Monthly Archives: February 2023

Z gets to grip

I’ve got a lot of admin to be done in the next week or two and I have made a start on it. This may not sound impressive. It isn’t impressive. I’m taking it as an achievement as it’s better than I’ve managed for a while. Next, I have to sort out various insurances, mainly the cars and holiday insurance – I usually have an annual policy, but last year’s was worldwide, which I don’t need at present. And I got free breakdown cover last year for the electric car, which runs out soon, so I’ll have to add that. This means phone calls, which I’m not fond of making.

I’ve bought an electric bike. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while too. I went over to the next small town and saw a helpful chap called Mike, explaining that I needed to be guided through the process and saying what I did and didn’t need – this is mainly that I need to have something sturdy enough to do all my shopping with. So I’ll have nice big panniers and a front basket, as well as a new lock, approved by insurance companies. I will insure it.

As I have all these insurances coming up, as well as Council Tax, Water Rates and so on, I transferred money from a savings account and promptly forgot about it. “Who on earth is paying me £3,000?” I wondered, when I got the notification and it took me some time to realise it was me.


I’ve been sociable for the past couple of weeks. I’ve even been going out in the evenings, which has been rare of late. And today, Rose and I met Indigo and Lisa Roth, who got married 6 weeks ago, for lunch at a restaurant halfway between their house and mine – though I picked Rose up on the way, it didn’t add much to the time. They both look so happy together and Lisa is glowing. Just lovely. They’re two of the very loveliest people I know and I’ll always cherish Indigo’s kindness when I lost both Russell and Tim.

Rose is also much better and enjoying life again. She had been so unwell last year – that is, it had been building up for a while and her doctor was unwilling to refer her to the consultant she needed to see. When she finally was referred, the cure was immediately agreed on and her operation was in November.

A very odd thing happened a couple of nights ago. I’d gone to have a bath before bed and heard a yowl from downstairs. I rushed down (with my bathrobe on, I’m not running round a chilly house in February – or a warm house either, come to that) and met Wink in the kitchen, she having heard the noise too. Eloise cat was with her, looking as normal. Wink said that she thought that the mother barn cat had got in the cat flap and a furious Eloise chased her out. She’d seen a glimpse of a cat, she thought, and it had white paws. But the cat flap reads microchips and only Eloise and Rose’s two cats are registered to it. The mother barn cat doesn’t have a microchip anyway, none of them does. So it’s a mystery. I am sure she can’t have sneaked in when I’d opened the door to let ECat in and it would have been really unlikely anyway. The next morning, I found a decapitated mouse in the drawing room, the head neatly placed beside it.

I’m hoping to get a date for this year’s blog party before long. This year, I’d like to try to arrange it mid-week, as one potential guest – or rather, a couple – can’t manage weekends. One person’s best day is Tuesday, another can’t manage Mondays or Fridays and I’m waiting to hear from another, who works in a school so probably needs to think holiday times. So that gives us the end of May half term week or else the summer holidays. So, 30th May or Tuesdays from 25th July onwards. I’m not sure if anyone who’s likely to come still reads this blog, most ex-bloggers are on Facebook and other platforms, but the invitation is always open and you’d be most welcome. So many of my dearest friends have been met through blogging and many of those have come to these parties.

May could be quite busy at the Zedery. Wink went to visit her friend Kamala in Chennai in November and will probably go again in the autumn. Kamala is in her 80s now and not very mobile, so would really love Wink’s company. Her daughter, son-in-law and grandson are hoping to visit England in May and, of course, would be very welcome guests here. And my sort-of cousins in Atlanta are also planning a visit in May. Dan died last summer, but his wife and daughter intend to visit and we’re all looking forward to that. It could be that everyone will turn up at the same time. We will not be fazed in the least if that happens, it’ll be great, whatever the timing is.

Z’s pity party

If I keep my head down, it’s either because I’ve nothing good to say or because i’ve gone to bed early. I’m finding life quite difficult at present. I haven’t opened much post, nor emails, for the last week or two, unless it’s been a bill, which I pay promptly, or a personal message – though personal emails are rare nowadays, we mostly communicate through WhatsApp or something similar, nowadays…having said that, I’m reading and not replying to emails.

In short, I’m really struggling. I’m grieving hopelessly for both Tim and Russell and it’s hard to bear. Most people wouldn’t know that, I’m outwardly cheerful and calm. But I’m not really. This is very hard and all the tricks I use to keep my spirits up are superficial.

I used to hide things and I don’t now. So I’m just saying. I’ll come through the other side and I really must start opening the post tomorrow.

Wink has anxieties too, because she has various eye problems. None of them imminently dreadful, maybe they won’t be at all and she can still drive, but it’s a worry and we’re propping each other up at the Zedery.

Darling daughter is putting her London Ways to good effect this week on my behalf. Dearest sons are supportive and helpful too. I’m soldiering on, so is Wink, I’ll gloss over this tomorrow and all will be well.

Good things.

Cleaners came today (I absent-mindedly locked them in, much hilarity ensued, but luckily they found another key). So lovely fresh sheets on the bed and a sparkling kitchen.

I bought a tuna steak from Paul the Fish. Far too big, so I cut a bit off and seared it, to eat with a bean salad I made the other day. Easy, delicious dinner.

We met Ro and the children in Norwich and they are all adorable. I’m lucky. I love and I’m loved.

Darling Daughter, as I said. Thank you, Weeza.

John Greenwood phoned last night, because he discerned I needed a friendly voice to talk to. Thank you, Publog John (not that he’s blogged for ages, dammit).


And, apologies, I’m being self-indulgent. I feel sorry for myself at present. I’m trying hard to get past this glitch.

Plan B done and dusted

When I re-counted this morning, I found that we’d moved 18 chickens, including all the cockerels, so (Hop and Polly still being in the coop at the house) there were only 5 to go. The stragglers looked nervous when I went to see them. Hen Rietta and Hen Lee were there, plus three unnamed ones who are all quite small and untamed. But this afternoon, when I went down again, I managed to corner one of the Hens (I can’t tell them apart, but I know them from their bobbly topknots) and pick her up. She cried in dismay and this spooked the rest of them, so there was no hope of catching them. I put a stepladder by the shed and left it until Wink was home.

It was a strenuous 15 minutes for all of us, from 5 o’clock. I managed to catch one and Wink laid a hand on another, but she wriggled free before I could come to help. I went for a net in the end, it would have been impossible otherwise. Then, one by one, I caught them in the net and took them through to the new run, where they squawked miserably at each other. But they were already calming down when I left and all the ones who’d been moved yesterday were settled. There were three eggs, including one from the big hen, Jabber the Cluck, who is now 8 years old and still a consistent layer. It just shows the different between the scruffy little bantams and a laying breed. It hasn’t shortened Jabber’s life, either. But I love my little bantams, I don’t mind that they either lay dozens of eggs or hardly any.

Next, get rid of rats and then get the greenhouse demolished. This is likely to cost an eye-watering sum of money, but there’s no help for it. I’ve got two people who want to quote for it, so we’ll see how it goes.

It’s an expensive month, as I’m having a lot of fallen and falling trees taken down and cut up. So the digger hire, the tree feller, the new hen house and taking down the old one are costing thousands of pounds. But it has to be done and they’re all one-offs – that is, the trees have been neglected for a while and this is the last of the big jobs. I’ve got many, many tonnes of firewood, at least.

Moving the bantams – Plan A accomplished

The pond lining arrived today – rather surprisingly, it was left at the end of the drive. Luckily, I checked Amazon messages and found a note that it was behind the brick pillar, otherwise I wouldn’t have realised. I won’t make a complaint, though deliveries are usually made to the house. It was delivered to the right address, that’ll do. Today, I’ve moved the feeder and filled it up, moved the feed bin, with Wince’s help. washed out and moved the small feed bin, put out grit and oyster shell, spread out the pond liner and covered it with chunks of newspaper in the corner, with wood shavings overall, lined the nest boxes with newspapers and shavings and sprinkled diatomaceous dust liberally. I left the small feeder and some water in the greenhouse, but put the bag of mealworms and another dish of water in the new home.

At dusk, Wink and I went out with a cardboard box. I picked up each chicken and Wink was in charge of the box. Every three birds, we moved the boxful. A number of them roost on top of their shed and I only managed to catch one of those, so 17 got moved altogether. Most of them were settled on the perches by the time we finished, though Jabber the Cluck and Jenga Junior Rooster were in nestboxes. One, I’m not sure which, was exploring outside and one more was wandering over the floor. But it went better than I could have hoped.

Tomorrow, I’ll put stepladders on two sides of their shed, and hope to catch some of the lingerers. I have Plan C and D to come, so I’m reasonably confident that I’ll have caught them all soon. Plan E is there too, in fact. Belt and braces, that’s Z. And bailer twine.

Fitted out

They came back this morning to finish the job – really efficient. I’d paid half the cost upfront, for materials and I’ve paid the rest this afternoon.

Here’s the inside.

Closer, with the door open. I’d been in with the wheelbarrow, to make sure I’d have enough room. I’ll have to put up a ramp when I’m wheeling in bags of feed, but that’s not a problem.
Here’s where the feed bins will go
Roosting. I’ve a feeling they’ll all vie for the highest perch
And here’s their exit door, which can be slid up and removed. As it’s a good, secure run, I think I’ll usually leave it open.

The Waveney Hillbillies

The new hen house and run has arrived, brought by three very capable men who put it up in no time. It’s an impressively well built structure, they’ll come back to fit out the inside in the next day or two.

It’s about 12 feet wide and, in the summer, an extra outdoor run will be added at the end, I have yet to scheme how that will work. Inside, there will be another door, to make a separate area to store the food – I am not sure whether they will be fed inside there or in the main part, as yet. I could even feed them in the run, which would be less messy. I’ll want to put some sort of cover on the floor, I’m still thinking about that. The idea for the storage is that I can shut the chickens away from the outside door while I wheel in the barrow with the sacks of food. There’s a lift-up door for them to go outdoors through – the mesh in the outdoor roof is fine enough to prevent contamination by wild birds while there’s an avian flu risk. Nor can vermin get through at the sides, though I’ll have to block off where the grass is at the end, as the ground there is a little lower than the paths.

My common-or-garden mongrel bantams won’t know what to make of such luxury. I’m renaming them collectively as the Clampetts.

Z overshares

I can’t keep up with everything, I’m finding it all difficult at present. I’m doing what I can, including asking for help, so I trust it will improve eventually. Things just keep coming up to ambush me – never mind, no need to go into details. People have, for many years, thought of me as “strong,” whatever that means, which came as a great surprise when I found that out, but I suppose I must be. I keep going and I keep smiling and I’m still hopeful, funnily enough. You can still come to me when you need help or an ear or a shoulder and I’ll still provide it and I’ve still got love and strength to offer. And I also recognise that I can and should myself ask for help and support, something that I used not to do. So, on balance, stress and anxiety and grief don’t define me. It doesn’t matter, in the long run, anyway. It all comes out in the wash, as they say. Not that I’ve heard anyone say it for a while.

Enough of the pity party. Rufus and Perdita came to stay yesterday and we had a great time. They are such sweet and happy children and they are lovely with each other. Asked what they’d like for tea, they wanted eggs that the bantams had laid (luckily, I’m getting two or three a day now) and were enthusiastic when I offered pancakes for breakfast. So we went to the farm for milk – they were pleased to see the cows lining up to be milked, though were less enamoured by the whiff of haylage, which rather overtook the pong of cow muck. This morning, I waxed enthusiastic about horse muck, of all things. I adore horses and miss their company.

Which reminds me, I read an article online in one of the newspapers a day or two ago – I think it was the Guardian – about the smell of your dog’s feet. I’d thought it was just me. Other people sniff their dogs’ feet, apparently. I genuinely thought it was my slightly dodgy secret.

To turn away from me-me-me, if you know Pat (life of Pi) but are not friends on Facebook, I’m sorry to tell you that she had a stroke a couple of weeks ago. She’s recovering but wanted her friends to know, so her son Andrew put it on her Facebook page. She’s actually my oldest blog friend, both in terms of her age (she will be 93 next month) and because she posted the first ever comment on the Razorblade. I nearly met her, I’d planned to go down her way in 2014 but then it became apparent that Russell was ill and I couldn’t go, he died a fortnight after I’d meant to be there.

You reach the stage in life where you appreciate that everything can go tits-up at any moment, so you’ve got to forge ahead and not fuss about setbacks. Even if you can’t keep up with everything.