Monthly Archives: August 2020

Z likes it hot, which I’ve probably said before

I opened the back door to get some bay leaves and the heat hit me. Far hotter outdoors than in. This house has really thick walls and it faces east and west, so the midday sun doesn’t blaze in. The temperature had been in the 30s (Celsius, that is, of course) by mid-morning and, according to the weather apps on my phone, this afternoon it was hotter than Greece and the South of France, at 34º. But there was a pleasant, warm breeze and I took a book out onto the lawn and relaxed in the shade of the plum trees.

Wince the gardener found another nest of eggs yesterday. Polly promptly decided to sit on it. I’m not sure if it’s the one Gladstone has been sitting on but I haven’t seen her, anyway. I put Polly and the eggs in a coop, which affronted her and she left them. This isn’t a bad thing. I don’t actually want more chicks, it was just in case they were actually Gladstone’s and she might have wanted them back.

Polly had amused me yesterday morning. I feed the barn cats first, with a scoop of dry food and a share of the tinned cat food, then go to let the chickens out. They love meat, of course, it’s as good as worms to them, and I saw Polly standing by Zain’s dish, staring at him. She clearly expected him to be intimidated and move away, but he’s a confident cat and didn’t budge. It reminded me of Ronan as a child. He was a slow eater in a family of Simpsons. We used to eat up rapidly and then watch him take a bite, put his knife and fork down, pick them up, cut up another mouthful – it was remarkable. We had no idea where he’d got the idea of eating properly, it wasn’t from any of us. Anyway, after a few minutes, it would dawn on him that conversation had stopped and we were all looking at him. He’d eye us. “What? ” he’d say. “What?” We’d assure him we were enjoying the spectacle and he muttered and went back to his slow plateful. Zain was just like that. He felt watched and didn’t like it, but just hunched his shoulders and tried to ignore her. The adult chickens aren’t at all afraid of the cats, who don’t bother them at all. It’s a nuisance if not all the youngsters haven’t gone into their greenhouse (their shed is in a big old greenhouse, where they can also stay for the day if the weather is bad) because the cats hang round outside, waiting for me to feed them, and the chicks won’t go past them. They don’t know that the cats wouldn’t dare. A mother hen is a fearsome thing and more than a match for a cat, as is a protective cockerel.

Wink has invited us in for a glass of Prosecco. Have a lovely evening, darlings.

Is it all or nothin’ with you? – as the song puts it

Looking at the header photo, taken after last year’s blog party – gosh, I miss you guys. Wink and I were saying today, we’ve actually done pretty well without a social life. I know there are people who’ve had virtual parties, all gathering separately with their plates and glasses and jollying with their mates over Zoom or similar but well, with me, it’s all or nothin’ – not that I’ve quite got Ado Annie’s exuberance in some respects, of course, but hahaha-ing at home and not actually being with the friends you’re laughing with doesn’t quite do it for me, but real social occasions are another matter. That being so, I’ve not spoken to that many people, though it’s been lovely when I have. And I’m looking forward to another family get-together in the garden on Saturday.

We put together that garden seat and Wink produced a bottle of Prosecco to wet its head, as it were. As we were toasting each other, Eloise cat appeared. Tim told her that there are two tables on different levels and the lower one is just right for her. She agreed, jumped straight onto it and peered out at us. She is very demanding and spoilt, but we don’t mind in the least because she is so sweet natured, just as long as another cat isn’t around.

While we were sitting with our drinks, I spotted something white near the house wall. Was it a mushroom or an egg? A bantam egg, it transpired. So I picked it up and looked around under the plants, and found another. This had a snail firmly applied to it. I tried pulling it off, but no go. So later, the two eggs plus the snail were put in the coop for the hedgehog. It’s dark now. I wonder if they’ve gone.

I went out to look. My lovely fat hedgepig is curled up asleep in the coop, having eaten all the meat I put out. The two eggs are still there and presumably she will eat them or roll them away when she wakes after her nap.

When I went to shut up the chickens and feed the cats, Eloise followed me. I came out from having given the youngsters their mealworms – the half-grown chicks don’t go to bed as early as their mothers and aunties – Eloise was spitting and swearing at Zain the tabby, who was crouched in a corner glaring back. He’s not an aggressive cat and I don’t think he’d go for her, but he’d surely defend himself and he’d come off better. Eloise has about as much clue at fighting as I do.

Stuck up the chimney

Hmm. The chimney was swept today – well, all three chimneys. And I explained about the chicken wire that seemed not to have worked, or else it was blocking the wrong chimney – and indeed, the wire netting has been put in the wrong chimney. Leigh said he got 11 lengths of pole up the chimney and then couldn’t get the 12th and final one up there. It’s stuck pretty firm, he explained.

I’ll tease Tom rotten when I see him again. You’d think he’d have worked out which chimney pot had soot all round it. Leigh couldn’t whoosh it out but I hope to persuade Jonny the farmer to send someone round with the cherry picker to take the netting out and put it in the other chimney. It isn’t urgent, but there will eventually be a buildup of soot and it’ll cause problems.

Tim had the very good idea of buying a garden seat as a moving in present for Wink. When I was on my way to my dental appointment on Saturday. I had a bit of time in hand, so I called in at Notcutts the garden centre to check out what they had available, took a number of pictures on my phone and brought them back. There were a few possibilities and so we called over this afternoon. Wink looked at the benches and individual chairs, but decided on what I think is called a ‘companion’ bench: that is, two chairs joined together by a table, the chairs being slightly angled so that you can conveniently talk to the person you’re sitting with. It was in the sale, nearly half price, though frankly I think the original price was one of those things they put on in an obscure shop so that they’re within the law when they reduce it. Anyway, the assistant went and fetched it in a socking great box, which tested Tim’s and my abilities to shift it into the back of the car. We put down two thirds of the rear seat and managed to slide it in.

Quite enough excitement for today. But I was rooting around for beans and discovered in the overgrown veg bed a few broken eggshells and a few whole eggs. I have a happy feeling that we have a number of hedgehogs pinching eggs from our naughty laying-away chickens, and they are very welcome to do so. I put one of the whole eggs for the hedgehog that visits the coop nightly. A dish of cat food and an egg goes every night, though the shell is rarely left. I like to think of the urchin rolling it away to feed to her babies.

Z does normal stuff

I’ve bought a Ford Focus. Boring, I know, but there we are. I’m quite accepting of my boring status. It’s useful and I value usefulness. Three and a bit years old, the various things I wanted are there and a few more I don’t understand yet and, having been a Motability car, it’s got an absurdly low mileage. Many disabled people really need their cars but don’t go far in them.

Simon the greengrocer posted on Facebook that he’d got a lot of leftover strawberries, he’d put them outside and anyone was free to help themselves. So I did. Tim and I have hulled and weighed them and jam will be made in the morning. I had to go to the Co op to buy sugar, though. I hadn’t any white sugar at all and needed some for redcurrant jelly and raspberry jam too.

We don’t really have sweet tooths and are far more inclined to make chutneys and relishes. I’ve left the courgettes to turn into marrows, I’m afraid, and will have to deal with them – which may be by whizzing them into a pulp for the chickens. Rose and her family assured me they were keen to eat all the vegetables I could grow, weeks before they decided to move out, which has left me with a surplus I can’t keep tabs on. So never mind. Do what I can and don’t worry about the rest.

Wink is arriving tomorrow for a week, which we’re looking forward to very much. A friend who used to live in the village emailed me, asking for suggestions for places to visit. Friends are going to be staying nearby and asked her for advice. But she’s out of touch and, at this time, so am I. I asked on the local facebook page for suggestions and got lots of them, which I’ve passed on – and some of them are really interesting and I think we might go there too. Booking ahead is required, which is fine actually. Nice to know there won’t be crowds.

But, after all this, the main news from my end is that I have visited the dental hygienist. This appointment was first deferred by three months and then for a couple more days, and wasn’t with the person I have seen previously. Likewise, my six-month dental check-up became nine months and then an extra three weeks. But anyway, Natalie (or something like that name) said that people have either been assiduous or resigned, and I’m clearly in the first category and my teeth look pretty good. I’m relieved. There are still a lot of restrictions on what dentists may do and I don’t want to fall into some sort of oubliette, whereby there’s nothing in between extraction and oblivion.