Tuesday 16 February 2016

Ella's Winter Meme

I always love a good meme, so....

1  You have to leave your house because of a disaster. All the people and pets you love are safe. If you could choose just one item to carry out, what would it be?

Am I allowed just one, or ALL my photo albums? And what about my flash drives? How awful to have to leave your house and know that all those precious memories are left behind. If I had to choose just one, it would be an album containing photos of the children when they were babies.

2  Tell us about a book or series of books you loved as a child.

Everything I did as a child had to do with horses and riding them. I even cantered home the mile from school each day till I was about ten, jumping the water runnels as if they were huge cross-country jumps. My favourite series of books were written by the Pullein-Thompson sisters, and were all about ponies and the children who owned them. I never actually owned my own horse till I was 32, but I was very fortunate as a child to have friends who had ponies I could ride.

3  Name one item of clothing that you love for your spouse to wear.

I love Dan in a suit, especially a dinner suit with a black bow-tie that he has undone so it just hangs around his neck. So sexy.

4  Is there a lullaby your mum or dad sang to you that you also sang to your child?

My dad used to sing me a song about a little cat that got into mischief. But it was all in Polish and although I remember it, I can't spell in Polish. I often sang it to my kids when they were babies.

5  Tell about the fanciest restaurant at which you have ever dined.

I've eaten in many fancy restaurants, and can either take them or leave them. They are often far too pricey or the food is so nouvelle cuisine that you end up starving. But I can recall a special dinner at a Polo match that a certain prince attended. I don't remember too much about the food as like every other woman there, I was hanging on his every word and watching every movement. I think the food was good...

6  Tell us about any phobias you have. What else are you scared of?

The only real phobia I have is spiders. I just cannot bear them. I've had many a "spider" incident, and always hope when we are on our travels that the spiders will stay hidden away. I got marooned on a sunbed once due to a very large spider catching and consuming a reasonably large crab in front of my eyes! I also dislike heights as viewed from the tops of buildings. I'm not so bad on hillsides, although I did crash once when skiing, due to looking over the edge at the sheer drop.

7  Is there something old from a family member that you treasure?

I have a few items that have been passed down from generation to generation in our family, and I like to use them or place them where I can enjoy them. However, they can never replace the people who have gone from my life whose memories I cherish above all else.

8  If there is reading material in your bathroom, what magazines or books could be found?

Usually there are magazines or travel books, but at the moment we are packing in order to move, so if you want to read something you will have to read the labels on the jars of pots and potions.

9  Tell us about your dearest childhood friend. Besides the typical outdoor stuff?

I have a very good friend I have had since the age of two years old. It was her ponies I rode during childhood; we went to school together; we went to discos together; we met our future husbands within a few months of each other; we are godmothers to each other's eldest children. She lives a few hundred miles away and we only get together occasionally, but we are just like sisters.

10  Is there a household task that belongs to your husband?

Depends what you mean by "household task". He chops the wood and brings the logs in, and lights the fires. He looks after the septic tank and sorts it out if it needs rodding. He sees the cars are washed and that they are full of fuel and regularly serviced. He is always happy to help, but "household tasks" per se are not really his domain.

11  Have you ever smoked pot? How old were you the first time? Do you still enjoy?

I belonged to the flower power generation, so I probably did. We smoked some weird stuff in those days. But I never smoked it intentionally to get a high. I can get high just on fresh air, lots of laughter and good times with friends. I have no need for drugs other than those that keep me alive. I do, however, enjoy a good gin and tonic, and the occasional cocktail.

12  If it is cold, what do you wear to bed?

I have a couple of t-shirt style nighties, but I take a hot water bottle to bed if it is that cold. I don't take long to warm up - it's mostly to keep my feet warm, and Dan pinches it as soon as he comes to bed. Usually I sleep au naturelle.

13  How old were you when you lost your virginity? Share any story with which you are comfortable.

I was twenty. I remember it well because in those days there was no co-habiting in case the neighbours informed the parents. Dan took me away to the Cotswolds for a romantic weekend and we stayed in a wonderful old coaching inn. It just didn't happen. I clammed up and it didn't matter how many times Dan tried, it was hopeless. When he finally brought me home after our weekend it was late in the evening and my parents were out. He said he wasn't going home until he succeeded. He finally managed it but that first time wasn't the pleasant experience I had been led to believe. Thank goodness things improved thereafter!

14  Think of something you did as a kid about which you were glad your parents never found out. If you were a perfect child, you may just respond with "Perfect".

Where do I begin? I broke someone's window; I used to scrump apples from other people's gardens on my walk home from school; together with some naughty friends I would ring people's doorbells then run away; I dyed my hair bright pink when I was about eleven; a friend and I tried every single one of about fifty "miniatures" of whisky her dad had collected on his frequent flights to and from Africa (heaven knows how we didn't die of alcohol poisoning!). I could go on and on!

16   Boob question - Think Goldilocks and the 3 Bears.

Do you think your boobs are:

a)  too big
b)  too small
c)  just right
d) "All of the above" is not a valid answer

I am fine with the size of my boobs, but I do so wish they wouldn't end up under my armpits, which they do without bones in my bra!

Thanks for reading, and thanks, Ella, for such a mixture of questions.

Saturday 13 February 2016

Valentine Thoughts

"...Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is forward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace; 
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.

Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you forward and unable worms!
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;

But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband's foot:

In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready; may it do him ease."

I've been reading some Valentine Blogs and wondering.

Everyone around here seem so romantically inclined that I started to think that Dan and I have been kind of restrained all these years. The thing is that although I love to get little reminders of Dan's love for me - I don't really need them. I know he loves me.

It's in every tangible moment of our lives together.

The brush of fingers; the meeting of eyes across a room; the smile of contentment; our concurrent reflexibility.

I do have my memories. Of course I do. I often think we've been together for so long that we are symbiotic. A joining of two souls.

One of the first Valentine Cards Dan sent me was of a caveman with a large club, tugging his girlfriend (who had a big smile on her face) along by her hair. I put it on my desk in my office, and all day people passing through could hardly contain themselves for laughter. My boss included. Strangely, I loved it. Maybe it was an indication of how things would be.

Over the years I've had cards with hearts and flowers, and cards that said he loved my dangly bits; big cards and small cards; pretty cards and funny cards. 

And never once has he forgotten.

We don't celebrate in any particular way. These days we just seize the moment and make a decision at the time. We are often away on holiday, so that tends to take some of the decision-making out of our hands. Last year we drank cocktails in Barbados, and one year we celebrated with a walk up a hill in the Cotswolds in the rain. 

Perhaps our most memorable Valentine's was cruising down the Nile and watching a string of water buffalo swimming alongside us as we passed - the early morning sun all pink and pearly as it rose over the desert.

This year we are moving house, so tomorrow will be a family lunch. There won't be many more Sunday lunches in this house, so each one is precious. We love to observe how our own offspring choose to celebrate Valentines. Both our son and our son-in-law are very romantic in their given ways. It is a joy to us.

And now I am off to bake my Valentine's Cake. It is a little custom when we are at home on February 14. I always bake a heart-shaped chocolate cake for everyone to enjoy. It doesn't last long.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day everyone! Enjoy it to the full, however you choose to celebrate it - quietly or noisily (giggle!).

And the prose? It is taken from Kate's speech near the end of The Taming of the Shrew - one of my favourite plays by William Shakespeare.