Advent is back!

Joandi have many advent traditions – e.g. watching trashy Christmas films, being some of the only people we know to still send Christmas cards, and of course the daily helenandjo advent update. Like a helenandjo advent calendar with one of us leaping out from behind every door.

Once again this year we are sharing my mum’s advent presents with you and here’s the first one:

Whatever can it be?

Hmm, it seems to be a dead bird, possibly caught by my tiny hunter cat Northey. Or maybe a harmless Christmas decoration. Probably the latter. Very cute.

Eventual more major victory

As Jo mentioned below, I had to return two pairs of jeans to high-street clothing store H&J recently because they had sent the wrong size due to a kerfuffle involving the store changing all their sizes to match the sizes that people actually are.  Finally they sent a third pair in the correct size.  Hooray, I though.  But my victory was short lived and they turned out to have a flaw in the dye, so they had to go back as well – argh!

I had to order the jeans online because they didn’t stock them in my local branch of H&J, but did click and collect from the store (so it too six trips in there to be left with no jeans – three pickups and three returns).  I got to know one of the people behind the counter pretty well after all that.  But I was pleased to see that on my last visit there, they had a whole rack of the previously online-only jeans – I managed to buy an unflawed pair in my size at last!

I have come to the conclusion that it is entirely down to me that they are now on sale in the Northbampton store.  Their algorithms must have picked up a sudden surge in internet-orders to be collected from that store and kicked into action to stock them as standard.  Their belief would have been further compounded when I bought a pair on almost the first day they were in stock.  But the rest of the jeans will probably now languish there forever until jeans are no longer fashionable (are jeans fashionable?) because in truth, I am their only customer.

Mystery squash

I have grown this mystery squash on my allotment. You can just see my fingers at the bottom of the picture for scale. Helen gave me the plant but even she is not sure what type of squash it is. She suggested it was just a big courgette but it is not because it has a hard, waxy skin. I wonder if it will taste nice and when I should harvest it. Yet another Helenandjo Mystery waiting to be solved. Other open cases include The Mystery of the Balloon in the Garden and The Mystery of Which Moron Vandalised Our Trees – see previous posts.

Another intruder!

Fresh from dealing with vandals entering my garden and attacking my trees, I was forced to deal with another intruder today. This!

A dreadful balloon, which had also come into the garden without permission. I don’t know which selfish four-year-old it belongs to but they too deserve to be fined/jailed – like the tree smashers -for letting a beastly balloon float willy nilly and into the garden of someone who loathes balloons. Thankfully the balloon was quite withered and old enabling me to carefully snip it with some scissors and defuse it. What next?!

Tree fury

Helenandi are seething with rage after someone came into our back garden and broke loads of branches off our trees!!! The prime suspect in this new case for Helenandjo Ace Detectives is someone from the industrial estate that backs onto our land. We suspect someone has attacked the trees because they somehow believed they were encroaching onto their property even though the poor trees were not doing any harm and we have been careful to get them professionally pruned so they do not overhang the warehouse that adjoins our garden. Some of the branches have been cut but most have simply been snapped as if someone had stamped on them. My finely honed detective skills also suggest the perpetrator may have actually come into the garden – some of the plants at the back look like they have been trodden on and there are what could be footprints in the soil. The ferms are decidedly flat. This is trespassing and against the law.

Naturally we have reported the tree vandalism to the police but fear they may regard this as a trivial matter like the time Helen reported a man for weeing on the trees in our street.

Our treemisery comes on top of another outrage concerning those very trees. This is what has happened to a new tree we had planted in our road last year:

Some horrible person thought it would be fun to snap it in half. This tree cost £250 and is now DEAD.

However, we are used to people damaging trees in the street but not in our own garden. All this adds up to a sea of despair and hopelessness. Black black black!!!!



So many victories

I have just noticed that my last post about complaining to my bank was entitled “major victory” as was my post on November 1 last year about finally managing to order the correct freezer flap third time around having been sent the wrong one twice.

Helen  tells me she too had a major victory this week after she finally managed to get the right jeans having been sent the wrong jeans twice – echoes of the freezer flap debacle. One thing people can never accuse us of is giving up.

Major victory

I have won yet another major victory for common sense after making an official complaint to my bank about the way they handled an application for a new account.

To cut a long and very boring story short this required sending some certified documents. I sent them some certified documents but they were rejected because the person doing the certifying had not written exactly the right thing. However, when I rang my bank – let’s call it Grimace – they could not tell me exactly what wording was needed and this information was nowhere to be found on their website. I told them this was ridiculous and that I was being asked to do something but no one would tell me how to do it.

Today a man from Grimace rang me to say that my complaint had been upheld and they were giving me £75 for the inconvenience. I said the main thing I was interested in was that Grimace provided unambiguous guidance to customers on the certification of documents. However, what I really meant was: Woo! £75!

Unusual fly-tipping

One of my favourite activities these days is reporting fly-tipping – a task made much easier now Sparrow Council has a new app. You simply photograph the fly-tipping and the app tells the council where it is and that they should come and get it. I report scores of incidents each month because, sadly, our road is the unofficial rubbish dump of Sparrow.

Today, I came across the most unusual case of fly-tipping I have recorded to date – two young men on a mattress. I was on my way to collect a parcel from the post office and was quite startled to come across the men who were fast asleep in a fly-tipping hotspot. It may well have been a fly-tipped mattress they were sleeping on as we get lots of those. Perhaps they saw it and thought it looked like a pleasant place to have a nap. I was in two minds whether or not to photograph them and report them via the app. Living fly-tipping.

Clever cat

Here is a video of my cat.  She has trained this human to play with a ball.

My other cat is asleep in front of the fire.

I think I have held the iDevice the wrong way round, Webmaster Matt will probably tell me off.

Jo Plays Pet Detective

Over Christmas I deployed my detective skills once again to help with the case of a missing cat. Always on the alert for intruders in our neighbourhood I photographed this suspicious cat at the bottom of the garden.

The next day I spotted this sign on a tree in our road. A missing cat!

I put mew and mew together and became convinced this was the SAME cat I had snapped in our arbour so contacted the owners and emailed them the photo. However, they maintained the cat in the garden was “too fluffy” to be theirs. Subsequent examination of the two images by a cat expert (Helen) confirms they are NOT the same the cat.  This was very disappointing and suggests I am not cut out to be a pet detective.

In a worrying development, the M25 cat killer who is believed to have claimed the lives of 400 feline victims since 2014, recently struck again…in Sparrow! Could the missing cat in the poster be victim 401?

Meanwhile there is a NEW poster on the tree outside Mum and Dad’s house that says “CAT FOUND” with no more details apart from a phone number (which is not a very useful sign, if you ask me). However, I am not going to get involved this time.