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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.

The foot bone’s connected to the … whoops!

Tim is away until tomorrow, which left me without feelings of guilt for being out a good deal. Last evening, I had a meeting in regard to the impending creating of a Multi-Academy Trust of three high schools, one of which is the one I still call ‘mine.’

The meeting itself, which was really for the benefit of those governors who are remaining a governor of their particular school but not getting involved with the others, was a success. My entry to the building went less well. It was at a hotel/conference centre/health’n’beauty spa/golf course and I went into reception to find the way to our room. So I was able to gather a little group of people and show them the way. Unfortunately, and I have no idea how I managed it, I stumbled on nothing at one point and went over quite hard on my left foot. It was probably very much the movement, though lower down, that did in Eloise cat’s knee. As my foot twisted, I heard a squelchy crunch, unlike anything I’d come across before.

“Excuse me if I hobble for a while,” I said and everyone politely pretended not to worry until they forgot about it, six or seven seconds later. I was wearing fairly substantially strapped sandals, so hoped that would stop the foot swelling to the point I couldn’t walk.

When I got home, I supped on a glass of wine and some toast and Marmite, as it was 9.30 and I was more tired than hungry, and then went to bed with whisky and chocolate. And some ibuprofen. And I slept well, left in good time for my next appointment, which involved a five hour round trip, and when I arrived home I realised that my foot was more swollen. So I took the advice of Facebook friends and took myself off to A&E.

In short, I’ve broken a bone in my fifth metatarsal, or little toe as we unqualified people say. It’s the last one before the actual foot bone. But it’s stable, hasn’t shifted and only needs support, not a plaster cast. I’m very lucky. As it’s my left foot and I drive an automatic, I’ve even been given the all clear for driving, which is just as well as I’d gone to hospital on my own (if they’d said I needed a cast, I’d have asked to go back the next day). I am wearing a substantial boot, strapped all about and secured with Velcro, and it’s much more comfortable to walk, though rather hot. I’m told that it’ll heal in four to six weeks, though it’ll take at least eight months for full recovery. But it could be so much worse.

Eloise cat is very much enjoying pottering around in the garden and she isn’t running and jumping yet. I think her leg still aches after a while, because she limps once she’s been out half an hour or so.

This has been two firsts for me. I’ve never been to A&E on my own account before; and I’ve never broken a bone before. It’s only a little practice bone and I didn’t actually go there as an emergency, so they were amateurish efforts, but I do my best.

Chick pics

It’s been pointed out that my description of the chicken run makes little sense. I’ll try again. The coop is six feet long, so the extra run is 6’x4′ and the three boards are three sides, with the coop itself being the fourth side. Here it is.

It’s a great success, the chicks and Canasta are very happy. The chicks are over three weeks old now and they’re looking like miniature hens. Sadly, one of them keeps squaring up to another and it’s fairly clear that they’re cockerels. I say ‘one’ and ‘another’ but I’m not too good at telling brownish, speckledy birds apart and it could well be more than two. I’m sure we’ve got some girls anyway, though.

The brown and yellowish bit, bottom right corner, is where the run was last week.

When a cock gets his spurs caught

We’ve made a very simple run. A six foot board, two four foot boards, four uprights, all screwed together into a rectangle, wire netting staple-gunned onto three sides, then the whole thing attached to the coop, with easily undone wires, and netting over the top. We moved the coop to fresh grass and then let the chicks and their mother out. They’ve had a lovely day, with plenty of room to run around. When I went out to shut them back in the coop at about 7 o’clock, one was still outside but she ran behind the door, so I could easily pick her up and pop her back with the others. The only small flaw in the plan was, because the netting draped on the ground all around, when Jenga the cock went to inspect his offspring, he got caught up. I picked him up and untangled him, and covered the netting on the ground with extra boards. He took it all in good part and didn’t panic, fortunately.

Otherwise, apart from usual stuff, we’ve taken some time out. We went out for lunch yesterday and had a delicious “innkeeper’s platter” which comprised several fish oddments, several meat oddments, salad and two sorts of cheeses, with hummus, homemade chutney and nice bread. We had a small portion of chips too, which were good but probably too much food. As a result, we couldn’t eat all our dinner and it’s forming the basis of tonight’s meal, which LT is cooking.

What happened was, when we saw the specials board, we were both drawn to the crab salad. We were also drawn to the shared board. So I suggested that we have the latter and pop into the fishmonger next door for a couple of crabs for dinner. Tim was mightily impressed, as well he might be, and that’s what we did. We also called into Simon the greengrocer, because we knew via Facebook that he’d got the first Kentish cherries in. I value and appreciate local/English/British food in season and I know how chancy it is to grow cherries, so I buy them in quantity when they’re available. We bought salad things from the local Care Farm too, which is a great place that really helps vulnerable people whilst providing truly excellent food too. Anyway, when it came to dinnertime, we should really have shared one of the crabs because we each left at least half of ours. And Tim has done a pasta dish with tomatoes and crab tonight. I also bought more cherries and a punnet of local raspberries, most of which I ate in front of Wimbledon this afternoon.

The only fly in our ointment is that I haven’t seen Betty, the outdoor girl cat, since we arrived home. But Rose said that she turned up sometimes, not all the time, when we were away. So I am reasonably confident that she simply is catching her own food. I do like the cats to touch base with me though. Mother cat and Zain have found their own families and they deserve that, they’re sweet and lovely cats that wanted homes, but the others are friendly but definitely feral; though Betty is the friendliest of the three remaining kittens.

It turned cold this afternoon. I had to put on a cardigan. What’s that about, hey?

Home, and now Eloise cat is completely confused

On the drive home, on another sunny day, we were delayed by more accidents. What does sunshine do to people?

The visit was a success, in particular because of Eloise cat’s enjoyment of LT’s house. We’re very tempted to bring her again sometimes. The downsides are, of course, the journey and that she can’t be allowed outside. With a fairly busy road, much closer than she’s used to, it’s too risky. All the same, she adjusts quite well to indoor living and we do miss her awfully when we’re away.

The cat carrier, which is actually Rose’s, is quite battered. When we had Billy working for us, he dumped a bag of cement on it, which cracked it. I mended it with gaffer tape but we had decided to buy her a smart new one – as if she cares, of course, but we do. And then, when I was letting her out on our arrival home, the knob that keeps the door in place broke off in my hand. I was able to open the door (and the whole thing takes apart if need be) but it’s not conveniently useable again, so I went straight to order a new one. She’s going to the vet for a final checkup on Monday, after which we hope she’ll be given the all clear to go outside.

The other pleasures of the visit, of course, were in seeing our friends. We’d invited one couple for Sunday lunch and the other for dinner on Monday. And then on Tuesday, we called on a sort-of relation by marriage of his, a splendid lady of 96, who Tim used to see every week until he took up with me. I asked which year she was born; it’s the same year as my mother.

All is fine at home. The baby chicks are getting speckled wings and are in great health. Their coop is not as big as they – and their mum – would like and we’re adding a run to it, tomorrow. We discussed it before we went away and have it all planned. It has to be covered, but I’ll use the netting that is covering brassicas at present. The purpose of that was to keep pigeons off the seedlings, but they’re rather bigger than seedlings now.

On the road again

We’re in Reading, at LT’s place, for a few days. As Eloise cat still isn’t allowed outside, we decided to bring her. She doesn’t enjoy a long car journey, but she can cope with it.

We got All The Jobs done and set off, and it was when we were stopping at the village post box to post the letter that I’d amazingly managed to write that I realised I hadn’t picked up my phone. On our way home, I also remembered I hadn’t set the burglar alarm. The house isn’t empty of course, it never is, but I still set the alarm.

We were on the road by 10.35 and hoped to get here well before 2 o’clock. The sun brings out the woo-hoo in drivers, though, so there were a couple of accident delays. There was a third but we belatedly turned on the satnav, which warned of and avoided it. On the flyover, we saw the traffic jam we’d missed.

Eloise cat has explored the house and seems quite okay, though she cried a lot on the way here. She doesn’t blame us and is cuddly. We’ve got a couple of social occasions set up, with friends that are beloved enough to have been invited to our wedding (such a small affair that this is a solid demonstration) and we brought a lot of the food and LT shopped for the rest.

It’s hot here. Hotter than Norfolk. I like the heat, but I slept this afternoon once we arrived. I suspect I won’t tonight, though. I may end up reading on the sofa. Idiot, but that’s how it is.

To-doing done

I wrote a to-do list this morning. I don’t do this lightly; normally I rely on memory. I’m rigorous on appointments, on the other hand, they go straight into the book – or, nowadays, into the phone calendar.

My mum was too, she always wrote down her plans for meeting people, whether formal appointments or not. But she tended to use abbreviations, which could give rise to entertaining conversations. “I’ve written ‘meet at the DY, 10.30 – EL,'” she’d say. “Who’s EL and what on earth is the DY?” Many was the happy hour we’d spend puzzling out her social life. And it was happy too, because she always laughed at herself over it. Usually, just talking to me about it triggered the memory. I don’t think she ever actually missed a date, but I’m sure it was a close-run thing. I have no longer got that exuberant attitude, unfortunately, which is probably because I’ve had too many actual appointments … and because I learned from her. You either become like your parents or you decide not to, either of which can lead to mistakes all of your own.

Anyway, nothing on the list was remarkable. We’ve planted the leeks, I’ve made the bread, I’ve shopped for petrol for the lawnmower and chick crumbs. Canasta, the babymomma, is not a happy chicken. Since I put the chick crumbs in a feeder instead of on a plate, she’s dug frantic holes in the grass and paces up and down. Tim and I have got a plan to make a bigger run for her and her chicks, though it’ll have to wait for a few days, but I’m not at all sure why she’s so cross. The chicks certainly need her for now and she doesn’t want to leave them, just to take them out and show them the world.

Rose’s chickens have been bunking in with ours for the last week. She was away for a few days and her run needed a clean-out, so she asked if it would be okay. Of course, once they became used to all going to roost together, that’s what automatically happens … except for Polly, the black bantam. She did for a few days, and then she just wasn’t there. I went looking for her without success and we thought the sandy-whiskered gentleman might have taken her. But the next morning, there she was, strolling in for her breakfast. Since then, the same thing has happened every day. Clearly, she has found a roost that she likes and she’s the chicken that walks by herself – she often is alone, though she gets on perfectly well with the others. We leave her to it for now.

L’amour is, indeed, blue.

Tim had a few errands to run in town. I wanted to buy some fruit’n’veg. So he dropped me off, with the expectation he’d pick me up in half an hour, though we knew my shopping wouldn’t take that long. As I walked from the greengrocer to the market, I passed the dress shop and there were some rather nice things in the window, so I returned after I’d finished shopping and texted Tim to tell him where I was.

I’m so polite, darlings. Sooooo polite. When he texted back to tell me he’d nearly finished, I broke off from my browsing, promised the shopkeeper I’d be back that afternoon and was in the place we’d originally agreed (yes, I confirmed that in a text) at the time agreed too. Tim wouldn’t have minded waiting, of course, but I would have minded keeping him waiting.

Anyway, I went back this afternoon and a friend came in, just a minute after me, so we caught up on news and so on, and then we both tried on clothes and each bought two garments. In my case, that was two dresses that are both basically blue. I tried on another blue dress and a blue t-shirt, and I particularly liked the t-shirt, but you have to draw the line somewhere and there wasn’t another colour in my size. I’ll probably go back another day, when the blue thing has dissipated a bit, because it was almost embarrassing.

It reminded me of two people from my childhood, though. One was an old lady that my mum delivered meals on wheels to and I often accompanied her. She lived on Lowestoft sea front, south of the river, and her name was Bluedith. Everything about her was blue. Her house, inside and out, her upholstery, her carpets, her clothes. She wore blue-tinted glasses. Even her budgie was blue.

The other lady, a good friend of my parents, was similarly fixated on purple. Her rather stylish living room was black japanned furniture and purple upholstery. What tipped the balance into a touch of obsession was, she called her daughter Lavender.

Nothing wrong with it, just a bit obsessive. I like blue myself, and purple. Anyway, I’ve bought two dresses; go me.

Semi-sweet home

Eloise cat had her first night free in the house, and she made the most of it. Mostly, she jumped on and off our bed, wanted to be stroked, decided to drink out of every glass, etc. This was a pleasure for us, though it did mean rather a lack of sleep; at least on my part. It’s lovely to see her stretched out and relaxed now, we’re so relieved that the care we’ve taken, after a successful operation, has paid off.

It’s been mostly about housework today, which may be satisfying once done, but is not particularly interesting to do or read about. But the floordrobe is eliminated, the ironing has been done, the cat cage has been removed and the hoovering has been hoovered. And, too, the chick run has been moved to fresh grass and a new waterer has been installed. So it’s been a quiet but not useless day. The rest of this week will mostly be devoted to things that have been neglected in favour of cat walking, come to that.

Before all this cat stuff happened, we’d had plans for the summer. We each wanted to show the other where we grew up. So we were going to visit Weymouth and Bournemouth, and also were wanting to visit Cornwall because … oh, I can’t remember. But anyway, it isn’t really feasible. Visits to Tim’s house and the caravan are in the pipeline, in due course, but at present we can’t really even have a full day out. Just as well we like it here.

Chick photos

It’s 11 days since the first chicks hatched – the rest hatched overnight or were helped out by me the next day – and, although most of the photos are rather fuzzy, for which I apologise (I suspect I was too close to the subject), it’s interesting – to me, at any rate – to see how much they’ve developed in a week and a half.

The system for uploading photos has completely changed since the last time I did it. I’m not at all sure how this will turn out and I don’t seem to be able to move things around any more, to put an explanation of each photo. But it’s probably clear enough. Here we go, anyway.

The last picture, taken today, shows that the wing feathers are getting bigger than they were a couple of days ago and the little tails are starting to grow. Still fluffy chicks, but they’ve changed a lot. Canasta is starting to feel the strain of motherhood, she paces up and down rather a lot. She’ll have to put up with them for a while yet, though, they’re too little not to have their mummy’s warmth at night.