Wednesday 30 September 2015

Take it to the Judge

At breakfast this morning, Boy #1 and I became entangled in an 'I said, you said' moment.  You know the ones; where you absolutely, categorically, positively know what you heard your child say, and where they absolutely, categorically, positively know that they said something different.

This morning's contretemps involved numbers (when doesn't it?).

I knew I had heard Boy #1 say '530'.  He knew he had said '540'.  This bounced back and forth for a couple of minutes, neither of us willing to concede that the other was right.

Finally, Boy #1 decided it was time to bring in an adjudicator and appealed to his brother for help.

"Boy #2, what do you think?  Who's right?"

Boy #2 tuned back in to the conversation (spreading jam on toasted muffin* is a serious business and not to be taken lightly) and considered the matter for a moment as he took his first bite.

Boy #1 was impatient to be proved correct.  "Boy #2, who is it?  Who's right?"

His brother sighed, and in a tone of voice that clearly asked how we could ever think otherwise, replied.  "That's obvious.  I am."

*That's English Muffin, for those thinking of the other kind.

Monday 21 September 2015

Here be dragons...

'Summer is coming' said Husband, sitting back with a contented smile as he watched Daenerys Targaryen lead her freed Unsullied army out of Astapor after they had killed their former masters, and her dragon had burned Kraznys to a crisp.

(He and I are only now getting around to watching Season 3 of 'Game of Thrones', and this comment was made as the credits rolled on Episode 4).

I looked at him in disbelief before remembering that he has never read any of the books.  Poor soul, he's never even heard of 'The Red Wedding'.

'Summer is coming?' I repeated, deciding to go easy on him.  'Darling, the book in which summer is coming hasn't been written yet...'

Apologies to any readers who have no idea what on earth I'm talking about...

Monday 14 September 2015

More things I have learned since moving back to the UK -

or, if you wanted to use another title:

'Oh Shit, Did I Just Hear That Door Slam Behind Me?'

In the part of England that we've moved to, recycling is a civic necessity.  Not only glass and tins need to be recycled, but so does paper, plastic, card and most crucially for this story, food.  Any left-over food goes not into the normal rubbish bin but into a special plastic box supplied by the council and is collected weekly to be recycled.  Just think of it.  A whole week for your unwanted food to ferment and rot in a box by the door.  It's not pretty - and a great incentive to make sure that there is as little waste as possible.  Unfortunately it doesn't matter how hard you try, there are always things that don't make it back onto the table and need to go into the Bin of Shame.

Which is where this story starts.

When we moved into our rented house back in the UK a couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of opening one of the two food recycling bins left behind by the previous occupants of the property. I should like to stress here that there are especially designed liners to put into these bins, ones that bio-degrade and can be disposed of with the food inside them.

Turns out the previous tenants didn't use them.

Jesus.  Gagging, I hosed out as much of the residual mulch as was possible (desperately trying not to dwell on the fact that there had also been a big dog living in the property which would account for some of the appearance of what I had briefly seen) and resolved never - NEVER - to open the second box.

Except, today, for various shameful reasons associated with needing to throw away more food than could be recycled in one bin, I had to use the second box.  And guess what?  Same revolting contents, so same necessity to deal with them.  Steeling myself, I girded my loins (for which read; found my sturdiest pair of boots), and stepped out of the back door to access the hose and the drain once more.

And then, dear reader, just as I thought 'I probably should put that lock on the latch' the door slammed shut behind me, leaving me trapped in our walled back garden; no key to get back into the house, and no key to get out of the garden door into the lane behind.  I knew that our neighbours on both sides of us are away, so even if I did manage to scale the wall I wouldn't be any better off.

I knew where my mobile phone was, of course; I could see it, through the window, on the kitchen table.  And even if it had been stuffed in my jeans pocket, I wouldn't have been able to call Husband for help as he is out of the country until the end of the week.  There was my family, who don't live that far away and do have a key but of course even if I had access to a phone - which I didn't - I can't remember their numbers off-hand.

To cap it all, the basement door at the front of the house was wide open (which was what had caused the draft that had slammed the back door behind me).  This might have been a help if I had heard anyone walking past in the lane out the back, but not only was it quiet as the grave out there, I wasn't sure I fancied the thought of hailing a passing stranger - sight unseen on the other side of the wall - and asking them to walk down the road, round the corner, and back again to our front basement to then walk through our house to let me back into my own home.

Tick, tick, tick, went the clock, counting down the minutes until I was due to pick the children up from school. (Or rather, I assume that it did, since I wasn't wearing my watch - currently in for a service - and didn't have my phone to check the time).   And since they've been at their new school only a week and we don't really know many people here yet, there was no support structure in place in the form of some helpful friend to scoop them up if I didn't make it to the school gate in time to collect them.

Standing trapped in the back garden and realising that the alternative response was to burst into tears, I began to laugh, and thought to myself 'Could this GET any worse?'

Silly me.  Of course it could.  Because it's been a little bit rainy here in my part of England today. (Please note; when I write 'a little bit' I am relying on you to pick up on the heavy irony implied.  Monsoon-like would be a better, if less British, description of today's weather.)

So of course that's exactly what it did; it started to rain again.

Now obviously I am not still locked in the back garden, since I'm sitting here writing this post; I did make it back inside.  And I didn't have to accost any strangers through a crack in our garden gate, or scale any walls to get out - although I must admit to climbing up on a raised flower bed to consider the prospects for a soft landing on the other side of the boundary (not good, I have to report).

I have - thank heavens - made it back inside.  And I'm not going to tell you exactly how I did make my Houdini-like escape, other than to say that the gentleman from the rental company who told me that the property was absolutely secure on the ground level had overlooked one very important entry-point (which I have now made safe).  Yes, there were spider webs involved.  Yes, there was an undignified climb and a bit of a scramble.  That's all I'm going to say on how I got in.

But in the spirit of silver linings, what have I learned from this jolly experience?

1.  Never create more food waste than will fit in one recycling bin.

2.  Always put the door on the latch.

3.  Always take an umbrella with you when you go into the back garden.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Things I have learned since moving back to the UK...

  • Never underestimate the value of a good airing cupboard in England's damp and humid climate.  It's price is beyond rubies.  (A 2- step drying process, friends; it's where it's at...).
  • Never underestimate the value of a humid climate.  Sod the fact that clothes left on an airer for 24 hours still feel just a little bit damp; on the plus side, that just-moisturised feeling on your skin really CAN last all day... (silver linings - also where it's at).
  • Never forget to count your blessings about the fact that your hair does not suffer from frizz in said humid climate...
  • Never over-estimate the generosity of your new landlady.  Because who needs more than one smoke alarm in a property, anyway?
  • Never underestimate the lengths said landlady will go to avoid using the word 'damp' when referring to the mysterious patches of moisture appearing on the walls at the bottom of the stairs.  'Hydroscopic moisture' is the correct terminology nowadays.  Apparently.
  • Never discount the sheer pleasure that comes from walking into your local supermarket / clothes store / hardware shop / you name it, and having a conversation in which you can easily be understood.
  • Never forget to remind your children that they can now be understood by everyone around them, and especially by the person they have just loudly labelled as 'very short'...