Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Kiddie Ride Hunting In Yorkshire And Lincolnshire

April 21st 2012

I was awoken "early" (9am!) so that I could go to Grottsville while Mum went to see the doctor again.  The doctor finally agreed to send her to Northwick Park Hospital...but he still didn't want to send her for a scan to see what was going on with her knee, he just sent her straight to a surgeon!  (Maybe he was punishing Mum for returning to him after he'd told her to go away before?!)

We had a new team of dustmen working on our street and the surrounding area.  They were very careless, spreading rubbish all over the roads and mixing the recycling up with the refuse (everyone needn't have bothered sorting their glass and paper out really, need they?!)

I brought some files full of MLP paperwork home from Grottsville with me but didn't have a chance to go through them.  No doubt I'd brought another load of carpet beetles with me too.

I still wasn't sure if we were going to Yorkshire or not.  My hair was in a terrible way, greasy and flat, falling out everywhere.  I didn't know whether to wash it or not - how would it look or feel worse if we were to go away?

I was stressed out about eBay.  Five people still hadn't paid me. (And that was without the auctions that were set to end while we were away!)  Mum had a great non-paying bidder who said it would "suit her better if Mum relisted the item"!  Well, at least she was honest!

April 22nd 2012

I didn't leave the house.  David did offer to take me to Grottsville when Mum asked him to take my eBay stuff over there "to get it out of her house"...but then he said he was stopping at the storage depot on the way back and I was feeling too self conscious about my hair to be seen in public.

Mum spent her day reading bad things about injured knees on the internet and scaring herself to death.  This, of course, put her in a bad mood with me again.  Apparently it was "all me, me, me" and I "had years ahead of me to do something about my life".  Well, actually I didn't have years ahead of me to fulfill my particular dreams, but also, why postpone happiness until tomorrow if you can achieve it today?

David came downstairs at 9pm to ask me to look at a road map (yes, Yorkshire was officially back on for the following day!) and shouted when he fell over the stepladder in the kitchen.  Mum jumped off the sofa in shock, causing herself to hurt her knee again, and blamed me for "not letting her lie down".  (She'd said she wasn't ready for bed yet)

I finally did my laundry as I knew this would be my last chance.  Unfortunately, my parents had also washed the sheets we always take on caravan breaks (again, last minute) so there was no airer to hang it on.  Hence, my bedroom became a laundry room with garments hanging from every available door handle and drawer knob!

April 23rd 2012

St George's Day but nobody ever mentions it.  It almost seems as though people are ashamed to be English - it's somehow racist to even talk about our own special days but come Diwali or St. Patrick's Day we pull out all the stops to celebrate!

I'd decided to wash my hair the previous night and, having not lost as much as usual, was feeling relatively okay about it for once.  Mum put paid to that though, making sure to tell me how awfully thin it looked.  Nice.

After a lot of arguments, we finally left for Yorkshire at 12.30pm.  Mum brought a huge bag of her dad's tapes and other belongings with her and moaned all the way there about how worried about the house she was.

It was a terrible journey.  We had torrential rain all the way there and couldn't see the road for the spray at certain points.  David didn't seem to know what he was doing - at one point, he missed a turning and didn't seem to notice that we'd been driving for far more than five miles.  He was just so engrossed in the radio that he couldn't think about real life.  And if he could make one mistake because he wasn't thinking about the road, he might make another that was far more serious.  Absolutely terrifying, but somehow we still made it to Filey in one piece at 6.30pm.

We drove along the seafront where I saw that the Whittaker Bros. Swingboat ride I remembered from my childhood was still there but the mysterious Veteran Car with a letter "R" written on the front had long gone.  Everything was shut by that time, of course, so we just went to Tesco to buy some bread, milk and other essentials on our way to the caravan.

And it was there that I photographed the first ride of the week...

Jolly Roger's Fetch The Vet.  Not exactly the most exciting or rarest ride in the world, but I hadn't seen one down in London for a good few years and still needed good digital pictures for the website.

The holiday home was clean and spacious but very chilly.  We had three bedrooms but Mum still insisted on sleeping on the floor in the living room!  It also didn't feel very secure and the whole caravan shook when David walked around it!  There was a rather rude and common family staying opposite - the two kids made a rude gesture at David as he walked past and the mother kept glaring at us for no apparent reason.  We always make such great friends with everyone!

I had a bad headache from going hours without food on the way there (I forgot to make a sandwich) and from sitting in the dark when we got there (as Mum couldn't take the spotlights).  I'd forgotten to bring the key to my diary and had to pick the lock with my umbrella in order to continue writing my blog notes!

April 24th 2012

Not being used to sleeping in such a narrow bed, I almost fell out of it.  I was actually awoken by the feeling of both my legs dangling out of the bed!

I got up at 8am but we still didn't get out of the caravan until noon.  We were further delayed when we discovered that the door couldn't be locked so my parents had to go and get another set of keys while I guarded the caravan.  Mum said that the entertainment complex and amusement area was huge but we didn't have entertainment passes to access that part of the camp, of course.  What a shame.  I've heard great things about the entertainment and amusements at Primrose Valley in Filey since then. Maybe if I'd known then about the kind of entertainment jobs available at those places, I would have worked harder to achieve my dreams instead of listening to Mum's "there's not enough jobs for everyone on the West End" rants!

Our first stop was Cleethorpes, the main reason for the trip.  (Yes, we stayed in Yorkshire because I wanted to go to a place in Lincolnshire...makes perfect sense to this family!)  I was pleased to see that the three Edwin Hall rides that I'd specifically come to see were still there and to be allowed to film and photograph them at my leisure.

I rode on all of these rides as a child in the 1990s but I understand that they had been at the Humber Pastimes Arcade for much longer than that.  The Magic Roundabout might date back as far as 1968 while the two Rock-a-Boats were made in the 1950s!  The Mickey Mouse one is a bit of a mystery though.  "Noddy's Rock-a-Boat" was a very popular Edwin Hall kiddie ride at the time but I've never heard of other characters being used on it.  So I am unsure if maybe Noddy got broken and was replaced by a restorer at the arcade or if Edwin Hall himself custom built a Mickey Mouse one.  Either way, these rides are extremely rare nowadays and it was a thrill to see them.

An added surprise was that Patches, one of my favourite 1950s Edwin Hall horses from my childhood, was still there too.  I'm not sure if this was a nice surprise or not.  The poor old boy had seen better days - he was not in working order and was hiding behind a large wheelie bin.  He was listed on eBay a few years ago but his buyer obviously never turned up to collect him.

I took a few snaps of the other rides in the arcade too as well as a film of the Whittaker Brothers Turbo Porsche Racing Car.

We took a stroll along the promenade but most of the place was shut.  I couldn't tell if it was just closed because it was out of season or if it had all closed down.  There was a lovely juvenile roundabout on the beach with old kiddie rides on it but even that was locked up.

Further along, we came to the Smiles For Miles arcade.  My goodness, I think that must have been the arcade I remembered in Cleethorpes from my childhood with rows of rides inside!  There was still a big clump of rides in there (although nothing very old remained) and I started taking photographs.  But I'd only taken two pictures...

...when a bloke who worked there walked over and told me that they had a strict "no photography" policy.  He couldn't tell us why, only that his boss would be very angry with him if he allowed me to continue.  And so, very sadly, I left without photos of the rest of the rides.  The bloke was quite polite about it really but it really shook my nerves and put me off of even wanting to try to take any further photos elsewhere.

So that's when I had to find two surprises, isn't it?

We walked up to another arcade set back a little way from the prom.  All seemed relatively normal from the outside with a couple of modern Whittaker rides by the doors.

As I nervously photographed the rides, scared of being told off again, a man (who I believe may be the chap in the background of the Jazz Van photo!) walked by very pointedly singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" in my direction.  Was that some kind of comment about me photographing children's rides?

Anyway, David had disappeared so I wandered inside the arcade where I found...a beautiful 1960s Whittaker Brothers' Trigger horse and a 1970s R L Smith Flipper dolphin ride.  These rides certainly weren't there when I was a child so I don't know where they'd acquired them from.  I desperately wanted to film them for the website but I was just too nervous to do so.

I went to look for David, hoping that he would keep an eye out for staff while I at least sneakily grabbed some photos as a souvenir.  I found him buying a bacon bap...from the man who had been serenading me outside the arcade, who was apparently on his way to work at the time!  David very hastily ran into the arcade while the bloke made his bap, ran up to a member of staff and ASKED THEM IF IT WOULD BE OKAY FOR ME TO PHOTOGRAPH THE RIDES!  No, that was not what I wanted you to do, David.  I wanted help in getting some subtle photos while they were occupied elsewhere!

Just as I feared, they were not happy about me taking photos in their arcade and began questioning my motives.  David said that it was for "childhood memories" (brilliant if the rides had only just been delivered there recently!) and, before I knew it, I was surrounded by members of very suspicious-looking staff.  Hence, I was only able to grab these very fuzzy photos before David ran back to get his precious bacon bap.  I was not at all pleased.

There was a crane machine outside the pier with G3.5 MLP plushies inside it.  The machine wasn't working.  Just as well really as I never win on those things anyway!

We travelled along the coast to Mablethorpe after that but, once again, most of the place was closed up like a ghost town.  I guess there's just not enough profit in opening arcades an gift shops outside of the peak season any more.

From what I could see, there weren't any old rides left there anyway.  I actually only photographed two rides in the whole place.  A lot of that may have been my phobia of being told off though.  I could have sworn the man in the change booth at Jackson's Pastimes for glaring at me just for getting my camera out on the pavement outside the arcade.  Yes, I think I was just a bit paranoid!  It was a shame really as there were lots of rides at Jackson's that I'd never seen before and I would have liked to have had photos, but I only dared to take pictures of the horse-drawn wagon in the end.

I saw some more of the G3.5 MLP plushies for sale in a gift shop at Mablethorpe...but the shop was also closed.

We went to McDonalds for fries in the evening and then to Morrisons to top up on grocery supplies.  There was a big kerfuffle at the checkout when they wouldn't accept David's card.  Then, as I stood with an embarrassed smile on my face, my orthodontic elastic pinged out of my mouth and landed on the cashier's shoulder!  Luckily, I don't think she noticed!  Boy, would I be pleased to get rid of the braces!

Mum didn't get out of the car all day long due to both knees, her ribs and back hurting too much for her to walk.  She still refused to sleep in a bed at the caravan in case she fell out but complained that sleeping on the hard floor was making her aches and pains worse.  She pulled all of the cushions off of the sofa and put those on the floor to sleep on but David complained that they weren't flat against the sofa.  She said she couldn't put them flat against the sofa because "my feet were on the floor". (I actually had my feet tucked up underneath me on the sofa)  She spent the evening ranting about Woodberry again and how she wanted to move back to Grottsville.  Oh, and how we shouldn't have driven so far south to Cleethorpes having not got it done on the way there.  But Cleethorpes was the whole reason for the trip!  And if she wasn't getting out of the car anyway, why did it matter to her where we went?

I walked past the entertainment complex at the camp that evening and tried to get a sneaky glance at what was inside.  I could only see one Cogan Magic Castle ride but the arcade was huge so who knows what might have been at the back of it?

I'd taken my "Pennies By The Sea" book about the history of Bridlington's amusement arcades with me.  I was horrified to open it and discover that page 3 was missing and the rest of the pages were falling out.  I know that I loved that book and it had been well read but I don't think it had been used enough to warrant the pages falling out!

April 25th 2012

We got out a little earlier that morning - 10am!  We headed straight down to the seafront at Filey but the blasted funfair was STILL closed.  Perhaps it never opened, at least not during the week?  We said we'd try again on our way back that evening.

I did run up to the one and only arcade in Filey and photographed a Pony Express ride but there really wasn't much else there.

Our next stop was Robin Hood Bay, a quiet place with a very steep hill.  We didn't even get out of the car because David didn't want to go all the way down the hill.  Instead, he dangerously turned around halfway down the hill with cars behind understandably honking at us angrily!

We went on to Whitby after that.  David didn't want to get out of the car there either so we just drove along the front with him asking, "Is there anything there?"  Well, how was I supposed to know if there were any rides in the arcades without getting out and looking around?

Fortunately, I spotted this little elephant outside an arcade which gave us a reason to stop.

No, it wasn't a particularly exciting ride but it was still an excuse to stop.  A modern version of the mysterious 1970s "N Company" elephant, obviously made by Funtime Kiddie Rides or whatever name JM Kiddie Rides go by these days.

We had to park right at the top of a cliff and walk down to the seafront.  Poor Mum was left in the car again and David didn't even think to park facing the sea so she just had to sit and look at a row of hotels and guesthouses.  But there's no way she could have made it along the path we took with her bad knee.

Very pretty but somewhat impractical for visitors with walking problems!

I felt bad about leaving Mum in the car and couldn't stay for too long but we still had a quick look around all the arcades.  I vaguely remembered one particular arcade in Whitby still having quite a few old rides in the 1990s and, while I didn't really expect them to still be there, I wanted to try and work out which arcade it was.

Pleasureland was the last arcade in the street.  It looked as if it had been modernised like the rest with an Italian Lady and the Tramp ride just inside the door.  But I still walked to the back of the arcade, just in case.  And there I found my old pal, Silver.

He'd been repainted since my day but it was definitely the same horse.

Apparently he's been at the arcade for over 50 years.  He even starred in a "Simply Red" music video back in the 1980s.  (See 01:35)

Another of my favourites, the Whittaker Brothers' Space Bunny ride, was still there too!

Always nice to have a blast from the past.

There was a lovely shopping street full of charity shops but I didn't like to leave Mum in the car any longer so we headed straight back to the car.

Our next stop was Saltburn where I was approached by a strange man, laughing and talking in a thick accent (I think he was talking about the bad weather).  There was not much there any more besides a couple of modern rides on the pier.  There was a lovely, very generous 2p pusher machine there...but David encouraged me to keep using it until I was 2p out of pocket!

We couldn't see the Beach Cafe and Gift Shop where two lovely old rides were located when I was a child.  I doubt that it was still there though.

Ever onwards to Redcar, another place where the amusements have either closed down or been modernised beyond recognition.

Still feeling nervous about being told off for taking photographs, I came away with just four pictures.  The first is a quite an unusual Falgas ride I'd almost forgotten existed but it brought back memories of one opposite Brighton Pier in the very early 90s.  This one was standing in the corner of an arcade and I have no idea if it was working or not.  I almost hope it wasn't.  It doesn't look too safe with the left hand "carousel pole" missing, the right one badly bent, and the front horse doing a nosedive!

The other three photos show very recent rides.  I believe the first comes from a company in Poland and the other two are made by Falgas?  As I say, they're very modern.  It makes me wonder if the rides I remembered from my childhood were still there until quite recently.

There was a ghastly structure being built on the seafront which a local told us was to be the new "vertical pier".  I just looked it up now and see that the finished building doesn't look much better!

It was still horribly windy and rainy - my umbrella blew inside out so - *gasp* - I had to expose my hair to the rain!  David went off to use the bathroom and I stayed in one of the arcades playing the pusher machines.  An old lady came up and asked me how to use them as "she'd always wanted to have a go but didn't know how it worked".  I stood and taught her when to put the coin in for the best chance of winning and she got quite excited, shrieking with laughter when she (finally) got a 2p back out of the machine!  Well, I was pleased to help.  I just feel sad that she'd missed out on so many years of such a silly pleasure.

It was still only about 3pm and felt too early to head back to the David came up with the ridiculous idea of going to Whitley Bay of all places!  I told him there was nothing there nowadays but would he listen?  A 50-mile drive through heavy rain and a £1.40 (luckily not £14.00 as we originally thought!) toll on the Tyne Tunnel later, we arrived in quite possibly the saddest place I'd ever seen.

You could almost feel the hustle and bustle of times gone by when it was still a popular, thriving seaside town.  Hear the children's laughter on the beach and the rock and roll music in the arcades.  The sound of rollercoaster cars skidding along the track at Spanish City and of cheerful candy floss venders trying to lure people in to buy another stick...

I never went to Whitley Bay as a child but I understand it was already well past its heyday even then.  Now the place is little more than a ghost town with the once proud, white Spanish City standing dirty and dilapidated in the centre of it all.  The pubs and guesthouses are boarded up as if their inhabitants all died of the Black Death and were carted off to the graveyard this morning.

One arcade struggles to survive in the middle of this sad place, with two modern kiddie rides inside.  Really, really sad for somebody who spends so long reading books and websites about seaside history.

David and I went in the arcade and were harassed by a horrible little child who kept asking us how we were doing and whether it was our first time there.  It clearly wanted change to play on the machines and I had to wonder where its parents were...

The toy museum seemed to be one of the few bits of Whitley Bay which is still around, however it was closed when we were there.  Sad, as I know there are a couple of old rides in there.

We didn't get to the Filey fairground as it was dark by the time we got back.  Mum hadn't got out of the car all day again and her feet were now swollen from sitting down for too long.  My bladder almost burst on the way back as well!  The long drive to Whitley Bay had been the last straw.  Oh well, it was nice to see the place anyway.

Two more days to go.  What other exciting things might we see before we returned to London?

Best wishes,
Desirée   xxx

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bad Recordings and Lost Memories...

April 16th 2012

David and I went for a walk around Lammas Park, then later went to Osterley Tesco and Grottsville to collect some more stuff that Mum and I had sold on eBay.

He chose to go out right at dinnertime.  We didn't get home until 9pm so that's when I had to start thinking about getting something to eat again.  It was the same old problem we had every time David lost his job.  He completely messed up our routine.  I couldn't even do my laundry when I never knew his plans.

Mum decided to tell my sister about the Canadian creep and how he'd upset me.  Why did she have to involve everyone, for goodness sake?  A) It was embarrassing for me and B) I didn't want the freak to get a kick out of everyone talking about him and giving him attention.  I was just waiting for someone to say something directly on his Twitter and have him gloating even more than he already was.

April 17th 2012

Another day taken up entirely by the eBay business, packing up parcels before David and I took them to Ealing Broadway post office.

Later he and I went to McDonalds for Creme Egg McFlurries and to bring fries back for Mum.  I wished she would come out even for that little drive, but she was terrified of hurting her leg further.

I made my first ever recording for my music account on Youtube.  It sounded awful but, considering I'd never had a single singing lesson, what did I expect?  David also came upstairs towards the end of it which thoroughly put me off.

I desperately wanted some kind of theatre classes but had no idea where to go for advice.

David trotted off to Grottsville for another night of sorting through his newspapers.  I wondered when he was going to give me any time over there to sort through my stuff?

April 18th 2012

Another full day spent on eBay; sending messages and combined invoices etc.  Yes, I was doing well on there at the moment but I certainly worked hard for my money!

David drove me to South Ealing Post Office at 4.30pm but it was already shut so I couldn't ship the latest batch of parcels.

He spent most of his day going through photo albums and re-scanning the pictures he'd messed up scanning before.  Then he went to Homebase and bought some timber so that he could put the pets' ashes on top of the kitchen cupboards as Mum had suggested.  By the time he got home, she'd changed her mind and decided she wanted them in the family history room!

He then went to Grottsville to sort through his newspapers for the night.

I still had a bad cough which was obviously caused by that nasty cold...but Mum scared me to death by saying that I'd probably damaged my voice by screaming at her the previous day.

Nick had an operation on his hip but Emma didn't write to let us know how he was.  The last we'd heard from her was an email to Mum early that morning saying that she'd asked me out for my 21st birthday but that I'd never replied.  Pardon?  I never received any such email!

April 19th 2012

The Emma saga got even stranger.  She wrote to let us know that Nick was okay and said that the reason she hadn't written before was because she thought that he had. Uh...Nick's never written to us in his life!

I wasted the day waiting around for David's plans.  He didn't even get up until 3pm so I needn't have bothered!

Eventually we went to Ealing Broadway to post the parcels and pay in Mum's money which had been for my Australia fund.  The bank told us that I'd had a cheque book at one point...well, I never saw it so David must have taken that for safe keeping and lost it.  They wouldn't provide me with a replacement though!

I took a photograph of the HMV logo at the Arcadia Shopping Centre as I figured it wouldn't be there much longer.  HMV had actually closed a long time before this but they'd left the logos in the windows.  Now they were doing some kind of work in there so I thought I should save a picture for posterity.

Of course, I didn't think to take a photograph of the whole building which has since been demolished.  I never would have believed you had you told me that the entire Arcadia Shopping Centre would be nothing but a memory a couple of years down the line.  There was a beautiful, ornate clock on the wall just above these windows (you can see the very bottom of it in the first picture) which I absolutely adored as a child.  It hadn't worked properly for years but it was just always there.  I like to think that somebody saved it when the building was knocked down, but more likely it was trashed with the rest of the rubble.  It's so sad how little we think of our "recent" history and architecture.  ne day this stuff won't be so "recent" and we'll turn around and realise we got rid of some of our greatest treasures.

The sadness is that I couldn't even describe that clock to you in any great detail now.  I know there were two little figures who came out and "walked" along in front of it on the hour every hour. It just shows how you come to take things for granted and never think that one day they won't be there any more.

(Just searched Google images for "Ealing Broadway Arcadia Clock" and there are at least a lot of pictures of it still around if anybody is interested enough to go and look.  It's not at all how I remembered it though - I could have sworn the figures came out of doorways either side of the clock and walked along in front of it, but it would appear they stood on top and rang the bells on the hour!    That was the part that tended not to work properly though so may explain why I didn't quite remember it!)

A horrible man approached me on my way into Primark, shouting at me in such a common accent that I honestly couldn't understand what he was saying.  I know it ended in "Do you even have a lighter?  F*** you!"  Charming!  I couldn't find any pink shoes to pair with my new pink dress anyway.

Then we went to Poundland for some headphones and a whole load of heavy Diet Coke which David made me carry all around Tesco!  Then David gave me the milk and heavy tins to carry as well!

There were three new coin operated rides in the shopping centre outside Tesco but it was too late and crowded to take photos.  (Not that I could have got the camera out with all those heavy bags anyway!)  I got really upset to see some boys taunting a dying pigeon next to the car park ticket machine.  Why didn't their parents call them away?

Speaking of wildlife, we now had two wood mice running around the back garden just outside the patio doors.  I'd told Mum that I'd recognised two different ones but she wouldn't believe me until she saw them alongside each other!

The weather was dreadful - a combination of rain and hail - and yet the country was supposedly in a drought.  There was even a hosepipe ban!  Crazy.

April 20th 2012

David went to Stevenage for a second interview.  They were obviously interested in him.  God help us all as he really couldn't manage such a long drive five times a week.

He didn't get back until 4pm so, in theory, I should have got more done than I do when I sit around waiting for his plans but Mum spent the entire day on my computer researching Robin Mitchell's family so I couldn't get on with all my internet jobs again.

David drove me to McDonalds in the evening to get fries for Mum and a Coke for himself.  There was no time for me to have an ice cream because Mum was too hungry.  Probably just as well until I made an effort to lose some weight though!

I spent my day trying to convert old childhood cassette tapes to MP3 files.  I uploaded a couple to Youtube but I really should put the rest on there sometime.  Not that anybody else would enjoy laughing at them as much as I do, but you've got to admit my precocious childhood self is pretty hilarious!

I still didn't know if we were actually going to Yorkshire or not, following all Mum's threats.  I wished my eBay buyers would hurry up and pay so that any parcels could be shipped out beforehand though just in case.

Mum's knee was getting worse so she made another emergency appointment to see the doctor the following morning.  All we could do was hope that he would be more helpful this time...

Best wishes,
Desirée  xxx

Monday, 19 October 2015

Mum Sets Up A Little Test and Other Stories...

April 11th 2012

I finally dared to wash my hair and lost such a lot that I could really feel the difference.  It was horrible.

I still forced myself to go to West Ealing with David though.  He needed to transfer some money at the bank.  When he handed his documents over, the cashier began laughing hysterically for no reason whatsoever.  Are we really that funny?

I didn't find anything in the charity shops (the Salvation Army was actually closed by the time we got there) and got upset when a group of common young people kept staring at me.  Mum said it was because I was wearing my "silly pretty little dress" but I don't think dresses are so uncommon in the outside world!

David and I got some Easter eggs in Sainsburys.  Mum said she didn't want one, then got upset that she didn't have one and felt "pushed aside"!

David embarrassed me by asking if I needed sanitary towels as he "hadn't bought any for me for a long time".  Well, that was the first thing that I started buying for myself as soon as I had the freedom to go shopping alone.  Who wants their father to know what brand you use?!  I was a little concerned that he hadn't noticed he'd stopped buying them sooner than this though.  No wonder he thought I was such a huge expense to keep!

We went to Ironbridge McDonalds in the evening, but I didn't eat anything there as I felt too fat.  Still nice to have a little drive and a breath of fresh air though!

I wasn't feeling very well at all and wasn't sure how much of it was stress and how much was something more concerning.  David advised me to join a gym - way to boost my confidence about my weight!  I kept going dizzy and didn't feel up to cleaning or clearing the house up.  Meanwhile, the clutter was getting more and more out of hand.

At least I managed to get my tail-less Fairy Tail Birds washed and ready to sell anyway.

Ironically, the Fuzzy Tummy was the only one who might have still been worth something in her poor condition and she was the only one I didn't already have in my collection and intended on keeping!

April 12th 2012

I was very stressed about my future.  Mum had suggested I enrol on an Access Course as the quickest way to university but I couldn't find much about them online.  Of course, the first thing I typed in was "access course theatre" and I found a lovely performing arts access course...but it was on the other side of London and had been discontinued the previous year!

Trying to discuss anything with Mum was a lost cause.  By talking I was "stopping her doing anything.  She got far more done before I got up."  She went to bed early again, leaving me by my lonely self.  "Well, look at the company I've got - you're the one who's forced me to bed by 9pm again!"

I walked to the South Ealing charity shops on my own. I saw some I Love Ponies and a Grand Champion foal in one of the shops but left them there because they were too expensive.  I also went to Sainsburys in search of a cheap Easter egg for Mum but had no luck.

Mum complained that I was "very fast" when I got back after just 23 minutes.  I should "stop all this nonsense that anybody wanted to keep me here".  She didn't want me home again at all!

David took me to Grottsville in the evening to collect one of Mum's eBay books.  He was bad tempered and turned the air conditioner onto its lowest temperature and highest setting so I was freezing by the time I got there and couldn't think straight to collect anything else.  I think he was cross that I'd gone with him at all (he'd tried to escape without me but Mum had called him back).  Basically neither of them wanted me around!

The company who'd interviewed him in Stevenage sent him a sixteen page psychological test which he had to answer.  He was "bored by page six so it was probably rubbish"...well, that's a great attitude to take when you're trying to get a new job!

Again, I got very little done.  A little cleaning and hoovering in the bathroom but even that knocked me out.

April 13th 2012

I woke up determined to turn over a new leaf and get as much done as I possibly could.  It didn't work though.  I didn't stop all day and still hardly got anything done.  I updated my pony collection lists, sorted out my eBay accounts and washed all of the ponies that I'd bought so far that year.  But where was any of that going to get me in the long run?

I went to Osterley Tesco and got a packet of tights which David made a point of paying for. However, determined that he wouldn't be able to say that he clothed me, I left the money for them on the kitchen countertop which he happily picked up and put in his pocket!

I met a lovely cat who was running around in the street when we got back to Woodberry.  She followed me into the front garden and kept jumping onto the wall and asking for attention.  It made me realise just how much I miss having pets around.

She would have followed us right into the house so I had to rush in and quickly close the door behind me!  Then Mum complained that I had woken her up.  How was I to know that she would already be asleep at 8.30pm?  Well, I should have known that she "hates her life so much that she couldn't even wait for it to get dark now".  She's "always cold and wants to be under her blanket".

Her friend Jill sent me a Lily Lightly she'd found at a local car boot sale.  Strangely I don't seem to have taken a picture of her...

Ebay were offering yet another free listing weekend.  I wasn't really sure what to do about it as anything I listed would end while we were in Yorkshire...  Then again, how could I waste all those free listings?  And there was still the chance that Mum would carry through with her threats and not go to Yorkshire at all anyway.

April 14th 2012

Another horrible day.  Mum was in a foul mood and nagged at me from the moment she got up.  Anything I tried to say in my defense was turned against me.  It was "unfair that she had to sit in the same room as me moaning when he knee hurt so much".  She "wanted to go home to Grottsville" and "wished that she was dead".

As a result of her moaning and me crying all day, we ended up with no dinner.  At 10am, when she was asleep and my tears finally started to dry, I just started to get hungry.  What could I eat at that time of night?  (I ended up having spaghetti on toast at midnight as it happened)  Maybe that was why I was ill.

While researching coin operated rides online, I discovered that Robin Mitchell Jnr. (the son of the founder of RG Mitchell) had passed away a month previously.  Mum screamed at me about that too, saying that I should have attempted to get in touch with him in case he had any information or photographs to offer for the website.  Well, I'd only really just started putting the website together!  How could I start contacting people about it at this stage?

I had just started to paint the ceramic Rainbow Dash from my Paint Your Own Ponies kit when David asked me to go to Grottsville with him.  Hence, I threw away the expensive paint that I had just mixed up.  Then he went in the bathroom for ages anyway (so I could have finished what I was doing!), all the time complaining that I had "stopped him going to work"...who he had officially left the previous day!

We did eventually go to Grottsville and pick up a couple of Mum's eBay items.  One of them was a book she'd just sold.  She noticed that she'd made a potential error in her listing, saying that it was a first edition when it may have actually been a reprint.  She got angry with ME for not noticing her error.  Well, why didn't she notice it?!

I was still desperately trying to research Access Courses but couldn't understand the websites, having no experience of schools or colleges.  Of course, nobody was prepared to help me or give a second opinion.  Mum seemed annoyed that I was trying to do something for myself at long last even though she was the one who'd suggested it in the first place!  Looking back, I couldn't win even if I followed her "sensible" why the heck didn't I just do what I wanted to do and study musical theatre?

And for my last paragraph of the day, I will give far too much information and make you all (especially the boys) feel sick!  On top of all my other allergies and health issues, I was concerned that I hadn't had a period for eight weeks.  Well, being Miss Prim, Proper and Perfect, it couldn't be for the reason that most young women fear.  Usually I was relatively regular so what had suddenly sent my pattern out?  I kept getting pains down there too...

April 15th 2012

An even worse day than the previous one.  Mum told David and I that we could go to West Wycombe without her.  (Why do I never learn?)  As soon as we got ready to go, she went mad, screaming that it had all been a "test to see if All Saints was a one off".  And now she really wouldn't go to Yorkshire!

This in turn sent me off the edge and I went on a mad rampage screaming about all my stress and woe - education, emigration etc. - and turning chairs over to try and get a response out of her.  She pretended to be asleep until David shook her, hurting her arm.  It's no wonder I'm half insane though, is it?!

In the end, I just went for a walk to Northfields Avenue and Lammas Park on my own.  It started to rain but I got back just in time.  When I arrived, the holiday brochures were back in the garden with the rubbish.  For God's sake, Mum...

When I got back, I set to getting the dinner.  Mum said she didn't want any.  Then. when I had my food on the table, she made a big deal of going to bed (7pm!) and moaning at me all through it, saying how much she "resented me for eating as she can't get anything for herself".  Well, I had offered to get her something as well!

Best wishes,
Desirée  xxx

Noisy Foxes, Angry Mothers and Easter Gifts!

April 6th 2012

I was awoken suddenly at 4am by the most awful sound I'd ever heard.  I was not familiar with the noise that foxes make at that point and thought we'd been invaded by a pack of wolves...or coyotes at the very least!  But no, it was three foxes lying in the middle of the road and howling/yapping for no apparent reason.  It was a strange time of year for them to be arguing over mates or territory so I would love to know more about why they make these noises.

(Apologies for the poor quality - this was filmed through a window when it was obviously still dark outside)

I was still suffering from very bad nerves and now had a rotten cold to add to my symptoms.  I couldn't breathe, kept coughing up blood-streaked mucus and getting congestion-related chest pains.  Just what I needed when I was feeling at my lowest!

We had a nice drive around Isleworth.  I took some pictures of the river and Mum took a photo of me (to "show that I still had more hair than I thought"!)

The plan was to go to All Saints Church where Mum knew we had a lot of family history connections.  Unfortunately, we discovered that there was a flight of steep steps to access the church which Mum obviously couldn't ascend.  David bumbled on regardless which I thought was a bit mean of him when he'd been promising to take Mum there since before she hurt her knee.  I did all I could do for her, climbing to the top of the steps to take a couple of photos.  Maybe it was the wrong thing to do but I didn't go inside without her or anything, I just took a couple of pictures and turned around again.

She seemed to be okay with this at the time but I would learn my mistake as time went by and the madness set in!

We finished off the outing with a trip to McDonalds for yet more fattening fries which, surprisingly, made me feel a lot better.  Perhaps hunger was part of my problem.

I wrote to the Fairy Tails Bird seller and politely explained that the birds were not in excellent condition as they were all missing their tails.  I felt a little bad as the seller was very apologetic - he clearly didn't know much about the toys and was just selling them as part of a house clearance.  He seemed very open to a partial refund but I wasn't sure how much to ask.

Ebay had another four day free listing event so I got a lot of stuff relisted.  Gosh, how I wish the eBay industry was going as well now as it obviously was in those days!

April 7th 2012

I requested a £10 partial refund on the Fairy Tails Birds and the seller was only too keen to give it to me.  I felt really bad in a way.  On the other hand, there was no way that they were worth more than that in such poor condition.

As indicated previously, Mum had dwelled overnight on how unfair it was that she hadn't been able to go to All Saints Church and was in a terrible mood as a result.  Early that morning, she took all of her holiday brochures and her book about All Saints Church, staggered to the front door and threw them out into the front garden with a cry of "Is everybody awake, b*****ds?!"  Well, she certainly woke me up!

She nagged all day about how I didn't care about her, and how I "was a little cow for wanting to go out and get some air".  (David and I couldn't have seen the church if we hadn't gone there)  She announced that she was giving up family history and she definitely wasn't going to Yorkshire.  If not for me, she's go back to live in Grottsville.  When I pointed out that we didn't even have bedrooms back there, she said that "we should sleep in the same room so that she could keep an eye on me"...

David avoided most of her temper by spending the day at Tesco.  He threw a pile of Easter gifts at me when he got home (a day early), including £15 and the chocolate below:

I thought I may as well open my other Easter gifts while I was at it.

A pretty necklace and bath set from my sister...

And a dress and chocolate from a certain creep in Canada.  Nice of him to ply me with gifts while breaking my heart, eh?

Still, I never get any gifts for the likes of Easter, birthdays and Christmas these days though so I guess I should be grateful!

David took me to Grottsville late that night to collect my eBay stuff.  The lid of one of the sales boxes caved in, causing everything to fall on me.  David yelled at me for "not being better prepared and knowing what I wanted to collect".  Well, I had a list - how much better prepared could I be?  The problem was that I never had enough time in Grottsville to sort through the boxes and know where to find everything.  He also tried to accuse me of fiddling him out of postage money .  Mum "couldn't have paid for the comic postage without knowing the total".  The comics sold through Mum's account had gone out with HER parcels.  Considering she'd kept all the profit on the comics she'd "kindly" allowed me to list on her account, I wasn't going to pay for her postage costs!

She was in an even worse mood when I got home.  "Now I've been woken up!" she yelled.  I pointed out that she was already awake when we came in so it must have been her knee that had woken her.  "I didn't say WHO woke me up, Alder!" she shouted.

She then got up and ripped a shelf off of the wall between the kitchen and extension!  I grabbed her arm to try and stop her and she said I was "a little cow for going in her church and now hitting her".  Uh...but I hadn't been in her church OR hit her!

April 8th 2012

I was feeling very sick and weak with my cold so didn't get up until 11am again.

It was officially Easter so I gave Mum the couple of little bits I'd got for her in Ealing.  David and I were not on speaking terms so he didn't get his presents!

I didn't leave the house all day.  I got as far as the car (with the intention of going to Grottsville to collect some stuff that had been left there the previous night) when Mum loomed at the doorway, saying I was "a little cow for skipping off into the sunset with David" and how she "was in the mood to destroy things like deleting her Facebook and eBay".  Hence, I felt I ought to stay with her and make sure she didn't do any more damage.

I tried to sit down with her and do her eBay listing but it was impossible.  "If something can't be done properly, why do it at all?" (She didn't have any new stuff to list so there was no point relisting the old stuff)  "David bred a little bitch and she was treated like a bitch on a puppy farm".

I listed 151 things on my own eBay account (which wasn't many in the days of unlimited free listings!) but Mum was nagging at me that I was taking too long and she wanted to use my computer so I had to give up.

I didn't even dare to mention the big Bank Holiday car boot sales of the following morning...

April 9th 2012

I got up early and rang the regular car boot sale just in case but it was rained off.  Oh well, I don't think I stood much chance of getting there anyway!

My cold was still going strong - I went through almost an entire box of tissues and could not stop coughing.  Why did colds always hit me so hard?

David spent the day messily filling cracks in the walls and I spent the day listing on eBay.  Mum spent the day nagging at me, calling me "scum" for not keeping my bathroom clean (I needed a bottle of Flash to clean the sink - everything else was sparkling clean!) and moaning to everyone who'd listen about how she never got to wash and kept "sh***ing up the wall in her tiny bathroom".  Then she got offended when her charming friend Jill told her that she should go to A&E and see if they'd let her have a wash at the hospital!  Well, people will think you're dirty if you keep telling them that you are!

Another exciting trip to McDonalds for fries was my lot for the day.  I would have got to Tesco in Northfields Avenue too, but realised I was wearing blue shoes and a black t-shirt (*gasp*) so stayed in the car outside instead.

April 10th 2012

My cold was finally starting to get a little better but I'd been left with a horrible dry cough, the kind that irritates you for weeks afterwards.  Ugh.

David was called into a meeting to be told that he would only be working until the following Friday and would have to return the company car on May 15th (his and my joint birthday).  Great.

He came home early, having bought some brown tape on his way.  He didn't want to help wrap and post the ridiculous quantity of eBay parcels that still needed to be shipped out, but reluctantly agreed to do so in the end.

That night he and I went to Tesco at the Hoover Building.  The cut price Easter eggs were long gone, of course, but that was probably for the best for money and weight reasons!

My computer was packing up.  It took ages to switch on and kept switching itself off at random intervals.  Also, when it was turned on, it made a continuous noise like a ticking clock or heartbeat.  I spent most of the day rescuing photographs off of the hard drive in case it suddenly crashed.

I decided to take a gamble and use the last of my one hundred monthly 99p eBay free listings on my very rare MLP Tales comics.  I felt sure that they would go up to a fair price so there was no harm in listing them cheaply...but maybe I was wrong.  They were sticking at their starting bid and seemed to be attracting no interest whatsoever!

Best wishes.
Desirée  xxx