It’s the mating season... I think I’ll go shopping

I am home alone.

My husband couldn’t have the week off work so here I am, on holiday by myself, watching the wood pigeons get frisky on the garden wall.

Occasionally an over-amorous male, desperate to perpetuate the species, hops on to the female and overbalances leading to an ignominious scramble to stay on the wall and a certain loss of masculine dignity. (That’s pigeons, by the way).

It is a bit voyeuristic, watching birds mate, but there’s nothing much on the telly.

Out on the street there’s a van, parked on the roadside, bearing the legend ‘window cleaning solutions’ which, of course, implies there’s a problem.

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My husband suggested ‘bricking up’ as a permanent solution.

My own solution is a very pleasant French window cleaner who texts me in an English accent the evening before he comes to ask me to leave the side gate open. He moves the wheelie bins to get his ladder by in what, I suppose, we must now call an ‘access solution’.

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There was a small excitement on Monday when I left my M&S store card behind at the self service check out. This is not just any self service check out; this is a Marks and Spencer check out.

But I was distracted by the Cadbury’s Twirls, cunningly positioned next to the tills, and left my card behind on the bar code whizzy thing.

“What sort of card is it?” I was asked when I returned to reclaim it.

Blimey, I thought, that’s a hard question. “It’s er... black with a sort of lime green edge,” I said, attempting to recall.

“No, I meant, what sort as in Mastercard, Barclaycard... but, from your description, I gather it’s one of ours.”

On Tuesday, I decided to head out to Asda. Yes, the week was turning into one, mad social whirl. It was a 20 minute journey taking into account remedial pothole roadworks.

I parked at the supermarket, got out of the car... ah, I’d left my handbag behind. But it was okay, I had a handbag recovery solution. I drove home, picked it up and drove back to Asda. Any price savings I might have enjoyed were almost certainly swallowed up by the petrol cost.

If I am starting to sound a bit sad... middle-aged woman on holiday visits large stores near her home; it gets worse. After lunch (alone) I went out to B&Q.

I needed a mirror for the spare (aka Mark and Caitlin’s) bedroom and, with the amount food the birds were vacuuming up to fuel their courtship rituals (aka sex lives) I decided some high-energy seed was needed (not for me!).

I filled my basket with sunflower kernels, dried worms and suet balls, tucked a full length mirror under my arm and proceeded to the, yes, you guessed it, self service check out. At some point my basket was whisked away and, having paid for all my goods, I found I was unable to get my shopping to the car.

Bags are not provided free (10p each) and the option of making two journeys was made more complicated by the store having an entrance and exit several metres apart. I made a few huffy noises.

“Are you going to help the customer out to her car?” one of the staff asked his female colleague.

I didn’t hear her answer but I’m guessing it was in the negative because, after I marched out with my mirror leaving everything else behind on the till, I was pleased to be joined at the boot of the car by the man bearing bird food.

I declare M&S, Asda and B&Q about the most fun you can have when you’re spending several days on your own in the throes of the absent-minded phase of menopause

Just Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Halfords, Homebase and Morrisons to go.

It’s been a funny few days and it all became slightly surreal when we had a famous mountaineer stay over.

Stephen Venables, one of the elite climbers of the world, was in Felixstowe to talk about his adventures. When they were students, in the 70s, he and my husband shared a flat but had not seen each other for 36 years.

We were there too late to join the audience but we waited in the bar for him and my husband whiled away the minutes by browsing through the books Stephen has written.

Suddenly: “I’m in this book,” he exclaimed and there was his name, large as Times New Roman 10-point.

It was true. We bought the book of course.

As Stephen was due in St Albans the following night, he had been intending to drive part of the way and stay over at a motel so we said, ‘why not stay the night?’

It was rather exciting. The two men caught up on 36 years of gossip and I got about as near as I ever will to being part of a expedition.

“Don’t worry about making up a bed,” said Stephen. “I’ve got a sleeping bag... or I could pitch my tent in the garden.”

I have to admit the offer was tempting. How often do you get the chance to have a famous conqueror of Mount Everest camping out on the back lawn?

But, although the conditions in East Anglia were marginally more clement than the ones he is used to, ie sub-zero blizzard in the Antarctic, it didn’t seem fair to put him outside when we have perfectly serviceable spare (aka Mark and Caitlin’s) room.

And so we come back to being home alone.

I’m not sure I like it... and I can’t go out touting for company. It’s a bit sad and might even be illegal. What I need is an empty nest solution. And speaking of nests, the blue tits are at it now.

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