Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

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There’s no business…

…like snow business.

First of all, I hope everyone is keeping well and warm. I don’t have a problem with the cold weather. One of the advantages of my vampire metabolism. I don’t feel the cold the same way that you do.

I have to admit, the only problem I do have is that when I’m writing, my hands have a tendency to get a bit chilly, but that’s about it. I think they move so fast over the keyboard that the blood gets confused and doesn’t know where it’s supposed to be… Still, it’s a great excuse to have lots of hot drinks.

Here’s my current favourite: turmeric latte. Get your spices mixed… 3 parts turmeric, 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part each nutmeg & ginger. Throw in a pinch of finely ground black pepper (helps absorption). Keep it in a cute jar. Heat up a mug of milk, stir in 1/2 teaspoon and sweeten. All those lovely spices will warm you up and just taste downright naughty. Obviously, I use non-dairy milk (coconut works best with this), because, well, vampire metabolism… Can’t touch most animal-based stuff. Ironic really.

The furbaby is refusing to leave the house. While other people are posting photos and videos online of their doggies leaping around like joyful loons in the snow, mine has turned into a teenager.

She’s staring at me, sandwiched between two (yes, two!) duvets.

“You need to go outside.”

Silence.

“Food?”

Flicker of interest.

“Walk?”

Death stare.

Last night, just after midnight, she leapt up and decided she had to go out. Now. Right now. Now! Come on, hoomin!

You have got to be kidding me, pup.

So she darted out, neatly dodging the knee-high drift at the back door. She hared around, did what she needed to do, and threw herself back inside, in much the same style as a stunt man in an action movie.

And, pretty much like a stunt man, she decided to make use of available props…

Like the snow drift.

Cue internal explosion of snow. A wall of cold froth boomed its way into the conservatory (the same one she’d been sunning herself in only a couple of days previously).

Result? Snow on the floor. Snow on the walls, the windows, the ceiling (what the-?!), and one snow-coated vampire. Head to foot.

So while she thunders her way back upstairs (probably nicking my space in the bed), I’m stood there picking potential snowballs out of my ears, mouth, nose…

We’ve gone from action movie to comedy in ten seconds flat.

Thanks.

Stay warm. Stay safe. And if you can help anyone else to, please do.

Take care.

Domus Melis Domus

Yeah, I know.

Worst Latin ever.

I did learn Latin as a child. Before you ask – no, I’m not a native speaker of that as well. How old do you think I am?! I know I said I was old right at the very beginning of all this, but I ain’t that old! And no, I don’t remember the dinosaurs either!

I do remember things like:

  • humans landing on the moon
  • if you missed you favourite television programme, tough – no video recorders, no cable, plus only having three television channels
  • colour televisions being a luxury, not a basic life staple (as were cars)
  • Non-decimal money, often referred to as L.S.D. No, nothing to do with lysergic acid, but back to good old Latin again… Librae, Soldi, Denarii. Don’t know if it was some kind of joke (and why would I have cared anyway?), but it was meant to be the Roman equivalent of pounds, shillings, pence
  • BYO carrier bags
  • encyclopaedias, not Wikipedia
  • ‘Burger’ being something you muttered (quickly) under your breath when something went wrong

Oh. Massively off track as ever.

Focus!

So, it’s been nearly six months in our new little safe haven.

People are lovely here, and no one has a clue what I am.

So far, so good.

Long may it remain like that! One of the good things about living here is that it’s not an area exactly known for its sunny weather, so that in itself is a blessing!

With the differential in house prices in the two areas being what it is, we have moved from a one bedroom flat (no kids or dogs allowed) to a simply huge four bedroom house with a massive garden that one can get lost in! And dogs!

Well, we already have the dog, as you no doubt remember from the previous post

Like me, the house is something of a mongrel.

It had been in the same family (not mine) since Victorian times (when it was built) and each generation has added something to it particular to their lifetime. It’s a live-in Museum in its own right. You can walk around the house playing “spot the era”. There are things here from the 20s, 30s, and so on and so forth. The 70s were a particularly active time in this house’s DIY history… Heaven help us…

A lot has been added to it. And when I say a lot I mean a lot. It had a patio, that became a conservatory that became a workshop, that became a kitchen. Well, the kind of kitchen that Dr Frankenstein would wake up in the night having the shakes over. Every time we prepared a meal, the uppermost thought in our minds wasn’t “Now, what drink would go well with this?”

No.

The uppermost thought was “Will I survive long enough to actually eat this?”

But it’s now a kitchen, a proper one!

A proper bathroom was added on. As was a utility room (that’s actually quite utile), which is about the only part of the house that doesn’t need something doing to it. Thankfully, It’s all cosmetic. But it’s a level of ‘cosmetic’ that would have Max Factor running for the hills.

But we love our conservatory. As does the dog. She can often be found in there, sat on the sofa, surveying her kingdom. When we want to get into the garden, sometimes we’re too lazy too unlock the back door, so we just go through the conservatory windows instead. I was born by Caesarean, so I have absolutely no problem with this.

There’s a lot to do.

And doing it is a cross between Pass The Parcel and Russian Roulette. While channeling Heath Robinson, who I believe may well have been the inspiration for much of the original alterations…

So here I go, paintbrush in hand.

Wish me luck.

 

Strictly Come Prancing

Or Rudolphing, or Dashing or Whatever.

Though I don’t think there was a reindeer called Whatever. But there should have been. He’d have been the world-weary one at the back who got the full brunt of the other reindeers’ dietary habits. He’d be the one with the peg on his nose. He’d be the one demanding emissions testing for reindeer and other magical flying animals.

So, yes, it’s that time of year again. And instead of everyone singing “I’m Dreaming Of A Wet Christmas” (just like the ones we always get), the weather is doing something very strange… It’s been snowing.

Yes, folks! It’s time for the Christmas Foxtrot!

Snow, snow, thick thick snow.

Well, hopefully. Hopefully?

Depends, I suppose. There can be winds. People simply complain about losing their dustbin lids. Never mind the roof tiles, bridges being shut down. There can be heatwaves. People simply whinge about it being too hot. Never mind the sunburn, dehydration and general dangers.

But one snowflake…

And people lose their freaking minds and turn into apocalypse preppers. Everything closes down and you can’t find toilet paper for love nor money. Because yes, when the end of the world comes, those extra rolls of double-soft quilted embossed will be so handy.

I don’t know if things are different from when I was little, or whether it was just because we didn’t have a car (long story) but I don’t remember all this end-of-days obsessive panic. Or perhaps it was just because I was a child and saw snow as lovely stuff that I could play with during – say it in hushed tones of reverencesnow days.

The grammar school I went to was surrounded by 6 foot high (2 metres) hedges and when a friend and I went out walking / mischief-making, we found ourselves walking well above the level of those hedges, and probably on top of a few abandoned cars too, unwittingly. There might have been a bit of ‘wittingly‘ about it had we known.

As we headed across the school playing field (with rugby posts poking apologetically out of all the white stuff), we saw a helicopter overhead. Being the ‘friendly’ sorts we were, we decided to wave to it. Oh yes… we waved and waved.

And it started descending onto the field.

I don’t know if there is a land speed record for ultra thick snow, but I think we may have broken it. We both charged back home and waited for the worst. What the heck had we done? We were both pretty sure it had been a military helicopter and our imaginations were running wild. We were praying we weren’t going to get into major trouble…

And that evening, our curiosity was rewarded, if not our panic. The news came on.

“And in local news…”

Which is what they used to say before the now ubiquitous ‘News Where You Are‘ (does nobody know what ‘local’ means anymore?)

It was a great story. A pregnant woman, living in a tiny village cut off by severe snow fall had gone into labour. No way in or out of the village was possible. A helicopter from the local airbase had been drafted in to get the woman out and off to the nearest hospital. But disaster had struck. The snow was so bad, the helicopter couldn’t see where to land.

And that was when the ‘miracle’ happened…

The crew of the helicopter suddenly saw two figures standing a few yards from the woman’s house, waving them down frantically, before disappearing into the drifts.

Yup. You guessed it. It was us. It was our village.

Anyway, hospital reached. Baby born. Everyone doing fine.

Stay safe everyone. And remember – getting your prayers answered is good, but sometimes it’s nice to be the answer to someone else’s prayer…

Keep your toilet rolls handy…

 


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You know you want to.

Let’s Dance

An inevitable move is approaching. A vampire can’t keep their head down forever. Except on a sunny day. But this is Britain, after all, so… no…

Taking a break from keeping the heads down, the hubster and I decided that, given that there’s not a blue moon due any time soon, we would throw caution to the wind and socialise. The operative word here is caution. On so many levels. We went bowling.

Yes.

Bowling.

Essentially throwing a  heavy lump of plastic at a bunch of other bits of plastic (or wood – not sure which), hoping that they’ll connect and fall over. So then, the opposite of what we all try to do in our daily lives – which is not knock things over. I mean, since we’re first able to walk around by ourselves, our parents and well-meaning adults move everything possible out of our way so we don’t knock everything over. For years, it’s

“Be careful!”

“Look where you’re going!”

“Watch out for that [object]!”

“Mind you don’t knock [item] over!”

And then you find yourself in a bowling alley in rented shoes, and suddenly you’re let loose with a load of deadly balls and told to go nuts.

What?!

As we all know, knocking a few things over is usually annoying. Case in point: there’s a whole bunch of YouTube videos about cats knocking things over and I don’t hear anybody congratulating the little furballs…

And what is it about bowling that suddenly makes it alright to do strange little dances?  Who does that in everyday  life?!

“I just put the milk back in the fridge… oh yeah ah-ha.” [does an elaborate wiggle/fist-pumping combo]

“I’ve just done the washing up and I’m doing the robot.”

Well, if you get excited over doing the washing up then it’s because of one of two things :

one you’re extremely easy to please or…

two  dinner around your house must be an adventure because if washing-up is such a big thing then… yikes?

(You know I’m joking!)

And those shoes… Yes… they say you don’t know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Well, a good thousand or so people had probably worn those shoes before me, and I still don’t have a clue about any of them.

Okay, so I didn’t walk a mile in them. It just felt like it. Okay, I didn’t walk at all. I may have tottered, strolled, skipped (slightly), skidded and occasionally ended up on my backside in them, but that’s besides the point.

I also saw a sign in the same place for a silent disco. So how does that work? I mean, yes,  I know how it works, but it got me wondering… what happens if you go to a silent disco with someone you like and they want to make a move?

What happens when they want to listen to something really smoochy and you just want to listen to Uptown Funk?!

I reckon there’s going to be a whole load of mixed messages going on right there…

And the potential for a whole load more YouTube videos.

 


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You know it makes sense.

Coldsore salad

Pardon the gross title. Heh heh heh…

Aaand I’m back! Happy autumn, everyone! I’ve been away, in hiding/hibernation/cold storage. I have to do this every year, just in case we have a decent summer here in Britain. It’s yet to happen, but I would hate to get caught out!

So, here I am, with more raves, rants, and seriously random health tips…

And I’m not the only one that’s back. The students have started reappearing in their case-dragging masses. Which means one thing: very, very late loud nights. Now, this really shouldn’t bother me, what with my being a nocturnal animal and all that. Sadly, just like humans, I still have bills, and those bills say that I have to be a diurnal animal (luckily, I love my job!). This means that (like a lot of humans) I have to sleep during the night.

This is made extremely difficult because I’m constantly being distracted by my animal loving side hearing what sounds like a hundred cats being strangled outside. Of course, it isn’t a hundred cats being strangled at all: it’s just a hundred drunken teenagers let off the leash for possibly the first time in their lives.

But you really know when the students are back when you’re in a supermarket and it takes six people to buy one chocolate bar. And then the following conversation ensues at the till:

A: I’ve only got 47p I need 79p. B, can you lend me the rest? I’ll pay you back later.

B: I’ve only got 20p on me but I still owe you £1.50 from last night so if I give you the 20p would that do for now?

C: I tell you what, B owes me £1.70 for that bottle of water, so if I give you the money, she can owe me.

A: Great, thank you!

C: Oh, but I only have a 50 pence coin on me at the moment… I know, if-

Just buy the wretched chocolate!!!

Then, to add to the externally imposed sleep deprivation, there’s the meteorologically based skin problems…

Sunburn: no problem. Eat loads of tomatoes; cover up, aloe vera for the unlucky bits.

And then there’s the real villain: cold sores. Now, I know most people get these during winter, but for me, when I get them, they’re triggered by sunlight. But here’s a little secret that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about: Lysine.

Here comes the science bit…

Our DNA is made up of strands of four chemicals (called base pairs) holding hands: Adenine with Thymine, and Cytosine with Guanine. The only time they let go is when your body’s cells split to make new cells. Viruses like cold sores have their own twisty-windy thing called RNA, which is basically a cheap knock-off, using the pairs Adenine/Uracil and Guanine/Cytosine. Viruses con your body into replicating them instead of your own cells. So when your DNA unzips itself, ready to get all jiggy and replicatey, the viral string of RNA slips up in there and tricks your cells into making another one of it, rather than another body cell. Rather like when you go to make a cuppa and your lazy toad friend says “Hey, make me one while you’re there!”

So, in steps Lysine. It interrupts the process, acting in much the same way as a vet in the same room as a male dog and a big pair of scissors. Take this and it will stop them in their tracks. Until of course, you catch the next one!

Okay, so I’ve probably just lost any readers who are biologists with my simplifying and Everyday-ifying this. Oh well.

Just…. Trust me on this.

It’s good to be back.

 


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It’ll be fun. Honest.