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



No Shaking Of The Tail Feathers Here!

Hi All

Do you know that feeling? The one when you are bursting with excitement and have to rush around like a headless chicken (probably not the best comparison all things considered) shouting your exciting news and it falls on indifference and deaf ears? Yes? No? Well I do.

Chea barely batted an eye at the revelation that she was now ‘in print.’ Couldn’t have cared less in fact. I did see her at the edge of the pond with her nose pressed against a bewildered frog but I don’t think she was passing on the news, just terrorising the poor thing. It escaped into the water and she toddled off to roll in the cat mint. I’m sure she has spent most of the summer stoned!

The chucks couldn’t give a toss either. They are more concerned in throwing out feathers right, left and centre and going for the grandmother of all moults. Flight has completely lost her tail feathers and now has a ‘rounded off’ bum. I haven’t told her that it’s not a good look. She’s a bit sensitive to ridicule. Little’s feathers (white) are falling like snow and I fear I may end up with two chucks that look like they are ready for the table. Hush my mouth!

Each morning, when I go to pooh pick, I am welcomed by a layer of feathers and a slimmer chuck. I just hope they feather-up before the weather turns even more miserable. I can’t see the feathered floor without it reminding me of that John Denver song, Grandma’s Feather Bed. Do you know the one? ‘We didn’t get a lot of sleep but we had a lotta fun …on Grandma’s feather bed.’

 I love the imagery of that song …hound dogs, a front porch, old ones chatting, kids bouncing on grandma’s huge feather bed, giggling, etc. I digress.

So, I told the chucks that they are also in print. Flight emitted a fluid pooh that landed on my foot and Little flapped off and massacred a spider that was dangling from a rose bush.

I thought about discussing it with the tomatoes in the greenhouse but then I thought, ‘get a grip you prat,’ so I did.

It is almost that time of year. That time when I walk out into the garden and ‘feel’ it. That something in the air that is quite, quite different. The end of summer and the beginning of autumn. I can’t describe it.

It’s been a pretty crap summer really. Nothing in the garden knows if it’s coming or going. What hasn’t been flooded out, dried out, eaten and chomped to death, has been flattened by the wind or Chea. She’s either rolling around on her back like some sexy temptress or leaping up and down through the veg patch chasing frogs. I may ‘do’ more flowers next year …or not …whatever.

We have started to stock up the log shed. A palette load arrived in the week – even though I told Richard in no uncertain terms NOT to order them. He’s such a sod. He sits on eBay every night wondering what the hell he can order next. My bum barely has time to settle on a chair before some delivery person is banging on the front door with a package for him. I dare not mention that I would like, or need, anything because four days later it arrives at the door.

He is currently buying every boxed-set series known to man. We/I have worked my/our way through Breaking Bad, True Blood, Pirates, Game of Thrones, Banshee, House of Cards, Homeland and Dexter. AND I’ve probably missed out a few! Oh yes, there’s also the first two seasons of Hannibal waiting for viewing …after Dexter. I like to think that I’m a busy, active type of person but frankly, looking at that list, I’m not sure any more.

In my defence I should say that I rarely watch anything on mainstream TV. A couple of soaps – but even they ‘share’ the same plot. And the plots are pathetic half of the time. So, I guess Richard can carry on ordering the boxed-sets?

And, of course, I’m currently working on the two children’s books. Sort of. Now and then. In between rescuing frogs, singing Grandma’s Feather Bed and stacking logs!

Now I need to go on You Tube and listen to the bloody thing…

And then, later, when Richard gets home, we have to start dismantling the rockery around the pond. A major dropping of the water level has recently occurred. But we have now, hopefully, tracked it down to the pipe that runs from the filter box to the waterfall. Unfortunately, said pipe runs through a rockery so we have to gird our loins and dig out the darn thing. I will help – from a safe distance of a few metres – and point out with a long stick which rock needs to be moved, and in which order, so that an avalanche doesn’t occur…and also because I dread to think how many frogs, toads and newts are living under those rocks. Richard is as keen to do this as he would be to stick pins in his privates but it has to be done. Hopefully, we can track down the leak to somewhere in the rockery otherwise it’s a HUGE job which involves removing all of the plants, the surrounding rockery, the entire liner and three ancient goldfish, that are the size of small whales. I mean, where on earth could you put them? It’s not like they can fit in a bucket. And I doubt they could even fit in the bath …well, actually that would be impossible because we don’t have a bath and I doubt they would appreciate a walk-in shower?

After Grandma’s Feather Bed I’d better toddle off to check on the water level…

Take care my lovelies x


Go Boil Your Head …

Good Morning

Good news – the missing orfe appeared. It slowly floated into view yesterday afternoon as I stood by the pond attempting to unblock the stone toad which spouts, or not, water into the pond. We had  a dozen fish in the pond twenty years ago but the numbers have dwindled to three orfe and one goldfish. They used to produce fry but not any more. I think these survivors are same-sex  guys or gals. HPIM2758

I’d decided that when these remaining fish pop off I wouldn’t restock the pond, but instead turn off the pump, save on the energy bills and just leave it as a natural wildlife oasis. But now I’m not so sure. I thought, yesterday, that it might be nice to start again with another dozen babies? I have never added to the pond because new fish and fresh plants can bring disease. A decision for another day.

I was thinking this morning, in the early hours, about the kind of person I am. Wondering if I am a little too independent? Can you be?

I’ll give you an example.

In the last days of pregnancy my blood pressure shot up through the roof, mainly because we had just moved into our new cottage and I refused to let go of the paint brush or stop retrieving chucks from the farmer’s field, by way of climbing over a barbed-wire fence. I was taken into hospital for a week. It did zilch for the blood pressure because I never stopped fretting about my animals and would my husband look after them properly. They let me out at the weekend (short-staffed) and just before I was due back in on the Sunday evening I went into labour, due I am sure, to me moving a massive pot urn, which my husband had brought back from his two-year stay in Africa, all the way up the stairs and on to the landing.

My husband dropped me off at the hospital and I then spent the next sixteen hours in agony. And I mean agony.

The staff was overworked, tired and couldn’t, it appeared, come to the same conclusion to the outcome of my labour. They asked continuously if they should fetch my husband and each time I said no. I’ve always been this way. A sole battler. Matt was born at eight am on the Monday morning He looked liked a raspberry. They’d had to suck him out by vacuum extraction. He stared at me, unblinkingly, from his fish-tank cot and if the little guy could have spoken I reckon he would have said, ‘Of all the mothers in all the world … YOU’RE my mother?’

The point I am making is this, I had Matt at eight in the morning and I didn’t tell his father until four in the afternoon. There was no point at which I wanted him there. I needed to do it on my own. Give birth. Have time to see that Matt was OK. That’s strange isn’t it? I don’t really know why that is. Perhaps I’ve inherited my father’s stiff upper-lip gene. Maybe I’m just weird. Or maybe I’m scared of dropping the stiff upper-lip around the people who know me? As they say …whatever!

Then I got to thinking about my ex husband.

We first met when he came out to examine a horse of mine. He wasn’t a horse vet. Pretty scared of them, actually. We got chatting and we toddled off to the cinema on our first date . I met him at the cottage where he lived. I thought, on arrival, that we would be late for the cinema because he was dressed in a non-ironed pink shirt and purple cords and I thought he still needed to change. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Would anyone go on a first date dressed like that? Don’t they say dress to impress?

I needed the loo before we left so I tottered off in my cool dress and posh heels. I never wear a dress now. I don’t possess one. I found the bathroom and almost had a heart attack. In the bath, soaking in something foul, was a badger pelt. He explained later that he collected ‘things’ and that he’d come across the dead badger two nights ago, on a country road, when he’d been on call.

He had a weaver bird’s nest, again from his stay in Africa and many trinkets. But his love was for skulls. He would often be found, deliriously boiling the flesh from a curlew’s head or from some other ‘precious’ find.

We were boating in Cambridge and came across a dead swan. The temptation to take its head was huge but not realistic. Anyone finding the decapitated creature would have assumed that was why it had died. Thugs. Bastards. Unholy shits. So that was a no no.

He was also an entomologist and had many collections of pinned creatures.

Funny – the things your mind digs up from the depths and brings to the surface for you to have another little think about. I think my thoughts are random. Is that a random thought?

The washing machine is bleeping at me. Back to Earth. Nothing more grounding than pegging out pants and socks. And that’s another thing. When Richard comes home today he is in for a roasting. How many times do I say (bellow) don’t leave your socks screwed-up in balls and inside out? Do all men do this? Should I really have to poke around in his smelly socks? Lord, the boxers are challenging enough.

Take care my lovelies x



A Shortage Of Tits In General?

Good Morning

One of my orfe is missing. At least I think it is missing. It didn’t raise a fin and say, ‘Here!’ when I risked my life by walking up the garden last night to check on them. I say risked my life because my garden, as night falls, is a scary place. If you don’t want to tread on slugs or crunch snails it’s best not to wander too far from the beaten track. And then there are the frogs. Little jumpers zooming all over the place. Have you ever stepped on a frog? Not nice and the guilt felt is unbelievable as the poor thing limps off casting backward glances that clearly say, ‘Why can’t you look where you are going?’HPIM2757

I say I ventured up the garden to check on the fish but that isn’t exactly true. I ventured to check on the chucks. I had this suspicion that they were roosting outside. This suspicion was formed by the fact that there really isn’t enough chuck-pooh in the sleeping box first thing in the morning.

Is this necessary, I hear you say?

Of course, is my answer. It’s what comes out of an animal that tells you what is going on inside an animal. But that wasn’t the point in this instance. I didn’t want the daft creatures to roost outside and be frightened to death if a fox or cat should approach through the darkness.

My suspicions were unfounded as both chucks were tucked up in the sleeping box, clucking bedtime stories to each other and planning bug-murdering tactics for the morning.

They have been brilliant egg-layers until recently but just now Dust isn’t laying and looks like a plucked vulture and Beautiful is laying a thin-skinned egg which they are having great delight in bursting and eating. They have access to more grit than the local council but still the soft-skinned egg appears. If these chucks were in a ‘production unit’ they would have been culled months ago.HPIM2761

I spent time in the garden yesterday titivating – as you do – although there isn’t a great deal to titivate. The nights are still cold and we have had a ground frost for the last three nights. The spring onions haven’t yet sprung and the radish have yet refused to push off their soil duvet. Early days.

I did have a chat with the neighbour – intentionally. I needed his opinion on staking, or not, green beans. Bit of a wrong move because once he enters the stage there is no getting him off it. Perched, as I was, on the ledge of the greenhouse base, I almost fell off as he informed me, ‘I’ve not seen many tits this year.’

I self-consciously wrapped my vest a little tighter around my upper-torso and murmured, ‘No?’

‘No,’ he said.

At this point I mumbled something about having to go and look for Chea who had become positively bored with the conversation and wandered off.

‘I went to a talk on tits,’ he said.

‘Sorry?’ I said.

‘I went to a talk on tits. It was so fascinating. I discovered more in an hour than I ever knew.’

At this point Chea cruised up thus wrecking my excuse for cutting short this extremely fascinating conversation on tits.

‘Did you know that they are attracted to ‘moving’ food and that you have to change their nuts every three days because they like fresh nuts?’

At this point I’m wondering just who the nut is here? Fortunately, and I don’t know how, the conversation swung to dandelions. Apparently he  had lots. So never being one to miss an opportunity, or a way out, I said, ‘Dandelions? Oh brilliant. Could I have some for the chickens?’

Good move because off he trotted, returning with an armful of dandelion leaves, which I graciously took and bombed off to give them to the chucks.

Richards mother has sent a packet of sunflower seeds for me to grow for her. I’m assuming I have to use my own compost and plant pots? Like the two-dozen cosmos I am also growing for her? I’ll pop them in today and they can join my other babies in the greenhouse.HPIM2751

It is another sunny day so I’m off to have another look for that missing fish, hang out the bedding and await the riveting conversation from beyond the hedge.

Joking apart – if there is ANYTHING you want to know about tits (of all sizes and kinds) just ask  – and if I can’t help I do know a man who can.

Take care my lovelies x