Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Now, although this is being posted on New Year’s Day, I severely doubt whether anyone will see it for a few days.

So – are you the first one to read this?

Ooh! A challenge!

As soon as you read this, why not leave a ‘hello’ in the comments and see who’s the first, and how long it takes!

I know how much you lovely humans love your challenges… Stoptober, Movember, Dry-whatsit. So let’s start as you mean to go on – Beganuary. ‘Cause once you begin the New Year with a challenge, why not carry on?

Cue quotes about always doing what you’ve always done; anecdotes about comfort zones, etc.

Resolutions or revolutions?

As I think I probably said before, New Years Resolutions were traditionally made on the Winter Solstice. Perhaps they lasted longer that way. Perhaps they should call this month Janu-wary, because we’re all a bit sceptical about anyone who announces a resolution and says ‘but this year, I’m sticking to it!’

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So how did this month get its name?

Well, blame it – not on the boogie – but on a Roman god called Janus. He was a two-faced god, with one face er, facing the past, and the other, the future. So in terms of reflecting on what’s gone before and looking ahead to new possibilities, he’s the perfect guy for the job. Well, perfect something. Essentially, a two-faced god of transitioning.

So be very Janu-wary if you catch anyone calling themselves a ‘god/goddess-in-training’ – they might be fashioning themselves after Janus!

What does the new year hold for you?

For me, it’s actually putting together everything I was half-heartedly doing last year. Getting more organised, planning stuff like fitness, and so on and so forth.

But looking on the bright side… I’ve always said that I have the hearing of a bat and the eyesight to match… this is the year that I get 2020 vision.

I’ll get my coat.

Christmas grEATings

And how are you all today? Ready for the annual festival celebrating new hope and over-indulgence?

Or is that Easter?

Anyway, it’s getting close now – only a week away.

Shopping to do…

Shelf elves to coerce…

Frantic buying of reindeer food.

Batman psyching himself up for comments about his personal hygiene.

And of course, trying to remember the actual words to Christmas Carols and not the versions that involve the three kings and various forms of automotive transport.

But this year is going to be interesting in the Everyday household. As you know, my vampire constitution, despite being ox-like, means that eating/drinking animal products is a no/no.

This is why vampires in the movies stick to blood – it’s just easier.

That’s just plain lazy if you ask me. I know you didn’t. But those ones are fictional, so I can be a bit cheeky if I want.

And I want.

Back in the day, I’m guessing finding suitable food – or any food – might have been tricky, but these days we’re spoilt for choice. Need to find something dairy/gluten/sugar-free? There’s an app for that.

But finding it back then? Here’s your turnip, madam. Boxes ticked.

Ah! This Christmas. Right. That’s where I was. Yes. This year, Christmas is going to be a bit different. And Christmas dinner will be unrecognisable.

The hubster has gone vegan. He made the change when he did Veganuary – in February. It was only going to be a month until he looked into it a bit further…

It makes my life a lot easier, I can tell you! Nothing in the fridge, freezer, bathroom can now send my vampire immune system into overdrive.

But Christmas dinner this year? No cooking two different meals.

When does the whole turkey thing come from anyway?

Blame Henry VIII.

He started it. Normally beef or chicken would be eaten, but farmers needed the cows for milk and the chickens for eggs. Did you know that over 80% of humans believe that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without turkey? I don’t think anybody asked the turkeys.

If you watch/read/listen to A Christmas Carol, the Cratchits have a goose, while Scrooge spoils them with a massive turkey. Thanks to old King Turkey Leg Henry, Turkey became the thing that rich people ate. Goose was for the impoverished masses. But nowadays, I’ve noticed that turkey is considered a bit meh amongst humans. Onwards and outwards with different, better birds, it seems. Goose seeming to be a particular favourite.

Except for turducken.

I don’t know how anyone can eat something that has ‘turd’ as its first syllable.

So the whole point of the Cratchits being so poor that they can only afford a goose is a bit lost on modern audiences/readers.

Therefore, is turkey the be-all-and-end-all of a Christmas dinner? Apparently not.

I think we’re having some kind of plant-based roast, with all the trimmings. Stuffing (it’s bread, herbs, onion – nothing dodgy there). Pigs in blankets – now there, there will be a concession. But it’s still just (meat-free) sausages wrapped in (meat-free) bacon. Sprouts (I love ’em, the hubster hates them), carrots, cabbage, peas (did you know peas are a good source of protein?) and of course… roast potatoes.

Actually, just give me a plateful of them babies with some gravy and you probably won’t see me until Boxing Day. The trick is to use floury potatoes that, when they’re boiled, get kind of crumbly on the outside. Once you’ve drained them, rough ’em up a bit by shiggling the pan. Put a couple of spoonfuls of oil in a roasting pan and heat it up. I like rice bran oil, but anything with a high smoking point works.

Then put the potatoes in when the oil is hot, get ’em coated and blast them in the oven for about 30 minutes. Basically however long it takes to get them all golden and crusty and now I’m starting to drool.

Anyway, on that note, I’m off to find a mince pie or piece of stollen. I’m hungry.

What will be on your table this Christmas? I’d love to know!

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It’s my vampyversary!

It’s  been 5 whole years since I started sharing my brain space with you. Time fries when you’re Sally Lunn.

Or something like that.

October 2014, to be exact. To be precise, I started this blog back on October 31st 2014. Yeah, I know the archives bit says November, but that’s because I did something a bit silly. For my first Vampyversary in 2015, I reblogged that very first post, thinking it would just upload a copy. It didn’t. It shifted the whole thing a year into its own future, so now, the October 2014 post doesn’t exist. Ah well, that’s a lesson I learned pretty much instantly – a quick tip there for anyone planning to do something similar.

Just copy and paste, okay?

Okay, so that’s 5 years with a bit extra. I mean, I did intend to do it tomorrow, but tomorrow turned out to be a month later. Surely that can’t be just a vampire thing? This picture kind of sums it up nicely…

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My view of time continues to be somewhat warped.

From time to time, I see people that I know who have very small children but then the next time I see them – I swear it’s only a few months later – the same people have inexplicably become grandparents. Other people’s lives seem to flash before me. The only time my own life flashed before my eyes was when I tried running for the first time.

Ten minutes sprinting full pelt with absolutely no preparation and I swear it took probably as long again for the whole thing to play out. And to show my age, it was in black-and-white (and not widescreen either).

There are so many words for it… Eternity. Forever. Timelessness. Infinity.

Hm.

Eternity is waiting for a train. Forever is when you finally catch it.

Other than that, all bets are off as far as my perception of time goes. Now, you can ask me what the time is and I can guess that pretty accurately, but ask me when I last did something or saw someone and I’m afraid my face goes blank. That’s probably why the Sphinx has that expression on its face – it’s probably trying to remember how long it’s been since it had its nails done.

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So, happy anniversary to me, and a wonderful week to you. It’ll be the weekend before you know it!

Bonfire Night – a season for treason?

Are we sitting comfortably?

No?

Good. Then I’ll begin.

Let’s start today with a little bit of etymology. No, not the online study of people called Tim. That’s called cyberstalking. Quite a different thing.

Etymology = study of words

You see, yesterday, in the UK, we celebrated Guy Fawkes Night, aka Bonfire Night.

And here we go.

Bonfire.

bon=good. Did they think this through?

I guess if you’re throwing a few baked spuds on, or toasting marshmallows, or what are they called in America – s’mores?

But… people?

So, this is a whistle-stop bit of background to Bonfire Night/Guy Fawkes Night. Basically, this is what I was taught about it. Apologies for the inevitable oversimplification and probable inaccuracies. For a more accurate description, click here or here.

Remember, remember, the Fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Back in the 1600s, England was predominantly religion A. Then the place was under new management and became predominantly religion B. So much so, that you became pretty much a second-class citizen if you were an A-ist.

The B-ists dominated government. Like the popular kids at school nicking all the best tables in the lunch hall. The A-ists felt they were not represented fairly in government and in the end, drastic action was decided upon. Something big. Something really big. Something that would shake everything up.

Blowing up the Houses of Parliament.

But they needed someone to help. Enter one Guy Fawkes. Long story short, he got caught. Whether he got ratted out or whether it was just plain bad luck, I’m not sure. Anyway, he got caught and the plan to blow up Parliament has passed into legend as the Gunpowder Plot.

Cutting to the last page – he ended up being burned on a bonfire. These days, we’d call that a wood-fired artisan barbecue. Apparently, he was hung, drawn and quartered first. And no, that’s got nothing to do with those four-panel Andy Warhol portraits.

So there you go. Capital punishment as national holiday. Although I’m not sure how many people actually know the full story behind it…

As I’ve said before, I don’t do Guy Fawkes Night. And neither does the furball. But that’s another story. It’s the fireworks. Did you know you can actually get quiet fireworks? Worth a look.

Stay safe.

 


 

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If I could talk to the animals…​

Our dog has us very well-trained.

I’m sure she tells the one or two dogs that she’s actually friends with, ‘My hoomans are so clever, you know. I swear they understand every word I say.”

And to some extent, it’s true. In the (nearly) two years that we’ve had her, the pair of us have built up quite the communication system. That’s a vampire thing. An affinity and ability to communicate with animals. No turning into canines, just a knack for chatting with them.

She’s great, though. She has basic manners, better road sense than many humans, and we can carry on some great conversations, she and I. The intellectual content was never going to be devastating, but she can ask for things, tell me when she does or doesn’t like things. Oh, and she finds farts hilarious.

We’ve often been asked what breed she is. We simply say ‘Staffy Cross’. “Cross with what?” is the inevitable second question. We have absolutely no clue. This reply has so far left everyone unsatisfied for, instead of walking away and letting us get on with our day, they then spend the next ten or so minutes suggesting breeds.

Isn’t ‘Staffy Cross’ a good enough term anymore???

The Furball herself has never been able to tell me any details of her parentage. Dogs really don’t care about such trifling matters. To her, dogs are dogs. She doesn’t care about breed, colour or pedigree. All she cares about is whether they’re going to be nice to her or not.

So, we’ve decided, as this obsession with crossbred dogs seems to show no signs of abating, to refer to her as a Staffy-Noi, as in Staffy crossed with No idea.

Can someone please explain the current need to create strange names to describe simple cross-breed dogs?

Here are a few of the current ones out there. 
(Trigger warning- A quick note to anyone who likes seeking out offence – these are not actual descriptions of the breeds, okay?)

Jackabee– A cross between a Jack Russell terrier and a beagle. A dramatic little dog with a fondness for Old English tragic theatre. Needs training to wear a collar, as it prefers wearing ruffs. Not to be mistaken for the Old English Poo (which is what a lot of people think of Jacobean tragedies). Also known as a busy little dog.

Bichpoo – A small, fluffy dog (Bichon Frisé/Poodle) with a penchant for doing its business wherever it dang well pleases, and then getting in your face should you dare challenge it about it.

Zuchon – A Bichon Frisé/Shih-Tzu mix that just loves courgettes and mining for gold.

Cavapoo – A silky Spaniel/Poodle mix that should never be taken potholing/spelunking due to its nervous bowels.

Borador –  A beautiful, loveable mix of Border Collie & Labrador that will send you sleep with its stories.

CacaWhattaPoowoo – part Cavalier, part What-The-Heck, part Poodle, part Wouldn’t-Know-The-Breed-If-It-Bit-Me. It’s an amazing all-purpose gundog-hound-lapdog, specially bred for its bemused expression and skill at helping fill in tax forms.

Okay, so that last one wasn’t a real one. But it should be.

And another thing.

Obscure pedigree dog breeds. Why? You have these people who one-up everyone by having a dog that nobody’s ever heard of – only to be insulted because nobody’s ever heard of it.

ME: Beautiful dog.

THEM: Thank you.

ME: Is it a Shih-Tzu?

THEM: (horrified) NO! It’s an Ecuadorian Abacadrabrian Water Terrier.

ME: Oh. It looks like a Shih-Tzu.

THEM: (disgusted) Ugh. You clearly know nothing about dogs.

ME: I know what a Shih-Tzu looks like.

It’s like with designer clothes – you (generally) only get the kudos from people who know that designer. So unless you’re prepared to have the designer’s name splashed all over the item, I’m afraid your genius and superb taste are doomed to go unnoticed.

And by the way, pal, that pup’s definitely a Shih-Tzu.

 

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When I used Google Maps, got lost, and met some nice people along the way

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story – right there.

You’ve probably heard the saying  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Well, in this case it was true.

Okay, so it wasn’t a step, it was a crack.

And it wasn’t actually a thousand miles – it just felt like it at the time.

Let me explain.

It all started with having chips for tea. I broke a tooth. Right there and then, I made an emergency appointment for the next day. I’d wanted an excuse to go into town – that wasn’t the one I expected. I get there. It’s over in 10 minutes. It’s a very common thing, apparently.

Being a vampire, I’m a bit paranoid about my teeth. There. I’ve finally admitted it. But another part of the vampire package is the empathy & being able to read people (hence the myth about us being mindreaders). That all leads to stress. And that leads to bruxism (that’s the fancy word for teeth grinding). It happens at night, so I can’t control it. This puts pressure on fillings, which in turn can pop the side of the tooth off. It hurts when it happens, but the pride is the thing most damaged.

I decide to make the most of my enforced trip out. Earlier that morning, I had some time to kill before I left for my emergency appointment. Where else can you successfully waste a few minutes, but on the internet? I had noticed on social media that a new vegan supermarket had opened in the same town (I’m sure I’ve told you how my vampire gastrointestinal tract throws a diva-like hissy fit over animal products). I decide to walk there after my appointment (as long as I’m not off my face again after the anaesthetic). Apparently, it’s only 10 minutes away from where the dentist is. I tried Google maps. He tells me it’s 40 minutes away.

(no anaesthetic was needed in the end)

Oh well, the walk will do me good and I’m sure the shop will be amazing when I get there.

I basically end up halfway back home. I follow the map rigorously. After over three-quarters of an hour walking, I reach an apparent hill. It seems Figs Road leads to Kumquat Hill, at the end of which is my destination. Now there’s a thing – Figs Road is a hill, but Kumquat Hill is actually a Road (how does that work?) Anyway, having gone up the road and along the hill, I find myself somewhere completely deserted.

Luckily, I hear two men at work. I ask them where such and such address is. At first, they weren’t sure but I told them the sort of thing that I was looking for. The younger one said the only one he knew of was this new vegan supermarket that was opening that day, to which I probably got a bit overexcited and exclaimed, “That’s it!” and then we got into a discussion about how much such a place was needed in the area.

I dropped into conversation the fact that a well-known celebrity vegan chef would be there later and a separate conversation ensued between the man and his older colleague as to who this celebrity actually was, and what he’d ‘been in’.

They then gave me the most amazing, clear instructions of how to get to this place which I duly did in about 10 minutes. And guess what? The place was amazing. It had everything imaginable in there. I told them my plight and they were very friendly – even offered to drive me back into town. I declined, determined to discover the correct route between there and the town centre. As long as you’re sure, hope to see you again. After my impulse purchases (I may have gone a little crazy), I decided to head back into town.

And guess what? (again)

The chap talking in the social media post had been correct. It was actually only about 10 minutes from the centre of town. I had indeed walked so far out of the way that I was in danger of being close enough to just walk back home instead of taking the train home. So glad I didn’t.

I went into the shop the following day with the hubster. The nice men I’d talked to the previous day had actually popped in! They’d mentioned bumping into me, and the chap in the shop had remembered me from the day before… Now that’s customer service!

And the moral of the story?

Be careful what you wish for.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Bad days and good days have one thing in common – they’re both only 24 hours long. And sometimes, you have to wait a bit for good to come out of the bad and sometimes, you don’t have to wait long at all.


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Oh, and here, too. Of course.

Cry havoc…

.

…and let slip the dogs of walkies!

Ahh…

A new year.

Mini tourist season is over until the next big holiday.

*sigh of relief*

As I was picking up my groceries the other day, a rather fiercesome human barged past me and announced to his equally clueless family in an accent that was clearly anything but local: “Is this it? They’ve not got much here, have they?“ Well, bog off to Brighton if it’s shopping you’re after, mate!

How on earth did this man choose this as the perfect destination of his Christmas break? Stick a pin in the map?

(In case you’re wondering, I had a lovely Christmas, surrounded by family. We did everything from scratch and we planned everything meticulously a long while previously. It was our Christmas, we made it, nobody else had to).

And of course, with tourists comes that other delight. The tourists’ dog. You know the one that they’ve had since a puppy and in all that time they’ve not trained it to do anything more than sit, stay or possibly a cute “rollover “trick? You know the types. The dog that has never been trained to come back when it’s called… 

The dog that, when it runs off and starts picking fights with other dogs, promptly ignores its owner screaming its name repeatedly. Because, yeah, you scream my name like that, I’m gonna come back to you, I don’t think. I’m outta here, you two-legged sucker!

Free to roam.

Free to… well, do other stuff.

How many times have I heard the owner of a free-range pooch exclaim “I don’t know what’s wrong with Mister Woofles this morning; we’ve been out for over an hour and he still hasn’t done his business yet!

Oh yes, he has. Mister Woofles unloaded the minute you let him off the lead.

Mister Woofles has in fact left such a huge deposit that it has its own postcode. Whole generations of dung beetles have moved in and are celebrating with a ticker-tape parade. Their appeals to the dung beetle deity have been heard and answered. Mister Woofles’s contribution to the environment has ushered in a new Golden Age of dung beetle prosperity.

And then I saw this yesterday…

What sort of dog owner puts a sticker on the back of their 4×4 saying

Beware of the dog. It bites. You have been warned

and then lets them roam free – without muzzles – on a beach popular with dog walkers during doggy rush hour?!

If you’re going to do that, my dears, please make sure that the dogs are muzzled and please include yourself in that number.

So… you’re acknowledging liability for your animal being potentially dangerous, but if it bites me, it’s my fault?

Huh?

But you can’t say anything, can you? Nothing freaks out the passive-aggressive more…

Which reminds me…

Don’t you just love passive aggressive people calling other supposedly passive aggressive people out for being passive aggressive by using passive aggressive means to complain about the passive aggressive behaviour?

As with that now practically traditional Social Media post of “if u got a problem with me tell me 2 my face“ There are two problems with this…

Number one: tell you to your face? Which one?

Number two: could you be a little bit more identity-specific please?

And there’s always some sucker (who is probably completely innocent of any charges) who rises to the bait, bites and replies, asking if they are the target of this barblessly barbed comment. To which the reply is invariably “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, except…

Those kind of statements aren’t shoes, are they?

They’re flipping flipflops.

Designed to fit everybody. Guaranteed to make everyone uncomfortable.

Always remember, folks… Flip before you flop.