Thursday, December 31, 2009

Here's to the future.

I tend to be a glass half full kind of person, but whenever New Year looms on the horizon I find myself looking at a glass half empty. I like to look forward, I looked forward to Christmas, I look forward to my birthday,  I look forward to my holiday, I also look forward to the day I will eventually do the job for which I have trained for the past two years.

I find however that New Year is inevitably a time when many people look back. Whilst I suppose that this year has been a good one for me, it has not always been the case in years past. The thought of re-hashing the times that have been somewhat less than great have filled me with dread. For this reason I tend to avoid celebrating the New Year. Tonight I will close the curtains, turn up the television and snuggle up to his Lordship on the sofa and watch movies.

So I would like to wish you all happiness, good health and I hope that your dreams for the following year become reality. Enjoy your celebrations, whatever they may be. As for me, I shall look forward to catching up with you all in the new decade.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The big freezer.

'Oh the weather outside is icy' da, di, da, di da...

Unfortunately I have just found one of the downsides to the icy, snowy weather we have been having. Not wishing to be indelicate, I have discovered that cleaning up after the dogs is not that easy. I suppose I could always find a couple of corks, maybe cut down on their food. No, what do you mean it's animal cruelty!!

I have just spent the last half an hour scooping / chipping poopsicles of the yard.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

St Jude is coming out.

Well guess what Santa, His Lordship got me for Christmas... a new drive, yes that's it sweeties a new laptop. Yippee no more being tied to a plug socket, the battery fried the day before my last university assignment was due in. I nearly fried too. No more waiting for half an hour for the tinterwebby to load up, this one is like lightening, it's great. There is one thing though, my blog doesn't look the same on this system, the background is blank, it always used to have pretty swirly patterns on it... does it still look that way to you?

Oh and I have a confession to make... I think we've known each other for long enough, don't you. The picure above is actually closer to the real me than the brunette in my header. Yes I am a blonde, and, urm I have never figured out how to change the hair colour in my header. OK, ok forget the blonde jokes, I probably started most of them  ;0 )

And finally as I know that some of you have young ones venturing out into the festive party season for the first time so here are some little pearls of wisdom you might like to pass onto them.

a) Don't stick your fingers in plug sockets, it makes your hair frizzy and then it's a bugger to style.

b) Always make sure you're wearing clean underwear when you go out. You may get hit by a bus. (Mm that's ok if you don't see it coming. I have to be honest if I saw a bus heading towards me, well I don't think I'm alone on that one..)

c) Girls, only shave the bottom half of your legs on a first date. It's better than a chastity belt!

d) Boys, a quick tickle with a damp flannel doesn't cut it. Pheromones are not the same as B.O.

e) It's never a good idea to boost the contents of your bra with socks, especially if your dad was wearing them the day before.

f) The first time you sneak off to get drunk don't drink Creme de Menthe or the antifreeze lookilike alchopop. The vomit stains are virtually impossible to get off the carpet.

Have fun.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

Apologies for the lack of posting over the last few weeks, a combination of the weather, (lovely, lovely snow), work, (not so lovely morally challenging bods, who think that this time of year is a burglars dream and are so grateful to you kind souls for presenting them with such wonderful gifts to pilfer), and trying to fight my way through the shopping hell.

My presents are wrapped and under the tree, like the true child inside me I am sitting here excitedly waiting for his Lordship to wake up so that we can open our pressies. It will be a quiet day here, a visit to the Captain, and Mrs Beeton is coming for dinner, nothing too strenuous. Tommorow their Ladyships will be coming over with our two youngest grandchildren for fun and mayhem.

So have a wonderful day, enjoy your festivities whatever they may be and remember what this time is all about... Pressies!!

Sorry, I meant to say, if you celebrate the birth of Christ or simply enjoy the opportunity to spend time with family and friends, please remember to include in your prayers and thoughts those amongst our blogging community that have been and are still suffering issues in their lives that may not bring them the peace they so wish this Christmas time.

Love to you all this festive season, may all you want be yours.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Not quite a beating heart, yet!

We have been a tad tied up over the past few days. We are fitting a new kitchen for her Ladyship, (our daughter), and her partner.

You might be forgiven for thinking that we are somewhat off the scale of sanity attempting such a thing with Christmas looming on the horizon. Don't fret, His Lordship and I are old hands at this type of thing.  In fact our current abode is the first that has had a fully functioning kitchen in when we have moved into it. Our first house had a beautiful new kitchen when we signed the contracts, but the day we moved in the said beautiful kitchen had moved out with it's previous owner.  Along with the light fightings, including lightbulbs, light switches, plug sockets. Yes just bare wires protruding from the walls and ceilings. They had gutted the place. So that was our first kitchen fitting experience.

Our second house had a kitchen in a cupboard and it was very cosy when the two of us were in there. So within six months we had extended the house and again fitted another kitchen. When we headed south for Kent we bought a house that needed a lot of work. This was mainly due to the previous occupants of the house, who were somewhat eccentric and decidedly ecclectic in their furnishing and decorating of the house. Everything, including the windows, doors and the kitchen came from car boot sales. The patio doors had been fitted upside down and inside out. Every window in the property was broken as they had been forced to fit. The kitchen, well that consisted of a number of mismatched units balanced precariously about the floor with a tap in the wall and a bowl on a stool for the sink. Lovely! So once again we donned our kitchen fitters garb and set about providing our home with a heart.

So today we shall be working our derrieres off, making sure that their Ladyships' have a working heart to their home ready for Christmas. Ah the joys of being a parent... oh and who is paying for this little lot?   This is one present that won't fit under the tree.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Plumbing Urgency

This afternoon his Lordship and I were a little preoccupied, when the phone rang.

"Hello St Jude residence,"

"Hello madam I'm calling about your recent plumbing emergency,"

His Lordship sighed and whispered, "What do they want?"

My hand over the receiver, "something about our plumbing urgency" I whispered back.

"We're a little busy at the moment is it important?" I enquired

"It won't take long, I just need a little more information"

I'm a woman, I can multitask, so I carried on with the call. "What would you like toooo knoow?"

"Well we were just wondering how happy you were with our plumbing service?" he enquired

"Oh very happy dear... down a little, is it on the highest speed setting?" His Lordship gave me a thumbs up.

"I'm sorry madam, I, I didn't quite get that,"

"I'm sorry dear I was talking to my husband, deeper, deeper, dear, aaahh oh that's the spot" I urged

The young mans voice had turned a rich baritone, "ah hem, and would you recommend our service.."

"Yes, oh yes,"

"Thank you madam, and I was.."

"Oooh yes, that's it, NO don't stoOP YES, YES, OH GOD YEESSSSSSSS,"

"Er madam, madam I, er, I,"

A short while later when I returned from the moment in which I had been lost I realised that the young man had disappeared from the end of the phone. Ah well at least the terrible knot in my right shoulder is now gone thanks to the wonderful little massage thingy, expertly wielded by his Lordship I might add.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hit The Road Jude...

Well I thought that I would give you a rest from polar bears, thought you might be getting a little fed up with the cold of the Arctic.

Since relocating to the new office just over a month ago, my commute has gone from an hours journey to an hour and a half to two hours every morning and evening. So with up to four hours of my day being taken up with sitting on buses I decided to return to using the car. Now my journey takes about an hour each way. It is a ten mile journey!

That's the joy of living in a city and travelling during the rush hour, nose to tail traffic. You get time to observe your fellow commutors when sitting in traffic. Yesterday a young man in the car behind me decided to carry out his ablutions whilst creeping along in the traffic. A quick tickle round the ears and face with a wet wipe, followed by brushing his teeth, rinsing with water and spitting out of the car window. The woman in the lane next to me was multi tasking, talking on her phone whilst doing her make up using the rear view mirror. Oh traffic was not at a complete standstill we were moving slowly and we were approaching a very busy junction where two more lanes of traffic join into one lane. The chap in the car in front had his newspaper spread out over the steering wheel, catching up on the latest news and drinking his coffee.

Every morning, and I mean every morning there are scrapes, bumps, shunts and outright smashes. My journey is punctuated by traffic bulletins announcing 'incidents' and road closures whilst the emergency services clean up the mess. Every morning I sit there watching people who clearly feel totally secure in their little metal boxes being completely distracted from the task at hand, driving. Yesterday morning as we got to the busy junction a large van from a well known courier company sped out of the lane joining ours. He probably assumed, as he did every day that he was in a large vehicle and that people would let him in, afterall they all come equipped with brakes don't they. Unfortunately for everyone involved the chap in the car in front was engrossed in his paper, and the woman in the lane next to us was applying her mascara. Result, newspaper man was shunted into make up lady by courier man. All lanes of traffic blocked it took over an hour to shift the carnage.

Fortunately non of them was injured, only their cars suffered as a result. They all began to argue who was at blame. Finally newspaper man and make up lady decided to 'gang' up on courier man, I was asked by them if I would provide a witness statement for their insurance. I informed them that I would happily oblige, not a problem. However I became public enemy number one when I mentioned that I would have to be honest and point out that neither of them was paying attention to the road and both were distracted as a result of their in car activities. They didn't require my assistance after that.

I wonder what joys await me this morning.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Arctic Odyssey Part 3

Did I tell you that polar bears are somewhat elusive? They are also damned hard to spot in the Arctic, it's that whole white bear, white background sort of thing. Actually polar bears are not truly white, they are an off white creamy colour. It's the seal fat that does it, the more creamy their fur the more seals they have eaten.  I'm blathering aren't I. Well sitting on an icebound ship in dense fog with limited 'facilities' can do that sort of thing to a person and we had been sitting icebound for two days, and going nowhere fast. Actually it wasn't so much the ice as the fog, thick smothering freezing fog. Sucking in a breath of this stuff made your lungs start to panic as the freezing damp air plummetted to their depths, a few minutes outside and your chest hurt from the constant effort of doing the most natural of things, breathing.

There was of course another reason for not being on deck a far more frightening reason. The ice around the ship is constanly moving and as it moves pressure ridges rise around the hull of the ship. They make handy steps for an inquisitive polar bear who can smell the human rations onboard. So for fifty four hours we hunkered down and passed the time with out fellow passengers listening to talks about the possible effects of the depletion of the oozone layer, (devastating to polar bears), baby gliders, (more on that later), and the arctic fox. Whilst most of us had our hearts set on an encounter with a polar bear her Ladyship was desperate to see the arctic fox.

It was mid afternoon when the fog finally vanished it took only a matter of minutes as a wind from the north swept down and rolled it southward. Eager to get some fresh air most people returned to their cabins to kit up. As his Lordship and I were heading for the deck a hushed message came over the intercom, "There's a polar bear on the ice directly ahead of us, everyone silent please as we are going to attempt to get closer to it."

So as we crept up onto the deck our heartbeats were pounding so loudly it was all I could do to stop myself from sshing everyone I passed. Peering over the side my breath caught in my throat, right there just a matter of a few hundred feet away lay the most amazing creature I have ever encountered. It was sleeping, just curled up on the ice... sleeping. The engines had been cut and with everyone on board holding their breath the silence was intense. All eyes taking in the huge bear, sleeping, totally unphased by the bulk of the ship or the voyeurs it carried. This was his kingdom and he knew it. An icy thread laced my cheek and I realised that I was crying.

He lay there for a while, just sniffing the air and taking it all in his stride, then he simply looked around at his paparazzi and got up and sauntered away.

My breath still catches when I see him.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Arctic Odyssey Part 2

At 3.20am the polar bear watch paid off. The shipboard intercom crackled into life, "attention all crew, attention all crew, polar bear spotted off the port side, muster stations, muster stations." Polar bear, a real polar bear, I threw off the duvet and swung my legs out of bed, unfortunately in my sleep dazed state I forgot that I had taken the top bunk and my legs connected with the side of his Lordships head as he too swung out of his bunk, sending him sprawling to the deck. I then added further insult to injury as I happlessly plummetted from my bunk my fall being broken by the now prostrate Lord. After a rather undignified scrum to find a crumb of deck space to get some footing we managed to extracate ourselves and headed for our outdoor gear.

After layering up, not an easy thing to do with sleep still in your eyes and a cabin the size of a rabbit hutch. We raced to the port side, stumbling out onto deck I noticed that several people were already on there and I wondered if perhaps they had slept in their outdoor gear. We definitely needed to organise our dressing drill better. I stared out over the ice searching for the polar bear, I noticed a woman standing next to the rail peering through binoculars. I followed her gaze, in the distance I could make out a rocky escarpment but nothing else. Peering through my binoculars my eyes accustomed themselves to the lay of the land and I noticed a small pale creamy dot moving slowly over the rocks. My first polar bear.

I know you'd need binoculars too to see it but believe me it was there and the shot above was taken at 3.32am.  The polar bear gone his Lordship and I grabbed a hot chocolate and headed back to our cabin. After grabbing a couple more hours of sleep we headed off for breakfast. Mealtimes on ship were important, not just for the wonderful food served up by the Argentinian chef, but they were also important points of reference in the twenty four hour daylight. It is easy to slip into unscheduled sleep patterns in this environment.  Breakfast over it was time to head to the meeting room for the morning briefing. We were intending to land at a cove some miles north of our current position. A female bear and her cubs had been sighted there a couple of days earlier so it would be a good starting point.  Just as we got back to our cabin an announcement came over the intercom.

"we're sorry to announce that there is a problem with the plumbing, the pipes on the lower deck are blocked and therefore we would ask that anyone needing to use the facilities please use only those in the upper deck cabins. Thank you"

Five minutes later there was a knock on the door. I opened it to a rather flustered looking chap, who, explaining whilst jigging said that he was desperate to use our facilities. He was the first of several. Mid morning arrived and his Lordship and I had relocated to the lounge for coffee... actually that is somewhat of a fib. We actually had to evacuate the cabin after a rather forlorn lady begged entry to our facilities, it quickly became apparant that she was not fairing well with the Argentinian chefs culinary delights so we gave her some much needed privacy and beat a hasty retreat.

Just as we downed the last of our coffee it was announced that we had arrived at our landing point. We needed to kit up again and be on deck ready to launch in the zodiacs in twenty minutes. Now why is it that as soon as people get their outdoor gear on they need the toilet? It took not inconsiderable restraint on our part to smile politely to the constant stream of bods travelling through our cabin as we attempted to perfect our dress drill. Finally kitted up we headed up on deck to await departure.

Zodiacs are brilliant little vessels, once you have mastered the art of getting into and out of them it's great fun zipping about in them. It can be doubly exciting if the fog descends and you suddenly happen upon one of these...

Add a polar bear hitching a lift on the old iceberg and you could be in for some hairy moments. So when fog descended the zodiacs and landings were out of the question.  But for now we had clear weather and headed off to the cove.  There are some amazing places in the Arctic circle, and I loved getting off the ship to go ashore.  This particular cove was an old whaling station and although it brought sadness at the death of so many beautiful creatures it also had a strange beauty of it's own. There was a hut with grey weathered wood walls that had been there for over one hundred and fifty years. The bacteria that rots  wood normally cannot survive in these conditions and so the hut still stands just as it did when last used.

What appears to be a drift of snow on the shore line is in actual fact the remains of over seven hundred beluga whales.  Not killed for their meat or blubber, they were killed for their hides beluga leather was much prized as it was softer and more supple than any other leather.  Those bones have laid there for over a hundred years it is now an offence to touch them so who knows how long they will be laying there for into the future. Long after my bones are gone I think.

Whenever we went ashore scouts would be on the look out for polar bears.  Of course we were eager to see them, however it would have been another matter to come face to face with one whilst ashore, they can outrun a human and when all said and done we were just another part of the food chain. So the scouts never went ashore without their guns. I on occasions took on the role of scout as I can shoot a rifle with pretty good results. I have to confess however if one of my fellow passengers had left the group and put themselves in danger through straying I would have been tempted to shoot that silly beggar rather than the bear! But of course I never disclosed this to my fellow travellers, I figured it might not go down too well with some of them.

Even with the kit  we were all dressed in it was nigh on impossible to stay out for longer than an hour or so, the cold would eventually begin to seep up through your feet and the constant icy wind would freeze your breath and in turns your throat and lungs. So no polar bears sighted today we headed back for the warmth of the ship and another round of hot chocolate to warm our hands and our hearts. The twenty four hour polar bear watch began again.

Needless to say his Lordship when taking his watch, stamped his own inimitable style on his polar bear tracking...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Arctic Odyssey Part 1

The Captain, (my dad), has always been interested in Polar exploration. I grew up with the great explorers, Franklin, Amundsen, Scott, to name but three. I myself have been interested in the Franklin expedition to navigate the North West Passage for some time.

So when his Lordship and I were discussing our holiday plans eighteen months ago it seemed like a reasonable leap to undertake our own polar exploration. We decided to go to the Arctic.

Unsurprisingly it is not quite as simple as making a quick call to Thomas Cook and booking a package. There are medicals to be done to make sure you are up to the task, insurance to cover the event of being eaten by a Polar Bear or being struck by an iceberg.  Oh and I have to warn you, should you ever come across them, walrus are a tad grumpy too.

Our journey began the first week in July last year. We flew from Gatwick to Oslo, then onto Tromso in the north of Norway. From there we flew on to Longyerben in Spitzbergen. Here we picked up our ship, a Russian Akademick class exploration and scientific vessel.

Now clearly  this was not the QE2, (I have partied across the atlantic on the old gal). His Lordship and I had a cabin with en suite facilities. Don't look bored, only four of the rooms had this 'luxury'. The rest had to share bathrooms, and bunks!! Ok, ok, a girl has to have certain standards even in the Arctic.  The Russian plumbing I have to say was erm, somewhat interesting. The en suite bathroom consisted of a cupboard in the corner of the room that had huge cast iron pipes running through it. The shower was in one corner and the toilet was opposite. The entire floor of the room was the shower tray. A hole in the floor next to the toilet was where the water, eventually ran out. It was I have to say an interesting experience attempting to use the toilet after taking a shower, especially in rough seas!! You may be asking yourself at this point, 'why is she rattling on about the plumbing arrangements?' The Russian plumbing was to be a constant theme throughout our journey.

Our first night, (obviously not as in dark, 24 hour daylight at that time of year), was spent doing the mandatory ship safety briefing, climbing into the survival capsule. Not as easy as it might appear with umpteen layers, a life jacket and wellies. However it did allow us to get on 'intimate' terms with our fellow passengers, 22 of them. We were also introduced to the ship's Doctor who turned out to be an ER surgeon from Los Angeles. She had been on many explorations and it soon became apparant that unless it was bleeding profusely, dropping off from the cold or not breathing there would be no sympathy.

It was not difficult getting to sleep that night even in sub zero temperatures and with daylight outside. The cabin was insulated with layers of thick curtains and the bunks also had curtains to shut out the light and keep in the warmth. The following morning found us making our way around a southern cape of the island, now in open water the sea was throwing some heavy waves our way and the small ship tossed about like a childs toy. His Lordship, myself and her Ladyship were among an elite little band of seven at breadfast as the rest had not yet found their sealegs. As the morning progressed the sea ice got increasingly more compact and the horizon disappeared in and out of fog banks as we forged further north.

This was Polar Bear habitat and this year the ice cap had not receeded as far as it had in other years, this was good for the Polar Bears, and good news for us searching for them. From now on there would be a twenty four hour Polar Bear watch.  Once sighted no matter what the hour we would be at our muster station and ready to hit the ground ice fully prepared.  This was it, this was what we had come here for and the excitement was palpable.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Smell

I normally like to pride myself on my personal hygiene and grooming. I don't like to leave home without a little squirt of something pretty behind my ears.

I am concious that eau de perspire is not the most welcoming fragrance.  In my line of work it is a daily occurance to walk into a room only to be greeted by an overwhelming odour of unwashed clothes and bodies. Now don't get me wrong, it is not a prerequisite of the morally challenged to have poor personal hygiene.

There are however other smells that linger around the offices in which I work. Rather pungent and sweet the unmistakable aroma of bud, weed, skunk, marujiana and whatever else you may wish to call it. I often find myself sitting in interview rooms with my eyes watering the smell is so overpowering. The worst thing is that it lingers, it seals itself inside your nostrils, it hangs in your hair, it clings to your clothes.

Not the best thing to happen just before a visit to Head Office when you have to travel by train. What do they have in train stations? Yes sniffer dogs. Thanks to one of my morally challenged bods I was today given a rather intense pat down and search curtesy of the local transport police. They ingnored my protestations of innocence, they ignored the fact that they didn't find anything incriminating on me, they ignored the fact that I am a fellow professional, I had my ID on me, quite simply the pooch never lies... his nose said that I was guilty.

I was guilty, I did indeed smell of the sickly weed, but the lovely plods on the station could simply not comprehend that in my line of work it is not uncommon to be 'contaminated' by such means. It took several telephone calls, which finally culminated in my Chief Officer contacting their Chief Officer who then radioed the plods to demand they release me and apologise. They grudgingly did so and I continued on my journey.

Ho hum, what was waiting for me on the platform at my journeys end... you've guessed, yet another pooch with a fascinating attraction to little old me.

(By the way did you know that there are several different spellings of Marujiana, Marijuana, Marugiana.... it's true, depends where you live, apparantly! )  Ok sorry simple things.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


The gentleman sat on the station platform waiting for her to arrive. Nervously he looked down at the pale translucent skin on the back of his hands, counting the dark stains of the liver spots. She had once held those hands in hers, youthful hands, strong hands. He glanced away from the painful reminder of his aging, searching for the clock and the endless ticking seconds till they would meet again.

Closing his eyes he pictured every detail of her appearance when he had last seen her. That memory had grown stronger with each passing year. Her dark hair swept back in a cascade of soft curls, topped by her neat felt hat, her hazel eyes soft and tender. A dash of rouge on each rounded cheek and soft plump red lips inviting his kiss. She wore a blue coat nipped in at the waist gently flaring over her hips it accentuated her figure. She had been so proud of that coat it had taken the last twenty clothing coupons she had.

He opened his eyes and looked at the clock once more, it was eight fifteen, just a few more minutes. The platform was deserted as always, the trains had long since stopped calling at this station. The seconds ticked by as he recalled the night they had parted. They were so different, their lives and families were worlds apart. His parents had never liked her she was from a working class family they did not think that she was good enough for him. They would never allow the young couple to marry he knew. 

More seconds ticked by, eight sixteen.  He stroked the breast pocket of his jacket fondly touching the ring he had carried close to his heart for the last sixty two years. They had arranged to meet at seven o'clock to catch the night train to London Kings Cross, they were eloping they would start a new life together. He had been late, she had been waiting for over an hour. His parents sensing something was afoot had delayed him. Now it was his turn to wait on the station platform. eight seventeen, the chill air made his bones ache, he sat silently as he watched the clock. In another minute she would be here.

At eight eighteen she arrived, quietly she stood at the edge of the platform watching him. His heart pounded in his chest, his breathing quickened and his chest ached with the effort. She was as beautiful as ever. Her plump red lips parted in a smile as she held out her hands to him. Struggling to raise himself from the seat he shuddered as the icy air seized his limbs. She stood still, arms outstretched smiling, drawing him to her. Slowly he found the use of his legs walking to her eager to feel her touch. Her hands were soft and cool he squeezed them in his aging hands. He could barely breath as he took in the youthful beauty of her face, her dark hair under her hat and the blue coat, she was right to be proud of it. Somewhere in the distance a train horn sounded as it approached the station.  

He glanced at the clock, eight nineteen, he loved her, he had always loved her. He felt the rush of air as the train approached the station. Silently, hand in hand they stepped from the platform edge just as she had done sixty two years before, just as he had watched her do each All Hallows Eve for the last sixty one years.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Final Girdle

Mrs Beeton for those of you who don't know her is my mother in law. She is, how shall I put it, somewhat set in her ways and a little remote from reality. No she isn't suffering from dementia or anything like that, she has always been this way. Now as she approaches her eighty ninth birthday her little idiosyncracies are becoming ever more demanding.

To Mrs Beeton her phone is much the same as oxygen, she cannot live without it. This results in numerous phone calls throughout the day most of them with the same content. She has set conversations for different people. Much the same as her set duties for each of us. His Lordship deals with financial matters and anything involving tradesmen. I on the other hand am designated shopping assistant, prescription courier, and girdle purchaser.

Now fortunately for me I approached womanhood at a time when far from hooking, zipping and tying themselves into undergarments, women were burning them. My knowledge of such garments of torture has been vicariously gained through my girdle tracking expeditions with Mrs Beeton.  By their nature they are somewhat elusive creatures and are rather secretive. Add to this their declining numbers, they are I believe on the endangered species list, and it is becoming ever more difficult to find them.

So when Mrs Beeton informed me that she needed a new girdle I began the hunt for an outlet. After much interwebby searching and some interesting encounters with girdle fetish sites I tracked down a shop in a town not too far away.

A few days later with Mrs Beeton in tow we headed to the girdle emporium. It looked a friendly sort of place with net curtains discretely shielding the contents and customers from the eyes of the outside world. On entering the shop we were greeted by two ladies attired in matching twinsets and decor laden with chintz and lace. Mrs Beeton was immediately shown to a waiting chair. It was clear that they were not merely purveyers of girdles but also brassiers, corsetry and huge knickers. Whalebone and gussets were respectable fayre for conversation in this establishment.

Feeling that Mrs Beeton was in safe hands I took the opportunity to slip out of the shop and wander through the market place. A short while later I returned to find Mrs Beeton still sitting where I had left her surrounded by an array of girdles. I noted that both of the previously serene ladies now had something of a flush about their faces.

"How are we doing?" I enquired

"Oh I think we just about have it," replied lilac twinset

"Do they come with suspenders?" interjected Mrs Beeton

I looked at her quizically, "you don't wear stockings."

"I like to have suspenders as back up." she replied 

"We can provide suspenders dear." the pink twinset said soothingly

A few suspenders later and Mrs Beeton was the proud owner of two new girdles.

Now at this point I should mention that Mrs Beeton is of somewhat diminutive stature, she is barely four feet eleven inches high and weighs seven stone dripping wet. You would therefore not be forgiven for wondering why she feels the need for the confines of a girdle. Well I have mused on that subject myself on occasion, but I have to say my imagination has discretely confined itself to the fact that as a somewhat obsessive character ruled by routine she has always worn them and always will. Apparantly this is not so!

The following week I was sorting Mrs Beeton's laundry, yes this is another of my duties, and came upon one of the newly acquired girdles. To my horror I discovered that it had been slashed along the bottom edges. My mind raced with all manner of explanations, had she had a hot date with Freddy Krueger? Had she not really been a proud owner and slashed them with her butter knife? This defacing of the girdle made no sense. I took it to Mrs Beeton.

"What on earth happened to this?" I enquired holding up the offended girdle

"Oh I had to make some modifications," she replied somewhat embarrassed


"I don't like anything tight around my tummy,"

"It's a girdle! Isn't that the idea," I replied somewhat surprised

"Oh no, I use it to keep my tights up, they keep falling down,"

I looked at her legs and sure enough her tights were rolling around her ankles in such a fashion that Nora Batty would have eaten her heart out. "What size tights are you buying?" I asked

"Large, I've always bought large," she replied indignantly

I have now added another duty to my list, tights monitor. She now has several new pairs of warm lyle tights in a small size and the lovely new girdles have been consigned to the dustbin. Alas the great girdle hunting expeditions have now come to an end and it would appear that Mrs Beeton's tights will now be contributing to the further demise of the girdle emporiums.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frock Horror - An Impromptu Little Cultural Exercise.

Do you ever feel like the forces are conspiring against you?

It has been raining here quite heavily at times over the past week.. I know here in blighty who would have dreamed. Anyway at the weekend I bought myself a rather nice frock for work. So on Tuesday I decided to give the said frock its first outing. I did look rather fetching I have to say. I spent the day carrying out a number of home visits. As I left my final visit the heavens opened and when I say opened they poured buckets. I was drenched through to the skin.

I could have wrung my lovely new frock out like a dish cloth. Accompanied  by much squishing and sloshing I headed home. Oh the relief when I got out of my soggy attire. Unfortunately this soon turned to concern when I noticed my entire mid section was a startling shade of azure blue.  The dye from my lovely frock had run and I now matched the lining perfectly. So I was slightly miffed that after two showers and lots of scrubbing , (I have to say I was buffed to perfection and silky smooth), my mid section still had a lustrous blue hue. I headed off to the shop from where I purchased the frock.

Handing the frock to the counter assistant I explained my 'mishap'. Examining it she scanned the label. "Madam I'm sorry but this dress is dry clean only." she announced.

"Yes dear I am aware of that, but I didn't put it in the washing machine" I replied

"Being dry clean only it means you should not get it wet"

"I got caught in the rain"

She looked at me over the rims of her Dolce and Gabbana spectacles, and hmmed loudly. "I will have to get the Manageress, I can't deal with this," she said and she retreated into the back of the shop holding my frock at arm's length.

The Manageress appeared and eyed me slowly, (it was the kind of shop that likes to cater to a certain class of clientele), in my somewhat bedraggled state I clearly did not pass muster. "Madam I cannot possibly reimburse you for this purchase, it clearly states dry clean only and you have got the dress wet." she said handing the soggy frock back to me with a look of disdain.

"But it was not my fault," I demanded, "I got caught in the rain,"

"then you should have taken shelter" she replied.

"Oh I'm terribly sorry, perhaps I should have hammered on a door requesting they let me in, 'help! help! it's an emergency, I need assistance, it's raining and my frock is DRY CLEAN ONLY', " I said somewhat sarcastically. She was not amused.

"Madam our returns policy does not cover 'acts of nature'."

"What about terrorism?" I enquired


"Actually I was mistaken, it was not the rain, it was the Physioterrorist suspect I was visiting who unbeknown to me had been in the process of making a water bomb, which turned out to be unstable and unfortunately detonated as I reached for a current bun." I replied triumphantly. Her glare instantly froze the soggy frock in my hands and it was clear that the returns policy did not cover 'acts of terrorism' either.

You will be pleased to note that both I and the frock have now dried out and we shall enjoy future outings together only after checking the weather forecast.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is the yard on the St Jude estate after the workmen have been playing in it today.

If you look closely do you see how the trench is beautifully aligned with the gate, the only gate to this part of the property! So I hope that no unsuspecting people happen to be lurking in the dark hours and stumble into it.

But worse still I have to carry the little white hairy monster in the forground over the hole to get to the garden you can see beyond. Even worse still is that I have to man handle big girl, the black dog at the back, over the hole. Guess who's going to have a sore back tommorow.

Of course after yesterdays debacle of the 5am waking and then at the vets... that hole does look very tempting.

Oh for heavens sake I wouldn't... I'm a saint ;0}

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Ah it's a hard life...

especially when you've had everyone in the house up since 5.00am.

Ssh.. don't tell him but he's heading for the vet's this evening for his annual booster. Bless!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hmmph! The holiday is over and I'm back. An eight hour flight and a four hour car drive. There was no milk in the fridge so I couldn't have a cuppa, no food, (not that we need to eat again for a week), and I was ready to collapse into bed, unfortunately it was only 2.30pm so it might have been a tad early.

We swam in the Carribean Ocean everyday, went sailing most afternoons in a catamaran, snorkelling and got stung by a shoal of jelly fish, (not on my list of repeat activities), and drank champagne as we watched the sunset each evening.

We dined in fine restaurants enjoying the native Carribian cuisine, French haute cuisine and Japanese Tempanyaki, all whilst overlooking the beautiful bay and the surrounding countryside.

I am an early riser and so even when in paradise I like to rise and watch the dawn break, what a dawn, glowing and shimmering over the Piton mountains the sun would creep into the sky to herald the start of another beautiful day. I would sit on the wall by the sea just a few yards from our veranda with my early morning cup of tea and marvel at the spectacle. As I sat there the resort staff would amble by to start their day and each would give me a wave and a cheery good morning. Every morning I would reply to each of them and wish them a good day.

When the sun rose to it's full strength throughout the middle of the day his Lordship and I would retire to our blossom trimmed veranda to read and watch the lizards as they darted about on the look out for a tasty morsel of two, they would join us occasionally basking in the heat of the day on our walls watching as we sat reading.

Humming birds would beat the still air to a frenzy as they came to drink from the flowers and we would marvel at their beautiful jewelled colours. Later in the evening cane toads would appear on the lawn and croon to their mates as the bats whirled and swooped out over the sea catching insects on the wing.

Paradise indeed.

However I am always mindful that my experience of this 'paradise' is not always reality. Those same people who greeted me every morning with a cheery hello, who cleaned our rooms, who served our meals and our drinks, who made every effort to ensure that our holiday was outstanding live there year round. My paradise does not involve living in a 'shanty town', without sanitation or running water or electricity or working long hours on banana plantations for a few dollars a week. Does that put me off visiting again? No, because without the tourist industry there would be even fewer jobs, less wages, and fewer opportunities for those people living there to fulfil their ambitions. I met several of the resort staff who have taken opportunities to gain qualifications in various areas and they have used them to their benefit. I was pleased to note that the majority of the management staff were native islanders.

Some people may say that the tourism industry erodes the natural way of life and the customs and culture of the area, maybe they are right and that is a tragedy. Some also say that without tourism and outside influence those living in these places would not aspire to the trappings of that lifestyle. I honestly do not know the answers but I will ask the questions. And some unfortunately, like so many of the visitors I met during our holiday do not give any of it a second thought, they are oblivious, immune, or uninterested in the lives and fortunes of their gracious hosts.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bon Voyage

Well my little treacle tarts, I am finally heading off for the sun and some well earned relaxation. No wild parties or raiding the fridge whilst I'm gone. Sorry all the chicken boobs were eaten last night by his Lordship.

Whilst I'm away I thought you might like to drop by some of these to say hello:




I'll be keeping up with you all whilst I'm away, oh and I haven't forgotten the Arctic posts or the new 'cultural experiment'. I'll be working on them whilst I am sipping cocktails by the pool. It's a dirty job... as they say.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Well guess what I have been doing today? READING.. for pleasure in my lofty study. Hmm.

So as I am otherwise entertained I have posted the original 'Cultural Exercise' as some of you are new around here and have not had the pleasure. I am currently working on another which will be posted shortly.

This is a follow up to a comment I made on my friend Atilla's post 'What a Boob' .

A Little Cultural Exercise
In the interests of cultural science and as an experiment in political correctness I headed off to Sainsburys, my local supermarket, and marched up to the meat counter. The conversation went as follows:

"Hello there, I'd like a couple of those chicken boobs please?"

"Erm sorry Madam?" the young man behind the counter coughed nervously.

"A couple of those chicken boobs, please," I said pointing at the nice plump mound of chicken flesh.

He eyed me suspiciously before answering, "You'd like two chicken breasts madam?"

"Yes dear, that's what I said, a couple of chicken boobs," I winked.

The nice young man behind the counter stepped back a little as he reached for his tongs.

"Actually dear, could you make them large ones. I'm entertaining tonight."

"Er yes madam," he picked up a nice plump chicken 'boob' and put it into the bag. Then he started to pick up another, still watching me from the corner of his eye.

"Sorry to be a nuisance, but could you possibly make them the same size please, I prefer a good 'balance',"

Yes that was definitely the turning point. His hand slid under the counter and within a couple of minutes a rather large butcher, replete with bloodstained pinney and chopper appeared from the backroom door.

"Please step away from the counter Madam." I obeyed, of course. "Do we appear to be having a problem here?" he enquired nervously, chopper at the ready.

I suddenly felt a 'presence' at my side, "You're for it now... Chicken boobs!" someone whispered in my ear. I turned to find an elderly gentleman who had been behind me in the queue.

"Back off Grandad, this is a serious experiment in social etiquette."

"Yeh, that's what I used to tell the wife. I'd watch the big one, he asn't got a sense of humour missus."

extracting myself from the riveting conversation with the elderly chap, I returned my attention to the butcher. "No," I replied demurely, "I'm being served thank you."

"What was it you were after?" he asked huffily

" Chicken boobs, but it's quite all right your young man there has it all in hand thank you." I replied cheerily.

Well suffice to say the experiment had to be suspended at that point as a somewhat unamused butcher accompanied by a very nice young security guard escorted me to the door. My protests of a very serious miscarriage of judgment on their part and claims of saintly standing did not wash. Even when I explained that I was conducting a very serious experiment on behalf of the renowned Attila Institute in the Rockies, they were having none of it.

So there you have it, a cultural experiment in cross species political correctness. Just remember in future we are definitely not 'birds', it would appear there is slightly more political correctness surrounding their 'breasts'.

This is St Jude Mmr, Cjd, Nut, Dip Py, until my next assignment, signing off.

For more 'Cultural Exercises' follow the link below.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's over. I'm freeeeeee, yes  I have just hit the send button and my assignment is winging it's way through the ether. No more studying, no more essays... school is finally out.
So I think it's time to PARTY!! Drink anyone?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Please Do Disturb!!

Well, I am on with it. Yes 5000 words and counting down my assignment as the deadline for submission is next Friday. My Sunday will be a mire of books, essays, journals and all manner of studious paraphernalia. Copious amounts of tea and perhaps some bickies. But there is a bolt of light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel. This will be the last Sunday that I spend behind my desk in my lofty study rumminating the workings of the criminal mind. I do indeed have a lofty study, I look out onto the tree tops and gardens surrounding the St Jude estate. When her Ladyship finally flew the nest I took over the largest of the attic rooms, her sitting room.  It is now my study, insulated from the outside world with a lining of books many yet to read. Waiting patiently over the past two years for me to finish my studies and once again revel in their words. Next Sunday I shall retire to this lofty paradise and peruse my bookshelves, I shall re-acquaint myself with old friends and reminisce over favourite stories. Then I shall select a new and exciting adventure in which to escape, slide onto the sofa and immerse myself into another's world. 

But that is next Sunday, today is another matter.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Wakey Wakey

It's 8.30am, I've been up since 6.00am, (a sleep in, wonderful), with my two youngest grandchildren. They have been fed and watered and now they are playing... up!

It was a late night and they are tired... they are not the only ones. Don't you just love late nights, early mornings and children, what a cocktail! Ooh that sounds sooo good not sure at this time on a morning though.

Have fun.

Friday, September 04, 2009

It doesn't matter how old your children are, there are still times when they want their mum and no one else will do.  Yes I can offer motherly advice down the phone, but I can't hug her when I can hear her trying to talk back to me through the sobs.  I can tell her that I love her, but I can't show her by kissing her tears away. I can hold her attention but not her hand.  I know that she will be alright, why, because I'm twice her age and I've seen it all before. Relationships, trust me your children's are always more difficult than your own. If you can't go over it, under it or around it you just have to go through it and hope that you come out the other side better for it!
Have a lovely weekend everyone... I can feel some retail therapy coming on ;0}

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Ring Ring

This morning I got a phone call. "Hello"
"Who's that?" A woman enquired.
"Don't you know? You've just called me." I replied somewhat confused
"Where's Hilda?"
"I have no idea."
"What are you doing there?" She demanded
"Eating my breakfast,"
"At Hilda's?"
"I'm not at Hilda's, I'm at my house," I was a tad miffed
"Then why are you answering her phone?" She said with a note of triumph.
"Madam I believe you have dialled the wrong number"
"No I haven't, I have it here in front of me, I dialled 274958."
"Well yes you have me there, your dialling skills are impeccable, that is indeed the number you have dialled, my number." I informed her.
"No it isn't it's Hilda's number she wrote it down for me. What have you done with her? I want to speak to her immediately" The note of hysteria in her voice made me panic and I slammed the phone down.
I apologise Hilda, but I think perhaps you had better put the kettle on, I have a sneaking suspicion you are about to receive some visitors.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another Medal in the bag.. part 2

Well the assignments came thick and fast and more to the point as this was my final year they were required to move up a notch and they were also getting quite lengthy in the old word count area. (Did I mention that I still have one last assignment to write? Hmm, as I told you exciting ways to procrastinate.) I put my heart and soul into them, and a hefty chunk or so of previous assignments. No point in letting perfectly good stuff go to waste.

In March it was our 28th wedding anniversary, (I know I've aged well, I also have a painting in my attic), and so once again his Lordship being ever the romantic that he is booked a suprise holiday. A long weekend to the Arctic.. again! Once more my dreams of warm and sultry days languishing on a beach and balmy nights tasting the local cuisine were rudely snatched from my poor aching brain. But there were polar bears and this time lightshows too.

As our weekend faded into memory I got my head down and ploughed on with my studies. My earlier bout of flu had taken its toll and I was unable to burn the midnight oil any longer or rise with the larks. My case load was increasing and the morally challenged seemed more challenging than ever. They are not renowned for their intellectual prowess, or decision making skills nor do they tend to have much get up and go, unless the boys in blue are on their tails. Because of this some have the ability to sap your patience from 300 yards away without even breaking a sweat. 

One such young man became my nemesis for a short while. I doubt that under normal circumstances I would have batted an eyelid at his behaviour, however my life felt far from normal at this point and the phrase, 'sin lieth at the door'* became my raison d'etre. Young Erbert, as he shall be known, arrived on my desk during the second week of April. He was 20 years old and he already had a string of convictions as long as my arm, nay an orangutangs' arm. Most of them were related to fights whilst drunk and public disorder.
On the morning of his first appointment I received a telephone call. 'Hello St Jude speaking,'

'ello I'm Erbert's dad, ee won't be coming in today, ee's not well.'

'oh dear, what are the symptoms?' I asked Erbert the elder.

'ee's bin sick an ee's got a banging eadache, so ee's in bed, it must be food poisoning.'

That would be the kebab and not the dozen or so pints he consumed prior to eating it then, I thought. 'I'll need a sicknote if he can't come in, those are the rules' I explained. Erbert the elder grumbled down the phone and left it at that. Slightly before close of play that day I received a call from reception to tell me that young Erbert was there. As I arrived I noted that he was accompanied by a rather rotund and redfaced chap, Erbert the elder I assumed. I greeted young Erbert, 'good afternoon Lazarus, it's good to see you have recovered so quickly.' Erbert the elder shot me a look of confusion,

'is name's Erbert,'

Too tired to explain I escorted them to an interview room. No sooner had the door closed than Erbert the elder started his offensive, 'it's ormones, ee's just doing what lads do, ormones!'

'He's twenty, isn't he a little old for hormones?' I enquired.

'Late starter,' Erbert the elder said emphatically.

I looked at young Erbert who was smiling smugly at me, 'so what you are actually telling me Mr Erbert the elder is that your son is juvenile in his behaviour and immature in his thinking, would that be correct?'  Young Erberts' grin slipped.

'Boys will be boys, you know what it's like they get into scrapes.'

'Then may I suggest that now would be a good point for your boy to grow up, I am not  entirely sure that he can afford to get into any more 'scrapes'.'

As the weeks passed by young Erbert would appear at the office, occasionally on the correct day, rarely at the correct time. He refused to talk about his behaviour preferring to regale me with the lurid details of his increasing nights out with his friends and their antics. When I enquired about potential employment he informed me that he did not have the time to work, what with the many appointments he had to keep, primarily with me and to sign on at the jobcentre for his benefits. By mid June I had decided that if neither he nor his father were prepared to make the changes then I would. There are times when people have to be shown the consequences of their behaviour and so I requested that he be taken back to Court and that the Judge send him for a short spell in prison. Yes I have the power to do that, not a power I take lightly, but on occasion I use it. Think of it as a kind of 'tough love' thing. So young Erbert is now spending some time at Her Majesty's Pleasure, I hope contemplating the consequences of his  behaviour, and whilst there perhaps his 'ormones' will settle down a little. And what of Erbert the elder, it appears he has become a man of letters, weekly so I hear, too embarrassed to visit his son in person. 'Sin lieth at the door'. 

In July the dreaded flu put in another appearance only this time it had a curly tail and went oink, oink. I was not impressed. I emerged from my quarantine unscathed, however I do have an incredible ability to root out truffles at a 100 paces. His Lordship announced that he had booked another suprise holiday. So over the next few days I began to assemble thermals, gloves, hats, boots etc in one of the guest rooms ready to pack. Then one day I wandered into the room and to my horror they had all gone, in their place though lay a natty little bathing suit and beside it two first class tickets to St Lucia staying at a five star resort... and yes with our own personal concierge. He knows me so well.

There is just one small matter that has to be resolved before I head to paradise... 5000 words!!

*Genesis 4:7 - don't look so surprised, I'm a Saint I'm supposed to know this stuff.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Medal in the Bag...

Well heavens where do I begin. I've now completed my degree, well almost, I have one last 5000 word assignment to write this weekend. I have crammed a three year degree into two... my brain is fried but I have discovered new and exciting ways to procrastinate. In fact if there were Olympic medals for it I would be up there on the podium. I did discover a tiny little hitch early on when I was informed that my particular writing style was not especially adapted to academia. Lecturers are a tad stuffy at times I have to say I do recall one of them telling me;

'you're not an academic are you St Jude!'

'hell no my dear,' I smiled, 'but I am terribly good at canapes and cocktails... oh and by the way plaid is so last season, actually my dear it is so last century.'

She was a game old bird and took it on the chins well. She did make me realise however that my lifestyle and writing style would have to alter considerably. So I put my party frocks into mothballs and dusted down my laptop, signed on at the local uni library and set the little grey cells to study mode. Although I may at first glance appear to be somewhat soft and fluffy I do in actual fact have an underlying rod of iron however there have been times when my resilience has been sorely tested.

During the first year of my studies I had numerous lectures and training courses to attend with assignment dates descending thick and fast, at one stage almost monthly. I was also expected to carry a case load and still attempt to find the time and energy to enjoy fleeting moments with my family. By the end of the first Spring his Lordship told me I needed a holiday. White sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, turquoise sea and my own personal concierge to wait on my whims. Bliss! So I immediately agreed. Over the following weeks I could hardly contain myself waiting for the moment when I would step from the plane onto some wonderful exotic land. My first doubts were raised when his Lordship told me that we were going shopping for the holiday. His Lordship does not do shopping other than when gadgets or 'equipment' is involved. This was equipment shopping.

Now forgive me for being a little dim and slow on the uptake, but I did rather have my mind on other things at the time. I nodded inanely when the lady in the shop showed me the pretty pink thermals with the lacy bottoms, I haplessly stood like a mannequin when she dressed me in sallopets and jacket. I even giggled when she rammed what can only be described as something akin to a dead cat on my head telling me I looked a picture. Of what I can only now imagine, and this is when his Lordship broke the news to me, I was heading for the Arctic. There would be polar bears he assured me, lovely, 'do they serve cocktails?' I enquired.

Our Arctic sojourn over I threw myself back into my studies, my case load was increasing and I was now dealing with some thoroughly nasty and dangerous characters. By the Autumn I was starting to feel a little drained. By early December of 2008 I was in two minds as to whether I could actually pull this off. Then in mid December my rod of iron made me aware that there was some serious corrosion happening. My best friend left me, she had it transpired been ill for many months but she had kept it from me. She had been there for me through some of the worst times of my life and the best. Her name was Tyke. The vet tried to save her for four days but in the end I had to do the 'right' thing and let her go. So on 9th December 2008 I said my final farewell. On 10th December I came down with a bout of flu that almost called a halt to my dream and would take several months to recover from.

I had two assignments due in at the end of January 2009 and I had to write them from my sick bed. His Lordship was wonderful, he brought me tea, in my favourite china of course, he brought me food, even when I didn't feel hungry and patiently tried to get me to eat it, but most of all he carried the huge tomes from which I was working back and forth to the bedroom and helped me to research for my assignments. I got them in on time. Two weeks later I received an email from the plaid clad lecturer:

Morning St Jude
just reading through your assignments and I have to say I am somewhat disappointed with them. (Oh really! a slight clenching of the jaw.) You have obviously put some effort into them, however I am not happy with your referencing style. (What? But it is the same one I have used for all of my assignments to date, maybe some teeth grating now.) I do not believe that to my knowledge two of the books you have referenced are on the reading list, I think Ms St Jude you will find that neither Jonathan Livingstone Seagull or The Tao of Pooh are considered authoritative texts on Social Learning Theory. (Urm!!! Spitting feathers).

I can only imagine how her chins thrust skywards in triumph as she hit the send button. It transpires that in one of my less coherent moments I thought that it would be my civic duty to unstuff the plaid clad lecturer and so I replaced all of my references in my assignments with references from such notable works as The Tao of Pooh, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Hobbit. His Lordship had discovered this and bless him came to my rescue by putting back the original references unfortunately it appears he missed a couple.

To be cont...

(I have not given much detail about our Arctic trips as you would be reading this post until Christmas if I did, and I am sure that none of you can afford to be sat on your bottoms for so long. I will be posting separately about those trips over the coming weeks.)
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