Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm walking backwards to Christmas

Right. So we now have a DVD player, and some stuff to watch on it. The picture quality's fine, but it's nowhere near as user-friendly as video. If you realise you haven't got time to watch the whole thing you can't take it out and two days later put it back in and it'll play from where you left off. And you can't even rewind a minute or two after saying "Ooh, did I really just see that?".

No, it's not Progress.

Oh, before I forget - Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I'm glad I spent it with you

When I was at school I never got to be a prefect. I was Ink Monitor once, which was quite fun. In those days we all sat at proper desks with inkwells for real ink, which had to be carefully poured from a large bottle to avoid a disastrous spillage. Quite often some bright spark had stuffed the inkwell full of blotting paper, which had to be winkled out with the point of a pair of compasses. Another term I was very proud to be Pencil-Monitor, which involved the great responsibility of sharpening all the pencils in a marvellous machine with a turny handle which went kerchunka-chunka-chunka; you had to be careful not to get too enthralled and grind a pencil down to a stump. (Milk Monitor was a position nobody relished - although you got to leave class early before break in order to fetch the crate of milk, you didn't half get some stick if you brought the one that had been too close to a radiator and the milk was tepid. And those horrid waxed-paper straws, that went all soggy long before your third-of-a-pint was finished and no matter how hard you sucked nothing would reach your mouth.) Once I was even Form Vice-Captain, which seemed to be a courtesy title only - I don't remember having any task to perform, and certainly not one involving any sort of vices. For all those positions there was a cool enamelled badge to wear on your jumper next to your house (Constable, Chicheley or Dereham at one junior school; Courteney, School or Newton at a senior school) badge, so that everyone knew how important you were. But I was never a prefect. However I've gone even better now. For Christmas I was given a beautiful shield-shaped enamelled badge. Modern schoolchildren won't notice the difference.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

She tied you to a kitchen chair

As you may or may not know, Ned's beard has been a vital feature at his work, despite my serious dislike of its extravagant fullness and flamboyance; in fact I only tolerated it under protest and with the promise that everyone else at work would dress up as elves (they bottled out, the worms) and that I could deal with it as a present. So I was delighted to receive this lovely stiffkit.

I started playing straight away.

Just before my four months of control end, I might wax him from top to toe ....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

You'd better be good for goodness' sake

Or you might find a strange bearded man in your bedroom tonight ....

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You won't be seeing rainbows any more

This morning we saw 999 in a car park in Banbury. After four years, eight and a half months it's over!

*wonders how long it will be before we stop automatically looking at every numberplate we see*

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

It's the final countdown

No, not till Christmas, although we're certainly counting down the shifts we need to work until the big day. (I have 6 to go, Ned has 7, then we both collapse exhausted.) No, I'm talking about consecutive numberplate spotting. Way back in the mists of time (2004 actually) Stu told us about this stupid pointless timewasting addictive obsessive pastime and we laughed. And promptly began playing the game (not 'The Game', but the CNPS game). I'm not certain of the exact date we started but by April 27th I'd spotted #3. We had the occasional good run, spotting one or two most days, and the occasional bad run, where we spotted 10 in order but were missing the one prior to that run. But we're nothing if not persistent and tenacious, and stuck at it, although it became more difficult when our weekly mileage dropped from about 400 miles a week to 40.

We now only have to see 999 and our mission will be complete. I wonder what we'll do next.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How bizarre

Today a foreigner asked me how to spell R.S.P.C.A.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sleeping in the hedgerow

Some weeks ago at work I had a deputation of two teacher and two small children with a box containing a very weak young hedgehog they'd found in the middle of the playing field. It had no obvious injuries but was very cold and very small, so I took it in to start its care by warming it. At close of play that evening I took it home with me to continue the intensive care with hot water bottles (covered to avoid piercing!) and rehydrating fluid. As it warmed it became more active, and after a few hours was swallowing the warm fluid thirstily. It was left overnight with warmth, special invalid food and drink. When I went down in the morning I opened the box, the patient took a few paces then promptly died, which was very disappointing.

A few days ago during the bitterly cold spell there was a ring on the doorbell, and outside was my neighbour with her small daughter earnestly clutching a cardboard box. Inside was another small hedgehog they'd found and brought for me to look after. Unfortunately even warming this one up would have done no good, for it was totally frozen solid and as stiff as a board. It felt a little strange to be given a corpse.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Ground control to Major Tom

I don't know why this experiment filled me with utter delight when I read about it, and I wonder why I was so concerned about the two without helmets! I'd love to do something like that - and they got them back safely too!

Monday, December 01, 2008

You better hurry cos it may not last

Did you know that credit card companies insist you should pay, including all accrued overdue interest charges, even though they send your bill to the wrong country?

'Nuff said - legal action possibly pending.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Somewhere there is Morningtown, many miles away

Isn't it odd that, when you've got to get up especially early for a busy day, it takes ages to get to sleep the night before? You finally pass out, exhausted, about half an hour before the alarm wakes you, and you go through the day in a trance, looking and feeling like death.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stand by your man

I think I might have stood a bit too close to him. Man-flu seems to have crossed the species barrier from male to female (and yes, you blokes are another species sometimes!). However I now realise that it only lasts 24 hours, so there'll be no excuses in the future.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Roman in the gloamin'

We have two small ponds in the garden; the orginal plan was that water would be pumped from the bottom one to the top then trickle aesthetically down a little pebbly rill back to the bottom one. Thus the water would be constantly aerated for the happy survival of ornamental fishies in the top and froggies and newts and suchlike in the bottom one. Unfortunately it never really worked out like that because we never got around to permanently wiring in the pump which meant that it only worked when the back door was open to be plugged in, so it could only be on when we were in, and when it was off there was too much water in one pond and not enough in the other, and it was all a bit pants really. Then half the fish died, and a heron ate the other half, and the ponds started smelling manky, so I decided that this summer, before any wildlife settled in the sludge at the bottom to hibernate I'd empty them both and fill them in.

I'd get the bottom pond nearly empty (baling it out bucketful by bucketful, and taking any efts I found across the field to a real wild pond) then have to go to stop for a break because my back ached and it was usually getting late and supper needed cooking. Of course it was at this point, every time (oh yes, I've done this several times) it rained, and filled the pond again.

Ned reckons it's a Sisyphean task that will never be complete, but I reckon it's merely Herculean and will be done eventually. I wonder if the Greeks or Romans are right.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Working together they get the job done

Barack Obama
Can we fix it?
Barack Obama
Yes we can!

Let's hope so anyway!

(With apologies to Bob The Builder)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Rockabye, sweet baby James?

Ned was emailed a picture which has caused great consternation at Genie Towers. Ned studied it carefully and couldn't be certain; I studied it carefully and couldn't be certain. So we called the Boy to have a look and see what he thought. He too studied it carefully, and finally decided that no, it couldn't be him because his trousers don't have a white lining to the pocket.

I'm not sure if that was meant to reassure me or not.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm sorry, so sorry

For being late. I'm usually very punctual - I've been known to be up to an hour early sometimes, and not only when the clocks have just changed - and today's slip was a genuine error. I thought my appointment was at 10.40 so I was there, ready, at 10.30 (early, you see?) only to be told my appointment was really at 10.20. So I apologised profusely and asked if I should reschedule for another day. "First I'll see if the nurse can fit you in, though she's very busy today." So I waited patiently (see what I did there?) and read the only slightly out of date magazines until my name was called. Again I apologised for my mistake and thanked her being able to see me after all.

Which is why I think it was a bit unkind of her not to warm the speculum first, or to allow it to spring open unexpectedly on removal. To be fair, she apologised in her turn and I think the latter was a genuine accident, but it didn't half make my eyes water.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

What's happening? First of all I went outside to put the wheelie bin out, glanced at the numberplate of a passing car (like you do - is it 987?) and the plate was obscured by snow! A few minutes later I wnet to get some logs and found it's snowing, quite heavily. Come on, it's still only October - and they go on about global warming? At this rate I'm going to have to put the heating on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's the way that you say it

A 4-pack of yoghurts costs £1.65. An 8-pack of the same yoghurts costs £2.88. A "Special Offer" ticket announces that two 4-packs is a bargain at £3.00.

I bought the 8-pack.

Friday, October 24, 2008

And the nurse shall hold a basin

We were told a few weeks ago that the practice is due for its official inspection in the next couple of months, so every spare moment has been spent cleaning even in the most inaccessible and unlikely places, and not just with the usual cleaning products but extra special ones. Even the inside of the safe is sparkling - the waiting room chairs have been sterilised before being polished, and even the clients were commenting that we seemed to have gone overboard with the bleach. And the most annoying bit about it is that nothing looks any different. But at least we were as sure as we can be that everything would be up to scratch. Then today a client brought in his dog who'd had a minor disagreement with a fence and had cut his ear. Now, ears have a very good blood supply and this, being no exception, was bleeding profusely. The owner was doing a very good job at mopping up and then .... the dog shook his head.

Several times.

It took the vet and I three-quarters of an hour after surgery closed to remove what we hope was the last of the blood from the premises; it had even sprayed inside the drawers. Only the strip light needs cleaning - it was too hot to do tonight, and we didn't want to risk it exploding.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Days can always be divided into Good and Bad. Today was no exception.

Good (in no particular order):
1. The weather was lovely.
2. We had a good lunch with good friends.
3. They had an interesting amount of mobile furry cushions.
4. We didn't take a dog so I didn't have to empty my bank balance to pay for the damage.
5. We were the first to receive a certain invitation, and it didn't explode when we opened it. (Accepted.)
6. I learned that there are cats that fold without trying to disembowel your arm.
7. When we got home Beattie was so happy she attempted a scamper and prance. We'd thought her fried brain had given up on emotion and were delighted to be proved wrong.
8. The fire lit first go.
9. My experimental supper was a resounding success.
10. When I had my bath there was still plenty of hot water.

1. I had cats for many years, but I never knew they farted.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things ain't cooking in my kitchen

Does anyone know if there's a difference between risotto rice and pudding rice, or can I put them both in the same storage jar and have a useful space in my cupboard?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Living by numbers

Today I spotted, in order, 979, 981, 982, 983 and 984.

Guess which car number I was actually hoping to see?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The first cut is the deepest

Complacency is a Bad Thing. The Credit Crunch is starting to bite and I'm now down to just one job, which is a bit of a bugger. Not much point in remaining self-employed if my self-employment has gone. Poo.

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's not a public inquiry

Wow, I got it right!

One of my employers (sounds good, huh?) has recently relocated so the admin work I do for them has been somewhat chaotic ("Okay, who's hidden the stationary cupboard?") and I've been catching up with the backlog of invoices. When I'd paid the outstanding backlog of unpaid urgent bills I started going through the rest of the paperwork, and was alarmed to find a letter advising me of a change of bank account for one of the companies I'd just paid. Oh bugger, I thought. Where have I sent the money? I searched the bank's website to try to find out how to cancel a payment but failed; and there was nobody else in the office to ask. So I worried and fretted. The next time I was in the office I explained it all to a director who was very understanding, which was nice.

Then I came across a bill for the new account we'd opened (with the same company) with the original bank details listed, and not the account number to which the letter had advised payments should be sent. This seemed a little odd, and I heard distant alarm bells ringing. I went back to the director, armed with all the paperwork as evidence. He rang the company queryline; no, they knew nothing about a change of bank account; no the signatory on the letter wasn't employed by them.

It seems I'd uncovered a con! I'm so very very glad that I didn't send any money to the 'new' account number, only to the usual one; I hope BT (for that is the company I was paying) appreciate my suspicious nature, and that they're grateful for the information that someone's trying to divert legitimate payments to a fraudulent account.

Monday, September 08, 2008

You put your left leg(s) out

Not a great deal of improvement re Beetle's health. She wants to come out for walks, but it takes a long time to get her moving once she's out; then after about five minutes she perks up and trots along faster than I can go. But when we get home again the curtain drops and the clouds come over her brain. She walks staggers into corners and can't get out. She gets stuck underneath dining chairs. She stands still, drops her head and wobbles violently until she's either grabbed and reassured (tail wags appreciatively) or, if you can't reach her in time, she falls over. I've put a carpet square down by her food bowl because when she puts her head down to eat (her appetite hasn't failed her!) her legs slide out from under her. However she manages to sleep very well by taking up three-quarters of the bed, leaving Ned and I clinging to our respective edges by our fingernails.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Good days, bad days

Beattie must have had a funny turn the other night - she was restless and fidgety, but not really more than usual. But in the morning she really wasn't herself; if she was human you'd think she'd had a mild stroke, but dogs don't get strokes in the same way as people do. She was very wobbly on her legs, with a definite list to port; she slithered down the stairs (me going backwards in front of her acting as a safety-net), bumped into the lefthand wall in the hall, bumped into the lefthand doorpost into the kitchen, and when on the tiled floor by the back door her left legs shot out sideways. She wanted to come for a walk, and being on the lead I could keep her going in the right (d'you see what I did there?) direction, and we went widdershins around the field because that was easier for her.

Granny dogsat her when I was at work and the at the end of the shift the vet popped in to check her over. There's nothing that you can pinpoint as being the cause, but clearly something's gone wrong somewhere - a blown fuse, maybe, making her left side weaker. So she has tablets to try to increase the blood flow to her brain and follow a watching brief. I don't think we've reached the end of the road yet, but we must be close to the final straight; I've told Beattie she's got to last out all the time Mother's here because I don't think I could handle Mother's distress as well as my own.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flash! Saviour of the universe!

So there we were, standing in front of a large selection of beers, trying to decide which to buy, when I overheard the woman next to me discussing a similar problem with her teenage son. (She'd tried phoning her husband but he was too busy to talk then and would phone her back.) "What's that one up there?" she asked him. "That's called "Summer Lightning" he replied, then read out the blurb on the label. "That sounds all right" she said "but they've spelled it wrong - it should have an E in Lightening".

I couldn't let it pass without comment. "No, there's only an E in the word if you're talking about making something lighter - like lightening your hair. If you're talking about electrical storms, lightning without the E is correct."

Luckily she took it in good spirit - and I bet whenever they see a flash of lightning they remember the nosy eavesdropping busybody!

Monday, August 25, 2008

As sure as night is dark and day is light

A week in, and nobody's killed anyone yet! Typically, rather than be able to spend some time helping Mother settle in with us I've had to cover for people at work, so she's been left pretty much to her own devices. Still, we made up for it at the weekend, shovelling her into the car and taking her out and about, more than she's been for years! It helps her to sleep ...

The tent's dry at last. (No, that's not where she's sleeping.)

Boy's back from Reading. He and his friends had bought tickets over the net and found (along with several hundred others) that they'd been scammed, so had to queue for 23 hours (yes, 23 hours) in a very badly-managed horde to buy new tickets. That was a lovely birthday for his friend Dan. So now they have to contact Trading Standards and the credit card companies for a refund.

Friday, August 15, 2008

And never sit down with a tear and a frown

We still haven't had a chance to put up the tent after Cropredy to dry it out; the weather was ideal today but we were both at work so couldn't do it. The soonest will be next weekend, weather permitting. Otherwise it's going to get really manky. (Did I mention that during the Sunday the tent, in its bag, started ticking? I kept staring at it accusingly and it'd shut up, only to start again when I looked away. I told Ned and he gave it a kick, whereupon a very bewildered Cropredy wasp crawled out of the bag and blundered to the window. I wonder if it's got home yet?)

Anyway. We can't put up the tent tomorrow cos we're going paddling with chums, then on Sunday we're going to collect my Mother and all her belongings as it's the Midlands stage of her Royal Progress northwards. With her propensity to fall over at the drop of a hat and our active dogs, and her vegetarianism and our omniverousness, this could be interesting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Don't look, Ethel!"

Other Cropredy things:

On Friday Hutters took his GPS and went caching with Ned and Stu and H accompanying him for the fun of it. After passing a couple of pubs (it would have been rude not to go in and buy a drink) Hutters dutifully followed his GPS and the others helped. In fact they helped so much that all three managed to find and sign and rehide the cache before the GPS did its stuff. Much hilarity ensued from three members of the party, whose parentage was roundly disputed for the rest of the weekend.

In fact they had so much fun they thought about doing it again the next day, but for some reason (probably good manners, because it would have been rude not to go in) they never really got past the pubs, or the beer tent on the way back (well, it would have been rude not to buy a jug), by which time Ned had a religious revelation and started Speaking In Tongues ("It bezzel" "Yes dear"), so I suggested he go and have a little lie-down. H (she's lovely, and I hope we didn't scare her too much) and Stu and I sat under the gazebo (awfully civilised, doncherknow) and chatted until I saw a bare-chested man at the back of our tent. Bear in mind that it was only about 3.30 in the afternoon and broad daylight, and our tent was right by a main walkway across the campsite. I sat up a little higher and saw .... "Oh shiiiiiiit!" I leapt to my feet and dived into the tent to grab a large covering. "What's wrong?" "He's got no sodding clothes on!". Yes, Ned had decided he needed the loo, had risen from his slumbers of nekkidness and was in danger of causing a breach of the peace. I managed to get him draped when two very nice women asked if something was wrong and could they help? "Nothankyouit'sfine" I squeaked, before hissing for help from friends who I knew wouldn't call the police. We managed to get him past the maze of guyropes and back into the tent where I got some clothes onto him before making him lie down again. But his sleep had been disturbed and he made several bids for freedom (fortunately clothed now) with me now giggling hysterically (I couldn't help recalling an episode of Father Ted when Father Jack escaped and Ted and Dougal were trying to catch him) in hot pursuit. A few cups of 'special rum' (ie very very strong black coffee) helped a lot, and with the tent doors firmly pegged shut he had a proper sleep for several hours. Which is why we missed the rest of the performances.

The final heart-stopping moment happened when we were in the queue of vehicles trying to get off the campsites onto the tarmac track to get home. Cars were converging from three different directions and often got wheelspin on the muddy slippery grass. Which is exactly what happened to a large motorhome that revved hard and suddenly got traction, shooting across the road as we were coming out in the opposite direction, missing us by inches. We nearly died.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If you really mean it

It's far too complicated to do a proper day-by-day report of Cropredy 08 so I'll just tell you some of the highlights in dribs and drabs as I recall them. The observant among you might detect a theme running through my critiques of the bands.

The only real disappointment music-wise was Supergrass who were headlining the first day. Okay they can play well, but what band doesn't play their best-known hit ("Alright" in case it'd slipped anyone's mind)? Everyone thought they'd do it as their final encore (especially as they'd come on for an encore and said they'd do some tracks of the tracks from their 'I Should Coco' album of which it's a highlight), so when they went offstage again after three more songs the crowd kept calling them back. The MC came onstage and asked the crowd "Do you want some more?" " Yeeeeeeeesssssss!!" came the reply ... there was a pause while someone scurried onstage, whispered him a message then scurried off. "Errmmm .. sorry, they're not coming back on. That's it. Thank you and goodnight!" Poor bloke, he was as surprised as everyone else at this blatant snub to all the people there. So, oi Supergrass! Are you listening? You spoilt the day for a lot of people (judging from what I overheard as we dutifully trooped back to the campsites) and left the impression that you're a load of divas who haven't learned who it is who buys your records and pays your bills. Grow up.

Right, we'll put them out of our minds and get back to the Good Stuff! The music on Day 2 was brilliant. It was opened by the brilliant
Family Mahone who are consummate professionals and hugely entertaining to boot (ie not vanishing up their own backsides)! If you ever get a chance to see them, seize it - you won't be disappointed. Especially if you like Drinking Songs. Another great set was done by Siobhan Miler & Jeana Leslie who fully justified their winning of the Radio 2 Young Folk Award. They were amazing. Good luck to you, girls! May you go from strength to strength!

Before Friday's headline act was Joe Brown performing with Dave Edmunds. What can I say? What a treat - stunning musicianship and a real joy. They seemed to really be enjoying themselves (I suppose with Joe Brown being 67 now he's only doing it because he loves it and isn't just drawing his pension) and gave stunning performances. He's a mere whippersnapper at 64, but makes up for that by having survived a quadruple bypass.

The headline act was The Levellers (Q: why do Levellers only drink Herbal Tea? A: Because Proper Tea is theft.") who again know what an audience wants and did their hits at intervals during the set, so everyone was happy. Another band who Delivered The Goods.

The Saturday was unfortunately very wet, as opposed to the previous days which had been showery at worst. Due to circumstances outside my control (mainly the weather, Beattie, and Ned!), about which I shall blog another time, I only got to see Richard Digance in his usual graveyard slot, who did exactly what at least a small part of the audience wanted, the details of whuich will undoubtedly be told far more eloquently by the main protagonists! Always a terrific performance to get an audience warmed up. Regretfully I only heard the rest of the music from the campsite - I'd have loved to have see Midge Ure, whose music I've liked for years before the Main Event which is always the Fairport Convention finale, and always worth being at if at all possible. Still, there's always next year, which will be the 30th anniversary of their first Farewell concert held on this site ...

I will wear the green willow**

Cropredy was fun, if very wet. Lots and lots of things (and Things, both current and new) happened, about which more later. Richard Digance was great and read out a request and luckily the right response was given.
*apologises for the blurry photo and blames the rain, not the champagne

**Looks for milliners in Yellow Pages.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Come fly with me ...

Is it only this village (at least I know it's not just Genie Towers, thankfully!), or is the current plague of houseflies national? I hate using flysprays, especially in the kitchen, and prefer judiciously placed (so that nobody gets their hair stuck) flypapers. Two years ago a single flypaper lasted a couple of months. Last year I didn't need to use one at all. This year they last two weeks tops. The last one I hung up had three flies stuck to it before I'd put away the kitchen chair I'd been standing (oh god, my vertigo!) to hang the damn thing. The bloody things are everywhere.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

We're all going on a summer holiday

Anyway to continue, while Mother's house moving was going through, Ned and I managed to grab part of our previously booked holiday in Cornwall. The first time we went down there the weather was fantastic and we had the most marvellous time. Every year since then the weather has been ... 'unreliable' is probably the best description. Last year was the worst when we had to come back early because the rain and gales were getting worse and worse and threatening to destroy the tent. This year wasn't quite so bad, but the overall impression was one of grey dampness rather than summer sunshine. But it was at least good enough to visit some of our favourite places, like Port Isaac, which is the setting for the fictional Port Wenn in the TV series Doc Martin. It's very picturesque

with very narrow streets in the old part of the village. We'd meant to park at the handy car park at the top of the town and walk down, but we took a different route which led us down a worrying ("Please don't let there be anything coming the other way") lane right into the centre
so we ended up parking in the harbour. Our car is one of those down there on the shingle.

We couldn't do our usual long walks, a, because the weather wasn't conducive to admiring the views and b, because Beattie's arthritis would mean she'd be in a lot of pain. So we contented ourselves with shorter strolls on the beach.

As we'd never been to St Ives before (and the Chysauster Iron Age village was shut because of the lashing rain) we thought we'd have a browse around. A word of warning to others who think about going there - when you see a sign suggesting that vehicles don't go right into the heart of the town, take heed, or you'll find yourself testing your handbrake to the limit whilst simultaneously shortening the life of your clutch by several years!

It wasn't the best place to go strolling in the rain (with a very reluctant and resentful dog in tow!) but had a better selection of art galleries than some of the other places we've been. One very nice little shop even allowed Beattie in as I was admiring the work of Stewart Middlemas. One day I'll buy something of his.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Move it and a-groove it

Apologies for the recent lack of anything more than idle random thoughts - it's been a very strange and hectic few weeks, and I'm only slowly getting my mind back onto its usual course. So randomness will probably continue for some time to come!

As you know, my mother's been in the throes of moving house, which is traumatic at any time but when you're 85 (today! Happy birthday, Mum!) is even more unsettling. She and my dad bought the house
back in 1983, and was the first home they'd ever owned (due to being in the Forces we were always in rented quarters). Unfortunately Dad didn't live for many years afterwards and since his death in 1987 she lived there alone, apart from the dog she got a couple of years later. So she was very much settled there, and it's only because of her increasing frailty and the isolation of the house that she realised she would have to leave. The sale has been reasonably straightforward, but there are always hitches and snags (usually of a financial nature and never in Mother's favour), and trying to work out a timescale to suit everyone involved has been a challenge. My brothers have done sterling work - the one Oop North where Mother will be moving to has done all the paperwork, and the other one Down South has (with as much help from me as I could) done a lot of the practical stuff, such as organise removers and order skips for rubbish and getting things out of lofts and dismantling the disability aids and all the million and one things that crop up. But at last on Thursday the money was transferred and the keys handed over and that stage of the move is done. It's very odd to think I'll never be going back there again.

Here's another picture of the Boy beside 'my' mulberry tree which I grew from a seed. I hope the new owners leave it alone.
Of course her new bungalow (somewhat smaller! Hopefully she won't find it too cramped and will be able to get her wheely-zimmer around it without crashing into things!) is nowhere near ready for her to move into yet - it needs rewiring and a new bathroom that she'll be able to use and all that sort of thing done, so she's started her 'Royal Progress' (in the manner of Elizabeth I, travelling around her realm) and is currently staying with my Southern Brother before sometime (I hope after Cropredy and not before) moving in with us for a while, and then continuing Northwards. Slow stages to help her adjust have been decided on as being least stressful for her.

Which is why I'm trying to sort out all the rubbish we've got in the back room to make room to put a bed up for her. The amount of accumulated 'essentials' - many of which are going straight to the tip - is astonishing, so it's a valuable exercise anyway.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You must remember this

Often people ring up to cancel appointments for one reason or another; often they can't find the cat, sometimes they've realised they can't make it and want to reschedule, sometimes they just change their mind. Sometimes they forget and just don't turn up.

Today was the first time we had a client turn up for the appointment but had forgotten to bring the dog ...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Where did you get that tile?

It's bugging us - what sort of hat are these chaps wearing? We thought at first that they must be trilbys or homburgs, but they're neither. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hold your hand out, you naughty boy

Oh, doesn't it add to one's general joie de vivre, when one's beloved child who works with a chainsaw for a living comes home with a bandaged hand saying "Mum, I've just spent the afternoon in Casualty".

It turns out to be a minor flesh wound, but my life expectancy is noticeably shortened.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I know that I'm a prisoner

I got a bit more of Mother's pre-move house-sorting done this weekend. The most awkward loft is now completely empty (I lost count of the number of times I whacked my elbow on the hatch-frame) as is one wardrobe and my Dad's chest of drawers which I'd hoped to fit into the car to bring back for The Boy, but the wheel-arches thwarted that plan and I had to limit myself to a lawnmower, logs, coal, kindling, a small rug and a picture.

Because it was possibly the last time I'll be going down there I went to visit my Dad's grave to keep him up to speed with proceedings. It's 21 years since he died and you'd have thought I'd have got used to the idea, but no. Every time I go there I only have to say hello before I have to sit on his grass and sob like a baby. Quite pathetic.

Oh, and you remember I told you about the mulberry tree that I grew from seed in 1981 that has flourished but never fruited? Guess what it's done? Yep, the first fruits are developing. The alternative reasons are a) that it hated us and is rejoicing or b) it needed a dead dog buried at its foot.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I want to break free

'Free' is one of the many words that's used in different ways to give very different meanings. For example, as well as meaning 'unoccupied' ("I'm free, Captain Peacock") or 'vacant' (the bathroom's free now) it can also mean 'for no money at all'. All of which can make translation into a foreign language fraught with danger and has to be approached with caution in case it's used in the wrong sense.

While we had the bananana machine out of mothballs I siezed seized (why do I always spell that word wrong first time?) the opportunity to print myself (and make an extra couple on spare red shirts) a political protest teeshirt on a topic very dear to my heart, ever since I first read Tintin in Tibet at the age of 6.

I'm assured, by a well-trusted native speaker and writer of a Chinese language, that the script on this shirt

reads "Liberate Tibet".

I do hope so, and that my chest isn't actually recommending the chef's special menu for two.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

It's been all go here at Genie Towers. Somebody at Ned's Jelly factory thought it would be a jolly fine idea to enter the annual charity Raft Race ("Think of the advertising potential, Adam!") and in a brief rush of enthusiasm a volunteer crew was duly signed up. The rules are that everything has to be homemade from the rafts themselves to the method of propulsion - no manufactured paddles. The various tasks were delegated to those most likely to be able to achieve them; the welding of the barrels was assigned to someone who knows how to weld, etc (which was a top move, when you saw some of the other rafts!). Ned & I dusted off the bananana machine and produced the crew's teeshirts proudly emblazoned with (the company's name. They nearly didn't happen. Two weekends before the race we decided to clean off old screens to reuse them, then coat the clean ones, expose them and wash them off which would mean we could empty the garage to print them at our leisure. The best-laid plans, and all that ...

First of all the old coating decided that it loved the screens so much that it wasn't going to come off, and despite double-strength solvent, hot water and a lot of scrubbing, after two days it was still determinedly clinging to several parts of the screens. Bugger. When we eventually managed to get a large enough clean area for what we needed we coated them and left them to dry in a warm dark place for a couple of days. On a free evening the design was duly exposed onto them and they were taken for rinsing ... whereupon all the coating (all right, so it's been a long time since it had been used and chemicals deteriorate) promptly flowed away, leaving us back at square 1. Bugger again. Despite the attempts of a garage mouse to thwart us by eating through a bottle of essential chemical there was just enough left to make some fresh emulsion, and the screens were coated again and left to dry. On the day before the race the design was once more exposed onto them and with bated breath we rinsed them off ... hurrah! It only washed off where we wanted it to! Victory was in sight!

Until Ned started setting up the machine to actually start the printing, when he realised that we'd exposed them back to front and the advertising would only work if everyone held a mirror! Aaarrrggghhh! Rinse off the coating again, recoat, and judicious use of a hairdryer speeded up the drying time. This time it all worked, but it was after ten at night by the time we finally got all the printing done, and we had to meet up at the starting point at 8.30 the next morning.

The rafts were launched one after the other, with the starting line some 100 yards downstream - as each boat passed they'd call out their number and their starting time noted. From then on it was a simple matter of getting downstream (with a couple of weirs thrown in for good measure) as fast as you could.

The launch

Setting off

Gaining ground

On windy open water

Approaching the finish - at last!

Yes, they did all change places, several times!

Unfortunately nobody had a camera handy when young James had a contretemps with a tree whilst using the punting pole, and ended up dangling by his neck in a fork in a branch - luckily for him it snapped (the branch, not his neck) and he realised the wisdom of wearing a lifejacket under his teeshirt.

Usually it takes crews about 3 hours to complete the 7½ mile course, but this year although it was warm and sunny there were very strong winds, and the moment people eased off paddling the rafts were being blown back upstream. It was just under 5 hours before Ned and the rest finally crossed the finishing line (coming in a respectable 38th out of 56 finishers); the last boat to complete the course took just over 7 hours.

Surprisingly everybody could move reasonably freely the next day at work, but during the Monday night Ned and another chap were struck down by a nasty lurgy, resulting in explosive ejection of as many bodily contents as possible. Having discounted Weil's Disease (incubation period 7 to 14 days; maybe we have that to look forward to as well) my money's now on cryptosporidium, which can last between 1 and 3 weeks. What fun!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gin a body meet a body ...

...well, not comin' through the rye, really; more like runnin' through the wheat. Harry and Piglet love running through it and springbokking over it (they don't break it down or damage it so I don't feel bad about letting them), hunting for all the creatures that are hiding in it, like rabbits and pheasants and partridges and, on one very exciting occasion, a roe deer. As the wheat's grown taller the stalks become tougher and have a very rough, sandpapery texture. And as a dog forges his path with his head, a certain amount of grazing happens.

It doesn't seem to bother him at all though; but it's very unsightly.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Be careful with that axe, Eugene

X, Y and Z axes? WTF is the Z axis?

*stares sadly at all the cut out numbers on the floor and waits for the hoover-repair man*

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Got to keep on plodding onwards

Don't worry, I'm not cheating (much - with some of the horrider ones the temptation's very powerful), nor have I suddenly become amazingly brainy. It's just that, having seen most of the PuzzleDonkey puzzles already I can remember how most of them were done, and even a lot of the answers; I open a puzzle and think "Oh yes, that's the one where there was all the hoohah on the forum about the pronunciation". However I have noticed that some of the answers have changed from the original; I notice that some of my loathed puzzles are also there, and I bet I'll be tempted to bung in the old answer and scream when it's rejected. That sausage machine one was a nightmare ... (and having succumbed to temptation and cheated, I see that's one of the one's that's changed. Curses!) Anyway, because you can abandon a puzzle and move onto another, the rate of completion is dramatically speeded up. And it's lovely to work through some of my old favourites again! Thanks Si and Rich!

*looks at some of the new puzzles* ... I think ...

Monday, May 26, 2008

See the tree, how big it's grown

The day of Mother's house move draws inexorably closer, and there's still masses to do; and it's even more difficult to do it all at a distance. Eldest bro is sorting all the legal stuff and other bro and I (because we live nearer) are getting over when we can to sort out the accumulations in lofts and cupboards. I've been reclaiming all the baby clothes that Mum and Dad stored for us when we were in our tiny house with no loft, in readiness for when Baby #2 arrived. Being realistic, that's unlikely to happen now, and if we ever have any grandchildren (looks sternly at The Boy, reminding him that I'm not getting any younger) their mother will probably want lovely new stuff for her cherubs, and not their father's hand-me-downs. It's horrid getting rid of them though, because they're still in excellent condition, even the ones that had done several cousins before Boy. I just have to keep one or two things for old time's sake, and I'll take the rest to charity shops, so that hopefully someone will appreciate them.

Then there was the linen to sort. Lots and lots and lots of linen. Sheets, towels, tablecloths, napkins, place mats and doilies. Mother's never used doilies - they were inherited from her aunts, put into an oak box 30 years ago and there they've stayed ever since. I found about 50. They're also destined for a charity shop.

And we also buried Mother's dog's ashes. He's been in a chestof drawers for several years, and Ma and I thought it best if he stayed in the garden he knew, so we buried him under the mulberry tree. I grew the tree from a seed in 1981, and in its saplinghood it travelled, potted, with Mum and Dad from the Scottish borders to Bexhill before reaching their first-ever owned home two years later. When it outgrew the porch it was planted in the garden where it's thrived, and is a startling reminder of the passage of time.

(Hutters, I took this picture of the mulberry tree shortly before you texted to say how heavy the rain was ...)

It's going to be a terrible wrench for Mother to leave. She knows it's the only sensible thing to do, because she simply can't manage on her own any more, even with a gardener and cleaner coming in once a week. She tells me she's had enough of being so lonely and needs company - but I'm sure she'd prefer 'company' (ie us) to move to her rather than have to face the trauma of leaving all her memories behind. It's going to be very difficult emotionally for us all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

They seek him there

After all that palaver with boob-squishing they couldn't find a darned thing.

I'll take that as a win, then. :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sing little birdie, up above

This morning, as I left the house to go and get the newspaper, I distinctly heard a cuckoo. Summer's definitely on the way. Hurrah!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bend me, shape me, any way you want me

Warning: this may contain too much information for those of a sensitive disposition.

It was nice that the mobile boob-squishing unit was air-conditioned. I'm told that's for the benefit of the equipment, not the staff or patients, but that's par for the course. I was a little disconcerted to be asked when I'd signed in if I was wearing a bra; that suggested that it might have lost a lot of its upliftability. I wonder why the tray on which you have to rest your chesticle is slightly higher than is comfortable. Perhaps it's so that you don't notice the rest of the necessary contortions, or the actual squishing. Four plates they take - from the top and from the side for each accessory. I was very relieved to find that it's the machine that tilts to do the sideview and that I didn't have to lean at 45 degrees, because I don't think my back would have allowed it. And what was best was that neither of them popped once, even though I was fairly sure it was imminent. With the application of some industrial-strength underwear I'm sure they'll be back to a more usual shape in no time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

On seeing my reflection I'm looking slightly rough

Tomorrow is when I have my chesticles ironed courtesy of the NHS. try not to think about me at 4pm - it might put you off your cup of tea.

Friday, May 02, 2008

(Morning Glory)

Somewhere in the middle of a long and convoluted situation.

Found in a box removed during the clearance of one of my mother's lofts was a novel. I have a very catholic (small c) taste in reading material, but this particular book, entitled "What Did It Mean?" was very well named and is one of the most irritating and badly-written books I've ever come across. I wonder if it'll be the second book I've never finished.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

She's so twentieth century

Ah, happy memories! Enjoy!

(PS - you'll score better if you turn your speakers on!)

I scored a Far Out
80% on the
Quiz by SheGoddess: Quick Weight Loss

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Would you have liked a present too?

This village is jolly kind, you know. Without being told they seemed to somehow know that it was Ned's birthday and they laid on a lovely weekend. Yesterday there was a beer festival at the Sports and Social Club (17 beers - we only tried 6) and then today the church tower was open for visitors.

The narrow wooden stairs from the ground to the ringing platform was fine, if steep; the banisters made it easy though. The ladder from there through the trapdoor to the clock level was unnerving, because it went over the void of the stairs - okay if you hold the rungs and don't look down. Then there was the very narrow spiral stair - very worn treads of a maximum width of 7 inches - first to the bells themselves then onwards and upwards again, finally emerging on hands and knees through a small opening onto the roof itself. Isn't it odd how it's a lot further down than it is looking up? Funny how an episode of Inspector Morse kept coming into my mind; the one where Richard Briers was a murderer and ended up jumping off a church roof ...

Looks like rush hour.

The (very) small white building on the right of the road, in the middle of the picture, is where I work.

And the village even managed to lay on some lovely weather too.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I never thought it would happen

Oh joy. The NHS has realised that I've reached a certain age and have arranged an appointment for my first mammogram - in a local village hall. This sounds as though it's going to be soooooooo much fun.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Somethin' always happens whenever we're together

Tonight's supper is brought to us courtesy of Piglet. If a partridge,
that's capable of flight and has access to the whole sky, chooses to try to outrun a fit dog with very high prey drive then it's a prime candidate for a Darwin Award. And what a good boy he was to bring it back so professionally, straight to hand.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

They seek him here, they seek him there

A while back the Boy asked me to get him some more pants and some particular work gloves when I was shopping, which I duly did. Of course the gloves were the wrong type, and the pants the wrong design, but I still had the receipts to return them and get my hard-earned money back. However for some reason I just can't manage to do it. I do the in-town shopping when I've finished my weekly morning accounting before I come home for the afternoon shift at the vet, and the first week I left the bag with the goods in by the computer where I'd put them to remind me to take them. The next week I decided to be clever and put the bag on my handbag so I couldn't forget them; but I was in a rush that morning and just grabbed my bag, leaving the carrier bag behind on the kitchen table. This week I knew I couldn't fail - I put the bag into my handbag last night so there was no chance of me leaving them behind. And it worked! When I reached work I carefully put the bag of gloves and pants on the car seat and went to juggle invoices.

It was a trickier job than usual, it being the start of a new financial year so a new spreadsheet was required (luckily Paul had prepared most of it in advance) and items transferred from last year's to this year's, repeating items listed, details of Purchase Orders added, and so on, as well as putting on the invoices that had come in during the week. So it took a while but all looked lovely when I clicked Save and went to do the same for the other company. Once that was done the post arrived and there was a new invoice to add to the first spreadsheet before I logged off and went to do the shopping. I clicked on the link to take me to the spreadsheet - and it had gone. The link had somehow turned into a shortcut to itself, not to the file. With rising panic I looked everywhere - how the hell could a file just vanish?

It didn't take long for me to realise I was beaten. "Paul, something seems to have gone horribly wrong here", and he came to see. And he searched fruitlessly too - on my computer and on his where he knows the layout better. Zilch. So we went to the server and explored the innards of the backup. Nada. It reluctantly acknowledged that yes, there had been a file of that name opened and edited this morning but no, it wasn't going to say what had become of it. We conceded defeat and rang our tame IT advisor, who talked us through the internal workings of the server and managed to locate a file with that name and it was duly returned to our computers. We tentatively opened it and ... oh joy! was the right one! Except that all the morning's work I'd so carefully saved had been removed and it was back to the beginning again.

So by the time I'd re-input all the data it was far too late to do the shopping so the gloves and pants came home again. Maybe next week ....

Monday, April 07, 2008

The lunatics are on the grass

Yesterday I said that I'd have to mow the lawn another day because it was under all that beautiful snow. This morning the snow had all gone (making the occasional random snowman in people's gardens look very surreal) so I mowed it today.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Woke up this morning, feeling fine

I wasn't expecting this! Just so beautiful!

I'll mow the lawn another day, then.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thank you for the days

Sometimes, just sometimes, things just go well. Yesterday was a Good Day. The sun was shining. The car's oil leak was enmendified very quickly (and cheaply! Even better). The Boy passed his chainsaw maintenance, felling and cross-cutting exams. The dogs did what I wanted them to. I got some weeding and log-splitting done. Ned's back felt much less achy. Did I say the sun was shining? Oh yes I did. Sorry. And eventually the Boy managed to get a ticket for Reading, so he was happy too. Hurrah for March 31st!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white Easter

Luckily for these chilly little souls the sun came out and the snow soon vanished.

Many miles away


I spoke too soon. Beattie was wandering again last night, out of one bed and into another, disturbing the boys who took umbrage and told her pack it in, which woke us up. This went on about every 15 minutes or so from midnight till after 4am.

Another plan is called for. This can't go on.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

All bound for morning-town

It's been an odd sort of a week with Beattie. A few weeks ago she decided that she wasn't going to sleep in the kitchen any more; to be fair, I think it's our own fault. Since Clover died we've been taking Beattie out and about with us much more; geocaching (which we haven't done for ages because of the cost of petrol), into the village to post a letter, coming camping with us. So because we've made her twilight years more interesting and fun-filled (you should see her bouncing arthritically when the boys are shut in the kitchen and I pick up her lead!) she's not so relaxed alone. Rather than have the kitchen door scratched to splinters we left it open so she had the choice of two dogbeds (hahaha!), the sofa and two armchairs in the warm sitting room. We weren't really happy about this because that's where the sofabed is that guests sleep on and the numbers of people who want to share their bed with someone else's elderly dog are limited. But we decided to cross that bridge when we came to it. Suffice that we were all sleeping happily.

Then last Saturday it all changed. The first change was when we'd all settled down for the night as usual but in the early hours Beattie woke us by barking furiously, over and over. This is something she's never done, not even when we were burgled. As a breed they're really very quiet, which is one of the things I like about them; I can't bear yappers. Anyway, Ned went down to check if anything was wrong (my hero!) while I watched out of the window for possible escaping misceants but there didn't seem to be anything untoward happening. Beattie was reassured and settled down again, and we all went back to bed.

On Sunday night (following a day when Ned had strained his back by not allowing me to help him carry a heavy box from the garage to the back of the car for mer to take to the tip, so that all week he's been using up all the out-of-date painkillers in the medicine cabinets), at about the same time, we were woken by Beetle giving a single "Woof!", then a pause to listen, then another "Woof!". This was a completely different sort of bark to the fusillade of the night before so I felt confident going to check her, Ned being unable to move, and found her standing in the hall, woofing at nothing. I settled her down again, covered her with her blanket in case she was cold, and went back to bed. This routine was repeated about every hour and a half throughout the night - I just had time to drift off to sleep again before the "Woof!" started up.

I was tired on Monday. Unfortunately I was even tireder on Tuesday because exactly the same thing had happened, and I began to suspect that she might have developed doggie dementia - one of the symptoms is night-time wandering and barking. There are various medications that can be treat it but they're not cheap and I'd rather avoid them if possible. Then I had a thought - she might just be lonely, because every time I went to settle her down again I'd sit on the sofa and she'd jump up beside me and cuddle up happily. The cure for loneliness is company - but I wasn't going to have her sleeping up with us because she takes up far too much room even when we're supple enough to curl around her. With Ned's bad back that wasn't possible. Another plan was called for. The next night, when she started up, I took her back into the kitchen, put her in her bed (this meant crawling under the table with her) covering her up snugly then letting the boys in from the utility room. It seemed to work - there wasn't another peep out of any of them.

And after one or two teething problems (like the boys not being able to agree who was going to sleep in which bed in the kitchen and making more noise about it than Beattie did in the first place) they now all share the kitchen in relative harmony. And we get to sleep through the night.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Don't it make my brown eyes blue

I was very intrigued by this photographic effect. Both pics are of the same tie, in the same position, in the same lighting. The only difference is that in one shot it's on the uncovered wood and in the other it's on a white sheet. Very odd.

Friday, March 14, 2008

When I'm sixty-four

Terry Pratchett who, as I'm sure you all know, is one of the world's most prolific and successful authors, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's a few months ago. This week he was in the news for donating half a million of our Great British Pounds for research into this evil condition. Despite being not quite 60 years old already his motor skills are waning - from being a proficient touch-typist he's now reduced to the sort of two-finger pecking that's my own claim to keyboard proficiency; I don't want to try to imagine the rage and frustration and fear that he and his family are going through.

He says that Alzheimer's disease lacks the heroic glamour of cancer and subsequently receives far less funding, and I think I've worked out why this is. Cancer, you see, can strike down anyone at any age. Babies and angelic innocent children develop the condition and everyone says how terribly unfair it is. Mothers develop the condition and people say how noble they are, battling against it, and fundraise to support their families, soon to be without a parent. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the actions wholeheartedly. But Alzheimer's strikes at the elderly - not cute innocent children or people in the prime of life, but individuals who're nearing the end of their lives - and I suggest that this is the sole reason that Alzheimer's is largely ignored. Let's face it, in today's youth-orientated world, old age and the attendant indignities just aren't 'sexy'. This living death happens to the people who Society has written off anyway.

So all power to Mr P! May he continue to simultaneously keep this tragedy in the glare of publicity whilst carrying on bringing enormous pleasure to the many millions of us for whom his alternative world is more real that the one we live in, for as long as is humanly possible.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Come away with me

Do you know, sometimes I get quite cross about situations which just seem to be wrong. Lots of you know that we live in a reasonably-sized village (population roughly 2500) with a junior and a High school and a few local shops; it's quite a busy place yet still small enough for people to notice what goes on. Well, there's a new (we have three already) old peoples home/sheltered accommodation complex nearing completion (built on the site of the fire station - we now have an extra 10 minutes or so to burn to death after calling 999 before help arrives, but that's another story), and it's known - and been reported to the police - that one of the men working on the site has been chatting to teenage girls, offering to take them shopping and inviting them to get into his van. Now, we may be rural folks who chew on straw and talk about traaactors, and aren't well up with the Ways Of The World, but to us that seems wrong, and it's been suggested to the authorities that a word in this bloke's shell-like might not go amiss.

They won't. No laws have been broken. "Until he does something wrong, we can't do anything." I think that's total rubbish, and I bet all the parents of young girls do too. Whose daughter is to be the sacrificial lamb?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A little bit of this with a little bit of that

Ooh look, here's the digit I've extracted so I can blog again and prove to you all that I'm still alive. *waves finger* Don't worry, I've washed it.

It's funny, I've been very busy but not doing anything that's really noteworthy. Just the usual routine of dog walking and work and housekeeping and sleeping and dog walking and work ... you get the picture. I broke the mould slightly last weekend by taking Beattie down to my mother's house to clear out her derelict caravan so it could be dismantled and removed. She's never liked it - it was a fixture in the garden when she and Dad bought the house nearly 25 years ago. The previous owner used work on building sites and took the caravan as a home rather than use hotels; when he retired he parked it at the end of the garden and there it stayed. When it was sound it made a good play house for my nieces and nephews, and even a reasonable overflow when there were too many guests for the house. It was used as a dumping-ground for garden toys - the croquet set, tennis racquets, deckchairs and, for some reason, empty jamjars. Lots of empty jamjars. My brother and I sorted through piles of junk, had a bonfire with anything woodwormy or generally unwanted and filled his car with jars for recycling, and heaved a sigh of relief. Then we lifted the seats and found that the storage space beneath was also filled with jamjars. He screamed. The other task was to make a start emptying Mother's lofts for when she eventually moves house, so I came back with a car laden with things that I'd been storing there from our last home which was tiny and didn't have a loft. The charity shops have done well, and I've nearly got shot of it all - just a bit of eBaying to do and I'll be ready to start on the second loft.

I took Beattie with me partly because she's not happy being left behind, and partly in the hope that she could her PAT dog stuff and keep Mother occupied while Bro and I disposed of junk cherished belongings and made repairs to bits of the house, and I'd optimistically taken a dogbed with lovely blankets for her (Beattie, not Mother) to sleep in, despite knowing that she'd probably prefer to sleep on Granny's sofa. In the end, however, she decided neither was as good as the foot of my bed. Luckily the bed was against the wall, otherwise, it being a single, she'd have fallen off - and it's a high Victorian cast-iron bed. She's not a big dog, but she takes up a heck of a lot of room! We only had one minor quarrel (at 1.30am) when she decided that my feet were too fidgety (selfishly I kept on trying to restore the circulation to them) so obviously lying on my head would be better. Whenever we take her for an overnight stay we take a dogbed, and the only time she's used it was in the car to and from Cornwall when we were otherwise laden to the gunwales and it saved her some space. But not to sleep in. Oh no no no. Dog beds are for dogs, not for Beatties, and she's a Beattie. The best Beattie in the world, as it happens. But I still take a dogbed. Hope always triumphs over experience.

And today Ned and I put on our Dalmatian Welfare hats to collect a dog from his current owners and transport it to its new owners. A lovely dog - only three years old and now with his third family since he left his breeder. Let's hope he's now found his forever home.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Freeze the toes right off your feet

The upside of the past week of freezing weather is the beauty of the mornings. The ground is solid, the grass is a delicate shade of pearl and, if it's been foggy as well, all the leaves and branches of the trees and shrubs are fringed with white crystals, for all the world as if they're wearing little fur coats. With the sun shining from a clear blue sky, the stunning sight just takes your breath away.

The downside of the past week of freezing weather is having to crack the dogs off the lampposts during their morning walk.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I know I am, I'm sure I am

Carpe Diem.

But which one?

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Things can only get better

Hmmm. So much for thinking I'd become vaguely computer-literate. I did the 'simple' template upgrade so that I could have the list of labels on the sidebar, and now I seem to have lost the Commentification mechanism, even though I've downloaded and uploaded as instructed. And of course without it nobody can tell me how to put it back. Plop.

ETA: Woot! That just shows the power of Earl Grey! Hurrah!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

They can't take that away from me

Mathematics is/are rubbish. Arithmetic is logical, but mathematics - no. This negative numbers bit, for example. I live in a rural village, and have done a course at agricultural college on Small Flock Management. I know a fair amount about sheep. I can drench them, I can dag them, I can trim their feet, I can inject them, I can deliver their lambs. All the sheep were positive (apart from the depressed ones, that is). One sheep, two sheep, three sheep - yep, no problem there. But we're told that if you add two negative numbers, you get a positive. What nonsense. But if I didn't have two sheep, and someone didn't give me two sheep, I wouldn't suddenly have four sheep gambolling around the garden, eating the vegetables and falling into the pond. Therefore the whole concept of negative numbers is patently absurd. QED.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Run Rabbie, run Rabbie, run run run

I was in the bottom-slapping supermarket today, searching for a haggis for tomorrow's Burns' Night supper. It's surprising how popular these events are, south o' the Border, with many pubs and restaurants advertising them and going the whole hog with piper and speeches and everything. We don't go that far - just pluck it and gut it and boil it and slit it open and serve with the appropriate bashed veg. But I digress. Anyway, I searched the chiller cabinets but couldn't find any, so I asked an assistant if they stocked them, or had perhaps sold out. "Ooh!" she said "Is it for the Scottish New Year?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

And so the conversation turned

Conversation at a party.

"And what do you do for a living?"
"I'm a professional dancer."
"Oh that's interesting. What sort of dancing? Tap, ballet ...?"
"Lap and pole."


Sunday, January 20, 2008

We eat ham and jam and ...

... and yes, you've guessed it. It started a few weeks ago at a friend's pot-luck supper party when, long after the time when all sensible souls would have realised they were too tired and emotional for rational thought and would have retired to the Land of Nod, someone suggested a themed supper party, one where all the dishes had to contain a particular ingredient. Last night was the party date, and the chosen ingredient was ... spam.

The Spam Madras was surprisingly tasty, as was the Spamish Omelette. The Spamosas were particularly successful, mainly because you didn't notice the spam in them. The cheese-and-spam crumble was all right, but the spam-and-potato pie was a step too far. Fortunately people had been more cautious with the puddings, and the spam in the trifle was still safely in its tin and therefore avoidable, and the carrot cake merely had Spam written in Swedish blue and gold icing.

Nobody had been aware of the fat content of this particular meat product - something like 30% - and with the flowing alcohol needed to wash down the food, everyone's feeling somewhat liverish and jaded today. Suggestions are now sought for the next theme.

Edit: Oh good Lord, I've just discovered this. Anyone going to Austin in April?

*groans with digestive discomfort*

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nothing's right, I'm torn

Sometimes it's very difficult not to say anything, when correct medical advice contradicts correct ethical advice. It's true that medically it may well be sensible for a bitch to have a litter at her first season, but ethically that's so wrong. For a start the tests for many genetic conditions (such as HD and numerous eye conditions) can't be done so young and breeding from an untested animal is leaving yourself wide open to lawsuits if the pups prove to be suffering from one of the conditions. For another thing it's against the KC's own rules and those (usually even stricter) of the breed clubs. Plus the bitch is still only a puppy herself - it's a bit like recommending that girls aged 13 should be starting their families. But butting in and giving contradictory advice to a client isn't a wise idea either.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

That's how elementary it's gonna be

Clarkson, May, Hammond.
Steve, Ricky, Ned.
Compo, Foggy, Clegg.

The future's already been written. Oh dear.