Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Not Quite According to Plan

I love Christmas! I do, I love it! And when I am in the early stages of anticipation, I think it's going to be perfect and then somehow it always seems to get derailed. Perhaps that's the joy of it - the fact that it isn't 'just so'.

This year derailment came early. Last Monday, after a brilliant weekend of carousing with our friends and a canter round a tennis court with Wimbledon Men's Doubles Champion, Jonny Marray, my beloved announced he was ill. He is never ill. He didn't want fuss, he just wanted to be left alone with his poorly tum.

On Tuesday evening, after a school run that involved home to school, school to tennis centre, tennis centre to school, school to home, home to tennis centre, tennis centre to home, home to school and back twice (phew!), child number 4 (the small and beautiful one) announced she was also ill. Both father and daughter had a bad case of Vomiting Veronica (neat reference to Four Weddings in case you plan to watch it over Christmas).

I am bound to get it, I think to myself. But on Wednesday I am fine and having tea with a lovely girlfriend who is very Bah Humbug about Christmas which obviously I am not and then another cup of tea with daughter 2 who is as Christmas-enthused as I am. On Thursday I am feeling fine and anticipating (now that my beloved and number 4 are on the mend) going to see The Hobbit on Thursday night en famille. I love those little guys with hairy feet so a first night cinema trip was a must. On the way to the cinema, minus number 4 who wasn't quite up to it, I started to feel a bit sick...

I never made it to the film, nor indeed all the way home without having to stop. And none of us made it to the supper party at the singing, dancing doctors on Friday which we had so been looking forward to. Of course, number 3 was fine throughout and he claims that we were ruining his social life by being the house of sickness all weekend and if we ate two dinners every night like he did, we'd have been fine all along.

Anyway we are all better now that it's Monday and I am off to career round a tennis court with my chums except that whilst I have been ill, my beloved has been busy - draft-proofing the front door. Brilliant, warmer house, except that now as I am dashing off to cheer myself up after a weekend to forget, the front door won't lock. Cue me ripping draft excluder off the front door frame like a thing possessed but still it won't lock.

Eventually I decide the only thing to do is to lock the inside front door and go out of the conservatory door except ... that won't unlock! Feeling more than a little stressed I decide that really the only thing to do is climb out of the window. Which is what I did and on the way to tennis, I left an expletive-filled message for my beloved who is away on business this week.

On my return, I climb back through the window as the phone rings. It is he. He calmly explains which bit of draft excluder I need to remove and that actually I could have gone out of my office door. I had forgotten that my office has an outside door which opens and closes, locks and unlocks and does all those things which doors generally do. I can only admit that sometimes I miss the obvious.

So Christmas is already not quite going to plan with preparations running somewhat behind schedule but it will be all the lovelier for it and now I am busy sticking draft excluder back on the front door frame - well, most of it anyway.

Happy Christmas!

I can't explain why I missed the fact that my office has a door but here's a picture of my new best friend, Jonny Marray.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Three Dog Night

Three Dog Night - now there was a band... but you had to be alive in the 1970s to remember them.

Anyway back to the present ...  we have had two three dog nights this week as we currently have Milton, or Milty Pig as my number 2 daughter calls him, in residence. Yes, in addition to Molly the grumpy mongrel and Bobbie the under-achieving cocker spaniel with an impressive pedigree and an IQ score in single digits, Milton, the very big chocolate brown spaniel, has been joining the canine gang at the little house on the prairie so it's been an interesting few days.

Milton normally lives in 'the mosque' or rather the house that number 2 daughter and her partner have recently bought in Harrogate. It's a lovely terrace house, handy for shops, bars and restaurants and, more importantly where Milton is concerned, the Valley Gardens. The reason why we call it the mosque is of course that it is carpeted throughout the downstairs in cream and therefore any visit is heralded with "Take your shoes off!" before you get past the doorstep. Anyway it is a perfect first proper home for number 2 and we are unreasonably proud to have a home-owning child and it feels like she has really really left home for good this time in a way that renting doesn't seem to.

Number 2 and her partner have both been away on business this week so rather than putting Milton into kennels, I rashly offered to have him here as he knows us pretty well now and I thought he'd feel at home. However, he spent the first two hours after number 2 had dropped him off looking for his mistress and prowling round the house and garden in the hope that she was hiding. No chance mate, she's gone to Kidderminster.

So there is a three dog walk morning and evening and we must be an entertaining sight making our way down the bridle path to the stream with two of the three dogs on leads and usually entangled and me hanging on as best I can. Of course, we stop for a gambol in the stream - them, not me - and once off the lead, with a stick in his mouth, Milton is trying to decide whether to go for a full-on swimming experience or just a paddle. Molly likes a bit of a swim but the water is running rather fast just now and she doesn't fancy it whereas Bobbie is not prepared to get wet, dirty or anything unladylike at all.

The other thing about Milton is that he owns a sweater. Yes, half an hour on Saturday morning was spent with daughter 2, reluctantly accompanied by yours truly, in the pet shop trying to decide between a Father Christmas suit, a reindeer outfit or the aforementioned sweater. This sweater has to be removed before any kind of dog walking because I am NOT prepared to be seen out with the doggy version of Colin Firth!

So Milton has now settled down with us, licked the floor clean under my office chair (why?), consumed one of number 4's Father Christmas slippers (perhaps we should have bought the suit to match after all) and moved all the dirty socks which are just about to go in the washing machine from the kitchen floor to various other places for us to find. And now he's working through the contents of my office bin in case there's anything edible in there.

One other thing: in Milton's world, settees are for sitting on and stairs for climbing. Yes, in my world, but not for dogs. Yesterday, Milton had licked the floor under my office chair clean (again) and then disappeared. He had discovered that I had lit the fire in the sitting room and was basking on the settee looking for the remote control in case there was some good daytime television to catch up on.

Just in case you remember Three Dog Night, here's their classic from 1970: Mama told me not to come: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKaQzQAlNn4. Mama might have told me not to come but she failed to offer any advice on large brown hairy house guests.