Category Archives: Garden

Football And Gardening

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! I realise that it is a little while since I offered any advice on coping with everything that life can throw at you, whether it be avoiding the World Cup or dealing with weeds on the garden path (it’s always a good idea to keep your garden path clear in case anyone ever tries to lead you down it).

Football

Avoiding the World Cup is quite difficult, as I’m sure many of you are probably finding, but it can be done:
1. You can settle down at home with a good book and a glass of wine.
2. You can find a pub without a television and settle down with a good book and a glass of wine.
3. You can download a good book on your Kindle and settle down with a glass of wine.
4. Forget the books and just settle down with a glass of wine.

Gardening

Clearing the garden path is very easy – all you need is a sibling (or some other family member), some weed killer and a few black bin bags.
1. Persuade your sibling/other family member that your arthritis is really playing you up – limp heavily and often – and say in a pathetic voice that you wish you could bend to clear the garden path (this is actually a downright lie, but needs must…).
2. Sibling/other family member will get so fed up of your pathetic whining that he/she will ask where the weed killer is, which he/she will then spray liberally over the said weeds.
3. You, meanwhile, will be tasked with the dangerous job of keeping the cat indoors, which is best done with a good book and a glass of wine (or was that the World Cup? So easy to get confused.).
4. Once the weeds have been sprayed, sibling/other family member will cover the area with black bin liners, stating that they will remain in place for the foreseeable future because they will block the sun, thus discouraging the weeds from daring to show their faces ever again. You accept this as the absolute truth because you have imbibed so much wine that you no longer care that the garden path now looks like the aftermath of a rock festival, bin liners fluttering gently in the breeze, held down by an assortment of garden items ranging from garden chairs to rotting plastic watering cans, and part of a hydraulic jack which has been a feature of the garden since you moved in and which you haven’t thrown away because you’re sure you can make it a ‘proper’ garden feature, maybe even a postmodern water feature, with a gentle stream of water trickling softly over the side. Or maybe just wait for it to rain …
And there you have it – football and gardening sorted, providing you have a good book, a sibling/other family member, weed killer, bin liners, a cat and, of course, a plentiful supply of wine …
I will finish by saying that I may adopt an ancient Roman habit of those in high places – to employ a slave to whisper in your ear that you are only human. (The slave should also be able to pour a glass of wine without spilling a drop…)
Sleep well, adoring acolytes!

Possible Career Change

What could I do?

I have been considering a career change.
I have thought about:
1. being an actress. I believe that my forte would be in the adverts you see on afternoon television and so I have been practising getting up out of my armchair and walking across the room with a fixed smile on my face to show how pleased I am with my levitating armchair; however, I worry that the mechanism might go wrong and I would be flung across the room, so I have also been practising my mournful face for those adverts for specialist lawyers – injuries4u, I think, which always sounds vaguely threatening, as if they are going to send ‘the boys’ round to make sure you DO have an injury which will necessitate you employing them.
2. advising on horticulture and conservation. My garden is a haven for wildlife and would shelter anything from a baby elephant downwards. I like to think that I am helping to save bees and butterflies at this time of year, because they love dandelions for their early spring nectar after a long winter. The long grass is also an excellent place for Molly, my lucky black cat, to hone her hunting skills. So far she has caught three dead leaves, a broken peg and several particularly savage pieces of very long grass. She’s coming on a treat.


3. becoming a film critic. I’m sure you’ll have read some of my film reviews in earlier posts – incisive, apt, truthful, all designed to help you decide whether or not you want to see a film. However, I have decided against this job after listening to the BFG (Bazza the Friendly Geordie, mentioned in a previous post) when we had been to see a particularly unpleasant – but fascinating, nevertheless – French film called ‘Elle’. (We needed a reviving bottle of wine after that one, I can tell you!) I couldn’t better this review: ‘The violence was very violent.’ It says it all.
calculator4. becoming a professional fraudster, even though I’m not from Nigeria. This results from a successful impersonation of DOT (Dai of Turkey) when his bank called about some possible fraudulent activity on his debit card. The call was an automated one and required a return call to an anonymous automaton who simply asked me to press certain buttons in answer to a range of questions. After acquiring the necessary details from DOT, I was able to satisfy the automaton that I was my brother and that the transactions were genuine. I now have all the details I need for further activity on DOT’s debit card…
5. becoming a wine critic. This came under consideration for all of a Nano-second, for how could I criticise something so close to my heart… unless it has a two-word name, such as Blossom Leaves or Turning Hill, and is from California (these wines do not exist, to the best of my knowledge, although there may be wines with similar names, but I don’t want to get hit with a libel charge and have to employ some dodgy television lawyers).
6. being employed to shut people up. There is almost nothing more guaranteed to engage someone else’s interest than to sit reading a book in a pub, as I found out earlier (and on many previous occasions). The conversation will go something like this:
Bloke: Good book?
You: Yes, very good.
B: You like reading, then?
Y (vaguely sarcastically): When I can, yes.
B: Lot of pages.
Avoid the temptation at this point to say that that’s the trouble with books – they have lots of pages.
B: What’s it called?
Y: Dictator.
B: What’s it about?
Y: Cicero, the roman philosopher and orator.
Complete and utter silence…

(I’d just like to say that the book really IS fascinating. It’s by Robert Harris and is well worth reading [as are all his novels] – history made into a good story.)

Enjoy the rest of this sunny weekend before we return to arctic conditions next week.

Animal Crackers

Malcolm

Malcolm

In light of the sad demise of Malcolm-the-strangely-named-cat-from-Australia, I felt that the Lifestyle Support Guru needed to shine a little beacon of light and fluffiness into your lives – that is my reason for existing, of course, so I wish to tell you a story of another cat from faraway places. I make no apologies to the non-cat-lovers among you, since I hope you will find this tale sadly amusing (or amusingly sad) as well.
Strangely enough, this other cat, like Malcolm, was ‘bequeathed’ to me by my youngest sibling, known as TOFU (Trefor OF ‘Ull), when he returned from a lengthy stay in South Africa and brought Tubs, a semi-long-haired ball of black fluff and a loud voice, back with him. I make no comment on the names that TOFU chooses for his cats – I simply put it down to some defect suffered at birth – but it did make for interesting looks at the vet’s when they would call out ‘Tubs?’ and I stood up.

Tubs lived a long and happy life as the only black South African in my neck of the woods in Derby, until he took to his sick bed. Late one Sunday evening it was obvious that he was distressed, so I wrapped him in a blanket and lay next to him downstairs to keep him company until I could get him to the vet the next day (yes, for any non-animal-lovers, the LSG has human feelings too); however, at about 3 am he got worse and he suddenly died. Take it from me that there is very little one can do with a dead cat at 3 o’clock on a Monday morning, so I took myself off to bed and rang TOFU early the next morning to tell him the sad news. TOFU said he would come down from ‘Ull that evening and help me dispose of the body.
The next morning, I had French A Level oral exams to do, so I took myself off to work, finding out later that my A Level students thought my haggard face denoted a sleepless night worrying about the exams rather than a nearly-sleepless night worrying about a dead cat. Luckily, the orals went well (the students got the good grades they deserved) and I girded up my loins to go home after school and face the walk into a house with a dead cat wrapped in a blanket lying in the back room.
TOFU arrived not long afterwards and looked only mildly surprised to find Tubs lying in the back room, merely asking why I hadn’t put him out in the garden rather than leaving him in the house. ‘But it’s been raining,’ I replied with perfect logic, or so it seemed to me. My brains may have been a little addled by now, through tiredness, exams and, probably, a low-ability Year 9 French class.

Anyway, the rain having stopped, TOFU dug a deep hole in the flowerbed into which we put desert-1618926_1280Tubs with all due ceremony. TOFU explained that the hole needed to be deep so that any subsequent owners of the house wouldn’t come across a pile of bones should they decide to replant the flowerbed. I have to say that the plant that marks the spot goes from strength to strength (which is not something you can say about most of the other plants in my garden, although the dandelions seem to do rather well). And then we went off to the pub to drink Tubs’s health.

This morning, I rang TOFU to tell him of Malcolm’s trip to that great scratching post in the sky. I later got a text asking what had been done with his body and I replied that he had been cremated and I assumed that he didn’t want the ashes back in a tasteful little urn to adorn the mantelpiece. ‘Thank goodness,’ came the reply. ‘I’m still traumatised by the memory of burying Tubs and was worried you’d want to do the same for Malcolm.’ And on that note, I shall pour a glass in honour of Malcolm, saying only that I shall miss him following me to the bathroom in the morning or lying across my neck when I’m having my afternoon siesta.
Enjoy using those long claws in Cat Paradise, Malcolm – you’ve earned it!

Good Neighbour Bad Neighbour

Being a Good Neighbour
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru. Tonight I wish to offer some useful advice on how to be a BAD neighbour or a GOOD neighbour. I have recently ‘acquired’ a new neighbour and I have learned rapidly from this experience just exactly what constitutes a BAD neighbour and felt that you may benefit from my advice so that you can be a GOOD neighbour.

Bad neighbour

Bad neighbour

To be a BAD neighbour, you must:
1. be blonde, slim and athletic-looking and wear fitted clothing that shows off your figure to advantage. This will ensure that your GOOD neighbour feels totally inadequate.
2. have cleared your garden of all weeds and long grass, installed a nice wooden garden bench, put up a new clothes line and scrubbed the wall at the bottom of the garden of its coat of peeling paint, all within the space of a few days. Again, this will create great feelings of inadequacy in your GOOD neighbour.
3. have a housewarming party which is not too noisy and finishes at 10.30 pm, so that the GOOD neighbour feels guilty for wondering at what time she will be able to complain to the police.
4. fill your bin (which is about four feet high) to overflowing with black bin liners, then, in one bound, leap athletically and lithely on top of the aforementioned bin liners and jump up and down on them in a graceful manner to make sure they fit in the bin. This should be done when the GOOD neighbour has just returned from a hard morning’s shopping and is loaded down with purchases; by now the GOOD neighbour will be contemplating moving to find a more congenial neighbour.
5. enjoy the early evening warmth by sitting on the garden bench with an attractive man and sip delicately from a bottle of water rather than the glass of wine which the GOOD neighbour is contemplating whilst looking up house prices in a more downmarket area.
To be a GOOD neighbour, you must:

Wild Life Friendly Garden

Wild Life Friendly Garden

1. be overweight, wear loose clothing as a disguise and have greying hair. In this way, you create no feelings of insecurity in any other neighbours.
2. maintain what is known as a ‘wildlife garden’, ensuring that there are plenty of flowering weeds which are, apparently, attractive to bees. Thus, you are helping the environment.
3. have no parties because you do not wish to disturb your neighbours (and it would mean cleaning and tidying up and the cats don’t like parties, anyway).
4. only leap up and down (athletically or otherwise) when you tread on one of the cats or the drawing pin you forgot to pick up several days ago.
5. enjoy the early evening warmth by going out to the pub where, as far as you know, they don’t sell water. Thus, you are helping the local economy.
You will have gathered from this that being a GOOD neighbour is far less tiring and requires much less effort than being a BAD neighbour. In addition, you are saving energy environmentally because less electricity will be used if you are in the pub rather than sitting at home; added to this, you will also have had some physical exercise because you walked to the pub, although probably not quite as much exercise as jumping up and down in a bin, but with a far more enjoyable outcome.
And now let’s finish with a short chorus of: “Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…”

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Happy

bokeh images

Happy lightness

A very good evening to all my followers! As winter draws (and drawers) ever nearer, I felt you might need some help and encouragement in seeing your way through these cold, dark nights. I have previously written about looking at the positive side of things, but I now have some further support to offer, having had some experience this week of looking on the bright side of life (hmm, that could be good title for a song…). Much of this advice is particularly pertinent to those of you who wear glasses or contact lenses – and for those of you who don’t, believe me – it will happen at some point!

sun glasses

sun glasses

You will need to visit your local, friendly optician for an eye test (free for those of us over a certain age) and casually drop into the conversation that you will be going to Africa in the near future so you wonder if you should get a pair of varifocals with light-reactive lenses, because it’s bound to be sunny and at the moment you only have a pair of boring, non-light-reactive bifocals (again, age will bring these delights for those of you who don’t need them just yet) which you wear as little as possible.
You think this might be a sensible (but expensive) idea in case you get some grit in your eye whilst on safari or lying on a sandy beach on Zanzibar (your local, friendly optician may start to look annoyed at this point) and have to remove your lenses and wear glasses instead. You explain that a few weeks ago you had to wear your glasses for longer than usual AND out in public (a rare occurrence) and it happened to be a sunny day (you may recall that day – August 17th, if my memory serves me well), so the only solution was to wear a pair of plain sunglasses on top of the ‘ordinary’ glasses. Now, while the Lifestyle Support Guru can get away with such a look, it is not something that ordinary mortals should cultivate because people will look at you in an odd fashion.

old shoe

old shoe

Your local, friendly optician, realising that you have already spent a fortune on the forthcoming trip to Africa (threadbare clothes, shoes with no soles, that sort of thing), will suggest a much cheaper option of daily contact lenses to take with you (I think he was still trying to picture the LSG driving around wearing sunglasses on top of ordinary glasses), which you agree sounds much more acceptable – and probably less frightening for those one might meet on one’s travels!
Your local, friendly optician then asks if you have any other questions and you mention that you have seen a product which might relieve your ‘dry eye’ problem (which is a bit misleading because ‘dry eye’ actually makes your eyes water!), which is an eye mask that is heated in the microwave before placing it over the eyes for 5-10 minutes. He agrees that this might be helpful and this is where the ‘looking on the bright side’ comes in – instead of feeling sad that you are getting older and things are starting to fall apart, you can feel happy because you now have an excuse to go back to bed for 10 minutes because you need to lie down in a darkened room twice a day!

woman lying on bed for rest

Lying down for 10 minutes

And the other experiences of looking on the positive side? An acquaintance offers earlier in the week to come round on Saturday morning to discuss possible plans for your garden (I use that term loosely), but you realise that you’d rather go and see ‘Spectre’ on Saturday, so you seek him out in the pub (where I meet most of my acquaintances) to offer your apologies and arrange another date. However, before you can say, ‘I’m really sorry, but something really urgent has come up tomorrow morning, so could we postpone the garden inspection?’, the acquaintance apologises profusely for not coming around THIS morning! ‘No problem!’ you reply sweetly, ‘We’ll rearrange it for another time. I can’t do tomorrow, though.’
And, finally, that ‘bright side’ moment when you realise you are up there with the ‘big players’. You have finally filled in your Tax Return (this is not a BIG Tax Return, believe me) after putting it off for months and you give details of the interest earned on your current account – a MASSIVE 13 pence! I think that’s probably more than Starbucks, Amazon and Google have paid put together, so I think George Osborne should be really grateful!

Always look on the bright side of life, dadah, dadadadadadah…
Enjoy your weekend, devoted acolytes!