Rayburn Rigor Mortis, See What Wobbles & Big Burly Hells Angels…….??

Well, it has been an eventful and more than slightly manic time since my last musings on the EIOT blog.

Now I shouldn’t moan as we have all been together – firstly in deepest Welsh Wales at the wedding detailed in the last post and then back at EIOT Towers.

However, in true EIOT fashion nothing ever goes as planned and while much has been achieved, it has not been without its pitfalls and roller-coaster of excitement.

Well, despite his protestations at not spending his two weeks of leave sampling the local beer from the village brewery in the pub, himself excelled himself and achieved a whole lot of DIY at EIOT Towers. Mind you, he had little choice as I hovered over him threatening physical harm if he did not comply with my ever-growing list of jobs that needed to be done.

Yes, as the jobs were ticked off the top of the list, more were added to the bottom of the list and therefore the length of the list never actually reduced.

I think he noticed this fact but knew better than acknowledging it.

So, firstly, RIP Raymond the Rayburn.

Yes, we arrived back from deepest Welsh Wales to be greeted by a stone cold Raymond who had been disconnected from the household water system in our absence by the local plumber – or so we thought.

Yes, this was another curved ball from EIOT Towers, to add to the archive of hidden septic tanks and random water issues.

You see since we revived Raymond with a full service on buying EIOT Towers, he had provided Rayburn type cooking facilities but had failed dismally to supply hot water and heating services.

This had proved to be somewhat perplexing, the plumber had visited and scratched his chin at the lack of heat conducting up the rather large water pipes heading out of the back boiler and had declared Raymond to be too old and tired to provide such luxuries, (the gap of which I hasten to add were filled by the woodburner and immersion heater – we were not freezing and showering in cold water).

It was at this point that Raymond was condemned to the old folks homes for aged Rayburns, alternatively known as the barn.

That was the official verdict of the plumber.

So, the decision was taken that Raymond’s time was limited and as Christmas was coming with the potential visit of the silver surfers that a much bigger cooking facility with a more controlled cooking ability was required.

Regular readers will know that this was the point that the decision was made to retire Raymond – well that along with the fact that the plumber had declared Raymond’s oil tank completely illegal, about 3 feet away from Raymond’s raw flame on the other side of the kitchen wall while resting on a rotten wood roof of a rather rickety brick outhouse. A minor point, but one with potentially disastrous consequences.

So, Raymond flame was extinguished, Rayburn rigor mortis set in and the plumber was called to step in and detach the deceased Raymond from the household heating system to allow us to remove him on our return from the land of sand.

True to his word the trusty local plumber visited and when we arrived back from Welsh Wales Raymond had been unceremoniously disconnected and the pipes were hanging limply from the ceiling.

It was the bank holiday weekend and we knew that the local trusty builder was inbound in a couple of days complete with plastering kit to fill the great big gaping holes that were visible around Raymond and also those which were undoubtedly hiding behind the deceased Rayburn.

We knew that our bank holiday was going to be filled with dissecting Raymond and as soon as the gruesome twosome had finished scoffing their breakfast, himself and I set about the task.

Out of curiosity himself made a move towards the flaccid pipes hanging down from the ceiling. They were not a high priority, removing Raymond was the priority but curiosity got the better of him.

At this point a puzzled look overtook his face as he tried to move the pipes – expecting to be greeted by considerable resistance.

But no, there was no resistance, the pipes swayed freely with absolutely no resistance what so ever.

Further investigation followed.

It transpired that the pipes were not attached to anything – nothing at all, nights, rein, in fact diddly squat.

The pipes were simply open-ended, lying dormant between the kitchen ceiling and upstairs floorboards.

Now, this was our first impression but we could not believe quite what we were seeing. The pipes almost simply fell out of the ceiling.

We were puzzled.

A few days later I bumped into the plumber in the village and asked him about the pipes.

At this point he confirmed that the pipes had indeed been empty and disconnecting Raymond had simply involved the very quick job of cutting the pipes – no drainage was required.

He also added that whoever had left the pipes like that were distinctly dodgy and that we had been living with a dangerous back-boiler.

Well, no water in those open-ended pipes explains why no heat was being conducted up the pipes then……

All a tad frustrating as we could have done in a blink of an eye and not have called the plumber in instead.

Anyway, back to Raymond.

So, we were back, the pipes were out and Raymond was stone cold. Colder than a polar bear’s toe nails. Then there was himself and me, standing in front of a deceased Rayburn wondering about the best way to extract him from the kitchen.

Now, for those people who are not familiar with Rayburn’s, or Aga’s, they are heavy – very heavy.

The weight was an issue, but so was the state of the wall behind Raymond which was missing some quite large chunks of stone and to be honest both himself and I had sneaking suspicions that actually Raymond was holding the wall up.

As at this point the oil tank, (albeit an empty oil tank), was on the other side of the wall and while simply using some brute force and ignorance to dislodge Raymond was appealing, the possibility of the oil tank crashing into the kitchen was not particularly attractive and while the builder was inbound in the following days he may not be too impressed by the fact that he would have to rebuild the wall rather than simply make good and plaster.

So, himself and I played that infamous game. You know the one where people who know nothing at all about the design and structure of the focus of their attention start to go about it with screwdrivers and spanners.

Yes, we played the game of, ‘lets undo a screw and see what wobbles’.

Yeap, the next couple of hours were absorbed by our newly invented game and there was quite a lot of mess.

At one point our very own goddess of mess and disorder, the strawberry blond hand grenade, (TSBHG), walked into the kitchen in search of food, took one look at the explosion of Rayburn parts, tools, insulating material and two rather dusty, grubby looking parents, tutted loudly, made some derisory comment about how she wished she had ‘normal’ parents, turned on her heels and left.

Anyway, our entertaining little game continued and the time came to pull Raymond’s remains away from the wall.

Well, I am pleased to say that the wall stayed upright and more to the point the oil tank stayed exactly where it should, on the outside of the house.

Yes, there were a few bits of shrapnel and falling stone but we survived and more importantly so did the wall.

Raymond offered very little other resistance and before too long he was transferred in a million pieces to the barn where he still lies in state, waiting for the great Rayburn rest home in the sky – well the scrap metal man anyway.

So, suddenly there was a great gaping hole in the kitchen – well several great gapping holes in the walls and a gap on the floor where Raymond had stood until recently.

We were ready to roll.

The gruesome twosome had been briefed that for the foreseeable future we would be on barbecues, bagged salad and baked spuds at the pub.

Now, about this time I informed himself that the builder was also poised to tackle another wall in the kitchen that, (surprise, surprise), had been subject to a bodged DIY job at some point in the past.

This had led to a very dodgy wall and an even more dodgy plug socket.

I then also informed him that the builder, (aware of himself’s talents at DIY), had suggested that himself could take the dodgy plaster off the wall in preparation.

No problem there and himself started designing his plan of action for the next day.

An early trip to the supermarket the next morning, back we came and himself decided the time had come.

Out came the high-powered electric drill and away he went.

Unfortunately what did not go away, and I was outside so did not notice, was the contents of the kitchen and also the shopping.

Yeap, the stone dust flew, various pieces of stone flew, plaster could have had an eye out and in the midst of it all was a dusty looking himself, the kitchen with all its stuff and the shopping.

Now, it was at this point that I had to make a split decision and I knew that the wrong decision could end in disaster, a downing of tools and himself stomping down to the pub in a haze of brick-dust and dented male pride.

Alternatively I could say nothing, pretend all was well, remove the brick-dust from the celery, carrots, humous and cheddar cheese and carry on as normal.

You will be pleased to hear that I chose the latter rather than the former, there was no male strops and downing of tools.

Once the wall had been stripped, prepared and the new plug sockets sorted ready for the builder the next day, himself swept the floor, removed the rubble and retired with a beer.

I then set about starting to remove the layers of stone dust from the visible surfaces of the kitchen, washed the veg, wiped the humous pots and decoked the bagged salad and hosed down the milk.

Now, knowing that the builder was inbound the next day I didn’t bust too much of a gut and only focused on the necessary areas.

Himself was quite happily sat supping his beer.

The next day came and in came the builder saying that he had decided it would be wise for him to drill the big 5″ hole in the wall now for the cooker-hood ducting.

I walked into the kitchen to see him delicately placing dust sheets over every surface, saying that there was likely to be some mess but he would do his best to keep it at a minimum….

At this point I suggested he should not bother…

Anyway, the next few days were pretty uneventful, very dusty and lots of stone flying about, but pretty uneventful.

Two big burly men arrived with a hoist and flat-bed lorry to remove the oil tank to the oil tank graveyard.

I am pleased to say that removing the oil tank did not provoke the kitchen wall to collapse the other way, it remained resolutely upright where it has stood for a few hundred years.

Next came knocking down the rather rickety old building thingy that had supported the oil tank.

Well, if in doubt, give a child a sledge-hammer and pick axe and let them go for it.

A couple of hours later the building thingy was no more than a pile of rubble.

I am also pleased to say that not even a child wealding a sledge-hammer could provoke the kitchen wall into falling down.

Perhaps it is pretty firm after all!

So, by this point the plastering was done, the oil tank was gone, the building thingy was gone – well reduced to a pile of rubble in the garden, best I get painting!

Before you think it, yes I waited for the plaster to dry and yes I sealed it.

Now is the time to remind the reading masses, well the one person who reads my ramblings, that I had project managed this whole project to within an inch of its life.

The tradesmen involved had been hassled by my constant messages, texts and emails for weeks for them do their funky thing at the right time.

The paint had been ordered with days to spare.

Everything had been put in place with milli-second accuracy and as per the plan I finished the decorating the Sunday evening before the scheduled delivery of the cooker on the Monday.

I hasten to add that by this point there was starting to be mutiny in the camp from the small testosterone filled one, (TSTFO), who was getting more than a little fed up of barbecues and bagged salad.

Yeap, he is a confirmed carnivore but even TSTFO can have too many barbecues.

He was craving rice pudding, apple crumble, lamb casserole and more to the point flap-jack.

So, as he departed to school on the Monday morning he asked for reassurance that on his return on Friday the new cooker would be in situ and at least a rice pudding would be available.

I duly gave this reassurance and deposited him and TSBHG at school, before returning home to await the delivery.

So, you are probably thinking that my meticulous planning was to be let down by the cooker delivery.


The cooker arrived as planned.

No, the problem came during the delivery.

Now in fairness to the company I bought the cooker off it did say on the emails that the delivery would be on a pallet to the outside of the house.

However, I had hoped that by doing my helpless, defenceless female living in the middle of nowhere impression that I may be able to persuade the delivery company to deposit it on the inside of the front door instead of outside.

Well that failed dismally – it was never really likely to work in the first place, I have never been a convincing liar

One delivery guy, an air pump trolley and a cooker appeared.

I ended up helping to heave it up the uneven and muddy path and there was absolutely no prospect of him helping me inch the monster cooker over the threshold.

No, it was going outside and there was no negotiation.

With that off he went with his air pump trolley.

I must admit I did snigger to myself as he asked for directions to a nearby town nd out of a sense of sheer mischief and in light of his reluctance to help me shift the cooker an extra 5 yards I sent him up the back road – through the gated road with all four gates and as he was on his own it may have taken some time to get to there…

Infantile I know, but revenge is sweet.

Anyway, there I was with a brand new, rather large, rather heavy range cooker in the garden, partially blocking my neighbours drive and no obvious way of shifting it.

It wasn’t raining – yet!

There was nobody anywhere in the near vicinity to help.

Everybody I knew either had bad backs, broken fingers, (thanks to an incident involving a tractor and a cattle bar) or were not at home.

I paid a visit to the pub to see if there were any big burly blokes who would like some beer money – no for the first time ever the pubs were empty.

I went to the campsites where there are usually Hells Angels type biker groups camping on their biker tours through deepest darkest Cumbria – not that night there weren’t.

(I hasten to add that I am not in the habit of inviting big burly Hells Angels bikers up to EIOT Towers while my husband is away, but when needs must….)

By this point I was starting to get a tad concerned.

The light was going, the rain was coming and I had a very large, very heavy range cooker sat outside – partly blocking my neighbours drive.

Needs must.

I have never done this before but I reverted to Facebook.

Yeap, I went through all my FB friends and found local friends, sending a group message begging for help.

Well, I am delighted to say that it worked and knight in shining armour appeared – making light work of moving the monster and positioning it in the kitchen.

To say I am grateful to these guys is an understatement – I owe them beers.

So, onto the next problem.

Well, my milli-second project management had meant that I had been giving the electrician day by day updates in the hope that he would be able to visit as a matter of urgency to connect the cooker – bearing in mind that TSTFO was about to lead a mutiny if on Friday he was greeted by another barbecue and bagged salad.

I called the electrician to inform him of the arrival, to be asked what the job entailed and told that if I was lucky he may be able to squeeze it in by the end of the week…..


I will not go into details but the cooker was hooked up pretty quickly and is working perfectly.

TSTFO was fed with good home cooking this weekend and is a happy chappie.

TSBHG looked at the cooker, tutted, muttered something incomprehensible and walked away.

So, there we are – we are cooking again, only just and after much stress, but we are cooking again………

My casserole is ready.










Drag Queen Trauma, Olly Murs At A Wedding, RIP Raymond & Car Chaos…..

This weekend has been a momentous occasion – for several reasons, some of which I will not bore you with but a couple of the more memorable and adventurous events are about to be jolted down for official recognition in history.

Yeap, since my last musings the entire EIOT posse have relocated back to the UK for a couple of weeks while himself is on leave and the gruesome twosome are preparing, (well-being prepared), for the return back to school.

But as a very welcome distraction and by happy coincidence it was the wedding this weekend of himself’s Goddaughter in deepest Welsh Wales.

Now, I feel it appropriate to explain a little more about himself and his Goddaughter.

You see while he has taken his Godfatherly duties seriously from day one of this role, (which was pre-me I hasten to add), he has never really excelled in demonstrating how seriously he has taken these duties.

In fact it was not until he and I were an item that he actually sent a birthday card.

I am relieved to report that this lack of Godfatherly wisdom and guidance has not held her back and she is a successful lady in her own right.

However, he always took his duties seriously even if he did not particularly demonstrate it.

But as the years ticked by and the young lady grew up she did become much more a part of our lives and we were delighted to be there at her big day yesterday.

However, in typical EIOT fashion the day did not go by without a few hitches – not on the part of the happy couple or their meticulous planning and fantastic day.

No, the hitches were on the part of the EIOT crew.

Firstly I ought to point out that the gruesome twosome have never actually been to a wedding before.

This is no reflection on the fact that we have no friends or that nobody actually wants such a ramshackle bunch at any celebrations, but that we are actually a very small family and everybody got married many years ago. That combined with the fact that we were slightly late to the party in the having children race means that we are well past the stage of everybody getting married and in fact our contemporaries are now in the zone of empty nest syndrome and even the odd grandchild is starting to put in appearances.

So, here we were presenting the gruesome twosome to the world of weddings.

Now considerable preparation had been ongoing for sometime before this adventure with shopping and clothes trying on having been ongoing for sometime.

The Small Testosterone Filled One, (TSTFO), was less than impressed about ‘looking smart’ and I had negotiated a compromise on his attire. Himself was adamant that the small man shoud wear slacks, a tie and smart shoes. This went down like a lead balloon with TSTFO and Mummy skills were required to negotiate a compromise of chinos, open neck shirt and smart trainer type shoes.

While TSTFO was still not massively impressed neural ground was found.

Himself had even bought a new suit having paid a special trip to London in the summer and acquiring a new outfit along with ties etc.

Blimey – a new suit, he was taking it all seriously!

Then of course there was The Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade, (TSBHG).

Now, regular readers will know that the relationship between TSBHG and I can be a bit stormy to say the least and to be honest the whole subject of clothes shopping for the wedding raised its head before I identified the mood detecting system that is The Teenage Weathervane.

So, himself was in the land of sand and I was at EIOT Towers with the gruesome twosome and wedding clothes shopping was required.

All my skills in tact and diplomacy were required and I had to make every effort not to sound like my mum and come out with phrases like, ‘you are not being seen out in public like that’, ‘how short?’ and ‘you would look like a dog’s dinner in that’.

However, we made it and a full outfit was identified, tried on, purchased and hung up ready for the big day.

Now, as part of this shopping extravaganza was the purchase of shoes.

As part of the negotiation into appropriate clothing for the big day, I had to cede to shoes with heels – the first ever major pair.

Now as my ankles are pretty trashed my experience of wearing heels is pretty limited but with TSBHG’s young and injury free ankles then the world is her oyster or let’s say her feet’s oyster.

So, a glittery pair of heels were purchased and duly put away for the big day to be brought out yesterday morning and climbed into with all due pomp and ceremony.

Now I have to say that after an extended period of beautification and preparation TSBHG did look gorgeous, even though there were several ‘I do know that’, ‘I am not stupid you know’ and ‘I have put make up on before you know’ as I tactfully tried to give guidance and words of vague wisdom into getting ready for a great day out. Yes, the delights of getting glammed up did little for the recovery of the Mum – TSBHG – Mother/Daughter relationship.

So, off we went to the wedding, with TSBHG tottering along in high heels like a labrador puppy on a tight rope, TSTFO fidgeting in his smart chinos and muttering about food and himself in his new suit trying to be the model Godfather.

Now I ought to explain that the wedding itself was in the chapel at Pembroke Castle, a small and beautiful setting for the event.

The castle lies about an hour away from the reception venue and so in typical, highly organised fashion a coach was laid on for the guests to be transported backwards and forwards.

TSBHG had decided that in order to pass the time she would take her phone and earphones to listen to music.

So, we arrive at the chapel and are duly asked to switch off all phones and gadgets or at least put them on silent.

No problem and TSBHG duly did as she was asked – not by me I hasten to add as if she had been asked by me then I would have received a strawberry blond hand grenade death stare, some cutting comment and the phone would have been left on just to spite me.

Anyway, the service started and TSBHG sat watching with her phone in hand – with ear phones still plugged in to the gadget, thank goodness!

About halfway through the service himself, TSBHG and I looked at each other quizzically. The row of guests in front of us and behind us looked at each other quizzically.

Yes, we could all hear the faint murmur of Olly Murs in a canned fashion.

Within seconds all eyes fell on TSBHG and her phone as everybody’s ears confirmed that the music was ‘Trouble Maker’ and it was coming out of TSBHG’s earphones.

TSBHG zoomed in on her phone and desperately tried to stop the beats from coming out of the ear plugs, but no, the harder she tried the less responsive her phone was.

TSBHG was flustered to say the least and was desperately trying to activate the touch screen on her phone which was valiantly defying her panicking requests and maintaining its security stance and not allowing access.

Meanwhile Olly Murs was quite happily emitting the words ‘Trouble Maker’ out of the ear pods.

My hissed advice to pull the earphones plug out of the phone was rejected out of hand as then the song would have blurted out of the phone instead and been much louder – good point, well presented.

After what felt like several hours the touch screen suddenly remembered how to work and TSBHG  was able to terminate Mr Murs.

Now, I am sure that although the experience only lasted a matter of seconds, it felt like years and quite frankly the sound of Olly Murs singing Trouble Maker in the small, intimate environment of the castle’s chapel as the bride and groom declare their undying love for each other is really not an ideal scenario.

I did mention it to key members of the wedding later on in the day and was assured that actually nobody at the business end of events had heard any unprescribed music – I wish the same could be said for those sat in our immediate vicinity.

Just as an aside I would like to point out that TSBHG has cleared herself of any responsibility for her phone’s unrequested activity during the ceremony. No, despite it being her phone, in her control the whole incident was apparently my fault.

I am not sure how that works, but some how I was apparently responsible.

Anyway, the teenage weathervane was clearly pointing towards Tropical Storm Harvey in Texas as I could not put a foot right in my non heels as I was even blamed for the sparkly heels sinking deep into the castle’s grass during the photos.

No, the weather vane was not in my favour.

I was however slightly reassured when chatting to the bride’s mum who informed me that she had been in trouble with her daughter, (the bride), that very morning for not providing the right bread for the bacon butties to sustain everybody for the big day.

I guess it never gets any better then…

So, the day progressed beautifully.

The photo shoot was accompanied by champagne and Welsh Cakes – beautifully hand made by the groom’s mum and the bride’s grandmother.

Now, this was the next problem. You see by this point it was about three hours since TSTFO had eaten and while he had never tried a Welsh Cake the sight of them clearly had his mouth watering.

So, one quick nibble as a sample soon turned into a feast of Welsh Cakes.

This pretty much led onto a stampede of guests on the Welsh Cakes as they detected a small man who was intent on emptying the serving plates and quite frankly, and justifiably, wanted their own fair share.

The upshot of this situation is that I have now been briefed by TSTFO that I need to learn how to make Welsh Cakes and pretty damned soon!

So, a request to the bride’s grandmother will be made in the not so distant future for recipe details and an online order will be made for a Welsh Slate that apparently is integral in the preparation of these delicacies.

So, back all the guests clambered onto the bus, (or in the case of TSBHG tottering up the coach steps on her now muddy high heels), and headed back to the reception venue.

All good so far, as far as I was concerned we had had our fair share of excitement and the rest of the day should, if there is any justice in the world), go without anymore EIOT hitches.

Well, on the whole it did. There was a minor problem with TSTFO when as by the time we had got back to the hotel the Welsh Cakes had been well and truly digested and a major lack of food meltdown ensued. This was held off by himsef’s quick thinking by running up to our room, raiding the tea-tray for biscuits and bringing them back downstairs where they were devoured by TSTFO.

There was another issue – for which I will gladly put my hands up and accept responsibility. Yeap, this next one was my fault entirely – and yes TSBHG has not failed to remind me about it ever since.

You see after landing on Friday we were all pretty bog-eyed but needs must and bits of shopping were needed and so a trip to a rather large branch of Tesco’s was essential largely to allow TSBHG to pamper herself pre-wedding.

So TSBHG and I disappeared into Tesco’s somewhere deep in Wales.

Along with the copious amounts of required toiletries, the requirement for a wedding card was high on the list of priorities and I made my way to the appropriate aisle to make a suitable selection.

In my defence TSBHG was nagging to go to the cosmetic aisle and I was pretty bog-eyed but to be honest I should have paid more attention.

So, a card was spotted and placed in the trolley as I was dragged off to the aisle of smells and make up.

I never gave it another thought until it came to signing the card yesterday.

The bride and groom have a house and all the attached bits and pieces so asked for no presents or if anybody really, really wanted to give them money for the honeymoon was appreciated.

The simplicity of this appealed to our rather weary, jet lagged natures and so armed with some cash we set about the family mission of signing the card.

TSBGH started off the process and then stopped and stared at the card.

Aware that something may be amiss I dared to ask what the problem was.

As this point derision appeared in her eyes and the words ‘oh Mum, what are you like?’ crept out.

With much hilarity TSBHG pointed out that in my weary haste in Tesco’s I had actually bought a card for two women in a same sex marriage and it clearly stated this on the card – inside and out.

Now, this presented me with a problem as we had no other card with us.

Much debate ensued and it was decided that we knew the bride more than well enough to give her the card with a bit of doodling and home made alterations – she would see the funny side of it.

However, we had only met the love of her life at the wedding and while he appeared to be an absolute dude, we were not sure how he would react to a vandalised and defaced wedding card to add to their collection and look back lovingly at in many years to come.

No, we could not add it to the growing pile of cards that was piling up at the door.

But what to do? We could always snaffle some paper and highlighter pens from reception but to be honest the days of random cards with random pictures made by the gruesome twosome are well gone and any art works now mean delicate and intricate artwork on the part of TSBHG that can take days and weeks to complete and we did not have that luxury.

In anycase, the look of disdain that she would have given me had I presented her with a pile of A4 printer paper, several highlighter pens and a ballpoint pen would have propelled me further down the slippery slope into the pit of embarrassment in which I seem to swell in the eyes of TSBHG.

No, a homemade card was not an option.

So, what did we have to play with? A now ripped in half female same sex wedding card, an envelope, gift money and a pen on a chain attached to its heavy base that we had ‘borrowed’ from the room for the purposes of card writing.

There was only one thing for it, the happy couple have as a mark of our joy and delight at their nuptials an envelope daubed with signatures and good wishes and containing their gift.

I really do hope that they do not keep the envelope forever and look at it fondly in their twilight years…..

What they may look back at in the future however, may well be the rather unexpected interlude halfway through the reception, involving a drag queen, himself and some rather raucous entertainment.

Now I have to say that I thought there was something a bit unusual about one of the waiters and one of the waitresses serving on the tables at the reception.

However, in my naivety I did not think too much about it – until between the main course and desert.

Suddenly loud music echoed through the room, the lights dimmed a little and everybody except the bride and groom looked distinctly confused.

Then it happened. The slightly dodgy waiter who really did not seem like a waiter broke into song while starting to strip – well he took his tie off. It was an afternoon reception after all with young children present.

At the same time the slightly suspicious waitress appeared with a microphone and was joined by a second waitress who had pretty much passed me by.

What happened next was half an hour of crazy entertainment as the waiter/lead singer turned out to be a rather camp singer backed up by the two girls.

Now the innuendos flowed and various people were targeted for his banter – one of which was himself.

Now for those people who know himself know that he is most comfortable in the background. He does not do dancing and quite frankly would prefer the world to open up and swallow him rather than for him to be targeted by a part-time Drag Queen, (granted he was not in that costume yesterday but as a waiter), at a wedding reception.

The singing waiter clearly rumbled this and spent sometime stroking himself’s beard, announcing to the world in a deep Welsh accent but with strong overtones of campness, (is that a word?), ’he’s gorgeous he is….’ and then making him get up to dance.

I think it is fair to say that himself went paler than the grey patches in his beard and actually those patches gave him a bit of colour…..

That one is going to take some getting over.

Anyway, I have to say that the ‘Flash Mob’ approach to the wedding reception was epic and great fun – not that himself will agree! Nice one

Right, so we managed to make it through the remainder of the celebrations unscathed and more to the point so did the happy couple as far as I am aware.

I am writing today’s post en route from the back of the hire car as we head back from deepest Welsh Wales to deepest Cumbria.

One thing I have learnt from writing the blog is that things have a habit of happening as I write and there has just been a gem!

Yes, TSTFO has just played a blinder but I am not sure that the lady in question, or her dog, would agree.

Yeap, in true small man fashion he looked up from his iPad on the M56 and announced that he needed the toilet and he needed it NOW! There was no room for negotiation, either we found him a toilet within the next 10 seconds or the empty drinks bottle that was in his hand was going to be called into action.

By some stroke of luck we were within spitting distance of a motorway services and we managed to negotiate an extension to his deadline of an extra two minutes.

Anyway, himself threw the car into a parking space, (park it like you stole it has got nothing on us), and the two men in my life legged it into the services.

They reappeared a couple of minutes later, himself getting into the driving seat, putting his seat belt on and starting the engine.

I just assumed that the lack of the TSTFO was just a bout of common sense as himself really had parked it like he had stolen it and he was waiting for the car to be moved out of his rakish angle in the  parking spot.

No. Just as himself turned to ask where TSTFO was, the back door was thrown open with great force and TSTFO threw himself into the back seat at great speed and with a not inconsiderable amount of panic.

You see, it transpired that when the two men in my life came out of the services, the larger one was anxious to get driving again back to deepest Cumbria and the smaller one was, well day – dreaming.

The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the car next door to our was of a similar colour and  size.

So, whereas himself had broken left back to the drivers door of our car, the day dreaming smaller man carried on to the back passenger door of the car next door and got in.

Apparently he was slightly perplexed by the presence of a car seat strapped into the back seat but must still have been day dreaming and continued.

It was at this stage that he spotted the lady in the drivers seat and her big shaggy dog in the passenger seat……

Hence his obvious hasty exit from that car and his accelerated, super powered entry into ours.

We are not sure who was laughing most as we drove off, us or the lady in the car next door.

But it was not TSTFO who by this point was curled up in an embarrassed heap in the footwell…

So, off we head back to EIOT Towers in deepest Cumbria where I have a million jobs lined up for himself over the next couple of weeks.

Yeap, he may think that a couple of weeks of drinking local beer in the pub are required, but I have news for him.

Yeap, this afternoon we will mainly be moving Raymond The Rayburn – assuming that in our absence the plumber has been and worked his magic on all the attached water pipes.

Yeap, Operation EIOT Cooker is in operation.

Operation EIOT Cooker has come about in light of the fact that Raymond is rather elderly and weary. Nobody seems to know exactly how old Raymond is – not even the local who told us after the septic tank adventure that she could have told us it was there before hand…..

No, Raymond’s age and history remains a mystery. Apart from at some point he has been converted from solid fuel to oil.

Raymond no longer has the air in his lungs or the energy to supply us with hot water or heating and while he did manage to cook and for us it was always a tad haphazard and required lots of encouragement and coaxing.

The downturn in Raymond’s fortunes started when the plumber come round to do some plumbing type work on the house and saw the oil tank.

Now in the past the oil tank had been heavily disguised as an overgrown bush that had not had a short back and sides for many years.

However, in my mission to rediscover the garden I had cleared the bush and chain sawed the base of the plant which quite frankly would have made a 200 year old Oak tree look like an ankle biter.

After a few hours of viciously pulling the bush off the oil tank and untangling his tentacles, the oil tank was highly visible and prominent.

In was at this point that the plumber came and caught sight of the newly visible oil receptacle.

Now, his reaction was of being frozen to the spot, going a bit pale and pointing vaguely.

His opening words were – ‘I am going to pretend I have not seen that’ – pointing at the tank. He then said that it was a good job that he was not doing any work on the tank as he would not be able to and asking how on earth had we found an oil company who would have agreed to fill it.

He them went onto list the issues surrounding Raymond’s food supply.

Leaning against the side of the house, against the wall with Raymond and therefore a naked flame on the other side, balancing precariously on breeze blocks and rotten wooden planks…..the list went on.

In the end he and I agreed that he hadn’t seen it, that it had probably been there since before the rules were made, I was never to ask him to do any work on it and at some point soon bit would be sorted out wouldn’t it?

With all that completely clear it was obvious that something had to be done.

Second to that is the possibility of guests at Christmas. Now, this is very much dependent on the vagaries of various people but it was obvious that Raymond was not up to the task of a Christmas Dinner.

So decisive action had to be taken. I waited for Raymond to run out of oil, but he seemed to take on a will of his own and even though the oil tank kept telling me it was empty, in the end I took the decisive action of turning him off.

So now, we are cookerless and will be depending on the barbecue and the camping Trangia.

I am in the process of project managing various tradesmen and workmen – a bit like herding amiable and talented cats who are all free spirits.

I am optimistic that the plumber will have been in my absence and disconnected the pipework.

This afternoon we will be relegating Raymond to the barn.

I have been doing the rain dance to the Gods so that the builder may arrive on Tuesday to start the plastering behind  where Raymond has stood for many a year as it is a mess.

Rain is not usually a problem in deepest Cumbria and the builder usually welcomes indoor jobs on wet days, but the weather forecast for Tuesday is looking like a dry day! Arrgghhh the one day I actually need rain it looks like it will be sunny!

I will try to bribe him with a bacon butty – well I would if I could cook the bacon….

So, a few days of plastering etc and then getting it dry, sealed and painted.

The experts are coming to take the oil tank away next week – that should keep the plumber happy – and then we will demolish the rather ram-shackled breeze block and rotten wood arrangement.

The new range cooker, (no we have decided against a new Rayburn or Aga at the moment), is being delivered two weeks tomorrow and the electrician is primed and poised to visit anytime after that……

So, best I get on with practising my cat herding skills, will start with herding himself away from the pub this afternoon and towards taking Raymond to pieces……





Creature Comforts, Going Wappy & A Bit Of Johnny Morris…….

I think I am going a bit wappy. This may be a shock to some readers as it would appear that actually I achieved this status sometime ago.

However, as with my ongoing status of the ‘World’s Most Embarrassing Mother’, I never actually escape being within the bracket of wappiness, it is purely the depth and severity of my wappiness that varies.

Yes, the weathervane of teenage attitude and the depth of my happiness are in a state of constant fluctuation with no apparent correlation between the two.

The source of my recent descent lower into the pit of wappiness may be related to my sojourn in the land of sand or perhaps as a result of the constant rollercoaster of living with The Strawberry Hand Grenade, (TSBHG), but whatever the reason my level of questionable sanity is beyond argument.

The ongoing arctic temperatures in the house may have some bearing on this matter, as I write I am sat shivering in my Berghaus fleece and wooly socks while himself is sat by my side in a t-shirt and shorts and whinging about the heat.

I am reassured that I am in fact relatively justified in my attire as TSBHG is ruled up under a duvet in close proximity.

I am wondering if my brain has been frozen into a state of senility.

The Small Testosterone Filled One, (TSTFO), is not here to use as a gauge, (although I am sure that as he takes after his father he too would be sat in minimal attire), as he has gone out with a buddy and was last heard of playing with copious amounts of lego at his house.

Now, my state of wappiness could manifest itself via many ways and I could be found to be walking around with a pair of boxers on my head to ward off evil bad hair day spirits, howling at the moon or even arguing with myself about which would be a preferable reason for deportation from the land of sand – camel rustling or driving a car around Riyadh with Metallica blaring out of the stereo and throwing empty vodka bottles out of the window.

But no, despite sitting and drawing up lists of signs and symptoms of insanity to cross check against my own behaviour, (a somewhat loaded practise the results of which could be discounted under the circumstances), the main signs and symptoms of my deterioration have taken other forms.

Some readers may recall previous posts about various extra members of the immediate EIOT family.

Yes, I have in the past made mention of Justin Beaver and Muffy The Marmot.


It doesn’t take a lot to work out where Justin’s name comes from.

These small, fluffy creatures are in theory cuddly toys but they have become more than that over the years and are now firmly part of the fixtures and fittings both at EIOT Towers and here in the land of sand.

Now, I am not a big fan of humanising inanimate objects but even I have over the years come to think more of Justin and Muffy as living objects than stuffed toys.

Now, I have managed to keep this apparent animation in perspective and have left any interaction between Muffy, Justin and any other member of the family to a minimum.

However, over recent weeks the posse of animals has grown and we now have several speaking stuffed animals within the family. All with their own particular accents and idiosyncrasies.

We really seem to have become something from an episode of ‘Creature Comforts’

So, the catalogue of animals reads as follows:

Justin Beaver
Muffy The Marmot
BFB – Big Fluffy Beaver, an exact replica of Justin in his younger days, (he is now quite old and moth-eaten), but twice as big.

There are other peripheral characters, but these are the main players.

Now, these animated beings seem to be playing and increasingly large part in our lives and in particular mine.

It could be argued that actually interaction with the trio could be justified when their owner, TSTFO, is in the near vicinity but more recently I have found myself interacting with them in his absence and actually having full on conversations with them.

This could be classed as me talking to myself and answering myself, or I could personally see it as having conversations with three extra additions to our family.

However, whichever opinion I take both options could be seen as indicative of my wappiness.

The latest manifestation of my perilous state of mind has taken place today and has even set alarm bells ringing in my own head – perhaps if I still have a certain level of clarity left then all cannot be lost??

Yes, in the absence of TSTFO I have taken the opportunity to put Muffy and Justin through the washing machine and tumble-dryer.

Perhaps this in itself suggests a level of acknowledgement of their stuffed toy status as if I was firmly of the opinion that they were animated creatures capable of two-way conversation I would never dream of putting them in the washing machine and tumble dryer, would I?

No, BFB did not head into the spinning world of persil and comfort as he is relatively new to the household and had not reached the stinky state of Justin.

So, Justin and Muffy have with the last half hour emerged from the tumble-dryer, smelling sweetly and without a green haze surrounding them.

Now, most people would take them out of the white appliance and simply install them back from whence they came.

No, on opening the tumble dryer door I found myself engaged in a full conversation with Justin who apparently was not at all impressed about being in the washing machine and dryer followed by a conversation with Muffy about how pleased she was that Justin did not smell anymore.

Justin is now firmly placed on the coffee table, with his back to us all, nose against a vase in a strop over his new-found cleanliness.

Muffy is high on fabric softener and glowing in Justin’s misery.

BFB is completely nonplussed and is busy taking in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Price with TSBHG.

So, you can see my dilemma.

Amid my life here in the land of sand I find myself tripping gently down towards questionable levels of sanity. In the past the restrictions placed upon ladies have never bothered me, but perhaps now the limitations are taking their toll and I am hurtling towards vague levels of going around the bend.

Perhaps my mystery trip into Riyadh last week with Borat had more of an impact on me that I thought and simply accelerated my slid down the tubes to insanity.

Anyway, a possible bolt for freedom on the part of my sanity may be on the horizon and not too soon.

Yes, as a family we are all heading out of the land of sand on Friday to head over to Wales for a wedding.

Before you ask, yes Justin, Muffy and BFB will be with us.

However, as my last stab at maintaining some sort of equilibrium I am hoping that a trip out of the land of sand may just reinvent my usual levels of sanity – even if they were a tad questionable in the first place.

Aside from all this TSTFO will be home soon and will be very unimpressed that he cleanliness of two of his buddies and I am sure that more discussion springing forth from the posse.

I will of course endeavour not to get involved and certainly not introduce any animal voices with dodgy accents in the style of Johnny Morris.

Accents have never been my strong point and when combined with animal voices then it just means a fast-track to the madhouse.

Right, now that I have unburdened myself with my fear over my fading sanity in the hope that in doing so the decline may at least slow down, best I go and find something to do to occupy my aching mind…..











A Teenage Weathervane & Frozen In The Desert….???

I have spotted a pattern. Yeap. I have found a way of detecting the mood of The Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade, (TSBHG), first thing in a morning, a teenage weathervane so to speak.

Yeap. if I say to her, as my first words of the day to her, ‘Morning Gorgeous’ or ‘Morning Beautiful’ then the response is indicative of the mood of the day.

If the response is ‘Don’t call me that’ or complete silence then the weather forecast is poor and quite frankly I ought to put on my extreme survival kit and brace myself for a tornado sort of a day.

If the response is ‘Hello’, then the forecast is fair and while there may be the odd shower and maybe an occasional rumble of thunder and flash of lightning.

If the response is ‘Morning Mum, You OK?’, then the forecast is for sunshine, absolute minimal risk of showers or gale force winds – but you can never say never, so better get the flip-flops out and enjoy the weather.

So far today we have had smiles and laughter, but then himself is off work today and when he is around then there is a reversion to ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ and quite frankly butter wouldn’t melt.

So, onto other matters.

Long term readers may well not recall my ramblings in the past about environmental factors here in the land of sand – in particular those inside the house and directly related to temperature.

First of all there is of course the water issue.

Yes, despite what people may assume, water is in plentiful supply here in the land of sand. The fact that it is more expensive than petrol is irrelevant, there is water in plentiful supply.

However, at this time of the year, when the outside temperature is pushing 50℃ then the water in the pipes as it gets to the house gets pretty hot en route.

As a result, at this time of year you go way out of your way to get cold water – at almost any cost.

Now, readers may recall my make shift attempts last year at creating a cold water shower solution which were kiboshed by The Small Testosterone Filled one, (TSTFO).

Well, you will be pleased to hear that this year I have restrained myself and have not attempted such a solution and have instead just decided to take the right hook that is no cold water on the chin in true British fashion.

However, there is of course the other matter which quite frankly makes a hot shower a welcome addition.

Yes, the air-conditioning.

Once again, this has been the subject of a post in the past, (Air-Conditioning Trauma), I feel that at the moment my plight is such that it needs mention again.

You see himself is heat phobic – not good when you live in the land of sand. Any hint of an increase in temperature and panic ensues, only on his part I hasten to add.

So, that means the writing on the wall as regards the ambient temperature in the house.

Now, in the past I have been rescued to a certain extent by the rather dodgy air-conditioning which coughed and spluttered and struggled to maintain himself’s arctic requirements.

However, I now have a problem as the house. (in fact every house on the compound), has had its air-conditioning replaced with new, modern, digital, highly efficient air-conditioning units.

They shine, they hang majestically in each room and other random places.

They work. Well.

So, himself is in heat-phobic heaven.

Finally he can set a freezing temperature and be confident that the ambient temperature of that room will soon match that which shines out from the digital display.

That is bad news for me and TSBHG, (TSTFO takes after himself and is quite happy in arctic conditions).

Yes, we are frozen.

TSBHG now routinely sits with her duvet on her, not that she will blame her beloved Dad for her discomfort, oh no. Somehow, someway, the ambient temperature in the house is my fault.

I have taken to making sure I permanently have thick socks on as well as my fleece jacket.

Now the easily forgotten part about this dilemma is that despite the freezing, baltic temperatures inside the house it is still anywhere between 45 – 50℃.

So, once vaguely warm and wandering around inside in a fleece and woolly socks, you inadvertently go outside for whatever reason.

Firstly, you open the door and are greeted by a blast of hot air from the world’s biggest hair-dryer at full belt and on top temperature.

Next, you wonder outside to find that your body temperature has soared like a mercury thermometer being thrown into a furness.

Your woolly socks become nuclear thermal storage units and the inside of your fleece becomes hotter than Adam Peaty in a hot tub.

You rapidly retreat back indoors to find that your body overcompensates and the heat deserts you, you get colder than ever and usually have to revery to yet another layer.

I have considered putting signs on the inside of the doors to remind myself to remove all extra thermal layers before exiting and to be honest today’s post may well prompt me towards that action.

But whatever action I take it does not alter the fact that it is baltic in our house. My sinuses freeze every time I breath in.

On the occasions that I do remember how hot it is outside I have been known to take off the extra layers and stand outside for a few seconds just to thaw out.

It works – as long as I race to put back on the extra layers when I come back in.

Oh, the issues involved in living in the land of sand.

Right, best I head off and take full benefit of the fact that himself is at home and enjoy the good weather which is predicted by the teenage weathervane.





A Pile Of Poop & Brief Daughter Break Through………

Something quite incredible has just happened, I am more than slightly taken aback.

I just made The Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade, (TSBHG), laugh, yes, the EIOT teenager who on a good day you can elicit a grunt from actually just laughed at my very dry sense of humour and off the cuff remark.

AND, as well as actually breaking into a laugh I swear there was a vague look of affection on her face towards me. It was fleeting and over pretty much before it started but I swear it was there.

Now, lets keep this in perspective as the whole episode was so brief that it could easily have been missed and in the blink of an eye normal service of resumed. Yeap, the eyes were rolling and indistinct noises were editing from her mouth, but for a few small seconds she forgot her policy of being a teenager and reverted back to being a human.

Right, now that I have started to come to terms with this event I will turn my attention to todays blog.

Well, in line with my policy of regaling you with the various twists and turns at EIOT Towers over the last few weeks I suppose I ought to tell you about our mystery find.

You see in the whole torrid process of purchasing EIOT Towers, (For more details of the trauma of expat mortgages please refer back to the posts of August last year), we studied every document carefully and felt we were familiar with the location of all important facilities to do with the establishment.

This included the site of the septic tank.

Now in theory we were right, the deeds did in fact show a septic tank there.

So, onto the background information.

One of the first jobs that had to be done at EIOT Towers was to sort out the cellar.

When we bought the house the cellar was packed with junk and rubbish and many, many trips to the local tip were required.

It then became apparent that one room was wet, not just damp, but wet – soaked.

There was a pile of carpet in a corner that quite frankly was soaked, stinky and mouldy, the various layers of grot were more than slightly disgusting to move.

Anyway, we assumed that the water had come from the previous incumbent’s washing machine and assumed that all was resolved with our shiny, new Hotpoint number that most certainly did not leak.


In moved the builders to sort out the cellar, with its lack of ceiling, massive holes in walls and peeling plaster……

Now I know what you are thinking, septic tanks and wet cellars – well not quite but keep reading…..

So, in moved the builders.

It was about this time that deepest darkest Cumbria and its own micro-climate kicked in and the heavens opened and the true source of the water was found.

Yeap, in true gash DIY fashion there was a drain-pipe that led into a water-butt on the outside of the wall.

All good so far, except that the water-butt leaked more water than it held and the drain pipe ended at the water-butt.

So basically the water-butt was just a receptacle for stalling the descent of the water, all of which left the water-butt and headed into the cellar.

So, decisive action was needed.

Welcome on stage again the local hero that is the local water expert.

Yes, long-term readers may well recall my ramblings about the heroic husband of my friend at the bottom of the hill who has diversified from being a farmer, (although he still keeps several hundred sheep, cows and acres of land ‘more as a hobby than anything else’), to being the local expert on spring fed water systems, drainage systems and pulls it all together under the umbrella of a ground works company.

Yes, he and his sons, (with whom he works), have spent many hours with heads bent over our water spring and holding tank, talking in deepest Cumbrian accents, (that ‘incomers’ like us need an interpreter to understand), trying to solve the mysteries of our water supply.

So, like knights in shining armour they arrived with diggers with the ultimate aim of creating a soak away at the bottom of the garden with all the associated pipework to stop the damned water from heading southwards into our cellar.

I ought to point out that on the same day everybody descended.

The builders decided that this was the day to knock a hole in the side of the house that could easily have been created by a wrecking ball, the landscaper appeared to build the fence and then of course there were the ground works guys.

The only people missing were the plumbers, carpenters and electrician who thank fully had other things to do that day or that may just send me over the edge.

So, the garden was full of diggers, stone cutters, bits of fence and concrete mixers. And oh yes, several big burly men.

We knew that there was a waste pipe that led out from the house into the garden, but naively assumed that this turned 90° and headed towards the septic tank listed on the deeds.

We briefed the guys in their diggers on this and left them to their own devices.

Cups of tea were made, chocolate biscuits dispensed and they all got on with what they were doing.

The beauty of using local tradesmen and craftsmen is on the one hand they all know each other and when needed lend a hand to each other. On the other hand they all know each other and when one stops work to scratch his chin, they all stop and scratch their chins. They all speak deepest, darkest Cumbrian so if there is any hint of a problem you do have to ask for a translation to get a grasp on what the latest situation is.

At this point I decided the best thing I could do would be to go out. Himself was at home and quite frankly as I spend a considerable amount of my time working with tradesmen when he is in the land of sand, I felt quite justified in going out and leaving him to shoulder the responsibility.

I came back a couple of hours later and knew something was amiss when himself met me as I got out of the car.

He was vaguely green about the gills and to be honest as I breathed in I too started to fill a bit queasy.

Now, I ought to explain that where we park the car is near our barn, across the track from EIOT Towers and about 50 yards from the garden.

Yes, there was an aroma in the air.

The story behind the aroma was that the same as us the hero of the ground works business had assumed a 90° bend in the waste pipe and had been happily digging a hole for the soak away at the bottom of the garden – with their digger.

Apparently they had hit something hard, but thinking that it was just fine Cumbrian stone had persevered……..

Apparently it was at this point that there was a loud crack as the final grains of soil were scrapped away from a concrete slab and it split in half.

As it split in half it caved in at the middle and sunk, with full ceremonial honours, gurgles and bubbles to the bottom of a full septic tank.

At this point everybody had downed tools and had congregated around the new discovery – but not for long.

No, the fact that this septic tank had lain untouched for at least 40 years but functioning quite happily was testament to the quality of its construction, but that did not make it any more pleasant on its discovery and everywhere within a radius of around a mile knew that it had been found.

Yes, 40+ years of congealed poo smells.

So, I returned home shortly after the grim discovery, just as all the tradesmen decided that it was time to take early lunches or any other reason to vacate the garden  – all except the heroic ground works guys I hasten to add who barely batted an eyelid.

Another look at the deeds confirmed that our second septic tank was not listed anywhere and was indeed another curved ball that the house had thrown at us.

So, at this point I decided I had better go out again.

I came back to find a very different scenario.

The tank had been emptied and the ground works guys had drawn straws about who was going in to rescue the broken concrete slab, which was by now lying majestically on the ground glowing gently with a strong coat of congealed poop and drying in the sunlight.

A new slab had been placed over the secret septic tank, the soak away was under construction at another site in the garden, the pipework was in situ and as far as the ground works guys were concerned it was just another day at the office.

By the end of the day you would never have known of any trauma in the garden that day.

By the way, the new drain pipe system works perfectly, the cellar has dried out and quite frankly is starting to look fab.

Oh yes, as an aside, that evening as I was into garden, planning the next stage of development when one of the locals popped her nose over the wall and commented that we had had quite a day hadn’t we?

I replied in the positive and explained about our new, stinky discovery.

At which point she muttered the immortal words, ‘oh yes, I knew that was there, been there many a year or two. I could ‘ave told you about that’, and then wondered off.

Aaaaarrgghhh……………….is it me?




Driven By Borat & My Descent Into the Abyss Of Teenage Embarrassment…..???

So, when I came back to the land of sand with the gruesome twosome for a few weeks I was anticipating a quiet time, relaxation, no adventures and the chance to regale you all with the crazy adventures, incidents and discoveries at EIOT Towers.

But no, a matter of days in and the first land of sand adventure has befallen me and to be honest has broken me very unceremoniously back into life among the camels.

Now, I will go on to unburden myself later in today’s post with my slide down the slippery slope into the mire of being the world’s most embarrassing mother with The Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade, (TSBHG), but first I feel I must cleanse my traumatised soul with the events of this morning.

You see, as part of my endless, self-extending and potentially endless quest to leave the land of sand there is a necessity to acquire a security or police check.

This works along the same lines as a DBS, (or previous CRB check), and basically confirms that in my time in Kingdom I have behaved myself and have not been arrested or convicted of anything.

The truth of the matter is that if I had committed some heinous crime I would either have ended up in the renowned ‘Chop-Chop Square’ or deported, not running around trying to get a certificate in Arabic that says I behaved myself.

But no, in order to be squeaky clean in the employment bunfight of the UK it is a good piece of paper to have.

So, while here the plan involved getting hold of the said piece of paper.

In order to achieve this there are several hoops to be jumped through and as I am a woman in Saudi, these were initially best completed by himself.

So, on arrival the initial hoops had been well and truly jumped through, a certificate from the British Embassy was waiting for me and I was informed that I had to be in an admin office at 0730 this morning to be transported to somewhere to do something that equated to jumping through the next hoop.

Now, there are a few points here which are pertinent.

Firstly the certificate from the British Embassy. This was quite an imposing document and I have to say that with its large wax stamp on it and almost parchment feel it would have been more at home as a prop in the set of Poldark than in the 21st Century as a tool to confirm my upstanding character and clean slate.

Next there was the requirement to be in the admin office at 0730 this morning.

I do not do mornings, but I made the effort and got myself there on time, grumpily.

Thirdly, the admin office in question is a relatively long way away, beyond the first security gate therefore necessitating the need for a black abaya. The outside temperature at 0715 this morning was already 30℃ plus and in order not to cook too much cycling was much more favourable than walking.

Don’t forget that women are still not allowed to drive in the land of sand – the reasons stated include driving causing misalignment of the pelvis which then results in infertility, the vibrations of the engine may mean that the female drivers may enjoy it a little too much and finally that women driving would increase levels of female homosexuality.

So, independent travel around the compound is either on foot on on a bike.

So, cycling in an Abaya. I have done it before but for obvious reasons not very often.

Climbing onto a bike with a crossbar is not a ladylike mission in the first place but with an abaya on it is akin to a suicide mission. Get the fabric in the wrong place and you either choke as you sit down or it gets caught in the chain and the whole ensemble disintegrates.

Whichever way once you start peddling some part of it invariably gets caught somewhere and you are lucky to make it to your destination without falling off at least once.

They then billow and blow and quite frankly the whole philosophy of abayas goes out of the window and the object of the exercise is neutralised.

Anyway, I made it out of the first check point and to the bike rack miraculously unscathed, climbed off my bike as ungraciously as I got on and went to the office where I was told a driver, (or broker), would meet me.

Problem number one, the powers that be had not booked the driver.

One was hastily summoned and 45 minutes later in he strolled.

Now, I ought to point out that when himself informed me that I had to go somewhere to do something as the next stage of the process I assumed that he would take me.

That idea was quickly dispelled as I was informed by himself that I would be going with a driver and he would be at work.

Now, this did not go down well. The whole concept of me getting into a car with an unknown local with minimal english, going to a thus far unknown destination in the middle of Riyadh was a little hard to take.

But that was the case and no amount of kicking and screaming on my part was going to change it.

So, there he stood – my driver.

Now, I am trying to find a way of describing him. Firstly I feel I ought to say that I am sure that the gentleman in question was a very nice, friendly chap – but as he spoke about as much english as I speak arabic then it was hard to confirm that theory.

So, there he stood in his immaculate, white thobe with pristinely ironed keffiyah, (traditional Saudi male headwear as per the camel at the start of the post), fashioned to fall gracefully across his shoulders as all local chaps tend to do.

Lots of the local chaps have black beards and moustaches, but his goaty and tash were jet black – Grecian 2000 jet black.

His sunglasses were impressive and were the sort that underworld types in New York wear.

Yes, the truth dawned on me, I was to be driven to an undisclosed location somewhere in Riyadh by Borat.

He was chewing on his gum as we walked out of the building, me very aware that I was getting into a car with a man resembling Borat, who I didn’t know, couldn’t communicate with, in Riyadh, to an unknown destination with nobody else around.

So, off we set on our magical mystery tour, complete silence in the car except for the sound of his chomping on chewing gum and the usual sounds of travel in Riyadh, screeching brakes, yelling tyres, police sirens, prolonged use of car horns and what can only be guessed as being arabic swearing being projected out of car windows.

Now, I have to say at this point that Borat did not fall into this category and I actually felt very safe with his driving. The only occasion where he did take evasive action was unfortunately just as a took a swig out of my water bottle which resulted in an eye full of water and an almost lost contact lens – but almost is not quite and the lens stayed where it should be.

Which is quite a good job as I was desperately trying to make mental notes of our route just in case I was heading anywhere other than the location of the next security check hoop.

Today, I went to places in Riyadh that I have never been to before and quite frankly do not want to go to again and it was all a tad disconcerting.

Now, it was at this point that I iMessaged himself as I was convinced that in my best interests and safety he would be stalking me on ‘Find My iPhone’.

The text message ran as follows:

So, as you can see I really was on my own.

Anyway, after Borat stopped to ask a taxi driver where the still undisclosed destination was, we eventually made it to a building that was surprisingly bedecked with a big sign saying ‘Police Check Department’.

Borat guided me into a door and I knew that we had a problem as the sign said ‘Men Only’, but several years in the land of sand have taught me not to question the locals – especially male ones – so I was not at all surprised when a holy furore broke out when I walked in.

Yes, the frantic arm waving, gesticulation and rapid speech was reminiscent of when I innocently walked into a male only mobile phone store a few years ago.

That is another story for another day.

Anyway, Borat rapidly steered me back out with all due haste and we soon found the ‘Women’s Only’ section.

I was quite relieved when he handed me my passport and residency permit and waved me in alone.

At least if I didn’t make it home it could be evidenced that I had been there if there had been a search for me.

The next few minutes of the process were quite routine and I came back out to find Borat chilling in the car.

We set off home – this time I didn’t assume that himself was tracking me for my own good and instead followed the route on my phone as we homed in on the compound.

Relief slowly overtook me as we pulled into the first check point and then back to the admin building.

I was back.

The return journey on my bike was as tricky but uneventful as the first and I finally stumbled back into the house, sweaty and flustered not to welcome greetings from the gruesome twosome but to the question, ‘have you brought anything in to eat?…….’

I feel that I ought to say that I was clearly correct in my impression of Borat being a thoroughly good man and his driving was immaculate.

Thank you!

So, onto the acquisition of my position of ‘World’s Most Embarrassing Mother’

Well, what can I say, other than to a large extent I did deserve it but I do not deserve to be reminded of it on a daily basis.

I hasten to point out that this mantle is only in the eyes of TSBHG, The Small Testosterone Filled One, (TSTFO), is still in the phase where his old Mum can do no wrong and she is there to be protected and cuddled.

But yes, back to TSBHG.

Before I go any further I ought to point out that even without the enormous bloomer that I dropped, TSBHG is at ‘that’ age. Yes ‘that’ age where it is not cool to be excited, happy or any other emotional state that shows any element of positivity.

I spend my life being viewed with derision and disgust by TSBHG – something that I am told is completely normal.

We fight tooth and nail, not only because of her age but also because she is of course, a ‘mini-me’.


When I sing or dance I am abruptly told to stop – something which just makes me do it even more.

I actually think she is embarrassed by my breathing and existing on a regular basis.

Yes, she is a teenager.

So, onto my bloomer.

In true, fine educational fashion the gruesome twosome’s school puts on annual displays of thespian activity with pomp and ceremony.

These are no humorous productions on minimal budgets here, such as we had each Christmas at our school with tea-towels on heads, Grandma’s old coat as a dress and an old rug covering a bent over pupil and a papermache donkey’s head on another.

Oh no, these are grand affairs, put together by the drama teacher and to a standard that the highest level drama schools would be proud of.

So, when TSBHG auditioned for a production and was given a leading role we were delighted and proud. Needless to say we supported her and encouraged her as much as was humanly possible – even if all our efforts were greeted with a grunt and roll of the eyes.

We persevered.

The production was on a Monday and Tuesday evening and on the Sunday before we were informed that there was a mandatory dress rehearsal. Miss it at your peril.

Needless to say that this went down like a lead balloon with our teenage prodigy who was more than slightly miffed that her one day off of the week was to be sacrificed but tough, we had had a three line whip and she was going.

So, I dropped her off at 1200, telling her as she slammed the car door and rolled her eyes that I would be back at 1700 to collect her.

At 1650 I walked into the auditorium to be greeted by about 30 teenagers who had clearly been confined to the zone for the afternoon and were bouncing off the walls.

As I walked through the door the rather beleaguered and stressed drama teacher made a beeline for me. The conversation went along the lines of:

Beleaguered teacher: ‘Oh Mrs EIOT, I am so worried. TSBHG does not know her lines and tomorrow is the first night’

Now, it takes a bit more than that to make me panic so I calmly said that it was no problem, we would make sure all the lines were learnt that evening and all would be well.

At this point I glanced around to see TSBHG on the stage, casually kick and punch a fellow student.

That sort of behaviour is completely unacceptable in our household and I bellowed across the busy auditorium:


There was nothing subtle about this. The whole auditorium fell silent. The technician took his finger off the ON button and the music stopped. Everybody turned around and looked at me.

After what seemed an eternity of me, (the wrong person), being in the spotlight, the slightly harassed, (now even more harassed), drama teacher tapped me on the shoulder and muttered the words that will rattle around in my head forever:

‘Mrs EIOT – it is part of the play’……..

Oh no, oh dear, what a bloomer. The usual level of derision in which I am held by TSBHG was clearly sinking to a new low.

At this point the auditorium started to whirring back into life as TSBHG stomped over to me with the words, ‘we are leaving, now’

Well, to say that the journey home was frosty is an understatement.

We got back to EIOT Towers and she regaled the story to himself who actually did very well to keep a straight face and soothe her wounded pride, well to her face anyway. Away from her he rolled around on the floor laughing.

Needless to say I was not the person to go through her lines with her that evening and himself and TSBHG made a fine job of perfecting every last sentance.

My discomfort at the situation was just augmented the following night at the performance when chatting to the headmaster’s wife about my small error of judgement when she casually said, ‘oh yes, I heard about that’.

A few days later a parent made pretty much the same comment.

My descent into the dark and lonely world of parental ostracism has continued ever since with the whole seedy experience being thrown back at me on regular occasions.

Oh well, best make myself comfortable in my embarrassing mum zone, think I might be here for some time.

So, I seem to have smashed to smithereens my new principle of no extra long posts, but in my defence I was not expecting the excitement of this mornings mystery tour with Borat.

So, best I go off and attempt to instigate a conversation with TSBHG, keep an ear open for the sound of tutting, eye rolling and door slamming from the land of sand – I am sure it will be perfectly audible from wherever you happen to be in the world.








Dry Stone Walls, Flip Flops, Helicopters & Usain Bolt’s Thighs……???

All is not lost! I am here, I live, (only just – but more of that later), and I am here to report on more exploits, excitement and general chaos in the land of Every Inch of Tarmac.

First and foremost I apologise for my absence from your lives for a prolonged period. Yes, I know, acknowledge and appreciate that many of you may not have even noticed my absence let alone felt bereft at the great glaring whole in your literary reading, but in my mind a naive belief that such appreciation is felt is integral to maintaining a stable state and general well-being.

So, I hear you ask, what provoked such an abrupt and unannounced departure from my usual ramblings?

Well I could bore you to tears with tales of bouncing backwards and forwards between the land of sand and deepest, darkest Cumbria, trying to keep the Strawberry Blond Hand Grenade (SBHG), on an even keel, the endless and relentless task of keeping The Small Testosterone Filled One, (TSTFO), fed and watered, trying to sort out my career, house renovations, project managing numerous tradesmen and craftsmen and last but not least discussing very patiently and politely with the corporate monster that is BT why the phone and Internet has gone off, but that would be boring as much for me as for you.

So, instead I have whittled down the events of the last few months as much as possible and will keep the various tales of woe, hilarity, despair and pain as humorous and entertaining as I possibly can.

So much has happened that I feel listing it all in one post would make War & Peace look like a magazine article so I will space out my ramblings over the next few posts to keep you in suspense.


You see it has been a varied and entertaining few months which on the face of it may sound exciting, exotic and extravagant with international travel, challenging but progressive career prospects and of course the many, many curved balls which EIOT Towers continues to thrust in our direction.

The international travel aspect has been nothing more exciting than me bouncing backwards and forwards between the land of sand and deepest, darkest Cumbria like the proverbial British Airways beach ball on a set course and not to be deterred. Yes, I have been trying to keep everybody happy. On the one hand the gruesome twosome with their many and varied school plays, concerts, sports events, (I did manage to duck out of the Mum’s race at Sports Day much to their disgust), Speech Day and holiday sports courses. On the other hand there is of course himself’s employer who sets strict guidelines of time in the land of sand in direct proportion to various factors which make up part of his package and step over those boundaries at your peril.

So yes, I have bust a gut of late to keep everybody happy .

Then of course there is the not so international travel portion of my adventures, but aeronautical travel none the less.


Yes, I was a berk, yes I was stupid, yes I had an accident and yes I am more than a little lucky that it was not a heck of a lot worse. Finally, yes I have had dressing down from everybody from Air Ambulance Drs to the old farmer up the Dale who saw the excitement unfold.

It was the weekend of the last week of school so I was at EIOT Towers priming myself for the latest onslaught of concerts and sports events. The sun was shining and as there was a lull in events that day I busied myself with starting the mammoth task of painting the back of the house.

The day was spent climbing 20ft ladders with health and safety at the forefront of my mind. Ladders were checked and double checked to make sure of symmetry, angles and safety catches and a productive afternoon was spent with a paintbrush and can of masonry paint. This is the supreme irony of the situation – safety had been paramount.

Later afternoon arrived, TSTFO had not eaten for 10 minutes, was wasting away and was in imminent danger of starvation so I cleared away, showered and set about preparing a hearty meal to try to fill him up.

This meal consisted of jacket potatoes and several types of meat – a smorgasbord of carnivorous delights to feed the starving small man.

As the sun was still shining I elected to barbecue the meaty delights, made my way outside and proceeded to turn the delights into charcoal.

Now I know what you are thinking here, a barbecue incident occurred and various parts of my anatomy were cooked rather than the meaty treats. Sorry, wrong. If only it had been and then I wouldn’t have looked such a wally.

No, the cooking proceeded well and with just a couple more minutes needed I was wondering around our developing garden trying to kill time – not myself I hasten to add.

At this point I spotted a hanging basket that during recent work had been taken down and not rehung. Well, in my wisdom I decided that such a simple task would fill the hiatus while I waited for the meat to get really charcoaly.

My first instinct was to go and fetch the ladders from the back of the house but a moment of stupidity took over as I decided it would be quicker and easier to climb onto the dry stone wall and reach across to the bracket.

At this point I should sheepishly point out that I was wearing flip flops.

Well, I probably do not need to fill in the gaps, suffice to say that I fell from around 8ft with a loud crack onto my head and elbow.

I am not sure about the following course of events, apart from shouting the gruesome twosome who fetched our nearest neighbours.

My next recollection is sitting with various tea-towels and ice being pressed against various parts of my anatomy with one of my neighbours trying to keep me focused.

At this point we heard a helicopter in the distance. Thinking it was just a rich weekender out for a spin on a beautiful summer’s evening we thought nothing of it.

Then it got closer and a shiver of panic overtook me, not because of the torrent of blood gushing out of the back of head or the fact that my arm looked similar to a prize marrow in the village show, but because the realisation that the Air Ambulance had been sent to a stupid woman who should have know better had decided to climb up onto a dry stone wall in her flip flops.

Yes, we live in the middle of nowhere and to a certain extent the Air Ambulance is sent out to all incidents as routine, but how embarrassing.

Yeap, they landed in the sheep field and I was suddenly greeted by the whole crew – Dr, pilots, observer and to add insult to injury a first responder and regular ambulance then appeared.

Yeap, I had a sizeable proportion of the local NHS stood in my garden.

Once they confirmed that I was stupid for doing what I had done the decision was taken to assess me in the ambulance and after that I was driven the 50 yards or so to the sheep field where I was loaded into the helicopter and transported to the trauma unit some 30 miles away.

It was about this time that I had my first ever dose of morphine……….

Aside from the medicinal effects of the morphine, I did comment that I was sure that they all had better things to do than deal with a stupid woman who should have know better and I did ask if my neighbour could drive me to hospital to free them all up for much needier cases – but that idea was soon shot down with some comment about head injuries and I was very unceremoniously loaded into the helicopter and taken like an Amazon parcel on a drone to an expectant customer waiting for their goodies.

Yes, there my self-inflicted humiliation continued. You see the hospital had got the message to expect a middle-aged woman who had fallen off a ladder from a great height onto her head.

Partly true I know.

So, I was wheeled into resus to be greeted by what seemed to be rest of the NHS who had been dragged off wards, probably out of theatre and off breaks to deal with a skull in a thousand pieces and bits of cerebellum leaking out of ears.

Instead they were greeted by me.

Yes, I was a blood soaked, dishevelled mess, yes every part of my ached and yes by this point my arm resembled Usain Bolt’s thigh, not as delicious to touch or as sculpted but the same sort of size.

(At this point I feel I ought to point out that I have never been fortunate enough to touch Usain Bolt’s thighs – only in my dreams – but imagination is a powerful tool).

At this point I swear I heard sighs of disappointment as I apologised for my relatively minor injuries and the posse of surgeons, anaesthetists, consultants, trauma nurses and other added professionals dispersed.

A long evening of CT scans, x-Ray’s and Glasgow Coma Scales proved that I was one of the luckiest people around and every member of staff made sure I knew it. Finally a row of surgical staples pieced my scalp back together and I was packed off home at midnight.

Yeap, my arm was a mess but to everybody’s ongoing astonishment it was not broken – bones of iron in our family.

But yes, it was, (and still is), damned painful.

But it wasn’t broken and so that wasn’t my immediate problem.

You see as is well know we live in the middle of nowhere. There is one bus a week to the local town and if you miss that you are scuppered.

Now, thanks to The Great North Air Ambulance Service I had been chauffeured some 40 miles away from home on a beautiful summers evening over some of the most breath taking countryside to the nearest trauma unit. Despite seeing stars and the world spinning I had had a birds eye view of the splendour.

But that did not help me to get home, to deepest darkest Cumbria at midnight on a Sunday night/Monday morning.

I didn’t think the Air Ambulance would appreciate a request for a lift home or that the sheep in the field would fancy being disturbed once more, so I was on my own.

Hence a taxi ride and second mortgage to pay for it.

The taxi ride was not without its challenges. I was greeted with world’s most talkative taxi driver who once he told me about all his ailments then insisted on going to the McDonald’s drive thru for a dose of caffeine to keep him awake all the way back to my house.

I seem to recall saying a silent prayer, (and don’t forget that I am one of the most unreligious people around so I must have been worried), explaining my concerns that if I pitched back up in A&E again tonight then they would be completely justified in ignoring me and leaving me on a trolley in a corridor.

Anyway, we made it back in one piece and I assume he made the return journey quite safely as well, but he would have been disappointed if he had expected a McDonald’s drive thru anywhere near EIOT Towers. We could probably have mustered the milk from a random cow in a field and a few nettles for nettle tea, but anything further would have been too much to expect.

So, I was home. Concussed and not on top form but I was home. The gruesome twosome had been taken in like homeless strays for the night by the heroic neighbours and I busied myself for the next hour in the shower unmatting my blood soaked hair with my one good hand while trying to remain motionless to avoid the aching that was ricocheting through every part of my body.

Now I ought to point out that it was only at this point that I let himself know about events as I knew that communication with the land of sand before being given the all clear would result in worry and panic several thousand miles away and that was to be avoided at all costs.

So, I fessed up with a torrent of iMessages that would be waiting for when we woke the next day.

But there was another problem.

Yes, our heroic neighbours had stepped in with the gruesome twosome and they were tucked up in hastily put up beds fast asleep and they were heroically offered to take them to school next morning, but what then?

There was no way I could drive, between my head spinning and Usain Bolt’s thigh getting behind the wheel was a no-no.

It seemed massively over dramatic to send for himself as I knew that in a matter of days I would be functioning again – at some level.

No, there was only one thing for it.

Call in the Godfather.

Yes, now you may recall the heroic virtues of the kids’ Godfather who also happens to be one of our oldest friends.

For those of you unaware of his heroic tendencies, I will refer you to the post The Godfather……A Hero In A Trump Type Word….. There are other posts that refer to the legend of The Godfather but this will give you a good insight.

Now I called The Godfather from the hospital to ask for his help which he readily agreed to, with the caveat that he would come over the following day as he had already enjoyed a couple of Pimms  on the lawn and couldn’t possibly drive.

So, in true knight in shining fashion The Godfather appeared the next day to find a slightly dishevelled heap on the sofa.

He immediately took over the reins, donned an apron and set about creating culinary masterpieces to fill the gruesome twosome.

Yes, the day, and week for that matter, was saved by The Godfather and once again we are indebted to him for his services.

Within five days I was able to take over the vaguest of responsibilities again, although at a very slow pace and with aches and pains and the legend that is The Godfather disappeared from whence he came.

The recovery has been slow and to be honest I am still wincing at times, but hey ho, that will teach me to climb onto a dry stone wall in my flip flops…..

Right, while I am being vaguely serious I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank everybody who played a part in piecing me back tog

ether again after I nearly did myself in.

Thanks got to the neighbours, the ambulance service, the Air Ambulance Service, the local farmer for not getting grumpy about a helicopter landing in his sheep field, the much bemoaned NHS and The Godfather. Last but not least thanks go to the McDonalds Drive Thru for still being open and selling a coffee to my talkative taxi driver and giving him a much-needed caffeine boost to get me home and not back into A&E.

So, the next instalment of chaos will be posted imminently, but what will it be about? Perhaps the stinky surprise at the house, or my moment of glory in court or maybe the evidence behind my status as the world’s most embarrassing mother?

Oh there is so much to choose from…..







Clean Car Share Knickers, ‘Done My Time’, Caged Animals & CFOP’s….

Well, the more astute and avid EIOT readers may well have surmised that the lack of ramblings from the blog may well have meant that things in the EIOT household have been at a low ebb – and you would not be wrong.

Yes, the gruesome twosome are still in situ and that in itself is fantastic. We are having a great time but to be honest not even the presence of my offspring can lift me from my ‘I have done my time in Saudi and want to go home’ strop.

Yeap, as I have alluded to over recent posts, (well, not that recent as the EIOT blog has gathered virtual dust, cobwebs and a musty moth ball type smell due to neglect over the last few weeks), I am ready to go home.

Now, this does not mean that himself is going. Oh no, he is adamant he is staying for the moment and it does not mean that divorce, separation, alienation, estrangement or dissolution is imminent – far from it. I am just ready to go home.

Now, this state of affairs is not as easy as it sounds.

You see as part of the ‘package’ himself is paid a reasonable amount for me to sit here, be grumpy and in my ‘I have done my time in Saudi and want to go home’ strop. Not least of which is the boarding school allowance.

And so, until I have sorted myself out and climbed back onto the hamster wheel of UK employment, I have to tow the official party line and not be out of Kingdom for any more than 150 days a year.

So, plans are afoot and the next few weeks should see some progress on my dastardly escape plan that will make ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ and ‘The Great Escape’ look like a combination of an amble around Legoland and a night out with Ed Sheeran.

More of that over the coming weeks and months.

Yes, things have got a bit dire and to be honest even a fantastic few days in Abu Dhabi last week has done little to blunt the pain.

Now, I would love to say that the sojourn over the border to AD was in an attempt to restore my sanity, but no. You see we have a strategic dilemma on our hands when the gruesome twosome are in situ.

They too have done their time in Saudi in the past but we have royally shot ourselves in the foot by letting them go to a fab school in deepest Cumbria where quite frankly abseiling, climbing, gorge-walking, mountain biking etc is an everyday occurrence and being inside is deeply frowned upon.

So, imagine a gruesome twosome who love that lifestyle and are promptly brought back to the land of sand on the brink of summer. Yes, double whammy. The land of sand and the brink of summer.

By the end of week one things were going downhill. Not too badly with the strawberry blond hand grenade who while being slightly twitchy was coping well.

No, it was the small testosterone filled one. By the end of week one he was taking on the persona of a caged animal.

Mischief was turning to grumpiness and the frequency and volume of his bored sighs started to reach meteoric proportions.

Not even the presence of his beloved xBox could soften the blow.

We knew that with three weeks left of the holidays drastic action was needed.

Yes, that was the reason behind our spontaneous trip to Abu Dhabi.

It worked – while we were there and for a few days after.

He was run ragged at water parks, ‘Bounce’, swimming pools and yes even being dragged around Yas Mall was enough to take the edge of his energy levels and return him to his normal amicable self. Not that he would agree with the Yas Mall bit, shopping is not his forte.

But that was all a few days ago now and yes the caged animal is returning.

However, there is one blessed relief.

He has discovered Rubiks Cubes.

Yes, this is his own personal crusade and we are really rather impressed.

He has now mastered a standard 3×3 Rubik’s and consistently completes it usually in less than 3 minutes.

It is turning into an obsession with competitive ‘Rubiksing’ between the two men in my life becoming the centre piece of our lives.

Yes, the conversation is constantly relating to algorithms, acronyms such as ‘fur’ and ‘fur’, edge flips, corner twirls, ‘CFOP’ & speed cubes.

I always thought that Rubik’s Cubes were simply 26 pieces of plastic of varying colours that were impossible to get in the right order.

No, how wrong could I be.

No, apparently there is a whole scientific formula to solving them, online clubs and forums and numerous different types of cubes.

I did make the point of asking at one point what was the point in owning more than one Rubik’s cube as surely all cubes are the same? Well. the look of derision could have sunk the entire American fleet that is currently blazing a trail towards North Korea.

I won’t ask again and I won’t get any further involved in the interests of my health.

Apart from the distraction of the scientific evaluation of solving a Rubik’s Cube, the small testosterone filled one’s energy is being funnelled through use of the various sporting facilities on the compound – all of which needless to say he can do without batting an eyelid. I find myself wondering who has worked hardest when the two men in my life return from the squash courts….

Then of course there is his xBox which has turned out to be a God Send. Yes, himself produced some derisory comments when I brought it back from EIOT Towers on my last visit, sarcastically commenting about video games and TV watching.

Well, he has changed his tune now I can tell you!

Yes, I have even resorted to taking advantage of Microsoft’s current offer on 1 month’s free Live Gold access – life saver!

OK, time to fess up here. He is not the only one who is enjoying the xBox and the 1 month free xBox Gold access.

No, I am not talking about himself, or the strawberry blond hand grenade.

Readers may recall my dilemma in the last post When In Doubt, Ask A Nine Year Old Or A Strawberry Blond….. Yeap, I was struggling with the concept of FIFA 17 on the xBox and had sent out an SOS on the compound’s Facebook page asking for assistance from FIFA 17 players to play against the small testosterone filled one as quite frankly I could not get my head around it.

Well, I am no further forward with my struggle and FIFA 17 but a steady supply of other small testosterone filled ones from around the compound have rescued me from that dilemma and as long as there is a constant supply of Pringles and various drinks I am safe.

However, I have found that I have a certain weakness and some not inconsiderable skill with other games – in particular ‘Rocket League’ and ‘Flat Out 4 Insanity’.

Now these are both driving games and I do not know if this is something to do with living in the land of sand and pent up driving frustration or just sheer talent on my part but whatever it is the small testosterone filled one and I are having a ball – especially now that I have taken advantage of Microsoft’s offer of 1 month’s free Live Gold access.

Yes, the small man and I make quite a team against other gamers across the world and I have to say that we are putting up quite a good fight and are representing the UK with quite some aplomb.

Now, according to the small testosterone filled one this has firmly put me in the status bracket of cool Mummy. Not only can I play but I can play well and enjoy it.

Ha! All those yummy mummy’s in their designer clothes eat their hearts out – I have official ‘Cool Mummy’ status from my son.

However, I am expecting a backlash from other compound mum’s in the coming weeks.

On a visit from one of the small one’s FIFA 17 playing buddies I somehow got roped into a game of Rocket League.

After a few minutes I became aware of being stared at and one of the cars on the screen came to a stop.

I turned round to see the visiting small man staring at me, transfixed and motionless. His jaw had dropped he was unblinking.

Whoops – sorry to this young man’s Mum who is now probably being nagged as his buddy’s ‘Mum plays Rocket League with him so why can’t you play with me?’


So what else has been happening?

Well, my current state of despair has been lifted by the legend that is Peter Kay and the BBC’s somewhat puzzling decision to post all four episodes of Series 2 of ‘Car Share’ on iPlayer before they have all been aired on BBC 1.

Whatever their reasoning I am not going to moan, all four episodes have been downloaded and watched.

Now I made the immediate EIOT family sit through episode 1. Not a massive success as they have not watched Series 1 and so were a little lost.

So, I resorted to the rest of Series 2 on my laptop with headphones.

Well, after several visits from himself to check on my sanity and state of health I made it to the end of each episode.

It is a long time since I have laughed like that and the use of headphones just added to the magic.

Episode 3 with the monkey – classic!

Well anyway, one emergency trip to the bathroom and a dry pair of knickers later the family want to watch it.

I wasn’t sure that it is really child friendly viewing and was considering the dilemma when I glanced at the strawberry blond hand grenade and what she was watching on her laptop…..

Too late! Series 1 was ongoing and it was the episode that discussed dogging.

I suppose that settles that one, if she has watched that she might as well watch the whole damned series!

I think her reaction was a lot calmer than mine and himself’s, guess that is that part of the birds and bees conversation covered then..

Then of course there is the Broadchurch conundrum. I have to say that I think I rumbled this a few weeks ago, but in true Broadchurch style there is bound to be a massive twist that makes the roller-coaster at Alton Towers look tame.

I have reached the grand conclusion that between Car Share and Broadchurch I am destined to be a nervous quivering wreck…

So, my next dilemma is another programme that I have downloaded and if I am in any fit state, mentally and physically to cope with it.

Yes, I have downloaded a BBC comedy called ‘Miriam’. Now this series stars the legend that is Miriam Margolyes.

Now, my dilemma is this. After the hilarity that is Car Share, am I in any fit state to watch ‘Miriam’ and more to the point do I need to do a white wash first to make sure I have enough clean pants to see me through the hilarity?

After all, I burst out laughing at Miriam Margolyes without her saying a word such is her character.

The flip side of the coin is anything that makes me laugh and lifts me out of my ‘done my time in Saudi and want to go home’ strop, even temporarily, must be a good thing.

So, best I despatch himself to the shop for a pack of Tena Ladies, (oh he will love that…), have a just in case wee, put the headphones on and get ready…

Oh yes, BT update…..Well apparently the mole ploughing has been completed. I have had one grammatically poorly written update from our ‘Senior Executive Complaints Team Bod’ – Ms W the week before last who said that the mud as improving the work would be completed last week and she would email then.

Needless to say I have heard nothing. However, my spy at EIOT Towers has informed me of progress.

Normal communication from BT, to be honest it would be easier chairing a Women’s Rights Seminar with Donald Trump than it is getting useful communication from BT.

I do call the answer phone at EIOT Towers reasonably regularly. Not because I am expecting any messages, heaven knows we have been without a phone line for so long that nobody bothers to phone us in the first place.

No, I call it just to check that a sheep has not chewed through the temporary cable, a walker has not fallen arse over apex over it and disconnected us or that it has not been chewed up in a tractor wheel.

As well of course as the novelty of actually having a phone line….

So far so good.

So, Happy Easter to all. Eat that chocolate and don’t be sick!



When In Doubt, Ask A Nine Year Old Or A Strawberry Blond & Lovin’ It!

Well my crash course into the world of xBox continues and while I am doing pretty well and learning reasonably quickly on most things, FIFA 17 and the skills required for a truly competitive game still elude me.

So, I am more than happy that the steady flow of buddies for the small testosterone filled one continue to come through the door and continue to offer a much more challenging game than I ever could.

Last night, in a vague attempt at getting to grips with the damned game I managed to seize the opportunity of the small testosterone filled one not being on his xBox and went to the basic controls page of the game.

Armed with a pad and pencil, (how old-fashioned!), I duly started to copy out the various combinations of buttons on the control pad to allow for some private study and familiarisation with the game.

I duly started to copy them out with all due care and after half a page of A4 I was left with a feeling that I could so this and in time I would be that cool mum that could play a good game of FIFA 17.

It was at this point that I spotted the remaining pages on the screen – all waiting to be copied out.

There were a further 12 pages – all ranging from half to three-quarters of a page of A4.

Not to be beaten I duly found a website from where I could save time, energy, paper and my right arm by printing them all out.

12 Pages later they were all printed out.

Now, if it wasn’t bad enough that I now have 12 pages to study and inwardly digest, I am also having to Google various terms and technicalities.

For instance, I am learning about ‘manual protect’, ‘small feints’, ‘big feints’ and ‘finesse shots’ among others.

As for ‘threaded through passes’, well that sounds like something you need to speak to your GP about.

So, I am actually no further forward and as I struggle to get time alone on the xBox to practice and get to grips with the intricacies of the game I cannot see any progress being made between now and the small testosterone filled one’s 18th birthday.

However, rescue continues to come in the form of other small testosterone filled ones who appear out of nowhere in order to offer their services as suitable opponents.

Just twenty minutes ago himself and I had regained control of the TV, forcibly switched off the xBox and were settling down with an orange juice, (don’t forget where we live), a bowl of pistachios and were about to watch a pre-dinner rerun of Top Gear when the phone rang.

The small testosterone filled one answered and needless to say it was for him.

Before we could do anything about it one of his buddies was en route for a xBox session.

So, here we sit with two small testosterone filled ones enjoying the delights of xBox. The pistachios are half eaten, the orange juice drunk and the pre-dinner rerun of Top Gear forgotten about.

Now, this is where the title of this evening’s post comes from.

You see they are not actually playing FIFA 17 at the moment but another game called ‘Rocket League’ where two cars play football and the normal football objective of scoring a goal is the aim.

Now, like FIFA 17, there are many different configurations of control pad to make for a competitive game – but nowhere near as many on damned FIFA 17.

So, while I have yet to win a game of Rocket League, I can put up a good fight.

However, this evening’s xBox guest arrived, immediately grasped a control and started making his car do all sorts of fancy tricks while scoring numerous goals and quite frankly giving our small testosterone filled one a real run for his money.

Himself was slightly bemused by this and promptly asked how the xBox guest had performed such intricate acrobatics.

He then wished he had not asked as the nine-year old xBox guest went into a convoluted explanation of how to do said acrobatics involving a very complicated combination of control pad commands.

We both wish he had never asked.

This has only added to my feeling of being old and past it which quite frankly has been growing since the arrival of the gruesome twosome just 5 days ago.

Yeap, not only is my inadequacy on FIFA 17 a major issue in my mind, (along with the lack of opportunities for appropriate quite and private practice), but also the growing physical prowess of the small testosterone filled one.

Firstly, we had a wrestling match the other day and for the first time ever I really could not do it. He simply had the advantage and there was nothing I could do about it. I had to call in himself for reinforcements and had over control of the battle to the stronger force.

Secondly, since the return of the small man, he has been joining me in my swimming training. This is not only to get him out of the house and away from his xBox, (and the damned FIFA 17), but also to try to get rid of some of that nine-year old boy energy.

In times gone past I comfortably had the advantage in all swimming challenges laid down by the small man, but no more.

Yes, that fab school with all their sporting opportunities has clearly worked its magic not only on the small testosterone filled one on the rugby, football and hockey pitches and on the cross-country course but also clearly in the swimming pool.

No longer do I have the upper hand. The only stroke that I stand any chance in is front crawl and even then we are neck and neck. After each race of front crawl I am a breathless mess needing a break before the next leg.

The small testosterone filled one is quite benevolent to his old mum as he does volunteer to give me a five second head start on breast stroke, (my weakest stroke by far), but is still drawing pictures in the water waiting for me at the finish line.

As for back-stroke – well I have no idea what is going on there as once again he is stood contemplating life and the universe by the time I make it to the end.

Now, the fact that we have this afternoon had a fully technical explanation of intricate driving techniques on Rocket League by a nine-year old xBox expert and I have been reduced to a breathless, exhausted mess in the swimming pool by the small testosterone filled one, the strawberry blond hand grenade has also today contributed to my feeling of being over the hill.

You see while I have been swimming training with the small man, I have been at the gym with the hand grenade.

Now, the presence of strawberry blond one at the gym is as a result of numerous per-end of term emails asking for a ‘Fit-Bit’.

We are not the sort of parents who just buy things on demand for our children and I negotiated, via email, a deal whereby if the strawberry blond one came to the gym with me over the holidays without whingeing and moaning and actually did something, then I would discuss the possibility of a Fit-Bit with himself for her birthday.

So, she has made her bed and now she has to get out of it in a morning and go to the gym with me.

Now there has been a couple of episodes of whingeing and moaning to which I have just said the words ‘Fit’Bit’ and suddenly it has stopped – now there’s a surprise.

Now, there are challenges to taking a strong-willed, (don’t know where she gets that from), strawberry blond hand grenade to the gym.

You see, aged 11 a strong-willed strawberry blond hand grenade knows everything and will not accept advice from her mum – even though her mum is a fully qualified physio.

So, the hand grenade launches head first into activities in her own way and not always with the best technique.

Any words of advice, no matter how indirect, are rebuffed and she just carries on in her own way to prove a point.

I am firmly of the opinion that the fact she is going to the gym is a major bonus and as long as she is getting into the habit then I can live with any poor technique.

So this morning she announced she was going onto an exercise bike. She has made some vague comments of late about a slight twinge in her knee but being the callous physio that I am I have ignored her and will only worry when her leg drops off.

So, I made the fatal mistake of congratulating her on her choice of using an exercise bike and commenting that strengthening her quads would help any knee pain.

Well, not my brightest move.

With a derogatory eye roll and a facial expression that would have made Donald Trump crumble into a gibbering  mess, I was informed that she knew that and she knew all about knees. I was told that they had studies knees the week before last in biology at school and that was why she was going on the exercise bike.

Clearly I was misled with three years and a BSc in physiotherapy studies, I should have just gone to the strawberry blond one’s prep school and done a biology lesson instead.

So yes, I am feeling a little shaken by the increasing strength and sporting finesse of the small testosterone filled one and the unshakable level of superior knowledge of the hand grenade. I am not sure what will come next, the small man throwing me over his shoulder to speed me up getting to the swimming pool on my zimmer frame or the hand grenade explaining quantum physics and molecular science to me.

Whatever it may be I am sure that it will result in me feeling even more antiquated and past it.

Right, I am still working my way through the small testosterone filled one’s washing pile so best I head off, put on my marigolds and load the long-suffering washing machine up once more.

I still have not heard from any exasperated Cumbrian farmers whose sheep have been electrocuted by chewing through our ‘temporary’ telephone wire and I did phone our home number yesterday to check the answer phone just to see if it was still working. It was yesterday.

I am maintaining my pressure on BT/Openreach – much to their disappointment as they clearly thought they were out of the woods and was delighted to see yet more poop rain down on BT with the OFCOM £46 billion pound fine for poor service.

Did I rub their noses in it on Twitter and Facebook as well as happening to mention it to our ‘Senior Executive Level Complaints’ Bod in an email?

Oh yes, just a bit!!! Lovin’ it, lovin’ it, lovin’ it……..




Time Flies, BT/Openreach Action & The Gruesome Twosome Return…

Well it’s amazing how time flies. here was me thinking that I would just have a few days of no blog time and low and behold here we are two weeks later.

Yes, it is two weeks since my last missive on the EIOT blog and a lot has happened.

First and foremost the gruesome have landed. Yeap, the Easter holidays are upon us, the peace is shattered, the house looks like a boarding school bomb has gone off and the fridge is already a good deal emptier than it was this time a couple of days ago.

Now, it wasn’t quite the snagless trip that it should have been for them, or us. All our meticulous planning went down the swanny quite dramatically as a minor hitch en route to the airport ended in near disaster. Raised blog pressure, bickering and extreme anxiety ensued – that was here in the land of sand and not on the M-something I hasten to add. No, the strawberry blond hand grenade phoned us with a barely audible sense of concern in her voice and the testosterone filled one was completely unfazed as he had sausage rolls and his iPad so quite frankly anything could have happened and he would not have flinched.

Yeap, an accident on the motorway brought the whole detailed, military quality plan to a standstill – nobody’s fault but a damned pain in the bottom anyway.

So, a 90 minute standstill and stress levels here in the land of sand soared. Even our usually calm driver who ferries the gruesome twosome from various points of the country to various other points in our absence was a bit flummoxed. But they remained completely unflustered and even a tad bored by the whole scenario.

Yeap, they were too late for the flight. Crisis!

Now, it is bad enough when you are at the airport yourself and have a problem, but when you are 3000+ miles away with the offspring at the airport, school finished for Easter and no flight then nerves were jangling somewhat.

Anyway, crisis solved with the legendary Lufthansa springing to the rescue with an alternative – but not after nail biting, stressful bickering and more than a few expletives.

Oh how I needed a glass of wine on Thursday….

Anyway, crisis solved and the gruesome twosome arrived late at night, completely unvexed.

Now, they are back with us safe and sound and will be for almost a month. However, yesterday morning I took it upon myself to put a hand into the luggage of the small testosterone filled one.

I am not quite sure what I was expecting but I can guarantee it wasn’t this.

In my naivety I suppose I was expecting his bag to be packed as I would pack mine. Yeap, my subconscious was expecting nice clean clothes, neatly folded, organised, sweet smelling with shoes in special bags.

Shock! I unzipped his bag to find a mish-mash of grot. Well, a high proportion of grot. There was some hygiene in there – Matron at school had clearly had some input – albeit minimal.

Yeap, I unzipped the bag to find a homogenised clump of clothes. A combination of clean clothes that would have been recently laundered by Matron and a preponderance of well, dirty clothes.

Now, when I had donned my protective gown and donned my marigolds I started to fish out the contents of the bag.

Needless to say the contents of the bag all made their way directly to the linen basket and I swear I heard a sigh coming from the washing machine in the kitchen.

But, I was, (and still am), more than a little bemused by the fact that among the ragbag of clothes that I plucked out with my marigolds were all his day school uniform – trousers and shirts. No other uniform just his shirts and trousers.

This in itself gives me cause for concern as it undoubtedly means that he stinky sports kit is festering in his sports bag and will be for the next month along with his wet swimming kit and towel.

Best I write a grovelling email to Matron in the hope that she is still at school.

Now there was evidence that the trousers were waiting to be washed but the shirts? Well, they were all buttoned up and folded – clearly by the tender loving hands of Matron.

So, slightly puzzled I asked the small testosterone filled one why he had brought clean school uniform 3500 miles from Cumbria to the land of sand.

I was greeted by a bemused look that suggested the stupidity of my question and was then informed that ‘I didn’t know what to do with them so I just put them in my bag’.

OK, I suppose I should be grateful that he knew what to do with his euphonium and hadn’t resorted to stuffing that in his bag as well.

‘And’, I asked, ‘what about the flip-flops that I asked you to bring back?’

‘Oh, forgot those…..’

So, we have his school trousers and shirts here in the land of sand and his flip flops remain in Cumbria….That’s useful.

Anyway, the washing machine has been coaxed into life and is attending to its mission. The bag itself is now empty and open, allowing the air to to get to it and hopefully freshen it up over the next few weeks ready for its return journey when it will be full of sweet smelling, freshly laundered and highly organised clothes.

So, what else has been happening?

Well, it has been quite here, very quite – until last night. The normal levels of extreme chaos do subside to a moderate level when the gruesome twosome are away but we do still have our moments.

Firstly, himself has had an awakening – it has only taken several years but he has got there.

Yeap, when one day he came home from work and found me glued to the extravaganza that is Broadchurch he was vaguely interested and even sat and watched the last 20 minutes with me.

Well, that was enough to trigger the avalanche – he suddenly decided that he would like to sample the broader Broadchurch experience.

Well, what can I say? Broadchurch devotees we have our latest member. Yeap, he is hooked. We binge watched series one on Wednesday and then series two on Thursday. The only thing that is stopping series three at the moment is that the gruesome twosome are at home and it is not really child friendly material.

Anyway, even after fetching the gruesome twosome from the airport he was still in his Broadchurch buzz zone and as he was dozing off to sleep he was still talking about the intricacies of the plot of series 2 and is even taking about going to Dorset to visit the locations.

He was very unceremoniously asked to be quiet and go to sleep.

Talking of TV, you will I am sure be pleased to hear that my Jeremy Kyle detox is continuing to do well. The physical symptoms of withdrawal are lessening and Mr JK’s name barely enters my head at the moment.

That said, I did turn on the TV the other day and stumble across Judge Rinder and lingered for a few seconds – but common sense soon kicked in and I soon changed over to the news and quite frankly wished I hadn’t and switched off.

So, to our news that everybody wants to hear – the BT/Openreach fiasco.

Yeap, we have news. Now this is in no small way thanks to the efforts of the national press, and the local press who finally published as well, who launched, (and continue to maintain), an assault on BT/Openreach.

Yeap, it would appear that the press love a story that takes a shot at the behemoths that are BT/Openreach.

The original article appeared on a website that deals with all things communication – news, deals, research everything and I am exceptionally grateful to my friendly journalist who published it.

Within minutes of the story going live we were contacted by The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun – all online editions.

At the same time I launched a Twitter attack on all accounts BT/Openreach, (and believe me there are a few).

Now, I am not sure which newspapers published and which didn’t, but the effect with BT/Openreach was meteoric.

All of a sudden Openreach were in touch – yes Openreach, not BT. All of a sudden temporary solutions were being offered and all of a sudden nothing was too much trouble.

Apparently managers were breathing down necks and apparently all hell was breaking lose.

The outcome is that we have a ‘temporary’ phone line that not only gives us a phone line but also gives us internet.

Now, let’s not get too overexcited about this as it is a temporary fix.

Yeap, apparently Openreach have attached a wire to the the telegraph pole by the phone box at the bottom of the hill, (although in doing so they then realised the phone box has not been working for a long time) and then proceeded to lay wires over the fields up to the telegraph pole near our house and connected it to the line going into our house.

Now, this is clearly not a technical description and I do not think it needs to be – the wires are apparently not buried and run over the grass in the fields.

So, this is a very temporary fix and I am just waiting for a sheep to bite through the wire or a tractor to severe the cable.

I am not sure if there is an electrical current running through telephone cable but I am half expecting an exasperated farmer to phone the land of sand when one of his flock of sheep has been electrocuted.

So, I would just like to say that I am very grateful to the Openreach engineers who provided the ‘temporary’ fix but if BT/Openreach think I am going to be quiet now then I have news for them.

You see I am convinced that BT/Openreach are now going to rest on their laurels and are going to let the ‘permanent fix’, i.e. the moles on ploughs slip, (not literally the moles you understand but the work).

So, the emails to BT have continued and I have pointed out in no uncertain terms that they will not be allowed to let the ‘temporary’ fix slowly become the ‘permanent’ fix.

They have assured me that this will not happen, but after so many broken assurances then quite frankly pigs might fly.

Anyway, I am looking forward to visiting EIOT Towers and enjoying the delights of a phone line and the internet, as long as no sheep have been electrocuted by then that is.

Right, so, best I start thinking about entertaining the gruesome twosome for the next month.

The small testosterone filled one’s xBox is back in the land of sand and already I have been nagged into an inch of my life to play FIFA 17 with him.

With the best will in the world that is a bit beyond me and to be honest I cannot get my head around all the different combinations of control pad buttons to make the players do anything vaguely footballish.

Wayne Rooney’s (professional) reputation would have been smashed and his career in ruins if he performed in real life as I made him perform yesterday.

So, the small man has got very frustrated with me and this morning I was reduced to a plea on the compound’s Facebook page for anybody who knew how to play FIFA 17 and rescue came in the form of a friend’s son who at the same age as the small man is an ideal buddy to play FIFA 17 and give me a reprieve.

So, here they sit, glued to FIFA 17. They have complete control of the TV. The strawberry blond hand grenade has taken to wearing head phones to avoid the ‘boys’ that are in the lounge. Himself is researching Broadchurch locations and me?, well I am in a supervisory role of them all – especially himself.