Good News, Bad News

Is it too obvious to say that we all want good news in these days of Covid- Control disrupting, disturbing and destroying the very centre of all our lives? Good news has been in such short supply of late.

More than a year into the Helter- Skelter slippery slide that is lockdown, lock in, lock up we crave good news like a pint of real ale at the pub. The pint of real ale at the pub is, of course, not mine but Mr Carmichael’s. He has, I believe, plans afoot for lockdown lite next week. Me? I’ll take anything (not whiskey – another story altogether) as long as its WITH girlfriends and NOT in my house or garden. I have seen enough of Casa Carmichael and the green, green grass of home these past twelve months. Yes Sir, yes Madam, yes indeedy.

Some good news is that 33 million people (including YT) in the UK have had their first dose of vaccine. More than five million have had both doses. The take up is high and transmission, infection, hospitalisation and death are all going down apace. In this kingdom at least. Let’s not cast a hairy eyeball at Mr Bolsonaro, Copacabana way.

Some bad news is that Mrs Carmichael is finding it terribly hard to maintain standards. They are slipping. Oh my! Such slippage in Yours Truely’s play pen. Honestly, I’m struggling to know where to begin.

Shall I begin?

Last week I found the need to google ‘what day is it?’. In my previous normal, real lIfe, pre Covid, I have had to check the date de temps en temp. I’ll lay money Dear Reader, that you have too. Never, ever have I not known or been unable to muster brain cells and synapses to know, or rapidly remember, what DAY of the week it is. I asked Lyle, my cockapoo, but he was unhelpful.

Lyle being unhelpful (mrscarmichael)

It was important I knew the day of the week because, pandemic panic has found me, for the second time, taking up a foreign language. Spanish. Again. I have been judiciously wedged into an Intermediate class. This is a stretch. GCSE Spanish mumble or fifteen long years ago is not cutting the mustard. I am mastering the art of silence. Silent Spanish. I struggle with the Spanish AND the silence.

Studying Spanish is a good thing for many reasons but not a good thing when you don’t know if your zoom lesson is starting in five minutes, tomorrow or could it potentially, have been yesterday? Gracias Google.

Good news – It WAS Tuesday.

Good news – the class was running late.

Good news – I had two minutes to do my week’s homework.

Bad news – it was the subjunctive. The list of things I do not know about the Spanish Language grows, like Brazilian Covid, (thank you Mr Bolsonaro) exponentially.

And like the Brazilian variant, I, in my Covid free castle, have become expert at growing other things. The growth includes but isn’t restricted to, toenails, eyebrows and bikini line. I am not proud of the results.

Photo deleted.

I also have become somewhat expert at making wrinkles appear on my face. This is not a talent I want to embrace moving forward. Obviously. Few are yet to see these new additions to my physog but this is all about to change as lockdown eases and my wrinkles and I don glad rags to paint the town red or as red as we can in a socially distanced, covidly- tested brave new world. I am told silk pillow cases may help.

Please be kind. If necessary, pretend to recognise me. I probably won’t be able to see you anyway. Did I mention my eyesight?

I have found a recent talent for dying clothes. Unintentionally. Knickers in particular.

almost looks professional (mrscarmichael)

White to sylvan green in one hot wash. These were an accidentally muted success. Not so much others, now in landfill.

Yesterday I drove to Surrey to visit my friend, Kate in her back garden. Although we both have raging colds now due to sub zero temperatures outside, it was wonderful to see her after eighteen months apart (thank you corona virus), one missed holiday together and two Yule’s without a glass or five of celebratory champers. Dressed for the Artic, I collected my 2019 Christmas present.

too excited (or frozen) to speak (Kate’s camera)

And got stuck in a two hour traffic jam on the M25.

A two hour delay in stop- start, five lane traffic must herald a return to normality. Oh joy, oh bliss. Please let it be true.

It must be true because my, every evening for fourteen months, harem pants now sport a semi sheer crotch and very baggy knees. I have tried to buy another pair. They have been discontinued. And so I have decided, in a moment of cautious optimism, that the disintegration of these Carmichael Covid-Comfys MUST prophesy the beginning of the end of the blue blistering bad news we have been boiled in for ever and a day.

This morning, with Covid brain and woefully slipped standards, I put my yoga pants on back to front #plank #forthesecondtime #ouch

Good News for Yours Truely, cannot come a moment too soon.

Burning Down the House

This weekend I almost burnt my house down. 

I have never done that before. Just to be clear, I’ve never actually burnt a house down. I’ve not even come close. Mrs Carmichael has a very healthy respect for and enduring fear of fire and houses on fire. This childhood respectful fear (or should that be fearful respect?) that I nurture, stems from bearing witness to my neighbours of yore successfully burning their house down in front of my eight year old eyes. It was a bird’s nest in the chimney apparently. Good God that bird must have had pyromaniacal tendencies fo’ sho.

So, you have to believe that almost burning down my house is a big deal for yours truly.

This is how it happened…..

In COVID times many things, for many people are different. Perhaps I should rephrase. Most things for most people here in pandemic central are not as we know them. Nor as we want them to be. Nothing is the same; everything’s different and thus ‘things fall apart’. As centre’s go, mine for one, isn’t holding. Big time. William Butler Yeats may not have been describing an outa control virus in The Second Coming but boy did he get the mood spot on. 

But I digress…..

An element of my centre not holding is that Lyle, the cockapoo, has made his way through numerous obstacles, physical and emotional, and now appears to be sleeping on our super-king of a nighttime. 

‘How did that happen?’ you ask. 

Well, it all started when I forgot his seventh birthday last Thursday and, with literally nothing else to do #covid, I experienced an irrational amount of guilt.

Friday found me walking dog miles, cuddling constantly and feeding my furry friend lots o’ treats. One of said treats came back to bite me in the bum.

Saturday early hours found me waking to the sound of vomit. The sight of vomit way worse than the sound but at least I had, with foresight, shrouded our linen duvet cover with a dog sheet. This must, I briefly thought, be good news. 

The bad news was that, although the spring onion root (M’lud I never meant to put that in his salad) lay solid and whole on the dog sheet, the yellow bile that pooled around it had done its worst and soaked through, not only the dog sheet and the duvet cover but the duck down duvet itself. Such woe but at least, I guess, it gave a purpose to my day #covid.

I stripped the dog sheet and spoilt duvet cover and set the patch of sick on the duvet in a bowl of Vanish on the bedroom floor. I put the linen on a hot wash and took Lyle out for his first walk. Obviously feeling much better on an empty stomach, he was keen to go.

Duvet cover drying, dog sheet waiting its turn my single task for the remainder of the day and evening, was to get the puke, puke stain and puke smell out of the duvet, dry it and remake our bed. Even with nothing, and I mean nothing, else to do #covid, I was aware that time was not my friend. Patch drying a supering duck down duvet is another thing I have never done before. 

Obviously the duvet wouldn’t fit in my dryer. There was no washing line to hang it on nor sunshine to warm it through. Mid-winter COVID is the worst variation of high summer COVID. It sucks in a way sunny summer COVID can but fantasise about.


I rigged up a, seen better days, drying rack in front of the fire and draped our bedding over it. Positioning the damp patch toward the flames, I sent Mr Carmichael (who was making a business call from his car in the driveway #covid) a photo of my Professor Brainstorm brilliance and sat down to watch episode 16, series 8 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with Lyle. 

I got a text from the Mercedes asking if the duvet wasn’t a bit close to the naked flame and thus a fire hazard but I didn’t have time to read it because our duvet was on fire and the living room wall was queuing for ignition approval.

The room smelt of burnt fowl, the duvet looked like a Baked Alaska and the vomit stain was still soaking and somewhat yellow.

I text Mr Carmichael to say the fire was out. He thought I was joking until he walked in the front door and was greeted by the stench of singed swan and the sight of Lyle making himself comfortable on a floor-based Baked Alaska in the front room.

Today I plan to wash my hair and feed my dog only kibble. Let’s see how that goes…..

COVID: Variations on a Theme

Here we all are coming up to 2021 and I find myself looking forward to 2022. 

But, it must be said, with the hope that 2021 could be something still. Still in a good way that is. The last thing I want to do is wish me, my family’s or my friends’ lives away. That is not the plan but right now it’s a tad hard not to make use of the one time teleport option I won at a, ’this is not a Doctor Who’ party many moons and a world away from where I am now.

Today or tomorrow or maybe New Year’s Eve, because Boris Johnson likes high day and holiday announcements (see Brexit agreement), the Astra Zeneca vaccine may be approved here in the UK. We have 100 million doses reserved for us. That’s 50 million people and they way I figure it, I’ll be in that 50 million. And I’ll be having the jab. Yes Sir, yes M’am, yes indeedy. So will Mr Carmichael. So will Carmichael offspring various as and when they get offered the dregs sometime this decade.

 Let’s hope it works.

Let’s hope it and all the other vaccines that are being developed, approved and injected into arms, before approval (yes Mr Putin although I noticed you didn’t have it on your doctor’s advice) and after approval, work too. It’s important they do. It’s important because right now, right here, it feels as if we are under attack. It feels different to the beginning; to the COVID launch; to March. Do you remember March? More importantly, do you remember pre March when we were just living our lives? Ha!

Right now, with COVID-19 and the two variant strains that we and South Africa have managed to breast feed, burp and nurture so well we, here in the UK, had 41,000 COVID cases registered yesterday. That’s 41,000 and that does not include people in hospital or care homes I believe. There are probably quite a few cases in these two types of establishment, don’t you think? The day before yesterday it was around 35,000. 35,000 which is a huge number of new cases but now doesn’t seem so huge because yesterday it was 41,000. 41,000 is huge but won’t seem so massive tomorrow I bet. Tomorrow, we’ll be wishing the number of new cases (that exclude care homes and hospitals) was 41,000. That’s my prediction. For what it’s worth. 

Most of these cases are in the South East of England. And the majority of these cases are the new mutant (just look into my eyes and I’ll give you COVID) strain. The South East of England is where I live. These things, put together are worrying. Very worrying indeed.

What is also worrying is that it’s got personal. I now know people suffering with COVID. I know many, many people isolating because they’ve been in contact with someone for more than fifteen minutes who has tested positive. These people, and this  includes Daughter Number Two who could not spend Christmas Day with us her family, are watching, on their smart phones, a ‘days left to go’ bullseye count down to their release.

 On release, they will be allowed to do very little. We, in the South East are in the newly imagined Tier 4 which is, in all but name, Lockdown. So, they will be able to go for a walk, buy a takeaway coffee, play golf or tennis at Queens and catch mutant COVID because they looked, for a nanosecond, into someone’s virused eye. Their phone will beep and they’ll be back in isolation. Or, of course, they may get sick. I may get sick. Did I mention I now know, and know of, many poorly people?

This is no way to live.

The government’s aim (yes you Matt Hancock of the foreskin pink ties) and you Boris Johnson (on recess but not in the Caribbean on a freebee this year) is to vaccinate one million people a week over the next Lockdown. 

“What?” You scream. “We’re not in a Lockdown. We can still go to the non essential shops and buy shit, we can mingle in houses and we can look people in the eye over a pint in the pub. We’re not in Tier 4. We’re the lucky ones.”

From all those in Tier 4 to all those not. Didn’t you see the boats, trains and stations the night our ‘leader’ and his pink oppo invented Tier 4? Those transporters were headed with eyes steely trained on you, traditional COVID carriers, to all parts not South East for Christmas. I fear you will bypass Tier 4 in the blink of a cough. And we, the already theres, will smile and say, “NOW, we’re all in it together.”

But back to the vaccination roll out. SAGE or some other acronym have warned today that unless you, the small g, government, pull your needles out and do two million a week we’re heading, without passing Go, straight into a third wave. You probably don’t know this Mr Johnson. It hasn’t come out in tomorrow’s paper yet. Buy a copy, why don’t you?

I’m a New Zealander. How many of you knew that? What I would give to be there now. A month ago, with fewer than 5000 cases a day, I could have gone, been popped into monitored isolation for a fortnight ( who’s kidding who? I’m as good as in it now and for the foreseeable just without the monitoring) and right now be as free as a bird with good eyesight, hugging people, going to friends’ homes, eating out, feeling safe and have Jacinda Ardern watching over me while I sleep COVID free. But no, now, not wanted anywhere in the world, I’m here in COVID Cactus Town and I can tell you, it’s one shit place to be.

Did I mention we had 41,000 new COVID cases yesterday in the UK? How many will it be today? Come on, roll up, place your bets.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Yesterday I cut my fringe. This was a first time thing. I have achieved my advanced age never having felt the need to take to my own locks with sharp utensils. Others, better qualified (indeed qualified for I am not) coiff me on a regular and pleasurable basis. I’ve always considered it a treat. I now know it to be a necessity.

I pray that taking to my crowning glory with scissors bought to trim my cockapoo’s eyelashes (another story entirely) was a last time thing. But in this time of Covid, needs must and I did. In the process I made a couple of schoolgirl errors. Followers, I did not do a very good job.

Actually I’ve just been overgenerous. It’s a habit and in this Corona induced solipsistic state I find myself (I’m sure I’m not alone) I must find the willpower to cease and desist at being kind and generous to Yours Truly simply because I’ve managed to get through another day, week, month and it’s now wine time. Wine, I hasten to add is NOT being kind. It is, like hairdressers, a necessity. One is out of bounds. The other fills the thirsty void.

But back to my hair. The fringe alone demonstrates, with devastating ease and sublime efficacy at least four results best avoided when attempting to allow oneself to be able to see without having to part a waterfall of darkening roots.

Gurl’s got this one cracked (mrscarmichael)

My mother used to have a weekly blow-dry. We fondly referred to it as a helicopter haircut so heavy in hand was the artiste with the hairspray, Mum could, Regan-Like, spin her hair without her head moving. She was not alone. Although I like hairspray I do not heavy hand it. Now however I would love a helicopter haircut. Or any haircut done by someone else. Someone with qualifications.

Mr Carmichael, after seeing my good work on Lyle, the cockapoo with the eyelashes, suggested I give him a much needed trim with the boy’s clippers. What could go wrong? Of course my husband was focusing on the equipment and the fact they were designed for dogs. They’re the only ones we have in Casa Carmichael which answered one question leaving the begging question unanswered – my aptitude and talent, or lack thereof. Now that the love o’ my life thinks I resemble a demented three year old with bad wrinkles (and an attitude) he’s opted for a silver-locked Tarzan effect from which he cannot be budged. I don’t blame him. He’s made the right choice.

Who knew that:

1) hairdressers cut your fringe at the end of the haircut when your hair is dry? Well, I did but I must have forgotten.

2) hairdressers take a little off at a time with a feathering motion and section the fringe from the surrounding hair? Me again but it slipped my mind.

3) hairdressers don’t curl a wet and what might prove to be very short fringe because that will make it look worse (if that were possible)? I didn’t know this having never had a fringe cut from Hell at the hairdressers.

My god my fringe looks terrible. And what about the rest of my hair?

I have never been ably to blow-dry my hair. It’s just a fact. I’m shit at it. Which is why I don’t do it. But now I must. I wash my hair as infrequently as possible and have moved, with alacrity, through the stages of mourning for my once coiffed bonce. I would be lying to say I don’t care but in some ways I actually don’t care. That much. I’m no longer riding pillion in a convertible Bentley, nor dining in Pall Mall. Certainly pretending to be a happy housewife is out the proverbial window along with the baby’s bathwater.

Now I’m just getting through. Like everyone else. And trying to stay well and safe while not looking in mirrors.

My roots are coming through apace and I have been sent these by my colourist……..


Killing Me Softly

blood red (mrscarmichael)

Mr Carmichael and I are recently returned from a trip to Mexico – the Pacific side. Los Cabos. Well, not exactly Los Cabos. Our 5, or was that 6 star spa resort was half was between Cabo St Lucas and Los Cabos on a very fast road. Actually, all the roads we travelled in Mexico were very fast roads due mainly to the fact that all our drivers drove very fast. And, when I say fast, I mean muy fast. Muy fast indeed. Gracias a Dios that Mr Carmichael was not at the wheel of any motor vehicle in Mexico. We had been informed that driving was not part of the plan and I, for one or two because I do speak for Mr Carmichael at almost all times, was/were very happy to go along with any plan that included no Carmichael driving.

Another part of the plan, we were told, was that we were to have a very good time, on the company, because this was an achievers’ club, a presidents’ club, a club for people who had done all their numbers (and more) in the year previous. Mr Carmichael is good at doing his numbers. This is something I love about Mr Carmichael.

Mr C and I have a history, joint and several, of achievers’ clubs. We have been lucky over mumble years to have done our numbers, been counted as company success stories and jetted to continents various. There has been much back slapping, cheek kissing, prize winning, alcohol drinking, laughter and bonding on beaches, in Far Eastern capitals, olive groves, the Coliseum and …….. with Micky Mouse. Good times.

Or not so good. But, arguably, amusing in hindsight. Although #metoo could have had one hell of a field day with some of my experiences. It was the 80’s and I did come out unscathed. Sorta. Harvey, where were you when I needed your help?

Examples, comprehensive but not complete, follow below.

In and out of years and foreign hotels, yours truly has been chased around a suite in Sydney (salesman heading home from Manila but not yet arrived at his wife); been forced to share my super superking bed with a salesman whose roommate was sharing his bed with someone he’d spent a bit of money on and got more, under the sheets, than he bargained for (that was in Bangkok and the clue, as they say, is in the name) and been pushed up against at fire exit stairwell wall (classy) by an over-amorous and obviously polyamorous salesman from Down Under who, when rebuffed, sashayed back to Melbourne and told everyone in the office that I’d come onto him but his marriage vows were sacrosanct. I wonder how that marriage is going.

Mrs C, before she was blissfully married, had to alternatively, beg and drag a previous live -in- lover, multiple times, off An Wang, founder and CEO of Wang Industries, on a dinner/dance boat circling Alcatraz because he ( the l-i-l) wanted to sell her boss’s, boss’s, boss’s, boss’s boss shares. My colleagues cheered and guffawed at my expense as the self centred, self-serving l-i-l went in for a fifth try with Mr Wang up at the prow of the vessel. Perhaps my dislike of cruising stems from that night. I must speak, with alacrity, to my psychiatrist.

I am certain that my husband has similar stories (not too similar I hope) but they are his to tell. Suffice it to say we are, us two, veteran achievers’ trip travellers and up for anything.

Never, however, has ‘anything’ included being sent to the murder capital of the world!

It’s true. Mr Carmichael has done his due diligence and discovered why so many people were telling us to travel jewellery naked, hire no cars and stay as much as possible within the confines of our be-butlered sanctuary. This would go a long way to ensuring that the ‘have a very good time’ plan panned out.

most sancturyesque (mrscarmichael)

I had booked myself a day trip to Todos Santos. On the hotel. It’s one of their perks. But a friend who was, wasn’t, was, wasn’t coming, came. I flagged the trip and chose, instead a gaggle of sun loungers, to the right of this picture of paradise, where B……., G…….., I and husbands various stayed slumped for four days.

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. And surely it was safer?

The flow included my sunhat and bag getting the 5, or was that 6, star treatment. I’m certain Heidi Klein would approve.

waiting to be worn in style (mrscarmichael)

I flowed to the hair salon to be coiffed. It was included in the 5, or was that 6 star, package. I managed to kept my hair dry and elegant for the remainder of the event. Keeping my hair dry and elegant is something I have perfected over the mumble years and am a pretty good hand at it today. Bandana in the beauty salon where yours truly had a comprehensive rub down and oil up courtesy of the resort (how good is this?) and by not going in the ocean. Not going in the ocean was mandated by the 5 or was that 6 star spa and resort and impressed upon us also by Mr C’s employer who wanted to ensure we all stayed happy, having a muy good time and, as a minimum, alive. Entering the Sea of Cortez by our hotel would, we were told, kill us. Watching the churning, dragging, high waved water from our breakfast table ensured compliance by all. Safety first our new motto. And my hair stayed perfecto #winwin.

Feeling drugged by leisurely happiness B……., G…….and I needed little more than the free flowing free food and extremely free flowing free alcohol that our daytime butlers provided for us. Oh and the sunshine and warmth Mexico turned on. We relaxed into a hedonistic and safely sybaritic existence. Enhanced by tequila.

it’s another tequila sunrise (mr carmichael)

We dined on the beach. It was low tide.

spotlit at sunset (mrscarmichael)

The boys played golf (brave souls) and, as a group, we did venture out (jewellery naked) on the last night to Flora’s Farm for supper. Negotiating the taxi down from an ambitious $900.00 to, a reasonable in the context of every else being free, $160 for the six of us, another win.

In hindsight, I think we could have bejewelled ourselves. Judging by the cost of the wine and the cowboy hats in the onsite shop, we were not in (that kind of) bandit territory. And the place was wonderful. I must say.

But returning to murder. “Where is it?” you ask. The danger, discomfort and near death experience. I’ve brought you to this point under flagrantly false pretence. Are you cross with me?

Next year’s achievers’ trip is to be held in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I’m channelling William Faulkner already.

Lasting Friendship: a Recipe

friendship recipe (pixaboy)


Four women of a certain age

Thirty years of history

One defunct computer company

Bouquet of Facebook

Large measure, sense of humour

One converted barn

One, small and very warm, Mini

One free weekend in August

Wine (add as required)

Desire to press -on -through (as much as necessary)



Take four women of a certain age who all, thirty years previously, worked in London for the same company.  

Having just arrived on the shore of Blighty, Mrs Carmichael reneged on her vow to never, never, never work in the computer industry again and joined a computer company that promised to pay her more than others she interviewed with and was, more importantly, based in the pulsing heart of London’s red light district – Soho and just behind Liberty of London (her favourite shop).

Here she met many sales colleagues who liked a laugh, a drink, another drink and a bit of commission. She also met a secretary, K……, a customer support rep, D…… and an in-house trainer, L…… They also liked a laugh, a drink, another drink and a good lunch and/or dinner out.

Infuse Facebook friendship with copious slugs of ‘liking’ each others’ life events.

K……, D……, L…… and yours truly all moved on to other companies, lives, marriages, more marriage (not speaking for myself here) and for some, yet more marriage. We all joined Facebook. We became ‘friends’ on Facebook. We admired the children and, dare I say, grandchildren? (not speaking for myself here  – that’s the beauty of birthing late). We congratulated new ventures and commiserated over sadnesses, illnesses, accidents and stupidities.

Allow to marinate for three or four years.

Three/fours years on Facebook easily equates to the 25/30 years that, in reality, most of us had not seen each other. K…… and I have holidayed together a soupçon of times (some of which you’ve devoured, dear reader, and enjoyed both Barcelona and Marrakech through our hazed/glazed eyes). The other thimbleful is for another time and another post. Or not!

Combine and bring to the boil.

One of us suggested a get-together. We all agreed. It wasn’t the first time suggested or the first time agreed but with the incorporation of time and aeration it seemed that this time, the venture might just have wings.

Transfer to converted barn.

converted barn (mrscarmichael)

L….., now a sales training mogul, invited us to her casa, just shy of Cambridge (but NOT in the Fens).

Sprinkle with a free weekend in August.

We scoured our diaries, calendars, and fading minds coming up with the weekend just gone. We were all free, willing and somewhat unnaturally keen.

Garnish with a liberal desire to press-on-through.

I do like a private Facebook group, don’t you? It gives me the opportunity to be secretive, top up photos as and when I choose and to keep any designated flock under control and ON TRACK. We called our group Soho Slummers. Don’t ask. In my back catalogue I found an evocative pic of K……in a Soho ‘shop’ sporting a long blonde wig. Just perfect for the cover photo.

Everything was going so well.

That is until, L…… had a pacemaker fitted, D……’s sciatica got no better but maybe a touch worse, K…… broke her right foot at work and I fell down a rabbit hole in Orford and nuked my left foot. That too, is another story. Suffice it to say I did not come out of the tumble as well as Lewis Carroll’s Alice but, thanks be to God, a helluva lot better than K…… #smallmercies.

Top up with more pressing-on-through and a side of black humour.

We agreed the adventure would continue as planned.

Add one small, bright blue manual, non-air-conditioned Mini. NOTE: this ingredient is optional. There are both trains and MUCH bigger, better, more comfortable cars but this is the original recipe and so, for veracity’s sake, I have included.

This is how three of the four (plus k……’s boot) come to be squashed, on one of the hottest weekends of the summer, in Mrs C’s dog walking Mini on our way to a GOOD TIME in Cambridgeshire (but not in the Fens). Yours Truly, the only one uninjured enough to contemplate doing the drive.

It was very hot (windows up), very noisy and windy (windows down) and very, very cramped. K….. (and her boot) were pressed into the passenger seat dashboard. D……, spreadeagled in the back had more room to move around but not much due to the amount of luggage women of a certain age pack for ONE night away.

A generous dash of UNOPENED wine.

Oh and the coupla dozen bottles of vino did not help the space or windows down/noise scenario either.

 Pour continuous glugs of vino verde (and a bit of aperol, prosecco and red wine for seasoning purposes).

We did not stop laughing. We laughed at the barn, at the pub, back at the barn, still at the barn, at another pub and …..back at the barn. We drank quite a bit as well. We surprised/shocked each other. We found a weekend mantra (didn’t we K…..?). We ate like queens and had a really, really good afternoon, evening and night.

The next morning L…..drove us to Cambridge to punt. Punt we did. We took good photos:

This is a good photo of Kings College (mrscarmichael)

and very bad photos:

not my breasts (mrscarmichael)

And boy, did we laugh.

We re-establised a friendship that is so much more precious now than in those heady days of our twenties.

Did I mention that our twenty four hours near Cambridge (but not the Fens) was filled with laughter? Well, dear reader, it was. And still, I can’t stop smiling.

We’ve agreed to do it again. I really hope we do.

Make a toast.

A toast to lasting friendship. Cheers, chin chin and bottoms up.

I thought, somewhat naively, after the naughty puppy stage, life with Lyle would settle in a peaceful walk, nap, feed, nap, walk continuum with lots of strokes and cuddles thrown in to lower the blood pressure (mine not his) but as we approach my cockapoo’s second birthday, one set of naughty is segueing seamlessly into another. Today therefore, I have signed up to Cesar Millan’s newsletter in the hope of an apocryphal epiphany of the training/control/obey your mistress at all times variety and in the mean time I rely on my, not really a puppy anymore’s love of tennis balls to retrieve him from numerous naughty encounters on Chorleywood Common.

Shouting “BALL,” gets Lyle back into my orbit faster than he can eat his dinner, faster than a Porsche’s 0 to 60 and faster even than this particular miscreant can run towards stampeding horses (see previous post when “ball” was sadly yet to feature in my doggy command repertoire).

'who said
‘who said “ball”? mrscarmichael

Along with poo bags, treats, my cell phone for the ‘have you lost a curly cream cockapoo called Carmichael?’ message, my doggy bag is abulge with balls of the tennis variety. I am the tennis ball lady.

Yesterday, “BALL,” got Lyle away from the fast cars of Dog Kennel Lane (he has form there); a discarded chicken biryani container (I do think he finished it first); the Black Horse pub (dog treats) and a moving golf ball on the fourth fairway.

'where's Lyle's ball?' Friends of Chorleywood Common
‘where’s Lyle’s ball?’ Friends of Chorleywood Common

Today, I had a particular and most satisfying success. Chorleywood Common currently hosts five longhorn cows. They are handsome beasts and are contained in Larks Medow by the use of ‘virtual fencing’ which gives a slight electric shock if the beasts dare to wander beyond a designated radius.

Lyle has, over the past month or so, realised that the cows aren’t very interested in him (good), that they are therefore, not very interesting (good) but that they produce a lot of interesting pats (very, very bad). He has recently endured much good natured hilarity from dog walkers and a couple of water- boardings from yours truly as a result of his full body immersion in the slimy sludge.

No cold water shower this day though as I happened to catch the moment when he went in for a left shoulder roll about thirty feet from me and six feet from where Milly, Molly or Mandy had just evacuated one of her stomachs.

“Ball,” I screamed, groping in my ‘bag-o-tricks’ and waving not one but two green spheres in his direction.

And, praise be to all things obedient, my naughty boy lifted his shoulder, straightened his legs and hightailed it back through the shock field to his reward, a ball and off we trotted both clean and both happy.

good as gold
good as gold

Things didn’t go so well for P…… and M……. however. P…… and M……. are a lovely couple who have rescued not one but two Dalmatians and although better now, there was a time when they wished they had stopped at one. B……., although a delightful dog is, a euphemistic handful. There is not much naughty that he hasn’t explored with dedication and a joie de vivre unknown to even the happiest of canines.

P….. and M….. have resorted to their own form of virtual fencing and installed a mini taser on B……’s collar. I assure you it’s for the best and B…….rarely needs the button pushed these days.

Yesterday was an exception. And, as always is the way, P……. and M…… had separated as hubby stayed to talk to a friend in the lower car park and P……. headed off with their charges. B……., in ebullient mood, circled the copse with his sister a number of times and, at the top of the hill raced off towards the longhorns. His mistress, knowing the road was nearby, ran after him calling and waving the detonator. B……, bit between his teeth, did not slow or stop.

M……, having finished his chat was following his wife up the hill when he spotted his younger dog’s collar caught in thistles in the copse.

“B……..’s lost his collar,” he shouted and picked it up.

“B……, come back here,” yelled P…… “c o m e  h e r e  N O W!”

Black spotted canine changed up into fifth gear.

P….. sent the mildest shock B……’s way. No reaction. Turning up the volume she reapplied the pressure. Absolutely nothing, niente, nada. B….. hurtled on disappearing between the cows’ legs. He circled the periphery of Larks Medow, got bored and, in his own time, returned to his mistress for a doggy treat.

Behind them, back down the hill, M……, shocked rigid picked himself up off the ground, taser dog collar still gripped tightly in his pulsating hand.

Entranced by Essaouira: Jour the First

mrscarmichael of arabia (mrscarmichael)
mrscarmichael of arabia (mrscarmichael)

Emboldened by our mastering of Marrakesh twenty months ago, Gracie and I did little preparation or forward planning for our five day, September break in coastal Essaouria, save booking flights and paying a £1.00 deposit on a hotel just outside the medina.

Our get-away was planned on a day in July – cold, wet, dark and horrible. You know, a normal English summer. An infusion of blue sky was not just needed it was a true medical necessity. Four nights beside the Sahara would, we decided, do us a treat and go some ways to getting us through to mid-winter sunshine breaks – yours truly to Sri Lanka with the Carmichael clan, Gracie to god-knows-where yet but believe me, she’s working on it as I type.

Our in depth lack of preparation meant that as we queued for Moroccan immigration, we found the need to fill some gaps and were forced to quiz multiple travellers about the local currency:

What was it called? Dirham.

What was the easy conversion rule to/from British sterling? There wasn’t one.

Where in the airport could we get some? Nowhere.

How were things going so far? Great! The sunshine beating on our backs t’wixt plane and terminal just the tonic we needed.

And anyway, our charming taxi driver told us via limited French and a cornucopia of hand signals that lack of funds was no problem. He would take us to a cashpoint machine on the way to our hotel. Really, he seemed more interested in getting us to admire his antique blue Mercedes the like of which I have not encountered since a visit to a Waikato farm circa 1965. That Merc was being used as a coop for roosting hens. It had slightly fewer dents than our transport to town.

While Gracie admired a tree full of goats and text her hubby to say ‘safely arrived’, I battled with my iPhone relic, failing miserably to get Vodafone to link me with Africa. Three hours of connection on Wednesday was, I now realise, my full allowance (I am not worthy) but even that and very intermittent wifi at the hotel did little/nothing to spoil our adventure. In fact it was rather liberating, truth be told.

Room 101

There is a British television programme called Room 101 where celebrities are invited by the host to discard people, places and things they dislike and/or that annoy them. They are banished to room 101 as long as the celeb can provide adequate argument as to why said person, object or locale deserves this ignominious end. We were handed two keys to room 101! Who sent us there? Actually who cares? We thank you.

Although the irony was not lost on us I can think of worse places to be abandoned. Let me tell you a bit about Essaouira.

Essaouira (def:planned) used to be called Mogador but was changed when European engineers laid out the medina in such a way as to allow one to not get lost while walking through the souk. Getting horribly lost in a souk is quite fun once (see previous posts) but on a daily basis can be wearisome. Marrakesch, Fez, Cassablanca are three of numerous metropolises in Morocco where you can enjoy getting lost. Essaouira offers you the option. I like that. Gracie and I almost didn’t get lost ever. And whenever we did, we found something so pretty, so yummy, so interesting that the tiny getting lost was more than worth it.

Here’s a beach bag I wouldn’t have bought if we hadn’t gone off piste.

off piste purchase (mescarmichael)
off piste purchase (mescarmichael)

I rest my case.

Essaouira is a working fishing port on the Atlantic. The small blue boats above catch the big fish and are all painted blue because the last thing a fisherman wants to do is be showy and rile the sea gods. The big, nay huge boats catch the little sardines. It’s true I promise. A nice sardine catcher offered to show me round his boat. I thought it better not to go. Although I love sardines it is a truth that one can have too much of a good thing. Up front and personal with a hold of sardines and their catcher just might have been too much good.

Safely back from the port, we swam, showered and changed into evening medina attire. We headed out for food. And wine.

Wine, the food of life, is always an interesting obsession in a ‘dry’ country. Being experts (remember Marrakesh?) we didn’t give it a second thought. We should have. And we should have on future outings as well. It’s that old preparation thing again. Or lack thereof.

Anyway, night the first, we were lead by the boss of a lantern seller round numerous twisty alleyways and at fast pace to a lovely looking riad that had a sea facing roof terrace, nice menu and most affable hosts. They, the hosts, met, greeted and ushered us to the lift (trans: elevator). Said lift was tiny. Possibly the tiniest lift I have ever been in with other people. It’s proportions were Lilliputian but nil desperandum, Gracie and I were on our way up to view, food and a glass or two of vino.

“We are really looking forward to some fish and a lovely bottle of Moroccan wine,” mumbled Gracie, bouche pressed into the light blue collar of mine host.

“Mmmm,” said I to her shoulder.

The lift ground up another floor.

“We don’t serve wine,” said she of the collar and proceeded to tell us about the fresh fish on offer as we crawled up a further floor or two. As if nothing was amiss.

Gracie cast half a right eye on me. I glared a quarter of a left at her. We could see no more of each other in the capsule-like enclosure. The doors opened, the terrace looked beautiful, a waiter gestured us to our table.

I gave Gracie the full ‘you do it’ look.

“Ahh, we were really wanting wine, “said she. “We’re very sorry.’

“Would you like the table over there?” asked the riad owner.

“We’re so sorry,”we said in tandem.

“We won’t be staying.”

And we all piled into the open door of the micro – lift and crept back down to reception.

“Sorry, so sorry, sorry” we effused backing out the entrance as fast as we could.

Lordy, did we need a glass of wine!

hooray (mrscarmicahel)
hooray (mrscarmicahel)

Absolutely Hot Yoga

In search of my personal yoga perfection I booked myself a ten day pass at my local hot yoga studio. Such a leap of faith was it that I needed to holiday for a week in the hope of recovering from the stress of commitment to heat, sweat, pain and possible panic.

The holiday was super as you know. In Lanzarote I ‘endured’ heat, sweat, only the pain of one too many and no panic what so ever. But then I had to come home and be a yogi amongst titan yogis. Oh the terror. Ah, the lack of sleep. Hmmm, the self recrimination and the contemplation of pulling out and thus letting myself down.

I bought fast drying, tight fitting, all purpose leggings and a sports bra. I dug out a baggy cotton vest and a huge drink bottle. I promptly bottled out of the first class – a foundation level introduction – and so found myself in an ‘Absolute 50′, hour and a half session where my rapid changes of position bore no relation to the other yogis’ in the studio and my dizzy spells went virtually unnoticed because of all the contortionist movement going on around me. #smallmercies

“If this is your first hot yoga,” L……. said to me, “You might be happier at the back.”

Oh so much happier but there was no space for me at the back or I’d have been there boots and all.

My teacher moved an expert to the mirrored front and I settled into my natural habitat at the very tail end of yet another class. #storyofmylife

My brow was beaded with sweat and my breathing laboured. I felt ever so slightly feverish. It was very hot in there.

Then the class began.

“You can’t drink yet.” L…… had spotted me, bending for my bottle, all the way at the rear. “Move away from that jeroboam of water. We haven’t finished the warm up yet.”

Five minutes into the 90 and with 49 asanas to go and I was feeling humid, flushed and more than a little discombobulated. It got worse. Much worse. I was too hot to get the giggles. It wasn’t very funny anyway. I had a wee sit down and felt better. Briefly. Who knew so many of my body parts don’t work properly? Even in, joint relaxing, 40 degree heat.

My bathroom towel kept slipping on the yoga mat, bunching and fighting me with vicious abandon. Straightening it gave me regular breaks. And by now we were allowed to sip our fluids. To compensate the positions got harder. I was sort of managing the first stage of complex, body breaking contortions. And then having a little rest. I was dripping with sweat. L……. helped me into a couple of impossible holds. I realised body lotion makes the limbs very slippy to hold on to. At least I smelt nice. Well I hope I did.

I managed to complete the class. #yougogirl

I booked an ‘easier’ one for the Wednesday. I went. Then I booked an easier, easier one for Saturday.

I have persevered as an adjunct to my not hot yoga classes.

I am looking forward to my turn at this.

you are one crazy dude (
you are one crazy dude (

And in anticipation I have bought a non-slip towel and a smaller water bottle. I no longer apply lotion to my limbs before class. My hips are flexing wider and my waist seems to be shrinking.

It’s a journey – apparently.


Tits and Knickers, Canary style

Parking on market day in Teguise is surprisingly easy we agreed as I hurtled the Fiat Panda into just one of the hundred or so vacant spaces in the centre of this Lanzarotian town, in the centre of Lanzarote on our March time trip to the Canary Isles.

“And there was me thinking this was the touristic market,” I gushed, flushed with the success of, not only surpurlative navigation skills but also staying on the correct side of the road the whole way up to the white walled, green shuttered pueblo.

“It does seem very empty,” Gracie commented. “You’d think that would be the epicentre of any market, wouldn’t you?” She waved at an empty square and an even emptier marquee, its plastic doors flapping in the not inconsequential breeze that Teguise is famed for.

“I told you the last time I came here it was like a wild west town, complete with tumbleweed infested streets,” said I.

“But that wasn’t market day, was it?” a backseat driver inquired rhetorically.

And of course, dear readers nor was this. Mrs Carmichael had dragged the Lunching Ladies of Lanza on a wild ‘bargain’ chase. The island’s biggest and oldest out-door market is held on a Sunday morning. This being Saturday, we were a good twenty hours early. Still, there was plenty of parking.

just me and the sixteen others (mrscarmichael)
just me and the twenty others (mrscarmichael)

And, as it turned out, plenty of ‘bargains’ to purchase.

But first we consoled ourselves with brunch.

tortilla heaven (mrscarmichael)
tortilla heaven (mrscarmichael)

And then, along with the other seventeen people in town that day, we hit the shops. Mis tres amigas acquired a lot of jewellery. I mean a lot, a lot.

I bought this………..

ever so slightly more garish in the flesh (mrscarmichael)
ever so slightly more garish in the flesh (mrscarmichael)

“Why?” you ask.

I am the first to agree that the question is a reasonable one. And the answer.

I don’t know.

but it seemed like a good idea at the time. And I did meet the woman who crocheted it. That makes it better I think. And it suits me. Well, in a dark room with a following wind. It suits me better than it suits my friends. I guess, on reflection that could and probably does say more about me……………and not in a good way.

A wee while later I bought this………

make mine a cactus cocktail, por favor (mrscarmichael)
make mine a cactus cocktail, por favor (mrscarmichael)

“Why?” you ask.

It is in many ways an even more reasonable question. More so when you know that it cost more and I have worn it even less than the yellow crochet hat. I wore the hat for the rest of our time in Teguise because I thought I was funny. Hmmmmm. Photos don’t lie unfortunately. Thirty one of Yours Truly sporting this fashion forward item of clothing have gone into the virtual bin. It’s for the best.

Or should I say breast?

Breast might indeed be best because I was still wearing my sunny hat when I avoided arrest by wink and a nippy burst of speed an hour or so later.

Bored ever so slightly with the conspicuous consumption of baubles by the only three people I knew in Teguise, I had plonked myself down at a café to await empty- wallet- time when my eye was drawn by two mannequin contemporaries of mine in a distressing state. It was that good ‘ol Teguise breeze you see.

oh no (mrscarmichael)
oh no (mrscarmichael)

Her friend was similarly exposed.

tits ahoy (mrscarmichael)
tits ahoy (mrscarmichael)

I jumped up and and attempted to cover their modesty. My café owner, coming out for a not so swift fag, caught me with both hands on a bosom and made the ludicrous assumption that Mrs C was stripping the gals for her own pleasure and an x- rated photo opportunity.

Shouting he rushed at me. I dodged his parry and, fleet of foot vanished into, you guessed it, a jewellery shop.

My friends, looking up from their jewel buying for a nanosecond, found it hilarious. Thank heaven the mannequins’ manager realised I was more good samaritan than sex pest and called off the one man Spanish Armada. Phew.

“I’m putting a white wash on,” I announced on return to Villa Vida later that afternoon. The girls brought me their whites and we collapsed by the pool to discuss nonexistent markets, excessive jewellery consumption, lucky escapes and clean clothes. All discussion complemented by a well deserved vino blanco. Or two.

“Huston, we have a problem,” I was forced to concede on attempting to allocate lavender scented linen and lingerie to four piles a wee while later.

Gracie it transpires, has the same taste in bras and knickers as YT and apparently we had both stocked up well for our holiday. The bras were easy (she has no tits), the seven pairs of identical XXS knickers not so. Thank goodness we’ve been amigas for mumble, mumble, mumble years. What’s a bit of polyester – sharing between old friends?

We met, last Friday, in Soho for a catch-up. As tour guide, I booked the themed venue – tapas of course and set the rules of attendance.

All purchases made in Lanzarote must be worn.

I thought it amusing at the time. Gracie and K…… were there sporting identical volcanic orange pendants and rings on most fingers. L…… apparently hasn’t taken off the silver ring she had fitted in the breast shop. And I, M’lud? I ‘forgot’ the self imposed rubrics and arrived looking great.