Tuesday, July 25, 2006

News updated

Hair update.

This was LG's hair colour for her last ever day at primary school. What cool parents we are!

No panics over colour this time, we're getting to be old hands at this dying lark.

Major panic about the cylindrical hairbrush tho', which LG managed (somehow - God knows how) to get so thoroughly embedded and entangled in her hair that it took us about an hour, late late late at night, to coax/cut it out. LG was hysterical and shouting at both of us, M. was shouting back (old enough to know better, one might say), I resisted shouting but mouthed certain things at M. over LG's head, not all many of them friendly or polite .... French visitors waited tactfully downstairs, unable to get into the bathroom to perform their nightly ablutions.

Finally sorted out, LG calmed down and in bed, M and I continued a muttered row for some time in the study while french visitors tiptoed discreetly backwards and forwards in the hallway ...

Blimus I need a f*****g holiday.

Last day of school, v. emotional for all.

LG has been with some of these children, in nursery and then school, for 9 years.

NINE YEARS! Thats very nearly an armful!!!!!!

She met some of them on Saturday to go to the cinema. Great reunion (a day after the end of term!!) and great explorations in independence.

Since then she has been mostly dossing in her room, downstairs on the computer, lolling about in her pajamas (even now while I write this, at 6.20pm) and eating these.

Digestive biscuits and peanut butter.

Shed news. Not yet very thoroughly embellished outside (wait for further pics.) but getting to be quite nicely furnished inside.

Under the tie-dye throw is a little chair with built in under-seat cool bag, very handy for the G&T.

I think I need to find a better place for the King - he looks a bit furtive hanging around in the corner there. Doesn't look half so good as he'd look - say - hanging round a cat's neck, or something. Maybe I could catch a sparrow to wear him?

And I need to cover the table with something nice. Maybe a bit of vintage fabric, stuck and then varnished?

See my lovely trug? (I just love the word "trug" and don't get to use it half often enough).

And if I sit in my shed in the evenings and look up, I can see the Milky Way...

Off to Perpignan today, with LG, for a so-much-so-desperately-needed break - can't wait to see you Tat, and all your lovely ferals, and Trac too.

Happy summer to the rest of you, hope its good. Only going for a week. See you again soon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Here is an attempt to make up for my woeful lack of blogging activity recently.
Mostly pictures (phew, relief).

Hair news:
Little Gem's latest hair colour.
Stage A. Trial run, one inch of hair only, less-than-generous application of noxious gunge. Panic! It hasn't taken. It doesn't look any different. I told everyone at school I was doing it. etc. etc. etc.

Stage B. Second application, half a head, half an hour. Panic! Its all gone blonde! does it look okay? what will they say? etc. etc. etc.

Shed news:
My (step)Father-in-law, builder by trade - how very useful - put the shed up in more or less a day. Would have taken us much much much much longer. Good old H. Proper job. I was gaffer's mate and tea-maker for the day. The more hairy arm on the right belongs to M, not H, but as this is the only bit he helped with, this is the only bit of him I'm showing.

Fully erected, tho' unfurnished.

Handy shelves, table etc.

Mother-in-law serving celebratory Cava.

More pictures of furnished and embellished shed will follow in due course.

Family News:

My mother is started on a 3-weekly cycle of (palliative) chemo. No awful side-effects so far - in fact the only side-effect is weird and unpredictable (but apparently not unusual) changes in palate and sense of smell. But her medical care (at home) is wonderful, medication is keeping the pain pretty well under control and she is mostly comfortable - which is as much as we can hope for really.

They had hoped to visit us in London today to see French friends (see below) and my garden and shed. But, given the heat/health warnings for today, they are staying put and we are visiting them instead. I can't help thinking that Mum might never be in my house/garden again.

Life is very strange at the moment.

Tourist News:
our Roquefort Friends (French friends, from the region of... who arrive bringing large quantities of outrageously cheap roquefort, yum yum) arrived Monday evening. Staying till Sunday. Much quaffing, late night eating, pastis, bon homie etc. etc. etc. (but less time for blogging and shedding than I'd anticipated...)

Holiday News:
LG finishes primary school on Friday.

Next Tuesday I will be flying - with LG - to Perpignan to stay with the lovely and wonderful Tat et famille.

Other News:
And this is particularly for Tat. Hope it makes you laugh and cheers you up. I hope you and Trac will be practising.
(The number keys used to play this - on my computer - are those on the main keyboard, not on the numberpad. No 6 and No. 9 are particularly entertaining).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Sheds, sheds, all kinds of sheds

where did that come from?

I think it might be to do with "Hair hair, all kinds of hair
Hair on your head, and hair down there" - good old Babette Cole.


... theres a great book, Men and Sheds, devoted to the art of "shedding". Wonderful photos and little thumbnail sketches of sheds and their men - what they do and what they keep in them. From the predictable - tools, workshops, beer etc. - to the less so - collections of bricks, snakes and lizards, milk bottles. From the almost-palatial to the bijou to the historic "grand design" to the nearly-derelict. The book has a few engaging thoughts about the significance of sheds as a refuge, hermit-hole, place of quiet. It also quite specifically sees "shedding" as a male rather than female pursuit.


There is one photo of a "female" shed - because the photographer was both female and has a shed - but there was an accompanying disparaging comment about the net curtains she'd put in it. (well, actually, fair enough - net curtains - eeek!!)

"It has been said that a shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman - both contain all the essentials for surviving in the modern world and in the same way that no decent man would ever consider looking in a woman's handbag uninvited, so no reasonable woman would dream of setting foot in a man's shed." (Blurb from Men and Sheds)

Well, I don't have a handbag and I don't intend to fill my shed with essentials for survival. So there. (And I don't see how a milk bottle collection is an essential for survival)

Here are some pics. of sheds not to be found in this mostly excellent book. These are proper, serious and very manly sheds.

That of my father:

and my brother-in-law:

These are sheds with windows, electricity and carefully labelled storage systems.

I expect my brother' shed is similarly serious and manly, I couldn't get a photo of it in time for this.

This is the shed at the end of our next-door-neighbour's garden - one of my favourite sheds in the world!
A Sikh family used to live there (next door - not in the shed, silly!) and if they had a big family party, they would stay up all night cooking in the shed. And invite us around to share the wonderful food.

Unfortunately its getting a bit racked and ruined now.

Here is our own proper manly shed stuff, such as we possess - under the stairs:

(we have to be very careful that the meter-reading man doesn't get his head cut off by falling saws)

and in our current outdoor "shed", which is small but not bijou, and mostly crammed full of guinea-pig supplies:

You see why I need an alternative, bijou and non-utilitarian shed?

Here are some other "interesting" links about sheds, isn't the world wide web truly a "phenomenon"?
Sheds I'd like
(probably not really)
Readers Sheds
(yes really)
Expensive sheds
(prices start at £4,245)
Dull Mens Club
(not much on sheds actually, but found whilst searching... Has irresistible links such as A History of Folding Chairs, The Duck Tape Club and Big Ben Cam)

It seems sheds have been linked not only to maleness, but to aged men, to depression (if men are separated from their sheds) to "New Blokism", to Men's Health and to Australia.

Apparently "Men have sheds because women have the castle". Indeed, is that right?

So, I wonder, are Mandy's shed, and my shed-to-be symptoms of women yet again taking over one of the last bastions of masculinity? (sane masculinity anyway. Shed-separation can apparently also contribute to dementia.... )

Are there any men out there feeling threatened by my shedding activities?

It has been suggested that "Women are spending too much time in sheds, and not everyone's happy about it". And that "CREEPING egalitarianism has knocked another rusty nail into the smoothly sanded timber of the male ego. The garden shed, once an exclusively male domain, is being colonised by women".

So I'm part of a world-wide trend. We women are a threat to the "mystical covenant" between men and their sheds.

Or is it just that we want to get out of the washing up too?

I think there might be a PhD dissertation somewhere in all this - for an old, dull, male (demented?) Australian person maybe.

Me - I plan to sit in my shed (with tassels) look at the garden and drink tea.

Or possibly, sometimes, G&T.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I'm just away for a little bitsy while, and everything changes.

Wendy is gone.
Pauline is gone.

Thank goodness for new blogs too, nice to have Dizzy and Geena around.

And Trac is all different and brand shiny new. And will be away soon. ptb. (For us not for her)

New (new-different, not brand-new) stair carpet which looks v.good.

New shed still waiting to be painted and erected. Time and weather need to coincide.

Same old guinea pigs.
Same old moody old argumentative extremely stroppy looking-for-a-fight 11 year-old.
Same old bloody PMT nearly all the bloody time.
Same old heart-ache.
As well as the new one.

Time may change me but I can't trace time.

Gardening is wonderful and therapeutic.
In-laws are a mixed blessing.
Blogging and button- and tassel- making takes my mind off things. For a while.
(btw, anyone out there who will confess to finding me while searching for "orange hippopotamus"? I'd LOVE to know why!!)

But nothing helps as much as friends.
Off to see a v. good friend today.
Back later.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


This blog is likely to be a bit inactive over the coming weeks - I'm hoping to keep up with all your blogs and you may see me in your comments box, but I'm likely not be posting much myself.

I'm mostly at my Mum and Dads. Thanks for your get-well wishes for my mother.

No, she wont be ok, and she wont be getting better as she has recently-diagnosed and well-progressed cancer, stomach and liver. She might have months to live, but possibly only weeks.

This is entirely out of a clear blue sky for us - though she is 75, she has been fit, healthy (we thought), very active, not at all like a 75 year old, and of a very long-lived family. You realise how much you are taking for granted when its suddenly pulled from under your feet.

So, being with them is the compulsive priority at the moment. And I do realise how very fortunate I am to be so close to them, and to have this time.

Having said all that, my in-laws are here from next Weds., for a week, and I'll be home more. When they are here, we don't do much except sit around, drink tea, shop, look at purchases, drink tea (and wine - not so bad then).

Lots of opportunities for blogging then? (and shed erections) I hope so ...

missing you already.