Friday, 29 September 2006


I think it is fair to say that I have, actually, fucked up quite badly.

Luckily one of the nice things about being married to someone who is not a nobber is that that's okay.

Kind of.

Even when you realise just three months after moving house that

  • actually, you were so desperate to get out of the Grime City that is Wallasey
  • that in order to get away from your crazy-like-a-fox next door neighbour
  • and to get settled before hypothetical children are placed with you at the behest of your adoption agency
  • and in a bout of chronic homesick-for-the-countryness

.... you bought the first house that you liked, in a village that you liked, in the countryside.

Instead of making a more thorough plan to actually buy somewhere with a few acres where you could put down some roots, both literally and metaphorically, for the future.

Finding it difficult to admit that I have made a mistake is always a bit of a challenge for me. I suppose that starting big is as good a way to go as any.

Oh dear.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

haitus, if that is how it is spelt

I am shattered. We've been rewriting the business plan today and it's gone pretty well; but all my writing juices have dried up. (Sorry, that's a deeply unpleasant image, but see, I am too dessicated to change it).

I have loads of interesting things to write about - for example - chickens; chicken houses; derelict farmhouses lacking electricity, water or cess pits; B going to Australia for three weeks; the three-foot high face appearing on the bedroom wall; triumphantly rearranging the feng-shui in the kitchen by moving the wellington boots to a different corner ... but instead I am going to go to bed.


Monday, 25 September 2006

baby crises #1 - #3

The adoption meeting then. Finally.

We've had another crazy-but-nice weekend, catching up with some old friends at a wedding near Silchester. Because of the Chicken Parenting Issues, we had to leave straight away on Sunday morning; but we took half an hour to have a look at the Roman walls, because B had never been. It's an amazing place if you can ever get to visit. The site reeks of age; and also stillness and peace.

It was very, very nice to get away for a while and just chill out together, without having to worry about work, business plans and adoption; although - the meeting in the week went much, much better than previous ones. (See how I segued in smoothly there?!). Although we did spend some of the evening meal swapping Comedy Conception Stories with a friend of a friend who is four months pregnant after trying Clomid for a month. Which I really enjoyed, wierdly. Nice to know that there are other people out there.

I was much less stressed in the adoption meeting this time, and much less defensive. And I think our worker was more relaxed as well. She was very pleased with our homework; and we were able to articulate how frustrated and angry we had become without making her feel as if it was her that we were directing our emotions at. I think that that was part of the problem last session.

So we discussed the things that we had prepared for her; and then we moved on to talk about other things.  For example;  how we make decisions in the relationship; our attitude to education; family traditions; how we'd felt about not being able to conceive naturally.

It felt like we'd covered an enormous amount of ground.

Even more so when we came home and looked at our list of homework for this week again. Before we meet again in a month - after B gets back from Australia - we have to expand on the hobbies and activities our family undertakes as a group; our day to day and weekend activities - when do we fit in cleaning, shopping, gardening? We also have to demonstrate that we understand and value Diversity; and demonstrate our parenting capacity.

Oh, and it goes without saying that another quite big chunk of the session was "The Crisis Management Game!!!! With Bigger and Better and More Impossible to Visualise Crises!!!!"

We seem to play this every session. Possibly because we aren't giving her the answers that she needs to demonstrate that we are aware of what we are getting in to.

With apologies to anyone who does this as a job - it is ridiculous. We make up possible crisies. And then we say how we would deal with them.

I asked for one or two examples to help me with my examples. If you see what I mean. So we thrashed out the following:

Crisis One - "Nose Jamming Choking Babies"
Child One has jammed something up it's nose. Simultaneously, for effect, Child Two has stuck it's fingers down it's throat and it turning blue. I am on my own in the house. What do I do?

Crisis Two - "Chicken Pox Toilet Blocking Vomiting Flu Babies"
Child One has blocked the toilet up with paper. There is water all over the place. Child One has gone flying on the slippery floor and knocked itself out cold. Child Two is very young and has chicken pox and is vomiting and is very contaigous. I feel really ill with flu, B is away at work (it is ALWAYS B who is 'away at work' - 'in hospital with a broken toe' - 'run away to join the circus', never me - equal opportunities?! Fuck 'em! Ahem). What would I do?

Crisis Three - "Arm Cutting Chair Throwing Fire Engine Football Babies"
Child One is eight. It is severely disturbed and is throwing chairs at me, and has broken a glass and is starting to cut itself; and threatening anyone who gets close. Child Two is a bit younger and is choking on a toy fire engine. Child Three has to be at football practise in twenty minutes. Again, B is away. The bastard.

I know that these are serious, potential events. I know things like this happen in a worst-case-scenario type situation. I know that they are trying to get us to think around the subject, plan ahead, explore our feeling etc. etc.. But how the hell can you give an honest assessment about what you would do until you are in the thick of it?

And let us just step back for a moment and look at the TV Sitcom (or even a well researched, heart-strings tugging drama) about each of the above - of course providing that the Adoptive Parents reacted in an appropriate manner and everything turned out fine.

This time, we are responding by laughing about it all as a hoop we have to jump through rather than getting pissed off; at the same time as researching the locations of the local A&E and digging out our First Aid certificates.

Oh, also, we need to borrow some kids to practice on. So if anyone would like to get rid of theirs for a weekend, do please let us know.

Tomorrow: Vote-O-Rama! How mad is a person if approximately ten weeks after moving house she starts thinking that she would like to move house again? To a VERY dilapidated farmhouse with two and a half acres (goats!) and an orchard a couple of miles further up the hill?

Thursday, 21 September 2006

beer and firefox

Firstly, anyone else having problems with the site crashing in Firefox? I'm running Firefox on XP and it seems to be okay - but KW, you are running on a Mac, yes? Any feedback gratefully received - IMHO it's very bad manners to maintain a site that isn't completely cross platform ...

in the demijohnSecondly, here are some pictures of beer.

We wanted to try a basic recipe for an 'every day' kind of beer, and after a little judicious googling, we found this one, via a link from Selfsufficientish. I would recommend it.

When ordering the ingredients, we had a bit of confusion about 'malt' and 'spray malt'. They are essentially the same thing; but malt is sticky and sludgy and comes in a jar; and spray malt is powdered, keeps better and comes in a plastic bag. You also only need to use seventy five percent of the amount, according to the really brilliant chap at Stonehelm, who I honestly cannot recommend highly enough. So we used three quarters of a pound instead of a pound.

It seemed to work. We used 'light' spray malt. The end result was quite dry, not too 'hoppy'. We only used the recommended amount of dried hops, and the beer drinking half of the relationship says that he is going to experiment with a few more hops next time.

Overall result: 'A good session beer'.
Cost: Just under a fiver for eight pints.

bottled beerYou don't need to put it in a demijohn - it was just habit, because that's how I do the wine. Next time, we'll probably shove it in a lidded bucket instead - particularly as we are planning to do a couple of gallons.

I think that the beauty of this recipe is that is it really straightforward - it's a basic recipe that you can tweak to suit yourself and your taste. Spray malt comes in various different kinds - light, medium, dark and wheat; which give different flavours and, presumably, strengths.

This is the first time I have had any dealings with beer creation - I am not a great fan, as you may have gathered (although I am partial to the odd pint of Coniston Bluebird on hot days in the summer). I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make and how nice it tasted.

We're going to have a go at a Nettle Beer recipe from Selfsufficientish too, at some point.

Tomorrow: A happy adoption meeting story. For a change :).

Wednesday, 20 September 2006


The adoption meeting that was postponed from last week because we hadn't done enough homework was supposed to be this afternoon; but it's been pushed back again until tomorrow because our worker was in court with another one of her couples and it over-ran.

Between us we have written about five pages of close-set type defining our needs, how we meet them, how our relationship functions and how we will attempt to continue to meet our own needs if we have children placed with us.

I have also written a couple of pages about how I dealt with continuing to share student accommodation with the guy who date raped me, how I felt about that ("So. How did you feel about that, Ally?" "Well ... pretty pissed off, screwed up and angry, actually!"), and how I felt then about Ma not being able to cope with it; and how I feel about that now.

So quite straightforward and unemotive, really.


We have also been doing financial projections and updating the business plan, with a view to getting some finance for business development.

We are both exhausted and have drunk half a bottle of wine each in a vain attempt to promote sleep unpunctuated by dreams of being shut in small shower-rooms without a towel, pursued by and Evil Doctor Who played by David Bowie (me) and llamas (B).

Tomorrow: Pictures of sweet, sweet beer.

Monday, 18 September 2006

just waving

Not drowning, but waving.

Still here! The internet connection is crap in the new office, so no posting from work; and we had people down to visit and a chicken house to make over the weekend.

All very pleasant, but busy. And I'm knackered, the house looks like a bomb's hit it (NOT because of the visitors, I hasten to add, slightly defensively, in case any of them are reading; just because lots of things don't really seem to have a place to live permanently yet); and I'm still a little bit wobbly.

More tomorrow.

Friday, 15 September 2006

excuse me while ...

Not feeling great today - Post Parental Wind-down I suspect. I should probably switch the computer off and go and some something nice and grounding in the garden.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

existential angst

[existential angst]
Is it against the spirit of a blog to commemorate an anniversary with a retrospective, when a blog is essentially a journal that captures the moment and where the style and feel change through time?
[/existential angst]

So, slightly shuffly feetedly (is that a word?) here are a few posts from the last five hundred, over the two years I've been blogging; that I am proud of, that still make me grin to myself, that I feel encapsulate me and mine, or which I think are important.

1. Parents
2. Brewing
3. Family
4. Work
5. Health
6. Ebay
7. Romance
8. Plumbing
9. Sports

I couldn't narrow it down any more.

Also, two ongoing things that I think are important:

Ethical Living Links and Rape and Sexual Assault Support Links. If you feel you have anything that you could contribute to either of these, anonymously if you wish, then please don't hesitate to either leave me a comment or send me an email; or even to link to them if you think it's appropriate.

I should be tweaking someone's website this afternoon. Instead I'm drinking tea, eating cake, reading and talking to my chickens.

Not all at once, obviously.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

one book meme

Swiped from Steg, who swiped from Kate, who swiped from Diddums:

1. One book that changed your life.
It's a cliche, but 'Stranger in a Strange Land' by Robert Heinlen. It brought to my notice that there were people out there for whom nuclear families were not the norm. That and Marion Zimmer Bradley's 'Darkover' series, which also has a society composed of a variety of different family units. Darkover also provided me with the bridge between reading fantasy and reading science fiction - the novels encompass aspects of both.

2. One book you've read more than once.
Lots and lots to choose from here. I re-read pretty much everything I enjoy. And I am a book-hoarder. At the moment, I am re-reading 'A Deepness in the Sky' by Vernor Vinge. He writes really, really good science-fiction. Not 'big space ships and bigger guns' type stuff (the kind of thing that 'smells of boy'), but really thoughtful and well constructed speculative fiction based on various 'what would people do in THIS particular situation'-type hypotheses. I recommend.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island.
Can I have a series? If so, I'd like Dorothy Dunnett's 'Lymond' novels. There are six of them and they are the most complex, engaging and entertaining set of historical novels that I have ever read. They're set in Europe in the first half of the sixteenth century. Francis Crawford of Lymond would certainly be useful to have on on a desert island and I would like him as a companion, even if only to quote poetry at me as I was starving to death. Or if I can't have them, I would like 'The Left Hand of Darkness' by Ursula Le Guin, which in my opinion is one of the best books ever written.

4. One book that made you laugh.
I have just been given 'Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance' by Martin Gurdon. It made both B and I laugh aloud.

5. One book that made you cry.
The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I was in floods and floods at the end.

6. One book you wish you had written.
Probably The Time Traveller's Wife, actually. B has a theory that it might have been written as part of some kind of grieving process. Some of it was so powerful that it left me with a physical weight on my chest.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
'Lord Foul's Bane' and the subsequent series by Stephen Donaldson. The protaganist is a thoroughly unlikeable person, the writing and the plot are unwieldy, badly constructed and hard to follow and the whole thing is depressing in the extreme. They are the only series of books that I have ever thrown away - I felt that it wasn't fair to give them to Oxfam in case someone bought them and felt they had to read them. I would also like to nominate anything by Terry Brooks ('Magic Kingdom for Sale') or Terry Goodkind as being repetitive, clumsy, tripe.

*removes ranting hat and subsides in to seat, palpitating*

8. One book you are currently reading.
'A Deepness in the Sky' by Verner Vinge - re-reading, as above. I'm also reading 'The Englishwoman's Diary' by Harriet Blodgett (really). Made up of various excerpts from womens' diaries from about sixteen hundred onwards, with a little commentary about who the women were.

9 One book you have been meaning to read.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suzannah Clarke. People keep telling me how good it is and I have got as far as getting out of the library (Did I mention I'd joined the library? It comes once a fortnight and parks down by the flats, and there are now five of us in the village who use it.). But I have not yet started it and the library comes back tomorrow; although I think I can renew.

Steal at will and leave me a comment so people can come and visit you.

In other news:

  • I can't catch the bloody cat to look at his head OR to take him to the vet. He sees me coming and legs it up the road.
  • Adoption session was cancelled - we hadn't done enough of our homework to make it worthwhile - and I get the impression she was quite relieved to be able to re-arrange anyway.
  • My parents have left. It was lovely to see them. I am pleased they have gone again. And I hope they come again soon - but maybe only for four nights, rather than five.
  • The two chicks I thought were malformed seem to be sorting themselves out. I think that their legs splayed on the slippery floor of the incubator and they now seem to be getting about much more easily. Yay!
  • B has gone to Edinburgh for a couple of nights.
  • I am about to drink the rest of the elderberry wine.
That is all.

Tuesday, 12 September 2006


This is my five hundreth post.


I was going to make this a 'my favourite five posts of the last two years' -type thingy, but I don't have the time to decide which my favourite five actually ARE today.

Instead, I will leave you with a question.

Do you think my mother might be a Chaos Demon?

Monday, 11 September 2006


Today, I have:

  • Made six jars of marmalade
  • Put off killing two deformed chicks until tomorrow
  • Been given a Cotoneaster
  • Squeezed pus from a cat's head*
  • Hurt my mother's feelings by telling her that if she was a species of poultry, her parenting skills would make her a guinea fowl
  • Helped my father wee in to an empty coffee jar in his wheelchair in a public car park
Tomorrow, we have an adoption meeting.


* Yet again. Vet tomorrow.

chicken marmalade

Ma and Pa arrived on Friday and their car expired on the doorstep. We took it to the garage and it won't be fixed until this evening - so they are staying another night.

I am not quite sat underneath the table whimpering and sucking my thumb: but let us just say that it is wrong to expect two women such as myself and Ma to share a kitchen.


We are having fun though. Well, I am. I think.

Off to Lake Vrnwy now.

Well, after I have bottled the marmalade and Ma has finished weeding the garden.

Oooooh! And we have more chicks. Eight. Maybe nine - one is still hatching and I don't know if it's going to make it. I am debating whether to help it along - but my harder side says that that' a no-no. Survival of the fittest and all that.

That is all.

Friday, 8 September 2006

green with envy

So. Yesterday we spent up to our elbows in muck and bullets, sorting out the new office space. It is a really, really nice room; despite being partially underground.

And being next to the toilet is a *definite* advantage.

No. Really.

It's been redecorated throughout - the entire building has been undergoing a refurb, which is why it's taken so long to get sorted. We still don't have connected data or phone points, but that should be sorted as soon as the plugging-in guy comes back and literally, er, plugs us in.

So all in all, a productive day.

B is doing the rigging for some kind of evening event in Manchester today, with New-Guy Keith. He'll be back tomorrow morning about breakfast time. He's taken a sleeping bag and I'm hoping he'll be able to get some sleep in the Green Room at the venue while the show is on.

The Green Room at this particular place is behind the stage (no surprises there), with a very hard parquet floor; no furniture apart from one sofa put in there because it is far to uncomfortable for the hotel guests to use (I know because I have tried to sleep on it in the past); is freezing and has a not-quite shuttable door that leads in to a disused, very elderly and dirty gents toilet with a cracked window pane, a persistent non-locatable drip and no lightbulb. I think it might be one of the lesser entrances to hell.

My parents are arriving today for the weekend. This is a major, major thing for them; it's a really long way for them to drive - four-ish hours each way - and Dad is not going to be able to manage the stairs. My task once I've posted this is to sort out the study so that I can our two single beds down there for them.

They are bringing their own commode.

In other news:

  • I have invested £10 in a webcam. B is off to Australia for three weeks in October and we though we'd try keeping in touch online.
  • I found a real, live toad in the greenhouse on Wednesday. I have read that this can be interpreted as a sign that ones three-legged toad is working.
  • Did I mention my parents are visiting for the weekend? Ah. Yes. I didn't mention that I am so stressed about it that I want to but a bag on my head and move in to the chicken shed for the duration.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all.

Tuesday, 5 September 2006

accountants, gin and desperation

Today I am sorting out the mess that is our accounts for Sarcastic Accountant to pick through. And I am making Sloe Gin.

And now, here are some pictures of the chicks (click on each pic to go to it's Flickr page, where I've written a description). I have put them out in the greenhouse this morning and they are very busy, catching spiders and trying out their wings.

Speckled Sussexes and Barnvelders

Pekin bantams

Two pekin bantams, a specked sussex, a barnvelder

They are all gorgeous, funny little things; when The Hand From The Sky moves in to view they all rush towards it because it brings them food. Some of them will eat out of my hand - the Sussex and the Barnvelders are particularly fearless.

The Pekins are supposed to make very good pets because they are so gentle - at the moment they are less tame though. I would lay money that one is a cockerel because it is starting to be aggressive to the big ones; rather like ponies, the smaller a chicken is the more character it has :).

We also have four Cream Legbars, which are a bit more flighty - not so tame but much, much busier - they wouldn't stay still long enough for me to take a photo.

The accounts call. Please send chocolate.

Monday, 4 September 2006

paperwork, rabbits and the holy grail

I have been sorting through the teetering mountain of paperwork that has built up since we moved.

I think I've finally got to the bottom of it and paid everyone I should have; including the people who sent us a letter threatening a County Court order. Eeep! "Sorry, we moved house and the mail redirect has been utterly crap" is almost as poor-an excuse as "The dog chewed my homework", despite being true.

I think I might be starting a migraine. So. Question. Two paracetamol, a pint of water and a lie down in a quiet room? Or a large glass of red wine and see what happens? I'm leaning towards two, but validation always welcome.

This week, finally, we have been told that our new office is ready. Carpet, phone lines and all. Yay! Because B is on a gig and I am stranded, car-less, at home with my poultry, R and new-boy Ken are going in tomorrow and Wednesday to move our furniture up from the basement. And then we are all meeting up there on Thursday for our first proper day of work.

I feel like we should be taking bunting. Or cakes. Or something.

It's been a long, frustrating summer with no proper base. I am looking forward to a couple of days filing. I realise that that means that I probably need to get out more; but hell, I haven't done any for over two months and I've forgotten the pain.

In other news: I am considering breeding rabbits for food. Can anyone recommend a good breed to keep? Preferably without red eyes - they remind me of the Killer Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There seems to be much less info round and about on the web on this than, for example, chicken-rearing. Of which, photos tomorrow.

Saturday, 2 September 2006


Let's talk about pants.

Big, up to the chin, badly designed, saggy ladies pants of very plain design and dubious elasticity.

Because seemingly, that is all you can get in a size twenty to twenty-two in the local Tesco we stopped off at on Thursday.

Not, I hasten to add, that I am sharing anything about my pant-size with you.

Because, that is the other problem. During the same shopping trip, I bought two pairs of trousers; one a size sixteen and one a size eighteen. They fit pretty well.

But previous experience has led me to conclude that pants in those sizes are wrong, wrong, wrong. 'Chafing' is a word that could be used in context.

And I like comfortable pants. I have always liked comfortable pants. I feel that for me, a thong is not a viable option. I have tried, several times, with no success. So I normally go for something of medium coverage (so to speak), in a nice non-itchy cotton. Perhaps with a little embroidery. Perhaps plain.

However. Market research presumably clearly shows that women with big arses are not interested in looking pretty. So all that seemed to be available on Thursday were large, flag-sized garments, in white. The kind that come up to your chin if you slump a bit and tug at them; and that sag around the back.

There's a mental image for you.

Everyone reaches a point, sometime in their lives, where they have a Pants Emergency.

I had no option. No-where else was open. So I am now the proud possessor of four pairs of the most ENORMOUS pants I have ever seen.

Let us just say that if I ever need to make, say, a sail for a raft to save me from shipwreck; or a flag to surrender to the gathering hordes of barbarians, I will not be at a loss.

And that is all I have to say today.