When Only One Word Will Do

I’m sure you know what it’s like – when only one word will do?

As a writer and author I’m supposed to have a whole dictionary of words at my disposal and in honesty I do – but do I use them? I do not.

I don’t flimy-flam (beat around the bush) I call a spade a spade. However, when my eleven-year-old grandson stood in my craft shed the other day, looking at the old, battered filing cabinet, and asked, ‘Grandma, why does it say crap on that drawer?’ I had only one answer, ‘because that’s what’s in it Jake, crap!’

He grinned a little (he thinks I’m a rebel) and opened the drawer.

Jake is a great ‘collector’ of things. Many, varied things. He collects coins, ‘interesting’ stones, pieces of wood, all sizes, all shapes, bits of metal, nuts, bolts, washers etc. I adore him. So this led to a rummage through the ‘crap’ drawer where he found this and that and rescued them for his ‘collection’. His father (my son) wrings his hands and exhales deeply when Jake goes home after a stay, and with great exasperation moans, ‘Oh noooooo, what have you got now? Do you really need all that rubbish?’

I’m tempted to tell my son that it isn’t called rubbish, it’s called crap. I think Jake has the same temptation but he’s a good boy and what happens at Gran’s stays at Gran’s. We are partners in crime and all things private, naughty and silly. I think Jake may become an archaeologist, or have a dusty shop where he sits with spectacles perched on the end of his nose reading one of his ‘must have’ books. Did I mention that he has hundreds of books already?

I think he may get some of this from me.

I mean, does anyone really need 10 wooden spoons, 3 shelves of Tupperware (I say Tupperware but it’s the equivalent) 6 doo-dahs of cling film, ditto foil. 500 padded envelopes, card of every colour, 6 gardening hand-forks etc. etc. I simply ‘like’ these things and in my opinion you can never have too many plastic containers with clippy lids – ever.

Another thing that is simply beyond me is this . . . I can’t plant two seeds together (like Monty Don does) and then discard the weaker. Nooooooooo! It should be illegal. How can anyone pull out a seedling and throw it away. I have to save everything. And I find it quite difficult pruning shrubs without shoving a dozen pieces into a plant pot to see if they root. This could be why my garden looks like the Amazon jungle?

Talking of having more of something than you need, I have a million tadpoles in the pond right now. When our only remaining fish went to fishy heaven, last year, we removed the filtration and U.V etc. and decided that it would be a wildlife pond. It could do its own thing and I would NOT fish out duckweed, fallen leaves etc. but leave it to its own devices. This is why the water, at the moment, is pea soup green and we have a million tadpoles and a thousand baby water snails. When we had the fish they would have polished off a few hundred tadpoles but right now they have no predators, other than a blackbird that I saw standing at the edge of the pond plucking them from the water.

Monty (that man again!) said you should place rotting logs in a wildlife pond and so I did. Yesterday I decided that the pond could take one more – just a small one – see, I even have too many logs in the pond! I turned my back after placing the log in the water and when I turned back a shoal (is that right – a shoal of tadpoles?) whatever – a shoal of tadpoles were having a feeding frenzy sucking-up the green algae off the wood. They remained doing this forever so I put another piece of green wood in and ditto – more arrived and pigged-out until the algae was no more.

Some might say that I have too much time on my hands. I disagree. I’m doing what pleases me. See, I am a rebel.

Anyway, I’m off to count my Tupperware and throw another log in the pond. I should clean the house (probably) but then again, why would I want to do that crap?

I’ve posted a very short video of the feeding tadpoles on my F.B. page if you want to take a look. I couldn’t post it here.    https://www.facebook.com/gail.orbell

 

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Into The Wilds Of Derbyshire

This Sunday I’m popping over the border and entering the wilds of Derbyshire. I will have the car loaded to the roof with fairy houses and all things wooden as we make our way to a craft fair. I’m not expecting to have a fortnight in Hawaii off the back of this one but it is for a good cause and we all need to support those from time to time, don’t we? It’s at The Cat’s Adoption Centre.

This, you realise is tricky. I fear selling two tea lights and coming home having adopted eight cats and a litter of kittens! Chea (existing family feline) would do her fruit and we would never hear the last of it. No amount of Purina Gourmet Gold would swing it back round to our favour. She has principles. She is the one-and-only and there is only ONE in one-and-only.

I had a brilliant idea for changing the staging on the table – until I realised that it was less of a brilliant idea and more than likely a stupid idea. I don’t know what table they are providing but it would have to hold a small elephant if I stuck to my brilliant idea. Even my super-duper table in my craft shed would be on its knees so “brilliant idea” has been shelved.

I have a few new things to take to this one.

The Shabby Kinda-Chic Dwellings have extended into Shabby Kinda-Chic Cottages and are due to extend further, towards the Christmas fairs, as Shabby Kinda-Chic Snow-Scene Cottages – a suggestion from a friend of mine, Claire Chambers. I might have to seriously rethink the name though.

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Shabby Kinda-Chic Dwellings

Another newbie is the Weathered Wood Fat Ball Feeder. This has been home-tested and I can vouch that it will hold a flock of flapping jackdaws in a feeding frenzy, the weight of which put my homemade rose frame thingy, under great pressure.

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Weathered Wood Hanging Fat Ball Feeders

Along with the fairy houses I now have the Hobbit Homes – originally named Gnome Homes until I realised that the younger generation probably doesn’t have a clue what a gnome is, so I’m playing safe with Hobbit Homes. Everyone has seen Lord of the Rings, right?

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Fairy Houses
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Hobbit Homes

This week there has been a slight problem with something entering the closed outside run (ex chicken run) where I keep the mossed fairy houses so that the moss won’t dry out. Something has been in and removed the moss from one of the house roofs. It now looks like it has a case of galloping alopecia. I can only suggest a wren because I know of nothing else that could squeeze through the wire. Initially, I thought that I might have left the outside door open and something had accessed it that way, so blaming myself for my oversight I closed the door, top and bottom, closed two catches, two bolts and padlocked it. Nothing was going to get in this time. Yesterday morning I went in after having lost the key and taking ten minutes to realise that it was in my shirt pocket, in the wash basket, and lo and behold – the alopecia had spread. More moss had been taken. I do know wrens make their nests with moss and I do know we’ve had nesting wrens in the garden most years so . . . Jenny Wren is the main suspect as I write. Today I will repair the missing moss.

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Wren Wreckage?

Another new item – the Weathered Wood Succulents. These are made with the same kind of wood as the Hanging Fat Ball Feeders. I particularly like these and having recently removed a spider plant – that would look more at home in the jungle – from my kitchen window sill, I’m planning on nicking a couple for myself.

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Weathered Wood Succulents

So, that’s me for now. I’m off to repair the wren’s wreckage and see if I can come up with a better idea for the staging. I probably won’t. The thing is I have so much staging and backboards etc. that last time we had to take the trailer. This goes down like an arrowed balloon with Richard but, as he is from Derbyshire and knows where he is going, I’d better try to keep him sweet. Yes, it’s a hard call and quite a novelty to be honest but perhaps you can teach an old dog new tricks . . . possibly . . . or not!

Wish me luck? Mainly – NOT to come home with twelve cats!!

Find me at https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

A Wood For All Seasons

It’s been almost a year now since we bought the small woodland and I have to say that it has been hard work. It probably wouldn’t have been such hard work if I was not of the ‘everything has to be done immediately’ mentality. But I am and so that’s that.

Initially, our time was spent clearing the border alongside the track. Heavy machinery had cleared a way through the wood and had pushed everything from wispy branches to massive old tree roots on to the border. This was a massive task and most of it was performed around late spring and summer last year. The hot sun combined with a raging bonfire was exhausting to say the least.

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Uprooted Tree

After that came the clearing of the fallen wood, then the wood that was attempting to fall – but hanging on by the skin of its bark, then the diseased wood. Most of this was harvested for the wood burner, leaving the rotting and smaller branches for me to make into wildlife hides and retreats. I got a little carried away with this exercise and we now have a dozen or more.

BARRIERS
Stacks For Insects
WREN RETREAT
Wren Retreat
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Frogs And Toads Live Here
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Cover

I may not have made it perfectly clear but this woodland was in a horrendous state having been neglected for years and years . . . and probably even years more. The whole wood was covered in a tangle of masochistic blackberry stems. These tripped you up at every available opportunity. Richard managed to fall bottom-over-bonce carrying a petrol strimmer. It wasn’t a pretty sight but it was hilarious, if that kind of thing – a rather large, tall bloke, rigged out like Rambo, landing in a blackberry bramble patch, with a strimmer round his neck, tickled your fancy. Obviously I didn’t guffaw too loudly until I’d ran an experienced eye over him and had a quick mental check to confirm that he still had two of everything that he should have had two of and ditto, one of everything that he should have had one of.

We chain harrowed narrow paths through and around the wood, digging out the tangle of brambles where necessary. I was constantly being told that it was a woodland and NOT a garden and it didn’t need to be neat and tidy. This I understood, but I still wanted tidy mayhem.

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Preparing To Chain Harrow

I also haven’t yet mentioned that the wood had no heart. It was rare to see any form of wildlife within the boundary. No birdsong. No sign of much at all. Then we hung bird feeders and bird tables. Within no time we had a troupe of delinquent squirrels visiting. They chewed through the metal feeders, removed screws, munched on plastic and ate every peanut. They even took down, and removed, a whole jar of peanut butter that had been placed in a peanut butter jar feeder. To this day we haven’t found the empty jar.

Initially the mad troupe amused us – initially. Then it became personal. I made it my life’s work to outwit them. This, you probably think is as easy as falling off a log, something that I have also done, but it isn’t. They are smart. And savvy. And slightly adorable in their naughtiness. Feeders were wired shut, top and bottom. Adjustments were made to everything that hung and contained seed etc. We congratulated ourselves on our achievements – only to return the next time to find chewed-through wire, missing screws and every peanut and seed scoffed. Around this time we moved our base camp. We were now able to move into the middle of the wood and that is still our base today.

As summer turned to autumn and autumn gave way to winter we watched as leaves turned colour and fell, carpeting the woodland floor in a tapestry of brown and golden hues. We could now see through the wood and to the field of rape beyond. The wind howled across that field and ripped through the wood . . . still we held our ground. This was our wood, for all seasons, and we would see and enjoy it in all seasons. We made great use of a small fire thingy – we certainly had the wood to burn and there was, to us, nothing nicer than sitting in front of it warming our bones and drinking hot soup and munching custard creams.

FIRESo, almost a year since we took it on. The bird feeders have been rehung around our base camp and the once, quiet as a grave wood, is full of twittering and feeding birds, a friendly old pheasant, mice in the compost heap, buzzards soaring overhead in the up-drafts, and a couple of muntjac. I haven’t seen the delinquent squirrels for some time BUT, the homemade peanut feeder has to be repaired on every other visit and the second peanut feeder is also licked clean. I have learnt to accept them, I had little choice really, but it makes me sound like a nicer person! There are ten feeders and two bird tables. These need restocking every three days and, yes, it costs me a small fortune.

 

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Constantly Under Repair

There are blue tits nesting in one of our home-made boxes and coal tits in a holey tree, within a metre from our ‘sitting’ area. A robin has chosen to nest in the base of a close-by tree. It looks a little unsafe to me but hopefully she will be successful. I realise that if these bird numbers increase I shall have to buy even more food! At the moment the feeding frenzy has calmed. The birds have achieved what they were attempting to achieve, they are fat and healthy and up to their breeding weight. Now they are building, laying and sitting.

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Nesting Blue Tits

 

And that’s that. Here’s to the next year – if the Heavens allow it.

Life Can Change In A Heartbeat . . .

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we mostly take everything in our lives for granted? I don’t mean to and many a day I stop and stand and stare and appreciate everything that’s before and around me. The garden – its heartbeat quickening now as days lengthen. The wood – still with bare-leafed trees, their upper branches clacking against each other in the wind. Oh yes, I know how to stand and stare and appreciate things but . . . it takes an episode in one’s life to bring you up by the braces and recently I had, what I consider to be, an episode. There has been a legitimate reason why I haven’t been here, tapping out silly blogs and it is this . . .

I’d been poorly for quite some time, my digestive system in total spasm every day, so much so that I could barely leave the house unless there was a loo within trotting distance. After many weeks of this, and several G.P appointments, I was referred for a C.T scan. I’m no fool, I knew they were looking for the Big C.

Waiting for the appointment was difficult, I’ve always been an impatient type. Surprisingly, or maybe not considering the urgency, I only had to wait just over a week.

During this time I became totally introverted. Bowel cancer was the last thought on my mind as I drifted off into spasmodic sleep. It was the first thing on my mind when I woke.

I cried about the possibility of not seeing my newly seeded patch of woodland flowers and grass come to fruition. I stressed about not seeing my newly planted climbing rose in flower this summer, not being able to sit by the pond and watch . . . well, nothing really, just life buzzing around it.

The scan was awful. They inserted gas into my bowel and abdomen and I thought I would cry like a pathetic baby – but I didn’t. Then came the worst bit of all – waiting for the results.

I tried moving on from the worry but it was impossible. I had visions of my grandchildren, Grace 6, and Jake 11, asking why grandma was always too ill to have them over for the day. Who would my son turn to when only a mother would do? And Richard, dear Richard, what would he do without me? As you can see I was totally pathetic, my mind running free like a rabid dog.

On the morning of the results being available at the doctors, Richard was out working with my son. This was good because I needed to be alone. They both had instructions NOT to ring me. I would need time to run it all through my brain, time alone.

I could barely breathe as I sat in the waiting room. I considered bolting out of the door and never stopping. I was on the verge of a panic attack. I was no longer me.

I was called through and all I could think was . . . ‘keep breathing.’

I cannot described how I felt standing before the consulting room door. The doctor was scanning the PC screen as I walked in. He announced that the results weren’t in yet BUT he had looked on the hospital’s site and the scan was clear.

I felt nothing, except disbelief.

‘Are you sure?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ he said.

‘No bowel cancer?’

‘No.’

‘No stomach cancer?’

‘No.’

‘Have you got my name right? You ARE looking at MY results.’

‘Yes, you are clear, nothing abnormal detected.’

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation. I walked out of there like a zombie. The fear had been with me for around 6/7 weeks and it refused to allow me to feel anything.

I think I shed a little tear on the way home. Was I really going to see the meadow in the wood blossom? See that bloody rose bloom? Not have to explain to my grandchildren why their normally bonkers grandma was suddenly not bonkers, but always poorly?

I didn’t feel anything until the following day.

I had three days grace and then I went down with a virus that flattened me and I was bedridden for over a week. It’s now been 4 weeks and the virus has moved to my head, Labyrinthitis – apparently. Do I care? Not on your bloody life!

I have now address my health issues and besides being vegetarian (30 + years now) I have gone gluten-free and dairy free and my ‘health’ has improved by 95%.

The biggest thing I learned was this . . . I now understand how other people in this situation feel. I can relate. I feel for them with every ounce of my being. I handled my ‘situation’ by going ‘inward.’ I didn’t discuss it. I took it deep into my very soul and lived with it. That is the downside of being a strong, independent person.

I haven’t become dulled to the experience yet. I hope I never do. I need to feel grateful for the things and people around me – sometimes I’m guilty of forgetting that, or at least I was. Our lives can change in a heartbeat – and do. I’m just so grateful that, on this occasion, my didn’t.

This isn’t my normal blog, as you know, and I won’t be continuing in this vein. I simply wanted to explain my absence.

Love to you all x

Newly seeded woodland flower and grass patch

Memories Are Made Of This . . .

In the past I have often found that some things just aren’t worth the effort. However, when the snow came, just after Christmas, and the outside world was transformed from muddy greys and browns to perfect white I knew in my heart that driving the twenty-six miles to the wood in a snow storm would be.

With warnings on the early morning news of ‘Don’t venture out unless you have to,’ we joyously loaded up the old Land Rover with essentials – Jammy Dodgers, Cup a Soup, cheese sandwiches and the makings for tea and coffee for us and buckets of fat balls, mixed corn and everything else that a snow-bound woodland bird might require.

It was still dark as we set off, with the ancient headlights blearily focusing on the driving snow. We can do the trip to the wood in forty minutes on a good day, with a tail wind and in the car. In the Land Rover it takes longer, much longer, and that’s on a good day.

As we chugged round bends with the snow still falling, and now no way of knowing where the road ended and the verge began, we came across a car attempting to climb what, under normal conditions, could be classed as an insignificant rise in the road but today mirrored Everest. It appeared to be moving – and we were moving behind it when suddenly it spun into the centre of the road. Richard, with the reactions of a sleeping dormouse, swung the Land Rover hard to avoid hitting the car. This resulted in the dear thing losing its grip (literally) and jack-knifing to the right. Richard over-steered attempting to miss the car that was now stuck back-to-front in the middle of the road. This resulted in us spinning off to the left, sideways-on, to a wall that got closer and closer.

I don’t know if I stopped breathing and I won’t say my life flashed in front of me but I gritted my teeth, grimaced and waited for us to take-out someone’s front wall, all the while wondering how much it was going to cost to replace.

Fortunately we stopped with a coat of paint between the Land Rover and the wall. At this point Richard emitted a loud, ‘RIGHT!’ and clambered out of the Land Rover into a snow drift. I saw him disappear below the headlights as he fiddled with something, before returning, looking like he’d been iced. He growled his way into the Land Rover and spat, ‘that’s it! I’ve put it into four-wheel drive!’

Now, call me a woman driver if you like but I thought the whole purpose of having the benefit of four-wheel drive was to actually use it when conditions dictated? I didn’t query this, I didn’t need to because I knew he was still feeling monumentally embarrassed for over-steering in the first place (he’s a self-proclaimed super-duper driver you see) and it almost resulting in the bill for rebuilding a wall.

We continued for another half mile or so until we approached a large roundabout. There was a car about to enter the roundabout and we all know the rule – give way to traffic from the right. This we did, only to see the car enter the roundabout, lose its grip, and sail off sideways down the first exit. At this we laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Nervous tension you see.

We reached the wood without further incident and as we pulled up at the gate and saw the beauty of what lay before us we knew the journey had been well worth it. The whole wood was cloaked in white. Snow fell silently. As we drove along the track to our little copse a buzzard took-up before us and flew on silent wings into the falling snow.

The birds were beyond excited to see us as we trudged through the snow, to the shed, laden with their supplies and swooped and fed hungrily as soon as I’d replenished the 8 feeders and 2 bird tables. We have a growing collection of birds now, blue tits, great tits, coal tits, nuthatches, woodpeckers, robins, blackbirds, tree creepers – and we even have a visiting pheasant. I won’t mention the gang (or gangs) of squirrels! They are the bad boys and girls of the wood, chomping their way through everything edible and inedible. They have ruined 4 feeders to date.

Once the wildlife was sorted we put the kettle on and sat and watched the wood. That’s it. We sat and watched the wood. I can’t describe the feeling. Other than the beating of birds’ wings the whole wood was silent. No sound came from the distant road. It was perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

Some may say that it was stupid driving all that way to feed birds and sit and stare at snow-covered trees but I don’t care. We haven’t yet had the wood for a full year and I wanted to see it in snow for the first time. I didn’t want to miss that and I didn’t. Sometimes, to make a lasting memory you have to put in a little effort.

Now I’m waiting to see if the area of meadow grass that I planted in the autumn comes up in the spring. Or, if the daffodils I planted along one of the banks can out-fox the squirrels and pop-up and bloom without the little monsters realising they are there. And will the wild garlic I took from the garden and planted in a shady spot grow?

I am, now, at last, understanding the full meaning of the changing of the seasons. It is happening before my very eyes and I couldn’t be more content or happier.

https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

Just When You Thought I’d Gone Forever!

Gosh! To say I haven’t been around is blatantly stating the flipping obvious. In fact, I wasn’t sure WordPress would let me back in. I had to enter all my details again – after I’d hunted down the notebook that I keep all the details in! Yes, I know, I should assign them to memory. Fat chance equalled only by no chance. So, I hear you ask (well, I can hear one person ask – possibly) I’ve been to the wood.

Shortly before I  departed I told you that I’d bought a couple of acres of traumatised woodland? Very old, neglected, partly rotten, woodland? Yes? Good. Well, that’s where I’ve been mainly. Couldn’t possibly divulge other activities.

The wood, named Griddies Copse (grand kiddies = griddies) seemed like an instant joy back in May when we became legal owners of said wood. Unfortunately we also became the legal owners of a rabid swarm of female mosquitoes. Blood sucking little shits that brought everyone out in a boiling, itchy rash. Being the smart arse that I am I soon sourced Jungle Spray and the equivalent by the lorry load, and sprayed . . .  and sprayed as soon as my feet exited the car. Great idea. Except the Jungle Spray brought on migraine.

We battled with the little darlings all summer and then breathed sighs of relief when September dawned and they disappeared.

This ran hand-in-hand with a plaque of frogs. They have also taken to the undergrowth now.

Then came the squirrels.

These were no ordinary squirrels. Oh, there might have been the odd one with a normal squirrels I.Q. but the leader of the pack was, and is, a clever little critter. He can remove, take down and sod off with, a whole jar of peanut butter. No jar was ever found. He is also a mechanic and can under screws (again with no sign of the missing screws) and free a whole feeder, full of peanuts. He can bite through feeding tubes as easily as he can gnaw through chain. This is no ordinary squirrel. This is super squirrel with a Philips screw driver.

I swear that I won’t be outwitted by a squirrel, but for this to be true I will have to up my game.

I thought I would love the wood in summer but now that the leaves are on the ground, the morning air is crisp and frosty and the wood smoke drifts lazily, I think I love the autumn/winter more? We will see. We haven’t had it for a whole year yet. We haven’t seen it in every season. The wildlife IS returning. There are tits, nuthatches, woodpeckers, robins – and even a visiting pheasant. We sometimes see a flash of brown in the undergrowth as the muntjac visits.

I’m loving the experience. I’m loving the wildlife. I’m loving the peace and tranquillity. I love the wood. I hear its heartbeat.

Sooooo, when I’m not there I’m sourcing wood for my Woodland Crafts. What, I hear you ask? Woodland Crafts I said. And here’s the thing. I have even figured out how to concoct a Woodland Crafts page on Facebook. Obviously I’m going to give you the link (it might work but I won’t hold my breath) and if you like you could pop over there and take a look. Leave a ‘like’ if you do. Say nothing if you don’t. I’m sensitive – I’ll cry.

Here’s a picture of the ‘winter’ wood with the smoke drifting. It is also the banner for my Woodland Crafts page. OK, enough. I won’t say the words again – for now.

 

https://www.facebook.com/GriddiesCopse/

 

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

 

HPIM4030

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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Photo – freepix.com

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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