Tuesday, 28 December 2010

A Blow-up doll and Arthritic Charades

Before Christmas Dougie complained he was uncomfortable in the bath and that it would be nice to have a bath pillow. So I bought him Soapy Sophie, an Inflatable Bath Buddy. Isn't she marvellous. In the description it said Sophie could hold your beer while you soak. I thought this sounded an excellent idea until Dougie blew her up and we looked at the result....

Soapy Sophie joined us for Christmas Day, along with Dougie's parents, George and Emily. The inlaws are notorious for bizarre presents. Their only son asked for some ankle weights one year; on Christmas day they arrived with a small parcel, explaining that they couldn't find the weights he was after so bought him some sport socks instead. Unfortunately they were white knee-length football socks....Chelsea socks, in fact, as the name was embroidered into them half-way up the shin. Great for a Hibernian supporter who doesn't play football.

This year we gave them some suggestions as to what we might like and hoped it wouldn't tax them too greatly. I was lucky and received some lovely Emma Bridgewater mugs but their poor son was given socks again, and a box of white hankies with a D embroidered on them...

Some of you will doubtless remember the annual round of charades which has become traditional after our Christmas Day meal. This is now fondly referred to as 'Arthritic Charades' on account of George's inability to make it clear with his poor old fingers how many fingers he is holding up. We often shout "Three and a half!" and roll about laughing.

This year he was great value once again. Examining the card for some considerable time, he was about to start but then needed another look. We were on tenterhooks. A five-word song. He made a  T shape with his hands so we shouted out 'the', 'they', 'them', 'this' and all the variations we could think of until he told us it was 'to'. On one word he held up six (ish) fingers so we shouted "six" and "sixth" but were getting nowhere until he explained he was showing us the number of letters in the word. No mime, nothing, just letters. "Bloody Hell, George, we're not playing Hangman", I said wearily.

We introduced him to the idea of syllables after he'd shouted "elbow" during one of my actions. He liked this and tried it on his own turn. Third word, two syllables. Then he just stood there, looked at us eagerly and eventually said, "Come on then, have a guess?".
"Try giving us a bloody clue, Dad", Dougie implored, head in hands.

It went downhill from here: I was given the film "Shaft" and got a little carried away then George was given "The Naked Civil Servant". Thank God we guessed it before it all became rather unseemly.

Anyone for a mince pie?


Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Christmas Baby

Photo from The Sunday Sun: my nephew second from left.
What timing! Just after 3 o'clock Christmas morning, my new nephew, having delayed his arrival for two weeks, decided to make his grand entrance into the world. Like all our family, a show-off it would seem; he must have known the local paper in Newcastle would be on hand to photograph him for their Christmas Babies feature.

My brother, Stephen, and his partner, Helen, have given him the name John, my dad's name: Mum and Dad are absolutely delighted.

The Angel of the North is summoning local shepherds and, fairly soon, Dougie, Rory and I will be travelling up the A1, following the North star, bearing gifts. Do they sell frankincense and myrrh on t'internet?


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Mum's Gone through the wardrobe again

Just a few more Narnia photos to share with you. I sent a couple off to the local paper yesterday and they are going to publish one of them in a page of readers' winter photos....which is nice!

Have done a big supermarket shop today and also been to the butcher, the baker, though unfortunately not the candlestick-maker. On my return at 1.30pm, Rory was still wandering around in his dressing gown, all gangly limbs and sticky-up hair. All the boy does this holiday is sleep. He helped me, of a fashion, put the shopping away and has now been sent for a shower and ordered to do some revision for GCSE science modules he has in January.

Later on we will have our daily dose of Countdown and, our favourite, Pointless. If anyone hasn't seen the latter, it's a quiz show where the aim is to find the most obscure answer. It's presented by Alexander Armstong, 4.30pm, BBC2 and we love it. Some quality mum and son time, sharing the sofa and shouting at the telly.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Mum's Gone to Narnia...in Lincolnshire

You'd be forgiven for thinking I took these snaps in black and white but no, it was just the usual automatic full-colour setting. There's an eery fog over everything today, nothing is moving, it's minus 7 degrees at midday.

I think I'll step back through the wardrobe.....


Thursday, 16 December 2010

When William met Audrey

Who would have thought it: William Wallace and Audrey Hepburn? An unlikely pairing, indeed, but they look very cosy at a party in Lincolnshire in 2004 (or it could be 2003: I have no idea whether the divider I've placed in the box of photos dates the wodge of pics behind or in front).

Steve at Bloggertropolis wrote yesterday about William Wallace and how he has the audacity to steal his Christmas presents. To be fair, it seems to be a warehouse in Fife that's to blame for the delayed parcels, but Steve's crazy, brilliant thought processes have dragged Braveheart into the equation.

When commenting on the post, I mentioned that Dougie had dressed up as William Wallace for a fancy dress party some years ago and declared that my husband did indeed wave his claymore around wilfully while shouting "Freedom" at the top of his voice. I'm not sure it went down well in the quiet cul-de-sac on the new estate in Spalding, and I recall much drunken curiosity from Marilyn Munroe and Dolly Parton who were keen to see underneath the kilt.

I have no idea why I accompanied my bare-arsed scary husband to the party dressed as Audrey Hepburn but I suspect it was to save money on hiring a costume, plus the fact that I love the film Breakfast at Tiffany's and would quite fancy singing Moon River strumming a guitar on a fire escape.

I digress. There is a reason for this post. Dougie and I have been invited to a New Year's Eve party and it's dressy-up again (six years after the last one: wow we're party animals). The theme is 'Assassins'. I need your help, blog readers, for some suggestions here. I'm thinking Mr & Mrs Smith as a possibility but there's a distinct chance every other bugger will pretend to be Angelina with a gun strapped to her thigh. So who else can we go as? A James Bond couple? Odd Job? Pussy Galore?

Let me know your thoughts and I promise to provide photo evidence in the New Year.


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Late Entry for the Christmas Number One?

Forgive me for reminiscing yet again about Rory when he was little, but I had to share this gem from our newly-converted DVDs of Rory as a little boy. Following on from his jigsaw session, here he is performing some Christmas songs for the camera. What a little show-off: just like his mother, don't you think?!

The diction is interesting and the sheer silliness of the third song, where he seems to sing in a different accent and is accompanied by a milk-induced burp, makes me chuckle. Hope you enjoy the festive singing: you'll need your volume on top whack though.


Sunday, 12 December 2010

You shouldn't have. No really, you shouldn't...

Yesterday we girded our loins and did the annual pre-Christmas trip to visit my Aunt. I hadn't seen her since the Summer so was riddled with guilt as she's over 80, lives on her own and has no children of her own. The guilt was obviously getting to me, as I compensated by buying her some Estee Lauder face cream, a Panettone Italian cake thing, posh biscuits in a tin and a few other bits and bobs.

Our role in the pre-Christmas jaunt to Hertfordshire is also to collect the presents she has bought for us and my family in Newcastle. As she doesn't drive now, she relies on neighbours to take her to the shops and, despite us all saying she really doesn't need to get us anything, she always does and then grumbles endlessly about it.

"Your mother says she wants gin again", my Aunt complained to me some weeks ago.
"She likes gin. Just get her the gin. It'll be fine", I replied, wearily.

Yet I appreciate how frustrated she must get as she was always an excellent present-giver when I was younger. When I was a child, the parcel from my Aunt would arrive in the post and was always something special. I remember fondly a white-leather manicure set which I never used but I used to adore unzipping and re-positioning the little fiddly files and orange sticks. Another year, a jewellery box with a red velvet interior and a tiny pirouetting ballerina .

Lately, however, things have not worked out quite so well. A few years ago we packed her gifts into the car, waved goodbye, heaved a sigh of relief, and zoomed up the A1. Around Peterborough a strange smell from the boot started to waft into the car. We put up with the aroma of sweaty feet until we were home. Dougie wisely decided to open the present she had wrapped for us and the identical one for my brother and his wife. Inside was a Port and Stilton gift set: the Stilton was oozing.  Lord knows how long it had been out of the fridge: my guess is it had never been anywhere remotely cold since she'd bought it. The nauseating stench was even more retch-inducing for me as I don't like cheese in the first place.

The car boot took some Febrezing, I can tell you.

So yesterday as we left we had a little chuckle about the Stilton fiasco and bundled our packages into the car. Back home, Dougie lifted the bottle bags out of the box for the rest of the family and his eyes rested on a beautifully wrapped flat parcel. I was just about to pop it under the tree when Dougie decided to read the tag which said,

"To Dougie and Trish, for your Christmas Day Breakfast, B x"

Hopeful it might be a couple of napkins yet somewhat nervous, we decided we should open the package. Inside was a packet of Waitrose smoked salmon, nicely warmed up to room temperature. Use by 15th December.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

I just get a manky carrot...

There's a big folder in the cupboard under the stairs which holds all of those fabulous Christmas cards and pictures Rory created at primary school. The picture on the left was a collaboration between him and his mate, thinking up adjectives to link with Christmas words. He was about nine or ten at the time, which probably accounts for some of the bizarre alliterations and downright mischievous suggestions. Let me give you a flavour:

Super star
Twinkling tinsel
Jolly Jesus
Ignorant angels
Rapid reindeer
Itchy ivy
Dancing Dancer
Lovely Cupid
Foxy Vixen
Boring bobble-hat
Dinging music
Nice Nazareth
Jealous Joseph
Magic Mary
Gay Gabriel
Good God
Massive mule
Amazing ass

May I also share with you "Rudolph's Christmas" which was written when I think he was about seven.

Hello,  I am Rudolph. I help Father Christmas get to all the children. When I am pulling the sleigh I see frosty gardens, floating flakes of snow, icy roads and stuff like that. When Father Christmas comes to all the children he gets mince pies but I just get a manky carrot. Yes, this house is better, they left a mince pie for me. Let's go back home Father Christmas. Oh no theres a concorde we are going to crash! wow that was close! lets go back to my stable. Rory.

Kids...don't you just love 'em.


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Jigsaw baby

At long last I have managed to transfer all our old VHS videos onto DVD. Worried that all those precious memories of our boy would be lost if I didn't get my act together, I found a local company who did it all for me. Now Dougie and I are going all soft looking at our wee lad and embarrassing him at every opportunity.

At present I haven't got the software (or intelligence, for that matter) to transfer some of the DVDs to the computer so I can download extracts. Tips please would be welcome. In the meantime, I have recorded a snippet from the DVD by holding my camera in front of the laptop!!

The resulting video below shows Rory aged 2 (a couple of months off 3 years of age), completing a jigsaw. Rory used to baffle us with his ability to do puzzles: his spatial awareness seemed extraordinary but then we had no other children to compare him to. The puzzle in the video was a 100-piece Map of the World jigsaw and he completed it unaided, despite having a very runny nose and a troublesome sock.

Have a look and let me know what you think. Is this unusual?


Monday, 6 December 2010

Mum's Gone to Cambridge - Ross Noble and Jack Wills!

Over the years we have always tried to have a Christmas treat at some time over the festive period. Usually it's a trip to the local panto but occasionally we have had a London trip to see shows such as The Snowman.  One year we got tickets for a Liverpool v Newcastle United match on Boxing Day. I'm not sure that was our best decision as the weather was freezing, Newcastle lost and we were sitting with the Liverpool fans but I do remember embarrassing the boys by singing and sobbing loudly to "You'll Never Walk Alone".

So what do you do with a teenage lad who's outgrown shouting "He's behind you" and isn't that fussed about the footie? Take him to see one of his favourite comedians, that's what. Rory loves seeing stand-up comics and over the last couple of years we've taken him to see Dave Gorman, Rhod Gilbert and, his favourite, Ross Noble. Being a Geordie myself, I have a soft spot for this madcap comedian. We last saw him in King's Lynn when Ross gave Rory a shout-out, thanks to my mum. Bit of a long story but my dad and Ross Noble's dad were both attending a Newcastle hospice day centre every Wednesday and used to be taken there in the same minibus. My mum mentioned to Ross' mum how much Rory admired her son, she must have had a word with her famous lad, who then said hello to Rory onstage. Sadly Ross Noble's father died earlier this year so the two mums haven't seen each other for a while.

When I looked at Ross Noble's dates for his Nonsensory Overload tour, I reckoned a Saturday night in Cambridge in December would be a fabulous family treat. I booked the Crowne Plaza hotel, bang slap in the middle of the town and two minutes walk from the Corn Exchange theatre, so we could stay overnight.

The gods were very kind to us this weekend. The thaw appeared at home as we left on Saturday morning, there was no snow in Cambridge and the drive was trouble-free. By 12.30 we were ready for an afternoon of shopping! We had told Rory he could go Christmas clothes shopping and, for once, he was eager to get cracking. I reckon this was because he knew the Jack Wills shop in Cambridge was staffed by some long-legged girls who, in the summer when we visited, had been wearing teeny-tiny shorts. Thankfully this time they were properly clothed but they were striking nonetheless (and the young men, may I say, looked equally attractive).

A T-shirt and checked shirt later, Rory was then up for a visit to Superdry which was heaving with customers. Another great shop for teens, my son was in his element. We left Dad in the huge queue to pay for a couple more T-shirts while we braved the Apple shop. Rory's main present this year was going to be a new mobile phone. He had a play with the iPhone, proclaimed he found it really difficult to text with it so, if it was alright with us, he would stick with his old phone. Bless him!

Rory was now chuffed to bits with his clothes so his appetite for shopping had waned considerably. So we walked back to the hotel, had a drink in the bar and then left him in the room to watch Sky Sports while we had a final shop on our own. It was now dark and I felt we were on the set of a Christmas movie: carol singers in the market square sang like a heavenly choir, the Salvation Army band were in fine form, the Christmas lights were shimmering yet understated and there was an infectious excitement in the town with everyone carrying bags of presents. If Santa Claus had appeared in the sky I would have believed in him all over again.

We returned to Rory, waited for the football final results then had an early dinner at Carluccio's . This was followed by an hour back in the hotel watching Strictly Come Dancing before we had to break ourselves away from the complimentary ginger biscuits and stagger out to the theatre.

Ross Noble's show was as bizarre as expected, helped by some fabulous characters in the audience including the pet shop owner from Ipswich which led to Ross picturing him travelling to the show on a sledge pulled by guinea pigs.....you had to be there! The show went on until nearly 11pm, so we were thankful to be so close to our hotel. By the time I had faffed about in the bathroom, both husband and son were fast asleep.

A big buffet breakfast the next morning, an easy drive home, and we only saw snow again 10 minutes from home. We couldn't have asked for a better weekend: a mini break in a beautiful city, a happy son and an even happier husband as he doesn't have to fork out for an iPhone. Ho ho ho.