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……