Horoscopes …

17 September 2022

Horoscopes; I don’t know many who really believe them but I know lots of people, myself included, who read them! If you’re like me, they make a quick, fun, scroll item with a morning cuppa on the rare occasions when you have the time to wonder what the day might bring.

And so it is that this morning I am greeted by this exciting news…

“You could feel like a millionaire today, Pisces. Money matters seem to surpass your expectations. You might want to spend time fixing up your home or perhaps shopping for yourself..

Well, even general cost of living challenges aside, after the recent run of luck I’ve had, this is so far from the truth that I nearly splutter my tea across the table! So come with me astrologers, as I recount the ‘money matters’ of this particular Piscean…

First my car; poor old Windsor! Transporting me to the rehearsal for a local music festival, my trusty Toyota find himself reversed painfully into a post. Main light smashed, bumper crunched and several hundred pounds needed to restore his rear end to its former glory.

Hot on the heels of his trip to the body work garage, Windsor is soon in the woes again. The engine management light glows yellow. A very nice RAC person comes around to the house and diagnoses a possible fault with the GDPR … or is that the EGR valve. I google the likely cost, gulp in panic and when the light thereafter goes off, hold my breath, cross everything and have been tentatively driving about, hoping for the best, ever since.

Thirdly we turn to Small boy. He starts college in an uncharacteristic wave of enthusiasm. After one week, he is shopping files and highlighters, leaving me to ponder what has happened to my laid back boy. In week two… he is actually seen using them, colour coding extensive notes on complex chemical compounds, and planning time for revision. I am flummoxed enough to say out loud,

Seriously, where has my son gone?

“I’m starting as I mean to go on” replies a serious Small boy, “and I’m going to need a new laptop!

Well this is very true. The battered old grey beasts I bought for both of my younger children in Lockdown 1 have long since given up the ghost. But the thought of funding this purchase from a bank balance already hit by car repairs, fills me with despair so I text his dad.

But before ex-hub can even respond, comes the fourth financial challenge of the season and it is Small boy again. This time a rather nervous and apologetic voicemail from the home landline informs me that the great goon has left his iphone 11 on the bus!

“ARGHHHHH!”

I am still embroiled in this one. Mum the detective is on the trail of the bus driver to whom, someone at college reports, the phone was handed, a couple of stops after Small boy got off. Mum the realist has contacted the phone company to put bars on the device and my insurance company to find out how much they (and I) will doubtless be forking out to replace the phone. If they accept our claim at all that is as, not once, but twice in the last 6 months they have already paid out for screen repairs to … the very same iphone 11!

Hence, am I feeling ‘like a millionaire today‘ with matters financial ‘exceeding my expectations’? Errr, that would be a ‘no’!

On the other hand, tonight is a Lotto rollover so perhaps I should squander my one remaining fiver on a ticket? More probably I should stop reading those horoscopes and buy myself a cheap bottle of plonk to ease the financial pain. But hang on a tick… did they not mention something about ‘shopping for yourself’! Maybe there’s some truth hidden in the mystic words after all…

A soundtrack for the Summer…

Monday 22 August 2022

Well, I may not have stepped onto a plane this August but I have certainly covered a few miles! Well done to Windsor, my trusty Toyota, for doing most of the work and hip hip hooray for ‘Heart 80s‘; pumping out nostalgic tunes from the car dashboard and providing the perfect soundtrack for the holiday season…

Heart 80s … why so perfect? Because, as I look back on the last 4 weeks, I realise that I have spent an awful lot of it with those I first met in… the 1980s! Just the sort of symmetry to make my mathematical mind happy and to inspire me to write this week’s post as an ode to some of my oldest pals…

It is first to dear university friends (known since the mid 80s) in the North East that I voyage. Here we ‘make it a night to remember‘ in the pub quiz followed by a day of drinking ‘red red wine,’ and also sampling the fizzy, white and rose varieties at an organic wine tasting. We ‘walk this way‘ and that way and many miles through the glorious local countryside, where the fields of corn, barley and wheat just take my breath away. And finally, be it a ‘green door‘, brown door or even a solid steel fortification, nothing and I mean nothing, is stopping one very competitive friend from breaking it down in a determined quest to wrestle us out of an Escape Room within the allocated hour!

After several happy days, I head home whereupon, accompanied by a fellow classmate from sixth form (slightly earlier mid-80s) we go ‘running up that hill‘ and also wrapping ourselves in 4 sets of blankets to watch an exuberant but unspeakably chilly outdoor production of Midsummer Night’s Dream at a local riding centre. Whilst I would recommend the incredible Illyria theatre company without hesitation, I could almost swear I heard the Bard himself chuckle ‘Oh Lord what fools these mortal be!‘ as the wind freezes hands to the point where picnickers cannot even release them from the covers to hold a glass of prosecco !

Thereafter however, comes the heat. Aside from a brief flit to Middlesborough (furniture drop for my Eldest) and a trip to sunny Stratford for Promdress daughter’s birthday, the ‘long hot summer‘ just passes us by, in a sweltering week of deckchair basking and ‘cool pool’ froth in the garden not-so-hot tub.

And before long, my next visitor arrives, a teacher training bestie from the late 80s. Now ‘girls just want to have fun and that is exactly what we do. Courtesy of this sunniest of Summers we are able to sit out until late to drink and chat and also spend a delicious day in the bars and cafes of Manchester.

But then….‘C’mon‘ calls Windsor ‘It’s time for me to hit the road again!’

Indeed it is! Nicknamed a ‘long distance lorry driver‘ by one witty amigo, on account of my holiday travels, I find time to whirl along the motorway to deposit Small Boy in Wales and then set the satnav for ‘a town called ...‘ London! Yes; I drive to London – eek! I am terrified. I am bamboozled. I am ‘ultra low emission zone’ charged and navigationally challenged. I have nightmares about taking a wrong turn and seeing the monopoly board come to life from my car window.

But with the trains on strike it is the only way for me to catch-up with great uni friends, some of whom I have not seen for over 5 years. So I go for it, get there in one piece and then enjoy ….

I am a ‘west end girl‘ with lunch and a mini-reunion at the elegant Wolseley in Piccadilly plus a stroll around a (very brown) Green Park. Then it’s the cultural delights of the Southbank; ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders‘ at Tate Modern before an afternoon at the Globe for my second dose of Shakespeare this Summer.

My final day veers a little more off the beaten track at Trinity Buoy Wharf. We go primarily to hear the ‘Long Player‘ a 1000 year piece of music composed by Jem Finer, once of the Pogues. Not only did my friend and I see the Pogues (together) at Glastonbury back in 1986, but I further relish in coincidences, realising that, by utter chance, it was also a location used in the Netflix film, Rogue Agent, which I watched with the teens just 4 days earlier… spooky! The site is even more than Long Player too, with arty workshops, a museum honouring Faraday, who conducted experiments in electric lighting for lighthouses there in the nineteenth century, the Floodtide music installation plus .. one of the quirkiest cafes I’ve stopped at for quite some time. A terrific find.

And it is there that my August 2022 travels end. Windsor and I point the compass north and we duo of Wild Rovers speed merrily up the motorway home.

Great times, great company, great 80s soundtrack, great Summer …