Sunday, 31 May 2009

Another pleasant village Sunday

The church clock strikes 9 as Mr Grigg ambles across the village square to get the Sunday papers from the shop. His walk holds a distant memory of a Ginsters pasty and an evening of celebrations for Oak Apple Day.

He hobbles past the village pump which, while we were looking the other way, has sprouted a cement pot either side planted with bizzy lizzies.

The sun streams through our bedroom window as if we are on holiday. Children's voices echo across the green, loud and then not so loud as they go up and down on the swings. A wood pigeon coos and a jackdaw rat-a-tat-tats. Mr Sheepwash flip-flops by with The Observer, the people up the road have their noses stuck in The Sunday Telegraph and a man from the council houses is wrapped up in the News of the World.

But this is very much Mail on Sunday territory, as the Tory posters standing proud in gardens and on windows in the lead-up to the county council elections testify. Pelly once inadvertently picked up a note from the shop which revealed who read what paper in the village. There were no real surprises. I was half hoping Posh Totty took the Sunday Sport, the new (female) Vicar Playgirl and the reactionary old colonel Hello magazine.

Yesterday, we found ourselves in Weston-super-Mare, which could just as well have been the moon. Dodging the donkeys, the sunburt Brummies and Welsh people from the valleys and a man with 'In loving memory' tattooed around his neck, I sat on a bench in the shopping street to watch the world go by. A party of Sikhs, Polish cafe workers, girls with skirts up to their navels sauntered by. Long legs, fat legs, skinny legs, high shoes, flat shoes, wedges. A man in a silk suit and a handbag, a woman with buck teeth and a look of terror in her eyes, an old lady with a pink felt hat and thick socks.

It was a far cry from the revelery of the previous night, when Mrs Bancroft and Night Nurse arrived at the door reciting a poem that goes 'Grovely, grovely and all grovely' for Oak Apple Day, Mr St John turned up wearing a crown of oak leaves looking like the Green Man and Mr Sheepwash, the least romantic person we know, got all wistful after a few wines about a scene from the film Love Actually.

In Weston, I looked up beyond the madding crowd and above the shop fronts to see ornate leadwork at W H Smith and then a few doors down the words 'Catch me if u can' written way up high by an extremely tall graffiti artist.

On our way home, we were transported to the past, overtaken by a steam train chugging along the track.

It is quiet now as I write this and the smell of barbecue smoke wafts through the air.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Friday, 29 May 2009

Odds fish, it's Oak Apple Day

Just a quick blog this time. After the episode with the pasty, I haven't been right since.

So as the sun beats down outside my window, the bus reverses past my house to turn around, the mobile library is just about to pull up outside my door and four dogs are having a barking match outside the village shop, let me wish you a very merry Oak Apple Day.

It is the birthday of King Charles II and was once a public holiday held to mark the restoration of the monarchy.

I am no monarchist, believe me, but any excuse for a holiday and having fun is OK by me. Besides, I have a strong affinity with Charlie. Local legend has it that my house was one of the many places in which he stayed on his flight from the Battle of Worcester. Surprisingly, this 6ft 2in Moorish-looking young man went unnoticed in 1651 when England was populated by midgets.

Today, though, I can see the curtains of Mrs Bancroft and Night Nurse twitching as they ponder the identity of the dark haired man of similar height coming and going through my front door. This is no royal reincarnation. It is Des the carpet fitter, putting the finishing touches to our front room.

We have reorganised our house and tonight we are having an oak apple supper in our newly-created banqueting hall (Dave Pie and Mash, I jest). Our guests, Mr and Mrs Sheepwash, the aforementioned neighbours and Mr St John and Lady Friend will help us celebrate. They have been asked to wear a sprig of oak.

It is just as well Celebrity Farmer hasn't been invited. I could see him turning up with an oak leaf and nothing else.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Pasty tea and toast, will you?

Mr Grigg had a bad night last night. He was tossing and turning as if he were on a spit. This morning, at breakfast, he told me he'd been having a nightmare.

'This is going to sound really weird...' he said, as I slurped my tea. 'But I dreamed I had a Cornish pasty stuck up my bottom.'

There was an interlude while he mopped up the PG Tips I spat all over him.

'Do you want me to tell you more?' he said. 'Or do you want to finish your Weetabix?'

I needed to know what happened next.

Once the Weetabix was safely down my gullet, he said: 'Well, I went to the doctor's, and I was in this kind of medical centre common room and there were lots of other doctors there. My doctor saw me and asked me what was wrong. I was really embarrassed and I whispered to him about the pasty. "Oh," the doctor said, in a loud voice, "I've had one of those up my own bottom for the past 18 months".

At this point, I was trying to get the jam out of the jar for my toast but Mr Grigg almost ended up wearing it.

He went on: 'So I didn't hang around - if he couldn't get his own out, what chance did I have? So I tried to get it out and it took ages. It really hurt. And do you know why it hurt so much?'

No, I didn't have a clue but I could imagine a pasty up the jacksy could be a tad painful, even in a dream.

Completely straight-faced, he said:'Well, it was a Ginsters pasty, and they're square.'

I frowned. 'Was this really a dream or were you just telling me a joke?'

'No, no,' he said very earnestly. 'I dreamt it, honestly.'

I'm not a Ginsters expert but I don't think their pasties are square. I'm sure they're very nice but, in all honesty, after Mr Grigg's dream I don't think I will be trying one to find out. In this household, it could be tempting fate. But it's one way of keeping your pasty warm I suppose.

Breakfast over, I kissed Mr Grigg on the forehead, patted his bottom and went out in the garden to collapse in a heap.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

PS I've just been given a Lemonade Award for stopping by and reading Maternal Tales' blog. So I'd like to pass it on to Pondside for her always interesting comments. How else would I have ever learned that in Canada the name for a strimmer is a weed wacker?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Jerry Hall and a hard day's night in a Beetle

Market day morning in my kind of town and the streets are paved with the bourgeois and the bohemian. It is bank holiday Saturday, the toffs are down from town and tourists with all the time in the world shuffle past stalls jam-packed with pretty things you don't need, bijou bollocks and frippery fuckwittery.

In the almost 30 years since I have lived here, the town at certain times of the year lives up to its broadsheet moniker 'Notting Hill-on-Sea'. Jerry Hall was spotted on the arm of a local entrepreneur in the audience at a comedy night last week, and writers and artists are two a penny, holed up in the folds of the landscape while young locals struggle to get on the housing ladder.

But after two o'clock in my kind of town on a Saturday, everything changes when the underbelly fall out of bed to stalk the streets with their exposed midriffs, gold chains and a choice turn of phrase.

Meanwhile, inland, the weekend starts well, with the village square a hive of activity. Farm tractors with silage trailers, dung spreaders and implements the size and shape of ferris wheels roar through. Neighbours tending the pots outside their houses wave to the drivers and chat to each other in between the tractors. The ubiquitous 4x4s with their dahling and yah drivers grind to a halt, forced to make way for the bigger beasts.

Tuppence drives past, waving frantically. Pelly stops for a pot of snails for the hens and Mrs Bancroft, complete with large hat and trug, is out dead-heading. This against a backdrop of party political posters for the forthcoming county council elections. The Green Party candidate lives in our village and has frugally and modestly put up a poster for himself in just one of his windows. Opposite, one of the many Tory bastions here has responded by plastering the place with posters for the Conservative candidate.

In the Grigg household, the only political certainty is that Mr Grigg and I agree to disagree. One of us is left, one of us is right. And if you did not have both, how would the world function? Imagine two left feet, two right hands, two left side of brains (heaven forbid). Although with the current expenses scandal, both of us are unusually throwing up our hands in horror and declaring all politicians corrupt.

However, I digress.

In the evening, the sun glints on the glasses of cider being consumed in the hostelry garden as we drive by in the birthday present to myself two years ago. A 1969 convertible Beetle that the previous owner named Bella. I am not a great one for calling cars names. A car is a car after all. But little yellow Bella is my darling, I love her to bits. She took us to Greece and back without a murmur, stopping only twice, when hit by a Chinese Italian woman in a tunnel and thumped from the rear by a Corfiot lorry driver who failed to stop at the traffic lights.

We are on our way to the gloriously named Black Dog in Devon for a 50th birthday barn dance. We do-si-do our way through the evening, strip the willow and balance and balance and turn around.

At the end of it all, we start up dear old Bella and head for home, some 40 miles away. A quarter of an hour into the journey and the lights start to flicker and fade. They come back on again. About 200 yards from my parents' home, the car almost stops and then bursts back into life. All is well.

'Shall we carry on?' I ask Mr Grigg. Both of us have always been fly-by-the-seat-of-our pants type of people. We hope for the best and usually things turn out all right.

'Yes,' he says. 'We'll be fine.'

Two miles later, at 1.30am, the lights go out and we judder to a halt, right behind a car that is already stopped in the layby. Curiously, the car's interior lights are on and there is music playing but apparently no-one is at home. We have parked in the local dogging spot and our arrival is nothing out of the ordinary.

Mr Grigg has left the details of his breakdown insurance at home. In the dark, we phone the AA, RAC and Green Flag, cursing through all the automated options until the phone runs out of credit.

My parents live two miles away. But we have no torch, it is the middle of the night and they are elderly. So after lots of recriminations, we sleep in the car. Or try to. I curl up on the back seat, and for about 10 minutes dream of the Grigg bed and hope I wake up in it. Mr Grigg grunts and groans. I shuffle and start to cry. When I was 20, this kind of thing happened all the time. When you're twice that and plus, it's not an adventure, it's just crap.

When the sun comes up at just gone four, we are wide awake and listening to the birds. At 5.15, through adversity Mr Grigg and I have become the best of friends. We decide to walk to my parents' house and then hang around outside for ages because I don't know how early they get up. At about 6.45am, Mr Grigg hears a radio. I transpires that my father, a retired farmer, has been up for a while. He is not in the least bit flummoxed to see his youngest at the window, as if this kind of thing happens all the time.

Not long after, my mother emerges, convinced someone has died and instantly fearful for Number One Son's safety in Barcelona. 'No, he's fine,' I tell her, explaining the story. 'We've just broken down.'

'Well why on earth didn't you knock on the door in the middle of the night? We wouldn't have minded.'

So we have a cup of tea, so strong you think my father had made it, and head for Bella with a battery charger.

An hour later and we're on the road again, discussing our plans to sell the bloody car which has now become a heap of junk. At home, Mr Grigg collapses in bed but I soldier on, treating my lack of sleep like jet lag. A few hours later and we're out on a hike up The Hill and down the road for lunch in a pub garden with Mr and Mrs Sheepwash and the widdling dog. It's a lovely day and this cosy corner of Dorset, with its Roman hillforts, scrubby land and languid cattle, is at its most beautiful.
But by the time we get back to the Sheepwashes, where Mr Sheepwash has an appointment with his deckchair, I fall asleep while drinking my tea. It's time for bed. We go for a lie-down for a few hours at 6.20pm and wake this morning at 7.15.

Every so often, I am convinced I am living in the middle of a sit com. You couldn't make it up.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Back home

I am missing out on village life. While I was feeling claustrophobic in London until I reached the leafy suburbs of my friend's house, Mr Grigg and friends ran a coffee morning in the village hall. Then a hen party complete with woman in bridal veil descended on the pub and ordered the full karaoke and Mr Grigg was invited to dinner at the St John love nest.

My only contribution to the coffee morning was buying and labelling the tombola prizes, which I bought at Lidls. This shop is the only reason I ever venture into the war zone of Chard, the birthplace of powered fight.

I am reliably informed that Celebrity Farmer has a new (as yet unseen) woman on his arm. A herd of cows trampled a walker from the other side of the county, Tuppence's lawn looks like it has been cut for hay and Masterchef winner Mat Follas's new restaurant is beginning to take shape in a nearby town.

We are waiting with bated breath to see CF's new friend, although if she fell for his radio mic and mini-disc recorder in London she can't be all that bright. I recall meeting a very attractive young lady at one of CF's parties who had all the men inwardly gasping when she told them she was 'in advertising'. I think it was telesales for a local paper.

The trampled woman escaped with bruised ribs but is now hitting out at farmers (not CF) who allow 'dangerous' cows and their calves in fields where there are footpaths. She did not allude to the fact that she had two dogs on leads. As any fule no, if you are ever in this situation you should let the dogs go. The cows are naturally protecting their young and it's the dogs they're after, not you.

There is a quiz going on in the village hall tonight but we are not going. We will get short shrift, for sure, from Nobby Odd-Job, who is involved in organising it. But Mr Grigg has only just come home from work. And besides, we thought we'd give someone else a chance.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Really wild child

Underneath the clock at Waterloo Station, the gateway to my Western world, weary women in pink leg warmers, trainers and bras over tee-shirts walk by, survivors from the London Moonwalk.

I am on my way home from The City Where No-one Ever Speaks To Strangers and the camaraderie and sense of achievement emanating from these women is humbling. I have left my old friend out in the suburbs in a Brief Encounter-like moment on a station platform.

Yesterday I did my pitch at the travel writing workshop. I was buoyed up by euphoria after being told by the trainer Dea Birkett that my notes in an exercise about using all the senses sounded like poetry. But when it came to pitching an idea to Dan Linstead, the editor of Wanderlust, my heart was knocking so hard against my chest I thought I might have to let it out and shake hands with everyone round the table.

Rather bravely, I went straight in with my first paragraph about the wind turbines in Puglia, encircling me like a sinister army, and then waved a collage of my photos for all to see. Dan was kind, said Puglia was a bit old hat but it was a nice opening paragraph. Dea ran her fingers through her boyish crop and screeched: 'Cut out all those adjectives', rang her bell and said: 'Next!' My heart wanted to bounce down the table and punch her on the nose.

One thing she said, though, stood out: 'Don't be too precious about your writing.' And she is absolutely right. Having been an editor in a previous life, I know that only too well. However much I think I am going to be the next Colin Thubron, there comes a time when reality steps in and introduces itself to your heart.

Afterwards, trudging along the South Bank, over the Thames and along the other side, I passed two tube stations that were closed. I wheeled my little pink case all the way to Holborn, having forgotten my A-Z and being too proud (and tight) (and scared) to flag down a taxi to take me to Liverpool Street station. I wished Mr Grigg had been there, to hold my hand, carry my heavy bags and tell me I was wonderful.

A man with a guitar, a Chinese girl wearing a red silk shirt and cowboy boots. An old couple out for the day. A young black man in a pinstripe suit. People of all shapes and sizes, colours and races, sexes, in iPod bubbles, Moonwalk hats and medals, shuffling, walking, Mind The Gap, running, sneezing, the smell of unwashed hair, boots, sandals, trainers, deck shoes, escalator up, escalator down.

An hour later, I was on a unfamiliar station, the end of the line and the last one off the train because I didn't realise I had to press a button to open the door. I felt sorry for myself, little country mouse with her belongings in a spotted hanky tied to the end of a stick. There by the ticket machine was Curious Girl, my old flatmate from 30 years ago. We hugged, but not very tightly, as both of us are slightly cold fish.

Last night and this morning, we talked about our wild child days in Plymouth in the politically charged and incorrect late 1970s and early 80s. We looked at the old photos, our perms and New Romantic big hair, posters of Bowie and Iggy Pop on the walls. We rattled on about our fellow trainee journalists and our training manager Jim Dalrymple (surely the prototype for Gene Hunt. He said he'd taken me on only because I had an 'arse like an Arab mare - low slung').
We recalled one of our tutors who said: 'Every journalist needs a damned good lunch'. We remembered one of the editors who refused to have disabled people's photos in the paper because it put off the readers.

We were deep in conversation on the platform this morning when Curious Girl suddenly pointed to the poster behind me. Iggy Pop advertising car insurance.

Real wild child indeed.

That's about it,
Love Maddie x

Friday, 15 May 2009

The country mouse goes to town

The country mouse is off to town tomorrow. I am booked into a travel writing workshop at the ITV Studios in London under an assumed name. I have been looking forward to this for some time, as it is run by travel writer Rory Maclean, of Magic Bus and Falling for Icarus fame, and the Guardian's Dea Birkett. I heard Rory Maclean give a talk once and his gentle, Canadian tones sent me into another world.

I have just found out who the guest editors are and I am working myself up to do a pitch. I am rubbish at selling myself so this afternoon I will be busy dusting off some things I did earlier in an attempt to make my sparkling prose speak for itself.

What is filling me with glee, however, is the prospect of staying the night with Curious Girl, my old flatmate I haven't seen for 10 years. We shared a house together when we were training as journalists in Plymouth nearly 30 years ago.

Her calmness, fashion sense and individuality always impressed me, a timid sheep who hid under a veil of kookiness. She looked like a woman. I looked like a boy. Her slight Westcountry tones sounded sophisticated. Mine just sounded stupid. Her knowledge of David Bowie and Iggy Pop was astounding. My knowledge was restricted to where milk comes from and being able to quote the introduction to Alias Smith and Jones verbatim.

Looks-wise, she was Geena Davies. I was Susan Sarandon. Partners in crime.

On Friday and Saturday nights , we'd glam up and sink a bottle of Concord wine before setting off on the top deck of the bus, down through Mutley Plain and into town for a night out at the Cooperage. I smoked Marlboro and she smoked Silk Cut. Thankfully, we are now off the dreaded weed.

Some of my fellow students went on to much better things, Curious Girl included. I had pressing attachments back home so I did not get the six week work experience on a national newspaper, enjoyed by other trainees such as political guru Alistair Campbell, Good Housekeeping editor Lindsay Nicholson and Guardian health editor Sarah Bosely. It's probably just as well, though. I would have been terrified.

These days, as well as sinking myself into village stuff, I am still interviewing the weird and wonderful and very local while Curious Girl is a high flying PR for an international company. Saying that, though, there is a homely side to this superwoman. She runs a crafting blog.

Now I am sorry Calico Kate, Cariad in Crete et al, I am not remotely crafty. I went along to do a piece on a knit and natter club this week and ended up crocheting an egg cosy because after 30-plus years I'd forgotten how to do corners on granny squares.

My dear friend Gail is the one who introduced me to blogging so has a lot to answer for. She gave me an award this week for intelligent and witty writing. I was bowled over. I was so pleased not to get the 'This blog is pucking fabulous' award because I'd worry my mother might see it.

So I am passing on the Renee Award, created by Bella in Japan in memory of her friend Renee, to Reasons to be Cheerful, 1,2,3 and Maternal Tales from the South Coast. Neither of you are strangers to awards so what's one more in a long line-up? And although laughing out loud is such an overused expression, that's what both of you make me do.

You give a sense of proportion to this too often pompous world of ours.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Tis the season to be strimming

It is strimming season and with it comes the inevitable expletives from the Grigg garage. On lawns and in workshops all over the village, the strimmers suddenly take on lives of their own, like the broomsticks in Harry Potter. They even have names. Mr Sheepwash has three adjectives for his and one noun - bastard - as the starting-up the strimmer process turns into a little dance. The smell of petrol and the sound of swear words fill the air, the engine floods and Pelly Sheepwash sagely shakes her head.

'They don't like stale petrol,' she whispers to me, adding that she told Mr Sheepwash this last summer. This has since been confirmed by the local agricultural engineer who says he is beseiged by bastard strimmers in the spring when the men of the house reach the end of their tethers and can deal with the frustration no more.

'Well, my car starts when I leave it for a few days,' Mr Sheepwash says. Rather snappily for one so usually laid back.

'Yes,' says Pelly, patiently. 'But you don't leave it in a shed all through the winter and just expect it get going as soon as you put your key in the ignition, do you?'

As Mr Sheepwash finally gets his strimmer going, Mr Grigg throws his (also called Bastard) down in disgust and then straps it to his bike for the ride home. This seemed like a good idea at the time but once he has started, he cannot stop and has to ride into the hedge to brake.

At that point, a John Wayne-style hiccup is heard from up the road. It is Hawkeye, who has been in the pub all afternoon and is at last winding his way home, his grey trackie trow-wow bottoms making him look like more like Colonel Hathi marching through the jungle rather than Rooster Cogburn minus the horse.

'Sorry Maddie, I can't speak proper, I got hiccups.'

It's a strange old place.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Sunday, 10 May 2009

A village affair

This is the sight that greeted me on my walk with the dogs today just across the road. Lovely isn't it?

This is the stall outside the Grigg hovel this morning just before the crowds arrived, along with Monty Chocs-Away in his open-topped classic car, Celebrity Farmer in his Land Rover with two barking dogs in the back and Posh Totty on her way to Pony Club with Charlotte Whinge-Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) in the Disco*.

Pelly and I were side by side and found ourselves in matching baggy jeans (built for comfort, not speed), purple tops and sparkly flip flops. Pelly did rather better at selling than me. As an example, when asked how much the books were I said '20p, but you can have two for 50p'. Maths was never my strong point. Grade 3 CSE three times, and that was with private coaching from the retired headmaster of the boys' grammar school.

I am happy to report the carboy (in the picture above) went and so did the wardrobe. For a song, truth be told, but it was good to get rid of them.

Pelly sold her bike to Tuppence, who live about 10 yards from each other. Tuppence clocked it when she was eating her Sunday toast and Mr Grigg, like a cycling sandwich board, suddenly rode down the lane on it.

Our neighbour, sitting on a bunk bed for three with the rest of the family enjoying the sun, took a phone bid from Night Nurse who saw something she fancied on Gandalf's stall across the road.

The road has now reverted from Junk Street back to Genteel Lane. However, there is a cast iron bath, complete with claw feet, we are hoping will be picked up by passing pikeys. They are welcome to it, and the hernia they will get loading it into their white van.

This afternoon it was up on the community playing field for their annual fete, which was masterminded by Packman Bellows. He really didn't need the megaphone.

The snail racing, stewarded by Mrs Regal Bird and Manual was nailbiting stuff. Every which way but lose.**

I am indebted to Mr Sheepwash for gamely agreeing to take part in the dog show with one of our spaniels as I attempted to control the widdling puppy from the sidelines. Sadly, there was no class for the dog that looks most like a pig. But I would have been flummoxed when the judge, the local vet, asked what trick the dog could do. In a flash, Mr Sheepwash retorted: 'Well, he can sing the national anthem but he's lost his voice.'

Woof, woof.

That's about it
Love Maddie X
* Land Rover Discovery
** (deliberate sic)

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Everything in the garden is lovely

The world from my window this morning is bright and cheerful. May is absolutely the best month, with the lime green leaves of trees on the village green and the gypsy lace, pink campions, bluebells and yellow dead nettles along the banks of the lanes. The fields are full of buttercups, dandelion clocks, cuckoo flowers and speedwell.

There are wallflowers in pots outside my front door, a huge sign on the playground fence advertising a fete tomorrow (complete with snail racing and paintballing) and the remains of some tulips next to the village pump. The latter is due for another twee revamp in the shape of concrete containers filled with bedding plants, courtesy of a villager who thinks it makes the square look nice. Please God don't let her put bizzy lizzies there again. I can't abide them. Begonias make my flesh creep.

The tree pollen causes me to sneeze, as does the dust created by Mr Grigg as he puts the finishing touches to our front room, now that the builder (with shirt on) has done his business. I've not always been a sneezer. I was born and brought up in the countryside and believed hay fever was for softies. But when I got into my 30s I started sneezing for England. It usually happens mid-morning or mid-afternoon and can be triggered by pollen, dust and perfume. And when I sneeze, I don't just sneeze once. No, I'll go on at least a dozen times and they'll be of superhero loudness. No cat-type or terrier sneeze for me, thank you very much.

So I expect to be sneezing a lot this weekend as we dust down our bric-a-brac and put it on a stall in front of the wallflowers for the village garage sale. There are about 15 of us taking part, some of whom will be lugging tables up to the square to pick the best spot to trade. It's only the second time we have done it and we're hoping for a good turnout like last time, when dealers were out and about first thing, snapping up bargains from unsuspecting sellers.

I've cleared out my wardrobe and what I don't sell I'm going to take to the charity shop. My wardrobe is just a single one (Mr Grigg please take note, this is not big enough for any woman let alone a clothes freak like me) and has been so choc-a-bloc I couldn't see anything. If I'd been a character from the C S Lewis books there is no way I would have ever found Narnia. The surplus clothes are now in a black bin bag, ready to be put on a clothes rail outside. My fear, however, is that when Pelly sets out her stall next to mine, we will end up doing swapsies and each have more than we started with.

I am sorry to say that Posh Totty is not having a stall. There are plenty who would like to rifle through her cast-offs. I was sitting between her and her giggling daughter, Charlotte Whinge-Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) , at the pub steak night this week, while her husband MDF Man suddenly morphed into Boden Man with a striped rugby shirt and slacks.

Slacks. Now there's a word. This is the beauty of having an older husband. You start using words like 'slacks' and 'sweaters'.

I'll be planting bizzy lizzies next.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Good in parts

It's been a curate's egg of a bank holiday weekend.

First, the bad :

The lovely Night Nurse has been very out of sorts.

Mrs Sheepwash did her neck in and issued birthday bash orders to assorted Sheepwashlets from her bed. There were seven young doctors in the house and all they could suggest was plenty of gin and tonic.

Mr Grigg and I didn't go to Portsmouth for the boat festival on Saturday. This was just as well because it's on over the Whitsun weekend, not May Day.

I spoke out of turn at the end of a lovely family gathering and let off a ticking timebomb when I should have kept my mouth shut. But the least said about that the better.

The eight-month-old dog is still having bladder problems.


The good:

I got into a pair of Levis that have been off the radar for some time.

Bellows Packman's goat has had babies.

The bluebells are out on The Hill.

We watched a deer run into the woods as we looked out across the vale and sea.

A tramp gave us the thumbs-up when we slowed down for him on his regular pilgrimage to a local Christian retreat.

Number One Step Grandaughter behaved impeccably and smiled all through her Christening.

We won the pub quiz.

We enjoyed a lovely roast (ironically, venison) at home while Number One Grand Daughter, dressed as Spiderman, poked carrots into her mouth through the hole her mask.

The hens are laying for England.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Friday, 1 May 2009

Ring of fire

Well, we're off to the Festival of Power and Sail tomorrow at Port Solent, which seems a very long way to go just to look at things we can't afford. The Lyme harbourmaster has given us a year in which to get our act together. Now I doubt the village boat scheme will actually work, but it was a good way of mentioning all my blog characters in one posting. However, we are trying to get a reasonably priced second hand vessel, something Mrs Bancroft describes as a 'day boat'. As soon as she said it, I pictured her in big hat and Audrey Hepburn sunglasses, issuing orders from the cockpit with a G&T in her hand while the shapely Randy Munchkin acts as a figurehead.

Mr Grigg is in the bath as I write, while we settle down for an evening in. If Number One Daughter is reading this, just because it is a Friday night does not mean it is steak and sex night. We are having steak but who knows what else is on the menu? Yesterday I heard an American woman (who just so happens to be promoting a book) on the Jeremy Vine show telling how, for her husband's 40th birthday, she promised the lucky man sex every night for a year. I made the mistake of relaying this to Mr Grigg, who, although approaching 50 but in the wrong direction, is getting very excited as his birthday gets closer. If I had to choose between sex and a cup of tea, I can already hear the kettle whistling.

But I shall move on, before I am told off for giving too much information. There are lots of things happening in the village at the moment, but I am allowed only to reveal some of them at this time.

Venice: the land of romance and love-ins

Mr St John, as I have said, has returned from the ancient theme park known as Venice. He splashed out on a launch from the airport to the hotel but was delighted to discover a free bus for the return trip. He let slip that he was thrown out of the ridiculously expensive and very overrated Harry's Bar for wearing shorts.

Mr Loggins was spotted a few days ago wandering lonely as a cloud up on The Hill, wearing dark glasses on a misty day. He has been lost ever since the log gathering season came to an end.

Princess Peach and her lovely daughter (who I would so much like Number One Son to meet) were out playing crazy golf at Lyme Regis while Super Mario plotted cricket tactics.

There is disquiet over the cutting of the churchyard grass. After months of it looking a disgrace, all in the name of 'wildlife conservation' (I ask you, we live in the middle of the countryside), a group of us attacked it with gusto. People were able to visit the graves of their loved ones without getting lost in the undergrowth. We were mentioned in dispatches in the parish magazine. Since then, Mr Prayer has taken it upon himself to keep it looking trim and tidy with the lawnmower rather than resorting to using sheep as they do in the next village. He has done a wonderful job and should be applauded. However, there are mutterings from those who like the wild look and don't have anyone buried in the churchyard that we should revert back to nature to preserve the 'rare' ox-eye daisies. If we lived in the middle of the inner city then fair enough. But we are surrounded by fields, National Trust land and a common where orchids and ox-eye daisies are in abundance.
Clogs or dwarves' urinals? You choose.

Tonight, Mr Grigg and Mr Sheepwash, in blue suede clogs, struggled down the road with the communal barbecue in preparation for the prodigal return of the Sheepwash tribe. The smell of curry wafted from Packman Bellows' house, through the new windows that have caused a bit of a stir. For those who have known the house for a few years, it was a bit like seeing your granny with plucked eyebrows. But people will get used to it.

One of the categories for this year's photographic competition in the annual show is 'grumpy old men'. I'm not saying Mr Grigg is a grumpy old man but on his way to the Sheepwash abode, he tapped loudly on Tuppence's window to get her to turn her music down.

He has now just served up the steak and issued a health warning about the fiery sauce. Will 'afters' be on the menu? Probably not.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

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