Last Week…

The Weekend Prompt at Weekly Prompts this week is Last Week… Hmm… Let me see now… What might count as highlights in this crazy busy world of mine right now? (Spot the sarcasm…)

Last week I spent quite a lot of time in my garden again (surprise, surprise!), mainly weeding and planning and monitoring the progress of all the plants. My yellow azalea is now flowering, but the red one sitting right next to it is still a bit shy to open up. The single little colony of white bluebells are probably looking their best just now and the plentiful blue bluebells making their presence felt all over are still going strong…

What else? Um… One day last week I actually went into a proper shop that was not a supermarket – woo-hoo! In the end I didn’t buy anything but I really enjoyed browsing again for things other than food and essentials. It felt a bit weird to begin with but I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it again soon enough. No, thinking about it I went into TWO shops, because I also visited a toy shop and bought my youngest grandson a gift for his sixth birthday 🙂

Oh, and the other day I decided finally to paint my wooden garden bench. I bought the paint a couple of weeks ago but the spring weather has been a bit inconsistent so I never seem to have two dry days together to get it done. Instead I took the bench in to the conservatory, let the wood dry out properly, gave it a good clean and a sand and have given it a first coat of paint. Now that’s fully dry I’ll need to give it a second coat… maybe tomorrow?

Yeah, life isn’t exactly fast-paced at the moment as we start to come out of the pandemic, but that’s OK with me… 🙂

A Walk in the Woods

A few pics from today’s walk – I really pushed myself and went further than I have in a long time, so I’m exhausted now I’m home again but delighted that I did it! I used to be such a great walker BC (Before Covid) and I’m determined to build up my strength and stamina as sensibly as I can to try to beat this lingering breathlessness and tiredness.

It’s definitely a lot better than it was, I do feel some improvement month on month but I wish someone could give me some indication of just how long I should expect this ‘Long Covid’ to last for. Of course sadly no-one knows yet… It seems to be one of those ‘How long is a piece of string?’ questions… Sigh! 🙂

Wedding China

So now what do I do with my wedding china?

When I first got married to my kids’ dad, 39 years ago next month, I was a fresh-faced pregnant 18-year-old and we had a typical, traditional marriage ceremony with me resplendent in a long white bridal gown and veil, ‘given away’ by my dad in our local church. All the men dressed in kilts and the women wore hats, and afterwards a formal wedding reception meal and dance was held at a reasonably posh hotel.

At that time it was still the norm for the bride-to-be to choose a particular pattern for fancy china with the intention that people who wished to contribute could then choose individual items of that same pattern to buy as a wedding gift, as the idea was to end up with a full (or thereabouts) posh dinner service made up of a collection of smaller pieces each gifted separately by various friends and family members.

I wasn’t ever keen on the usual fussy intricate patterns available at the time, so chose this Masons Ironstone ‘Fruit Basket’ design in green. Plain enough to suit my taste, but patterned enough to look good as a set. For the first few years of my married life my fancy dinner service sat unused in the china cabinet, and when that marriage ended it was packed into a storage box where it stayed for a good long while.

Eventually a few years later I decided it was silly to have it and not use it at all, so it became my special occasion ‘good’ china (which was its original intended purpose), but after several pieces got chipped and broken through normal wear and tear I packed it all up again until… whenever… And in the three decades since then I’ve dutifully kept the remains of my fancy dinner service untouched, still wrapped up and stored in the same big plastic crate.

In the year and a half since we moved in here the box of fancy china has sat hopefully in the corner of our spare room, biding its time, and today I decided finally to have a proper look to see exactly what is left in one piece, what is still there but damaged, and what is missing altogether. The image above shows all of the pieces that remain intact – more than I remembered, actually – and now it’s all sitting uneasily on my living room floor I’m unsure what to do with it.

Typically all the cups and saucers – six for tea, and six for coffee – are fine, but I only have four whole dinner plates, and only two egg cups. One further egg cup is cracked, and one extra dinner plate plus the sugar bowl each have an unsightly chip on the edge. Although the pattern design is now discontinued (not surprising after all these years) the individual pieces still seem to be quite expensive to buy online, so it’s clearly worth far too much just to give away, but as it was originally a gift I’m really not keen to sell it on.

I’ve even seen this particular pattern and colourway appearing on period dramas on TV – it seems to be a go-to favourite on Poirot – and I must admit it always makes me smile to see it. For me it’s a real blast from the past, a memory of a long-ago life that once was mine, and surely the fact that I still have it with me after all these years shows it still has some sentimental value for me?

So instead of making the difficult decision today about what to do with my wedding china, I’m taking pictures of it and writing a rambling blog post! Yes I know it’s more than one line, but that’s because the question is one line and of course I had to give it some context…

By tomorrow no doubt my dinner service will be back nestled tight into its plastic crate in the spare room, where it will inevitably stay for another several months (or maybe even years!) until I actually find a new home for it out on display somewhere in the house… 🙂

One Liner Wednesday

From Buxom Blonde to Menopausal Matron

For years I was a natural buxom blonde. Natural in that my boobs are big without any intervention and my hair is blonde at source. In the past I suppose I had a reasonably nice curvy figure (although having three kids by 21 left their mark) and as I got older I used to dye my dulling dark blonde hair lighter to try to re-capture that youthful brightness. For the longest time I looked young for my age, too, so people would see me and judge accordingly. In many people’s eyes big boobs plus blonde hair equals bimbo – vacuous, dumb, shallow, whatever the particular stereotype du jour.

It used to be quite fun to see the look on people’s faces when I surprised them with the reality that I’m actually quite smart – I gained a first class honours degree at 40. Or parents would say to me in a patronising, parental tone ‘Wait til you have kids, then you’ll see!’ and I’d point out I already had kids, I’d been a mum since I was 18. My voluptuous soft curves often belied my underlying physical strength – beneath my layer of fatty tissue I also have well-built muscle. On initial acquaintance for various reasons I often simply wasn’t the person people assumed I was, and for many years that social dissonance almost became part of my identity – I was often able to use the stereotype to my advantage.

But as time passed it bothered me more and more to so easily be dismissed by others as irrelevant in a snap judgement just because of how I looked. It stopped being fun and instead I found it increasingly frustrating. In my late forties I stopped dying my hair and deliberately lost that ‘blonde bombshell’ look I’d kept for so long. And now I’m in my late fifties my once-shapely figure is more menopausal matronly than sexy hourglass, my dark blonde hair is greying and it seems the old stereotype no longer applies. So am I taken more seriously now? Nope, not a bit of it – it seems I’m still routinely dismissed as an irrelevance in society at large, but now it’s because of my advancing age rather than being a buxom blonde! 🙂

Weekly Prompt: Advantages

PS After publishing this post, it was brought to my attention that it would be a suitable answer for this week’s Fandango’s Provocative Question, which asks:

What impression do you think you give when you first meet someone?

So I’m cheating and using my post to answer this challenge, too! 🙂

Coffee Grounds and Bin Bags

My husband works in a local supermarket here in Inverness, and the other day had a really weird conversation with a customer. The customer approached my husband and asked if he knew anything about air fresheners, and could he help as the customer wasn’t familiar with them and was unsure what to buy. So the obvious first question to ask was – what it is you want to use the air freshener for? And this is where the conversation got weird…

Apparently the customer was from the South of England, and he and his partner were coming to the end of a cycling tour around the North of Scotland. While cycling out in the back of beyond they had come across a decomposing dead deer carcass not yet picked clean to the bone, and had the crazy idea of removing and taking home the antlers as a souvenir of their trip. With great difficulty they had finally wrested the antlers from the deer skull, and now had them in their possession but were preparing to travel home to the South of England on the overnight sleeper train from Inverness to London.

An important point to note here is that at this time of year deer antlers are often covered in a hairy membrane known as velvet, which effectively helps provide the necessary blood supply to the fast-growing antler and is eventually shed. The customer indicated they had done their best to remove as much of the attached skin and dead meat as possible, however the process was not yet fully complete and they now needed to take the antlers home with them on the overnight train, so wanted to buy some air freshener to make the impending journey more pleasant!

I have no idea if they planned to leave the antlers in the guards van along with their bikes, or keep them in the sleeping compartment with them, but either way I doubt if air freshener alone would help much in disguising the sweet, stomach-heaving smell of decaying flesh in such an enclosed environment. My husband pointed out that coffee grounds were always a good natural deodoriser, and advised that perhaps a couple of heavy-duty bin-bags sealed thoroughly with tape may well be the best option for transport, along with whatever chemical air freshener fragrance the customer desired for external use…

So Who Won the Week for me this week is without doubt the English cyclist couple who took a pair of stinking antlers all the way home from the North of Scotland on a ten-hour journey on the sleeper train, drenched in air freshener… One way or another that seems to be the kind of wacky DIY souvenir of a trip you wouldn’t forget about in a hurry – and imagine the tall tales to be told around where they came from and how they got there! 🙂