One Prick Too Many?

Hi All

Anyone who knows me, or reads this blog, knows that I have an affinity with most flora and fauna. I say most because I have a massive dislike of greenfly, blackfly, slugs and snails. This little foursome attempt to destroy anything green that pops its head above soil level.

I lovingly and attentively attend to my garden’s every need and I can be found on many a 5am morning tying-in tomato plants, watering a thirsty cutting, weeding seedlings etc. etc. so it rather goes against the grain when it comes to cacti and the fact that they thrive on negligence.

When we had the kitchen extended, four-ish years ago, I decided that it might be nice to have a ten-foot high shelf on the wall, near to one of the Velux roof windows, as a permanent home for my cacti collection. OK, so I would need a ladder to access them each time they needed watering, but that wasn’t a problem because they wouldn’t require watering very often. And with them sitting in the lap of the Gods it would prevent me from ‘spoiling’ them and killing them with kindness. However, I do think there is a point at which even cacti become the victims of negligence and recently I fear my cacti fell into that category.

I’d asked Richard to water them 3 weeks ago – you see the job has now fallen to Richard? There is a reason for that. Richard can just about reach them by standing on a kitchen chair and not having to go to the trouble of releasing one of his ladders from the roof of his garage. We call it a garage, but it isn’t because we can’t get a car down the side of the house.

Richard has this massively annoying way of arranging things, usually beneath or behind something else and access is never easy. Even when I turn two locks and struggle to pull back a sticking, massive door I have to lean across his BMW heap of shit just to get a masonry nail out of a cupboard. I’m not actually allowed masonry nails because he goes off on one about how many times I have to bang it into the wall, wrecking the plaster, just to get one picture in the right place. But I digress…

Since my initial request for him to water the cacti I have mentioned it three more times. Saturday, when my son and grandchildren were here, I glanced up at the shelf and merely mumbled, ‘We really will have to get those plants watered.’ The next thing I knew Richard was balanced on a chair, long-handled watering can in hand, holding a conversation with my son, when all hell broke loose. Cacti, gravel, grit and bone-dry compost rained down on him. One hit him smack on the head, bounced off and almost took out little Jake who was on hands and knees retrieving his Angry Bird from beneath the chair. As compost fell like water gushing down The Niagara Falls, everyone froze. Mouths dropped open and Jake, assuming that it was caused by something he had done, dropped his little lip and almost burst into tears. All that stopped him was grandma’s instant bollocking of grandad.

‘You sodding idiot. You’ve smashed 4 of my plants! Why can’t you look what you’re doing?’

You’ll appreciate that this comment was tempered. Little ears were present.

Richard half fell off the chair, rubbing his head, showering compost all over my Kitchen Aid mixer, turning it from a lovely shade of cream into a horrid shade of brown.

‘Why can’t you look what you’re doing?’ I bellowed again as the grandchildren, by this time, had sought the sanctuary of sensible grandma and were over the worst of the shock and were beginning to smile. Jake even chirped up with, ‘Yeah, Grandad, you’ve smashed grandma’s plants. Hasn’t he Grandma?’

‘Yes, Jake, he HAS!’

Richard then bumbled off into the garden, still showering compost, and squeaking, ‘I’ve got pricks all in my head and arm!….I’m covered in pricks!’

Sometimes I find it best not to comment! Especially in front of a 3-year-old and a 7-year-old.

Richard spent the next half-hour out in the garden with two mirrors and my posh tweezers removing cacti spikes from his head, back, shoulder and thumb. I, of course, had my priorities right and set about cleaning my Kitchen Aid, work surfaces, waste bin, sinks, hob, and both pairs of kiddie’s wellies.

Jake, holding the dustpan, enquired, ‘Grandma, is Grandad an idiot?’

‘Yes!’ I said.

I have this thing about telling lies, especially to children. Potentially they have a lifetime ahead of them of listening to lies from one source or another. It certainly isn’t going to start with me.

This isn’t the first time Richard has spiked his ample body with ‘pricks.’ One night, a few years ago, Richard had a drink or six and in the early hours of the morning visited the loo. I was jolted from my slumber by a thunderous crash. I found Richard lying on top of my lovely, huge aloe vera specimen that had right of place between the loo and the shower. He was squirming, squinting, barely able to open his hung-over eyes and groaning.

‘What the hell have you done?’ I yelled. (See how I always tackle disaster with a personal attack?)

He staggered to his feet, holding his head and butt. ‘I fell over,’ he moaned, wincing.

Now call me suspicious but no one falls over standing at the loo having a pee?

We moved to the bedroom and I spent the next twenty minutes removing aloe vera spikes from his forehead and backside. But don’t go thinking that I softened. Oh no. Each spike yanked from his backside was taken with just the tiniest bit of skin and an open smirk from yours truly.

It transpired that he had gone to the bathroom for a wee and fallen asleep standing up. This is what I have to live with. See? Idiot!

But I do have to admit that Richard’s shenanigan’s keep friends and family amused for decades. The aloe vera has long gone…Richard, to date, is still here.

All that remains of my cacti collection!
All that remains of my cacti collection!

 

Take care my lovelies x

 

* Welcome new followers Maggie Wilson, A Woman’s Wisdom and Brian Marggraf.

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When The Head Simply Has To Rule The Heart…

Hi All

A couple of days ago I was presented with a decision that wasn’t easy to make. It was one of those ‘head-having-to-rule-the-heart’ situations.

I was in the greenhouse (which is situated, on one side, about a foot from the neighbour’s conifer hedge) trying to track down a caterpillar that had holed one of my courgette plants, when all hell broke loose and a blackbird, in her manic attempt to escape, hit the glass before flying off clacking wildly.

As my startled eyes narrowed they focused on Chea, hanging in the hedge, back legs trailing, and her head stuffed into a nest. My first reaction was to scream, ‘Chea!’ So I did.

This had the desired effect and amid a shower of dead conifer debris she dropped to the ground. I bolted outside and chastised her, which as usual, was massively ineffective. She rolled onto her back and purred. I seriously think that this cat is stoned half of the time. I often catch her rolling deliriously in the cat mint, rubbing her head against the sprouting stems and giving it the occasional chomp. She even has a kind of swaying, ‘hey man, I’m stoned,’ look about her as she dawdle’s off up the garden with butterflies circling her head. I’m not sure if I’m imagining the butterflies – but I can honestly vouch to never touching the cat mint.

I hurried back into the greenhouse and peered through the glass. My heart dropped into my wellies as I spied a perfectly formed nest, awaiting the laying of eggs. I didn’t need last year’s horror played out in my memory cells, because I remembered it all too well – Chea, raiding a robin’s nest and systematically bringing back fledglings, one a day for 3 days. The horror and hopelessness of it will remain with me forever. Tiny birds, too young to leave the nest, half alive.

As I stood staring at the nest, imagining the eggs like they were the Devil’s spawn, I knew in my heart how it was going to play out. Mrs Blackbird would sit on the eggs, half-starved in her coma-like state, waiting and listening for her babies chipping at their shells. Then she’d exhaust herself with dozens of trips to neighbouring gardens to find sustenance for her brood. And then, she would return and there would be 2 left…and then 1….and then none. Chea would have had them all. My head had to rule my heart.

I stropped back to the house and fetched Richard to survey the potential hopelessness of the scene, and after a few moments – and after I’d reacquainted him with last year’s slaughter – he agreed that we had to take the nest away. At least, at this stage she had only built a nest. She hadn’t put her heart and soul into rearing chicks to have them taken.

It wasn’t an easy task. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it and so Richard, who is most definitely wider than a foot, had to squeeze down the narrow gap between the hedge and the greenhouse. It was dreadful and I expected him to go through the glass at any stage. But he managed, somehow.

Of course, my earlier bawling at Chea had brought out the neighbour, and I think he was watching from a distance, behind his rather pretentious runner bean wigwam, waiting for the blood to run. Fortunately, his weird pleasures weren’t fed.

I am now on blackbird watch. If I see the merest attempt at nesting within my garden I shall shoo her away. I must say though, that I’ve never known more stupid birds than blackbirds. They just pick a spot and move in. They obviously see Chea hunting the boundaries, half-stoned, with bees and butterflies circling her tabby bonce – and being a cat, and doing cat-like things – and yet they nest barely off the ground and in her territory.

I know that I’m banging my head against a very big wall expecting Chea to be anything other than a cat, and in fairness to her she isn’t a tunnel-visioned hunter. But then, after she’s been on the cat mint I guess she’s too ‘out there man’ to bother.iPod pics 023

 

Take care my lovelies x

 

Again…many thanks to new followers and to those of you who take the time to comment and ‘like’ etc xx

Betsy Land Rover..No Capacity Or Compassion!

Hi All

I could say that it was an uneventful May Bank Holiday, but I’d be lying, and as you all know, I am nothing but truthful.

It started on Thursday, the ‘beginning’ of the eventful phase, when I stood, sipping tea, staring at the lounge. There was nothing particularly wrong with it. I guess I was just bored with the familiar look of it. It needed something to happen. Just a little something that would cheer it up and/or make it a bit different.

By the last sip of tea, I’d texted Richard at work. ‘I’ve decided that we are exposing that second fireplace in the lounge, so come home with your happy head on…if you can find it!’

Ten minutes later he replied. ‘OK.’

He’s such a sweetie, well, he was then, when it was suggested!

Friday morning, at the crack of dawn, with tool in hand, Richard tentatively started peeling off the wallpaper. Obviously I joined in, but was instantly told (very bravely on Richard’s part) to leave it, because he wanted to do it carefully. I kept my cool, because it was only minutes into the great ‘fireplace exposure’ project. I made tea.

The following is how all our projects go;

Me. ‘Why are you doing it like that?’

Richard. ‘Why not?’

Me. ‘Because it isn’t logical and it won’t work.’

Richard. Leave it to me.’

Two minutes later.

Richard, scratching head. ‘Hmmm.’

Me. ‘Well? Are you ready to try my way now?’

Richard. ‘Hmmm.’

It’s not that I’m cocky, or clever, or big-headed, but I am logical. And logical always wins. Richard is not logical. Never. Ever. The gene passed him by – big time. So, under my logical guidance we located the edges of the plaster board, carefully ran a Stanley knife around it, and stepped back to wonder at the joys of twenty-three years of fallen soot and debris. Richard beetled off to the loo. I think the fear of the entire chimney collapsing was enough to move his bowels. Meanwhile, yours truly, as helpful as ever, decided to start shovelling up the debris. As I moved in, I glimpsed long, bony legs! I screamed and exited the lounge, bumping into Richard as he came down the stairs.

‘There’s something in there,’ I yelped, dancing on the spot. I said I was logical. Brave in the face of dead creatures doesn’t come into it. Even the words, ‘There’s something in there,’ sent a shiver down my spine, Stephen King-ish, and in retrospect I wished I hadn’t used them.

As already stated, Richard is not logical but he is a man, and brave or not, would defend me to the death. He advanced the scene…and I made tea.

Two years ago, on a hot summer’s day, the lounge had become infested with black flies – and I’m not talking midges here. I’m talking blue-bottle-type-things, the size of small mice. I said at the time, as Richard was tearing round the lounge, Dyson in hand, sucking them up the pipe, that I thought they were coming from under the skirting, covering the chimney breast.  And my powers of deduction and logic concluded that something had fallen down the chimney and been the host to a million maggots, which had now hatched and were seeking freedom.

The three dead bird bodies that Richard shovelled out of the debris gave me the proof needed to confirm this. I wanted to believe that they had been baby jackdaws that had died in the nest and fallen down into their eternal grave, but as we continued attempting to prevent the loose bricks from falling I noticed that there was bird pooh on one of them. This darkened my day. Dead birds don’t pooh. Worse was to come.

Having exposed the chimney we then decided to resuscitate Betsy Land Rover and risk her across country and drive to the nearest B&Q to fetch plaster, plaster board, hearth tiles, a sun lounger…

Yes, a sun lounger. It’s nearly summer. The sun will be shining.  I won’t be sitting here taping away all summer. Crikey, what do you take me for? I have Chea’s antics to sit and watch and the chucks to keep my eye on, and books to read…and stuff. I digress…

We were tootling along, Betsy was purring, well clearing her throat, when a rabbit ran into the road. I screamed and held it…and held it, as the rabbit stopped, turned, and ran back. My scream was replaced by a thud. A kind of thud once heard, never forgotten.

‘We got it?’ didn’t we,’ I said, flat toned, already teary-eyed.022

‘Yes.’ Richard said.

Well that just about did it. All I could think was, this little rabbit had woken to a lovely sunny morning, nibbled a bit of grass, thought, ‘Ah, the grass is always greener on the other side,’ and decided to cross the road to the other side and …bam. Dead.

Wrecked my day, frankly. 3 bird carcasses and a road kill.

We argued all the way round B&Q before Richard pulled the ‘I’m in charge of how much Betsy can carry,’ and informed me that we didn’t have room for a sun lounger. I sulked all the way to the Land Rover. I hated sodding Betsy. She had no capacity for anything and was a killer of bunnies. Bloody thing.

Richard loaded her up and then stood scratching his head as he realised the plaster board wouldn’t go in. ‘Why can’t I get that in?’ he snapped.

I shrugged, because now I hated Betsy Land Rover and her daft owner.

‘Gail! Why can’t I get the plaster board in? What should we do?’

‘Load it properly would be my guess,’ I said, still sulking about the rabbit…and lack of a sun lounger.

‘I suppose you could do it better?’ he said, cockily.

‘Obviously!’ I said.

‘Well you do it then,’ he said.

‘I will,’ I said. ‘Take the shit out!

He took the shi…stuff out and I loaded it.

‘You always know best, don’t you?’ he said.

It wasn’t a compliment.

‘Pretty much,’ I said. ‘And I know something else too.’

‘Go on, what,’ he said.

‘There’s now room for the sun lounger, so off you pop. You can go and fetch it and I’ll guard the goods.’

He shuffled off. Seven minutes later and he was back with my new lounger on a trolley that wouldn’t steer, and a look on his face, that, if I was a nervous person, would have scared the hell out of me. Fortunately I’m not a nervous person.

Later that day Richard found that the grill thingy on the front of Betsy had been caved in. He believes that the rabbit leapt into the air to avoid being hit and dented his grill. He moaned and moaned and said, ‘Do you know how much these are to replace?’ As if I would know…or care. Betsy’s a killer and she deserves everything she gets.

Richard was still moaning the following morning. He called me to look at a page on eBay, with all the cronky old Land Rover bits. He pointed to a grill and said, ‘Look! When I say I’m peed off about the grill this is how much they are to replace.’

The advert said £80.

‘Well it could have been worse,’ I said.

‘How?’ Richard snapped. ‘How could it possibly be worse?’

‘Well you could have been the rabbit!’

He hasn’t mentioned it since…although I did see him outside, attempting to put into action my logical suggestion. ‘Get a hammer and bang it straight!’

 

Take care my lovelies x022

 

PS The chimney project is ongoing.

Pleasure…Pure And Simple!

Hi All

I have to admit to being a creature of simple pleasures, and for that I thank God, my genes, and my ability to actually ‘see’ the world around me.

It amazes me when I am made aware of just how much some people need (think they need!) to be happy. Bigger houses. Bigger cars. Fancy holidays. Bigger egos. I say that it amazes me…when actually it makes me smile and shake my head. Wake up! Yeah, wake up. Go smell the coffee or the roses, or… something.

I’m not saying that big houses, cars, fancy holidays are not acceptable, of course they are, (egos are a no-no though) but what about the simple things? What about everything that is around us? The free things.

I can’t actually walk to the top of my garden without stopping a dozen times to wonder and gaze at something. The chucks, sitting together in their nest box, clucking low, conspiring, planning their course of demolition, for when they are let out. The two, dolphin size orfe, crazily circling the pond like bikers on the Wall of Death, pushing and jostling each other in play. At this point I am only half way up the garden.2014-04-28 10.44.43

The next half delays me further, and for longer. Here, there is new growth to stand and stare and wonder at. The apple blossom, perfect, pink and sweet-smelling. The cherry blossom, already falling like confetti at a wedding. The blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes vibrantly green. Unless you are a gardener, or an artist, I don’t think you ever fully realise, or appreciate, just how many shades of green there are in an April/May garden, when growth is wild, rampant and raging.

And then, the greenhouse. I open  the door and I can imagine a hundred little voices shouting, ‘Me, me, I’m here, I’m new. Look at me, I’ve grown two more leaves overnight! I’m thirsty! I’ve been half eaten by a slug! Get the pellets. Kill it! Kill it!’

OK, so I’m bonkers. I can live with that, and in fact I do.

The other day we (Richard and moi) stood chatting to a couple of acquaintances and afterwards Richard said, ‘Did you see her face? All that …whatever it was! Was that really necessary at this time of the morning?’

I shrugged.

‘I mean, your friend Maud – ’ (name changed, obviously) ‘ – is exactly the same. Why do they wear all that makeup? It must take them hours to go to all that effort.’

By now my head was slightly tilted and a frown had crossed my brow.

‘Are you saying  that I don’t make any effort?’

He shuffled a bit.

‘No…er…no, I’m not saying that. You always look nice…but you don’t take hours dolling yourself up.’

I took a deep breath.

‘So I look like I’ve made little effort?’

‘No. You always look nice.’

I was fast going off that bloody word. Nice?

‘Anyway, he continued, ‘that was one of the things that I liked about you when we met. You didn’t take hours to get ready. You’re… nice.’

Cheeky piece of shit! I’ll have you know that it takes me ten minutes every morning to acquire my ‘day look.’ And that look is, in fact, the same as my ‘night look,’ my ‘going to a posh do look,’ and every other look in between. Blimey! If he knew the amount of housekeeping dosh that I spend on Olay and mascara and the wrong colour lip gloss, he would realise just how much effort I do make.

Not sure why I included that in my blog about simple pleasures? Perhaps because I am one? Or not? Or just plain simple and pleasure doesn’t come into it?

I must just tell you about something that occurred in Jollyes yesterday. Jollyes is a pet food emporium. I toddled in to get the chucks some layers pellets and passed this rather cool person holding a …fox cub. Yes! A flipping fox cub. I hate to use the word cute, because cute belongs to teddy bears and dolls and all things pink, but this little guy was cute…I am talking about the fox cub here, not the cool person!  I have fed foxes at the bottom of my garden, but I have never seen a tiny fox cub, up close and personal. Obviously I had to engage the cool person with my nonsensical chatter. Apparently, the cub’s mother had been shot by the farmer and this sweet, cool person, had raised the cub. He’d had it for two weeks. I had to take a photo. The little guy wasn’t very photogenic, but then hey, he was a fox.2014-04-29 09.34.24

It truly made my day. And here’s the thing…it didn’t cost a penny to acquire that memory.

So…time for me to toddle off, back up the garden, collect the chucks’ eggs, refresh the fat balls, and wing a few snails over the hedge and into the neighbour’s wilderness garden.

Take care my lovelies x

 

PS Just a word of thanks to all new followers of this blog… and to those of you who take the time to ‘like’ and comment. Much appreciated xxx