Frogs And A Muntjac To Date

So, I can now confirm that the two acre wood is ours. The deeds have been signed, the monies paid, and the fat lady has sung.

It also has a name. Follow this . . . grand children = grand kiddies = griddies. That’s it. Griddies Copse.

We spent last weekend getting our bearings, avoiding rotten tree branches that swayed precariously and threatened to fall with less than the slightest touch, and trying to avoid squashing baby frogs – lots and lots of baby frogs!

There’s masses of work to be done.

The first job, and of paramount importance obviously, was to erect the two bird tables, the bug box and the seed feeder. Weirdly, nothing had found any of them by Sunday. I think the wood is so old and unattended that the birds don’t even bother looking for food in it, and seriously, why should fat balls, niger and sunflower seeds etc. suddenly appear out of nowhere?

I’ve heard a woodpecker in the distance and I understand that an owl is nesting in another part of the forest. At least one muntjac lives in the main wood because as the Land Rover crept along the path, last Sunday morning, we saw him/her dash across the track, and with a flick of a white under-tail, disappear into the thicket. I also want him/her in my little patch.

We will have left it a whole week since we were last there so I’m hoping that the tables and feeders have been found by then and everything scoffed and little ‘thank you’ notes left.

The main change has occurred in the form of crap-heap, oil-spewing Betsy Land Rover. As some of you know the old girl was off the road. Grounded for bad behaviour. She’d decided to lose her clutch . . . this is similar to a human being losing their grip, I think. She was immovable and quite proud of it sitting out there in front of the lounge window, blocking out light, dripping oil, not earning her keep. She must have really ground her nuts when her rotten, frayed, holey soft top was removed and a hard top screwed on? And then, to add insult to injury, the old wreck had to stand swaying on her tyres as a roof rack was added.

This having been said, she did succumb to Richard tickling her clutch and other bits and she did pass her M.O.T with flying colours, so the old girl is officially back on the road.

I think she quite likes being the vehicle of choice for our woodland visits. I can almost sense her fluffing up her bonnet and adding an extra little spin to her wheels as she majestically tootles down the track and through the trees.

This coming weekend is planned for clearing brambles and felling dead and spindly trees. I want to allow more light in so that it encourages ground flora to grow. Lots to do – lots of planning – but that’s fine. I like being busy and I like planning. Win. Win.

So I’m toddling off now to source a peanut feeder . . .

P.S. I’m wondering what muntjac eat? downloadHPIM4021

 

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Just Call Me Robin – Without The Hood – But With A Merry Man

Well . . . the last blog hinted that I might have something to tell you on the next blog – and I have. I mean, I’m always telling you something, be it rubbish or just plain nonsense. But this time I have something quite exciting to tell you, though I’m happy to accept that not everyone will share this excitement, each to their own, as they say.

Drum roll . . .

I’m buying two acres of woodland!

I can imagine heels of hands smacking foreheads, puzzled expressions and gentle tittering because I’ve probably just confirmed what many of you have suspected all along that I am a tad bonkers.

Can’t really argue that point or justify it.

To be honest trees scare me a bit. I’ve seen Lord of the Rings and know exactly what they are capable of. I think it’s the way they wave old, wizened branches in the wind and threaten to release an arm or two like a bolt from the blue. I always imagine being crushed to death. So, why am I buying two acres of woodland? Haven’t got a clue.

I guess it just spoke to me. “O.K. You’re pretty ancient and I can see why you might be more interested in a wooden rocking chair than a couple of acres of oak etc. but get off your fast-spreading butt and boldly go into your next adventure.”

Is excitement, adventure and something new only for the young? I think not dear friends.

I’m going to buy my little copse. I’ve already spent all day Saturday designing and instructing Richard how to assemble a two-acre-size bird table. It’s rather large – but I figure it needs to be. I mean, how many birds do you get to the acre? I’ll need to pick out a nasty old hawthorn and chop off its head to leave a natural stand on which to screw it. It’s way too heavy to hang – it would bring down the tallest sycamore. See! I’m already into the terminology – oak, sycamore, hawthorn! I’m beginning to think I was born for this? I’ll be wearing ‘The Green’ next and humming, ‘Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen . . .dum de dum . . .’ 

Betsy, the pile-of-crap Land Rover, is now undergoing repairs, an M.O.T, and a new roof. We are going to need her to bring the logs back for the wood burner. It’ll take us half a day to get there in the old girl, she has a top speed of forty miles an hour – and that’s downhill with a strong tail wind and a prayer to Him upstairs.

Richard was a little surprised when I announced that we were buying a wood but he soon got over the shock (he’s had so many over the years –living with me) and now he’s quite excited too. We’ve already started researching fence poles and stock wire to fence our north border and that’ll be huge fun – driving in fence poles through twisted roots and rambling vegetation!

The grand kiddies were most impressed, well, Jake more so than Grace, but Grace is a girl and wasn’t too sure about the toilet arrangements. Weeing wasn’t too much of an imagined horror but when I told them that they would have to dig a hole and poo in it, and then cover it up, it was met with wide-eyes and a side-ways grin from Jake. When I added that was what Bear Grylls did it all seemed rather cool and they can’t wait.

So that’s my news. What do you think? A mad, impetuous fool, an idiot, or something else?

Take care all xx

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I’ve Reached A Worrying Point In My Life

I’ve reached a worrying point in my life. If not exactly worrying, certainly a point of concern.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not a totally new conception. I’ve had inklings of concern over the past 26 years and this, strangely enough, is the amount of time a certain someone has been in my life – Richard.

I mention him quite a lot. Actually, there’s no ‘quite’ about it. I do mention him a lot.

We have a strange relationship. To the outside world our relationship shouldn’t work. I am seen as the Wicked Witch of the West, even on days when I don’t wear my pointy hat and cackle like a demented maniac, and he is seen as a halo-wearing saint. I’m a bossy cow and he is a sweet little mouse, scurrying around, making my life wonderful with his every perfect action.

In reality, none of this is true, other than the bossy cow bit. But, to the outside world, and family, I rule with a very large baseball bat and he obeys. It’s all crap of course. I don’t own a baseball bat. No, seriously, are these people nuts? Why would he still be here after 26 years if I was the devil incarnate?

Sometimes he’ll joke in the presence of family and say things like, ‘You see the kind of life I have to live?’

Little shit!

I merely smile and say, ‘It isn’t compulsory you know. You can leave at any time.’

Then, they’ll be times when he’s confounded by a massive conundrum and I’ll kindly solve the problem for him. For instance, the other day  he couldn’t find the 50ml line on a measuring jug so I assisted by grabbing said jug and stabbing the 50ml mark with a sharp forefinger nail.  ‘I don’t know what you’ll do when I’m gone, and you have to sort out these problems for yourself, I said.’

‘Neither do I,’ he replied.

It’s a throw-away comment and one he often uses –  but I can tell he’s serious and that he means it.

Anyway . . . what am I drivelling on about? I’ve strayed off course by ten miles. What I was going to explain is why I’ve reached this ‘point of concern.’ This is why . . .

On Monday the dear soul toddled off for the day to help my son, who’s a landscape gardener, with the tidying of a particularly neglected garden. I resisted hanging out the flags from the upstairs windows and did my best to hide my joy and stupid grin as he said goodbye and exited the house.

A whole day to myself. What to do? Well, I had a plan.

Some time ago I bought a very large piece of solid pine furniture for the kitchen. The piece in question looked fine in the village shop showroom but when we got it home the buttery-coloured pine did not match the existing table and chairs. Obviously, I couldn’t admit to having made a cock-up and pretended that it was lovely. Delightful. What a good eye I had and what a great choice I’d made.

It looked crap. No other word for it. It stuck out like a large sore thumb. Sooooo . . .  and here’s the thing . . . I decided to restain it while Richard was out.

Doesn’t sound very risky does it? Just whack a colour on top. What were the chances of it still not matching the table and chairs? That wouldn’t happen, would it? Nah, course not.

So, with brush and stain in my little hands, and with some trepidation, I applied a little on the back outside leg and stood back. Then I made a cup of tea.

On return it looked OK. Pretty much OK. With Dell Boy’s words circling my head, ‘He who dares wins, Rodney!’ I started in earnest.

An hour later and it was done. I stood back, compared it to the mirror. The Table. The chairs. Pretty bloody close if you ask me. No more yellowy, buttery, yuck-yuck pine but – well – different.

I washed my brush, because I’m good like that, and then removed a few splashes from the floor tiles and that was that.

When Richard came home, something had cropped up meantime – but I’ll tell you more about that when I know for certain that the thing that cropped-up is going ahead – and I shouted down the hall, ‘Don’t come in we are going straight out.’

He came in.

‘I need to post some stuff,’ he said. ‘It’s urgent.’

So, I waited while he dragged out a chair, found addresses from the P.C, opened one of the drawers, grabbed 5 envelopes, closed the drawer, packed the items, threw them on top of the drawer unit and then stood up saying, ‘OK, let’s go.’

We went.

This was on Monday. It is now Wednesday and HE STILL HASN’T NOTICED THAT THE HUGE DRAWER UNIT THAT HE CONSTANTLY USES HASN’T CHANGED COLOUR!

This is my concern. What if I’m flat on my back on the kitchen floor one day, expired? Will he even bloody notice that I’VE changed colour?

Fortunately, it won’t really matter because I’ll have expired – but it isn’t very reassuring, is it?

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Followers, Friends And Frigging Fraudsters!

So, there was I  . . . (I feel like I should be writing – waiting at the church! You have to be a certain age ) enjoying the day, busily doing nothing. Taking in the bursting buds and the buzzing bees when I decided that it was time I DID do something. Richard had toddled off to visit his mother and I had quite a few hours to myself to look forward to. I left the bursting buds and the buzzing bees, convinced that they would manage without me and trundled back to the house.

Determined not to sit at the laptop all morning, I filled the floor steamer and set about steaming the kitchen and hall floors. That went well so I made a cup of tea, before pulling out the kitchen chair and settling in front of the laptop. Well, I had managed to do something before it called me to it!

I had a quick whizz around Twitter, checked my emails and then opened Facebook with the intention of posting to the gardening group. A post on the general thread caught my eye and I clicked on it. ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

Window on top of window flooded the P.C screen and a siren sounded. Above the siren, a woman’s voice told me, ‘DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SWITCH OFF THE COMPUTER or a virus will be placed on it. YOUR IDENTITY MAY BE STOLEN and your data accessed. Ring this number IMMEDIATELY and an operative will help you through this.’

WTF?

Something similar had happened a few weeks earlier. Obviously, I did what most people do in this situation – I smashed every key on the keypad, switched off the power, disconnected the internet, blah, blah, blah.

So, here I was again, clicking everything in sight. Banging the keys. Basically doing everything the voice had told me not to do. I couldn’t clear the screen so I took a picture of it and sent it to my brother via my tablet. My fear was that it was genuine. Yes, I know, I can’t believe I even let the thought enter my head – but it did, because it looked very genuine, like it had come straight from Microsoft.  My brother treated me like a five-year old and calmly talked me through it. After a few clicks, here and there, I managed to remove it – my brother managed to remove it.

I kinda went ballistic. No one was around. Only Chea, sitting on the table at the side of me, calmly cleaning her bottom – and she is quite used to my ballistic outbursts.

You see, what makes someone do this? What kind of brain bypass have they had? Truly, if I could have got hold of them I would now be in prison – and they would be in A and E having their tiny, little, insignificant penis stitched back on – all assuming that the sodding moron was a bloke – but I’m sure it was.

And, that’s not all. Once upon a time, when I was naïve (stupid) I’d jump up and down, gushing, thrilled – yes, totally thrilled, even beyond words, that someone wanted to be my friend on Facebook. Not anymore.

Now I vet these ‘friend’ requests with the mind and suspicions of Hercule Poirot. On average I would say that I get half-a-dozen requests a week from men. Single. Divorced. Etc. When I look into them I find an empty timeline and no existing friends – once or twice another female ‘friend’ is evident – usually beautiful and short of enough dosh to buy clothes- obviously.  I’m sorry, but if you are a bloke looking for cyber-sex or a cheeky little pit-pat tennis match/ you show me yours and I’ll show you mine, bugger off! I once had a request from a guy in U.S.A offering me marriage, a home on a ranch, and four children to look after. Now, had he been offering me marriage, a home on a ranch and four horses to look after I might have been buying a one-way ticket to U.S.A – though, in all honesty he did say he would provide that.

Once, I accepted someone based on their profile picture, which admittedly was a little hard to make out but at that point I wasn’t wearing my super-duper P.C. specs and I thought the profile picture looked like mountains. After accepting him, and on closer examination, the mountains were actually his stupendous penis sticking up from his belly. Frankly, I think the whole thing had been superimposed and he’d grafted-on a horse’s penis. Yes, I deleted him.

Social media is not a safe place for the innocent – or the poorly sighted.

And Twitter? Twitter, to my mind, is safer. But you get a trickster of a different type on Twitter. Here you get the ‘follower’ who follows you, you follow back, and then he/she unfollows you. I now use https://manageflitter.com/ once a week to unfollow those who have unfollowed me. Well, bugger off, fair’s fair.

And to finish off with where I almost started – waiting at the church. The punch line to this 1962 song is;

There was I, waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church,
Waiting at the church;
When I found he’d left me in the lurch,
Lor, how it did upset me!
All at once, he sent me round a note
Here’s the very note,
This is what he wrote:
“Can’t get away to marry you today,
My wife, won’t let me!”

You see, more deceit. Watch your backs my friends.

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The Cat Crept In The Crypt – Crapped And Crept Out Again!

‘The cat crept in the crypt, crapped and crept out again,’ is something that a friend and I used to say back in the dark ages – when I was married. My husband was a vet and therefore we lived in a house provided by the practice. It was a rambling old thing, no heating to talk of, damp mites living in the cupboards (but that’s another story) and a mish-mash of old furniture. Did any of that matter? Not really. Except the damp mites of course –  but as I said that’s another story

I was a vet’s wife. I loved animals. I loved him – at the time. And life was hunky dory, I guess.

In this ‘rambling old thing,’ there was a pantry. It lead off the hallway and you had to take a step down to a quarry-tiled floor. It had a cold slab with wooden shelves above it. Having three cats and an English Setter – that wasn’t beyond golloping down cat faeces given less than half a chance, it seemed like a good idea, and the obvious answer, to put the litter trays in there. I will state at this point that NO food was kept in there!

It worked quite well and provided hours of silly tittering. My friend and I would be having coffee or whatever and the sound of the cat-flap swinging, as one of the cats entered to do their stuff or excited having done their stuff, echoed around the house. You see, it was a very large cat flap and swung manically against a metal frame. At this sound my friend and I would look at each other and roar, ‘the cat’s crept in the crypt – crapped and crept out again!’

Little things please little minds.

This isn’t something that I think about on a regular basis – just very occasionally – when something reminds me. And something reminded me on Sunday morning.

Toddling up the garden, on the way to the greenhouse and the uncovering of the tender plants and the turning off of the propagators, I was perplexed to see the far door of the second greenhouse slightly open – about eight inches. Perplexed because I knew for a fact that I’d secured it the previous day. On closer examination I noticed a heap of compost scratched out of the border and deposited on the central concrete pathway. THEN I noticed that the fifth baby tomato plant, only planted the previous day, had disappeared. Yes, I’d done my usually impatient thing of planting them into the ground as soon as they had true leaves but they were not THAT small that they should have disappeared.

I can’t believe that Chea pushed her way in there and scratched it out because she won’t even push through a door that’s off the catch. Oh, no. We have to jump up and down three million times a day to let her out . . . in . . . out . . . in. You get the picture?

So, after applying a ‘Sherlock Holmes’ type of logic I can only assume that a neighbour’s cat pushed its way in, ‘crept in the greenhouse, crapped and crept out again?’ But just why the little bugger had to have it away with my baby tomato plant will have to remain a mystery!20170403_095828

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Take care all – and batten down those baby plants!

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Pretty Average – But Apparently Good At One Thing!

As most of you know I’m not the kind of person to blow my own trumpet. Never have been. Never will be. And why should I? What’s so great about me? Nothing. I’m pretty average at most things, slightly better at some than others, and before you go thinking that I’m expecting you to rush in with, ‘Of course you are special’ and ‘look at all the things you’ve achieved in your long time on the planet,’ that is NOT where this is leading. This is leading to actually being surprised at learning, straight from the horse’s mouth, Richard, that I AM really good at something.

So, this is how it went – I was in the garden busily minding my own business and watching the garden coming to life before my eyes when, he stomped up the garden and shattered the moment.

‘Can you come and look at this?’ he shouted over the bud-bursting gooseberry bushes.

‘Look at what?’ I said, a tad irritably. You see, he always has something that has to be done NOW and it will never wait, though in reality most ‘urgent’ things could have waited.

‘Just come and look will you?’

‘What AT?’ I said, even more irritably. ‘Can’t you just cut the suspense and TELL me?’

He dithered on the spot a bit before saying, ‘No. I need you down at the garage.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I’ve got something living in there and I don’t know what it is?’

I rolled my eyes a bit and held up my palms to Him above. ‘What do you mean you’ve got something living in there? Give me a clue. If you don’t know what it is how am I supposed to know?’

‘Because you’re really good at this kind of thing,’ he said.

‘What kind of thing?’

‘Shit.’

‘Shit?’

‘Yes,’ he said, as I now caught up with him and started to head towards the house and the garage. ‘I need you to look and tell me what kind of shit it is.’

Eh?

‘What it’s come out of,’ he elaborated.

‘Who am I?’ I stage whispered as we passed the neighbour on the other side of the fence, ‘a crap expert?’ (Or should that be an expert on crap? Yes, I think so)

‘Shush,’ he stage whispered back.

As we reached the garage he pointed to a shelf. ‘Look!’

I looked.

‘What shit is that?’

Well, it didn’t take Poirot to decipher this little mystery, the entire shelf was littered with large rice-shaped droppings and chewed-up insulation foam where the ‘mystery’ creature had obviously entered. ‘A rat,’ I said. ‘Rat poo.’

‘Are you sure?’

You see – he asks my opinion and then questions it. Was my answer a disappointment? Had he wanted it to belong to some creature previously assumed extinct? ‘It’s rat poo,’ I repeated.

‘I mean – it isn’t mouse droppings, then?’

‘Well, it would be a bloody big mouse – or a normal size mouse with a bloody big bum, in that case, don’t you think?’

With that I toddled back up the garden and continued watching the gooseberry buds open.

After I’d finished mumbling to myself I realised that Richard was probably asking the right person. After all, I’ve been dealing with one kind of shit after another, all my life.

Even Chea delights in scratching huge holes in my greenhouse borders and sits doing her business, right under my nose, like it’s the most natural thing in the world and she expects me to applaud at the final squeeze.

I even have bags of the stuff, farmyard manure and horse manure, stacked-up by the side of the greenhouse ready to use if I should deem it necessary. And this doesn’t even take into consideration the crap of life!

So, maybe Richard was right and I am actually good at something? But keep it quiet. I’m not sure I want that little fact as my epitaph!images (3)

Take care all xx

 

Those Weeds Fight Back . . . And How!

There was I – full of the joys of spring and, fuelled by my over enthusiasm, I declared to my newly formed gardening group, ‘I’m off to weed a border!’ No harm there. Nothing at all ominous about that. Just off to weed a border at the side of the path.

Two hours later and after tugging, pulling, swearing and sweating I stood up, stood back, and admired my work. Brilliant! Nothing short of brilliant. Gone was the awful couch grass invading from my neighbour’s garden and tangling itself around willow roots and under the path. Gone were the thick, stubbornly rooted spring-flowering creeper thingy’s. Just lovely rich soil smiled back at me. Happy with my work I toddled back into the house. This was Saturday.

At 3 a.m. Sunday I woke thinking someone had dropped a house brick on my head. The pain was excruciating – I kid you not – I couldn’t raise my head at all without searing pain. Pain so bad that all I could do was lie there – and as we all know pain in the early hours is always far worse.

By sliding my flattened hand under the side of my face and supporting my head I eventually managed to sit up and make it downstairs where I suffered a Weetabix followed by two paracetamol and an ice pack to my neck bones. This went down well in the freezing cold kitchen! By 5 a.m. I struggled back to bed.

Sunday had been prearranged. It was Richard’s birthday and I’d organised a family meal out. When he caught a glimpse of me, shuffling along, imitating the Hunch Back of Notre Dame, he said, ‘You need to go back to bed.’ Yeah. Cheers for that. Back to bed where he could ignore my pain until I died a slow and lingering death because he’d forgotten all about me!’ At this point I had to tell him I couldn’t go back to bed because being the lovely, wonderful person that I am I’d arranged a fricking surprise meal for him. This was met with scepticism, a narrowing of the eyes and a slight nod of the head. You see, he’s a simple soul, enjoying the simple pleasures in life and never really celebrates his birthday. Unfortunately, my mum died on his birthday, some eighteen years ago now and, originally, it did rather take the shine off the celebrations. The twelth of March became the day  mum died, not the day Richard was born. Nowadays, I put him first – after taking flowers to the church.

So, off we went. I looked like the walking dead. I felt worse. I sat at the end of the table so that I could, by staring straight ahead, see everyone without moving a muscle – literally.

Somehow I made it home alive. Richard had a lovely time – and he even liked my gift to him – a new Samsung tablet. However, when, later, he came up to bed he found me sobbing. Yeah, OK, so I’m a wimp. I couldn’t help it. The pain level that had, I suppose, been around eight had soared to ten. The slight window of least pain, if I held my head just right, had slammed shut. Everything hurt. At this point he said, ‘Right, we’re going to the hospital!’

Earlier I’d said, ‘I think I need to go to the hospital’.

My son had said, ‘They won’t do anything Mum.’

Richard had said, ‘Do you really want to sit in A and E for twelve hours?’

I knew they wouldn’t ‘do’ anything and no I did not want to ‘sit in A and E for twelve hours,’ but don’t they have things like heroin, morphine and stuff?

Anyway, I wouldn’t have been able to get my clothes back on so he held me till I stopped sobbing, rubbed my neck (it didn’t help but he was trying bless him) and then fetched me some yogurt and honey so that I could take some painkillers.See how I always try to eat something before taking painkillers? This way I figure I won’t be adding stomach ulcers to my fast-growing list of complaints?

Monday and Tuesday were spent in bed, unable to move. Wednesday and Thursday I got up in the morning and went back to bed in the afternoon. Friday I made it through most of the day and so on and so on. . .

It still isn’t right but I can now live with it without turning into a pathetic, sobbing female. That’s not me, you see.

I know how it happened. Having three degenerative neck discs, whose soft protective padding is fast disappearing, stretching over the borders and applying all that pressure on my discs just didn’t work. They couldn’t support the weight of my head.

But, positives from negatives – I read three novels (I’d hardly read anything at all till then) and I had some rest – although enforced – but rest all the same.

I’ve started pottering in the garden again. Managed to toddle round a couple of garden centres and purchase a few bits . . .  so there you go.

I have found that the hardest thing about growing older is accepting it. I expect my body to keep up with my mind. It can’t. I have things to do popping into it constantly. I remember my darling father, it his last years, getting very frustrated and angry with himself because, due to his ever-increasing health problems he felt useless. He couldn’t do this and he couldn’t do that. I, of course, being the sensible and logical person that I am told him, ‘No, of course you can’t do those things. BUT instead of focusing what you can’t do focus on what you can do.’ At the time it made perfect sense to me – but that was before I was reaching the point of realising that I can’t do some of the things that I used to do.

No more throwing paving slabs around. No more climbing the apple tree to prune the odd branch. No more throwing bags of compost around. And . . . it appears, no more digging borders! I’m sorry, Daddy, I was an insensitive idiot.

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You’re My Precious -And My Favourite!

Are you like me? You have 12 kitchen knives and only ever use 2? You have 3 sets of crockery and only ever use 1? You have 15 pairs of trousers – albeit various types – leggings, jeans etc. and only ever wear 2 or 3? I have a drawer full of kitchen utensils and frankly I tend to use a grotty plastic fork, purchased from Ikea for 50p, a skewer and a pallet knife. These three items serve me well. The rest remain in the drawer, used on blue moons and days that don’t end in Y.

So, bearing this in mind, it will come as little surprise to hear that I have just the one favourite coat that I wear in the garden. This item was purchased 5 years ago from Next in their winter sale. Originally, some £65, but I think I paid £20. Obviously, the coat didn’t start out its little life as a gardening coat, for years it spent summer after summer, pride of place in the wardrobe, re-emerging every winter. It went to all the posh places – Morrison’s, Tesco, Lidl etc.  I must admit, that being padded, it was a tad warm on ice-free days. Anyway, moving on 5 years . . .

Favourite shiny-black padded coat started to look a little ‘tired.’ No longer able to cut the mustard in our supermarket dashes so I decided to put him out to grass – well, out to garden, actually.

For several years favourite shiny-black padded coat served me well, never minding the odd smearing of chicken poo, or being splashed with fence paint, in a rather attractive shade of green. Then, one day, disaster – a large hole was ripped in the pocket area when I didn’t quite navigate a sticking-out nail correctly. White stuffing hung from the gash, so I pushed in back in and tried to ignore it.

A week or so later, chicken wire took out the top of the arm.

Somehow it didn’t seem to matter. The coat was still functional, warm, familiar and very obviously a gardening coat, if anyone should see me in it.

Last week I looked at the poor thing. The pocket hung in tatters, no stuffing left. The arm was no better and horror upon horror, favourite shiny-black coat was rather pongy!

The time had come. The bin beckoned. I slipped him on and off . . . on and off. Perhaps I could wash him? Probably not because more stuffing would weep out and block-up the washing machine. But . . . this was my favourite coat. We had travelled miles together. An old friend. How do you bin an old friend? No, forget that . . . binning old friends is pretty easy. Then a light bulb moment . . .

I could repair him. I had the technology. Well, I had the sewing machine! Yes, that was the answer. I’d repair favourite shiny-black coat.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy. I couldn’t find anything to match his shiny texture, let alone find anything black. Perhaps I’d have to let him go after all?

Another light bulb moment. He was, after all, only a gardening coat, it didn’t matter what I patched him with. I had something black, surely. Yes! I did!

I scurried upstairs, threw open the knickers drawer and grabbed a black pair.

Favourite shiny-black coat has been repaired! He now has black stretchy patches over his left pocket and on his right sleeve. Result.

Some people might wear their hearts on their sleeve – I wear my knickers.

Here’s to the next five years . . .

And, in conclusion . . . I’ve just started a new group – “The Friendly Gardeners Group.” I can’t promise to ever post a photo of favourite shiny-black coat (I don’t show my knickers to just anyone – not that you are just anyone) but I can promise a lot of chat (that will stay on the group – we are a ‘closed’ group) a fair bit of swapped information, banter and friendship so click on the link and come and join us?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/255925658182426/?ref=bookmarksPublication1

The Mating Ritual

It happens every year at this time. Bug-eyed little darlings hopping and waddling their fat shiny bodies towards the water and – sex. Lots of it. In human terms it would be called something rather naughty, in frog terms it is merely ‘the mating ritual.’

I like frogs – as long as they give me plenty of warning of their presence. If I’m plucking out the odd weed and they suddenly leap-up in front of me then that’s a whole new ball game. Then, I’m having a heart attack and backing off to a safe distance. But, I do like them. In fact, I’ve even written the script for a ‘froggy’ children’s book. Done nothing with it, obviously.

So, for the past week or so I have skirted the pond on my way to the greenhouse etc. with great stealth, hoping to catch the first arrivals unaware. They feel the vibration of approaching footsteps and, like Nemo’s Nautilus, dive . . . dive . . . dive. Yesterday I saw the first arrivals, already in a tower-block stance with the female somewhere in the heaving pile.

This year there is a slight problem.

The pond is now twenty-six years old and during this time our little fish shoal has diminished to just one remaining orf. He is the size of a small dolphin. He has never had a name – until now. He is Solo, for obvious reasons.

Solo is not going to last much longer. His once perfect carrot-shaped, bright orange form is bent this way and that and he spends much of his time flat-out at the top of the water, so much so that on two occasions, both when Richard had toddled off to see his mother, I texted him to say, ‘Come home in the light you need to bury the fish, he’s dead.’ Richard, obedient as ever, has arrived home in the light, sought the spade from the shed and grabbed the net. Moments later he has replaced the spade in the shed, returned the net, and informed me that, ‘Solo isn’t dead.’ If there’s a part going for a bent oaf in one of those costume dramas or similar perhaps we could send him to work because he’s a bloody good actor!

I should say that despite his ‘bent’ and ‘dead’ impressions he’s a happy-ish fish, sometimes taking to rather exhausting laps of the pond, and floating up to watch me rearranging the odd rock or two.

But, this is the problem. These sex-mad grab-anything-that-moves frogs are going to rape the poor lad. They have, in the past, grabbed onto the face of a fish and performed their sexual acts with the poor fish pinned down beneath their pulsing bodies. Solo will not live through this kind of behaviour. He’s a game old boy but this, I fear, is a little too much at his age?

A couple of months ago he also survived a near squashing.

My grandson, Jake, was bending over the pond, pointing at him, when his darling sister, Grace, came up behind him and with two hands slapped hard to Jake’s buttocks pushed him in.

Richard instantly grabbed Jake and hauled him out.

So much mud and debris had been stirred-up that we couldn’t tell if Solo had survived or not. Fortunately, he had.

Jake was a mess. Duck weed and other stuff (?) stuck to him and of course he was crying. I whisked him into the shower and made him stay there until his goose-flesh had disappeared and he was at last beginning to see the funny side of it – no mean feat I’ll tell you. Then, I dressed him in a pair of my leggings and a jumper. He soon recovered – such is life, and the remedial effects of chocolate is amazing.  Mind, it was kinda worrying because the leggings almost fit him. I mean, he’s ten. I can only hope that he is growing fast and that I am not shrinking fast?

And that is that. The frogs are returning in their droves and we must now be on ‘frog-on-the-face-of-Solo watch. Have you ever tried unhooking a frog off a fish’s face? No, I thought not.

Some people find it hard to believe that this is my life. Trust me – it is.

Between starting this post and finishing it I have popped up the garden to check on Solo. He is still ‘frog-free,’ but the first small heap of frog spawn has appeared. This might be the first year that most of the tadpoles/froglets survive. Solo is too old to bother eating the tadpoles and now that the chucks are no longer present the baby frogs will make it safely from the pond, across the lawn, and into the damp shrubbery – so, again – something positive comes from the negative!

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Take care x

http://jennieorbell.com/books/

 

No News Is Good News . . .Isn’t It?

When I first started blogging, back in the dark ages, I seemed to have a lot to say and managed to say it on a pretty regular basis. This, does not appear to be the case these days, hence a spasmodic blogging pattern has formed – here one day, gone for a week – or more.

I think if this was a blog dealing with the subjects of writing, publishing, self-promotion etc. I’d be banging out my opinions 3 or 4 times a week – but it isn’t. Yes, I’m a writer. Yes, I’m a published author. And yes, I’ve done (or attempted to do) my own bit of self-publication. I say ‘attempted’ because I am utter crap at it. Some people could sell coal in a heat wave. Not me. I’m useless. So, this is not one of those blogs.

This blog is grounded on nothing more than life – and living it and, as we all know, there are going to be times when nothing exciting, humorous or interesting etc. happens. They’ll be times when life ticks over. Nothing good. Nothing bad. Nothing to interest anyone. And, to be honest, I’d rather bring something to raise spirits, rather than drop people into pits of misery. Don’t get me wrong I can do ‘misery’ and what’s more I’m extremely good at it. I could have you snivelling into your porridge in seconds. But that isn’t me, is it? Yes, I also ‘do’ digressing very well too . . . sorry.

So, because nothing much of interest has been happening I’ve been rather absent of late – absent as in ‘not here’ not as in absent-minded.

I’ve recently gone rather mad (I know you find this hard to believe) and started taking the house to pieces. Walls have been stripped. Paper replaced.Furniture moved up stairs – only to be moved back downstairs after I’ve slept on it. Not literally. Just lived with it overnight and decided it looked crap – more crap (crappier?) than it did when it was downstairs. New furniture has been purchased. Tables stained. Items in cupboards have been changed round – Richard can find nothing. It’s like a major O.C.D. spring clean.

The last thing on this particular agenda (they’ll be another shortly) was the tidying of the top drawer in the kitchen. This drawer has been tidied recently but I happened to notice that Richard had placed the Sellotape dispenser in the wrong place. Yes, I’m a freak – but you knew that.

So . . . with Richard skulking in the background I set about lifting out the drawer and manically tidying. When I came to refit the door, back on its runners, I found that I couldn’t close it. The drawer below is full of ‘packaging’ material, padded envelopes for Richard’s playing cards (his new little internet business) and all things paper. He watched me struggling to shut the drawer and this, along with the fact that there was an envelope rammed at the back, all screwed up, made me snatch it up, shake it at him and yell, ‘look, you’ve put too many bloody envelopes in here and now I can’t shut the drawer! Why do you have to put so many in here?’ He said nothing. Actually he did open his mouth but I think he thought objection was pointless. He knows when I’m ‘on one’ it’s usually best just to hang his head and accept defeat. I threw the creased envelope on the floor and rammed the drawer back in. It still wouldn’t close. I rammed it in again and it still wouldn’t close. ‘There must be more bloody envelopes down the back of it!’ I yelled, and pulled it half way back out. At this point a tabby front leg and hooking paw shot out from behind the back of the drawer.

My first reaction was . . . ‘what the f**k’ followed instantly by ‘what the f**k it’s Chea . . . I’ve squashed her.’ Naturally I yanked out the door and screamed, ‘you stupid cat how the hell did you get in there?’ I think when we are terrified we often over react by attacking? With my heart thudding I watched as she bellied out, shook herself and blinked.

From across the kitchen Richard stupidly said, ‘didn’t you know she was in there?’

‘Of course I did,’ I said, throwing up my arms, ‘I thought I’d just try to squash her for the fun of it!’ I was still in over reacting, attacking mode.

With Chea out of the drawer it slid back in like melting butter and after my heart had returned to normal, and Chea looked none the worse for her squashing, I had to apologise to Richard for saying that he had overloaded the envelope drawer.

Chea has turned into the nicest cat that anyone could wish for and, other than her ridiculous fascination, as a young cat, with climbing to the top of conifers and being too scared to come down, she doesn’t really do life-threatening stunts. I’d like to think that she has learnt a lesson but I fear not. This morning, as I rammed a few jigsaw puzzles and game boards into the pine chest in the bedroom, she was breaking her neck to push past my hand and slip into the chest for another adventure.

And this, my friends, is really all I have been up to just now . . .

Take care and watch out for pussies in your drawers!20170203_105745

 

http://jennieorbell.com/books/