WIFI Woes & A Bit Of A Giggle…..

IWell, as the WIFI here is having yet another screaming ab dab tonight and is behaving like a petulant child, I am taking advantage of a brief window of connectivity to post a very brief post.

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Having commented on the WIFI here in the land of sand, I have to say that the brief window of access to cyber space that we are currently enjoying is sheer luxury to what we still have at EIOT Towers. Yeap, today was latest update day from BT……

I will regale you with the full set of gory details soon, but in the meantime it is suffice to say we have another update date in a weeks time.

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……And keeping you waiting for two months and counting…..

Anyway, several people have commented about my quips about music here in the land of sand.

So, turn ot on the speakers loud, kick back and enjoy! If you like this then I could be persuaded to post another epic by the legend that is GoRemy tomorrow night….

Right, the WIFI clock is ticking!…

Laters!

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Sangcom

Forsan Fascination & Security Standoff….

You may, or may well not and goodness knows I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, recall an old post where I discussed the Riyadh butchers known as Forsan.

Food buying in the land of sand is always an interesting conundrum which requires skill, patience, multiple language skills, (or failing that extreme hand gesture skills), and a not inconsiderable amount of trust.

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The purchase of meat augments this further and on arrival in The Kingdom not only do you go through all the delightful Residency Permit palava, but you also get issued with your sixth sense for meat purchasing.

This becomes the norm and quite frankly serves you well.

Supermarket meat is adequate but on occasion a trip to Forsan is required.

Today is one such occasion as the small testosterone filled one has requested a roast dinner.

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We had an incling that this was coming so last week’s trip on the BA big bird, (usual disclaimer applies), meant that hand luggage was accompanied by a cool bag filled to the brim with quality Brussels sprouts and parsnips.

This is in itself lead to some chaos as I put the cool bag on the security belt for scanning at the airport.

Stern faced and officious security lady, (SFAOSL): ‘Do you have any liquids in there?’

Me, (Harrassed, tired traveller with two squabbling children – HTTWTSC): ‘No’

SFAOSL: ‘Are you sure?’

HTTWTSC; ‘Yes’

SFAOSL: ‘Are you really sure?’

HTTWTSC: ‘Yes’

This was rapidly approaching stand off point, pistols at dawn type of thing, two women who were firmly sticking to their guns. If by any chance any liquids at all showed I on the scanner, SFAOSL was making it perfectly clear that she was going to make my life hell, I would be in for a long wait and she may well make me miss my flight.

I on the other hand knew for a fact that there was no liquid in there and she was knocking at an open door.

SFAOSL, (complete with an evil glint in her eye): ‘So, what is in there then?’

HTTWTSC, (completely smug): ‘A kilogram of Sainsbury’s finest sprouts, 8 parsnips, two bags of ground coffee and three packs of tea bags’

SFAOSL looked at me with that ‘yeah right I have heard that one before’ look as she virtually sprinted over to the screen with excitement to view my liquids I was about to apparently take onto the BA big bird.

Ah smug mode.

To say SFAOSL was ceastfallen is the understatement. With hindsight I really should have had the legend that is Tommo’s 6 cans of mushy peas in there as the icing on the cake……

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So, off we went to Forsan this morning. There are a few things to consider about Forsan.

Firstly the name. You see my brain works considerably faster than any other part of my body – in particular my mouth. As such, I always have to take considerable care when discussing the name Forsan as quite frankly many brain may well provide my mouth with a slight variation on the name that could cause a stir in a highly conservative muslim country and even more so when heading to a butchers shop.

Forsan is a quality butchers shop where your sixth sense for meat purchasing can be relegated to a hands off, supervisory role.

Finally, there is a constant and glaring anomaly in Forsan which always leads to considerable fascination.

In the past I have discussed the issue around chickens here. Not the live type, wondering happily round a free range pasture, with space fresh air, organic food and a generally luxurious lifestyle. No, I am talking about Saudi slain ones, plucked, washed, packed and available in the supermarkets.

The chickens you buy here for cooking are minute, in fact they are about the size of a well fed pigeon.

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Now it has been suggested to me that this is actually a good thing as they haven’t been fed steroids and other nasty things which make UK chickens into comparative mutants that could carry away a small child. So, on that point I have to give a nod of approval – for what its worth.

However, on a practical point, when you have a small testosterone filled man to feed then one small chicken does not fit the bill. He could easily swallow one whole.

So, with the standard supermarket chickens I usually buy 2-3 to roast and they get devoured.

However, in Forsan there is a slight issue – not that we were there to buy chicken for our roast, but as we were there anyway we stocked up on some various cuts of poultry.

In the past I have been in Forsan and have been impressed by the size of the chicken breasts, thighs and legs. They are large, meat covered and scrumptious looking.

So, in my naivety, I assumed that they must have come from a plumper, more robust bird and made enquiries relating to this.

Now, granted there were some communication issues between me and the Phillipino butchers, but I failed dismally to find out for certain where these plump cuts of chuck chuck had come from.

I am no butcher, but even I know that such prime pieces of meat must have come from an equally prime chicken. You do not see an emaciated looking chicken with Arnold Scwarzeneggar type legs very often do you?

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So, on this previous visit I asked about where the chicken parts had come from – optimistic that I would be able to buy a single, prime chicken – big enough to feed us all.

Various conversations with various Phillipino butchers followed involving animated arm movements, chicken impressions and parodies of plump chickens,  and various whole chickens were paraded in front of me. All small, emaciated looking examples and quite frankly smaller than a single chicken thigh that was on display, showing off its prowess on the shelf next door in the fridge.

I left that day still confused about where these specimens had come from and was reminded of the same today on our visit as the fridge was full of prime legs, wings, breasts and thighs.

You will be relieved to know, (as was himself by the way), that I restrained myself and did not ask about where they had come from and if they had any plump whole chickens.

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However, the mystery is ongoing, somewhere there must be some large, plump chickens doing their thing before sacrificing themselves to end up strutting their stuff in the fridges of Forsan.

Another of the land of sand’s best kept secrets I suspect…..

Right, so what else has been happening?

Well, as himself was sorting out the beef for the roast I was despatched back to the car for fear of me instigating another conversation about mutant chicken thighs.

While alone in the car, (well apart from the gruesome twosome but as they had their noses in iPads I was as good as alone). I changed the music in the car to Guns’N’Roses and put it on loud.

I became aware of being watched and looked up to see a local chap glaring at me from outside.

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Yeap, I guess that ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ was not to his liking – especially as music and entertainment is not widely appreciated here.

Fortunately himself appeared back and we drove off before any major altercations took place.

Training has been woefully inadequate of late and I must get my backside back into gear soon. Quite frankly my elbow and hip have not been great. My foots doing fine though! I have been frequenting the gym with the small man but not at my usual intensity. As for swimming, well my dodgy elbow has put paid to that at the moment.

But I will return…..

Right, roast is calling….

Laters!

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Tommo Trauma & Beaver Target Practice……

Well here I sit, Nerf bullets whistling past my ears, the floor looking like a Nerf bullet scatter bomb has detonated and two over-excited children bouncing off the walls, ceiling and furniture.

Yes, you have guessed it, The Legend That Is Tommo is in residence for the evening.

A smiling, cartoon comedian about to tell some jokes.

Yeap, the biggest kid of all is in here, been fed and is now reverting back to his alter ego and reliving his childhood with our small testosterone filled man who sees the legend in hero status and who sees him very much as his partner in crime.

For those who are unsure about the Legend That Is Tommo, I refer you back to older EIOT posts. I would insert links to refresh your memory or for new readers to furnish you with the necessary information, but to be honest The Legend features in so many EIOT posts that the list would be far too long and quite frankly you would all have lost the will to live by the time you got to the bottom of it.

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So, instead, I would suggest that you simply go to the EIOT homepage and put the immortal word ‘Tommo’ in the search box on the right hand side and brace yourself for an encyclopedia’s worth of posts which talk about the antics of Tommo.

Now some of you may well remember Tommo from numerous posts and craziness, (including monster sporting events to raise money for Tommy’s), but I bet not many of you will remember the post explaining the other legend in my life, Justin Beaver. You may have to read that twice, no I am not a wannabe screaming 12 year old girl craving after a drink soaked, drug fuelled lady boy, no I am talking about a stuffed cuddly toy, with one eye, standing around 6 inches tall, in the shape of a beaver, (well he used to be that shape), who answers to the name of Justin and is usually in trouble hand in hand with a small man.

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If you are even vaguely interested in refreshing your mind about Justin, here are a couple of links for your delectation, A Beaver Called Justin & Justin Beaver. There are other posts that relate to Justin that can be found again via the search feature on the home page.

So, the small testosterone filled man, his Beaver and Tommo are indulging themselves in childlike behaviour in the lounge.

The latest fun game is to put the mouth guard off the Hand Grenade’s clarinet, (yes, she is happily practising her clarinet with bullets whisking past her and bouncing off her music book – just to add to the chaos), balanced on the Beaver’s head and to take aim with the 50 cal Nerf Gun, (yes it is a monster), from the other end of the lounge – with the first bullet aimed at the mouth guard and the second at the body of the Beaver.

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I really hope nobody from the school music department reads this blog……..

We did at one point have Tommo sitting with an IKEA artificial flower hanging out of his mouth, Ermintrude fashion, as a target as aim was taken and bullets fired. I am relieved to say no trips to the hospital have been needed, thus far, but the evening is yet young and the bullets are in plentiful supply.

The bullets from this gun actually whistle as they fly through the air and so between clarinet practise, a whimpering Beaver, whistling bullets, crazed children and now Tommo doing his Elvis impression, life in the EIOT household has become rather chaotic this evening.

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Right, best I put my laptop down before any damage from high velocity Nerf bullets or high pitched clarinet playing is sustained.

Laters! Wish me luck!

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The Penny May Have Finally Dropped…….

A stark realisation hit me today. I don’t know how much validity is in this theory, but anyway there is enough to set alarm bells ringing whether it is true or not.

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When I ventured to the girls boarding house at school to liberate the premises from the strawberry blond hand grenade, the legend that is Matron was not her usual jolly self – normally I would have expected an air of delight with the prospect of two weeks off. But no, pursed lips, a frown and few words made her even more formidable than usual.

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I didn’t really hang around for long enough to check on her wellbeing and we disappeared off pretty promptly.

Today I was listening to the strawberry blond one singing happily to herself and immediately recognised the song she was singing.

That threw me back to last week, to the day I arrived at school to see the gruesome twosome fresh from the BA big bird.

I took them out for tea that night and on the way back to school we enjoyed some loud music and singing.

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There were two main songs of choice, both of which the strawberry blond one knows off by heart and one in particular that I clearly remember her singing as she walked back into the boarding house.

The songs in question were ‘Weed Instead Of Roses’ by Ashley Monroe and ‘The Lazy Song’ by Bruno Mars.

Now the Bruno Mars ditty is OK but would still, I am sure, draw a frown from Matron. However, the Ashley Monroe number is somewhat risqué and politically incorrect.

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You have been warned!

It is not a widely known song, so for those that are unfamiliar with this song the lyrics are as follows:

“Weed Instead Of Roses”

Baby we’ve been together for a long, long time
You get home from work and then we just turn out the lights
Lately I’ve been dreaming you in leather, me in lace
Let’s put up the teddy bears, and get out the whips and chains

Give me weed instead of roses
Bring me whiskey instead of wine
Every puff, every shot, you’re looking better all the time
I don’t need a card from Hallmark
Box of candy, heaven knows
Give me weed instead of roses
Let’s see where it goes

Honey you don’t have to worry,
There ain’t no one else for me
Lately we have fallen under the same routine
I ain’t getting any younger, oh but you don’t seem to care
Let’s trade in the boxers for some sexy underwear

Give me weed instead of roses
Give me whiskey instead of wine
Every puff, every shot, you’re looking better all the time
I don’t need a card from Hallmark
Box of candy, heaven knows
Give me weed instead of roses
Let’s see where it goes

Let’s send the kids to grandma,
And call in sick to work
Put on some heavy metal,
Rip the phone off of the hook
Go call your no good brother,
We both know what he’s been growing
I’ll be waiting with the whipped cream
And baby let’s get going

Give me weed instead of roses
Give me whiskey instead of wine
Every puff, every shot, you’re looking better all the time
I don’t need a card from Hallmark
Box of candy, heaven knows
Give me weed instead of roses
Let’s see where it goes

You pull out the Polaroid
And I’ll strike a couple poses
Oh let’s get a little wild
Bring me weed instead of roses

The song is widely available on numerous music websites should you feel the urge to hear it in action.

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Now it is at this point that I ought to say that while the strawberry blond one is very familiar with the ways of the world, much of the content of this song goes over head, (I hope), and she just happily sings along.

So, today I suddenly had the horrendous feeling that actually the strawberry blond one had gone back into the boarding house, happily singing about ‘Weed Instead of Roses’ in full hearing range of Matron……..

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Oh well, if that is the case there is another week and a half before I darken the doorstep of school again and have to face the wrath of Matron…….

Right, my first disastrous gym session in a long time today. So an early night calls…..

Laters!

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Held Together By An Old Number Plate…….

Well the land of sand has been rocked by the return of the gruesome twosome.  Yeap, it is a 2 week half-term so the UK has been given a period of respite care and Saudi Arabia has heroically stood up to the challenge and is shouldering the burden like a true hero.

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So, the teachers have scattered quicker and further than a bag of Maltesers splitting on hitting the floor in Tescos and preliminary investigations suggest that they too have fled to sunnier climes.

So, the extremely quiet life of the last few weeks have been shattered and life has become a lot more exciting again.

So, what are the tell-tale signs of the return of the gruesome twosome?

  1. A gruesome twosome hand grenade has gone off – mainly in the lounge but all rooms have been affected to some degree
  2. Privacy has been curtailed as my tooth brushing this morning was interrupted by the unceremonious entry of a small man to use the lav – he refused to use the other one upstairs as his sister ‘had used it’
  3. The fridge looks like it has been raided by the England rugby team
  4. There is the annual evening search for the TV remote that is invariably hidden under some scattered child debris
  5. The sound of canned laughter and cheesy kids TV is echoing through the house – so bad that himself and I have fled from the lounge
  6. Privacy was further curtailed five minutes after the disturbed tooth-brushing experience as I was in the shower and unable to argue, when the small man returned once more to the bathroom for a slightly more ‘serious’ visit – delightful!
  7. Even if we were brave enough to venture into the lounge, then any sitting space would need to be cleared of ever growing legs and feet which are strewn across the furniture and take up a disconcertingly big volume – which of course would be accompanied by grumbling, grunting and if we are lucky a verbalised sentence of complaint.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have been looking forward to the return of the gruesome twosome and am loving having them here. The side-effects of having them here are seriously out-weighed by the fact that they are actually in residence.

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So, what else has been happening.

Well. I am delighted to say that EIOT Towers is in fine form and settling well.

The ongoing issue with BT is, well, ongoing. Although the slightest, smallest ever flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, glimmer of hope, a suggestion of progress and trace of positivity was thrown my way during my whistle-stop trip to the UK.

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Now I do not want to get too excited, but……I was due to have an update from the illustrious BT on Friday and needless to say by 1500 nothing had been heard – absolutely diddly squat. Well, I wasn’t going to let them get away with that, so a call to one of my three ‘Case Officers’, (yes I am only meant to have one so that I always speak to the same person, but as on various scheduled update days they are either on their days off or out of the office, I seem to now have three), and a request for them to call me back – why should I waste my mobile bill on BT??? – they called me back.

So, in the conversation Case Officer 1 informed me that they are hoping to connect the phone on the 29th. No guarantees and also if a higher priority case comes in we will be put back.

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So, that put me in my place, obviously not high priority. Then Case Officer 1 threw into the conversation that we are now a high priority – just clearly not a very high priority.

I wonder what terms of reference BT use for the definition of a ‘high priority’ and a ‘very high priority’……might have to investigate that.

So, as long as nothing of a higher priority comes in to the hands of BT before the 29th, then hopefully we may, at a push, might, possibly have a phone line…

Not that we will know about it mind you, Case Officer 1 is out of the office till 31st and has promised to update me then. I did ask why Case Officer 2 or 3 could not step into the breach, but this was greeted with a stoney silence.

So, potential progress with BT.

Now onto the water……

Well, two steps forwards and a stagger backwards.

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I arrived back at EIOT Towers full of optimism that we would have water, mainly because:

  1. I knew it had been persisting it down in deepest Cumbria in my absence and so water should be plentiful
  2. All being well our local water expert had paid a visit with his compressor that can ‘raise water as high as the fell’, and cleared any blockage between the spring and the holding tank
  3. As there would have been reduced water usage while I was away then the tank would have had time to fill

So, I arrived back, donned my waders and wellies and made my way ‘down t’field’.

I decided to check the spring first and as I approached I was more than excited to hear the sound of gushing water. Oooohhhh exciting….

Then I took the bricks off the wooden Heath Robinson type cover, lifted the lid and found……….no water flowing into the trough, but still the sound of gushing water in the general vicinity.

Slightly disheartened I made my way to the holding tank, ever the optimist I was convinced that it would be full.

Wrong! It was emptier than it had been when I left….

Devastation, absolute devastation – I could have cried, in fact I think a tear or two may have flowed down my cheek, or maybe that was just the mud that by now was covering me from tracking ‘down t’field’.

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So, off I went to see the local water expert who by complete chance was in his farmyard.

Now it turns out that our local water expert had done his back in and his painful shuffle and strained face really suggested quite a lot of pain. So, he and his compressor had not made it as far as EIOT Towers.

Having seen my look of desperation our local water expert said he would enlist the help of his son and they would be up to Chez EIOT with compressor in the morning.

So, I was delighted to spot a quad bike, compressor, two men, (one stooping in obvious pain), up to their eyes in mud deep in the field.

Once again I donned my wellies and waders and went to join them.

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They too had heard the sound of gushing water at the spring but had been perplexed by the lack of water flowing into the trough, so Dad water expert had set son water expert to work with a big spade.

Now I have add that these guys are hardy fell men and not a lot fazes them. So within what seemed like the blink of an eye the ground and rock around the spring had been cleared. Tree roots had over many, many years grown and blocked the pipe and so the water was being diverted to anywhere other than our trough.

Anyway, tree roots removed, crystal clear water suddenly flowed into the trough – at quite some rate.

Sheer elation did not come close….

Sainsburys orders do this to an expat......

Next to the holding tank, where gorgeous crystal clear water flowed with glorious speed.

If you can imagine three adults stood, (well, one stooped), around an open man hole cover in the middle of a remote field, looking down with glee at crystal clear water flowing into a huge tank then you will know that we were all really rather happy.

Happiness knew no bounds……

While I had the two local water experts in my grip gazing down into our holding tank, I knew now was the time to ask them about the various pipes and acutriments which were protruding or hanging at various angles inside the tank.

It became apparent that many modifications had been made to the tank over many years and that a lot of the acutriments were redundant.

The extent of the modifications was brought home to me when I asked about the ballcock that was hanging on near the opening and had clearly not been touched by water for quite some considerable time.

As one of the working group was stooped but unable to bend any further he couldn’t see the ballcock and so did not know what we were talking about.

The description from the younger water expert summed it up beautifully, ‘it’s hanging here, just close to the cover – hanging from an old number plate……’

(I hasten to add that I have translated that statement from broad, deepest Cumbrian/Yorkshire as I didn’t know how to write it).

Now that just sums up our entire life in Cumbria thus far, cobbled together with redundant acutriments – held together by an old number plate.

Anyway, after a few minutes of standing watching water flowing into the tank, we came to our senses and tidied up. I was briefed to let the tank fill before getting carried away with the washing machine, the compressor was strapped onto shopping basket, the older water expect shuffled onto the quad bike and the younger expert perched on a wheel arch.

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Off they went and I skipped with joy through the mud back to the house.

My buoyant mood saw me fly through the rest of the day.

Next day I skipped again down to the spring to be greeted by the sight of beautiful water flowing freely into the trough and clearly running unhindered down the pipe.

I skipped back down to the holding tank and lifted the manhole cover, not expecting for a fraction of a second that there would be a problem.

But there was. Yes, the water was flowing in at a good rate, but the depth of water in the tank was exactly the same as when we had left it the day before…

Now, I am no physicist but even I know that if you add a liquid to a metal box the depth of the liquid has to increase – unless there is a hole.

So, after a consistent flow of water for 24hrs with no increased depth could only mean one thing – we have a leak!

Yeap, an emergency trip to see the stooping water expert and he concurred – ‘you’ve got a leak’

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So, we are now looking at options for not having a leak. Whatever happens I think my extended visit to EIOT Towers in a few weeks may well involve digging out a water tank……

So, we are finally all back in the land of sand. Himself’s peace and quiet in his temporary bachelor pad is over and we have taken over.

Right, off to try to clear some sofa space….

Laters!

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Tommys7

Whoops, Sorry BA……?????


Well I have to say that the land of sand leg of my latest departure to Blighty was remarkably mundane and routine. In fact, if anything, it was quite impressive.

The check in desks were disconcertingly quiet, as was immigration, and the usual bunfight just didn’t happen.

 

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In fact, and land of sand residents will appreciate the enormity of this statement, a new personal record has been established. Yeap 8 minutes from being dropped off by the legend that is Venkat to sitting down on one of the rock-hard plastic chairs at the departure gate while wondering what to do now.

Yeap, the whole process went incredibly smoothly – very disconcerting I may add.

This rapid and unexpected march through procedures left me with yet another conundrum – what do I do now in other all this extra time?

To be honest I think the departure lounge at Terminal 1 had swallowed an efficiency pill as everything went swimmingly and the time flew past. Before I knew it we were boarding and we pushed back off the stand early – unheard of……..

 

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To be honest I suspect that the early departure, well a couple of minutes, had more to do with the new suit who has obviously been shipped in from BA Towers to shake things up a bit. Yeap, you get to know all the faces at the airport and tonight there was a new one, a very tall European who obviously carried some clout and who was shaking things up a bit….

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Anyway, I am writing this post somewhere over Greece and it will be posted at some WIFI friendly location later.

Now, it is at this point that I need to make an apology not just not to British Airways but also to everybody around me in what is affectionately known as ‘cattle class’. No, I have not over indulged in dried apricots, ( I still have not found the hidden packet), with the associated implications.

Yes, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would ever be making an apology to BA, let alone on the EIOT blog.

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Yes, I am making a formal and public apology to BA! BA please note that it is OK to apologise, it will not kill you and actually in fact it makes people more inclined to respect you. In fact, thinking about it, BT that applies to you as well…..

Sorry, slight digression there.

So, to my apology,

People who see me regularly will know that I usually have some sort of earphones attached to my head and am usually listening to music. No surprise there.

However, on tonight’s flight I had dug out an older pair of Bluetooth earphones and paired them up with my phone. Again, no surprise there, nothing too exciting – in theory.

Anyway, it is important to note at this point that the flight back to Blighty is a grim night flight and after offering the residents of cattle class a chocolate muffin, (packed with gluten I hasten to add so I am now ravenous), the lights are dimmed and everybody is expected to go to sleep,

Well, sleep evaded me. Every time I shut my eyes and thought about snoozing, my legs jumped into action with that old syndrome – restless legs. The poor chap next to me must on several occasions have been concerned for his welfare as my legs sprung into action, completely independently of the rest of me.

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Eventually I gave up on the idea of sleep and resorted back to music.

Now, please bear in mind that the selected earphones of the evening are older and I am not so used to using this pair.

I selected my music as the rest of the world dozed around me. Yeap, the soundtrack from The Martian. Lots of cheesy 90’s music. I pressed play.

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It took me a while to hear anything, but repeated pressing of the volume up button sorted that.

Next I started bemoaning the earphones – I suddenly remembered why I don’t use that set very often, the sound quality was awful.

Suddenly the cattle class cabin started to stir with grumbling and general awakeness.

I was OK, I carried on listening to my music…….

Well I will leave the rest to your imagination, other than to say that actually there is no problem with the older earphones, but they work better if you actually connect them via Bluetooth to your phone and don’t blast 90’s pop music out to the whole cattle class cabin on an overnight BA flight….

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Whoops….

Unreserved apologies all round.

Now, onto my next adventure – Avis.

Over the last few years I have built up quite a relationship with AVIS at Manchester Airport. As we currently do not own a car the UK and haven’t for quite sometime, I spend a lot of time in that office and they now know me and me them.

As a member of the AVIS loyalty scheme I have gone off the top end and am now eligible for double upgrades etc.

This is useful as usually I just need to book the lowest possible class of car and usually I get something pretty cool.

Now on my last booking there was a small issue of a dented ego – not a dented car I hasten to add.

The small testosterone filled one and I had arrived to collect the vehicle, to be greeted by the duty AVIS chap with a huge grin, (ACWHG). The conversation went something like:

ACWHG: ‘Oh hello Mrs EIOT. How are you? Good trip from the land of sand?’
ME: ‘ Yes thanks, all good’
ACWHG: ‘Mrs EIOT, You booked a basic model of a Fiat, but I am delighted to say that we have upgraded you to a Mercedes A – Class’

ACWHG was clearly very proud of this and was excited to share in my good fortune.

Now, it is important to remember here that actually I am not into cars and I neither know nor care what a Mercedes A – Class is. A far as I am concerned cars have four wheels that hit the road and one that I use for steering.

So, to be polite I was enthusiastic and grateful for his gratitude while not knowing what the heck he was on about.

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A few minutes later the small man and I made our way over to the ‘Mercedes A-Class’ to find a sleek sports car, low suspension in a trendy, not chavvy or wide boy way, cream leather seats, gadgets, gleaming paintwork and cudos.

The small man was beside himself with excitement, I had a bolt of terror running down my spine.

To put this into context, let’s look at the bigger picture. We live, and so the car was destined for, deepest Cumbria. In deepest Cumbria the roads are so narrow that the driver actually breathes in as you drive along them in an attempt to ensure you get through. There are potholes that make The Grand Canyon look like a pinprick. There are cows and sheep which meander past the cars as they make there way from one grazing spot to another while depositing all sorts of bodily fluids and solids on whatever gets in the way. Finally, and in our case, there are numerous trips to the recycling centre with vast amounts of rubbish which quite frankly would not sit well on cream leather seats.

Yeap, deepest Cumbria is not the place for a Mercedes A-Class,

The small man was devastated by my decision, but there was no turning back.

We went back to the office to be greeted by ACWHG who asked if there was a problem. The small man huffed and I explainedthat actually I didn’t want the Mercedes A-Class – had they got anything else by any chance?

Crestfallen does not come close. I had burst ACWHG’s bubble. I had not heard only wrecked his day but quite possibly his life. How could I not want a Mercedes A-Class? Well, quite easily.

It turned out that ACWHG was a city chap and had never been to deepest Cumbria. So no amount of my explaining was going to make any difference.

I left the office that morning having given him the phone number of The Samaritans.

The small man and I drove off that day in a bog standard Volkswagen Golf with no gadgets – much better. We were watched out of the car park by ACWHG with a tear in his eye.

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All the whike I was getting it in the neck from the small testosterone filled one….

Well today they have got the message and given me a suitably robust and resilient Jeep Renegade which is perfect for the deep Cumbrian countryside. Yes it may well be bright orange which makes it stand out like a sore thumb and is anything but in keeping with a rural setting, but at least I know it will stand the pace and I stand a reasonable chance of no extra charges when I return it in a few days.

So, the much anticipated and waited reunion with the gruesome twosome. Yeap, I am now on my way towards school ready to liberate the corridors from their inimitable presence – if only for a couple of hours while I take them out for tea.

Yeap, the strawberry blond hand-grenade will be deposited back at the boarding house later – much to her disgust. She needs the structure and routine of the boarding house, not to mention the influence of the housemistress bearing down on her and if that fails there is the ultimate weapon – Matron.

The small testosterone filled one will retreat with me to EIOT Towers. Do not think there is any preferential treatment here, far from it, his time will come to be deposited straight back at school with a full stomach.
Right, you can only spend so long in Costa coffee at a motorway service station before you start getting suspicious looks, so best I head off towards EIOT Towers to assess progress, if we have water and see if there is any evidence at all of anything even vaguely having been done by BT – best I don’t hold my breath on that one.

I will endeavour to post but the well documented communication issues at Chez EIOT may make that a tad tricky…..

I will be back.

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Harriett

Wide Awake!, BA Torture & Religious What?????

Well this is a rarity – writing a blog post at 2230. Never before have I trodden this path and I suspect it may be sometime before I do again.

Yeap, needless to say I am still up.

Normally I am tucked up in my bed by now, wearing my winceyette nightie, doing the Telegraph crossword, (well trying to but never really getting very far) and with a mug of cocoa by my side.

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But no, not tonight.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, yeap I am heading out on the BA big bird tomorrow night to go and liberate school from the gruesome twosome for half-term.

Now regular readers and those who share the unique experience which is expat life in Saudi Arabia will be more than aware of the fact that the daily BA big bird flight back to Blighty is one of the most antisocial and harrowing routes available.

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Yeap, not only do we generally have the grumpy crews who all just love having had 24hrs in the land of sand as the party opportunities are somewhat limited, but the flight leaves at 0045 each morning. Now that is a killer. So, you leave home at around 2130, wait in what is usually a very long queue before dropping your bags off and then enter into the world that is departures. Yeap, if I say that another international airport in the land of sand has just been voted the world’s worst airport and that it must have been a close run thing between that one and this one.

So, there you sit until boarding on hard plastic chairs until around 0015 – if you are lucky.

Then of course there is the fact that even if you are awake when the big bird crosses out of Saudi airspace you can’t really indulge yourself in the drinks trolley as you are actually driving when you get to Blighty and so it will be around 18 hours before you can partake…..

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So, I am desperately trying to stay awake as a method of damage limitation for tomorrow night – some hope!

The other reason is that thanks to the compound’s latest superbug I have been struck down by the dreaded lurgy. I won’t share the details with you as I am sure some of you will still be dining, but suffice to say that having been up and about for an hour or so this morning the lure of our bed was too much and I decided a quick lie down was required.

Three hours later I woke up.

So, the upshot of that little mishap is that I am now ‘WIDE AWAKE’.

Hmmmmm…….

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Needless to say that thanks to ‘Superbug’ there was no training today. It could have led to an embarrassing disaster in the gym and lets not even think about what could have happened in the pool.

I will see what state I am in tomorrow for a decision on pre-departure training……

So, what else has happened? Well. miracle of miracles we have had contact with both of our offspring this weekend.

In the case of the small man yes it was brief and clearly something else attracted his attention 30 seconds after saying hello and he promptly left the conversation but gee, 30 seconds is 30 seconds.

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Then there is the strawberry blond hand grenade who is playing cat and mouse. If I said that she doesn’t know that we know and is hoping that we don’t know and that we have not had an email from her teacher telling us what we should know, then would that make sense?

Yeap, there is a high level psychological game going on. About nothing too major and in the big picture of things absolutely irrelevant, but there is still a tactical, highly entertaining and strategic set of mind games taking place…..

So, who will break first? Will curiosity finally get the better of her and she will ask cryptic questions designed to flush us out?, or will be broach the subject and let on that we know what she is hoping we don’t know and that we have had an email from her teacher telling us what we should know…..

Time will tell……..

Now, onto my next conundrum.

You see himself and I have been together for quite a longtime now and while I agree whole heartedly that you continue to learn about each other every day, I had sort of thought, indeed hoped, that by now he had got the basics about me sorted out.

So, picture the scene. Himself knows I am weighing up the options in relation to staying here in the land of sand or departing back to the UK to be with the gruesome twosome. Both options have their merits and faults and to be honest I sway like a pendulum on a day-to-day basis as to what I am going to do.

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Anyway, today saw us having a discussion about what I would do in terms of job if I disappeared back to Blighty. I have been out of the job market for several years now and while I still consider myself to be eminently employable, I am not sure that prospective employers would agree.

So today himself and I weighed up the possibility of a career change and threw a few ideas into the mix – should the pendulum sway heavily towards Blighty and stay stuck there.

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Now, please bear in mind that I am one of the most nonreligious people around. Please also consider that while in a previous life I have worked a lot with teenagers and loved it, (yes even the highly disengaged, dysfunctional ones who would make most people run for the hills), the idea of standing up in front of a classroom full of anything from 5 year olds to 18 year olds scares the living daylights out of me. I could really enjoy working in a school in anything other than a pure teaching role. That sort of narrows it down a bit.

So, imagine my bewilderment when himself suggested in all seriousness today that I do my PGCE and become an RE teacher.

Now, I have already stated that I am one of the most unreligious people around, but that goes further than just some agnostic thoughts – no I am pretty much anti-religion.

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So, can you imagine my thought processes when himself made his suggestion? Well, I simply can’t put them in today’s post…….

Needless to say he has not made any more suggestions……

Right, there will hopefully be a post tomorrow as I sit in the departure lounge to regale you with the adventures that are inevitable en route to the BA big bird and ultimately the gruesome twosome.

After that who knows about future posts? Well I suppose I had better just have a few days of GF bacon butties and hot chocolate in the cafe with ultrafast broadband….

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Bummer……well, somebody has to do it I suppose…..

Laters!

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Guess Who Called, Traumatised Italian & Presidential Ramblings….

WooHoo! Guesss what? Yeap, excitement reigns! We got a phone call from the small testosterone filled one last night.

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Well, when I say a phone call that may overplay it slightly but there was contact.

Yeap, at around 2200 just as himself and I were drifting off to the land of nod we were rudely brought back to the conscious world by Facetime demanding my attention on my phone, (I have started to not mute my phone when I go to bed in the vague hope that one of our offspring may call us in the early evening UK time).

Needless to say that as I grappled with my phone in a sleepy fashion the WIFI put out a white flag and no connection was made.

Anxious not to give the small man the opportunity to say ‘Well I tried to call but couldn’t get through’ before wondering off to some other more exciting event than speaking to his Mum, I called straight back on the landline.

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The conversation went something like this:

Me: ‘Hi Handsome, you OK?’
Small man: ‘Yeap thanks’
Me: ‘How’s things?’
Small man: ‘Good thanks. Actually Mum I can’t stay long as this call will use up my 3G’
Me: ‘No it won’t, I have called back on the landline, it won’t cost you anything’
Small man: ‘Oh, well I only have 3% battery on my phone’
Me: ‘Oh, so you haven’t charged your phone up then ready to call? Oh well. Has your hockey stick arrived?’
Small man: ‘Yes’
Me: ‘Any chance of a thank you?’
Small man: ‘Thanks Mum. Actually Mum, do you mind if I go?, I am really worried that by talking to you I will lose my place on the X-Box game that we are playing. I will talk to you soon. Bye.
Me: ‘See you then’

So, as you can see the phrase ‘phone call’ is a slight exaggeration – it is probably more appropriate to call it a brief exchange.

Anyway, at least we did speak to him – albeit briefly.

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So, swimming training this morning was amid the burst of activity which is Friday swim training for the masses of kids. I did manage to get a lane, just, but it was far from my usual luxury of ‘which lane shall I choose today’ as normally I have the entire pool to myself. Instead I was allowed the very narrow side lane where you have to negotiate ladders as each end and any momentary lapse of concentration means impelling yourself on the third step up.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not moaning as it was great to see so many of the compound’s kids training and the pool in such active use, but perhaps next week I may go earlier or later to avoid the  narrowest lane in the world that is also booby trapped at each end.

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So, what else has been happening. Well, you may or may not recall my various posts relating to our very own Italian Force Of Nature, Mrs P. Yes, as far as I am aware Mrs P is our only Italian comrade on the compound and as she is such a whirlwind I think that is a good thing, I am not sure we could cope with another.

Yeap, Mrs P, her long suffering English husband and the two small P’s have featured prominently in the EIOT blog in the past, (Oooopppss……..I Am In TroubleStarting To Get Really WorriedSugar Daddy P Wearing Budgie Smugglers & Not Got By The Mob Yet – links to several old posts that may refresh your memory about the legendary Mrs P, if you have nothing better to do with your time).

Mrs P is a legend with her flamboyant Italian characteristics, dramatic if occasionally dangerous animated arm movements and completely and captivating accent. We all love her.


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So, this morning I bumped into Mrs P, Mr P and the two little P’s. The conversation moved over to EIOT Towers as the family enquired about progress. Oooopppss……..I think I may have traumatised the legendary Mrs P.

You see Mrs P freely admits that she likes her luxuries and home comforts and anything other than 5 Star luxury does not cut it.

So, Mrs P asked today about hot water and was reassured when I mentioned that yes, we have hot water – well when we have water that is. Mrs P looked quite shocked about this.

Mrs P then asked about heating. I replied that we have heating when the wood burner is lit and the Rayburn is on. Alternatively we rely on the usual Cumbrian heating system – i.e. put another jumper on.

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At this point you could see Mrs P start to get a bit twitched.

Next Mrs P commented that at least we have WIFI, phone and mobile coverage. Well, regular EIOT readers will know the story behind that one and will be able to guess my response…….

So, I regret to say that I do not think Mr & Mrs P and their little P’s will be visiting EIOT Towers anytime soon. I did mention that luxury B&B at the end of the village, but nothing would sway her – the stories of self-sufficiency seem to have traumatised the legendary Mrs P.

Don’t worry Mrs P – just bring extra jumpers and forget about accessing Facebook!

Right, recent days have been dominated by The American Election and the threat of no Marmite in Tesco’s.

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Well, the cynic in me is thinking that the Tesco’s/Marmite fiasco was a carefully planned publicity stunt dreamt up by the two giants that are Unilever and Tesco’s and it has worked. Both brands have had a massive boost via free publicity and miraculously the matter has been settled…….now there’s a surprise.

Unfortunately the debacle that is the American Presidential Election is not so easily fixed and quite frankly has turned into a farce.

Now, I rarely stride into the world of politics in the UK let alone any other country as quite frankly it bores me to tears. But even I feel sympathy for the American people who are being shown up by the two muppets that are in the running for the American Presidency.

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Granted one of the muppets is marginally less of a muppet than her Republican counterpart – but even so even she does not fill me, or I suspect anybody else, with bags of optimism for the American future.

So, I got to thinking about the outgoing President and did a bit of research.

Now, I do not know if I started to feel some affection for President Obama as the two candidates for his job make Kim Kardashian and Kanye West look quite an attractive proposition to take up residence at The White House or if genuinely I think he is a good guy.

Anyway, I have decided that actually Barack Obama is a dude and while he most certainly has his critics, (you can’t please everybody all the time after all), he is actually a good guy and while dirt can be found just under the surface on most other American politicians, actually the best that anybody could dig up on him was the vaguest possibility that actually he was not born in Hawaii after all.

Good man.

So, I found the video below on the internet and I love it. Whether you like Obama or not, turn up the volume, kick back, pour a brew and enjoy!

Laters!

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Little Miss Whoops, Rejection & Not Impressed…..

It was just too good to be true. The WIFI had been up and running for over 24 hours and we had been lulled into a false sense of security – a sense that actually we had a reliable service again.

Whoops!

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Anyway, needless to say it has gone off again! Aaaarrrgghhh……………

Anyway, where there’s a will there’s a way and all that……

So, today’s training. A crackin’ gym session first thing – ages in the gym. Still no running, the hip is getting better, slowly, so stacks of everything else. My abdominals are now whinging like a bloke with flu, my quads are raging like a forest fire and my shoulders are continuing on their quest for world domination.

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Yeap, all the swimming and gym is having a very real effect on my shoulders – again. There was a lull in their quest for world domination the last time I was back in Blighty, but a daily beasting in the gym has revived their ambitions and they are off again. Just yesterday I put a t-shirt on and spent some considerable time trying to decide if it was tight across the shoulders because of the training or if I had washed it on too high a temperature……I think it was the former rather than the latter…

The latest news is that I have heard back from The London Marathon Ballot and the news is that like what seems to be the vast majority of the population who applied, I have not got a place in the 2017 London Marathon. But look on the bright side, apparently they did send me a consolation London Marathon training top – that softens the blow!

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To be honest I am completely chilled about it. The hip is recovering but is not up to intensive running at the moment. Also, I have to say that the thought of running round and round the compound wall numerous times sent a shiver of terror down my spine and brought back memories that should have been assigned to the darkest recesses of my mind…..

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Yes, there was much hilarity associated with my continuous running around the compound, relating mainly to my sports bras, the street lights going out, dog poo bins and camel poo smell as well as the never changing view of the identical buildings and scenery. While training on the compound makes for a relatively easy training environment it also makes for a mind numbingly boring experience.

Don’t forget that running around the compound time after time bred the name of this blog as thanks to training here I now know ‘every inch of tarmac’ intimately.

That said, as running around and around the compound ultimately made a significant contribution to the fantastic total amount of money we all raised for Tommy’s, (www.tommys.org), then quite frankly it was worth every step, aching muscle and errant breast experience, (new readers may or may not be curious to read the more humorous exploits associated with my running and these can all be found in the earlier posts of the EIOT blog).

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So, I now know I can formally lay off the running and concentrate on everything else.

I am looking at short term goals for all sorts of sports and have long term goals in mind – stand by for news on crazy sporting challenges!

I was due to swim this afternoon as well, but well it didn’t happen. It was a one off moment of ‘I have trained hard, twice a day, all week so I am having this afternoon off type of moment…

Instead we moved onto the next film. Yes, ‘those‘ films – but not ‘that‘ type of film!, Click on the link for a reminder of what the heck I am on about – Inbetweeners Initiation. Yes, in the absence of the gruesome twosome himself and I settled down and watched the long neglected film ‘The World’s End’. I had forgotten just how weird that film is and to be honest I think I would have been better off going swimming.

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Lesson learnt!

So, to the gruesome twosome. Well, the small man is in my bad books thanks to his complete lack of contact. Yeap, I am delighted he is loving his new life at boarding school in the UK, but some sort of contact would be nice. Nope, there has been nothing directed to me. Instead, as already mentioned this week all contact is directed towards himself. He actually imessaged himself last night asking him to apologise to me on his behalf as he had realised that he had forgotten my birthday earlier in the week.

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How does that work then? He has my imessage address and is more than capable of messaging me directly to say, ‘Sorry Mum, I messed up and forgot your birthday. I am really sorry. I hope you had a good day. Love from your gorgeous and adorable son’. 

But no, instead himself gets the message to pass on, ‘Tell mum that I’m sorry for forgetting her birthday’. Nothing more.

Now as if it wasn’t bad enough that he didn’t go out of his way to message me directly, I did receive an indirect request from him when I woke up this morning.

You see we have a family account on iTunes and I am the ‘administrator’ of it. So, that means the when anybody wants anything from iTunes I get a message from iTunes asking for approval.

So, this morning I was greeted with the news that he had not bothered to message me with an apology at around the same time as I received an iTunes app request from none other but the small testosterone filled one…….

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Needless to say I did not approve it….

What all this means is that he has WIFI access, but is not choosing to use it wisely to stay in his mum’s good books….

I think there is going to be a crash course in communication skills at half-term….

Right, best I go as this post will be delivered to the EIOT blog via 3G and too much data will send the network into meltdown and any shreds of communication with the outside world will be lost. The world will blame me and I will be have to go and live with the camels in the desert in disgrace.

I will endeavour to post my ramblings tomorrow but that is internet dependent and as it is Friday, day of prayers when everything grinds to a halt anyway, any breakdown in the WIFI system simply will not be considered for repair until Saturday.

I will be back, just not sure when…..

Laters!

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Tommys

 

While The Iron’s Hot & Inbetweeners Initiation…..

I wasn’t going to write a post today, I have been busy training and other things were taking over. However, a chance glance at the internet showed that we are actually online. Yes, the WIFI is working and we are, at least in the short term, back in touch with the big wide world. So, apologies but I as in the old adage, ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ here is an unplanned post for you.

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I would however just like to emphasise that it is here in the land of sand that we are back in touch with the world, not back in the UK with its alleged state of the art communications system, apparent high speed broadband and purported to be state of the art technology all of course managed by that legendary organisation – British Telecom.

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Yes, you may well have guessed thanks to the current efficiency of the WIFI here, I have just received an email update from BT over there.

Credit to them, they did say several weeks ago that there would be an update today and lo and behold, true to their word, there is an update.

Unfortunately the update is that actually there is no update and there will not be another non-update until 21 October.

No explanation, or at least no non-patronising explanation, and certainly no new information.

And, no apology.

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So, a stinking email has just been sent back and both emails have been sent off as my latest update to the big, (well reasonably big), guns. Yeap, I have been in touch with somebody who may well be able to help and who was just also waiting with bated breath for today’s update.

I just hope that they now feel the time is right to jump into action…..

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I have also resorted to another effective weapon – Twitter. Big companies hate anything negative on their Twitter feeds, so an ultra-negative Tweet is on the way there. It worked on one of the many occasions when BA were being arses and so lets see about BT.

Anyway, I am delighted to report that following last night’s moaning about the fact that my offspring seem to have misplaced my contact details in favour of himself’s, I received a call from the strawberry blond hand grenade this morning. Amazing and a lovely chat was had.

Now, either she has read the blog, somebody at school has read the blog, the grumpy Mum vibes have made their way to her or it was sheer coincidence……..

Anyway, I am pleased to report that himself appears to have recovered from the trauma of the daughter asking him to buy her ‘that’ dress, (Cast Adrift By My Offspring….) and is no longer whimpering about his little girl and vowing to scare witless any potential suitors over the coming years – although he will of course.

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However, I think I may have started him worrying about the small testosterone one, which really should be my domain. I should be the one that in years to come is attempting, and failing, to discourage ladish behaviour while himself relives his younger years and attempts to guide his son through the minefield that is the testosterone filled male teenage years.

But no, I think we have swopped roles as thanks to my actions of the last few days himself has started worrying about teenage boy mischief and misplaced adventure.

You see in the absence of children, himself and I have taken the opportunity to catch up on films that are normally out-of-bounds when the gruesome twosome are in residence.

No, I am NOT talking about ‘that‘ type of adult film – definitely not. Not even after my near miss with a Saudi gentleman, several pairs of handcuffs and a set of camel shackles last week – Camel Shackles, Handcuffs & A Healthy Dose Of Road Rage…., no not ‘that‘ type of adult film.

No, I am talking about all those films that we have that are just one step beyond what the gruesome twosome can take and would quite frankly lead to more questions than we can cope with.

So, recent viewing has consisted of ‘Grimsby’, ‘Kingsman’, ‘Friday Night Dinner’ and ‘Eye In The Sky’. All excellent viewing.

But then, a mere four days ago I decided that the time had come to introduce himself to the legendary series that is ‘The Inbetweeners’. I informed him that before watching the films he had to watch the 3 series so that he was ready for the epic film experience.

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Well, four days later we have completed all 3 series and both films.

If any EIOT readers are unfamiliar with ‘The Inbetweeners’ experience, well it is about four male teenage misfits who are desperate to sample everything that life can offer but are usually beset with toe curling and highly embarrassing consequences.

It is a very unique sense of humour and I would urge viewing for anybody who is not of a nervous and sensitive deposition.

Well, himself has survived just. There were several occasions when the toe curling embarrassment and distress led to him burying his head in a cushion but overall he is one piece – just.

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However, in watching all the episodes and both films we both found ourselves wondering about the pending testosterone one’s teenage years. We also realised with some alarm that actually our teenage nephew is already in that age bracket and while he is anything other than a misfit we really do not want to get into the realms of wondering what goes on in his life.

So, himself is now not only threatening action on any potential boyfriends for the strawberry blond hand grenade but is wondering how to pre-empt any testosterone fuelled teenage chaos from the small man.

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I have tried to explain that any action in either case is a waste of time, resistance is futile and even if he grounds them both till their 40th birthdays then they will find a way to cause chaos…..

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As for me? Well, I will probably be the one busting them from their house arrest, giving alibis and diverting himself’s attention from the AWOL teenagers.

All the time with a bottle of wine in one hand and a bacon butty in the other…………

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Laters!

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