Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Cautionary tales

Thank you for all of your plaster well wishes. It was an absolute shocker in many ways, but as I always aim not to make you feel ill (pretty much my tagline) I shall not go into all, or indeed any, of the gory detail. Suffice to say, you may want to avoid them like the plague. And they are not like other plasters when you come to peel them off, they are more like some incredibly thin second skin that sticks like the devil so that you can't even find the edge.

The dog was a little bit sick the other morning (sorry, a touch of grossness there, but bear with me, I have yet another cautionary tale) and was being very dramatic, as is the way with pretty much everyone in this house. He sat down sadly on his walk, gazing into my eyes as though he was trying very hard to communicate something. He kept stretching oddly and when we got home he went and laid out flat on the patio in the manner of roadkill.

We all immediately panicked that he'd swallowed something else and that it had become lodged somewhere, so he was whisked off to the vet, where he sat shaking under the fire extinguisher - he does not have happy memories of them now. When he was a puppy it was all tasty treats and cuddles, but now it's more a question of squeezing and inserting and quite frankly he does not like them any more.

They decided his tummy was tender and they'd give him an ultrasound. He was slid off across the floor as he won't walk anywhere there. To cut a long story short, they weren't quite happy with the ultrasound, so they did an x-ray too for good measure, but in the end decided they couldn't see anything and it was probably an upset tummy. They'd given him painkillers, then a sedative, then a drip, plus some medication to bring home AND IT ALL CAME TO SIX HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FOUR POUNDS. Needless to say he is all back to normal now and happy as a clam.

I bought him a new basket (see vomit above) which he does not care for at all. It is big and thick and bouncy with an adverse camber that he can't get used to. To be fair, I have slippers which are exactly the same. They're too thick and I feel as though I am constantly rolling off of them and being as I'm fairly clumsy as it is I've only worn them about twice all winter and one of those times I fell on the stairs in them.

The Easter hols so far have been all about things on wheels. Boys really do love things on wheels don't they. The littlest boy is scooting everywhere, while the middle boy is biking. And if they're not actually doing it, they're talking about it. It is all far too dangerous for my liking, but I am trying to be laidback about it all. The littlest boy would like a bmx bike really. I was watching someone on one the other day, thinking they're quite nice, maybe I should allow him one. Then someone knocked their tooth out. And today I saw a someone with several front teeth missing. I have gone back to my normal and natural state of high anxiety and nobody is allowed to do anything.

Monday, 8 April 2019


Photos from a visit to Wells, England's smallest city. Spring was in the air, blossom, bird song, people already wearing shorts, you know how it is. I have to be prised out of my coat at the end of May. I'd love to be one of those people who can swan around in a t-shirt in April without a care in the world, but try as I might it just isn't me. I am not a hardy soul.

Some of you had questions about the news items from last time. The fatberg was sent to a plant to be converted into electricity. Apparently you can also turn them into biodiesel. The duckling thing works like this (I think). Fertilised birds' eggs don't start developing until momma bird starts incubating them. So she can lay an egg and go out for the day, leaving it all cold and alone in its nest. Then next day she might lay another one, and off she goes again. And on and on until she has all the eggs ready. Then she sits down and stays on the nest and they warm up and off they go.

So the fertile supermarket egg waits happily in its box until a boy with an incubator comes along and pops it in to warm. Then he keeps it constantly warm and turns it five times a day and in a month or so, bingo, duckling. So no need to worry that you're going to crack an egg and a duckling will drop out into your cake mixture.

The Easter hols have started in fine style. The littlest boy fell off of his scooter and took (another) chunk out of his leg. He is fundamentally opposed to plasters, so I persuaded him that the thing I had was a dressing and not a plaster at all. It is some sort of new-fangled thing, which I stuck on without properly reading the instructions first. It is oddly sticky over its entire surface, which doesn't bode well if it needs to be peeled off. And it's the peeling off part that he's fundamentally opposed to. And he's also slightly allergic to some plasters. So I am rather wishing I hadn't slapped it on now. I can't see it ending well.

The day was a whirlwind of bikes and scooters and boys and food preparation and laundry and dog walking and I am sat here thinking, blimey, that was only day 1. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but somehow it always seems a bit daunting at the beginning. And then at the end I'm always wishing it would go on for longer.

I am working up to a craft project - one of those nice noticeboard things. I'll let you know how it goes. I tried some crochet the other day. You will remember the ball of wool that was sitting on the shelf. Well, I decided it would look nice as a scarf in one of those lovely ripple patterns. I wrote down the instructions and off I went.

Sigh. It is obviously not supposed to look like this. I have zero patience for fiddly things that go wrong, so it has all been wound back up and I am sulking. Everyone else makes it look so easy.

Hope all is well with you. Any good plans?

Saturday, 30 March 2019

My take on the big news of the week

Looking back at recent posts I see almost every photo is of brown woods or a brown dog or a brown dog in the brown woods. I shall try and do better.

The river was higher than I've ever seen it last week, a spring tide with a bore that came right up to the sea defence.

The weather has been divine, no? I pottered in the garden this afternoon when I should have been working. It was lovely, but it means that the work is still sitting there looking at me. I top-dressed the blueberries, which didn't get done last year. Hopefully there will be a good crop this year.

The picture of Bertie is a morning one. He likes to paddle in the stream with his cocker spaniel chum, then if it's sunny he lies down in a warm spot to dry his paws. He was two today, can you believe. We gave him a yak's milk chew and a few good walks.

I never did tell you about the puppies and the duckling, and in the light of all the hysterical political news I feel the time is right. I was reading The Daily Mail in the barber's, a while back and the whole centre of it was devoted to stolen dogs who had been found again by their owners. Honestly, I was practically in tears, it was heartwarming. Some had been gone for ages, but they still knew their home and their people.

The other highlight was the story of a boy who hatched a duckling from a box of Waitrose duck eggs. Yes he did! They had a picture and everything. Apparently he heard that you could hatch a chick from a supermarket egg, so he got an incubator from Ebay and gave it a go. He ran through all sorts of eggs with no success, then ended up with Waitrose duck eggs, and guess what, duckling! It was beyond cute. Apparently the testing for whether the ducks are boys or girls can be flawed and sometimes a boy duckling slips through. The duck was going off to live on a nice farm somewhere where he could have other duckling friends to play with. This is the sort of news we want I feel, not Laura Kuenssberg hyperventilating or the poor chap who's been standing outside of Westminster for the past three months in a big coat with a heavy cold.

Of course, the really big news of the week was the eradication of the Sidmouth fatberg. I know UK friends will know all the details, but in case it has passed anyone from further afield by, in brief, a ginormous solidified mass of fat was found in the sewer under Sidmouth esplanade in December. It was 210 feet long! The biggest fatberg South West Water had ever seen and apparently they were all really surprised.

They sent their team ('confined space specialists') down there with breathing apparatus (dangerous gases) and pickaxes and for eight weeks they chipped away at it, sucking it out bit by bit into 36 tankers, each holding 3,000 gallons until it was all gone. The story has everything: heroism, perseverance and triumph against a beast of giant proportions. These are the people who should be running the country and if it comes to it, they have my vote.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Communicating without words

Thank you for all of your photo-editing suggestions. I am feeling my way around Photoscape at the moment, although it's rather trial and error and the photos are bigger than normal.

It's been a nicely productive week here, after the mad driving up and down to the forest last week. The peach tree is blooming, I have been drying washing on the line and the tomato seeds are up. Spring, no?

I have given up coffee, which you may recall I started drinking back last summer. I feel heaps better without it. I was about to make myself a cup the other day, but I read up about it a bit first and realised that I get lots of the negative things it can cause. I really do feel quite unwell when I drink it. I've been drinking a mug or two of green tea every day instead and I have my appetite back and all is good. Coffee does have rather a siren call though, doesn't it.

I have been happily cooking nice things for everyone, after a rather lacklustre period of thinking I just don't want to eat anything. Does anyone else have that thing where a child sidles up while they're cooking, peers over their shoulder and says, after a dramatic pause, Is it supposed to look like that? Probably just me. The littlest boy is being vegetarian for Lent which is nice. He has give up the few meaty things that he likes, which has been just enough sacrifice to make it meaningful.

The internet has taken to showing me adverts for Chanel jewels. I love its optimism. Internet purchases that I am actually considering are a bargain pack of cotton cleaning cloths, two yak's milk dog chews, a secondhand copy of Scrivener for Dummies and a pair of the stretchy tight-like things that hold shin pads in place when you're playing football. Not a jewel in sight.

There is a new dog parlour in town. You can actually see the dog being groomed on the table inside. There was a very silky show cocker in there today. He looked right at me very intensely and I could actually hear his thoughts: Help. Help! GET ME OUT OF HERE. I am wondering if it is the right thing to be showing the general public the fear and loathing element of dog grooming.

Is it my imagination, or are acronyms out of control? I am increasingly having to Google things like DIP, PoDs and JTM and then getting all confused when there are twenty possible options. I have a client who likes to use jargon as well, so half the time I have to actually translate his emails before I can understand them.

I have a relaxing-ish weekend planned. Bird survey, dog walk, football and cricket practice/reading time. I have new ball of wool that I am contemplating. It has been looking at me from the shelf for a few days now, trying to communicate what it wants to be. I think it's saying The same scarf that you always make but I can't be sure.

Any good plans yourselves?

Saturday, 16 March 2019


You may be relieved to know that I only have one photo today. My laptop was tweaked by the computer person who solves all of my technological difficulties and alas Picasa is gone. I used Picasa, free photo-editing software, to reduce the image size as I seem to remember that Blogger only lets you have a certain amount of free space.

It turns out that Picasa is no more. Does anyone have any free software they can recommend? I will probably end up with Photoshop on here, as the biggest boy uses it for his photography, but to be honest I want something incredibly simple that I can just reduce the image size with and maybe do the odd crop. I don't spend long messing about with my pictures, so the easier the better.

There was a hairy moment when I got my laptop back and all of my stored passwords (naughty, naughty, I know) had gone and I had no idea how to get back into my blog. It made me realise how attached I am to it, my little record of days with the urchins. Anyway, I am back, so that's good. I'm probably still locked out of a few things, but I'm trying not to over-tech myself all in one go.

The urchins have been all about the woods this week. The littlest boy dressed up as a Ranger's Apprentice for World Book Day. He and the middle boy have been loving all of the John Flanagan books. He wore his cloak out to the woods as well, although it all went horribly wrong on the rope swing when the dog tried to jump and catch it in his teeth and then it got tangled up under his feet and half-strangled him, so he took it off in the end.

He somehow got a speck of woodland in his eye and ended up at the Eye Hospital the next day. They were absolutely brilliant and got it out in a trice, I honestly can't praise them enough.

The middle boy has been racing about on bike trails and the biggest boy has spent the week on a nature reserve in the woods which was pretty amazing by all accounts. He saw wild boar piglets, dormice nests, hawfinches and a woodcock, all new stuff, so he was happy. Going back to school next week is going to be very tame. I rather fell in love with the woodland as well, driving through it every day to take him there. We'll definitely be back.

It was quite a long drive each day though, and rather ate into the work day, so I'm a bit frantic now and looking forward to a peaceful week to get my head down next week. Although I am probably tempting fate by saying that. Hope all is well with you. I shall be back with photos if I find some easy software.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Down and back up again

Thank you lovelies one and all for your cheering comments on my last post. I have read them and re-read them and I shall come back to them again when I need to. They honestly helped, so thank you.

I bit off more than I could chew this evening. In an idle moment, not long before urchin bed-time I took it into my head to take everything off this big bookcase we have and mend it (it was leaning sideways under the pressure of all the books) and then pop everything back on, all in a quick half hour.

Even as I proposed the idea I knew it was madness. For starters it took ages just to get everything off of it. Then I tried tipping it over. The children watched in horror as I was nearly squashed flat, and not one of them made a move to help me, not even the big one with all the muscles. Incidentally, he can lift me up, and that is no mean feat I can tell you. He was lifting the littlest boy the other morning by putting his hands under his armpits and lifting him straight up. I said, 'Ooh, now do me,' and I'm blowed if he didn't. I shot straight up into the air. I have to say he dropped me rather sharply though. I wasn't expecting it and my brain slopped about in my head a bit.

Anyway, I digress, back to the bookcase. I tipped it over, then the littlest boy came to my rescue. Shelves fell out (I know, I know, I should have taken them out before tipping. I am wise to this now.) I was starting to get a bit hot and cross by this point, then it turned out Someone had borrowed my hammer and hadn't put it back and was not owning up to it. In the end I had to use half a brick from the garden, which didn't improve my mood at all. I am not at my best right before the urchin bed-time.

Underneath the bookcase was a revelation. Eighteen marbles, four magnets, three playing cards, two Lego heads and five hundred Cheerios. I hammered and muttered and hoovered and dusted and eventually got the thing back in its place with only a slight lean. It took forever to put all the books back and somehow they seemed to have expanded. It was like a reverse Tardis effect. I should know better than to attempt this sort of thing at tense moments of the day, but I've been reading Marie Kondo and you know how that goes. Although I didn't get rid of much. I did huff and puff about the rubbish some people write. Then I said, 'Not you Philip,' and blew some kisses to Philip Pullman whom I love very much. 'And not you either Malorie'. And of course then there are the modern classics like I Swapped My Brother On The Internet which for some reason is a firm favourite of the littlest boy.

I am feeling much calmer now that order has been restored. It's the sock drawer next. Marie Kondo and spring are a match made in heaven no? Don't worry, I'll run out of steam soon. Remind me to tell you about the puppies and the duckling next time. I haven't forgotten, but I think you've put up with enough words for now. Wishing all a good week. CJ xx

Thursday, 28 February 2019

On and on

All sorts of rubbish stuff going on here and it's getting me down quite frankly. I am deploying my usual trick of taking my head and putting it somewhere else entirely as often as I can. I'm becoming a master at not thinking about the hard stuff. Please don't tell me it's not healthy.

I have cast aside a book that is not all lightness and fluff and replaced it with something magical. My diet is absolutely appalling. Every day I think I'lll do better, then the next day I fail. It's not like me. I've eaten masses of vegetables all my life, but now, hopeless.

I didn't mean to come here and moan. I had all sorts of things to say about puppies and ducklings and sunshine, but I shall save them for another day. I just thought I should show you the snowdrops while they are still snowy. We'll be on to the next thing before you know it. Daffodils, crocuses and cheeriness I hope.