Saturday, 26 December 2009

for christmas I had a heart attack and an eight inch statuette of Guan Yin Goddess Of Mercy

Well, not quite - but it felt like it at the time. It hasn't been quite the Christmas I was expecting.

At 11.30 on Christmas Eve, B called an ambulance, because my heart rate was racing and I had pain all down my left side. I spent yesterday in hospital having blood tests to see whether my heart had been damaged by the episode, which was something called SVT. Which is hasn't, despite going at 210 beats per minute for a while. It was rather un-nerving, to be honest; and I hope it doesn't happen again. No-one seems to know whether it will or won't - it's some sort of electrical blip in the junction box between the top and bottom heart valves that causes a feedback loop. It can be triggered by any of - stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes or hormones, or nothing in particular. I was half asleep, so it looks like it was 'nothing in particular' in this case; which might be good, might be bad.

Anyway, I came home yesterday night and apart from a slight shortness of breath and feeling quite tired, I am fine. The children are staying with Ma again tonight so that we can get a good night's sleep. And then we are back to normal.

The only present I have opened so far is the one from B's mother that contained an eight inch high statuette of Guan Yin, Goddess of Mercy, Honesty and Forgiveness. Apart from the fact that I think it is EXTREMELY bad manners to give gods and godesses as a present - a bit like a new washing machine or cleaning the toilet as a birthday present for you partner - what does it MEAN? Is she saying that she feels mercy, honesty and forgiveness towards me? Or that I am lacking it and she is praying for it for me? Or just that she thought I would like the statuette; which is reminiscent of a Chinoserie Virgin Mary in robes of lime green and orange?

I have always felt that lime green and orange aren't anyone's colours - let alone being appropriate for the Mother Of The World.

Anyway. I have put her in the bag in the corner of the bedroom, ready to be given away. My friend Judith says that it is FINE to give away stuff that other people have given to you; and I am taking her at her word on this one.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

christmas cheer

I bought a fire guard for a fiver off eBay a couple of weeks ago and for various reasons haven't been able to go and collect it. I've kept in touch with the seller and today I paid her by paypal as a mark of good faith and told her that I wasn't going to be able to get over this afternoon as we had tentatively arranged, because of the icy roads.

She has sent me back a message via eBay saying that she didn't want paying by paypal (which wasn't stated in the auction) and that she was offering it for sale, not sale and storage. And that the roads weren't icy as she had been out; and that she needed it picking up tomorrow.

I've just sent her a message back telling her to relist it, as I can't be bothered at the moment to deal with people who are unpleasant. Should I negative feed-back her, explaining what happened in the comment? Or neutral? Or not bother feed-backing her at all? I'm not bothering to ask for my money back - I can't be doing with the hassle.

Thoughts, please? I do a lot on eBay and I'm not sure it deserves a negative. But it was nasty.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

left, right, which-ever

Sorry. LEFT HAND column.

aw, thank you

Thank you, you are all lovely. Here, have a seat, or a floor cushion or something. And if you would like to point out to me that you deleted your blog in the right-hand column six months ago but I still have a link up, please feel free ...

well that's okay then

I have decided to go back to publishing at ducking for apples instead of coming back to the valley. It feels odd being over there instead of over here ... so here I am.

I've whisked around with a feather duster, straightened the pictures and had the phone-line reconnected and it feels rather nice, as if I've been away on a journey and have come home. I've also worked out how to import the handful of posts I made at the other place, so I haven't lost anything at all.


Sunday, 13 December 2009

harry christmas

We went to the nursery Christmas jollities on Friday evening. It was all lisping gap-toothed four year olds muttering the wrong words to traditional songs and sticky fingers and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even the bit where Leo spied the mince pies in the middle of Jingle Bells and made a bee-line for them, giving tongue loudly.

Harry Christmas brought everyone a bar of chocolate at the end - I am not sure how Harry Christmas happened - but he is here and I hope that he will be staying as I have become quite fond of him over the last couple of weeks. A friend of ours suggested that perhaps he is married to Mary, which I thought was a nice idea.

B is away again today, until Tuesday night, derigging the show he has had on in Ness Gardens on the Wirral. It's gone very well, apparently. After that and tying up the loose administrative ends, we are off work until the New Year. We are hoping to go and collect the bees from mid-Wales next weekend; plus visit some friends. And then come home and put up some decorations and generally settle down for the turn of the year.

Soon, I will start my Christmas shopping ...

Friday, 11 December 2009

killing time

We have all been down with a vicious cold/cough combo that had us in hospital on Monday evening with the baby and has had us all cooped up at home all week since. Nenna is fine now - it was just more of the usual chesty-cough and a temperature combo. She thought the hospital visit was fantastic, with lots of people and toys to play with. Her temperature went down over the evening and by 11pm they sent us home.

We left Leo with Ma whilst we were faffing about at the hospital and he has been very disturbed since - partly because of that and partly because he's had the same thing himself. Last night was the first night we have all slept through for about a week; they have gone to nursery today, although I am going to phone in a minute and see how they are getting on.

It's sunny for the first time for what feels about a decade, so we are just off down to Ma's to do some Chicken Shennanigins, involving cockerel slaughter (maybe), pullet moving and cleaning things out.

More soon.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


Just posting to say we're still here, really. Depression has been pretty bad and hopefully I'm on the upswing a bit.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

short time living ...

Good intentions are all very well, aren't they? But they don't get your blog written. I think a list might be the best way to start again:

Cottage1. We have moved. This is our new house. It's lovely - it has three big bedrooms upstairs and a good sized living room and kitchen downstairs. The bottom bit at the right-hand side of the picture is someone else's shed, but the whole of the upstairs is ours. It's the old gardener's cottage behind the 'Big House' and is about two hundred years old. You can see the cobbled yard. We are right on the edge of the hills and the red deer come down in to the park. At the moment we can hear the stags roaring - it's eerie, but wonderful.

2. All children well. E is being referred for an audiology assessment because there is a probability that she has a hearing issue. This may be because of a high dose of the gentamicin antibiotic that she was given when she was so poorly last year; or just something that she may grow out of. But at the moment she is really too small to test, so we are just rolling with it. We have swapped our front-facing push-chair for one where she looks at us as we go along (with a buggy-board for Leo, which he loves); and that seems to be working well for us.

3. We have been discharged from bankruptcy. Yay! Our credit record is still up the creek for the next six years, but at least we can now have a cheque book again!

4. No progress on the 'building your own house' front. The chap who was going to help up with the planning side of things has issues of his own; and we have been pretty tied up with moving and settling in, so that's been unintentionally on hold.

5. All chickens well. They are at Ma's, a mile down the road. I have twenty four three week old chickens in the kitchen; three dozen hen eggs in one incubator and five duck eggs in another. Positive responses only, please :).

6. We had to have our eldest cat, Mrs Three Legs, put to sleep on Tuesday - she was twelve and had been suffering from thyroid problems that were finally untreatable. We miss her, but it was time to say goodbye.

For today, that is all.

I do have a bit more brain-space returning, though, so hopefully more soon.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

reciprocal childcare is illegal in the UK ...

It has become illegal to look after your friend's children on a regular basis in the UK - if you do it for more than 2 hours at a time and/or 14 hours a week, 'for reward', then you must be registered with OFSTED. 'For reward' includes in exchange for someone else looking after your children.

Please propagate and sign this petition to do something about this - if this is enforced, thousands of women who have this kind of arrangement with friends will have their lives made significantly more difficult.

For us, things are quite hard at the moment. B is still on tour in Europe and I am struggling, despite Ma's help. I am going out to join him for two days this week (Montpellier!) and on Sunday he comes home. Hopefully we can settle in to some kind of normal routine at that point and I will have the time and headspace to start to write again properly.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Maisy Rose Project

Things have been touch recently, but we are moved in to the new place and are getting on okay. Broadband should be connected in the new house this week and I will start blogging properly again then.

In the meantime, please can you propagate this post yourselves if you are able, to spread information about it? The baby daughter of some friends of our has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and has a very poor prognosis. Please send them your thoughts and potentially a donation.

Their website is here.

Their daughter is six months older than Nenna.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

doom ...

So, today B and I braced ourselves and entered The Room Of Doom.

It turns out that because of all the sterling work that our friend and I did in there a few months ago, it was MUCH less doom-laden than we expected. We now have eight bin-bags and about the same number of two foot by eighteen-inch by eighteen-inch boxes stacked outside waiting to go to the tip; and a boot-load of things for the charity shop. There are two or three more boxes to go through, mostly of things that need to be divided in to charity shop / keep categories; and a cabinet full of old business stuff that needs a little more filtering; but we are pretty much there.

Also, the books are all boxed up.

We SO rock.

On Monday, B's mother and father turned up and removed our spare bed. At least, we thought it was our spare bed, because when we offered to pay them for it last year, they said that they didn't want to take our money. However, it turns out to have actually been THEIR spare bed all the time; and therefore they arrived to remove it in a van. They also returned Sister Natalie's A0 drawing board that has been living at their house, apparently causing them much dudgeon. But they omitted to bring back the cot, the changing table and the high-chair that I had bought on eBay for the children to use when they were at their house, that I had asked them to bring so that the daughter of a friend of ours could have them.

It was most peculiar. We had been supposed to meet them at a farm park on Sunday so that they could spend some time with the children. But because they wanted to come down with a van and move furniture, we suggested that they took them both for a walk in the pram then, instead, rather than us losing two days of packing time. But they only stayed for fifteen minutes and were really peculiar all the time they were here. We are both pretty fed up with the whole thing. B's mother is pushing for both of them to go down and stay in Somerset to spend time with the children when I am visiting B in France mid-theatre-tour in September. How is that going to work, if they aren't prepared to spend half an hour with them in our company when they have the chance?

It's all very tedious.

B has just returned from taking the kids for a walk to get them out of my hair - bad period today. Time to launch in to tea-and-bedtime.

And that is all.

Monday, 24 August 2009

dead woman walking

Sometimes, things hurt you so much that you think you will never be whole again. And yet the shell of you continues walking and talking like the outside of you doesn't know that a part of the inside of you has died.

And that is all I have to say tonight.

Friday, 14 August 2009

from the heart

Dear Sister Natalie

I have a few things that I have been thinking over the years and I'd like to lay them out to clear the air.

Firstly, I do not want to impinge on your life in any way whatsoever by coming back home to live. All I want is a home for my family, close to my wider family. I want to do my best for them; and for our mother. I know that we haven't always got on; but I would really like us to be able to work towards being friends and supporting each other.

Secondly, for twenty years I have stayed away from home except when I really, really had no place to go, because I know how strongly you feel about the place and how much you have needed to be there. Therefore you have only ever seen me when I have been in extremis. You don't know me any more. Your image of me is stuck in our teenage years when I was ill from a frustrating and debilitating illness and reinforced by seeing my need for shelter at the end of an abusive relationship.

You have no idea how I am on a day to day level - my needs and desires, the things I find satisfying or unpleasant, what I find funny or what makes me sad.

You don't know what makes me tick any more. Just as I don't know what makes YOU tick.

I value my independence. Above everything, I don't want to be reliant on anyone else, ever. And that seems to be your main fear - that I will turn up and expect everyone to do things for me.

That is not the case. It has NEVER been the case. I have never asked for help gratuitously, financial, emotional or practical, when I have been able to manage without it. And I am not about to start now. I am looking to make a relationship with you that will benefit all of us - you, Ma, B, me, the children. In ways that obvious to us now and perhaps in ways that are not yet obvious.

I don't want anyone to do anything they don't want to do, or don't feel able to do.

All I want is a home for us. Somewhere to put down roots, be settled and to grow. You have no idea how it feels to be rootless and as badly bruised as this - how could you? I don't think many people have experienced what we have been through. The last twelve months have been hell for B and me. It's a miracle that we are still standing and still together, let alone that our relationship is still as strong as it is. I know that we have both lost our father; and that was a really painful process. But on top of that, B and I have lost our home. Our business. His family. And nearly, our daughter.

It has taught us a lot of things. But the main thing it has taught us is that it is people who are important. We just want to be with our family, right or wrong. And unfortunately for you, you and Ma are all there is.

I really hope that we can make it work. There are so many benefits for all of us. I know that being friends might not be possible. But beings sisters might be a starting place to see if it is.

With love,

Your sister,


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

dot org


Packing SO sucks, doesn't it?

I am doing my best to chuck stuff out - so far, I've gone through baby clothes and kit, some of the stuff in the shed and am moving on to books. I am a bit scared to go in to the Room Of Doom. Today hasn't been a good-day child-wise. We have had some friends staying, one with a three year old; and last night the adults stayed up far to late and caroused for far too long ... which resulted in frustrated and bored kids this morning.

This afternoon, B and I took them all for a walk and ran the legs of them - and they were all asleep by six. It's seven thirty now and I don't think that the rest of us will be far behind them.

Tomorrow - organising moving surgeries with the Health Visitor.

For today, that is all.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Please can I have a sick note for not posting three times a week as I was aiming for? Because, we have found a house in Somerset a mile and a half from Mum's and will be moving in to it in the first week of September.

We both feel as if we are picking up the threads of our life again and steering our own ship rather than being buffeted around by random winds and whims. I am so happy. Let's see how I feel in a month's time :)

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Thank you very much, that seems to be working fine!

Today. More rain. More mud. More wet children. More wet chickens.

B hassled me out of the house yesterday and I spent a very pleasant afternoon knitting and chatting with friends whilst drinking unconscionable amounts of tea and eating flapjack. There is something so nice about creating something with your hands and I don't do enough of it. I suspect I spend too much time online and typing, rather than sat in front of the TV or listening to music and knitting or sewing - I think I might try to cut down on one and do more of another.

Leo's new-via-eBay duplo arrived this morning and he is delighted - all those little people! All of whom seem to be called 'Bob'! I think, because they all have hair-styles like Bob The Builder's safety-hat. But I'm not sure and he hasn't seen fit to explain.

For today, that is all.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Could someone leave me a comment do you think? I am twiddling with my settings to see whether I get a notification when things happen over here ...

mostly for Carol

Just to clarify for Carol ... Fisher Price Little People have holes in their bottoms so they can sit on their Fisher Price Little People cars and seats and things. If they didn't have the holes, they would fall off. Only over the years the different types of people seem to have evolved and be non-compatible. See here. I believe that some of the earlier ones command quite high prices from collectors - they've been going for fifty years.

Hope that helps! :)

Today, we are going to a friend's house to do wiring/sewing - you can take a guess which of us is doing which. The children have blessedly gone to nursery. We're both exhausted - they still aren't sleeping very well and reveille was at ten to six this morning.


Monday, 27 July 2009


Sometimes, you think everything is fine and that everything is going along swimmingly. And then all of a sudden something really small and trivial comes along and knocks you completely back.

The last couple of days I've been feeling pretty flat. I'm been toddling along; but I'm finding it an effort to get going. This morning I couldn't move my right arm; which is always a sign of stress. I slept in until ten and have only just got dressed, which isn't ideal.

I woke up in time to answer a phone call from our dippy landlady, giving me the phone numbers of three plumbers and telling me to organise quotes from them all for the repair of the heating system, which we first told her needed looking at the week before Christmas. She also said that she was in the process of getting a roofer to come and look at the leak in the roof that is soaking the walls of the spare bedroom - and has been since we moved in; and she is still waiting for someone to come and do something about the pot-holes in the drive that have cost us £200 in tracking and tyres since New Year.

I have seen my arse, a bit, and am going to try to arrange to go and see some rental places down near Ma's. If we did that for six months it would see us over the worst of the winter and we could look at moving in to a static on site at that point. I am so tired of being at the mercy of other people - I really just want to be close to Ma. I can't remember whether I have mentioned that B has been booked for two European theatre tours in September already? One of them, the French one, we have been told that we take the children on, which would be nice. But if it doesn't happen that will all be time for me here alone with them.

In other news, Fisher Price Little People - there are so many kinds, aren't there? All with different sized holes in their bottoms. Who knew?

Friday, 24 July 2009


I came across this this morning. A chap wants to collect one million drawings of giraffes before 2011 and needs another 977341. Click here to see his current giraffes and find out how to send him your contribution.

It is raining again. I am starting to grow mould.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


Mary Mad Chicken
Well, I'm sorry to report the demise of Mary Mad Chicken - she was very rocky on her legs last night and the hedgepig had pulled out a large proportion of her feathers; so I culled her last night.

RIP Mary, you will be sadly missed - for your determined campaign to get in to the house to eat the cat-food; for your patience in being picked up by a toddler determined to carry you round; and for your endearing habit of sitting on the side-board in the living room and looking at yourself in the mirror.

She was one of the founders of my flock and I only have her sister left of that generation. Time's fleeting chariot and all that is so much swifter in the poultry world. Bless.

Anyway. I have three dozen chicks hatching in the incubator as I speak; and seem to have made a dreadful error of judgement in the colour of the eggs I put in. I thought I could tell pretty well which were the barnevelder  eggs and which aren't. But it transpires that that is not, actually, the case. I'm going to have to do some culling when they have finished hatching tomorrow.

And on the Palace Gates: Nenna is better; Leo is fine but bored; B is exhausted and someone has stolen all my bones and replaced them with something bendy.

I'm off fora kip.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

hedgehog in a box

Well, here we all are.

Sorry that that burst of enthusiasm kind of ran itself out; all sorts of things have happened, nothing traumatic, just life-stuff. The most dramatic of which is that on Friday last week, Nenna managed to develop swine flu, or something similar and has been on tamiflu since then - last dose this morning. Current advice is to say isolated whilst you are symptomatic; so we have battened down the hatches and are actually having quite a chilled out time, if you discount the terrifying temperature spiking over the weekend.

I am having a crisis of confidence about blogging. What am I doing it for? I think that to get something out of it then you need to do it at least three times a week - for me, anyway. And having had to 'move house' so to speak, has been very disruptive. I just don't feel that this new place is 'me', really; and I haven't had time to decorate properly.

I am also wondering about the wisdom generally of having so much personal stuff on view on the web. I know that it's very narcissistic to think that anyone is going to be that interested in us; but anyone who was could get a great deal of information from the blog if they wanted, despite my nod to anonymity. I think that I am going to try to get back in to the swing of the regular writing; I miss it very much when I don't do it. And I definitely want to focus less on the minutiae of baby-care and misery and have a more balanced list of topics.

We have so much going on that I can write about. We are going to try to sort things out so that we can move to Somerset and live on Ma's place. She is finding it hard without Dad I think, and B can help with the heavy work and I can do some of the marketing for her. We want to get planning for an agricultural dwelling; that is just getting underway.

I suspect that will be a blog in itself.

Last night we were woken at 2am by screams of anguish. I went straight from deep sleep to vertical and shooting out of the door in to the baby's room in about three seconds flat, bounced off the door frame, woke up properly and realised that atually it was Mary Mad Chicken, who has taken to sleeping under the hen-house to get away from the cockerels. And who was being attacked by a hedgehog.

Has anyone else ever removed a hedgehog from under a chicken's wing at 2am in the pouring rain and put it on a box on the freezer for the children to look at in the morning?

I am just about to go an assess the damage to poor Mary - she is getting to the end of her laying life anyway; and this might be a casserole too far.

For today, that is all. I will be back soon.

Saturday, 20 June 2009


Yesterday a friend came over and between us we culled thirty eight week old chickens.

I have hatched and grown on some birds for someone who wanted them as the nucleus of a flock to run alongside (well, after) his beef cattle, to clean parasites up from the pasture. And on Thursday, we saw that six off them were exhibiting the symptoms of mycoplasma, a respiratory complaint that kills a small percentage of birds and leaves others less prolific layers. Birds who have had symptoms are also carriers for life.

After speak to my Poultry Guru, I decided that they had to go - I couldn't in all honor pass them on to someone else.

It was not the most horrible afternoon I've ever spend, but it came quite close.

All the rest of the birds are on a five day course of antibiotics that will hopefully nip its spread in the bud. Apparently many small flocks have it at one time or another - it is endemic in the wild bird population and I have had a few cases before. But I think that this round of it came in with some stock I bought a few weeks ago.

I have been going over and over in my head what I could have done differently - hygiene, quarantine, etc.; but there's nothing I could have changed. Large producers vaccinate - it can be done in the shell when they are developing apparently. But the best small people can do is treat when you see symptoms and cull if they don't get better quickly.

I am never, ever buying birds in again - it will be hatching eggs only from now on and I'll make sure I dip those in sterilising solution before I put them in the incubator.

Tomorrow, we have told B's parents that we will be at a neutral venue near Chester if they want to see the children. We sent a card recorded delivery to them on Monday and have had no response. We are getting to the end of the road with it now - we will go along anyway and if they turn up, they turn up. And if not, not. At least we will be able to draw a line under it.

Now, I'm going to bed

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


It feels very, very odd to not have ducking for apples any more. I felt really shaky and emotional about letting it go; so it was probably time to do so. It's particularly odd because all the old material is still here, imported in. And I've simply made the old place not viewable rather than deleting it. I suppose as attachment difficulties go, having them with your blog is pretty peculiar.

Anyway. Here we are. Welcome.

Apologies about the layout. I'll be attending to it soon.

Now I don't have to be scared who might read this and use it, I can write what I like and I am hoping that not having to self-edit will mean that I get back in to posting more regularly.

We have been having a dreadful time with B's parents - really, really awful, possibly legally awful, hence the cageyness about public domain information.

For tonight, that is all. It feels nice to be back again.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

validation please

I seem to be either a whirlwind of efficency or a bit of a blob at the moment. I'm finding some stuff really hard to do - keeping on top of the washing is still a big thing, despite taking Z's advice and downgrading my standards slightly!

But in chicken and garden world we have two broodies who are fostering fifteen chicks between them; we have sorted out the chicken pen so that fewer hens manage to escape and come round and sit on the doorstep - it's charming, but it means that one needs to navigate an ocean of chicken poo before getting in through the front door - and I seem to be forever chasing them off the sofa when the door is open in warm weather.

We have repaired the chicken house window, finally - it got broken in the move and has had an old plastic feed bag tacked over it all winter. Now they have two lovely clean windows to look out of; and some guttering to keep the rain off the house. We have laid out and started digging over a couple of veg beds and I have started peas, courgettes, squash and french beans in some pots.

Our planning meeting in Somerset went relatively well - the feeling from the planning officer was that a strawbale extension to the existing house would be perfectly acceptable. However, Ma isn't comfortable with us taking down the barn and being so close to her - she would rather we were a separate unit away from the main house. And Sister Natalie seems to have some issues about us being there at all which I just can't cope with at the moment. So we have decided to let things lie for a bit. We like it here very much and have space to do all the things that we want to do for now. So provided our landlady is happy, we will go for a longer lease when it comes up for renewal at the end of the summer.

On the down side, although the anti-depressants being doubled has helped me a lot, I am still prone to getting very stressed about things. I think this is partly due to lack of sleep. We had a dreadful week last week, with both children waking up alternately for about five nights in a row. Last Friday we ran the red flag up the flag pole to Ma and Leo went to stay with her on Saturday. We are picking him up again tomorrow and it sounds like they have all been having a really nice time. So have we - we've seen a few friends and put some sleep back in the sleep-bank.

B's mother, Kate, has been looming on the horizon again. This time I have tried to nip things in the bud before they spiralled out of control. When we met Ma on Saturday to hand Leo over, she presented me with a card from Kate that wished her a happy Easter and asked Ma to phone her as 'No-one else ever tells me anything!'. Ma said "What should I do about this?" and spent quite a lot of time agonising over it to us. It made me very, very angry and also raised the spectre of last year, when Kate was hassling Ma about what a bitch I was, whilst we were all trying to take care of Dad as he was dying. So, yesterday morning, I wrote her an email, with B's consent, telling her to leave my mother alone and not to try to bully us in to getting in touch with her. It was very straightforward and didn't pull any punches. Yesterday night we got a phone call from a friend, saying that B's father had just phoned, to ask if they could pass on a message to B to phone him. B did - and they have arranged to meet next week for a cup of coffee to talk things over.

I think this is a good thing. But I also feel dreadful about it - as if Kate and Vic are going to be telling B what a horrible person I am. They seem to think that I am lazy - that getting depressed and not being able to do stuff equates with laziness. I just want a quiet life and not be bullied. But hey ho ... we'll see what happens.

In other news, both children are fine, apart from the expected 'poking pencils up each other's noses' behaviour, which whilst hair-raising is completely normal. Eleanor can sit up by herself now, more or less. And if you help her balance, can stand. I suspect she is going to be mobile a lot earlier than Leo was.

Right, I need to get on and attend to babies and chickens. More soon. I am going to get back in to the habit of blogging more often now I am feeling better and we are doing more interesting things again - I don't want to be simply a mommy-blog.

For today, that is all.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


I am still here. Just a bit preoccupied with mildly sick babies, hatching and non-hatching eggs, washing, cleaning, all the usual stuff.

I'm feeling much better, though - the medication is working I think - so I am hoping to rev up to talk about something other than babies and depression as I'm boring even me, now!

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Not coping terribly well at the moment - upping the escitalopram has given me an expected wobble whilst my brain chemistry rebalances. Some rocking, some sobbing, blah blah blah ... all boring stuff. I am spending as much time outside as possible; luckily it's been very sunny.

In summary:

1. Chickens shagging - check! (Yay!)
2. Eggs hatching in borrowed incubator two days earlier than expected - 8 (Yay!)
3. Eggs doing something peculiar in my own, thermostatically incompetent, incubator - 42 (Boo! Hiss!)
4. Wonderful husbands - 1 (Yay!)
5. Barking Mother's In Law - 1 (Round Two The Sequel has taken place in the last forty eight hours - Boo! Hiss!)
6. Broody boxes constructed - .999 (Yay!)
7. Toddler tantrums - infinite (Boo! Hiss! Screech!)
8. Cats having thyroid gland removed tomorrow - 1 (Both Boo! Hiss! AND Yay! as we have finally worked out what is making her poorly and it's quite easy to fix by taking the over-active gland out of her neck)
9. Exhausts that have dropped off car during past week - 1 (Boo! Hiss!)
10. Visits to Ma's in coming week to talk to planners - 1 (Yay! On all counts)

Early nights are where it's at at the moment ... I go a bit bonkers in the evenings otherwise. So for now, that is all.

Monday, 16 March 2009


I've spoken to our GP today - she has advised that I double the dose of escitalopram that I am taking, which will effectively take me from a 'maintenance dose' to a more regular dose.

I am pretty miserable about it - but I'm starting to struggle to deal with everyday things like the laundry and paying the bills and feeding the children, so I guess it's one of the things to tweak and see what happens. In the however-many-years I've been taking it, I've lost all my previous hang-ups about antidepressants, so I don't have the feelings of failure that I did when I first went on it. I suppose that that is progress of a sort.

It's been a beautiful day and I've been watching my cockerels shagging. Not for pleasure, I hasten to add, although there is something very uplifting about the idea that the sap is rising and spring is coming. But to monitor their effectiveness.

I have nine hens and three cockerels. Until last week I had nine hens and ONE cockerel. But he's simply not interested in the laydees. He will find them bits of corn and beetles and what-not and call them all over and court them assiduously. The all come running and bustle around him like an obedient harem.

But when it comes actually giving them a good seeing-to, he is simply not interested.

So, I have put him in a pen with three young hens, in the hope that if the girls don't get a head-start when they come out of the house in the morning he might be able to keep up and jump their bones. And I have bought two young cockerels who are hopefully going to either stir him on to greater endeavours; or, in a worst-case scenario, take his place.

Young Cockerel One is too young. So he is hanging round like someone's son at an Anne Summer's party and running away when any of the hens look at him.

Young Cockerel Two is slightly older and knows what it's all about. However, he clearly has had no *actual* practice at it - rather like a chap from an all-boys boarding school in his first term at university. He waits until the hens are all eating or drinking ... and then he circles round behind them, takes a running leap, grabs them by their neck feathers and jumps on board.

Rather like some of the chaps I dated in my late teens and early twenties, to be frank. It's like watching the last half hour before kicking-out time in a particularly seedy club in Fresher's Week. If the hens see him coming they turn round to face him in unison, like a group of middle-aged women on a works outing and face him down. You can almost see them saying "Do you MIND, young man!"

However, I am hoping that a few weeks will see the young boys get the hang of it all and learn to court the ladies and my breeding programme can continue apace. If 'apace' isn't a particularly up-itself word to use, particularly in relation to chicken sex. In the meantime, I have four two-week old chicks that are feathering up nicely, ten eggs due to hatch this time next week and (ahem) forty-two due to hatch the week after.

I am investigating additional chicken accommodation for full-sized birds as well as for chicks.

For today, that is all.

Sunday, 15 March 2009


We have been fiddle-faddling around trying to make an outside brooder box for chicks today. They need some kind of heat until they are about six weeks old and it's also good for them to be able to run outside on grass rather than be shut in all the time.

In the absence of a broody to foster them, I have found some plans for a wartime brooder that is basically an insulated box with a hot water bottle on the top, that you change twice a day. The chicks cuddle under when they are cold and then pop out again when they've warmed up. I think it will be a) healthier for them and b) cheaper to run than a 250 watt bulb on for six weeks - which works out at about thirty pounds.

My plan is to keep them inside until they are partially feathered - at two or three weeks - and then transfer them outside.

I have various orders for pullets and growing cockerels from people; so some planning at this stage will save us stress later on. Forty eight week old chickens take up soooooo much more space than forty day olds :).

Leo has been helping. It slowed us down considerably.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

dig for victory

We Dig For Victory!

Are YOU digging for victory?

I've come across this website in the .sig of a friend of mine - and it looks like a good grassroots movement to join. Put the icon on your website or blog if you grow some of your own food; or eat seasonally or locally where you can; or buy from small local shops to support your local economy.

Spread the word - this way of life is a choice for us. To keep it as a choice for our children and not as the only way they can survive, we need to change the way we think and behave about our food NOW.

For today, that is all.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

when we were very young

Oh. My. Goodness.

The Terrible Twos are F-ING TERRIBLE, aren't they? How long do they last? Given that we are starting them six months early? And can I put my head in a bag for the next x number of years until he leaves home?

DO children leave home these days? Because if they don't, I am.

Friday, 6 March 2009

doomy doom doom

Today a friend came over and helped me to tackle The Room Of Doom. We went through various Boxes And Bags Of Doom and have consolidated, thrown away, tidied and generally gone through everything like a dose of salts. I reckon that there is about twice as much still to do as we did today. I am very, very excited about starting to be able to see the floor - and also very conscious that we need some storage space for things like curtains. I am thinking of some kind of old-fashioned clothes press type thing.

On my to-do list for the weekend is to put all the stuff that we decided could be ditched on to Freecycle ...

B is back and also went through loads of old business files that can be chucked out.

We rock SO MUCH.

No laundry got done, obviously ... but who cares!

I'm off to bed.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

aims, method ...

Things I have concluded today:

1. Pint tankards do not bounce when thrown down the stairs
2. It is probably impossible for a toddler to remove a baby's eye with a tea-spoon, however hard they try
3. Removing the last bits of meat from the chicken carcass for stock is a yukky job
4. Having a cupboard full of chutney you are too scared to eat is a waste of space
5. Bread can rise too much
6. Actively disliking ones mother in law is not a cardinal sin
7. You don't have to enjoy coping, so long as you ARE coping
8. A dyson can suck up more than 100 raisins before conking out
9. It cannot suck up sheets of lighting gel or whole oak leaves
10. Going to bed early doesn't make getting up in the night any less awful

B's gone to Daventry, did I say? Like Coventry, only slightly further and less full of naked ladies on horses.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

it's not that

Sometimes I still feel as if I'm stuck in the headlights of a car, in the middle of the road on a dark, wet night. And although I can see the car coming and am blinded and dazzled by the beams and their reflection on the wet road, the driver of the car has no idea that I'm there and is going to drive right through me.

I am having a really difficult week. I think it's depression - I wake up each morning and instantly want to burst in to tears. The feeling stays with me all day. Putting one foot in front of the other, dressing the children, feeding them, putting them down to sleep, making sure they have some relatively clean clothes to wear; some days it's really hard. I just want to sleep. Sleep sleep sleep.

B has got three days work this week - two nights away. He went this morning. It's the first time he's been away since Nenna went in to hospital at the beginning of December. Things are very different with the two children now - it's much easier to manage the two of them by myself.

So it's not that.

We are settled here in the house. I like it. B likes it. We are gradually getting ourselves sorted out.

So it's not that.

Money is okay.

So it's not that.

We are enjoying being a family and enjoying being together with less stress to deal with.

So it's not that.

The most ridiculous things leave me overwhelmed. For example, in a minute I need to put my shoes on and go and feed the chickens. And then I need to take the dry washing down from the rack and put the wet washing up. And then I need to sort out the two chicken carcasses I've got boiling for stock in the pressure cooker. And make Leo some tea. Feed Nenna a bottle. And put them to bed.

Just routine stuff. But looking at that list, I get stuck at the bit about the washing. I just can't imagine making myself do it. Washing is my Bete Noire anyway - I just about manage to put the dirty stuff in the machine; but putting it on the dryer is hard to motivate myself to do; and putting it away mostly never happens. Ironing I don't do - it's against nature. It's like the washing is a great, mountainous hill in every single day of my life that reduces me to a gibbering wreck.

Isn't it peculiar what makes you realise that you're not really coping?

The Health Visitor is trying to get us some extra help to come and look after the children or help with the house. I went to see someone on the Mental Health team a couple of weeks ago to try to see what practical and emotional support might be forthcoming from them - and got treated so poorly that I am making a complaint; more of which later once it's sorted out. Suffice to say that I don't think that that is going to be any good to us practically.

I just want to weep. And then can't do that because I feel hollow inside and there's nothing there. I've got a GP appointment next week to talk about hormones ... I think I probably need to discuss post-natal depression as well.

On a cheery note, we had four chicks hatch from the incubator on Saturday. It was a very poor percentage - there were thirty six eggs in there. I am giving the cockerel a repreive for now, as it's early in the season and he's young ... but if he doesn't buck his ideas up, there'll be pot-roast for tea one night soon.

We are weaning Nenna. Photos soon.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

conversations with my mother #090301

Ma: Hello dear! How many holes should there be in a cat's bottom?
Me: [speechless]

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

it is

We got a phone call from nursery as we were about to collect the children yesterday - Eleanor wasn't feeding and was very chesty. Cue B accelerating towards the nursery rather more speedily than we had been.

We took her straight to the Out Of Hours clinic in Welshpool, as it was ten minutes after our own doctor's surgery would have shut. They gave her oxygen and called the ambulance. And so we all went to Shrewsbury again, in convoy. In the ambulance she had a real coughing fit and brought up loads and loads of gunk; apparently oxygen can do that, all power to it. So by the time we got to A&E, she was breathing much better.

They kept her in overnight, because sometimes the lungs can gunk up again - but we went up this morning and brought her home later afternoon. She has bronchiolitis again - she's all bubbly with clear secretiony-stuff and is finding feeding tiring. But her colour is good and she is very smiley. They've given us twenty four hour open access to the Paediatric Ward and we are much more relaxed about the whole thing. I'm not sure whether that's good, or bad.

But it is, anyway.

Leo is shattered. We took him with us last night on the 'all stay together in a crisis' principle; but the hospital was FAR TOO EXCITING for him to want to have a nap. And again, this morning when we went back up to collect her. He finally dropped like a falling tree at four o'clock, just as we were about to leave - I'm going to have to go and wake him up and give him something to eat in a minute, which isn't going to be fun.

Then, I need to sort out my hatching eggs (Saturday! Yay!) in to two incubators so I know which chicks are pure-bred and which are crosses.

Beef curry for tea.

If I sound blase, it's because I'm exhausted.

Monday, 23 February 2009


I am feeling a bit better, due to cranio-osteopathy, dicolfenic and writing a letter of complaint to the NHS about something I haven't yet blogged about because I thought I'd better wait and see what happened first. Not wearing a bra is providing me with some lessening of pain in my back and therefore my head.

However, my nipples are waving at my belly button.

As in so many things in life, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


The crescendo migraine I have had for three weeks appears to be finally crescendo-ing.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009



1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.
4) Tally your total at the bottom.

How many have you read?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen x
2 The Lord of the Rings x
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte x
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling x
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee x
6 The Bible - x
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte x
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell x
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman x
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott x+
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy x
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller x
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (about half) x+*
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier x
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien x
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks x
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger x
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger x+
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell x+
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams x+
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh x
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck +
29 Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll x
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame x
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis x+
34 Emma - Jane Austen x
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen x+
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis x+
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres x
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden x+
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne x
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell x
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown x
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery x+
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding x
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert x
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons x+
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen x+
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens x+
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon x+
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold x+
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding x+
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett x
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath x
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome x+
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray x
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens x
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker x
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White x+
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle x
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton x
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery x
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams x
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute x+
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare x
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl x+
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Fifty-seven. Life seems to short to read stuff that doesn't immediately grab me these days*. If you'd like a go, cut and paste, follow the instructions and link back to here in comments so that we can all come and look.

* Currently reading Iain M Banks 'Matter', which is brilliant.

Monday, 9 February 2009


The sky is a perfect shade of blue overhead. The sun is warm and feels as if it is wrapping me in in it's arms. I am lying in the long grass. I can smell the fresh-crushed-grass smell from the broken stems around me and see the wide, furry stems with their tassled plumes rising above me. There are ladybirds and ants wandering up and down the tangles.

I can see nothing but the grass and the sky. A little way away I can hear Pa and some helpers stacking glass and moving the wires for the chrysanthemums and stocks around on the concrete pad by the old stoke hole. The concrete is quite old. There are cracks in it and moss growing on it and I know it's very hot under the sun. They are talking as they are working; I don't know about what and I'm not interested enough to listen any harder. I am relishing in being hidden from them - I am sure that they know I am there; but I am completely private. No-one can see me, hidden in my nest as I am, like a leveret or a plover.

I must be about eight.

I can conjure the memory up from thirty years ago as if it was yesterday - the smells, the sounds, everything.

That's the place I want to build my house. Down by the old stoke hole at the bottom of greenhouse Number Five. There's a long strip there covering the place where the stoke hole was and the patch of concrete is, now mostly grown over. It faces south. It won't impinge on agricultural ground, it's tucked down there below the blackcurrant patch and beside the brambly trees.

I hope the planners feel the same way.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


I am surrounded by cats. Both times I've been pregnant they have been obsessively in trying to get close. If I was pregnant I would a) be horrified and b) be very surprised. We have been very, very careful to make that a null possibility. However. The cat thing.

Me: These cats are really irritating me now. I wonder if I'm pregnant.
B: [pauses] NOT POSSIBLE.
Me: Have you been wanking in the bath?
B: No. Have you been bathing in the toilet?

I expect they just want a cuddle because it's cold. Only it's NOT cold now. It's lovely and warm in here, despite the light covering of snow outside. I am curled up on the sofa fiddling with a rough plan of our ideal strawbale house. B is Stumbling and is hopefully going to start speccing a twelve volt power system in a minute.

Tomorrow we are thinking we might have a baking day - lots of bread, cake and biscuits to go in the freezer.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

pregnant person's offer ...

I have a partly used 'Helios Homeopathy for Childbirth' kit to give away. If you would like it for yourself or for someone you know, email me your address and I will post it to you. There are some of all the remedies - I found it very helpful. It was given to me by a friend whilst I was pregnant and I would like to pass it on to someone else who might find a use for it.


One of the things about living in a really cold house is the layers of clothes that one has to wear EVEN IN BED preclude any kind of romantic activity whatsoever. Sometimes because of laughing.

Last night.

Imagine the scene:

Me: in a thermal t-shirt, pyjamas and bed socks, all smelling slightly of baby-sick, sitting up in bed reading 'How To Build Your Own Strawbale House'. The bed is covered in a duvet, a blanket, a double sleeping bag and three cats, all of whom are wearing woolly hats.
B: hopping round the bedroom in two t-shirts whilst attempting to pull on a pair of thermal long-johns two sizes too big and cut in a VERY peculiar fashion around the calves so that they are so tight that you can hardly get your foot through.
Me: I suppose sex is off, then?
Both: Collapse giggling, B with one foot still lodged in the funny calf-bit.

I can quite understand why people used to rub themselves all over with goose fat and sew themselves in to their rabbits skins or whatever for the winter; if goose fat wasn't so bloody expensive I'd be doing it myself.

On the plus side, though, we came home from Ma's on Monday with five sacks of logs small enough to fit in to the ridiculously inefficient and possibly lethally badly connected woodburner in the lounge. We have been burning a mixture of coal and HUGE logs left by some previous tenant that the landlady very kindly said we could use up. The logs are nice; but about 70% of them are too big to go in the fire and cutting them has been pretty difficult. The coal is very basic stuff, and very wet. Once you get it going it's okay; but it takes a while and involves shovelling it up off the floor where it's bags have degraded. It also doesn't burn very efficiently and leaves us with loads of cinders. We are gradually using these to fill in the wrong-way-round-trench across the middle of the orchard that is draining a small waterfall down the steps in to the back door. Why don't people THINK before they dig things like that? It's draining very efficiently - just in the opposite direction to the ideal.

We have also bitten the bullet since we came back on Monday and put the heating on all the time. We ordered half a tank of oil a couple of weeks ago and we have resigned ourselves to it only lasting two or three months. It's just not fair on the kids to have the house so cold that it's misty when you breath out. I now need to find four hundred quid to pay for it ... but we can just about manage that and it means that I'm not checking the kids for hypothermia four times a night.

We also came home from Ma's with a large rabbit, which has made a fantastic casserole with mushrooms, potatoes and spinach and some of the ham that we made from the half a pig we got last year. I've got some pictures of the salting process to post at some point, when I can get Ubuntu to talk to my phone.

We have made some decisions regarding moving to Somerset. We are going to try to do it. The next move is to make an appointment to talk to the planners about whether an independent dwelling or an annexe is a more realistic way to go.

On that note, I go in to the Room Of Doom to try and sort out some boxes.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

where the heart is

I want, so very much, to come home.

I am tired. I feel beaten. I feel drained. I feel overwhelmed. I have run and run and run; I have tried and tried to put down roots away and make a life for myself.

I left home when I was eighteen. In twenty years I have never thought that I wanted to come back to live. I have been so afraid that if I admitted that I wanted to, not doing so would be too much to bear. Coming back was impossible - Sister Natalie and I have never really got on. There was no-where to actually live that didn't involve sharing a house with either her or with Ma. Ma and I love each other dearly; but we cannot live under the same roof permanently.

Now, things have changed. Pa is dead. Ma is struggling. Sister Natalie and I have declared a truce that may, if we are lucky, evolve in to a non-dysfunctional relationship.

This last year, B and I have truly been through things that are too much to deal with. We are both exhausted. Neither of us is coping with day to day things very well. We are arguing and sniping at each other because we are so tired and have been so stressed. We know why - it's reaction to the last twelve months. But that isn't helping. Since this time last year, we have been through the death of family and friends; we have lost our business; we have lost our house; we have gone in to bankruptcy; we have nearly lost our new daughter. We have done all of this whilst I was pregnant and whilst B's mother was feuding with us, even to the extent of phoning Ma three times in the fortnight before Pa died to bitch about me. During the pregnancy and all of the other things, whilst I was suffering from post-natal depression and debilitating SPD, B was holding the family together. And now he is tired too.

Now, right now, I just want to come home. I miss the air here. I miss the smell of the hills. I miss the red soil that sticks on my boots in the winter and puffs up in fine dust under my feet in the greenhouses in the summer. I miss the 'clunk-roar' of the boilers coming on in the night; and the way the flax-blooms in the field opposite the gate ripple like water under the wind when they are in flower. I miss the oak tree half way up the lane where the owl sleeps. I miss the swallows zipping in and out of the back door to roost in the coal cellar and the hum of the Little Pump when someone is watering.

I want to rest. I want to recharge my batteries. I want to plant things and know that I won't have to move on and either uproot them or leave them behind in a few months. I want to be near my mother and my sister. I want help with the children. I want B to be able to rest as well. I want to have time to spend together, relaxing.

I feel rootless; aimless; purposeless; lacking in any kind of goals.

All I want, for me, for B, for the children, is to be happy and secure.

I want, so badly, to come home.

Monday, 26 January 2009


Things that are making me grumpy today:

1. People who use my face flannel to wash the babies' bottoms

Tomorrow: Expenses Claims: Why running your own business can cause a divorce.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

moany sunday

The children and I have been to visit B's parents this afternoon, whilst B has been working. It was okay. I feel a bit odd about it - she had bought toys and books for them to play with up there, which made me feel guilty for not having more contact with them. I know it's not my issue to feel guilty about - it's just the situation, and if anything, *she* feels guilty and is trying to propitiate them with gifts. But still - I feel sad and lonely inside on Kate and Vic's behalf, somehow.

It's probably because I'm knackered. Eleanor has another cold and hasn't slept at all well the last two nights, whilst I've been on my own. I have been trying to sleep and rest as much as possible; but sometimes it's just seemed as if they are waking up alternately just to taunt me.


Also, the rain has been blowing in to the coal cellar and all the coal is wet - so the fire is never getting up to the point where it could be described as 'roaring'. My feet are cold.

On the bright side, B is due back in an hour or so. I am going to wash the baby bottles, make up the fire and go to bed and read for a bit I think.

Tomorrow: Do you need to be a little pig to build a house out of straw?

Friday, 23 January 2009

horse with shouting

This evening I drove the children home from Welshpool screaming simultaneously for forty minutes. Them screaming, not me. Although I was inside.

Children are such a joy, aren't they?

They were tired and hungry rather than any more serious issues, but isn't it amazing how much noise a tired and hungry baby can produce? Talking to them didn't have any effect at all, so in the end I turned on the radio and started singing, which seemed to stun them in to silence. But when I stopped and started talking to them again, the yelling restarted. Instead of just buying milk at the Spar, I bought a bottle of wine and three giant bars of chocolate; I managed to get them in to bed and have merciful silence descend before I cracked the merlot, but only just.

I have had a lovely day, though, all alone. I went back to bed after B left with the children at 7am and didn't wake up until gone mid-day. I woke up in a lovely, snoozy, warm, slow way, instead of jettisoning myself upright in to the cold and the dark to the sound of baby-screaming. As I lay there, I realised that the scratching noise I could hear was the cat using the carpet in the spare room as a toilet in a dirty protest at me not leaving the kitchen window open; so that idyll didn't last long.

Tomorrow; me, two babies and a whole day to fill without going mad. I may do some putting things in to folders. Leo likes putting things in to things and I reckon with a bit of encouragement I can get him to be fully conversant with my filing system by the age of two. And I might try to clean out the chickens if there is simultaneous sleeping. I am very grumpy about the chickens - the *bloody* horse is back, having now completely flattened the fence in a number of places. Our landlady is not very keen (or, I suspect, financially equipped) to repair it. And when I spoke to Mr Horse to ask him to come and reclaim his animals, he was very rude to me. So they don't give a damn about them, either.

I've spoken to the RSPCA who can't do anything unless there is 'clear evidence of neglect'. Which chasing my chickens and putting them off lay isn't. That's the bit I'm grumpy about. It took me a while to get there, sorry.

I go, to fill the coal bucket with wet coal and find some kindling to dry out in case I need to relight the stove tomorrow morning. Oh, and to wash baby-bottles.


Thursday, 22 January 2009

home alone

Today B went off to work just before lunch, leaving me on my own with both children for the first time, er, ever. It went quite well ... partly because a friend dropped in on the off chance and we spent a few hours drinking tea and chatting, whilst the babies alternately slept, cried and tried to eat the cat food.

I've just done bedtime - they have both gone down. I couldn't face a bath; but never the less, I feel quite pleased with myself. Tomorrow they both go to nursery all day; and then on Saturday and Sunday I am flying solo again and B is away overnight. I'm can't say I'm looking forward to it, really, but I think I'll cope now. Six weeks ago I definitely wouldn't have.

I have a dozen jars of marmalade that look lovely. I am not entirely sure about the taste. 'Bitter' would be one word you could use to describe it, possibly because I chucked the lemon and grapefruit peel in as well as the orange peel. I didn't use Sevilles, just ordinary oranges, so that should make up for it a bit. I'd just had a cup of sweet tea when I was tasting it, so perhaps that was the problem. I'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to have another go.

I'm trying to get back in to the habit of blogging each day. Some of it is going to be more tedious than usual until I get my hand back in, for which I apologise. And I definitely want to steer away from the 'mommy blog' which this seems to have become over the last few months. Tomorrow, I am having a lie-in, because B is taking the children to nursery on his way to work ... and then I am going to go and help a friend clip her dog's toenails.

That is all.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Marmalade waits for no woman. Oh. Hang on.

Today our Health Visitor Baby Sitter has been for the two-and-a-half hours a week she is allocated to us. She is absolutely lovely and arrives with a BIIIIIIG bag of Exciting New Toys each time she comes, which keeps Leo busy for ages. B and I retreated to bed and slept. Eleanor was up at six wanting a feed - she has a cold again and it is effecting her feeding, making her very tired so she is only taking about half her normal amount for about half the feeds. She woke because she was hungry, took seven ounces and went back down until 8.15. EIGHT FIFTEEN!

In other news I am trying to do the tax return for 2008. It has to be in by the end of the month. Oh the fun.

The marmalade is half made.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

over it

It's been a fun-filled fortnight - in an ironic way, I hasten to add.

We are both exhausted and are taking some time to continue to fall apart and then gather ourselves back together, with the support of the Health Visitor and GPs and all their crew. It's working, I think.

And (sorry, Earthenwitch) ... Eleanor has started sleeping through the night. Sweet relief. She goes to bed with Leo at about 6 or 6.30 - they get a bottle and then bed. Then we feed her before we go to bed, some time between 9.30 and 11.30. She then sleeps until 7-ish. Or, this morning, 8-ish. Please don't hate me, EW. During the day she is wanting a seven ounce bottle every three or so hours ... so I am starting to give her a little bit of baby rice. At three and a half months that is quite early; but she is sooooo hungry, bless her. On the downside, she is drooling in that 'I am about to start teething' kind of way.

In the meantime, the chooks are laying well - I am keen to start a hatch, once I can afford to run the incubator. I did think that Blackbeak The Wonder Mother was about to go broody ... but she seems to not quite be there, yet. The incubator costs about a quid a day to run, which is all very well; but it focuses the mind when you see it ticking down on the pay-as-you-go electricity meter. I am going to do a fertility check and then start auctioning the eggs on eBay as I did last year.

We have had some serious talks with each other and Ma and Sister Natalie about us moving to Somerset, in some sort of independent accommodation on the smallholding. We are going to apply for outline planning permission and see where we get to. Our lease here is now up for renewal and we can roll on to a month-by-month contract, so that is what we have decided to do. We are finding out about eco-building design and Ma is talking to the local councillors about planning permission. Ideally we would like to do some kind of strawbale build; but it depends on what might be allowed.

If anything.

B is watching the Obama Election Carnival and I am going to go and make marmalade.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Happy New Year

Well, that's that then. Christmas came, it went.

Eleanor went on antibiotics again the Monday before Christmas, and a ventolin inhaler thing. I took her to the GP in the morning then brought her home and fell apart completely. B loaded us all in to the car, screaming collectively, and took us down to Ma's two days early. On Christmas Eve we were referred to the local hospital by Ma's GP, as Eleanor was getting worse. They gave her a good going over and then sent her home with open access to the ward - which thankfully we didn't need. On the way in to the hospital I got caught by a speed camera - I am just about to write a letter pleading mitigating circumstances.

Despite all of that, we had quite a nice time. We had a collective weepy moment on Christmas Day, thinking about Pa.

My bestest present was Amazon Vouchers. 'Keeping Poultry and Rabbits on Scraps' anyone? B's bestest present was Ma getting up at 4am to help him feed the baby. Leo's bestest present was a toy train made up of wooden blocks. Eleanor's is a dangly toy thingy that attaches to her travel seat. She talks to it for hours.

Then, dear reader, we came home.

The day after we came home we had a huge, exhaustion-induced row which culminated with me sitting in a pile of dirty washing in the hall sobbing that I couldn't cope and they were going to take the children away if they found out and that I wanted my Pa; with Leo trying to put his dummy in my mouth.

At that point, the Health Visitor arrived.

I have mentioned our Health Visitor before, I think. She is fab. She gave us a collective hug and started being practical.

I am being referred to speak to someone about attachment issues - I am better, but still a bit peculiar about picking the baby up sometimes. We have one person coming in one morning a week to look after the children so we can sleep and they are hoping to find funding for another half day. We have arranged for Eleanor to start at nursery next month, the same two days as Leo.

On Friday we went back to Somerset and Ma helped with the kids so we could get some more sleep. And we discussed various coping strategies, including moving back to live with her.

More on that later.

I have never been so relieved to see the back of year as I am to finish 2008. I only have one resolution this year - Not Get Pregnant :).

Today, I am going to plant my garlic; and make pheasant casserole.

Happy New Year, everyone.