Friday, 28 December 2007

survival and handmademeat

Just a quick post so that you know we survived. It had grim moments and lovely moments - Leo was a trooper and kept everyone's spirits up; Ma was pretty miserable, as Pa had been shouting (bellowing, really) every ten minutes for forty-eight hours before we arrived and the sleep deprivation was getting to her. Also her mother died on Boxing Day a few years ago, so it's not a happy anniversary.

However, we cooked the goose, we drank a modicum of cider, Leo liked his spirally-jangly-rattley-mirror-toy and B and I got a smashing wooden egg safe and a stripy turtle-mat.

Now, a blatant advert. As you may know, I am of the greeny-downsizery-small-local-producers-type persuasion.

HandMadeMeat is a group of small-scale farmers who sell small quantities of seasonally available, good quality, non-intensively-reared meat, delivered to your door. The mail-order site is just getting going, although the participants as individuals are all experienced producers. I am going to put a permanent link to them in my side-bar when I get round to re-jiggling my template, but for now - if you like lamb, go make a space in your freezer, then visit them.

Now we are going to take some squidgy fruit to a friend's pigs, deliver some cardboard boxes to a freecycler without a car and post some eBay parcels at the Post Office.

Then we are coming back to have lamb chops and put another layer of paint on the kitchen floor. It's RED! And later, there may be photos.

For now, that is all.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

still crazy

We have Cleaned Out The Chickens. We have Rain Proofed The Pekin Pen. We have Sealed The New Kitchen Floor.

We have Drunk The Gin.

We are Ready.

Tomorrow, we go to Somerset for three nights. On Saturday we go to Wallasey for three nights.

I may blog before the New Year.

I may not.

It's been a crazy old year.

Happy [insert midwinter festival of your choice here], everyone.

Friday, 21 December 2007

deepy dippy

We are desperately trying to finish all our paperwork so that we can have ten days of chilling out - the unfinished kitchen and the job on the 30th December not withstanding.

Leo is teething.

Can you say "mummy's turning in to a dipsomaniac", children?

Wednesday, 19 December 2007


I haven't washed my hair for five days, I have flea-bite on my leg and I smell of curdled milk. Kate and Vic have been here for ten days, pretty much, sorting out our Kitchen Crisis. They came last Monday and stayed until Thursday. On Friday, we left Leo with them in Merseyside, went out for a meal, went to the pub with a friend and came home.

On Saturday we arose late, sat in the kitchen in our pants being grateful to Kate and Vic for a bit, and then went to the meet in Aberystwyth. It was a brilliant day out - lots of interesting people, lots of interesting trading. We went with four pounds of honey, four pounds of beeswax and a dozen eggs and came back with two packets of air dried ham, a small bottle of sloe gin, a jar of spicey marinade, a dozen duck eggs, a jar of bullace chutney, a jar of raspberry jam, some hand-made soap and two dead rabbits.

On Sunday, we helped some friends shift a conservatory we have given them (in exchange for three sponge cakes and eighteen hatching eggs) on to their trailer; and the friends and B watched me skin and joint the two rabbits, with some alarming amusement ("Aw, look at his little paws, he looks like he's sleeping!").

Did you know that you can cut through a rabbit's legs with garden secateurs instead of ponying up for poultry shears?

On Monday, we picked up a luton van at 9AM and drove to Frodsham, where we disassembled an eight foot by ten foot shed, mostly in the manner of Harold Lloyd, went through the skip of the chap who was selling it and rescued a gas heater, two gas canisters, three fence panels, various miscellaneous bits of wood, three metal shelving units, a work-bench and a pallet. Then we drove home, where we were met by Kate, Vic and Leo.

We unloaded the van, which did not promote family harmony in any way shape or form. Particularly the 8 x 10 slab of floor.

Yesterday, B went to Cheltenham on a reccy for a job that is happening next year and I stayed at home trying to keep on top of what Vic wanted me to do; look after Leo, who has a cold and was cratchety; and be assertive with Kate, who wouldn't let anyone else near him. Vic was grumpy because he'd forgotten B wouldn't be there, I was upset because Kate wouldn't let me near my own baby and it was NOT a good day. I ended up sitting on a neighbour's sofa at 3pm, driven away once again from the nappy changing table, drinking gin and listening to a pep-talk on assertiveness. I recommend this - I came home, had another large gin and two glasses of wine and broached the 'please let me look after my own child' conversation with Kate. It went down okay. Well, in fact.

Gin. That well known easer of family strife. Go for it. You know it makes sense.

Today, we finished running in the wiring cables and the first fix is finished. B has filled in the gaping hole in the floor and I have cooked cauliflower cheese for tea, with some of the air dried ham we got on Saturday. Leo is slightly less cranky - we took him to the doctor yesterday evening who pronounced it 'something viral' and told us to keep on with the Calpol.

I am going to have a large glass of wine and a bath.

For today, that is all.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Kate is convinced that Osama Bin Laden has a Facebook account.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

so there

Tired. Dusty. Covered in sick. Full of fish pie and slightly too much apricot wine. Going to bed.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

kitchen shennanigins

rayburnLet's have some aga-saga then, shall we? SheWeevil asked about it and Mitey Mite is conscious that she has been Blogging Remodelling for the last six months - it's time I updated you about our Kitchen Shennanigins.

The Background - we were moving house. And then at the last minute, we were not moving. Remember?

It was all very stressful and upsetting - but since we now have a baby to play with, I am not so keen to have a million pigs and goats and sundry livestock; so we have decided to stay put for a bit - two or three years at the very least - and in the meantime, to do a little re-modelling of our own. To this end, I have been trying to buy a solid fuel stove, that will be the 'heart of the kitchen', that we can cook on and that can be plumbed in to the existing horrendously expensive oil-fired central-heating system and solar/oil domestic hot water system (via a Dunsley Baker Neutraliser) to help us be more carbon-neutral and allow easy jam making on a regular basis*.

We have been slightly hampered in this mission by the whole 'Bones Of Our Arse' issue (as B's dad, Vic, so charmingly puts it). A new solid fuel rayburn would be somewhere in the region of two or three thousand quid. This is oh-so-not-possible. So I have been cruising eBay with a vengeance and we are now the proud possessor of not one, no, but TWO non-functioning solid fuel cookers. One is a Rayburn Royal, which has a crack in the top and needs a replacement - you can't weld it because of [some very boring and technical reason to do with not being killed by carbon monoxide poisoning]. I have been trying to source a second hand top, with little success.

So. I bought a Hunter. This appeared to be in good working order and the seller was really communicative and very nice on the phone. However. When it arrived, despite being a pleasing shade of fire-engine red, it had a broken door catch, rendering it unusable as an actual cooking device.

'Bollocks!' I said, under my breath, as I girded my loins to tell B I had once again bought something expensive and useless on eBay; and also to open a dispute with the vendor; who offered to refund my money and take it away but wasn't prepared to pony up to refund my transport costs**.

19112007(008)So. That is where the aga-saga is at the moment. The main thing that I have neglected to mention is that these renovations involve moving the kitchen from one end of the house to the other. The house is about fifty feet long; and B wants to put in a separate ring main for the new kitchen, so we are pulling cables through today - if they arrive from Screwfix. Also, all the drains are at the wrong end of the building. This has involved drilling out through the twenty inch thick granite wall, running the waste pipe along twelve meters and then drilling back in twenty inches to get to the soil pipe, which the people who originally converted the house thought would be ideally situated in the corner of the kitchen tucked behind a breeze-block wall.

Oh yes, we are having such fun.

Yesterday B and Vic took down a little stone seat-arrangement which had been built in to the partition wall that the people who lived here immediately previously to us had put up, sloppily, to separate the living room in to two parts. The seat turned out to be part of the original walls of the house and be composed largely of dressed stone boulders. It was immensely entertaining. Oh yes.

Today they are channelling in for the ring main - only they can't get stuck in to that with the industrial-strength channeller I have hired them because the only thing done properly in the entire house is embedding the wiring deep in the walls; and the little beebly-beep machine B has to tell him where the wires run can't pick them up. So we are having to hire an industrial strength beebly-beep machine this morning to suss out the existing cable runs in order that we don't cut through them and a) electrocute anyone and b) make all the wall sockets in the entire downstairs unusable.

I am getting to know Huw at HSS very well indeed. He and his wife are expecting a baby in a few weeks and he's very excited about it all.

Our aim is to create a living space at the north end of the house that will be an eleven foot by twenty-five foot kitchen / diner / living room. We will then use the existing kitchen as a utility room - washing machine, dryer, freezers, beer fridge, brewing stuff, space for all the empty jam-jars - and reinstate the downstairs cloak-room that the people here before us took out. This will also give us a nice hallway that will act as an air-lock for the shedding of dirty boots and wet coats. We are planning on confining the cats to this area at night, as the dead-rodent problem and the random wee-ing is getting on even my nerves now. And it will leave us with a little room to use a snug and guest sleeping-space.

Time to get the baby up and pour some tea in to B. He and his dad went to the pub to watch the Liverpool game last night and since they won 4-0 I understand there was some celebration.

Wish us luck.

* Which reminds me, I need to make some marmalade - we have had LOADS of citrus fruit with the veg box for the last three weeks and it's sitting in the fruit basket drying out nicely.
** Some of the nice chaps on have offered to come and fix it though; apparently it shouldn't be too difficult. But it's still the PRINCIPLE of the thing, isn't it?

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

all's well

Baby is no longer constipated, the cat is wee-ing in a litter tray in the bathroom rather than on the clean washing, I have just killed three cockerels and Kate and I have plucked them, Vic and B are drilling holes through the twenty inch thick outside walls to get the new kitchen wastes to where they are needed to be and are about to start channelling in the ring main with the most ENORMOUS channelling machine I have ever seen; and after I have picked off the chicken fluff, I am about to go to the shop to buy some vegetables.

*draws breath*

All is well.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

in brief



Thursday, 6 December 2007


leo1Okay, Mitey Mite asked about Leo - and because I love the idea of Leo having 'blogparents' on the other side of the world (she spontaneously crocheted him the beautiful blanket we took to the hospital to wrap him in), she gets first dibs.

He is smiling and laughing and yesterday he went his door bouncer for the first time. Today he has got so excited at being able to bounce himself up and down that he has just vomited copiously all over the floor. He is talking to his teddy and to the cuddly kangaroo that B's Australian relatives sent him and is starting to play with the little rattling toys on the arch over the pram and on the 'gym' thing that we bought him.

25112007He enjoys the car - which is just as well, as he seems to spend a lot of time in it, either travelling up and down to Merseyside or to Somerset. Yesterday he came to a Production Debrief in Manchester and on Monday he came to a rig in Stratford-Upon-Avon. He and I fell asleep in the corner eventually, whilst B finished his focus. He's had his nappy changed on a flight-case and likes the way his daddy's adjustable spanner rattles on it's belt-ring.

He seems to have quite steady reflux - at least, a lot of what you put in comes back out the same way - but he is also gaining weight steadily - he was 12lb (that's British pounds, I don't know if US ones are different) the last time he was weighed a couple of weeks ago. He has been in three to six month clothes for the last three or so weeks - the cloth nappies give them such big bottoms :).

03112007(001)He is trying to crawl and can 'caterpillar' himself along. You put him down at one end of the Moses basket and in the morning he's right at the top with his head touching the edge. In another couple of weeks, he'll be too big for it and will have to go in to the cot in the nursery. He's already snoozing in there in the day time and has his mobile 'the carnival of mutant animals' set up above it to look at (a red cow, a purple sheep, a bright pink pig and a yellow horse-thing - they all have multicoloured feet and circle round and round to the tune of 'twinkle twinkle little star').

He likes the rocking chair. It has a brown-and-black throw over the back of it, that sister-Natalie brought me back from South Africa. He likes one particular picture of some figures hunting a pig. He stares at it as you have him on your shoulder to wind him and when you stop rocking he chatters at you until you start again.

Last week, B was away for five nights. Leo and I went to collect him and when we walked in to the room, he recognised B immediately and was all smiles and laughs for him. I think B was surprised at how demonstrative he was. He misses B when he goes away. He likes you to talk to him and tell him stories and he loves his bath. Usually, he comes in with one of us and he really can swim - at first I thought he was drowning, thrashing his arms and legs about all over the place. But further gentle research shows that he is actually having a good time and 'swimming'. He doesn't mind getting his face wet or water in his eyes and ears.
He is growing out of the first-size 'Ella's House' hemp nappies. The 'Mother-Ease' one-size ones fit him much better now (they were too big to begin with) and are much more absorbent - but not so pretty! He likes going in the sling and looking out under the straps. He doesn't like wearing a hat and quite often pulls it down over his eyes. When he's very upset he pulls the tops of his ears down, which looks very funny and makes me laugh in an 'oh my goodness what's he upset about now' kind of way.

He is hungry ALL THE TIME. And he is constipated. The doctor has recommended dilute fruit juice to cure the latter, which seems to work. The former - well, he's on 'Hungry Baby' baby food. He seems to eat a lot during the day - every three or four hours - and then he sleeps for seven hours after you first put him down at night. Then he wakes up for another feed and after that sleeps for five hours. So it's all in the timing - but we are both starting to feel a bit better in ourselves.

Today, he has done swimming, some door-bouncing, some time in his gym and some time helping us sort out the chickens in the garden in the rain. He didn't see much of the garden, as he was zipped up inside B's waterproof with only the bobble on his hat showing - but he seemed quite content.

Enough already. I keep saying I don't want this to become a baby-centric blog! Tomorrow - something not baby-centric :).

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

starting slowly

Thank you for all your questions - more very welcome, I am going to try to post every day, or at least every other day, otherwise I am going to run out of steam completely! I shall launch in to them tomorrow.

For today, a list:
  1. Yesterday I made soap for the first time.
  2. One of my new hens has started laying.
  3. This evening we are racking eleven gallons of wine and making beer.
  4. I have just spilled museli all over the kitchen floor, which isn't going to help our Mouse Problem at all.
  5. Three Legs has a water infection again and is back at the vet.
  6. And finally, hang out all the flags ... Leo has had a poo! After forty eight hours and a telephone call to the doctor we gave him some very dilute apple juice, which had the required effect. Luckily I wasn't involved at all - it was B's turn to change his nappy :).
For today, that is all. Tomorrow, I pick a random question.

Monday, 3 December 2007

what's it all about, then?

I am finding posting a bit of struggle - I need questions. Go on. Question me. Please?

Saturday, 1 December 2007


Today, I will mostly be stating (unintentionally) loudly in a cafe in Welshpool that Father Christmas does not exist and I will have no truck with colluding in the great seasonal 'lying to children' debacle. And subsequently creating a tumble-weed moment when everyone else within earshot with children in their party tried to wither me with their gaze.

Apart from that, things are fine.

Things calm down a bit for us after this weekend; B has just left for an overnight job in Birmingham and after that shouldn't be away again until the New Year. We are working on a plan for him to not have to work quite so hard away from home; we are both shattered and we have both discovered that we loathe him being away. Leo hates it too - he is very unsettled at the moment and clearly clingy with B when he is back. So we are hoping to change our lifestyle a bit to something more home-based. News as it develops, if it does.

It is eight o'clock, Leo is sleeping and I am going to bed, after seeing if I can find a hand-driven coffee-grinder on eBay.