The Slouch Potato

Dear reader,  how could I possibly top my lemsip head party vacation?  Is it possible?  Yes, and I managed it.  I hit the Vallium. This happened on boxing day, post eating all the wrong foods on Xmas day.  Still vallium is favourable to a paracetamol drip  (yes, that happened two December's ago when I was told I had Abdominal Migraine.) I am going to write on this on my boring blog. 

Here's some of what we ate over Christmas.

Mr Him honey roasted a ham 

Mulled wine

We had a goose this year

I awoke on boxing day with IBS cramps and spasms that would not give.   I needed an antispasmodic. Bring on the Diazapam.   That sorted me out.  By 1.30 I was ready for a light breakfast. 

However that aside, I hope you had a fabulous holiday and enjoyed the company of many that you love.  For my part I am in the middle of two weeks off work.  Day one consisted of waking up at 10 am.  The next day I awoke at 9.30.  Having awoke, had  breakfast, did some cleaning I slouched on the sofa watching Netflix, for almost a week. I have another week to go.  I have discovered Designated Survivor.  It is brilliant and I am binge watching. I have also binge watched sloppy romantic slushy Christmas movies like A Gift of Miracles, Once upon a Holiday, In my Dreams etc.  I have also discovered Glitch and The OA.  Both Mr Him and I binge watched those.

Miss 22 and the Automotive engineer bought me Lean in 15, both books.  Being a slouch coach potato, as my true nature has emerged, I motivated myself and went for a HIIT run.  I couldn't walk for the rest of the day.  My thighs demanded that I return to the sofa and the comfort of Netflix. 

Whilst my true nature has emerged so has Miss 22 and the Automotive Engineer's.  The video shows their need to play once more.  It's a good thing.  We all need to wind down (oh and perhaps there's another slouch potato in the video that you can spot.)  

 Flying Robot

 I also have to show you this light that the AE gave Miss 22.


The Hostess of the Lostness

Dear reader, sssh but don't tell those that read my 'boring ' blog but I'm no elegant hostess.  I had thought I was, until I hosted.

I had ideas beyond my ability, it turns out.  I dreamt of a table with towering golden chocolate balls,  crackers adorned with slivers of blue cheese topped with drizzles of honey,  smoked salmon blinis
 with a feathering of dill and for dessert a, well, does it matter!  Suffice to say on the day the above is not what I served.

My story started three days before, with a glass of Spanish sherry,  as all good stories start. This sherry hit parts of me no other sherry has hit.  My chest.  I coughed and coughed.  I coughed for a week. In fact I'm still coughing.  I had a temperature.  I had a headache.  I had a bucketful of tablets. 

Party day arrived, and I had a personal  party in my head.  In fact the tablets sent me on quite the vacation.  With bemusement I watched as my mother tried to spread stilton on crackers and pour on honey,  under my instruction, apparently.  Feeling quite disassociated I watched Miss 22 grate some cheese and sprinkle it on the side of a plate  (because she thought it was what I wanted. Believe me, I didn't know what I wanted! )  I managed to pour some cocktail sausages and cherry tomatoes into bowls  (a combination dreamed up under the influence of lemsip max) yet leave the middle bowl,  the piece de resistance, empty.

A half hearted party table

Who were we entertaining? Our families.  This consisted of my mum, Mr Him's dad,  some cousin's of Miss 22 s gran from the other side of the family, my aunt and cousin. And,  big And, Miss 22's boyfriend's mum,  aunt, uncle,  gran  (all of whom we'd never met!)

Miss 22 tests the Pringles during the food preparation stage

Well, they were going to leave thinking I was the Hostess with the Mostess weren't  they! Not.  More the Hostess of the Lostness, given where my head was.  Mr Him to the rescue. With a pirouette  he spun and spun until Supercook was before us in his pinny.  He baked Iceland party nibbles.  Pigs in Blankets,  chicken pieces, more pigs in blankets.

Then dessert. If last impressions are the impressions that matter we may have got away with this for Supercook served a towering sugar coated panettone. 

The relatives we'd never met awed . They awed and ahhed and asked what it was, and awed some more.

'Panettone, ' I said smugly.  'It's Italian. '

Miss 22 visits Winchester Cathedral

Miss 22 had an outing last Friday.  She was told by her dentist  ( yes you read that right ) to wear sensible walking shoes and warm outdoors clothing.  She was departing the practice in dentists car with her colleagues at 8 am.
I got a text at 1.
'So far today I have: crawled up some famous steps like a pilgrim sorry for their sins, dressed as a sheep in a nativity, kissed an over 50yr old man on the cheek under the mistletoe and had to busk on the side of the street to collect money.
and it's only lunch... '
They later went ice skating and shopping. This was her practice's Xmas outing.  A lot of fun was had.  I know.  I saw the video.  So will you if you tap below.

Where were they?  Winchester. In fact miss 22 has now realised how interesting cathedrals are.  It has to be said that in the UK we do store a lot of history in our cathedrals. 

Unusual choice for Xmas party for 22 and 21 year olds. ' Let's visit a cathedral,  won't that be fun? '  However they called it right.  They all loved the day.

artistic capture of the roof I believe

Christmas Shopping at Ardingly

Dear reader, 

On Sunday Mr Him and I visited the Christmas shopping experience at Ardingly.  I didn't let Mr Him queue up for Santa's grotto however much he begged, you'll be pleased to know.  So was Santa.  The children would have been very confused.

I did let him get himself a bratwurst and cheesy chips.  I had just the bratwurst but made the mistake of pouring sticky curry ketchup on it. Curry sauce! What sacrilege . It shouldn't have even been on the table for the mistake to have been made!   The bratwurst got its own back on me by pouring the curry ketchup over me as I ate it. The payback was so complete I had to ask a man at the next table for tissues.  I even had to wash my coat when I got home.  Yes, luckily washable.

After all that fun I had a mulled wine and Mr Him had an instruction that he was driving.   I made sure the wine behaved.  None went down my front.

I sampled many a festive ware including a Christmas pudding  (here we go again but this one is traditional and fig free). This pudding was made by Harveys Brewers.  Look at the fruit  (no figs ) content!  (It didn't go down the front of me. )

I had to buy one.

I also bought myself a badger hair and wood nail brush. 

A few gifts were bought which I can't elaborate on as family read my blog.
After the festive fare we had a vegetable stirfry for supper.  One has to abdominally economise somewhere.  (It didn't go down the front of me )

The Race

Today is a strike day.  I've chosen to go on a non existent southern train that is starting at my station. We know I like those empty strike day non existent trains.  My Nat Nav has decided to be independent and go the gentleman's cross country route.  At Gatwick our trains met alongside each other.

I texted her as her train left.  'The race is on'.

She sent me a smiley.  Oh so confident isn't she!

My train has zoomed off the starting block too. We're zipping through suburbia.  She's probably looking at barns and sheep.  Lovely. 

I've sent her a text to advise I've now left East Croydon.  She said she's puddling along the English Country side!  It's as I thought.  She's on an away day. 

She is approaching Dorking as I'm approaching Clapham.  Here there's all to play for.  If I can get into Clapham on time and around the one way system on the bridge I'll make my connection and win.  If not she'll win.

I'm on the platform one minute late.  Missed connection and now have 20 minute wait.  My Nat Nav is approaching Guildford.  She wants to know when my next train is.  What cheat is she cooking up?   I gave her the inside info.  Silly, gullible me.

Now I need to make sure I don't make last week's mistake.  Catch the wrong connection and end up on a train of Lostness.  That day I had external visitors to the office.  Thank goodness for work email on phones.  I emailed the visitors from the Train of Lostness and told them I'd be late and dishevelled.  I emailed a colleague to show them to the meeting room and get them settled whilst I found a Train of Rightness.

Today I haven't heard from Nat Nav since I disclosed that inside info. Ooops. 
Ah the board is now saying my connection is 5 mins late.  Is that what she's been up to? 
Now it's back to 'on time '. Ha, I caught her out. 

The train of Lostness is here.  I mustn't get on it. No, correction, its my train.  Run.  Get on.  Doors shut. 

It's that darn train of Lostness. Why oh why can't they get the boards right!  Or was it Nat Nav playing with them.


A quick text to Nat Nav.  

'I'm on a train to Lostness.  You win.'

Then I was back in the game.  She said she was stuck on the tracks. 'For a while I hope, ' I replied.  Then I wondered what she was doing on the tracks.  Making her way back from mucking up my board. Is there cheating going on here? !

She's asked if I'm taking a scenic route.  She must be full of glee that I'm going rural too.
Just whizzed through my normal station.  Next stop, Lostness. 

There's a lot of people at Lostness.  Has someone you know gone missing?  Are they here?

In Lostness they have pictures of other forms of transport.  Anything but trains it appears.  I'm not surprised given my sorry tale.

There's bangs here in Lostness.  Like guns.  Quite close.  I think its an army shooting range.  I'm getting out of here. That thought is reinforced by the sign on the waiting room wall.

Miss 22 and the BellyBuster

Dear reader, further celebrations as Miss 21 is now Miss 22.  This was celebrated this year in a Western style restautant called Smith and Western.  It's a local small chain and the one that we go to was the original of them all. 

The decor at this time of year is very festive inside and out.

Miss 22 and I both coincidentally chose the same cocktail. 
My Sex on the Beach 

Balloons for the birthday girl

Food was plentiful

Miss 22's burget

Mr Him's ribs and steak

I had cajun chicken and rice (Anchor butter from NZ)

Smith and Western are known for thier birthday bellybuster dessert which is for sharing.  They ring a bell and the staff follow the dessert to the table.  The dessert has a sparkler in it.  Everyone sings happy birthday when the bell stops and the dessert arrives at the table. 

Miss 22 can't have the chocolate belly buster as it may contain nuts.  The staff made this one up for her specially as nut free.  They had a xmas strawberry pavlova and used that to make her bellybuster, which we shared.  see 4 spoons in the pic. 

A little video of the atmosphere for you.  Very loud, we could hardly hear ourselves talk in there. 

Figgy Pudding or Not

Dear reader ,  on Friday I donned my Christmas jumper and headed to the festive lights of the pub .

Here I had chicken pie and veg,  wine,  

cointreau  and whiskey.  I had a fine time.  However all that aside the real piece d'resistance was the Figgy Pudding .

I actually had always thought that was another name for Christmas pudding.  My colleagues were also surprised having been under the same illusion as I.  In fact none of us had seen Figgy Pudding on a menu before.  We bulk ordered. Figgy pudding times 6, please .  

Looking on Wikipedia here, figgy pudding is mentioned as another name for Christmas Pudding!  That aside, this pudding was quite different and lighter. There were definite figs inside.  There are plenty of recipes online.  I won't link a particular one here.  

Figgy Pudding and salted caramel ice cream

We were at The Castle in Angel.  The food and service were fabulous. Do go if you are in the area, and try that Figgy Pudding (on the Xmas menu.)

Things that Shouldn't Be

Or perhaps should be.  

For instance, starting a sentence with 'and'.  An And at the beginning would work so more naturally then any other word very often.  Having a full stop before 'and' adds the emphasis to the 'and'  that as a writer you sometimes want (well, I do.)  On Friday I was reading a text book on giving presentations that my Nat Nav got out of the library.  The author used And at the start of sentences.  We need to make this a  'thing.'

On strike Friday last week I caught this train to work.  It was a Southern train.  It shouldn't have been running but was.  It was empty.  This is a 'thing' that should be.  Southern trains empty and running.

Monday last week we were summoned, yes summoned, to a staff meeting.  I went down to grab my seat and found this waiting for me.

This should be a 'thing'.  Alcohol in staff meetings.  Who's with me?

The Rightly Wrong Hotel

Dear reader,

I love conferences. I particularly like the drinks after.  I also am enamored of two conferences in a row.  You'll be pleased to know that I turned up at the right hotel this time.  That's fortunate as I was facilitating a session.  Ironically it turned out that I turned up rightly at the right hotel that was the wrong hotel last week. 

After conferencing in the right but wrong hotel I had a drink or three then took this picture  for you.  

Note the similarity to the video last week of the wrong hotel view point.  Ignore the obvious difference of night time versus daylight.

At the wrong hotel the right time this week I listened to talks,  I had lunch,  I facilitated a discussion,  I met peer friends and I had 'a few.' (British term).  At 7pm I texted Mr Him to advise him of my departure from this wrong hotel the right time, being  the time of my departure.  It was a train  strike day.  There was no saying I'd get a train home.  As it happened I caught a train home that shouldn't have existed.  This train's ultimate destination was my station.  Ultimate destinations are never my station.  I had caught the right but wrong train home.

I must detour on this tale to tell you I've written about this particular hotel before,  twice.  It was here that Mr Him was refrained by his employer to go home, quite wrongly in my opinion.  Here. Later that year I went to a conference at this rightly wrong  but right hotel here and that's where I caught out Mr Him's employer and the nonsense of his stay. in this blog in which there are  nice pictures in this one too 

Note, dear reader,  that twice these past 2 weeks I've been at this hotel and made my way home that same day.

Still there's a lovely view from the hotel, you have to agree. 

An Illusion Shattered

I mentioned that I had a conference for several days and a black tie dinner.  The dinner was an entirely separate event and coincidentally on the same day.  This meant packing so as I could change at the conference hotel ready to travel to the dinner hotel.

With backpack uploaded to my small frame I left the house on my second day expedition to the big city.  In my pack I had the contents of my handbag, phone, charger, shoes, evening dress, make up, jewellery and breakfast.  Yes, breakfast.  That's most important.

As Petra was on her own in the office I detoured to see her, pick up my ticket for the evening dinner, eat my breakfast, pick up my pashmina. (The pashmina was essential it turns out.)  An hour and a half later I was back in central London at the conference, with trusty back pack by my side. 

Here I listened to a scary story by a hacker. This involved all phones in the room being hacked and listed on the screen, (big, big screen) before us.

'who is Elizabeth?' asked the hacker.  A hand went up.  'Who is John?'  a hairy arm arose.   Then, there it was, for all to see, Anna Mutton Years.  Yes, literally.  My phone calls itself Anna Mutton Years. 'Who is....'  I shrunk low into my pashmina (I knew it would be useful.)   Great, all illusion of elegant lady, professonal, business like persona, shattered.

Mr Punch

Dear Reader,

have you heard of Punch and Judy?  It's a British children's (that's debatable) puppet show.  Here is an example from Youtube.

Mr Punch

On Saturday Mr Him decided to try the look of Mr Punch on to see if it would suit him, work, create magic.  Actually I don't know his reasoning.  I do know that I wasn't keen on this and asked him not to try it again. Below he is trying to cast a spell upon his tea. It didn't work. He still had tea, not beer. 

In other news Miss 21 brought us the most hugest cakes for afternoon tea last weekend. 

Automotive engineers cake which lasted him 3 days

Belgian Buns for Mr Punch and I (lasted us 2 days.)

A London City Excursion

I've been quiet on the Anna front. Life has been peaceful, until this past week. 

During this past week all chaos on the work front ensued.  My deputy went on holiday,  I went to conferences and Petra had to hold the fort in the office.

As for my conferences, well I had eatings out and a black tie dinner too.  All started in grand fashion, with me getting lost.  My lostness was withour Mr Him, (he'd be proud of me, and particularly pleased if I joined this little lot.)

ruins near the Tower of London
I did find the Tower of London, which is rather an ironic name nowadays, I thought as I captured this pic. 

New and Old, Shard and Tower

Tower Bridge, I was to get closer than I imagined

wrong hotel

Still it gave me an opportunity to capture some unexpected photos for you.

 I found the hotel and had my day of seminars.  In the evening we went to a Dim Sum bar and had our first crackers of the season. Season!  A bit early still  I think.

spot the crackers... yes we pulled them and shared the jokes

As myself and peers left to head to London Bridge station we couldn't help but capture this view in the film below. 

   night view

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...