The inside out t-shirt story

Yesterday, I set out for work, trusty rucksack on my back, an audiobook playing in my ears. About fifteen minutes into my walk, I looked down and realised that my t-shirt was on inside out. Quite obviously inside out.

I debated walking back home to change it but realised I was too lazy so I thought I’d just do it while walking.

I’m a multi-talented, multi-tasking genius, thought I. I can do this!

And so began Operation Inside Out T-shirt.

Bear in mind, I hadn’t got to the river yet so I was walking along a normal street with houses and people and cars.

I started by putting on a jumper I had brought with me but not putting my arms in. Then slowly, without letting the jumper rise up and reveal all, I managed to get my arms out of the t-shirt and push it up around my neck.

Picture the scene, girl walking along street, a rumpled up t-shirt around the neck of her jumper, which has empty arms flapping in the wind. The girl’s wrists and hands are sticking out from the bottom of the jumper holding onto a rucksack and her face is a picture of confusion.

I walked for a good minute or so this way before working out how to get my arms back into the jumper while still holding my rucksack. Why I didn’t just stop and put it down, I don’t know. But I didn’t.

Once I’d got the t-shirt off, I swapped it the right way round and put it back over my head and tucked it back inside my jumper. Now I had to work out how to get my arms out of the jumper, pull the t-shirt down underneath it and get my arms through it, still holding the rucksack and not ending up half naked in the street. I was pretty exhausted by this point but I am stubborn and was reluctant to admit the foolishness of my plan.

And so I soldiered on, hands flapping about the bottom of my jumper, clutching my rucksack, trying to put my arms through my t-shirt under my jumper.

Eventually I got the t-shirt on and the jumper off and the mission was complete. I was knackered. It took three cups of tea in work to get back to normal.

A word of advice if you find yourself in the same situation, just go back home and change it around like a sane person.

This thing that happened

On Monday, instead of going to bake Victoria sponges and lemon drizzle cakes in The Orangery, I did this.


Not my best angle but you get the idea. And now that is what my days are filled with. That and learning Italian, but that’s for another post.

I spend my days scrutinising the people who leave empty-handed and trying to work out why. Or discussing shop layouts and stock and local produce and using fancy Star Trek-esque handheld terminals to scan things and doing my best I-totally-understand-this face while thinking lots of what-on-earth-does-that-mean thoughts.

In other news, say hello to my little niece/nephew.


Isn’t that amazing?!

Um, other news… There must be some. Er, I saw the Muppets film and it was great. I also just finished reading a book called Head Over Heel by Chris Harrison about moving to a little village in southern Italy – in the heel, hence the name. It was a fabulous book and I’m quite gutted I’ve finished it.

I really thought I’d have more news for you, given the amount of time since my last post. I clearly think I’m more interesting than I actually am….

Supper Club: round three

Last Friday, we had another Supper Club event at Ham House. While not being afforded the luxury of prep time that we had at Supper Club number two, we still completed the task efficiently. My photo-taking was sadly few and far between so I will just describe it. We fed almost 40 people this time.

As they arrived, they got a glass of bubbly and these canapes to nibble on.


From the top; cheese straws, mini Caprese salad (tomato, mozzarella, basil), a fig prosciutto and rocket salad, palmiers with parmesan or rose harissa.

Next up was a boiled egg with asparagus soldiers.


The mains consisted of a lamb navarin, or a wild mushroom tart for the vegetarians. There was then a cold salad and a warm salad (roasted butternut, purple sprouting broccoli and courgette with an orange dressing, which sounds mental but tasted delicious) and roast potatoes with fresh rosemary. I did get a picture of my manager fighting with the tray of potatoes, which had got stuck in the hot cupboard.


For dessert, as it’s getting near to Easter, we made a bread and butter pudding using hot cross buns…

… and served it with a choice of homemade plum swirl icecream or double cream and then, as they sat back and thought it was time to relax, we brought them homemade marshmallows, plain or chocolate covered.


And there you have it. Supper Club success once again.

Last minute plans

Sometimes, last minute plans turn out the best. Yesterday morning, Danda and I had planned to spend the day in Windsor. We would go to the castle and have a walk around the town and over the little bridge. We were quite looking forward to it.

We walked to the train station and, as we were buying train tickets, Danda just said, out of the blue, “Do you fancy going to Westminster Abbey instead?”

Without any good reason not to, I agreed and we headed in the opposite direction, toward London instead of away from it.

I’ve never been inside Westminster Abbey, despite having been in London for eight years. It really was too spectacular for words!


The Abbey was built in 960 and various refurbishments and additions have been done since. It’s crazy thinking about how old it is. I mean, you’ll just be walking around looking at stuff and then you stumble across this on the ground.


1420! Ham House seems positively modern with its 1610 start date, compared to the things here.

Other times, you suddenly realise that what you’re reading….


…says King Henry VII, Elizabeth of York and King James I! So many people who shaped the country and society I now know are buried here with little plain stones to indicate where and who they are.

There are lots of very important people here, everywhere you look, basically.








As you walk around, you also begin to appreciate the architectural brilliance of the Abbey too.




There are lots of little pockets off the main chamber that are full of memorials to people long forgotten. They are either to people of battle-related importance or really rich people.




On this last one, there was a story about the woman dying in childbirth and so her husband created this memorial to her, symbolising death crawling up and trying to drag her down and him attempting to keep hold of her. A close-up on the death figure looks like this.


There are also a lot of historically interesting bits and pieces around, like this sword.


Just King George VI’s sword. Yeh. No biggie.

After a quick look around the burial places of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots…



…we headed to Poet’s Corner to check these guys out.






The writing’s not clear on the last picture, but it says Geoffrey Chaucer! His actual resting place! Mind-blowing.

Up on a column, I saw one of my personal favorites.


Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I loved reading him at school.

After all this fabulousness and wonderment, it was time for some lunch.


My butternut soup was really very very good. All the food was good actually.

We then saw the Supreme Court and nipped in for a quick nose around.



My brain was pretty knackered by this point so we headed home for a much needed cup of tea.

Chat’s back!

I’m so sorry I’ve let things go on so long before giving you a Chat update. In case you’re wondering, things are still mind bogglingly crazy there. I guess we should just jump in at the deep end. Let’s go!


My dog.

Ate my face.

I’m so glad she did.

Yes, that is what that says. Obviously it has a shock rating of 10 out of 10.

The story is as follows; she’s an alcoholic, she’s got a dog, she falls into an inebriated sleep/coma, the dog tries to wake her up, bites her, thinks “mmm, that’s tasty,” keeps going, eats her face. I would just like to quote from the story here, “she’d eaten my right eye and the bone around the socket.”

This is crazy talk! Absolutely, astoundingly crazy! Dog, face, eye, eating…. its all very wierd. But then what did I expect from Chat? Anyway, now she has that monobrow/fringe thing that you can see in the above picture. Good one.

Next up, it’s the Chat To Us page, which mainly consists of pictures of people and things that no-one except the person who sent it in cares about. For example, here’s my grandson hugging a stone statue thing.


Another one is, here’s me standing outside with my husband and my dog.


Who else needs to know that you were standing outside with your husband and your dog? Put it on Facebook or send it to your mum or something. Why are you telling Chat readers?

Other examples from this page are; here’s my daughter playing hopscotch, here’s my dog wearing a pearl necklace and here’s my two kids with their nan. You get the idea.

On the Top Tips page, the best suggestion by far is this one.


Yes, but now you have neck ache from wearing a coat containing three books, four pack of tissues, your phone, your purse, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, a pair of sunglasses and your passport. Why is that better? You’re taking them anyway. Just put them in your bag. Or you’ll get to your sunny holiday destination and have a massive heavy sweat-inducing coat on. Then you’ll probably take it off and carry it. In which case, you could have just left it in your main baggage,  which you’re carrying anyway!

On a separate note, does Sonia Dawson of Chester-le-Street travel in her swimming costume?!

The Health pages contain an interesting letter today, that I’m not going to comment on. I’m just going to show you and let you decide how to feel about it.



Now, I bet you’re wondering what the Star Letter of the week is, aren’t you?  I thought so. Well, check it out. 


The Star Letter says, these are my three kids, they gave me this picture of themselves. That warrants winning Star Letter in Chat World. Again, I’m not saying anything. Make up your own minds about the trees that are cut down to provide paper for this kind of thing.

A quick look at the Spirit World page gives us this short but sweet letter from Toni in Liverpool.

“Odd! My uncle died years ago but, recently, I saw an image of him. How is he?”

Toni, he’s dead. That’s how he is.

Last but not least, we’ll have a little look at the names this week. There’s always something good there.

Sienna Rae
Maisie Moo
Rylee & Tyler

Always children with these names. With parents called things like Jane or Bob or Wendy. Just ordinary names. It’s as though these parents are attempting to compensate for the ordinariness of their names (and perhaps their lives?) by forcing wackiness onto their unsuspecting offspring. I despair.

The best day off ever?

Yesterday I had a day off. As days off go, it was pretty epic. I woke up late and faffed about a bit listening to the end of The Invention Of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and was amazed to find out that the novel is based on real people and events. I fully recommend it to everyone, by the way.

Then, out of the blue, I remembered that I had a lunch date with a friend in town. So I scrabbled about getting ready, picked up my favourite book about Italy and went to get the tube.

Lunch looked like this…


…an insalata caprese (always my first choice in an Italian restaurant as it reminds me of being on Capri) and steamed asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. Amazing food. Fabulous company. I may have mentioned before that I am a lazy friend, so I haven’t seen my lunch date in forever. It was very nice to catch up.

After finishing lunch, I headed back home, changed into a slightly smarter top and headed out again for a pre-booked fancy afternoon tea with Danda, which looked like this.


Danda’s comment on the filling in the middle row of sandwiches was; “I’m not eating cucumber sandwiches. They’re for mugs.” When I later asked him what he had meant, he claimed not to know why he had said it. Hmmm, I think there are some underlying cucumber issues here that need to be resolved.

The sweet plate looked like this….


…until this happened to it…


Danda decided he had finished when he was two and a half cakes from the end. Obviously, I finished his off. Bear in mind, I also ate extra on the sandwiches plate because of his cucumber issues. I’m so selfless.

Then I spent the evening under the downstairs duvet, drinking cups of tea and reading my book about Italy.

It’s probably one of my best days off ever in the history of the world ever.

The places I go every day

When I wake up, I’m in England. I yawn, stretch, find my work clothes and brush my teeth. Down the stairs I go, bleary-eyed and thinking about what to have for breakfast. I turn on the kettle, make a peppermint tea, get something to eat, go into the front room and sit down.

And that’s when I go to Italy.


I’m in Andrano, Lecce, and it’s summer. I’m learning how to speak the melodic Italian language, mixing up the words ‘paedophile’ and ‘pedalo’ on the beach. I have also fallen in love with Daniela and her fiery spirit and will defend her against the racist attitudes of the Milanese when we move there together. I have a car named Napoleon and a language teacher I’m pretty scared of.

After an all-too-brief twenty minute visit to Italy, I return to England, put my shoes on, get my bag ready and leave the house with a flask of tea.

This is the time in spend in America.


I am alternately Sarah, the privileged young white girl, or Handful, her slave with whom she colludes, having never wanted a slave in the first place. As I walk and see the two Canadian geese and the two Egyptian geese who wait by the river every day, Sarah secretly teaches Handful to read, which is against the law.

Handful’s mother finds more ways to rebel against her oppression, finally reaching a position where the other slaves no longer associate with her but she has become quite well off, by slave-standards. I am nervous for Handful’s mother.

I am even more nervous for Sarah, with her secret desire to become a lawyer but the barrier of her gender to contend with. Her father has found her teaching Handful to read and write. I stand in the library as he rains his anger down upon her.

Just when it starts to get very bad, I leave America and return to England. I’m in Ham House and I get to spend another day making cakes.

Late morning, I go for a break. I grab some lunch and a glass of water and go to Singapore.


I’m in Changi prisoner of war camp and my name is now Peter. The Japanese are responsible for trapping me here but it’s my fellow POWs that I have to keep an eye on. I’m on my guard when I’m in Singapore. The constant drudgery of life as a POW is interspersed with moments of fleeting excitement or terror.

Mac got malaria so he’s in the hospital, which is a shame. I’m missing his banter. The King is more than making up for it though. The new rat scheme he’s devised is a goldmine but I’m pretty nervous about the potential for it to go wrong. And there is a lot of potential for it to go wrong.

As I sit eating my game stew in Ham, I’m also a starving POW and salivating at the thought of eating a rat. Then half an hour is up and I make the journey back to England.

A few hours later, I clean down the kitchen, grab my coat and bag and set off walking home.

And boy, I’m nervous! Sarah’s father is so angry. Her stutter has returned. She is told that she has committed a crime, that slaves who can read are a threat to society. She feels helpless. I rage with her over the unfairness of the situation.

Before I get too infuriated, I am Laura again and I am in England. For the next few hours, I will be in England. Until bedtime when I can sneak back to my favourite place, Italy.

I learn words like carabinieri, meridionali and stuzzicadenti. I eat fresh figs and pears from Daniela’s garden and visit her family in Sicily. Italy is the first place I visit in the morning and the last place I visit at night.

So you see? Some people live in one place each day. I live in many places. I can leave England whenever I like.


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