Thursday, 28 January 2010

While the husband is away......

Wife is doing the DIY (a toddler bed, a chest of drawers, and 4 pictures hung, with nary a swear word or drop of blood. Efficient, but not as exciting as Husbands way, born of a determination never to read an instruction booklet), while Husband is in the USA, Florida round about now. Basking in 75 degree heat and cooking whole hogs at the Lakeland Pig Fest, a barbeque competition of more than 30,000 strong.

He is there with the Bubba Grills team, (pictured, with their many trophies from last year) to pursue a business venture which hopefully will result in big pieces of pig in our chest freezer and some kind of Southern cooking thing going on in the Fens. The Bubba Grills guys are great, they've already been on tv with Jamie Oliver, as he used a lot of their recipes in his last book, and dedicated an episode of the tv series to their cooking style. He gave them a signed copy though. They'll be able to ebay it for some of the millions he made from the book sales.
Husband has plans for world domination with them. He is in his element, shooting guns, eating pork and talking barbeque sauce, in a place where his bulk is positively skinny by comparison to the Georgian norm. He has been overwhelmed by their generosity in inviting him and sharing their ideas. Speaking earlier, he proudly informed me that he is now a Redneck, on account of failing to 30 factor his lily white neck.

He's roasting whole hogs today, and in his brief telephone chat informed me of his devoted wrapping of 3 thousand jacket potatoes in foil. Hopefully they will have a successful competition, they did last year. By all accounts, these men know how to roast a hog. I can't see why people Fen-wards wouldn't like to eat a pig that way too. There's certainly enough USa airbases and, of course, the fabtastic Peterborough Truck Fest. (

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

3 types of rain is not enough

There are 3 different types of rainfall. This jolly tutorial explains them.

3 types is not enough.

In the Fens, you can see the rain coming. Curiously, you can often see it better than the Ramsey MET office, which persistantly and stubbornly refuses to believe the weather it can see coming. For miles. You can quite clearly see the beginning and end of the rainfall, the darker, sometimes glinting tunnel of rain from that cloud 30 miles away (yes, you really can see for thirty miles from my garden). And yet, some wayward synapse in my head will tell me, "You don't need the umbrella. Like you can carry it with the buggy anyway".

So I am a familiar drenched figure in the town. The woman who remembers the raincover for the children, but who resolutely shuns hats. And has eyebrows insufficient in density to channel the fall of rain away from her (once) mascaraed eyes. As such, I have knowledge of rain and these are the rain truths.

  • All rain is worse when pushing a buggy.

  • Tiny wee droplets of fairy like looking rain get you bone wet faster than anything.

  • "Mist" in the Fens is "rain" anywhere else.

  • You know that washing line? Fenwomen, put it away. From September until May. Below sea level, damp is damp.

  • When it says "Flood Warning" it really means it. And quick.

  • No matter how hard the rain, how flash the flood, the amount of dog shit in the town will not have decreased by 9am the next morning. It will still get on your buggy wheels, but hey! Now you have puddles to push through instead of scraping it off over the sink.

On the other hand, when the floods freeze, you can do this....

Welney Marshes recently held ice skating festivals. If I could do it, i'd have gone. Maybe as a Fenlander I should learn.

This little clip is a lovely video from the Guardian website of the skating December 2009.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The politics of Toddler groups when you are an incomer.

I think, here in the Fens, you stop being an "incomer" when your grandchildren have died in the house you lived in, or thereabouts. For such a wide open space, the Fenlanders themselves are very closed in. So much so, in fact, that the first mothers prepared to risk talking to me at the local toddler group were themselves incomers of a mere years standing. they had come from the far reaches of the NEXT VILLAGE DOWN, and were therefore unused to the ways of the natives, and desperate enough for a chat that they risked scorn in talking to me as I scanned the room to check my kids were not hitting anyone.

Everyone knows the rules to toddler groups. (Note these rules apply only to village or small town toddler groups of a predominanatly White British character. Other more multi-cultural groups have their own social strata )Or at least, mums do. There are never any dads there, and if there are, nobody must talk to the poor sod. Each toddler group must include the following social groups.

A) The posh mums who attend merely as a social function. They do not work, drive 4X4's and ignore their children as they bite and scratch others, sitting in a small huddle talking about tanning salons while their offspring rip their OshKosh jeans fling babies out of bouncy chairs. They do not get their haircut in the town/village, but the nearest city, and pay more than £50.00 for it.

B)The younger mums who nip outside for a fag and have several children fathered upon them by the nearest Barracks. These children are impeccably dressed and extremely violent, giving rise to many shouts of "KYLE! Get your arse here NOW!" They too ignore their children and cluster together discussing her down the road who got pregnant with her over theres' squaddie.

C)The small seam of middle class mothers in whimsical dress who are the only ones playing with their (always) one offspring, trying to stimulate them with the Roatry club funded group toys. They say "Erm, Kyle, please stop doing that. Where's your mummy? Kyle? Kyle?"

D) People who have moved from London to have a better way of life. They stand confused, shocked, and shunned.

E) Childminders. They sit and drink coffee and direct the 4 16 year olds they employ to look afer the 10 crazed kids they "childmind". They are fat and smell of dogs.

F) Everyone else. The three people who are too busy breastfeeding, chasing 2 or more children, or weeping to talk to you. They are the only other normal ones and it will take 8 weeks for you to exchange 3 sentences, because it goes like this:

"So, whereabouts are you from?"

"Oh, really? That's really interesting, I used to...hang on....what, now? ...a poo? Ok. I'll be back in a minute..." (gone for 2 weeks)

Other sundry rules include:

  • Paying to enter means as many biscuits as you like

  • When you smell poo, you must say loudly "I can smell poo" and sniff your own childs nappy before loudly proclaiming "no, it's not her". The actual culprits mother must be outside having a fag and arguing over maintenance with her squaddie partner.

  • No toys must be complete.

  • There must always be a sign up saying "IF NO-ONE OFFERS TO HELP THIS TODDLER GROUP WILL CLOSE!!!!!!!!!" but nobody ever does help.