Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tues 31 Aug 2010 - talking about Blackpool.........

I think I might have already printed this poem, maybe when I was with AOL.  I HOPE when I was with AOL!  As a child I used to have a book of these, which my dad gave me.  I wish I still had it.  An English actor, Stanley Holloway, famously recited them in a broad Northern English accentIf you're not English and wonder "Who the heck was Stanley Holloway?", he played Eliza Doolittle's father, the dustman, in the film of 'My Fair Lady'.  Let me tell you that was NOT a northern accent.   He was an Essex boy by birth.  Oh, I've just been told that Stanley Holloway did, in fact, become quite well-known in America.  Here's the poem:

There's a famous seaside town called Blackpool,
That's noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was young Albert
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much to the Ocean
The waves, they were fiddlin' and small
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded
Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all.
So, seeking for further amusement
They paid and went into the zoo
Where they'd lions and tigers and camels
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big lion called Wallace
His nose were all covered with scars
He lay in a somnolent posture
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about lions
How they was ferocious and wild
To see Wallace lying so peaceful
Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

So straight 'way the brave little feller
Not showing a morsel of fear
Took his stick with its 'orse's 'ead 'andle
And shoved it in Wallace's ear.
You could see the lion didn't like it
For giving a kind of a roll
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im
And swallowed the little lad 'ole

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence
And didn't know what to do next
Said "Mother! Yon lions 'et Albert"
And Mother said "Eeee, I am vexed!"

Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Quite rightly, when all's said and done
Complained to the Animal Keeper
That the lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it
He said "What a nasty mishap
Are you sure it's your boy he's eaten?"
Pa said "Am I sure? There's his cap!"
The manager had to be sent for
He came and he said "What's to do?"
Pa said "Yon lion's 'et Albert
And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too."

Then Mother said, "Right's right, young feller
I think it's a shame and a sin
For a lion to go and eat Albert
And after we've paid to come in."

The manager wanted no trouble
He took out his purse right away
Saying "How much to settle the matter?"
And Pa said "What do you usually pay?"

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone
She said "No! someone's got to be summonsed"
So that was decided upon.
Then off they went to the Police Station
In front of the Magistrate chap
They told 'im what happened to Albert
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing
"And thank you, sir, kindly," said she
"What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy lions? Not me!"

Thursday, 26 August 2010

23 / 24 August 2010 - what a waste of time

Here I am, back from Blackpoool.  What a waste of time, money and effort that was.  Yes, I have to admit - most of you will have guessed anyway - that I didn't really want to go in the first place, but even I never expected it to be quite that bad!

First of all the journey there which should have taken 2hrs and 15 mins according to my sat nav actually took almost 5 hrs 30.   That was apparently because some guy on a motorway we were not even on decided ending it all off  a motorway bridge on the M6 would be the sensible thing to do. I almost knew what he meant!  Those on our Motorway who wanted to go onto the adjoining M6 (there were many)  had to wait - and so, therefore, did we.      Good thing it was a cool day.

On arrival the hotel didn 't look bad - on the outside. Inside was a different story.  Oh, the reception area was OK.  Bit old fashioned but OK. The first sign of a problem was the tiny, tiny lift!  With a good deal of heaving and shoving Keith was able get me and my wheelchair and himself (flattened against the wall) into the titchy space. This was a place that professed to have wonderful facilities for the less able.  Our room, after Keith had done the lift thing again, proved not to live up to expectations.  Oh the wetroom had plenty of handrails, a higher loo, lower washbasin and drive-in shower.  It's a bit off-putting though to find stickers on the door and wall telling us that the floor was slippery when wet!  It was a wet room.  Hallo? You put a non-slip floor in a wet room.

The windows wouldn't open so no nice bracing sea air.  The seals had gone on the doubleglazed units so there was condensation between the panes.  The outside of the glass was so dirty you couldn't have seen through it even if there had been no condensation.

There was grime in the corners of the window and the cups on the hospitality tray were stained.  Because it looked grubby we thought the bathroom mat had not been changed and one of the towels had certainly been 'recycled'.  The wallpaper was grimy and old-fashioned and the paintwork yellowing white and all chipped.  I know wheelchairs can give the decor a bit of a battering but it could at least be clean.

I have emailed their Head Office who have replied that they have passed this on to the hotel (it's part of a chain) and I should expect to hear from them in 28 days.  I wouldn't recommend that hotel to my worst enemy (if I had one).

As you might imagine, that just about set the tone for the whole trip.  But there was one thing that was unspoilable: 

The Tower Circus.  That was brilliant.  The Tower itself is a place you can stay in all day and not get bored and admission to the tower gives you 'access all areas'.  You can go in whatever bit of the place you want - ballroom, aquarium, trip to the top, 3D cinema, restaurants and, in our case, a circus performance lasting about 2 hours - and not an animal in sight..  Acrobats, jugglers, clowns - breathtaking and spellbinding.  The kind of thing they sometimes, but all too rarely, put on the Royal Variety Show and everybody wishes we saw more like that.  No kidding, if they made any mistakes don't ask me when!

The Ballroom. Just perfect if you're a people watcher like me.  There are people who base their entire summer holidays around dancing in this ballroom.  In fact it is open for dancing all day on most days and - whoo - I could have stayed there all day though I could dance not one step.  Those who dance are asolutely dead serious about it.  Posh frock, sparkly shoes, arms SO, hands SO, and NOW!  Up struck the mighty wurlitzer organ, which pops up and down through the stage, though I never saw that as I was too busy 'watching'.  One old lady, I had seen her being pushed in a wheelchair into the circus but, in the ballroom, out she got, on with the dancing shoes and away!  Who'd have thought?  I have to say though, there are some superb dancers about.  Well, they looked ok to me anyway!

I didn't take that many photos because quite honestly Blackpool is one big building site at the moment.  I'm sure it will be very nice when it's done but I'm one of those people who are not very good at seeing what things might look like.  And anyway, I'm not going to Blackpool again.

I found my little mouse again - YIPPEE!!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Wednesday 18 August 2010 - Fare thi well fer a bit then............

Just checking in to let you know I'm going away tomorrow (Thursday) until Sunday night.  Blackpool!  Perish the thought - and I can't find any weather forecast that says the temperature will be any higher than 18 degs (I don't know how you make a 'degrees' sign).

Back next week!

Aaaagh - something has gone wrong!  I can't seem to get my little mouse.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday 15thAugust 2010 - It all dovetails............

...........yes it does, I might have known all this splashing out on new gadgets to replace the old would summon forth SOME unwanted side-effect!  My Oven has packed up.  Can you believe it?  The most expensive appliance in my kitchen has breathed its last.  Well, you have to have one so we went and ordered a lovely new one.  I'll swear the shop bloke had the ghost of a smirk on his face as he said it couldn't be delivered until 26th August "Sorry madam".  How joyful I was to return his smirk:  "That's absolutely fine.  You wouldn't believe the gadgets I've got to cover this."  So until then I can gleefully manage.  Poor Keith - he won't be able to make any cakes.  For today's lunch the slow cooker did the roast, Actifry did the roast veg, the hob (which still . works) did the veg - Keith did the washing up -SIMPLES, TCHK!

I spent a happy hour this afternoon plumbing in a wireless printer.   I must have done something right - IT WORKS!!!  It;s a rare day when me and technology gel.  I just tell the computer to print and the paper pops out of the printer in the bedroom!

Just in case it should pass unremarked, it's Princess Anne's - the Princess Royal's -  60th birthday today.  I almost felt that I grew up with her.  Oh, not as a Family member or even a friend, but as one who grew up in my era.  I've always admired her forthrightnss, her no-nonsense approach to adversity, her competitive spirit.  I admire the fact that she, despite being apparently well back in the queue for 'motherly instinct', turned into a proud , loyal and loving mum who has never been afraid to let her children try their wings.  Make their mistakes like she made hers but, unlike her own case, keepng them where they ought to be: within four walls.  I wish her a very Happy Birthday and congratulate her on her life to date.

I'd better stop now. I keep getting distracted by the telly!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday 13th August - unlucky for some......

........but not for my friend and fellow blogger Marie, at Oak Cottage .  It's her birthday today, her new puppy arrives today, she had good news today, AND she has a birthday cake.  But I bet she hasn't put 55 candles on it (heh heh)!

After my 'gadgets' post the other day, Andy commented that I hadn't mentioned the microwave as being an enabler.  Even as I replied to him that I hardly ever used it I got to thinking: warming up mugs of coffee, melting chocolate, thawing breadloaves. softening butter... and so on.  So I do use it.  Where I have to use a knife for anything I've found that having the best you can afford and keeping them razor-sharp is the best policy.

Amazon is becoming my best friend.  Yes, I know, sad isn't it? But a couple of times I've caught Keith attacking the ironing basket.  Now I don't mind him hoovering or making cakes  but not ironing.  Don't ask me why, it's a woman thing.  So today I've ordered this:

My friend Judith, also other-abled, swears by hers so let's have a go.

Meanwhile - it's pouring with rain and only 15 degrees AND it's afternoon!  I can't remember the summer weather, though I know we did have some.  My positive side says it will come back, experience says it won't!  We haven't really had much rain so the trees are thinking it's Autumn and are shedding their leaves early.  I do hope we won't be denied completely the beautiful sight of trees and hedgerows dressed in their autumn coats.

OK, that's it for now.  Nothing to see here sir.  Move along now........

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Wednesday 11 August - You still have lifelines left..........

If there's one thing guaranteed to make me fume it's when people assume, because I'm sitting in a wheelchair, that I must also be not very bright;  when they see my hearing aids, that I must have learning difficulties.  Sometimes the people who make these assumptions are so-called healthcare professionals.  You can tell who they are: they call everyone else "luv" but me "Darling" or "Sweetheart".   Would you believe it!

I'm what you might call fortunate in that a) I've been like this quite a while and b) live in England where, despite what you may have heard to the contrary, we have a fairly good National Health Service.   I mean,we ourselves villify the NHS but the alternative doesn't bear thinking about.  It's just that some of their staff could do with a training update.

I decided long since that I should try and make life easy for myself.  I asked myself what things were important to me and cooking came top.  On the negative side we don't have a dishwasher.  On the positive side I can wash up by hand.  I don't like it but I can!  These days I use all sorts of gadgets I wouldn't have bothered with in years gone by.

This food processor is something I wouldn't have looked twice at a few years ago.   With it I can chop, grate, slice, make fries as well as blend things together.  I can juice citrus fruits and grind coffee beans.   I can make quite decent pastry in it too but that does take a bit of practise.  I have excellent knives that take a lot less washing up........but it's difficult for me to use knives, so I have this food processor.

I also have a little whizzer, kind of a mini-chopper which I use for chopping a few squares of chocolate or a handful of nuts, even herbs.  Saves getting the big one out.  The stick blender, too, is useful for blending soups in the pan or rescuing lumpy sauces (sharp intake of breath "Surely not.....")

This is a Tefal Actifry.  Yes it is a bit big and an awkward shape (I think so anyway).  It was also expensive but - hey - in this game nothing comes cheap.  In this you can do a full kilo of chips (fries) using only 1 tablespoon (about 15ml I think) of whatever oil you like.  They come out beautifully crisp outside and fluffly inside.  In other words, it makes chips for fatties like me.  In fact you can put just about any veg you want in, mix them up.  It'll cook other things perfectly as well but.what am I,  an instruction book?

This does exactly what it says on the tin;  an electric carving knife.  You carve meat with it of course but, because it's fantastic for slicing bread too I can knock us a treat together with this...........

 My beloved Panasonic breadmaker, which I've had for years.  In fact it may well have been instrumental in selling our previous house 8 years ago.  You know.......the smell of fresh bread and coffee?  I don't use it every day;  we sometimes have shop bought bread.    I have never made just dough in it though because the 'beeps' alerting you that it's ready are so quiet I can't hear them even if I stand there and listen .   Same with the raisin option beeps.   The point is I couldn't use it at all without my electric knife.  I do have an electric slicing machine but as far as cleaning it is concerned it really is a step too far!  The big circular saw type blade will chop your hand off as soon as look at you.

 This electric can opener is fine but you do need to use 2 hands to it.  I think there may be something on the market now that is smaller and you only  need  one hand..  If so I'll get one - after all there's not much else you can do with  a can opener.

Last but not least, the Kenwood Chef food mixer, without which there would be never a cake to be found in this house!  Years ago, when we were first married, I was proud - and more than a little surprised - to find that I could turn out good cakes using just a mixing bowl, fork and tablespoon.  They were a real labour of love but they were the soundest basis  I know for learning how to do things and why you do them.  I've had this Chef more years than I can remember though and it's worth its weight in gold.....though I'm told it's old fashioned.  I don't care, it's lovely and worth every penny I paid for it.

So there you have it, just a few of the bits and pieces that seem to some like extravagances but are to me my lifelines.  There are loads of other things that keep the house clean and so on but I don't know of any gadget more reliable than Keith for putting the bins out!!