The girls in the admin office where I work are holding a Macmillan’s coffee morning on Friday http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx I got baking and turned out what I think is a really fab cherry cake. I carefully divided it into slices, lovingly wrapped it in silver paper, and placed it inside a specially purchased air tight box. When I came to pick up the box to fetch it into work I noticed that the lid seemed a bit loose. Further investigation revealed three slices missing. Heather will bloody well make another one this evening, I am going to stand over her while she does it. Heather’s not big on cooking or baking and flies into a panic if I simply ask her to stir something, but then she counts the stirring part as meaning that she’s played a significant role in the preparation of the meal.
It was her birthday on Saturday so we celebrated by going to watch Newcastle play (if you can call that celebrating) then Mum took us out for a cream tea on Sunday to the Ryton Park Hotel. It’s changed hands recently and it might be named something else now. The web address I’ve got for them is http://www.rytonparkcountryhousehotel.co.uk/ but the site looks a little out of date. Cream tea costs £12 per head and it was excellent value as well as being something a little different.
I am of an age where to me the hostelry will always be called by its original name, the Ryton Country Club, just as John Lewis will always be Bainbridge’s. My Godparents had the property before it was a pub/hotel and I can remember going along to parties there. One of my cousins had her christening do in the house which I attended with my parents, although I don’t actually remember it. There was a Sir somebody or other on the guest list and my mother was anxious to impress. En route to the party as I was being wheeled through Ryton in my push chair, I started saying, over and over, “Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger……….,” and simply wouldn’t shut up. Kids do so love repetition. This was a word I’d learnt from my much older brother. I have no idea what happened after that, probably my mother just hit me over the head with something.
Anyway, we will be returning to the Ryton Park Hotel to find out what else it has to offer, and also because it is one of the few places that Heather and I haven’t been barred from. We do have a track record of getting into skirmishes with people, but the longest running isn’t with a hotelier or restaurateur but with Environmental Health, specifically the bin men. Every week they leave us a little missive about something, the latest one being a complaint about us not separating our newspapers from the rest of our recycling material. This is down to the mystery of that blue box insert thing inside the bin. It’s an enigma, like missing socks. One week it’s there and another week it isn’t. Sometimes it disappears for months and then suddenly turns up again. I telephoned the council and explained the situation and they delivered a new one. This has been the signal for every little blue box we have ever owned to make a re-appearance into our lives. We now have the brand new one and two rediscovered old ones.
Other notes attached to our bin on previous occasions have included a written lecture about us filling it too full and threatening us with a fixed penalty ticket. Then there was the day a bin man knocked on our door about departed creatures. He had encountered a dead mouse in a plastic bag somewhere near the top of the rubbish and appeared on our front step to say, “We don’t take dead things.” I think the young man concerned thought we’d been dabbling in the occult, he kept backing away from me nervously. The joys of owning cats. Now we know to hide anything they’ve killed in a brown paper bag near the bottom.
Finally this week I simply must tell you about a tweet I’ve received. It was to me personally by none other than Clare Balding. She mentioned doing book signings and I responded bemoaning the fact that none are listed for the North East. She replied to me, and only to me; “I’m not sure yet. Adding dates all the time so I’ll do my best. In Doncaster this Saturday but that’s not NE enough.” I shall never wash my mobile phone again.