Monthly Archives: March 2016

Meet the flintstones

It transpires that the annexe’s septic tank also needs a new soakaway.  There was no actual evidence of this, just a feeling I had that this needed to be checked, so I asked Alan and Dan to come back and explore a bit with their mini-digger.  And they found a rather horrid situation and are sorting it out.  And then they will return with the big JCB and deal with the rest of the clearing – that is, taking out several tree stumps (when the dead trees were removed, at least a stump several feet high was left, for easier later removal) and clearing a massive pile of bonfire remnants, plus removing or burying a lot of general rubble.  I’ve realised I’ve got a lot more tiles that have to be stored (I knew about them but had forgotten) and I’ve got a pile of flintstones that seem too potentially useful to bury, so I’ll store them too.

Once all this has been done, there will be a clear area where grass will eventually grow and can be mowed.  It’ll be a lot tidier and easier to look after.  I’m going to get this place looking relaxedly unscruffy – no wish for it to be immaculate; shabby but reasonably tidy and loved will do nicely.

Yet more chicken woes – you may remember, last summer, that a chick, a few weeks old and apparently healthy, became unable to walk.  I kept it indoors for a while, with little hope of recovery after the first few days and, indeed, it eventually died.  I could only assume that there was some congenital hip problem or something.  And now it’s happened again.  A chick seemed entirely fit and well but can’t control its legs.  It can stand but as soon as it tries to walk, it falls over.

And then it went missing.  Roses realised that first and wondered if it had died and I’d removed it, but that isn’t the case.  It wasn’t in the coop though.  I suggested that either it had wriggled outside and a cat had taken it, or that it had died and the mother, who scratches vigorously and has been known to bury a water dish, had covered it with earth.  But neither was the case.  It had got out, but was underneath the barrier I use to stop them getting out.  And, after a couple of nights, was still alive.  I picked it up and gave it some water, but knew I should steel myself to dispose of it…and I couldn’t.  I am cross with myself for too much soft-heartedness, but I can’t help it.  It’s in a box and has managed to sit itself in the old avocado dish I put its food in, where it’s quite comfortable.  I’ve packed it around so it can’t flop about, am giving it food and water, of course, and it seems quite happy for now.

I’m not cut out for keeping chickens, it’s only too clear to me.  Nor tortoises, to be honest.

Catching up

I haven’t left the house today, except to feed animals.  And the morning didn’t start too cheerfully, because the nice little hen that’s been poorly for more than a week died in the night. There’s so little one can do, but it’s sad.

I went to a lecture on John Singer Sargent yesterday, which was very interesting.  I know his portraits reasonably well, though it was good to see more and to hear about his career, but I hadn’t realised that he pretty well gave up portraiture when he was in his early 50s and spent the next few years travelling and painting and doing just what he wanted.  I did know about his WW1 war artist paintings, but not the scenes from Venice, North Africa etc and the garden/flower paintings had been a discovery that LT and I made at the RA a couple of weeks ago – I have to say, we thought his portraits were better, but I feel more warmly to them now I know the background.

I’ve got a lot of school stuff coming up in the next week or so.  I admit that I’m counting the days. It’s all getting harder and I don’t want to have to step up a gear again, but I must.

LT is away for the next few days, so we have to sigh longingly on the phone to each other. What it is to be old and soppy…

Anyway, I’m turning out cupboards, because the spring cleaning bug has bit – only trouble there is that there’s nothing visible from outside, however neat the cupboard is – and I have set myself the task of cleaning outside windows, just as soon as the cold wind drops, which surely it will?

I’ve neglected my dear blog for the last few days.  No longer, I’ll catch up with things.

Trying to find lots of things not to do

Plans changed.  Well, it was a dull and misty day and we didn’t feel like gardening, so we didn’t.  Nor did we feel like turning out the study.  So we didn’t.  Hah.

I’ve finally got around to ordering some pot eggs.  I daresay all you chicken keepers use them already, but I hadn’t been able to track any down except a single one, last year, at the local shop that sells all outdoor stuff, where they wanted £3.50 for a single plaster egg, and I baulked at the price.  It’ll be my last hope of getting the bantams to lay where I want them to and, if they don’t take the hint, they won’t be completely free range (although they’ll have enough outdoor space to be ‘legally’ so) again.  Russell used to mark an egg and leave it, but he also watched them closely to see where they emerged from looking pleased with themselves, and I’m simply not observant enough for that.  Anyway, I have bought the eggs on eBay and we’ll see how it goes.

There was a knock at the front door this morning and a youngish man had come to ask me if I might let my field for his son to use for scrambling.  On a bike, that is – I’d let young Stevo ride his motorbike around it, when he was practising for his CBT.  I had to disappoint him, it was out of the question.  I explained, it was just for a young friend, I only let him because it was the winter and there were no cows on the field, I overlooked the noise and the ground being somewhat cut up but it was a one-off.  The son is 11 and he’s been bought the bike and the accessories, but now they can’t find anywhere for him to ride.  I could only suggest he ask on one of the local Facebook pages.  I think he’ll be very lucky if he can find anywhere, to be frank.

Tomorrow, we haven’t made plans yet, except to go to the pub for a drink before lunch.  This seems achievable.


Bantam crying wolf

We’ve been sowing seeds in the greenhouse this week, which is always a cheering and hopeful thing.  Though I have made the fairly momentous-feeling decision not to use the big greenhouse for plants any more.  It’s 40 foot long by 14 foot wide, it’s very old and the wood base is not in good condition at all, so the glass tends to slide gently down and leave a gap at the top – there aren’t too many panes that have done that, but a few.  And the strimmer has thrown up stones and broken two panes and – well, in short, I don’t really need the space, I’ve got the 30 foot by 12 foot one and I’m going to get a roll of fruit cage netting to cover the whole greenhouse, construct (not me personally, I’ll get it done) a covered path from the chicken run to the greenhouse and let the bantams use it.  I am not sure if I’ll let them range completely free again, but not while I still have the cock.  I’m afraid his days may well be numbered.  All those chicks in the past eight months or so, 42 in total, have broken my spirit.  I can’t bear it again.  Apart from the nuisance of feeding several coopsful of chicks and having to move the coops on to fresh ground every few days, I’ve then had to get the cockerels disposed of when they’re a few months old, and it’s made me unhappy.  Eleven more hatching on the 1st February was the last straw.

One of the bantams has been poorly for the last few days.  Roses sent me a message, when I was down at LT’s house, to tell me so, and we thought she was probably going to die in the night – but she didn’t and was still ambling around, looking rather sorry for herself, when I got home.  The next day, she was lying on her side, moving her head feebly.  I was going to go and pick her up, but when I turned round from feeding the cats, she was up and about again.  Today, she was lying immobile and one of the brown hens was standing by her, and I thought she was dead – but again, when I got back from feeding the cats she was up and about again.

Clearly, I know nothing about nothing, as we say in Norfolk.

Anyway, more seeds to be sown tomorrow.  I love growing plants from seed. LT and I were completely happy, pottering about getting muddy.

There’s always jam tomorrow…

It seems that there might be music … or maybe not.  But anyway, if anyone feels they’d like to bring an instrument to the blog party and a willingness to improvise with anyone else who might have done the same, it could happen.  And it could be fun, perhaps?

i might get JonnyB with his banjo.  Eddie2Sox with spoons.  Me with the clarinet and LT on guitar.  Sir B is a drummer.  So…???

By the way, yesterday’s post decided that it should be an update from a January post with a completely different name.  I’ve corrected the date but it might not have turned up in your feed reader.  I enthused.  Which is probably enough to say, really, except – ooh, Soan Papdi!

Soan Papdi!!!

Darlings, I was so excited. And then it got even better! LT has been talking about the Asian supermarkets on the Oxford Road and we visited one today. And you know what I’m like, so you can imagine how happy I was with wonderful vegetables and lots of spices and all sorts of things I either can’t buy at all in Yagnub, or have to get in dispiritingly small quantities for an unrealistically large price. I managed not to fill our basket with things I wanted but didn’t necessarily need at that minute.

But the butchery section didn’t open until noon, so we had ten minutes or so in hand for me to browse a bit more … and then I remembered the sweet that I have only been able to buy when leaving Chennai Airport (actually, I looked it up on the internet once and I could get it here, but for an absurd price and even I don’t like sweets that much). So I explored a bit further among the Indian sweets (and a lot of Indian sweets are frankly too sweet and not greatly appealing, as far as I’m I concerned, though I have had nice ones) and, when I was finally reaching the completely unEnglish last resort of actually asking, I found it. Haldiram’s Soan Papdi. I was thrilled. It wasn’t exactly the same packaging that I’m used to, but it contained pistachios and cardamom,so I bought it.

Meanwhile, LT was buying the ingredients for a delicious chicken and coriander dish and an aubergine curry, which was also delicious and had a seriously hot sauce, which was lovely. We like spice.

And his neighbour Clare came in for a drink before dinner – I’ve met her a couple of times before, at Tim’s parties – and then we had dinner and then, though I’d put the Soan Papdi in a bag ready to bring home, I couldn’t resist.

Darlings, it’s quite possible that moans of delight passed my lips. LT was greatly entertained. Just lovely. We shared just one piece, though there’s no real reason to ration it, except that I’m a master of self-control and I wouldn’t want to get addicted or anything.

Actually, I’ve just looked again and you can get it on Amazon now (though I’m not sure if it’s the divine cardamom flavour). But it’s still overpriced by a couple of pounds. Come to sunny Reading and go to the Exotic Supermarket on the Oxford Road.

Heading to Reading

LT and I drove down to our other home today (obviously, once we’re here, Mahsrae is our other home) and the weather was frankly peculiar. A bit drizzly while he was loading the car, then fine, but sleet started after a few minutes and then hail so loud and heavy that, silly as it was, I almost wondered if the windscreen might crack. And an hour later, we were nearly blinded by the Essex sun.

it seems to me that storms have become heavier since we started naming them.

Anyway, here we are (I feel a song coming on) and tomorrow we are going to have dinner with Mig and Barney. I haven’t seen them since Ziggi’s funeral, it’ll be good.