Resolutely resolved to make no resolutions.

Across the world, running shoes are waiting patiently in the dark depths of cupboards, whispering to each other that their time has come: not for the end of the world, but for the chink of light meaning that they will be hauled on to post-festive feet and taken out for a run a year after their purchase. The local vineyards will shortly be taken over by squads of red-faced and lycra-clad sportifs puffing uncomfortably along in their sale-price Nikes as their iPods set the pace. Then their numbers will rapidly dwindle, until the last running shoes return to the cupboard and await either a charity-shop hop or next year’s harvest of unattainable resolutions.

2012-233 Pretty Shoes

 Photo credit: mrsdkrebs

Running, swimming, smoking, drinking …. We are fast approaching the date when the human race tries to out-do itself, deciding to take up this and give up that. Sports trainers and nicotine patch manufacturers will shortly be rubbing their hands in glee across the globe as the number of miraculously motivated, gullible pigeons triples overnight.

 

 

How on earth did we dream up the daft idea that the New Year would give us the motivational wherewithal to give up smoking/lose 20 kilogrammes/get healthy/put the keys away in the right place and otherwise totally change overnight? Apparently the Babylonians were the first to imagine the impossible, and the human race has been deluding itself on an annual basis ever since.

 

I could, of course, resolve to wake up as a whole new woman on the first of January. A new, improved version of MM : an updated, organised model sporting the female equivalent of fully-chromed bumpers and leather seats, and ecologically fuelled by organic vegetables and cod liver oil.

 

Imagine MM as the new, Swiss army knife-type of mater familias who achieves everything with a smile and still has time to pop out for a facial and make herself beautiful for her other half’s arrival. Sounds dubious, but let’s imagine, just for a minute. Let’s reverse all my inadequacies.

 

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...

Add a head, and you have Wonderwoman.

You know the type. She deals with bills as soon as they arrive, and files the evidence away within the hour rather than stuffing it into a drawer and forgetting about it. She does not consider lifting a beer glass to her lips every evening to be a regular sporting activity. She has a strict food budget for the week that she never exceeds, yet feeds her brood on balanced meals that would turn Jamie Oliver green with envy. She rigorously applies a weekly timetable that includes cleaning the fridge and ridding the car boot of smelly dog’s hair. A perfect mother, she never gets tempted by the fascinating depths of a book or WordPress to the extent that she forgets the washing machine full of soaking clothes until it is discovered by an indignant teen wearing loud lycra underpants at 6.30 the following morning. She looks like a woman rather than a combination of a Yeti and Freddy Mercury, does not leap with joy at the sight of a pair of leather boxing boots in a charity shop, and can survive more than 30 minutes in a pair of high heels without swearing and slinging them into a corner. She hasn’t poked her fingers through her tights since she was at school and never has her skirt hem hooked in her knicker elastic on her way out of the loo.

 

The list goes on and on. But if I woke up like that, I think that my family would be nonplussed and even scared by the transformation. And it definitely wouldn’t last long, simply because it’s not me, but rather the way I think people expect me to be. It’s no wonder that resolutions don’t work.

 

So does this make resolutions a no-go zone, given that so many people set their sights so high that they are sunk before they even begin? Maybe not. Maybe we should see this in a more philosophical light: Every journey starts with a first step, and each day is a journey in itself. Taking one day at a time could therefore be the key to success for realistic aims, and is easier to deal with than the words « never again ».

 

 

So this year I will continue being realistic, both about myself and others. Being happy is a long-term project. Forget taking up sport or losing weight; I will settle for just being myself. I’ll take things one day at a time, because you never know what life will dish up for you tomorrow, and small bites are easier to chew. Enjoy the smallest things that don’t cost a penny, like watching my family on the beach. Listen to my gut feelings, but look before I leap. And last but not least, I’ll take care of those I care about, but look after number one too, because as my grandma always said, « no other bugger will do it for you ».

 

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?

 

The last thing I have to say on this post is to wish you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling year, and thank you for keeping me company in the WordPress world.

 

Advertisements

The story of MM, Helga and the flying car.

I haven’t done a WordPress challenge for ages, but today’s challenge struck a chord: “Share a time when you narrowly avoided disaster.” This is a post I wrote a long time ago about a hair-raising experience in my VW that would have cost me my life if I’d been a few seconds later on my schedule.  

I bought Helga when I finished my degree. My grandfather had left me some money a long time before “to give me a good start in life”. And the best way I could get where I wanted to go – France – was with four wheels.  When I answered the small ad, I literally cracked for this shiny VW with her generous curves, round eyes and military green sheen. I could have sworn I saw her chrome bumper smiling at me in the Norfolk sunshine. Her left-hand drive made her the ideal companion, and the price was more than affordable. How could I resist?

Helga has accompanied us everywhere on our travels except for the U.S, meaning that she’s probably had as many number plates as James Bond had passports. Our obstinacy to keep her has resulted in the car equivalent of cosmetic surgery and a heart transplant over the years. After more than twenty years of TLC, “Helga” the 32 year-old VW Beetle still purrs and shines her way through the local countryside; she has become a collector’s item that makes girls go wobbly at the knees, and Bigfoot knows it. He has his eagle eye on her for his student days, but he’ll have to push his mother off a cliff first.

Dean Jones in The Love Bug.

How Bigfoot imagines he will be with his Love bug (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Helga and I have had some pretty hair-raising experiences together. One close shave in particular made Helga my lucky star: that day back in 1991 when I had an encounter with a flying car as I chugged down the motorway between Portsmouth and Southampton on my way home from work. I kid ye not. What happens when wheels that are turning too fast on a motorway hit loose gravel? They skid. That’s how the Fiat Uno travelling in the opposite direction walloped headfirst into the crash barrier then flipped neatly up into the sky before my eyes like a giant white tiddlywink. It was one of those slow-motion moments you see in Starsky and Hutch, except this was real life.

I blinked as I saw the white car roof sparkling in the blue sky, and my stomach tightened into a knot. Would I be able to choose the yellow brick road and not the bright lights after being reduced to a pulp by Fiat’s failed aeronautical trial? I’d always loved watching the Wizard of Oz. I was relieved that I wasn’t wearing my stripy socks – it’ be just my style to be found with my legs sticking out from under the wreck like the Wicked Witch. And come to think of it, now that I was inches from discovering whether God really existed, I wouldn’t even be able to tell my parents. Dammit, Janet.

I peered through the seagull shit adorning Helga’s windscreen. The car was now falling and turned to show its strangely clean underbelly as it started its descent. I wondered who the occupant was, and if time had suddenly frozen for them in the same way as they viewed the motorway and their lives from a whole new perspective…. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have an unplanned stop on the M27. If you haven’t fastened your seatbelts, it’s too late now. Your landing will be cushioned courtesy of Helga the Beetle and her faithful companion”.

29F Penelope Pitstop

MM is always classy and shows self control whatever the situation. (Photo credit: Fred Seibert)

As the car disappeared out of my field of vision above Helga’s roof, I stopped gaping, hit the accelerator, and willed Helga to awaken the girl racer hopefully lurking somewhere in her innards. Lots of things went through my head. Unsurprisingly, what I presumed were my last thoughts were neither poetic nor philosophical:

1) Would my man find the steak I’d taken out of the freezer before it went off if I never made it home?

2) Why didn’t my “O” level maths curriculum include how to use the estimated weight, trajectory, speed and curve factors of a falling object to calculate its impact with a car travelling at a fixed speed of 80km with a slow acceleration and a petrified driver at the wheel?

3) Of all the stupid ways I could have imagined dying, I’d never have thought of this one: 10/10 for imagination, destiny. I’ve always enjoyed making people smile, but this time the last laugh’s really on me – this is going to be the most entertaining demise on our family tree.

4) I should have called my parents last night. You never know when you’re going to have a Chicken Licken moment and have the sky fall on your head. Or a car.

5) Was that last red light in central Portsmouth responsible for all this? If it had been green I would have been in the position of the car in front of me, which was accelerating as the driver looked in his rear view mirror……

Pulled back to real life, albeit perhaps not for long, I looked in my rear-view mirror to see the car behind me braking, it’s driver looking anxiously upwards.

A little like a bad take in a 1950’s disaster film, the car dropped out of the sky between our two vehicles and slammed bumper first into the tarmac before executing a neat double somersault and landing on its four wheels, neatly parked and smoking gently on the hard shoulder. Whilst I parked Helga, the driver behind me had done the same and was talking to the occupant, no doubt asking how he had gone from being Mr Ordinary to an incongruous mixture of Evel Knievel and Dick Dastardly in the space of seconds.

Dick Dastardly

Dick Dastardly, test pilot for the Fiat Punto.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My knees had turned to jelly; I wobbled my way to the little orange phone on the side of the road, called the emergency services, then followed their advice and sat in Helga, gabbling to myself and counting my blessings until I had stopped shaking. The driver of the car behind me was a nurse, and took care of our newfound pilot until the ambulance arrived. He had got out of the car, and was stumbling around the hard shoulder saying “my elbow hurts, and my wife is gonna kill me”. I don’t think he realized just how lucky he was to envisage the luxury of being told off by his wife.

The following morning I arrived at work, where one of my colleagues was moaning about her husband. She had planned to come to work in her new car, but her husband had test driven it a little too fast after leaving the garage showroom.  He had ended up with a broken elbow after a spectacular view of the M27 and a cute little VW Beetle that he almost squashed on landing……. It’s a small world.

If you have the time and the inclination, please pop over here and vote for my entry in the Expat’s Blog contest: Thank you!

No pain, no flame.

It’s strange how a song sometimes pops into your head and you promptly start singing something you don’t remember having ever heard. Yesterday, my ageing database dug a 1917 blockbuster entitled “Keep the home fires burning” out from the bottom of the sweet jar I fondly refer to as my memory. How it got there is still a mystery to me, and I’ll be in touch with my parents soon to ask them whether my grandparents listened to it (it’s either that, or I’m a reincarnation of Rosie the Riveter).

The song oozes with patriotism and terminally stiff British upper lips. It was aired on the radio as the Brits sent their lads off to both world wars, encouraging their families to keep calm, drink tea and carry on until their heroes returned from the battle front. It would merit some black and white film footage featuring a dashing young RAF pilot with a carefully waxed handlebar moustache, kissing his perfectly chignoned pin-up goodbye through the open train window. The girl dabs delicately at her eyes with a spotless lace hanky, then fiddles anxiously with the shiny buttons of his jacket, and cranes upwards for a last lingering kiss on her hero’s lips whispering “Now just you take care, old boy…I love you so much, Roderick…. I’ll tend the fire whilst you’re gone”. Our hero swallows hard, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down with the emotion as he utters a manly “Tally ho… it’s just toodle-pip for now, my darling” and slips a box of matches into her hand. The train whistle blows and….. damn it. Get back on track, M.M.

1942 ... how to kiss!

Our hero practicing the perfect goodbye kiss (Photo credit: x-ray delta one)

Anyway. When Ivor Novello and Lena Guilbert Ford wrote this song, I don’t think they imagined for even a fleeting second that nearly a hundred years later an Englishwoman would be singing it hysterically at the top of her voice, interspersed by bilingual effing and blinding as she battled with an egg box, a pile of soggy wood and a box of matches somewhere in a cold house in the South of France. Did they know just how frigging hard it is to keep a home fire burning?

P.F and I had always dreamt of a fireplace, with warm flames flickering inside it. I recklessly added a St Bernard to my request, so that I could prop myself up on something warm whilst I read in front of the fireplace. P.F drew the line at anything that big, so I got a Golden Retriever – I suppose I should be happy, as a Chihuahua wouldn’t have survived long with me lying on top of it.

We decided to bite the bullet this summer, after two winters of insufficient and excruciatingly expensive electric heating. We would install a wood fireplace insert in our humble abode and stop financing the French electricity board. We would heat our entire home that way. We would save money and be as snug as the proverbial bugs in a rug, curled up in front of the blazing hearth as the winter set in outside the house. We were optimistic. Little did I know how far I had underestimated the effort required: There was going to be a whole **** load of work involved. No pain, no flame.

First we had to buy the material. A huge silver caterpillar was ordered from King Merlin, houdinied into Albal, brought home, then stuffed up the chimney flue with much puffing and swearing. Hoisting a new chimney onto the roof as P.F and Bigfoot enthusiastically gallavanted 10 metres above ground level was a good test for my oh-so-British calm. The only fun bit was the thrilling surge of power when I realised that if I didn’t tell P.F who was walking below, he would chuck the old chimney on top of Gargamel as he walked underneath.

We found an insert in the local small ads. The white marble surround almost cost us number one child as well as the 100 euros when the seller, obviously one can short of a six-pack, pulled a gun on Bigfoot on our arrival in his garden because “he looked like a gypsy”.

After much dust, sweat, swearing, screaming, sulking and injured fingers, the great day arrived. It was done. Houston, we had fire. We pulled out the Champagne and petit fours  beer and pretzels, and admired the flames dancing within the beast’s innards.

IMG_0882

The (almost) finished result. Awaiting delivery of St Bernard.

Ever since, I have become a cavewoman. Keeping the home fire burning has become a primitive reflex, an obsession. I run through the house screaming to check on my baby, because if the thing goes out it’s a bugger to get started again. I know which newspapers burn best. We are eating more eggs, not because we like them but because egg boxes are part of my foolproof method to light a fire. I get the shopping done at high speed and try to jump the queue, waving my club at everyone and explaining that I have to get back to my cave and tend the fire before the damned thing goes out. I’m already blasé at the idea of running outside to get wood in the rain, and every time I clean out the drawer at the bottom of the stove I wonder how many guys working in crematoriums can face cleaning out more ashes when they get home.

Last night I picked up Little My from school and she said I smelled like a barbecue. Glancing down at my soot-stained clothing, I had to admit I was the only parent who looked like she’d just climbed out of a Welsh coal-pit. When P.F got home, he kissed me hello then absent-mindedly wiped a black stain off my cheek – I looked as if I’d spent my day as an extra in the film version of Zola’s “Germinal”.

So forget the RAF pilot and the pin-up at the station. I’ll settle for a sooty kiss from P.F.  Even if it’s more a case of Bob the Builder than Roderick the RAF pilot, he is nevertheless my hero for courageously fighting the battle against the electricity bill. Now if you’ll just excuse me, it’s time to stoke the fire…..

If you have enjoyed your read, pop by and vote for MM before 14th December in the France expat blog award 2012!

P.S Hearthfelt heartfelt thanks to all those who have voted for Multifarious meanderings on the Expat Blog Awards. If you haven’t done so yet, you still have time to vote for Multifarious meanderings HERE! If you think the blog is worth it’s salt, take a minute to say so, now, because voting closes at 10.00 GMT on 15th December.

Tomboy tales.

Here is today’s confession : I enjoy dressing up in women’s clothing. Sometimes I play it light, with a dress and a pair of flat pumps, and occasionally I go the whole hog by adding a well-cut jacket, tights and a pair of heels. I even go so far as putting on make-up and jewellery and doing my hair on occasions. I turn this way and that, inspect myself from all angles, then get changed before my resident Fashion Police tells me I’m too old/my skirt’s too short/ the occasion’s not right (see this article for more on my fashion advice team).

Warrior Gaze

Perfect hair and make-up for a night out on the tiles (Photo credit: Will Merydith)

Just in case you are about to check out my « About » page for any changes, or wondering if you got the wrong blog address, please stay tuned in to Multifarious Meanderings. I am indeed a woman. I just don’t behave like one. When offered a drink, I go for a beer. I don’t like the colour pink, and I don’t cry delicately like Miss France does. I don’t wear red nail varnish because I think it makes me look like Mrs Doubtfire. I have no idea how to put on make-up without ending up looking like a cross between an Amazonian hunter and a Bois de Boulogne cougar. I have hands like shovels and feet so big they would turn the average Patagonian girl green with envy. My handbag is no more than a survival kit for the entire family and does not contain anything even vaguely resembling make-up (more details for brave readers here). But I’m tall, and I’ve come to enjoy it. After all, there is nothing more satisfying than the supermarket power trip of getting the last box of PG tips off the top shelf for a Frenchman who comes up to your belly button.

I suppose it’s too late now; I have always been a tomboy. Whilst other little girls in my class joined the Brownies then attended ballet classes, I climbed trees with my sisters, played hockey and sailed dinghies. Thanks to the unpleasant comments of other girls in the neighbourhood, I finally realised that clothing had other functions than simply protecting limbs from grazes and bruises when I was in my early teens. I didn’t care: you can’t sail in a skirt.

I would try to grow my hair from time to time, then got annoyed with it getting in my face and sidled off to the hairdresser’s. I always returned to see my father’s face light up at my short back and sides, and my mother roll her eyeballs in mock despair. The expression on my Mum’s face the day she saw me in a wedding dress will stay with me all my life; delight combined with a tangible fear that I’d trip over it before I got to sign the register. A close friend said, « Oooh, look….  your Dad’s all emotional because you’re getting married! » She was a little nonplussed when I told her that he was probably emotional because it was the first time he’d seen me in a dress since I was ten years old.

When I went to University, I finally grew my hair long and occasionally « dressed up as a girl ». Most times it turned sour, the most memorable occasion being a Cinderella-style outing with my BMF (Best Male Friend) who had a «”his and hers » invitation to a classy military dinner dance. I reminded him that I was a very dangerous choice if he wanted someone who didn’t put their foot in it at official functions. He insisted, so I reluctantly agreed and started getting my head around the logistics of looking like a girl.

Being a dainty size 9, finding girly shoes was about as easy as resolving the israeli-palestinian conflict. After drawing a blank in all the “normal” shoe shops, I finally bought a pair of impossibly high black heels in a shop where I suspected only transvestites shopped. I practiced crossing my room in them every evening for a week until I considered I could remain upright long enough to avoid attracting the attention of the local police. I borrowed a fabulously feminine 1940’s blue silk ball gown off a friend.

Cinderella - Prince Charming & Cinderella

P.F and M.M in a parallel universe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On The Big Night, a girlfriend attacked me with a hairbrush and her collection of  war paint, and when I finally looked in the mirror I didn’t recognise myself. I set off on foot from my University digs, teetering self-consciously towards the street. The ground suddenly seemed too far away. I made a mental note not to drink if I wanted to get home without resorting to my hands and knees. I could do it.

Yet when I saw the last pumpkin to the ball waiting at the bus stop, the real me took over. That stupid student reflex reared its head: if you see a bus, run. I promptly forgot about the stilts I had strapped on my feet, stuffed my purse into my cleavage, hooked up armfuls of ball gown and sprinted for the bus.  I should have known better: only Cinderella managed to lose one shoe and escape with the other. My ankle twisted, and I ended up sprawled inelegantly across the pavement with my tights ripped, cursing like a sailor as I tried to keep the blood from staining the dress. The bus driver kindly scooped me up and plopped me onto a seat, transformed from aspiring princess to a sad pile of Grandma’s old curtains with a skew-whiff chignon dropped on top. He gave me an elastoplast at the next red light, and gallantly dropped me off right in front of my chaperon’s door.

The ensuing evening was a nightmare as my ankle doubled in size. We ended up driving to the local A&E unit, where BMF insisted on carrying me from the car to reception. The staff blinked, some dewy-eyed and others perplexed at the sight of BMF in his uniform, a ballgown-clad, barefoot M.M yelling “Put me down, do you know how much I weigh?” from over his shoulder. We must have looked like an offbeat Prince Charming and Cinderella on their way to a fancy-dress party.

That was the day I decided that I can only ever dress up as a girl inside the house. I don’t know where BMF is now, or what he’s doing, but I doubt he will have forgotten that evening either. I just hope he changed his recruitment criteria for any future official dinner dates, or chances are he’ll still be single.

Pleaaaaaase…..?

This post is a plea to all those out there who usually skim over requests for petitions and votes. I’m not asking you to vote for the cutest baby competition, your favourite flavour of ice cream or whether you would prefer a date with Robert Pattinson or Hugh Grant. This is serious blogging stuff, which is why I’m making these big pleading eyes at you. Yes, YOU.

M.M, in your office/kitchen/dining room, pleading for your vote before it's too late.

M.M, in your office/kitchen/dining room, pleading for your vote before it’s too late.

A little like Uncle Sam, Multifarious Meanderings NEEDS YOU. Come on guys: I am amazed to see that 110 of you following my blog, which is currently joint tenth in line in the Expat Blog Awards out of 87 French blogs.That’s amazing, and I’d like to thank those who have already voted. I’d like it to be a winner, and I’m asking you to help me. If you enjoy popping by from time to time and having a read, if my ramblings have ever put a smile on your face, please, please, please…..

CLICK HERE, scroll down to the bottom and help make this blog one of the four award-winners in France. Soon. Very soon, because the close votes on 00.00 h on the 14th of December. Every vote counts. They also take comments into account so wax lyrical, kids…..

Thanks,  M.M xx

Flying in the face of technology.

P.F and I are slowly but surely becoming what the French term  “décroissant”. Although this word conjures up the image of a gallic breakfast reversing off the kitchen table, it actually describes someone who refuses to keep up with the Jones’.

Extreme décroissants push things as far throwing out their car, TV and fridge. We’re not that masochistic, yet slowly but surely, I am backing away from much of the intrusive technology I first saw as salutary. I kept up with progress for a while, but now it has overtaken me and is jogging down the road several miles in front of me, with my offspring chasing full pelt behind. You can have too much of a good thing, and personally, I’ve reached saturation level: funnily enough, I have discovered that I have a relatively low tolerance level for high-tech gadgets. A little like eating ice cream three times a day, seven days a week, being permanently available to the world and his brother inevitably became a drag.

That’s how I recently decided to pack in my “smart” phone and its high-tech communication deal, along with all those sophisticated, modern-day bells and whistles for a phone that …. well …… phones. No more, no less. My “smart” phone was in fact way too smart for me. I found it more smart ass than smart; it made me feel inadequate. It told me off for using up too much memory, pretended it had no network when I needed to phone, and snidely reminded me that as thirty days had gone by I should get my act together and save all my contacts (I never established what I was saving them from, but thirty days down the line it was probably too late anyway).

Within two years I had limited my efforts to learning how to send text messages, take photos, read Facebook and news updates, and make phone calls (this is one up on P.F, who still obstinately refuses to learn how to type a text message on the grounds that he still knows how to speak).

Whilst bored to tears on a long road trip, I even accidentally managed to set up my phone to receive my emails whilst trying to get rid of something else. It obligingly woke me up all night for weeks on end with spam from mail order catalogues until I implored Bigfoot to put me out of my misery and give it the kiss of death. I chose to remain happily oblivious to its remaining capacities, which remained dormant until an ecstatic Rugby boy inherited it, irritatingly taming the beast within ten minutes of its adoption.

Bigfoot has caustically dubbed P.F’s basic communication tool “a phone box”. His own phone (which he deems to be “ancient” at the grand old age of two)  is apparently capable of everything bar dancing and emptying the dustbin, and seems to require more tender loving care than a newborn. The visible panic attack when he thinks that he has mislaid baby Sam (Sung) is touching, and I can only hope that he will be as attentive to his offspring one day. Our status as retrograde, back-pedalling, old-fashioned and frumpy K-shoe-wearing excuses for modern-day parents gives us the privilege to rule out the acquisition of an iPhone. Whatever the peer pressure may be, I see no reasonable grounds to justify my teenager wandering around with a toy costing the equivalent of four trolleys of family grub in his pocket. Sorry, kiddo. We need the cash for our Zimmer frames.

Caveman Couple

P.F and M.M out in the urban jungle on the hunt for a mammoth for the family BBQ (Photo credit: San Diego Shooter)

My phone bill has decreased dramatically, and I feel strangely liberated by the fact that social networks don’t follow me outside the house and take my attention away from the things I missed before. Ironically, so many people seem to miss out on real contact with real people because their noses are glued to their Facebook pages.

I think I made a wise move.  After all, the more complicated things are, the more things can go wrong with them. A perfect example of this is Albal, our newfangled Citroën people-carrier (I call her Albal because she’s kitchen foil colour. I know, I need help, but I’m happy this way. Honest). If I invested as much money in myself as we do in that car, I’d be a whole new woman.

Albal is currently at the garage for some very expensive TLC, simply because her central locking system has thrown a paddy. I suspect her of fancying the mechanic, because she’s always finding some excuse to go there and flutter her headlamps at him. She’s a modern girl, with all sorts of electronic gadgets which would be more at home on the Starship Enterprise.

NCC-1701-C

Albal, alias the Starship Enterprise  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is also the most talkative car I’ve ever come across,  squeaking with happiness when I lock her, and coyly flickering her indicators at me in the supermarket car park when I return with my overflowing trolley. She also has an infuriating habit of flashing supercilious advice up on the dashboard which is either as obvious as a slap in the face with a wet kipper, or simply a case of closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. You know the type, like “It’s cold out, watch out for ice” when you’re shivering in the driver’s seat, or saying “Gee, it looks like the fuel levels getting low! Too bad that you’re in the middle of nowhere and you only have ten litres left, huh?”, or (my favourite) “Your tyre’s punctured, better stop” (I was lost between two vineyards in the middle of nowhere, and could clearly hear the air hissing out of the tyre after driving over a screw big enough to have dropped off the Titanic).

Helga, our 31 year-old Volkswagen, has never done that to us: she’s the mechanical equivalent of Lego. She lets loose with a contented roar when you hit the accelerator, and the suspension squeaks like it’s full of hyped–up hamsters as you go over the bumps in the road. Park up, press the button down, squeeze the handle, slam the door, hey presto. Locked car. No gadgets, no gizmos. But just like Marks & Sparks bras, Helga never lets a girl down.

Anyway, time to get back to the real world now. I have to dig out those matching bear-skin outfits for P.F and I to wear for Christmas lunch.

Very inspiring blogger award.

blog-award

My thanks, albeit belated, to thebestdressup for nominating me for the “very inspiring blogger award”. I am a little bewildered at the term “inspiring”, which makes me think of balding, pipe-smoking literary boffins, but am a very chuffed bunny nevertheless. The instructions, which I hope won’t blow up James Bond-style within five minutes of reading them, are as follows:

THE RULES FOR ACCEPTING THE AWARD:
1. Display the award logo on your blog. (displayed above)
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

As I don’t have any earth-movingly fascinating facts about myself like having saved the universe, obtained an OBE or dated George Clooney, here are seven mundane sundries about your humble scribe:

1) I have suffered from severe cold turkey since I was forced to give up peanuts for health reasons in June. I’m still scared I’ll sleepwalk to the village shop in the dead of night, and be caught in my Mr Men PJ’s by the police, sitting in a mountain of peanuts with my tights pulled over my head.

2) I love the smell of freshly cut grass, and hate standing next to people who have jumped into a vat of perfume before leaving the house.

3) The most wonderful thing I have ever seen was a gobsmackingly beautiful blood-red, mandarine orange and pomelos pink sunrise over an atoll in French Polynesia 18 years ago. It was powerful; skin-creepingly and enormously fabulous. I still get goose-pimples when I think about it. Lesson learned: keep your eyes open, the best things in life are free.

4) One day, I’ll write that book. It won’t make me rich or famous, but hell it’ll be fun.

5) I am convinced that dirty laundry copulates in corners and produces single-sock offspring.

6) I love life, and avoid pessimists and wet blankets like the plague. I often resist the temptation to boot the backsides of self-indulgent misanthropists.

7) Last but not least, I love my family. The older I get, the more I realise just how much my parents have done for me and my siblings, and how much they count for me.

Now for the 15 other bloggers. It’s going to be hard because there are so many brilliant blogs!

1. Our Adventure in Croatia
2. Englishman in Italy
3. Maman Poulette
4. Artistic milestone
5. Mixedbabygreens
6. Mommy man
7. Sabhskitchn
8. 52 Brand New
9. The world is my cuttlefish
10. La petite banane
11. Caramelize Life
12. Turn around and swim
13. Faemom
14. Happiness Stan lives here
15. Robotic Robot

I hope you have as much fun reading these as I do!
Now here are two further instructions:
1) Have a beautiful day.
2) Smile if someone catches your eye – I bet that in 9 cases out of ten they’ll smile back. You may not realise at the time, but an unexpected smile can do someone the world of good.

MM xx