Saturday, 20 December 2008

the gift

Gosh, sorry about that. Everything rather came crowding in there, for a bit. 'All better now' would be an exaggeration, but 'No longer completely potty' probably sums it up quite well. How long does it take to stop being bone tired, though? We both look like extras from a zombie movie. I'm thinking months, after what we've been through. Months would be fine. There are lots of months ahead. And no more of them are in 2008, for which I think I'm probably very grateful.

Eleanor is improving. The bronchilitis is still there and the GP and Health Visitor are monitoring her closely. But she's put back on the weight she lost in hospital and is eating okay. And is very alert. So that's all good. We have been told to keep her away from people with colds and chest complaints until the bronchilitis clears up, which makes sense. The added benefit of this is that it means that we can avoid Kate and Vic (B's parents - I really need to update my 'Who's Who?'). Kate has a chest infection. They were supposed to be going to Venice for Christmas - she booked it in a fit of pique when we weren't speaking. She has cancelled it because she is too poorly to go and now wants to come and see us. This is Not Happening. Not Happening. Not. Happening. Has the woman no brain?

Things are getting back to normal. Normal includes:
  • Making marmalade
  • Decanting sloe gin
  • Making soap
  • Spinning off honey (B is doing this in the kitchen as I type)
  • Worming and cleaning out the chickens (this morning)
  • Killing and plucking the three spare cockerels (Yesterday - part-exchange for two (or three) hens and a pair of ducks in a complicated poultry/honey transaction)
  • Swapping a pair of hens for a wooden clothes airer (photos to come, it's FAB)
I am going to make up a little box of gin, marmalade, honey and soap for various friends and family - we have bought some bits for Leo, but Eleanor is too small and we have decided that we just don't want to go down the bought-present route for other people any more. I am just about to make up some little boxes and cover them with pretty paper to put the bits and bobs in. I haven't managed to achieve Christmas Cards this year; I have given in to the dreaded 'round robin email', something I swore I would never do. I haven't even managed to write and thank people for the gifts they sent to Eleanor and some people have asked me for our address to send things and I haven't even manage to send them THAT. It's official. I am Officially Disorganised.

But that's okay.

This year has been truly, truly dreadful for us. Awful. I am sure that worse things could have happened; but what HAS happened has been quite enough. The final door-closing has been that in Welshpool yesterday, we saw 'our' old house for sale in the Estate Agent's window, for an asking price of 30% less than we paid for it two and a half years ago. It really hurt - I came home and cried. But that's that, now. That door is closed.

We have come away from the year with nearly everything in our lives changed.

Our relationships with both my family - because of Pa's death - and B's family - because of 'The Row'. Our relationship with each other, because of those upheavals, and because of the arrival of the children. Our work - not being a limited company is a relief in a way; but I think I would probably also speak for B - who will no doubt comment if he feels the need - when I say that there is also a small, sneaking sense of failure that we were unable to keep it going. The positive side of that is that we can pick and choose what work we take rather more than we could with the start-up debts around our necks. We have also lost the house in South Wales that I lived in before I moved in with B, that was supposed to be our pension fund. And finally, our home. When we moved to The Dream House in 2005, we really thought it was The Place. It was going to be the home where we had our adoptive family, where we had a productive garden, where we kept bees and chickens; everything. The heart of our lives.

And now it's gone. We literally ripped that heart out of it before we left. All the things we had put in with such love and such hope - the greenhouse, the neutraliser, the solar panels, all got taken out when we moved. We have been reduced to almost nothing, materially. No savings, no property, sometimes, not even any hope for the future.

And then Eleanor. I haven't even touched on what that has meant, have I? This cycle of events started with Pa dying, I suppose. A good death, in the fullness of his years, surrounded by his family. It hurt. But it hurts in a way that was right and expected. The cycle has, hopefully, ended with Eleanor recovering. We were so, so scared that we were going to lose her. A premature death, caused by a bad hand in the DNA lottery or a chance mouthful of myconium swallowed as she was born. And now, she is smiling. Grinning like theCheshire Cat, in fact. I love it. I love her. I'm less frightened thatI'm going to lose her now. I am forcing myself to pick her up and feedher. I had a bath with her last night, which was lovely. The bonding isvery fragile and very delicate. But it's there. And every time shesmiles at me - the smile that seems to take over her entire face - itstrengthens a little bit more.

2008 has given me some things, too, as well as taking them away. I have been given an enormous ability to cope with stress. I know I can cope, that I can survive things that would probably have crushed some people. I know that my relationship with B can stand literally anything. I know I don't need 'stuff' to be happy. I have had my trust in the moving moral force in the universe tested and tested and tested. Yes I had a blip for a few weeks; but I reckon I'm back with it again now.

Things are good. We have a strong relationship, two beautiful children, a fantastic family. We have a lovely place to live - okay, it's rented. But so what? There's space for ducks!

And the one gift that 2008 has really given me is an appreciation of people. Not where you live, not what you have, not what you do. It's who you are, deep inside that matters. And it's the people that you connect with on that level. The extraordinary kindness of online friends via this blog and; freecyclers; health-professionals; old school and college friends; people we have come across over the last few years as our interests and lives have intersected; colleagues, clients and suppliers. This year we have really learned who our friends are. Some of them are not people we would have expected count as friends. Some of them we have known for years. Some of them I haven't ever met in person, just online or on the phone.  But friends are friends are friends.

The gift I have been given by 2008 is one that will never wear out; it is the lesson that it's people that are important. Nothing else.

Friday, 12 December 2008


Eleanor came home on Thursday. She still has bronchilitis but is considerably better. We are all still reeling from the shock of it all and to be honest, I'm a bit bonkers. Can't stop crying, want to get in the car and drive off, don't want to touch the baby, or B, or speak to anyone. That kind of thing.

It would have been Ma and Pa's fortieth wedding anniversary today and I've just rung her. She's in a little wet heap, too. Sister Natalie is having Job Issues that sound as if they are veering from 'A Quite Shit Manager' in to 'Constructive Dismissal' that are taking up all her brain space and making her really grumpy. And she's upset about all the Eleanor stuff, too.

I got drunk and had hysterics last night and that doesn't seem to have significantly helped. I'm going to see the GP this afternoon, with Eleanor. I suspect B will come as well.

We are plodding on. When the unthinkable and the unimaginable happen, you just get on with it, don't you? However bad one feels, the children still need to be fed, the chickens have to be let out, the washing and drying have to be done. Bills have to be paid, groceries have to be bought. I cannot imagine feeling any worse than this. B says that we can share the emotional load - but I feel like this despite that sharing. Outside I am like an automaton, going through the motions, smiling, talking, functioning. Inside I feel numb. As if someone has scooped out the middle of me, all the bits that make me ME, with a spoon.

If someone touches me or even speaks to me with kindness, with anything other than a random contact, it is as if they are pressing on a bruise. As well as the numbness, there is the anger. The only way I can describe it is that I feel spiritually bereft. If a benevolent moving moral force DOES exist in any form in the universe, how can it have allowed all these things to happen to us in the last year? Blow after blow after blow? What did Eleanor do to deserve being that sick? 

B says, perhaps all these things would have happened anyway and the force for good that we both believe normally looks after us has done it's best to mitigate them for us. Perhaps that's true.

But at the moment, I just can't see it.

Monday, 8 December 2008


Just a quick update - firstly, thank you everyone for all your good wishes, good vibes and prayers.

Eleanor has been gradually improving over the weekend and is a bit better again this morning. They'vetaken her out of the CPAP and she is only on nasal oxygen now. And sheis tolerating small feeds every two hours - they tried her with a gastric tube yesterday but after she pulled it out twice they gave up and started giving her small bottles.

Her temperature has beenmuch reduced since last night. So, I think we're over the hump. Theysay that they won't let her come home until she has been breathingnormal air for at least twenty four hours and that they like parents tobe able to be around for most of that final period. They are so tinyand things change with them so quickly ... I am terrified about ithappening again, which I suppose is normal. I've just spoken to thehealth visitor who is coming for a council of war later in the week.

B's taken Leo up to the hospital again now and I'm getting some R&R - yesterday this included helping a friend despatch ducks and today it is going to involve cleaning out the chickens and making lentil and garlic soup.

For today, that is all.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

prayers please

Eleanor was taken in to hospital in an ambulance last night at 7pm. She is stable now; but whilst I was going to pick B up from the 6pm train, she stopped breathing. Ma did mouth-to-mouth on her for twenty minutes whilst waiting for us to come home and the ambulance to arrive.

She is now on a CPAP machine, with pressurised oxygen helping her to breath (the next step down from a ventilator). As well as the bronchilitis, she has a bacterial lung infection which means that there is clouding on the top half of the right lung. Apparently the struggle to breath was making her so tired that she literally kept running out of steam. She stopped breathing twice in the ambulance and was taken straight to resus; and whilst they were putting the CPAP machine on her she kept stopping and starting. She is now on broad spectrum antibiotics and they say that she should start to pick up when they kick in; which should be in about forty-eight hours.

B is still recovering from food poisoning he got on tour on Tuesday night and we are both wrung out physically and emotionally. Ma has now gone home and is preparing to come back when Eleanor gets out of hospital - although we have no estimate of when that will be. Ma says that anyone else who was here would have done what was needed - but that doesn't get over the fact that it was HER who was here and her that kept our daughter alive.

I am now going to have a small sloe gin and put Leo to bed. He's fine - he's too young to know what's going on. Someone has given us a rather scary cuddly Mickey Mouse, which he says is a Woof Woof - I have taught him to sing 'Woof Woof The Mouse' - 'Woof Woof Ma!" -  as a small blow against the Disney Levithian.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

brief list

  • E has been in hospital for forty eight hours with bronchilitis. It's distressing for her and for us to watch but she just needs nursing care rather than any massive intervention. The children's ward have given us open access to bring her back if she worsens again.
  • We have bought a new car - a fiesta from the parents of a person who works at Leo's nursery. I like it.
  • Ma is staying whilst B is away with work and has changed her plans to stay longer to help me with E until he comes back.
  • I'm knackered. But okay.

Friday, 28 November 2008

tootling along

Apologies - all is well, but we have been up to our eyes in babies, work, buying cars, wrangling chickens and making bacon. I have photos of some of this, but am a) too tired and b) too drunk to post them. Hopefully I will have some time on Sunday to actually write a proper post.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


Well. A slight change of plan.

Due to my not being able to cope with another night on my own, I went to collect B from Liverpool last night after he finished work - which turned out to be just before midnight. We got home (with the two children asleep in the back of the car) in time to be in bed for about three in the morning. So to visit Kate and Vic we would have had to make another journey up there this afternoon, on approximately four hours sleep.

We decided not to go - and B rang Kate to tell her. Whereupon she had a go at him; all the usual, boring stuff. He ended the conversation fairly brusquely. And then she rang back. I was feeling pretty robust, so I answered. And found it in myself to tell her that B didn't really want to speak to her because he felt that she was pressurising us.  I stayed really calm, whilst she had hysterics about how upset she was and how hurt she felt by it all.

And then.

She apologised.

She said "I was a real bitch to you Ally and I'm so sorry, I love you all and it's breaking my heart for us to be like this".


Neither B nor I expected THAT to happen.

But it has; and I feel very positive about it all. B feels very battered. But if it was a genuine apology - and I believe that in the moment she gave it at least, it was - then we can move forwards from here. So we have tentatively arranged to meet next Sunday afternoon. They are prepared to come here for a couple of hours. I think in a way we would prefer neutral ground; however, if they come here, we don't have to stir ourselves and they can play with the children.

For tonight, that is all. We are eating Tamworth sausage sandwiches whilst watching an Anime move called "The Castle of Calgliostro" and drinking our own apple wine.

Thank you, and goodnight.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

clucking hell

We are going to see B's parents on Wednesday afternoon, with the children.

I don't want to go. She is still making 'Ally should pull herself together' noises when she speaks to B on the phone. She offered us lunch - but I can't bring myself to eat her food when she is so obviously still hostile toward me.


In other news, tomorrow, we collect the chickens. Yay!

Thursday, 13 November 2008


I'm pretty tired; B has been working virtually ten straight days, most of then away-overnights. I've coped okay, but I wouldn't like to do it on a regular basis. From now on, things subside a little bit - he's made lots of hay whilst the sun has been out and now it slows to a steady pace.

In the meantime, Leo has had a fantastic week. He's not been to nursery because I don't have transport (but I heard yesterday that the Official Receiver *will* allow that we need two cars, so we just need to wait for the insurance money and actually get one).  So far:

Item. Oxo cubes partially consumed, including most of the silver foil - 2
Item. Bruises to head because of ill-advised Toddler Mountaineering - 2
Item. Nosebleeds, ditto - 1
Item. Times poked sister in eye - 3
Item. Times *attempted* to poke sister in eye - about a million
Item. Full-scale tantrums thrown kicking and screaming on floor when told 'no' - 3
Item. Ditto tantrums when mother trying to change nappy - EVERY SINGLE FUCKING TIME
Item. Times mother has considered turning to drink - uncountable
Item. Days mother is leaving father to cope with them both alone after he gets home - limited only by how many pairs of pants I can get in my bag

The bits without the exhaustion, blood, bruises and tantrums have been quite fun though.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

clippety clop ...

It's rained so much, our field has grown a pony.

It's only a small one; but it's very friendly and also, quite muddy. And skittish. In the sense that it has marched over the fence to get in. And now it can't get out. And it's friend on the other side of the fence is equally skittish and seems to think that if it paws (hooves?) at the wire netting for long enough, a miracle will happen and the fence will disappear.

I have spent that last just-over-twenty-four-hours watching them with my heart in my mouth, because absolutely the last thing I want to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon is spend two hours with wire snippers releasing someone else's livestock from a fence that isn't even mine to begin with. I was hoping that the owners would come and check on them last night (in the approved 'twice a day' fashion) and reclaim them; but this hasn't happened - and no-one turned up this morning.

I did speak to someone walking their dog along the footpath that runs around the edge of the paddock last night; but she didn't know who they belonged to. She did know the next door neighbour of the other person who keeps a horse in the same field ... so she went home to phone her friend to see if they could pass a message along. But nothing has transpired.

Ordinarily I would nip out and see if I could repatriate them myself - but it could take an hour once I get going, because there's all the electrical tape to put back up that they have knocked down; and I really don't want to leave the children for that long. Quite apart from the fact that IT'S NOT MY PONY. I did go out and make friends with the escapee, on the grounds that if it then leapt in to our garden for some reason it would be more likely to let me catch it; and I took Leo out to see it (he was delighted); but that was it. So far. There's no water in there - although it's hacking down so there's plenty on the grass - and sooner or later I am going to feel duty bound to put a bucket out for it to drink from.

Can we all sniff superciliously and say in chorus "How irresponsible of the owner!" and leave it at that for the moment?

I have had a good weekend so far. B went again yesterday morning (back tomorrow night) and Leo and I have unpacked some boxes of books on to the shelves in the living room; and tidied up. So it's a proper living space now. Both yesterday afternoon and today I have lit the fire; and it's very cosy. Currently Leo is having a nap and Eleanor is snoozing on her play-nest thingy whilst I'm curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea. I am starting to feel very much more relaxed and very at home here. Just having the TIME to sit on the sofa is wonderful.

Today, as per the advice to not save clothes for 'best', Eleanor is wearing: a blue fleecy top, stripy leggings and blue socks. By the time I got organised enough to take a photo, the best of the light had gone, so you'll have to wait until tomorrow and see what she's in then. Maybe. If I get my act together.

How long before she starts to resent being dressed up like a dolly?

Now I'm going to put some doors on Freecycle. As you do.

For today, that is all.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

help needed ...

I have turned in to the kind of person who buys frilly dresses for their baby. It's hormonal, probably, and I assume it will pass with time. However, I do have some questions:

1. Do the little frilly knickers that come with a lot of dresses go OVER or UNDER the tights?
2. Do the tights go OVER or INSIDE the vests that popper between the legs?
3. Are dresses for 'every day' wear? Or should I just be leaving her in babygrows for 'about the house' kind of days?

She is coming on in leaps and bounds - she's taking five ounce bottles now, and only waking once in the night. Admittedly last night she was awake for two hours with wind ... but we're getting there.

I'm shattered though - B is away again. I'm hoping Ma will come up for a few days over the weekend, it's going to be tough if she doesn't.

For today, that is all. Leo is rubbing banana in to his hair and I suppose I should stop him.

Sunday, 2 November 2008


Things that make me happy include:
  • Leo coming up and cuddling against me
  • B doing the same ;)
  • Eleanor staring at me in that wise/innocent baby-way
  • Smelling the wind coming in through the back door when I open it first thing in the morning
  • Knowing there is crumble topping in the bottom of the fridge
  • Making biscuits
  • Having a clean house
  • Being able to lift things again without it hurting
  • The kindness of strangers
  • Our own compost
Eclectic. But it's that kind of day.

B came back from a three night away at ten last night and went again at one this afternoon.  He'll be back about two this morning, has tomorrow off and then is working mostly away for pretty much ten days straight. i.e. if he comes back it'll literally only be to sleep and change his socks before he's off again. I've coped really well for the last three days, despite not having a car. Leo hasn't been able to go to nursery; but I've got him in to a good routine where he goes down for two naps of about an hour and a half each morning and afternoon ("Let's just go up to your cot and you can have a little rest and read your books!"). He's awake at seven. And has been in bed by about six thirty each night.

Eleanor is a bit better, snuffles wise. I'm propping her up in her pram and her cot a lot, which seems to be helping. She's therefore able to take more with each feed, so we are going longer between them and I'm a bit more rested. I still haven't taken her out - but the midwives have signed both her and me off to the Health Visitor and she's put on just over a pound in three and a half weeks; which given her difficulties is brilliant.

Tomorrow, I am going to reclaim my chickens from the very kind friend who has been looking after them. And we have another friend visiting for a day or two. Life is starting to come back in to balance - I don't usually mark Halloween in any way, other than to tape up the letter box with gaffer tape and pretend to be out. However, on Friday night I did feel that I wanted to take a quiet moment to acknowledge that it was 'All Hallows' and remember all the people that we have lost this year. It felt the right thing to do, somehow. Apparently the Welsh version of Halloween is called 'Nos Galan Gaeaf', which means 'The first day of the new winter' - or the new year. To me, winter is the beginning of the year; the fallow-time when everything recharges itself and gets ready for spring. So it seemed a good time to draw a mental line under the last twelve months and start afresh.

For today, that is all.

Monday, 27 October 2008

give me a light that I may tread safely in to the unknown ...

Me: Tights are so unhealthy, really. I shouldn't buy Eleanor any.
B: I don't know. It's essentially a style choice, isn't it? But I should think it would be pretty inappropriate for her to wear stockings or hold-ups at this stage.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


Did you hear the screaming earlier? That was me, having a full-blown attack of hysteria worthy of a Victorian maidservant. Alternatively you could describe it as the sound of my tether, snapping.

B was involved in an accident last night.

He's fine, basically - apart from seat-belt-induced bruising that means he's wincing as he lifts Leo. And so is the other party. But it looks like my car might be a write-off - it's just been collected on a flatbed and taken to the garage for an inquest. He managed to get it to limp home the half mile from the place in the lane where it happened - but the bonnet is stove in, as are the head-lamps and apparently there's a funny grinding noise as you drive along.

Not good.

They were both doing thirty or thirty-five miles per hour and braked - and he slid downhill on some mud for about fifteen meters in to the other person. The other person had a new car and was really obnoxious, insisting on calling the police, despite no-one being hurt, and calling all her family to the scene of the accident, where they all started yelling at B that he had been speeding and they weren't going to let her lose her no claims bonus over it.

The police didn't even bother to breathalyse him AND they measured the skid marks - so if the other party does try to escalate things beyond knock-for-knock at least the evidence is clear-cut.


That's it.

I am officially unable to cope with this. This is my line in the sand and I am now going to fall apart like a damp tissue.

B was supposed to be going on a job for a couple of days - he has cancelled, because of a) not being able to lift and b) because of the Damp Tissue Effect. Last minute cancellations are often professional suicide and I am now worrying myself silly about that. He's in as much of a state as I am.

Eleanor has caught a cold and has a blocked up nose. She is therefore mouth-breathing and cannot latch on to feed. She's taking bottle feeds - either what I'm expressing or Aptamil - every hour or two, an ounce or so each time. We are on day three now and are all getting tired. However, on the positive side, she is reacting like a normal baby with a cold - so that is reassuring.

Leo is picking up our stress and is clingy and weepy.

I am starting to seriously wonder if someone has put the evil eye on us.

For today, that is all. I need to go and milk myself.

Friday, 17 October 2008

war chest

Necessarily short posts, sorry.

I am exhausted and my baby looks like Nigel Lawson c. 1987.

Apart from that, things are fine.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Monday, 13 October 2008


Did I mention the waves of not-copingness?

We've had a letter from the mortgage people today, saying that we ARE still liable for the mortgage. Technically, this is true. However, once the house is sold, any credit or deficit gets wound up in the bankcruptcy, so actually, it's NOT true.

If that makes sense?

Anyway. It was a rather officiously worded letter and it knocked us both for six.

Leo has been crying all day. Or at least, it seems like it. B and I have both been doing our fair share, too. Sometimes it all gets too much.

Leo has also developed a really yackky discharge from his right eye. I am hoping it isn't something horrible he picked up from crawling around the floor in the hospital waiting room yesterday whilst B chatted to his mother.

Oh, yes, B's mother.

After a couple of weeks of increasingly bonkers text messages, we decided to confront the issue. We met her at the hospital yesterday at a time of our choosing and she got to see Leo and meet Eleanor. She was offensively tactile with me, which I bore with gritted teeth rather than make a scene; and she didn't bring up any of the awkward subjects that we didn't want to discuss, either. Clearly we are all going to ignore what happened and move swiftly on. She thinks.

However, she let Leo crawl around on the floor. Also, she went in to what I can only describe as 'Dickensian Liverpudlian Mode', which involved much wringing of hands and repetition of phrases such as 'Ooooooh, the poor little mite' and 'Awwwww, the poor little thing ....'. I felt that if she had been wearing an apron, she'd have been throwing it over her head and wailing. It took a huge effort on my part not to poke her in the eye.

Being a good Liverpudlian, she will probably start a public appeal, based in cloying sentiment.

'Bring Little Eleanor Home To Merseyside' or 'She Needs To Be With Her Family ...'. The tune will, obviously, be 'Ferry Across The Mersey'; and Gerry and the Pacemakers and Cilla Black will be wheeled out to do a piece in The Echo about their horrible experiences of Special Care Baby Units outside the city. There will be badges, flags on sticks to put in your garden and car stickers. There will be a momentary flood of interest and then the public gaze will move on to the next footballer to break someone's nose on a night out; and that will be that.


Eleanor is a lot better. Her lungs are clear. They have taken her off the antibiotics and the drip; and the canula is out completely. This morning she took most of a whole bottle, sucking. This is an ENORMOUS step towards her coming home. They were going to alternate tube feeds and sucking feeds today so that she doesn't get too tired. And then move on to full sucking feeds tomorrow or the next day. We are not sure whether she will be able to breastfeed - it requires a stronger suck, which might cause her breathing problems. But I am expressing with my electric pump like mad (who knew you could milk both your boobs at once?) and we can always freeze or refrigerate the stuff and give it to her by bottle.

B is working tomorrow and Leo is at nursery. I don't think I am going to go to the hospital by myself - it's quite a long drive and I am still getting very tired in the afternoons. On Wednesday we have arranged to borrow a Lovely Friend's trailer (and possibly the Lovely Friend, too) and get the rest of the stuff out of the old house. And then the Bastard Mortgage People can have the keys back and it will all be done.

I am exhausted. B is exhausted. We are both literally running on empty and it is sheer luck that up until today we have each had a miniscule amount in reserve at alternate times to help each other. That's gone now. We are coping somehow. And we are putting on a cheery face for the outside world. But neither of us know quite how and I suspect that inside, he is screaming as loudly as I am.

Saturday, 11 October 2008



Eleanor is now being fed by nasal tube. She's had the tube in he left nostril; but last night they changed the feeding tube to the right nostril and she is labouring alittle more with her breathing; which implies that it is the left onethat is narrowest. They are waiting until Monday, when her antibioticswill finish, to make an assessment about whether she will be able tofeed by sucking or not.

She is taking feeds well - 36ml every three hours; a baby of thatsize feeding every three hours normally would take about 45 or 50mlapparently, so that's good.

Basically we are waiting for her to get over the chest infection she seems to have been born with, to see what happens.

B has a cold, which means he can't go in to the ICU to see her,and they don't really want us to cuddle her out of the incubatoranyway, so that she can 'chill out and rest'.

We're okay; withinexpected parameters, anyway. I'm awfully weepy, but mostly coping okaywith that, as I know it's the hormones.We have decided to come home and are going to and fro daily, as theyhave said that B can no longer stay at the hospital because sheisn't a 'critical case' and I don't feel able to stay there on my own.
I am feeling better this morning - got verytired last night and had a shit-fit on a bossy sister at the hospitalwho tried to tear a strip off me for going AWOL the night before -apparently the message that we weren't coming back didn't get there. Iended up having hysterics on the Ante-natal ward, packing my back andmarching out, sobbing, trailing a tail of confused midwives.

That my milk's come in, obviously goes without saying, given the above.The unit have lent me an electric breast pump that I'm getting on okaywith. Ma and Sister Natalie are talking about going home for a few days now andmaybe coming back mid-week. I don't think we can make any plans, we'vejust got to take each day as it comes.

Thank you everyone, for all your good wishes. They're one of thethings keeping us going. We are still dealing with mortgage people andthe receivers and all that completely irrelevant bollocks in the meantime, and trying to move therest of the stuff out of the old house before they demand the keysback.

I am trying to look on it all as an opportunity to fund my ability to deal with stress.


Thursday, 9 October 2008

she's here ...

Very quick newsflash:

Eleanor Rose, 6lb 13oz, born Tuesday 7th October at 7.35AM after a 12-hour-ish labour that went very smoothly.


She has a nasal obstruction which means that breathing is hard for her and she can't feed. So we went in an ambulance to Shrewsbury hospital at 3AM on Wednesday morning and she has been in an incubator since then.

She has a shadow on her lungs (speckling) that could be either fluid (which will be naturally reabsorbed) or infection - so they are giving her antibiotics via a drip, just in case.

She has a tube in to her tummy and they have tried to feed her through it; but last night she was a bit sick, so they stopped. They are trying again this afternoon. She is getting everything she needs through the drip, though.

We have been staying at the hospital and have briefly come home for a change of clothes and to see Leo - Ma and sister Natalie have come up to care for him.

I'm fine, physically. Mentally, obviously, we are both slightly basket-casey.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

boring ...

Still messing around - contractions not regular or much longer. Have pushed Leo up to the top of the hill and back in the push chair, crawled around on the floor with him and his football and bounced on my ball until I feel a bit sick.

I've just had a nice warm bath and I'm going to bed.


finally ...

Things are revving up - am apparently in the 'latent' stage of labour. I'm going to get a bit  more sleep. Ma is on her way up, B has cancelled his job for today and tomorrow; and the midwife has just been out to check me over.

Contractions are five minutes apart, lasting 30-40 seconds and starting to take my breath away.

The midwives are happy to come out here - or for us to go down to the birthing pool in Newtown later on if we want to.

Watch this space!

Friday, 3 October 2008

minimal function ...

I am drinking a nice glass of red wine; as per the doctor's suggestion to see if it will help me relax. Too much inhibits labour though, apparently. So in moderation. Or maybe not. I'll see.

B has cooked a fantastic pizza, with prostaglandin-heavy pineapple. And we have tried the, er,  other thing that is supposed to induce labour, despite the physical challenge of me feeling like a whale. No joy so far, although getting the hoist in to position was quite amusing.

Incidentally, do you think whales ever feel sexy?

No, I don't think so, either. At least, you never see them in a basque and frilly knickers, acting  out scenes from Cabaret, do you? Maybe grim and unshaven in a roll-neck sweater, doing 'Das Boot' ... or possibly even the Kenneth Moore part in 'A Night To Remember'. But erotica and your whale, generally speaking, do not go hand in hand.

We have finally got bank account details for B, so I have spent a couple of days invoicing for all of September's work. This is great news - we have enough cash in hand to get a tank full of petrol for B to get to Manchester for work on Sunday and then on to Birmingham; and ten pounds left in the housekeeping until the end of the week. It's not that people aren't ready to pay us - just that we haven't had the facility to accept their payments. We do get reimbursed for travel and food for work - but obviously that needs to be paid for up front and that has been a real struggle this last month.

We are still waiting to hear whether we are going to be able to keep the second car. And we are still getting on average three or four letters and phone calls every day generated by our creditors' computer systems, asking us to arrange to make payments on the debts that have been included in our bankruptcy. We are both finding it quite stressful - but presumably it won't last for ever, once the Official Receiver contacts them all.

The final straw for me this morning was an enormous Council Tax bill. In theory we should be eligible for a reduction - but because things were so stressful during the last little while at the other house that we didn't return and fill in the gargantuan claim form they sent us three months ago and they have charged us for a summons. B is sorting it out because I simply don't have the head-space. The good news, though, is that we might also be eligible for some help with the rent. Provided we can find all the bits of paper that they need us to send them.


Not terribly cheerful. But my brain is functioning a bit again, I suppose. I've put some books on eBay - mostly SF literary criticism, with a few other bits and bobs - click here for a blatant pimp :).

I just want the baby OUT. I was chatting to a friend a couple of nights ago on Facebook; and also the Community Psychiatric Nurse who rang to introduce himself (the midwives and the doctor have arranged for him to visit a few times after the baby is born as part of the plan to stave off another bout of post-natal depression). Both of them described the next few weeks as 'a happy time'. I can't see it myself. I just want to get through the next couple of months and not spend most of it feeling like I want to go to sleep and never wake up.

Not very healthy.

I think that now, having gone through the worst of it all, we both have time to fall apart a bit. Which is good. And bad. If you see what I mean.

For tonight, that is all.

Except - Leo is fine. Happy, almost walking. And fascinated by the sheep we have borrowed from a neighbour to keep the grass in the orchard down. We sing Baa Baa Black Sheep every morning to them out of the window.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

sorry ...

... soooooo tired, my brain's just not working enough to write anything. No baby yet. Obviously. Not sleeping, back-ache, front-ache and side-ache, B still working away a lot - although he's got a few days off this week. I've had two sweeps so far, which haven't started anything off. I have another one booked for next Wednesday and an induction booked for the following Sunday (for 'social reasons') at Term +5 if nothing happens in the interim.

Going to bed now.

Thursday, 25 September 2008


Back online today, housemove went pretty well, B working away constantly, I've been going in and out of 'pre-labour' for a fortnight but no *actual* baby arrived yet, hormones dreadful, bankruptcy more or less sorted.

More in a day or two when I have sorted out my 2000+ spam emails offering me services of a dubious sexual nature. In German.

Friday, 12 September 2008

quick update

Struggling rather, both physically and mentally, but basically okay. Moving tomorrow, and not sure how long the internet is going to take to swap over after that. Probably a couple of weeks - I don't think I can cope with dial-up in the interim :).

Still no baby. If I hang on until Tuesday I am 'term' and can either have a home birth or a waterpool-birth at the midwife-led centre in Newtown.

Horrible Chicken Killing Dog Man disclaims all responsibility and I have reported him to the Police, but am not expecting them to do anything.

Erm ... what else? Ma has been here since Sunday helping, supporting and moving kibble up to the new place. She's off home tomorrow.

Think that's it.

Back soon, if not sooner.

Saturday, 6 September 2008



I went out to shut the chickens up as it was getting dark, and we've had what I can only assume is another visitation from Mrs We Must Have Drinks' dog.

We have:

1x dead growing-for-slaughter cockerel
1x dead pekin hen
1x dead show quality barnevelder hen (that wasn't dead when we found her but that we had to finish off)
2x missing youngsters that may or may not turn up in the morning.

The dog must have come through from their field to our garden, chased the barnvelder all the way down the garden and round the house and mauled it; and then got distracted and killed the pekin and the grower IN OUR FRONT GARDEN.

B rang Mrs WMHD who said ... "Well, it's a dog. Dogs chase chickens."

We are both pretty angry.

Apparently they were out all afternoon and the dog must have jumped out of it's pen. Which is what happened earlier in the week when she phoned up to tell us that that it had arrived home and presented her with a dead chicken. I was relatively gracious that time, as a) she offered to pay straight away and b) sometimes the youngsters do go in to their field, so it might be that it was off our property. And she sounded like she was going to address the issue.

This time, less so.

B pointed out that actually, one was within ones rights to shoot dogs that worry livestock and she needed to take some measures and come back and tell him what they were going to be. Hopefully that will include offering to pay. I reckon £12 for the grower, £25 for the pekin and at least £35 for the barnevelder. The hens were both good quality and proven fertile.

I've had a good cry. Going to bed now. We have clean sheets! Not that the sheets were rancid ... but there seems to be a regular amount of rusk being smeared over them by a person who is not either B or me.

For today, that really is all.

faint but pursuing

Briefly, because I'm shattered - but the bankruptcy hearing was very low key and smooth. That side of things is now completed. We have to speak to the Official Receiver by phone in a couple of weeks to discuss our earnings etc. and work out how much they will take off of us on a monthly basis as a nominal repayment to our creditors.

I am slightly concerned about this as our earnings average out over the course of the year; and the tax credits people are probably going to want money off of us. But I think the OR is open to that kind of thing.

In other good news, we have picked up the keys to the new house and hope to be moving in to it in the next couple of weeks.

Still no baby.

Still exhausted.

Ma is coming up tomorrow for a few days so that B can toddle off and do some work and not worry about me.

I am going to write up a 'my experience of bankruptcy' thing when this is all over I think; I've had so many emails from people who have been through similar experiences that I reckon it might be helpful; and also give other people an opportunity to add their own comments in order to help other people going through it.

Right. Going to go and let the chickens out, as it's temporarily stopped raining ...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Slept most of the day, fine when I'm not moving around, tightenings start to turn in to contractions when I do.


Tuesday, 2 September 2008


Not exactly a false alarm - but am not in labour either. However, it might develop in to labour. Or it might stop. Or it might rumble on for a couple of weeks and THEN either turn in to labour or stop.

The hospital pretty much covered all their bases.

Anyway - they sent me home. And I've spent a couple of hours in the bath and things are much the same. I'm to take paracetamol and chill out.


Good news - we have been offered House No. 1. But we have also be offered House No.4. Decisions decisions.

B has gone to collect Leo and I am going to retire to bed pretty early I think. He's going back to Birmingham for the day tomorrow, dropping Leo off on the way. So I can have some rest.

It's all dragging on a bit now, really.

hmmm ...

I have had a very uncomfortable night and whenever I move around the whole bump goes painfully rigid. We are off to Shrewsbury Hospital for a check up to see what's happening. It is possible that it's labour ... kind of hoping we were going to get Thursday out of the way before everything kicked off; but we'll see.

B has just arrived home from Birmingham, we have ten minutes for a cup of tea and then we are leaving. I have the bag packed, we have dug out the tiny baby seat and I have people poised to pick Leo up from nursery should needs be.

Hopefully it's all a false alarm down to stress.

Wish us luck.

Monday, 1 September 2008


This weeks midwife reckons New Baby is head-down again. And my bump has dropped 4cm. We are approaching lift-off, people. I am now truly walking like a sailor.

No news on the house front.

Sunday, 31 August 2008


Ugh. Just got to the end of the forms - a couple of questions for the accountant tomorrow, but almost there. Haven't achieved anything else and poor Leo hasn't know what to do with himself all day because of his teeth, which hasn't made it any easier.

Bed calls.

Also, are you in the UK? Do you have a freezer? If so, remember that you could try buying your meat here.

Saturday, 30 August 2008


Well. Gosh. We saw House No. 5 this morning. It's on with the same Estate Agent as House No. 4 and we have put in an application for it as per the Estate Agent's advice yesterday to to keep looking until we were certain we had somewhere. It has had a refurbish, they are looking for long-term tenants, it is nice and rural; it has a small garden; and it has the option to also rent two stables and a field.

B says that if we get it, I can have a pony.

I have no idea why he thinks that ponies are less work than goats. But please can we not dis-abuse him, quite yet, anyway? I am torn between a pony and a donkey. Donkeys have such nice noses, don't they?

Today we have also been to Llanfair show. We wandered around, admired all the red, blue and yellow cards our friends had won for their vegetables and their cakes; looked at the display of old tractors; spoke to a six week old baby rhea (gorgeous, but apparently the adults kick like mules and you catch them by putting a bucket over their heads); and generally chilled out.

Then some more friends came back for a coffee and we talked chickens for an hour, before going to visit yet ANOTHER friend for a complicated chicken-sale transaction that involved chasing Jubilee Orpingtons around an orchard until they legged it through a hedge and we gave up.

I got home about an hour ago and B had already put Leo to bed. So I've had a relaxed tea ... and now Mrs We Must Have Drinks from up the hill has just phoned to say that her dog has killed one of our chickens. The number of people I know with badly behaved dogs seems to be higher than the number with well-behaved ones at the moment.


Not sure which bird it is as B didn't do a head-count when he shut them up - but she's offered to pay for it, and was very shuffley-feeted bless her.

I am ready to move now.

Tomorrow: Setting off an acaricide smoke-thingy in the chicken house to kill the red mite; bankruptcy form-filling; and possibly Glansevern Food Festival if we have time.

Friday, 29 August 2008


The place we viewed this morning was lovely - won't say too much about it in case it jinxes it; but we have put an application in. Let's call it House No. 4.

House No. 1 Estate Agents have not yet received an offer from yesterday's viewing-person and the vendor has asked them wait until close of play tomorrow; so they will let us know on Monday whether we can proceed with it. I am now not a hundred percent sure that I want to. Both places are lovely - but No. 1 is larger than No. 4 and hence a hundred quid a month more expensive and with higher bills to match.

No. 4 has a small orchard, an existing chicken house and an old pigsty where, A LONG WAY in the future, if one was coping with all the other things in ones life such as children, work and chickens, one might be able to keep a couple of goats.

Shhhhh! Don't tell B.

We have come clean with the House No. 4 Estate Agents about our financial situation and have tried to mitigate it by offering to put down the deposit and three month's rent in advance. [insert strangled noise at amount this comes to in actual, real, folding money-in-our-pockets].

Despite yesterday's Official Slough Of Despair, I feel better today. I think perhaps all the sleeping I did whilst feeling so crappy has helped - kind of not much good whilst it was happening; but a benefit in the long run. I also think that the baby might have turned again. It certainly seems busy enough in there. I've calmed down a bit about all the breech-birth horror stories, too.

B came back last night rather than staying in Birmingham for another day's work today - he said that a) the place he was rigging in was full of forklift trucks as the factory people cleared out their final bits; and whilst this wasn't bad in itself as they were very considerate drivers, b) his head was so taken up with banks, money and houses that he was being a danger to himself and not achieving very much at all.

So he came home and we have spent the day trying to sort out houses, money etc. etc.. Everything is going to bounce out the household bills account on Monday - 1st of the month. I feel dreadful about it; but there's nothing that we can do. Literally nothing - except tell them that we have a bankruptcy hearing later in the week and the Official Receiver will be in touch in due course.

Tomorrow we are looking at another property; nice, but has an application in on it already. And in the afternoon we are meeting friends at Llanfair Caereinion show.

For today, that is all.

Thursday, 28 August 2008


The people who viewed House No. 1 today are going to make an offer tomorrow. If the offer isn't high enough, we will be able to let it.

I think my tether has actually snapped this evening - I can't stop weeping. I need to get myself together and go and give Leo a bath and put him to bed.

There is another place come on the lettings market today, via the agency that we had to value this place; so they know about our financial situation. I'm not sure whether that is going to help us or hinder us.

Surely SOMETHING must fall in to place for us soon?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

taking a moment

I can't do this. I can't do it. I just can't.

The bank have just been on the phone asking about the status of our account. I can't cope with those kind of phone calls. B is doing it, mostly; but some of them are bound to come to me, either on my mobile, or whilst he's away.

I didn't mention that he'd blacked out at the weekend, did I? He got out of bed to go and sort out Leo and went down backwards like a sack of spuds. No memory of what happened, just woke up on the floor with an aching shoulder. Low blood pressure, obviously. But not something he usually suffers from.

We are both reaching the end of our collective tethers now.

I am going to shut the chickens up and then go to bed and try to get some sleep. It's better than thinking.


House No. 3 was very cute - two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, a living room and a kitchen downstairs. It would mean getting rid of a lot of our stuff; but that would be okay. The VERY good thing about it is it's garden - vegetable beds full of beans and cabbages, currant bushes, a greenhouse and both a plum and a damson tree.

The catch?

It had an odd atmosphere. And the next door neighbour (it's a semi, in the middle of nowhere) blanked us completely, although she spoke to the estate agent in quite a friendly fashion.

So ... it's still on the list. But we are trepidatious about it, particularly after the 'odd atmosphere' related stuff that's gone on here; nightmares (ours and friends); peculiar behaviour from the cats and mother in laws; oppressive atmosphere etc..

Other things described as 'cute' today - the obstetrician's view of breech birth.

New Baby has managed to do a flip over and is now bottom-down. I am not impressed. Apparently if it doesn't turn back before thirty seven weeks (in three weeks time) they can try to turn it. Which has a 1% chance of distressing the baby and meaning an emergency C-section.

If that doesn't work, you can choose to try to deliver naturally (Doctor: "It's quite cute, actually, when they come out bum-first" Me: "For you, maybe"); or you can opt for a Caesar.

Gosh, the choices available are all so much FUN, aren't they?

In other news, summer is officially over.

B went back to work today after our Relaxing Summer Off (Oh the sarcasm, lowest form of wit I know, but it's about all I've got left right now); he trundled off to Birmingham after our doctor's appointment to light a factory full of rice (go see it). We've got a full order book for September and are half-full already for October and November. This is A Good Thing. However, it also means that Leo and I and New Baby are going to be on our own for most of each week.

We are still waiting to hear about House No. 1. Apparently the people will be viewing it tomorrow.

I am going to have a snooze now, whilst Leo is at nursery.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

welsh gothic

Leo - better, after still having 'nettle rash' all over his body yesterday morning, despite being much more perky. We took him for a check-up with the doctor who phoned to speak to the consultant paediatrician and told us that it wasn't anything to really worry about (!!!!) and that there were no contra-indications for further jabs. He then added, slightly less than reassuringly, that although that was MOST DEFINITELY THE CASE, we might feel more comfortable taking him to the hospital to have them.

After we came back from the doctor yesterday, he had a soup├žon of lunch and the slept for four hours. When he woke up the rash had completely gone and he was fine. Ditto, today - he has dedicated most of his spare time to crawling after the cats and shouting at them excitedly when they outpace him.

In the meantime I've done some googling and it looks like the reaction he had was probably to the meningitis component of the thing. So at least we have an idea of what happened; and at least it proves that his immune system is working.

Still terrifying, though.

Housing - we went to look at House No. 2 yesterday. It is fantastic. Think slightly Gothic Victorian Vicarage (it's an old farmhouse) and you'll get the idea. Seven bedrooms, two cellars, two Jane Eyre-type attics with plenty of room for mad ex-wives should one have them handy, original sash windows and very high ceilings.

We love it. But ... despite the reasonable rent, it will be expensive to heat even if we shut some rooms up. And, the owners (who we have previously met in passing via Freecycle and who are very nice), don't want to take it off the For Sale market because of the HIP thing - they have had it on the market since before you needed a HIP pack and if they take it off and put it back on, then they will have to shell out for one. I completely understand this; but it means that they won't really want us to sign for longer than six months; and neither B nor I really want to be upping sticks again in six months time.

So, we have put that one on hold for a few days to see what happens with House No. 1. We sent our three glowing references off to Estate Agent No. 1 last night and he phoned this morning to say that Landlady No. 1 was very happy with the idea of us as tenants and that we just needed to grit our teeth and hope that the people going to see the place with a view to purchase next Thursday aren't interested.

Which we are doing.

Please keep all your pseudopods and appendages crossed for us.

We are going to see House No. 3 on Tuesday morning. And there is also a possible House No. 4 which we will do a drive-by viewing of at the same time.

In other news, my iron has dropped to below 11 points, which explains why I feel so tired and miserable - started on an iron tonic yesterday. I'm trying to follow the midwife's advice and not do very much. It does seem to be helping the contractions. They want to see me weekly from now on. From mid-week this week (when I hit thirty four weeks) it is very likely that if I have the baby it won't need 'special care' (ie, be in an incubator). But the longer it stays in there the better.

Now, I go to have a glass of wine and get an early night.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

sick as a parrot

Ma has just gone home - she arrived on Monday, exuded support and common sense, helped me divide our book collection in half, fed us lasagne and wrangled Leo whilst we slept.

We have been to look at a few houses and have found one that would be very suitable. However, there is someone looking at it next week with a view to purchase ... . If they don't make an offer, it will be ours to rent. There are also another two pretty decent possibilities that we still have to look at.

Leo had his third set of baby immunisations this afternoon. About an hour afterwards he developed a severe, scary swelling-type rash all over his face and body, with swollen eyelids so bad that he couldn't open his eyes; started pulling at his head and screaming violently; and vomited repeatedly over both of us.

I have never spent a whole hour experiencing such an high level of terror in my entire life.

B rang the doctor, who basically said 'wait it out'. Which we've done. Leo has dozed off, the rash has turned blotchy and he can open his eyes. I've just been up to check on him and he half woke up, wanted a cuddle and threw up again all over me.

I am having quite severe tightenings and Braxtons whenever I do anything more exciting that sit still.

We're okay, more or less, but I am going to bed.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

marginally better ...

Am okay. Sorry. Juvenile, un-British hysteria.

Cuppa-soup is great, isn't it?

Saturday, 16 August 2008


We have just got back from our friend's funeral. It was lovely, as far as these things go - a Humanist ceremony in the Community Centre and then a green-field burial up the road.

We then went to see a house that we saw on the internet this morning and thought might be suitable for us. It is in the next village, it is a reasonable price and it has a nice garden. The owners are lovely.

But they asked me straight out what our own situation was with where we are living now. And I told them. I find lying really hard - I abhor it, I am bad at it and I don't think it brings you any good in the long run.

B is angry with me.

What could I have done? I just don't know what to do.

I am so tired. B is so tired.

The chickens have Mycoplasma and I am probably going to have to cull them; although it's apparently endemic in small flocks I can't board them out to anyone else knowing that they are carriers. And it's looking unlikely that we will find a place to stay that we can take them to.

It is raining. Tonight, I want to drink until I can't think any more, whilst cutting my arms.

Friday, 15 August 2008

pond froth

I don't know if I can do this.

I've just been spoken to as if I am the scum of the earth by a Lettings Agent. We've been advised by all the debt people to be straight up with people when trying to find somewhere to live. I don't think I can open myself up to that kind of behaviour, though.

I feel dreadful.

Edited to say: We have booked a court appointment for the 4th of September. That's the earliest they can fit us in. So it gives us a couple of weeks to sort something out accommodation-wise.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

still here

So, as well as sleeping yesterday, we went to look at a really lovely cottage near Clee St Margaret. It is a two bedroom place, with two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom downstairs.

It's in a pretty rural hamlet called Cockshutford, on the edge of Brown Clee Hill. It has just under an acre of ground and would be perfect. Unfortunately, it's just a smidge too far from the rest of our lives to be practical; Leo would have to change nursery, I would have to change midwives and hospitals. It's also over two hours drive to Liverpool and Manchester, so not good for B from a work point of view.

This is despite an incredibly kind offer from someone on the Downsizer website to accommodate him in Manchester on an overnight basis when he needs it, for a minimal fee.

We have another place to look at on Thursday next week; it would be better if we could look at it earlier and I am trying to get the Estate Agent to negotiate with the current tenant, who apparently doesn't want anyone viewing before she has moved out herself.


There is a third place that looks very good on paper; but it is twice the rent of the Thursday-Next-Week place, which is not un-doable. But it would mean that B would have to work an additional two days of every month to fund it. Which seems boring. One of the positives of this whole debacle is that if we are going to have to rearrange our entire lives and live on a budget, we can now have the luxury of organising ourselves so that he spends more time at home. Which is particularly important with the new baby on the way.

Another large tick in the 'Positives In Our Lives' column is that I have sat down today and created an 'Order Book' that tracks work we have booked in. Up until now I have simply kept a record of pencilled dates and confirmed dates in our diary software ('Evolution' at the moment) and have a spreadsheet that roughly translates that in to projections for the next twelve months.

However, this afternoon I've created a spreadsheet that directly translates those bookings and pencils in to income. And things are looking pretty good - we already have half the minimum work we need before Christmas booked in; and this is VERY early in the season for bookings to be coming in. Normally the phone doesn't start to ring until after August Bank Holiday. Clients that we have told about our situation have been making an effort to find us work. I know I shouldn't be consistently surprised by people's kindness. But I am very touched.

Sleep is good. I should do it more often.

Tomorrow; Leo at nursery. Bankcruptcy papers to fill in.


Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Not doing so well today. Just want to curl up and sleep and not address anything.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

conversations with my mother #080811

Ma: We had a lovely day out, today.
Me: Yes?
Ma: Yes. We went to look at the graves.
Me: Ah?
Ma: The Family graves. You know. Near Malmsbury.
Me: Oh, THOSE graves!
Ma: Yes. And I wanted to say 'thank you' to Vera.
Me: Vera?
Ma: Aunt Vera. She left me some money when she died twenty years ago and I used it pay your sister's school fees and I never felt I said 'thank you' properly.
Me: Ah.
Ma: So, that's what we did.

House No. 1 - lovely. Ideal house, HUGE barn, about an acre of ground, reasonable rent and bills. But too far from the rest of our lives to be tenable.

Both feeling marginally better today.

Thank you for the lovely emails.

Monday, 11 August 2008

so ...

We have somewhere to go and look at tomorrow that will take chickens and cats. And another place next Thursday.

Waiting to speak to Benign Accountant when he comes back in to the office tomorrow. Have all the papers filled in. Trying to find the cash needed to actually pay the fees to apply for bankruptcy - £495 each, cash.

Ironic :).

Saturday, 9 August 2008

strike that

Actually, strike that.

We have spent the last forty-eight hours going over our finances in detail and taking advice. We have concluded that the best way forward is for us to go bankrupt. If we stay here and have an IVA then B will have to work twice as hard as if we pursue bankruptcy. That seems like a really bad plan. He sees little enough of Leo as it is.
  1. With an IVA, you have a five year plan to pay back as much as you can. With bankruptcy you have three years.
  2. With an IVA you make an agreement with your creditors for a fixed sum - they usually want to to take 100% of your surplus income after your household expenses and you have to keep to that figure. With bankruptcy, the Official Receiver will take 70% of it and it's more flexible. Also, your creditors get off yoru back.
  3. With an IVA, we would stay here - but we would still end up being liable for all of the mortgage, as IVAs apparently only count for unsecured loans. With bankruptcy, we can walk away from the house debt which will become part of the overall amount owing to our creditors.
It's just hit me, I think, what's happening. Some friends came to lunch. In fact, they brought lunch. And they were very kind to us and I burst in to tears. I haven't really cried since Dad died. I feel very shaky; and as if someone has peeled my skin off. Dad would be so ashamed of me.

The downside of all of this is that it's pretty likely that we will have to vacate the house once this happens. It takes a week or two once you put it in train - and we just want to check on Monday with Benign Accountant and the Solicitor that there's nothing that we've forgotten or overlooked. We have taken advice from the CAB and from Payplan, we are aware of what happens afterwards re all your bank accounts being closed, your credit rating being stuffed for six years, etc. etc..

We need to find somewhere to live. I can board the chickens out with a friend; but I would really like to take them with us. And the cats. And landlords LOVE cats, don't they? The baby is due in eight weeks - we need to be settled before then.

I feel a bit sick.

Leo is watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony on BBC iPlayer. He thinks it's great.

Friday, 8 August 2008


We are tidying up the house and painting. We are hoping to go to auction on September 13th.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

give me a light that I may tread safely in to the unknown

Our friend in his early forties who had the heart attack at the weekend died in the night. Please send good thoughts to his partner and family.

I am not going to moan any more about our situation - somehow it all seems very insignificant.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008


Here are twenty positive and negative things, in no particular order:

1. The Estate Agent has an auction coming up on September 13th, which we could put the house in to.
2. He thinks that rather than having 7% equity in the property, it is possible that we could have has much as 20% negative equity, given the current market.
3. The solicitor is going away to talk to the Mortgage People about all the different ramifications of those two facts.
4. We had visitors this afternoon, who brought both cake AND biscuits.
5. They visited because the husband of one of our friends had a heart attack at the weekend. The prognosis is not good.
6. While they were here, one of them scrubbed the carpet in Leo's room.
7. My car's MOT ran out two weeks ago and I only realised this morning.
8. The garage have managed to fit it in tomorrow.
9. The immobiliser clicky thing on the key is no longer functioning with any predictability and will cost about £130 to replace.
10. Luckily I have £130 left in the bank account.
11. Leo's teeth are better.
12. Leo wants to walk everywhere.
13. Leo has decided that he doesn't like going to bed at night.
14. Leo went to nursery to day.
15. I love nursery.
16. We have a very nice chicken pie with our own chicken to eat for tea tonight.
17. I have eaten so many biscuits and so much cake that I feel sick.
18. Today I have put a hundred jam jars in the recycling.
19. I am downsizing my book collection.
20. I didn't have a hang over this morning.

Monday, 4 August 2008


I'm so tired and I ache so much - I only got two hours sleep last night, as we were mucking out the house ready for someone who said he was going to come and view the room last night. And then New Baby danced the Cha-Cha all the time I was in bed.

The chap didn't show up, rude so-and-so.

Leo has bitten me again, on my shoulders, my breasts and the bump. He nuzzles in as if he wants a cuddle and then nips whilst you're not expecting it. I have bruises.

Benign Accountant came for his chat this afternoon. He thinks that the business is going to be okay - and advises against bankruptcy. He says that we either need to employ an Insolvency Practitioner or ask our Solicitor to negotiate an independent agreement with our creditors in order that we can still eat whilst trying to sell the house.

The Estate Agent is coming tomorrow for an evaluation.

The Magic Builder is coming back at the end of the week to finish the downstairs plastering and plumbing - Ma is giving us some money to pay him - and some friends are coming to help us paint the downstairs on Thursday and Friday. B has borrowed a hedge trimmer and is going to shave all the greenery to within an inch of it's life tomorrow, whilst, please-God, Leo is at nursery.

My mother is lending us some money to cover the next week's bills. I have no idea how we are going to manage after that.

I am drunk. Not advisable. But it seemed necessary.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

in memoriam

Yesterday afternoon, in Plymouth, my friend Andy's funeral took place. We only saw him once every year or so, if that; but it was one of those friendships that you can pick up and put down over the years and they remain strong. No cause of death has been established - but I spoke to his mother on Wednesday night and she said that it must have been very quick. Although his body has been released to the family for burial with a temporary death certificate, samples have been taken and medical investigations are still happening.

I met Andy ten years ago, when I was first dating Crazy Tom - they were flatmates in Canterbury. They were both working at the IT department at the university and they shared a particularly squalid house in a particularly squalid corner of the town, just off the Sturry Road. It smelt of 'boy'; and they once managed to set the vacuum cleaner alight whilst desperately trying to clean up the sitting room before another prospective flat-mate came to view the place.

Some of the things I will remember about him are:
  • His feet. He was always barefoot if he could be.
  • He once paid me the ultimate compliment of telling me that of all the people he visited, I made him feel the most comfortable because he didn't feel like he was cluttering up my house and making it messy.
  • His kindness to me the first time he visited me after my non-divorce. We hugged on Newport Station and he said "Just keep going, it does get better".
  • The fact that he turned in his job and followed his travelling bug - he trained as snowboard instructor and a surf instructor, amongst other things and he travelled around the world periodically, teaching.
  • The way he'd just pop up out of nowhere after an absence of six months, or twelve, or eighteen and things would be exactly the same.
  • The Ultimate Custard Powder Fight we once had in his digs at Canterbury. Did you know that you can make a great flame-thrower by filling a bike pump with custard powder and pumping it over the full-on gas-jets of a domestic cooker?
I will miss him. He was 41.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

in brief

The vomiting isn't stress-related, apparently. It's some kind of bug.

Is that good, or bad?

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

right then

Right then.

Yesterday we went to the funeral of R's mother, who passed on suddenly a couple of weeks ago. I was in two minds about whether to go - I really wanted to show my support to the family, who are, naturally in shock; but I was worried about holding it together because it was so soon after Pa's. I think it's probably the height of bad manners to have hysterics at someone else's family funeral.

We will not be travelling to Weymouth on Friday for my friend's funeral. It's about a five hour drive and we would have to come back on the same day; not only that, we can't afford the petrol. I am all 'griefed out', I think. When I took the telephone call on Sunday, the person who rang me was crying - I was just numb.

On Monday, I spent all day looking at our finances. We basically need to sell this house - but we are probably not going to clear the mortgage debt if we do so at the moment. I have been talking to our solicitor, who will deal with the mortgage people for us. And the accountant is coming round for a chat tomorrow night. B is going to talk to the Citizen's Advice people this afternoon and this website is very helpful.

We want to avoid bankruptcy if at all possible, obviously.

Leo has gone to nursery today, thankfully - we didn't send him yesterday because of the Exorcist Sick incident the night before; but he seems to be okay now.

I don't feel too bad - apart from the stress-induced vomiting, which is a bit of a nuisance.


Sunday, 27 July 2008

and so the wheel turns

We had an absolutely mammoth 'screaming at each other in the garden a la the neighbours from hell' row last night.

Then this morning we had a chat and realised that it's okay, we don't hate each other - it's just that we are under an enormous amount of stress.

B said "Well, at least things can't get any worse".

And then the phone rang and it was someone telling us that a very old friend had been found dead.

He was coming to visit us next month.

I have spent the morning trying to track down the phone number of my ex-partner, who I haven't spoken to since 2002, in order to pass the news on to him - they were flatmates for years.

Counting our blessings, whilst being in shock.

Friday, 25 July 2008

the truth is ...

I just cannot *cannot* cope with any more. I feel very worn down.
  • The pubic bone pain is there all the time, however I sit.
  • Leo is teething and is all hot and bothered and off his food and has just had an Exorcist Sick moment.
  • The thermometer in my incubator is one degree off and none of my two dozen eggs have hatched.
  • The house is in chaos because the builder hasn't come back yet.
  • We are going to have trouble finding the money to pay him when he does come back.
  • We can't get on and rent the spare room out to get a bit more cash coming in until the house is less chaotic and there is a separate bathroom for the lodger. I don't think I can bear being heavily pregnant / to have just had a baby and be sharing with someone I don't know.
  • Kate and Vic (B's parents) are home from their world trip just after August Bank Holiday. B and I both agree that the best way to head any repeat of any trouble off at the pass is to go up and see them, with Leo, for a cup of tea when they get back. I'm not sure I can however; no apology has been forthcoming from Kate and I am if anything even *more* angry at her for bothering my mother in the two weeks before Pa passed on.
  • We have sat down and looked at our finances. Partly because of the debt that turned bad on us earlier in the year things are very bad financially. Also, our house has dropped in value and we therefore don't have enough equity in the property to remortgage at anything near a favourable rate when we come out of our tie-in at the end of the month. Our mortgage is therefore going to rise by 40%. We are both scared that we are going to lose the house.
  • I miss Pa.
I am not feeling very well. Neither is B.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


I would like a rant please.

I LOATHE being this dependent on other people to do things for me. I *hate* having to ask B to lift things, pick things up, hang things up, all that kind of thing. I feel trapped, because even driving - specifically the movement of my foot and leg to put the clutch out to change gear - is agony. Even walking is hard.

It feels as if something - probably the baby's head - is pressing down in the middle of my pubic bone, and that the bone is going to split apart. It's painful even sitting down.

I am taking paracetamol and apparently rest is the answer. I am going to see the GP on Monday to discuss stronger forms of pain relief - apparently they may prescribe co-codamol for short periods during pregnancy. That's fine, on the one hand. On the other hand, I'm a bit sensitive to opiates and will end up feeling like I'm flying.

B is fed up because there is so much for him to do.

I am fed up because I can't do any of it.

And we've lost a six week old chick today. We thought we'd lost two - but by climbing up the bank and listening very hard, we managed to find it and herd it back to it's mother. This, of course, didn't do me very much good at all.

Oh bollocks.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

get dressed

Today we will mostly be relighting the AgaHunterRayburn, that went out when I put a load of paper on it; doing a mountain of washing now the chap has been and fixed the machine; and killing, plucking and dressing seven chickens.

I may have time to post more later.

Or, I may not.

Oh. And the SPD has come back. I can't bend down.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

a few things

Right. The consultant has confirmed that things are okay - I am not currently about to go in to labour and the leaking has stopped. Apparently the head is not at all engaged, so if I was having any kind of serious leak I'd really know about it. It might have been a pinhole that has healed up. But whatever, it's stopped.

Braxtons, less so. If I do anything. Like walk up the steps to the garden.

I have to hang in for the next six weeks - after week 34 things are pretty safe, apparently.

In the meantime, we have been freecycling stuff like mad and getting the end room ready to rent out. In all the emails I respond to, I ask people to ring B's mobile phone to arrange a time and get directions:

B: Hello! B here!
Caller: Hello?! Hello!? Hello?!
B: Hello! B speaking!
Caller: Hello?! Hello!? Hello?!
B: [pause]
Caller: Hello!? Hello!? Hello?!
B: Hello?
In background behind caller: Stop saying 'hello' and tell him what you're bloody well ringing for!

Also, if you ever freecycle a macerator and someone phones you about it on a very poor mobile phone line, do make sure that you are both talking about the same thing before you hang up thinking it's a dirty phone call. "I am phoning about the macerator" is open to so much misinterpretation.

Of such small joys is one's day made lighter.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

okay I think

I've promised to rest and to go and see the consultant tomorrow at Welshpool and thus avoided being sent to Shrewsbury for a scan yesterday. The Braxtons calm down when I don't do very much and the 'leaking' likewise. I think we're okay. Likewise, New Baby is kicking like mad and has a strong heartbeat - so he/she/it is fine, it's just me that has had a fit of the wimbles.

And here's a tip. If you think you're going in to early labour, DON'T go googling for stuff about premature babies. Definitely not. Just. Switch. Off. The. Computer. And. Walk. Away.

No bees. Sorry.

Monday, 14 July 2008


I'm having Braxton-Hicks and I think I might be leaking a bit. I'm 28 weeks. The midwife is coming out to look me over.

Friday, 11 July 2008

thank you

Right then. I am all emotionally blogged out for the moment I think. We are going home tomorrow - we need to attend to our own lives for a bit. We will probably come back in a week or so. This is the quiet time for us business-wise, so we can bob up and down to give Ma and Sister Natalie support without being in their hair all the time.

Ma is hoping to go away on holiday for a couple of weeks once the Pick Your Own Raspberry season is over in early August. I think that Sister Natalie is hoping to take some time off to go with her; B and I are hoping that she will come and visit us for a few days and she has an invitation from an old friend in Yorkshire that she can take up if she wants to.

B and I have our building work to finish sorting out and New Baby to prepare for. So we have things to think about. I want to process this in small chunks rather than all at once. The Medicare people came this morning and picked up Dad's hospital bed, the two hoists and all the various other paraphernalia of being old and disabled. That means that Ma can at least start to make the space her own again - not blot Pa out exactly; but reorganise her space to fill the missing gap.

Thank you everyone for your support over the last few weeks (and months). It has been very much appreciated by all of us. I have found a great outlet in writing about it all and I shall continue to do so when I need to, I suppose.

Next week, though, I really AM going to try to post something about the bees :).

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Well, that's done.

There were sixty people at the church, apparently. A large proportion of them came back to Ma's for tea and cake. It was kind of nice and kind of overwhelming. Now they've gone, I think that we all feel very drained and a bit numb. That's kind of part of the process, isn't it?

B and Aunt Edith are making toast for us all. Leo has gone to bed after a hard afternoon being admired by people and throwing up on his father's best suit.

I think I am ready to go home - probably Saturday.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


Dead people sometimes don't LOOK dead, do they? Pa looked like he was sleeping, and cold. I found it mildly undignified that he was in his winceyette pyjamas. And the lining of the coffin was a kind of nylon net curtain material.

I didn't think I'd be too upset. But all of a sudden, I was. I loved him so much. He was so quiet and steady and constant - always there, like an anchor. Even in our most difficult moments - for example, when I was twenty one and he told me that I either knuckled down under my mother's roof and let her be top dog, or I packed my bags and left; and I did - I respected him.

My first memory of him, is, I think, when he brought me home from visiting my mother and Sister Natalie in hospital when Natalie was born. We had a Singer Gazelle and the seats smelt of hot plastic when it was warm. I must have been two and a half. Every Saturday afternoon we would all go in Daddy's Car to visit Granny and Grandpa in Wellington. We would be sat in the back, often in short 1970's toddler-skirts. Our legs would stick to the seat. Coming home, we would chatter at him to drive over the 'cats eyes' in the road going in to the village, so the car bumped and rumbled.

I didn't say very much to him, in the Chapel of Rest. I couldn't reach out and touch him - kiss his forehead or cheek or put my hand on his head.

But I thanked him. I told him that I would do my best to look after everyone.

I couldn't say out loud that I loved him.

But I did.

I do.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Tomorrow; body viewing; flower-choosing (Ma wants to do a coffin spray from us all and a posy from the baby) and collecting Aunt Edith from the coach-stop (she is going to play at the funeral).

I also need to post five parcels of tomato plants tomorrow morning, as for some inexplicable reason the Post-Office in Ma's village closes on a Tuesday afternoon and I missed the post today. I have also been putting things on Freecycle. And I dropped three boxes of incontinence pads back to the District Nurses this evening.

Did you know that a limousine to follow the hearse would cost in the region of £110? We have declined, on the grounds that the church is only five minutes up the road; and anyway, Pa's reaction would have been "£110? Just for a car? BUGGER ME!". We also declined a eulogy by the vicar because he would have hated the idea.

Today's gallows humour moment has been explaining exactly where the grave needs to be dug, so that they don't dig up Granny, who has been waiting for her headstone since March 2000.

I'm fraying round the edges a bit. Not sleeping too well.

This is kind of live-blogging a family death, isn't it? Is it weird?

Going to get some fresh air before I collapse in to bed now. Well, fresh air and rain, really. But that's okay.

Monday, 7 July 2008


It's been a grim weekend, as you would expect. We are all regrouping; but in the meantime Ma and I have come down with some kind of virulent chest-thing, probably caught in the hospital. And I still have conjunctivitis, generously brought home from nursery by Leo.

Also in the meantime, a client has forgotten to pay us; they have sorted themselves out this morning, but it's meant some nail-biting VAT jiggling. CHAPS is a wonderful thing.

The weather matches my mood - blustery, wet, hot and cold in turns. New Baby is still kicking away; which on one hand is good. But on the other hand I am not getting much sleep. I am burying myself in listing all Ma's surplus tomato plants on eBay. In three days I have sold five batches of three, so I'm quite pleased about it. eMail me if you'd like some - Alicante or Gardener's Delight (cherry ones), 12" plants in 3"-size pots, £1.50 for three, plus 1st Class postage (£2.50 for 3). She has loads.

I just want to cry. I need to turn out Dad's stuff from some of the cupboards this afternoon - the recycling people will take clothes apparently, and they come tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Friday, 4 July 2008

a few thoughts

Staying at Ma's, we have access to cBeebies. Goodness. Is it populated ENTIRELY with failed actors who can only get jobs as children's TV presenters? Are they ALL on some kind of recreational pharmaceuticals that make them unable to communicate in anything quieter than a yell, with vigorous facial mugging?

Funeral next Thursday. We are staying down here with Ma and Sister Natalie until then. Thank you all for the good wishes, they are very much appreciated. Whilst Ma pretends to abhore the internet and everything it stands for, she is very touched at the kindness of you all.

It is just starting to hit me.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

conversations with my mother #080702

Driving Ma home from the hospital at 5pm yesterday:

Ma: Damn. I hope that rabbit will be okay in the back of the car.
Me: Pardon?
Ma: It's been there since nine this morning.
Me: Gnagh?
Ma: For the magpie.
Me: Gnagh?
Ma: Well someone's given me a Larsen Trap for the magpies and it's got a magpie in it ... so driving in this morning there was a dead rabbit in the road and two magpies were eating it so I thought that that would do for OUR magpie and so I stopped and chased them off and put it in the back of the car.
Me: Ah.
Ma: It hasn't been TOO hot, I suppose.
Me: [retches]

We arrived at the hospital at lunchtime and sat with Pa during the afternoon. He knew we were there. They had put a drain in his leg to try to help him clear his lungs because he was too weak to cough, and just before we arrived had given him some morphine by IV, because he was becoming agitated.

Ma went back in during the evening and she and Sister Natalie sat with him. He passed at 1.15AM, peacefully - cause of death pneumonia.

We are okay.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


We off to Somerset in about half an hour - spoke to Ma last night and things aren't looking good for Pa. The stronger antibiotics aren't working and he is refusing food. They wanted to tube him yesterday but he refused. The doctors have asked Ma to go in this morning for a chat.

I think this is it.

I feel oddly relieved now it is actually here.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

house of straw

Vile day.

Teething, miserable baby. B working, although only a short day. All of us exhausted because of the broken night last night. Phone call from Ma this morning saying that Pa seemed to have taken a turn for the worse last night and she was thinking of asking us to come down.

On the plus side, I have learnt that if I burst in to tears as Leo is crying, he stops and tries to put his hand in my mouth. This is good. Less good is the fact that all he seems to want to do at the moment is wipe his snotty nose in my cleavage. B says who can blame him, but I am not impressed.

Leo and I had an apple-pie bearing visitor this afternoon, which stopped me putting him in his cot and driving off in to the sunset.

We have had an enquiry from someone wanting to rent our spare room - mixed feelings about it - we'd have to share a bathroom until The Magic Builder comes back and finishes all the stuff we've got on the go. But the cash would be handy.

I'm off to put twenty eggs in my new incubator, put the chickens to bed, phone Ma and then collapse in to bed myself. I may end up driving to Somerset tomorrow, whilst B goes to work in Manchester and joins us later in the week.

Oh. And the washing machine is leaking from underneath as it spins.

That was the final straw, really.

Friday, 27 June 2008


Here's a tip. Don't drink half a bottle of heavy and delicious Merlot with an accompanying heavy and delicious lunch, unless you are happy to be wiped out for the rest of the afternoon.

I didn't set out to, of course. You never do, do you? It just kind of happened by increments, once we'd dropped Leo off at nursery at one o'clock and decided to spend my birthday money on treating us to lunch at the previously mentioned Royal Oak Hotel in Welshpool. B was generously parsimonious (if that is possible) with his alcohol intake and drove me home. Where I collapsed in to bed for the afternoon and woke up with a mouth like the inside of a chicken house.

It was very much worth it, though - I have been feeling rather less person-like than usual, and putting my responsibilities on hold for a few hours has made me feel very much more like myself.

Also, it is raining and the spinach is growing like, well, spinach, which is very cheering.

In addition, I have spent the last few days installing 'Ubuntu' as my operating system; which means that I only need to use Windows XP for the accounts software and for Caesar IV. It runs VERY very fast and has very easy to use Open Office and internet software and IS ALL FREE. Free. No money. And you can import all your MS Office stuff in to it and it runs it all, straight away. I am on a mission. Everyone should use Ubuntu rather than spend hundreds of pounds on Microsoft stuff. The very good thing about it, is that there are various different versions, including something called Xbuntu, which is designed to run on low-powered machines. So if you are thinking that you need to upgrade your hardware, instead, have a look and see if Xbuntu will do the job for you. No, it's not Microsoft. But it looks close enough to it to make it very comfortable to use if that's what you are used to.

Sorry about that. Technical interlude over. Honest.

Dad is improving apparently. He was very much better earlier in the week, straight after the antibiotics kicked in; and they were talking about him coming home today. However, he hasn't been quite so good on a day-to-day basis since then and has been getting a lot of relief from the oxygen. Since they don't have an oxygen set-up at home, they are keeping him in until Monday. To be honest, I can see this going on for a bit on a 'yes he can come out, no he can't' basis ... but hopefully, it won't be too long. The only real danger is if the catches a different bug whilst he's in there, as happened last time. As Boy said in the comments on my previous post, MRSA is an issue; and c. Diff, apparently. So fingers crossed.

In the meantime, Ma has had an up-and-downer with the Social Services people. 'Their' Case Worker is off sick and so no-one will make any decisions about whether she can have any more care without doing a whole fresh assessment. She wants a sitter for a few more hours in the afternoons, which you wouldn't think was that difficult - but apparently it is.

For now, that is all. An early bed beckons, since our smiling, two-legged alarm clock will be awake at ten past seven. He's teething again - so much snot, how can it all fit inside one baby's head?

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

hmmm ...

Pa's full of antibiotics via a canula, is on a saline drip and is no longer blue. He wants to go home, which is fair enough - but no-one seems to have confirmed what was wrong. It's probably it's a lung infection caused by the 'slow swallow' problem; but they are still checking stuff out.

In the meantime, he is cranky.

We are plodding on, though.

For now, that is all. Sorry :(.

Monday, 23 June 2008

and again ...

Pa's been rushed in to hospital with what could be either pneumonia or an embolism. Very sudden onset. We are standing by the phone.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

naming ceremony

We had a lovely time. Ma borrowed the awning from the farmer's market and we put it up in the back garden. The weather was a mixture of very warm sun and torrential thundery showers; so it worked well.

Even Pa came out of the living room and sat outside for a while. He was quite interested in what was going on, declined to speak as part of the ceremony ("Say something?! Me?! Of course not!"), interrogated me about our visiting friends ("What profession does SHE follow, then?"), enjoyed the sandwich platter that Sister Natalie had ordered from Sainsbury's ("Sandwiches?! What kind? Can I have ham?") had a glass of cider and then retired when he got tired.

Sister Natalie and our other two 'sponsors' said some really touching things to Leo - in fact, Natalie's made me cry - and they have also written them down for him and I am going to put them in a scrap book. B said some ad-hoc things at the beginning about our idea of what being a 'sponsor' involves; and I finished off by reading 'On Children' by Khalil Gibran.

Then we ate, drank and chatted until baby-bed-time.

08062008(004)Natalie had ordered fantastic cake shaped like a lion ... it was brilliant, and HUGE - we took it home and I was morally obliged to finish it all by myself during the week, as B has been working.

It was a fantastic day - the only thing that marred it was the because of family reasons, R couldn't be with us. However, we have got him on standby to stand for No. 2 and are prepared to have the ceremony round at his house to make it possible :).

In other news, things are not resolved with B's mother. She has been on the phone again to Ma, saying that she 'has apologised and doesn't see what else she can do'. Apparently she left Ma a message and Ma phoned her back. Again. Ma then phoned me and told me that she didn't want to be involved. Ma has also sent B's dad a birthday card, which hasn't helped our situation at all, as B decided not to - after messages were passed on through the friends that Kate is communicating with AND Ma AND by text that "He would be VERY upset if B didn't mark Father's Day and his birthday". Nothing we have received resembles an apology as far as we can see.

Kate has also sent a 'good wishes in your new home' card to our neighbour, who will be moving some time in the next few weeks. They don't know each other and the neighbour is bewildered and also, gratifyingly, irritated on our behalf. She made me laugh my socks off the other day as I was telling her the saga by saying "I was always quite thankful that my husband's parents died before we met, as I don't think we would have got on".

Such pragmatism is very healthy and I am trying to develop some.

In other, other news, we have had seven chicks hatch, one of which I had to carry around in my bra for an afternoon before managing to repatriate it with it's mother. Long, slightly un-nerving in a 'don't push your elbows together' story, involving confused broodies sharing accommodation.

For now, that is all. Except - despite all the family stress, it's been a good week. B was away for sixteen hours at a time Tuesday to Friday and Leo and I managed very well, although I was knackered by Friday. I kept us and the chickens and cats all fed, watered and clean and kept on top of the washing. So not bad. New Baby is kicking like mad, too.