Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Dog Park

A neighbour told me about a dog park nearby where 'you are allowed to let your dogs off their leash'. It's illegal here not to have your dog leashed except in places designated such as this dog park. Having spent almost 2 months traipsing around the streets with 3 dogs (individually) I was looking for a change as, I'm sure, were the dogs.

So we started with the dog least likely to run at some small dog or child at 80 miles an hour and off we went. It's a 5 minute car ride so the dogs didn't freak out too much and it turned out to be a wood on the edge of a very nice new estate and golf club. So day 1 they all had a lovely old time running along the paths through the woods and sniffing around and we felt like good and responsible dog owners giving them freedom to explore and great exercise.

Day 2 and I'm on my own. Rolf runs further away than I was comfortable with and then when we get home he darts across the road to catch a squirrel. Ruby goes way off the paths and chases many, many squirrels. So, by the time we got to Rufus I thought, hang on here, I'm not risking our stupidest dog in that wood on my own, I'll take Eldest. It all started off so well..... until we let him off the lead. He has an inability to hear when he sees another dog and runs like a thoroughbred horse at them. He sounds like a horse when he runs at them and while the target dog may remain calm the owners tend to panic, even those who think they are used to dogs. Nothing can prepare you for Rufus coming at full pelt.

We managed to get him back and turned in another direction. He happily led the way (which way he nor we knew) and then he was gone. He ran at what may have been a squirrel only he could see and he was out of eyesight in seconds. We shouted, whistled, then I sent Eldest off in one direction, I in another. I went off path, climbing over fallen trees and standing in (my mind) rattle snake homes. Not a sign or sound of him (and as mentioned earlier, he's noisy when he runs).
The slow burn of panic started to set in. He's so stupid he would easily get lost forever. What was I going to tell my husband? What if he eats a small dog? What if I get bitten by a snake?
Then there he was - coming from behind me at a gallop; bounding over roots and branches like they weren't there. And he was smiling. He had the bloody cheek to smile.
Bastard dog.

Flab part 2

After writing my last blog I thought a lot about my flab and, indeed, looked at it quite a lot too. Surely, in the great North America, there must be a solution to this? After all there's plenty of flab in this part of the world to work on. For years people here have been available for scientific experiments, like whales waiting to be speared, so where has this led us? I rushed out and bought 2 magazines which I thought might hold the answer - 'Shape' - which I liked because I imagined the nice shape I want to be, and 'Off The Couch' because of its honesty. As you'd imagine Shape was nutrition led and OTC pushed you towards exercise. However, as I checked out the magazines in minute detail, looking for the magic article, I noticed the adverts. My eyes usually gloss over the advertising pages as I inherently believe that all advertising is a lie, but in particular in OTC the first 8 pages advertised weight loss drugs. Not get off your arse and exercise - no, a cheaters way of taking drugs to boost your metabolism or just make you poo more.

I've ordered some.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Flab, flab and more fab

Isn't 'flab' the perfect word to describe the alien that has taken over the part of my body from under my boobs to my pubic area. It arrived like an unwelcome guest - too early and won't bloody leave when you want it to. It disobeys me, it cannot be sucked in, it cannot be held in by magic knickers (so not so bloody magic). I keep looking for the zip so I can remove it as fast as it arrived - alas I can only find more flab and the odd stretch mark. I've read about this alien - it generally lives on women over 35, has no symbiotic benefits at all, is almost impossible to get rid of and a common side effect is an increase in the amount of body hair you have. Flab is not a nice alien.

But what is this? An opportunity to fight Flab? A new life in Canada with time to attack Flab? How wonderful. Lucky me. Time to use all of the gym equipment I've bought as dust gathering implements. A new body, a fit body, a honed body.

Unfortunately another side effect of Flab is lethargy, lack of motivation and lazybastarditus.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Mark the Fraud Man

We got a letter from our bank telling us that they suspected fraudulent transactions on one of our credit cards and could we please contact them. My husband phoned straight away. The conversation went something like this:
' Barclaycard Fraud, Mark Hoojabob talking. Can I help you?' (I made his surname up, his real one was ridiculous)
'Yes, I've received a letter about my card.'
'Can I have your name, address and email address please and tell me what flight you booked in September.'
My husband gave them to him and said he hadn't booked a flight in September.
'I'm sorry, those answers are incorrect. I can't help you.'
'The details you have given me are incorrect. You'll have to go to your local branch.'
'I can't go to my local branch, it's 5,000 miles away.'
'You need to go to your local branch, I can't help you.'
'I don't live in the UK, I can't go to a local branch.'
'I can't help you.' ( I wonder at this point if he had any idea just how furious my usually calm husband was getting; wondered if he could picture him pacing around the kitchen.)
Deep breath.
'Is there anyone else there who can help me?'
'No. You could phone back.'
'Will I get you if I call back?'
'You might.'
'What's your name?'
'Mark Hoojabob.' He seemed unaware that someone asking such a question was usually a preamble to a complaint.
My husband hung up and redialled.
'No you cannot,' he bellowed.
'Mark again?' I asked?
He nodded, had a large swig of wine and dialled again.
'Are you the only one working tonight Mark?'

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


How do I do it? How do I get myself into situations I'd rather avoid like swine flu? I think it's because a) I'm unable to lie when put on the spot or b) I'm cursed. After last night I think the latter.

Long story short we ended up accepting an invitation to a thanksgiving dinner from almost complete strangers. When I say 'accepting' that suggests some choice in the matter - in fact we were cornered like rats, unable to lie our way out of it. We adopted a 'let's just get it over with' attitude and took comfort from Eldest's 'yes' to 'do they drink?' and 'no' to do they pray?'
Doomsday arrived and I got a call from them - could we go earlier?
'Yes, of course.' Thinking it will be over with quicker.
'Great, we'll have a game of football in the yard before dinner.' Aaaarrggghhhhhh
'Erm, I'm not very fit.'
'No problem, it's just for fun.'
Fun? FUN?

We arrived late, mild hysteria warming our guts. I soon appreciated what I was going to give thanks for - it looked like we were going to avoid the football, thanks to dinner being ready early. Half an hour in it seemed apparent that it was a dry house - strike one for Eldest. Drinks offered were milk, water or juice. I avoided my husband's eye. I was given a bottle of water and some flavouring to add - cheaper than flavoured water it seems. Thank god we had taken a bottle of wine so we at least knew we'd have some with dinner. After what seemed an inordinate amount of time reheating food in the vain hope of having everything ready at the same time we eventually all sat. Then it was strike two.
'Let's do grace.' Aaaarrggghhhh. I again avoided looking at my atheist husband as his hand was grabbed by a thirteen year old boy.
'We don't always do grace, but it's Thanksgiving'
'I never do.' my husband muttered.
We ate.
A quick getaway was scuppered by an after dinner card game. A long after dinner card game.

Please overlay this whole account with us having absolutely nothing in common with each other.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Mr Groundhog Day

A few weeks ago, as I was passing quite a large house, I heard past the Michel Thomas French for Beginners in my headphones, a tinny voice. I looked around and there was a man standing on the front steps of the house wearing, it seemed, just a dressing gown. He was waving and pointing at my dog, 'nice big dog' he was saying and smiling. Needles to say I liked him immediately; anyone who likes my dogs gets my vote. I stopped and said 'yes, thank you' - I thought it an appropriate response and couldn't think of what else to say to an elderly man in a dressing gown. The conversation continued in raised voices across his garden - I didn't want to approach him due to his attire and I presume he didn't want to approach me for the same reason.
'Do you look after him?'
'He's a big dog'
'He's got a nice coat'
'Yes. Thank you'
'What species is he?'
'He's a Ridgeback - from South Africa'
'You're from South Africa?'
'No, the dog is.'
He looked puzzled.
'I mean they originated in South Africa - I got mine in Yorkshire.'
He looked more puzzled.
At this point a woman, who may have been his daughter judging by the age, came out and silently got hold of his arm and took him in.
'Bye', he said waving enthusiastically.

A week later I was out with Eldest and 2 of the dogs when who do we come across, fully clothed?
'Big dogs'
'Do you look after them?'
Does he remember me?
'What species are they?'
Apparently not.

Yesterday we met up again
'Big dog'
'Yes, he's a Ridgeback and I look after him'
Not to be outdone we moved on to conversation number 2.
'Do I detect an accent?'
'Yes, I'm from England.'
'We came over from Germany in 1918'
'Oh, did you?'
'On a boat. From a place called Ader A-D-E-R'
'Do you look after him?' Back to dogs
'We came over from Germany in 1918. On a boat. From a place called Ader A-D-E-R.'
'I see. That's a long time ago'
'Yes. 1918. We came over from Ader A-D-E-R.'
'You've been here a long time then.'
'Yes, we came over in...erm....'
'Yes! 1918. On a boat. From Ader A-...'
I kicked my dogs in the leg (gently but enough to make him leap.)
'Oh i think he's impatient for his walk'
'Yes. Big dog. You look after him now.'
And he was off. I'm not convinced he knew where he was off to but relief at my escape outweighed any concern i had for him.

I Googled Ader - no such bloody place.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Sweeps roots and leaves

So, the downside of having a garden of lovely mature trees which in the summer let in dappled light, give shade when needed and rustle softly in the warm breeze? Every single six million of them drop off within a three week period. Onto my gardens and drives. So last week, dutifully, I went out and swept up all of the leaves, trying to ignore the new ones falling around me, and bagged them in special leaf bags I bought (large and orange - may come in handy for a Halloween costume). A neighbour came over and hinted that I could well be doing this every few days if I really wanted to keep my path clean, so I resolved to ignore all leaves and irritating pine needles which, for some reason, I thought didn't fall? Anyway, over at a neighbour's last night I mentioned the leaves and suggested I may leave them until they'd all fallen. Right, she said, we do that. We get about 50 bags. 50 bags!!!! I looked at her 3 tree garden then at my 30 tree garden - oh my god!

I spent 2 hours brushing up leaves this morning....I think I've dislocated my elbows.

Jelly Tots and Coronation Street

We went to the British shop yesterday and what a delight it was for two very good reasons - the Geordie owner isn't just a Geordie - she's a lovely Geordie. Eldest and I stayed there for ages chatting and eying up the goodies. For some reason I decided that I really, really needed Heinz Tomato soup (though can't remember the last time I had it) and Cadbury's Fruit & Nut. I think a strange thing happens when you move away from the things you know, i.e. missing them when you are 3,000 miles away but ignoring them when you are around the corner. That, or it's a magic shop which I haven't discounted yet.

Apart from selling us stuff we didn't really want (but really thought we did) we chatted about all the interesting things going on in the area. Like the Coronation Street appreciation meetings. Now, I am desperately tempted to go to this even though the last time I saw Coronation Street was when Hilda's flying ducks fell off the wall. What better place to meet people who will undoubtedly inspire me to either a) write a bestseller or b) run for the (snowy) hills. Imagine what fun I could have....what do you think? Should I go? My mad mate could give me just enough info on Corrie so I look like a real aficionado. Then the mischief can begin.