Sir Pe pulled the sandpit up yesterday. The sandpit where the kids spent hours playing with wet sand and making sand soup, and then trailing in the sand on their damp clothes. When they dried, golden dunes of sand could be found hiding around the house and secreting themselves under the feet and in the beds.
Now we have a garden that is acting like Greta Garbo. Listen carefully!
Can’t you hear it saying:
“I want to be a lawn!”
How do I look? No spinach in between my teeth or holes in my trousers, I hope! Good… I’m ready for my interview with the very funny Po aka the South African Sea Monkey. She had a lot of questions, so after a quick cup of coffee, we got started. I was going to offer her some home-baked cakes, but she declined. I wonder why?
How did you meet Sir Pe and how long before you got married?
Gosh – she does know how to pick them! Well, I had just written a Student’s Book (to learn English as a Foreign Language) for a large Swedish educational publisher’s and they invited me over to Stockholm to write the Teacher’s Guide as well as other educational goodies for kids at Swedish schools.
So, I took a three-month sabbatical from my teaching job in England, and without a single word of Swedish in my baggage, turned up in Stockholm one sunny day in April back in 1996. After a couple of weeks, I decided that I ought to at least know some phrases in Swedish (it gets a bit monotonous saying Hej! all the time and sounding like the Swedish chef out of Sesame Street). So, I enrolled in a Swedish class for beginners. I found myself sitting next to the only Englishman in the class: his bow tie was a dead give-away!
This gentleman invited me to his 40th birthday party in The Limerick, a good old Irish pub in Stockholm. The date: 14th May. We went there after class, and some of Bow Tie’s workmates were there – including Sir Pe.
Now, I thought Sir Pe was a native Swede because he hadn’t spoken English for so long that when he did, HE sounded like the Swedish Chef with really bad English. Turns out he was a Swedish citizen (still is), but came originally from England.
We exchanged e-mail addresses (he was one of the few people I knew back in 1996 who actually had an e-mail address), corresponded for a couple of weeks and finally went out on a date sometime near the end of May.
Dazzled by my wit, modesty, good English and cooking skills (I burnt a hole in his coffee pot the first time I made coffee), we got engaged on 1st July 1996.
The words whirlwind romance perhaps spring to mind. Either that or: They’re nuts! After my three months were up, I went back to England, resigned from my job, packed up everything and found someone to rent my flat.
We didn’t get married in haste though – and waited for nearly a year before tying the knot in England on May 17th, 1997.
Oh my – doesn’t time fly by when reminiscing? Only time for the one question… Po had to get back to her place PDQ because she is hosting Strange Shores #4. So, visit her blog for a plethora of more real-life tales from nutty ex-pats.
In honour of his foot/leg’s second anniversary, Sir Pe was obviously bored at work kind enough to snap this photo for you of his rubber thingies. The ones with nails that you put on the bottom of your shoes and strap around your ankle. Even if you fell over, you would need all the skills of a yogi in order to impale yourself on them. But good luck trying.
Actually, you if you really wanted some home-made acupuncture, then I would advise going with the Leki stick. It’s got a sharp little spike that you can pull out when needed – it gives you extra grip on the ice. Actually, I was quite impressed to see that the crutches Sir Pe came home with (after his fall two years ago) also had these spike contraptions on them.
Anyway – back to the saga: on the night that Sir Pe came crashing to the ground, so did lots of other people. In fact, Sir Pe found himself in the waiting room of the hospital next to a colleague of his!
“See you around the office?”
“Not for a while…”
Instead of the usual eight falls a night, there were 42 on the night of that snowstorm. So, as you can imagine, patients were stacked up in the corridors because there was nowhere else to put them. (I imagine Michael Moore would have had a field day in there!) Sir Pe spent the first night in the corridor.
The next day and night saw him still waiting for his operation, but at least he was moved up to the deluxe accommodation. He was put into the medial supplies store room. He told me he quite enjoyed it as he got a lot of company from the doctors and nurses who kept popping in to fetch the bandages and drugs. (I’m sure he liked it because he kept inhaling….) As no one knew when he was going to be operated on, he wasn’t allowed to have any food. So, for three days he was kept on a drip with a sugar-salt solution topped up with morphine.
He was moved to a ward on the third day and – finally – got his operation that evening (i.e. three days later). The doctor had been working for two days with no rest, so it’s no wonder the bones didn’t set properly. Well, at least he got the correct leg!
What strikes me as slightly ironic is that there is a craze over here in Sweden for beds of nails. Yes, beds of nails that you might associate with India. People lie on them or stand on them. Supposed to be very therapeutic. And expensive.
Can you see the similarity between the nail bed and the nail soles for your shoes? Next time you want some therapy, just give me a call and, for a reasonable fee, I’ll come over and walk on your back with my rubber thingies.
… but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
A few years ago, when Anklebiter #1 was but a small, wailing toddler in nappies, she and I went to the UK to visit my sister and her kids. We dropped off the eldest cousin at school, when suddenly, it happened. The scrunched-up face, the smell. Oh, the smell! Yes, there was a poo in the nappy that just had to be changed NOW!
In those days, I had a big bag surgically attached to my shoulder, containing all the dummies, nappies, plastic bags, wet wipes, bottles and formula that were needed to sustain a small person for the day. I whipped out the changing mat, a fresh nappy and a fragranced bag for the used one, and started changing the nappy.
As you know, we’re vegetarians, so our bowels move. Yes, they certainly have got rhythm! No neat poos here, but something that can best be described as poo soup. (Sorry if any of you delicate readers are wrinkling your noses in disgust – but it’s just a part of nature, after all!)
If you’ve ever tried to put a nappy on a wriggling octopus, then you’ll know that it was no easy task, but eventually, the nappy was changed and the old one deposited in the park’s litter bin.
The next day we heard that the fire brigade had been called out because that very same litter bin had…
… you guessed it! …
… caught fire!
I know what you’re thinking – because sis and I had exactly the same thought: that yucky nappy had self-exploded!
The truth? It really was a case of arson this time, but I’m sure that that nappy worked as a mighty fine firelighter!
I’m away on business for a few days, so I’ll see you at the end of the week.
P.S. If you want to be in the Strange Shores Blog Carnival this Sunday, then send me lots of dark chocolate and I might include you! Just kidding! If you’re an expat and have something interesting, amusing or thoughtful to say about the country you live in, then drop me a comment and include a link to a suitable post.
It’s brass monkey weather at the moment. Minus 15.5 C with no signs of getting any warmer. I decided to meet the day with two pairs of trousers and four jumpers and a coat on, topped off with a warm hat and gloves and boots.
Man – was I warm! Then I went outside for about 15 seconds before discovering that my legs were freezing, my eyelashes had turned into ice sculptures and there was an Arctic gale playing havoc with my ankles. 45 minutes later, I returned home with no feeling in my hands and toes. I must have left it out on the ice somewhere.
Picnics on the ice are short-lived affairs. It’s great fun walking or skating on the lake, but taking off our gloves to eat sandwiches gets rather painful. The dog doesn’t seem to mind – but that might have something to do with the fact that he doesn’t have any gloves…
Anyway, gritting my teeth and pulling my hat down over my eyes (something to do with the fact that if you can’t see the cold, you can’t feel it…), I set out to suffer on your account, dear readers. Because as you know, there is nothing I will do won’t do for you!
You see, I spotted a bridge, right out there in the middle of nowhere – or so it seemed. A bridge joining two tiny spits of land in the lake. I wanted to snap the bridge in its virgin snow – but the dog got there first.
You know what? Maybe this brass monkey weather isn’t so bad after all….
2009 is here – and it has been saved by my very own in-house superheroes!
In a little yellow wooden house somewhere outside Stockholm, a creature that is a cross between a hip hop Spiderman and a many-armed deity is running around the house saving winter, the New Year and the world.
The only question is: saving them from what?
You live in the zoo!
You look like a monkey…
And you smell like one too!
By the time you get to read this, my little anklebiters will probably have ‘woken’ me up (I’ll be lying in bed, pretending to sleep) with that sweet little birthday song, some home-made birthday cards, and (if Sir Pe has picked up all those hints in the form of e-mails, notes and messages) a couple of wrapped up books to savour.
It is Swedish tradition to wake up the birthday person (child or adult) with presents, candles and birthday cake. That’s right – you have to eat cake for breakfast! We don’t usually follow this tradition although last year, I had ice cream with chocolate sauce and blueberries for breakfast!
But – if I were to have some cake – what kind would it be, do you think?
I think that all those with dentist-phobia (like myself) would like to send me a cake with a bite in revenge for my horrifying dentist stories.
To tell you the ‘tooth’, I wouldn’t look this gift horse in the mouth!
And from all those who have been appalled or amused by my sewing mishaps, I might received something a along these lines…
Sew…what do you think? Too good to eat? (So, that’s what needle and thread looks like…)
I have to confess, though, that I do have a weakness for chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Wouldn’t it be great if a big refrigerated truck drew up outside the house and delivered this eye-opening sculpture – made out of chocolate?
When 900 years you reach, look as good, you will not.
After putting on layer after layer, I was ready to explore the exciting new landscape that lay outside my door, trusty dog at my side.
After only a few seconds, my face went numb in the sharp gale force wind that was blowing off the lake, and my left ear started aching with the cold.
And almost immediately after that, I found myself knee-deep in whirls of fluffy white icing and swimming through the frostiest frosting ever.
Marshmallows that loomed out of the darkness turned out to be cars swathed in snow. Large ghost-like objects revealed themselves to be trees, bent almost horizontal in the keen wind.
The wall on the back deck has snow all the way up to its top – that’s almost thigh-high on someone of my (small) size.
It was ghostly quiet in my snowy cake icing landscape… apart from the howling of the wind, that is. Not a single soul was out and about. Just the hound and myself.
A while later, I struggled back home with snow in my boots and cheeks stung scarlet by the blizzard. At coffee time, I looked out of my study window to see if the storm had abated.
It hadn’t. But at least I had my butterfly and flower to keep me company. That – and the weird blue twilight of the snowstorm.
Lunch has been and gone, and now I am only putting off all that scriptwriting that must be done. A quick glance shows me that the icing outside has only become deeper, more mysterious.
please send out a search party.
I’m the little, frozen figure hidden deep within the layers of that icy frosted snowdrift.
I’m always mis-placing losing my keys and then flying into a panic because I can’t find them. I suspect that they are not keys, but chameleons – changing shape and colour to blend in with the background. Anklebiter #2 once found them in the garage pretending to be my bike saddle.
I occasionally lose my glasses. And then it is nearly impossible to find them again as I’m short-sighted and can’t see very much without them. As yet – I’ve always managed to locate both lost keys and glasses.
However, I fear for the owner of these glasses that I found hanging up today while out with the dog…
To the people searching for: Lady Fi – Welcome! You have found her.
To the person or people looking for: pamela a. babusci – she is not lurking here in the comments box or hiding behind the HTML code. She is not sniggering here in the Admin toolbox nor frolicking there in the banner.
To the person looking for his disconnected phallus: help is on its way.
To Turkey on the phone: Ring your mum. She’s looking for you.
This weekend has been one of action! A flurry of snow on Friday and plummeting temperatures (to below zero C) prompted us to put the teak table and chairs that we have outside into hibernation, as well as to clear up two big sacks full of broken plastic spades, rotting planks of wood and a burst swimming pool. Nothing is as poignant a reminder of a bygone summer as a paddling pool with all the air let out of it.
And some lonely toys littering the garden.
Anyway, Saturday saw Sir Pe in full swing. The green tarpaulin was brought indoors along with several hundred autumn leaves and there was much cutting of said tarp and rustling and sighing and measuring with measuring thingies (that’s a technical term).
You see, last year we tied the tarp around the table and chairs, but this year Sir Pe wanted the tarp to cover everything and not get blown off in the storms. So, he decided to sew a tailor-made cover out of the tarp for the outdoor furniture. Before we met, he used to do a lot of parachute jumping. And he used to be a certified nut parachute rigger. When a millimetre makes the difference between life and death, you really have to have an eye for detail.
I can’t sew and don’t really see the point. After all, isn’t that why safety pins were invented?
When I was at school, we had sewing lessons. And I got THROWN out! It wasn’t easy, mind you, but I succeeded. The school had just bought a brand new electric sewing machine and I was one of the first to use it. (I was making a skirt, I recall.) When the machine was all set up, I sat down, started it and managed to sew about two stitches … and then… the darn needle went and broke.
The teacher was furious and asked me to leave the class. And not come back. That suited me fine as I spent the rest of the year reading books instead of sewing.
I might not sew, but I am pretty good at standing around and admiring the handiwork of those who can.
I woke up this morning to this… A giant pumpkin trying to steal our car tyres!
Oh – hang on! It’s only Sir Pe putting on the winter tyres (or tires, if you are American).
Although you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers, the weather forecast is predicting snow. Or, at the very least, slippery roads.
So, Sir Pe got all dressed up. Well, at least the colour was right! But I think he put that overall on …
… because he didn’t want to wear this:
I was thinking of surprising him with a Total Car Makeover, but ran out of paint, not to mention pumpkins, before achieving my goal.
I think the car was secretly relieved.
Well, whatever you decide to do today, make it worthwhile and fun!
Our little community of twenty-one houses had a CLEANING day yesterday. You know, everyone is perky and kind and they all go out in the lovely sunshine to rake up leaves while whistling a merry little tune…
Well, yesterday was one of those days – but the opposite. Yes, it was clean-up day on the street. But it was windy and rainy and there was a definite lack of whistling but quite a lot of red noses and small boys running around with large rakes.
And – here’s the rub – we FORGOT all about it!
Around one o’clock, one of the neigbour’s kids knocked on the door to say that she wanted to rake up leaves with Anklebiter #1 – and, anyway, weren’t we going to come out and help?
I’m pretty good at making up excuses, so I said, “Er! Help! We forgot!” Actually, that’s not an excuse – but the truth.
“Can your daughter come out?”
Er… er… As I looked inside, I realized that it was 1 p.m. and the kids were still in pajamas. “Well, we haven’t had lunch yet,” I stammered. (Which was true.) “We’ll come out after we’ve eaten.”
So, we launched ourselves out into the rain after lunch – just as everyone else was going home. Just as well really as we had other - more important – preoccupations.
Like getting our pumpkin into order! Mmmm… where do I put the eyes, nose and mouth?
By the way, Sir Pe is on the right left, and the pumpkin is on the right.
Anklebiter #2 actually got his clothes on after getting tomato sauce on his pjs at lunchtime. Our daughter had decided to stay in pjs all day (I wish I could have, but walking the dog in pajamas… no – too cold at this time of year), so she helped Sir Pe with the pumpkin while wearing her pajamas.
The pumpkin didn’t seem to mind!
I’m new to the whole blogging game. (And it is a game, isn’t it – and not a competition?) I’ve been writing posts for about ten weeks now and have only just gone in to look at the search terms people are using to get to my blog.
And I have to tell you that…
… the results are …
… very disturbing!
Very disturbing indeed!
Are you sure you want to know?
Here goes then!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
I’ll ease you into it:
Search term: Annie XX
Well, this is my blog – not hers! So you won’t find her here. Might I suggest you look in Facebook instead?
Search term: Are Southpaws intelligent?
Yes – definitely! A handful of examples include: Queen Victoria, Helen Keller (advocate of the blind), Buzz Aldrin, astronaut, Bart Simpson, the author H.G. Wells, novelist Mark Twain, and Michaelangelo – to name just a few. (Let’s not forget my two anklebiters, one of my sisters and Karriärmamman!)
Search term: Woman giving breast to man
Live and let live… and all that! But you won’t find any of that here. Why not give a hug instead – or a bar of chocolate?
Yes – you’ve come to the right place! Who would have guessed that the begging bowl metaphor and poetry could be so suggestive – and beautiful?
Search term: Diet food
You’ll be sadly disappointed, I’m afraid, as my diet food consists of marshmallows and chocolate muffins… Oh yes – and vegetables – although not usually at the same time.
Search term: Wanting to wet yourself in jeans
I find this slightly sinister – and, well, how can I put it delicately? – gross! Still, just to show you how open-minded I am, this is what you should do:
- Put on a pair of jeans. (And a top, maybe.)
- Wait until it is raining really heavily. (You might have a long wait if you live somewhere dry!)
- Run around in the rain until soaking wet.
- You are now wet and in jeans. Mission accomplished!
Last one – I promise! Term: Iceberg phallus
Mmm.. you’re thinking of that post – the one about … icebergs and … stuff.
I swear I don’t make these terms up!
Do you want to know what the truly disturbing thing is?
There are plenty more where those came from!
The lovely Blue has challenged me to see what secrets my mobile phone can reveal!
1. Have you kissed contact number 7?
No. She’s a colleague at work and not into that kind of thing (as far as I know). But we have hugged.
2. Have you seen number 9 this week?
Unfortunately not. An old friend that I have sort of lost touch with. You know – I ought to give her a ring!
3. Do you love number 10?
Well, that would be pushing the boundaries of neighbourly love too far!
4. Is number 11 a cutie pie?
Not too bad – for a boss!
5. Is number 15 one of your best friends?
No. But she is a colleague that inspires me with her creativity.
6. Did you go to school with number 16?
Er.. no! In fact, I don’t even know who this person is! Mmmm…. wonder how he got there?!
7. Do you hang out with number 19?
No, but she hangs out with our dog! She’s our dog walker when we need one.
8. Is number 20 a good person?
I thought so once, but am not sure anymore. Unfortunately.
9. Do you like number 26?
Yes – she’s wonderful! It’s none other than Karriärmamman (Career Mom).
10. Is number 31 in a relationship?
Yes – my bank is having a relationship with my money.
11. How did you get to know number 38?
I met her out in South Africa.
12. Are you interested in number 42?
Yes, she’s so beautiful, intelligent and smart. Modest too! This is the number to my work cell phone!
And finally -
13. How long have you known number 49?
We’re not in contact anymore, but I knew her well when the kids went to her kindergarten. So, all in all, I knew her for about three years until we switched.
So, are you any wiser now? Have my phone contacts revealed my innermost secrets?
What do YOU think?
As we didn’t get to sleep until about 2.30 in the morning, the day started off with a large cup of coffee.
I let the kids watch TV in the morning. Without brushing their teeth. In their pajamas. Time went into frozen suspension because the next time I looked at the watch, it was lunchtime. Lunchtime!
I let them eat pancakes. I mean, that’s a dessert, right? Not a main meal!
I emptied all the clothes onto the floor so that I could put the suitcase away. Somehow, this didn’t make the living room any tidier.
I made some more food for the kids. Still in their pajamas.
I let them watch another film.
I let them eat more food.
And then I finally brushed their teeth and gave them clean pajamas as it was already night-time.
Then I came to my senses! That wasn’t my brain. Oh no – it just couldn’t be! I’m not a mother who lets their kids wear pajamas all day, watch endless films and doesn’t brush their teeth.
No – that would be someone else. I have higher standards.
There is only one answer: that is definitely not my brain that I found in the corner.
Came home to Sweden (where I live) from a five-day visit back home (England). The plane was delayed, so we found ourselves landing at the ungodly hour of 1 am. My seven-year-old was exhausted. Red-eyed. It was gone two in the morning when we finally got home. Nearly 3 am when we tumbled into bed.
After five hours, it was time to get up again.
My brain is still curled up in a corner and sleeping. I’ll get back to you when it has woken up (could be a while). The rest of me is barely functioning.
But happy to be home and re-united with husband and son – and the dog, of course.
By the way, if you see some little grey cells snoozing or on the run – please let me know!
Back home in the UK, I am learning new skills at the newly founded LNPC: that is, the Late Night Pyjama Club. Founded by my daughter and her cousins, it consists of many life enhancing moments.
The most important ingredient is … you guessed it … getting into your pyjamas. Usually at night, but meetings can be called at any time of day according to mood and weather.
But I digress. My first session consisted of me learning the following:
- How to make my bed properly. Turn down the duvet cover just so. Then plump up the pillow. Twice. And then smooth it down.
- The correct way to jump into bed. Go to the doorway, take a flying leap and hurl yourself into the bed with your feet under the covers. Pull up the cover in one smooth movement. Oh / and make sure you do not bump your head on the wall. Me practising this move was … apparently … hilarious to the cousins and daughter.
In the second session, I received a massage. Yes, a massage. And I learnt how to breathe in and out deeply. This was called: How to relax before going to bed. (The relaxing effect was somewhat diluted by the jumping into bed technique that followed it.)
The best bit was lying on the mattresses on the floor in between daughter and biggest cousin and being hugged from both sides. There is no better remedy for a cold, stormy summer night.
Quick greetings from Blighty! Mmm.. I wonder why England is sometimes called that? Anyone know?
The rain that was promised is here … with a vengeance. In fact, severe rains and storms are battering Wales and parts of England, people have been seen floating off in their cars waiting to be rescued and our landing at Gatwick Airport yesterday resembled vigorous jumping on a trampoline. I realize that my thin raincoat is useless – full diving gear would be more suitable.
High tea is on the menu tomorrow … if we can get through the streams that were once roads.
But right now / the kids are calling me to join them in a late/night pyjama party!
It’s Sunday morning and Sir Pe and I are drooping over our bowls of coffee at 6.45 in the morning, trying to wake up and wondering why the anklebiters don’t seem to realize that it is the weekend and they are supposed to be having a lie-in! There is no in-between with these two: they are either asleep or hyper.
Anklebiter #1 received a High School Musical kit for her birthday complete with megaphone and red and white pom poms. And, on this Sunday morning, anklebiter #2′s fascination with all this stuff is endless. Especially the megaphone. He discovers that he can go from being loud to explosive by shouting down that megaphone. At 6.45 am. On a Sunday morning.
Windows shatter, huge flocks of birds scatter in fright, and neighbours several kilometres away are rudely awakened. OK – not really: but you get the picture.
This is when I am forced to say:
“Put the megaphone down and step away from the pom poms with your hands in the air!”
Peace and quiet resumes … for at least 30 seconds.