Monthly Archives: July 2019


As mentioned, the second post of the day, because I’ll be unlikely to write anything for the next few days.

I mentioned that Rose has been in Trinidad, visiting her brother and family and she arrived home again yesterday evening. I didn’t bother her with the news while she was away, but briefly filled her in while she was on the coach back to Norwich.

So, now she knows that Scrabble is sitting and that the eggs may hatch any time from Thursday onwards. Canasta’s eggs took nearly four weeks to hatch, but nearer three is more likely. I’ve left everything ready, in case it happens while we’re away. Tonight, we’re at Tim’s house in Reading, and are off to Pembrokeshire in the morning.

Other news is sadder, because one of the big black hens died the other night. She’s been getting gradually more withdrawn for quite some time, spending a lot of time on her own and, whilst the three black sisters used to lay an egg each almost every day, there have been few for the last few months. I don’t know much about non-bantam chickens, but I suspect that the sort of hens that produce a lot of eggs have shorter lives. As they were given to me, I don’t know how old they are, anyway. But in any case, she had gone from being the leader of the three to the quietest and, for the last couple of nights of her life, I’d picked her up and put her to roost. And then, the other morning, I found her lying on the floor.

I spent a couple of days writing the information for the auction catalogue and we did all the photography and labelling over the weekend. Now i have to crop the photos and then LT will put the catalogue together. Since the weekend, I’ve had two people wanting to put more china in the auction and had to turn them down. I’ve got 109 lots already, which is a few more than I really wanted. But there are lovely pieces. I’ve fallen for the adorable, and very functional, eye bath, but I won’t bid for it. I have too much stuff already … though it’s tempting.

Tim and I were talking about the nature of collecting and the impulse, even obsession, to do so. He just doesn’t get it at all and I don’t really, though I have more comprehension of it than he does. Russell, like his mother, was a born collector and never happier than looking out for something to add. Neither of them was obsessive though, which does seem to take it beyond pleasure.

In other news, my foot is getting better but I still have to wear the boot. It’s been quite uncomfortable while the weather is hot, but at least I can take it off and am very glad I’m not in a plaster cast.

No wifi now until next Monday. But, as I have brought my computer with me, I can get on with these photos without being tempted by the internet.

Z’s homes – Seaview – the kitchen gardens – part 3

Just some brief memories of what was grown and how, because I don’t suppose it’s done this way any more.

Cucumbers were grown on the bench, with a base of chicken wire. On that, was a generous heap of manure and the seedling was planted onto that. The plant was trained up wires. In those days, a greenhouse cucumber had to have all male flowers removed so that they didn’t fertilise the female ones – if one were missed, the cucumber would grow with a bulbous end and taste bitter. All-female varieties put an end to that necessity and it never was needed for outdoor cucumbers, the ones with little spines on.

Tomatoes were planted straight into the ground in the big aluminium greenhouse, except for the early ones, which went into terracotta pots in the greenhouse.

My father liked to try something different, and he grew loofas one year in his greenhouse, the one that the gardener wasn’t involved in. I’ve grown them a few times and they’re just like a vigorous cucumber. You leave the fruit as long as possible and then harvest it and dry it out. It rots easily so you have to take care of it. The flesh gradually desiccates and the skin can finally be broken off, leaving the fibrous ‘skeleton’, which is full of black seeds. I remember childhood baths, when we had to pick those seeds out of the water before pulling the plug. He also grew aubergines, peppers and chillies, when they weren’t easy to buy in the shops, back in the 1960s. I remember a huge crop of chillies, far more than we could ever use. I suspect most of them were quietly composted.

Melons needed quite a deal of warmth, so they were likely to be grown in a hothouse. I’ve grown melons too, the aroma of a ripe one is fabulous. Walking into the greenhouse, smelling that a melon is ready to pick and then searching for it is a joy. They sometimes need some help for fertilisation and it’s traditional to use a paintbrush, dabbled first in a male flower and then a female one. I’m a bit lazy, so generally just broke off the male flower and performed the introduction to its partner.

Mr Weavers left us in the end, because his son Frank was starting up a smallholding and wanted his dad’s help. He lived, with his wife and younger daughter in the cottage, known as Seaview Lodge, on the other side of the road. Because the soil was sandier there, root vegetables were grown in that garden. There was also a paddock, where our pony lived. First our horse Tom, that is, then the pony Snowball. The Lodge has been hugely enlarged and is unrecognisable – though I never remember seeing a photo of it in its original state – and the paddock was sold for another building plot.

As I said yesterday, a basket of vegetables was delivered to the house every day. There must have been a vast amount – I don’t know if my mother said what she needed or whether the gardener brought what was ready, though I suspect it was a mixture of the two. And I don’t know what happened to the surplus, though of course, he’d have lived off the land too. We never kept chickens, funnily enough.

I’ll write another post after dinner, probably, just as a diary entry, because we’re heading for Wales tomorrow and I’m likely to be offline – I won’t have the computer, at any rate, and only an occasional connection on my phone. But right now, LT is cooking fish.

Z’s homes – Seaview – the kitchen gardens – part 2

Here is the house where I grew up. The conservatory is on the left, a greenhouse left of that and the garage block behind. The house is still there, but divided into two and altered accordingly – the right hand half as we look at it didn’t have a kitchen, for instance, so that has been added. The garage and three greenhouses were pulled down to build another house. The kitchen garden was to the right, out of sight.

But I’m telling you about the kitchen garden and the hothouses, so this picture isn’t really relevant. It gives you a flavour, though.

The hothouses were heated by a coke furnace and hot water was piped through – I don’t know how much it was used in our day, things were different when my grandparents built the house. My parents and Mr Weavers used to grow flowers and vegetables for shows – the Norfolk and Suffolk show mostly, but also local ones. It was all taken very seriously. My parents used to go to the Chelsea Flower Show every year, when Members’ Day was very posh. You dressed up for it. They made a beeline for the Blackmore and Langdon stall in the marquee, to buy the best begonia corms and delphiniums. Those were the flowers that my parents specialised in showing. A begonia bigger than a dinner plate was not unknown. They were a bugger to transport as the fleshy stems were easily damaged. In a show, having a long tall flower that’s in bloom all the way up is impressive. Mr Weavers used to sit, the day before a show, dipping delphinium stems in hot and then cold water, to get the upper buds to open up without scalding the plant. In nature, the lower flowers would have gone over by the time the upper ones were open. I daresay science has devised varieties that are at their peak all the way, now; as they have with tomatoes.

In the week or two before a show, we were constrained in what vegetables we ate. Nothing perfect, in fact. There was still plenty of choice. Mr Weavers would bring a basket of vegetables to the house every day.

I should manage some memories … I grew broad beans one year, in a little bit of ground in the rock garden. But I was too lazy to keep carrying water down from the house and used river water, not realising that it was a bit salt, as Oulton Broad is tidal, so they didn’t actually produce any beans.

Once, when I was about ten or eleven, my father took me to the town nursery. In those days, all the parks had elaborate bedding schemes, changed twice a year, and everything was grown from seed or cuttings. The chief nurseryman was Mr Campbell, as Scottish as his name implies. He had a reputation as a martinet, but he was immensely kind to me, a shy little girl who didn’t give much to go on. I had a lovely time. He showed me round the gardens and the greenhouses. I especially remember the huge glasshouse where, at one end, a lemon tree grew up the wall. He picked a ripe lemon for me, and also gave me lots of other plants to bring home. Although my parents were loving and kind and I had a happy childhood, I rarely felt the centre of attention, but I was on that day. The plants were all swept down to the greenhouse and I never saw them again and the lemon stayed on the kitchen counter, unused.

There was no lack of thoughtfulness intended, it’s just that there was nothing child-centred (as we’d say today) about my childhood and so it didn’t matter, and I was too reserved to say anything – if I had, I’d have had whatever I wanted. Still, I had the day and I still have it, over half a century later and, if I’d had the care of the plants I’d probably have forgotten to water them. Pfft. All the same, one of them was a mimosa pudica, the sensitive plant, whose leaves fold up when you touch them, and I’ve grown that from seed and given the plants to children, many times since. And, a few years ago, I bought some lemons with the twigs attached. A day or two later, the kitchen smelt wonderful, and it was the lemon flowers that had opened up, and it took me right back to that day.

Another memory is the time when the raspberries kept vanishing. Mr Weavers suggested to my mother that I might have been eating them. My mother assured him that I’d have done no such thing, and I wouldn’t. It was well known that Mr Weavers was King in the kitchen garden, though I was allowed to eat as many tiny tomatoes off the vine as I wanted. But a watch was kept – I mentioned that there was a picket fence between the drive and the kitchen garden. Darling Huckleberry (Hound, not Finn) leapt the fence and delicately put his lips round each raspberry to remove it from the cane. The poor dog got his comeuppance in the end, however. We heard an agonised yowling and ran to the window – jumping, he’d not gone high enough and had caught both his back legs between the upright pickets and was painfully stuck, barely able to reach the ground with his front paws. We rushed to rescue him and he wasn’t hurt, but he was quite subdued for a day or two. I’ve written about all our dogs, so I know I’ve told you about Huck, who was probably the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.

Z’s homes – Seaview – the garden – the kitchen gardens. Probably Part 1 of ?

I lived here from the age of three or four until I got married. I don’t remember the move at all, so probably was the younger age – all I remember was walking along the passageway in our flat at the hotel and seeing my parents’ four poster bed being dismantled. That was unusual enough to stick in my memory. But I know nothing about the move itself or arriving at the house.

It was built by my grandparents in 1912 and my father wasn’t born there, but lived there on and off. I’ve written before in “the family story” about his parents’ divorce when he was five when, with his father serving in the army during the first world war, his mother took up with another man and had to leave when she became pregnant by him. Daddy was farmed out rather, to grandparents, godparents and boarding school until his father returned and he could spend holidays at home again.

An early memory is of our gardener, Mr Weavers (pronounced locally as Weevus) coming in for his elevenses, when I could hardly understand a word he said in his broad accent. He was a kind man and a very good gardener. We had many greenhouses, most of them brick-built to the staging, two of them hothouses. Water was piped into tanks in those two so that it would be warmed and not a shock to the plants.

To this day, I love an old greenhouse. Whenever I visit a grand house and garden, I’m always keen to check out the kitchen garden and hope that there will be the original greenhouses. We had five brick ones and two aluminium ones, one of which was at least 30 feet long and took up half of the length of a bed in the kitchen garden. It was on tracks and I am not sure whether the purpose was to start tomatoes in its shelter and then move the greenhouse along to leave them outside, then plant something like potatoes for the autumn, or whether it was just moved back and forth each year so that disease didn’t build up in the soil. I do know that my parents were intensely interested in gardening, and keen to get stuck in – but the kitchen garden in particular was Mr Weavers’ domain and they weren’t allowed to do much there, so they had a spare bit of land dug up for their use, where the seventh greenhouse was put. There was a half bricked conservatory as well, by the way, which had a grille in the floor for steam to come up when the furnace was lit in the winter. This had an outside door but was reached from the inside through the dining room.

The kitchen garden was huge. Three houses were eventually built on it – big houses, but with long, narrow gardens. The house is by Oulton Broad, but set well back from the river. The lower lawn flooded – presumably it still does – in the winter and, in any case, the building line has been preserved. The kitchen garden had six, I think, beds running from east to west, which must have been about ten or twelve feet wide and maybe fifty feet long. This is a guess, but I know they were longer than mine here, which are four feet by about thirty-eight. We grew all our vegetables, as well as flowers and fruit. The kitchen garden was separated, for most of its length, by a tall hedge. I think it was yew – evergreen, certainly, and I think it was some sort of conifer. Not privet, I know. At the top, by the drive, there was a white picket fence. As you went through the gate of that fence, at the right hand side next to the hedge, there was the pump house to your right and one of the beds to your left, with the left-hand end of the first hothouse straight ahead, along a concrete path. The pump house housed – wait for it – the pump which drew water from the 60 foot deep artesian well right up to the tanks in the attic. There were four of them, each holding 250 gallons of water. The water was pure and there was no need for chlorine or anything else.

In my grandparents’ day, there were several gardeners, but we just had Mr Weavers and occasionally someone to help with some heavy work. He was always “Mr” Weavers to us. My father would call him by his first name, Willy, but no one ever called him just by his last name. They thought it disrespectful, though it was not at all unusual in those days. “Tradesmen’ and “servants” were often called by their last name, if men, or first name if women. Not in our house. “Mr Malcolm always gives a fellow a handle to his name,” someone doing some work for us was heard to say, and he was liked for it.

When I married Russell, his parents’ maid Hilda still called him Master Russell. I was Mrs Russell, of course and, back in those days of my childhood, my mother was Mrs Malcolm. Winkie and I weren’t Miss, though – the world had moved on a bit, even in the late 1950s.

I could go on for ages about the garden alone. Drop a gentle hint when it’s time to move on, darlings, won’t you.

Weymouth people

I didn’t explain about my sister staying on in Weymouth after we left. My grandfather lived there and so she stayed with him at weekends. During the school week, she stayed with great friends of my parents. They had three daughters; the eldest was Roseanne, who was the same age as Wink. Vicky was the same age as me and Sally was in the middle. The parents were Richard and Maureen. The arrangement worked well, it seems – as I said, Wink was happy at school and at her temporary homes and so was everyone else, but there wasn’t any real reason for her to stay at that school in the long term, so she came back to join us.

There aren’t all that many people I remember from the days I lived in Weymouth and, any that I do were all people I knew later. I had a nursemaid called Violet, but I don’t remember her at all. My mother worked full-time, and then some, in the hotel during the summer and she couldn’t look after me too. There was a waiter who apparently adored babies and often looked after me. It sounded as if he really missed his home life. He had sisters and baby nephews and nieces and he used to help with washing and ironing and so on – my mum was embarrassed because of underwear, but he said it reminded him of home, his sisters and mum. He used to take a piece of cloth and wrap it round baby Z and himself and carry me round for hours. He said babies love being swaddled as it makes them secure and they can hear the heartbeat of the one carrying them.

Opposite the hotel was a row of cottages and, in one of them, lived a retired couple. She was known as Auntie Carter and he was Uncle Tom Carter – of course, in those days, all grown-up friends of parents were honorary uncles and aunts. Since I didn’t have too many relations, this didn’t seem odd to me. Uncle Tom Carter was a retired policeman. That picture “Nine Pints of the Law’ – they had a print of it hanging on the wall. As a child, I assumed it was the original and very funny. I remember very little about Auntie Carter, but she was something of a mother figure to my mum, who had never had one, to remember. There was one story, though, about her.

When she was a child, she lived quite near Thomas Hardy, the writer. Auntie Carter (I have no idea what her first name was) used to meet him, out walking with her mother, quite regularly. Auntie C was tall, even as a girl, a lot taller than her mum. Every single time they met, Thomas Hardy cracked the same joke – “You’re a naughty girl, to look down on your mother.” Yeah. Passable once only. Still, a lot more cheerful than any of his books.

Mr Dyke was the hotel pastry chef. They kept key staff on during the winter, even when the hotel was shut and, as he’d been a loyal member of staff for all the years they were there, my parents bought him a guest house – an outright gift – when they left. When we went back to visit my grandfather, we always stayed there. He also made us a huge Christmas pudding and iced Christmas cake every year, which no one enjoyed – far too rich and dark, yet rather dry. I don’t know how he managed it, because I like both now. Anyway, he was a lovely man with a white moustache and we were all fond of him. Sadly, when he decided to retire and sold the guest house, he went to a financial manager who gave him dreadful advice and he was persuaded to invest his money in something speculative and lost the lot. He was terribly embarrassed to tell my father about it.

Here are some photos – the first two are my sister and me as babies (and this isn’t the first time I’ve posted them) – there are very few photos of me, being the younger. As my mother used to put it, I was bonny but Wink was beautiful, and I can’t deny it at all. She wasn’t being unkind or off-putting, simply truthful. The third photo is, I think, taken in Uncle Tom and Auntie Carter’s house.

Z’s homes – the hotel

Well, unsurprisingly, I have written about our move here. I’ve written about most things. Here you are

As I said, I’ve lived here more than half my life, but I have lived in five other places, though I hardly remember the first.

I know I have written before about my parents’ hotel just outside Weymouth. It’s gone downhill, I’m afraid. It was bought by Fred Pontin and run as a holiday camp for many years, then sold on a couple of times – I’ve just looked up reviews and they aren’t great. But the hotel itself is spectacular, and here’s a link to the Wiki photo of it.,_Weymouth#/media/File:Uk_dor_bowleaze.JPG

Isn’t that an amazing example of Art Deco? My mother used to say that the ballroom was the biggest unsupported (by pillars or walls) of any room in the country at that time. I don’t remember it, though. I was a small child when we left. I remember the drive outside, which was gravelled and I got my tricycle stuck. I pedalled away, and the trike didn’t move.

Most of what I know has been told to me. Like the 1947 floods, when a lot of holidaymakers in caravans on the hill behind the hotel were flooded out. They took refuge in the hotel, where my parents looked after them. It was the off season; March, and there was still rationing and stocks were low, but they gave everyone a room and food, though the hotel itself was flooded too. Afterwards, everyone was very grateful, but no one was asked for any money. They received two letters of thanks afterwards, one enclosing a cheque, though they’d looked after hundreds of people.

My father wasn’t really cut out to be a hotelier. He was much better as a host. My mother said that she’d done every job in the hotel except barmaid and he’d done every job except clean the rooms. It wasn’t unknown, after licensing hours, when he could no longer charge for any drinks – giving them away was fine, of course – for him to pile the stalwarts down to the kitchen to carve slices of ham and make midnight sandwiches.

They were both acutely interested in food and cookery and great fans of Elizabeth David, whose first book was published in 1950. All my childhood, we were the first to try any “new” food – which includes such standards (nowadays) as aubergine, avocado and muesli, but also dishes such as jambalaya and gumbo, pad Thai and ceviche. It was a family hotel, which didn’t stop them doing quite adventurous food, for its time. My father bought my mother a sewing machine once. She wanted a basic Singer, but he loved a good gadget and bought one that did embroidery and all sorts of things. He used those gizmos; she made straightforward clothes and curtains. Once, they were doing an elaborate Chinese meal and he obtained a bolt of cream-coloured silk. He looked up the Mandarin characters for ‘bon appétit’ and cut up the silk, hemmed them and embroidered the characters in red. We only had a few of these napkins left when I was a child, though he’d made 100 of them, and I haven’t any of them now, to my regret. I couldn’t find any after my mother died.

My father had a motorbike, when there was petrol rationing, though he once came a cropper along the half-mile drive from the road to the hotel, and broke his arm quite badly. My mother had tried to ride it, in the huge ballroom, but couldn’t get the hang of the handlebar controls and crashed into a pile of chairs at the end of the room. No harm done, but she never tried again. She always claimed to be hopeless with anything mechanical, though she acknowledged that she chose to be unable to cope with a job she really didn’t want to get stuck with forever.

My parents didn’t take a salary, just their board and lodging. In theory, they took the profits, but in fact, though they made good money in the summer months, they lost it in the winter with the unavoidable overheads. They kept on their best staff, though only had occasional events to be catered for, and they were fairly naive about business.

I’ve always been a bit hazy about my age when we left, I was either three or four. My sister was left behind to start with, as she was settled and happy at school, but eventually she joined us at my father’s family home in Oulton Broad.


Some people called round this evening with china for the next auction – the last, we’re now full. John asked how long I’d lived here, which made me think of the date. It will be 33 years tomorrow. I have lived here more than half my life. That has made me stop and think about it for a bit.

I tend to work things out numerically, just for the sake of it. Like when I was exactly a third of a century – I acknowledge that I didn’t work out all the leap years of my life, though the year in question happened to be a leap year; so 33 years, 122 days was not too hard. I also knew the day I’d outlived my father’s age, which was 59 years, 6 months and 2 weeks. And so on – I was surprised to discover that not everyone does this sort of thing. I remember when I was a child, counting up exactly how old I’d be on the 1st January 2000.

But anyway, 23rd July, 1986. The day before Ronan’s second birthday. I’ve probably reminisced about the move before, but it may just be that I’ll do it again.

Pictures of chickens

Having a drink

I seem to have worked out how to add pictures, though it needs a bit more comprehension on my part to get them as I want them – anyway, here are some of the most recent photos (we’ve moved the run since then, so they have grass again), followed by a repeat of a very early one. You’d hardly think those little yellow fluffs had changed that much in four weeks.

The big hens have been to visit the house a few times now. I always did love it, back in the old days, when that happened, and missed them when I had to shut them in. On this occasion, I didn’t happen to have any corn but I had found the remains of a packet of pine nuts in the fridge. They seemed happy with that, as well they might be.

I’ve put a piece of board jutting over the run, so that I can put some food down without having always to clamber over the wire and crawl into the coop, whilst keeping it dry. Rummy thinks it’s a splendid viewing platform. None of the cats has ever gone for a chicken, though I wouldn’t trust a cat with a chick. Of course, the end has to be weighted down and I use a full watering can, which weighs a lot more than Rummy does. About twice as much, in fact. I’ve put a bigger board down today, so that they can have a feeder with chick crumbs and another with mixed corn (they’re too young for layer’s pellets) which was mostly for Canasta to start with, but they’re gradually moving on to it. I’ve also ordered more grit, having been surprised by how much they eat of it. The grit I provide for the other chickens (though they can eat whatever earth or stones they like outdoors) has oyster shell in it which, again, isn’t suitable for a growing chick though it’s ideal for a laying hen.

Yesterday, Polly – Rose’s black bantam – legged it out of the greenhouse as soon as I’d opened the door of their shed. I suspected she’d gone to lay an egg, but I didn’t know in which direction she’d gone. I’m reasonably sure she is laying somewhere, but these bantams have always been notorious for laying away. I thought that today, I’d keep the greenhouse door shut until I was ready to follow her. Sure enough, she strode out as soon as she could. She turned right. Fair enough, I hadn’t looked for eggs that way. Then she turned left. Ah. I observed from a distance. She went to share the barn cats’ breakfast. Unlike the big hens, she didn’t intimidate the cats and one ate from one side of the plate while she helped herself from the other. I don’t know whether it’s what she does every day – which is pretty smart if she does – or if she is actually laying away and just wasn’t quite ready yet. I’ll keep watching … and report back, obvs.

Next post will be about something other than chickens. I’m sure it will. I have a life, don’t I?

……answers on a postcard…

Update at the Zedery

I haven’t written because not much has happened. I used to write regardless of whether I had anything to say, which might have made me more inventive and entertaining, or might have been deadly dull: I can’t judge that without looking through years of daily posts and I don’t think I’m up for that.

The chicks are still doing well and I have an admission to make – which hasn’t gone out on Facebook or anywhere else; only Tim and Wince know; which is that Scrabble is sitting on more eggs. Rose always says she’s unreliable and she did leave them for a little while yesterday, but she has been sitting for over a week. She had been scooting off to lay an egg as soon as I released the chooks from the henhouse each morning, but when I dished my foot, I disregarded numbers for a few days, so didn’t notice that she wasn’t returning at night.

The coop is ready, I’ll put her in it in another couple of days and, if she is unhappy enough to abandon the eggs, she will be let out again. If she stays, she’s in it for the duration. I think she’s sitting on eight eggs, so probably six chicks at most, which will hatch early next month.

I think we’ve got at least three, probably four, hopefully not more cock chicks. One of my favourites is, I’m sure, a boy, so I must not have favourites as we can’t keep any boys. They’re all doing very well. Wince and I moved the run yesterday, so they’ve got fresh grass, and I tried releasing Canasta, but she was so unhappy that I put her back. Good mummy.

I’ve tried to add photos but, though I can upload them, I am only given the options to delete or unselect them. Perhaps WordPress will get its act together and iron out this glitch. In the meantime, I can only suggest you befriend me on Facebook, which I know some of you object to on principle, not without reason. I’ll try again tomorrow.

On the seventh day…

The end of the week was gratefully reached. After driving well over 300 miles in three days, when I often don’t go that far in a month (and that’s when Tim and I go to Reading), and an early start and late finish yesterday, I didn’t want to do anything nor go anywhere today. I took Rose to the bus station yesterday at 6 am, for the start of her visit to her West Indian family, and picked Ro and family from the airport, which should have been at 9 pm but the plane was late and it was 10.15 by the time they were out, and over an hour later before I got home again. So, apart from making a loaf of bread, I’ve been thoroughly lazy today.

I must take more photos of the chicks. Their plumage has changed over the last few days, the final fluff gone and more colours coming out. The brown showed first, but now there are black and white feathers on some of them too. They’re very pretty. The run that Tim and I made for them is plenty big enough, though Canasta has dug a lot of holes in it – it’s charming to watch them dustbath, but she’s gone rather further than strictly necessary. Perhaps we’ll be able to move the whole thing in the next few days, they’d certainly appreciate it. Canasta is still happy to be with them, but we’ll probably take her out in the next week or two, when she’ll be ready to join the others. Things have changed since she became broody, because Rose’s chickens have joined ours in the henhouse to roost. Rose had enough on her plate and it’s no extra bother to shut them all up together. In fact, it’s less than one of use shutting them in two different places. I’m sure Canasta will catch on pretty quickly. And Jenga, the cockerel, will soon make sure she troops in with the others.

I was very relieved yesterday, when Betty, the feral girl cat, turned up to be fed in the evening. I hadn’t seen her since we got home, which was only a week but long enough for me to start to worry. She’s more independent than her brothers, so I thought she’d be all right, but father RasPutin had come for food a couple of times, so wild food couldn’t have been in that great supply. I’m sure that the mother cat and Zain, the tabby ex-kitten, found families to live with, because they wanted to be pets and were very tame and friendly, but none of the three remaining siblings will ever be adopted. They’re all cautious, though all allow me to stroke them now and are as fond of me as they are able to be. I’m fond of them too, but don’t think of them as pets. It doesn’t mean I don’t care or get anxious, though.