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!!!!

Beautiful New life