Tuesday 30 December 2014

Of estate agents

My eldest son and family are currently house-hunting. Which means that I keep searching on online on their behalf, for the sheer pleasure of looking into other people's houses and offering uncalled-for advice ("we've SEEN that one, Mum, but it's no good"). And why is it no good? Because of the dreaded and familiar estate-agent-speak, familiar to anyone who has ever tried to buy a house. Let me remind you of a few choice words/phrases:

Stunning = not stunning. A least, not in the sense they would have you believe.
Charming = dilapidated. Avoid.
Spacious = smallish.
Generous = small.
Cosy = it's a cupboard. That's why it's situated under the stairs.
Opportunity = forget it. You haven't got time for this kind of opportunity.
Scope = ditto.
View = you can see over the hedge/wall. Just.
Stunning view = you can see a tree.
Summer house = shed.

And so on. As a final insult to the prospective buyer's intelligence, they invariably add "viewing recommended". How many people actually buy a house without seeing it?

But I'll carry on searching because....well, it's kind of addictive. Plus, my new year resolutions kick in in two days' time, and I shall be Busy.

Friday 19 December 2014

Happy Christmas (2)

I know I've already said it, but  because everyone was so nice about Harriet's card I thought I'd show you where she gets the talent from: her mum (my daughter). This is Daisy's home-made card for her family for this year. She used to design ours for years from the age of about twelve, and so now I harrass my grandchildren to do the same.

I start nagging in about August. In fact, I could start commisioning the card for 2015 straight aaway. Now, there's a thought.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Am I the only person...

...who isn't amused by this rather horrible trick (played by US parents on their children as a kind of challenge)? I think it's very cruel. Does anyone else agree? Or have I just  lost my sense of humour (Christmas sometimes has this effect)?

(Nothing to do with Christmas, I know, but I was speaking to someone who told me about it.)

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Happy Christmas

I seem to be doing my Christmas cards early (for me), and here's one for all who read this. We're using this design (courtesy of talented granddaughter),  which I think is very ingenious.  I would like to add that sadly, she doesn't inherit her talent from me, since I have absolutely none at all. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and a happy and peaceful new year.

Sunday 7 December 2014

How to solve the turkey problem

1. Don't. If turkey were that delicious, we'd eat it all the year round. (Ditto Christmas puddings and mince pies.) Get a nice piece of beef instead.

2. But if you really have to, then there is a proliferation of ridiculous ideas to try to make this most dull of meats just a bit more interesting (see picture for just one of them).Ideas such as dunking it in brine (Nigella, I think) to everything from yaks' milk to bats' urine (anon) are helpfully suggested to assist the desperate cook, but I think all turkey (and I've had a lot of Chrstmases. And yes. I've cooked a lot of turkeys) taste exactly the same. Dry and rubbery. Today's paper suggests "perry-brined turkey with pear, ginger and leek stuffing". Really? Is that honestly going to do the business? Can anyone be bothered?

And then there are all the "trimmings". The sausages and bacon and bread sauce and cranberry sauce and red cabbage (relatively new, I think) and sprouts (which have ruined many a child's Christmas meal) etc etc etc.

Cold turkey is good on Boxing Day, I'll grant you that, but after that, you still have that strangely sinewy carcass to deal with. For the other thing about turkey is that, large or small,  it always seems to outstay its welcome. Long after the celebrations are over, its remnants remain, guilty reminders of the sinfulness of Waste.

So - aploogies to all turkey lovers (there must be some somewhere) and special apologies to T, D, B, and J, my children, for making them eat all those sprouts. At least now that your're all grown up, you have a choice.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Flash fiction


The contractions started in the late evening, and she laboured all night, the pains increasing in intensity. She made no fuss. There were helping hands; the hands of people she knew and trusted, and although she had never done this before, she felt safe.

In the early hours of the following morning, she gave birth to a perfect little son, and she felt overwhelmed with love and contentment as she felt his warm breath on her face, and his eager mouth as it sought out her milk. At last, she rested.

But the next day, they took him away. She heard his desperate cries, which were soon drowned out by her own, but she couldn't get to him for they had restrained her. She was not to know that she would never see her baby again.

The farmer was disappointed, but what could he do? He had no use for another bull calf.

Monday 1 December 2014

Two words that should never be spoken...

...to anyone who has suffered any kind of loss/ tragedy/bereavement are "at least..."

Why do people do it? You lose a leg, and someone will point out that "at least" you've got one left. You have an accident, and "at least" you're still alive. You lose a much loved husband - as I did - and "at least" you've got the children, have had twenty plus happy years, have your memories etc etc.

This was brought home to me again today when for the first time since the accident, I saw a friend whose son had nearly died in a car crash in which his best friend had been killed. I said that I was sure people had managed to come up with some "at leasts", and sure enough, she'd been inundated with them.

I ask why, but of course, I know the answer ( and these "at leasts " are all espressed with the best of intentions). It's because most of us find it so difficult to cope with another's pain that we hunt desperately for some good news. What we all need to accept is that, sometimes, there  just isn't any. A hug, and "I'm so sorry" are all we can give. So let's  just do it.