Monthly Archives: June 2014


I have only just realised how much weight Ben has gained.  I don’t think it’s my fault directly: Russell has been trying to disguise from me that he hasn’t been eating much, so has sneaked a lot of food to the dog under the table.  And Ben has a thick coat and I haven’t noticed – still, up to me to put the poor animal on a diet.

We had booked a visit to a local stately-ish home, but it wasn’t until yesterday evening that R decided that he felt well enough to come. A scurry round this morning, I had to feed R, Ben, the tortoises, the chickens and (a bit of an afterthought) me before leaving at 9 o’clock.  All went well, though R wasn’t strong enough to walk round the gardens, so sat in the sunshine while I did.  R is nearly 18 years older than I am, but I’ve never been conscious of it until now – not that a health matter should be confused with an age one and I suppose we’ve both been lucky until now.

I nearly hit a couple of deadlines, but caught and spun those plates in time.  Another one is starting to wobble…I’ve until 11 tomorrow morning, I think I’ve finished for tonight.  Cheery-bye, darlings.

Happy birthday, Russell

Today is Russell’s birthday and I’m very pleased to say that he’s been well enough to enjoy it – half of it, anyway, because he got up so very late that i actually went to check on him, to be sure he was ok.  He’s not usually a late riser., not after midday, anyway, but he’s turned into a little Sleep Monster at present – however, since it seems to be doing him good, there’s no problem there.

In the meantime, I’d fed the chickens and the tortoises and so on, but I did a silly thing, or rather I left undone those things that I ought to have done.  R wanted a lift into town but, on the lawn as we went out to the car, we saw a couple of bantams.  i said I’d put them back when we got home … by which time, there were six bantams.  I thought I’d left the door open for a couple of minutes last night, but when i went round to check, the door was open and nearly all of them were out.  Not that they looked too cheerful about it and they obediently filed back in when I chivvied them.  The ones on the lawn took a bit more persuasion, but they were all back home soon (except one, it turned out, who was waiting disconsolately when I went to feed them this evening).  There’s a bolt on each side of the door and the one on the inside had caught and stopped it fastening from the outside and I hadn’t noticed.  No harm done, luckily.

Tonight, R has drunk champagne, eaten a modest salad (home-grown lettuce and cucumber, local cheese), eaten fillet steak with local potatoes and home-grown spinach, followed by meringue, local ice cream and strawberries and he’s now eating some chocolate given to him as a birthday present.  Only small quantities of each, but unimaginable four days ago.  I don’t begin to understand it, but I’m very relieved – for now, anyway.

The last thing on my mind has been birthday presents so I haven’t got him anything yet – mind you, his to me is to be a motorbike and that’s been on offer since September.  We’re a bit casual that way.  No idea what to get him, last year I gave him his iPad and he’s now officially the man who has everything.  Now that he seems to have his appetite back, that is.

Post party cheer

How lovely bloggers are.  Many thanks to those of you who came to the party, Russell and I really enjoyed it.  Thanks also to those who brought gorgeous puds – I had something of everything … yes, darlings, you’re looking at the woman who ate seven desserts yesterday.  Later, Zerlina was suggesting I eat something more and I displayed (discreetly covered by my dress, obvs) my rounded tummy and explained that I’d eaten far too much already.

Russell has been really unwell during the past week as I’ve said, but the party perked him up a lot and he loved seeing you all.  Those who left before he got the old car out (the yellow one, that is) missed the chance of a ride round the village, though there was a rather spectacular gush of steam at one point and we had to refill the radiator.  Afterwards, he let Weeza drive it, which she found quite an education.  We’re all used to power steering nowadays, as well as cars that move in the direction you turn the wheel quite promptly.  80 year old brakes aren’t quite as efficient as they might be either.  However, she found that it was great fun and Gus had a big grin on his face throughout, especially when she ground the gears (every time she changed them, but they are very tricky: Russell does it too).

Today, I arrived home from church to find R eating Weetabix and asking for two rashers of bacon and two eggs.  Tonight, he’s eaten some salt beef and salad, followed by some of Ann’s Summer Pudding and cream – overall, not a huge amount of food, but eaten with gusto and he’s better than he has been for at least a week.  I’ve no idea if the improvement will continue, but it’s lovely to have him cheerful and enjoying life again.

As for me, I had a nap this afternoon.  But I finished all the washing up and clearing away first.

PS – I’ve started to catch up on blogs, not having had time to read any for a few days.  I’m sorry to say that WordPress won’t let me post comments on them, though.  ‘You’re posting comments too quickly.  Slow down.’ it says – though since it was the first comment I’d tried to make in at least a week, this is their mistake not mine.  Anyway, sorry Mago and Sablonneuse, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Z is really looking forward to Saturday’s blog party

Good Friend Daphne called today on her way home from Bury to Canterbury – so I invited Weeza and Gus over to see her.  Daphne and Russell have been friends for over sixty years and she’s Ro’s godmother.  We also had Hay here for the day and the two little boys (they’re three months apart in age) were absolutely adorable together.  They had earnest little conversations, played co-operatively and behaved beautifully.

In addition, Edweena is eating again, which is good.  I wasn’t concerned about her, but she does so enjoy her food that one can’t help being disappointed when she doesn’t want to eat.  And – looking for things to be pleased about – I remembered to put out the green wheelie bin last night.  We’ve forgotten the black one the last two times, so it’s pretty imperative that we remember next week.

I have various things in the oven, not having been able to get on while Daphne was here, so it’ll be a late night.  However, the tables are laid.  The first thing I did this morning was sort out the fridge to make room for drinks, which says something about me…and later, Weeza did the hoovering for me, which was very kind.

The other good thing that happened was that we’ve got our house insurance sorted out.  There was a bit of a disaster when the renewal letter failed to arrive and so did the reminder – no idea what went wrong there – and we didn’t realise until after the policy was cancelled.  I only realised last week.  It’s been a bit worrying.  But it’s sorted out now and we’ve got better cover for less money, thanks to our excellent agent Steve, whom we’ve known for many years and who has gone to a lot of trouble on our behalf.   And I had the road tax reminder (I know it’s not really road tax, but even the DVLA calls it that) today and paid it online straight away, so I don’t have to remember it at the end of the month.  Peace of mind is a wonderful thing if you can get it, and every little helps.

CBT, but not quite…

Well, it’s been a day of some success and some frustration, but the latter was in a good cause.

I slept surprisingly well, and had remembered to open all the upstairs windows in time to let some of the heat out yesterday evening, so it wasn’t too hot.  I fed the chickens and tortoises (Edweena was sniffing at a rose petal, so I hope she ate) and arrived at the bike place in good time.  And it all went well, Lesley is lovely – she started by asking me why I wanted to learn.

It all started at last year’s blog party, if you remember, when Sir Bruin gave me a gentle spin round the village on the back of his trusty steed.  I got the bug at once and, when he took me on the dual carriageway a few months later, it just firmed my resolve.  I explained that driving a car is no fun and I want something that is, that needs all my attention and alertness and that I think I’ll really enjoy it.  Also, that I reckon I’m just about young enough, whilst not having too many responsibilities – it’s now or never.

So she talked me through all the various things she needed to, checked me on the Highway Code (in no great detail, I had a feeling that all the revising I’d been doing would be required for the full test – but knowledge is good and at least I now know what road signs are for trams), then took me through the most necessary mechanics of a bike, and then it was loaded into the van and we went off to the disused airfield where we were to practise.

It went better than I expected, actually (and that she did too, I should think).  It took me a few goes to manage stopping reasonably neatly, but the gears were a lot easier to master than I thought and I found that I wasn’t terrified at riding up to 35 mph.  Then came the first hitch.  She got on to show me the technique of doing a figure of eight, and realised that the gear lever wasn’t right – I thought something had changed but it worked, so I thought I must be wrong.  In short, it was about to break off.  And she wiggled it and it did.  So she rang her husband who came out with a replacement and fitted it – only took a few minutes.  She thought someone must have damaged it and not realised – I accidentally tilted over the other side twice when I rather forgot to put my feet down in time, but I don’t think I did anything to cause it.

So then she demonstrated the figure of eight and the u-turn and then I had a  go.  Darlings, it was tricky.  I nearly got the eight once, but I couldn’t quite master it.  I did the u-turn first go, and a second time too, though not quite as neatly.

We stopped for a short rest and it was as well we did – I felt my phone ring in my pocket.  It was then about quarter to one – it was Weeza – the hospital had phoned, offering R an appointment today at 2 o’clock.  She couldn’t get to him in time to take him, was I in a position to come back or could I think of anyone else to ask?  The trouble was, if I did ring round and not find anyone, I’d have lost too much time – so I explained and apologised to Lesley, who was lovely and instantly phoned her husband to pick me up and we’ll carry on with the rest of the test another day.

She said she hopes I will complete it, she thinks I did well.  She will give me a ring to arrange another date.  In truth, though I really did hope to complete it today, my arms were getting quite tired and I think that’s why I found the slow, precise turning more difficult. So maybe it’s just as well that I had to stop …except that I wanted to finish it so much.

I rushed home (not above the speed limit ufcorse). picked up R who was waiting on the doorstep, drove to Norwich, dropped him off, parked, ran back, we went up in the lift,tried to sign in but couldn’t as he was an extra, and were finally okayed on the dot of 2 o’clock.  Hah, darlings, hah.  I hardly ever miss a deadline, don’t usually take it to the wire, but – well, you know hospital appointments, then we sat there until nearly half past.,

Another test taken, but more to come within a fortnight.  Truly, I’m grateful to the NHS.  On the way home, I asked Russell if he wanted to postpone the blog party.  He said no, it’ll be fun, he enjoys it.  So don’t hesitate, darlings, we’re still on for Saturday.

Later, a jolly at school, where the incoming Head has spent the day.  He really is a good bloke, I have a lot of confidence about the future with him.  And in the staff and governors, the only person who is coasting is me, and I can knuckle under as soon as there’s an EEK! moment.  I am swimming beneath the surface, but it’s ok, there are lots of people giving buoyancy and I’ll do the uplift if necessary….I may have carried on this metaphor long enough.

Lesley said I’ll sleep soundly tonight, I’ll be tired out.  Well, that’ll be good.



Tomorrow’s the day….

I’ve never been less prepared for anything than the various events of this week – CBT, interviews, party.  But it’s like any fixed date, it arrives and somehow one is ready for it.  The doctor says that the hospital may fit R in for a scan before the end of the week, which will really scupper my plans – I’ve got several appointments that I’ll just have to cancel.  Weeza is bringing Gus over on Friday: the idea is that we will have a nice convivial day with our friend Daphne, up from Canterbury, but I may have to leave Hay with them if we get the call.  R is very thin, darlings, I’m afraid you’ll be shocked when you see him on Saturday.  He says he feels ok, no pain or discomfort, just not much appetite and he’s understandably low in energy.

Edweena still isn’t eating, I feel so sorry for her.  She is quite perky and active, but the worming tablet (I suppose it was a tablet, might have been an injection) seems to have taken her appetite away.  I even offered her cucumber – which isn’t bad for her but has almost no nutrition, being mostly water).  The Tots are fine, very cheerful and munching away happily.

Rabbits having got into the veg garden and eaten almost everything (luckily, they seem not to care much for spinach and courgettes, so that’s what we’ll live on this summer), I’ve bought some runner bean plants.  I daren’t plant them until I’m sure our wire defences are sound, though.  I suppose we should have built a wall all round the kitchen garden – that would be lovely, actually, though I don’t suppose I’ll ever get round to it now.

Tomorrow, my bike test.  It’s the fairly simple one – I know that getting a full licence is pretty demanding – but it seems quite daunting enough for me.  I’ve been testing myself on the Highway Code and observation tests – I hope I’ll be ok there, but riding on the road is – I think it’ll be pretty scary.  Will I get out of first gear?  I’ll have to, won’t I.



Thinking about the Blog Party

I was signed out, as sometimes happens, and I finally discovered the message that you get when you’re signing in (unless you remain signed in, I suppose).  I can’t remember why, but I did ask Ro to insert a captcha/veriification and I think this one is quite funny.  So my apologies, and maybe I’ll become less paranoid at some time, but I haven’t been taken over by rogue ‘bots and it’s all ok.

I’m barely keeping up with things at present, though I have bluffed my way through so far and will continue to do so – the trick is, not to lie about it.  Say ‘oh bugger, thanks for reminding me, I’ll do it now’ and you are sympathised with and forgiven.  Pretend it’s right there on your desk in front of you and you might get away with it once, but that’s all, and it’s benefit of the doubt at best, even then.  I stopped doing that about 30 years ago.  Just own up and take responsibility, or admit you need help.

The week has filled up.  So on Saturday, if you look closely into the corners, there will be dust and cobwebs.  Sorry – let’s take it that you then go home and feel pretty good about your standard of housework.  I’ve invited you because I like you very much and hope that you’ll enjoy a get-together and there will be Food!  And several of you are bringing Puddings!  Which is very kind.  I have quantities of wine – well, of course – and a visit to the supermarket will bring in the non-alcoholic stuff that most of you will drink most of, and the main course is planned.  It’ll be simple, meat and fish and salad and cheese.

The last few days have been a bit busy with sorting out insurances and so on.  I’m still not quite there and will tell you more in due course.  Edweena has been grumpy today and probably exhausted, and hasn’t eaten – I’ve only seen one of the tots but, from the amount of food that vanished, I think they both ate.  The chickens knocked over their 6 litre water container, so went thirsty overnight, silly girls.  I’m not sure if I mentioned, we found one last week that had been living away, naughty girl – I wondered if she had somehow got out, but managed to count them and we’ve got 29 hens and a cock, so she is certainly an extra.  Russell has taken pity on a broody hen and put four eggs under her – I can’t help hoping that only one will hatch.

Z is just too damn friendly

I’ve been making friends at Tortoise Club. I tried to keep my distance, but I’m not too good at it.

We put the Tots in a shoe box and Edweena in a wine box (without its dividers, of course) and set off for the village just south of Norwich where Ro and Dora live – so we dropped off various veg plants to them on the way.  The tortoises were pronounced to be in excellent health – I enquired delicately about the bowel situation – this could be cured by more fluid intake, might be a symptom of worms, so paid a fiver for her to be wormed and took the Tots off to see Barbara, who bred them.  She was very pleased to see they are doing so well.  Then, we dropped them off at the crêche (yes, honestly) and bought some sandwiches and lemonade.  There were squirty bottles of anti-bacterial liquid on the tables, which was just as well, because Edweena had Ed-wee’d in her carrier and the Tots had poo’ed in their box, so I’ve reinstated (I haven’t told Russell this) their names of Poodith and Peenelope.

I chatted to lots of nice people and found out a lot more about out tortoises.  And now I’m telling you, darlings, with apologies for boring you rigid.

They are all female horsfield tortoises, from the steppes of Central Asia (by origin, that is – they were all bred and born in this country).  This is a very arid habitat with extremes of temperature and is the limit of northern habitat for tortoises – Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China.  They aren’t very different from the Mediterranean species, except that they can’t cope with the wet very well.  They are a small breed – though Edweena is a lot bigger than the 10cm length quoted, at 15.5 cm.

Because of the hot summers and cold winters, horsfield tortoises both aestivate and hibernate – sometimes, these periods run into each other and they can spend up to nine months of the year asleep, lazy little things that they are.  So, when they are awake, they eat as much as possible – that means that here, where they won’t sleep for so long, they mustn’t be overfed.  High fibre, low protein, not too much food is the order of the day.

Luckily, I’ve been very careful not to let their living quarters become damp.  If we were to have a very wet summer, I’d have to bring them indoors.  However, they were commended for their healthy shells – it’s not good for tortoises to be kept indoors too much, they need natural light and sunshine.  Even the babies should be hibernated – possibly not this year, but a month or so would not be a bad thing, if their weight is right.  Last autumn, Edweena stopped eating as a preparation to hibernation earlier than we expected, so this year I’ll start bringing her and the Tots in at night and on chilly days, to encourage them to keep active for longer.

Tortoises are more work than I realised.  They are cute, though.

A barely damp squib

Thunderstorms and torrential rain were forecast, but not everywhere.  I didn’t water last night, in the hope of a good downpour.  What a foolish optimist I am, darlings.  A spot of thunder in the distance this morning, then a light shower, then it became really humid, then hot and sunny. Which made it a lovely day, of course, but I’d have liked that shower to become heavier and I had to water this afternoon.

I’ve been a bit anxious the past few days because Edweena has been reluctant to eat.  I’ve persuaded her to have a few rose petals, that’s all.  And one day, I saw her lying with her back legs stretched out and surmised that the poor little tortoise was constipated.  And today, I went out to visit her and found her in the corner of her run (right where I normally step in, jolly good job I spotted her) and gave her her food – and she hurried forwards and started to wolf it down.  I looked where she had been and – please excuse me, darlings – there was a massive poo.  Twice as big as I’d ever seen her do before.  So I’d guessed right, but I don’t know why or how to prevent it again.

Anyway, bowels empty, she was very hungry and keen to make up for lost time.  Dilly texted me about 1.30 to see if I was free, and she and the children came over, joined later by Al.  Hadrian loves feeding Edweena and kept asking to give her more food.  Eventually, she staggered off for a rest under the hebe, though I saw her browsing on the lower leaves.

Tomorrow, Tortoise Club has an Open Day, so the tortoises are looking forward to that.

D is for Day

My father was peaceable at heart – personally, that is.  He was too short-sighted to be a soldier, so was put into the RAMC in the ranks and rose to become a RSM.  He took it as a matter of some gladness, that he never had to fire a shot in anger, as he put it.  He never killed and he was very relieved – yet he respected those who did, of course.  From his point of view, he went through the same dangers as everyone else, but he wasn’t armed.  More scary or easy way out – there isn’t a quarrel.  Everyone pulled together.

And now we have German friends – and Japanese ones too – and thank goodness we do.  So much suffering, so much death and injury.  We hold on to hope, even if that’s a foolish hope.  We’d rather be fools than hang on to our grievances, most of us.  If we’re wrong, so be it.  Hope lost, all lost.