Channel Hopping

April 30, 2016

Last night, as I sat at the computer staring at a blank screen waiting for it to be miraculously filled with text and posted to the interwebs, Carole was flicking through the TV channels.

She was in the area of the channel listings which are a bit odd. Not the raunchy stuff at the top end, not the countless shopping channels (channel idea: a shopping channel bringing you the best deals from all the shopping channels). No, this is somewhere round the 200s, where you find channels that are like YouTube with a sense of ambition.

I only say this, because as I was poised to put finger to keyboard yesterday, we were treated to the start of Trucking TV. Coming to us from their home away from home, the truck stop at Junction 38. Whatever the hell that means.

The show which, sadly, we didn’t watch because of reasons which would have been apparent to anyone who did watch it, featured a report from Truck Fest North West. And, of course (they actually said “of course”) they would be chatting with the truck drivers stopping off at Junction 38 to hear what they had to say.

I know, you’re all wondering how we could have chosen not to watch it.

But, rather than change channels, we just turned the Sky box off. So today, before we settled down to watch last night’s Blacklist (and blimey oh riley what an episode… although I think Mr Caplan might have a few tricks up her sleeve), we were treated to something about caravans.

Like Top Gear, but caravans. And less ego.

“There are only three rings on the hob, but they’re spaced so that you can get three pans on it…” otherwise, why make a three ring hob? Oh it’s a three ring hob, but you can only fit two pans on, so you’ll probably never use the third ring.

There was also, in a caravan costing £25,000 – more if you wanted optional leather – a bit of worktop which you couldn’t actually get to – but which was described as a fantastic use of space.

And just as we were getting into the show and Carole was just starting on about how much she really wants a caravan (not that one though – it’s not a beginners caravan because it’s very heavy, whatever the chuff that means) the presenter told us it was sadly the last in the series.



There Will Be Snow In Huddersfield This April Time…

April 29, 2016

It’s the end of April.

So, as the snow fell outside the window and I ruled out any plans for going to Tesco’s to buy something to nibble on because it seemed to involve too many layers, I was sitting downstairs wrapped in a quilt, in much the same way as you would expect to find an elderly person placed in front of a scenic window with a tartan blanket on their knees.

There just feels something wrong about putting the heating on when it’s practically May. Surely we shouldn’t be doing that. My mum, for example, had cleaned up the wood fire – essentially saying she was done with it until late autumn – the other week, but had to bust it out again the other day. Which is when we discovered that – or when she discovered, I should say – that my dad has variously bolted, stapled and otherwise fastened all the firewood packets to the wall of the garage so they didn’t fall onto the car. So she had to remove wood from the pile using a crowbar.

A crowbar.

My mum is left-handed. Because of this, everything she does looks thousands of times more dangerous. I’m sort of glad I wasn’t around for that.

But anyway, my refusal to put the heating on found me snuggled under the duvet for most of the day, watching TV or playing on the Xbox. All of which seemed to freak Peppa out – clearly the duvet smells like it belongs in the house, she’s got no issues with that. But it’s not right for it to be in the front room.

I also refused to get out from under it to answer the door to some door-to-door people as well. Even though they knocked repeatedly and could see me through the window.

But to open the door to them in what I am referring to as April Blizzard Season, or A.B.S, just seemed like such a waste.

I didn’t want whatever they were offering. Unless it was chocolate or maybe some crisps for a crisp sandwich. And in all my years of door-to-door people experiences, none of them have been offering crisps and/or chocolate. And to open the door would have let any heat currently in the house out of the house.

So, while they stood there, shivering, for a long time (and they did, like the slowest game of chicken ever) I stayed warm and snuggly under a duvet.

In April.

Which is just wrong.


Doing Bird

April 28, 2016

I think Peppa’s worked out the bird table.

Not necessarily how to get on it – and, if I’m honest, I’m fairly sure it’s just rickety enough that were a cat – any cat – to pounce on it then it would topple over and/or collapse. But she seems to have figured out its purpose.

She’s been using it as a scratching post for quite some time which, at the very least, gives the corner of the couch a bit of a break. But, when the weather turned to shit again, we started putting food out of the birds so they don’t break their beaks pecking at cold, hard ground.

So I guess Peppa has seen them coming and going. Most probably the stealthy fat magpie or the quite frankly huge wood pigeon. Both of which are not quite as nimble and darty as the numerous sparrows then are usually in attendance.

And I guess she’s worked out that they stop off on the bird table for some reason or other.

And I guess she’d really like to play with them – something I am keen not to encourage given that the last time she caught a bird, to my knowledge the only time, she brought it into the house and let it go in the front room and the bedroom before carrying it to the kitchen door and letting it fly away.

If you’ve never had the experience of playing on the Xbox and, seemingly from nowhere, having a blackbird fly past you then you haven’t lived.

But she does seem to enjoy sitting on the patio and staring at the table.

To date, I haven’t looked out on the garden in the morning and wondered why someone has shredded a pillow on the patio. I haven’t found any random bird remains – just the wings, I’ve covered that before – in the vicinity. I am 100% sure that when it comes to these birds, Peppa ain’t catching, she’s just staring.

As though, if she sits still and just stares, the birds will think she is some sort of statue of a cat, rather than a cat and lower their guard. They’ll start happily dining while Peppa constructs a plan to get onto the bird table. Which I don’t think she can do from ground level, and not with any sort of grace or bird-catching skill. She can certainly do it in a way that would be more akin to a bull in a china shop, but all that will get is a spooked cat, birds flying everywhere and corn growing between the paving slabs on the patio for the next few years.

I kind of think she just likes to watch.

Pumpkin used to climb onto the bedroom windowsill and shout at the birds on a summer morning. She’d wait for them all to sit on the phone wire, tweeting away happily, and then she’d kind of, well, shout at them.

I think that’s what Peppa’s doing with the bird table. In the same way she gets really cross with me when I used her cat stand to balance either my coffee or the tv remotes on, I think she’s just a bit miffed that these birds are coming along and using her scratching post without asking.

Still, I won’t leave the back door open while she’s out there… just in case.


Whatever The Weather

April 27, 2016

I’m off work this week and every day is promising to be a good drying day. And you know how much I love those.

But, alas, every day is not turning out to be a good drying day.

If I were to check the weather on my iPhone app, it’s as though it’s just using up the icons that it hasn’t had cause to use for a while. Snow, wind, rain, thunder… these are all in the days ahead for me. None of which makes for a good drying day. Well, except maybe wind. But I’m not sure that our pegs are up to it – several have committed suicide – just exploded apart – for no apparent reason other than to leave your clothes fasten to the line by a piece of metal in the shape of a spring with legs.

Although it is fun to look out and see your pegs going off like firecrackers.

The weather is a mixed bag, though. All those icons – one for each day of the week – are pretty much coming just in one day.

Like today, did it snow or did it hail? It was the size of hail, but with none of the swearing as it bounces relentlessly off body parts. Either which way, the sound of something hitting the windows had me rushing out into the garden to retrieve towels that I had pegged out about an hour before while sizing up the grey cloud hovering above the house.

Currently, I’m down for rain tomorrow.

I guarantee it will be glorious sunshine first thing in the morning.

I’m supposed to be cleaning out the water feature/fountain at my mum’s this weekend as well because it’s something that dad would have done by now and although she’s not specifically asking for it to be done, she’s dropped enough hints about it that I can’t really put it off any longer.

But I’ll be buggered if I’m doing it in the rain, sleet, hail, snow or in between bolts of lightning.

Because you know my luck – if anyone was going to be struck by lightning whilst fishing about in a slimy pond, it would be me.

Poop Poop

April 26, 2016

A man crashed his motorbike into the back of our car this evening.

Yeah, that happened.

I mean, he’d only just got on it and it just set off when he wasn’t ready. And our car was parked. So all the parts of the accident just happened at relatively slow speeds. Apart from the way his bike took off, obviously that went so fast that he’ll probably need a new set of bike leathers.

The weird thing is, if it wasn’t for me being… well… flatulent, we’d never have known any of this happened. But, sadly, sometimes things happen which require a window to be opened. And lo, that is what came to pass. And so Caz was in a prime position to watch the human equivalent of Wallace (sadly minus a Gromit) topple sideways onto the road and smash the lights on his bike – parts of which are on our dining table for some reason that I haven’t yet fathomed out.

She rushed outside to help, fearing him to be pinned under his bike. While I did what any self-respecting person would do – nothing. Well, I went to the door and looked out. And then I tried to find the Sky remote so I could stop what we were watching while this real-life Casualty scene-setter took place outside our window.

Now, before you brand me as uncaring, let me just say that I had seen the man stand up. I had seen him pick up his bike and look sadly at it. So I knew he was okay. I mean, if he did get into any real scrapes then luckily his helmet and goggles which I can only assume he got from Mr Toad would have saved him.

We’re not sure he’ll have made it much further than the end of the street, anyway, as the bike didn’t sound that great as he puttered round the green. Nor did he look overly stable. Oh, and most of his petrol is on the road out front. It’s probably no small miracle he wasn’t turned into a fireball when he tried to start the blooming thing.

Still at least the smell of petrol covered up my indiscretion.



Coulda Bin Better

April 25, 2016

You know when you have days that start out like you really don’t want days to start out?

Like, for example, you find yourself lying awake in bed at two in the morning thinking about your dad and wondering if the things you’re doing since he passed are things that he’d approve of. Apart from the way I hung that hose pipe up, obviously. There’s no way, dead or alive, he’s happy with that.

And then when you do get to sleep it’s not particularly rewarding, and you find yourself away again at about five. And then six. And then in parts during which Carole is getting ready for work – kindly using the hairdryer downstairs so as not to disturb my crappy sleep, but then banging the lid of the wooden laundry basket like she’s a 1970s cop trying to beat a confession out of it.

And then the binmen come and make copious amounts of noise, banging all the bins about.

And eventually you get up and think you should bring the bin round to the back now it’s been collected but it hasn’t been collected, despite all the bins around it now being empty. And you can’t report it on the council’s website because it keeps telling you that your next collection is today, even though it’s been and gone and not collected. I have to wait until the end of tomorrow, according to the guidelines, as though they’re going to realise they were a bin short and retrace their steps over the next 24 hours. While the form has boxes asking you if you actually put the bin out when it was missed (true fact), it doesn’t provide an option for “was at home when the bin lorry came round…”

I mean, assuming I can ever manage to report it and they come out to empty it as an “extra”, it will be quite handy because we had a massive roast chicken tonight and I’ve harvested the left-overs off the carcass which I can now stuff in the bin, rather than have it festering for a fortnight and attracting the neighbourhood cats.

Every cloud…

Just One Courgetti

April 24, 2016

Well, we’ve spiralised something.

And, you know what, it wasn’t that bad actually.

We had courgetti. Which is a word I hate. And a food I thought I’d hate. All day I have been muttering and mumbling about the fact that I was sure it would be awful and that nobody likes courgettes anyway, so cutting them into ribbons just prolongs the agony and…

Well, I was wrong.

I mean, yeah, it’s still a rubbishy courgette at the end of the day, but we managed to cook it in such a way that it had none of the courgette taste and was actually surprisingly nice. When hidden behind the mask of taste provided by pesto. But still, it was nice. And I think we’ll try it again once we’ve worked out what flavours we can hide it behind next time…

Our problem came when we realised we knew how to make the courgetti. But had no idea how we should cook it. Because there’s a lot of things showing you the machines to make it, but very little in the way of “here’s what you do when you have a bowl filled with courgette string” guidance.

We hid it under some salmon and wrapped it on foil and baked it in the oven for twenty five minutes. If in doubt, stick it in a parcel and smack it in the oven, I say. And we really were in doubt. I’d found instructions to sweat it off in a frying pan, but that sounded a little bit odd – it’s supposed to be healthy, after all. And Carole didn’t seem particularly taken by the idea, spending several minutes going “Fry it?” like it was the most alien concept in the world ever.

But hey, it all worked out ok in the end. And I have eaten more courgette than I would normally have done.

As life goals go…