Steamy Weather and naughty Turks

Comments 30 Standard

Just got back from KL.  Pretty hot and humid there.  Oh and yes, a spot of rain as well!  And boy when it rains, does it rain!


Standing at Baku Caves

Having walked to the top of the steps in searing heat – hundreds of them as well, and avoided the rabid ( literary) monkeys, I was glad to get back to terre firma.  And boy, was it hot and this was only about 0930hrs….

Anyway back to the grey and murky Blighty.  Love it and just in time for Christmas.  Having a few days away from the Office is not really to be recommended.  I like to get away but I like to stay in control.  Oh Irma, where are you when I need you  ( as a point of fact she is currently in Manhattan.  Her ex husband works for the Trump Organisation.  How that will fare she doesn’t quite know, as her husband, like Irma is from Havana…)  But he has invited her there for Christmas and she is having a super time, staying just near the Lincoln Centre.  Of course its very cold there, but Irma, being Irma, can always create a bit of a diversion and currently is sporting something rather fetching in fur hats.

irma-hat         irmans                                                                                                                                                                She said she is enjoying her husband spoiling her again and maybe she will see where he lands when the Trump Organisation is in place.  She said Manhattan is in her blood…. so maybe she wont come back!!

I had previously fallen off the horse ( again) and needed a break which was why we went to KL.  I don’t know why these horses spook but I have fallen off more times lately than in my entire life.



I aim to be careful now but after a fall and being concussed and time in the Hospital, we decided that it was time to have some sunshine and meet our Malaysian Agents before the season kicks off.  I have to tell you 11 hours on an Air Malaysian flight is not the best experience, especially when they only had seats available in coach..  ( They don’t even have fresh milk for the tea, F F S)

Okay, back to work.   The first thing we ran into was an irate Mrs Wimble.  Now Mrs Wimble has been a host family of mine for about twenty years and does a fine line in leopardskin leggings.  She usually teams these with matching boots and, get this, her car seats match her bottom half.    You can see its an interesting impression, she gives, when  first meeting a student.    Please add to this that she is probably 4 stone overweight; has lost 3 of her front teeth and her hair is in the tightest of corkscrew perms.   But, we love her anyway.


Her car is also a talking point.  Its a Robin Reliant.  Do you remember those?  And yes, I am sure you wonder if they are still on the road.  Well, this one is ….. and its driven with great care and attention by Mr Wimble.  ( Mrs Wimble sits neatly in the front seat with her bag on her lap)  I think however she has a contrasting bag, usually fuscia pink, so that she doesn’t morph into the car seats which, as I said before, resemble her leggings. It would be a tragedy if she got lost between seat covers…  I do not jest……

However the cause of angst this morning was the fact that Mr Wimble had come out to the front of the house to take his first early morning Fag and saw something wrong with his beloved Robin Reliant.  In fact he stood there for a moment ( so he tells me ) neither inhaling or exhaling, merely sucking.  Somewhere in the night between locking up the car and coming out this morning, someone had dragged his Robin Reliant to the wall and upended it so that it rested, very gently against it.  One tremble; one puff of wind and I daresay the thing would topple over and what would the result be then?    Mr Wimble wasn’t sure what to do but one thing he was sure about, was who the perpetrators were !

Yes, last night he had got into a bit of a ruck with the two Turkish boys staying there.  He had told them they had to be in by 10pm and they wanted midnight.  Mrs Wimble entered the fray saying that she had treated them very well and given them tinned strawberries and evaporated milk that night for ” tea!” and so they should be thankful for that and respect the curfew.  They sulked off but did, so she tells me, appear just before 10pm

The Turkish boys however, not one to be blamed for any injustice whether perceived or not, flatly refused to admit it was them but said they would help right it.  Mr Wimble had tried earlier to lift it down without damage but was worried he wouldn’t be able to hold it and it would bounce down and the front snap off.  Well come on Guys, it is only fibreglass after all.  So the Turkish boys after their mandatory cigarettes, this time shared with Mr Wimble,  huddled around the Robin Reliant and hatched a mean plan with him.  They tried to manoeuvre it around and away from the wall but it would appear that the Robin had other ideas and once it had swivelled around they all lost control and it crashed down.

There was a moment silence, so Mrs W told me. No one moved.  No one spoke.  I don’t know if that was shock or a horror but when they all pulled themselves together, this was what was left…


The car had crashed down on its side and the wheel had been driven in, by sheer force, into the engine.  Apparently that was the time to light more cigarettes.  Mr Wimble was silent.  Mrs Wimble, however, was not pleased and made it her sole mission that morning to let me know.  What to do?  Oh, what to do?

Meanwhile, Irma is sending me more pictures of her Manhattan skyline.  Folks, I fear, we will soon be ” one man down!”  


 EDIT and UPDATERegarding a couple of comments below, please can I clarify that ” a fag” is a term used to refer to a cigarette…. and although can also be used in a Boys Public School it is not relevant to this Blog.  Additionally, Robin is ” not a Fag from a British Public School ” but a type of 3 wheeler car, which surprisingly is not in production now…..Many thanks to Mick and Hariod for pointing out my social faux pas! 



Security Forces and American Propaganda

Comments 23 Standard

I did say that the Unaccompanied Minor was tricky.  And she is!  It didn’t take her very long to show her spots – stripes and probably even her knickers if she carries on the way she is.  As I am having to go away in January I need someone ( reliable) to look after the house.  I cant leave it and the animals in the car of those males who currently reside here. ( Aladene and Mohamed and on occasions, Number 3 son!)  The last time I went away, I left Aladene and Mohamed in charge.  That was a huge faux pas on my part and I lived to regret it.


Shebah Dog.  Please don’t lock my Dog Flap any more..


For some bizarre reason ( probably fear of being broken into) they locked the dog flap so Shebah Dog couldn’t get out.  She was so distressed at not being able to use the garden that she broke through the dog flap.  Hence for the remainder of my time away, she had to sleep in the dining room at night to keep warm and the kitchen was freezing cold due to the 2 foot square hole where the Dog Flap used to be. Why it didn’t occur to them to block it up or get a new one is beyond me, especially as they seem to have Amazon on permanent speed dial, or the equivalent thereof.   No longer did Mohamed have to worry about Buggerlars ( as he pronounces them) because you could just put your hand through the broken dog flap and turn the key in the back door and walk in.  Added to that I had, in some very weak moment, offered to look after Bruno whilst Tomasso was away in Rome during Christmas, and so it would mean taking care of Shebah Dog and another highly strung one, whose manner is so unusual and unpredictable that he should not be looked after by anyone under 25 years old.  A plan needed to be formed.


Bruno.  Our Christmas Guest


Anyway, I digress.  

So I asked Number 2 husband if he would mind coming over and House Sitting whilst I am away.  He doesn’t normally mind as he gives him a chance to do something new and catch up with old Buddies.  Yes, I know, I am very kind allowing him to pop over and crash here when he needs an escape.   I had written about him before when he appeared about a year ago and caused a bit of an upset with Husband Number 3 and Mary.

But as I need him now, I am happy to swallow my pride and let him back in…temporarily. I haven’t actually seen Mary since the incident last year and so the way things are going I should be able to permanently eliminate The Unaccompanied Minor in a matter of days. She has become more of a pain that I could describe and a lot of sucking of teeth has gone on both professionally and socially for some time now. She needs to “GO!”

For some reason she seems to think that Husband Number 2 is a rich Russian Oligarch rather than an Ex Pat living out the last of his days at the Yacht Club in Minsk with a wife thirty years younger .  He is guaranteed to either smoke or drink himself to death and when I asked him why he stayed there in the unending cold he replied, quite simply, that he was still free to smoke where he will.


Husband Number Two.  A life affair with women and tobacco


So the Unaccompanied Minor has said she would be happy to come over and help from time to time which means she has her eye on another man to fall under her spell. I have lost track of the amount of men who she has left in her wake and I see Husband Number Two not being any different.

Aladene and Mohammed aren’t overly pleased and were hoping for the house to themselves but I cant trust them because if I leave them alone, then their whole daily schedule goes to pot.  They used to think it was absolutely fine to go to bed at 3 in the morning and get up about mid-day.  I told them they were not in the Gobi Desert anymore and whilst in Rome ( or Shoreham by Sea to be exact) they would go to bed at a sensible time and get up by 08.00am. for Flight School  Of course Mohamed being somewhat of a “smartarse” told me that the Gobi Desert was actually in Mongolia and China and the nearest one to them was the Sahara.  I replied that I didn’t need a lesson in Geography and was actually only making a point, to which he replied ” is that the last one of the day you will make?”


Take your glasses over Mohammed. Its 10pm at night!


Talking of the two boys I asked if they would be joining us for Christmas Lunch or going home.  Flight School closes for 2 weeks and they often try to get home to see their family.  Mohammed is dreadfully homesick and wants to visit his girlfriend.  It would appear that he was engaged at 18 to some girl he had met twice and who lives in Benghazi.  As Mohammed lives in Sirte, you can work out how often they get to see each other even if the route is along the picturesque coastal route. ( He flies into Tunis and then drives over the border )  Aladene of course seems to be living under the radar, having had his passport confiscated by Lunar House but at the same time, they wont allow him to leave. Its been like that now for over three years.  His day to day life, however, is spent very much at liberty so I don’t think he is under the beady eye of MI5 and in fact has already applied there for a job in the Arabic Section.  Watch this space….

Talking of MI5, it would appear they are looking for Persian speakers and Farhad ( my sobbing partner) has also decided to apply.


A life long supporter of The Shah


He thinks its another way of overthrowing the Ayatollah and bringing back the Shah.  When I said that the Shah had been dead ( and buried) for many years and he knew that     ” very well” he smiled and said it was part of American propaganda and  once we had removed the ISIL threat, the Shah would be back on his throne and Persia would return to the Old Days.

Another person who really shouldn’t be holding his breath between now and then….although I do agree that life for ordinary people was probably a lot less restricted then, than now.

Number Two has text me to say he has just crossed over the Polish Border and will be in England, soon.  This will be interesting as it would appear he is just over 1 month earlier than I require him. I try to call him back but his phone is switched off.  Its a nuisance because I would have asked him to turn around and go back home.  Because he is such a heavy smoker he always drives from Minsk to us because he says he can continue to smoke.  He also says he enjoys the drive and can contemplate the world. For a guy who has never read anything heavier than the Daily Express, I guess you could say that was something of an oxymoron!  Oh well, I will just lay another place for lunch on Christmas Day.

STOP PRESS!!  Just received a text from Aladene.  It goes like this…..

” Thank you Mrs for the invitation to Christmas Day lunch.  When is it?”


Aladene, a very special person!


If he didn’t have such an angelic face, I would slaughter him!

Unaccompanied Minors and Bars of Soap

Comments 12 Standard

I  had to take a Sype call from The Pilot the other day.  He wont use traditional methods as he says he likes his calls to be encrypted. Well you cant be too careful. Secret Squirrel and all that…

Sssh… careless talk costs Pilot’s their lives.. allegedly  )

He said that he had been having chats with Peeps in Washington and for now he thinks it would be better if we kept hold of the diamond.  He says that it will be a more secure commodity as it is and in times of trouble, remember The Jews.
He feels that having diamonds or gold will bring a ” better return”  ( his words, not mine) than dollars and thinks we should hold on.  As it needs two bloody signatures to release this stone I can hardly disagree. I am now avidly watching the price of diamonds against dollars to see if he is right.   So for now I have to accept my fate and leave it there, giving, as The Pilot would have me believe, more return for my retirement than if I cashed it in ( on the Black Market, naturally) and brought the money to the UK under my petticoat.   The Pilot also puts a lot of store by his friends in Washington, but I do think its only because they have the correct post code.  Most of them are simply sycophants of those that actually wield the power, and if photocopying Bank Statements on the quiet for the CIA does it in exchange for Green Cards, then that’s fine with me.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to be found beside a photocopier at 10pm by my employer or worse, his Henchmen, but if they want that risk and blood rush, then who am I to question?

I still wouldn’t do it, however much I wanted a Green Card.

Talking of doing untoward things, Mr Wu bought in 144 travel soaps for our Homeless Cause the other day.  We had been doing a Campaign amongst our Host Families asking for unwanted coats; hats and gloves for the local Homeless and whilst they were about it to donate either a bar of soap or a tin of soup.  Donations had been well under way when Mr Wu turns up at the office with a large box.
He plonks it on my desk and smiles.  Its a very endearing smile with a hint of smugness. He looks at me and then the box and points at it.  ” Inside for your campaign.  Soap for homeless people”
“Oh Mr Wu, thank you so much” and I move to open it.
So imagine my horror when I see a whole box ( yes, 144 ) of small bars of toilet soap inside.  All wrapped and all with ” compliments of Mandarin Oriental Hotels” stamped across the front.  And not any old soap but, apparently, ” fine milled aloe vera soap with oils from the Orient”

Mandarin Oriental.  Unknowingly helping our cause.

” Mr Wu, did you take the whole box of soaps from a hotel?”
” Its ok, its ok….”  and he waves his hands and smiles.
” How is it ok?  Isn’t that a bit like stealing?”
” No, no, its fine.  You see if I go there once and take soap, they expect it.  No one cares.  Everyone is happy.   So I said to Hotel Manager, I am esteemed customer and I come to you many times.  I never take soap before so please add up the number of times I have stayed here before and give me that amount of soap”
( I admit to being stunned into silence at this point )
” So the Manager he went and counted and said 12 times”
” Okay, Mr Wu, so if you stayed there 12 times, shouldn’t you only have 12 soaps?”
” No, because I said he had to include my wife, my son and my daughter.  A bar of soap for each of us!”
” Okay, does that come to 144 then?”
” So how did you get a whole box”
“Oh easy.  We worked it out and sometimes, we all come together and sometimes just me and my wife and sometimes just her and daughter and sometimes me alone.  So it got to about 87 times.   I asked Manager to double check because I wanted to have all of the soaps I was entitled to”
“…and?”  I cautiously asked
” Oh, its fine.  He looked at me and said would I be happy with a whole box just to make sure we didn’t forget any visits there.  And I said, yes, a box of 144 soaps will be A-OK.  See, everyone is happy”  and he pushed the box nearer to me, clapped his hands and smiled.  Don’t you just love that man’s logic!

Old Town Hall Square, Praha  – view from the Tower

Having returned from a weekend in Prague  ( F **KING FREEZIN’) I took myself off for a Literary Supper in Brighton to continue with the culture.  Prague was full of culture and I loved the way you could turn on a sixpence and find Concerts and Operas and Ballets on every corner.  So many wonderfully sumptuous places to experience them, that I almost forgot I wasn’t living in the Austro Hungarian Era.   Anyway, off to the Literary Supper and I was obliged to take the Unaccompanied Minor.  ( More about her another time.  I think she is going to be rather tricky)   Anyway, I took her as I had two tickets and no one else could come.   She turned up in a ridiculous hat with at least a six inch brim all around it.  And a black one. F F S…. why Black?  As we entered the room I reminded her to remove it otherwise it would hack off other people around us. It would surely block their view of the stage.  She shot me a witheringly look but in fairness did as I asked.

Its a Literary Supper, not a Funeral. Please dress appropriately!

I have to say that there is a huge element of Bull Shit there as well.  I cant be doing with it and when LM asks me why I persist in going, I say its entertainment value and so I can come back and tell him about it.  He doesn’t seem convinced and says I am really a Voyeur looking into a land I will never be invited into.  What rot!
So there we were in the toilet queue afterwards.  Well, not me, but the Unaccompanied Minor was.  I was merely standing there, to one side, talking to her when a rather shrill voice piped up at me ” I hope you aren’t thinking of pushing in!”
” No, I am merely standing talking to this lady who is in the queue”  I point to the Unaccompanied Minor.
” Oh that’s good then because I don’t like people who push in”
” No, I am not pushing in, I am merely standing here”
” I shall keep an eye on you… I wont forget you aren’t in the line”
There was a lot about her I didn’t like.  Firstly, she had on a dress which was far too low for an informal evening.  Secondly, she was also far too old to wear something in cheap cotton.  If you intend to arrive with chutzpah, at least make it a decent piece of cloth! Thirdly, don’t wear clinging clothes if you are vastly overweight  ( she was and did or should that be she did and was) and finally, and the worst sin of all, don’t forget you met me the last time and so speak as if we hadn’t met before
” Do you know what? ” I turned to her and said ……. but before I could finish the sentence she said ” Oh is that a Lulu Guinness bag?”  and she lifted my bag up to inspect further.
” No its not” I replied rather loftily and pulled my bag and hand back.
She stared again.  ” Well it looks like Lulu Guinness.  Are you sure?”
Our eyes locked.
” You had better move down or you will miss your slot for the Bathroom!”
She looked and shuffled along.  By this time the Unaccompanied Minor was already in there and taking an inordinate length of time.  What could she be doing?
“Look, its a Bloomingdales one.  Not the usual Brown Bag but one of their special editions”
“Oh a Bloomies, a Bloomies.” she shrilled and clapped her hands and did a little jig.  ( I promise you I couldn’t make this up) and she lifted my hand again to inspect it further.
“I can see it is now.  How fab!  Did you buy it here”
” No. New York.  Please keep moving otherwise you are going to be overtaken”
“Do you want to go in before me?  I don’t mind.   Oh Bloomies Bags, that takes me back.  I used to be a reporter there you know.”
” No, I really don’t need the toilet, however many times you ask.  A reporter? Really? You don’t say!”
” Yes, I write for the Evening Standard now and that lady behind me was the Editor for the Sunday Express.  Who do you write for?”
 Suddenly I had broken through her barrier.  Whether it was because I didn’t queue jump or because I had a Bloomies Bag, I truly don’t know, but there you go.I was her equal and because I was her equal, I had to be a reporter.   What better way to forge a friendship that in the Queue for the Ladies holding a Bloomies Bag.
The Unaccompanied Minor took forever.  I was tempted to knock on the door and shout
” hurry up!”  She was playing with her hat again and adjusting the ridiculous veil which was attached to it.  As she came out, so did a man behind her.
” Did you just share a toilet with a man?”  I asked her in astonishment
” Well I was bursting to go so he said I could use the toilet and he would do it in the sink!”
I took her arm and led her out of the building.
PS – Word on the (Praha) Street is that the electing of Donald Trump has met with much excitement.  As one resident said dryly, “at least he knows where the Czech Republic is” ( thanks to Ivana!)…. not many of his predecessors seem to !

The new American Ambassador to the Czech Republic

More tears than an ocean

Comments 25 Standard

I have been having a very interesting discussion with Farhad today.  I love him so much he makes me want to cry.  Farhad and I do a lot of crying together.
We usually manage to cry at least once a week, especially after his weekly Facebook post of the Shah.  He cries for the Shah and the fact that France and then us, by default, didn’t let him in. Because of this, his beloved Persia has fallen to ” infidels and shit heads”  His words not mine!  About this time,  he takes out a very white linen handkerchief and dabs his eyes.  This, in turn makes me cry and we both end up snivelling over the desks. I worry about him being homesick.  He says he will never be allowed to die there and then gets out the photograph of his grandmother who he said died in ” PERSIA” without him being able to say goodbye to her.  That is cue for another bout of tears, from both of us.  Its a bit like a Greek tragedy really.
 LM does a lot of sucking his teeth and glaring by this stage.  I ignore him.  He isn’t very empathetic.
The rest of the Office think we are mad.  Aladene doesn’t like him ….. and Farhad doesn’t like Aladene.   Alaedene insists on calling him an Iranian – to which Farhad refuses to answer.  Once when Farhad had enough of it, he held up his religious token in front of Alaedene’s face and growled something in Farsi at him.

Alaedene all smiles, as his team has just beaten Farhads! 

Aladene in turned shouted ” Allah Akbar” or something like that.  Its true I didn’t hear clearly, but I am sure it was along those lines.  Its a very sticky truce they have.
Farhad is a very snappy dresser.  I have never seen anyone shine their shoes as much as he does.  In the summer when I make him, ( much to his chagrin) wear a company Polo Shirt he still has his shiny shoes on, although he does stop at wearing shorts and shiny shoes.. that is far too much.  Instead he goes for an Italian Loafer, similar to Tomasso’s

My Sobbing Partner

However, I do think Farhad is also an Agent Provocateur.  Once, Mr Wu said something along the lines of ” its the same for all of us British…” and Farhad immediately said he wasn’t British but Chinese, to which Mr Wu said he was Hong Kong /British Subject in that exaggerated Chinese accent that he sometimes puts on.  Mr Wu finished off with reminding us that he was, after all, a member of the Conservative Party.  A hush immediately fell over the office.  Whether it was out of respect or confusion at this remark, I didn’t dare ask!
If its a really bad day when Farhad has the group or excursion that Mr Wu wants, then Mr Wu annoys Farhad by telling him that he went to a party once in Hong Kong where he met the own of Lacoste and told Farhad that his Lacoste polo shorts are not made in Paris on the Left Bank as he stupidly assumed, but actually in a Kowloon sweat shop and still sold for an inflated price to any idiot who will buy them.
The good news however is that I have to go to Cape Town ( again) . Yes, its a tough job but someone has to do it.  And, as always, I am happy to ” take one for the team!”   We have 45 French students arriving in February and I need to check everything is fine with the School there.  By way of contrast, we have arranged for them to spend two days in a local Township High School.  I don’t mind and I think it will be very beneficial, but the Agent is a trifle worried, so to reassure them I said I would pop over ( as you do…)
Also, as previously eluded to, I have a blood diamond languishing in a vault in Joburg. It was part of my previous life but that doesn’t mean to say that it should stay there forever.
The Pilot is due to be there at roughly the same time, so I shall fix a rendezvous with him and go and retrieve it. ( we both have to sign to get it out of the vault. F F S )   He isn’t top of the list of people I want to see when I am there, but its a means to an end.

If anything occurs to stop it seeing the sunlight, he had better run fast…..


 Its a very nice stone, even if it is ” one in the rough” being neither polished or cut.  I initially wanted a square one but fell in love with the slightly odd style and have been told that once cut and polished, it will look just great.

H – this is one I found earlier and is merely used for illustrative purposes.

Currently, I have no desire to cut or polish anything and aim to sell it on and try to get the tax back!  My main worry would be getting either that or the money out of the country, and yes, I have thought about driving up to Botswana and flying out under the radar!  As the Pilot will be flying down in a VVIP BBJ then he wont be subject to the same rigorous restrictions that I, flying economy, will have.  I have asked if I can cut him a deal and he take the diamond out in his Nav Bag but he merely looked at me and said ” Jacks.  Have you completely lost your mind?”.  I shall safely take that as a ” NO!”
The best bit of that time will be staying in Simons Town, amply looked after by my two most favourite people in the world. Wayne and Margaret.  I am sure you can work out who is who from the photograph.  Ho Ho     I just love these people to death and they make me feel most welcome when I stay there.
margaret and wayne

Wayne and Margaret.  Two very decent human beings.

Simons Town is a wonderful coastal town, towards Cape Point and is steeped in history.
  ( I attach a link for those who wish to know more.)
The town still has a wonderful colonial air about it and I covet the  second hand shops every time for wonderful gems from a bygone time. Usually, these gems are being sold by ex Rhodesians who have come over the Border hoping to regain some of that
” Happy Valley Life” they used to have.  Sadly, they have been relegated to walking, en masse, along the beach each morning, reminiscing about the good old days and bemoaning what has happened to them.  I don’t have a lot of sympathy, sad to say


And talking of crying, every time I meet them again ( my favourite peeps ) I cry.  When I first arrive, Margaret looks me in the face and says ” Hello, Miss Jackie…welcome home!”.  And indeed, its just how I feel… a homecoming.  I just love her to bits

Before I sign off, a funny story from Margaret.  It goes like this..
“Well Margaret, how goes it?”
” Oh you know Miss Jackie.  Good and bad.”
“Are you liking your new home Margaret”
“Yes, Miss Jackie, but you know I have to pay for my power now.  I never had to before”
“Oh really Margaret.  What a shame.  But maybe that was because you used to hook it up to your neighbours supply”
( she smiles) ” Yes, Miss Jackie.  Maybe that is it”
“How is it now, Margaret, that Zuma is in power?”
She purses her lips…” Miss Jackie, I have never known such a mess.  That is what happens when you put a black man in power!”   ( and you will have seen what Margaret looks like, which was why her comment made me smile… )  She looked at me and winked.
Its one of the most wonderful countries I have ever seen.  A great contrast of beauty. Gentle and rough. Wonderful people, and somewhere, somehow, its in my blood.
It really is my second home – faults and all.  I simply adore it.  That’s it folks…
I shall leave you with my favourite song, currently.  🙂    I bet you are all feet tapping after this…..
The lyrics are just brilliant.  Simply brilliant.

And as they say in the veldt….  Totsiens!


Oil Paintings and Curry

Comments 19 Standard

I am a bit hacked off this week.  I seem to be both the Whipping boy and the Office Junior and its making me cross.  So cross in fact that when I had to nip out to Lidl this morning, as my Sainsbury Delivery hadn’t arrived, I bumped into one of my host families who asked if I was crossed as I had such a scowl on my face.  Well, lets face it, if you had to attack Lidl on a Sunday morning, you would be cross.


So the other reasons ( and yes, there are many this week) why I am hacked off are this;

1     I don’t like Rita popping over to ask me to run errands down to the Luvvies shop for her because she has been banned by them.  ( You may recall she got dressed in a hurry one morning in just her over coat and did it up in such a clumsy way, her ample bosom popped out across the counter whilst she was paying.  Pete almost disappeared in a puff of smoke ( well Rita and her bare boob at 7am in the morning is probably not a good look. )And Lyn was convinced that Rita had done it on purpose to lure Pete over to the dark side.  So they permanently banned Rita from their shop and consequently when she forgets something she knocks my door to go and get it. ( those of you with time on your hands, can read about it here…)

To say its getting inconvenient would be like saying, Donald Trump has a bob or two…a huge understatement!

2     Annoying fact number two is that I may have lost a host family of thirty plus years and its all because of LM.  Mrs T, ( not Margaret Thatcher but funnily enough they do share the same initials) had asked us over for one of her very famous Curries and we set off after the ” Rise in Terrorism” speech at the Ropetackle.  Now I don’t know if the Talk on Terrorism, which by the way was rather good, had made LM feel bilious or it was the 2 pieces of vegan banana cake that he had consumed in the interval, but by the time we were knocking the door, he had begun to complain of stomach pains.  I told him to ” man up” and put a smile on his face because even if he was feeling under the weather they had invited us for a meal and I wasn’t going to cook that night if he decided to cancel.

Now at the home of Mr and Mrs T you cant fail to recognise the oil paintings on the wall.  The paintings are of their previous dogs who, sadly, have passed away.  Both of them were toy poodles and both of them were called Fleur.  Well, that’s not strictly true.  One was called Fleur and the other was called Fleur Deux ( as in Fleur the 2nd!).   Anyway Fleur and Fleur Deux are positioned in such a wall that they can see what you are up to where ever you may be in the sitting room, or dining room.  In truth, its slightly odd but there you go and I guess I should be pleased that they are only painting and not stuffed animals.


And yes, before you ask, there is a replacement.  Only this time, she wasn’t called Fleur but Poppy, although she does still continue to be a golden toy poodle.  Its a bit like they have cloned them and when Poppy passes, then they will take another one out of the cupboard and continue as normal.  In any event I am not sure they have room on the wall for a third oil painting, even if they do reduce the size of them from 4 foot square to only 2!

I also have to report that Mrs T is a stickler for a clean house. And by default, Mr T is a stickler for a clean garden.  In fact he told me once over the Harvey’s Bristol that he liked to get up in the morning; sweep the patio and drive and then, if necessary, hose it down as well.  I thought LM should take note as the only water our driveway has seen is when it rains and currently we have a range of foliage to rival Kew Garden growing between the bricks.


I digress…… ( opps sorry for ellipses, but I am setting the scene )

So there we were.  LM on a low alcohol blond Bier and me on the Harveys and the two Fleurs, watching our every move in case we were going to run off with the silver (plate!).  I kept looking over at LM hoping that he would enter into the spirit of things, but he was ominously quiet.  Luckily, dinner was served and we took our places.  Mrs T had really got into character and had worn a sari for the night.  When I remarked how pretty it was and asked her where she got it, she told me that her neighbour ( who does happen to be Indian) bought it from Southall Market and had given it to her as a Christmas present on account of Mrs T having a lot of “Curry Nights”.

So there we were, making polite conversation and admiring both the Mango Chutney


( Sharwoods of course) and her freshly fried poppadum’s  and tucking into the curry with a haste that could border on rudeness.  Well, we hadn’t eaten a thing that day since breakfast.  As LM had eaten most of his dinner I started to relax and looked for second helpings.  It really was most delicious.  The Fleurs x 2 continued to observe. Silently ominous, or should that be ominously silent.   They must have ” seen it coming!”

Suddenly and without warning, and during the sweeping of the crumbs from the table by Mrs T and her brass dustpan and brush, up jumped LM from the table and rushed outside.  Mrs T looked nervous and puled the sari around her face a bit more and Mr T stood up.  It as one of those moment when you don’t want to watch but you know you have to and there, in between the potted begonias; the miniature golden fir trees and the dark oak steamer chairs, LM vomited.   Oh yes, almost projectile vomiting I would say.  Right across the patio; the chairs and the perennials.  Oh  F -U-C-K!


Of course there is that period in life when you think you have been standing, watching for at least a day but in truth its probably a nanosecond and in that nanosecond, Mr T had rushed out in the direction of the shed to get the hose and clean things up.

However, in his rush to reach the shed and hose the curry down before it dried hard in the sun and attracted the blue bottles,  Poppy had also rushed out and headed straight for the curry mess. I assumed she was going out to comfort LM but with him rolling and groaning on the grass ( not sure if he was even allowed to lie on the grass, but he did) and Mrs T still dithering with crumbs and her dustpan, Poppy got stuck in.  Yes before all of our eyes ( well not LM’s of course as his were closed whilst rolling on the grass) Poppy let her snout get stuck into that trough and ate the curry. Every last bit of Balti and Vegetable Fried Rice.

It suddenly went very quiet.  I started to sweat.  Mr T had still not returned from the shed with the hose and in that time Poppy continued to eat the curry and even lick the slabs clean.  A screech went up from behind me and Mrs T rushed out, carrying her sari in one hand and the brass dustpan in the other, shouting at Poppy to ” leave leave, oh Poppy be a good girl and leave”.  That  journey through the door to the garden was not particularly speedy with Mrs T because the sari was , if I am honest, wound a trifle too tightly around the legs and she ended up waddling and throwing her legs either side of her as she rushed past the still perfect Lupins ( ie not having been vomited on) and up towards the wilting begonias.

Of course by the time she reached Poppy, and Poppy had indeed ” left” ,the curry was gone.  Mr T emerging from the shed with hose in hand wondered what on earth to do but never having a minute without a task to complete, he calmly connected up the hose; lifted Poppy up under his arm and hosed down what was left of the curry sauce  ( very little, I might add) so that the patio looked as good as it ever did, even if the smell still lingered in the evening warmth

As you can imagine, the evening rather lost its zing after that and we made our excuses and left.  In any event, when I glanced into the kitchen, I saw that Mrs T was putting cling film over the sherry trifle and placing it back into the fridge.  Obviously we weren’t going to be offered anything else after a performance like that. Poppy had also incurred a Red Card and her bed had been moved to the Laundry Room ( “in case she does a whoopsie”, Mrs T confided to me, ” and ruins my Axminster” )

The journey back home was slightly depressing.

Just as we got in across comes Rita again.  ” any chance of getting me some milk from The Luvvies?” she asked

I looked at Rita.  I looked at the drive ( yes, still dusty and full of weeds) and looked back at Rita again.  ” Not a snowballs, Rita.  Not a bloody snowballs!”

And with that I went inside and slammed the door.



An In-House Coup and yet more Lemons

Comments 13 Standard

I have had a super holiday.  Thank you very much.  Lots of trying out the languages ( I love it when we don’t spot a Brit for weeks!) and plenty of sun and exercise.  It was great.  I admit that I even impressed myself with my French and felt rather proud when I made myself understood in Italian without the aid of my hands or funny pictures or even Google Translate.    

first day

( this was us just as we were leaving.  Poor car was so loaded up, but what’s the point of travelling light?)

However upon returning to chez nous I thought I had walked into something akin to a political coup.  What changes!  What surprises!  Firstly, my lovely bambini had been moved off the drive and used. After having the guts caned out of her, she was ceremoniously dumped on the pavement outside.  I don’t know why they couldn’t be bothered to return it to the driveway but I was quite worried when I was told that No 1 Son had borrowed it when his van broke down.  Getting a van load of equipment into a two seater sports car doesn’t bear fretting over because it will only raise my blood pressure, especially if the leather seats have been scratched but when Alaedene spilt the beans and told me that he had seen him driving it through the High Street like the phrase, ” drive it like you stole it Mate!” I admit to being slightly nervous.  I have yet to catch up with him. Number 1 Son, that is!

I also thought that Number 3 Son may grasp his chance of his escape whilst I was away and finally move in with his girlfriend.  I cant say I am overly pleased as he has dumped Uni and an expense free existence but its his life, not mine.  H has found a job and he says he ” really loves it” so I have to stand back.  So that’s one man down as you might think but sadly no.  One man down and another 3 in residence.  Yes, whilst No 3 son has moved out, it would now seem that Number 2 son has moved back ” I love being home again.  Its like a haven.  I always feel relaxed here!”

no 2 son

Well he may do but I am not sure I concur.  As having returned home, I found that he had snaffled away my best pasta ( okay, its only pasta but it was given to me by Andreas Ferret so it had a special place in my heart.  Sadly, the huge chunk of Parmesan also given with said pasta now resembles a chunk that even Mickey Mouse would sniff at ) and the batteries have been removed from the TV remote to be used in the once defunct Play Station 2. W T F????

Additionally, lovely Lexi, the girl that can do no wrong in the office had needed somewhere for her Spanish boyfriend to live as he was let down on a room in Brighton.

lexi flexi

For some reason she thought it would be fun for him to come and stay at my place whilst we were away and be very quiet until he could find new accommodation. In truth he was not a nuisance and he has now left.   And to finish off my grand return, I hear news that Number 2 (ex) Husband is on his way for his yearly vacances and is currently en route from Belarus.  he always stays with his when he is in the UK.  Not sure LM is overly pleased about this arrangement but what can I do… its been going on for so long now.  However his arrival is not imminent today because as he usually drives from there to us due to the fact that he smokes so heavily he cant be without nicotine for even the short plane transfer it will be another day or so.   This means that all of my bedrooms are going to be in use but worse than that, I have no means of escape as even when I disappear to the Rompa Room, some bugger seeks me out and stands either talking to me, over my shoulder whilst I am trying to work ( beyond annoying) or brings in a cup of tea ( did I ask for one?/) and thinks that a cup of tea equals ” oh hello. Do come in. Pull up a chair and tell me your woes!”

So frankly, let me tell you, IT DOES NOT!!!  1b078-angryfaces8

On the first night of the holiday whilst we were dining out under the gaze of the Chateau at Fontainebleau, we had a text from Irma telling us that Mr NoseHair and her had a bit of a disagreement ( apparently it was one pinch on her bottom too many) and he was moving out one day earlier.  I asked where he was going for the last night and she told me that it was all sorted and he was off to his friend, Mustapha in Brighton and Mustapha had already saddled the horses and was on his way.  There was nothing I could say but it did taint the end of his stay and ruined the start of mine.


( yes I know the image is upside down, but pretend you are looking at the view from one of the many lakes surrounding the Chateau.  Works for me… )

So you can imagine my surprise when on my return to the Office I find that Mr Nosehair wants to return and in fact has increased his weekly hours from 15 to 25 – but no Irma to teach him.  As his demands are many; varied and GREAT we had to do a lot of calling in favours to get him placed.  In the end we asked the lovely Murielle to take him.  Murielle is French, as you probably guessed, but her English is faultless ( well better than mine at any rate) and she has an en suite bathroom to offer him.  Also being a Parisian she has a certain style about her that he will appreciate and it goes without saying that she is a super cook.  She will compliment her very bourgeois lifestyle with her socialist husband and his strident views which always makes for entertaining after dinner talk.  So whilst Murielle will be whipping up a soufflé in the kitchen, her husband can be putting the Brexit Vote Debate to rights with Mr NoseHair.  I do worry that Mr NoseHair may cause Murielle to combust in a puff of smoke but she reassures me ( endlessly) that she is capable of controlling any man after living with her husband for 40 odd years.  She also says that  as his main passion, after his lemons, is shopping, they can have many pleasant afternoons doing exactly that and she does, after all, know the best place to purchase a cashmere cardigan with leather elbows.   cullen-cashmere-cardigan-sweater-for-men-in-derby-grey~p~5087y_02~1500_2

After that resounding piece of evidence, and showing me her Costa Coffee Loyalty Card, there wasn’t a lot more to say.  After all, have you ever known an Egyptian man not get excited over a cup of espresso in Costa Coffee??

Talking of Brexit, as I briefly did, I was surprised how many people in Italy took my hand and commiserated now that we were ” on our own!”  However the real Biscuit Taker was a American chap from California who said how he sympathised with me over the decision and how he hoped it wasn’t the end of ” us Brits!”  He continued by saying that now we wouldn’t have the backing of the Americans he hoped that we would do ” okay!”.  I was about to drown him, because the conversation was taking place whilst I was trying to do a few lengths in The Med but thought better of it.  The easiest way to get rid of him was to say that I was actually in favour of it, which I was, and with that he looked at me in horror – forgot to close his mouth but did swim off in the other direction.  Okay, I admit I also said that I found it rather pompous of a lot of Americans when they assume that GREAT Britain can not function without the hand of America guiding them and that I for one thought that any war film produced by Americans should be issued with a Warning that it is ” pure fairytale” and the element of fact based events in most films produced by them makes Walt Disney look like Chainsaw Massacre.  Okay I probably did mix a few metaphors but it seemed to make the point and I noticed that the following morning at breakfast, when I went up to get my egg flipped at the poolside buffet, he hung back and tucked into the Muesli.

City of San Remo, Liguria, Ligure, Riviera di Ponente, Italy, Europe.

City of San Remo, Liguria, Ligure, Riviera di Ponente, Italy, Europe.

So back in the room, I am.  Slightly testy but ever so refreshed.  I shall bore the pants of you all very soon with pictures and anecdotes of our rather splendid European Road Trip

( ps… we are off in a minute to look at a Camper Van.  I fancy doing it all again next year but taking it slowly and exploring more of the countryside)

(pps…. I have just been rejected for adoption.  Well, I am not being adopted, I applied for it.  But the Dogs Trust would not let me take Elvis the Basset Hound away as they say he was of a rather nervous disposition and they didn’t feel that my household would offer him the best possible start in his re homing journey.  I admit to feeling rather taken aback and whatever suggestion I gave they brooked it!  I can tell you now, I am appealing their decision and if anyone would like to sign my Petition, please feel free to contact me.  I already have the backing of our local Councillor, although as the Dogs Trust said, ” if she works for you, I don’t think her opinion is particularly unbiased”.)  Elvis is pictured below with Sally his girlfriend.  I offered them both a home



Road Trip

Comments 9 Standard

Well that’s it!  Summer is practically over and I am off on my road trip.  I cant wait… I think!  I usually have a bit of a melt down before I go and threaten to cancel everything. The Summer School has been wonderful and the students have been such great fun. I think its been one of the best I can remember ( for me, at least) in sofar as everyone getting on and bonding and the weather being kind.

road trip

So with the last students going on Sunday ( provided the dam Eurostar doesn’t keep striking) we are off on our sojourn.  Driving down to San Remo, via Fontainebleau; Annecy and Mont Blanc Tunnel. I haven’t been allowed to take the ” rag roof” , LM deciding instead that we had to go in a slightly more sedate style.  So I wont be able to wear my scarf wrapped around my head and tied under the neck to stop the wind blowing my hair.   But I do intend to get into the Italian way of life and have been eating pasta all week.  ( I do seem to have bloated at bit and maybe need to restrict it to once a day…)

City of San Remo, Liguria, Ligure, Riviera di Ponente, Italy, Europe.

City of San Remo, Liguria, Ligure, Riviera di Ponente, Italy, Europe.

A week in San Remo soaking up some sunshine and dubious culture ( I love the way the Russians decamped there and tried to make it their own ) and then over to Argeles for a week of cycling, followed by the route home via the Black Madonna at Rocamadour and last night in arty farty Barbizon.


I am certainly hoping for some Dolce Vita but with LM probably looking for the Sports Bar so he can watch the first Arsenal game of the season, I may need to act fast!

When we return and as our European Summer closes, we start to ramp up our Cape Town Centre. It works very well as it extends our season and you know me, ” any excuse to visit my second home!”   Currently we have 40 French students wanting ” something different” in February and we are trying hard to get everything they wish in just 10 days around Cape Town. A visit to the wonderful Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach is a real ” must do!”


We naturally have to work on the tourist attractions but in there I always try to get them to visit the local Township we sponsor.  Its always slightly grounding and I ensure that if they come through us, its included in their Schedule.   If you have a minute, please follow the link below and watch the video.  You may be inspired to assist as I was, but if not, you will at least feel rather proud of these people.   I find the community fascinating and I wish there was more I could do….Each time we visit we are treated like old friends and its always a positive experience.

Lastly, I also have a pink diamond sitting in a vault in Johannesburg with my name on it, but whether I can retrieve it or not, is a story for another day


Bonnes  Vacances….and see you in September, ( well, maybe! )