Empty nester.

IMG_4462 (1)Our son left home last year to go to University.

The Empty nest syndrome is something I see all around. Sad eyed middle aged women getting up like clockwork to put out the endless boxes of cereal to feed the ones who have left. Our body clocks pinging at 4pm and the Pavlovs dogs reaction of shovelling a half hundred weight of biscuits onto plates and producing gallons of juice and milk for the hoards to drink when they descend on the house at 4.30pm on their ways home. Only there are no hoards now. All those muddy kneed rugby playing school boy/men are away. Away to begin their lives without so much as a by your leave for the entrenched routines that having given birth to and brought up a child has riven into the homes and lives which they inhabited. The silence. The tidiness. The thrum of music through the wall from his room replace by the ticking of the kitchen clock. The fridge which remains full and the milk which is still bought in gallons going off.

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Until this very moment you have had not a second to think about it as the toddling becomes totting into school turns to hormones turns to teenage battles turns to exams and then to – well this – the point. To bring up a responsible member of society who can clean his teeth, brush his hair, and be independent. This is a success. This was your job. OK its not full redundancy maybe a fairer term would be voluntary redundancy. It is a new beginning for them so why not you?

cropped-sausagedogslife.jpg

So with that in mind I am slinging my bag over my shoulder, grabbing my sausage dog and am off.  Muffin top, hormonal rollercoaster, bouts of dieting, bouts of drinking, bouts of regret, bouts of hysteria, eruptions of spots, despair, creativity, dunderheidedness, insomnia, grumpiness all accompanied by increasing hairiness in strange places – why the inside of my nose is now tufting up is not something I am either proud of or delighted about – and that’s just the half of it, said the bearded slack jawed lady. Still look on the bright side….at least when Santa retires I might be a shoe-in for the big job.

With car, sausage dog and passport am off. Will report back.

 

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Lugging trunks on holiday are a thing of the past – hallelujah.

 

What you want to take.
s What you want to take.


So there I was gas and air getting my legs waxed just before Christmas chatting to the unfortunate girl faced with my hairy extremities. Trying to change the subject.
“So what are you doing at Christmas?”
Off to Poland
“God it will be cold there.”
Yes about -20 but I just take all my winter clothes with me.
“That must cost a fortune to put in the hold”
I don’t
“What do you do?”
I send it with a courier company.
“That must cost a fortune!”
No about £20.
*rip strip *

images-1My attention was diverted to my throbbing legs….yikes.

So I stored this information in my befuddled head until last week when my dear Mum was getting her knickers in a twist about travelling over to Spain. At 83 the thought of heaving and wrestling a large case full of clothes through airport security and then waiting hours at the wrong carousel for it to turn up at the other end of the arrivals lounge was becoming unassailable, then I remembered my waxing chat and decided to investigate the courier option.

Teahouse Transport were the ones my Polish friend used and so I got online put in the dimensions of Mums case, 30” x 20” x 15” and the approx weight 12kg and it came back as a princely £16 & VAT door to door.
Still incredulous that it would work I booked it online, they emailed a bar code within the hour for the case which was duly printed out and taped on.
When would you like it collected?
“Em tomorrow (Friday).” I asked pushing my luck.
OK between 1-5pm?
Well…. YES!
At 1.05pm the case was picked up from my very impressed Mother in North Berwick. Yes North Berwick! Not a big city, a post office or a designated shop – from my mums flat in East Lothian, East of Scotland.
They say it takes 3 working days. So here we are 3 days later in Spain. I have just received a call to say it will be here in an hour. I will unpack it and when Mum arrives tomorrow relaxed with her handbag and hopefully a bottle of gin for me,  her clothes will all be here waiting for her to start her holiday in a Zen like calm.
How do they do it?
I have no idea.
But they do.
And not being bent backwards over a trunk and shafted by the airlines for once is something I thought you might enjoy too!
£16 & VAT. Blimey.

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Teahouse Transport have a look!
Say goodbye to lugging trunks of clothing over the globe – they do it all for you, all you need to worry about are the laddered old trunks you have been trying to get your partner to ditch for 20 years. That may prove a lot harder. Good luck.

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Road Trip Thelma & Louise Day 1

 

So we’re off. Mum and I are heading off to Europe today in the car. In preparation last night we drank a lovely bottle of wine and toasted the next few weeks of driving, travelling and “mindfulness” Yes the buzz word for the middle aged crisis sufferers the world over of which I am one. Obviously. Mum is neither middle-aged nor neurotic so that must have come from my Fathers side of the family. The mad, hairy, ones. Ah yes there’s the clue. Still back to the trip.

 

The first hurdle in leaving is pictured here. The dog.

SMILE IF YOU HEART IS BREAKING
SMILE IF YOU HEART IS BREAKING

Nellie the lurcher. She got a bit twitchy when she saw Mum pack her bags and spent last night pacing the flat then when we got up this morning she was glued to Mums bags displaying her doleful eye.

 

I took a different approach as my dogs are 15 and 13 respectively if I had said goodbye to them it would have taken 2 hours and involved a lot of wailing and snottering so I gave them a biscuit a cursory scratch on the head and  they walked off rewarding me with a lazy wag.

GOODBYE CRUEL WOMAN
GOODBYE CRUEL WOMAN

As they disappeared off into a bushI ran in and gathered the next armful of extraneous goods to stuff into the boot before leaving the flat for the last time tears threatening.

 

For those considering taking a car. First revelation.

 

Travelling across Europe by car is a joy. No one to winge about the size of your cases or the number you have of them. So we have spread out…..there’s just us and over the boot and back seats we have:

  1. The Library; Selection of books to read on the road. Travel books, thrillers, sci-fi-romance, history it’s all in there. NO WE DON’T HAVE A KINDLE and NOW WE DONT WANT ONE.
  2. The larder. Food for stuffing into the face in times of desperation which we plundered on day 1 more details to follow…..
  3. The digital radio – yes I must have @BBC6music at all times when in transit
  4. The footwear. Shoes, flip flops, trainers, wellies, boots, flippers.
  5. The rumbley rolls of clothing. Warm stuff, sandy, old summer stuff, winter stuff, spring and Autumn stuff – fully prepared for all eventualities.
  6. The drugs. Not illegal ones but the ones you end up accumulating. Ibuprofen, aspirin, paracetamol, a couple of back supports as my back as been chronic recently, vitamins, Nytol for the insomnia and then Mums array of stuff for blood pressure. I wonder when you see Posh Spice (Yes I still call her that) swashbuckling through Heathrow with all her bags if they are filled with Berocca and painkillers in case of a cracking hangover after a wild night out with Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana.

But seriously to the untrained health freak we probably look like a couple of dealers. There are a serious number of bottles with pills in them in the boot. I hope we don’t get stopped at customs.

  1. Shampoo. I ordered it twice by mistake on Amazon and thus have 12 bottles of shampoo in the car which we can sell if we run out of money, or petrol, or the will to carry them round Europe.
  2. Lotions and Potions required for maintenance. This is a biggie.

You know the sort of things Cleanser. Moisturise, Veet, conditioner, body moisturiser, deodorant, anti-pespirant, perfume, my make – up which we did consider putting in a separate trailer. Mums make up – pictured. Is slightly less high maintenance.

 

Electronics:

Laptop. Phone. Chargers. Camera. Batteries.

Vital equipment: Maps. Addresses of where we are going. Instruction on how to use the Sat Nav.

By now there is barely enough room for Mum and I.

 

If it doesn’t just burst I will report back tomorrow…..

 
Hasta La Manana

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Mum and technology – get me a gin – not a glass – a bottle now!

Smelling salts for Alison. My Mother  phoned me on her mobile ( for the first time ever as she hates it) I assumed something was wrong. It was. The conversation went something like this.

“I’m on my mobile. That other walkabout phone thing you bought me doesn’t work”

Oh dear I said whats the problem?

“Well when I pick it up it just makes a noise…one long noise.”

You mean the dialling tone?

“No it’s definately not the dialling tone”

Adamant she was so I decided not to argue but go with the flow.

“OK Mum… Well why don’t you stay on the mobile and I will try and phone your walkabout phone from my landline to see if its working with incoming calls?”

“Oh OK”.

So I rang her new walkabout, as she stayed on her mobile. It  rang. ‘Oh ” she said  as she picked it up. “Hello…you’re there”.

Yes. I am.

So we agreed it was working.

“OK” I said “now you press the red button which will cut this call off. Then press the green button so you can try phoning me back”

Silence.

I repeated it.

“Oh right” she said

“OK” muffled shuffling “I have hit the green button” and as she did she shouted “yes! yes! I told you  that’s the funny noise now. Can you hear it ? I am holding the walkabout phone up to my mobile for you to hear “.  Which I couldn’t

“No Mum I can’t hear it but just put this number in…”

“Oh OK “she said as I listed off my mobile number and heard her poke each number into her phone sighing in that resigne-d there is now way this is going to work -sort of way.

“OK that’s it done” she said as my landline started to ring.

“Its working.” I said and  picked it up . “Hello” I said.

“Hello” said a confused woman on the other end. My Mother.

“Its me Mum don’t blow the whistle”

So she now had her mobile phone in one ear and her landline in the other.

45 minutes drive away, so did I.

“We are now talking on four phones” I said.

“Oh”. She said.

Teenwolf by now was rocking back an forward with tears rolling down his face.

“Shall we put them all down now?” I asked sounding a bit Fluella Benjamin

“Yes” . She said.

“Right When I count to 3 hang up your mobile AND the walkabout phone.”

SILENCE

“I said whenI count to 3 hang up you mobile and your walkabout phone OK?”

SILENCE

“She’s already hung up. Get me a whisky please” I asked the hysterical teenwolf

My hot flush raised itself another few degrees.

To heck with technology.  Next time it’s a pigeon with a leg for a message to be tied round it.

 

School’s Back ’til Summer – Alice Pooper

Last minute lottery stuff as usual. On the eve of school going back.

Digging out the school breeks – they have holes in them. Where did these holes come from? Dunno.

What do you mean dunno? it looks like someone cut holes in them with scissors.

Bet this little blighter wouldn't give his mother hell.

Dunno.

Grrrrrr..

OK whilst we are at it where are your school shoes?

Dunno

Find them then. They are produced scruffy, scuffed but polishable on the top side and then I flipped them over  and realised there are hole in the soles. HOLES! Holy breeks and holy shoes. Holy shit I shout we are going out to get you sorted.

Aw Mum

NOW!
K.

So breeks on board we hit the shoe shops. We end up in Top Man. TOP MAN! I used to be made to wear Clark Startrites and then horrific lace up horors until I left scohol. Yeh but that was the olden days came the mumbled reply.

So he has slip ons. Very Jason King. Black slip ons. And new black hole-free trousers there is just one thing missing – well two if you count the absence of a sane mother – I haven’t actually seen his face for about 2 months. Hair.

No way.

Hair

A deep suspicion of hairdressers as you can see

NO WAY!
HAIR !

K

So I drop him at the Barber. He comes home later. Let’s see your hair then. I command. We meet in the hall and yes  he has had his hair cut. The one on the left hand side. So after a rather heated discussion during which I was informed I was lame, unfair and 112 he’s going back tomorrow for every other hair on his head to be cut to match it.

I’m just a teenage dirtbag baby – no really!

 

Teenwolf demonstrating need to touch ball at all times

Yesterday afternoon we ended up at a party with a cast of dozens from a 6 month old baby to a 79 year old but the most prevalent group were the teenwolves  patrolling the premises, hands jammed into pockets, perusing the scene picking off the sausage rolls and cans of Irn Bru and surrepticiously eyeing up the lager. 

The highlight of any mixed gathering of ages is observing the crushing inhibition of the teenagers versus the total lack of inhibition of the elderly. I often think you could rule the world if you had the lack of inhibition of a 79 year old whilst line-free young and with it all ahead of you.

My role model

Anyway I digress. One of the teenwolves in evidence was wearing a pair of jeans, which had more holes than jeans, the crotch of which was actually toying with trailing along the ground. As he leaned louchely yet desperately self-consciously against a wall, slugging a can and feeling like the dogs bahookey  my Mum went up, smiled at him and asked. 

Grotty Jeans 2010 style

Are they meant to be like that? 

Yes these are the  best jeans I’ve ever owned he said as if that justified the threadbare mass that barely clung to his form.  Oh she said turning to me, they look like yours. Eh? A brief glance down at my own legs which were covered in more lycra than denim, thigh squishing, bum holding inners and  dark dark  blue for maximum slimming effect made me think for a moment yup she’s finally lost it but then another look at the teenagers jeans brought it all back.

When a teenwolf myself I had a pair of leg coverings made of denim, to call them jeans would be an insult to all jeans everywhere.

Perfect for a family dinner in The Cotwolds.

They were made up a myriad of patches that my pal Johnny MacFarlane had made and after much pestering had leant to me for a family holiday to The Cotwolds. I was keeping them for a special occasion so as we checked into a Stately Home that was also running as a B&B my parents had no idea that having weighed up the surroundings of opulence and grandeur I decided tonight was the night to debut the fabulous denim look. Arranging to meet in the downstairs bar at 7pm gave me just about long enough to squish my body into said jeans before sauntering downstairs and into the bar. On entering I made two instantaneous observations 1 Surprisingly Jimmy Hill the pointy chinned sports commentator was standing with a crowd around him holding court at the bar and more urgently

Pointy Jim at the bar -who'd have thunk it.

 2. my Dad’s face had turned from a normal ruddy Scottish hue to a deep rumbling red. ‘You are not wearing those to eat dinner’ – he pointed at my jeans. Yes I am. No you are not. Yes I am .  No You are not. OK I said I don’t want dinner anyway and out I stomped in high dudgeon back to my room.  God I was hungry.  As time went on I expected the Peace Keeper that was my mum to come up and say ‘OK Alison if you ditch the breeks you can come back down and eat’  but she didn’t.

So I  ran a bath and boiled myself to distract from the hunger and fury and unjust world in which I found myself and as I lay there listening to my battery operated radio the shocking news that Elvis Presley had died was announced.

The gorgeous Elvis swoon.

 August 16th 1977.  I was 15.  Teenwolf is 15. It brought it back, that moment, that era, that age,  like an anvil to the head. Trousers, hormones, making a stand, unjust parents, them in control, me in purgatory, my pals being great,them being the worst parents ever. And here I am. Roles reversed. The words ‘you are not wearing those to visit your Grandma’ has come out of my mouth on more than one occasion and his reaction of ‘well I’m not coming’ has too.

So as it turns out   ‘I’m just a teenage dirtbag baby’ could have been penned by me, a now 40 something woman in her bedroom in the 70’s as the universal recognition of the circle of hormones – never mind life – is inescapable.
Will this turn me into a more maleable understanding cool parent? I’d like to say yeh but I suspect I already know the answer will be to quote another family favourite ‘over my dead body’ followed by the teenager of whatever era muttering under their breath ‘if you insist’.

To all mothers everywhere. This is not a comedy sketch a documentary.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY -!

Hello! Today is the day to meet Teenwolf and the Mongrels !

Living with Teenwolf – a joy for a mother to behold. I’ve written about him so many times I felt it was time to share a peek at the reality. Put it this way Kevin the teenager is no longer a comedy it is a documentary of our life. Proof is in this pudding.
Then of course I have to fess up I am not a perfect mother. I know, I know it’s a shocking admission call the police, but it’s true.

But I do get it together to feed the beasts – and no I’m not talking about Dave and Teenwolf but the hounds of the baskervilles, our two that’s  Sam our nice but dim labrador and Flora half dog half womble who are joined on this occasion by my Mothers big hairy nelly dog called well…eh..Nelly actually. By the way I am not housewife of the year but the reason there is newspaper on the floor is because we finally had to defrost the freezer as it was frozen shut it’s not usually quite so Wayne and Waynetta Slob – honest.

Of course the combination of teenagers, animals and a typical Scottish bloke husband does mean that occasionally under duress I am forced to drink wine  the consequences of which become more dire as time goes on. Gone are the days of leaping forth in a fragrant fashion to face the day after a a wild night and a few hours sleep. No sadly the morning after the day before now means many hours of shuffling around regretting the 3rd glass and wondering how on earth to start feeling human again. After the usual suspects a banana, a berocca, a yoghurt , a vat of water, a pint of coffee, some paracetamol and a full cooked haven’t worked there is nothing left for it but to go for a lie down which is exactly what I was doing when Dave snuck up with the camera and caught me at as you can see here.

Typical he can work my new video camera but he can’t set the video when I want the latest episode of how To Look Good Naked. So from The Sunday Mail, a flat one dimensional page to a confessional box as this is turning into. Technology is a strange thing.

From day-to-day on this here blog I have been spouting lots of stuff – its great being able to be so proactive  from being restricted to just a Sunday I have been running amock – is that how you spell amock?  So if my pal Fiona finding the best buy in an antique shop  near Callander , a nitwit trying to flog utility kilts and sex education for the deranged 1950’s housewife are of interest either scroll on down this page – it goes on for ages – or click on ‘Day to Day’ tab at the top of this page and have a look. Alternatively….come back any day you have a moment. Coming up over the next few days I will introduce Matthew, a  B&B proprietor from Kilmelfort who may well steal Keith Floyds crown as he produces a delicious chocolate pud with the help of a quantity of wine oh and me, his very able (to drink) assistant in fact here’s a photo to whet yer whistle…

Matthew fabulous Kilmelfort cook at home swigging wine & handling fondants. Form an orderly queue.

Get yer pen and paper ready for next time though as the pud he creates will hit all the right spots as well as possibly giving you one or two – but hey it’s worth it!

Don’t forget to subscribe to this on the right hand side by filling inyour e mail address  yup – it’s a free bottle fo champagne every week at stake – you’d be mad to miss it. Til next time! Have fun!   Alison x