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.