The Dinosaur who came to Lunch

All dressed up was I, well casually smart,  well OK in jeans and a new top,  to entertain my grown up daughter and her boyfriend to lunch.

Inspired by our Kansas barbecue meal in London Mr Him made a barbeque sauce,  heavy on the bourbon.  Not all the bourbon made it into the sauce, I might add.  I made a blackberry crumble,  heavy on the crumble.  That's a crunch to those readers across the internet village pond (Atlantic Ocean.)

The door bell rang and on our doorstep was a green dinosaur. Yes the young online shopping genius had been shopping again and once again showing her said genius.  She arrived in what appeared to be the latest arrival of her winter wardrobe from China. She was sporting what she described as a  dinosaur onesie, but I still think she ordered a Chinese Dragon. 

Now bearing in mind that the young online shopping genius is ahead of the curve,  as we've established in many a previous blog,  it suggests that we will all be wearing this next winter for visiting family for Sunday lunch.   

Anna of The Mutton Years: Under My Kitchen Sink

Anna of The Mutton Years: Under My Kitchen Sink: As activity stirs deep beneath the frost and snow in readiness for spring I thought I'd take a leaf out of nature's book and stir t...

Under My Kitchen Sink

As activity stirs deep beneath the frost and snow in readiness for spring I thought I'd take a leaf out of nature's book and stir things down below myself.   Don't worry, I'm not going to get medical here. No,  I'm talking about cleaning out the deepest, darkest, least cared for cupboard. That found under the kitchen sink.  

Not one to pass up an opportunity to multitask I have decided to blog my kitchen sink tidy up for your delectation. Well it's one up the ladder of comparing myself to a toilet brush  (see to-become-more-scraper-than-brush ). I may even do a blog give away.  Let's see what we'll find, decontamination suits to the ready.

Orchid food, yet I do not have live orchids.  I love orchids but cannot nurture them to the extent that they re-flower.  As these foods are all unopened I am sensing why my orchids died.

Empty packets and boxes,

An instruction leaflet on how to use rubber gloves,  (please, not a word)

The ubiquitous tin of Brasso, (which comes in handy later on)

and a leak!

There followed a holler to Mr Him and a response from him along the lines of  'we need to get someone in to fix this.'  It seems the sealant has 'gone' around the sink and a slow seepage over years has caused this damage and this resulting mess on the shelf underneath.

Utilising the substances unearthed I managed to remove this rusty mark.  This is where the Brasso came in handy.  It was the only unearthed substance up to the job.

Morals of this story, don't discount that ubiquitous Brasso that lurks nesting in many a dark cupboard, and don't assume sink sealant won't take a leave of absence. 

Before and after pics, I hear you ask!


As with many a makeover the lighting is warmer on the 'after' result. The cupboard is brighter and there is more definition around the dettol.

Tower of London and Kansas Barbecues

This week Mr Him was working away from home.  Not abroad you understand,  nor the other end of Britain.  No, Mr Him was working as far away from home as I do on my daily commute, and yet it required him to be put up in a hotel for 3 days.  It wasn't as if he was working late into the night,  oh no, five pm finishes were scheduled.  Do you sense cynicism on my part?

'How about coming up to London for a meal Tuesday night, ' he said. 'Then you can go back home.'  What nonsense was this and yes I fell for it. I would do the commute to London and back in the evening, that same commute I do daily, (and still come home at night I add,)  whilst he was to toddle to a nearby prebooked hotel bed after our meal.  
The rationale behind him staying was due to working from base  the commute home would put him over hours so his company insisted he stay overnight.  'Administrative HR irony' I call it. 

So the evening came and I adorned myself in renee twin set, skinny jeans, long boots, faux fur and my Renee and statement lipstick scarf, and set off for the city lights.  

We met in a Wetherspoons by  the Tower of London.  I love how this chain individualises the bars, in this case history and decor associated with the Tower.  See the ghostly Henry in the tapestry.

How would you follow a drink amongst history,  a Kansas City style bbq of course. Bodeans is a small chain specialising in chin wiping,  mouth dribbling ribs,  pulled pork and bbq sauce. 

After a southern comfort,  a hot buttered cider, a woo woo and with teeth full of burnt ends I found a short train home.

I will add that I awoke fresh and with not the slightest headache.  So the morale here is to stick with hot buttered cider and woo woos when I next go to the pub.  I fear my local won't understand me.

A Serious one - To be Fashion Forward or Not

Is it just me or do you also not wear the absolute latest thing in fashion until its been knocking around for a few years?  I was in bootcut jeans, eking out every penny’s worth of wear before migrating to skinnies.  This is not only due to frugality, although that is useful, but more that to my mind until a trend has become a Trend then I would resemble the sad piece of mutton that I am rather than the youthful modish fashionista that I would be aiming for.  To me there is something aging about wearing the first flash of fashion.  Maybe because the outset of a fresh new look is aimed at the young and it needs to be seasoned, mellowed, toned down a little to be styled for those over forty. To my mind there is also something about commonality. The more we see the occurrence of a ‘Look’ then the more it is the norm.  This is the point at which I dive in. It’s the moment at which I do not feel that I am aging myself in my hipness. Am I alone I wonder, am I depriving myself of youthful fashion verve by jumping in once it’s at the peak of commonality?  Is my approach in itself aging?

This week I embraced, no that’s too strong, I nervously experimented with ankle boots combined with a skirt.  I felt that as this blend of two quite ordinary items had been seen last year then possibly I could get away with it.  So unsure was I that I tweeted it before I left the house to ask whether it looked fine.  Yes, was the answer from those in the know, were the boots waterproof was a sensible question from a man.  I was reassured further when I noticed that the female ticket collector on the train was wearing the same look and her face was my age.  My plan was to wear the ankle boots to the office and change into my normal heels on arrival.   I found them so comfortable that  two days later I was still sporting the boots with a skirt and not once have I slipped on my normal office heels.

Leggings!  Another perfect example of my lack of fashion forward thinking.  First time around, in my twenties, I saw leggings as slightly racy.  I teamed them with long jumpers, and boots and was at the forefront of fashion.  This time I am braving the leggings a year or so after my daughters, and then nervously.  When I have worn leggings so far the dark has been my friend.  They have ventured to a 50th birthday disco party.  Pleather leggings seemed relatively appropriate with a glittery rear-covering tunic.   I would add that I am lucky enough to be the same weight as when I left school so figure wise can get away with these leg huggers, although face wise I have doubts.

Am I aging myself in not being fashion forward? Should I have embraced the skinny jean earlier?  What should I be embracing now? 

Introducing our new hens and the Tormentinator

A few weeks ago we acquired two more chickens taking our total to four.  

The Tormentinator

Witnessing the pecking order is a cruel pass time. In our coop  feathers were viciously plucked and combs were used as lasoos by our oldest hen,  now fondly named The Tormentinator.  There was no level of cruelty that that hen would not stoop to, from enforced starvation to noise persecution .  To give the new hens some space to relax over a meal we  needed to regularly let The Tormentinator out to run amok in the garden.  With an 'I'll be back' cluck she would waddle to the compost heap but still keep half an eye on the coop.  If any hen went near the food bowl, she was back, it was not an idle threat. 

A month later and the order is now well established.   We survived the Hierarchy Hostilities, although my nails are quite a bit shorter. 

The next step was to give them more space.  Our Cube hen house and run is suitable for six but I'm a generous chicken keeper.  I wanted my hens to have freedom to run, stretch their wings,  to scratch and dig,  not to mention run away from the Tormentinator. So we bought an extension to the existing run and an extra grub bowl to avoid arguments.  I defy The Tormentinator to guard two food bowls simultaneously, well unless she also time travels. I wouldn't put that past her.

Timing is not brilliant.  We are having another unseasonably warm and wet winter.  Our soil is clay.  Combine the two and conditions are terrific for a mud fight but not digging out space for the run.    Mr Him kindly donned wellies and took on the Clay Dig Challenge.  The hens stayed in the locale to ensure that he didn't take the biggest juiciest worms uncovered for himself.
The run extension was up and in place in a day.  The prettyfying with borders and paving will await another day,  so Mr Him told me.  I told him otherwise but clearly have asertiveness skills to learn from a certain hen.

The one in which I do Yoga

In an earlier blog I vowed to obtain a body that had the flexibility of a worm. My future suppleness would allow me to coil and writhe with the best of the nimble goddesses in lycra.   If you knew me you would appreciate the challenge that I have set myself here.  There is a serious reason for my endeavour, my grandmother had a stoop in her elder years and my mother is developing one.  As I am on the eve of retirement, OK so a decade or two away but in the terms of the bodily decay its tomorrow, I should increase my spine’s agility to avoid the same fate.  So with this aim, I joined a trial yoga class this week.  Sadly,  at the time of writing I'm not sure the instructor will have me back to continue my quest.  That will be a shame because I so enjoyed lying on my mat gazing at the ceiling, which was a lovely pine, I should add.  I think my error was in asking the Mayor if he was joining us half way through the session but it seemed rude not to mention it, especially as we were using his premises.  

To set the scene we were in a sumptuous room with a plush, thick moss coloured mayoral carpet, mayoral central heating set on the temperature of mayoral bodyheat,  candles with fresh bay leaves, aromas of therapy, not mayoral lunches, and pristine white net curtains. No dirty, cold, draughty hard floored village hall for me when I do yoga.  For me only the 6 star rated mayoral hosted yoga would do, as you would expect from a discerning person as myself.  I was attending yoga in no less than the Town Hall.

So there I was lying on the floor, feet up the wall making lovely smudges on the mayoral decor when the instructor said ‘bring yourself back to the room.’ I hadn't left it.  My mind was not drifting on a tranquil plane.  My mind was gazing at the mayoral pine ceiling and rotating around to watch other people, for comparison, you understand.  I suppose this was the first clue that yoga will be a huge stretch for me, in more than one way.

We moved on to do contortions, swooping and balancing.  Trees were involved at some point.  I think it was the section in which my roots came unstuck and I was more chopped log than young, lithe sapling.  Yet my suppleness did increase during the hour, with each upside downside sideways dog and yawning, sleeping, lazy cat.

My conclusion is that exercise in a candlelit room and at the speed of a tree sloth suits me and I cling on to the hope that the instructor accepts me in her class.  I eagerly await the summoning email.

A Day at the Museum

I recently had a day trip to the big tourist attraction, London and its sub-attraction, the Science Museum.  What was lost in time playing with crowded lifts was exasperated by the prices in the cafe and both were detrimental to my outing demeanor. Be warned if you visit.

So, that's my moans out of the way.  My demeanor recovered in the space exploration area and we had a lovely time sitting watching  what I would describe as a  puppet Earth, as it was suspended by strings, rotating before us and displaying the  networks that cruise our planet. Some natural such as jet streams and others artificial,  aeroplanes, tracking the globe.  I was struck by the concentration of flights in USA and in Europe. Twitter was a network not shown.  I must put that forward to the museum unless it is a deliberate omission due to the weight of twitter which may  break the puppet globes suspension strings.  

We stood awhile considering alternate ways of parking our cars on my drive, vertically, along the lines of the vertical food previously tried.   

The automotive engineer (see motor parts and groceries in December) wanted to spend an inordinate amount of time looking at engines and took great delight in talking pistons to me.  In return I talked Apollo 10 command module to him.  He had the most to say.  

We then moved on to aviation and any gaps in my knowledge of pistons was filled. 

Once my knowledge of pistons was complete we went to play in the interactive area.  Well 'we' is poetic license.   The young online shopping genius and automotive engineer fiddled with their tablets from which they were able to drive cartoon cars around a Simm City like town.  (The young on line shopping genius appears to have taken her Chinese winter wardrobe with her given the size of her bag.)

We then moved on to the dentistry section.  This is a small area in the upper  level. The online shopping genius decided to further my education by teaching me about spittoons and the function of. 

A few years ago I was in Washington DC for work and availed myself of the Smithsonian collection of museums.  They hosted a huge variety of displays from Easter island stone figures to the flag raised when the British were defeated, to Conestoga wagons to the Apollo 11 command module, well we have 10 in London afterall.  I was struck by a teenage boy who was visiting the National Museum of American History with his grandparents.  He exclaimed at a display of a 200 year old  Gunboat.  'Wow this is awesome.  A once in a lifetime experience.'  

In Britain none of us are more than a few hours from a natural history or science museum. Our children take museums and 200 year old artifacts so much for granted they are bored by them.   Well mine were.  It was so rewarding seeing my once museum bored offspring enjoy the science museum, even if it was spittoons. 

Lifestyle:To Become more Scraper than Brush

I have decided to start the New Year as I mean to go on, with a new loo brush.  In fact not so much a brush as a scraper.  Its arrow shaped head will zone in on debris with laser sharpness leaving behind pristine cleanliness.  Well that’s what the spiel said.  With its bristle-less head there is nowhere for detritus to attach and being impregnated with silver it’s apparently antibacterial.  Instead of a rigid core to the head this device is flexible.  The fact that this gadget arrived on New Year’s Eve by courier from my favourite channel and I opened it on New Year’s Day I see as symbolic.  I am being told to become more like  a  toilet scraper, and to wear more silver.   This second point I shall hint heavily to Mr Him. 

In the meantime, instead of keeping for special occasions, I shall  wear the de rigour silver bracelet bearing charms donated by loved ones as reminders of their love and of the memories that they celebrate; the one from my parents from Christmas 2011, the one from my in-laws for that special birthday. 

I will also obtain the toilet scraper's flexibility.  To do so  I have booked myself on to a yoga course for beginners.  I have the mat, I have had the mat for many years, it’s now time to go out there and obtain the bendability of a worm.   

Like a brush, too often the issues of family life stick to me with the tenacity of tissue paper and as family members could tell you this leaves me very bristly.   For their sanity, and mine,  I need to make a clean sweep rather than brushing half ineffectively.  

This means that if I can’t persuade my 16 year old to add more quotations to her English essay or to let me teach her how to calculate the angle of Y then I should let go and move on.  I won't stress what I can't change.  I also won’t try to do everything myself but I do need to be precise if I want help.  My cry for assistance should be  like the arrowhead of the scraper, to the point rather than the prickly hints that I am in the habit of giving.  

I will do my best in the future to be more toilet scraper than brush. I suppose at least there are reminders dotted around in the small rooms of the house. 

The Garden Gnome

My daughter was inspired when it came to giving us a Christmas present this year.  Her inspiration was based on the perception that I had everything else, but not one of these.  She was absolutely correct.  I had managed to reach my mutton years without having such an item.  Then bam, on Christmas day we, Mr Him and I, became the proud carers of a Garden Gnome!  Wearing a pink jumper.  

I am not gnomaphobic, but up to that moment I had aimed for a natural look in my garden.  My daughter had other aspirations. 

My herbaceous borders are weeded but not neatly edged.  I have overflowing lavender and my geraniums spill in a rugged heap from the beds onto the lawn to show the raw nature of my design. I admit my arrangements do contain the odd ornamental goose, sheep, toad, meercats (yes meercats on springs, from my parents) and chicken.  These are of nature, including the meercats on springs.   They are at one with the rambling heather and unbridled lavender.    There is nothing natural about a Garden Gnome in a pink jumper!

In previous blogs I have described my 20 year old as an on line shopping genius.  In  buying me a blush adorned gnome for my feral look garden it appears she is once again right up there, on trend.

Looking on line, I find that garden gnomes are back, and in a big way according to one website.   They are being cast as the epitome of tradition as a counter to the modern technological world. In May 2013 garden gnomes even reappeared at the Chelsea Flower Show having been banned for the last 100 years.  Garden gnomes, apparently, are no longer the object of ridicule, no longer considered an eyesore and what's more myth has them as figures of good fortune and optimism when indoors or in one's garden.  For the moment he is poking his head from around a tree in the back garden, looking rustic, and I will thank my online shopping genius for being ahead of the curve and for providing our household with an object of good fortune and fashion.  

Making of Rhubarb Gin

How I made Rhubarb Gin and Mr Him does a BBQ See he's still being sensible. Maybe I should pour the gin down him! No. That would be a...