Email from my brother : Double A Batteries

Hi Fay,

How’s it going?  I just went and checked out your blog before writing this and boy, for your meal planning I can’t believe you had a Burger King for breakfast the other week!?  Most of the time I’m a vegetarian by proxy so I’m going to have to live through you.  Did you have bacon or a hamburger?  Did you have a Whopper or a double Whopper?  More details please.

This week we have been getting used to our new driveway.  By  that I mean I’ve installed three new battery powered LED security lights.  And by installed I mean I put some nails into the fences and hung those babies off of them like Christmas decorations.   Two of them run off four AA batteries and feature two little LED spotlights that can be angled in different directions like a man wearing big foam hands.  I’ve got one on one side of a gate pointing down towards our back door, the other is on the other side in the actual car park pointing at random points that I hope correspond to places where people need light.  These little things just seem to blind me like a BMW on full beam at the moment, so I don’t really know where to point them.  It’s all trial and error.  I’ll get feedback from Juliette’s family when they start coming back to the door saying they’ve lost their car in the dark.

We’ve also got a solar powered LED spotlight that I fixed up a pole and was supposed to flood the entire area with luminescence because they said it was three times more powerful than the mother*cking sun (not actual quote from box).   In fact creates about the same amount of light as the spotlight in the opening credits from an episode of Mr Bean but spread out over a larger area it’s not so impressive.  Also the little sensor on seems to be a bit rubbish.  It’s supposed to be a ten meter detection area but I could walk up to the thing before it popped on.  They should just put an on/off switch on it and be done.  I’m thinking I should just gaffer tape a load of pound shop torches onto the fences and get visitors to rip them off the fence why then need them.

Anyway I say this because these lights are all battery powered.  Again the blurb on the boxes said that the AA batteries will last 9 months based on three activations per night.  So which 9 months?  Does that include February or are we talking about the long months like July & August.  Also is it a leap year?  Okay so it’s roughly six or seven hundred activations before the batteries are flat.  No big deal.

So on a normal workday I get up about an hour to half an hour early and take Sam in the sling to give Juliette a bit more time to sleep on her own.  This Tuesday I was up with Sam in the sling and looking out of our kitchen window marveling at the coming sun rise because I could also see a crescent moon rising over the hills at the same time.  I’m not soft or anything, I just live in rural New Zealand and I’m starved of entertainment.  We don’t have a TV but I feel silly and elitist telling people that because we torrent America’s Next Top Model and Sons of a Guns.  But a good sunrise is worth writing home about. 

So I’m standing there in the dark and the lights went on in the car park, so I’m wondering who’s in there.  Then I see the silhouette of Tom the cat slinking back from his nightly hunt.  I thought he spent the night under our house killing rats, but no, it seems he prefers to go into the fields so no wonder he’s so fat.  Also now we’ve got a driveway for him to walk up there’s no way he’s getting his paws wet in the damp grass.  Check out King O’ The Cats.

Trouble is he’s setting off the lights.  I wouldn’t mind if he just walked up to the house but he’s walking a bit, lights go on, he stops, he crouches, a leg shoots up in the air for a lick, lights eventually dim, he moves off, lights go on, he stops for another lick, lights dim and so on and so on.  I swear at one point a car came down from the hill and must have seen a giant silhouette against the house of Tom licking his balls.

So now I’m thinking we’re going to have to set a rat bounty on his kills.  Each rat he brings in is worth four double-A batteries and if he’s short a month – no more cat biscuits.  You lick your balls in daylight my friend.  I’ve told him this to his face but he just gives me a look that says I need to charter a container ship from China to carry all the f*cks he does not give.

Hope you have a good week and all,
Take care,
Love Mark xxx
As always Mark.........

Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
I've not linked up for a little while, in fact I've not posted anything either, so thought it was time to get back into the saddle.

It's the little things which have made a difference this week

  • A bar of chocolate
  • Skype call with my daughter
  • A lazy day out with Mum and a friend wandering around Tavistock
  • Finishing a crochet project
  • Getting back to the gym

Sometimes it's the simple things

Email from my brother: He's got a new butt everyone!

I've gotten a bit behind with posting my brother's emails so you lucky people get two instalments this week



Hi Fay,

How’s it going?  I understand from your blog that you’re getting some side effects from all the drugs and stuff you’re taking.  It sounds like your living the actual diabolical plan that the Joker hatched in the original eighties Batman film.  That can’t be nice so hang in there.  I’ve just read that you spent some time up in London too so that must have been nice also.  I was thinking of driving Sam over to the next town (Te Awamutu) because there’s a vets that has a fiberglass lizard snaking around the side of the building.  You see, in New Zealand the pace of life is so slow that a novelty fiberglass lizard is worth driving twenty five minutes to go and have a look at.

Nothing much has happened here this week except that I’ve got a brand new butt.  You’ll remember that the alpacas ate the shit out of my old butt and the rain washed what was left away until all that was left was a soggy brown mess on the floor. Of course I’m talking all about my archery butt, my real butt is the same size it’s always been and never, ever leaves a brown mess on the floor.  Naturally my real butt sometimes leaves a brown mess [SENTENCE REDACTED BY THE TASTE POLICE] but doesn’t everyone’s now and again?

The new butt comes courtesy of us having the car park paddock graveled and a little road built up to the house for when we want to unload the shopping.  You remember the opening credits for Dallas where they show you Southfork Ranch?  It’s like that but on 1:35 scale.  Tons of top soil came up and it’s from this that I got them to build me a brand new archery butt.  I basically talked them through the history of the longbow, what sort of poundage the bow  I’m using, the types of arrow heads I’m using, the depths my arrows will punch through and they basically said “f*ck that” and dumped a load of soil at the end of the field.

My butt is massive now and I’ve just got to re-seed the mound with grass before the chickens eat them all up and I’ll have a permanent backstop to shoot at.  The grass seed is coloured blue and claims to have anit-bird eating properties but our chickens are currently tucking in like it’s an all you can eat buffet (which it is).  Whether I get time to shoot is also another thing.  It’s been nearly a year we’ve been here now and the evenings will start getting lighter as we go into Spring.  Soon I’ll be able to take a beer out there and shoot a few arrows before coming in to the loving smiles of Juliette who totally does not mind me doing archery and loves the fact that it takes up a lot of my thoughts and time.

But I'm thinking about the future.  One day Sam and Eva will join me for a bit of archery unlike now where it’s all about digging in the mud and repeatedly asking to look at the broody chicken.  We’ve got a broody chicken you see who lays one egg a day in the actual hen house we paid good money for rather than disappearing under the house or into the barn to lay eggs. Remember when I first started writing to you and I moaned that we only got one egg a day?  We still get one egg a day.

I feel kind of bad that I started it but the first time we got an egg from the chicken I pretended to store it in Sam’s hood.  Now when we get an egg Sam gestures for me to “store” it in his hood and he walks around carefully so as not to break it.  In reality I’ve still got the damn thing but he doesn’t know that.  One day he’ll catch on and it’ll be like finding out about Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy.  I’m thinking that maybe next time I’ll crush the egg in his hood and tell him off and ban him from carrying eggs in there ever again.  As punishment we won’t now be able to go over to Te Awamutu and see the amazing giant lizard that’s wrapped around a building.  Sure his tiny one and a half year old lip will quiver and fat tears will roll down his chubby cheeks as his big eyes plead for forgiveness but it’s all for the best in the long run, I'm sure you'll agree.

Take care of yourself,
Love Mark
Do you know what, I really 

Email from my brother : School starting

I'm a bit behind with posting emails from my brother, so this is the first of two this week


Hi Fay,

How’s it going?  I read your blog today and saw your weekly meal plans.  All I can say is “an emotional problem coming in from the rear”.  I may have read this wrong of course but I don’t want to be corrected … or know the context.

This week was Eva’s first full week of primary school and as far as I’m concerned her first proper day at school.  Juliette took her in last week for two half days and her first official full day but I reckon until that first day of a proper solid routine (me, Sam and her going to school like we’re going to be doing for the next few years) then it’s not proper.

So Monday rolled around and it was seriously pissing it down.  School starts at 9 am but, get this, we have to be there by 8.45 am for a load of shit I don’t remember having to do back in 1976 at College Road Primary.  It’s a foreign country and all and some decades on in educational knowledge I know but “what the f*ck!?”.  Sam’s over a year and half old now so he can do all the facial expressions he needs and he’s looking at me like “what the f*ck!?”.  You see we’ve got to be at school by 8.45am so that I, the parent, can sit Eva down and go through a reading book with her before she writes out her “pattern book” (practice hand writing book) before 9am bell.

I’m looking at Sam and Sam’s looking at me and we’re both thinking “don’t we just slow down to 5 mph, open a door and let Eva jump out as we pass the school?”  Sam’s thinking that this is going to cut into his Bob The Builder time and I’m thinking “I’m going to have to put some deodorant on, aren’t I.”

So Monday it’s like sheeting it down and I have to get Eva and Sam togged up in water proofs, get myself togged up in water proofs, strap them in the car (one half of you hanging out in the rain, the part not covered by a coat, while the child in question wriggles and laughs and plays up in the dry) before hopping on over to feed the alpacas, Guinea Pigs and chickens before changing my Wellington boots and getting back in the car, sort out World War III that’s happening between the two of them before taking Eva to school.

We get there and go into the classroom where Eva’s new teacher is trying to figure out what to do.  It’s her second week in a new job and she hasn’t figured out what’s going on either yet.  I remind her about me teaching her to read and she says oh yes before getting out a book and the pattern book and asking Eva to get her “toolkit”.  The toolkit is a little basket with “Eva” written on it and contains all of her pens and pencils (which we had to buy and write Eva’s name on before joining).  I’m probably being horribly old fashioned but back in my day we used to have a “pencil case” rather than a “toolkit” because let’s face it, calling anything containing stuff that’s useful a “toolkit” is dumbed down moronic.  That’s not a cutlery draw, it’s a toolkit.  That’s not a paint box, it’s a toolkit.  That’s not a bag of spanners it’s a toolkit.  Wait, the last one is accurate.

Anyway I didn’t pass comment out loud on the “toolkit” because I’m a tiny coward but I did sit Eva down and start going through the reading book.  Bearing in mind that Sam is a toddler, bored, wants to play and wants me to play with him and also that there’s other children and their parents in the room with their own younger siblings all trying to do the same thing (read the frigging book), then I reckon this exercise is designed not to teach the kids to read but to teach them Zen Master levels of concentration in the face of disruption.   Seriously, a more conductive academic atmosphere can be found in the mosh pit of a thrash metal concert.

I have to say that those two years paying for Eva to attend a Montessori pre-school have finally paid off.  After two years of identifying countries on maps of the world, stacking cylinders in unit volume size, learning Italian and generally Krypton Factoring the shit out of things we finally got to see some results.  Day 3 at primary school and she sits down and reads the frigging book.  Day 3 of my primary school education and probably just about worked out which toilet to pee in.  Eva sits down and reads her book and I’m looking over at the couple whose boy probably spent his pre-school years attending a playgroup where you wore a plastic fireman’s hat backwards and peddled around on a tricycle until you smashed into a wall.  “Oh,” I say all innocently, “after I dropped that Satsuma on little Eva’s head when she was one I was worried she’d got brain damage and would never learn,” (Eva reads out loud the last pages of the book like she’s speaking her own thoughts), “but it seems she’s finally caught up and can read.  What a relief!  How’s your son coming along?”

Anyway it’s Olympic School Sports Day tomorrow.  Eva has to dress up in the flag colours of her designated country.  She got Germany, so I got her Adolf Hitler dress up costume ready.  She hasn’t worn it for ages, I hope it still fits.

Take care,
Mark xxxx
As always Mark ......

Meal Planning Monday w/c 13th August

Monday, so its meal planning. Missed last week because I was gallivanting around London with my daughter. We had a fab time, ate out everyday. We had chinese in China Town, Wagamamma's on the South Bank (my nearest is an hour a way!) and I'm proud ashamed to also admit to a cheeky Burger King.....for breakfast one day! 

Today, it's back to the normal routine, posting about it and linking up at Home with Mrs M. All the meals are Slimming World friendly, and I will be loading with extra veggies from the freezer

Turkey stir fry and rice
Omlette and chips
Sausage casserole
Bolognaise (from the freezer)
Sea food risotto
Beef,tomato and pepper stew with couscous
Beans on toast

Bit different to last week! 

Enjoy your week and let me know what you'll be having!

Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC - Shut the duck up

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Hello everyone, time to link up and record the things which have made you happy, cheered you up, generally the little nuggets of goodness which can get lost unless you make the effort to remember them. Michelle the mummy (if you like) of this linky has handed me the baton of responsibility to host, so don't let me down! 

Firstly, forgetting about the crappiness which was last week, has certainly worked, as I feel 100% better. I don't feel as sick, or just generally yuck (is that a medical term? If not, it should be)

All helped, I feel, by a visit to see my daughter Amy in London for a couple of days. Was touch and go whether I'd be able to make it, but it all went swimmingly. We didn't go mad and took things easy, which can be quite hard when sight seeing in the capital. There is just so much to see! We did a lot of eating out, including a lovely chinese meal in China Town, took in a show (Woman in Black) and a quick whizz around Convent Garden (but of course) A river taxi gave me some great photo opportunities with my new super duper, too many buttons camera. I've yet to upload them but if there are any 'good' ones I'll let you know! 

I also managed to meet up with a couple of Amy's new friends, who of course were lovely. Generally a great couple of days spent with my wonderful daughter, who I keep forgetting is now a grown woman, building a new life for herself. I'm very proud of her.

Thank you Amy for a great time!

On the way back I popped in (like you do!) to my companies Head Office based in Hook. I've been off sick for nearly six months now and I was a little scared as I walked through the doors into reception. Don't know what I was worried about it, everyone was so friendly and supportive. Lots of smiling faces, exclamations of how well I look and hugs were great to experience. I even managed to inadvertently time the visit with a team member who has adopted an adorable little girl, just three weeks ago. It was fabulous to see them together and for me to imagine how their relationship will grow and flourish. Wonderful sight!

I also got introduced to the duck voice by the lovely ladies who are the PA's (Thank you ladies) They've all got little duck's on their desk to remind them that when the inner voice, the one which says negative, damaging things in your head to say back "Shut the DUCK UP!!!" 

Thank you guys! I love it, here's mine and I've added him to my blog to always remind me! 
Over to you lot, hope you have some golden nuggets to post and link! Make me proud and don't forget next week will be the turn of Julie over at Mama Owl

Reasons to be Cheerful - "Sod It" #R2BC

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
It's my time to think about the little things which have made me cheerful this week. And this time, I'm just saying......
I'm on a drugs trial for a cancer drug, which has side effects, but this week was the first time I've needed added standard medications to help. And they've reacted badly with each other. I've felt sick, dizzy, sleepy, nearly passed out, vomited......a lot. You name it, it's happened. But you know what? "Sod it"

Today is a new day, a start of the next 7days and I'm just going to forget it all happened, and start again

This makes me happy! 

Seasider in the City is hosting this week, so get yourself over and check out the blog hop. Maybe have a go yourself! 

P.S. It's my turn next week, gulp! Oh, I'm not going to worry about it, new motto is "Sod it!"