Category Archives: mrscarmichael’s catchall

Water World, Water Works and a Whole Load of Untreated Shit

only yesterday (
only yesterday (

If only it were a movie. Kevin Costner sic-fied up in a block busting tale of global warming, strong arm tactics and life in the future seems like an easy sit through now. By comparison us residents of England lucky enough to live atop a hill, away from a river, the sea or a tidal inlet can watch our own futuristic disaster unfold from our Roche Bobois sofas and La-Z-Boy armchairs. We can top up our glasses of sav blanc and pop out for a quick wee in the ad breaks. We can even flush our loos. Others unfortunately, cannot. Their fridges are floating unfilled. Our flush is their contamination.

While Los Angeles suffers a drought and the Eastern Seaboard struggles under wave after wave of snow and ice, this side of the pond is enduring a mild, wet winter. Put like that it sounds quite beneficent, doesn’t it? Spring is indeed sprung in my Chiltern garden.

hello my pretty (mrscarmichael)
hello my pretties (mrscarmichael)

But less than twenty miles from my houses, cars, furniture and lives are underwater. The Thames has burst its banks. Wraysbury, Dachet and surrounds are flooded. The fire service is evacuating residents. The army is on standby. People are fighting over sandbags in desperate desire to save their homes. Railway stations are closed. People can’t get to work. Last night people couldn’t get home from work because the mainline out of Paddington had to stop operations. Sewerage is oozing up through floorboards and folks are getting ill.

Some residents believe they have been scapegoated to save the upmarket Eton and Windsor’s gin and Jag brigade. Even if HRH’s castle is on a hill one can’t be too careful can one?

More rain is predicted and with it, more flooding.

pretty much covers it (Met Office site)
pretty much covers it (Met Office site)

It’s hard to believe that there are some in England who have been suffering the same fate for the past two months. I kid you not.

It all began around Christmas Day for many residents of the Somerset Levels. Storms cut their electricity and many were not reconnected for weeks. Then the waters rose. And rose and they are still rising.

bucolic beauty
bucolic beauty (

Here, on a good day, is a thing of beauty. Farmers farm, ramblers, ramble, the Glastonbury Festival is beamed to millions across the globe and villages are picture postcard perfect.

The Levels is an area of special protection due to plant and birdlife; its biodiversity of international import.

Here’s what it looks like right now:

Kevin Costner enough for you? (Adam
Kevin Costner enough for you? (Adam

It’s been this way for months and there is no end in sight.

The Doomsday book records dredging and drainage of this precious region. Then performed regularly by the monasteries governments and environmental agencies have taken over responsibility from the church.

Except they have stopped doing it and look at the result.

Houses ruined, farms bankrupt, livestock destroyed, people dead. There’s even talk of returning it to the sea – just not bothering #TooHard.

The government is playing catch up. They are putting on their wellies both literally and metaphorically way too late. You’d think that with Scotland planning to jump ship soonish, David Cameron would want to preserve every little bit of land he still governs. Instead, he wants to get to work on destroying the Chilterns, another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, by ploughing upwards of £82 billion into the white elephant otherwise known as the HS2 rail network.

Surely we could put that money to better use. A few ideas above.

Christmas Past and Present (a Sacred Time of Year)

a kiwi christmas scene
a kiwi christmas tree

As a child my Christmases were sun filled. Yuletide cards might have boasted snow and icicles but this wasn’t a reality for me. My reality involved holidays, beaches, bbq’s and mucking about in boats.

Hot long summers produced magnificent Pohutukawa flowers. To New Zealanders everywhere and through time these trees represent not just Christmas but lovely long lazy days. Ahhhhh bliss.

Then I moved to London and everything changed. I struggled to produce meaningful work after 3.30pm so dark and nightime-ish was it outside. The icicles and snow became a reality. As did the rain, never depicted on cards I can recall.

christmas a la Oxford Street (mrscarmichael)
christmas a la Oxford Street (mrscarmichael)

But there was something magical about a ‘real’ Christmas and I have embraced that magic ever since. More or less.

Carnaby Street decals (mrscarmichael)
Carnaby Street decals, 2013 (mrscarmichael)

In the West End on a solo shopping expedition recently I hunted among Soho’s little side streets for a café to reenergise without breaking the Liberty diminished bank balance.

Eschewing the Starbucks, Prêts and Costas I found a welcoming coffee house, Sacred that boasted a corner table with my name on it (well, you know what I mean).

Ever conscious of my increased proclivity for talking to strangers I said nothing on realising it was a fellow countrywoman who took my tuna melt and Americano order. Feeling proud of my restraint I sat, checked my cell, reread my shopping list and waited for my food.

This was my order number.

only the best ice cream on a stick in the whole wide world (mrscarmichael)
only the best ice cream on a stick in the whole wide world (mrscarmichael)

“Tuna melt and long black?” another young thing asked me.

Had I fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole? No one says ‘long black’ is this here neck of the woods. She too had a Kiwi accent.

I looked around carefully seeing for the first time Kiwiana everywhere. Maps, tikis, NZ flags, and this framed bus route from Wellington, my home town. It even includes the hood of my youth.

nostalgia central plus a paua shell (mrscarmichael)
nostalgia central plus a paua shell (mrscarmichael)

The long black was off the highest New Zealand barista standard, the vittles yummy and I plan a return visit to try the brie and cranberry panini which is, I am informed, festively topical and to die for.

As pleased as I bet Mary was to find that manger I am delighted to have fallen upon this café, a Kiwi oasis 12,000 miles from home.

Mere Kirihimete y’all.


Out and About in London Town

fitting right in (ITV)
if the cap fits (ITV)

Back in October I got tickets for the recording of a TV show (Loose Women) in ITV’s studios on the Southbank and invited my friend, Gracie to accompany me. It was a bit of an adventure, a day out, a moment among the famous and apart from the tube fare, lunch and a tipple absolutely free.

It was quite fun too. We got to see the very good looking, well groomed and suavely dressed Lawson perform Juliet and managed to tolerate a very, very loose Janet Street-Porter cuss and opine.

We, Gracie and I, decided that a day out was a good thing and good things bear repeating. On a monthly basis from here on out.

We will take turns and the only rule: the destination/event/activity must be free.

yes please (mrscarmichael)
yes please (mrscarmichael)

Gracie took me to a pop art exhibition at the Barbican. I like the Barbican and don’t go there enough. I like the Brutalist architecture, the restaurants and the cultural offerings contained within its concrete walls.

The pop art was not much cop on the ground floor but got rather good upstairs. I can’t show you because photography was verboten.

The level of goodness gave us a head rush. We needed food and beverage to withstand the cultural onslaught.

I had the basil (mrscarmichael)
I had the basil (mrscarmichael)

The only downside to this day. Entry was not free. It was £12.00 a head.

In this dog eat Pedigree Chum world of Boris Johnson’s Mensa elite, South Korean school children putting in thirteen hour days and unpaid internships (don’t get me started) I feel the need to inject a competitive edge into the monthly outings.

And view this as a 1:nil to Mrs Carmichael. Soon to be 2:nil.

Tomorrow it’s my turn again and we head to Regent Street and Liberty, the wackiest department store in the whole god damn wide world.

christmas ready (
christmas ready (

Yes, of course it’s free. Isn’t that the only rule of the game?

So now, beloved followers I need your help. I want to win. Thinking caps on then, creative minds engaged.

More ideas please. In and around London or indeed further afield.

Fulsome credit will be awarded to all challenges accepted.

Just one more thing. Can we keep this our little secret? Sssssh, lips sealed.

Whatever In Love Means

At the top I must say ‘congratulations’ to William, Duke of Cambridge and his stunning wife, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of the Princeling Cambridge yesterday afternoon.

HRH, the royal easel (national
HRH, the royal easel (national

Fantastic news. Although Mrs Carmichael was rooting for a girl she’s drowned her sorrows and wet the baby’s head, big style. It was hot, the wait was long, tensions were mounting and I do, you know, like a drink.

As I write the new family is yet to emerge from the wings of Lindo in Paddington and head off to either the pomp and circumstance of a palace royal and great grandparents Liz and Phil or back to Bucklebury in deepest Berkshire (the Royal County of) to grandparents Carol and Mike for a touch of common cuddles and night feeds.

Wherever they choose I thinks Kate is going to be surrounded with love and support and that’s a good thing.

And because good is usually tempered by not so good my thoughts are tugged back thirty one years to Diana emerging from the same hospital with the baby William in her arms, dressed in voluminous green with her knee high tights on show.

How different things might have been if she enjoyed similar levels of love and devotion from those close to her.

"whatever love means" (
“whatever in love means” (

I loved her (warts and all or indeed because of the warts) as did millions around the globe but it’s not quite the same is it?

In this engagement interview, our Prince of Wales does the best job of foreshadowing Yours Truly has ever happened upon. You know the concept, secretly telling the reader/audience the plot right up front but not so we realise.

Of course we didn’t know it at the time. We were only on Chapter One. To be fair Chaz possibly didn’t either, but he had a damn sight more idea than twenty year old Diana and indeed had accepted cufflinks engraved with a C from Camilla P B, his ‘ non negotiable’ mistress the evening before. He was definitely on, at least, Part Two.

One thing we can be certain about is Diana’s love for her sons. Of that there is no question and they, her in return. I think it shows.

love (
love (

How sad she isn’t here to celebrate the birth of another king, her grandson. To my mind there is just the faintest a wiff of an elephant (a beautifully elegant elephant) in the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace.

Cheers, Di.

Mrs C will raise a toast to you this evening.

It’s Not Just Mrs Carmichael’s Comments That Are SPAM It’s Many, Many UK Bloggers Along With Yours Truly

self portrait (
self portrait (

Ah ha, this is only affecting WordPress bloggers from the UK it seems. It also appears many of us are affected.

WordPress takes no responsibility even though many of us are paying for premium themes and add ons.

After a direct plea to Akismet I got a response on Monday from Mark, telling me my problems (blogging wise anyway) were over.

No way José. They (my problems), along with other poor souls’ (problems) from this fair isle are still in the same dang position – ham unable to link or comment on bloggers’ posts.

Now he’s stopped speaking to me.

I posted a comment on his blog but guess where it went? Got it in 1.  His SPAM folder.

WP has, today suggested we wait A WEEK and then let them know if we still have an issue. Then ‘further action’ can be taken.

Oh, please. Anybody as happy with this suggestion as I am?

Silly, daft Mrs C thinks someone should pay us some attention and sort the bug out. And keep us informed along the way.

To all my followers, can you go into your spam folder/comments pending and unspam me, please.

To those I follow but you don’t follow me, I am so sorry. Mrs Carmichael is still replying and still loving you. Heaven knows how you get to see this though.

Signing out from the wilderness,

Yours unhappily,


PS Here’s a helpful comment from a WordPress member, ie someone who answers our WP problems.

I hope that everyone here recognizes that

1. Akismet Staff are on our side – they are our spam prevention team!

2. Akismet Staff are working flat out as quickly as they can to address this issue.

3. This is public forum and every thread is available to everyone on the internet including the spammers who are undoubtedly getting off on the discomfort of hobbybloggers who I sincerely hope are not becoming daram queens and kings.

Bottom line: It’s only a blog.

So why not get up and get outside of your head for awhile? There’s nothing to be lost by getting some fresh air and it may help bring things into perspective so this issue is not a drama creating opportunity for those who lack a vibrant offline social life.

Mine might might might be fixed now. I’m almost too scared to try and comment.

Have I Been categorised as SPAM?

None of my comments are showing up on your posts today. It is most dispiriting since I have entered the Where’s my backpack? weekly travel theme but cannot post the link. Ailsa, if you read this could you check your spam and un-spam me if that’s the problem?

Likewise mrs fringe, I commented on your loss of marbles and my pearls have not appeared. Could you, too, check your spam and release me if that’s where I’ve rocked up?

Perhaps I am being told something……………….

In Which The Author Attempts to Pen a Cross – Carmichael – Category Post (Because That’s What She Usually Does Anyway)

Honestly, I thought I was so clever creating my categories. Obviously I now see that they break all the dictates for WordPress success vis-à-vis clarity and concision of purpose in post and blog. Without a John Malkovich portal (ah, now you get the blog title) how on earth do I drag you, Dear Reader, along with me and my clan? I don’t want to dump you or have you jumping out on the hard shoulder on a New Jersey turnpike. Oh no, no, no. That’s not, and never was, my intention.

In direct contradiction to Freshly-Pressable rules I tend to circle a topic like a dog sniffing out the perfect spot to pee. Mind map forgotten and synapses firing fit to burst, my cortex cannot seem to focus on one subject long enough to scribe even a thousand words without detours, speed bumps, distractions and a Thomas the Tank Engine sized set of buffers back at Big Station.

I can never get to the point, it appears. Mrs Carmichael is a personification of ‘the road less travelled by’. Ah me. Alas. Alack.

This afternoon I was about to write a Reading Repository book review (Carmichael style) but have become sidetracked before placing nail to keyboard. And now I see it’s almost 5.00 pm so thoughts are turning to my larder and, newly cleaned, fridge and I am already distracted.

I have six categories to cover. I must begin.

1) mrscarmichael’s reading repository

I have just finished Michael Frayn’s latest novel, Skios. Set on an imaginary Greek island the story takes place over a few days of bouganvilla clad summer and features an airport, a villa and a conference hotel as the backdrop.

Mistaken identity is the premise of this 200 odd paged book. A suitcase mixup at arrivals sets the story off and Dr Norman Wilfred, the guest speaker, and Oliver Fox, lothario at large, have their week’s plans derailed, one more willingly than the other.

Skios is fast paced in a farce-like way and reminds me more of Frayn’s Noises Off than other novels of his that I have read.  Spies, his Whitbread winner and in my top ten of all time, so utterly different to this offering.

That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. I did but Peter Kemp of the Sunday Times promised me the following: ‘This book risks being unreadable…….tears of laughter make the print swim in front of your eyes.’

Peter, are you given to hyperbole in other areas of your life or only when paid to write a promo? I did laugh but tears did not drip onto page. Nor was I rendered incapable of action. My sides did not split.

I know what that’s like you see.

2) meet the Carmichaels

When I first moved to London mumble years ago, I lived in a North London high street above a magazine shop and a curry house. It was all terribly exciting and in those days a second floor (UK), third floor (US) walk up was no problem for young knees and buoyant souls. The constant smell of chicken Korma, prawn balti and sag aloo another story all together.

The fact that our Lilliputian sized flat had no washing machine did not bother us either. We took turns of a Saturday/Sunday morning to visit the laundrette two doors up (now a Snappy Snaps) on the corner and return home with wonderful baguettes and croissants from the local deli five doors down (still there).

On my clothe cleaning weeks I enjoyed a hour’s read in the laundrette. The patrons, seated on central benches between the banks of washing machines and industrial dryers, chatted (rarely), read newspapers, watched their tumbling  garments or like me, read a book.

I think it was a David Lodge and without ordering his whole back catalogue (which I admit I’m tempted to do) I don’t remember the title. I’d got it from Hampstead Library and saved it for this moment. Opening the cover I began to read.

I started to smile and relax. I began to laugh. I was getting noisy and getting stares. I kept reading. And laughing. I wasn’t off page one. I think I hiccuped. I know I snorted. Everyone was looking at me now, papers lowered, washing forgotten. I apologised, tears rolling down my cheeks and began reading anew. I was still on page one. Guffawer is the only word that does what I was doing justice. I had to stop reading.

I had to stop reading a book because I was in public and I was making a scene. I have never forgotten the moment. If I wrote that as a book promo no one would believe it. Perhaps Peter Kemp’s tears really did make the words swim. I don’t think so though.

3) mrscarmichael is away from her desk

Now the sleuths amongst you may be asking how Mrs C knows the laundrette is no more as she lives on the edge of the Chilterns?

And the answer is simple. As I mentioned in, Art Meets Architecture (A Cultural Diversion) I am, because of sudden, sad and somewhat unexpected arrival of free time, broadening my horizons and travelling those other roads in the hope that I might use Robert Frost’s wonderful poem to justify my new peripatetic ambitions, ‘and that has made all the difference’. I am on the hunt for different things to do.

Currently I’m pretending that I live in places I used to and spending inordinate amounts of time there, taking photos and remembering incidents of uncontrolled giggling in laundrettes. Call me barmy, I don’t mind.

4) through mrscarmichael’s contact lens

my old front door (mrscarmichael)
ahh, my old front door (mrscarmichael)

5) mrscarmichael’s creative twin

At the time I lived on Rosslyn Hill I banged into quite a number of famous residents of the ‘burb; Michael Foot (the then Labour Party Leader), John Cleese (actor/comedian), Dame Judi Dench (actor extraordinaire) and last but by no means least Slim Jim Phantom, the Stray Cats drummer who lived, albeit briefly, upstairs.

I met him when I went up to complain about the drumming. It was 3.00 am and I had a job to go to. Not recognising him I possibly came across as rather angry. I don’t think Britt was on the scene just yet because I surely would have recognised her.

my flat and a Stray Cat's (mrscarmichael)
my flat and a Stray Cat’s (mrscarmichael)

And that’s enough famous/clever/talented people envy for one publication.

6) mrscarmichael’s catchall

Obviously this is where I shall allocate this post. There is no carmichael category more deserving. Thank you and goodnight.

In Which I Must Sign Off From a Life of Crime; Experience Highs and Lows of a Uni Dance Competition Whilst Sitting in a Deep Pool of Black Coffee; Come Home to Find the Boiler Broken and Leave for New Zealand

WordPress tells us bloggers that one of the worst crimes is to disappear without notice – to blog erratically so here, dear followers and readers is my au revoir of sorts.

I have been in a mid state of panic for a week or so now (since meeting Gertie, my 89 year old second cousin and new best friend if we look at telephone hours she is now racking up in phoning me each night) because of all the things I must complete pre departure for the Antipodes.

I began with Daughter #2’s uni grant application which was languishing on the sideboard unsigned. I forged her signature, found a stamp and posted the application. Pushing the envelope through the postbox I was blinded by a vision of the signature. I’d signed the wrong daughter. Oh my. Will they notice? I pray not. I’m going away. I can’t fix it.

This weekend just gone I’ve had no time to do things because I’ve been in an enormous gym in Loughborough watching 500 girls and nine boys dance. Daughter #2 runs her uni dance squad this year so has choreographed the routines and feels very responsible for the outcome. She is sometimes prone to tears. I’m not but when at 11.10 on Saturday morning I tipped 3/4 of a Starbucks sized black coffee down my front, soaking my cardigan, white shirt and pooling in my lap  and by lap I mean stretching to my knees (front and back) it was me who cried. After I disrupted a dance routine by screaming. My capsule wardrobe was tightened beyond endurance for the next two days.

Daughter #2 cried later when they won nothing on the first day. Me, exhausted, very!

Day two dawned with sorry faces BUT they danced their metaphorical socks off and got a third place trophy. Me (and them) thrilled, muchly.

Then Mr Carmichael rang to tell me the boiler’s broken. “But it’s all under control.”

Why is the house so cold then?

Today I’m primping. All day. Which in itself is exhausting. And expensive.

And then I fly!!!!!!!

I am going to try and post, try and enter the photo themes and challenges. You know where the pics will be of 🙂

Bear with me.

Normal service will resume in three weeks.

Well, It Is Award Season………..

Having watched the Baftas and heard reportage of the Grammys last night I have decided that it behoves me to prepare and publish my own acceptance speech.

Not having funds, where-with-all or appropriate ball gowns to travel in person to collect my trophies I intend to make one overarching acceptance oration, honour those who proposed and voted for me and pass the baton on quick smart – all with a humble mien.

I haven't got a sister so this is cool (mrscarmichael)
I haven’t got a sister so this is cool (mrscarmichael)

As an honorary member of this select sisterhood JB, the eponymous hero in The Adventures of Justin Beaver has seen fit to nominate me for The Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Perhaps it was just a burst of good old Kiwi Christmas ozone or possibly the fact that our national bird cannot fly and therefore not threaten to hole his favourite lederhosen but I’ll take it any which way and even loose. Thanks, Justin.

To comply with the rules, like the Grammys, I have to, whilst typing, wear an outfit that does not reveal décolletage or derriere. Check. I must link to my nominator. Check. Post pic of award. Check. Answer ten probing questions. These along with my responses follow shortly. And nominate 10 – 12 soon to be gleeful recipients.

But wait there’s more.

it's like a dollar bill only nicer (mrscarmichael)
it’s like a dollar bill only nicer (mrscarmichael)

ShopTwinkle a sister who not only shops with intent but writes about shopping, fashion and the occasional bargain has nominated me for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award and just this very snowy morning in London Town I opened my computer to find that DETERMINED34 has done the very same thing. Awesome! I’m in trifecta heaven.

Now Mrs Determined obviously has much more willpower than Yours Truly (visit her blog to see why) but we are agreed on the fact that it’s lovely to win awards.

There are similarities in the rules: Link back. Check, check. Display award. Displayed with pleasure. Tell the blogosphere seven things about me. About to. And nominate 15 people to, in their turn, receive the accolade.

I figure that by answering the ten Sisterhood questions you will know more that enough about mrscarmichael. Agreed? Then here we go.

1 what is your favourite colour? Orange but not burnt orange. I find the incendiarisation of any colour offensive.

what is your favourite animal? How could I say anything other than man’s best friend? He’s standing here right now judging my responses.

what is your favourite non-alcoholic drink? I didn’t know such a thing existed.

Facebook or twitter? Facebook but only because it’s an easy way to stay in touch with friends and fam across the seas. That said I would love you to follow my tweets.

that's me in the middle (Butterick/ebay site)
that’s me in the middle (Butterick/ebay site)

what is your favourite pattern? Butterick Girls Rockabilly Party/Day dress. I swear I had this one.

do you prefer getting or giving presents? Both.

what is your favourite number? 7, like most of the rest of the world. And it’s the seventh question as well. Karma.

what is your favourite day of the week? Nothing matches a Friday for promise.

what is your favourite flower? A perfect blousy pink peony.

10 what is your passion? It was all going so well. Reading (I once had to leave a Greek Island a day early because I’d run out of books) or winning an argument.

I am now going to bestow my awards. Men you are eligible for the VIB only. Ladies take one or both with my blessing.

One final rule for both. Those nominated must be informed in time for them to accessorise their acceptance outfits. I’m on to it right now.