Friday, 6 December 2013

In which I take agin Bank of Scotland AND HSBC

I should have known that my uncharacteristic flurry of grown up ness and efficiency would come back to bite me.

I shan't bother putting in a Middle Aged Woman alert, I am fairly certain none of you need a rantie auntie warning, that's what you come here for, to embrace my middle aged ness and my grumpy old womanish ness, although in my defence, I still don't have a Per Una cardie, when that happens even I will accept I am a fully fledged grumpy old woman as apposed to the apprentice G O W I am presently.

I am forever moaning about having to change my name to Mrs Adventures because it is such a pain and it needs loads of forms and visits to banks and certificates and all sorts of stuff that takes me away from my sofa, mumsnet and iced top mince pies. Mr Adventures has been hugely keen to have me being Mrs Adventures, which I understand as I didn't revert to my maiden name after my divorce, I totally get that he doesn't want me to have the same name as my ex husband. My only objection to changing was the ball ache of the admin involved.

So to recap, I had to inform M&S so they could make me Mrs Adventures on my MasterCard, I have 2 accounts with Bank of Scotland and 1 with HSBC, all requiring Mrs Adventuring.

M&S sent my marriage certificate to someone else.

Bank of Scotland still haven't send me my new cards, when chasing this up I found out that when they photocopied my marriage certificate they didn't stamp it and certify it. So it went to Leeds and sat there for a bit, then someone at Leeds contacted the Market Harborough branch and was still waiting for them to get back to them . The M H branch had neither contacted me or Leeds. I spent an hour on the phone finding all this out. I had to make another visit to the branch with all documentation so the whole process could start again. The person who dealt with me the first time was actually the branch manager. Go figure.

HSBC also still haven't managed to get my card to me either. This was because they sent it to the branch for security reasons, my old branch, where I used to live. No one bothered to tell me it was there.

So HSBC take the prize for the number of visits and time required to tell them I am married and have moved house. In total by the time I go in to collect my card it will be 4 visits. The main visit where I had to take in my documentation took ages and asked me all sorts of questions about savings, mortgages, wills, insurance and what colour my pants were.

M& S take the prize for worry caused.

Bank of Scotland take the prize for general numptyness.

So as I have been massively annoyed, stressed and generally inconvenienced in all of this, someone should buy me a new handbag, I'm not fussed which of them do it but I do think I deserve a nice present. If you are so inclined I am after THIS but I really would prefer the Cavenham bag, which I can't link to but is properly lovely, navy blue and £169.

That would make me a cheerful auntie again, cheap at the price really.

Monday, 25 November 2013

In which I take agin Marks & Spencer

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a middle aged lady in need of food and cardigans and suchlike fripperies must attend her local branch of Marks & Spencer, It's a comfortable place for the MAL, we feel safe there. Oh sure I also worship at the other altars, to whit John Lewis, Emma Bridgewater and The White Company (The Holy Trinity) but good old M&S, bastion of middle England and the MAL and I go back a long way. It's not exciting but it's safe.

I buy pants there, I love my (now very old) sofas, I have had insurance from them, food is a given and my only credit card is from there. There cannot be a room in my house that doesn't have an M&S purchase in it.

But we have fallen out, I have taken agin them in a big way. If you read that their profits have taken a nose dive, you can explain to all your fancypants FT reading friends why, in fact, feel free to go on News at 10 and tell the nation, nodding sagely and whipping off your MAL reading specs in a sexy manner to make your point, let your inner financial expert loose.

Now I know you will be hugely surprised that despite being married for nearly a whole year now, I still haven't actually managed to change my name across the board, I know you're shocked now, me being a failed grown up! As I am terrified Mr auntiegwen will leave me if I don't change my name to Mrs Adventures, I have grasped the mettle, I got not 1 but 2 replacement marriage certificates and began a frankly terrifying round of efficiency. I am now Mrs Adventures in all 3 of my bank accounts, the council tax people, work, the tax office, the DVLA, the library, do you need to have a wee rest now? Is my efficiency wearing you out? Most probably scaring you, I expect. The very last people to hear the long ringing peal of my wedding bells were M&S MasterCard.

They wished me to send them a copy of my marriage certificate, I did so, by very special mail, as it was a very special certificate. I heard nothing, I don't fret, I expect they're very busy fending off criticism of their Christmas advert/new season clothing range/diminishing quality/insert other of your choice here.

Whilst I am still being very what splendid and efficient but this time at work, they call me and ask me to call them back. I do so, I am a compliant sort of auntie mostly, I speak to someone in the call centre who tells me I am about to receive a mailing meant for someone else, not to read it but send it straight back, I agree, slightly puzzled. This mailing never arrived. A few days later I get another call from them, again I am being very what splendid and efficient and they leave another voicemail. This time I get a real number to phone, a direct extension to a real person with a name, this is most unusual.

I ring to be told that M&S were changing not just mine but another lady's name on their credit card and they sent my certificate to her and hers to me. But the M&S lady assures me that the lady who got my certificate had sent it back and had signed a disclaimer that stated

I confirm that I have returned all of the information sent to me in error. I agree not to make use of, or retain any of this information

How reassuring.

Now as of yet I haven't got the other marriage certificate, it was sent recorded delivery so hopefully it can be found.

Mr auntiegwen is furious, I want to say he is incandescent with rage because I love that expression, he's not quite that mad but he is mightily pissed off that I am having to trust someone I don't know not to use either of our details not to mention our mothers as both of them were our witnesses. There is a frightening amount of information on that certificate, our names and DOB, my former name, our mothers names including maiden names which are a very common security question and both mothers addresses also. He has also taken agin the fact that I have to sign a disclaimer saying I won't use the other person details either, he finds that the height of cheek.

In the letter they sent me telling me this, there is only 1 sorry, I think there should be lots of sorries and lots of we will proactively register you all with CIFAS and pay for this so all sorts of hoops and what colour are your grannies pants have to be gone through before people can come and steal my identity.

If you steal my identity then you have to have all the bits of my life I don't like/can't be arsed to deal with/am afeared of as well as my good credit rating.

Instead of leaving me to Google and fret and Google and fret and Google and fret.

Shame on you M&S, the auntie is cross, the auntie is very, very cross and is about to compose a very "Outraged of Market Harborough" type letter.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Being Thankful

Tonight I find myself home alone. This is unusual, I spend very little time alone now. I seem to have forgotten what to do. Oh I have eleventy million purposeful things to do, carpets that need hoovering, laundry that needs ironed and put away, walls that need painting. I'm fairly sure you could add to the list. But lazily, I sit, quietly musing on my life, as we seem to be escaping from the explosion in the WTF factory that has characterised our recent life. This seems to be making me quite reflective, or more likely, I actually have time to think about stuff but touch wood, at present my life is smooth (you know I've just knackered my good run now, with my smugness, dontcha?)

Let me share with you, auntiegwens reasons to be thankful (did you hear part 3 in your head?, no? just me that's of an age then)

This weekend I will be staying HERE . I am off to Edinburgh to visit my beautiful son, whom I haven't seen since I dropped him off at uni at the beginning of September. I am so looking forward to this, I have missed him madly.

The Eldest Beautiful Daughter is happily ensconced in Dusseldorf and is working, Glory be to God, a proper job. This means I now have another good place to go and visit and get another fix of my lovely girl.

The younger beautiful daughter has stopped making it her mission in life to win the gobshite Olympics. She is either behaving herself or is getting much, much better at hiding her gobshitery.

I am now the proud owner of my very first pair of reading glasses. I can read again, I could before but the person sitting opposite me had to hold my menu up for me. Now I can read, all by my very own self. There will be no stopping me, I expect I will be in charge of the world soon.

There are loads of other little glorious things that are making me cheerful too, things I would be mocked mightily for by the children, in no particular order...

Fat Boy Slims " Eat, sleep, rave, repeat", how cheap my shopping is at Aldi, my twinkly solar lights working with a tiny bit of winter sun,


It's only 6 weeks to Christmas, I properly love Christmas, I know I said the C word, don't give out to me, I'm middle aged, I have to take my kicks where I can get them, I am carrying on with the C stuff, you've been warned

My giddy excitement that Frances from Bake Off is switching on our Christmas lights in Market Harborough and that there is going to be real live reindeers at M H late night shopping evening, REAL LIVE REINDEERS,

Okay, I'll stop now

Life over the last 3 years has changed a lot for me, I have experienced my greatest joys, the deepest sorrows and the most overwhelming sense of frustration and powerlessness. I have learned to share, take turns and play nice. So for the life I have, from the bottom of my heart, I am truly grateful.

Deo Gratias

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

In which I apologize, profusely

I am a bad blogger. I used to be a good blogger, I yearn for the days of 3 times a week postings and hours of reading and commenting, mind you I yearn for the days of sitting down. I'm sorry, I just show up and spout stuff at you now. Mea culpa

We have officially moved into our new house, the one we have had since June, the one which we were going to have all perfect and painted and with the new kitchen diner installed and functioning BEFORE WE MOVED IN. As I type I can hear swearing from the kitchen diner as himself tries to fit the kitchen units together, apparently our new fancy kitchen units are badly designed, that's the radio edit. Once all the badly designed units are assembled we only have to wait 3 weeks for our granite worktops to come and possibly eleventy years for our fancy schmancy glass splashbacks. I am aiming for eating Christmas dinner 2024 in there. We fail at stuff.

We moved in last weekend, picking the wettest weekend of the year to do it in, another fail.

We had our move delayed to suit the buyer so we had to do it all over weekends and evenings as we couldn't get time off work at short notice, do I have to put another we fail in? or can you see where this is heading?

We spend ages cleaning and sorting out our old house, today we got an email via our solicitor from the buyer with a slightly random trio of complaints, and a phone call from the estate agent as the cleaner who was employed to go in and clean the house I cleaned and scrubbed and polished had set off the alarm and she needed the code. Clearly my cleaning wasn't up to much.

I have lost my marriage certificate, which I was hoping would turn up as we packed, so I could get a new drivers license, with new name and address. That didn't happen so I have ordered not 1 but 2 replacements, so I can have a spare, in case I fail again.

When you move, you realise what crap you've kept and how much stuff your life contains, I'm not sure I can face it ever again, I just hope my knees and hips are up to the job as we have 3 storeys in this house.

But on a cheerier note, we love Market Harborough, it's a grand wee place, we love the deli and the wine shop and the friendliness and quirkiness of it. So if you're ever in the area, come and see your auntie, you can admire the badly designed kitchen units and no worktops.

And lastly, in other news, the Eldest Beautiful Daughter if off to Dusseldorf, she has a job teaching in an international school there and leaves next Friday. Jaysus, it really doesn't feel that long since she was at school herself and now she will be teaching full time. There she is on her first day at primary, she's the one on the left.

That seems like proper grown up scary stuff, and if you've been reading here a while, you'll know that EBD is a bit afeared of real life, but fair play to her, next Friday she's off to be a proper grown up. I am not even beginning to worry about how she will manage as she speaks very little German, She can order a beer and ask for a kiss, sure what else will she need?

So, my beautiful daughter, go live your dream, it has been the most immense privilege to be your mummy, you are everything I could ever wish for in a daughter and I love you dearly, mo cuisle mo chridhe

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Point of origin

Today I drove home from Edinburgh after dropping The Beautiful Son off to start at university there. I feel comforted about him going home and being in a familiar place (if only to me!)as he was barely 5 when we headed south.

As I drove away, my mind was filled with a million memories of the cuddly snuggly squishy baby who became the shy boy who needed his mummy so much who now stands before me as a confident, humane & friendly young man.

I will miss the day to day stuff with him, the comfort that he brings just by being in my life. I will miss his chat, his bad jokes and the hugs and his love more than he will ever know. There is a space in my heart that only he can fill.

And he does.

So my beautiful son, go and start your independent life, explore, make friends, live, love & enjoy.

You are the joy of my heart and I love you more than words can say.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

In which all changes

I should have known it, truly, experience should have made me anticipate it. But Lordy Lordy, here we go for another round of all change.


My Beautiful Son, light of my life, joy of my heart CHANGED HIS MIND AGAIN

So, Jack has decided to go to uni after all. He got his results, completely as predicted, had made his conditional offer, so thought about it for a day or so and decided to go.

On the plus side - he hadn't informed Edinburgh he wasn't coming, so they were still expecting him

On the plus side again - if he goes to uni, Eldest Beautiful Daughter has a bedroom to come back and be a part time supply teacher in. She is being a part time supply teacher because, and I quote "I AM NOT READY TO BE A FULL TIME GROWN UP YET" (in capitals for emphasis) I am not even thinking worrying about her NQT year. Much.

On the not so plus side, as he took a day or so to decide, he didn't get his first choice of accommodation. He is now looking at private student accommodation, which seems to the untrained mummy eye to offer less facilities for more money.

On the not so plus side again, he hasn't applied to student finance for any money as he didn't think he was going.

On the not so plus side again again, this means I am looking at between £140 - £178 per week just for him to have a bed to lie in, before travel and food and beer. Oh and his tuition fees. I am sincerely hoping his dad will help, otherwise I am going to have to take a part time job on as well as my own to fund this.

I am not worrying about this, this will all be sorted and will be grand. If we all keep saying this, the power of positive thinking will make it soeth.

PS - I really don't do stuff like this often,(I like to think it's because someone reading's child may not have got the results they wanted and I don't want to rub salt in) but allow me a proud Mummy moment, indulge me.

My beautiful baby daughter has had a very troubled last 18 months, properly unhappy and dealing with horrendous issues which have impacted on all of us. But the thing about Lucy is, she has a tremendous force of will, which is a fantastic thing when it's channelled in a positive direction but less so when it allows her to be a gobsh*te of the first order.

She has had a STUNNING set of GCSE results, they would have been stunning if she had been in the easiest 18 months of her life instead of the utter torment she has been in. But to achieve what she did whilst the explosion in the "what the f*ck" factory hit us, has been truly unbelievable. She even got 100% in one of her GCSE's, and none of the other 9 were too shabby either.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

In which I fail

A few blogs ago I was moaning that I had applied for a promoted post at work, over 3 weeks later I got an interview for the swanky promoted post.

 I gussied myself up and went to London, mainlining Bach rescue remedy all the way. On arrival, I was told they were running 50 minutes late. This was lovely as it gave me 50 minutes to work myself up to full fat gibbering wreck, not only about the interview but also about how I was going to either miss my non changeable train home and have to pay Gawd knows how much extra to get back but with the added additional bonus of being sat in our head office reception for anyone who knows me to guess why I was there.

 Despite this blog and putting all sorts out on the internet, I find it hugely difficult in real life to tell people stuff, so I hadn't shared with any of my work friends or colleagues that I was even thinking of applying. So you can imagine my delight on seeing the interviewee who was before me leave, and you know it would have to be someone I know well. It filled me with confidence seeing how puzzled they looked to find me there. Why would you schedule internal candidates one after the other? When you are interviewing over 3 full days? Why? That's not kind.

I shall not regale you of how awful it was, as it was truly hideous. Now my head of and my director know I clearly can't function under any level of stress and I have not a baldy about matrix management,  although all my knowledge that fell out of my head during the interview came back miraculously on the train home.

I have, at least, made their decision easier.

Also I don't have to wait till the end of next week as they interview the last of the candidates to find out it's not me. Because the words of my head of, which were meant to reassure "I was really surprised to see your application. It's good to put yourself out there, it means when things come up later on..."

This is good because I still like the job I have.
That's a double win actually as I have a job and I like it.
A triple win as I now have a nice new navy polka dot frock that doesn't make me look like fat Nan the boxer.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Things I still don't understand, the 2013 summer remix

My family are annoying and odd, maybe your own beloved family have quirk or 6 too or maybe I am quite alone, Queen of the Oddite tribe. I, myself, have no quirks at all, despite old blogs telling you otherwise, mine are just lovely little things that make me adorable to my family, ahem, as you were...

These are this weeks "Why do they do that's"

Why, in the name of God and all things holy, explain to me...

Why is it my Beautiful Baby Daughter's ambition to dye her hair every colour in the paint chart? It's not even a nice Farrow & Ball chart, it's a nasty chart. Currently it is a wishy washy lilac, necessitating bleaching all colour out with peroxide and then adding dye. She looks like a pensioners blue rinse gone manky. Tis hideous and quite startling to the unsuspecting public.

Why must she always completely ignore the special hairdressers dye towel bought specifically to save my real towels? This time she used my en suite and ruined my White Company bathmat and towels, they have peroxide patches and look quite affronted and unaccustomed to such treatment, they are from the White Company and live in my bathroom, with the clean and tidy people. She can't see that there is a problem with a piebald mat and towels, they still work, you may have heard my reply to that smart a*se comment, you may have heard in quite clearly, even if you live in a different county, nay even country to me. And are deaf.

Why does The Beautiful Son think he is on holiday and can lie in till 4pm? If he's not going to university in September, he's UNEMPLOYED (in capitals for emphasis) and

Why does he think that fiddling about on the internet for an hour a day looking at jobs online is job hunting? Not in my book it's not, job hunting is getting your a*se and face vertical and outside of a bed and ASKING (ICFE) or begging people to employ you.

Much as it pains me to say it, as a mere newly wed I don't like to criticise the lovely mr auntiegwen, but The Beautiful Husband has some odd stuff going on too, maybe he caught it from us?, I know not but

Why does he wait until he is turning the corner AND changing gear to put his seatbelt on? Why not do it before you start driving, when you are not trying to do 2 other things as well, some people are more suited to multi tasking than others, he is not one of the chosen ones. I don't want him to die and leave me with them children, I know they're mine and all but I need someone on my team. And a little teeny tiny other thing...

Why must The Beautiful Husband ignore the hand soap at any of the 4 sinks in the house and use the washing up liquid in the kitchen? We have much more liquid soap than washing up liquid (ratio 4-1, in fact) and when we run out I can't quite bring myself to use Dove/carex/whatever is on special offer at the supermarket instead of the Fairy liquid on dishes.

Now please feel free to add your own "Why do they do that's" of your own in the comments, we may even have a prize for the oddest of them. I don't expect it would be an exciting prize but I am happy to come and give out to your nearest and dearest, I am only spectacularly ineffective in my own home.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

This year...

I am running on empty. Please feel free to click away now as it's not so much of a rantie auntie type post, more of a massive case of the poor me's.

Since the beginning of the year I have had what feels like stress with a side order of stress and stress for pudding. I am massively fortunate that I am healthy and loved and most of mine are healthy and loved but I am feeling a bit under the cosh with life.

I had a few days post wedding when all was well and happy and good, I liked those muchly.

Then 2 weeks after our wedding my father in law was properly ill, we had lots of visits to hospital and then he sadly passed away at the end of March, we had a lot of sadness.

We have had lots of on going worries about my stepson, I fear we will have them for a good while to come.

A good friend lost a much loved baby and another very close friend found herself pregnant with a baby she couldn't have.

We went on a family holiday that cost us a few grand and we couldn't wait for it to end, all we did was service other peoples wants and needs. We came back exhausted.

My mother's mental health is continuing to deteriorate, she looks so frail too with all her weight loss.

I applied for a promoted post at work 2 weeks ago, clearly I am good enough to do my role and be expected to do above it when they need me to, not enough to warrant an interview. I am not even significant enough for my head of to even speak to me and tell me I'm not being interviewed. This makes me sadder than I realised. I am not good enough, I thought I was.

We put our house up for sale and everyone thought it was too small, even people who lived on their own, I don't know how we managed to live as a family of 5 and then 4 for the last 13 years. It has been quite deflating to live through.

My ex husband has been quite pushy and I have felt hectored and badgered by him as to how long it's taking to sell. I do understand he has been patient until now but I am feeling hounded by him.

I have had 3 nights without any children in 7 months, I have cherished those 3 nights, it gives my beloved husband and I a chance to have an uninterrupted conversation and an uninterrupted night to not have any conversation.

I am as mad as mad can be that my ex husband has asked me twice in the last month to change access weekends for the children. Beautiful Baby Daughter has only started going again in the last few months, it's not possible to swap my stepson's weekends to us, when my ex husband changes I just lose 1 of my 2 nights off per month.

I had to spend my Eldest Beautiful Daughter's graduation day with my ex husband and his new wife, I hated it, I had to be polite to someone I don't know who is now part of my daughters life. She has met my eldest daughter no more than 10 times. I am fully aware of how much of a bitch that makes me sound, I am sure my ex husband would much rather I wasn't there either. This is the first of many of these sorts of occasions, I hope I get better with practice.

Eldest Beautiful Daughter has no teaching job for September, she has a zero hours student bar job. She will also have to vacate her student house at the end of August. She will not be able to rent a room in a house on a zero hours contract. She will have to come home. I have no bedroom for her to come home to.

My Beautiful Son is struggling, he has decided not to go to university in Edinburgh come September, he has no clear idea of what to do next, except not go to uni. He feels like a massive failure and that nothing he does goes right. He thinks he is a disappointment to me. I love the bones of him, to watch my 6 foot 4 boy cry because he doesn't feel that he is good at anything rips another little tear in the fragile tissue paper that is my maternal heart.

My Beautiful Baby Daughter is trying so hard to get a job, she currently is trying to cold call and sell double glazing. She doesn't get paid unless they sign up, how hard is that for her?, she is 16 years old and trying her best. She does hours and hours of unpaid work, gets a bit of a lift when someone books an appointment and then they either cancel it or don't buy. It's shocking how many businesses are running this way. She got a massive lift when she got an interview for a part time job in TopShop. She was 1 of 16, 2 groups of 8, all round a table being interviewed collectively. She was asked to bring an object to reflect herself, 4 of the girls on her table brought their fashion degree portfolio, what chance does my wee girl have against that?

Last night sort of put the final stress cherry on my stress sundae. At the very same time that BBD was calling me to say she couldn't bike home because of the rain, my son was calling to say that because of the rain he had damaged my car, it's not driveable. Neither of us could go and collect either one of them as I had had 2 glasses of wine as had my beloved husband, we only every have a glass at weekends. We had to get a taxi home for BBD and this morning my sainted husband is off to try and fix the damage again, so it doesn't cost the charity any money.

I am worn out and sad. I am sad that my husband had a wrung out dishcloth of a wife and he deserves so much better. I am sad because I used to be able to make things better for my children with a big love and a lollipop. I know this shall pass but today I am sad.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

In which we have a new house...

We have a new house... dah dah dun, cue the scary music.

I didn't properly remember all the details of the house, I don't think we spent much time in it, to be honest, I've spent longer trying to buy shoes.

We did not realise, when we viewed it, that we were buying a house from Mr & Mrs McMankypants. It was quite a shock to discover that the house hadn't been cleaned, it seems, since we viewed it several months ago. The oven was truly filthy, the loos weren't great and I had to empty my dyson no less than 3 times and the carpets still aren't good. We could have lived without the 2 inches of dog poo in the bottom of the wheely bin too.

Moving on

We have lots of stuff to buy, underfloor heating to install, wardrobes to be built in, showers and tiling to be put in, old kitchen to be turned into an office, builders to get started on the new kitchen/diner/family room conservatory thingy we I have requested demanded. The garden also needs landscaping and the decking needs tarting up. We also have to replace every curtain pole, blinds and curtains as every single room has a very naked window, consequently on the few nights we have stayed we have to be very careful about my very naked husband. We also seem to have a distinct lack of window sills, I didn't realise how much I liked them (or filled them up with stuff to be more truthful) So we have a list as long as your arm of stuff we have to do, and what have we achieved?

Currently we have an airbed, several scented candles and a nice blank wall to watch films on

So to recap, I wanted to buy a very old house so I could completely remodel it inside, himself wanted a newish house so he didn't have to do all the work, so we could just move in and live.

Now you wouldn't be surprised to hear that our house is all of 4 years old, would you?

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Happy Birthday

Apologies for the poor posting levels of late, I am still in my usual round of work, children and stress and have added in buying and selling a house, which necessitates a ferocious amount of hoovering, GCSE and A level exams which necessitates a ferocious amount of "there there" noises and provision of biscuits and monumentally bad decisions that my offspring have made and left for me to sort out. I don't like this at all, they profess to be adults and demand to make their own choices and then when it goes horribly wrong, revert back to the "mummy fix" mode which 10 minutes before was ruining their life. Enough. Today will be a happy day, for the auntie hath decided soeth.

If you need a warning, this post may now be entirely composed of self indulgent mush, I care not, I love mush but if you are not inclined that way yourself, you can pop back another day, when I shall return to my normal rantie auntie type posts.

Today I am going to celebrate my husband's birthday. I didn't think I would ever write a birthday blog for anyone other than my children, I didn't think I would or could ever love someone as much as I love them but someone somewhere felt I was due a break and sent me himself, who as I said in my wedding vows is a chuisle mo chroi.

I could spend the rest of my life telling you all the things I love about him, because for me, he is the man on whom all others should be based. He is everything I could ever want or need, he is my world. May we be together for the rest of our days, however cloudy, because a world without you in it, Andrew, is one I don't want.

He once wrote this about his dad and spoke these words at his funeral

My Dad

A man who did great things, who built homes, lives, families, people.

A man who showed me how to be, how to live life with thought for others.

A man who showed me what quiet dignity and respect looked like and what those two qualities could achieve.

A man that laughed a lot, that made others laugh in equal measure and always, always could laugh at himself.

A man who showed me that a sharp mind is more powerful than a strong arm.

A man so much greater than this prescribed end.

I was made by my Dad.

And he and your mum, should be so proud because they helped you become the wonderful man you are today, and anyone who knows you would recognise you from the description above. Happy Birthday my love, tha gaol agam ort

Saturday, 13 April 2013

In which I think we may actually be moving...

I think we may have bought a house. I say I think because I get confused (and Lord knows I don't actually need any help on that score) I get confused because the English system for buying a house is different to the Scottish one.
Do you need an alert that I am about to do a "things are so much better when they're wrapped in tartan" alert? It may come across with a whiff of Scotia, consider yourself warned. Read on McDuff

When I lived in Edinburgh, I moved 3 times so 6 times I bought or sold a house. It seemed quite straightforward to me. Every Thursday there was a newspaper printed by the Edinburgh Solicitors Property Centre and it had the details of every property up for sale in Edinburgh. They also had a big website but I started buying houses a long time ago as I am a very old auntie, so we started with the paper guide and worked up to interwebs.

All had open viewing on Sundays 2-4pm and some also had viewing on Thursdays 7-9pm. This means you don't have to have a clean and tidy house every day in case you have a viewer, just twice a week, slightly more manageable for the more slatternly amongst us, you know I mean my children don't you? I am a very tidy sort of an auntie, the children - not so much.

The vast majority of people didn't use an estate agent, because you didn't need one, you showed potential buyers round yourself and if people were keen they got their solicitor to lodge a note of interest, when you had enough notes of interest you set a closing date, usually a Friday at 12 noon. Then your solicitor opened up all the sealed bids and you chose the best bid for you. The standard date of entry was 8 weeks and when you sold your house you went and chose your new one. Nobody pulled out or changed their mind or tried to get more money out of you. If you made a bid and it was accepted then you got the house, for the agreed price on the agreed day. Simple.

In the interests of fairness, you might have had to pay out for a survey on a house you didn't end up getting. You may also have paid more than a house was worth but negative equity was uncommon and it's a whole lot cheaper to buy and sell using a solicitor if you don't have to fork out for estate agents commission.

Buying in England seems absolutely fraught with tension and complication. Clearly I don't understand it at all, every time The Beautiful Husband tries to explain it to me, I cry and plead for him not to scare me, so he stops and we go back to drinking wine. He is a very patient and kindly husband, some may even say saintly, for he puts up with a lot.

But people seem to be able to change their mind, often right up until a day or 2 before moving with no financial consequence or penalty. People can offer you 1 price and the come back and try and renegotiate when you are so far in it's easier to take the hit financially rather than try and find a new set of buyers. That is just bonkers. Sometimes they pull out because they can't buy your house as someone has pulled out of buying theirs, so genuinely can't proceed. Sometimes something they like better comes along. Surely there must be a better way?

The house that I think we are buying, we are the 3rd set of buyers, it has been sold very quickly each time but somewhere along the way, the chain has collapsed. They have been doing this since last August. If this happens to me when I am selling this house I will be a gibbering wreck, your auntie is so not cut out for that level of stress.

I have been hugely afeared of this process, I don't cope with house moving stress well at all, which is why I have lived here for the last 13 years. This house was brand new when we bought it and we only bought a brand new house so the chain couldn't collapse. I needed to know I had somewhere to live and I needed to know I could get in when I needed to and I needed to know how much it would cost me. I am sure I have blogged before about my enormous need to know ness, which extends to every area of my life except my children's antics, there I have a definite need to not know.

This time round it's a trickier process as due to my mental need to know that I have a house to live in, we haven't put this one up for sale. I can't bring myself to until I know, definitely and for sure, I have the keys to the other house. This is a financially STUPID decision as we will own 2 houses for an unspecified period of time.

So really this post is to warn you, I will be stressed and skint for the forseeable future. You. dearest readers, will be required to provide consoling words , soothing tones, "there there" noises, cake and gin.

On the upside, when we move in, we will be having A HUGE party/wedding reception for all family and friends who didn't come to The Mother Country for our secret wedding and you are all invited.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

My Saturdays

5 am - Small boy (aka The Boy Wonder if you read my husband's blog and if you don't, please do, it's over HERE )awakens and shares every thought he has in his head with us. This can last a long time, he thinks a lot, usually about stuff I know nothing of. If we are lucky he will go back to his room and play, there is still a lot of chat but it is further away and occasionally I can get back to sleep. If he needs company his dad will oblige and I will try and sleep on until...

6.30am - a teenager's alarm will go off. They will be blissfully unaware of the alarm THAT IS RIGHT BESIDE THEIR HEAD and will sleep through it, I will hear from 3 rooms away this alarm and will get up and switch it off for them. Sometimes I can switch off 2 teenagers alarms for them. The Beautiful Husband is thinking of making an alarm clock that only teenagers can hear to save my sanity. I will go back to bed until

7am - when I have to get The Beautiful Son up for his paper round, I will continue this wakening at

7.15am, 7.30am, 7.45am, 8am, 8.15 before I reach full fat cross shouty shreikery at 8.30am and he gives in and gets up.

9.30am is swimming lessons and I get to stay home to tidy up and do laundry whilst The Beautiful Husband encourages the small boy to stop talking and swim. TBH fancies himself as a swimming coach and is particularly proud of his "waft the trump" TM explanation of hand position.

10.30 am is library time followed by Costa coffee, this is nice, we like this, we are cheerful and small boy is chatty, chatty with cake is his favourite. He is excellent at both.

12.00 - will be home and lunch and lego, accompanied by chat.

2pm may see older children appear looking for food and hangover cures, then they will then return to their burrow when small boy starts to chat to them

The afternoon will probably be spent going to see houses and deciding we can't live in them, we do that a lot, we are excellent in finding houses not to buy.

Tea time will be good, followed by shower and stories for small boy, then he will by 8pm be in bed.

At 8pm, we will be contemplating a large glass of wine and a chat, with each other because despite being together all day we have been unable to say 2 uninterrupted words to one another. We will then be joined by 1 or both of the teenage children who have spent the day in bed and are now bored and in need of someone to chat to. The Beautiful Husband is convinced the children have a rota that NEVER EVER allows us to be alone. If by some small chance they both leave the small boy will get up and need a drink/a chat/something or Eldest Beautiful Daughter will come home for the weekend.

At 10.30 pm, we will go to bed as we have been exhausted by the children. The teenagers will go out, throwing their heads back with glee and an air of my work here is done, it they had moustaches they would twirl them, along with an mwah ha ha ha laugh.

Midnight will see a teenager waking us up as they try to be quiet, occasionally accompanied by vomiting.

2am will see the teenager who isn't home come home and wake us up with trying to be quiet.

5am will see the small boy awake and fully refreshed from his 9 hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep and just raring to go, he's got a whole load of thoughts he just has to share with us.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

In which your auntie is bemused and confused ...yet again

In preparation for our house being shown to the general public (can you feel my terror oozing out t'internets at you?) I have had to tidy up, proper Kim and Aggie style tidy. This is difficult as we are clearly running the Leicestershire branch of slobs'r'us, get your slatternly habits ere. I can't even imagine it, ever, being presentable enough to actually sell. So I have had to channel my inner Anthea. This is difficult as my general default state is "can't be @rsed"

The husband is scared.

The children are very scared.

There is a whole rantie auntie post about the state of Beautiful Baby Daughter's bedroom and because I am a kind auntie I am not sharing the story, the photos and the smell with you. You're welcome.

Whilst clearing out 13 years worth of accumulated crap, I came across what I thought was an empty perfume gift box, you know the kind, the ones your granny gives you at Christmas. Anyhoo, I was all ready to recycle it but when I removed the plastic liner, I found a box of contraband, things my children would not have wished their mother to find, so had hidden in an empty box. There were things your auntie really did not want to even think about, never mind find.

In the middle of all the stuff they wouldn't want me to find was a harmonica.

Yes, that's right, a harmonica.

And that leads us neatly to why I was bemused and confused.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The C word

I don't like the C word, no, not that C word, although I don't care for that one either. My C word is compromise. In the interests of fairness there are many C words I do like - comfort, contentment, commitment and cake to name but a few, but compromise as a concept, presently I am struggling with.

In my head I think I can compromise, in my head I think I DO compromise, all the live long day, especially with the children. Maybe that's it, maybe I've used up my whole quota of compromise on the children and there's none left for the rest of the world.

Dearest readers, your auntie is trying to buy a house, I am all Zoopla'd and Rightmoved out. This is pushing your aunties ability to compromise to the max. I am fundamentally unsuited to decision making at this level, truthfully, at any level. This is probably why I haven't moved in 13 years and just about every room in my house is the same greyey/pinkey/beigey shade. However I am now married to someone who doesn't find decision making troubling and who's ability to compromise exceeds mine in spades. Clearly if he managed to marry me and accept all that comes with that gig, he is King of Compromise.

King of Compromise is a sensible sort of chap, he doesn't expect to find a 5 bedroomed detached house within walking distance of Market Harborough town centre decorated exactly to our my taste that costs £3.50. He has set a budget, a sensible budget, he is willing to look at each and every house and decide if we he can make it what we I need, you see the theme emerging. I have a huge capacity for wanting things my own way.

He knows that we should downsize, in September for 12 nights out of 14 there will be 3 of us living in this house and 2 of us share a bed. A 4 bedroomed house is more than ample but I would like a 5, so that all of the children have their own room, despite the eldest having her own house! He knows that by downsizing we will be able to retire a bit earlier and have enough money for decent chunks of travelling both before and when we retire, that bit of the plan I am fully signed up to, himself and I are ace at going on trips together. He knows we will need to buy a house that needs work so we can afford the space and location.

I know it's massively important to him to live in a house that has his name on the deeds and I know it's important to us to buy our first home together. I am genuinely, fully up for that part of the plan also. I am quite surprisingly cheerful about buying a wreck and doing it up, I am SO in awe that himself can fix things and rewire and re-plumb and tile and do manly things, I have no skill whatsoever and am massively impressed at his grown up ness and the fact he has 3 tool boxes

When I look at the houses on the internet I think I can live in them, we go and see them, I realise that I have a list as long as your arm about what I can live with, I want a better house than I have now for 2/3 of the price. But I still can't quite get my head around the concept that downsizing means a smaller house, with smaller rooms, when my children are actually getting bigger and have more stuff than ever. However, he can decide and compromise in 5 minutes flat, usually he's put an offer in before I've managed to drive home. Then I get the fear, that they will accept his offer and I will actually have to live in the house that a short while ago I was okay with.

I keep telling myself it's because I haven't found "our" house yet, that somewhere out there, in walking distance of Market Harborough town centre there is someone about to put a 3/4 bedroomed house on the market, just crying out be renovated and decorated in greyey/pinkey/beigey tones.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

auntiegwen's guide to getting married

Ah you knew it had to come didn't you? The whole process of booking a wedding is sheer comedy blog fodder. The moral of this story is all about practice making perfect.

Practice smiling, a natural smile that won't scare the bejaysus out of people that you can turn on and off in a flash. You will have a million things said to you that your brain won't begin to understand, it gives you a minute to come out from being stunned and respond. You will also have a gazillion photos of you taken, from all angles and if like me, you look hideous in photos, it's best to get the practice in. This will be your most useful skill in this whole process.

Now stand in the street and hand out five pound notes to strangers passing by, this will get you used to giving away money for nothing, consequently this will make them very cheerful and you get to practice your smile at the people you give the money to. This happens more than you'd like.

When booking anything wedding related, have a figure in your mind about how much you think it might cost, then when you go and see the wedding related Johnny about it and they tell you the wedding price, you practice your smile and the handing out of money and then in the car on the way home, you and your beloved can have a good chuckle about how far out you were price wise, or an argument.

If like me, you are a (ahem) mature bride, when searching for a frock, always warn the shop lady that you are the bride, otherwise you will find yourself pointed in the direction of some fairly startling two pieces with matching hats, who designs these Mother of the Bride outfits? For me t'was streemly difficult to find something that was special enough to be my dress but not in white or ivory. On the plus side, I got to practice my smile, when my beloved sniggered every time he heard the word nude. Yes, my dress was nude, my shoes were nude, my stole was nude, my underwear was nude, knock yourself out Andrew, I will never say nude again.

Even if you have a small and intimate ceremony with just your closest family and friends, it will still take a ferocious amount of time and organising. It is probably best that you don't have it 5 days after Christmas as Christmas still needs the same amount of time and orgainising. You will also be low level aware of how your fancy frock fits and how much more you normally eat at Christmas, this may culminate in an 8 mile run on Boxing Day, whilst everyone at home gets stuck into the Quality street.

If you go to a wedding fair, prepare to be bewildered at all the things people appear to have at their wedding. Things you didn't know existed in that context or know you needed. For me I knew about chocolate fountains but thought they were a bit passe ditto fireworks, doves and magicians. New to me were ice cream vans, candy floss machines, pick and mix candy buffets (this will be after you've shelled out for a good dinner for them) and photo booths with props at the reception. My strangest was operatic pretend guests who would get up and burst into song between courses. You might be struggling a bit with your face to get beyond confused at this point never mind into a smile.

You may also decide you need sparklers and fortune tellers and romatic table trivia for your guests. You may also ponder that bubbles in mini champagne bottles would be great fun. You may get carried away in the whole wedding nonsense (who am I to judge you?) and also think that giving the ladies a mini white heart shaped bowl wrapped and tied in crisp white organza and navy blue satin ribbon so they could keep their own wedding rings in or put a wee tea light in would be a lovely gesture... This is the point at which your beloved will think you have actually lost the plot.

If you have managed to source said sparklers, fortune tellers, romantic table trivia in butterfly shaped boxes( in my defense it only came in butterfly shaped boxes), bubbles in mini champagne bottles and heart shaped mini bowls in white organza and navy satin... and breathe... if you have managed to source all of that, wrap it, pack it and fly it 350 miles, it's probably best that you remember to put them out on the table and not forget about ALL of it till around 10pm when the meal was all finished and the people who were most likely to enjoy it were a few glasses of the rose to the good. At that point my beloved family and friends were making their own entertainment.

Afterwards when it's all over, you will have tons of free time as you don't have anything wedding related to do, you get a bit overgiddy with it. You need something to occupy that previously wedding related void of time and money. I have now persuaded my beloved that we now need to buy a wreck of a house and renovate it, as we now are practiced at using up all of our spare time, spending money and smiling at the same time.

And when you reflect, you know it was the best day ever, worth all the time and effort and then some. You don't need to practice your smile any more.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Even on a cloudy day

Even on a cloudy day has become our household mantra. It's always easy to be there for someone in the good times, when the sun is shining on you and the world is good. The people you want with you are the ones that stick with you when the sun goes in.

In a few days time my blog will be 6, a few of you have been putting up with my drivel ahem reading about me and mine for that long. I have shared stories of my general lack of ability to be a responsible middle aged woman in a Per Una cardie, been with me when I gave up teaching, laughed with me over my romantic disasters and kept me going when the kids were defeating me. I think the kids defeating me has been the main theme of this blog. I should really be giving out prizes or money for your therapy at least.

Instead of which, I shall share with you a secret and possibly a photo or 2 of my favourites.

On Sunday, I got married. You can read all about it HERE