Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Tiddled again…

I am not I hasten to say a soak. Getting pissed is not a past time. It is merely something that happens now and again.
And after careful scientific process over the last three months I can now categorically announce that it takes 2 and a half glasses to get me to the tipping point.
One and a half glasses and I merely happy and in control but one more and I am not safe to drive.
Three glasses and Darling however much I seem to be suggesting  that Nirvana is here and waiting for you, I hate to say it but I am too far gone to take part let alone remember in the morning.
I swear when I was younger I was  not nearly so weak but numerous pregnancies, two boys and a few years past my fortieth and well let’s just say I am beginning to know my limits especially as a new term dawns and I have to get up to do the school run.
I still love the old vino and I am particularly fond of anything with a bit of a fizz however these days I have to pace myself and take care.
Long gone are the days when Whisky Macs were my staple diet interspersed with Marlborough Lights and Pot Noodles.
Nowadays it is a healthy diet that must suffice no fags, little whisky and certainly no pot noodles!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Prime Suspect…..

The Wickedest Whippet: The Prime Suspect?
Now there’s something really weird going on here everything I own that is garishly pink is going missing, seriously missing. First it was my Noble & Black perfectly pink address book, the one that costs a fortune! Then today it was my purse….my prime suspect: THE DOG.
Not just any dog, not my gorgeous Tattie, my beautiful Gemma, my clever Tigger but her. Sassy, the EBJ. The wickedest whippet.
She just looks guilty. All of the time!
Problem is though why would a dog want a pink purse?
There is no evidence to link her with the crime, if indeed it is a crime. There are no tell-tale signs of chewed up bits of pink leather littering the lawn. There is nothing. So perhaps I am being a tad unfair.
The purse has vanished.
And that is the problem.
I had it this morning at 9am when I opened it to get £40 before I went running. I also took my Visa card with me in case I needed more cash on my way home from the lakes where I run.
And that’s the last I have seen of it.
Bog Boy says it was on the kitchen table at about 9.30am. But by the time I got home at 11am it was no longer there.
First I thought he boys had hidden it or played with it.
“No Mummy.”
Then I thought I must have put it somewhere else. Dear Charlie, me and Marion, the cleaner, hunted high and low for nearly two hours. Every drawer, cupboard, bin, under the chairs, outside, in the dog baskets...
I reluctantly cancelled my credit cards and fearing the worst called the local police.
For, as Sherlock Holmes so memorably said: “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
The truth is someone must have walked into my home, into my kitchen and taken my purse, for that is the only thing that makes any sense at all.
I still want to hold the dog up as the prime suspect for I don’t like the idea of some nefarious person sauntering about my kitchen when my boys were playing in the next room, Marion was upstairs cleaning and Tattoo (me man what does) and J were in the garden too far away to do anything at all if said person had been up to anything other than an opportunist thievery.
It makes me feel quite sick.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Recipe for the not so perfect Bank Holiday...

First take your bank holiday and get it wet.
Soak for at least four hours first thing in the morning
Then check your e-mails
Note that you have a pinged back e-mail and realise your editor has not got your latest missive which included deadline material for first thing Tuesday morning
Press resend
Note that there is no longer an attachment to e-mail
Aim to sort problem out by going to send box
Realise you have been rather too computer houseproud and have deleted send box on Friday
Seek attachment from elsewhere
Find unknown glitch which won't allow you to access attachments
Check glitch to see if you can copy and paste
Find you have unknown error and cannot access word dox
Realise only way to meet editorial deadline is to re-write whole article from scratch
Explain to hubby problem
Curse hubby
Hole yourself up in office as sun comes out

Start rewrite
Try to prevent yourself looking out of window while hubby and kids have GREAT time
Look at White Company Catalogue for inspiration despite fact it has nothing whatsoever to do with article
In knowledge that without meeting deadline won't be able to afford anything in White Company Catalogue..EVER!
Break for lunch
Mutter under breath when boys all jump up and down about how GREAT a time they are having with Daddy
Return to hole
Work furiously while wearing blinkers
Get lost on Internet and land up looking at auction websites by mistake
Force yourself to concentrate
Finally finish article
Press send
And realise it is dark outside and the whole day has flown by...
Have large glass of wine....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Wickedest Whippet has a problem…

The Wickedest Whippet: soulful or just plain guilty?
The Wickedest Whippet (aka EBJ – evil black job – aka Sassy) has a problem. Or let’s say I have a problem with the wickedest whippet.
She’s decided to hole herself up in Bog Boy’s room behind a chair on top of a whole load of dirty washing and she’s not coming out.
Every time I try to force her to get out she looks balefully at me then digs her feet in and won’t budge.
My boys call me cruel for dragging her by her collar so that I can get her outside to go to the loo. I have said that as soon as she uses the loo in the bathroom she can stay inside for as long as she likes. The boys look at me blankly. “You just wait until you tread on the proverbial as you get up in the morning,” I snarl as explanation.
The dog sighs and while I am busy haranguing the boys about why dogs do not use toilets (a word I hate) she trots back to her hidey hole and buries herself more deeply under some smelly socks.
I have got her downstairs but she’s a wily creature and as soon as she gets an opening she shoots back upstairs again. I warn the boys NOT to leave doors open and for a while there is progress. I manage to clear away the clothes and get them to the washing machine and I rescue a variety of goodies ranging from a couple of my shoes, a teddy bear, a biro and a pair of my husband’s running shorts. There is also a quantity of ripped up newspaper or at least what I think is newspaper, it could be an Economist…
However, she’s there again now. Someone left the window in the downstairs loo open and she’s leapt through it and ensconced herself yet again. I can see I am going to have to get professional help. I do believe she’s in the grip of a phantom pregnancy as it is the only thing that makes sense.
I have just been to see her again and she does look ever so pathetic.
Oh maybe not just heard thunderous roars from downstairs I think the whippet has just eaten all the newly made bread painstakingly made by husband. So maybe she was just looking guilty….she really is the wickedest whippet!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Just how feral are you?

Are you feral or are you domesticated?
My Mum says I am feral.
Not sure how to take that. Should I be proud or ashamed? I fear I am rather pleased about it. Being domesticated seems so well middle class, middle aged and well middling. But perhaps that’s the child in me speaking not the grown up.
Being domesticated is being organised, sorted, in control, chic, elegant, sophisticated…
All things I am not. Perhaps my mother is right; I am feral.
Feral: wild.
Is there anything wrong in being wild?
Not if being wild is being free.
But free of thought when you are a parent is a different thing altogether.
It is just not compatible.
Maybe there is a reason why we say: Young free and single
For being a parent means in many respects you are not free, certainly not free of responsibility.
However, after eight years of being a parent, it is therefore rather worrying my mother still describes me as: ‘essentially feral’…
So what is it that makes her think I am still feral…
  • Allowing the dogs in the bed?
  • Leaving my clothes lying about?
  • Only clearing up when guests come round?
  • Tidying up by using the out of sight out of mind method i.e. putting everything hastily in drawers and cupboards and forgetting them?
  • Being dusty round the edges?
  • Failing to have cut flowers in my house?
  • Sort of not being quite in control and flying by the seat of my pants….
  • Not quite getting the all singing all dancing need to have everything  just so.
I can;t get the ‘just so’ bit; I never could. Everthing happens to me and I just wing it. I always have done in work, in love in life. People think because of my depression that I am a half empty kinda girl but actually I am a lucky sod. Things just turn out right and I have no idea how. Somewhere along the line things work out and usually for the better….eventually.
If I interefere things go wrong.
Maybe that’s why I am considered feral there seems to be no input from me in my life…it just happens!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The truth about…clothes moths

They love the high life, they are seriously sartorial, the more expensive your clothes the better, they just love ‘em – to eat.
It’s not the adult moth Tineola bisselliella that’s the problem it’s its caterpillar offspring. These tiny little grubs eat clothes or to be precise they devour keratin.
Keratin unfortunately can be found everywhere but especially on natural fibres such as wool, silk, cotton and fur it is also found in nails, claws, feathers,  skin  and other bodily secretions – NICE!
Nice and nourishing to eat for clothes moth caterpillars.
Usually the caterpillars take about eight weeks to mature but if the conditions are not right they can eat on and off for up to two years! So be very careful about bringing textiles of any sort into your home especially if they are second hand, vintage or even antique and that goes for clothes, cushions, eiderdowns, rugs, furniture with any type of tapestry or webbing on it.
Mine got in via a vintage stole given to me at Christmas.
But although the moth causes the damage the fault lies with me for being slovenly.
Face it folks we are not desperately clean anymore and nor are we as conscientious about our belonging as we once were. Clothes are cheap and we have way more than we can possibly keep track of nowadays.
If you put away your clothes dirty you are asking for trouble. Cleanliness and good housekeeping are the order of the day to stop these little blighters in their tracks.
  • Always put clothes away clean.
  • Hang clothes in proper clothes bags so that if they are attacked the problem is contained.
  • Use lavender and/or cedar balls to persuade moth to go elsewhere. Make sure you keep a check on the smelliness of said lavender bags and cedar balls and change frequently.
  • Do not over stuff your wardrobe. Clothes moths love things dark and warm.
  • Air your clothes frequently. Clothes Moths hate to be disturbed and dislike the light.
  • Clean regularly and that means over, under, behind and in your wardrobe.
  • Have a good proper de fug at the end of each season to keep on top of the problem for it can be anywhere and can strike anytime especially now we all have nice toastie houses.
  • If you can store clothes in a cold place, clothes moths don’t like the cold.
  • As they say prevention is better than a cure, usually because a cure is so damned expensive.
If you do find moth in your clothes here’s what to do:
  • Find the source and destroy it – pretend you are Sigourney Weaver and you’re going to get the Alien. It is scary and you will have collateral damage.
  • Check all clothes.
  • Those that are damaged or with visible eggs (tiny black specks) or caterpillars (small whitish grubs) should be immediately bagged up and sealed. These can be treated.
  • Clothes are undamaged and that can be washed in temperatures over 40 degrees should immediately be washed with a non-biological washing powder/liquid. No point using biological agents as that is just another food source for the moth.
  • Clothes that can be dry cleaned with no visible or active moth damage should be bagged and sent to the dry cleaners. Do NOT send any clothes that you think have moth to the Dry Cleaners as you will only spread the problem and that’s just not nice.
Now what to do with clothes that have damage/active grubs/eggs?
Well bag the lot up and freeze ‘em.
I had rather a lot of clothes and so I bagged up everything. I was advised for clothes with sequins/embroidery/gilt etc. to layer acid free tissue paper between the layers and to wrap glass/bone/shell buttons etc. in twists of tissue paper to protect them.
I then took the whole lot to the Ipswich Museum where they were placed in an industrial freezer at minus 40 degrees and where they will stay for two weeks. That will kill 99.9 per cent of the moths, grubs, eggs and pupae on them. After that I will dry clean the lot with a clear conscience. Note though that I had rather a bad infestation.
If you have only a few clothes and a large freezer at home you can use that perfectly well.
As for the wardrobe, well room, where I keep my clothes I have had all the carpets cleaned and I am spraying the rooms with Constrain, a museum grade insecticide, to get on top of the problem. I will not be using moth balls as I cannot stand the smell and they are poisonous especially to pets and children as well as being highly inflammable. Instead I am going large of lavender, luckily I really like the smell – but the moths don’t!

Ipswich and Colchester Museums are running a series of lectures about looking after your treasures:
Sat 24th September – Fashion Forever at Colchester Castle.  ‘Find out how costumes and textiles are looked after.  Get practical advice about looking after clothes and textiles, from wedding dresses to uniforms.  Bring your own textiles for extra practical advice’.  10.30am-1pm
10.30am-1.00pm. £10 per person, includes castle entry (tea and coffee included). These events are very popular so booking is essential, book in advance by calling 01206 282940 or by dropping into Hollytrees Museum, Colchester.
Sat 8th October – Making Metals Last.  Ipswich Museum.  ‘Hear about looking after metal objects.  From trophies to jewellery and ornaments, learn how to keep them looking good and make them last’.  10.30am-1pm.
10.30am - 1pm. £10 per person. These events are very popular so booking is essential, book in advance by calling 01473 433691 or by dropping into Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich.
Sat 19th November – Fashion Forever at Christchurch Mansion.  ‘Find out how costumes and textiles are looked after.  Get practical advice about looking after clothes and textiles, from wedding dresses to uniforms.  Bring your own textiles for extra practical advice’.  10.30am-1pm.
10.30am – 1pm. £10 per person (tea and coffee included). These events are very popular so booking is essential, book in advance by calling 01473 433691 or by dropping into Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich.
Sat 3rd December – Making Metals Last.  Hollytrees Museum.  ‘Hear about looking after metal objects.  From trophies to jewellery and ornaments, learn how to keep them looking good and make them last’.  10.30am-1pm.
10.30am-1.00pm. £10 per person, includes castle entry (tea and coffee included). These events are very popular so booking is essential, book in advance by calling 01206 282940 or by dropping into Hollytrees Museum, Colchester.

For more information go to : 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fleas, Moths and Nits (Again)….What was your summer like?

My adorable but flea infested Siamese cat - Agatha Bagwash
I have been plagued all summer by a variety of insects and I do mean plagued – fleas, moths and nits.
First it was the Nits not just my children but also me (see Nits is the word..) then it was the fleas courtesy of the cat. I blame her because she’s very ancient now and probably won’t give a fig if I use her name in vain and anyway it was the vet who found them and they were on the cat. So, for sake of argument, it was Agatha’s fault.
I must admit I was mortified when the vet pointed them out. I haven’t been very good at keeping an eye on Agatha of late and hadn’t realised that she was finding grooming herself a little difficult with her arthritis. It used to be so easy when her sister was alive as they used to clean each other but now Alice has gone (she’s been gone a year – see A Fat Cat) Agatha has no one to help and that coupled with old age has meant she is not as clean and well kempt as she once was – and it is my responsibility, just like the nits are my responsibility.
[Though if I find a mother next term who isn’t on top of the little blighters I may just start billing them for all the LyClear I have to use! Up until last year we had NEVER had a problem with nits now it’s a permanent fight!!!!)
I digress.
A plague of fleas everywhere and much spraying of anti-flea or instantfleadeath about the house and in all the crooks and crannies such as along the sides of the wall where the carpet folds under and in the sofa and on the cushions, the dog baskets and blankets and then after asphyxiating all and sundry time for us to vacate the house and stand outside in the rain while the stuff does it’s magic. I, of course forgot to check what the weather was doing when I over enthusiastically started the whole process and only read that the pets and children should be kept clear of all disinfected rooms for at least four hours after application when of course I had finished…pugger!
And then there were the moths…
A very expensive lot of moths - Tineola bisselliella.
Just finished all my holiday washing and was putting the clothes back in my room when I noted that there was a moth on my beautiful red wool dress that my husband bought me from Hobbs last autumn.  There were also little red bits on the floor.
If I said my heart sank, it would be an understatement.
I hastily checked all of my clothes and there were moth everywhere.
Now I am not good at getting rid of stuff, in fact some of the clothes I have are so old they are positively vintage now and I love all of them.
When I was very lucky to live in London and have enough money I bought beautiful clothes, Mulberry, Hobbs, Betty Barclay, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jaeger, Droopy & Brown. I also bought vintage clothes and inherited amazing coats and dresses going right back to the 1920s and of course there was my wedding dress: my beautiful, silk velvet devore wedding dress.
I won’t estimate the cost because most of it is priceless to me.
Of course I immediately Googled moth and then set about doing something, anything, while trying very hard not to burst into tears.
Luckily my mind works in weird ways and instead of trying to do odd things with moth balls and calling in Rentokil, I contacted a textile conservator. Because that is what I do when I don’t know what to do – call in the experts.
Allyson Rae is a textile expert based in Norfolk she was absolutely brilliant and told me exactly what to do: Bag everything up and get it frozen
So that is what I am doing tomorrow freezing my clothes at the Ipswich Museum, it’s a long story but hopefully one that will end happily…that was my summer: nits, fleas and moths.

Go on you know you want to...


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