WE'RE OFF TO A FOOD FESTIVAL
In a very weak moment I agreed to go to a food festival at a nearby castle this weekend. Going to a FOOD festival with spouse! I think my mental health needs a re-boot. But the tickets are purchased and we are going. I will report back next week - if I and he survive the event and hopefully, don't get forcibly ejected at any point.
If the night before last was anything to go by, we may well be ejected. Picture the scene, a happy family dinner - the beef casserole had been scoffed and all of us, except spouse, sat back, replete. Spouse asked if there was any left and without thinking I said there was. First mistake. Second mistake - I allowed him to help himself out of sight in the kitchen. He returned to the dining table with a plate mounded up with mashed potato and casserole. Think Desperate Dan meets a Grimms Fairy Tale Giant. He happily chomped his way through that AND pudding. If cheese and biccies had been on offer I suspect he may well have made good inroads on those as well. But, they were not.
If I survive tomorrow, I will see you here next week. Now, I'm off to find a good disguise - just in case my path should cross any of my acquaintance. A wig and dark glasses should suffice. I only hope he hasn't thought of the Mickey Mouse ears for tomorrow. Spouse likes to bring a bit of fun to these occasions.
Bye for now, I have to search of the Mickey Mouse ear - and hide them....
EMBARRASSING OR WHAT?
We have all had those moments in our lives when you wish the ground would open beneath you and swallow you up. Needless to say, spouse and I have experienced many of these, possibly more than most as generally speaking, opening mouth before engaging brain is a characteristic that runs in our families - particularly mine. I am not know as 'our diplomatic correspondent' for nothing.
Latterly, however, I have worked hard at guarding my tongue and endeavouring to be more of a wallflower than a brash old sunflower, if you get my drift. Whilst I have achieved a great deal of success in this field, embarrassing moments still come my way. And this time I didn't even have to open my mouth.
You wouldn't think making enquiries at an unholsterers would engender such a moment would you? How wrong you would be, my dear reader. This week, I breezed into the showroom/workshop of a local craftsman, a most helpful and skilled artisan and, bonus for me, his gorgeous pure white boxer dog was curled up on his bed in the bow window, just waiting for fuss and cuddles. Having got that important business over with, I turned my attention to the matter I had come about, the re-upholstering of two armchairs. Spouse, in his great wisdom, had suggested I take photographs with my smartphone of said chairs. This I duly did and chirpily announced this fact to my new upholsterer friend. He was suitably impressed and asked to see said pics. Ha, now here's the rub. I might be the proud possessor of a smartphone, but as we speak, I am not the proud possessor of all its workings and when asked to show the photographs of the aforementioned armchairs, I opened up the phone and stared blankly at the menu.
My upholsterer friend pointed to an icon for pictures and I pressed on it with great relief, thinking I was not going to look a complete nitwit after all - everyone else knows how to operate the wretched things don't they? Sure enough, pictures appeared on the screen. But, unfortunately, not pictures of armchairs. No indeedy. I don't know if you are familiar with the large Disney Mickey Mouse ears set on a headband to be worn on top of the head - large red and white spotted ears? Yup, there they were, worn by spouse posing nonchalantly against the fireplace. Hastily swipe screen to next picture - spouse with jazz hands and Mickey Mouse ears. Pink of face, I try one more swipe - spouse pirouetting in Mickey Mouse ears - he missed his vocation, I've never seen such a lovely mover.
The rest is a blur. I believe we eventually located the right icon for photographs, by which time spouse had joined us in the shop and he, ignorant of the all the foregoing, held an intense and serious discussion with the upholsterer regarding armchairs. I wonder of he noticed the hint of an amused glint in the eye of our new friend?
I think I have related the circumstances surrounding the purchase of the Mickey Mouse ears in a much earlier blog, so I won't repeat myself here. No, It was not I that had a yen to possess such an item, it was spouse and every Christmas time, out come the ears and are proudly worn around York city as we make our Yuletide purchases for our loved ones. They, (the ears) bring a certain je ne sais quois to the Christmas shopping experience, certainly smiles and laughter to the streets, so I cannot complain. But why, oh why, did I ever practice on him and them with my new smartphone? Couldn't I just have taken a picture of a Christmas tree or the dog, or my foot?
Somewhere in the foot-thick telephone manual will be the instructions on how to delete photographs. Now where did I put it? .......
IS IT BEAGLES FOR BREAKFAST?
Over the course of a very happy and 'interesting' marriage, my dear spouse has provided me with many funny moments, some exasperating beyond belief and some embarrassing. In previous blogs for example, I have described his penchant for lining up the batons at the supermarket and making pictures out of the damp patches on the church wall - describing them to me at the quietest moments in the church service when he should have been concentrating on his prayers!
Combined with his love of life is his love of words and food. He once mis-heard my pronunciation of chorizo when asking what was for supper and was scandalised to think I was going to serve him up dog for dinner, as in Shih Tzu. Ever since it has been chicken and shitzu in our house. Another example - we have several bird feeding stations dotted around our garden, some with Nija or Nyger (depending on who you consult ) seed. According to spouse the feeds are full of ninja seed to attract the Ninjas. Funnily enough I cannot find any Ninja species in my bird book!
Last year, walking into the Great Yorkshire Showground, the outlying fields were full of horseboxes, trailers and Winnebegos. Spouse gazed in wonderment at some of the monster Winnebegos, grappling for the name for them. To be fair I couldn't remember either. Eventually he came out with, 'it's a ... it's a ... oh, you know ... a Betty Grable,' he finished with a triumphant smile. Naturally they are all known as Betty Grables now.
He is perfectly able to remember people's names but more often than not will bestow on them their own particular moniker. Anne, a friend of ours, has always been known as Irish Mary in our house. No, I don't know why either and a dear Sister of Mercy friend of ours from long ago - the kindest, sweetest nun you could ever wish to meet had the soubriquet of Machine-gun di-Pazzi bestowed on her.
We were staying with very dear friends this week and finished up the trip with watching a romcom, lots of popcorn, crisps, cheesy biscuits and rivers of lovely red wine flowed between us all. Enough to give us the strength to slay several giants. Next morning we are all slightly the worse for wear, except for spouse. He comes bounding down for breakfast and looks at the beautiful spread our lovely hostess had put out. He beamed and rubbed his hands enthusiastically. 'Is it beagles for breakfast?' Our friend looked alarmed as well she might. Did she think I was in the habit of cooking beagles at home? 'Bagels?' I hazarded. 'No.' Spouse was very definite. 'Beagles.'
I'm so glad he usually opts for the full English breakfast when we are in an hotel. At least he doesn't have to request individual items in that dish. Thank goodness shitzu and beagles are not an option or we might have the RSPCA knocking on our door.
We have friends coming for lunch today. As I write spouse is in the bathroom, practising in the mirror - 'coq au vin, coq au vin.' I hope he manages to get the right words in the right order today, I wouldn't want 'Tree-Trunk-Silas' and 'Lampstand-Joan' to find any more oddities about us than usual. We shall see ....
ANYONE FOR TENNIS?
Wimbledon fortnight has come round again, all too soon and I am not ready for it. I am a tennis addict. In a parallel universe, which I have to admit dear reader, I inhabit a great deal, all my laundry would be done, as would all my shopping so that meals would be prepared and ready to take out of the freezer and my calendar cleared for the next two weeks. In that wonderful universe I could then indulge in watching my favourite sport on the television and armchair commentating on every volley, backhand and overhead smash.
Unfortunately, the real world claims my time and attention. I have alterations to make to my latest book, shopping has to be done and meals prepared for the hungry hoards. Then there is the garden to be attended to, church music practice to fit in and why, oh why, did I volunteer myself to help out in the Library garden? Because I can't stand to see the weeds any longer and neither can my friend and I can't let her tackle that lot all by herself.
So there it is - and a multitude of other things thrown into the mix - a normal everyday life. But over the two weeks of Wimbledon I transmogrify into an armchair couch potato. Chores are rushed or neglected altogether, spouse believes he has become a rabbit as so much salad is put before him and work is confined to mornings only if tackled at all and the weeds grow and the dust gathers in the house, as I slink off to watch my heroes fight their way to glory yet again.
I played a lot of tennis in my youth, in the days of the wooden rackets. How we ever lifted them, let alone managed to thwack a ball, still remains a mystery to me. By rights I should have bulging biceps and muscular calves from years of fruitlessly chasing after tennis balls, but I have neither and I count that a blessing. But it kept me fit and watching the players at Wimbledon every year, players at the top of their profession, battling on to win, sometimes against all odds. inspired me to keep trying and not only at the tennis.
My days of playing fast-paced tennis are a happy memory. These days I am more suited to fast-paced walking, but I still love watching the tennis players fighting it out, slipping and sliding on the unfamiliar grass courts. I love the well-trained ball boys and girls, darting out like a lizard's tongue and then being still again. The dramas, the crises, temper tantrums, the amazing, unbelievable shots the players can make that leave me gasping and on the edge of my seat. What a sport. I love it all.
As I write there is still another week of Wimbledon left. I will be there as much as I can. Every line call, lob and double fault will be chewed over, tears shed when one of my heroes is defeated and a great deal of shouting at the screen, when, in my expert judgement, the linesman/woman gives the wrong call of 'out' or the umpire is unfair to my player, whatever the reason it may be - racket abuse, temper or taking too long between serves. There is as much steam got up in our house as ever there is on the courts.
Excuse me, I must go now, it's time for the next match. Andy Murray's on court and he needs my support. What's that spouse? Supper? Do I really need to tell you? Strawberries and cream. Oh, and Pimms, of course.
But, please don't eat anything. What???? O.K. It goes like this. Two lovely friends came round for supper the other night and between the four of us we made pretty good inroads on the nosh I had rustled up. THERE WERE LEFTOVERS.... Suitably covered and placed in the refrigerator, all was hunky dory. Until spouse got up the next morning. No, that's not strictly correct. He got up at the crack of sparrow-call and was off to the photograph the Flying Scotsman as it made its way through our rural North Yorkshire countryside. The pals he met up with had already feasted at MaccDonalds. The talk was of breakfast muffins, bacon and eggs and the like. By the time spouse returned home, he was salivating like a caveman who had just dragged his latest wild boar kill miles home to the cave and couldn't wait for it to be roasted and set before him. Whilst I set about producing the Saturday morning 'full English', spouse, unable to wait a nanosecond longer for sustenance, investigated the refrigerator for emergency rations. His eyes lit up at the sight of the previous night's leftovers. One minute later he was sitting at the kitchen table happily spooning down microwaved cauiflower cheese as the overture to his main breakfast. 'Mmm,' he cleaned the plate and licked the last sauce off the spoon, 'you can come to dinner again Liz and John, just don't eat anything.'
As you might by now realise, spouse has a healthy appetite and that's being polite about it. He didn't acquire the soubriquet, 'Mr Hollowlegs' for nothing. Many years ago I remember meeting a friend as she staggered to her car, laden with bags of food. She had a teen-aged son who was at the eating like a horse stage. Mary was looking forward to the days when he would be fully grown and would not cost her a king's ransom to feed. I could not bring myself to disillusion her and sidled quietly away. From my experience, I am still waiting for that day to arrive.
Here is a 'for instance'. Spouse enjoyed clay pigeon shooting and was a member of a team. Every year they would all troop off to a shooting competition at Beverley, near Hull. On the last evening a special meal would be laid on and the various silver cups and awards dished out, for individual and team efforts. One year spouse's team sat down for dinner and it so happened there was spouse - then a space - spouse's friend - and another space. The waitress cam along to take their orders. I think you know what's coming. Oh yes they did - spouse gave his order and the waitress asked what was the chap next to him having. Spouse duly ordered the meal for the empty place and his friend did likewise. They scoffed their starters and main course and each time swapped the plates over and scoffed the next lot. The waitress came to take the dessert order. Spouse made his choice. The waitress pointed to the empty chair. 'What's he having?' she asked. 'Oh, him? He'll have the cheesecake,' spouse answered without missing a beat. His friend followed his lead. So, two starters, two mains, two puddings and lots of cheese and bikkies, coffee and liquers went down the hatch without them hardly drawing breath.
Spouse's love of life and good food has not waned with the passage of the years. I am the supermarket's favourite customer and stagger home with industrial quantities of food to sustain life and limb. In fairness I have to say it can have its upside, this feeding of a sturdy Yorkshireman. When a tree needs felling, he bounds out of doors with his extremely large axe and despatches the poor old tree in no time. Our friends and neighbours do not hesitate to call on his services when large pieces of furniture/freezers/refrigerators/ etc. need to be moved or loaded into vans. And, God bless their cotton socks, there is always a juicy morsel as a reward when the deed is done. Plates of buttered scones, his favourite Victoria sponge cake or bacon butties all find their way to him.
So, I suppose I will continue to haunt the supermarkets, bakers and greengrocers on an almost daily basis for some long time to come. One day he might require just a little less fuel, but it doesn't look to be anytime soon. So, if you come for supper with us make sure you've had a little snackerel beforehand. With spouse on hand, the pickings may not be rich.