Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Great Tortoise Run

Here are some pictures of the Great Tortoise Run.








Having dug over the area, we put six-inch wide scaffold planks around it, three high, so that Edweena couldn’t climb out. She’s a keen climber. It’s still a work in progress, but she has several clumps of grass and I planted out some weeds that I’d grown for her – plantain, vetch, clover and something else that I can’t think of at the moment.

She was tremendously excited and spent a long time exploring the area and nibbling the greens,  The babies were also pleased with their little run – the main reason I’ve given them a small run of their own is that I’m afraid of a crow or hawk catching them, so I wanted a space small enough to keep covered.  I think they’re fine – it’s the size of four large seed trays, and they’re not much more than a couple of inches long.  I’ve put pieces of bark for them to hide in and gravel, soil and weeds, with pieces of chalk and bigger stones for interest.

After the excitement of the day, it turned colder and Edweena has been quiet.  She didn’t want to eat and hid in the corner of the cold frame.  Today, it’s been hot and sunny and she’s perked up again.  We’ve made quite a fuss of her and she responded.

I’ve had one rose bush in flower for several weeks, and today it occurred to me to offer them some petals. Well, it went down a storm. They all adored them – Edweena ate four petals in a minute or two and the Tots ate their petals while I was watching Edweena, I didn’t see the going of them.

In addition, I weighed and measured them today.
Here’s the Dark Tot – actually, the weight fluctuated and I’ve written it down as 37 grams, with their shell length as 5.5 cm. They are both exactly the same size. Edweena weighs 830g and I measured her as 15 cm, but later I discovered (before I did the Tots) that I hadn’t done it quite right, so she may be a little longer. I’ve calculated their weight/bone density ratio and they’re fine. Must be doing something right. It’s all a lot more work than I ever imagined, though. I had to buy scales that weigh in 1-gram increments specially, too.

Z’s way with words…

The photos will follow eventually.  Sorry.  It takes some effort for them to upload – not as straightforward as it was with Blogger.

I’ve had three people separately telling me I have a way with words today.  Quite surprising.  Not as in blogging, it was wording things correctly and appropriately – I’m not sure it is a good thing entirely, it just indicates how careful I’ve become at not saying the wrong thing … or rather, not writing the wrong thing, because that’s evidence.

I’ve finally got around to planting out the veggies I raised in the greenhouse – two sorts of lettuces, two sorts of peas, broad beans, kale, spinach and swiss chard.  I’ve also potted up courgette seedlings and tomato plants.  And young basil plants.  And sweet peas, which should have gone out but I haven’t decided where to put them yet, so I’ve taken them out of their pots, which they were at risk of over-filling.  When the roots come out of the holes at the bottom, it’s hard to get them out without damaging anything.

It’s only six weeks on Saturday until the blog party.  I do hope you can come (I realise that might be a bit of a difficulty for some of you, but the further you travel, the more enthusiastically you’re welcomed by those who live in East Angular).  it occurs to me that the whole house should be spring-cleaned in readiness.  H’m.  Well, in theory I have tomorrow free.

Slow and steady

The day has been very satisfactory, in that Edweena and the tots are in their new homes and Edweena, in particular, absolutely loves it.  She has spent most of the afternoon exploring and her enjoyment was clear to see.  You’d not think a tortoise would show happiness so plainly.  I’ve got photos, but I’m tired and will go to bed soon, so they will follow tomorrow.  Actually, I’ve realised I’ve got rather a lot of pictures that I haven’t posted, so I should write less and put up more photos for a bit, I suppose.  I tend to go more for the thousand words than the picture, though.

If you’re a Facebook friend, you’ll have seen some of the pictures, because it was quick to do direct from my phone.  I tagged Stephen, the 15-year-old who’s helping me in the garden, and he appreciated it – I was diffident about doing it, not being sure if it would bring about teenage eye-rolling but, since he was pleased, I did it again today (that meant his friends could see it too) and he  tagged me back in a post saying it showed what a great boss I am.  That was so charming, don’t you think?

I was really tired last night, having hardly slept on Friday night, and went to bed at 9 o’clock.  I’m afraid I banished R to a spare room, it was his restlessness that had kept me awake (and I suspect I disturbed him as well).  I went straight to sleep and, with a few brief wakenings, slept through to 8.30 this morning.  I don’t know how tonight will be, but I felt so much better for it.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll have young Hadrian for the first time in three or four weeks – I can’t remember – before the Easter holidays, anyway.  I hope he doesn’t ask to make cakes as I haven’t got a mixer yet and I don’t think I’m up for creaming the butter and sugar by hand.  It’ll have to be an easier recipe than Victoria sponge, if necessary.  The forecast looks ok tomorrow,  so maybe we can spend time in the garden.  Watching tortoises run around, perhaps.

Z puts the week behind her

Today, I have mostly unwound.  That is, I worked quite hard this morning, digging over the bed where Edweena and (in a separate enclosure) the Tots will live, but I did have help from a local teenage boy, so we dug together and chatted amicably.  The area is roughly 100 square feet, we did half each.  Roughly.  The sides will go in tomorrow and I’ll rake it over, plant out various tortoise-friendly plants (deadnettle, plantain, clover, vetch etc) and some bits of turf too, and I trust it’ll all be fine.

I made a sandwich from the salt beef I cooked the other day for lunch, and then went and got a rug (I was chilly and tired) and put on the tv.  I want to get the most out of Netflix – it’s free for a month and then seven quid a month, which seems very reasonable to me.  And I watched three episodes of House of Cards and the first Hobbit film (which I had seen at the cinema in fact, though I haven’t seen the second one yet) and I read The Times and the Eastern Daily Press and the Beccles and Bungay Journal, and reading all those all through is quite unusual nowadays, especially on the day they come out.

It was a misty, moisty morning so I didn’t put the tortoises out.  Yesterday, I kept them in under their lamps and they ate more than they had all week, and basked happily.  I left Edweena’s vivarium open a couple of inches at each end for extra ventilation, but heard scrabbling later and discovered that she’d opened it nearly enough to get out, naughty girl.  So she’s shut up tight.

I’ve done a bit of searching around online and bought – ordered, I should say – some kitchen scales that weigh in single grams (for the Tots), and a food mixer because the gears on mine have packed in.  The scales are for the tortoises and the mixer is for cakes, because Roses and Indigo are due to come for tea on Friday, all being well.  I hope it arrives by then, or some strenuous hand-beating will have to take place.

Wink rang during the morning, with the result that we’ve arranged to meet in a couple of weeks, to go to the Matisse exhibition at Tate Mod, have lunch and – well, we’ll have some time in hand to do what we want.  She booked the tickets, I’ve booked my train – I must print out the tickets.

Ok, I’ve done that. Very convenient.

I’ve got minutes to check and the deadline is Monday, darlings.  I’d better do a bit this evening.

Friday update

The weekend started for me at 11.30 this morning, when I arrived home from school.  Russell’s van had broken down and was at the local garage and I’d had enough of everything.  So I suggested we go out for lunch – and also suggested we phone Weeza, to see if she was free too.

She and Gus were, so we scurried around sorting things out for a short time and arrived at her house just before 1 o’clock.  We went to a local restaurant: I had curry, Weeza had risotto, Russell had steak, Gus had sausages.  Afterwards, girls had black coffee, boys had icecream.

Zerlina had an after-school playdate, so we offered to take Gus home and stay until his dad arrived – everyone in his office works an extra half hour Monday to Thursday so that they can leave early on a Friday, so it would be before 4 o’clock, despite his cycle commute.  Gus was adorable.  He’s also, to everyone’s surprise, developed a broad Norfolk accent, or way of speaking at any rate.  Examples?  Of course.

“That not cold, that waarm.”

On finishing his icecream – “Thass all gorn.”

It was hilarious.  He’s relatively late to speaking and has only just started to form sentences in the last few weeks, but he’s now developing the same keen enjoyment in language that his cousin Hay has had for some time.

On the way home (Weeza’s home, that is), we called at a garden centre and discovered they had a greengrocer’s department.  Gus was very excited to see strawberries, which he loves, so I bought two punnets and also two bunches of asparagus.  And we bought a Busy Lizzie for Weeza and Smarties for the children, because grannies are supposed to indulge their grandchildren.  That’s what we’re for, within the limits tactfully stated by their mothers.  Understanding that is clearly the way to be loved by everyone.

Tonight, we had asparagus, followed by omelettes, followed by strawberries and cream – that is, I didn’t, R did.  I skipped the main course (I had protein at lunch, darlings, I was fine) because I knew I could only manage two out of three.  Though I may feel hungry before bedtime.

It was such a dull and misty day that I felt I must give the tortoises some extra encouragement.  So Edweena was brought in and put into the vivarium and the Tots were taken upstairs and their heat lamp put on.  All, as a result, ate more than they have all week and were seen basking happily.  I haven’t had the heart to turn off Edweena’s lamp yet, but I must go and do it now.

Z risks papier mâché

There are a couple of school things that are making life so difficult that it’s almost overwhelming.  Nothing to do with staff nor pupils, who are all wonderful, and I can’t say more, obviously.

I was preparing a run for Edweena, but then re-read the information sheet that R had from Tortoise Club, which says that 3 metres square is the minimum they need.  Oh.  I’d been thinking rather less than that.  Still, I have a bed of that size, so that is what I’ll use.  I measured her, more or less, and her shell is about 7 inches long; the sides have to be at least twice that in height.  It’s all rather a lot of work. I suppose it’ll be worth it.  The babies will have a smaller run within that, I think.

Little Rupert dog came to us for the day.  I was awake much of the night – Russell went down to fetch tea and toast for both of us at 3 am – and I was dozing when Ben barked.  “It’s Rupert!” said R, so I shoved on a dressing gown and scuttled downstairs, apologising to his owner.  The sash was missing from the dressing gown and there are no buttons, so I had to hold it about me carefully as I wasn’t wearing anything underneath, and controlling Ben at the same time wasn’t easy.  Then I started to feel faint…Sam left, I lay on the hall floor but was trodden on by playful dogs, so crawled back to bed, where i lay, with my ears buzzing.  There were compensations to relative fatness, darlings, this didn’t happen then.  It’s not that I’m underweight, by no means.

Anyway, tonight I’ve mostly been sitting quietly by myself in the kitchen.  I’ve got so much to do that is beyond my capabilities at present.  But now my dog is on the sofa behind me, my husband has made me tea, I’ve got a whole lot of things to listen to on iPlayer if I can’t sleep tonight and I’ve managed to get off a sheaf of paperwork for Russell that I’ve been working on all week.  On and off.

I think I’m going to have a bath and try not to drop the newspapers.

Z isn’t happy

So much has gone awry today that I should just shut up and be stalwart.  But hell.  I’m going for the sympathy vote.

I wanted to leave the house around 7.30, so set the alarm for 6.30, and woke up at 5.  It was the third time of waking, but that was ok, I felt I’d had a reasonable amount of sleep, and it so happened that R woke up too and made some tea, so that was nice.

In time, I got dressed and went downstairs.  The light in the passageway didn’t come on.  Power cut? No, I had internet on my phone.  Evidently, the bastard light bulb in the passageway had blown again and it had blown the bastard fuse.  So first I took Ben to the back door to let him out, rather than put him on a lead to walk him.  I couldn’t open the door.  The key doesn’t quite love the lock, it sometimes takes a bit of jiggling, but it wasn’t working this time.  So I couldn’t wait, I took Ben through the annexe and let him out of the back door there.

I returned to the kitchen.  Glancing along the passage, i saw blobs.  Malevolent, stinky things.  Darlings, I cannot deny that I had a little grumble.  But I fetched a 5 amp fuse and a screwdriver, carried through a stool and scrambled wobblingly on it, removed the fuse from the sodding fusebox and did the business, replaced it – it worked.  The kitchen light came on.  Then I replaced the light bulb (these expensive low energy light bulbs are a con – they hardly give out any light, they cost vastly more and they last no longer than proper light bulbs) and then I cleaned up three rather runny splodges of dog mess.  Fortunately, two of them were on a washable rug, but the third is persistent.  I may have to attack it again tomorrow.

All this by 7 am.  I was in a towering bad temper.  But I did the rest of the stuff one does and left on time.

Yeah, yeah, very nice day out.  And I spent a lot of it walking about on my own, which i really needed.  I also chatted and sat with friends for lunch and tea and was sociable, and I needed that too.

In the afternoon, I looked at emails and found that there were school-related ones that raised my blood pressure.  ‘Nuff said.  The day went downhill from then onwards, for one reason and another, but never mind.

Then I couldn’t access my own blog.  Turned out the host had a problem.  Well, I can sympathise there, so I left it for a bit.

I’m trying episode 2 of Jamaica Inn, but if it’s as unlit as the first one was, I might as well go to bed.  If they’re going for realism, why don’t they aim for some actual Cornish accents?  Frankly, it’s not even Mummerset.

Z feels a song coming on…

Don’t worry, darlings, I won’t sing.

When I went to the butcher’s, I spotted some salt beef for sale and asked for some.  “You realise this isn’t cooked, don’t you…er, about this big?” said Mark.  Yes, I did realise.

They cook ham, beef, salt beef for sale as well as pies, sausage rolls, quiches and so on, but they don’t often sell the raw salted beef.  We had it tonight, properly boiled with onions and carrots, and I enjoyed it enough to have a second helping.  Lots left over and for once I don’t mind that.  That is, using leftovers is fine, but it depends on how much there is.  I was able to unload quite a lot when Weeza & co came on Saturday.

Another jolly tomorrow, when I’m going to Cambridge with my Nadfas chums.  It’ll be an early start, I’ll have to leave here about 7.30 because I suspect the traffic will be bad on the first day back after the long weekend.  I had a sudden moment of bemusement a couple of days ago, knowing that I’d intended to book a place but not being sure if I had.  But it’s all right, I’m on the list.  It’ll be nice.  We take a coach from Norwich, leaving at 8.30, but it won’t be a long day – when we go to London it’s a 12+ hour affair.

I’m quite ready for a jolly, it’s been a busy day.  Mostly, this involved tortoises.  I’m not at all sure why I do all the work and Russell just goes for little chats with them (he does feed them as often as I do, to be fair, but that’s not exactly work) but it’s the only way of getting anything done.  Apart from getting a tortoise house stuck on the bend in the back stairs, it’s all gone pretty well, and now I won’t have to carry them upstairs and down until it’s warm enough for the Tots to be outside all the time.  I’ve put Zig’s vivarium in the porch with Edweena in it and the Tots are living in the plastic box on top of it.  At present, until I finish setting things up, they’re going outside in it too, but they’ll have much bigger quarters soon.

A couple of days ago, I found one of them had left a large puddle of urine on a leaf I’d left for them to eat.  And then yesterday, I found a turd on another leaf, minutes after I’d put it down.  Their temporary names are Peenelope and Poodith.

I’ve also changed three beds, done four loads of washing and got three of them dry (a rug will go on the Aga rail overnight) and hoovered, as well as tidying up my floordrobe.  Ben is moulting, the hoover bag was full of dog hair.  I used long-term flea treatment on him yesterday – I haven’t seen a flea, but I’m not taking chances, not after Gus’s experience.

Ah. Good.

After the family had been here a couple of weeks ago to celebrate Weeza’s and Al’s birthdays, I went to play the piano, which the children had been using, and was quite dismayed.  I hadn’t heard any major thumping that might have damaged it, but the notes carried on sounding as if the sustaining pedal was being held down.  I peered inside, top and bottom, couldn’t see anything amiss but the problem continued.  I put the situation aside for a bit in case I could work out the solution, rather than phone the piano tuner for yet another visit.

Yesterday, when Zerlina and Gus were here, I figured out the answer.  I’ve not had the pianola for so long that I’d forgotten that there’s a switch to turn on the sustaining pedal, as the foot pedals are covered by the pianola pedals when they’re down – you can fold them out of the way when you don’t need them.  So it’s just as well that I left it for a bit.

I have been enjoying playing the piano very much.  I’m very poor at it, I never will be anything else now, but I can amuse myself.  Yet the reason I took up the clarinet, when I was in my late thirties, was because I knew I’d never reach the standard (not high, frankly) I’d played at twenty years earlier.  A couple of decades on, I seem to have lowered my sights.  And now I seem to find the thought of bringing my standard of clarinet playing up is too daunting for the time being.  At present, it really needs to be tuned and adjusted, I know that’s part of the problem, but I’ve been out of practice for years and the sustained effort required to improve markedly is daunting.  And, though I’d find it easier to learn to play the clarinet really well than the piano, it’s easier to be not completely hopeless at the piano than the clarinet (it’s a matter of building up breath control and lip muscles as much as getting the right notes in the right order). I’m just too lazy, if I face facts.


One appliance is set up, one fails

There’s something about the radio alarm switching off that sends me back to sleep, and so it was that I didn’t get up until well after 9 o’clock, which was not planned at all.  One’s always most efficient when there’s a lot to do though, so lunch was on the table on the dot of 1 o’clock.

It went down very well in fact and, as much by luck as by judgement, the lamb was perfectly cooked.  Russell wasn’t home yet, but we decided to start – he’d gone over to an antiques fair and if he was chatting, he might be ages.  “May I have the chicken leg please?” asked Zerlina.  It was explained that it was lamb, but she still wanted the bone – that is, the equivalent of the forearm – so I spent several minutes removing it for her and had to go and wash my hands afterwards, I wasn’t very tidy about it.  She ate a remarkable amount, as did her brother, who started with carrots and broccoli before moving on to the meat.

I’d done a dish of fruit – strawberries, grapes, bananas and pineapple – and made a cake, which I’d done in a ring mould and iced it to look like a bird’s nest.  Well, it didn’t look very like a bird’s nest, but the thought was there.  My electric mixer packed in just as I was whipping cream – luckily it didn’t stop sooner.  The motor works but the paddles don’t go around, so I suppose it’s the gear that’s worn.

It was just as well that we hadn’t waited for Russell, who arrived home at 1.40.  He’d been chatting, he said – just as we expected.

I was reading in the paper today that a lot of people don’t teach their children to cook because they don’t want the kitchen made untidy.  It has to be admitted that my kitchen gets pretty messy every day.  I’m far too keen on food to mind that and my children were always welcome to help.  They’re all good and enthusiastic cooks, which makes me very happy.

The lead arrived the other day for the DVD player and I tried and failed to set it up.  I was disgusted with myself.  I had been determined not to have to ask for help, but I’m afraid it needed a man.  Phil did it for me.  He kindly said that he already dreads the day when he has to ask his children for help with techy things.  Quite.