Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Blimey! Look at the time.....




Dear Readers/Fellow Bloggers,
It has been 32 days since my last confession blog post and I am heartily sorry. As penance I will recite three Twas The Night Before Christmases and watch The Grinch, Towering Inferno and Home Alone without sobbing.

The reason for the inactivity has mainly been due to my trying to finish editing my novel.... still not finished! That, combined with the speed of the close of year, caught me off-guard: Within days, or so it seemed, we'd had Halloween, then two of our sash windows were replaced, then there was the Bonfire Party.... two seconds later the sprogs seemed to be performing in Christmas plays. The 7yo's was on the 30th November! Then there was the Wedding Anniversary (he REMEMBERED I forgot! But he still kindly gifted me a Kindle - Super pressie.) And by the 9th of December they'd broken up for Christmas and the 9yo, the 7yo and I were on the world tour of the south of England, doling out gifts and visiting those we wouldn't see during Christmas week. Added to that mix, a grandma going slightly wobbly and my usual [fake] veneer of organisation-woman was close to crumbling.  

All through this period the HUGE Bonfire, first lit on the 5th November, has been periodically igniting.... it's still smoking today, 8 weeks after we lit it! Very bizarre. 





However, we have clearly survived. Deep breath. Christmas for adults was best described as passable but for the sprogs I think it was still magical... Once again Santa was bang out of order; this year he managed to find a ball of wool in the craft box and while we slept he created an intricate trail of pink fluffy stuff all around the house from door knobs to gifts..... I guess I should be grateful, last year he used my best silky ribbon and stomped huge boots around the place leaving great footprints of glitter on the sitting room carpet. This year winding up the web of wool from the far reaches of the house took some considerable time but at least we may be glitter free for the year.    



Before the babes broke up from school I did managed to snatch a couple of evenings with girlfriends. First there was a delightful book club supper to discuss Mr Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt. Personally I loved it but it didn't suit all members so a fab discussion ensued. It's always so gratifying when the book is not universally loved. 



Then there was a trip to the cinema in Ludlow's Assembly Rooms... a quaint theatre style cinema with plush red velvet seats. It was like stepping back into the 1960s, fitting really, as we went to see The Help set in a similar era and we weren't disappointed. See it if you can. The oppression and racism in the southern states of America in the decade I was born is depicted in Kathryn Stockett's story. It's a shocker to think such nonsense occurred during my lifetime but then again I guess it's probably still happening now.... 



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I think the best fun I had recently was at The Winter Agricultural Fair in Builth Wells, Wales. I was with two farming wives and a New Zealand gal. Laugh?!! Yes we did, plus we ate and sipped our way through the day. One of our party, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, proved she hadn't lost her va-va-voom! With pretty twinkly eyes she bantered with stall-holders and was soon rewarded with beaucoup de freebies.... The power of a woman beef farmer, oh yeah! 
While we four were out for a giggle, there was more professional interest from the thousands of farmers attending the fair, they were eyeing up the baby beef cattle in advance of the auction. We watched, as the sale began, pinned to railings by large bellied farmers behind us. I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt that they were actually eager to spot the buyers nodding to the auctioneers in the sale ring below!! Young animals were fetching up to £4000. N.B. Being squashed by farmers is not especially good but it did bring on a fit of the giggles again: The exquisite type of giggling that brings tears to your eyes and snot out your nose......Brilliant.

The day’s leading price of £4700 was paid for a British Blue-sired baby heifer out of a Limousin x dam, bred locally...... No, I’m not sure what I just said either.... More concerning than the cost of a cow, bull, heifer or whatever they're called... was the fact that my pal’s hubby, (who was working the show as a stockman,) was in charge of graffiti-ing the rumps of cows. He and his companion, terribly important looking in white starched coats, were found in the sheds gluing numbers to bottoms... hmmmmm.


The strange behaviour didn't stop there, the breeders had selectively shaved their beasts, parring down their back coats to accentuate the animal's ..... well, how can I put it..... arses. One's eyes were literally drawn to the puffy oversized cheeky rumps. It was then that I realised that the pre-roast contestants were also wearing make up. Not mascara of course, [actually I couldn’t swear to that,] but they were covered in sparkly glitter. Sexy cows... would you adam and eve it?


This year’s supreme champion was a heifer, an 18 month-old Limousin-sired contender. He was bought by the judge, Alan Davies, butcher, of Welshpool, for £4500. Presumably he ended up as several people’s Christmas dinner....


In the sheep section the supreme championship went to a father and son team from Cumbria, for a pair of Beltex ewe lambs which sold for £520 each. They also exhibited the reserve champions which sold at £480 a piece to the same buyer. Just for your information, I saw no glitter on sheep....


***



The World Tour of Southern England went well. We bombed off to London to see the sights and the lights and caught up with ‘Cross The Pond and family before they escaped to the Bahamas! Grrrrr! It was the first time my 7yo had been on the Tube. I, once again, failed to meet up with FancyPants from I'm So Fancy. It's getting to be rather fun this non-meeting adventure, I left her a jar of chutney as a consolation prize!

After that we toddled off to South London to stay and catch up with my bestest pal and all round fab Godmother. Then the next morning we zoomed to Ikea Croydon and stuffed ourselves with deliciousness from their cafe. 

Next we visited my parents on the South coast and took in a brilliant musical in Southampton at The Mayflower Theatre - Peter Pan. It was really, really good. The children loved it - it doffed its cap to Pantomime but was sophisticated enough to be in the West End as a true musical. Super fun.


We even had enough time to visit our old manor in Oxfordshire, visit our old farm shop for some stunning beef rib with Tom the butcher at Q Gardens and have a playdate with pals from the previous school in an indoor adventure playground. All fab, if a bit of a rush.

Our last visit was with WYLYE GIRL AT River Cottage Diaries. She is wonderful and was the reason I finished NaNoWriMo as a winner last year, we gently bullied each other along. She was as great in real life as she is in blog land and if you've never experienced her writing take the time to check her out.

Well time has come to stretch, yawn and for the twentieth time this morning, attempt to get the log burner to roar!!! I'm cold, I'm hungry and I need to open up and clean out the chickens (their Christmas treat!) So adieu for now and I'll see you on the other side....... roll on 2012 our Olympic Year. 

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon