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Barmy Blue's Bland Blog

stuff and things

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The foxes are screaming again. It's to be expected. It's breeding season afterall. I put chicken out for them yesterday but they didn't take it. To be fair mum put some out the day before and yester a neighbor had something out front. They've probably taken my chicken now though. Why do we have chicken to waste you may wonder. And where have I been? I said I'd pop in over the week or so to fill in events.
Hah. We knew you wouldn't keep it up. You never do. I bet you were doubting yourself from the beginning. Even you didn't think you'd do it.
Well hang on there ears are ringing for no reason again....I'm trying to leave them alone but when they itch I wonder if I should clean them but jabbing cotton buds in your ears is not recommended even though that's what they're designed for. Anyway.
Hang on the naysayers I have good reason for my absence. It was NOT laziness, for once in my life.
I got bitten again and this one was worse than before.
I'm assuming I regaled you with the tale of my wrist and then my thumb a week later. Well just 2 days later she caught my left hand.
Allow me to set the scene.

A week and a half ago it was my Mum's birthday. I find it strange to compare this time last year when I'd been out and about buying her a thing or two for her birthday. It was the first of three consecutive months of visiting The Body Shop. Things were "normal" then. I got gifts for Mum and my aunt (the widow of my dad's brother) then. That's strange to think of. Not just because things aren't like that any more but also because this is the first birthday since that aunt died last year. We weren't close. She was nice, we just weren't close geographically and we're not the sort of people who call each other much if ever. It feels so strange not having to post anything. We'd post her a gift for Christmas and possibly her birthday. Hers would be the first card I made for the year. Last year I got smart and whipped one up before Christmas so I didn't need to rush getting all my card stuff out again (I have to hide it all in my room to "tidy up" for Christmas) If I'd known that would be the last card we sent her I'd have put more effort into it. It was nice, well I think so. I just with it had been more than just good or nice. I rather wish I'd made it special somehow.

Anyway. This year.
I've been saving some of the hand cream I bought last year (It's looking at the bag that made me think of all that stuff mentioned above. I kept it in roughly the same place in my room all year. It's odd but nice and kind of reassuring that it barely moved in a year, what with the past year having been as turbulent as it was and things still not settled now. There was a simple time when I could just walk down to the shops and only have my "normal" level of anxiety of there'll be people, is it too late in the day, I'll have to get up early, what about the dog, I have to get back and settled before Mum gets home so she won't know I've been out so she'll never suspect. Rather than having all that AND wondering what shops will be open, will there be queuing, face mask, hand sanitizer, can it be cash because I prefer it to card, despite my precautions will I get sick or could I be asymptomatic and make someone else sick, will other people be following the rules because a lot don't. The number of times I've seen a face mask with a nose poking out over the top and it hasn't just slipped, they think that's okay somehow. Surely it only is if you can't breathe through your nose at all. Or, god forbid, a mask pulled down to the chin. Why?)
Lost my train of thought there. Or more like it took a wrong turning and started hurtling down a mountain at gathering speed.

I started wondering what to do a little too late. My thoughts were too preoccupied with seeing if I could complete the scarf I'd been making her for Christmas. I'd originally tried a cardigan but I didn't have enough yarn and couldn't get more. I'd made mittens out of it the previous year. It's a chunky patterned wool. I'd made myself a cardigan out of a different coloured one that year. But last year I couldn't get the green one for mum's cardigan (her's is green) so I decided to use what I had and see if I could make a nice scarf. I'd started wearing my scarf and we briefly mentioned the merits of it. (I made it quite a few years ago now. Black with rainbow stripes. It's a little crooked because I didn't know how to sew it up properly, it's double thickness, but I still like it) I had nowhere near enough to make one of a similar length and width for mum, well not from that green chunky one anyway. I could only work on it when she wasn't home otherwise it wouldn't be a surprise.

On the day of her birthday I almost had it done. When she came home I had to smuggle it up to my room. A stitch got knotted and it was a bugger to get undone. It's obvious I was up to something but it didn't matter. It came out a bit shorter than I wanted. It would work and could be stretched but then the edged would curl up. I later pressed it to try and get it to hold more of it's shape. It's not perfect but it does the job and we both like it.
I'd gotten her a box of chocolates to be for Christmas but I held them back for the birthday. I wrapped them with the hand cream in the scarf (still just a touch damp but still). I didn't want to waste wrapping paper but still felt an effort should be made so the scarf wrapping seemed smart. If you feel your offering it too paltry then the least you can do is make the opening of it an experience. A nice little surprise of a bit quirky, something that takes just a little more effort. So for a nicer presentation I put the bundle into the old Body Shop bag (it's a sturdy little paper bag and it was relatively neat and clean) It fit perfectly, as if predestined. Still lacking something. It's nice but lackluster. If you don't wrap a gift in wrapping paper then stuffing the bag with tissue paper is a nice alternative. Didn't want to waste tissue paper either. This exchange will only be quick and impressive wrapping would be wasteful and annoying for just the two of us. That's why i didn't do it. There's a bin right next to her chair so it would be straight off and into the bin.
But the bag still doesn't seem fitting. If only there were a mere scrap of tissue paper that I could put over the top, just for a moment. Brainwave. For reasons I will soon detail we have paper napkins, bright pink and one (my one) is completely unused. I pop in. Steal my napkin and pop out. She knows something's up, she's not an idiot. I open the napkin out, drape it over top and pinch/fluff it around a bit to look less limp and crappy. What I create is as perfect a cobbled together gift bag as I can manage. It looks pretty nice considering what it all is.
She likes it. The little spectacle of the whole thing, figuring out it's a scarf, dropping the hand cream because I forgot to warn her and finally seeing the scarf unfurled. Like I said, if it's not much on it's own make it a fun spectacle.

Now then. You said you'd tell us about the napkin.

Ah yes. Between her getting home and my gift giving there was something else in-between and throughout.
She was working that day. So her colleagues got her a huge bouquet of flowers. Very pretty. There were cards, a box of chocolates and another thing or two at some point too. So moved did she feel that she sent round a thank you email. But it didn't stop there.
Later on in the day a colleague (her superior I think) comes in cheerfully "delivery!" and presents her with a "cream tea for two" (they know she likes drinking tea).

For those unfamiliar with our bizarre customs allow me to enlighten you.
A cream tea is regular tea with a side of cakes, usually with cream of some description, and the confusing entity known as a scone. A round, dense cake thing which you cut open and smear with clotted cream and jam. Now. There are many debates among the English regarding scones. Firstly do you pronounce it S-con or S-cone? For me S-con. S-cone sounds too posh for my liking (given how I actually speak you'd find that odd. In my mind it sounds poncey, like saying something like croissant the correct way, well as correctly as the English can manage French. I pronounce the R mostly for fun, and because I leanrnt from and anime about bread that it's so called because it's a crescent shape and I like to give a nod to that even if it's not true. In cartoons and sitcoms of the 90's at least a stuck up/comical character will pronounce things "correctly" and they're usually an unlikeable character. Well, that's how it seemed growling up anyway. So I try not to be that kind of stereotype)
Anyway, enough of the labyrinth that is the English language and my take on it.
The second debate about scones is how to eat them.
Do you put on the jam first or the cream?
Yes that's actually a thing. And it seems to be a regional thing because of course it is. One says jam then cream. The other says cream with jam.

Now. I can't really weigh in on this debate much nor can I elaborate much further on what a cream tea is for the simple reason that I don't have them.
If you've followed my for well any amount of time you'll know that I barely go out. You'll only know if you've stuck around me for quite some time that i detest tea in all it's forms. Shock horror. An English person who doesn't like tea. Are you sure you're English? Yeah. Pretty sure. Now. Here's another kicker for a young woman in their 30's in this day and age. I hate coffee too. Can't stand the taste, the smell and the way it's invaded out cultural identity and actually pushed tea out of the way. Just because I don't drink it doesn't mean I don't appreciate it's existence. Thing is, I like coffee sweets. Coffee cake, coffee chocolate. I always have. My mum can't stand it at all. As I've gotten older my ability to handle bitterness has increased, but not enough to actually drink the stuff. I'm not that strange. It's probably genetic. My mum may love tea But my dad hates it. Even greater shocker. He's a builder. There's the stereotype of builders and tea. He hates coffee too, but likes the sweets, same as me. I don't know why he doesn't like the drinks. I know why I don't. I don't like hot drinks. Never have. And yes. You can get cold tea. I guess because I detest hot tea I'm not hooked on the taste of tea. It's too watery. Anyway. Enough about my hot beverage preferences.
When people go to a Tea Shop they're likely to have a cream tea. It's that kind of experience. Maybe you'll go to a beach, somewhere in/nearer to the countryside and/or somewhere a bit more old fashioned and you're likely to come across a quaint little tea shop for a spot of afternoon tea.

An afternoon tea is not necessarily a cream tea but it can be. The difference between the two it the addition of a creamy confection with your tea be it a scone or cream cake (though I think some would argue that it MUST be with a scone though I wonder if it still counts if you omit the cream). You might also have sandwiches and/or some other savory little nibbles. As I said, don't have much experience of them personally and when I did it was as a child so I was more fixated on the desserts.

Back to my Mum's birthday. The "cream tea for two".
It's a nice package maybe around 14 inches high (I'm not great with numbers. A bit bigger than a kitchen roll so looking at my tape measure that seems a reasonable guestimate). It has card round the edge. On the top we can see two miniature jars of strawberry jam (a single serving each), two small tubs of clotted cream, two sachets with a PG tips tea bag (Make your own tea because they can only provide so much in this experience, having premade tea would be a logistical nightmare) and two bright pink paper napkins poking out. The bottom seems to be a paper plate. Turns out to be two, of course. Opening it up reveals a cardboard tiered stand full of nibbles. I can't remember everything so I'll give you an overview. There are two of each mostly. One or two confections are singular.
4 different little sandwiches. Ham, cheese, prawn and maybe egg I think. Something like that. A little puff thing with wafer thin salmon (mum's not a huge fan of smoked salmon so this it a perfect amount for a bite sized bite). Something with a prawn. A tiny yorkshire pudding with a sliver of beef and some sort of sauce. Probably horseradish since it goes well with beef.
Next the confections. Again I can't remember all of them. Oh. Little slices of victoria sponge
A meringue with cream and fruit (dissolved a bit and stuck to the card a little), slices of battenberg (I used to hate this but it's okay in small doses. I'm not a huge fan of marzipan. It's a cake wrapped in marzipan), a little chocolate cup cake with a fresh raspberry (there was only one of these, I claimed it as mum's not a huge fan of chocolate cakes) and a thing that was a little short crust pastry casing (like for a jam tart) with chocolate sponge inside and caramel on the bottom (not sure what you'd call it but since it was also chocolate I claimed it) and two different scones. One plain and one with currants.
I think there were other confections but I can't remember them now. You just need to know that it was all delightful to see these cute little things.
It took us a few hours to slowly devour and there was an added complication. I'm not super comfortable digesting lactose anymore and clotted cream is a very thick and rich cream.
All in all it was lovely. It was nice to look at, a fun experience and tasted nice too.
You see now why I felt the need to up my birthday gift presentation a bit more.
But this story isn't over yet.
I didn't get a cake. But I did have a raspberry roulade in the freezer. I decided to defrost it as an alternative birthday cake. Not traditional but it would be an experience. To defrost in time I had to get it out when I got up BEFORE mum came home. And once defrosted it can't be refrozen (especially in our freezer which can barely keep things frozen as it is).
So as much as this cream tea was nice, we had a roulade melting in the kitchen.

I wondered if candles could be done. No. Too risky. Another brainwave. What about a flameless candle? I have to raid my Halloween boxes which are in the living room so she wonders what I'm looking for and why. A little, cheap, bright orange, plastic fake tealight candle for pumpkins. It's about 2-3 years old. Still works. Perfect. I turn off the lights, have to juggle holding the roulade and switching on the candle. A false start or two, I want this relatively flawless. Start singing happy birthday, roulade in one hand, flameless candle in the other (it's either been inside a pumpkin or a paper skull outside so I'm not going to let it actually touch any food). Amused surprise. Come on then. Make a wish. Again it takes me a while to turn it off roughly in time to her blowing on it in an imitation of normal birthday tradition.

Simple but a quirky little spectacle.

So that was that.

So. What does all that have to do with not writing for a week or so?

Well. Maybe half an hour or so after midnight the dog has forced her way into her den (I thought I'd blocked it off well enough) and is nibbling herself with gusto (we felt bad for her and wanted to give her some time out of the cone. A few times mum had suggested putting it back on but it wasn't that bad and I felt confident I could soothe her if I was patient. Bearing i mind she'd bitten me quite badly two days before. Well I thought it was bad at the time. My thumb feels better now by the way). But once she got into her den I couldn't get her out. I decided to be gentle and patient and put on grooming gloves. She likes them so i thought I'd stroke her to calm her down and the gently persuade her to stop once she'd calmed a bit. The gloves would enhance my petting power and provide me a little protection at the same time. Well I was wrong. She bit and caught the side of the glove, scraping/pinching the side of my left hand. I got (what I can only describe as a blood blister, I might be wrong to call it that, it's clearly a bit of blood under the skin) and a chunk of top skin ripped off (it wasn't all the way through so I think it was just the first layer of skin). It's bleeding. I'm shocked but not as shocked as before. I'm just in a matter of fact mental state this time. Get the gloves off. Spray it with wound spray/ It keeps bleeding. Not quickly. But it is still bleeding. I can't keep spraying my hand so I go to the bathroom and run it under the cold tap. I'm mostly looking to wash the blood off and close it up a bit. I can't have my hand there too long though. Keeping m hand running under cold water hurts, it's one of the reasons I don't like doing it for minor burns. The bleeding has slowed. I go back down and dab it with kitchen roll. Eventually it stops enough that I'm comfortable to put antiseptic ointment on it and then a plaster.
Over the days I've been sleeping with a clean plaster to protect it and taking it off when I get up to let it breathe, as people say.
It hurt and I've been worried about the possibility of infection.
Now I'm finally at a point where the scab is solid, the little bit of pus seems to have dried up and it only hurts when I accidentally knock it. Now I sleep with a dry plaster (that is without ointment) just to protect the scab. And there we are.

In other recent news my dad replaced the kitchen sink last weekend, he had his first vaccination on Friday and mum's booked in for hers tomorrow.
The dog it not allowed any treats or chicken by order of the vet. She's just had blood taken for tests and we also provided a urine sample. Last week I got venison steak to feed her and this week I found ostrich steak. She loves both. My dog has expensive tastes it seems. The vet approves of my meat choices. Low fat. High protein. Or so the packaging tells us.