Monthly Archives: August 2018


Eloise cat woke us up at around 5.30 this morning.  She was scampering about on the landing – which had to mean she’d found a mouse, brought it in and let it go.  She’s rubbish at killing mice and, actually, not that good at catching them.

A minute later, she marched into the bedroom and told Tim to get up.  A couple of years ago, he’d have shut her out on the landing, but now she’s got him trained – he answered her yowl politely and got out of bed.  He couldn’t find the mouse, though.  She ran around for a while longer and then came and sat on us.

I picked a couple of figs the other day, but they’re ripening quickly now.  We picked a bowlful, and several more had to be left for the wasps.  So, of course, they were the basis for lunch.  I went to the deli, bought prosciutto, feta cheese and artichoke hearts and, between them all, that’s lunch organised for today and tomorrow.  We opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc too.

We napped for a bit this afternoon.

RasPutin cat

While I’m still in a photo mood, here’s one of old RasPutin, the father of the barn cats.


He vanished a while ago for some time and, when he came back, he was very thin and so was his coat.  I’m not sure if enlarging the photo will show, but he is half the cat he used to be.  When I stroke him, I can feel his ribs and his hair isn’t patchy, just really thin overall.

I feed him three times a day now, if he’s about, and he eats well but he isn’t putting on weight.  I don’t know if he simply has worms, or if it’s cancer, but at least he’s happy now.  A few weeks ago, he was very anxious and begged for food but now he loves to be stroked and is willing to wait to be fed, as long as I’m making a fuss of him.  I don’t honestly expect him to last the winter and I daresay he just won’t turn up one day and I’ll never know what’s happened, but at least he will have been comfortable.  He used to turn up when he felt like it, but now he’s always about.  And he purrs now, which he never used to do.

He and Rummy have come to some sort of accommodation.  He’s still the top cat, actually and Rummy doesn’t mess with him – he’s been whopped too often.  RasPutin has lost fights, as shown by his torn and crooked right ear, but he still has stature.  His children are fond of him, especially his daughter Betty.

I gave up and now buy Whiskas.  You knew I would.  The five of them eat up to three tins a day.  It costs a fortune.  *Sigh* At that, Betty often turns her nose up and just eats the dried GoKat.  She approves of Eloise cat’s left over food though.

I can do nothing about it.  If being kind turns me into crazy cat woman, so be it.

Frustratingly, I don’t know if the chickens have mastered the new feeder or not.  I put down a bit of food for them under it, because I worry too much to leave them unfed.  Little Yvette, the Serama, seems to get chased away, but she’s being a bit broody anyway and spends most of her time in the nest box.  Interestingly, the big brown hen is also somewhat broody and they are nestled down together – since BBH normally bullies Yvette (who is a feisty little thing and isn’t cowed, though she has to run away as she’s so small) it’s surprising that they are nestbox partners, but that’s that.  The black hens are laying and those two are sitting.  Anyway, though I’m not entirely satisfied by the feeder, which is wildly overpriced for what it is, not having trays of food down does, as Blue Witch predicted, seem to have solved the rat problem.  They don’t come in and scuttle away when I go in the greenhouse.  I’ve been thinking about it – Russell never used feeders or drinkers, but put down bowls of water and scattered them handfuls of feed several times a day.  They were free range outdoors then, of course, unless the weather was too bad – but we never had a rat problem.It may be that the chooks are using the feeder – in a day or two, I’ll not put food down in the morning and watch them.  I’ve been a bit too busy for that, so far.

Pembrokeshire pics

I didn’t take many photos while we were away, but here are a few from Carew Castle.  Tim tells me that it’s pronounced Carey.  It’s a very handsome near-ruin, with lovely views and it would be a great place for children to explore.

Carew Castle

View of the nearby watermill, tricksily taken through a window


We then went on to have a drink at a pub Tim knew – that also is in a lovely setting.

View from the Cresselly Arms


The last was taken as a panorama, so it’s reproduced backwards, as it were – that is, the corner goes out rather than in.

Photos, mostly

I know I’ve told the story of my great-grandmother and the heliotrope here before, though it was probably a few years ago.  That was about the colour, but of course that’s the colour of the flowers.  It’s a half-hardy annual and not hard to grow, with a sweet scent, especially in the evening, but I never see it for sale.  I grew them once, a long time ago – about 35 years, I should think; certainly before we lived in this house.  I bought a packet of heliotrope seeds this year but they were sown late because of the cold weather and I didn’t put them in the propagator because the weather went straight from cold to hot.  Another time, I’d start at the right time in controllable heat, because only one plant came up.

It has thrived, however and I put it in an old sink with alpines – it’s grown bigger than I expected, probably because of daily watering, but never mind, it’ll only be there until the first frost.

This is just the preamble to a few photos.  Starting, of course, with the heliotrope.  I think it should be more grown, it’s a lovely colour and a delightful scent.


Here are a couple of photos of Eloise cat.  I took the first one because she blended in so well with the garden chair, but the sun had retreated slightly by the time I took it, so you can only see near her tail where the colour is a rich brown.  The second one, she’s lying on the paving and she blends in with that too, without sunshine.

When we arrived home the other day, I went out to pick the first sweetcorn of the year for dinner.  And today, I picked the first two figs – but we scoffed them before taking a photo.

Z looks at envelopes

I’ve been home a day and a half and I haven’t opened the post yet.  Twenty-plus items and they’re just sitting there.  I’ll do it tomorrow – which is what I said yesterday.

I did open one envelope, because I could see it was a letter from the taxman.  And yay, it’s a cheque for over a thousand pounds.  The reason for it is the massive expenses last year, but hey, a tax rebate for … did I mention? … over a thousand pounds.  Quirkily, it feels as if I’m in profit.

I endeavour to find an achievement in every day, because I get disappointed otherwise.  Today’s – it doesn’t matter how small they are, it’s just that they have happened – is that I’ve booked the chimney sweep.  Last year, I left it rather late and he was very busy and it was a bit worrying, as we’d come close to a chimney fire at one point the previous spring.  As it is, the sweep isn’t coming for another six weeks, but that’s fine, he’s booked.  He’s the brother of the chap who installed our splendid woodburner, actually, and he’s very good and more reasonably priced than the man who I used before, who then let me down the next year (the reason for the near-chimney fire was that I hadn’t been able to get the chimney swept as I’d been let down) and actually, possibly, better because he gives an actual certificate, in case it’s needed for house insurance.  Who knew?  I haven’t checked my small print, admittedly, but some house insurers require annual chimney sweeping.

We always did have it done, except that one year, but quite often did it ourselves, or with Jamie’s help.  Chimney sweeping is quite satisfying, in fact … blimey, I can’t believe I just said that.  Bear in mind that I’m a woman who knows how to use a set of drain rods and pity me, darlings.

And now, I’m going to go out and smell the heliotrope.  Because it’s delightful.

Z provides libations for the weather pixies

And… we’re back.  It was lovely there as ever and the weather was actually consistently the best I’ve ever known it there – coastal Pembrokeshire tends to be changeable.  We went out and about a bit and slept quite a lot and read quite a few books.  Pretty well no internet, though it bobbed up once in a while, emails downloaded and I couldn’t reply to them, though I needed to, so trips out were punctuated by my checking the phone to see if there was a signal.

I daresay I’ll learn to switch off completely one day, but I suspect I’ll be sans pretty well everything by then.

It rained at last, once we were home, so I haven’t investigated the garden much yet.  I see that one marrow escaped Wince’s eyes, which I’ll pick tomorrow and give to the chickens.  If I can be bothered to chop it up, they’ll eat it all but if I just cut it in half then they’ll eat the seeds and a bit of the flesh.  What I did pick was the first of the sweetcorn, which were our first course for dinner.  As ever, I started eating at once, so my mouth is burnt, but the young, delicious cobs are worth it.

Having had a good rain, I’m ready for more sunshine now, please.

Z and the feeder

We’re off soon to the western side of the country, so won’t have the heatwave expected here.  Should be pleasant at least, though.

The new chicken feeder arrived today.  I’ve been having problems with rats in the henhouse.  We never used to have this trouble, but the hens were free range and mostly fed outside.  Now they have a very big run but aren’t free range, I have rats.  Blue Witch recommended a rather expensive but, she said, well worth buying hopper, which the chickens peck to release the food. I finally took the plunge and ordered it – not least because my bigger chickens are extremely clumsy and knock over any container their food is in, even if it should be impossible.

BW bought her feeder some years ago and has always been very pleased with it.  I trust ours will work well, but the build quality has certainly gone way down.  Nothing lined up so bolts have been pushed in as far as they can go, but that’s not far enough to add the nut to secure it.  The top doesn’t fit at all, once feed is in the hopper, so that can’t be secured either.  If it were outside, it would be unusable.  I’m very unimpressed.  However, if it’s adequate for the job – that means, in the first instance, that the chickens have to learn to use it – then BW is confident that the rats won’t bother any more.

Rose will look after everything while we’re gone and the house won’t be empty.  She’s under a fair bit of pressure though, as Lawrence started his latest round of chemotherapy last week and, as expected, the fourth day brought all the miserable symptoms.  They’re a stalwart pair and are managing.

I meant to do a lot of cooking today, but I flagged somewhat.  I did make a lot of bread-and-butter pickle yesterday and another batch this morning, and I’ve made stock and cheese sauce, but the moussaka didn’t quite happen, though I’ve minced the lamb.  I sometimes feel that life would be easier if I didn’t grow vegetables, actually.  Once you’ve grown the bloody things, you have to use them.