Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Here’s wishing everyone a very merry Christmas.

Marie and John

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eye eye again

While I was in the bathroom this morning I noticed that my left eye looked a little bloodshot. On closer inspection I found out why – my old friends the colds sores had once again made an appearance.

So it was yet another trip to the A&E department of the Eye Infirmary. Even though the A&E is open 24 hours, people must have been putting off from going over the weekend as the place was crammed.

However true to the assessment nurses word I was seen well within the hour as they had at least four consultants dealing with patients.

As this appears to be happening quite regularly I asked the consultant, if instead of going to A&E each time, could I just go to my GP for the usual ointment. Sadly it has to be a trip to the A&E every time just in case the virus spreads further into the eye.

A bit of an annoyance but still it’s better than losing an eye.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Only something your mother would say

While I was at my mam’s yesterday she mentioned she’d bought some stocking fillers when she was shopping in Newcastle.

“One of them was for you”, she said “but as it doesn’t have a sun factor of 15 in it, I’ve decided to keep it for myself”.

“Oh what is it”, I asked.

“Some anti-wrinkle cream”, she replied….

I know I’ve just turned 40 but there’s no need to rub it in ! ! ! !


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We really are still here…

…honest ! ! !

Things have been very quiet in the BOGOF household. Ok when I mean quiet I mean not much happening, not no sound quiet.

The past few weeks have been any thing but quiet, sound wise.

We’re both still suffering from the flu* lergy so the house is (and has been) pretty deafening with sounds of coughing, sneezing and nose blowing…

Normal service will resume shortly.


* it wasn’t man flu, it was the real thing…

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We’re still here

Sorry for the lack of blogs these past few weeks. Things have been a little manic in the BOGOF household.

John’s computer decided to die on him. Thankfully he managed to bring it back to life. Pity the same couldn’t be said for mine which too decided to die earlier last week. Sadly it couldn’t be revived so John had to completely rebuild it.

Still on the subject of computers. Our internet network is playing up so getting a connection is extremely hit or mostly miss.

Last weekend John got the lergy so spent most of the time either in bed or curled up on the sofa, being kept warm under the blanket I finally finished crocheting – it only took me 2 ½ years to complete…

John being the lovely husband that he is passed on his lergy to me so since Tuesday it was my turn to be in bed or on the sofa.

Monday was my appointment with the knee specialist. Having had eight lots of x-rays taken, I now know what the problem is. It’s not what we thought, damage to the cartridge. Instead it’s Arthur and his Ritis in both knee and right hip. The solution to this problem is practically the same as the solution to my computer problem… So it’s on the waiting list for a new hip and new knee – in that order.

The medical ailments continue. On Thursday morning my eye was itchy, which usually isn’t good news, and it wasn’t. Sure enough, a family of cold sores had moved in, and as cold sores on the eye can cause blindness, a trip to the A&E department of the eye infirmary was call for.

So not only do I feel like death warmed up I’m now the proud owner of a lovely black eye…


Monday, November 10, 2008

In Flanders Fields

Some of you may know that my grandfather, Harry Hayhurst was a soldier. He was a Yorkshire man and in 1911 joined the York & Lancaster Regiment.

In 1914 he was serving in Jubbulpore (Bengal) and when war was declared the army reduced their presence to a skeleton staff and handed most jobs over to Indian troops. Harry landed back in England on Christmas Eve 1914 and was shipped to France in January 1915.

The 1st York & Lancs were positioned around Ypres and on the 8th of May they defended a ridge at Frezenberg. At the start of the day they were 950 strong, and by the end just 83 were left unwounded, the most senior being a sergeant. Harry was himself seriously wounded and cut off from his battalion. After staggering down a railway line Harry found himself in a dressing station run by the Canadian Army.

The officer in charge of the Canadian dressing station was a Major, by the name of John McRae. The following year, while serving in the Somme region the newly promoted Lieutenant Colonel John McRae was moved to write these famous words :

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

For those who want to know such things, Harry was shipped back to Britain and was sent, first to a hospital in Nottingham and then to Sunderland. There are no records of which hospital but it likely that the Sunderland hospital was a wartime rehab centre for gas victims. During his time there, Harry met and married one Mahala Primrose Francis and made Sunderland his home. Sadly he died in 1956, aged just 66. Lt. Colonel McRae died from pneumonia in 1917.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The not so missing black box

For one reason or another our green rubbish bin and black recycle box always seem to go missing.

Two weeks ago we put our black box* out for the kerb recycle little men to empty and when we came to bring it in, it had disappeared. The next day we noticed that our next door neighbours upwards now had three black boxes, one more than they did the day before…

As the kerb recycle little men come round once a fortnight, John put out the recycle rubbish last night, and as we didn’t have a box, just put the bottles and tins in a cardboard box – like we’ve done many times before.

This morning when I was getting the car out of the garage I noticed next to the garage door was a black box and the cardboard box, which was extremely soggy and damp, and still full of the bottles and tins. Some Jobsworth at the council must have decided that as the items weren’t in a black box they wouldn’t take them.

As we have an old battered and damaged black box in the garage, I assumed John must have brought it out of retirement and put the newspapers and magazines in there. I emptied the bottles and tins out of the cardboard box, put them in the black box, and dragged it into the garage.

When I got home this evening from my mams I told John what had happened and he looked a bit bemused. He never put the old black box out last night, it was still in the garage, and our neighbours still had three boxes so it wasn’t them having a guilt trip and returned it. We don’t know where it came from as all the other boxes in the street are accounted for.

Spooky ! ! !


*our third one in twelve months. The first was stolen by our next door neighbours upwards, the second one (a brand new one courtesy of the council) was only six weeks old when it was abducted and the third was an abandoned one so we decided to give it a good home.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I’m in the wrong business

Yesterday afternoon while finishing off our lunch, I flitted through the TV channels on Sky and ended up on QVC. Normally I only watch QVC when I’m having trouble sleeping as it’s a great way of curing insomnia – five minutes watching the programme and I’m in the land of nod…

However this time I stayed awake, as I couldn’t believe what they were selling. For £25 + plus £5 p&p you could purchase six four inch by six inch fruit pies. Yes I did say fruit pies ! ! !

They were also flogging a festive special – a Christmas pudding, four large mince pies and some brandy sauce for £30 (plus £5p&p). For the same price you could also buy six cakes or six savoury pies.

What astounded me was the company had 900 of each package to sell and everyone sold out almost instantly.

There’s money to be made in baking. I wonder how much I can sell my Christmas cakes for…


Friday, October 17, 2008

Back in the land of the living

***Wrote this yesterday but Blogger wouldn’t let me post it for some reason so just pretend it’s Thursday….***

This time last week we were nicely stuffed with a take-away pizza and looking at a dining room full of stuff for conference.

We were to have set off for Solihull at 11am but several telephone calls amounting to an hours worth of time set us back a little. John had to take his car as my knee wasn’t up to driving such a long distance. We only just managed to get all the bits and pieces in the back of his car. Thank goodness it wasn’t a Spring conference as we have to take three times as much stuff…

The weekend went ok, though my knee was giving me major jip. My body is getting used to the painkillers so they’re not working as good as they used to.

We normally stay over until the Monday but my uncles funeral was Monday so had to come back Sunday afternoon.

As expected my mam was off the planet and into La La Land. I think we’re going to have some fun times ahead with her especially with the run up to Christmas. Still she and my aunt found it a comfort to grieve together at the funeral.

Yesterday, as we always do the Tuesday after conference, we went to the Chinese for lunch. Except they were closed ! !! ! !!! ! They were on holiday for two weeks. If conference had been at it’s normal time of late October this wouldn’t have happened…

So instead we went to the Wessington pub and have pleasant lunch of ham, chips and two fried eggs, followed by apple crumble and ice-cream, and lemon and blackcurrant sponge and custard.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

This and that

Just a quick blog as we’re pretty busy sorting out for next weeks conference. The printing party for the conference packs is well underway.

Had a phone call from my mam this morning. Her brother died in the early hours of this morning so she was really upset. I’m praying that this doesn’t undo the last four years of her getting over the death of my dad.

Seeing as there has to be a post-mortem I’m hoping this will delay the funeral until after conference. There’s no way my sister will be able to cope with my mam on her own.

My knee is still giving me grief and that’s with taking the painkillers. Thank goodness I go and see the specialist on 24th November.


Monday, September 29, 2008

It’s knee good

My right knee is giving me quite a bit of grief. It’s pretty swollen, aches constantly like a really bad toothache and the muscles are extremely painful.

Normally my aches and pains usually settle down but as this has been going on for four weeks, I thought it best to go and get it checked out.

Which is what I did this afternoon. The good news is I haven’t damaged the ligaments, the bad news is the doctor doesn’t know what the problem is so is referring me as an urgent case to see a knee specialist.

He’s prescribed me some painkillers and said I should get an appointment to see the specialist within the next four weeks. Non-urgent cases have to wait at least six months so it’s not as bad as it could have been.

The doctor did ask if I could think of anything that could have caused the problem. I said we have been fitting a new kitchen. He replied that we were brave to attempt such a project and hoped it was worth it. Not having to do wash the dishes – you bet it was worth it ! ! ! !


Sunday, September 21, 2008


I’m afraid the phantom doorbell is no more.

We usually take no notice of it when it rings and it can be quite a party piece when we have guests.

However it’s been misbehaving. Instead of ringing once, it’s started to ring every three minutes, and this is even when there are no cars around to set it off.

After an hour of the Westminster chimes it does start to get on your nerves a little. It’ll then have a break and start up again a couple of hours later.

We decided enough was enough so sadly took the decision to have it exorcised – or rather take the batteries out and buy a new one.

This afternoon while we were in B&Q we bought a replacement. We are slightly worried though in case the exorcism hasn’t worked and the phantom doorbell ghost takes up residents again.

Having the Westminster chimes go off is fine, having to put with ‘twinkle, twinkle little star’, ‘it’s a small world’ or worse an electric dog barking that sounds more like someone sawing wood – no way ! ! !


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back to normal

Things in the BOGOF household are slowly getting back to normal following the new kitchen and the frantic finishing off before our party at the weekend. And yes we are still suffering the aches and pains…

Monday (8th) was spent, with my mam who had very kindly offered her help, giving the new kitchen a good clean. We had the huge task of bringing everything that we’d put in storage from the old kitchen, into the new kitchen. I still can’t find anything ! ! ! Once that was done we then tackled cleaning the downstairs.

Tuesday (9th). My 40th birthday - which was spent doing housework, then having a long soak in the bath to ease the aches and pains. Is it really all down hill when you reach 40…

The birthday bunny was extremely generous. I got loads of books and DVD’s. Can’t wait to try the sing-a-long triple DVD box set of ‘The Young One’s, Summer Holiday and It’s a Wonderful life’. My main present from the birthday bunny was a clarinet. I used to play it at school and really enjoyed it so thought now was a good time to rekindle my youth ! ! !

Wednesday and Thursday (10th/11th) was spent catching up on things which had been put to one side while we were fitting the kitchen. Even got to try my clarinet. I’m a bit rusty but managed never the less to get a note or two out of it…

Friday (12th). Instead of going to the childminders*, the childminder came to ours. John took a half day off work so we could all get the house ready for tomorrows party.

Saturday (13th). My 40th birthday party. It was a lovely day and thanks to everyone for coming, especially those who had to travel long distances to get there. I was really touched by my present/s so thank you again.

Sunday (14th). We held yet another party. This time it was a Turkey and Tinsel lunch time party. It was all Jan’s fault. She mentioned a while ago that we never get to go out for a Christmas meal so we decided to hold a turkey and tinsel party.

There was a turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas pudding, mince pies, crackers, Christmas music – and even presents.

I wonder what theme our party will have next year. We are threatening to hold a Eurovision party ! ! !


*my mams

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New kitchen – day 16

Day 16. 9.30am. The Housemates are still in bed… As this is the final day of the kitchen fitting they decided to have a bit of a lie in.

11.30am. The Housemates having been to B&Q for some bits and pieces set to work on finishing off the pelmet.

12.30pm. The Housemates make a start on the putting together the remainder of the drawers. They stop to have lunch and watch the start of the Grand Prix.

2.15pm. Having fitted the drawers, the Housemates then start building the dresser unit. The Housemates finish attaching the front to the pulley-out unit.

4.45pm. The Housemates fit the final end panel.

5.15pm. Housemate John tries to fit the sink waste pipe to the Belfast sink but it won’t grip. Housemate John say’s ‘oh dear’…. Housemate John gets to work on fitting some of the decorative stripping while Housemates Marie finishes off the grouting.

6.45pm. The Housemates bring back into the kitchen the dresser. The Housemates start clearing up the kitchen.

7.45pm. Other than a couple of cosmetic bits and pieces to do, the Housemates have finished the kitchen…

Saturday, September 06, 2008

New kitchen – day 15

Day 15. 9.30am. Housemate John is fitting more plinth while Housemate Marie heads off to get some sandwiches from the Deli, pay the newspapers and get some kitchen sealant from Wicks.

11am. The new fridge and freezer are installed in the kitchen.

11.30am. The Housemates start fitting the dishwasher and extractor fan doors.

2pm. Housemate John begins fitting the cornices, pelmets and end panels while Housemate Marie starts building the drawers.

7.10pm. Having sanded down the wooden work tops, the Housemates give them another oiling.

7.20pm. The Housemates decide to call it a night. Housemate Marie is looking forward to her relaxing bath as she’s a bit stiff and achy while Housemates John goes out to collect a pizza

Friday, September 05, 2008

New kitchen – day 14

Day 14. 9.30am. Housemate John gets back to finishing off laying the flooring while Housemate Marie makes a start on attaching the hinges and drilling handle holes in the doors.

2pm. The Housemates start handing the doors.

5pm. Housemate John starts work on the plinths.

6.45pm. The Housemates call it a night as they have to get food supplies from Morrrisons and their Chinese take-away.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

New kitchen – day 13

Day 13. 9.30am. The Housemates continue where they left off last night by working on fitting the two remaining worktops.

2pm. The Housemates tidy the kitchen floor and give it a good hoover ready to drag in the Belfast sink.

Housemate Marie said there was no way Housemate John was carrying it into the kitchen. She was worried that a) he’ll drop and smash it and b) he’ll give himself a hernia and the kitchen will not be finished ready for a week come Saturday.

3pm. The Housemates start to install the Belfast sink. The both agree that solid wooden worktops are much lighter than a Belfast sink ! ! !

5pm. The Housemates make a start on fitting the flooring.

7.35pm. The Housemates would have liked to have continued with the flooring but they tummies said they would like to be fed…

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New kitchen – day 12

Day 12. 9.30am. Housemate Marie cleans the floor using the new vacuum cleaner they bought from Argos the night before.

The Housemates start work on the worktops. They both come to the conclusion that solid wood worktops are mighty heavy….

4.50pm. The Housemates finish attaching two of the four worktops to the base units.

7.50pm. The fourth worktop has been cut to size, a hole made for the Belfast sink and had two coats of oil on it. As they are both filthy, they decide to call it a night.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New kitchen – day 11

Day 11. 9.30am. Housemate Marie sets to work grouting the tiles while Housemate John finishes off the tiling that was left from yesterday.

12pm. Housemate John finishes off the Belfast sink unit.

3.30pm. The Housemates finish grouting the tiles.

4.30pm. The Housemates get started on cutting the workbenches. Housemate John tries out his new toy – an industrial strength router. It makes a lot of noise and sawdust.

6pm. The Housemates call it a night as they need to go to Morrisons for more food supplies. Then it’s off to find a cheep vacuum cleaner to hoover up the sawdust (Housemate Marie said she was not allowing Housemate John to use the house vacuum cleaner) and then out for dinner.

Monday, September 01, 2008

New kitchen – day 10

Day 10. 9.30am. The Housemates are hard at it with the tiling.

7.20pm. The Housemates decided to call it a night. There’s still a little bit of tiling left but they are both knackered and don’t want to upset the neighbours as the electric tile cutter has been on the go since 9am and it is rather noisy…

Housemate Marie is about to go for a lovely relaxing bath while Housemate John goes and gets a pizza.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New kitchen – day nine

Day nine. 9.30am. The Housemates decide to have an extra hour in bed so are having breakfast.

10.30am. Housemate Marie is busy tiling while Housemate John is working on the Belfast sink unit.

12pm. Housemate Marie asks if electric sockets are really necessary as she is having real problems tiling round them. Housemate John replies yes.

1.30pm. Housemate John is finishing fastening the Belfast sink unit to the wall. He is a little perplexed as the installation manual appears to have the sink lower down than is required.

Housemate John checked the dimensions of the sink then the dimensions in the manual. It would seem that the manual has printed the dimensions of the sink as 2 ½ inches shorter than it really is . Housemate John expresses exactly what he thinks of the person who wrote the installation manual…

5pm. Housemate John has installed the dishwasher. Housemate Marie gives out a loud cheer…

6.30pm. The Housemate pack up for the night.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

New kitchen – day eight

Day 8. 9.30am. The Housemates are nowhere to be seen. They have left the House to pay the newspapers, get the lottery, buy some sandwiches from the Deli and get some things from the DIY store.

10.30am. The Housemates start work building more base units.

1pm. Housemate John finishes off building the final two base units while Housemate Marie makes a start on the tiling.

Things are not going very well for Housemate Marie. She is making a very slow progress with the tiling due to there being a double electric socket to tile around on the very first row of tiles.

Housemate John was not aware that Housemate Marie knew so many swear words…

2.45pm. Housemate Marie has only managed to put on two rows of tiles. She is not a happy bunny.

4.30pm. Housemate John finishes attaching the base units to the walls. He now makes a start on attaching the workbench upstands. Housemate Marie has now completed eight rows of tiles so she is feeling a little more cheerful. The Housemates decide to call it a night.

Friday, August 29, 2008

New kitchen – day seven

Day 7. 9.30am. Housemate John sets to work on grouting the tiles above the wall units. Housemate Marie can only watch as she’s not good on ladders, and anyway she wouldn’t be able to reach as she’s not very tall…

Housemate Marie was though able to help Housemate John construct the Belfast sink unit. The Housemates have had to redesign the unit as they wanted a Belfast sink but Wicks didn’t do a Belfast sink unit in the range they chose.

1.30pm. Housemate John cleans the tiles as the grout has now dried.

3pm. The Housemates set to work attaching the corner base unit and the pulley-out cabinet base unit together and to the wall.

4pm. Housemate John starts work on the plumbing for the Belfast sink. He makes lots of noise and mess as he has to drill right though the kitchen wall to the yarden. The Housemates call it a night as they have to go shopping for food supplies at Morrisons then get the Chinese take-a-way.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New kitchen – day six

Day 6. 9.30am. Housemate John starts undercoating the ceiling edging the Housemates put up yesterday, while Housemate Marie heads off to pick up some tiles they had ordered.

Once the undercoat is dry Housemate John puts a coat of paint on the ceiling edge, while Housemate Marie paints the skirting boards.

2pm. Housemate Marie is very excited as the Housemates are ready to start tiling above the wall units and she gets to play with her new toy – an electric tile cutter.

Once the tiling is completed, the Housemates make a start on building the base units.

6.20pm. The Housemates finish for the night and look forward to a pizza and garlic bread.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New kitchen – day five

Day 5. 9.30am. This morning the Housemates are feeling much better following their yummy morale boosting meal last night. They get to work on the remaining wall units.

2pm. The Housemates finish putting up the last wall unit. After a trip to Wicks for Housemate John (Housemate Marie had to remain in the House as Housemate John was expecting a couple of parcels to be delivered today for the Birthday bunny), the Housemates make a start putting up the ceiling edging.

6.45pm. The Housemates put the last bit of ceiling edging then finish for the night.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New kitchen – day four

Day 4. 9.30am. The Housemates continue building the wall units.

2pm. The Housemates start putting up the extractor fan.

3.15pm. Housemate John notices that the wall units haven’t ended where they should. He does some measuring and they are out by 10mm. He can’t figure out why then it suddenly hits him. The corner unit has to be moved out from the wall by 10mm.

All the wall units that they have put up have to be moved 10mm. We apologise for the use of bad language from Housemate John.

4.45pm. The Housemates have successfully moved the wall units by 10mm. Housemate Marie then says she thinks that the extractor fan isn’t in the right position. Housemate John checked the fitting instructions and confirms to Housemate Marie that it is indeed in the right position.

Housemate Marie still isn’t convinced and get out the plans drawn up by Wicks. Housemate Marie shows the plans to Housemate John and it show a different fitting position to that on the instructions.

The Housemates have a discussion and decide to follow the original plans so the extractor fan is removed and repositioned.

5.54pm. The Housemates are a little deflated with their progress on day four so decided to go out for a morale boosting meal.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New kitchen – day three

Day three. 9.30am. Housemate John is still stiff and a little painful this morning. The medicinal last night helped so did a rub on his aching back with deep heat just before the Housemates retired for the evening.

Housemate John set to work seeing to some plumbing while Housemate Marie did some more filling of holes. Housemate Marie lost her temper when the bits she was trying to fill the holes with kept falling out. As it is before the nine o’clock watershed we do apologise for the use of bad language.

2pm. The Housemates make a start putting up the wall units.

6.10pm. The Housemates down tools and finish for the night having successfully put up four wall units.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

New kitchen - day two

Day 2 9.30am. The Housemates are feeling a little stiff and painful. Housemate John tries to jolly up Housemate Marie by getting her to chant ‘dishwasher, dishwasher’ over and over again.

Housemate John finishes off removing the tiles that Housemate Marie couldn’t reach yesterday.

Housemate Marie starts filling in holes in the walls that the tiles have made when they were removed, while Housemate John starts removing the cladding from the wall.

2pm. Housemate John makes lots of noise and mess with his wizbang drill. Housemate Marie is surplus to requirements but keeps Housemate John company in the kitchen.

6pm. The Housemates pack up for the night. Housemate John is very stiff and aching so Housemate Marie recommends that this evening he has a drop or two of medicinal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New kitchen – day one

In a Geordie male voice “Welcome to a brand new series of the BOFOF household… …fits a new kitchen.

It’s day one 9.30am and the Housemates get to work dismantling the old kitchen. The old freezer has been put in the yarden and the dresser dragged into the hall way.
The Housemates then rip up the old carpet.

10am. The Housemates have already made a start removing the cupboard doors and units. The workbenches are removed and Housemate Marie tries her hand for the very first time at sawing wood – or rather workbench.

After lunch Housemate John sets to work removing the kitchen radiator. Housemate Marie, with her hammer and chisel, starts removing the tiles.

Housemate John, having removed the radiator, then sees to the pluming for the new kitchen towel rail. Housemate Marie is still plodding on removing the tiles.

6pm. Housemate John has fitted the towel rail and is now switching the water back on. Housemate Marie checks for any water leaks.

6.20pm. The Housemates down their tools and look forward to a well earned bottle of wine later in the evening.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

T-10 days….

…. till we start ripping out the old kitchen and installing the new one. We’ve done some workings out and we think it should take us about seven days to do it.

Last Tuesday we took delivery of the kitchen units and the dishwasher, and today the new fridge and freezer arrived. As you can see our dining room has become temporary storage…

This morning I picked up the new tiles. Thankfully the new shed has come in useful so they’re living there for the time being.

As we’ll be without the AGA during the installation we have to make do with the microwave and the slow cooker so I’ve started batch cooking some meals ready to pop in the microwave.

It’s going to get a little crowded in the dining room, as it also has to be our kitchen for the duration…


Monday, August 04, 2008


I’ve finished my first novel ! ! ! It’s been a long time in the writing but the first draft is finally done.

I’m going to give myself a break then I’ll start work on draft number two.

It would be wonderful to eventually have it published but I’m under no illusions. There are more unpublished writers than there are out-of-work actors…


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reporting in

Just noticed it’s been ages since the last blog so thought I’d better put something together. Don’t want Jan telling us that we’re boring old farts again….

Monday 21st: nothing exciting to report.

Tuesday 22nd: nothing exciting to report .

Wednesday 23rd: can you see a pattern forming….

Thursday 24th: yippee something exciting to report. John’s birthday ! ! ! Sadly we weren’t able to go to the Chinese for lunch as John couldn’t get the day off work. Still I made him a lovely calorific birthday dinner.

Friday 25th: nothing exciting to report.

Saturday 26th and 27th: the air show. Couldn’t go any where due to the local roads being closed all weekend. Re-potted Bruce, Ernie and Ethel.

Monday 28th: again nothing exciting to report.

Tuesday 29th: Yep, you guessed it…


Sunday, July 20, 2008

We’ve built a monster

This afternoon we built a shed. We ordered it last Sunday from Tesco’s website - they were much cheaper than anywhere else.

The delivery date was between five and ten days which suited us fine as we can’t go anyway next weekend because it’s the air show, so that seemed like an ideal time to build it.

I got a phone call from Tesco’s on Monday to say the shed would be delivered the following day… The little delivery man drove all the way up from Newark just to deliver us the shed.

Rather than wait until next weekend we decided to build it sometime this weekend. The weather was awful yesterday so we put it up this afternoon.

It’s HUGE ! ! !

The shed is six feet by four feet. Our yarden is 10 feet by 10 feet. There isn’t a lot of space left...

Just enough room though for Bruce, Eric, Ernie and Ethel.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

A painless way to give blood

Drop frozen chicken on your foot ! ! !

Late last night I was getting out some chicken out of the freezer for tonight’s stirfry. Somehow the chicken fell out of my hand and hit my bare foot.

I barely felt a thing which is unusual as frozen chicken falling on a foot hurts like hell….

The next thing I knew I had six pools of blood on the kitchen carpet and a rather bloody toe. Boy was it bleeding.

So if you need to give a blood sample, drop frozen chicken on your foot…


Thursday, July 17, 2008


Yesterday afternoon I received a telephone call from BT wanting to speak to John. I explained that he was at work but as I was his wife could I help.

The little man explained rather quickly that BT were offering us free weekend and evening calls. In order to receive this we must remain with BT for 12 months and that every 12 months the contract would be renewed. Should we decide to leave BT then we would be liable for a fine.

He asked if I would say yes to agree to this offer. I refused and asked if he could send something in writing to our home address regarding this offer.

He again asked if I would say yes to agree to this offer. Again I refused and said that I would not agree to anything without having first discussed it with my husband. He then became disinterested and quickly ended the call.

I think it is holey unacceptable for BT to cold call a customer and pressurise them into agreeing to something which they know nothing about. Other than being offered free weekend and evening calls I was not told anything else about the service they were offering. What were the Terms and Conditions of this offer? What was the cost of the fine should we decided to leave BT? How would we be told when the 12 months contract was up?

I also find it quite disturbing that BT are allowed to make changes to a customers account without the knowledge of the account holder. John is the account holder and therefore I should not have been asked to agree to any changes to the account.

As you an imaging I am not intimidated by cold callers, however I found the little man’s manner quite abrupt and somewhat bulling.

A complaint has been made to BT…


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Flown the nest

The family of Seagulls which made their home on one of the chimney pots have gone to pastures new.

One of the young birds had already began flying around for a couple of day. It then decided that the nest was too small so took to living on the next chimney pot, with mum/dad keeping it company.

Look forward to seeing them back next year.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

At last something to report

I’m afraid things have been very quiet in the BOGOF household which is why there hasn’t been any blogs.

However we do have something to report. We spent this afternoon in the yarden* preparing the way for a shed to be erected in the next couple of weeks.

As the need for a shed is greater than need of plants some of them had to go. So we decided to get rid of the four large holy bushes, the large tub which sat in-between them and the tubs that were outside the kitchen and dinning room window.

We’ve kept Bruce (the Christmas tree), Eric and Ernie (the hosa - not sure if that’s the right spelling) and the newly named Ethel (not sure what plant she is as it was a gift…).

To give Bruce a bit more room we’re going to re-pot him into one of the holy boxes, then re-pot Ernie and Ethel into larger tubs to give them a bit more room as well.

Having never re-potted anything it should be fun…


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

For the chop

Our local post office:

Is the busiest one in the area
Is the only place in the area where you can claim lottery winnings up to £5000
Is the only one where you can park your car outside

So the government have decided it has to close. Why, because there are five post offices in the area and ours is in the middle. It’s as simple as that.

I use that post office quite a bit for banking and for hospital radio business so the closure will affect me.

CAPOC (Communities Against Post Office Closures) action group suggest everyone campaigns to force the government to re-think the closures. I know our local post office are planning one.

The question is will it do any good. The government (or rather Brussels as that’s where it’s come from) have made up it’s mind and there’s no way it’s going to put up it’s hands and say ‘sorry folks we got it wrong’.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Alive and kicking

Yep we’re still here. I’m afraid there hasn’t been any thing to report in the BOGOF household, hence the lack of blogs.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

They're back

Yes, Mr and Mrs Seagull have decide to once again build a nest on the same chimney pot as last year.

Again like last year there’s three chicks. However they are a little camera shy at the moment so we haven’t been able to get a photograph of them. Once they have overcome their shyness we’ll put a picture on the blog of the new arrivals.

In other news, it’s only 10 weeks till we start ripping out the old kitchen and fitting the new one, 11 weeks should see the dishwasher installed (I can’t tell you how excited I am at that – yes I know I’m sad ! ! !), 12 weeks and two days till I hit the big 40 and 12 weeks and six days till the party.

Then once that’s out of the way there will only be 14 weeks and five days till Christmas…


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Back To Normal

Yes folks, we’re back. There’s been a bit of a break in blogging for a couple of reasons. First, we bought a block of time on the ship and needed to keep some of it back so we could check in our return flights on-line and second, we both came down with attacks of coughing and suchlike after some sudden hot and cold weather changes on the last day and we’re just about back to normal now.

Anyway, back to the plot.

Sorrento was our last port of call. We anchored in the bay of Naples and here is the final Veranda View of the holiday (I don’t count the last one as we were in some industrial docks).

We took the tender ashore and this was the general view. The minibus ride up to town was a bit hair raising in the narrow streets.

Back down at the port waiting for the tender we found this little fellow and some of his friends.

Speaking of tenders, this is one in Sorrento, and here is the other one on the way back to the ship. It was nice and calm during the morning but by afternoon it got quite rough, with 30 mph winds.

At one point they had to turn the ship to give the tender some shelter as it came alongside. This is the small hole in the ship’s side you have to aim at.

So there we are. We left the ship at 9:30 and were home twelve hours later, despite BA’s best efforts to delay us in Rome. And our luggage made it home too. Amazing.

We’ll get a full picture gallery up when we’ve had a chance to sort them out.

Marie and John

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


So where are we today –oh yes, Palermo. Today’s veranda view isn’t great but you can’t have a wonderful view every day.

On the other side of the ship is a huge cruise liner. Ours has a max capacity of 383. We think this one has a capacity of about 2000. It towers over us. And on the other side of that ship is an even bigger one.

Now with three cruise ships arriving at the same time, you can imagine what the local traders thought. To go ashore you had to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers, horse drawn cab drivers and people selling just about every kind of tourist tat you can imagine.

Then we tried to make our way into town. If you thought northern Italy (Milan, Florence and Rome) were busy, that’s nothing compared to Palermo. Manic is the work most people are using to describe the traffic, the crowds and the heat. We made it into town, then came right back and sat by the pool to recover. Thought you might like a look round the pool deck. These pictures were taken early yesterday morning when it was quiet.

Last night we passesd through the straits of Messina, between Sicily and the Italian mainland. At their narrowest the channel is about two miles wide and you have to take a pilot on board. It was 8 pm and the sun was setting, so sorry about the quality of the pictures.

And finally, for those who like such things, here’s a picture looking down on the bridge wing from above. The man is letting rip with the ships horn (which is VERY LOUD).

Sorrento tomorrow

Marie and John

Monday, June 02, 2008

Half Term Report

Well, here we are, half way through the cruise so what can we say.

Before we go into detail, we’re anchored in Naxos Bay, just a few miles from Taormina in Sicily. Here’s today’s veranda view, with Mt Etna in the background. Yes – it really is smoking.

The average age is lower this time, in fact it seems to be getting lower all the time. Also, there are more “normal” people. There are still the super-rich, but not so many as there used to be. As a result, people are less likely to be snobbish and more likely to speak.

Possibly as a result of this the staff are even more friendly than before (if this is possible).

The mix of nationalities is also more pronounced, with people from India, Argentina, Germany and Belgium as well as the British, Americans and Australians.

The weather hasn’t been too hot, though it did reach 80 for a time in Malta yesterday. Today it was 72 F at 8 am but hasn’t changed much since then. Fine by us but no doubt some will complain.

As we said yesterday we were about to leave the Grand Harbour in Malta, and here are some of the pictures.

Here is the pilot wishing us bon voyage.

And finally, here’s our mystery man. We’re all trying to figure out if it really is Jeremy Clarkson. He looks a bit older, but then he’s not in his TV makeup, and he has all the mannerisms. He’s not listed in the guest list, but you can ask to be excluded.

We’ll keep you posted.

Marie and John

Sunday, June 01, 2008


A late blog today because we’ve been busy exploring Malta.

More of that in a moment, but first, yesterday we did something neither of us has ever done before. We saw Africa. OK, it was only the coast of Tunisia on the horizon, but Africa is Africa.
Today we docked in the Grand Harbour in Valetta. This is another place where the town is at the top of a hill. Here is the view from our veranda this morning

And this is our next door neighbour, from the Portuguese navy.

We walked up to the top of the town and took this picture of the ship on the way down …

… plus some of the harbour …

… together with one of the locals.

And finally, here’s Marie enjoying the view of Valetta from the Veranda.

Must dash as we’re about to leave port and we want to watch.

Marie and John

Saturday, May 31, 2008

All At Sea

Hello, we’re back with more adventures of the BOGOF household on holiday.

We left Mahon at 6pm yesterday and should arrive in Valetta at 8 am tomorrow.

For those of you with GPS our current position is 37:50:28 N, 8:51:51 E. For those without, we’re midway between the south coast of Sardinia and the coast of Tunisia.

This is the view from our Veranda this morning.

I think the view of Mahon from the ship has to be one of the best on the island. This is the view from the pool deck.

Just to prove that we did walk all the way up, here is Marie at the top.

And here is a view of the ship, the Silver Whisper, also from the top.

And this is me, as taken by Marie, before we left Mahon.

After breakfast yesterday we spent time blogging, then we went into town. We returned to have lunch, then lazed around by the pool until afternoon tea. After that we got ready for the Captains cocktail reception, followed by dinner then on to the theatre for a show.

If you are thinking that life revolves around food you would be right. You can have coffee and Danish pastries from 6:30 in the observation lounge (this is above the bridge and has large glass windows and a GPS display) then breakfast is 7:30 to 10:00. At 11:00 they serve boullion and crackers in the panorama (this is at the rear of the ship. In the evenings it becomes a cocktail lounge where Henry plays the piano). At 11:30 they open the poolside grill. Then lunch is at 12:00. Today it’s a galley lunch so we get to go right inside and meet the chefs. Afternoon tea isn’t until 4:00 pm, but you can always go back to the poolside grill (and bar) until dinner which is served between 7:30 and 9:30. It’s great that you can just turn up without a reservation, and either eat alone, or take a chance and sit with someone you’ve never met.

Well, it’s 10 O’clock so we’re off for a wander round the ship. More tomorrow

Marie and John

Friday, May 30, 2008

We've Arrived

Yes, we’re here, and so is our luggage – Result.

So what’s happened since we set off. The flight to Heathrow was quiet. We sat behind Alan Shearer who was on his way to do his football pundit bit for the BBC at Wembley. We didn’t eat chicken at the hotel. But we found some familiar faces in the bathroom.

Heathrow security was a revelation. At Newcastle we had to take off our shoes and belts, and the computer out of its case. At Heathrow there were none of these. Either they’re very lax, or their scanners are much much more sophisticated than those at Newcastle. Hopefully the latter.

The journey to Barcelona was uneventful and we boarded the ship at 3 pm. This was the view looking back from our veranda.

Dinner was it’s usual best, and before that we attended the welcome party on the pool deck where we drank way too much Pimms. As we left our berth the ships band (well, a quartet actually) struck up “Anchors Aweigh”. Then they played “Y Viva Espana”. All the British laughed at the irony, and the Americans couldn’t understand why.

We’re currently in Mahon and about to go ashore. This is the view from our Veranda.

More tomorrow.

Marie and John

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A life on the ocean wave

By the time you read this, we'll hopefully be on our way. Tonight will be spent at Heathrow staying at the same hotel as the famous "chicken conference".

Tomorrow we'll fly out to Barcelona, where we'll hopefully be reunited with our luggage which we will entrust to the tender mercy of British Airways at Newcastle airport this morning. We're flying in to terminal five so there's some cause for concern. The Barcelona flight leaves from terminal one so who knows where the luggage might end up.

From there on it's a life on the ocean wave for the Bogof household.
The ship has wi-fi so we've decided to be geeky and take the laptop. This way we can blog with pictures during the cruise.

Will the luggage turn up. Will we have stuff confiscated at security. Will the flight be delayed. Will we get chicken to eat at the hotel tonight.

More news tomorrow.

Monday, May 26, 2008


It’s two days to our cruise and what have I got – a stinking cold ! ! ! It started late on Friday with a sore throat which turned into the dreaded cold. Perfect timing…

We spent this afternoon packing and given what happened last time* we’re taking no chances so have packed extra clothes into our hand luggage.

John weighed the cases and I’m getting a little concerned as they’re not that heavy. What have we forgotten ! ! !


*we arrived in Barcelona but our suitcases didn’t. Thankfully they arrived the next day.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Double take

As you know we’re off on our cruise shortly – one week and five days ! ! !

With the exception of our cruise to Monaco, this is the first time we have booked our cruises through a travel company. Previously we have booked direct with Silversea. We won’t be doing it again…

The travel company were cheaper than Silversea but we have had nothing but hassle with them. So much so that the Customer from Hell had to make an appearance and told them that if the problem wasn’t resolved, I would be taking the matter up with ABTA. It was sorted within 24 hours.

As we had completely lost all faith and trust in the travel company we requested that all correspondence, including our tickets, be sent direct to us from Silversea and not the company. They assured us this would happen.

On Wednesday our tickets arrived and guess where they had come from, - the travel company. We were not amused….

Yesterday a special delivery parcel arrived direct from Silversea - with our tickets ! ! !

We now have two lots of airline tickets, cruise tickets, even Silversea leather luggage labels. Sadly though they’re identical and not for another cruise.

Given the incompetence of the travel company that wouldn’t have come as no surprise….


Monday, May 05, 2008

Conference venues

Yes – we’re back from our wandering.

Since Saturday we’ve covered over 800 miles to look at three venues, two of which are possibles for spring conference.

Saturday saw us heading off to Swindon to look at the Hilton. This has the “wow” when you walk in, and is in a great location, about 200 yards from the M4. It has overspill hotels nearby, and also some shopping. The price is excellent and there are no single room supplements.

On the down side, you have to pay £22.50 for a bottle of wine (though we may find a way to ease the pain) and some of the conference rooms are a bit of a tight squeeze.

Sunday was The Ramada in Maidstone. A totally different kind of hotel, set in 20 acres of parkland with a lake and tennis courts. Inside it doesn’t have the wow of the Hilton, and looks a little tired in places though the bedrooms are new and of a very high standard. The conference facilities are great but will cost more than Swindon A bottle of wine only costs £14, but the location isn’t as good. It’s close to the M20 but there’s nothing around. No shops and no overspill hotels.

So now we have a dilemma. Swindon or Maidstone. And next week we’re off to Glasgow to see two more.

Any preferences ...


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dieting in reverse

On Friday my mam and I when shopping to the Metro Centre. I needed a couple of things for our cruise (four weeks and three days…) and also some new bras.

I know M&S sometimes gets a bad press when it comes to measuring for bras but I’ve always found them to ok.

While I was waiting my turn to be measured (they were busy) we had a look at the various non wired bras (can’t stand wired…) and I found some styles that I liked and that came in the size that I was expecting to be, given that I had lost 12 lbs in weight.

‘Pauline’ shouted out my name and the first thing she said was ‘I’ve had you before and if I remember, I had problems finding you a bra….’ She was right. See ‘What no blog - March 11 2006’.

She took the first measurement.
Pauline: What were you previously.
Me: 34DD.
Pauline: You’re still a 34.

She took the second measurement.
Pauline: You’re in-between a cup size.
Me: Excellent so I’m back to a 34D.
Pauline: No, you’re in-between a 34E and a 34F.
Me: But I’ve lost 12 lbs ! ! ! I was 34DD before I went on a diet.

As the bra’s I’d been looking at earlier didn’t come in industrial strength sizes, I had to go to the bullet proof, passion killer range.

I think Pauline must have felt sorry for me as she came back with the least offensive ones they had, which to be fair, were rather nice.

Given that I’d like to lose some more weight, I wonder what size I’ll be then – 34G…


Friday, April 25, 2008

We’ve bin robbed again

I don’t know what it is with our neighbours but for some reason they seem to like both our wheelie bin and our recycle black box.

Our brand new recycle box got swiped two weeks after we got a replacement for the one that was stolen. We didn’t dare phone the council to ask for another replacement in case they thought we were stock piling them.

So for several weeks we just used an old wine box then gave a new home to an abandoned battered box that had been left unused and unwanted in the back lane for several weeks.

This morning when I went to go to my mams I found that our bin had been swiped.

I can understand people taking in the wrong bin by mistake as they all look alike, but ours had our address on the front and back painted in large letters and numbers.

Come bin out night next Thursday we’ll be kidnapping it back ! ! !


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No your eyes don’t deceive you

Yes, I have put fingers to keyboard…

The problem with the BOGOF household is we’re really rubbish at keeping a diary. Plus there hasn’t been anything exciting to report.

I’ve been spending most of my time making shirts for our cruise – 5 weeks and counting ! ! !

Last Friday while I was at my mam’s I had to borrow her new sewing machine (the one we bought her for Christmas) to sew the button holes as my machine is having a temper tantrum and won’t let me stitch them.

My mam then decided she liked one of shirts and asked if I could make her one as I had some spare fabric. Four shirts done, only two more to make.

Last weekend we were in Scunthorpe for a conference team meeting. In the next couple of weeks we’re off on our travels again (and I don’t mean on our cruise. Did I tell you it was 5 weeks and counting…) This coming bank holiday weekend we’re off to Swindon and then Maidstone to have a look at two hotels for spring 2010 conference. Then the weekend after that we’re up in Glasgow to look at two hotels for spring 2011.

While I was on the BA website this morning filling in the required passenger information report for our cruise, I checked our flight details and we’ll be using the dreaded terminal 5 ! ! ! Thankfully it’s only to and from Newcastle and from Rome. Our Barcelona flight is from terminal 1.

Five weeks and counting :-)


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sorry part 3

My third ‘sorry’ was to the two bus spotters* in the Cliff Pub.

As I mentioned Thursday I like my coke really cold so get a separate glass of ice to pour the coke over the ice.

One Saturday night when we were in the Cliff, my glass of ice had quite a bit of water in it. As I didn’t want to dilute my coke I needed somewhere to get rid of the excess water.

One of the bus spotters finished his pint then said to the other one, who had about a third of a pint left, “are you ready”. The other one nodded and they both left the lounge.

So I went over to the table were the bus spotters had been sitting and poured the excess ice water into the glass which had the lager in it.

About five minutes later they returned ! ! !

The one who’s lager I had watered down picked up his glass and stared at it. He then said to his friend that his glass was fuller than he had remembered, to which his friend told him not to be so stupid…


* they were two men who talked of nothing but buses all night. Ask Chris as he’s been in the Cliff when they were there - and experienced them in bus spotting mode ! ! !

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sorry part 2

My second ‘sorry’ was to two members of Radio Sunderland for leaving an empty bottle of Champagne outside of their room at the Plymouth hospital radio conference.

John had been given a bottle of fizzy for his 40th birthday and up until that time hadn’t had a chance to drink it.

Plymouth is quite a distance away from Sunderland so we decided to break the journey by staying a couple of nights each side of the conference in Stratford upon Avon.

As it was our first ‘dirty weekend’ away together we thought it would be an ideal time to drink the fizzy so took the bottle with us to Stratford.

We couldn’t find anywhere to dispose of the empty bottle so had no option but to take it with us to Plymouth.

I like to drink my coke extremely cold so whenever we were out anywhere I would always ask for a separate glass of ice so I could pour the coke onto the ice.

The hotel in Plymouth had an ice making machine so it was perfect for the cans of coke we brought with us. However there was one small problem, we didn’t have anything to up the ice into. That was until we spied the barman put a wine bucket on the bar. As soon as his back was turned we swiped it…

Not only did we have a fizzy bottle to get rid of but a wine bucket as well. No problem. We decided to put it outside the room of the two females members from Radio Sunderland who luck would have it had the room opposite us.

We had arranged to all meet up for breakfast so they were coming out of their room at the same time as us, so too was another member from Radio Sunderland who had his room just along the corridor.

He took one look at the fizzy bottle and bucket and demanded to know what they had been up to that night.

They pleaded their innocence several times over but he was having none of it and kept going on, and on and on about it all weekend…


Wednesday, April 09, 2008


A couple of years ago Ken Bruce on his Radio 2 programme had a slot called ‘sorry’ where people wrote in and ask for forgiveness for something they had done. I had three ‘sorry’s’ read out. Here’s the first one.

It was to say sorry to the owner of Castle Howard as I had vomited all over his marble floor. Before anyone says anything I wasn’t suffering from a hangover ! ! !

I’d just had bought my first car so my mam, dad and me decided to go away for a couple of days to Scarborough. On our last night there mam thought it would be a good idea if we got some fish and chips and ate them over looking the beach.

Unfortunately both me and my dad ended up with food poisoning from the take-away so we were not feeling in the best of health the next morning.

My mam decided that a visit to Castle Howard on our way home would take our minds off feeling ill. We must have only been in the building ten minutes when I really didn’t feel well at all. I explained this to my mam and her reply was ‘of course you’re not feeling sick…’.

I pleaded with her that I really wasn’t feeling very well so reluctantly she found a guide and said to her, ‘my daughter is feeling… no make that, my daughter has been sick’.

Yep, I was re-enacting the scene from the Exorcist all over the marble floor and became a tourist attraction as visitors stopped and watched ! ! !

We were quickly taken to a private loo where I could continued my throwing up.

Thankfully I think my ‘sorry’ worked as we’ve been back since it was read out and weren’t banned from entering…


Wednesday, April 02, 2008


21:02 From : Emma To : Don
R u having fun?

21:05 From : Don To : Emma
Hot food. Where are you

21:13 From : Emma To : Don
A nice quiet gay bar, good food. mikes a bit worried about some of the crumpet, eyeing him up! lucky him! hows June and Diane doing? em x

21:18 From : Don To : Emma
Really - fancy that :-) Diane really enjoying it - food v good. And June ok too ! Cu soon. Dx.

21:20 From : Marie To : Don
Need to talk with Emma or Mike. Are they with you

21:27 From : Don To : Marie
No – they together elsewhere have you E’s phone number

21:29 From : Marie To : Don
Yes but she’s not answering. Do you know where they are

21:32 From : Don To : Marie
Sorry – no. we’re all going to Yates at 10. I’ll tell her

21:36 From : Emma To : Don
Having great fun here at pinkys bar, might not make yates's, soz. em x

21:40 From : Don To : Emma
Mrs H is looking you or Mike. I said nothing ! We'll maybe catch up with you there :-)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Sadly there hasn’t been any blogs for several days as we’ve been pretty busy with Leeds conference.

As expected we were working most of Easter. We did manage to get a couple of hours break from conference on the Saturday. My car had to go into the garage to get its brakes checked out as they’ve been feeling really heavy. They could find nothing wrong with them. I’m not convinced.

Then it was off to my mams so John could replace her kitchen tap.

I’m afraid the diet has gone out of the window. We ate all the chocolate that had been stashed away from Christmas, plus with it being a bank holiday, we always have food that is normally banned (bacon sandwiches, curry with nan bread, spag bol with garlic bread, sausages and chips).

Hopefully we won’t have put on too many pounds as John was only three away from his first treat and me, I was only ½ pound ! ! !

Looks like I’ll have to wait a little longer before I can watch my new Camberwick Green DVD…


Monday, March 17, 2008

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

Apologies for the lack if blogging (bloggage ? bloggery ?) this past week. I’m afraid that it’s all the fault of conference and the calendar.

If we’re to have any time to ourselves over Easter we must get stuff sorted now.

As I write this the printer by my side is turning out conference brochures and Marie is grappling with the table plan for the Gala Dinner. On the bench are menus, place cards, badges, general meeting minutes and goodness knows what. And we’ve had to answer a sudden rush of e-mails too.

The good news is that it’s looking like we’ll get done and still have time for chocolate at Easter.

Must away now to put some badges in their holders.

See (most) of you in Leeds


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Only Three Weeks To Leeds

First of all the important bit. Marie’s mouth is much better and she’s back on solid food.

Other than that it’s been a week of getting conference sorted. We had our final meeting with the Queens (Hotel) two weeks ago and had out meeting with the rest of the team last week-end.

Bookings have gone as well as you might expect, and we’ve had to turn people away because we’ve run out of rooms.

Seminars have been finalised and trips & visits are almost there.

Menu’s are sorted and ready to be printed. So too are place cards and badges. The brochure is almost complete, as is the booking form for Solihull. I think the latter may surprise a few people.

There’s lots of nice things for conference packs hidden in the bottom of the wardrobe. The Dining room is full of folders and notepads.

And next weekend is the famous “printing party”. We’re holding it a week early so nothing gets in the way of Easter and all that chocolate …


Monday, March 03, 2008

Toothache update

What a couple of days I’ve had with my tooth ! ! !

I knew abscesses could be painful but I never expected anything like what I’ve just had.
Thursday night sleep was about three hours.

Friday nights Chinese consisted of rice, four bits of lemon chicken and three prawns, all cut up into tiny bits. Again only about two hours sleep that night.

On Saturday we had to be up at 5.30am to be in Leicester for a conference team meeting. The original plan was to stay the night at the hotel, however having paced the floor that night because of the pain, I thought it best if we just came home.

The painkillers I were taking took half an hour to work, then only lasted 90 minutes. That’s fine if you can take some more straight away but when you’re only allowed four lots in a 24 hour period, it’s not so good…

By now my mouth and gums had swollen quite nicely so I resembled Quasimodo’s sister.
Saturday night was the worst. Having worked out when I could next take some painkillers, I took some at 12.30am. Half an hour later and I was still in agony. An hour later, still nothing. At 2.30am I was crying on the shoulder of John as the pain was unbearable. I now know why people accidentally overdose on painkillers as I would have willingly swallowed the whole packet if it mean getting some pain relief.

I decamped downstairs as I didn't want to disturb John by tossing and turning the rest of the night.

Sunday was pretty much the same as Saturday in that I was counting down the minutes to when I could take some painkillers. I went to bed expecting it to be another bad night but other than having to take some tablets at 2am, I slept right through until 6.30am.

I was to have phoned the dentist this morning to see if I could get an emergency appointment to see Kim, but as the swelling in my face had gone down and the pain was now a dull throbbing, which was manageable without painkillers, I didn't bother. I did have to take some painkillers this afternoon as it flared up again but so far that's been it.

Here's hoping the worst is over....


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Couldn’t wait

This morning I went to the dentist. Last night the toothache was really bad. Even medicinal didn’t help ! ! !

It turns out that I have an abscess on my tooth. Unlike John’s last year (same tooth as it happens…) Kim, my dentist, didn’t want to remove it so she opened it up and cleaned out the infection.

I’m on antibiotics for seven days. Thankfully not the kind where you can’t have alcohol. It’s bad enough being in pain without having prohibition enforced…

My tooth and the surrounding area are still pretty painful and I’m told will be for a couple of days so I’m on a soft food diet.

Looks like it’ll be yogurt for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Still it’ll do wonders for my diet. Only one more pound till my first treat.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008


That’s what my mouth is doing at the moment.

I suspect the cause is a mouth ulcer rather than actual toothache. However the symptoms are much the same so if it’s still hurting on Monday I’ll have to go to the dentist.

I was awake this morning, thanks to the throbbing, around the time of the earthquake but didn’t notice or hear anything. Hopefully tonight’s doze of medicinal will help me sleep a bit better.

Busy making my dress for Leeds. Gertie is currently modeling it at the moment and say the pins don’t hurt a bit…


Sunday, February 24, 2008

To Leeds and back

Yesterday we had to get up early. 5.46 to be exact. It was meant to be 5.45 but I went past it while I was setting the alarm… I only recognise one 5.46 and that’s not it ! ! !

We had to be in Leeds for an early morning meeting with the Queens hotel to go through the final bits and pieces for conference. Normally we would have taken the car and had the pleasure of an extra hour in bed. However Trainline were doing really good deals to Leeds so we just had to take them up on their offer.

We had half an hour before our meeting so decided to see how far it was to the Met hotel. We’re having to use it as overspill for our delegates as the Queens can’t give us any more rooms. It took us less than four minutes to walk there and given that it was my slow walk, I think we can call that pretty close to the Queens.

The meeting with the hotel went well. It was really making sure we’re all ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’, sorting out menus, timings etc. Seems like nothing but it still took over an hour and a half.

There was just time for John to take a couple of photographs of the front of the Queens hotel for the conference brochure, then it was off to have an early lunch before we caught our train home. It was after all a long time since we had breakfast…

It was a toss up between a sandwich at Subway’s or a Big Mac and fries from McDonalds. The burger won.

Just checked the calendar and it’s four weeks this Friday – scary ! ! !


Thursday, February 21, 2008

North East divide

We got a letter from the council to say that they were changing the day when our bins would be emptied, from a Thursday to a Friday. They were also changing the day and week when our recycling box would be emptied also.

On the Wednesday night we noticed that some people had put out their bins in the back lane and just thought that they had forgotten about the change of day as it often happens. There are some who put their bins out on Christmas eve expecting them to be emptied on Christmas day when it happens to fall on a Thursday…

The next day I happened to be in the main bedroom and saw that the bin men had in fact been. I rang the council to see if there had been a mistake and our bins should have been out that day but no, we were now a Friday collection. Sure enough the next day our bin was emptied.

We’re not sure why the council has decided to use our back lane as the new dividing line. Maybe they thought it was more economical to empty the houses facing north and South on a Thursday and East and West a Friday.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Getting to know your friends

Gottle emailed me the 2008 edition of Getting To Know Your Friends and instead of emailing it to friends, I thought I’d put it into a blog. Well, the friends I’d be emailing it to will be reading the blog so I’m killing two birds with one stone…

1. What time did you get up this morning? 8.14am

2. Diamonds or pearls? If someone is buying then I’ll have either

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Chicken Run and before that Jurassic Park – can’t you tell I don’t go to the cinema that often…

4. What is your favourite TV show? M*A*S*H

5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Frosties, muesli or toast if I’m suffering from a hangover

6. What is your middle name? Don’t have one

7. What food do you dislike? Trifle

8. What is your favourite CD at the moment? I don’t really have a favourite. The one I’m playing whilst cooking is ‘Chess’

9. What kind of car do you drive? A Nissan Note

10. Favourite sandwich? A tuna stottie from the local Deli

11. What characteristic do you despise? Anyone who is arrogant

12. Favourite item of clothing? T-shirts

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on holiday, where would you go? The Mediterranean on board a Silversea cruise ship

14. What colour is your bathroom? Rice pudding and platinum - in English that’s cream and pale blue.

15. Favourite brand of clothing? Marks and Spencer’s

16. Where would you retire to? North Yorkshire

17. What was your most memorable birthday? My 21st as I celebrated it in four different countries

18. Favourite sport to watch? Tennis

19. Favourite saying? I don’t have one but I’m saying ‘no bother’ quite a bit at the moment

20. When is your birthday? September 9th

21. Are you a morning person or a night person? Morning unless I’ve had alcohol the night before…

22. What is your shoe size? 3

23. Pets? None – I’m not allowed

24. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I’m pregnant – only joking ! ! ! !

25. What did you want to be when you were little? Don’t think I had anything in mind

26. What are you now? A retired civil servant

27. What is your favourite candy? Chocolate and lots of it

28. What is your favourite flower? Poppy

29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? 28th May

30. What church do you attend? I’m afraid I don’t go to church

31 . What is your full name? Marie Harper

32. What are you listening to right now? ‘007 Audio for the 80’s’ on my internet radio

33. What was the last thing you ate? Bendick’s honeycomb mint

34. Do you wish on stars? No

35. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Blue

36. How is the weather right now? I don’t know because it’s dark….

37. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My mam

38. Favourite soft drink? Ribena

39. Favourite restaurant? The Paradise Garden

40. Hair colour? Dark brown with grey bits

41. Favourite day of the year? Christmas day

42. What was your favourite toy as a child? Sindy doll

43. Summer or winter? Summer

44. Hugs or Kisses? Why choose when you can have both...

45. Chocolate or Vanilla? If it’s ice cream then either. However if the chocolate ice cream contains mint then that wins hands downs

46. When was the last time you cried? When the Alien died in last weeks episode of Torchwood – yes I know I’m sad ! ! !

47. What is under your bed? Dust and my dressmaking board

48. What did you do last night? Had a bath

49. Favourite smell? A fruit cake baking in the oven

50. What are you afraid of? Thunder and lightning and loud noises

51. Plain, buttered, or salted Popcorn? Plain or salted. However my favourite is caramel coated popcorn – yum, yum

52. How many keys on your key ring? Six. One of which I have no idea what it’s for

53. How many years at your current job? Been a retired civil servant since July 2002

54. Favourite day of the week? Friday

55. How many towns have you lived in? None. Houghton-le-Spring is a village and Sunderland is a city – sorry for being pedantic…

56. Do you make friends easily? Sometimes. I’m more at ease with my close friends as I’m quite shy – yes I know it’s hard to believe ! ! !


Thursday, February 07, 2008

I’ve just checked…

…when we last blogged and I can’t believe it was over a week ago ! !

So what’s to report. We finished decorating the bathroom and have worked out a date when we’re going to give it a major revamp – Easter next year.

Been busy sewing for the past few days. I ordered some sewing patterns from America (they’re much cheaper than in the UK) so have been making toiles (test garments) of them. Gertie has been looking very fetching modeling the toiles made out of old bits of fabric.

I’m hoping to have made six tops and four dresses before we go on our cruise in May. One of the dresses is needed for Leeds conference so I’ll be starting that one soon.

The diet seems to be going fine. We got on the scales on Saturday and have both lost another couple of pounds. Only four more pounds to go before I’ve earned my first treat.

Sadly the treat can’t be anything food or alcohol related so I think I’ll settle for a DVD. However I can’t decide which one – the complete collection of Mary, Mungo and Midge, Trumpton, Chigley or Camberwick Green…


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mid life crisis

In this morning’s Daily Mail there was an article by one of their columnists regarding woman and their mid life crisis.

Apparently people are now hitting their so called mid life crisis at the age of 44 and one of the things that women do during their crisis is get a new kitchen.

I wish to reassure everyone that although we’re getting a new kitchen (and yes it was me who suggested the idea) I’m not 44, nor am I going through a crisis.

Our new kitchen is through necessity (more cupboard space, more worktop space and more importantly, a dishwasher….) than a mid life kitchen.

I wonder if wanting a new bathroom counts as a mid life bathroom as I want one of them too ! ! !


Sunday, January 27, 2008

A letter to myself

In anticipation of Jenny tagging me, here is a letter to my younger self.

Dear Marie,

You’re probably wondering why your older self is writing to you. I would tell you but you wouldn’t believe me anyway. You are after all a teenager and you’re not supposed to understand adults…

In my time it’s 27th January 2008 and I’m 39 years old. Yes I hit 40 in September. To your eyes that will be old. In my eyes it is too ! ! !

You’re probably curious to know how your life has turned out so far. I’m pleased to say it’s been ok. However I’d like to give you a couple of bits of advice.

You’ll develop a crush on the Manchester United and England footballer Bryan Robson. Get over it ! ! !

When you have to decide your options don’t drop physics. Even though you don’t particularly like it, following your exams in the third year, you will get the highest marks – yes you even beat Alison ! ! ! Be warned. If you ignore this advice you will feel the wroth of Mr Simpson…

Don’t worry that you’re not much good at Home Economics. You turn out be a pretty good cook.

Don’t believe a word of what any of the teachers say. School is not the best years of your life and that you’ll only get one chance to gain qualifications. One thing I will say though is try and learn how to spell ! ! !

Shortly after your sixteenth birthday you’ll find your first grey hair. It’ll freak you out but it’s not the end of the world. As I write to you aged 39 you won’t be completely grey – unlike Denise….

Don’t lean on the curling tongs, the oven, rest a coffee cup on your leg or sleep on a hot water bottle. If you do you’ll burn yourself.

No matter how much pressure is put on you from family or the careers advice at school, do not join the civil service. You’ll be offered a job there in 1989. Do not under any circumstances take it. Take the teaching course you applied for instead.

When you attend your first training session at Radio Sunderland, don’t take a dislike to one of the people taking it. He’s not a bad as he seems and you do come to like him…

Put your foot down when you are organising your wedding. When it comes to the length of your train, the size of the bow on the back of the dress, who you want invited to the wedding, not having a veil and your wedding flowers, remind mam that it’s your wedding and not hers, so you’ll do what you want. I know that’s unthinkable when you’re aged 13 as she has one of the greatest tempers known to man. However you will be a force to be reckoned with too…

Have a quite word with dad about why he’s going to the loo more than normal and ask him to go to the doctors. That’s all I’ll say.

And finally. I know you’ve tried reading the Hobbit and hated it, however for Christmas ask for every single book written by Tolkien and read them. In the mean time keep up with your creative writing by writing a story about a young boy called Harry Potter who attends a school of witchcraft and wizardry. Once you’ve read all the Tolkien books go back to your story then turn it into a novel…

Lots of love,


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Decorating again

Sorry for the lack of blogs but things have been pretty quiet in the BOGOF household.

As the title of the blog suggests, we’ve donned our work clothes and got out the paint brushes again. Will all the painting we keep doing you’d think it was one of our hobbies. I can assure you it isn’t ! ! !

This weekend it’s the turn of the bathroom. I want to completely revamp it (new suite, tiles etc) but we don’t have the time to do this year - I want a new kitchen more... So it’s having to make do with a lick of paint, new carpet, wall unit etc, until next year.

Back to the painting before my brush hardens…


Saturday, January 19, 2008

The hot chocolate diet

Like most people we put on a pound (or kilogram so I don’t offend the EU….) or two during Christmas and now need to remove them and a few more of their friends.

I decided that we’d start our diet officially on 26th January giving us time to finish off all the Christmas yummys. Unofficially we started it on 5th January to give ourselves a couple of weeks before the official weigh in date so there wouldn’t be any nasty ‘how much’ when we stepped on the scales.

That was the idea anyway. However curiosity got the better of me just after the 5th and I weighed myself. I nearly burst into tears ! ! !

I got on the scales this morning and to my sheer delight found that I’d lost half a stone.

Regular readers will know that the BOGOF household is fond of wine. However it is not the dieters friend so a glass or two a night does over time amount to a lot of calories.

The thought of complete prohibition is a definite no-no so I cut the number of my wine nights down to three a week and have a hot steaming mug of Options hot chocolate on the other four nights.

Ok, a mug of hot chocolate isn’t the same as a glass of wine but it is something to look forward to on the evenings when I can’t have any alcohol.

So here’s to the loss of another half a stone with the help of hot chocolate.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

The case of the missing spaghetti

Early last October Mrs Hudson, Sherlock Harpers landlady, was busy in her kitchen making several Christmas cakes for Sherlock Harper, his friends and family. Dr Watson wasn’t keen on fruitcake so she made him a chocolate log instead.

“Oh dear”, cried Mrs Hudson.
“Whatever is the matter”, asked Sherlock Harper having dashed into the kitchen to see what was the cause of her anguish.
“I plunged a stick of spaghetti in the fruitcake to test if it’s cooked”, she said, “If it comes out clean it’s done”.
“So why the distress”, replied Sherlock Harper.
“Because it’s snapped inside the cake”, she said.
Sherlock Harper removed a stick of spaghetti from the packet Mrs Hudson had just bought from Morrison’s and measured it against the pieces she alleged snapped.
“My dear Mrs Hudson”, he said, “You are indeed correct. Without accurately measuring it I would guess it’s shorter by one inch”.

Mrs Hudson tried as best she could to locate the missing piece of spaghetti from the cake but could not find it.
“There seems to be only two options available”, said Sherlock Harper, “Cut the cake in half and retrieve it now or wait until Christmas”.
Although the thought of eating a fruitcake in October delighted her, Mrs Hudson decided to wait until Christmas.
“I think it would be safer to keep this cake away from all the rest – and label it as ours”, said Sherlock Harper, “We don’t want it to be given to someone by mistake”.

Mrs Hudson and Sherlock Harper had just finished eating the very last two slices of Christmas cake when Mrs Hudson gasped in horror, “Neither of us found the spaghetti”.
“A piece of spaghetti can’t just go missing from inside a cake”, replied Sherlock Harper, “It must have been the work of Professor Moriarty”.

Sherlock Harper got to his feet, “He must have sneaked in and switched the cakes when we were out”.
Mrs Hudson cupped her cheeks with her hands in terror, “That means either Jan or Dennis, our ex neighbour, must have had it”.

Sherlock Harper rubbed his chin. He was in deep thinking mode.
“Mrs Hudson”, he asked, “Was the kitchen foil on our cake damaged when you came to marzipan it”.
“No”, she replied.
Sherlock Harper rubbed his chin again.
“Do you think he switched labels”, suggested Mrs Hudson.
“Not without removing particles of kitchen foil in the process which you would have noticed immediately”.
Sherlock Harper rubbed his chin even harder.
“Mrs Hudson”, he asked, “When you came to marzipan the cake, were there any signs of damage to the cake”.
“Yes”, she replied.
Sherlock Harper shouted with joy.
“Mr Harper”, she said, “Whatever is the matter with you”.
“My arch enemy Professor Moriarty is innocent”, he replied, “Well on this occasion anyway. You said the cake was damaged but Jan and Dennis’s weren’t. If you remember the damage was the result of you trying to locate the missing piece of spaghetti.”
A mightily relieved Mrs Hudson said “Then I haven’t caused the death, by choking on a piece of spaghetti, of either Jan or Dennis”.

Late that evening Sherlock Harper, Dr Watson and Mrs Hudson were having a large glass of wine and a piece of Dr Watson’s chocolate log.
“So what do you think happened to the piece of spaghetti”, asked Mrs Hudson.

Sherlock Harper put down his glass, took a large bite of chocolate log, clutched at his throat and cried, “Urrrrrrgh”.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Family tree update

Other than my leg still giving me a bit grief, there’s nothing else in the bogof household to report so I thought I’d fill you in how I’m progressing with my family tree.

I’ve made contact with a couple of people via the Ancestry website who are part of the Thompson clang (my grandmother Dinah’s side) so have been passing and receiving information from them.

I’ve also made contact with Terry who lives in Marbella, Spain. He’s researching a family tree for a friend and part of that tree contains Arthur Notley who was Dinah’s step father.

Terry is a retired teacher who’s two hobbies are golf and genealogy so spent all of last Wednesday researching my tree for me. He’s uncovered that Arthur and Elizabeth (Dinah’s mother) had seven children together but only four survived past childhood.

Elizabeth then died in 1919 and Arthur married for a fourth time to an Isabella Seymour. Terry or myself haven’t been able as yet to find out if Arthur and Isabella had any children together but as Terry put it in an email ‘the old man is at it again’. Terry has also suggested I obtain the death certificates to his three previous wives just to see how they died ! ! !

If that wasn’t enough Terry then started on tracing a bit more on the Thompson side and found my great, great, great, great grandparents going back to 1745.

I’ve also found out (all by myself…) that there’s a possibility that my great, great grandfather, along with his younger brother and sister, spent some of their childhood in Cockermouth Union Workhouse, which I think is rather sad.