I has technology

And I posted using my new phone. Whoot!  Go me!

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New Things

20150109_172413 I decided to make Thai fish curry. I had a recipe from a friend which was lovely when she made it – although she apparently makes her own curry paste. I followed the recipe. This is new in itself, to be honest!  And we ate it. There are only leftovers on the plate because the rest got wolfed down before I took a picture. We had icecream for pudding.  It turns out her home made curry paste has less chilli in than shop bought. And her recipe adds more chilli. Good, but needs more icecream. ..20150110_133235

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New ‘New Thing’, number one – conquering technology. Kind of.

I have already done a number of New Things, having prompted myself to make a fresh start. One thing is I have just started 100 Happy Days. http://100happydays.com/ I am not posting them all here (I am using my more personal and less anonymous Facebook) but I *will* post when I have done them all.  The thing I am posting here, for the New Thing is not that I have started 100 Happy Days, BUT that I have taken the time to work out how to use my new phone and actually post pictures to Facebook. So I now CAN do the 100 Happy Days rather than just like the idea wistfully and not do anything about it.

Now to work out how to do it to WordPress…

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Time to try again

Well, anyone who has been keeping count will have realised that, technically, I am NOT ‘notquite40’ at all. I am, in fact, ‘notquite42.’ Ahem.

And if anyone HAS been keeping count, then they can just keep quiet and push off, OK?

So, I promise that I *have* been doing New Things, but I have failed miserably in recording them here. And it has petered off a wee bit in my active intentions to Do New Things. This January, I have been feeling a bit BLAH, and was thinking about New Year Resolutions. I don’t do New Year Resolutions, but I have in the past set goals for the year of things I want to do.  And that is what I have decided to do.

I am not going to complete my set of 40 New Things.

I am going for 42 New Things.  In fact, I am going for one New Thing a week … with leeway!

The first week of January saw a ridiculous number of New Things as we went to Lapland for New Year as a surprise for cherub.

So, New Things included:

IMG_0754Mushing a team of huskies (let’s be fair, they knew what they were doing and where they were going. My job was just to apply the brake!)

IMG_0798Driving a snowmobile

IMG_0835Going for a reindeer sleigh ride

Driving a kick sleigh, tobogganing down a really long hill


seeing the Northern Lights (albeit in the daytime, which I didn’t know was possible)


And, of course, seeing the REAL Father Christmas in a candlelit cabin in the woods.


So, that’s 7 New Things, but I am still going to go for a New Thing this week.

Just don’t know what yet. But will get back to you at the end of the weekend to let you know…

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Bikinis and water slides

If swimming were not so cold and wet, I am sure I would like it more.  As a child I would turn blue with cold … and then throw up.  Not great.  So when my son wants to go swimming, I sit in the café and watch, with a book and a drink, while my husband has quality bonding time with his offspring.

We are on holiday. There is a pool with a water slide and I was informed that the water was pretty warm by pool standards.  So, to my son’s amazement I said I would join them.  I think he thought I was like Gizmo and something horrendous would happen if I got wet.  I then realised my swimming costume had about as much elastic left in it as a plank of wood.  You know how elastic perishes over time and it has that sort of *crunchy* sound when you stretch it?  There was not even any crunch left.

So a trip to Debenhams was in order.  I hate shopping for clothes. See:   https://40inmy40th.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/27-of-40-fabulous-me/  Well, shopping for any kind of underwear is worse.  I need decent support here, folks, and not just of the sympathetic kind.

Four trips into the changing rooms later and the shop assistant was noting my looks of desperation.  However, success was mine and I left with a two-piece.  (One-pieces are Not Flattering, unless the ‘boobs round your waist’ look is suddenly in and no one told me.)

Anyway, off to the pool we went.  And up to the top of the water slides we went.  Son is underage to go on his own, so we have to go down together. On a kind of figure of eight inner tube, with him in front and me behind; bottoms in the hole, and feet up on the side.

Squealing, whooshing and shrieking our way down, to be deposited in the shallows.

WooHoo, that was FUN.  Let’s go again.  So we did.  I went on a single, we did a double again and then… THEN, my son told me I had to go down the BLUE tube. The FAST tube. The one where there is no inner tube and you shoot out the end.  Hmmm.

Well, it IS about time I got some more New Things under my belt.  (I HAVE done a few more, just not posted due to chaos of life. Sorry.)

So off I dutifully went.  (To be honest, I got a lot more exercise going up the steps than actually swimming.)  And shot out the bottom.

Remember that new bikini?

You think you know how this is going, don’t you?

Admit it. You do.

Well, those four trips into the changing room were worth it.  Good fit = staying on and in place.


So there!

The final double ride, though?

We landed in the splash zone, my son let go the sides and disappeared down the centre of the ring and under the water.  Aaargh, I’ve drowned my son! No, he’s OK, he’s surfaced.

I can’t get up.

My bottom is well in the inner tube, and I can’t reach the sides with my feet to get purchase.  “Son, give the ring a pull.”  He lifts the edge almost vertically. NOT what I meant and my bottom slips further into the ring.  He disappears under it again.  I flail wildly. He drags me round, I wave my feet in the air.  I try to grab the sides of the splash zone and only succeed in sliding further into the ring.  Son tows me towards the exit.  Not that this helps me any at all, but he thinks it funny.

Where is husband in all this? At the top of the slide waiting to come down in a single ring.

Or so I thought.

One mighty WHOOSH later and he arrives, with the swell of water lifting me and the ring up and over the edge of the splash pool and onto the side.

Ignominiously hauled out by husband I am laughing so hard that I can hardly breathe. I am doubled over and the tears are running down my face.  If you have ever been laughing so hard that the lifeguard comes over to check you are OK, and has to double check that you really ARE completely fine because he doesn’t believe you, then you have some idea of what state I was in.

The fast chute may have been the official New Thing, but the laughing fit has been a long time coming and was well needed.  So if I can share a smile and possibly even a chortle, then that is a Good Thing.

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29 of 40 – Curling (again) but this time doing and not watching!

OK, I was back up in Scotland for work.  Again.  ::sigh:: Scotland is a lovely place, but I do get tired of actually travelling there. Early start, flight up, 2 1/2 hour drive to the client, full on consultancy and change management for a few days, then reverse to get home.  I drop into bed each evening shattered, particularly as I am usually catching up on sleep deprivation due to a wriggling burrowing five year old Cherub in the middle of most nights.

A previous time I was up there one of the people in the company mentioned her son was taking part in a curling competition that evening. As a New Thing, I went along to watch. (Number 12 of 40. Really? Was it that long agao?!) It was OK. I was glad I had made the effort to go but it wasn’t a ‘Top Ten of Amazing Things’ New Thing.

This time I was up, I mentioned that I’d watched the curling previously and a lady said there was a ‘Have a Go’ session that evening. My first evening, having been up since 4:30 that morning.

But, it is a New Thing and it had looked rather fun last time so I trotted along.

You know, what I find interesting (and I will be posting about this another time) is that my attitude to New Things has changed considerably since I started doing this.  I walked into the bar heaving with people who very obviously Knew What They Were Doing. On my own. And, when confronted with no sign as to what to do, where to go or who to talk to; I didn’t turn tail and go home. I just asked the nearest official looking person, with no qualms.

She scooped me up and off we went 🙂

There were three of us trying curling out.  She was (apparently) a pretty impressive coach and she said we were doing very well. Got me up and doing stuff a bit more advanced than on her ‘Try a session’ crib sheet she was supposed to be following.

See this picture? That was me. All elegance and grace.


See this picture? That is the (probable) origin of the term ‘Right on the button’ where the ‘button’ is the bit in the centre you are aiming for. And that stone? That was my fourth ever stone thrown down the rink.  Ever. I had a standing ovation from the viewing gallery.

on the button

And THIS picture? That was me shortly afterwards, measuring my length on the ice. This was when I was glad noone was taking photos.

penguin tummy

I never did get as good a shot as that fourth one, but I did have an enjoyable time – definitely joining in beats just watching. (And yes, I mean that in every way you would wish to take it.)

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28 of 40 – Winning isn’t everything

I like making things. You will have seen that from my previous posts: I made cheese, I tried marbling, I even tried making pop cakes.  I like crafting things, trying things out, and doing what I can to make Good Things.

But I don’t like being seen to be making an effort. It is a hang up from my childhood town, where standing out was NOT a good idea, and where being seen to try was viewed as an opportunity to mock.  I am working on this, and working through it.  The parents’ race was a big thing for me because of this, rather than any lack of natural talent.

So for the last couple of years, at the local annual community farm show, I was quite content to enter a pot of jam to the popular jam class, and to help my son with some of the childrens’ classes.  I worked hard on the jam, and even won one year with my marrow and ginger jam (with a hint of orange oil) to my utmost delight (and a deal of squealing when I saw the red card under my pot as I went to collect it!)  That was quite an achievement as there are usually about 30 entrants.  (Why enter, then? Well, you get a free ticket to the show, for one thing… 😉 And that would be my ‘excuse’ for entering. But, truly and honestly? I wanted to enter. I wanted to see if I *could* make the best jam.)

There are other popular classes, such as photography classes, fruit cake, Victoria Sponge (jam only filling. Very important that, apparently.)  But they are both very competitive and also classes that I know I don’t have any particular talent at. 

Last time we were at the show, though, I noted that there were a couple of classes that were undersubscribed.  In fact, if I had have entered one of them in particular I would have been guaranteed a Third Place, even if I had been appalling… So I thought that I stood a reasonable chance of topping up my ‘pocket money’ with a little bit of effort.

This is why this year I decided to enter a couple of classes that I would not normally have done: the decorated cake class (‘a cake fit for a Royal baby’), and the ‘Packed Lunch for a hungry farmer’ class.  It was a lot of fun working on them at home, despite a busy schedule, and I had to hurtle to the farm to display them in and amongst doing stuff for Sunday School. 

As I put them out on display, I looked at the others going out and thought to myself, “Who am I to put this offering out there?  Look at those others.  They are a lot more experienced than I am.” But I quelled the feelings attached to these, put them out, arranged everything and shot back home again. The cake, in particular, was cute, but not amazing: (A baby in a rocking cradle with a Union Jack quilt) Image To cut a long story short (OK, shortER, Mr Picky Pants) I won.  Really, I won! My packed lunch won first prize.  In it were: two types of mini calzone, rye and sunflower seed bread roll with homemade haloumi cheese, caramalized onion marmalade, scone with cream and homemade rhubarb and orange jam, pumpkin and sage soup, vegetable crisps and homemade orange and lemon cordial. Image I was so, so pleased with myself. I looked at what I had done, I looked at the others, and I thought, “Yes. I DID do well. Mine IS the best here, indeed.” And I was proud. 

The cake came nowhere, but it was fun to make and great to eat – ripping chunks off it was the only way to carve it up! I also got third prize for my jam 🙂

At the end of the day, I went to pick up my entries.  Tucked under my picnic basket was the red First Prize ticket, and alongside it was another note – The Rowley Parfitt Trophy.  “What’s this?” I asked.  “You won a trophy. Didn’t you know?! Best cookery exhibit in the show.”  “A trophy? I won a trophy?  Really?!”  By this time, my voice was now pretty much only audible to bats and certain breeds of dogs.

I had ignored the prize giving ceremony entirely, chatting instead to one of the stallholders about business grants, because, of course, those things don’t apply to me, do they? Well, this time baby they do.

And I have my trophy (a set of scales, with engraved name plates) on the top of my fridge. I will be getting my name engraved on it, and I will be displaying it with pride. I will be standing out, and I will be holding my head up high. AND I will be entering next year, so they had better watch out – I am planning already how I can hold on to my title… CIMG4600 Oh, and for any of you who were wondering, Cherub entered six classes and came home with six prizes. Some he won by default by dint of number of entrants, but others were where he genuinely did a jolly good job. So well done him, too. CIMG4603

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27 of 40 – Fabulous Me

Yes, I have got the numbering right.  There were a few covered in the previous post at the festival…

This is an unusual New Thing, in the fact that not only was it not planned in advance, it wasn’t recognised as a New Thing until afterwards.  It is also leading on to more New Thing, although I am counting it as all wrapped into one.

When it was my birthday, one of my presents was a voucher for Marks and Spencer.  Husband was off with son so I took a Day Off and decided to spend the voucher.  I pottered round the local store, found a couple of things to try on, happily pootled into the changing rooms…and emerged to hurl them disgustedly at the shop assistant snarling about how I now remembered why I hated shopping for clothes.  No, really, I do.  They don’t fit, or they don’t suit, and I never know what goes with what.  I end up in basic black jeans with a top. All the time.  It makes it easy to get dressed in the morning, mind – Clean jeans? Check. Clean top? Check. Done.

The lass laughed but then said earnestly that she would find me something. She was only young (21 the next day!) and so very eager, with all the other assistants saying, “Oh yes, she *IS* good.” that I didn’t have it in my heart to refuse.

So off we trotted round the store, with her picking up all sorts of things from all sorts of collections.  “What about this?” as she holds up a bright purple patterned dress.  “Um.” “Oh, you’d be surprised,” she said.  “What about this?” as various other tops, trousers, jumpers, cardigans, vests, jeans etc got pulled out of piles.  “You’d be surprised,” she assured me.

So I gave in.  If she wanted me to try it on, then I’d try it on.  Even the black blouse with the Peter Pan collar.  There were a very few things I vetoed because I knew the colour just would NOT work on me and would wash me out, but other than that I just held out my arms and acted as a carrier for her. 

We staggered back to the changing room and she piled it all into a large cubicle, hanging the items up as outfits.  “Right, try that one on first, and then we’ll go with that one.  This will go with…this, and then we’ll swap. OK, off you go.”

So I did.  First on, as I was instructed, was the purple patterned ruffled jersey dress. Urk.

Oh. My. Goodness.  Once I got over the boldness, it was amazing.  And the lovely assistant was in raptures about how well it fitted, telling me (very quietly and almost embarrassed) that I had an amazing figure and that my bum looked fantastic in it; and that I should stop hiding.

So that one went into the ‘keepers’ pile.

As did the black and white dogtooth check trousers, with red assymetric top.

And the burgundy jeggings. (JEGGINGS?!)

And the glittery top.

The coloured jeans.

The cropped trousers. (Cropped, I tell you, cropped!)

And I swanned about in the changing room, admiring myself in the mirror, feeling like someone out of Vogue; feeling like Joanna Lumley in a fabulous, modern, edgy but appropriate way.

More and more got piled onto the keepers pile. A scarf, shoes (brogues!) and I just went with it, and went for it.

I had the money (a bonus from work that had been sitting there) and I had clothes that made me feel fabulous.  If I didn’t buy them just because it was a lot of money to spend in one go, then it was a bit ridiculous – spreading the money over some months wouldn’t make it any less money.  And who knows what would be available then.

So I got help to carry it all to the till, and staggered out the shop, feeling a bit like Pretty Woman.

Since then I have been wearing my new purchases (as instructed by my friends, who told me very severely that I needed to, and not to leave them hanging in the wardrobe.) and I have been feeling fabulous.  It takes a little longer to choose what to wear, but I am wearing stuff I would never have thought of, and I feel amazing – today I am in brown cropped jeggings with zipped ankles, a gold sequinned jumper, peacock feather earrings and a chunky necklace.  (No, there aren’t any photos. Sorry.)

I have also booked myself in to have a fabulous haircut to go with it. Not having been to the hairdresser for nigh on six months, if not longer, then I am pretty certain the Creative Director I am booked with will shout at me, in the nicest possible way.

But in the meantime I will sparkle and glow, and prance and enjoy being Fabulous Me.

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23 of 40 – The Wristband Salute, aka my first festival



I saw the festival mentioned online, I looked it up, and I was smitten!  So, with husband’s agreement, I got us some tickets…and booked us into a local Travelodge!  Maybe not the traditional festival accommodation but we are old enough to know when camping may well not be the best option for us anymore (AND it was cheaper!!)

At the end of August I looked at the sudden change for the worse in weather and my heart sank, but my luck was in and we had brighter break especially for the weekend.  The whole joy of the festival, for me, was that it was based in and around woods. There were all sorts of things planned, I got the programme in advance, and it was all about playing.  Things I was sure that cherub would enjoy (cowboy training, anyone?) and things I wanted (stone balancing and storytelling.) But more than anything, I just wanted to reconnect with my ability to *play.*

Ideally in sunshine.

As I said, our luck was in. It threatened to rain a number of times, but until 5pm on Saturday, it held off. And at that point, we just adjourned to the hotel, grateful for dry clothes and hot showers (I won’t say we were grateful for comfortable beds, because they weren’t…!)  And on Sunday we had blue skies, and a waterproof backed picnic rug so any squelchiness could easily be ignored.

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, yes and thrice yes.

We watched shows, IMAG1138

balanced stones (New Thing 24 of 40),and made mushrooms,



I learned the Charleston (25 of 40) and how hard it is to play a musical saw.  My son indeed went to cowboy training camp and had a go at learning to lasso.  They were just starting to pack up and I suddenly realised how much *I* wanted a go. It was only kids doing the session, but I really really wanted to try. So I leapt up and asked for a go. (26 of 40)  My only regret is that I stopped when I ‘felt I ought to have done’ rather than whenever they asked for their equipment back!  I will learn from that.

And I will remember life is more about relaxing and playing, about sitting on the floor in the woods and not worrying about clothing, about going to see what looks interesting and not slavishly following a plan.

I went for a nature walk with cherub today. We collected half a bag full of interesting leaves, sticks, nuts etc.  And petted some dogs and played tag.  It looks as though at least a little bit of the festival is still with me.

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22 of 40 – Make like a seal…

The only experience I had of swimming under water was a very brief encounter with a snorkel, involving me promptly going too deep, trying to breathe water and coming up spluttering before walking promptly back to the beach.

So when I saw a special offer for a trial scuba diving lesson in the local swimming pool, I was only partially tempted. It was indeed a New Thing, and it looked interesting, but I wasn’t completely convinced.

However, I then saw an advert for a trial dive whilst on holiday.  Scuba diving in your swimming pool is one thing, scuba diving off Scapa Flow is quite another.  More specifically, off the blockade ships in Scapa Flow…Image

Those things you can see in the water?  Those are the tops of ships sunk during the First World War to barricade the UK’s largest natural harbour.  And I’d just signed up to dive round them.

I went with Scapa Scuba, who were brilliant. They picked me up and took me with another idiot adventurer to the Churchill Barriers where we met up with the other two of our group.  We were introduced to each other and to the facilities – a rock round the headland for the men, and a hollow on the top of the hill for the ladies!

Then it was a briefing, some training and our instructor got into the water.  The two we’d met with at the barriers went first so they could then go off on their way, then it was time for me to start getting ready.

First a quick trip up the hill…

Then ‘just’ put the dry suit in the back of the van.  Rob was our ‘land instructor’ and said all I needed to do was to put my feet in and pull the suit up like a giant pair of wellies.  Yeah, right.  Up to my thighs and I can’t reach round the excess suit to haul it any further up. Rob is grabbing handfuls and heaving it up – although I had to point out that some of it was ME and not the suit…

OK, so I get the suit on, arms in and everything. I then need to ‘just’ pull the neck over my head so I could get zipped up at the back.  No chance. I can’t reach my shoulders let alone the headpiece. Again, Rob came to the rescue and I finally emerged from the van. Apparently it had been rocking so violently the others weren’t sure what on earth was going on!

By this time, Carolina was waiting for me in the shallows so it was time to hurry the best I could down to the shore.  Back pack thingie on, weights round my ankles, scuba gear connected, head covering hauled on (thanks, Rob) and into the water.

Float back and stick my feet in the air. I can so do that bit 🙂  Flippers on and now for the shallows training.

This is where we go through all the stuff Carolina had told us at the van that we have now forgotten. Except we have to do it underwater.

First, put face in water and breathe.  Check.  Yeah, I can do that.

Next kneel down and we do more under water.  Start to kneel down, feel water gradually rise up face, panic and come back up again.  OK, start again. Stick face in water FIRST and THEN start kneeling.  That works.

Until there is water under my nose in the mask.  Splutter, panic, back to the surface.

Apparently this is normal. Water under the nose is fine.  Calm breaths, try again.  I can do this.

Can’t kneel down – legs go every which way but the way they should.  Back to the surface.

Finally make it down and my knees are not quite on the bottom, but are bouncing and I am not sure if this is right. Try to signal to the instructor and we end up back on the surface. Then I get water in my mask and we haven’t had the lesson about clearing it yet. So, that’s right, back up we go.  Bobbing up and down like one of the seals in the area.

At this point in my narration, my son interrupts to ask, “Did you actually do it?” “Yes, I did.” “OK, go on telling the story…”

I did finally make it through the shallow water training and set off, Carolina’s arm through mine as she guided me round.

If I could have squeaked under water, I would have. Within moments, there was a flat fish fluttering its way across the sea bed, a crab waving at me and a water snail on a bit of seaweed. It was so exciting! It honestly had not dawned on me that there would be sealife down there. I thought it would be all about the ships and the barriers. And it was so amazing. I was then very conscious that my flippers were dragging on the sea bottom and stirring up the little critturs’ homes. So I am signalling to Carolina that although I am OK, there is something wrong and try to explain through hand signals.

And up we are again on the surface. She said the look on my face was priceless – very clearly, “No, I do not want to go back up. Again.” but it was the only way she could let me know that, yes, she understood me, and no it was ok.

So off we went again. I never did make it as far as the blockade ships, but I was dead hot at spotting the wildlife. After a while I could feel one of my flippers coming loose, but I was so not wanting to go back up to the surface yet again that I kept quiet until it was really unavoidable. I signalled what was going on and Carolina pulled me upright. And, oh, I am in shallow water, literally only up to my waist. It is time to get out.


And out of the dry suit….and back up the hill.

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