Friday, 29 February 2008


Don't you hate bastard clients who you do the work for and then who don't pay you on time, or, sometimes, ever? So that your suppliers are ringing you on a daily basis asking for THEIR payment and you are left hung out to dry?

We are both getting fed up with working like this - it's starting to be more trouble than it's worth to us. I need that Premium Bond win to pay off the mortgage tomorrow, please.

Also, it's Mother's Day this weekend, isn't it?


Sunday, 24 February 2008


Here's a tip:
When trying to drill a small hole from the bedroom down in to the kitchen, try not to simultaneously drill through both the hot water pipe and the ring main, particularly at 7.30PM on a Saturday night.

In a fit of embarrassed despair, B spent an hour phoning plumbers from the Yellow Pages* and eventually found a chap in Wrexham, an hour's drive away, who was prepared to come and sort us out. He left a party to do so and turned up very smartly dressed and radiating bonhomie. He wasn't obviously drunk. But we wondered, after he waxed lyrical for about five minutes about how he would have liked to give us all fridge magnets, but his order hadn't arrived yet.

He replaced the section of pipe, proffered reassurances to B that OF COURSE he couldn't have seen that he was drilling in to the pipe, because of the angle of the beam; relieved us of ninety quid and a dozen eggs; and disappeared in to the night in a cloud of cheer. And possibly champagne.

Somehow the evening seemed dimmer without him.

By this time it was 11.30pm, so we left the ring main repair until this morning and collapsed in to bed.

Other things we have achieved this weekend include:

1. Buying 25 kilos of salt with which to salt our pig (currently in bits in the freezer). I want to make ham. And I want to make brawn (or head cheese, as they call it in Jamie's neck of the woods).
2. Entertained the Kitchen Witches, who were remarkably chipper about the DIY Chaos - they said it made a soothing change from stressing about their own.
3. Installed the electric oven (although it isn't connected yet). AND the workmen have finished installing the soild fuel stove. Shiny kitchen pictures to come some time this week. Oh, AND B has finished the shower. AND we have hot water to actually shower in. Result!
4. Got out act together enough to go and get a carpet to replace the soaking one in the bedroom. They are coming to fit it tomorrow.
5. Started vomiting again. Isn't the body wonderful? It's only been twelve months since I was this sick before and I had completely forgotten how rancid it is.

For now, that is all. I am off to catch up on the washing, now we have both power AND water.

* Why do people advertise themselves as '24 Hour Callout' when when you ring them at 7.30 on a Saturday night they say 'I can come at 9am on Monday'?

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


B and I went to THAT LONDON for the weekend, so see something that I found interesting-but-slightly-incomprehensible at Sadler's Wells and generally spend some time not covered in an appealing mixture of plaster dust and sick.

It was very enjoyable. On Friday night we were tucked up in bed at 8.30pm, watching David Attenborough On Badgers and drinking cocoa, whilst Leo stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.

Ah, the bright lights of the city!

Then we came home.

Monday brought plasterers, plumbers and B's dad, Vic, who has been sorting out a shower for us. It was all rather overwhelming.

The plastering is done and dusted and looks great.

The plumbers disassembled the existing system and then rather shuffly-feetedly enquired whether we knew anyone who could wire in the odd combination of pumps and thermostats required to make the Dunsley Baker Neutraliser work properly. Luckily, the chap doing the plasterering is a Man Sent From God, and between them, he and B sat down and made sense of the wiring diagram. However, we have been without central heating for two VERY cold nights (-7 centigrade) and B is still head-down, arse-up in the airing cupboard, trying to figure it out. Luckily we've got a gas heater and a couple of electric fan heaters; but it's still not much fun.

Vic has gone home without completing his shower job. I had a bit of a panic attack yesterday evening and he forced a chat with B and I about what happened; which pushed me right over the edge in to full blown hysteria. Today, I feel like I've been beaten up.

In-laws can be so difficult, can't they? I love them dearly - but they have been here for three days out of every seven since the New Year and I really feel that my house is not my own. If I follow my own routines, I get looked at with askance - he doesn't approve of me spending so much time on the PC and I got a bollocking last night for revealing that I had had a chat with the lovely Stegbeetle on MSN when I HAVEN'T MET HIM IN REAL LIFE AND HE COULD BE ANYONE. Shock! Horror!*

Of course we haven't gone in to the ins and outs of the panic attacks, where we think they stem from and all the work I have done on myself, with Kate and Vic. Sometimes it's difficult enough to let B close when I am in that kind of state, let alone anyone else. I appreciate that it was really difficult for Vic to bring the subject up - he finds emotions really hard to deal with; but I felt so under attack. And you don't really want to chat about childhood abuse and rape over after dinner coffee, do you? Particularly when you are all sat in fingerless gloves and woolly hats and one of you has dreadful pregnancy-induced nausea.

So, after about twenty minutes of it, I removed myself to the kitchen and had a nice bout of hysterics and hyperventilation whilst doing the washing up. I kept trying to calm myself down by telling myself to remember the baby and not work myself up in to a miscarriage - but it didn't really help. In the end, B came in and helped me calm down, and I went to bed. And this morning, I stayed in bed whilst he and Leo took Vic home, nominally because Vic has developed a head-cold of startling proportions; but actually because I am in a place where I can't bear the idea of having to talk to anyone.

In the car, B was too mentally tied up with the central heating system to talk about what had happened and Vic felt too rough. So I have no idea whether things are better or worse than last night.


I am going to let the chickens out for a bit. And bash their water with a stick to de-ice it. And see whether my cauliflower seedlings have survived under their bubble-wrap in the greenhouse.

Mr and Mrs Kitchen Witch are visiting for the weekend - the feminine half of the group are planning on sitting in our nightwear, eating pancakes and drinking cocoa whilst watching some kind of feminine dvds, while the masculine half moves the chicken house. It's peculiar how some people are low pressure visitors and some are high pressure, isn't it? The KW's definitely come in to the first category - perhaps it's because we know one another quite well because of blogging and therefore there is an emotional shorthand there that I don't share with Kate and Vic? Or perhaps it's because we share similar eccentricities?

At least I will be able to vomit in my own toilet without having to ask my father in law to climb out of the shower first.

*At this point, Steg, please don't reveal that you are an axe murderer, it would undermine my point.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


Remember this? And how it was a great big fat shock?

Shock No. 2 will apparently arrive in early October.


Thursday, 7 February 2008

time is a healer

Leo yesterday:
Carrot and apple puree is evil, EVIL I TELL YOU, how dare you try to poison me with that dreadful concoction?
Leo today: Oh, yummy! Carrot and apple puree! Is there more?

I have a new cockerel. He is a barnvelder. Dennis the speckled sussex is going to a friend of mine who will give him a good home; and I can concentrate on the one breed a bit more.

The slight issue being that currently the two cockerels are running together and the barnvelder is only nine months old. Dennis is therefore establishing his masculinity by chasing him incessantly around the garden until he leaps on to the roof of the hen house and stays there. He seems quite sanguine about it all - perhaps he knows that in the next week or two he will become King Of All He Surveys.

In bee-news, I went and looked at the hives yesterday, it was so mild. Two have survived the winter, as we were expecting, one with stores. I fed the other one, and next week I am going to feed them a kind of Bee Pick Me Up called 'Flying Start' which is supposed to give them the same nutrients as pollen and help them get, well, a flying start. The clue is in the name.

The bees are also going to live with the same friend who is taking Dennis - she has more land than us and I am a bit nervous of Leo getting too close to the hives whilst he's in toddler-lurch mode and bumping them, with bad results for both him and the bees. It's about a twenty minute drive away, which is fine - and what is even more fine is that she also has a couple of hives; so we are going to have a kind of bee-co-operative, whereby we can help each other with the lifting whilst our other halves inconsiderately go out to earn a living.

Leo is napping currently, and I am about to try to install Ubuntu.

This weekend we are visiting Ma and Pa and Sister Natalie. We are looking forward to seeing them and they are looking forward to us coming - we have said that we will Pa-sit whilst Ma and Natalie have some time doing grown-up stuff without having to keep one ear open for him all the time. Things in that department aren't really too good, I don't think - probably more about it after the weekend.

For now, that is all.

Monday, 4 February 2008

not forgetting

Around Christmas 1993, I got pregnant. It was completely the wrong time for me to have a child - my relationship was breaking up, I was supposed to be going back to University, I had nowhere to live and no income. I really wanted it though. I can't describe how much I wanted it. That baby was MINE. My partner was in the process of dumping me in a particularly shitty way, he was horrified at the idea of having a child. It was MY baby.

So I thought very hard about what to do; and whilst I was doing that, I had a miscarriage.

Which in a way was good, because I didn't have to make any hard choices. I just had to pick up the bits of my life, pack a bag, find a room in Leicester and start my Master's course.

I did all of those things, plus suffering from quite bad depression.

For a while, every month, if my period was a couple of days late, I would obsessively do pregnancy tests.

I would think I was getting over it, that it was all fading, then the sight of a baby would knock me back completely; just provoke a complete and utter breakdown in to tears. It was like a physical pressure in my chest. Sometimes the sight of children's clothes in shops would trigger it. Sometimes it would come up out of nowhere. It wasn't as if the grief faded with time. The spaces between the bouts of grief got a bit further apart, gradually; but the grief I experienced each time was just as raw and just as intense as in the days after it had happened.

I needed to be held while I raged against the unfairness, to have someone touch me on the hand as I passed Mothercare, to smile at me understandingly as we passed a mother and baby in the street. I had none of these things, because my partner and I had split up and I was back at college with a group of people who I deliberately hadn't told my history.

In the end, I got myself some counselling. I bought some tiny baby clothes for the baby and some pram shoes and socks. I gave her a gender and a name. I decided on a birthday for her. I called her Elouise and decided that she would have been born on the 14th of September.

When September came round, I grieved again.

Each year, in February and in September, I remember her. I think about how she would be growing. Whether she'd have long hair or short hair. Whether she'd like animals, or computers. Whether she'd be like me. Or completely different.

Gradually, the tearing pain of each anniversary faded. Now, fourteen years on, it's almost as if I am mourning someone who passed away many years ago. I feel a bitter-sweet pain in my heart; and in my head I see a picture of my daughter as she would be today.

This week, fourteen years ago, I lost the child I will never have. Nothing can replace that - Leo is his own person, as was she; whole, complete, a brief visitor who taught me things I needed to know and then left again.

With the distance of time, I can treasure the experience as a gift. And it's what you do with the gift that matters.