To crack a nut….


I have acquired a sledgehammer.

While we do not really have a gun problem here in the UK, not one like in America at least, I am aware that many in our biggest and baddest criminal fraternities are not averse to carrying weapons as they ply their nefarious trade. Knives, baseball bats, pick handles and the like.

Thanks to the Daily Mail and the Express, we also know that many of these criminals are immigrants such as Polish , Romanian, Gypsy, or the Irish and, as such, will have ready access to “heavier weaponry “ such as heavy wrenches, tyre levers and sledgehammers…..

We know from our American brethren that is important to be able to fight fire with fire. To be able to defend oneself, loved ones, and one’s property against such miscreants, or against a similarly well-armed neighbour or casual labourer with a mental health illness; or, with a temper and a six pack of strong lager.

Of course, I considered a concealed weapon option first. But, I felt that my Swiss Army Knife just wouldn’t do it. It lacks the gravitas and deterrent factor. And, I feared that if I panicked in the event of a home invasion or a road rage incident, I might be slow or confused in my panic. I might inadvertently find myself defending myself with little more than a tiny plastic magnifying glass or an inch-long crosshead screwdriver and an adrenaline rush backed up with a very hard stare.

I did try a concealed claw hammer for a while but got fed up wearing the same coat – the one with the big pockets – and I almost did myself a mischief once when I sat down too quickly on a hard surface….

So, now I have my very own sledgehammer and I am fully prepared for invasion by those Europeans (bloody Brexit), Islamists, zombies or the federal government (if Surrey ever gets devolved power…..).

I did worry for a while about where I should keep. C wouldn’t allow me to keep it under my pillow and I was worried about burglars breaking in, finding it and using it against me. So, I’ve locked it in the shed. So, let’s hope we get a good five minute warning ahead of any zombie invasion…



February 25, 2018 at 6:29 pm 1 comment

KFC Deja vu?

Apparently 100s of UK KFC stores are closed today due to a lack of chicken. Go figure. And, not for the first time:


February 19, 2018 at 8:20 am Leave a comment

It’s All Over!


It’s all over!

It is New Year’s Eve and Christmas is well and truly over.

The Mother-in-Law, R, J and the little cherub vacated the house (with threats that they still had keys) a couple of days ago now. I have since reclaimed my seat on the sofa and control of the remote. We have moved out of the en suite and back into our main bathroom. Things that were put up high for safety reasons have been restored to their normal places. Not out of reach of a curious cherub, but of the Mother-in-Law who would tidy and/or wash up, anything that was below knee height of a normal adult. And, of course, the bottle of Baileys had to be well out of reach. It is a terrible thing, the drink…

The smells of warm mince pies and a vat of red cabbage are but a distant memory now. And, while the black bin remains filled to the brim with unrecyclable plastics (destined for the seas of South East Asia) and nappies, the food and recycling bins have at least been emptied. Bottles mostly…. and red cabbage.

However, the smell of gluten free pecan pie hung in the air a little longer than that of mince pie. At least until we discovered the Mother-in-Law’s secret midnight snack stash in the bedside table of the spare room. I am pretty sure that a bottle of Baileys is still missing though….

But it was a good Christmas. A very good Christmas, despite my many mischievous missives here. Our guests were great company and the house certainly seems a little empty without the laughter of our gorgeous niece, her dancing to the very loud music of her Thomas the Tank Engine toy, her tug of my beard, and the movie, Frozen, playing on a loop. Daddy’s favourite film….

Indeed it has been a good year, 2017. A new home, which we look forward to sharing with our friends and other family, if R, J and the Mother-in-Law ever stay away long enough….

Actually, in just a couple of hours we will be welcoming good friends to help us let in the New Year. We will raise a glass or three to those friends and family of whom we have not seen enough this year, and we hope to see you all very soon. Have a good one everybody! Let’s hope Trump, Brexit and Corbyn don’t spoil it too much….

Cheers. Where’s the Prosecco?

December 31, 2017 at 1:51 pm Leave a comment

Festive Season Day 6 – The Aftermath! Part 2 – It’s only a game….


Festive Season Day 6 – The Aftermath! Part 2….it’s only a game.

Who knew that Monopoly could be so competitive?

R and J very kindly bought C and I a retro version of the Monopoly board game as a Christmas present. It was a replica of the original 1935 board with wooden houses and hotels, luxury taxes and references to the gold standard. The Mother-in-Law remembered when the original version had first appeared in her local shop for local people (she lives in Royston Vasey)….

Once the little cherub has gone beddy byes and we had eaten, we would set a fire, fill our glasses, and gather round the dining table for a friendly family game. Not.

I should have known after the game of Trivial Pursuit, when the Mother-In-Law would only try to land on the yellow squares to answer history questions (she retired as a history teacher last century), being happier to answer questions correctly rather than trying to actually win the game. She got particularly excited when she knew the answer to a history question that I did not know (I am a history graduate), she would start to hyperventilate and shout “I’m buzzing, I’m buzzing!). She, of course, had the distinct advantage of having actually lived through most of history. Much Baileys was needed to calm her down.

There was not enough Baileys to keep her calm during the “boys versus girls” game of Pictionary, however. The Mother-In-Law would constantly break the rules around talking, nodding, using numbers, and would draw the same series of straight lines and random dots for every card, except for the word “follow” when she proceeded to draw one stick man after another until the sand ran out.

The Baileys was clearly also interfering with the psychic connection between mother and her two daughters as J and I strolled to victory. The Mother-In-Law accused us of cheating – “have you two been practicing?“ and, apparently, drawing an accurate representation of the word on the card is not in the spirit of the game….

But, who knew that Monopoly would turn them all into monsters!?

Now J had already shown signs of ultra-competitiveness during the two previous games, but Monopoly took him completely over to the Dark Side. He was as driven as any geologist who had failed to discover oil in his 13 year career in the upstream oil industry. He would whisper poor advice and promises of more and more Baileys into the Mother-in-Law’s ears to steer the game to his advantage. The “girls” would retaliate by introducing special family rules mid game, or do ridiculously one-sided deals in an attempt to thwart him. J would respond by pursing his lips and lowering his head in exactly the same manner as his 21 month old cherub of a daughter when being told off…..

For the record, I was in the lead of that game and would have won if only R had not blatantly exploited my colour blindness and sold me a lemon….

Is there any sherry left?

December 29, 2017 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

Festive Season Day 6 – The Aftermath! Part 1….



Festive Season Day 6 – The Aftermath…. Part 1

Red cabbage anyone? Turkey anyone? Fancy pulling a cracker anyone?

The Mother-in-Law, R, J and the little bundle of joy which is our niece, Ella Rose have all left the building. Finally. After just six days. Six days….. And yet the fridge still groans under the weight of red cabbage.

Now I am partial to a bit of red cabbage, cooked the Delia way, as were our guests. But “a bit of” did not figure in C’s planning or execution of the recipe. And, once you have had a bit of red cabbage with your turkey, with Boxing Day’s venison casserole, with your plum pudding, and your morning mince pie and cup of coffee three days on the trot, however, the novelty wears off.

The fridge also still groans under the weight of leftover turkey, duck and pheasant from our three bird roast. Despite seconds, thirds and general grazing of the leftovers over three days.

Indeed, it was a relief, when carving the bird, to discover the pheasant and the duck as C had not been convinced the bird that I had brought back from the butchers was three birds in one. She believed it to be a solitary bird. A turkey.

The evidence for this was C’s total lack of confidence in my ability to ask the butcher a series of basic questions. Is that our three bird roast? (It had our name on the box). What other birds are in the turkey? (duck and pheasant like you’d ordered). Do you cook it the same as a turkey? (No, you need to cook it longer as the cavity is stuffed with duck, pheasant and gluten free stuffing. I will write it on the box with your name on it containing your three bird roast). And, those clever butchers had conspired to distract me from the true provenance of our bird by checking in the box with our name on it, checking the order against their paperwork (which they showed me) which stated an order for an a la carte order of turkey, duck, and pheasant with gluten free stuffing. And, the butcher who stuffed the turkey with duck and pheasant and gluten free stuffing stating that he was very proud of his work despite the fact that it had taken him all day to prepare the fifty three-bird roasts that were being collected that Christmas Eve morning.

Of course, the doubt over the bird only surfaced after the butcher had closed, and, after it was too late to source an alternative. C spent most of Christmas Eve (I kid you not) Googling photos of three bird roasts as evidence of my inability to interrogate the butcher and perform the simple task of collecting the centre piece of our Christmas dinner, and, she made me photograph the bird/s before popping it/them into the oven, as evidence for our imminent legal action against the butcher.

But, as it turned out our three bird roast was delicious and the turkey, duck, and pheasant with gluten free stuffing went very well with the red cabbage.

But, we forgot to pull our crackers. We forgot to pull the crackers which had been hidden for a day and a half in one of C’s “safe places” before being discovered behind a picture on top of the chest of drawers in the downstairs loo. Why we hadn’t checked there first before turning over the whole of the house…..

Sherry anyone?

December 28, 2017 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

Festive Season Day 2 – the Eve


Festive Season Day 2 – The Eve

It is the day before Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring…. for I have assumed the position with my feet up on the sofa.

I am enjoying some quiet time alone. C and the Mother-in-Law have gone to commune with monks (seriously) and brush up on their Latin. R, J and the Cherub have gone to meet friends for brunch.

I have done my chores and collected the three bird roast, so all is well in the world and we will feast like kings on the morrow. And, unprompted, I even remembered to acquire gluten free gravy, so I am looking forward to a brownie point or two! I fear I am in catchup mode….

But, I am also happy to report no accidents, assaults, or assassinations have taken place so far, despite multiple references to my apparent inadequacy as a shopper. If anyone needs any onions we have several several (deliberate duplication) to spare. I am, however, pleased to inform that my superfluous beetroot will now be deployed as an accompaniment to this evening’s cottage pie (or shepherds pie with beef as C prefers to call it…..). And, apparently I have been so careful to ensure that I do not poison my intolerant (gluten) Mother-in-Law, that it would seem I concluded this would be best achieved by forgetting to buy any lunch at all. This very, very small faux pas has since been remedied.

I have managed to keep the Mother-In-Law’s mood at the level of jolly. This required a certain amount of alcohol (for her) – gin for breakfast/lunch, a Baileys in the afternoon and red wine with the evening meal seemed to do the trick. Consequently she was on her way up the wooden hill early doors, after an episode of the new League of Gentlemen. She lives in Royston Vasey and would shout out whenever she recognised a landmark. Which was often. LoG is actually a documentary.

At least we can all rest merry this festive season following the Mother-in-Law’s declaration yesterday that she likes (and I quote) “to keep my bottom covered in the winter”. Well, that’s a relief!

Time for a mince pie? Sherry anyone?

December 24, 2017 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

Festive Season Day One….


Festive Season Day 1…..

The mother-in-law made it to the Surrey Hills from Royston Vasey, where she lives, thanks to the fact that Virgin West Coast called off their planned strike. THANKS guys…..

Consequently, we cracked open the wine early, which probably accounted for a fairly aggressively competitive round of Mastermind and Only Connect . The wine also probably explains her enquiry about the log burner. Having watched me set the fire with paper, kinding, logs and a lit match she enquired “so is it electric or gas?”.

This morning the shower temperature has mysteriously turned itself to cold….. she is currently channelling Hilda Ogden in her curlers in the kitchen.

Pub doesn’t open for another 3 hours. Where’s the sherry?

December 23, 2017 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

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