Sunday, 30 December 2007

Merry Christmas, by the way!

Sorry, forgot to say I hope you all had a Merry Christmas with lots of pressies and good food, and that you have a good New Year too. Hubby & I have decided to stay in on NYEve - we're getting too old for all this 'enforced jollity' as hubby likes to call it. Anyway, with my bad back I can't exactly do much...

Hope you like the photo - it's one of the amazing parsnips hubby grew at his allotment. For Xmas day lunch the only veg we ate that wasn't homegrown was sprouts. Well done to hubby for keeping us well fed!


I've managed to hurt my back. Big time. It hurts. Lots. Had to get an emergency appointment at the doc's for the day after Boxing Day and she prescribed me valium... Have had to spend most of Xmas sitting down with a hot water bottle and a blanket, like an old dear. Feeling quite sorry for myself. I think I strained it first by lugging some boxes upstairs - boxes of stuff we'd packed to go in the loft; but what really did me in was opening the oven door, would you believe. It all went 'twang' on Xmas Day morning. Best stay away from the oven in future.

It's now only 17 days til we leave for our big trip and hubby's sister who's a GP has said that it can take up to 6 weeks for a pulled back muscle to get properly better. Oh ploppy. Good job we're hiring a car for the first 3-4 weeks of our trip, otherwise hubby would have to carry two rucksacks and I don't think he'd be best pleased having to lug mine around since I tend to overpack somewhat with all those essential copies of Hello and packets of shortbread biscuits.

I'm due back at work on Wednesday for my last 3 days but it's looking highly unlikey that I'll be able to go in - that's going to look really suspicious isn't it?! But I can't even drive so it would be a little tricky to get there, let alone having to lug book trolleys around once I'm there.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Thanks, but no thanks

We've decided not to go with the people who want to move in on 2nd Jan. It just wasn't going to be feasible to pack and move all our stuff by then and what a totally crapola Xmas we would have had surrounded by boxes and parcel tape! Not to mention the fact that the house has to be professionally cleaned before we go and we have to get a gas safety certificate - how was that supposed to get done when the entire country goes into shut-down mode over the festive period? (By the way, I'm not complaining about shut-down mode cos without it I wouldn't get a ten-day break from the Library. And, while we're on the subject, I think it's outrageous that most shops start trading again on Boxing Day - what is wrong with staying SHUT FOR TWO DAYS for heavens' sake?! If the sales start on the 27th crowds of people will still turn up, just as they do on the 26th. Pity the poor people who have to actually work in the shops. And pity the poor braindead souls who can't think of anything better to do than go shopping on Boxing Day).

Friday, 21 December 2007

Like A Virgin

Hmm. Virgin cabin crew are trying to put a spanner in the works by announcing a strike on the very day that we start our trip. Are we doomed?! Luckily (for the time being at least), our flight isn't affected. Or so they say...

There are also some baggage handler strikes planned for the week we go - one on the Monday and one on the Thursday. We fly on the Wednesday. What are the chances of our bags not flying with us?

And more 'Madonna' related items. We've booked a room at the oh-so-over-the-top Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo for hubby's birthday on the 21 Jan. We are staying in the Misty Rock room - check it out at - and check out the steak house restaurant - how fabulous is that decor!!

Don't Panic Mr Mainwaring!

OMG! At last it looks like we have managed to rent our house for the duration of the trip. HOORAY! Except that the people renting it want to move in on...

...2nd January! Which means we have to move out on...

New Year's Day! Great. Still beggars can't be choosers. So it looks like the festive period at no.32 will be spent packing and panicking.

Friday, 14 December 2007

O, Come All Ye Faithful (and off-key)

Hubby & I got all community-spirited on Wednesday evening and went to the Henley Choral Society Carol Concert at St Mary's. The evening started with a health and safety announcement by the vicar/rector (or whatever he is) so that we all knew where the fire exits were. To be honest, I'd have thought we'd all have been safe from fire, flood & famine in a house of the Lord, so we wouldn't need to know how to escape in an emergency, but I guess it's best that all the bases are covered.

We had a fairly good sing-song, although they started us off with a song I'd never heard of so I had to mime along to that one; I thought I knew all the hymns/carols that I'd ever need after attending a school where we sang two hymns at assembly every single day, but they got me on that one.

After that the choir had a go at butchering the Holly & the Ivy; and then they started up the Casio organ and played something by Bach (I only know that cos it was written in the program, not because I know anything about classical music). Then we got to sing another song which was blighted by the man in the pew behind us who decided to accompany the singing by jangling the coins in his pocket. GRRRR!

Then it was time for the delightful children from some local primary school or other to take a turn. How unfair! They got to sing all the good songs like Away in a Manger, Calypso Carol and Joy to the World (one of my favourites). They even did Little Donkey, although they didn't accompany themselves with a jaunty little clippity-clop on the coconut shells, which I always remember as a highlight of my schooldays. Perhaps they can't have them for health and safety reasons...

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Do You Moo?

A warm bloggy welcome to all of you who have recently been the lucky recipients of my Moo cards - those fab and groovy little photo cards which give details of this blog and the contact info for our trip. Moo cards are sooooooo cool and here is a link to their website so you can make some of your own

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Oooo, it's all kicking off at the Library

The unveiling of the UPSIDE DOWN Christmas tree on the ground floor of the Main Library has sparked a storm of controversy. Who'd've thunk it?

Some people are unhappy that yet another Christmas tradition has, seemingly, bitten the dust. Whilst others contend that the upside down tree actually came first... I suppose if it's upside down then there's more room underneath for pressies, which is always a good thing. And, if John Lewis sell them, then it must be ok...

Our New Mostest Favouritest Place

is The Five Horseshoes in Maidensgrove.

After GRachel & GGordon took us there for my birthday, we decided to make a return visit on Sat evening to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary - yes, two whole years! The food is fab, as is the log fire in the bar. Very tasty and very toasty.

Whilst there we started properly working out our route in the US. We're spending our first 3 nights in Santa Monica (with a day trip to Universal Studios on the Friday), then over the course of the next 3 days we'll drive up the coast via Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo (have wanted to go there for ages, mostly cos it's got a fab name and is often mentioned in the Sue Grafton books I read). Then we're going to head to Cambria as a base for visiting Hearst Castle (, and after that it's a drive along the Big Sur up to Monterey and Carmel (where, interesting fact time, Clint Eastwood is mayor). Then we're heading a little further north to Santa Cruz before cutting inland to Visalia (24 fans among you may recognise the name from Series 2; is it sad that I mentioned that?) and then down to Kernville. After that it's a quick jaunt through Death Valley before heading over to Las Vegas for 2 or 3 nights; then a trip to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon before heading back west through the Joshua Tree Nationla Park and onwards to Pioneer Town ( - it's just got to be done... Then a night or 2 in Palm Springs (somewhere I've always wanted to go; need to see if it lives up to my expectations of some sort of Stepford Wives type place with beautifully manicured lawns and old ladies with very obvious face lifts carrying small dogs in bags - where do I get these ideas?). And then back to LA for a visit to either Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm or Magic Mountain (but, please God, not all three). All of that should take about 3 weeks; and we're only going for 17 weeks, so that leaves just 14 weeks to do Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Belize & Cuba... Hmmm.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

Christmas has finally arrived at no.32. Hooray, we love Christmas!
Friday evening was the Henley Christmas extravaganza, so we walked in and had a look around - usually a good night as there are always freebies being given out by the shops that stay open late. I won a bottle of wine in the Dollond & Aitchison lucky dip, so that was a bonus; and then we got a polystyrene cup of mulled wine from Cook. Also got a hotdog from the stall manned by Anthony Worrall-Thompson, although we had to pay for that. Worth it though to taste a sausage touched by the hand of a celebrity... (Don't panic, he was using tongs).

When we got home it was time to put the Christmas tree up - yay! Took quite a while as we've got about 90 decorations. Each time we go to a new country we buy a deccie to remind us of our visit; or, in the case of New York, to remind us of numerous visits - hence the glass hamburger from Bloomingdales which graces one of the topmost branches - tres tasteful...

Monday, 3 December 2007

Yo-semite, Snow-semite, No-semite!

During the first part of our trip we are planning to drive round California and then onto Las Vegas, and a little further east (?) for the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. So far we thought that our route through California would take the form of a loop, starting and ending in LA, which would take in Big Sur, San Fran, Yosemite & Death Valley. But Yosemite is looking like it might become No-semite after I read the following on the Yosemite website: "Snowy or icy road conditions are common in Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada from fall through spring. When these conditions exist, federal regulations require that you use chains or cables in order to reduce the chances of accidents. Chain requirements are strictly enforced. You should have chains when visiting Yosemite from November through March. You will be subject to a citation (up to $5,000) if you fail to put on chains when required." EEEK! Not to mention the fact that we could get eaten by bears. Apparently they can smell food even when it is inside your car. "Failure to store your food properly may result in impoundment of your food or car and/or a fine of up to $5,000" - so, the park ranger could IMPOUND my food? Bang goes my idea of taking the tin of Fox's Party Rings... So, even if we don't get eaten by bears, we could starve to death.

Walk Like An Egyptian

Birth-week continued apace on Saturday when we hot-footed it up to Dirty London. Drove to Kesh & Kate's swanky penthouse which overlooks (or, technically, is overlooked by) Canary Wharf. They'd got me a fab pressie - an entire tin of Fox's Party Rings. Oh, the joy and rapture! Went out for lunch with them (is it physically possible to eat any more food?), and then hubby & I went off to the Dome to see King Tut (well, not actaully him, but some of his 'stuff').

Due to the fact that we are incredibly fancy Henley types, hubby had got us VIP tickets (from Ebay, of course), so we didn't have to join the plebs in the queue. Such a pity the tickets didn't get us a private viewing as there were rather too many other people (and especially children) in there for my liking. Bah humbug. Still, it was very interesting and a fab birthday pressie. And my desire to do a degree (or MA) in Egyptology has been fuelled yet again. When we came out of the exhibition, the Dome was rammed with ladies both young and not so young, all off to see Take That in concert. Lucky things.

Made our way back to K&K's (almost via Lewisham when hubby got Limehouse and Lewisham confused because "they begin with the same letter" - good job I'm the proofreader and not him), where Kate tried to feed us. We settled on bread & cheese followed by mince pies.

Busy, busy, busy!

Am such busy socialite-type person that haven't had time to update blog and enable you all to take another little peek into the world of me.

Celebrated my birthday on Thursday, another step closer to middle-agedom, not that I'm dwelling on age and wrinkles and all that, but I do hope the Boots Protect & Perfect miracle serum kicks in soon. Had the day off and Hubby & I went to lunch at The Great House at Sonning. I would thoroughly recommend that you all avoid this place like the plague. I went there some years ago and thought it was lovely; now, however, it seems to have turned in to some sort of dreadful travelodge place, plus we couldn't eat our lunch in the lovely snug bar with roaring fire. Instead, we were forced to eat in the restaurant ("just go out of these doors, through the lobby, through the Regatta bar and in to the restaurant") where the tables were laid with starched cloths and linen napkins - all for a bacon and cheese ciabatta! Plus hubby reckons his pint of London Pride was off... Not to mention the French waiter with attitude. Soothed ourselves with a trip later in the afternoon to the loveliness that is the Hot Gossip coffee shop in Henley. They sell the most wonderful cakes. Thoroughly recommend a trip there if you are in need of sustenance whilst in Henley.

Friday I had to go to work, but as soon as I got home hubby & I dashed off to The Five Horseshoes to meet GRachel & GGordon for luncheon. WOW. What a fab place. The food was completely and utterly divine. Had baked camembert with toast (plus a strange pickled apple) for starter, roast loin of pork with the most delicious and buttery mash ever, and treacle tart for dessert. Boy was I stuffed when we eventually rolled out at 4.30pm... A HUGE thank you to lovely GRachel for a fab (and delish!) birthday luncheon.

As soon as we got home we had to put the chooks in a couple of boxes on the back seat of the trusty Peugeot and tootle off to Wargrave where a nice lady and her family had offered them a new home. It was pitch black and lashing down with rain so we didn't really spend much time in fond farewells. We discovered on Saturday morning, in the cold light of day, that Rita had left us a lovely leaving present all over the seat belt...

After depositing the chooks it was time for me to go to ZenZeni in Wycombe to meet Liz & Brenda for yet more birthday food. I had Pad Thai which was ok, but not the best and some very chocolate-y ice-cream. Liz was very chuffed with the pressie she had got me, but unfortunately I already have one (swiss penknife card), so then she wasn't so chuffed. She's going to get me a Starbuck's card instead so we won't go short on lattes during our trip. Brenda bought me some chocs from Hotel Chocolat and some travel-sized toiletries - well done B!

Got home about 10.30pm, totally and utterly stuffed to the gills.