now realise that they were probably thinking the same about me!

Once I’d finished my chin wag with the nurse I almost skipped to Weatherspoon’s where I’d arranged to meet up with SM.
He found me in what passes for the beer garden sipping my cappuccino and puffing away on my ciggie. He was carrying an espresso when he sat down opposite me.

SM: Why meet here? I thought you were boycotting Weatherspoon’s.

Me: I was. But that was before I found out they were selling cappuccinos for just over a quid. They’re like £1.99 elsewhere, minimum, AND you get freebie re-fills too. Mind you, you now have to serve yourself, but I can live with that for such cheap cappo’s.

SM: So price has triumphed over your principals… just why were you boycotting Weatherspoon’s anyway?

Me: I’ve forgotten it was so long ago. Something to do with their employment practices I think.

SM: Some revolutionary you make! It’s freezing out here; let’s go inside when you’ve finished that death stick of yours.

Me: No probs.

When I put my ciggie out, and stood up to go inside to the warmth, SM nearly choked on the remains of his espresso.

SM: GOOD GREIF, WOMAN! You look like a leftover from the KGB. Don’t you know that the Berlin Wall has fallen and Stalin is no more?

Me: RUBBISH! What self-respecting KGB leftover would wear a Marie Claire daffodil on their lapel?

SM: One who was trying to blend in which, I might add, you have singularly failed to do.

Me: You reckon? That might explain the funny looks I’ve been getting.

SM: You don’t say! And while you’re at it, you’d best keep an eye out for dodgy characters with poisoned umbrellas…. Did you say we could get free re-fills?

My KGB leftover look.
Just check out that pinkie. No self-respecting KGB agent, leftover or not, would ever do anything so quintessentially English as crook their little finger now, would they?
a fake ruskie cos pinky.jpg

Once inside, I took my furry Russian hat and coat off. Now SM’s reaction to my clothing went from the uncalled for to the sublime.

SM: Oh dear Lord! NOW you look like a Babushka.

Me: I’ll have you know Mister Smarty Pants that this look is called bohemian chic… So up yours, Smart Arse!

SM: It suits you, Marm. But ‘Up yours, you Smart Arse’ is hardly a chic expression, is it?

Me: Whatever! What actually IS a Babushka?

SM: I don’t know, I just know the word from the divine Kate Bush and that it’s Russian.

Me: Ah, so you were a fan too. I bet you had a poster of her like my brothers did… why don’t you look up it up on your phone.

SM: Will do….. Oh dear. Are you sure you want to hear this?

Me: Hit me with it, Sunshine.

SM: According to this website a babushka is a triangular head scarf tied under the chin and worn by East European women.

Me: That’s not so bad. Loads of women wear them, including the horse & hounds set in middle England and…..

SM: I haven’t finished yet. A babushka is also an elderly Russian or Polish woman, especially a grandmother. It’s an informal, but not impolite, form of address.

Me: So let me get this straight; you’ve just told me I look like a Russian granny!!!!! Cheers for that, matey!

SM: Well, strictly speaking, we are both old enough to be grandparents, and it’s a….

Me: Bit late for backtracking now. You could’ve at least said I looked like a Kulak instead. They can be any age.

SM: So you’d rather be called a peasant than a grandmother?

Me: Yes!

SM: Why does that not surprise me…. Fancy a bite to eat? I missed breakfast this morning.

Me: Yes, but first I want to check out the charity shops. There’s loads here, and I want to buy a new second-hand winter coat. The lamb special on today ain’t goin’ away.

SM: Isn’t it a bit late to be buying winter coats?

Me: Are you kidding me? This is the best time to buy winter coats. They’ll be half, a third, of what they were charging just a week ago. Take my word for it.

SM: Do I have a choice? You’re obsessed with charity shops. Let’s get it over and done with.

My Russian granny look, but a chic one who originated in Bohemia. I was actually born in Broadgreen hospital, but Bohemia sounds more exotic and romantic
a fake ruskie babu.jpg
Underneath my black top is a Burgundy polo neck jumper and thermal vest as it was still really cold right up until today.
And underneath that really colourful summer skirt I’m wearing my Cancer Research ‘Race for Life’ Lycra running leggings doubling up as long johns. I even slept in them when SM wasn’t around!


Now my ‘To Russia with Love’ sartorial desires went from the sublime to the ridiculous. For, at the third charity shop, I spied out the corner of my little eye the most beautiful coat I’ve ever laid eyes on. It was love at first sight.

SM was busy checking out the book section, so I went over to it. The material felt fantastic, super soft. It was a size 10. Brill, it should fit nicely even when wearing winter jumpers and stuff. It did look a bit long for me, and weighs a ton. But coats can always be shortened, and coats should be heavy for winter.
I put it on, buttoned up its bright shiny buttons and yelled to SM on the other side of the shop.

Me: OY! SM, what do you reckon on this coat? (Doing a twirl) Its ace isn’t it? I love it.

SM: OH MY GOD! Now you look like Anna Karenina. All that’s missing is a muff. It’s a bit long for you isn’t it.

Me: (Looking in the full length mirror for the first time) No, I don’t look like that drip Anna Karenina…. But I do remind myself of someone.

SM: I’d have thought Anna Karenina would’ve been a heroine of yours.

Me: Are you kidding. The dozy cow committed suicide by sticking her head on a railway line and getting decapitated by a train. No heroine of mine would do that, especially over a failed love affair. What a wuss!.... Now who do I remind myself of in this coat? it’s on the tip of my tongue.

SM: She wasn’t decapitated. I think you’ll find she threw herself in front of a train from an embankment.

Me: Same difference! It’s the poor train driver I feel sorry for, not her. The daft bint probably traumatised him for life…. I’ve just remembered who I look like; A Winkie!

SM: You think you look like an American chocolate bar??? Can’t see it myself. For a start, that coat is grey.

Me: A Winkie, you twit, not a Twinkie. Have you never seen the Wizard of Oz?

SM: No I haven’t.

Me: Then you haven’t lived; it’s one of the best films ever made. I’ve seen it loads of times and never tire of it. The Winkies are the guards protecting the Wicked Witch of the West’s castle, and they wore coats just like this… kind off. I’m a Winkie!

Shop assistant: That coat called out to you, didn’t it?

Me: You got it in one. Just like the song in South Pacific…. Come to me, here I am, your special coe oh tuh, come to me, come to me, COME TO MEEEEeeee….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ8zf5h ... tu.be&t=75

Just substitute the words Bali Hi and island for coat, and this song sums up perfectly how my special coat called out to me.

SM: Don’t give up your day job….

I can dance like a demonic angel but there’s no way my singing voice is ‘as sweet and clear as can beeeee’ so I agree with SM. There’s not a snowball in hell’s chance of giving up a day job for a singing career!

SM: I take it you’re buying it?

Me: To right I am.

Shop assistant: Would you like me to put it in a bag for you? They cost 15p each.

Me: No thanks, I’m going to wear it now.

SM: You’re not seriously going to wear that now are you?

Me: Course I am. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise, would I?

SM: Isn’t it a little impractical?

Me: What have practicalities got to do with anything? I’m in love with it.

SM: It’s way too long; you’ll dirty and scuff the bottom.

Me: Well Anna Karenina never bothered about things like that did she? So why should I?

SM: Because Anna Karenina would’ve had servants to clean and repair her clothes. You don’t, that’s why.

He had a point, so I reluctantly paid an extra 15p for a plassie bag, on top of the 5 quid for the coat, knocked down from £10. I was right about the reductions for winter coats.
I’m getting it shortened next week by a dress maker that SM has used in the past to get clothes altered. It’ll cost far more to alter it than I paid for it… being a short arse has its draw backs.
In fact, getting it altered will probably cost more than the coat originally cost brand new as it’s a Primark coat!

I want to show off my blurry photo of my new winter coat on the same post as the Winkie image I tracked down on the internet.
So, I’m going to start a new post to follow on directly from this one as I can’t trust my Winkie image will be an actual picture and not one of those awful attachments………………………………………………………………………….
Cue drum rolls……..


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R5gHF0vzew

TA, DA……

The Winkie coat……
I look like I’m giving myself the Evil Eye with my fingers pointing the way they are. Shirley would have something to say about it!
a fake ruskie AK or wink.jpg

And a real Winkie, well a model of one, anyway….
Wiz of Oz WIcked Witch Guard.jpg
When I showed SM the image of a Winkie, he didn’t think my coat looked much like the one the Winkie was wearing. He must be joking!

I told him that all he had to do was imagine me wearing a white furry Russian hat instead of a black one, with red curtain cord ending in tassels wrapped around my waist and neck whilst holding a garden rake or something wearing gauntlet style gardening gloves and I’d THEN be the dead spit of a Twinkie in my new coat.

SM: Yes… AND if I were younger, slimmer, shorter with blonde hair, blue piercing eyes with high cheek bones I’d be the dead spit of Christopher Walken in the Deer Hunter… but I’m NOT!

Me: Now you’re just being plain silly. What have deers got to do with Winkies?

SM: Have you never seen the Deer Hunter?

Me: No.

SM: Then you haven’t lived….

We’ve come to an arrangement. On Sunday evening we’re staying the night at his and are going to have a vid fest. I’m to bring my DVD of The Wizard of Oz. He’ll provide the popcorn and we’ll then watch his DVD of The Deer Hunter.

I’m so excited about my birthday I can’t sleep. You’d think I was an eight year old rather than a fifty eight year old… or at least I will be come 6am.
I happen to know my exact birth time because I was born by Caesarean section, and those births are recorded as they class as an operation.

No chance of any kip now, so I’m now going to try and guess what pressies I’ll get, and from whom, from my list, as follows:

Dad: Waterpik Water Flosser Cordless Plus Model WP-450

Well Bro: Braun Oral B Pro 600 3D CrossAction model 3757

SIL: Portable sewing machine or bread maker from Aldi both £20

Ill Bro: Black leather bum bag, not too big, not too small, with 4 zipped compartments.

Ill Bro’s girlfriend: Manual dental kit or Beverly Hills whitening tooth paste.

Nephew: A Memory foam pillow or kettle as my one’s on its last legs.

Nephew’s girlfriend: Another memory foam pillow or a belly dance DVD by Hilary Thacker.

Niece in Scotland & fiancée: A £15 voucher from Superdrug for some make up I want that only SD sell (I think.)

The other three things on my B’day List were a shiny silver coloured metal peddle bin for my flat, a silver free standing liquidizer (any make) also for my flat and, last but not least, Black Opium perfume.

I can’t see anyone buying the perfume, considering I don’t even know if I like the way it smells or not, and considering it costs a king’s ransom. I thought it would be about £15; it’s over £50!!!!!!!

Can’t wait till its dawn. Then I can plant one of the blue moons up in my giant, soon to be bottom holed, plastic terracotta pot (£4.99) Only about two hours to go now.

Once I’ve posted these two posts up think I’ll watch Gladiator on DVD and swoon over Russell Crowe in his leather mini skirt wrestling with tigers and stuff. That’ll kill some time.

And now for something completely different.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx8-J66yawM

Chow for now XXX
Just a quick(ish) post about my birthday. God alone knows why I made such a palaver about my birthday given that 58 is hardly a landmark year. 50 yes, 60 yes, but 58, no. It’s a nothing in particular age. Yet, for some reason, it was important to me, and I don’t even know why :-???

That’s my excuse anyway for being such a fuss making, demanding, over particular, avaricious material girl.
I bordered on being OCD about my list. Not only did I type it out beautifully, but I included makes, model numbers, descriptions, places & prices were said potential pressies could be purchased.

I even asterixed them :shock:

Three asterisks meant this pressie was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY necessary for either the health of my body and/or my spirit and I was too brassic to afford it without spending AGES saving up for it (implying either my physical health and/or mental state was in jeopardy; talk about emotional blackmail.)
Two asterisks meant I’ll really, really like this but I wasn’t about to drop down dead from some physical aliment or be plunged into depression if I didn’t get it for my b’day.
One asterisk meant I wasn’t bugged one way or other whether I received this or not.

Being ‘a Material Girl in a Material World’ worked, though. I got ALL of the *** pressies, some of the ** pressies, and even the one & only * pressie (kind of.)

But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself. First the litter picking, as follows:

I’d finished up planting my Blue Moon twig of a rose bush and then kitted myself out as if I were going on an Arctic expedition, complete with thermal vest, polo neck jumper, hoodie, 2 pairs of trousers, woolly socks, mum’s old gardening wellies and all topped off by my padded ski jacket and much beloved Ruskie hat.
All of that yet it was a glorious day with the sun shining, not a breath of wind but still a bit parky… I am nothing if not a wimp!

It was now about 9.25am and I set off to the meeting point on foot. I passed my dad and WB getting into WB’s car. This was unusual as they both like their lie-in’s on a Sunday.

Me: Where are you two off to at this time in the morning?

WB: Aldi’s…. Fancy a lift?

Me: But they’re not open till 10; it’s a Sunday.

WB: We’ll just wait in the car park till their open then.

NOW that really was unusual. One thing neither my bro nor my dad can stand is hanging about. But I thought no more about it and accepted the lift.

As soon as I pitched up at the meeting point (all of two minutes walk from Aldi’s) I was kitted out with a high vis vest, grabber stick thing and a hula hoop thing attached to a large plastic bag.
I volunteered to walk to the rocks and litter pick there as nobody else seemed to want to as it was just under 1.5 miles away.
This wasn’t public spirited enthusiasm on my part… Oh, no! As the rocks aren’t far from my dad’s house, I thought I’d be saving myself a walk back home.
I didn’t realise I’d have to walk all the way back again to return said litter picking gear until after I’d volunteered to go to the rocks.

Regardless, it was a beautiful day and I actually enjoyed the litter picking. It’s dead easy with the grabber thing and hula hoop bag. However, on one stretch there was no litter at all; just thousands & thousands of razor clam shells. I got so bored I started to pray to the Gods of Litter to dump some near me so’s I’d have something to do.

THEN I hit the rocks; the gods had clearly heard me, and I had litter galore to pick up. There’s either a manic menthol ciggie chain smoker, or a group of menthol smokers, frequenting the rocks, because I must have picked up at least 100 Consulate butt ends.
I lost count of the amount of discarded wet wipes I prevented from contaminating the sea, and I can categorically state that Snickers bars are a very popular snack on the rocks.
I’m very confused as to why some dog walkers would bother buying dog poop bags, going to the trouble of scooping up the poop and then leave the black bags lying around. But lots do :unsure:

I somewhat overloaded my rubbish bag and it ended up rather heavy. You can’t drag them along the ground or they’ll split open, rather defeating the object of litter picking in the first place.
Plus I ended up carrying back a chunk of boat I retrieved from the Natterjack marsh (didn’t see any; they’re elusive little shysters apparently.)

End result of being overloaded with clothing, litter and part of a boat:
I ended up sweating like a race horse at the end of the Grand National and seriously out of breath with an aching back by the time I returned.
Still doing it again, though. I’ll just be a bit more measured next time.

Some photies now, taken by one of the organisers which he e-mailed to me.

SM: I don’t believe this… NOW you’re looking like a latter day descendant of Genghis Khan in this one.

Me: Not my fault the photographer took it with a railing sticking out of my hat, is it!
b day litter picking 1.jpg
P.S. The sun had gone by the time the litter picking was ending.


I look like I have buck teeth in this one; I do not! That white thing nestled in amongst the litter bags is a part of my boat bit.
b day litter picking 2.jpg
It’s just past midnight, so time to call it quits. SM has to be court early tomorrow and doesn’t want to be late.

Chow for now X
It’s battering it with rain at the minute. So good excuse not to do any gardening and blob out with dad who’s watching those blasted property programs he’s so obsessed with, closely followed by bailiff ones like ‘The Sheriffs are Coming’ (had to look up what a sheriff was these days for him) and ‘Won’t Pay, we’ll Take It Away.’

So on to the b’day itself and the all-important pressies; all important to me, anyway. I pitched up at dad’s after litter picking expecting SM to be there. He wasn’t, which worried me a bit.
I got changed into my Babushka/Kulak outfit - it’s my party, and I’ll dressup if I want to – and SM still hadn’t arrived. Now I was really worried as he’s Mr Never Procrastinates/Ultra Reliable, and he hadn’t even texted or phoned me to let me know he’d be late.

I was one worried bunny as we walked to the lodge. But SM was sitting in the beer garden with a really nice surprise awaiting me. He was sitting alongside my befriendees Mr Grumpy and Mrs T.
That chuffed me to bits, and I was really pleased to see them.
SM had invited them because my SIL couldn’t make it as she was doing a weekend shift, and neither could my nephew’s girlfriend as she was in Sweden visiting her mum.

I was less chuffed to find out that after all that pre-booking by SM, dad forgetting it was booked and then booking for Saturday, and me having to cancel the Saturday booking that somehow, somewhere along the way, the Sunday booking had been cancelled too.
Probably because SM had booked the table in dad’s name not his, and when I rang up to cancel dad’s Saturday booking they must’ve cancelled both as I never specified a date assuming there was only the one booking.
The upshot of all these mix ups is that we had to go elsewhere… on Mother’s Day of all days!

WB: Let’s go to Weatherspoon’s instead. Nobody in their right mind would take their mum to Wheatherspoon’s on Mother’s Day. It’s bound to be half-empty.

Me: I suppose you wanting to go to Weatherspoon’s has nothing to do with their scampi, does it?

WB: They do do a mean scampi, and I love my scampi! But where else can we go?

He had a point, but I was not very enamoured about going to Weatherspoon’s as they no longer do Sunday lunches, just these crappy brunch things and their normal menu.

SM drove off to Weatherspoon’s with dad, Mr Grumpy and Mrs T, and the rest of us non crock’s walked there; all of five minutes away if that.
It was heaving, so no joy there… Thank God! No scampi for WB that day.

WB then popped up the road to another pub – one of my faves as it happens for pub grub – and managed to secure a table that had been cancelled (hope their mum was o.k.)
So, I had my lamb Sunday roast after all, with all the trimmings. It was only then that I realised nobody had turned up with any pressies. I didn’t say anything, but I think SM guessed my thoughts by the disappointed look on my face.
When I popped out to the very pretty beer garden for a ciggie, along with WB and IB’s girlfriend, SM, surprisingly, joined us (but not for a fag, he hates smoking with a passion.)

SM: Promise me you’ll never play poker; you’ll be bankrupt within five minutes.

Me: Eh?

SM: You have the worst poker face I’ve ever come across. You can drop ‘the sad-eyed, I’m trying not to cry because nobodies bought me any presents’ expression contorting your visage. They’re all back at your father’s.

Me: Nice one! Are they wrapped properly?

SM: Every single one.

Me: Are any of them surprised wrapped?

SM: I thought the whole point of wrapping a present was to make it a surprise. How can you surprise wrap gift wrapping?

Me: Easy. Gift wrap the pressie, then plonk it in another box with scrunched up newspaper and gift wrap that, then put that one in a larger box stuffed out with newspaper and so on…. Bit like one of those Russian dolls.

SM: I don’t think there are any Russian doll style presents awaiting you, just normal ones. Now, what are you ordering? I'm designated order taker for the day.

Me: LAMB! And extra gravy and Yorkshires.

After stuffing ourselves on roast dinners we all piled back to dad’s. My SIL had let herself in after her shift finished at 2 and had laid on an afters/evening snacks type buffet, complete with New York style cheesecake and both stewed gooseberries and stewed rhubarb as side dishes for the cheese cake. My dozy bro couldn’t remember which one I’d specified so my SIL made both types of compote.

But SM was wrong, I did kind of end up with a Russian doll type pressie, courtesy of my ill bro’s girlfriend.
I’d assumed my ill bro would get me the new bum bag(*** pressie) I needed as he’d bought them as pressies for me in the past. However, it was his GF who got me one, and inside two of the four zipped compartments were two more wrapped pressies: The manual dental kit(***) and a Toothypegs temporary repair kit in case I damaged my crowns and couldn’t get to a dentist quickly enough. How thoughtful was that? Very.
The Toothypegs kit wasn’t on my list because I’d never heard of it. She got it instead of the toothpaste I’d requested as she lives in a bit of a shopping desert, and though it would be more useful. She was right.

My ill bro is renowned amongst us for his off-the -wall pressies and had no intention of taking a blind bit of notice of my list.
However, he had noted the perfume one though, and decided I should make my own perfumes. To which end he bought me a box of 15 essential oils, 6 droppers, sweet Almond carrier oil and 6 small brown empty bottles to put my homemade perfume in. He selected the oils himself, and he selected well.
The hyacinth one is amazing; it actually smells of real hyacinths, my favourite smell ever. I’ve added 10 drops to one of bottles full of carrier oil. It’s too good to mix with anything else and lasts for ages yet is really subtle; like perfume should be.
My first successful mix was 4 drops of Tea Rose, 3 drops of Attar of Rose, 2 0f Apple Blossom (slightly citrusy) and 1 of good old Patchouli. It doesn’t smell much at first, but after about half an hour I’m in seventh heaven, and it really suits me. Even SM thinks my recipe is very ‘evocative.’ His words, not mine.
This pressie is going to give me hours of fun. The most bizarre smell he selected was Chocolate, and it really does smell of chocolate too. Don’t quite know what I’m going to do with that, but I’ll think of something.

Dad did indeed get me the Waterpik flosser, but he also got me a pair of Aldi hiking boots in view of all the early morning walks I go on, over some pretty rough terrain too… sometimes :whistle:

That’s what my WB and dad were doing so early at Aldi’s on my birthday. The hiking boots were one of those Aldi ‘Once they’re gone, they’re gone’ special offers.
They got nattering to two young women who were there even before dad and WB, both hoping to bag a couple of pairs of the boots on ’Early Bird Sunday’ before they sold out.
Dad told them about my litter picking and they wanted to do it too. He got their emails to send them details. That’s his excuse anyway, the old goat!
My boots are dead comfy, and fit really well with fluffy socks without pinching… Nice one, dad!

As predicted, my WB got me the Oral B Pro 600 leccy toothbrush I’d set my heart on. It’s ace. The toothbrush head is so much better and easier to use than the rather large and awkward old sonic one, now discontinued anyway.
Just one problem with the Waterpik and Pro 600; they both needed to be charged for 24 hours before use, so I couldn’t use them straight away. But I’m using them now… diligently!
The Waterpik takes some getting used to; I'd end up forgetting it was on and squirting myself in the face. It's so powerful it can hit the ceiling! It doesn't half do a good job when you get used to it; a 1000 times better than floss.

My SIL didn’t get me either a portable sewing machine** or bread maker**. Her reasoning was that any adult sewing machine being sold for £20 brand new was probably little more than a Micky Mouse toy and a waste of money. Likewise with the bread maker. Instead she got the Belly Dance DVD*** I’d requested. She actually got the box set of all 3 dance instructions: Beginners, Intermediate and advanced. It was cheaper to get all three apparently, than just the Intermediate one I’d specified… Cool!
Just as cool, she also got me a deep red shimmy/coin belt, shown on top of the table on the LHS of the photo below. I’m going to have real fun with this shimmy belt in my classes, which I started again late January, and am loving it. I haven’t belly danced for about 12-13 years so am somewhat rusty. Those DVD’s should really help me get back into the flow.

I half got my nephew and his girl friend’s pressies right. I didn’t get any memory foam pillows** from my nephew and his GF as I thought I would as SM advised him against them. They retain an awful lot of heat and are murder to sleep on in summer apparently.
But my nephew got me a dead good kettle*** and his GF got me this very unusual Tutankhamun style torque necklace for belly dancing (from Home & Bargain of all places!) plus a black/purpley/greeny/bluish iridescent upper arm bangle to go with it. Although she didn’t know it she also got me a pair of Wizard of Oz updated shoes. Instead of ruby slippers, she got me blue canvass summer shoes with glittery amethyst fronts and diamanté aquamarine butterflies on the side.
I ordinarily wouldn’t look twice at shoes like these. But when I tried them on, I really liked them. I shall have to try clicking my heels together and see what happens?

My niece and fiancée didn’t send me a £15 Superdrug voucher as I’d hoped; they sent me a £25 one. Every penny of which I spent on make-up. Most unusual for me, but my dance teacher throws belly dance haflas (parties) and I've got to look the part so some make up it is!
I bought an ace box of beautifully coloured eyes shadows, some separate ones, some Lip Cote, some really light Garnier B & B cream (not too sure what that is, but it’s like a very light foundation) 4 brightish/darkish pink lipsticks (suits me much better than the dark reds and purplish colours I’d previously used all of about 4 times a year) and a few other things.
But best of all was the card the voucher was sent in. She’d made it entirely herself with little butterflies and jewels on it, and sealed at the back with an actual wax seal. Now that’s what I call style. I wanna send letters with wax seals too now :woohoo:

The Jean Paul Gautier body lotion in the female shaped bottle is from an entirely unexpected source, my dad's next door neighbour that we've know for 40 years. I didn't even know she knew it was my birthday. She came to the evening eats and came with a platter of figs and cheeses. Figs & cheese go together a treat and we polished the lot off.

And last but by no means last, Mrs T and Mr Grumpy. Mrs T got me this gorgeous box set of teeny Dior perfumes. They all smell really nice but I particularly like the one called Addict which, according to my sarky WB, figures.
Once I’ve used all the perfumes up, I’m going to fill the bottles with coloured water and keep them on display as the box is so pretty.

In many ways, Mr T’s was the most moving and poignant present I received. Under my encouragement, he joined a local evening class. He choose a water colour art class as he’d always fancied doing water colours.
He’s on medication for his Parkinson’s and still has what he calls his major motor skills. But he’s beginning to lose his finer ones and has had to give up his art classes. So he presented to me his water colour box/mini easel full of acrylic paints, water colour paints, brushes and spatulas.
He also gave me a full box of 30 water soluble Cran d’Arche colour pencils (very high quality ones) which I think must be brand new as not one has ever been used.

I was very touched by his very personal gift. He knows I’m an ex-artist but, in his book, there’s no such thing as an ex-artist. I think he’s trying to encourage me to start again for he strongly believes that being an artist is a gift from god, and to waste a gift from god is a sin. If so then I’m one hell of a sinner, as I haven’t so much as picked up a pencil to draw in nearly 20 years!!!! I think I’ve forgotten how.
Even so it was a very moving gesture for him to hand over to me his precious art stuff given what its loss represents. It was the most costly present anyone has ever given me… very humbling.

But not for long! To prove how much of a material girl I am, I spent ages yesterday posing my gifts, and gloating over them, before SM got back from his food bank outreach stuff in the evening to pick me up.

Photos below, including a close up, for no good reason than I felt like it. The beautiful purplish veil with stars on it draped over the manky mini-table was made for me by mum about 13 years ago. All the belly dance veils I’d ordered from the internet were made for 6ft 6” Amazons, which I’d get tangled up in when I tried to dance with them. So mum made me one suited to my size… Thanks mum!
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One of mum’s Blue Moon twigs planted in the pot early in the morning of my b’day. Plus some of the replacement window boxes for the manky ones we currently have.
Those broken solar butterflies surrounding the blue moon are my cunning plan to deter the foxes from digging up my baby rose bush if they try to get to the bone meal.
I took note of Susieq’s warning and have soaked the cloth wings in Dettol, and then smeared them with Fiery Jack liniment. If that little lot doesn’t keep the foxes at bay, nothing will!
The mini tea rose in the background I bought for 50p in a discount tray. Not too sure what to do with it. Is it supposed to be an indoor plant, or can I plant it in one of the window boxes? I only put it outside to let it get some fresh air and sunshine. I've bought it back indoors now. Any suggests gratefully received as ever.
blue moon planted with b's and tr.jpg

P.S. Still don’t know how SM’s court case went today. But he should be here by 10ish, so will find out then. He was being an advocate for a young family who’d been served with a no-fault Section 21 for eviction. SM is trying to get them registered as no fault homeless so the council HAVE to help them. But first he needs the paper work from the court. So his court case is more a formality than anything.

I STILL don’t know where we’re going for a mini-break or what we’ll be doing. I’ve a sneaking suspicion it’s some kind of retreat. I hope it’s not full of monks OMMing away, forcing me to meditate and force feeding me mung beans and puy lentils :dry:
If so, I’ll be doing a Colditz, and escaping to the nearest internet café to munch on bacon butties and gobble down Jaffa cakes or something :evil:
That sounds like a great birthday, and nothing less than you deserve :)
Thanks MrsAverage :kiss:

Just an itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny snow dot bikini of a pre-amble to the main pre-amble of my C & B… Promise!

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Me and SM during my delayed B’day weekend break. I loved it, but SM is like Jenny Lucas and doesn’t much like snow.

And where did my b’day get-away break take place last week? In a secluded luxury log cabin lodge surrounded by trees, complete with a sunken bath and roaring log fire. Not that the log fire was needed, despite the snow, as the lodge also had under floor heating.
But my fave was the bubbly hot tub on the decking outside. Every night I dived into it stark naked. I’d like to say I communed with the stars above whilst wallowing in hot steamy water below. But I didn’t because I couldn’t see any as each night there was a mini-blizzard. So I communed with the snowflakes instead.

SM: At least put a bikini on, someone might see you.

Me: In the dark during a snow storm… I don’t think so!

SM: Even so, someone might come passing by.

Me: Like who? We’re in the middle of Sherwood Forest. Who are you expecting? Robin bleeding Hood?

During a magically snowy walk through the forest:

Me: I don’t think much of these Thinsulate gloves.

SM: What’s wrong with them?

Me: They’re not doing much insulating for starters. My fingers are freezing.

SM: Well, if you’d stop throwing snowballs at pigeons left, right and centre I’m sure that would help.

Me: They’re flying rats and deserve being snowballed coz…

SM: They’re wood pigeons not town ones…

Me: Oh, I see! It’s all right to snow ball pleb town pigeons, but not posh rural ones, is that right?

SM: Congratulations. Now you’ve succeeded in bringing class warfare to pigeons…. What have you got against them anyway?

Me: They’re big fat bullies who nick all the food from the little birds, so I’m chasing them off so’s the robins and things don’t starve.

SM: So nearly braining that poor gold finch with your blasted snowballs is you’re idea of protecting small birds, is it?

Me: That was an accident. I wasn’t trying to hit it; it flew into my trajectory. The stupid red-headed twit should’ve looked where it was going…. Besides I only stunned it a little bit. It flew off o.k.

SM: With bird defenders like you, who needs enemies?

Another walk trying to find the Major Oak:

Me: Are we nearly there yet? My kecks are getting really soggy.

SM: Serves you right for insisting on making snow angels all over the place.

Me: I’m leaving a trail for Shirley. She/he/it has been very quiet of late… probably still sulking since I sacked them.

SM: Please tell me you’re joking… aren’t you?

Me: Course I am :whistle:

But I shall write more about the B’day break later AFTER my pre-amble to my C & B. But I’ll do the latter tomorrow as I’ve had a very busy week sorting my flat out, and I’m knackered. I need my shut-eye.

Chow for now X
Now for my final, and necessary, pre-amble to my C & B. It’s necessary for me at any rate, as I have loads of scribbled notes I’d like to make more sense of.
I probably won’t succeed but even the act of trying to thrash into shape the pages of indecipherable Sanskrit, which passes for my hand writing, will be of benefit to me in in its own right REGARDLESS of any results or lack of. At least I’ll have it out of my system if nothing else.

Everything was going swimmingly for me last year. With help from family, friends, the localish drugs & alkie rehab outpatient centre/s and last, but by no means least, good old AA, I’d well and truly knocked my drink problem on the head.

I was alive again instead of being a zombie. I was doing voluntary work as and when I could, plus getting myself fit via walks and speed marching. I even entered for a Muddy Fun Run and gave up ciggies cold turkey, with relative ease. This was mainly because the smoking was interfering with my training and that increasingly annoyed me more than I desired smoking. That was a major miracle for me :shock:

SM and I were getting along swimmingly, despite our still considerable differences, and spending more time together going to places if only for a few hours at a chuck. Everything was balancing out nicely, and life was good.

With my new found energy and enthusiasm, I also heavily researched the Work Capability Assessment ins & outs on behalf of my ill bro and helped various users from SM’s food bank sort out their water rate and leccy bills who’d got into trouble with them.
Regarding the latter, I could do this standing on my head with all the practise I’d had confronting my arch enemy, Scottish Power, over the years. Seemed a shame to let all that experience go to waste, plus I like giving SP a good kicking! So I threw myself into that task with gusto bordering on glee.

All of the above was in addition to my full time caring duties towards dad and, more increasingly, my ill bro.
However, I could now do things in a third of the time, with loads more efficiency and with a fraction of the energy than previously when hitting the bottle.
In fact, the more I took on, the more I seemed able to do. At times I almost felt super human. That should’ve been my first warning sign that all was not as rosy in the garden as first appeared. There were metaphorical slugs on the march….. and heading my way :o

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(O.K, O.K… I know the above aren’t slugs but I couldn’t find any emoticon ones. So boxing/marching caterpillars and rather sinister looking spiders will have to do instead to illustrate my point.)


As if all of the above wasn’t enough, I then got it into my head to sort Mr G’s house out as it wasn’t selling and he needed to move into supported living ASAP due to his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s.
I certainly possessed the skills, practise and know-how to undertake this task. I also had access to all the equipment required (not to mention a fair whack of the materials too) in order to do so on a shoe string budget.
It took some considerable arm-twisting on my part to get Mr G to agree to my House Doctor-like makeover. I think now, looking back on it, that he only agreed in the end to shut me up!

Now, when my dad and I used to fit kitchens, etc, many, many moons ago, he had three rules we ALWAYS abided by, as follows:

1) Promise little, deliver much.

2) Always leave the place neater and tidier than we found it every night at knock-off time.

3) NEVER, EVER offer advice or suggestions for colour schemes, etc, even if the customers beg you for such advice.

The first rule speaks for itself. By promising little, but delivering more than expected, all our customers thought we were the bees’ knees and would give us rave recommendations. We never once had to advertise our services and relied entirely on word of mouth.

Ditto the second rule. The third rule was a little more complicated. The trouble with offering advice on colour schemes, etc, even if you’re more than qualified to give it, is that if the customer ends up going along with your advice/suggestions, but hates the end result they will ALWAYS end up blaming you; either to your face or behind your back, sometimes both!
They will have completely forgotten by now that they begged you for such advice in the first place. And that you heavily stressed that such choices are highly personal, that everyone’s tastes are different and that, ultimately the final choices are their responsibly regardless of any suggestions you might make.
So, if you ever employ a painter & decorator (who is NOT a ‘home style consultant’ a la Lawrence Lleweylen-bowen but a tradesman/woman) and they’re humming and haring if you’re harrying them for advice/suggestions now you know why. It’s a case of DIY fools rush in were professional angels fear to tread (Shirley would approve of that analogy.)

Needless to say, I broke every single one of dad’s sacred rules over Mr G’s house make-over.
Not only did I promise the earth, and come up with suggestions galore, I positively foisted them on him. I also occasionally left his place as if a bomb had hit it.
Fortunately for me, I not only delivered the earth I’d so fervently promised, but the moon too. My demanded suggestions worked a treat, and he was most understanding about the occasional bomb site mess of his previously neat & tidy house. All was forgotten when he saw the end result; especially when he got more than the asking price for his house.

I’m now going to describe in some detail Mr G’s house makeover for reasons that will become clear later on.

When selling a house it’s often considered a virtue to make a fuss about having ‘original features.’ Not so in Mr G’s case as his house was originally a highly primitive small fisherman’s cottage. In fact the only reason he bought it for a song (less than £500 in the 60’s) was precisely because it was virtually nothing but an ‘original feature’ and nobody else wanted it.

There was no bathroom and only an outside loo, but at least the downstairs made a nod towards the early 20th century with its two light fittings (no plug sockets) and solitary tap in the kitchen.
The upstairs was straight out of the medieval ages according to Mr G. It was accessed by a rough hewn ladder into a large windowless loft. There was no ceiling separating the roof (which leaked) from the upstairs ‘cells’ passing for bedrooms.
The ‘cell’ wall dividers were made from latticed strips of wood stuffed with plaster and horsehair. Basically, one up from wattle and dub!
These cells had no doors, so Mr G reckons the families living there previously must have hung up curtains to have something approximating privacy.
I had visions of drunken fisherman having to kip on the downstairs floor as they didn’t dare risk climbing the ladder and plunging to their deaths if the fell from the loft platform as it had no wall, or even a little fence, to prevent such falls.

Given that families then had several children the cottage hovel must have been horribly cramped. However, the back garden is huge by today’s standards. Families then must have been expected to grow a lot of their own food, keep chickens and pigs, etc and were provided with the land to do so.

Mr G may have lacked dosh but he had vision; he could see the potential in the place even if others couldn’t. He was refused a mortgage so he borrowed the money from his brother in law instead. His BIL also happened to own his own building firm so the place was ‘done up’ on Mates Rates.

‘Done up’ has to be the understatement of the year. Its inside was virtually gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. By the time you take into account all the extension building, extra brick retaining walls, stone lintels and RSJs (rolled steel joists) required then, according to Mr G there’s practically only the outside shell of the cottage and its garden remaining.

The upshot of all this remodelling is a respectably sized 3 bedroomed house with upstairs bathroom and a reasonable sized main living room, dining room, kitchen and a downstairs loo/cloakroom.
With its beautifully kept garden and excellent location it should have been snaffled up by young families fighting to buy the place.
But it wasn’t. And that’s where I came in armed with my Anne Maurice inspired make-over ideas.

For those not in the know, Anne Maurice is a Californian ‘House Doctor’ who had a TV series on either Channel 4 or 5 called, surprisingly, The House Doctor.
She was called in by people who had difficulty selling their homes. First she’d sort out the luckless sellers Kerb Appeal and then de-clutter/de-personalise their somewhat eccentric abodes. She’d then go nuts with the neutral tones and finish off with a flourish of maximising the accessorising.
Mum and me were huge fans of AM and her show.
She was eventually replaced by some younger, blonder ditzy American girl who mum and me both thoroughly disliked. Think Shirley Temple on speed meets the love child of Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen and that just about sums up Anne Maurice’s annoyingly squeaky voiced replacement.
Mum and me much preferred AM’s more sassy, mature approach to thrashing stubborn wannabe house sellers into shape. Think Lauren Bacall’s plain Jane niece meets Miss Jean Brodie and that just about sums up AM.

Thankfully, Mr G is also a fan of the magnificent Ms Maurice, so it didn’t take too much arm twisting, etc to get him to agree to letting me do an AM on his house.
So why wasn’t Mr G’s home getting the interest it deserved? In a word: Stygian.

Definition of Stygian 1: of or relating to the river Styx 2: extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding

The outside looked ace; nothing wrong with Mr G’s Kerb Appeal. In fact, the front of his house could’ve given a Lolita-like street walker a run for her money when it came to kerb appeal.
His dinky front garden was very pretty and his double-glazed porch (installed about 12 years ago) only needed a quick lick of red oxide concrete paint on the rather worn and stained terracotta floor tiles to look brand new. Very floribund (that word doesn’t actually exist but I like it) hanging baskets completed the welcoming ‘look.’

The problems started on entering the small hallway. Talk about oppressively depressing :(

But more on that later, and my AM inspired solutions. I’ve changed my mind… yet again!

I’ve just decided to kill 3 birds (NOT gold finches!) with one stone. I’m going to describe dead easy/quick/cheap cleaning/DIY tips of the trade in this main pre-amble to my C & B. Might as well have some fun with this pre-amble. Who knows? It might even be of use to someone reading it. That’s two birds down, now for the third.

As a picture speaks a 1000 words, I’m going to illustrate them too as some of these tips of the trade are truly astounding; people not in ‘the know’ would never believe me otherwise.
I can’t illustrate them with piccies of Mr G’s make-over as I didn’t take any. Even if I had, I doubt he’d give me permission to use them which is fair enough.
However, I’ve been taking piccies of my flats current makeover, using many of the same techniques, so I’ll use them instead.

“I duly give myself permission to use my own mobile phone photos, me Laud!”

It was often the really simple, little things that impressed me and my dad’s customers the most. A huge problem for many, including our customers, was aged, grubby greying grout between otherwise pristine tiles.
It’s a murderous, dirty, dusty messy job to remove old grout and replace it. It’s actually easier & cheaper to remove and replace the tiles instead. But a customer once insisted she wanted to keep the tiles and replace the grout…. NEVER AGAIN!
I’ve tried just about every tile grout whitening product on the market. They’re all rubbish and time consuming to use. Even the really expensive ones don’t do a very good job considering what they cost.
But I devised a technique that costs pennies and is really quick to use with guaranteed results EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Here are some photos I took last May of my en-suite bathroom at my dad’s house. The wall tiling is floor to ceiling (I did it, plus laying the floor tiles) yet cleaning the seriously darkened grout (and all the tiles too) took me less than half-a-day to restore the grout to its original blinding white.

Fully cleaned tiles/grout on RHS, next to middle section of tiles on first cleaning compared to those on LHS not touched at all. I really must get around to boxing in the exposed pipe work one of these days; at least by the year 3,000!
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All tiles after 2nd cleaning with ‘special’ technique…. See it and weep, ye who too have spent ages, and a fortune, on so-called grout whitening pens, etc.
dirty tiles 1b.jpg

And just what is my super-duper technique that leaves all other standing at the starting blocks on every front?
One I discovered quite by accident. It may well have already existed (I’m sure it did) but I’d never heard of it. So, as far as I’m concerned, I invented it, as follows:

1) Roughly clean tiles (or section of depending on how many you have to clean) with an old spray bottle (mine was an empty Mr Muscle one) full of luke warm water and wipe with paper kitchen towels or cloth.
Don’t get bugged about getting tiles spotlessly clean at this stage; you’re just removing the bulk of grime as quickly as possible. Any remaining will easily be taken care of in Stage 2.

2) Let tiles and, more importantly, the grout dry. It’s important the grout is dry so that it sucks in the magic ingredient as much as possible.
Fill old, thoroughly cleaned out, spray bottle with bleach. The cheaper and thinner the bleach, the better. Believe it or not, but runny bleach is actually stronger, purer bleach than the thick, clingy stuff, simply because thin bleach contains no gelling agents. However, thick bleach will still do the job very well; it’s just a bit more difficult to spray being thicker.
Spray bleach, concentrating on the grout, starting at the top and working downwards. I like to do the horizontal lines of grout first, then the verticals. As you go along rub excess bleach lightly over tiles with a small sponge.
Leave for about 30 minutes, then quickly wipe bleach off with paper kitchen towels and, with a large sponge, quickly and lightly wash down with plain cold water.
Leave to dry and lightly buff tiles to get rid of streaks. An old white tee-shirt is best for buffing the tiles.

With minimum effort and time, you’ll end up with tiles and gleaming white grout that looks brand new…. JOB DONE B)

Needless to say, wear goggles, rubber gloves and open all windows for ventilation. If you’re worried about the smell of bleach lingering, it will dissipate really quickly after the final wash down.

Does my technique denature the grouting? I’ve no idea, but I’ve been cleaning my tiles this way approx every 6 months for the past 5 years and, so far, the grout is as stable as the day it was applied.

For heavy, ancient grease on tiles and grout behind cookers there’s a third stage which takes seconds to get rid of. But I’ll leave that for my next post.

Chow for now :kiss:
It was glorious yesterday so I hit the garden and got an awful lot done. How well what was done, or how awful, remains to be seen. Neither dad nor myself are what you might call natural born gardeners.

Dad: You’ll never manage to dig those roots out. You’re brother and me couldn’t manage it, you certainly won’t. You should just let me poison them.

Me: I bloody well will! And NOWAYS am I letting you rip with that Round Up stuff; it’s been banned. I’ve got plans for this back wall rockery and it doesn’t include you and Monsanto mass poisoning what remains of the rambling rose or things I’m going to plant.

I did too! Damn near killed me, but I managed it in the end, and did an awful lot of soil digging/turning/aerating into the bargain too.
The roots in question are what remained of the ivy and some other black berry bearing tree/over grown shrub after my WB’s and dad’s mass attack on the back wall.
The stumps were these odd looking white hairy bony things which look more like something leftover from a Dr Who set than have any right to be in an English suburban back garden.
back garden wall roots 1.jpg
One down, one more to go,
and off to the tip with you (I’m a poet, and I know it!)
back garden wall roots 2.jpg
Dad also managed to destroy one of mum’s clematisises (or should that be clematisi?) by trying to move the manky old bucket it was in to re-soil it. The idiot didn’t wear his glasses so managed to completely shear it off from its roots. He should’ve gone to SpecSavers.
No matter; I’ve bought a new one from Morrison’s, called Rahvarinne, and it’s a deep pink colour. Its flowers will show up against the light cream coloured pebbledash wall much better than the old white ones.
That’s assuming it flowers (from June – Sept) at all as it’s looking a bit weedy at the moment.
back garden new clematis.jpg

As you can see from the photo I took earlier this morning it’s battering down with rain so no gardening today. I’m taking myself off to Liverpool to batter my flat instead. As my WB is busy today I’ll take dad with me and drop him off at his sister’s house who lives just three miles or so from my flat.
Out of seven brothers (dad’s the second eldest) and one sister, only he, his sis and baby bro remain. Not surprisingly, given he’ll be 84 this year, he likes to visit them as much as possible. So I now combine sorting my flat out with ferrying dad to his remaining siblings. That way I kill two birds with one stone (but not gold finches; I have plans for them B) )

Chow for now X
That’s all looking good... the clematis looks very healthy!

I actually managed to mow my lawn on Sunday. Looking forward to reading more of your garden makeover!
Hi Flo

I strongly suspect that my gardening make-over will be an object lesson in not what to do as I, unlike my mum, have red fingers.
For instance, I bought 5 Lily of the Valley bulbs (Convallaria Majalis, to be precise) from Aldi for no good reason other than I liked their name. They came in a plastic bag full of dry compost which I slung under the kitchen sink. When I remembered I had them and retrieved them, they’d sprouted good style! Took me ages to disentangle them.

Lesson: Do NOT store bulbs in a warm, damp dark environment, such as under the sink, in a very warm house or you’ll end up with baby triffids on your hands, as follows.
blue moon lilly of vals.jpg
I was so concerned that by moving my LotV triffids from such warmth inside to such cold outside that I might kill them off. So I wrapped the bag in a couple of old towels and left them overnight outside to acclimatise before planting.
I planted them in mum’s Blue Moon rose massive plastic terracotta plant pot outside my French doors. SM thinks this is a bad idea because IF my Blue Moon (one of three) flowers this year, and IF my Lilly of the Valley’s also flower (I don’t think they will as I’m sure at least one of them has plant cancer as its covered in bobbly tumours) then their perfumes will be in competition with one another and will be a bit overwhelming.
What bollocks! Bring it on, says I…..
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Who knows? Maybe both will survive and somehow combine together to create a Valley of the Moon lillosa; a whole new plant! How cool would that be?
SM reckons my understanding of plant genetics leaves a lot to be desired. Pha! What does he know? His knowledge of gardening is restricted to how much his gardener costs him each month.
Dad’s just as clueless, and my WB makes me look like Percy Thower by comparison. He thinks annuals are comic hard-backed books you give kids at Christmas, and that ‘house plant’ is a mini digger or jack hammer, etc that you hire from the likes of HSS.

However, I wish I’d listened more to mum when she was alive regards gardening. I was her garden weeding donkey worker, etc, as she couldn’t manage stuff like that due to her dreadful arthritis.

Mum: Pull those up, they’re weeds.

Me: But they’ve got such pretty pink mauvish flowers; how can they possibly be weeds?

Mum: They’ll take over the garden otherwise, so pull ‘em up. Show them no mercy!

Me: I bloody well won’t, they’re staying.

Mum: On your own head be it… don’t say I didn’t warn you.

They did too; take over the garden that is. I am now the Pol Pot of these over prolific pesky, if pretty pink, plants.

Or Vice versa; I’d be about to dig/pull something up and bin it when mum would stop me in the nick of time.

Mum: Don’t you dare…. They’re my geraniums; I’ve had them for years.

Me: What? These manky brittle grey twigs are actual flowers? They look well dead to me.

Mum: Well they’re not. Give them a couple of weeks and green leaves will appear… you see if I’m not right!

She was too, as always when it came to gardening.

I made a bit of a boob when it came to planting the other two Blue Moon roses though. I decided to also put those in large plant pots but put them in the front garden instead.
I’m swiping any soil I need from the back garden back wall rockery and mixing it 50/50 with my ace compost from my Dalek compost bin, also in the back garden.
Now, it’s one thing to fill a large capacity plant pot with soil, etc when you only have to move it a couple of feet to position it by swivelling it around on its base. Quite another when you have to move it about 50 yards over steps. SM took an undue delight in pointing this out.

SM: Are you sure this is a good idea? How on earth are you going to move them?

Me: I’ll manage… I’ll plonk them in the wheel barrow and transport ‘em that way.

SM: Hmm…. This should be interesting to witness.

Approx 45 minutes later I went to lift them into the wheel barrow. Shall we just say they were so heavy that they didn’t lift by so much as a millimetre but I nearly fell flat on my face with the effort and damn near squashed mum’s rose twigs in to the bargain.

Me: Don’t you DARE say ‘I told you so’ or I’ll brain you.

SM: Need a little help, do we?

Me: What does it look like, you Burk.

SM: Tut, tut… temper, temper! What’s the magic word?

Me: I’ll magic word you in a minute if you don’t get off your lazy arse and give me a hand.

SM: You said you didn’t need any help, that you could manage on your own, that…

Me: Yes, yes, yes… now are you going to help me, or not?

SM: Move over darling, and let a real man take over. Admit it; there are something’s even you need a man for… I dare you!

Me: I’ll Doris Day you if you’re not careful. There’s only one thing I need a man for, Sunshine. And it ain’t got nuthin’ to do with rose relocations!

SM: I somewhat laid myself open to that one….

Me: Laid being the operative word. Now, this should be interesting to witness.

It was too. Despite being a Goliath to my Davida, he struggled almost as much as I did. Serves him right for his sexist boasting! Pride doth cometh before a fall, as Shirley would say.
In the end we both had to lift them into the barrow and wheeled the wheel barrow up steps steep and narrow – alive, alive oh - and through the garage into the front garden.

SM: You could’ve at least cleared the decks in the garage. I’ve bashed my ankle at least twice.

Me: I thought I did. I swear to god that the junk in there breeds when I’m not looking.

Dad’s garage, not to be confused with the black hole he calls his workshop.
Dads garage.jpg
We positioned one rose twig in its black plastic Milano (as they’re called) giant plant pot on dad’s half-moon, stone stepped terrace outside his bedroom, and the other by the driveway.

Me: Do you think people might nick mum’s Blue Moons from the front garden?

SM: Not unless they turn up with a mini forklift truck. They’ll do their backs in otherwise.

Me: OH BUGGER! I forgot to drill holes in the bottom of the Milano pots.

SM: You idiot, now we’ll have to take them back and…

Me: Tut, tut… temper, temper. Only kidding! Now where are my Fiery-Jacked butterflies? No ways are those foxes digging up my roses after all the trouble I’ve gone to.

Here’s some of my plastic solar butterflies in all their previous glory (multi-coloured flashing on & off ones, at least at night) now sadly defunct. But currently reincarnated as fox-putter-offers. I’m into my re-cycling I am B)
back garden solar butterflies plastic wings.jpg
Sleep tight, and don't let the bed bugs bite. Chow for now X

P.S. What the heck is a HTTP Error? That just flashed up as I tried to download a photo. Time to try again....

Success!
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