Getting lost again

Remember that time when I got lost trying to find a newly opened shop?

Well, it happened again.

The getting lost bit, I mean.

And this time, I have nothing to blame but my own vampiric little self.

Vampires get easily distracted. You do know that, don’t you?

ADHD/OCD are as much a part of us as capes and widow’s peaks aren’t.

Suffering as I was from a bit of post-Christmas cabin fever, I decided on a little jolly to a town that’s only five minutes away by train. Let’s just call the place Llanbobl, shall we? Yes, vampires do feel the need to get out and about occasionally. Weird, eh?

I suppose it was different in the old days when you had acres of dilapidated castle to wander around. Or a village where you could move around freely at night because the villagers would have been fearfully tucked up (ooh, careful how you say that bit!) in their beds by then. Ah, the peace and quiet…

The last place I lived, it was more a case of police and riot.

I’m joking, of course – but only about the dilapidated castle and petrified locals. Those things aren’t real.

Well, they are, but in a different context.

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These days, anything dilapidated will either be razed to the ground (that’s never sounded right to me – how do you raze/raise something downwards?) to make way for offices, a shopping centre or so-called ‘affordable housing’.

And the terrified villagers? We have other things to suck the life out of you these days. Taxes… Online gambling… Reality tv…

But I’m rambling now.

Nothing New There, I hear you say. How well you know me.

Anyway, I’ve had my jolly little jaunt out to Llanbobl and it’s time to go home. I start marching to the station, knowing that I have a good fifteen minutes to wait when I get there. Great. No rush. I’ve got the furbaby a little treat (as I’d promised her), so she’ll be happy to see me whenever. Indeed, once she’s said an enthusiastic hello to me, the next thing she usually does is bury her head in my bag to see what I’ve brought her.
Next, I find an amazing shortcut which saves me another few minutes. Okay, so now I have twenty minutes to kill at the station but I have food, so that’ll keep me busy.

I get there and…

My train is running late. Indeed, the one that comes after it will have to share the same platform (as they come in from different directions). Some stations have even named their platforms ‘A’ and ‘B’ to accommodate this duality.

Yes, what is that with half platforms? In the town where I used to live, there is one platform that’s actually two. I think it might be platform 6/7. So, even though there’s only one train there,  because the doors are all automatic these days, if you get on the wrong side of the train, you then have to go all the way up the stairs, across and down to get onto the same train you would’ve been getting on anyway!

Anyway…

My train comes in. It’s a funky, old-fashioned train for a change and I jump on gratefully. It sets off.

In the opposite direction.

It turns out that my train was so late that the train after it has come in first. I should have checked a bit closer but the display board is doing that thing where it bounces between trains. Plus, my glasses are soaked, so I can’t see properly even if I tried to dry them off.

Trying not to panic, I explain to the guard my little vampire blonde moment and he’s an absolute sweetheart about it. Really helpful. What’s the first station I can jump off at and go back?

His face falls. This is the Heart Of Wales line. It visits all the otherwise inaccessible bits of Central Wales. If I get off anywhere, I could be waiting hours (in the rain) for the next train. The easiest thing, he says, is to stay on the train. He says he’s getting off at Llanwrtyd Wells, crossing the platform and grabbing the next train back. I can follow him. It’s the quickest way.

I’d heard of the town before. How long will it take? I ask.

Three hours.

Three.

Whole.

Hours.

So I’ve caught the wrong train home and am now somewhere in mid Wales, with only 1% on my phone!

What to do?

Luckily, it was actually very pleasant. But it was quite weird. Because I hadn’t brought my usual bag with me, I didn’t have a notebook and pen nor a charging cable for my phone. So I had three hours of doing literally nothing. On the way out, the scenery was lovely. All fields and farms and pretty little villages. On the way back, of course, it was pitch black but it was fun to look into people’s houses ha ha!

If you ever have to get lost in the middle of nowhere, I highly recommend this particular bit of nowhere. Every other station was Llan-something. Actually, scratch that. About every one in four stations wasn’t Llan-something. And there were some very pretty little stations, with some interesting details.

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But Heart of Wales?

Heart?

Wrong organ.

In the nicest possible way, I’d go for small intestine – winding and seems to go on forever. It was roughly a 100 mile round trip at final count!

All that apart, as I said to the lovely guard as we crossed the tracks, it was actually a rather nice day out in the end.

Have you ever been on the train, seen a splendid house and thought ‘what a beautiful house, I’d love to live there’ and then realised ‘hang on, the only way I’m able to see it is courtesy of  a dirty great train line at the bottom of the garden.’ So, no. I’m actually glad I don’t live there.

I was supposed to get home just after 3pm but ended up getting back sometime after 6pm. In fact, the hubster had gotten home, made a fuss of the furbaby and gone out for a run all before I arrived home. The treat I’d bought for the furball had by this time turned into a peace offering. She was nevertheless very pleased to see me.

And will I ever live this down?

Will I heck!


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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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Hello, Autumn. Again.

Well, hello there!

Oh yes. Summer is over.

Did you have a good one?

Did you wish it would never end?

I’m having my summer now. Actually, it’s still quite nice here during September. So I can have some nice weather (not too sunny, thank goodness), with all the peace and quiet that takes over when all the tourists pack up and shuffle back off to the hum-drums.

I know I’m not the only person glad to see some people leave…

I was just walking up the road from town when I saw a lady very enthusiastically waving goodbye to visitors leaving in an overly smart car.  Her enthusiasm led me to believe one of two things – the second being that she was pleased to see them go. As in, really pleased. Within a few seconds, I had my suspicions confirmed.

She went into her house and I heard a very strange noise. Sort of like a scream. I paused, wondering what was wrong. And then I heard her voice yell at full volume: “I’m FREEEEEEEEEE!”.

Ah yes, the summer holiday season is truly over.

As ever,  I spent the summer hiding away from it all. I know I started spectacularly early this year. Sorry about that. Normally I disappear about July but this year, the hot weather kicked in particularly early.

Did I go anywhere? As in a proper holiday, rather than just lurking in any available shadows?

Sort of.

We went camping. We didn’t go away very far. We had the furball to think of. As we’ve never taken her camping before, we didn’t want to take the chance of her freaking out. Because then, of course, there’d be the inevitable ensuing chaos. After all, we had to find somewhere where we could take her which meant one thing: other people would be there with their little furry bundles of joy.

Dealing with grocklewuffs on home turf is one thing, but dealing with grocklewuffs when you are one, is another matter altogether.

The upshot? Of the three of us, our furry little princess slept better than either of us. All those snuggly corners to nest in. Sleeping bags to invade at 3am. Doggy bliss. And sleeping on a surface that wasn’t super soft? No problem. She loved it.

Us?

Not so much.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love camping. I just love my bed more. When you find yourself groaning with the physical effort of turning over on your ‘deluxe’ bedroll because every. single. vertebra has locked in place and you now have an iron rod for a spine and padlocks where your joints used to be, you know you’re not going to get much sleep.

This was not so much glamping as glumping.

But I’m back now and looking forward to seeing what the new season has in store. Glad to have you along for the ride!

Happy autumn!

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The Vamp Who Came In From The Cold

It’s cold.

It’s so cold, I can’t move my face.

This is what it must be like to have Botox.

Let me explain. I’m not too aware of the actual sensation of feeling cold, but I do tend to notice small things like having no sensation in my toes or fingers.

I remember back in school, many, many decades ago, we had a PE teacher who we called Witch Hazel for no apparent reason (but then I also got the nickname ‘Lily-Trot’ using similar logic).

It would be this time of year and hockey season was in full swing. Witch Hazel would be standing there in full North Pole gear, looking like the infernal offspring of a 1970s Football Manager and a Grizzly Bear. Sheepskin coat, wooly hat, fur-lined gloves etc.
Anyway, she’d be standing there with only her nose exposed to the elements (well, one element – ice!) and there was us in our shorts and T-shirts, icicles hanging off our ears.

Get moving!” she’d shout “You’ll soon warm up!

It was a lie.

And that’s when I discovered the existence of FOPs.

FOPs

Fluorescent Orange Patches.

The skin on my thighs would be so cold that these little bright, bright orange patches would appear. I have no idea why. I think it might have been some kind of protest march by my skin cells. Not quite sure either what my blood cells were up to. On the whole, they’re a bit like me  – they keep themselves to themselves. They were disconcerting, but they encouraged me to keep moving in case anyone decided to play join-the-dots with my legs…

And then there’s the human obsession with snow…

This confuses me…

I’ve heard “One swallow does not a summer make” but it seems one snowflake will a blizzard make.

Did that even make sense?

One flake, and everybody is going crazy. The scenes in supermarkets are like something you’d expect to see at the End Of Days. Yes, because when the end of the world comes, I want to make sure I have enough milk and bread to see me through Judgment Day.
And then there’s the other classic of confusion…

“It’s too cold to snow.”

TOO COLD?

Yup, the cold is so hardcore, even the snowflakes are too scared to come out.
But I’ll finish there with one useful rule of thumb.

You know it’s cold when washing your hands in hot water warms them up.
You know it’s really cold when you warm them up by washing them in cold water.

Stay warm, everyone.