When Only One Word Will Do

I’m sure you know what it’s like – when only one word will do?

As a writer and author I’m supposed to have a whole dictionary of words at my disposal and in honesty I do – but do I use them? I do not.

I don’t flimy-flam (beat around the bush) I call a spade a spade. However, when my eleven-year-old grandson stood in my craft shed the other day, looking at the old, battered filing cabinet, and asked, ‘Grandma, why does it say crap on that drawer?’ I had only one answer, ‘because that’s what’s in it Jake, crap!’

He grinned a little (he thinks I’m a rebel) and opened the drawer.

Jake is a great ‘collector’ of things. Many, varied things. He collects coins, ‘interesting’ stones, pieces of wood, all sizes, all shapes, bits of metal, nuts, bolts, washers etc. I adore him. So this led to a rummage through the ‘crap’ drawer where he found this and that and rescued them for his ‘collection’. His father (my son) wrings his hands and exhales deeply when Jake goes home after a stay, and with great exasperation moans, ‘Oh noooooo, what have you got now? Do you really need all that rubbish?’

I’m tempted to tell my son that it isn’t called rubbish, it’s called crap. I think Jake has the same temptation but he’s a good boy and what happens at Gran’s stays at Gran’s. We are partners in crime and all things private, naughty and silly. I think Jake may become an archaeologist, or have a dusty shop where he sits with spectacles perched on the end of his nose reading one of his ‘must have’ books. Did I mention that he has hundreds of books already?

I think he may get some of this from me.

I mean, does anyone really need 10 wooden spoons, 3 shelves of Tupperware (I say Tupperware but it’s the equivalent) 6 doo-dahs of cling film, ditto foil. 500 padded envelopes, card of every colour, 6 gardening hand-forks etc. etc. I simply ‘like’ these things and in my opinion you can never have too many plastic containers with clippy lids – ever.

Another thing that is simply beyond me is this . . . I can’t plant two seeds together (like Monty Don does) and then discard the weaker. Nooooooooo! It should be illegal. How can anyone pull out a seedling and throw it away. I have to save everything. And I find it quite difficult pruning shrubs without shoving a dozen pieces into a plant pot to see if they root. This could be why my garden looks like the Amazon jungle?

Talking of having more of something than you need, I have a million tadpoles in the pond right now. When our only remaining fish went to fishy heaven, last year, we removed the filtration and U.V etc. and decided that it would be a wildlife pond. It could do its own thing and I would NOT fish out duckweed, fallen leaves etc. but leave it to its own devices. This is why the water, at the moment, is pea soup green and we have a million tadpoles and a thousand baby water snails. When we had the fish they would have polished off a few hundred tadpoles but right now they have no predators, other than a blackbird that I saw standing at the edge of the pond plucking them from the water.

Monty (that man again!) said you should place rotting logs in a wildlife pond and so I did. Yesterday I decided that the pond could take one more – just a small one – see, I even have too many logs in the pond! I turned my back after placing the log in the water and when I turned back a shoal (is that right – a shoal of tadpoles?) whatever – a shoal of tadpoles were having a feeding frenzy sucking-up the green algae off the wood. They remained doing this forever so I put another piece of green wood in and ditto – more arrived and pigged-out until the algae was no more.

Some might say that I have too much time on my hands. I disagree. I’m doing what pleases me. See, I am a rebel.

Anyway, I’m off to count my Tupperware and throw another log in the pond. I should clean the house (probably) but then again, why would I want to do that crap?

I’ve posted a very short video of the feeding tadpoles on my F.B. page if you want to take a look. I couldn’t post it here.    https://www.facebook.com/gail.orbell



Not So Much A Lonely Little Petunia In An Onion Patch!

As many of you know, I am a creature of simple pleasures. My days, other than those of late (which sadly have been filled with semi blindness and constant migraines) are filled with poo-picking chickens, chatting to myself in the garden and writing – albeit, most days, mainly nonsense.

These simple things please, entertain, and basically keep me happy and grounded. However, I do have to admit that I have recently found these pleasures challenging. All of them . . .

Chea has decided to use the onion bed (beautifully raked and as fine as sand) for a giant litter tray. This doesn’t worry me too much as I don’t really eat onions. I grow them for Richard.

The first morning after planting I wandered out to find two onions dug up, four little saucer-shaped indents and a heap of soil. At least she had the good grace to cover it up. The second morning I wandered out to find three onions dug up, five little saucer-shaped indents and two heaps of soil. On both occasions I swore, threatened to send her back to the RSPCA and re planted the onions.

I took great delight in finding a lovely variety of runner bean in the week. I rushed them home and planted them up into larger pots immediately. Two nights later a frost settled over the garden, crept into the greenhouse and killed them stone dead. It also took out the tomato plants. I was not happy and even breathed warm breath on their little shrivelled leaves in the hope that I could resurrect them. No good. I think they are goners.

Again - aww!
Again – Aww!

And re the writing? Well, I haven’t done any. I’ve been waiting for the Bucket Head paperback to show up. There was a technical hitch –  and you all know how I am with technology, let alone hitches. It’s available in my shop.  http://readaloudstorybooks.com/books/ I mentioned last time that I was going to tell you how Bucket Head came about.

One Saturday, when the grandchildren were here we decided to make a scarecrow. It all went swimmingly well until we came to his head. We turned the potting shed upside down but we couldn’t find anything suitable . . .and then we found a bucket. So we used that. And Bucket Head the scarecrow was born.

The real Bucket Head
The real Bucket Head

He still stands in the garden now. He’s a tough little guy. The frost didn’t upset him one little bit. I DO mean Bucket Head still stands in the garden now and not my super-duper grandson Jake – just how cruel do you think I am?

Take care x

A Tough Old Bird For Christmas Lunch?



I’d like to wish all readers of this blog a Merry Christmas.

And not only that.

I’d also like to wish you peace, health, and the company – or precious memories – of loved ones.

We will be having a gentle and quiet Christmas Day. There won’t be mass excitement and the sound of ripping wrapping as dozens of gifts are exposed. As usual we can’t think of a thing to buy each other – though Richard did sneak in with red roses and a Christmas card for me last night. Sweet, but I think he was trying to regain lost ground from the weekend when we had a blazing row about precious nothing.

Many of our ‘rows’ take place in the car, usually on the way to the supermarket. Normally, he doesn’t have to suffer food shopping but since that pile of crap that sits on the drive, spewing oil everywhere, has given up the ghost, I have no car until he comes home from work.

At least we kept the argument festive, bawling at each other over the sounds of We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Silent Night Holy Night playing on the radio. But, I digress.

We will have Richard’s mother, Betty, for Christmas lunch – not literally, obviously, she’s far too tough for that and besides, I’m a vegetarian.

Richard will take her home late afternoon and I’ll have the chucks out for a bit and give them their Christmas treat – access to the vegetable plot so that they can murder a few bugs and things and Chea will join me, no doubt. Flight (grey chuck) has decided that she is in no way afraid of Chea and now attempts to spear her with her beak at every possible occasion. Have you ever smacked a chicken for being bossy?

After this we will watch TV and eat stuff and I’ll try to stay awake long enough to watch Downton Abbey in the evening.

If I make this sound sad, or boring, or nothing special then forgive me. Of course it’s special. It just isn’t going to be rip-roaring. I’m not going to look round and see Mum basting the turkey, or Dad throwing another log on the fire. I won’t see my son, excited and giggling, opening his presents. Mum and Dad are Christmassing with the angels and Matt will be with his own children watching them opening their presents.

All things pass.

I know this – now.

I just wish I’d been more aware of it at the time.

But we aren’t, are we? We think these things will go on for ever. They don’t.

Sod it . . . I’m drifting into morbidity here and I truly don’t mean to. In fact . . .

Our rip-roaring Christmas Day will be delayed by one day until Boxing Day when Matt will bring the kiddies over and the walls of the house will shake and vibrate with the sounds of excited grandchildren opening their gifts.

Chea will flee for the quiet sanctuary of garden and not return until they have left. They hurt her eardrums.

They will leave after lunch. Chea will return. Richard will vac the house and fill the bins with discarded wrapping paper and then we will er . . . settle in front of the TV, eat stuff and possibly find some small thing to argue about. We really like to keep things normal – even at Christmas. Actually, thinking about it, Richard will be zonked-out after the grandchildren so it may well be a silent night?

And for those of you who think I’m horrid to him I’ll just say that I am secretly negotiating for a Land Rover expert to pop round and put the pile of crap back together for him at great expense. He, Richard, has done his normal trick and given up – though he swears he hasn’t and ‘will have another go at it when the weather is drier,’ so I figure that would be a nice Christmas present. It’s the only thing he needs, and let’s face it, the sooner the heap is back on the road the sooner I can have the car back and the sooner I can shop alone, and that will reduce the arguments to the house only? So a win win situation?

Right, I’m off to do something.santa

Take care, stay safe, and a Merry Christmas my friends. xxx

Scuttling Little Things, Loo Rolls, And A Rocking Horse!

Hi All

I’ve got a cold! A sneezy, snotty thing. I can’t believe it. I never get colds, and yet here I am running the second infection in a month.

I blame it on Richard. He always has some bug circulating. Something that one of his co-workers has happily shared.

Or, it could be the delightful grandchildren. They had a sleepover last weekend and little Jake was sneezing all over the place. We tried to convince ourselves it was a touch of hay fever, but I’m beginning to wonder.

Richard suggests I picked it up from the handle of a shopping trolley. What he knows about shopping trolleys he’ll soon forget. He prefers to take a hand basket. Plenty of room in one of those for two packets of Doritos, three bars of chocolate, and a pork pie.

Actually, I’m being rather nice to him lately and I’m . . . oh ‘eck, I don’t know how to say this . . . I’m making him sandwiches every day to take to work, and I’m packing them neatly in a lovely little Tupperware box with an apple, five small home-grown tomatoes and a penguin bar. This is just another indication and proof, if proof were needed, that I’ve lost the plot. And . . . I have a meal waiting for him every day, at three o’clock when he comes home.

I’ve really blown it now. There goes my image. What can I say?

Back to the grandchildren. When we arranged the sleepover my son asked me something that chilled me to the bone. He said the words and I froze, mobile clasped to my ear, eyes wide, brain frantic. He said, ‘Er . . . Mum . . .’

This wasn’t good – but it wasn’t the frozen, mobile clasped to my ear, eyes wide, and brain frantic bit. No, that followed.

‘Er . . . Mum . . . I was wondering if, when we are away for a few days, you could look after the gerbils.’

See? How frigging scary is that?

Eventually I came out of my stupor and stammered, ‘Look after the gerbils? Look after the gerbils? ARE YOU MAD? Chea will EAT them!’

I lost the argument and Sunday saw the changeover. The two grandchildren left and the two gerbils arrived. At least, the cage arrived, the gerbils had dug a tunnel down into the depths of the shavings and at this point were nowhere to be spied.

Grace went into near hysteria, crying, and sobbing that she was really going to miss them and I had to pretend that they were going to have a lovely time with ‘granny’ looking after them. That was if ‘granny’ could figure out how to work the doors on the maze of a cage, but I didn’t tell her that bit. We couldn’t console her and she left sobbing. I knew how she felt.

See, I have this thing that gerbils are a bit like mice – rats – and scuttling little things like that. I prefer animals that you can see and that don’t scuttle!

Richard left the whole thing to me, obviously, so come Monday morning I risked putting my hand in the cage to give them fresh water and food. I’d had my instructions . . . throw away the leftover food every day and give them fresh food along with fresh water. As if I didn’t know! And give them an empty toilet roll inner to munch. Er . . . OK.

The food and water are no problem but poor Richard can’t poo fast enough to use up the loo roll and provide the gerbils with the empty inner.

Anyway, long story short. They are safely imprisoned in the front bedroom, safe from Chea, and are having a lovely time scattering shavings and little black poo fragments all over the bookcase and my paperbacks.

I pop in frequently and have a chat with them and I have become extremely attached to the sweet little things. I said to Richard how impressed I am with them and that it might be nice to have some of my own. Richard simply looked at me.

I’m going to slip a bit of Ex-Lax chocolate into his sandwiches tomorrow because the little darlings have just munched through the last toilet roll thingy.

And now . . . the other news. I have just released the children’s book – no, it isn’t titled ‘How to Make Your Granddaughter Cry by Nicking Her Gerbils’ – it’s titled ‘Prince Regal and the Forgotten Friends.’ To ‘celebrate’ its release I am holding a competition. It doesn’t close until 5th January 2016 so plenty of time to pop the book in a Christmas stocking, read it and enter. See what I did there?  Not going to drivel on about it but I will add the link http://jennieorbell.com/  and then, if you like, you can click it and pop and have a look . . . no pressure!

OK, I’m off to play with the gerbils . . . Take care my lovelies x

Pricks … Jam … And Nuts In My Bra!

Not been around for a while. I’ve been lost in the darkest, deepest depths of my garden. That is, until the secateurs were taken in hand and used to clip, cut-back and chop away anything that broke boundaries.

I blame this, to a certain extent, on my OCD tendencies.  Do you know what I mean? All tins have to be facing the same way in the cupboard, anything square has to be placed exactly squarely, blinds have to hang dead level …I won’t go on.

So, when broccoli leaves brown at the base they have to go. When the manic gooseberry bushes have had their precious fruit picked, straggly bits have to be chopped back so that they look balanced, and I can’t cope with plants that ‘overlap’ into each other, either. Everything has a right to its own ‘space’ in my opinion. However, I digress. . .

Regarding the blackcurrants.

This year I had the help (?) of my two grandchildren. Schools out and so they came to spend the day and help me (?) in the garden. First on the list was the picking of the blackcurrants. It didn’t matter how many their little fingers dropped on the ground because the bushes were weighed down to the ground with them – blackcurrants not little fingers!

It took a good ninety minutes to pick them (taking time out to apply plasters to thorn pricks as the ‘littles’ became side-tracked into picking and eating gooseberries), but eventually we toggled back to the house with our harvest. I had to carry all the bowls, obviously, because the killer chucks were patrolling and anything that resembles food, treats etc. turns them instantly into velociraptors on the hunt. I, of course, understand this and so do Jake and Grace and cling to me like second and third skins.

Then followed another hour of washing the fruit, and flooding out the kitchen, and dropping blackcurrants that became squashed beneath bare toes. The work surface resembled an approaching tsunami at one stage. Eventually I stopped moaning at them and settled with the thought that, like usual, I would put the house back to normal after they had gone. ‘Cos this was fun, wasn’t it? Doing cool, big-person stuff with Grandma Gail? Yeah – whatever.

There was no way I could actually make the jam with the kiddies there, way too dangerous, so we left the washed blackcurrants in bowls and went off to ‘mini monster hunt’ in the garden. This necessitated using my lovely plastic containers (with lids) so that the ‘monsters’ couldn’t escape. I did question if we would be releasing these creatures afterwards and Jake assured me that we would. As it turned out they were too scared to turn over logs and bricks, and I refused to, on the grounds that I didn’t think we should be catching ‘monsters’ in the first place, so the game only produced one woodlouse and a sick looking slug. But they had fun…

The following morning, and still slightly hung over from child minding two very loud little people, I set about making the jam.

There was so much fruit that I had to use both jam pans, but that was fine, I’m a woman, I can do two things at once!

Pan one bubbled nicely.

Pan two bubbled nicely.

Thermometer was held precariously in pan one for a while, until it confirmed that the temperature was perfect and that the jam would set. Off went pan one.

Thermometer was held precariously in pan two, and ditto, done and ready.

As I removed the thermometer I noticed that it looked slightly odd. Scowling, I realised that the sodding thing had broken …in the jam …in pan two. At least, I thought it was in pan two. Did it matter? Really? There was only a bit of glass missing. Just the bulby bit. And Richard had scoffed soup with the bouquet garni paper bag left on, and absent-mindedly blended in, if you remember? And perhaps I could sieve it? Turn it into blackcurrant jelly? Give it to people I didn’t really like …mind I’d have to have a bloody lot of jam! I’m joking. Sort of. The decision was taken out of my hands as, at that precise moment of indecision, Richard walked in.

I won’t say we argued the point but the jam was outta there and tipped down the drain before I could draw breath. So …20lbs of jam ditched, pronto. I still have far more than I need, cos that’s me, the great ‘hunter-gatherer.’ The birds and insects can have the remaining blackcurrants … and the gooseberries …and the raspberries.

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly accident prone but since smashing the thermometer (I   now realise it was my fault because I’d clipped it on the side of the smaller jam pan and it had hit the bottom) I have trapped my hand in the ironing board, dropped the iron on my heel and opened-up the side of my finger picking gooseberries.

And …this morning, the piece de resistance!

Mrs OCD wanted the newly purchased cereal boxes placing neatly on the top shelf of the cupboard. Straightforward enough? Yeah, except, like a big-bottomed girl the bag of Crunchy Oat Granola – with raisins and almonds – had settled, and I couldn’t get all the boxes in so I reached up, lifted out the bag, turned it upside down, so that the contents would settle in a level manner, and some idiot hadn’t closed it. Before I could do anything about it half a packet of muesli showered down on my head, all over the floor, in the toaster, on every shelf, and down my shirt. I uttered, ‘shit,’ – a bigger word, and said with more force, would have resulted in me choking on the stuff. Even little Chea removed her face from her feed bowl and came to have a look at the lovely new flooring. I actually had to free my … er…breasts from my bra and shake the wheat out of it, to say nothing of the nuts and raisins.

I was bloody annoyed because, for one thing, I had no intention of vacuuming today!

So, I guess it is official. I’m OCD and accident prone. Never mind, it could be worse. I could be insane. It’s these little things that we have to be grateful for…


Take care my lovelies x

The Games People Play …Eventually!

Hi All

To be honest, I don’t think I ever ‘pencilled in’ grandchildren as a possibility in my life. Don’t ask me why, I just didn’t. Maybe I thought that I would always be too young to have grandchildren? Yeah, well that moment has passed by on a fast bike – so here I am about to ‘mention’ them – grandchildren that is, not fast bikes.

Something else that I never thought I would do is play ‘games.’ I don’t mean monopoly or leapfrog or stuff like that, been there and done that, no, I mean games that you play on a tablet. In my opinion they are as time-wasting and pointless as anything else that I find time-wasting and pointless but …and this is where I link to the grandchildren…

Grace, 3, whose first words on entering granny’s house are, ‘Can I take my clothes off?’ (weird even by my standards) had a tablet for Christmas and insisted that I had a go at Panda Pop. Panda frigging Pop, I ask you. This caused great shrieks of fun and barely hidden scorn as grandma couldn’t pop a panda, and this was on level 8 after Grace had achieved all previous levels!

Soooo, Richard suggested that he put Panda Pop on his tablet and then grandma could practise in the week and show Grace how much she’d improved by the next time she came over. Big deal. Later that evening – in the middle of me ridiculing someone on The Voice – Richard passed his tablet to me and said, ‘Well go on then, get practising, Grace will expect you to be at least on level 10 by next weekend.’

Cheeky sod. Even I could do better than that. Do you see what he did there? He threw down a subliminal challenge, knowing that I am one of the most competitive people alive.

Long story short …I found myself addicted and merrily and greedily set about releasing all the dear, sweet little pandas from their prison bubbles, until …level 89. Then I got stuck …for 2 days.

Fortunately, Jake and Grace were due over last weekend so I explained to Jake that I couldn’t achieve level 89 and he set about helping me. It took him a few goes but he did it by storing up all the thingamabobs that you aim (haven’t quite mastered the lingo yet) and blasting the whole thing.

I cannot describe to you the look on his little face. It was one of those moments that you would like to capture in a bottle and to keep for all time. Priceless. The pride he oozed was almost palpable.

I have now trotted on from level 89 and I’m on level 112. I say this with a huge degree of embarrassment because I really do think these things are a waste of time, but hey-ho, until someone deems otherwise I actually do have the time to waste. If only I wasn’t so sodding competitive. Mind, I am a Scorpio, so our boredom levels are pretty low. Next week it could be something else.

I’m not sure how Jake and Grace view me. I think it’s a mixture of mad and fun. But then, most people view me that way …if you remove the fun bit.

I guess telling them that Little and Flight (chucks) have started laying cream eggs didn’t help. Grace’s eyes were as big as saucers as she said, ‘Really, Grandma, wow?’ Jake took a split second before he rolled his eyes and said, ‘Not really, Grace. It’s a trick, isn’t it Grandma?’

I wasn’t prepared to say one way or the other so I just winked. These children believe in Santa and The Tooth Fairy, so why not chucks that lay cream eggs.

Of course, Richard had to breeze up and say, ‘Blimey, I bet the silver paper hurt their bums when they laid those.’

Silly Richard.

Anyway, time and tide and all that. Must dash. I need to blitz level 113…or not!

Take care my lovelies2015-01-24 08.34.06

I Only Ever Wanted To Be A Cowgirl!

Hi All

It’s been a while since I blogged – probably 4 weeks or slightly more. However, I did say back then that I was taking a bit of time off after finishing my latest novel (Witch Ever Way You Look At It) to pursue something else, so that is half of the reason.

The other half of the reason is that I have been so angry and generally peed off by the attitude of certain people over the last fortnight that if I wrote anything it would end up being a pure and evil rant and someone would probably die through sheer ether venom. So, having pulled on my hat of calm, and grown-up-person status, I am here to calmly go where I have calmly gone before. Kind of…

Christmas is just around the corner and the grand children have already been over bearing their ‘Grandma and Granddad’ cards. I, on the other hand, haven’t yet purchased theirs. I also haven’t stuck the marzipan on the cake, but I have fed it regularly with Sherry, so that’s something. At least the dear thing is waiting patiently in the cupboard, swaying happily and humming rude pirate-type ditties. I might dig out the block of almond paste that I spied the other day, at the back of a cupboard, and slap it on. I’m sure it’s out of date – the paste not the cupboard – but then so were the flaked and ground almonds if you remember (previous blog) but only by a year or so…

I think I like Christmas – but I also think that I’ve liked it more than I do today. My parents are no longer here and so that is a massive loss at this time of year. It’s hard not to drift back to ‘family Christmases,’ when we were all young and when the excitement of Santa coming was almost uncontrollable. I’m not sure if I ever quite accepted, in an easy manner, the idea of a strange man entering my bedroom whilst I slept? I might view this differently now?

Back then the man in the red suit never failed to bring to me my heart’s desires. I think I was an easy child to please, in all honestly, and I remember one of my ‘greatest’ gifts was a cowgirl outfit. I opened my eyes one Christmas morning and there it was, hanging on the wardrobe door, beige imitation leather and tassels so long that they touched the floor.

From this point onward I became Calamity Jane, roping and riding my brother, sitting on his back as he struggled round on hands and knees, rearing up and down, trying to shake me off. Like that was ever going to happen! Obviously, the ‘outfit’ didn’t come with ‘tack’ for my horse (brother) so I had to compromise and came up with my dressing gown belt which I made my brother put in his mouth, like a bit, so that I could steer him. It all worked swimmingly, until my stupid brother turned the wrong way and a quick snatch of the belt, to correct him, removed his molar. Mum wasn’t too impressed but I do think my brother over-egged the pudding a bit. The tooth was out in a flash and it didn’t bleed much. I went on from that point to be a tomboy and lived up to the name …having one calamity after the other.

I also remember, back then, having pork pie for breakfast. Is this real? Did, and do, people still do that? And Christmas cake with royal icing, so hard that it could have supported foundations and gave you something to grate your teeth on all the way through the Queen’s speech and beyond. I don’t think many people use royal icing these days? Don’t we all use the softer fondant type? And we always had sherry trifle for tea, which was jolly fun – and seemed like even more jolly fun on the second helping than the first.

And dear Mum – cooking her little socks off for us all. And Dad, working hard to give his children Christmases to remember – and not just because of the gifts, but because of the love and family time we shared. As I say, I miss those Christmases.

But there is still joy. In comes in the form of the grandchildren. Small people loving the excitement and the expectation of Christmas. On their last visit they posed for pics’ in front of the Christmas tree. Jake sang hymns and carols that he had learnt at school and Grace performed her ‘ballerina’ moves that she had learnt at nursery.Her pirouette needs a little more work but she’s getting there  – and she is only 3. I don’t want this to make you think that Grace is a pink girlie-type – though she does rather like pink. No, I think Grace could well be asking for a cowgirl outfit next year. And as luck would have it Jake is at that age where his ‘baby’ teeth are queuing up to be shed. Just as well really.061

Take care my lovelies x


Never Stop Topping-Up The Memory Jar…

Hi All

I guess when you get to a certain age your ‘memory’ jar is pretty full, but surprisingly that jar can always accommodate more, and that’s what I’ve been doing over the last ten days – topping up the memory jar.

We attended a wedding in Cornwall ten days ago and the greatest memory retained from this was the memory of laughter. It never stopped. Put the right people together and it’s a done deal. The down-side to this is just how much my ribs ached afterwards, and still do.

I have always had a strong bond with my cousin, Dawn, and when the two of us are together we find the whole world hilarious. And when we can’t laugh at the world we laugh at ourselves. One incident will remain at the top of my memory jar for a long time. If you don’t like toilet humour then read no further.

Yep, thought so, you’re still reading!

During the reception I needed to leave the hotel and go back to the car to find some flatter shoes. Everyone else seemed to manage on heels (that doesn’t include Richard, obviously) but I couldn’t, and each time I stepped on the grass my heels sunk in and my feet left my shoes behind, which for some reason I found hilarious, but then I’ll laugh at pretty much anything. As we left the hotel, Dawn turned to me and discreetly mumbled, ‘I need a trump.’

I was bloody surprised because I’ve known her for a while and to date she has never shared this sensitive kind of info’ with me. I was looking understandably astounded as we pushed through the door, leading out onto the beautifully landscaped gardens, when Dawn turned to me and announced, ‘I’ve trumped!’

I turned to her, requiring clarification, and said, ‘You’ve trumped?’

Suddenly she wasn’t there. Her legs buckled and she collapsed in a heap on the gravel. One of her shoes winged away into the bushes and she was prostrate on the ground. I (we) laughed so hard that I did exactly the same thing…but without the falling over bit. Her tights were torn and her knee was bleeding – which made us howl – and she couldn’t get up – which made it even funnier.10579222_10204828446254830_587700490_n

Eventually I managed to get her on her feet and we cackled our way to the car, doubled over and hysterical. I’ll tell you something – I have no idea how she managed to pass wind so privately and yet it still managed to blow her off her feet.

Richard came looking for us at one point but he never found us. He said he could hear us hysterically guffawing in the bushes but he couldn’t find the right bush. I don’t think there’s an answer to that?

I must add that at this point neither of us had been on the falling down water. Seemed Dawn didn’t need it.

Another memory was founded at the weekend when Jake and Grace (grand kiddies) came over for the day.  We trotted off down the road and into the fields at the back of the house, where there are dozens of blackberry brambles with ripe, ready-to-pick fruit. They each had a bowl and Grace (3) picked the lower berries and Jake (7) picked the higher. I picked fruit at the next level up and we sent Richard into the brambles to get those that none of us could reach. The sun was shining and all was well with the world. At one point I stood back and watched them, chatting away excitedly about picking as many as they could so that we could make jam. Jake instructing Grace, ‘You need MORE than that, doesn’t she Grandma?’ They were totally absorbed and there wasn’t a PC game or the equivalent in sight. Everything was free – and fun. I shall hold the memory of little blackberry-stained fingers and mouths for many years – possibly always.2014-08-25 12.04.41

Some memories remain when you wish that they wouldn’t. Last night I was tapping away on the old laptop talking to my friend Deb McEwan, (If you fancy reading something poles apart from what I write take a look at Deb’s books…http://www.debbiemcewansbooks.com/) when there was an almighty thud behind me. It sounded like Richard had thrown the sofa across the room.

‘What the eff was that?’ I yelled. (Ladylike as ever, hey?)



More silence.


‘Me,’ he whimpered.

Amazing how such a big bloke can have such a tiny whimper when he’s in the wrong.

‘I tripped…I’ve spilt my wine.’

‘Well you hadn’t better have spilt it on my rug?’ I warned, still tapping away on the PC.

‘I’ve spilt it everywhere,’ he announced, sounding rather too brave and proud of the fact for my liking.

‘What?’ I bellowed, getting up from the computer to discover that the wine he had been carrying was now all up my recently purchased curtains, the wall, the rug, the floorboards and the French doors – and it was his homemade red wine at that!

‘Why are you so bloody stupid?’ I bawled, pointlessly, because I know why he’s so bloody stupid. He practises being stupid on an hourly basis.

‘I got my foot stuck in my trouser hem and tripped,’ he said.

‘Why are you walking around with a glass of wine in your hand anyway?’ I was still shouting, which wasn’t doing my recently acquired sore throat much good. In fact, I truly believe that the sore throat is a leftover from all that laughing at Dawn, a week ago.

‘I was coming to wash the pots,’ he said’


Needless to say, it was me who had to swab the bloody curtains. I’ve told him if they stain he can go and buy some more.

So, another memory.

Well, it takes all kinds, hey?

Take care my lovelies x



And The Most Fun We Had At Granny’s, Was…?

Hi All

I sat down to write this – and then the sun came out. Immediately, I could hear my garden calling to me, “Come… come…come and potter”… and so I did.

I find the call of the April garden impossible to ignore, and besides…I had a mission.

I’d promised the grand children Jake (7) and Grace (almost 3) that I would find a ‘spare’ spot where they could have their own little garden, and so, I found some wood, nails and a hammer, and made a small raised-bed area. Then I made a plaque for the fence and wrote on it, ‘Jake and Grace’s Garden.’2014-04-21 13.33.33

When they arrived for their sleepover I excitedly showed them what I’d prepared. It went down very well.

Jake painted some flowers and a carrot on the plaque and I painted a snail. This of course had Jake in hysterics because it looked like a tortoise with a walnut on its back. And apparently I’d given it two pairs of eyes. We let the plaque dry while we dug over the soil in the raised bed. There were one or two lumpy bits that I managed to recognise as Chea pooh and scooped them up before any harm was done. I threw them over the back fence into the field. Dog walkers use it but I didn’t hear any alarm cries so I don’t think I blindsided anyone.

With the knowledge that Chea would most certainly be back to use their garden as a litter tray, I found a wire frame and laid that on the top. Then all that was needed was the planting up. They each planted a potato and a cabbage plant. Then they set 3 runner beans, and labelled everything up, Jake in charge of the marker pen. The watering was a highlight for them. Grace watered my wellies and Jake watered Grace.

After this we decided to make a swing and put it in the old apple tree. Richard was cajoled into parting with his ‘special’ blue rope and set the task of finding a suitable piece of wood that we could use for a seat. There was a bit of pushing and shoving over who was going to have the first go and the honour went to Grace. Then Jake had a go.2014-04-21 13.39.42

Around tea time Richard set up the small gas BBQ. It was his job to cook the sausages. I prepared the rest of the stuff in the kitchen. Ten minutes into ‘sausage cooking time’ Richard, Grace and Jake traipsed in and announced that the BBQ wasn’t working, so the sausages went into a frying pan. They all toddled off and came back 5 minutes later to say the BBQ WAS now working. The sausages went back up the garden. Ten minutes later, Richard, Grace, Jake and the sausages came back…the BBQ definitely wasn’t working. It appeared that Richard had set it up wrong and melted it! This is the second BBQ that Richard has melted, but fortunately for him little ears were present and so he got off with a withering glare and a mouthed ‘Idiot!’ Richard is a hero…as far as Grace is concerned, and I figure she will have many opportunities, during her life, to have her little bubble burst regarding men and the expectations of the male gender in general? (sorry guys!)

They fell into bed exhausted and happy. I just fell into bed. I was too exhausted to know if I was happy or not! I think I was…but I couldn’t be sure. It’s hard work entertaining ‘little people.’

They didn’t sleep too well and one or the other woke on the hour every hour, so I basically didn’t sleep. At 5.30 I heard their little chatter.

“Let’s go and find grandma,’ Jake said.

“Gan gan?’ Grace said.

“Yes, let’s get pancakes.”

Pancakes? This needed chopping in the bud. No nipping here! Chopping was required! I wasn’t rigging up the Kitchen Aid at 5.30 on a Sunday morning!

“Jake! Grace! Come into me, it’s way too early to get up yet.”

The door creaked open and two sleep-eyed little people stood there. Grace had her rabbit by the ears.

“C’mon, jump in with me for a bit…but be quiet.”

Telling children to be quiet is like telling the dawn not to break. Unfortunately, the new people next door had chosen to move in on the day that Jake and Grace spent with us and they were about to be woken on their first morning (Sunday morning) at 5.30 by screaming children. As they snuggled in I said we would have a game of whispering and that I would tell them a story. This went down quite well, except that the story was rather funny and they bounced up and down on the bed laughing and squealing. I decided to discuss the previous day with them.

“So,’ I said, “tell me this. What have you liked best about spending time here?”

“Gardening!” Jake yelled.

“Gardening. Good. But we were in the garden a long time, what part did you like the best?”

Without missing a beat Jake yelled, “When you threw Chea’s cat pooh over the fence!”

“Is that it?” I said, trying not to laugh. “You’ve been here all this time and you’ve done all those things and the best thing you can think of is grandma throwing cat pooh over the fence?”

You couldn’t make it up. I mean. Constructing a garden. Planting seeds. Painting a plaque. Making a swing. Having a BBQ (almost), and all I really had to do to entertain them and remain a ‘way-out-best-grannie-in-the-world’ was to launch cat pooh over the fence.

I’ll bear it in mind for the next time.

Take care my lovelies x2014-04-21 13.33.00






Battered Mice And A Glitter Pussy…

Hi All

First things first. The greatest news from the weekend is that we survived Grandkiddie Saturday! Yea!! You don’t understand the relief I feel in writing that. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like they are lunatics, well not really, I guess they must carry some of grandma’s genes? No, when I say we survived I mean, we and the house survived, only slightly worse for wear.

I was well prepared for their arrival, pancakes cooked and waiting to have a quick flash in the microwave, car seat and booster seat sitting in the back of the car, paracetamol zipped securely in my pocket – yes, as the great Baden-Powell said, “Always be prepared!” Even if I do say so myself, preparation is my middle name. Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail.

After syrup pancakes, followed by a dishcloth flashed over sticky little faces, we piled into the car and set off to look round a couple of nearby garden centres which had their Christmas displays up and running. Jake sang his twelve songs from his upcoming school play and Grace kindly filled her pamper nap. Cool!

They behaved perfectly, and as I live in breath, I can honestly say that they didn’t break anything! Jake fancied a soft toy, and so, of course, Grace also fancied a soft toy. Fortunately they had the same soft toy in two different colours so Jake had a large brown mouse and Grace had a large cream mouse. I don’t think the mice actually liked each other because, all the way 2013-11-30 10.32.51home, they were fighting in the back of the car, legs flying and whacking Richard on the back of his head. I simply popped a couple of paracetamol and all was well with the world.

We put up the Christmas tree, in the afternoon, with its glitter escaping the branches and showering everything within a two metre radius. Even Chea twinkled and sparkled all night as she lay stretched out in front of the log burner – very Christmassy! Jake, being almost seven, had to climb on the arm of the chair and attempt to kill himself by putting the fairy on the top of the tree. He told me it should have been an angel or a star, but what do I know? Grace, being only two, and knee-high to a grasshopper, put all her decorations on the same low branch. Cute.

After a while they’d had enough and sourced a game of their own making – hurling loose change under the sofa and waiting for it to come out the other side. The excitement and squabbles grew and grew until, eventually, the paracetamol gave up the ghost and I yelled, ‘Right! That’s it! Coats! You’re going home!’

A few, ‘but Grandma’s…’ whined out, but if I’d backed down they wouldn’t have respected the fact that what I say I mean. Cruel. But kind. Makes you wonder why they adore me so much, doesn’t it. Can’t be anything to do with over-priced stupid mice and family bars of chocolate, can it?

The mice resumed their war as we tootled down the motorway and to the ‘swapping over’ point, and Jake drew patterns on the car window with his sticky, onion-ring-smeared fingers. Richard goes mental about this…but not to Jake…or Grace…to me! Idiot.

As my son pulled away with his precious little cargo I could see the mice still at it and hear protests of, ‘Daddy, Grace has got my mouse! Daddy!’

The greatest part of having grandchildren is sending them home. Oh stop it! You know I’m joking…sort of.

Yesterday, we were up at four-thirty to take Richard’s mum, Betty, to the hospital for her ‘wedge in the hip,’ op. Hip Hop? Richard, not being a morning person, (or an evening person), was still half asleep and so I had to take the lead in the ‘keeping Betty cheerful and her mind off the op,’ role. It all went fine and she was the first ‘op’ of the day. If she doesn’t go barmy she should be home in a few days, so it is looking like we will be having her for Christmas Day dinner. As a guest. Not a main course! Joy of joys. Can this life get any better?

OK, now I’m going to take my dusty writer’s head out of the cupboard and briefly attach it. Those of you who are familiar with this blog will know that I write novels, and that I self publish. You will also know that I am hopeless at selling myself and that I never could get my mouth around my own trumpet in order to blow it, so…

I am going to toot quietly and announce that my new book, The Sleeping Field, is now published and live on Amazon. That’s it. No more. No less. You can find it, if you would like to, at http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Sleeping-Field-Jennie-Orbell-ebook/dp/B00H1XSTW0/ And if you prefer not to…well…whatever. THIS ONE

I would like to say a huge thank you to those of you who have already supported me by buying my books. And also to my Facebook/Twitter and WordPress friends who continue to spread the word and freely give your time and encouragement. There are some things that you just can’t put a price on…and kindness is most definitely one of them, so thank you.

I’ve gone to bleach a few floors and to vac-up another fresh fall of glitter from the tree.

Take care my lovelies x