Saturday 30 December 2006

The bit in-between

This week between Christmas and New Year is always a bit strange - it's like being in nowhere land!!! I've really enjoyed it though - no work, no teenage daughter, no stress!!!

My Christmas day was lovely - Jo came round for breakfast and we enjoyed smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, with Champagne of course!!! We opened our pressies and I got some lovely gifts...a soft and fluffy throw (to wrap around me when I'm laid on the sofa watching TV) and a massage voucher from Dan, a scarf from my Dad, a lovely jumper from my Mum, a new filofax (southerner!!!) some socks and undies (always welcome) perfume, new gold earrings, books (about riding of course - regarding finding your 'centre' and therefore improving your core balance - oo er!) a crystal ladybird of friendship from the lovely Jacqui, and of course lots of bath smellies!!!! I am a very lucky girl!!

On Christmas day afternoon I went and rode my horse, she was peaceful and calm, and so was I !!!

Then I had my lobster dinner - which was fantastic. Followed by a nice bath, clean pyjamas, and an early night in clean bedding - bliss!!!

The rest of the week so far has been taken up by washing my car (I bought a power-washer - I love my power tools!) and generally chilling out. (Busy doing nothing!)

Phoebe's legs are very much on the mend and yesterday she went out in the field for the first time in over a week.

I have really enjoyed my week alone, in complete peace and quiet - but all good things must come to an end, and I have to go back to work on Tuesday!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!

Sunday 24 December 2006

Christmas Illnesses

Phoebe's legs are on the mend - after a day of intensive nursing - much hibiscrub, many clean towels, hot water and lots of pampering.

I, on the other hand have the Christmas Flu. Well, actually it's just a bit of a bad cold but I can't breathe and my fillet steak wellington dinner was rather tasteless...I had better be feeling better tomorrow to enjoy my lobster. Pass me the "Night Nurse" please!!!!!

I've got my Lobster

Well, that's it then - all the xmas food shopping is done. M&S opened at 9.15 for people to load up their trolleys, and I was 1st in the queue when the checkout opened at 10am. I was waiting 15 minutes before the till opened, but was chatting away to a very nice man in the next aisle as he waited also!!!

Then I braved Tesco for cough medicine, sudocreme (Phoebe's legs) and sponges (clean one required every time you bathe her poorly legs). Actually it wasn't too bad and everybody was being really polite with their trolleys - no trolley rage stories for you today!!! the checkout queues were long - but the staff were lightening quick, and they had packers on each aisle to hurry things along a bit.

All in all then, nowhere near as bad as I thought it might be. I even managed to get a parking space quite close to the doors!!!


Fighting in Tesco

I haven't seen any fights in Tesco yet - but there's bound to be some today!!! I have to go there today, and M&S of course to get my festive food. I'm hoping to get a lobster for my xmas dinner, but when I went to M&S yesterday they didn't have any, and the young girl (obviously Xmas extra staff) looked at me blankly when I asked if they'd be having any more in. This morning will see me parked up outside at 9.30 waiting for them to open at 10am. I was hoping to avoid the Tesco store today, but seeing as I have woken up with a sore throat, runny nose, tickly cough (isn't this holiday all about winter illnesses and half price sofas from DFS?) I will need to go in there and purchase numerous cold/flu remedies to see me through (and maybe some immodium!!!)

I may also have to call the vet, as poor beloved Phoebe has the worst case of Mud fever that anyone on the yard has ever seen. Mud fever is caused by a nasty little bacteria which lives in the mud and thrives in wet conditions. The wet weather weakens the skin around the horse's heels and tiny scratches allow the bacteria to enter. Once the infection has taken hold, it creates swelling, nasty scabs, and great discomfort. The hair tends to fall out in clumps too - very nasty. Poor Phoebe has legs like an elephant, and now requires the hair shaving off and careful washing with Hibiscrub, careful drying (it must be kept dry), and then treating with sudocreme or some such preparation. It can take weeks to heal and careful twice daily nursing is required. Sometimes the vet needs to administer an antibiotic injection, Sunday / Xmas Eve call Vet call-out charges will apply, and that will mean the end of my Christmas bonus!!!

Our Office Christmas party went well on Wednesday night, and the family xmas dinner on Thursday (the one with the chef) was lovely. Mind you the Chef and butler were decidely lacking in humour, and looked quite scarey, especially with carving knife in hand!!!

Dan set off for Sheffield on Friday and the rest of the tribe are leaving today. Yesterday my brother and his girlfriend arrived back from Thailand, and called to collect their car before heading back to Nottingham.

I'll let you know how I get on at Tesco this morning, and I'll keep you updated on the Phoebe / bad legs / will she call the vet? scenario. Mind you the vet is rather dishy, but even I realise that he's a bit young for me. .......It's coming to something when the vets are 20 years too young.

Ho hum......

Wednesday 20 December 2006

List of things to do today!

1. Wrap remaining presents (about 15 to do)
2. Buy sellotape (Before no 1)
3. Ring Jo and ask for new printer cartridges from office stationery room
4. Select and print lots of photographs to make photo album for Dan's Dad for Xmas Present
5. Laundry - washing and ironing
6. Burn CD for a friend
7. Clean car (inside and out)
8. Muck out both horses, make feeds, change rugs, wash legs
9. Be at home when alarm engineer comes (time?....anytime between 9-5...yippee)
10. Carefully iron new dress for Xmas party tonight
11. Do manicure and pedicure (oh la di bloody da!)
12. Pay credit card bills (yikes)
13. Get address for party venue and pray that Sat Nav is working
14. Start getting ready for Xmas party at 5pm - ready to leave at 6.45
15. ??? there's got to be something else but I can't remember...doh!

Didn't someone say that Christmas is a time for rest and relaxation?

Monday 18 December 2006

'twas the week before Christmas'

Busy week ahead. Tonight Dan, myself and our very good friend Nicola (lovely horse-riding lady from our may remember she came to watch me do my first dressage competition) are off to Olympia to seethiswhich we are very excited about - some of the show jumping has even been on the BBC this weekend (wonders will never cease). We can't wait - and there's a huge shopping village as well so I'm expecting to give the old Visa card a bit of a hammering. Tomorrow I'm going to work, and may go in on Wednesday as well. On Wednesday night it's our company Christmas Party - which is a very posh black tie affair. Then on Thursday it's our family Christmas at home (the one with the chefs) then on Friday, Dan heads off to Sheffield on the train to go home for Christmas - leaving me here to look after the neddies (and to get ten days peace and quiet!)

Today I've got presents to wrap, and food to buy, and cream tea to make to we have something nice to eat before we head off into town for the horse show this evening. I'm quite excited and looking forward to the week. I'll let you know how it all goes!!

Friday 15 December 2006

Small improvements

I decided after looking at the photographs from the dressage at the weekend that the saddle fitter may need to adjust my saddle (I know, a poor workman and all that...) anyway he came on Tuesday and altered a few things. The result is that (the technical bit) my position is now straighter and my lower leg is more secure (no flapping about). I have a lesson booked today for 1pm, so I'll let you know if the improvement makes any difference.

Last night we rode in the menage with our good friend Emma and her horse Sovereign, who threw her on the floor on Saturday - so she required a nanny!!! Sovereign is like a male version of Phoebe and the two of them really like each other. aaaah bless!!! They have their stables opposite each other and are always whinnying and snickering to each other.

Now I'm more confident in the cantering we keep doing it all the time and Phoebe is a bit confused because previously it was just a few strides and then we'd stop and go back to doing something more sedate. Now we just keep going!!! She wants to stop because she's tired and I just keep kicking her forward. Will wonders never cease?

Thursday 14 December 2006

Update on Christmas Shopping

A couple of days ago I was saying that I hadn't started my Christmas shooping - well all that's changed now. Yesterday morning I dropped my overcoat at the office and set off at 9.20am like a woman on a mission. By 12 noon everything was bought, wrapped, and packed into a big box, which was then wrapped in brown paper, and the box was sitting at reception waiting for the TNT man to collect it and take it to Sheffield.

So that's 2 hours and 40 minutes to do the's that for speedy?

Now I've had about 6 people asking "can you do mine?" ....the answer is a definite NO!

Tuesday 12 December 2006

Dirty Girl

I suspect that after her finest hour on Sunday, Phoebe decided to celebrate yesterday by having a mud bath. She came in from the field last night absolutely "clarted" (yorkshire word) in mud from head to foot. She has got wet sticky mud absolutely EVERYWHERE. This morning I have to get her clean enough to ride, as the saddle fitter is coming at 11am to re-adjust her saddle. I wouldn't mind but she goes out in a horse-wardrobe of clothes, including overcoat, head cover etc etc that cost about £300. My coat cost twenty-five quid in last year's H&M sale and I've never got a speck of mud on it...what's that about then?

Bugsy on the other hand is such a gay-boy that he never even gets mud on his legs.

Thirteen days to go

It's thirteen days to go and I still haven't bought a thing. THIS year was going to be different. THIS year I was going to get it all done by the end of September. Mind you I say that every year. I am of course, too late now for ordering most stuff on-line which is another thing I was going to do for the first time this year.

What makes it worse is that I'm not going home for Christmas, so what I do buy has to be wrapped, parceled and posted!!!! Of course all the shops are horrifically busy now, there's queues everywhere and people meandering about as if they have all the time in the world! EEEEEK. Oh yes...I completely forgot to mention that I have no money...I hate Christmas...bah humbug.

Our Christmas trees went up yesterday here at the house, and already there's pine needles everywhere, and I suspect that Malcom will be round later to erect the huge inflatable Santa, Reindeer and sledge that goes on the roof!!!

Dan's Dad and the boys won't be here for Christmas so we're having our family Christmas lunch on the 21st. When the idea was first mooted I did panic thinking I would have to create a Xmas lunch fine enough for a king, but then, when the look of horror on my face was noticed, I was reassured by being told that the "Chefs" are coming to do that is the way to do a Christmas lunch!!! They even do the washing up...yippee!!! Apprently it's a team of three lovely gentlemen who come with everything, cook and serve it all, wash up, then leave!!! Fabulous!!!!

Now I've just looked at my present list (I have done that!) and there's only 33 names on it - that won't take me too long...will it?

Sunday 10 December 2006

Picture of me and Phoebe during our dressage test

here and then page using the arrows through the next three or four because they're us too!!!


Today has been just about the best day ever. I took my lovely Phoebe to a dressage competition at Merrist Wood in Guildford. After last time I was a bit nervous about loading her onto the trailer, and even more nervous about the dreaded cantering.

This week I have had some lessons from Angie, and Emma, 2 trained instructors who keep their horses at the same yard as me. Our usual instructor has broken her ankle after falling down a flight of stairs (drunk?)

Well, I can't begin to tell you the difference they have made to my riding and my confidence!!! It's been fantastic. A few simple hints and tips to do with the thighs (honestly!!!) and my cantering is transformed. It's now rythmical, and more importantly I can control the speed and the downward transition to trot - which previous was a complete shambles and invloved me nearly going straight over Phoebe's head.

We did a lovely test and I scored 0.8% of a mark less than Dan!!! I'm usually about 20% behind her. Of course - she said it's because Bugsy wasn't feeling his usual self etc etc (excuses). I didn't come last - in fact I was nowhere near last, and I am absolutely as pleased as punch. Dan isn't!!! If you check back again tomorrow I'll put a link to the photos of me and Phoebe in our finest hour!!!!

Afterwards I tied Phoebe to the trailer and she just stood there munching her way through a haynet for 2 hours until we were ready to go home. She's such a good girl.

I'll say it again - the more time I spend with my horse the less I like people!!!!

Monday 4 December 2006

Denzel does it again!

Following on from yesterday's post regarding the movie we watched last night.....due to the bad wind storms on saturday night we have no sky service and our dish still hasn't been sorted.

Off we went to Blockbuster to rent another movie. Tonight we watched this
Another great performance from Denzel Washington, and this time with Clive Owen (yum yum) Jodie Foster and Christopher Plummer, and directed by Spike Lee.

Another very good film that I can highly recommend.

Sunday 3 December 2006

A rather nice weekend!

We have had a lovely weekend. My cousin Richard got married to Julie on Saturday, so on Friday my Mum and her twin sister, Marguerita, and her husband, David came down. They called for lunch before heading up to Islington. Joseph came to stay for the weekend too, and then on Saturday afternoon my brother Frazer arrived. On Saturday night we went to the wedding party and a jolly good time was had by all. Much champagne, dancing and merry making was enjoyed!!!!

Today I enjoyed a riding lesson given by my friend Emma (who recently had a daughter and named her Phoebe, after my horse!!!) My usual instructor, Danny, has broken her ankle after falling down a flight of stairs whilst drunk!!!

Because of the storms last night our SKY isn't working and so tonight Dan and I watched this on DVD. The film was excellent, and starred Denzel Washington who is one of my all time favourites. I thoroughly recommend the movie, and if you can rent it from your video store it's well worth watching. Don't be put off by the rather naff title.

I'm also rather looking forward to a visit on Wednesday from my other brother Russell and his lady, Sarah, who are coming to stay for 48 hrs on their way to somewhere exotic via Gatwick for a well-earned pre-christmas holiday. (If they leave their car at our house they don't have to pay airport parking charges!!!..only kidding Russ!)

Wednesday 29 November 2006

We don't like change

One of the things I am working on at the moment in my day job, is changing a major supplier.

I have been fascinated by the response I have received across the organisation. Makes no difference that our new deal is cheaper, more efficient, better all round....I have discovered that most people - even though it will not affect them in the NOT like change. Maybe it's not actually the change, but the fact that someone else is kind of forcing the change upon them...I don't really know. But I have been really surprised by the negative reactions I have experienced. To be fair, some people have been pleased by the change, but most have not. I suspect that they aren't even clear what it is that they object to. Does change make people feel insecure, the shift in status quo bringing about nervousness perhaps?...maybe they think.."If this can change, what may be next?" I really don't understand it.

Maybe change is okay if you're in charge of it yourself? It's a real puzzle to me and has caused me a great deal of thought.

People are really fascinating - but I wish that I understood them better sometimes.

What do you think?

Friday 17 November 2006

The Speaking Clock

Listening to Radio 2 in the car on the way to school this morning, Terry Wogan informed the nation that voice for the speaking clock is being changed after 17 years. They are looking for a new "voice".

Dan listened to this and then said "that must be a really boring job, reading the time out all day long".

Upon further discussion I realised that she thought that someone actually sat in a sound booth all day, every day, reading out the time!!! Bless!

I now have to tell her the truth, and I might mention the tooth fairy and Santa Claus as well.

Thursday 16 November 2006

The Army Story

Because Christian is always badgering me to tell the Army story (it's his favourite) I thought I'd better tell!!

When I was 19 years old I went to the cinema to see "Private Benjamin" starring Goldie Hawn. I enjoyed the movie so much I went and joined the British Army.

Now, what's funny about that?

I served Queen and Country for three years as a Lance Corporal in the Intelligence Corps. Two of those three years I was serving in Cyprus, and whatsmore I loved every minute of the whole three years.

How embarrassing

My cousin Stephen sent me an e mail with a movie attachment called "When lap-dancing goes bad"

I opened the attachment and the movie clip featured a naked young lady sitting, bumping and grinding, on the lap of a young man. The end of the clip shows the guy being sick all down the young lady's back...GROSS.

However before we got to that part, Dan's dad popped his head round the door to see if I had any salt he could borrow. He 'caught' me (so he thought) looking at porn, and apologised in rather and embarassed way for "disturbing me during my private time", then quickly backed out of the room.

Cue me chasing after him saying "it's not how it looks...I'm not watching porn", and him saying...."No, no, it's fine, whatever you need to do......etc"

Oh God :)


Just flicking channels and came across that train wreck of a programme "I'm a (non) celebrity , get me out of here". Dean Gaffney (of Eastenders fame) doing the bush tucker trial was fantastic. I thought he was going to need medical and physchological attention....I was laughing out loud at the bizarreness of it. Will try not to watch it again!!!

Saturday 11 November 2006

Looking to the future

Today we have been on a mini-adventure. It was very exciting. We went here to have a look around for Dan as she has chosen it as one of her options on her university application form.

The times for visiting were 10am - 2pm, and as her Dad was flying home from overseas and his flight wasn't landing until after 9am, and Hartpury college is about a 2 hour drive away, we went by a faster method of transport than the car. And what's more nobody was airsick. We had a very dishy pilot called "Captain Will" - but try as I might I couldn't get his phone number!!! I must just add a huge "Thank you" to the wonderful Jo (she knows who she is) who absolutely went above and beyond the call of duty to organise and arrange this trip for us...It was really fantastic!!!

Driving Test

Dan took her driving test yesterday and - after cutting somebody up on a roundabout - unfortunately she failed. She's not too disappointed though as I've been telling her that nobody passes first time anymore, and to treat the first attempt as a practise.

I've also pointed out to her that if her Grandma can drive - surely anybody can?

Sorry Mum!

Friday 10 November 2006


...we're going on a helipcopter ride to Gloucestershire. I'll let you know what happens!

We came last - but at least we did it!!!!!

Well, we went to the dressage competition - nearly didn't make it as Phoebe was reluctant to get onto the trailer. But with a few tempting carrots and the help of a lunge line around her big bum, she finally loaded and 30 minutes later we were there.

She was very good whilst being tacked up and we went to the warm-up arena side by side with Bugsy and Dan. I rode her for about 15 minutes, and all the time she was getting faster and stronger - so by the time we finally got to the competition arena I almost had no control whatsoever!!! We hung on (just) until we had to do the canter and then good old Phoebe went off like a bullet from a gun!!!!

The look on my face was priceless according to Nicola (my friend from work who also rides and came along to support us) and God only knows what the judge thought!!! I was glad to finish 4 minutes later, and was eternally grateful to have got through and still be alive.

Ten minutes later I checked the score board to see that I had come a very respectful last!!!! That's my purpose you see...I enter the competition to fulfil the role of preventing every other competitor coming last!!!

I did, however enjoy myself immensely and felt a huge sense of accomplishment for having taken my horse away from home, and the grin stayed on my face until long after we got home.

Doesn't take a lot to make me happy!!!

Sunday 5 November 2006

D-Day minus 3 days and counting

"D-Day" is Dressage competition day (next Wednesday) and I'm just beginning to feel the stirring of miniature butterflies in my tummy. I had my lesson yesterday and we did some preparation work towards the test. My cantering leaves a lot to be desired and Phoebe (bless her) gets a bit keen (fast). I get a bit scared, grip with my legs and therefore she goes even faster....vicious circle......

Will ride her again this afternoon and do more practise. Ho Hum.....

Saturday 4 November 2006

Brrrrrrrrr - Part 2

Well - it's getting colder and tonight it's going to drop to a rather frosty minus 4 degrees C.

What would be the worst day then for a central heating boiler to stop working - meaning no heating and no hot water?

Right - got it in one!!!!

Don't worry about me though, I'll just sleep in 7 layers of pyjamas!!!

The law of "Sod" strikes again.....


I'm not normally one to complain (what?!!) but I'm a bit cross about the weather. When we moved down here last December I was thrilled to discover that London is usually about 6 degrees warmer than Sheffield. Just to confirm this I check the BBC weather site for both locations daily .....I know it's a bit sad but I don't get out much.

My friends who still reside up north have had to put up with a little bit of gloating over the last 11 months, as I have repeatedly reported the differences in temperature to them. After 3 years in the Army in my early twenties I made a vow never to be cold again if I could help it.

This week it has been freezing down here - we've had a thick frost every morning since Tuesday. Last year we never had one frosty morning. It was such a novelty not having to scrape the car windscreen.

I'd like to complain to God, or whoever is in charge of temperature changes. I have had to wear woolly gloves and hats this week - and I really thought all that was behind me.

Do you think that the weather has followed me? And in case you were wondering - it's not 6 degrees colder in the moment it's actually 2 degrees warmer.....what's that about then?

Wednesday 1 November 2006

I've done something really stupid

Well, it's probably not stupid by anyone else's standards - but after being here nearly a year I have finally entered a competition with my horse!!! I don't want anyone to worry because it's nothing dangerous - I leave all that stuff to Dan and Bugsy - it's not show jumping or cross country (I don't do anything which involves the horse leaving the ground!!!)

No, I have entered a dressage competition - for those of you who don't know, Dressage is the most refined and sophisticated of the equestrian disciplines. It involves lots of pre-ordained movements in a certain sequence, which I have to memorise and then perform.(when I say "I", I do of course mean Phoebe and I!) You get marked for each movement, in terms of quality, timing and the obedience of the horse (ouch!) I have been practising and listening to my hypnotherapy CD (Very good - but sends me into a deep sleep, well actually a coma) and I'm ready!!! It's to be held at Merrist Wood in Guildford next Wednesday evening!!! By Tuesday I will be a bag of nerves.

When I first started riding I would look at the posh ladies in their posh jackets on their posh (clean) horses doing dressage and think "I so wish I could do that". Well, now's my chance!!!

I'll let you know how we get on!!!!

Saturday 28 October 2006

I completely forgot to tell you...

...that Dan has passed her theory driving test. She passed it on the second attempt, and has now booked her actual driving test for the 10th November! I keep telling her that all the best drivers fail the first time (and not just because I did) and that nobody keeps on failing it for ever(!)

Her Dad took her out driving a few weeks ago and when they returned he was ashen and mumbling something out "hypnotherapy might help much have I spent on lessons so far?..."

We'll just have to wait and see...fingers crossed!

Friday 27 October 2006

BMW drivers and Leprechauns

Tonight, whilst on my way home from the stables and trying to filter my car out into the main road from a very busy side road, I accidentally bumped into the car in front, which was a rather posh, large BMW 5 series saloon. I only nudged it, and I was hardly moving so I knew that no damage would have been done.

However, the driver of the BMW got out, looking rather angry, came to my window and knocked sharply on the glass with his knuckles. He asked me in a very terse tone "What happened?". (You didn't actually need a PhD to work out what had just happened, and I found his question really funny!) Well, I'm sorry - but I couldn't resist. With a straight face I calmly told him that a little leprechaun all dressed in green had just run between our cars and hit his rear bumper with a big wooden mallet.

I know, I know...but I just couldn't resist. To the driver of the BMW...I apologise unreservedly.

Sunday 15 October 2006

She won a Rosette!!!

Today Dan and Bugsy went to a Cross Country competition - they both worked really hard and Bugsy was a very good boy. So good were they - in fact - that they won a very nice orange rosette for 9th place (out of 22).

They may not have come first - but it's more than good enough for me...I'm so proud!!!

Saturday 14 October 2006


I know it's late - 1.37am - but a few minutes ago, whilst waiting for the kettle to make my bedtime hot beverage.... I couldn't find my mobile phone to put on charge while I'm sleeping. Searched in my briefcase, handbag...looked in the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, hall...all the usual places....went outside to check in the car. After about 10 minutes of fruitless searching I decided (using some spock-like logic) to use the house phone and call my mobile....I did suspect that I may have left it at the stables, seeing as my Mum had phoned me earlier to tell me that she had finally been for the "Back and Shoulder Massage plus Manicure" that I had paid for as a birthday gift for her back in April.

Anyway it rang and guess where it was? Right in front of the kettle. DOH...DOH...DOH....the onset of Alzheimers is marching in at an alarming pace.

Wednesday 4 October 2006

Bird flying the nest

Last weekend Dan went to Sheffield, and while she was there visited Nottingham University, Equine sciences department. She wants to study Equine sports rehabilitation - so she can prevent race horses and event horses being "got rid of" when they are no longer useful. They can easily be re-trained for riding or pleasure horses when their primary job is done, and this is what she would like to do. Very admirable.

It got me thinking though that we are nearly at the end of a long journey - that is me being the primary figure in her life. When she goes away in September I will just become the woman that she visits (and brings her laundry home to) every third weekend. The one that she no longer tells everything to - I will so miss our little chats that we have in the car on the school run each day. This year, because we have moved down south, we have been together more than before because she didn't know anybody else and neither did I...also we have the horses together and so spend about 3 hours at the stables together every night.

For seventeen years she has been my primary focus...her needs and wants have taken priority over everything else...even down to the food I buy....because I have to buy the things that she likes to eat - otherwise she would starve!!!!

Half of me is looking forward to this change as I will have more free time and more money (!)and most change is an opportunity for improvement. It will be great for her to move away from home and make new friends, learn new things and become only worry is that I may suffer from "Empty nest syndrome" and turn into one of those barking mad 40 plus year old women...who go a bit menopausally loopy because their primary focus has been removed.

I can see me driving to Nottingham twice a week to take her baked pies, and change her bedding. Someone has to make sure she doesn't live on "Pot Noodles".

I'm so proud of her as she is very bright, hardworking, determined, funny, kind and gentle....oh my goodness....I'd better start looking for a University within a 5 mile radius so she can some home every night.

I suppose I could always take up "Spanish for Beginners" at night school, or "Macrame for the hormonally challenged"

Sunday 1 October 2006

Train the Trainer

This week I have spent 3 days in London (Holborn) on a "Train the Trainer" course run by Reed. I went with my good friend Trish who is our company's HR manager. I have to say that the train/tube method of travel is okay if rather cramped, and I was concerned about the transmission of germs and cold bugs - bound to happen when you nose and mouth are millimetres away from a stranger.....yuch! Talk about sardines!!!

As part of the course we had to do 2 training presentations to the rest of the group (about 8 of us) lasting 15 minutes each which were video taped for posterity.

I love doing this as you are in control of the group and can pretty much make them do anything in the guise of a "Group exercise". On tuesday I had everyone on their feet riding an "Imaginary" horse...the rising trot movement was a joy to behold and most members of our group would have a future in porn movies should they lose their present jobs!!!! When we moved onto the hip movements for canter I could hardly keep a straight face.

My second presentation was about Pest Control, and most importantly the visual differences between Mice (mus domestica) and young rats (rattus norvegicus). Again I had the group participating...this time on their feet doing impressions of squeaky mice and scratchy rats.......fantastic!!!

If anyone would like to hire the videos....just let me know!!!

(By the way I got top marks for originality!)

Now I have been on the course I am free to create training courses for our company's various departments. The clue here is for them not to piss me off or I'll have them doing all sorts of daft and embarassing things under the guise of "Training". Watch out the Sales Department - that's all I can say!!!

Update on Phoebe's Haircut

Because I know you were all worried (!) I have to report the Phoebe's haircut went rather well!!! She was as good as gold, although initially a bit miffed when all the other horses on the yard went out to the fields and she had to stay home alone!! (Cue much whinnying and fast pacing around her stable). The clippers didn't overheat and burn her skin, and this year for the first time she let me go right to the little back bit between her legs where her nipples are (usually very sensitive and ticklish) and never even swished her tail. By the time I had finished - about 2 hours - she was so relaxed she was falling asleep.

I expected her to be a bit fresh in my riding lesson yesterday afternoon - by virtue of the fact that she can now feel my leg more on her sides and also the breeze gets right to her skin - but no - she was as good as gold. Last night for the first time she had to be rugged up in the stable to keep her cosy and I have to tell you with pride that her stable fleece rug is very bright pink and has a leopard skin pattern to it (she look's like an equine Bet Lynch)...lovely!!!

I really love my horse with all my heart - she's such a good girl - and have to admit that the more time I spend with her, the less time I want to spend with people...maybe it's because she doesn't answer back!!!!

Saturday 30 September 2006

Horses have haircuts

It's that time of year again - autumn!!! Horses grow more hair as they prepare for the winter and their coat becomes thick and warm. This is great if they live out in the field as they stay toasty throughout the "brrrr" chilly months. However, if they get ridden and exercised regularly they get too hot - a bit like you or me trying to run a marathon wearing a sheepskin coat!

So they get a haircut. Today is Phoebe's turn. I will be using my lovely expensive clippers which have new blades. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth (from her and me), a fight will ensue, and it will take all afternoon!!! The clippers make quite a lot of noise and vibrate against the horse's body - so it can be very tense!!! It is usually necessary to enlist the help of two or three bystanders (people always stand about and watch, and the critiscise your not so straight lines !!) to hold the neddy steady!!! There are different styles of clip which you can see here

I'll let you know how I get on!!!

Sunday 24 September 2006

Cats and Dogs

I've just been woken up by the rain. It's raining cats and dogs out there - absolutely bucketing down. This is not good as Dan and Bugsy are going to a sponsored ride today, in open fields with lots of rustic type cross country fences to jump over!!! Very dodgy doing this kind of activity when the ground is wet as the risk of slipping (for the horse) are greatly increased.

However, I love it when it rains like this. I don't mind getting really wet through, and when you're watching the rain fall out of the sky , I always feel a kind of awe at nature. It doesn't matter how sophisticated we become as a race, how much technology we have, how important we feel we are......along comes some bad weather, and puts us right back in our place. We run around like lab rats trying to cope with it - and quite frankly we don't stand a chance!!!

Do you think this is Mother Nature trying to put us back in our place? Every now and again she flexes her muscles and lets us all know in no uncertain terms that she is very firmly back in charge!

Saturday 23 September 2006

Do I have to admit my age?

Today is my birthday and so far it's going rather well. Dan and I went out to breakfast, and whilst we were eating I was simultaneously having my car valeted a few doors away - now how's that for self-indulgent Weybridge house-wife kind of living?

Christian was on MSN messenger nice and early to wish me a nice day, and he and Victoria sent me one of the rudest birthday cards I think I've ever seen!! I've had lots of lovely cards, and a few electronic birthday greetings via e mail. I've also received two of the biggest bunches of flowers ever, so much so that my living room now resembles Kew Gardens!!! I've been given some lovely gifts, from my favourite shop (the Pier), and also John Lewis and Habitat gift vouchers (yippee).

Now thatI'm 43 years old I've decided that I'm at that age where a lady (she's a lady?) no longer has to admit her age. I can deny it altogether, fib about it, start counting backwards, or as my Grandma Rosina used to do when asked her age ...say "I'm as old as my tongue and a little bit older than my teeth!" Although I have to say, when she's asked about her age nowadays she proudly admits that she's well into her nineties because she loves it when people respond with, "Well, you don't look a day over 85!!" You can see her glow with pride and begin to preen!!

ObviouslyGovernment officials will still have to be told the truth should they enquire, but I think everybody else will just have to be left guessing !!!!

The best answer when asked your age is to say "How old do you think I am?" and then the person who asked is duty bound to knock about 4-5 years off just to make sure that should they get it wrong they have erred on the side of caution and nobody gets upset!!!

I'm actually looking foward to being really old so that I can grimace and chunter at young people and hit them on the legs with my walking stick when they refuse to give me their seat on the bus!!! Bliss!!

Tuesday 12 September 2006

Scripwriting par excellence

Because I wasn't allowed to watch "Coronation Street" whilst growing up at home, now that I'm an adult I watch it all the time (because at 42 I'm old enough to do what I like!!!!). Every now and again there is brilliant northern humour and yesterday's episode was no exception.

Liz Macdonald was moaning on about something to her son, Steve...he was clearly fed up of listening to her droning on...and said...and I quote...

"there's only one person at a 'pity party' and they don't bring presents!"


Sunday 3 September 2006

Dan and Bugsy at Longreach Cross Country

Warming up
Originally uploaded by Tracy Wood2006.

Today Dan and Bugsy and the groom (that's me) went to Longreach Cross Country competition. It was a lovely day, warm but very windy..and we had nice sandwiches!!!

Unfortunately they had a couple of refusals so didn't win - but then they went around the course a second time (non-competitive) and of course...when their scores didn't count they did it in the fastest time with no faults...typical!!!

Still they both enjoyed themselves and Bugsy had Polo mints!!!!

Saturday 2 September 2006

That was the week that was!

This week has been nice. I don't normally like the word "Nice" as I feel it's a bit lazy - there are thousands of adjectives which do a better job than "nice", but the week hasn't been exciting or splendid, or adventurous, or amazing, or anthing else other than nice!!!!

The weekend was good, involved a trip to Ikea (always a pleasure!!) Swedish meatballs, lots of picture frames (new camera!) and Dime bar cake (yummy). I discovered Eggs benedict in Cafe Rouge for breakfast and have been another twice (delicious). Dan went to Sheffield and came back again on Tuesday, so I had peace and quiet and the opportunity to really give things a good clean - also got to eat all the stuff I love which she normally turns her nose up at...scallops....lamb chops.....caesar salad...etc etc.

On Wednesday I decided new make-up was needed and after a disastrous make-over in Boots done a by a very willing young lady in a white coat who managed to make me look like the bride of Frankenstein I was advised to make an appointment at the "Bobby Brown" counter in Bentalls department store. I had a consultation with a very nice young man who did my make up and managed to lose 10 years along the way. Fabulous!!! I bought one of everything he had used and my credit card got a hammering - mind you it was a lot cheaper than a facelift.

On Thursday I went to the physio who decided to try acupuncture in my dodgy shoulder. The needle went in...hit a nerve....immense sickening bolt of pain, hot sweat, and I promtly threw up all over my saggy white bra (see previous posts!). Not a succesful visit!!!

Today is who knows what the day has in store!!!!! Fingers crossed for a nice weekend!!!!

Friday 25 August 2006

A New Toy

Yesterday, after a brief chat with Christian regarding the merits and efficacy of the Nikon D50, I popped myself along to a lovely camera shop in Weybridge and bought one. I also got a 55-200mm additional lens.

I spent a couple of hours reading the instruction book (must be turning into my Dad!) and then started taking pictures!!! You can see the results here. I'm sure my photographic technique will improve with time and practise!!!

Tuesday 15 August 2006

A Special Day

Today is Dan's 17th birthday. Obviously I am biased, but she is growing into a very fine young lady. She's smart, funny, kind, gracious, gentle and sweet, and then sometimes feisty and strong and determined. She was born on a Tuesday - which means she is "Full of grace", and she so is!

Her Dad and I have spent the day with her today - we opened pressies, had breakfast, then she had a two hour driving lesson - this went well and there were no accidents (!) Apparently she kept wanting to pat the steering wheel and tell the car "Good boy" (that's what she does with her horse!). She managd to get to second gear and only crunched the gears once!!!

This afternoon she went on a shpping trip with Dad and then tonight we have been out to dinner with Christopher and William (her brothers), and good friends Simone and Kimberley.

We have all had a lovely day - much better than the day I had exactly 17 years ago!!!!


Monday 7 August 2006

Keep off the roads

Dan will be 17 next Tuesday. Her provisional driving license has arrived today in the post. I will publish the schedule of her driving lessons, so that we can all stay at home. Yes even those of you who don't live in I'm sure the repercussions will be felt as far north as Sheffield!

Where have my nerves gone?

Yesterday Dan took Bugsy to Great Bookham Equestrian Centre to compete in a show jumping competition. I don't know where my nerves have gone...? Usually when we go somewhere I am a bag of nerves and in a total state until we're on the way home again, but yesterday I never felt a flicker. I didn't mind parking close to another trailer ( two neddies tied up near each other can sometimes lead to kicking trouble), I didn't mind holding Bugsy while she got changed (who? me? hold him? what if he runs off? or rears up? or eats some grass?), and I was supremely calm while she was warming him up, I even changed the heights of the practise jump without a care in the world.

When she entered the ring to begin the course I was idly chatting to another "Horsey Mum" and din't bat an eye - previously I would have been throwing up and simultaneously filling my pants!

As she jumped the course I was able to watch with both eyes open, and whatsmore I was able to appreciate the technical ability that they both showed!!! Amazing!!

She didn't win unfortunately - but hey, no matter, because I was cool!!!

So, Saturday I managed to hack out my horse, and then this yesterday....has someone switched my medication?

I can't quite understand it

Saturday 5 August 2006

Something else to see!!!

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I'm soooooo brave

Those of you who have read my blog before will know that I'm a bit of wimp when it comes to certain aspects of horse ownership and horse care. Because of this in-built fear (and a great desire to stay alive) my poor Phoebe hasn't been taken out on a hack since we moved to Surrey...imagine your horse bolting off with you in the middle of a ten acre field....yikes!!!

Anyway I was very brave today and took her for a tootle round the field, with my riding instructor walking alongside just in case.

Anyway I am thrilled to report that good old Phoebe didn't put a hoof wrong and we had a very very pleasant amble around the perimeter of the field. She was a bit puzzled by car radio noises as the hedge came close to the car park at Walton Bridge (very busy in the sun as there's a great ice cream van!), but apart from that not even a hint of naughtiness...bless her cotton socks.

All the girls on the yard cheered when I got back, and I was very proud of myself for conquering my fears and having a nice time. Lovely!! And now as a reward I'm going to have home made chips for tea!!!!

Tuesday 1 August 2006

Physiotherapy...or should that be physchiatry?

Actually it's the former!!! For a few months now my shoulder and arm have been a bit painful. The discomfort comes and goes, but as it's my right arm, it's been a bit inconvenient. It wasn't getting any better, so yesterday I made an appointment at Weybridge Physiotherapy Centre.

Imagine my surprise to discover...after an hour of exercises, and some very painful prodding (all borne with huge bravery!!!) that the pain is a result of a) bad posture - apparently I have humped shoulders and stick my chin out too far, and b) left over issues with a thoracic vertebrae fracture from 21 years ago!!!

According to the lady who treated me, the nerves coming out of the sides of my spinal column (I didn't even know there were any!) have been trapped intermittently because of tension in the area!!!! This is due to my body's memory and protection , via tension, of the old injury site...fascinating... and there's me thinking it was just due to old age...ha ha!!!

The resulting discussion has taught me that the best thing is to let she who must be obeyed (16 year old daughter) muck out her own horse from now on (Yippee), and I also have to re-learn some basic posture.

She's made me a sort of temporary brace out of bandages and sticking plaster which is a kind of figure of eight which wraps around my shoulders and across my back, and I have to go back for the next 4 weeks for manipulation and massage.

The worst part was sitting on the bed in front of a mirror and seeing my saggy grey bra, and my totally un-toned upper torso in horrific close-up, although the nice lady did say that she had seen much worse (!).

I feel like a new woman (or a new man - that would be if I could find one!)

The good news is that I'm not falling apart after all, and there's hope for a pain free few more years!!!!

Sunday 23 July 2006

Skip Fun

Things have been a bit quiet recently. Last week I went to Sheffield for a week to sort out our house up there and have big clear out - very cathartic and therapeutic!!! I hired a skip and cleared out two garden sheds....three wardrobes and numerous drawers and cupboards. I worked on the premise that if I hadn't needed something for the last 7 months, then I really don't need it and so threw it out (apart from the Christmas tree of course!).

My Skip was 3/4 full after about 3 days. One morning I was standing at the living room window and saw a man stop at my skip, and start rooting through it!!! Is going through somebody else's skip in broad daylight acceptable, or not? I really wasn't clear about this. Technically, I suppose you could argue that if you have thrown it out, it's fair game for anyone else...however looking through someone's wheely bin wouldn't be okay...would it?

Anyway, this bloke going through MY RUBBISH annoyed I popped outside to have a word!!! My way of thinking was that the skip was outside my house, filled with my rubbish, and I could change my mind about something at any time and decide to rescue it.

I asked him what he was doing, and he said "going through this skip". I said "well, don''s my skip, and it's still my rubbish, so please leave it alone..." The man looked extremely embarrassed, and slightly puzzled, but to be fair, he did go away and as far as I know never came back.

I have asked my colleagues at work this week about the moral dilemma, and the social implications of looking through someone's skip when it's outside their house, and we seem to have an equal split of opinions.

What do you think? Does the rubbish in a skip still technically belong to the person who has hired the skip...or....does it belong to anyone who wants whatever's in there?...difficult dilemma... answers on a postcard please?

As for me personally I could never look through someone else's skip, mainly because I'd propably topple into the skip and spend the next 3 days waiting to be rescued!!!

Saturday 8 July 2006

A New Angel

Yesterday morning, after a long illness and extremely brave fight a very special cousin of mine finally found peace, and sadly passed away.

She was beautiful, vibrant, funny, kind, generous, loving, hardworking, and had a spirit and soul of the very best kind.

She leaves a devastated husband, sister and brother, and mother. Nieces, nephews and cousins too numerous to count. There will be many, many tears.

Also , after time, much rejoicing, as anyone who ever met her or knew her, will remember her with the greatest love and affection. She was / is the kind of person whose laughter and heart will always be remembered, and celebrated.

God Bless you Angela xxxx

Saturday 1 July 2006

Phew - what a scorcher

Today it's 29 degrees centigrade down here in Surrey. I had my shopping and laundry done by 9.30am, and have just spent 2 lovely hours on a sun lounger by the pool. "Oh, didn't you know we had a pool?" - yes we are very very lucky and have a lovely swimming pool in the garden. We can only use it about 2 weeks each year(!)

The pool man has been this week (Sorry girls - not photos of the hunky pool man as he's about 68 years old and only has about 3 teeth!!!) and the pool is clean and heated. Lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely........Last night I had a riding lesson, got home all hot and sticky, and just jumped in the pool to cool off. I don't think I should gloat any more as I may lose my friends!!!!!

Saturday 24 June 2006

Silly Silly Girl

it's me I'm talking about in the title. Yesterday I was tired, and hadn't had a very good week at work, and was facing a week's worth of laundry, no food in the fridge etc etc.... I got home to find that my wheely bins hadn't been emptied, and quite frankly it was the last straw!!! I broke down in floods of tears and had a complete "Woe is me, my life is crap" kind of 20 minute episode. (Any woman over 30 reading this will understand - but anyone else....just think yourself lucky that you don't do this kind of thing!)

Luckily for me, my lovely friend Malcom came over (secretly, whilst I was at the stables!),took my rubbish away, tidied up, and brought me a lovely bunch of flowers.

Totally restored my faith in human nature.....if he wasn't spoken for I'd marry him.

Sunday 11 June 2006

Zola Budd Or Elmer Phudd?

Inspired by tales of Women (and Men)doing inspirational things, like running lots of miles to raise money for charity, and motivated by a huge desire to give up smoking...this week I decided to take up running.

I'm old, and half knackered, my joints ache a lot these days, and my legs are no longer as shapely as they once were - but after seeing the sizes, shapes and ages of some people who run around here, I figured that running is not a sport with boundaries!!!

Because I never do anything by halves, Tuesday lunchtime saw me traipsing round Kingston trying to purchase a pair of proper running shoes. JJB Sports is crap (actually a fashion store ...?....for chavs!!!!) and John Lewis' sports department left a lot to be desired.

Deflated I went back to the office with the wind knocked out of my sails. But my friend Issy told me about a shop called "Swetty Betty" which specialises in running gear for ladies (I'm a lady?) So off we went again...and one hour laterI was the proud owner of some lovely comfy shoes, a pair of funky black shorts, a nice little white vest top and two pink sweatbands...altogether a rather natty ensemble. The woman in the shop was lovely and very helpful, and she didn't smirk once!

That evening after the sun had cooled off I went. Strapped my ipod to my arm and found some Aerosmith tracks to run to ("Love in an Elevator" is quite motivational!) I did about a mile, and must confess I had to stop and walk a couple of times - oh alright - about six times, but as I ran past the Tennis Club I held my head up high and tried to look as if I had been doing this for ages. There were other people out running, and they all waved and nodded at me as we passed each other on the road - very friendly lot these runners!!! Every time I saw someone running towards me I had to make myself keep going. When I got home I collapsed on the sofa in a sweaty jumbled heap, and then drank about a gallon of water.

I wasn't quite sure if there are any techniques involved - as in - a proper way to move my legs, or a correct way to swing my arms, or even how to breathe properly (I did remember to keep breathing!)

The next day I was expecting to be in a lot of pain, and my legs hurt a bit - but by day two I had turned into Douglas Bader. I couldn't get out of bed, struggled to climb into the shower, and steps or stairs were a complete No - No.

It has taken me three days to recover, but undeterred, last night I went again and this time Dan accompanied me on a push bike. She kept laughing at me (charming...I'm your mother!!), and I must be improving because this time I only had to stop and walk three times.

So I shall keep going, and perhaps soon I will be able to do the whole mile without stopping!!!!

Sunday 28 May 2006

Naughty Naughty Naughty Horses

Dan is away in Spain for a week, and that means that I have to look after both neddies. This involves turning them out to the field in the morning. They are both a bit keen (!) and energetic, and they haven't been out for 4 days (if you don't know what this means...think 2 tons of huge muscle - ready to explode, being led on the end of a flimsy rope by little (5'2" 7 stone weakling) old me.

I knew it wasn't going to be easy and have been not looking forward to it for about 2 hours since I woke up.

I had all angles covered though, and was going to put them in their bridles ...more control, more brakes. It didn't go according to plan.

I took Phoebe first - and she just went off on one as soon as she realised that she was going to the field. She was leaping about, and threatening to rear up.....NOT GOOD!!! Cue me whimpering and begging for help, luckily one of the nice ladies on our yard who has years of experience with naughty horses took her from me and managed - after a few arguments - to get her to behave. Then I went to fetch Bugsy - by now I was desperate for a large Gin & Tonic. He was even worse than Phoebe and it took two ladies (both braver than me) to control him.

I have to do his every day for a week - anyone know the phone number for Monty Roberts? or failing that, the phone number for that nice man from Pedigree Chum?

Two Jags Prescott - Two Dates Tracy

Well, it's been an eventful week! On Monday I had a visit from my Cousin Stephen and his friend Pierre, all the way from Canada. We had a lovely day - nice lunch, lots of laughs, oh yes, and they brought me a big can of maple syrup!!! It was lovely to see them - as always. My two best friends at work finally returned from Spain - after 7 weeks away - so there was much merriment and celebration!

I went to a bar at lunchtime on Thursday as it was one of my colleagues birthdays, bought a bottle of champagne for her, which we then added to the other 4, got slightly merry and we ladies had some very amusing discussions about dating guys, and how long is the appropriate time when you meet someone before you do "the deed"? Problematic you see, because if you really like a guy then the longer you leave it the better - but, what if you leave it ages, really get to like him, then discover that he a) has a teeny weeny or b) needs an awful lot of instruction? So surely it's better to do it sooner rather than later, then if it's a huge disappointment, you can decide nice and early on if you like him enough to carry on with some coaching (and maybe get some magic potion, cream or appliance to improve the size!), or just cut him loose.

We were a bit tipsy - so the conversation wasn't all that serious - but it was fun. All girls out together with some alcohol is always a sure fire winner for much laughter and merry making!!!

Anyway, I ended up with two dates this week - actually both on the same day. I had a lunch date, and then a dinner date on Tuesday. So - because I know that you can't wait to hear what happened - here's the report.......I have put a kind of mark out of 10 after each comment! Grrrrrr factor is the tingling in the pants feeling (you know...."Could I"?...."Should I?"...."Would I?"......- if they score a ten here it's the kind of guy that you could instantly imagine yourself swinging from the chandeliers with, or doing all sorts of things that you've only ever read about in magazines or seen on dodgy websites!!!) If there is a minus figure - that means it's an absolute no-no, and the larger the number, the louder the "NO"!!!

Date 1......Lunchtime

Smile (7) Height (5) - he was 6'4", Dress sense (3) Punctuality (10) Hair (3 - ginger and balding)
Compatibility (4) Grrrrrrrr Factor (0)

This man was very friendly(8), but he kept interrupting me (2) We talked about cars and he said that he only ever spends £200 on a car then runs it around until it falls apart (1) He had two children who were quite naughty as he is a modern parent and lets them eat what they like and do what they like (-27). He was keen to explain to me the virtue of saving money at every opportunity and does his grocery shopping as the market is closing because that's when you pick up the cheapest bargains (-38). Then he asked my why on earth I had purchased a Brand New Mazda MX5, seeing as the car is crap, brand new cars are a total waste on money, and Jeremy Clarkson is a complete wanker who knows nothing at all about cars (-693). Oh yes and he carried an umbrella (-2). He was wearing crumpled jeans and a sweatshirt that has seen better days (2).

We went our separate ways after an hour, and when I got home I had an e mail waiting to say that he had really enjoyed our date and couldn't wait to see me again (563).

As yet I haven't replied to his e mail as I'm not sure of the e-etiquette for saying "thanks, but no thanks"!

Date Two - Evening

This guy was ten minutes late (3) and his car was dirty inside and out (-6) oh yes, and it was a BMW M3 (-97). He was tall (7) and quite good looking (8) but a bit chubby (2). Grrrrr factor (0)His clothes were crumpled (2), his hair hadn't been combed (-19) and his specs (5) were dirty (2).

We went for dinner, and he told me he has a second home in Tuscanny (93) and worked for an investment Bank in the city (129). He was actually very funny and amusing (293) and divided the conversation equally between us (100). He treated the waitress very dismissively (-56) and was a bit arrogant (-169).

All was going well until he mentioned the nice chap who owns the house next to his in Tuscanny and keeps an eye on it for him when he's not there. He said (or rather spat out the words in a twisted aggressive way) "He's Gay!!!!" I then thought it would be highly amusing to inform him that my best friend was gay, and to enquire if he was homophobic? To which he replied "I have no problem with ********s I just don't want any of them anywhere near me" (-7621).
"Lovely" I thought, "I'm out on a date with a raging antiquated Bigot".

So the final score for the week is....

Dating Disasters - 2
Tracy - 0

I'll keep you informed!!!!

Sunday 21 May 2006

The Dating Game

It's now over a year since my husband and I decided to go our separate ways. My friends at work decided it was maybe time for me to go out on a few dates. I like living alone and have no desire to become embroiled in a "proper relationship" - mainly because I'm not very good at it!!! (please, Christian, no comments about my relationship history!!! The general world does not need to know about that!)

So I have signed up to a dating website!!!! I'm not saying which one as I would hate for you (who know the real me) to see what I've put about myself!!

It is the funniest thing I have ever done. We have been in helpless, stomach aching, weeing our pants fits of laughter at work about some of the 300 plus replies I have had in just 4 days!!! There's some desperate folks out there. (If one of our directors is reading this I have to point out that we are not using company internet for inappropriate activities!)

I have learned not to even read the profiles of those who don't post photos (probably fell out of the tree and hit every branch on the way down!)

Here's some examples of the messages I have received...

"Hi , let's you and me get together and make beautiful music " (honestly!)

"You look nice, I've got a big nose and big feet, wanna chat?" (can you imagine?)

and the best one yet....

"My Mum has just moved out and I need a new friend!"

There are some seemingly quite nice and normal people on there too, and I have had a few web chats with some men who seem genuine and kind. I actually have a date lined up for this week with someone who I have spoken to on the phone - but I'll be going somewhere public, won't drink, and as my Grandma would say - will be keeping my hand on my ha'penny!!!

I'm not going to tell you the web address of the dating site as it's not fair for you to go looking and laughing at some of the strange folk - not unless you've paid you £15.99 per month subscription like I have!!!

Brown Trousers

Don't start reading this with glee thinking it's going to be about a scarey moment!!! Because it's not, it's actually about brown trousers. I have purchased a rather lovely 3/4 length cream suede coat, and REALLY NEED some chocolate brown trousers to go with it - I know I should already have some - but the ones I have are a bit old and have seen better days.

My Mum is here for the weekend and yesterday we went into Kingston shopping. Primarily to have a nice time - but also to find and buy BT. I don't know if you're like me - but when I want / need something specific I can never find it and yesterday was no exception. I dislike browsing through shops for the sake of it, but my Mum loves it. It was busy and hot in the shops and no fun at all. I was getting close to hissy-fit status!!! Mum wanders off aimlssly and I stride through Per Una like a woman on a military mission. I kept losing her, and at one point it got to the stage where I was about to ask the manager to put out a tannoy "Could the 67 year old 5 foot tall woman who answers to Penny please come to the customer services desk where your exasperated daughter is waiting for you?" But then we went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen for lunch and after a blue cheese burger, harmony was restored. I never did find the brown trousers. (Couldn't find any decent shoes either..grrrrrrrr!) Did, however buy a nice little handbag from John Lewis (Good old John Lewis!)

Saturday 13 May 2006

Proud Mum

Just a quick note to tell you that I'm very proud as Dan has been elected to be a prefect at school. She had to be interviewed and prepare a presentation as to why she would make a good role model and leader. She's got a very nice navy blue enamel badge which is shield shaped and has a silver letter "P" in the middle of it. I will polish this badge with pride!

Crystal Palace or Chelsea?

I've had a very busy week! My job involves organising and speaking at events. Easy enough you would think - but no!!! There's a lot more to it than would at first appear. I have to organise staff, transport, venues, attendees etc etc. We normally do two each month. Last week however we had to do an extra one, and whatsmore it was on Wednesday, and we already had an event organised for Thursday. So picture the scene, manic running around like headless chicken in a flat spin panic for all of Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday we also had a meeting up in London with an important gentleman to do with professional footballers (I won't bore you with the details).

Those who know me, will know that I am organised to the point of being anal. I try to think of every eventuality and plan for it. I have lists of lists, and remind the team about 6 times of everything that needs to be done, and then check and double check everything. (I need to get out more).

Our Wednesday event was to be held in the players lounge at a London Football Club (hence the title). Our meeting went well, and afterwards myself and two colleagues went for a wander around Harrods, and then for lunch as I didn't need to be at the event until 4pm to set up. All the team had been instructed to get there at 4pm, with a strict warning of what would happen if they weren't. This event was also a bit of a first so there was lots of interest from the Directors. (you just know it's going to go horribly wrong!)

At 2pm I flagged a London Cab from outside Harrods and asked him to take me to Chelsea Football Club. Four minutes later I alighted from the cab, cool, calm, collected as I was nearly 2 hours early - only when I got to the reception desk and found out we didn't have an event there at all did I realise I was supposed to be at Crystal Palace....doh. It was one of those moments of mental clarity, when panic sets in, but it's okay, you keep the panic at bay because you realise that because you're so organised, and are 2 hours early, that gives you the required time to rectify your error, and nobody need ever know!!! Now you see the benefits of being anal.

Just to further set the scene I was wearing a suit, 4 inch heels and carrying a very heavy breifcase! Oh yes - the temperature was a lovely 25 degrees.

No problem, still have plenty of time, so I flagged down another cab and asked him to take me to Crystal Palace. He said NO!!!! Apparently it's too far (warning bells) but he will take me to the nearest tube station!!!

Can you see the story unfolding from here? Anyway - I got the wrong tube, went 4 stops, got off it, got on the correct one, went 5 stops, then realised the first one had been the right one, so got off and got on the first one again. By now I am nearly crying as all my best laid plans are floating away before my very eyes, my stress levels are rising, and I am running out of the happy go lucky spring in the step optimism with which I started the day.!!! Eventually I get to the mainline station and have to run to get the train (4-inch heels, 25 degrees, 42 years old, heavy briefcase - not good!).

The train is painfully slow and I arrive at the station at 5.10pm - the event starts at 6.30, we have to be ready to go at 6 for guests arriving, and there is at least an hours setting up to do. I now have to half walk, half run (heels, hot, heavy case!) about 1/2 mile from train station to the football ground.

The team had all got stuck in traffic so while I was on and off the tubes I was getting panicked phone calls from all of them, so when I finally arrived all sticky, sweaty (yuch) and with day old make-up running off my face and exploding feet, they too have only just arrived!!!

Anyway - it all went well in the end and none of the guests would have known there had been these issues (that's a modern manager word for "shit hitting the fan") and the event was a success.

But please don't talk to me about London football clubs beginning with the letter "C" (that's where the problem started) - unless of course you need to know exactly how long it takes to get to Crystal Palace from Chelsea using public transport!!!!

Sunday 7 May 2006

Constant Gardener

Went to the DVD shop last night and picked up this movie. Have you seen it? It's very good and well worth watching. It's one of those movies in which the main character's characters (is that good english?) are hidden, and then revealed little by little throughout the movie. So the picture you get of them develops and changes throughout.

Anyway I enjoyed it and the main story line - all about drug companies doing dirty deals with the British Government (surely not?) to the detriment of the African people, was very interesting, and quite disturbing- can't imagine that it would be based on any kind of fact though(!).

If you haven't seen it, and you would listen to my opinion, I suggest you rent and watch it. I score it 8 out of 10. (oh yes and it's got Ralph Fiennes in it!)

Saturday 6 May 2006

Food Shopping at M&S - fabulous!!

I have just been shopping. I live in Weybridge, Surrey, and we have a Waitrose, and then 100 yards away, an M&S Food shop. It's not so long ago when Dan was small and times were hard that I would dream of being able to buy food at M&S. Now, I can, and for that I am eternally grateful to the fickle Fairy of fate that has bestowed upon me a well-paid job.

I am not really a big foodie, I can't cook very well, but I do like tasty and different things. I won't list for you everything I have bought in M&S this morning - but here's a small sample.....Lime and Chilli dressed honduran King Prawns, Mozzarella and sundried tomato salad, Chocolate Eclairs (yes, again!), herb encrusted focachia bread, rump steak with roquefort cheese and chive crust......lovely. When I got to the check out, the lady told me that if I purchased two more "deli" items I would receive a free cool-bag! That was enough of an incentive for me!!, and back I tootled to the deli section to make my choices.

So now I am the proud owner of a M&S cool bag - which is rather racy with its stylish black and green design. I will cut a dash if ever I should go on a picnic!!!

Now I'm going to have a cup of tea, and one of the two strawberry jam and fresh cream scones that I also bought!!!

On some days, when the sun is shining, and my fridge is full, and there's money in the bank, and my horse is behaving...I love my life. Today is one of those days!!!! To whomever it was up there who bestowed life's blessings upon me...I would like to say "Thankyou!"

Unashamed advertising and nepotism - Saco Hair

I just wanted to tell you about my cousin Richard. I have more cousins than this - and if any of the others read this I don't want you to feel left out - and may write about you in the future - but today it's about Richard!

Richard is 3 years younger than me, and is very talented (unlike me!) He is the son of my Mum's twin sister - so in a way he's more like a brother, than a cousin. His first real job was as a trainee hairdresser at Robert Taylor's salon in Sheffield. He stayed there a while, learning his craft. From there he went to work for Vidal Sassoon in Manchester. He is very creative and artistic, and soon he was working around the world for Sassoon, training his stable of hairdressers all over the globe.

Richard is also ambitious, and now, about 22 years later, after much planning, wailing and gnashing of teeth, I am very proud to announce that Richard has opened his very own training academy right in the centre of London. (it's at Covent Garden). It's called Saco Hair, there is a link to the website - so please check it out. If you want a very good hair cut - and I mean VERY GOOD just call up and make an appointment. If you live within 2 hours of London it's well worth the visit, and if not - poor you!!!

A Richard Ashforth haircut is an experience not to be missed.

Congratulations Richard, and I and "Da Family" all wish you the very best of luck for the future.

Monday 1 May 2006

Look at the weather!!!

Well, it's Bank Holiday Monday, it's 7.27am and I am looking out of the window to see the rain falling from the sky!!! It's been fine and warm forever, but on the one day off from work - it's chucking it down. brings to mind all those endless Bank Holiday Mondays from childhood where the whole family would set off to go to Bakewell to go to market!!! It always took an age to get there because of the traffic (everyone within a 50 mile radius would have had the same good idea!), on the way we would have seen loads of people simply having a picnic on a blanket at the side of the road! (bizarre!!!) Then there was nowhere to park (yes even in the late 60's parking was an issue!) so my Dad would be driving round and round, my Mum would be getting stressed, and us 3 in the back knew enough about this kind of thing to stay absolutely quiet!!! ("I don't want to hear a peep out of you!, or I'll knock your bloody heads together" - social services would have had a field day!)

We would get out of the car - after being given a strict warning not to wander off, talk to strangers, or "show us up", and then set off for a walk around the market!!! Bakewell Market was a veritable treasure trove. You could get anything from a baby sheep to a new shovel!!!

We would then walk around the clothing stalls and my Mum (always on the look out for a bargain) would buy us all a new t-shirt, pair of shorts, or open toed sandals (we were never allowed to have jelly shoes - even though all the other kids at school had them, as my Mum thought they were common!). My Mum was all for buying in advance for our annual summer holiday!

We would go to see the animal section, the smell of farm animals always brings these memories flooding back!!! Can you imagine trying to tip-toe through an animal market trying sooo hard not to get anything on your new shoes!!! We would look in awe at all the farm animals that were for sale and try very hard to decipher what the auctioneer was actually saying, and then go for a walk by the river. My Mum would be, by now a nervous wreck, as my Dad encouraged us to walk as close to the edge as possible!!!! We would feed the ducks (aaaah!) and then get an ice cream. My Mum would always do that thing with the corner of her handkerchief (which was always cloth - never paper tissue!) that only Mums and Grandmas can do, where they spit on the hanky, grip your chin like a vice, then dig away at the corners of your mouth until it was clean!!! I'm sure my Mum used to take all her frustrations out on the corners of our mouths!!!!

In those days children were seen and not heard ( a great idea - I'm all for bringing that one back!) but by lunchtime we were squabbling!!! I was the only girl and the youngest, and my Dad's favourite, so the day would descend into spiteful nipping and punching when Mum and Dad weren't looking. I got away with murder and my two brothers were always getting it in the neck (I have since apologised to them both many times for my willingness as a child to take utmost advantage of that situation at every opportunity!)

After a few hours of this we would all get back in the car and struggle through the traffic for 2 hours to get home again. By now my parents would no longer be talking, we would still be squabbling over space on the back seat, and we would all be tired (ooooh they're tired!) and grumpy, and a little grubby!!

When I think back now on these childhood memories, long before the days of shopping centres, or 7 day cinemas, or play stations, or any of the things that kids today have to keep them occupied I realise that my parents were trying their hardest to give us a nice time, and do something together as a family!!! We laugh about it now - all those endless bloody Bank Holiday Mondays at Bakewell market - and I have to tell you that I have NEVER EVER taken Danielle to Bakewell on a Bank Holiday Monday!!!!, and whatsmore I never ever will!!!!

Tuesday 25 April 2006

Special Message for those of you in Spain - you know who you are!!!

I have two very special friends who are out in Spain at the moment - doing some VERY important work. I normally see them every day, and they both make my world a better place. They are very kind, thoughtful, generous, supportive and funny people. We have lots of fun together, and when things become difficult or stressful, they are always there to listen and lend a helping hand.

Anyway - they're both not here at the moment and I miss them terribly. The office is much quieter without them and my working day is much less fun.

I hope they read this in Spain (apparently they've got internet access, but they'll probably be too mashed on Sangria to get it working!!!!)

Anyway - I just wanted to say "hello you two, miss you loads and can't wait for you to come home" also - "watch out for the bamboo!"

No names needed as they know who they are!!!!!

Monday 24 April 2006

In the newspaper.....

...the other day there was a story about a man belonging to a questionable religious group having lots of wives. They were all subservient, and quite happy to be one of a number. Apparently he shared his physical "love" equally amongst all of them (individually I think) . I think there were about 12 of them altogether ranging in age from 18 - 48.

Now - I remember thinking as I read this..(and I know that women everywhere would agree with me) ."there is no woman, married or otherwise, on God's earth who would EVER want more than one husband (at a time!)" Am I right girls? or, am I right?

What does that tell you about living with men, as oppose to living with women?

Saturday 22 April 2006

Phoebe is better!!!

My beloved Phoebe (best horse of all time) has been lame for the past 2 weeks with an inflamed tendon. Then the Blacksmith shod her and she got a condition called nail-bind (which basically means that the blacksmith got too close to the sensitive part of her hoof with the nails - ouch)...anyway I'm pleased to report that she's all better now and this afternoon I rode her in the outdoor school for twenty minutes and she was (as always) as good as gold!!! It honestly makes all the early mornings and long hours worthwhile when I ride her - as she's always so co-operative and well behaved. Extra apples and carrots tomorrow...bless!!!

Stephen Drury - Empty your mailbox!!!

This is just a quick personal note for Cousin Stephen In Canada..."Stephen, empty your mailbox!" I keep sending e mails and they're bouncing back to me saying that the mailbox is full!!! He probably won't read this as he'll be busy today. (He's always busy - usually training for marathons - he must be mad!) But anyway here's a message.....Love you xxx

Friday 21 April 2006

So tired I can't **** !!

Someone once said that they were so tired they couldn't sh*t. at the time this comment was made I had absolutely no understanding of what they meant. Not that I lack empathy in any way whatsoever, but I had never experienced that level of fatigue.

Today however, is a different story...I'm knackered...and so knackered in fact that contemplating a number2 is totally beyond my comprehension!!!!

Off to bed then....saturday tomorrow - fantastic!

Wednesday 19 April 2006

Is there only me?

I have just checked (throughBloggers database) to see who else shared my favourite movies. Hundreds of people listed "Schindler's List"as amongst their favourite all time films - but it seems that there is only me in the whole Blogger's world who likes "Oliver"!!!

Enough said!

Tuesday 18 April 2006

Wet Head

Guess what happened to me on the way to work today? It was a lovely sunny morning so I decided to drive to work with the top down on my new car - no finer feeling!!!

AsI drove into Kingston I was behind this lady (?) in a little hatchback, and she started to use her windscreen washer - then she carried on, and on, squirting water - and then it dawned on me as the water hit me on the head and face....oh my god - she's doing that on purpose!!! I found it really funny when I realised what she was doing. I asked my friend - Sharron - (honestly, that's her name!) who also drives a convertible and she said that it happens to her all the time!!!! Aren't people funny?!!!

Monday 17 April 2006

Dan and Joe on Prom Night

Thought you might like to see this picture of Dan and Joe. This was taken as they left for School Prom. That's her Dad's champagne they're drinking (Don't tell him!)

Originally uploaded by Tracy Wood2006.

Am I REALLY greedy?

Just a quick question - is it really greedy to eat 4 chocolate eclair buns at a time? personally I don't think so - but I do feel a bit sick. Don't tell my Mum.

Early Start

Another early start then - for some reason my body (!) clock - which obviously was purchased from a cheap jewellers many decades ago and is now malfunctioning - has decided that even today - a bank holiday - 5.15am is a good time for me to wake up. Now, anybody with half a brain knows that unless you've got a flight/train to catch, or you're off on an exciting day trip somewhere, or your Mum and Dad are driving you down to Devon for a week in a caravan (childhood issues?) there is absolutely no need whatsoever for ANYBODY to be awake at 5.15am. Could someone please make my body clock aware of that then? I tried to turn over and go back to sleep - but the fairy dust has gone and there is to be no more sleeping for me. On top of that I have the murmurings of a slight headache....hmmmmm.....anadin, coffee and a fag - OR - fresh juice, wholemeal toast and a brisk walk? I'll put the kettle on then.

Bank Holiday Monday.....what shall I do with the whole day stretching out in front of me? Well, at 7am I have to go and see to the horses. There's 2 of them. One boy and one girl. The girl is the older of the two and therefore much better behaved(!) Now for anybody who's never owned or looked after a horse - this is the daily routine.

The one on the left in Bugsy and the one on the right is Phoebe!!!!

Morning (before 8am) - Feed, put up big haynet, check rugs, check water, check overall demeanour/mood of horse. Check legs / feet. If it's a nice day - put them in the field!!!

Evening (before 6pm) - Muck out, bring in from the field, excercise(the horse - not me!!) groom, put rugs on, check feet, check legs etc. Put to bed

Now this may not look like a lot of work - but as I said earlier there are 2 of them - so double up everything. Then bear in mind that to muck out each one takes about half an hour, to exercise them takes about 40 minutes (depending on what you do!). The Girl horse likes a lot of fuss (why am I not surprised) and the boy horse - well - the boy horse just likes loads of attention, and gets very worried about the world if he doesn't get it.

Now I'm not a greedy person, and I realise that having 2 horses when there's lots of people (mainly little girls with purple plastic ponies) would dearly love to have one. That's only because they have no idea what's involved in keeping them - and here's a hint - if you have a daughter who asks you for a pony (usually about the age of 7 or 8) do everything in your power to say No. Lie, cheat. steal, at a push give the child away, because if you don't - and you give in, and buy her a pony (not sexist at all with the "her" bit - but it's usually girls who want them) your life will become like mine, and you too will have to get up at 6am every day (that's 365 days of the year folks - yes even Xmas day) to go an see to them.

It's not like having a hamster , or a cat, or even a dog - because sometimes, as a parent you don't have to get involved (apart from to oversee things) with the smaller animals (goldfish are brilliant - no noise, no walks, and cheap as chips to feed!). Horses usually live at a farm or a livery yard (your back garden probably won't be big enough - unless you're Donald Trump or someone like that with mega bucks and a huge estate) - which means that you have to get your car out at 6am and drive there!!!!

Even if your child is the one in a million who eagerly does all the jobs him/herself (does that child exist?) you still have to be there - because a) they can't be left alone with all those huge dangerous horses and b) it's easier for you to wait - in the car - with a flask of coffee and some fags and a magazine, than to go home and then come back.

Now if you're there already logic tells you that it's quicker if you help too. You can see where I'm going with this..can't you? fast forward a few months to the place which for all Mums of kids with horses is normality......what actually happens is that YOU do the mucking out, YOU do the feeding, YOU so the sweeping, YOU do bloody everything and they just ride!!!! Fan - bloody - tastic!!!

Now I took it a stage further (some women really are dead stupid!) In a bid to be more involved with my daughter's life (ha ha ha ha ha) I decided to learn to ride too - I kind of thought it would be something we could do together (yeah right). This was 7 years ago and I can't even blame the menopause, or hormonal challenges for this. So I took lessons (many hours and much money - lots of shreiking, some very strange, non-flattering jodphurs - get the picture?). I faced my fears - and the upshot of all this is that now we have a horse each.

This is fine, this is good, and our mother-daughter relationship is probably better because of this. But now, here we are 7 years on, she is now 16 and a half, and because she has other fish to fry, has gone to Sheffield on the train to see her friends for the easter weekend. As we live in Surrey, there's not much chance of her getting here for 6am to help with the horses!!!!

So now do you you see why I have to get up at stupid O'clock and go and see to 2 horses before I can get on with my day?

Only Kidding - they're actually lovely animals, and when I see them every morning they make me smile, and give me a great deal of happiness. I wouldn't be without them for the where are my jodphurs?

Sunday 16 April 2006

My New Car

This is a picture of my new car - which was delivered only days ago!!!! I am now awaiting the sun and warm weather - so that I can enjoy the benefits of having a soft-top roadster. In a minute I have to go out onto the drive and wash, polish, and vacuum out the new motor. How long that will last I don't know - once the novelty has worn off (in about a week!) it will go the way of all my other cars in the past and become a travelling trash can - but for now it will get a wash and polish!!!!

Today's my First Day as a Blogger

I am very excited, as today, Easter Sunday is my first day as a Blogger. I had to find something to do to fill the huge void left by the fact that I have absolutely no chocolate at all, whatsoever, in any form, to eat. I have a huge family, many friends, and work in an office with about 150 other people, and I didn't even get as much as a mini creme egg!!!

I had an e mail from my very good friend Christian - with his blog site link on it - and I went to have a look at his blog. I was very impressed - especially with all the photographs of delicious Alice (who is every bit as lovely and well behaved as she looks in the pictures!). So I decided to have a go myself!!!!

Anyway - that's all for now, as I'm mentally exhausted after managing to add a link to Chris's Blog (this took nearly 90 minutes!!!)

Beautiful New life