Category Archives: mother in laws

Lucy’s Observations of the Day

I am a born optimist and always like to make the best out of a bad situation. With so many children, horses and sporting interests, something invariably goes wrong in my week. Rather than dwell on it, I try to just get on with things and report it to Facebook in the form of a status update beginning with the words “Lucy’s Observation of the day…”. Today’s blog entry includes some of the most popular/idiotic Saxely Observations that have occurred in the last 18 months, I hope you like them (and that reading them may help you avoid similar errors!).

If you really want to irritate your husband,  I have found that picking up a dead mole to show to the kids and then forgetting about it and leaving it on your mother-in-law’s kitchen window-sill for ten days works wonders….”Lucy, why is there a rotten dead mole on mum’s window ledge? This is just the sort of thing that annoys me about you”

1) If you under-cook sugar mice, they don’t set and form an alien gloop that is impossible to remove from anything. (2) If you over-cook sugar mice they taste worse than poo. (3) If you cook sugar mice to perfection, you get immediately hassled by at least six people to test one. (4) Basset hounds like burnt sugar mice. (5) Feeding burnt sugar mice to basset hounds equals a nasty crumbly residue on the carpet and a dog with a sticky nose.

Mucking out a 10-day-old foal, who has yet to go out into the field due to the wet weather, is comparable to being in a charity shop changing room with a stunt rider on a Kawasaki with a nitrous kit.

Howling basset hounds following you around the school when you are cantering do nothing to improve the concentration levels of a young horse.

It is wise, when letting the dog finish off food directly from a dinner plate, to remember to pick up the plate prior to your husband coming in and seeing it.

Two year old girls and bright red Clinique lipsticks can never exist harmoniously together in the same house.

Loft insulation is one of the worst things on earth.

Elderly people’s incontinence pads do not stay securely in place when used as stand-in nappies for toddlers, even with half a roll of your husband’s electrical tape.

You know that your three-year-old child is a genetic upgrade on her father when she learns to turn on the child-lock on the washing machine after you have loaded it so that “Daddy won’t walk past and turn it off before it is clean”.  (Jon has form for seeing the light on, thinking it has finished, wanting to save electricity and turning it off mid-cycle. I have form for complaining about him doing this).

Law school does not improve common sense. One of my friends (with a law degree) came round today in a panic over her laptop which was “broken”.  After a 12- second assessment I was able to diagnose that it had the NUMBER LOCK on…

If you steal a pair of your husband’s light-coloured smart socks and then wear them with leaky wellies whilst emptying barrows on to a muckheap in the middle of a muddy field, it is probably wise to take the socks off and hide them before he comes in.

You know when your children are approaching teenagerdom, when you overhear them “Blasting” each other with the Harry Potter-style spells: “Fat-i-fy” and “Gay-i-fy”.

Although the “pushing and running as hard as you can” method is a highly effective way of getting a loaded wheelbarrow through deep mud, it vastly increases the probability of a welly coming off in a speed-mud-vacuum.

If you are loading a reluctant horse and are out of horse food, Morrison’s own-brand crunchy nut corn flakes make a suitable substitute.

Next time I remove a two-year-old filly’s ripped rug in the morning and think to myself “I’ll put another one on later” and if “later” actually translates into “when it is pitch black, cold, muddy and I am dressed in lycra with jelly legs after a 50-mile bike ride because I was too damn lazy to do it earlier” then I should remember next time that this is a false economy and it takes six times  longer in the dark and is at least ten times as unpleasant.

Troll (3) is not shy. I have just watched her fetch her red singing potty, park it in the middle of the living room, drop her tights and sit on it. This was in front of her friends and mine at her birthday party and let’s just says she made full use of the potty…

Rugging up a herd of breeding mares and youngstock has definite parallels to competing in a triathlon. This morning I have spent ages sorting out equipment of various shapes and sizes, carried heaped piles of equipment to various locations, got soaked to the skin,  had to take on and off several pieces of equipment as quickly as possible and run four times around a large field whilst gasping for breath. I think I prefer triathlon…

Maximum heart rate tests hurt… a lot.

Wind-up torches in “dens” sound like a good method of toddler amusement but require at least 20 minutes of mummy’s best den-building and torch-finding time. In reality they keep toddlers entertained for approximately 45 seconds.

The opposite of burning tea is called “turning on the oven then forgetting to put the food in”.  This is probably more annoying than burning it.

Taking hound-child pictures of the day to upload to Facebook is all good fun but makes your morning harder, delays mucking out and generally adds to the child-hound-horse chaos in your home, especially when, as a consequence, your eight-year-old misses her school bus and you end up having to drive her to school in your mucking out clothes.

Small children can ski black runs without panicking if they are told that they are “dark blue”.

Things that two year olds who are just getting the hang of sentences should refrain from saying to their mothers when they require carrying:- “Up, up, up – stupid”.

The next time I give my husband the simple task of “turning on the vegetables on the hob whilst I’m outside haying the horses”, I will be sure to leave printed instructions explaining how to “turn the oven on at the wall”.

When getting your husband and big sister to spend ten minutes trying their hardest to fasten you into your Woof-wear metal “cage” body protector, it is probably advisable to make sufficient prior checks to ensure that it is not on backwards. If you do not do this and they suceed in their task you will be 1) very uncomfortable 2) subjected to serious derision.

Littlest Petshop figures bloody hurt when you stand on them in bare feet.

Trifle the cat does not like granny’s turkey gravy even when the dog has stolen her food for the last 24 hours and she is starving.

Slugs are very difficult to remove from tissue paper and slug-slime is very difficult to remove from fingers that have been attempting to remove slugs from tissue paper.

There is a positive correlation between the number of cups of coffee and kisses given to husband and the amount of loaded barrows of horse-poo husband empties onto the (distant) muckheap.

Once dried, Stella Artois makes a very substitute for hair gel.

Nasty Asti gets progressively less nasty after each glass and, providing the first glass is consumed after several none-Asti alcoholic drinks, is almost drinkable.

Using the fail-barrow because you are too lazy to go and find the good barrow is a false economy when mucking out nine stables. Failure to act on this obvious truth is likely to result in a minimum of six accidental mid-yard poo-tips.

It takes an average of seven large bounces to propel one prone toddler from one side of the trampoline to the other whilst you are on all fours in your pyjamas with a four-year-old riding on your back. Doing this at 2pm scores about eight out of ten on the embarrassment scale when  you look up to see the postman watching you with a signature-required parcel in his hand.

There is a positive correlation between the amount of hoof trimmings consumed by a basset hound and the amount of methane expelled into the living room that evening.


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Grannies are one of nature’s mysteries. No matter what kind of personality they started off with in earlier life, be it stressy, bossy or timid – they undergo slow and subtle changes as they get older and by the time they hit 75 they have evolved into calm, wise and quietly spoken authorities, who can steam 7 different varieties of vegetable in one pan and make gravy out of the water.

Oh yes, I am speaking from experience.  The granny I am talking about lives next door to us and is my husband’s mum, my mother-in-law and she is amazing.

She is the grand age of 84 and although her knees are not what they used to be, she is as spritely in the brain department as a box full of sprites. She has this wonderful technique of getting any child to do whatever she wants them to do, without them realising that it wasn’t their own idea in the first place. That’s probably the school teacher in her coming out.  She is an expert in distraction and interrogation and employs both skills with the controlled precision of a Stealth fighter pilot.

If I walked in to a room full of arguing, shouting children my immediate response would be to shout something at the top of my voice (possibly something not repeatable on here!). This would probably make no difference to the situation whatsoever and as well as having to repeat myself several times, I’d probably end up having to physically carry at least two children out of the room to separate them.

Granny could walk into the exact same scenario and give them “the stare” which would probably stop 90% of all bad behaviour within seconds. She would then follow up the stare with the short phrase “My word!” spoken in a very quiet, calm voice but with the smallest hint of a growl on the r of word. On hearing “my word!” all children would turn into angels, instantly.

Granny has been a God-send to us with regards to childcare. She adores all the children but is undoubtedly closest to Violet (5).Violet and Granny are best friends, there has only been about two days in Violet’s life that she has not spent time hanging out with Granny.

They play all sorts of strange games together, including Violet tying Granny up with scarves, sellotaping her hands together and then holding a smelly slipper in front of her face like a gas-mask, forcing her to breathe through it – this is Violet’s all time favourite game (although I’m not sure that it is Granny’s!).

Granny also endures hours of “Hide and seek” where Violet is surprisingly content for Granny not to get up (because of her knees) but to simply hide behind a few cushions in-situ. Sometimes it takes Violet ages to find her.

Violet, having spent so much time in Granny’s company, has picked up quite an extensive old lady vocabulary. She regularly uses the colours “beige” and “mauve” and has been known to test her bath water “with me elbow”. She can also tell you the name of every variety of flower that you are likely to encounter in a country garden, its colour and its Old English nickname.

Our Granny is punctual to within an eighth of a second. I am rather confused about how she managed to create Jon, who does not reflect even one sequin’s sparkle of this trait. This fact is probably the only thing in the world that winds Granny up and this is a credit to her, as I’m sure we all give her enough reasons to legitimately be in an asylum.

Can other people’s Grannies use the telephone? The phone is not our Granny’s forte in life. She is perfectly able to dial the right number and make a successful connection but when it comes to having a two way exchange of words, she seems to have some kind of mental block. Jon and I think it is because as soon as the other person answers, she is trying to keep tally of exactly how much the call is going to cost her, inside her head. If you happen to catch her on a really good day, you might get three sentences out of her before she abruptly hangs up, whilst you are in mid-sentence.

What she fails to realize is that the fact we have to call her back to finish the conversation, probably incurs a connection charge, making the whole process more expensive than if she’d just stayed on the line to start with. Saying that, other than the telephone thing, I really do not have a bad word to say about Granny, she is the best mum in law in the world.

I am however interested to find out just how unique our Granny is, compared to other people’s Grannies? How many other  84 year old Grannies would climb a ladder to apply filler to a ceiling or help take measurements for stable building, mix cement or babysit five children, so that her son and his wife can fit in a swim session at 9pm on an evening? Or more to the point look after a three year old troll-child for two hours every morning, whilst mum does horse jobs?

I really hope you all have Super-Grans too but I think that our granny will take some beating.





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