Pricks … Jam … And Nuts In My Bra!

Not been around for a while. I’ve been lost in the darkest, deepest depths of my garden. That is, until the secateurs were taken in hand and used to clip, cut-back and chop away anything that broke boundaries.

I blame this, to a certain extent, on my OCD tendencies.  Do you know what I mean? All tins have to be facing the same way in the cupboard, anything square has to be placed exactly squarely, blinds have to hang dead level …I won’t go on.

So, when broccoli leaves brown at the base they have to go. When the manic gooseberry bushes have had their precious fruit picked, straggly bits have to be chopped back so that they look balanced, and I can’t cope with plants that ‘overlap’ into each other, either. Everything has a right to its own ‘space’ in my opinion. However, I digress. . .

Regarding the blackcurrants.

This year I had the help (?) of my two grandchildren. Schools out and so they came to spend the day and help me (?) in the garden. First on the list was the picking of the blackcurrants. It didn’t matter how many their little fingers dropped on the ground because the bushes were weighed down to the ground with them – blackcurrants not little fingers!

It took a good ninety minutes to pick them (taking time out to apply plasters to thorn pricks as the ‘littles’ became side-tracked into picking and eating gooseberries), but eventually we toggled back to the house with our harvest. I had to carry all the bowls, obviously, because the killer chucks were patrolling and anything that resembles food, treats etc. turns them instantly into velociraptors on the hunt. I, of course, understand this and so do Jake and Grace and cling to me like second and third skins.

Then followed another hour of washing the fruit, and flooding out the kitchen, and dropping blackcurrants that became squashed beneath bare toes. The work surface resembled an approaching tsunami at one stage. Eventually I stopped moaning at them and settled with the thought that, like usual, I would put the house back to normal after they had gone. ‘Cos this was fun, wasn’t it? Doing cool, big-person stuff with Grandma Gail? Yeah – whatever.

There was no way I could actually make the jam with the kiddies there, way too dangerous, so we left the washed blackcurrants in bowls and went off to ‘mini monster hunt’ in the garden. This necessitated using my lovely plastic containers (with lids) so that the ‘monsters’ couldn’t escape. I did question if we would be releasing these creatures afterwards and Jake assured me that we would. As it turned out they were too scared to turn over logs and bricks, and I refused to, on the grounds that I didn’t think we should be catching ‘monsters’ in the first place, so the game only produced one woodlouse and a sick looking slug. But they had fun…

The following morning, and still slightly hung over from child minding two very loud little people, I set about making the jam.

There was so much fruit that I had to use both jam pans, but that was fine, I’m a woman, I can do two things at once!

Pan one bubbled nicely.

Pan two bubbled nicely.

Thermometer was held precariously in pan one for a while, until it confirmed that the temperature was perfect and that the jam would set. Off went pan one.

Thermometer was held precariously in pan two, and ditto, done and ready.

As I removed the thermometer I noticed that it looked slightly odd. Scowling, I realised that the sodding thing had broken …in the jam …in pan two. At least, I thought it was in pan two. Did it matter? Really? There was only a bit of glass missing. Just the bulby bit. And Richard had scoffed soup with the bouquet garni paper bag left on, and absent-mindedly blended in, if you remember? And perhaps I could sieve it? Turn it into blackcurrant jelly? Give it to people I didn’t really like …mind I’d have to have a bloody lot of jam! I’m joking. Sort of. The decision was taken out of my hands as, at that precise moment of indecision, Richard walked in.

I won’t say we argued the point but the jam was outta there and tipped down the drain before I could draw breath. So …20lbs of jam ditched, pronto. I still have far more than I need, cos that’s me, the great ‘hunter-gatherer.’ The birds and insects can have the remaining blackcurrants … and the gooseberries …and the raspberries.

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly accident prone but since smashing the thermometer (I   now realise it was my fault because I’d clipped it on the side of the smaller jam pan and it had hit the bottom) I have trapped my hand in the ironing board, dropped the iron on my heel and opened-up the side of my finger picking gooseberries.

And …this morning, the piece de resistance!

Mrs OCD wanted the newly purchased cereal boxes placing neatly on the top shelf of the cupboard. Straightforward enough? Yeah, except, like a big-bottomed girl the bag of Crunchy Oat Granola – with raisins and almonds – had settled, and I couldn’t get all the boxes in so I reached up, lifted out the bag, turned it upside down, so that the contents would settle in a level manner, and some idiot hadn’t closed it. Before I could do anything about it half a packet of muesli showered down on my head, all over the floor, in the toaster, on every shelf, and down my shirt. I uttered, ‘shit,’ – a bigger word, and said with more force, would have resulted in me choking on the stuff. Even little Chea removed her face from her feed bowl and came to have a look at the lovely new flooring. I actually had to free my … er…breasts from my bra and shake the wheat out of it, to say nothing of the nuts and raisins.

I was bloody annoyed because, for one thing, I had no intention of vacuuming today!

So, I guess it is official. I’m OCD and accident prone. Never mind, it could be worse. I could be insane. It’s these little things that we have to be grateful for…

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Take care my lovelies x

Mange Tout Much Of A Good Thing?

Hi All

Just as I am starting to reap my bountiful harvest I have to question myself.

Whacking in seeds right left and centre and finding a bit of spare ground, here and there, to slip in just one more row of Brussels plants might, in retrospect, have been a bit over the top.

Richard is almost being force-fed mange tout peas and broad beans on a daily basis. He questions, now and then, albeit very quietly, if mange tout peas go with oven chips and baked beans? You can see I’m a jolly good producer of balanced meals?

It may have been the broad beans with the omelette that caused him to politely ask, ‘Are there many more of these left?’ Well, yes my little sweetie there are. Hundreds. Millions in fact. The mother plants are standing so close together, laden with swelling pods, that if you venture down the rows you may well disappear and never be seen again. Yes, it has most certainly has been a good year for the bean.

Billions of fat gooseberries hang, ready to be picked. They are jolly nice just to pluck from the bush and eat in passing. Although, once I start plucking and munching I fail to pass or to stop at the sensible stopping point and spend half the night in the loo, holding my lower gut and moaning to anyone who will listen that I’ll never eat another half-ripe gooseberry ever again. I’m not good with gut pain. All severe bellyache brings back the memory of the pain of giving birth and that is not something I wish to revisit. Dear God they really do need to invent an easier, less painful way of giving birth. Anyway …moving on…

The blackcurrants will need picking by the end of the week and that means resurrecting the jam making equipment, washing out jars, purchasing endless bags of sugar and suffering third degree burns to my lower arms. This year I am jam making at a weekend. This is so that Richard can help. He eats half a jar at a time so he can witness, and be part of, the hard work that goes into it.

I’ve actually started looking forward to things dying off. The first to fit this category was a tub of early mange tout that I’d started off in the greenhouse way back at the beginning of the year in my attempt to have a longer fruiting period. Had I known that Richard wasn’t that keen to have them with pizza and oven chips I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

So, dead keen to remove the spent peas to the compost heap, and the potting compost back to the garden, I grabbed the peas and attempted to yank them from the tub. They wouldn’t budge. Obviously they wanted to hang around for a bit longer just to pee me off. Not to be deterred I carried the whole tub over to the compost heap by the plant tops. Once there I gave it all a good shake and covered myself in compost. Still they held firm. I cut a bit of string and pulled out a few pea sticks and tried again, this time lifting the whole tub, with peas intact, up to waist level and shook it.

Something leapt at me. As it passed my head I recognised four legs and an open-mouthed look of horror on the frogs face as it missed my mouth by coat of paint.

Had I been cussing at the time my mouth would have been ajar and I would really have had a frog in my throat. As the creature from hell landed in the rhubarb I screamed, ‘Godddddddddd, for fucks sake.’

In retrospect I wish I hadn’t, as it alerted the neighbour – the one who lives under the conifer hedge waiting to ‘catch me’ for a chat. I then had to stand there nodding and smiling and contributing to the conversation with a smile on my face. Not only that, when I got back to the house the said face was covered in black compost, and with the odd greenfly thrown in for good measure. Don’t you just hate that? When you have a bug on your nose and the other person fails to mention it? You realise, in retrospect, that it wasn’t your riveting conversation that was keeping the other person glued to your features, but the insect that was halfway up your snout!

I love my garden. It is my escape. My little Shangri-La. I just wish the sodding frogs didn’t love it as well. And I could also do without half of the slugs and snails in Leicestershire congregating and planing their killing manoeuvres on all things green.

Oh well, off to dead-head the roses and pick a few hundred mange tout and broad bean pods. Might be kind and cook them with a piece of salmon tonight and give the old love a change.

20150708_101347Take care my lovelies x

Never Stop Topping-Up The Memory Jar…

Hi All

I guess when you get to a certain age your ‘memory’ jar is pretty full, but surprisingly that jar can always accommodate more, and that’s what I’ve been doing over the last ten days – topping up the memory jar.

We attended a wedding in Cornwall ten days ago and the greatest memory retained from this was the memory of laughter. It never stopped. Put the right people together and it’s a done deal. The down-side to this is just how much my ribs ached afterwards, and still do.

I have always had a strong bond with my cousin, Dawn, and when the two of us are together we find the whole world hilarious. And when we can’t laugh at the world we laugh at ourselves. One incident will remain at the top of my memory jar for a long time. If you don’t like toilet humour then read no further.

Yep, thought so, you’re still reading!

During the reception I needed to leave the hotel and go back to the car to find some flatter shoes. Everyone else seemed to manage on heels (that doesn’t include Richard, obviously) but I couldn’t, and each time I stepped on the grass my heels sunk in and my feet left my shoes behind, which for some reason I found hilarious, but then I’ll laugh at pretty much anything. As we left the hotel, Dawn turned to me and discreetly mumbled, ‘I need a trump.’

I was bloody surprised because I’ve known her for a while and to date she has never shared this sensitive kind of info’ with me. I was looking understandably astounded as we pushed through the door, leading out onto the beautifully landscaped gardens, when Dawn turned to me and announced, ‘I’ve trumped!’

I turned to her, requiring clarification, and said, ‘You’ve trumped?’

Suddenly she wasn’t there. Her legs buckled and she collapsed in a heap on the gravel. One of her shoes winged away into the bushes and she was prostrate on the ground. I (we) laughed so hard that I did exactly the same thing…but without the falling over bit. Her tights were torn and her knee was bleeding – which made us howl – and she couldn’t get up – which made it even funnier.10579222_10204828446254830_587700490_n

Eventually I managed to get her on her feet and we cackled our way to the car, doubled over and hysterical. I’ll tell you something – I have no idea how she managed to pass wind so privately and yet it still managed to blow her off her feet.

Richard came looking for us at one point but he never found us. He said he could hear us hysterically guffawing in the bushes but he couldn’t find the right bush. I don’t think there’s an answer to that?

I must add that at this point neither of us had been on the falling down water. Seemed Dawn didn’t need it.

Another memory was founded at the weekend when Jake and Grace (grand kiddies) came over for the day.  We trotted off down the road and into the fields at the back of the house, where there are dozens of blackberry brambles with ripe, ready-to-pick fruit. They each had a bowl and Grace (3) picked the lower berries and Jake (7) picked the higher. I picked fruit at the next level up and we sent Richard into the brambles to get those that none of us could reach. The sun was shining and all was well with the world. At one point I stood back and watched them, chatting away excitedly about picking as many as they could so that we could make jam. Jake instructing Grace, ‘You need MORE than that, doesn’t she Grandma?’ They were totally absorbed and there wasn’t a PC game or the equivalent in sight. Everything was free – and fun. I shall hold the memory of little blackberry-stained fingers and mouths for many years – possibly always.2014-08-25 12.04.41

Some memories remain when you wish that they wouldn’t. Last night I was tapping away on the old laptop talking to my friend Deb McEwan, (If you fancy reading something poles apart from what I write take a look at Deb’s books…http://www.debbiemcewansbooks.com/) when there was an almighty thud behind me. It sounded like Richard had thrown the sofa across the room.

‘What the eff was that?’ I yelled. (Ladylike as ever, hey?)

Silence.

‘Richard!’

More silence.

‘Richard!’

‘Me,’ he whimpered.

Amazing how such a big bloke can have such a tiny whimper when he’s in the wrong.

‘I tripped…I’ve spilt my wine.’

‘Well you hadn’t better have spilt it on my rug?’ I warned, still tapping away on the PC.

‘I’ve spilt it everywhere,’ he announced, sounding rather too brave and proud of the fact for my liking.

‘What?’ I bellowed, getting up from the computer to discover that the wine he had been carrying was now all up my recently purchased curtains, the wall, the rug, the floorboards and the French doors – and it was his homemade red wine at that!

‘Why are you so bloody stupid?’ I bawled, pointlessly, because I know why he’s so bloody stupid. He practises being stupid on an hourly basis.

‘I got my foot stuck in my trouser hem and tripped,’ he said.

‘Why are you walking around with a glass of wine in your hand anyway?’ I was still shouting, which wasn’t doing my recently acquired sore throat much good. In fact, I truly believe that the sore throat is a leftover from all that laughing at Dawn, a week ago.

‘I was coming to wash the pots,’ he said’

‘WITH A GLASS OF WINE IN YOUR HAND?’

Needless to say, it was me who had to swab the bloody curtains. I’ve told him if they stain he can go and buy some more.

So, another memory.

Well, it takes all kinds, hey?

Take care my lovelies x

 

 

Just A Quickie.

Hi All

Just a quickie to stay in touch.

The garden is still taking up masses of my time – but then I figure that’s OK.

Life isn’t always about batting along at a rate of knots, is it? Sometimes – often in my case, it’s about standing and watching the bees on the lavender, and the butterflies on the buddleia. It’s about smelling the roses – literally. It’s about collecting the hordes of snails that chomp their way through the sunflower leaves and seemingly anything else that’s slightly green. I often wonder how long it takes them to make it back to my garden after they have been winged over the hedge and into the neighbour’s garden. (I’m pretty sure someone wrote a book about that? The time it takes for snails to return to a garden? But I may have dreamt it!)… It’s about watching Chea trying to get herself stung by irritating the bees, patting and pawing at them until they buzz off, laden with pollen. She hooked out a little yellow frog the other day and left it lying on the ground with its skinny legs akimbo, looking like something out of The Kama Sutra (not that I know anything about that). I was so pissed off with her, and her continual attempts to kill everything that moves, that, after a very harsh scolding, I shut her in the house. Unfortunately the postman caught the gist of it. We tend not to get much mail these days.

The courgettes are manic. I think they grow just to spite me. Four-inch long babies suddenly grow into teenagers overnight and in the morning they are lying there, all grown up and waiting to be picked. This has caused a glut so last week I made nine jars of courgette chutney. As I mentioned, in the previous post, the boiling vinegar gives me a migraine so to combat this I have to dip a tea towel in water and then tie the tea towel around my face so that the acidic stench cannot get to me.  This works out quite well – in private, but it’s kinda scary for anyone who might venture to the door during the cooking process. The fact that all my tea towels are black probably doesn’t help. 2014-07-24 10.51.32

I’m now waiting for the tomatoes to ripen and then I’ll make a batch of tomato chutney – red with the ripe ones and then green with the ones that don’t make it through the ripening process before autumn shuts everything down. And I decided today to make some apple and ginger and apple and blackberry jam. The apple trees are full of fruit this year, so many that as they grow and expand they push against each other, lose their grip and hurtle to earth. It’s quite dangerous, actually, because an apple could hit you on the bonce at any time.2014-07-24 18.55.10

The other hugely time-consuming thing is the new book. It’s coming along quite well – although some days I do lose control of my characters and the following day I have to delete half the dialogue. It’s currently around 46,000 words so I’m reasonably happy with that.

And, of course, there is Richard. He is the least time-consuming, but nonetheless he does require some of my time so I’ll pop and see if I can find something from the bottom of the freezer for his tea. Freshly concocted delights are a rarity at the moment.  I’m pretty sure that the last time I was head-down in the freezer I saw a lasagna from the Beatle’s era. That’ll do.

So, dudes, happy gardening, preserve making, writing, snail throwing…and whatever else takes your fancy. Oh, by the way, I sprayed the little yellow frog with my plant spray and thirty minutes later it crept back into the beetroot patch. Result!

Take care my lovelies x

 

 

Loving Words In The Bedroom?

Hi All

You know, as much as I try, sometimes I just have to admit defeat and have an embarrassingly early night. This mega dose of beta blocker stuff, prescribed to prevent my horrendous migraines, has the unwelcome side effect of zonking me out.

Friday night was such a night but, as always happens, once I get into bed I’m awake and buzzing with the bees, so it made sense to watch a bit of TV. The programme of choice was The Incredible Hulk. I’ve seen it before but it was mindless, not requiring much thought to follow the plot and so exactly what I needed.

As it was coming to an end, Richard toddled up to bed. He is what I consider to be a lucky person – he drops easily and instantly into sleep mode whilst in the bathroom brushing his teeth. This I envy. Massively. Usually he drifts across the bottom of the bed in a semi-coma. It’s not a pretty sight so I don’t usually look. Friday night was different. Richard spoke. This is what he said …

‘Chea is very loose. I’ve just had to remove a sloppy pooh from her tray.’MH900084366

Alarm bells always ring whenever Richard reports anything to do with the health of an animal. It’s like he sees things differently – or not at all. I remember one time when a sweet little hedgehog appeared on the lawn looking worse for wear, half trapped in bean netting. I removed the cutting twine from it and placed it in a large plastic container and set this above a slight heat source. The following morning, as Richard was about to go to work at 5.am, I shouted down, ‘Is the hedgehog alive?’

‘Yes,’ he shouted back and closed the door behind him. He’s not a morning person!

My heart soared. Yes! I’d saved it. Whoop woo. I hurried down and dashed out to the shed where the little creature had spent the night, threw open the door, mashed-up dog meat in my hand – and this dreadful smell hit me. As I approached the container the smell became worse. Peering in through the side of the container I could see movement but it wasn’t the hedgehog. The little creature was covered from head to foot in writhing maggots. Baby hedgehog was dead.

I never trusted Richard’s assessment/judgement of pretty much anything after that. He tried to explain it by saying that he’d viewed it from the door and that it must have been the maggots moving that he saw and not the hedgehog breathing.

So …back to the ‘Chea’ report.

‘How sloppy?’ I said, missing the concluding part of the film that I’d been watching for the last two hours. I hate it when that happens. You know what I mean don’t you? You’ve watched something almost to the twist at the end and then a car pulls up outside and a visitor turns up. I hate unsolicited visitors. Hate them. People need to make an appointment…

‘Quite sloppy,’ he said, dropping into bed, making it rock.

‘But HOW sloppy?’ I insisted. ‘Give me a clue.’

‘Like cream I suppose.’

‘Cream? Cream? What kind of cream?’

He yawned at this point. I told you. He’d have closed down before the toothbrush left his mouth!

‘Like the cream you put in the Victoria sandwiches,’ he added, yawning again. I also HATE it when people yawn and don’t make an attempt to cover their orifices!

‘Well, there’s single cream that we sometimes pour over the cake and then there’s double cream that I whip-up and put inside the cake. Which is it?’

‘Oh God, I don’t know,’ he said, looking like he was sitting in the black chair on Mastermind.’ I guess it was like the stuff you put inside the cake.’

‘Double cream, then?’

‘Yes, I think so …if that’s what you put inside the cake.’

‘I do! I‘ve just said so, haven’t I?’

‘Well, yes then. Double cream. Chea is shitting stuff the consistency of double cream …like you put inside the cakes you make…OK … because I’m tired and I’m going to sleep.’

I did a bit of heavy breathing and humphed a bit but there was no point, he’d gone to la la land. I was left all alone, in the dark, with a storm raging outside the bedroom window, trying to figure out what Chea might have had contact with, to give her diarrhoea, and to wonder if there was a chicken breast left in the freezer for the morning.

I dashed down at 5 am to check on her, only to be met by a pile of sick, with grass in it, and Chea hurriedly scratching cat litter over a pool of pooh. And do you know what? On this occasion I have to hold up my hands and admit that Richard was, indeed, right. It was the consistency of double cream! No strawberry jam though, ha ha.

I don’t think I’ll be making cake today …I’ve kinda put myself off …

 

cat

Take care my lovelies x

Convenient Amnesia And Too Much Top And Tailing.

Hi All,

OK, riddle me this. How does someone (Richard) remove the electric blanket from the bed and with it the mattress protector and then not know what he’s done with the said mattress protector? How is that possible?

We had a new mattress delivered the other day. We change them frequently, every two or three years. When I stripped off the old bed I realised that the mattress protector was missing and when I questioned (grilled) Richard about it, he said he didn’t know what he’d done with it when he’d removed the electric blanket. How can you not know what you’ve done with it? He said that perhaps it was in the bag with the electric blanket, so whilst he was at work I attempted to track it down. No luck. When he came home I asked him again what he’d done with it.

‘I don’t know,’ he said.

‘Of course you know,’ I bellowed.  ‘You can’t lose a sodding king size mattress protector. It’s hardly a handkerchief!’

Apparently that wasn’t true – because he had lost it. So I said, ‘YOU’VE thrown it away so YOU can go to the shop and get a new one before the new mattress arrives.’

As you know, his mum, Betty, is still in hospital so instead of fetching a mattress protector after work he beetled off to see her. That night the new mattress was unprotected.

The following morning I stropped off to get one myself and had to fill in the shop assistant with the whole story of the previously lost one. I said I needed to get one on quickly because there was every chance that I’d be stabbing Richard whilst he slept if he didn’t stop denying doing things and I didn’t want to get blood on the new mattress. She looked slightly disturbed as she handed me my purchase. You know the look? The one that involves flitting eyes and a mouth that doesn’t quite smile but twitches uneasily?

He still denies throwing it away but can’t remember what he did with it! He’s probably ripped it into cloths to polish stupid Betsy Land Rover! Talking of which, the poor old girl has been deserted since breaking down at work. Richard has emptied the petrol tank and as soon as he gets a minute he needs to replace it. The visits to his mum are endless and tiring – both physically and mentally. It gives us little time for other things. Although, yesterday, Richard went to see her on his own and I stayed here to finish off the jam making.HPIM3056

I couldn’t leave the blackcurrants any longer. They were, as they say, ripe for the picking. I made that in the morning and then, whilst the chucks were out, I picked the gooseberries and turned those into jam in the afternoon – after spending an hour and a half top and tailing them. What a mindless task.

Still, it’s done now. Blackcurrant jam. Gooseberry jam. And gooseberry and ginger jam. I may have over done the sugar on the gooseberry jam. It did seem rather a lot and it tastes like pure sugar with a bit of a gooseberry flavour thrown in as an afterthought. Oh well, as I have said a hundred times before, you can’t win them all.

The chucks are all settling in together quite nicely now. Flight still has a rapier-like thrust at Little now and then but Little has learnt that I am her protector and sticks close to me when Flight is around. It’s funny but some people think that you can’t have a garden and chucks. What I mean is, that chucks destroy it and rip out every shred of vegetation. It isn’t really true. The picture shows one of the bits of garden where the chucks are allowed and as you can see it is still established and standing. I merely net around the base of the more delicate plants and they survive quite happily. Beyond this bit of lawn/shrubby area is the veggie and fruit patch. I don’t let them in that bit until the autumn, when the veg is over.

A section of garden where the chucks are allowed.
A section of garden where the chucks are allowed.

I don’t know how successful the cabbages are going to be this year. They are as big as small palm trees but they are being attacked from above by cabbage white butterflies. Chea was doing her best to swot a few for me, as they dropped their undercarriage and soared in. They were even managing to find their way underneath the protective netting that I have rigged up. I’m not sure which is worse – butterflies laying their eggs on the beautiful, perfect leaves or Chea throwing herself across them in an attempt to catch the butterflies. It’s a constant battle. My garden is a war zone. Casualties and fatalities appear on a daily basis. There is always some underhanded little critter waiting to cause havoc.

Talking of which – some shit head hacked my twitter account two days ago. It’s a shame these morons haven’t anything better to do like – get a life. A real life. Away from the virtual world. Idiots. If anyone received anything from me that appeared weird (more weird than usual that is!) please ignore it.

Right, off to declare war on the cabbage whites … before I declare war on one or two ‘real’ people who are peeing me off right now. I tell you … the closer people are to you the harder the body punch!

 

New chuck - Little.
New chuck – Little.

Take care my lovelies x

 

 

 

Thunderbolts And Lightening – Very Very Frightening …

Hi All

Last night we paid for price for the last ten days of sun and heat – an almighty thunderstorm. As we arrived home from visiting Betty the sky blackened. Obviously my first concern was the chucks. They are only young and have never  known thunder and lightning, so, having dived straight into the shower when we got in from the hospital, I dashed out to them in my dressing gown. Richard followed at a snail’s pace mumbling, ‘they’ll be alright. I don’t know what you are worrying about.’ That’s the trouble with Richard – he rarely knows what I am worrying about.

I spent a manic few minutes, with Richard watching, shutting windows and brushing straw into the corner in the outside run to protect it from the inevitable downpour. By the time I’d finished Richard had slopped off back to the house. Very supportive. You may think I’m being a wimp but I hate thunder and lightning and being stuck half-way up the garden wasn’t my idea of fun.

With an almighty flash, the lightning speared through the sky, followed immediately by a crash of thunder. The chucks stared at me briefly before toddling off into the inside bit. Then the heavens opened. Fortunately the rain was so hard on the roof that it muffled the thunder. With rain bouncing off the pond and the wind flattening the pond plants down to the surface of the water I slipped out of the outside run and ran for the house.

Richard, by this time, was stuck in front of the TV with his net-book on his knee checking out the price of Land Rover spares.

This morning is no better. I woke at four to flashes of lightning outside the bedroom window and now that I’ve attending to everything that needs attending to immediately, Chea, litter tray, chucks, pond fish, greenhouse etc, I am sitting here watching the rain spearing down. Chea was out when it started and came bombing back like the demons of hell were chasing her.

Going back to the subject of the chucks, I now have the full set – three! We popped and fetched another some days ago. She is little, timid, and Flight made her life a misery for the first few days. She is a light Sussex cross and aptly named Little. I devised a cunning plan to add a little more weight to balance and each time Flight attacked Little I sprayed Flight with a jet of water. It worked well and now, if Flight approaches Little, I only have to move my hand towards the spray bottle and she clucks in disgust and moves away. Sorted! This brilliant plan falls down slightly when I’m not there but to be honest their quarters are more than ample and Little can skirt around Flight without coming to too much harm. I can only assist the natural pecking order – I can’t control it.

Maran, who is now Grace, is beautiful, charming, and a little love. She will still have a non-serious go at Flight if necessary but she has taken Little under her wing and teaches her how to snaffle bread and eat lettuce and all kinds of chickeny things. Yesterday she was teaching Little how to dust-bathe. Little didn’t quite grasp it. She was attempting to bathe on the lawn at the side of Grace who had it right and was bathing in the border. I love Grace. She never leaves me alone, following me and standing at my feet when I sit in the garden. I mean when I sit on a chair in the garden. Not when I sit on the actual garden, as in soil! I am going to stick out my scrawny old neck and say that I think the chicken shack occupants will all settle down and become great friends. If not, I’ll sort it.

I need to find my enthusiasm! The blackcurrant bushes are weighed down with ripe fruit and ditto the gooseberry bushes. I need to pick them and make jam. I also need to use up all the eggs that Grace has laid and make a batch of Victoria sponges for the freezer. I feel in limbo. Like I’ve my lost my get-up-and-go. Too many hours driving up the motorway and hospital visiting? Too many hours spent worrying about warring chucks?

I’m sure it will return – but I don’t think it will be today. I guess I could make a start and go and find the jam jars from the shed at the top of the garden – that’s if I don’t mind getting drenched?

Actually, I think I’ll just get off my butt and go and make those damn cakes. There is always the cake-mixture bowl to look MB900283877forwards to!

Take care my lovelies x

Fancy A Jog In 30 Degrees Heat … Wearing A Fur Coat?

Hi All

The weekend has been quiet – and hot. Chea has spent most of it languishing in the garden – usually the neighbour’s. The one who lives under the conifer hedge. She’s a big girl now and can scale the six-foot fence and squeeze through tiny holes in the hedge without a backward glance. She has also, it appears, stopped serious lurches at the chickens, but that could just be a ‘heat’ thing and she will resume when the weather cools?

Dust still isn’t right. I think she is attempting to come back into lay. Yesterday I had to witness the despicable sight of her devouring a baby frog in two swipes.  Such cruel creatures. It made me feel sick.

Keeping cool with a dust bath!
Keeping cool with a dust bath!

The whole garden has been rearranged for the benefit of the chucks. Saturday saw the temperature up to 30 degrees – too hot for creatures in feathers and fur coats. If I ever had any doubt that Richard cares for the animals it was squashed when I saw him rigging up the very large, floor standing fan, in Dust’s side of the shed. There isn’t an outside run on that side and she was hot and open-beaked. It has probably cost us in excess of £20 over the weekend in electricity just to keep a chicken, that’ll probably die anyway, cool. However, I consider it worth it and I can think of little worse than an animal overheating and not being able to do anything about it.

Obviously there has been the steady stream of dick-head morons trailing by the house, dressed in shorts and vests, dragging dogs along in the mid-day heat. Can you imagine trotting along on melting, boiling tarmac? Can you imagine wearing a fur coat and running down the street in 30 degrees heat. I personally think that this is an horrendous form of animal cruelty and that owners should be shot at dawn – no – at midday, standing in the sun, wearing a real animal pelt and that way I could doubly despise them. I’d sell tickets for that. I need to move on …

We were  a little stuck for ideas on Sunday and so, with shades on the chuck cage and Dust’s fan blowing, we toddled off to a car boot which is held in the lovely market town of Melton Mowbray. Richard wasn’t keen. He loathes car boots, except for the burger bit, and he isn’t keen on getting up at the crack of dawn either. I say the crack of dawn but by the time he had surfaced from his pit I’d already attended to Chea, the chucks, washed the bathroom floor and watered the garden. He merely dragged his body down the stairs, struggled into his boots and picked up the car keys.

Two miles down the road and I enquired, ‘Phew, it’s hot already, what does the temperature gauge say?’

He blearily looked at the gauge and said, ‘eight point three.’

I turned, frowning, to look at him. He was staring  ahead.

‘Eight point three?’ I exclaimed. ‘Eight point three!’

‘Er …yeah,’ he said.

‘I think you’ll find that’s the time! You’re looking at the clock!’

‘Oh, is it?’ he said. ‘Well what do you expect. I’m not awake yet.’

This, frankly, wasn’t very reassuring seeing as how he was driving the car! All things considered I think we were lucky to make it there in one piece. It was a waste of time anyway because the stuff they were selling was stuff I wouldn’t even put in my garden shed! Not to worry – it was a nice ride out – kinda!

On the way back I suggested that we stop off at Next to see if they had any vest-tops left in their sale. Richard did at least attempt to hid his horror at the suggestion and once again we had the old discussion of, ‘what time do they open on a Sunday?’  Richard said ten. I said I thought that was wrong and that it was eleven.

We pulled up just before ten and waited for them to open. When they didn’t we ventured to the door to look at the opening times info. Eleven! I fall for it every time. He always convinces me that shops open at ten on Sundays …and they don’t! Even I  couldn’t be bothered to sit there for an hour so I had the bright idea of popping to Asda to get the sugar for the blackcurrant jam that I’ll need to be making shortly. And that my friends was the height of it for another weekend. Riveting hey? You can see now why mucking out chicken pooh tends to be the highlight of my life, can’t you?

I’m going to continue with my novel this week. Ha ha ha ha. Well I’m going to try. I bought  another plug in memory stick thing yesterday. It is in the form of an elephant. You remove his body from his feet and you have your plug in. Hey presto! I should tell you that choosing this sent Richard nuts. He stood waiting in Asda’s aisle, rolling his eyes (not literally) whilst I palmed the elephant one, and then the koala bear, and then the tiger etc. Well, it’s a very personal thing, isn’t it? In the end I chose the elephant because elephants never forget and I’ll always remember to back up my novel on him. Perfectly logical … in my mind.

Off now to write …HPIM3034

Oh, just need to hang out the bedding first …and THEN off to write …

Take care my lovelies x

No Boiling Water Or Ripped-Up Petticoats Required …

Hi All

Well the people at the farm certainly weren’t stretching the truth when they said Maran and Flight were point of lay because yesterday afternoon Maran laid her very first egg, just four days after being here. And how proud was she? Lordy. The peaceful, summer afternoon was shattered by her piercing announcement of the event, shouted out in the loudest chicken speak imaginable. And of course, Flight was so massively impressed that she had to join in as well.

I was there at the moment of nesting and egg dropping. Well, I am the proud mum after all and she may have found herself in difficulties and I’d have had to boil water and rip up petticoats  and such like …or is that just for childbirth portrayed in ancient films?

The first egg!
The first egg!

The egg is a perfect first effort, small and perfectly formed. I have to admit to actually being quite fond of Maran already. She may launch the odd sword-like thrust at Flight, now and then, but she is the sweetest chuck and lets me stroke her and feed her by hand …but then, so does Flight. I’m really happy with the way they are settling in. Of course Dust still has them both firmly on her agenda and thinks nothing of running the length of the lawn to attack them. As I said before – baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day and bonds won’t form immediately either.

My brother called in yesterday afternoon and we sat on the lawn next to the pond chatting away. Suddenly Chea appeared and launched herself into the shrubbery and a frog leapt out. She was most interested, never having come across such a slimy creature before and jumped on it. I shrieked and demanded that my brother move the frog before it was murdered by Chea and she took a nibble of it and started manically salivating again. He just looked at me like I’d suggested he catch a sabre toothed tiger with his bare hands and I had to grab Chea from off the top of the frog, with my eyes shut, and go and put her in the house.

This is the same unsupportive brother that I was moaning about yesterday for not downloading my books. The same brother who shares one teabag between two mugs. Well I got my own back on him for that because that’s exactly what I did. Two mugs. One teabag. Ha ha. And I had the first swish and squeezing. His tea looked like dish water. That’ll teach him to mess with his big sister.

Back to the subject of frogs. I noticed, a couple of days ago, that the tadpoles are now baby frog-lets and no bigger than my small finger nail. They hop precariously around the edge of the pond and I fear that one or two may well get taken by the chucks if their paths inadvertently cross. It’s a real battle of life and death in my garden! The balance can tip from heaven to hell in the blinking of an eye.

The garden produce is doing exceptionally well. The blackcurrant are now ripening, so I figure it is sugar buying time. I’m going to make jam this year. Last year it was wine. This year it’s jam – quite a lot of jam – looking at the potential yield that is weighing down the bushes almost to ground level.

The strawberries are also doing well. I saw a lovely strawberry flan thing on my blogging friend’s site, so I’ve bought the flan base and some good old reliable quick gel and I’m going to throw a few ripe strawberries into that – in time for the arrival of the wrecking crew (grandchildren) in the morning. I’m sure it will be met with disappointed faces because it won’t be chocolate. And I’m also sure that Richard – out of the kindness of his heart – will manage to polish it off in a couple of sittings.

Right my little poppets, I must dash, I have a busy day today and you know what they say – time and tide wait for no man (or woman). Have a super-duper weekend and remember – always turn to face the sun and shadow will always fall behind you.

Take care my lovelies x

Flight, looking more confident and settled.
Flight, looking more confident and settled.