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On 10 March I went to visit my dentist in Lympsham.  Her practise is next door to a school and when you leave her driveway, you’re immediately in a 20mph zone.  Three days later Gordon received a speeding ticket, but for my car which he never drives.  It was mine :(.  Apparently I was doing 26mph and held my hands up to this.  Doing wrong, probably while in auto-pilot.  However, since then, things have definitely verged on maniacal.

Firstly, because the ticket was in his name I had to notify them that he wasn’t the driver.  I sent the form back and waited for its return.  When it came back in my name it told me I could either pay a fixed penalty with points on my licence or go on a Speed Awareness Course.  I opted for the latter, sent the form back to them with my choice and waited again.  The reply came on Easter Saturday.  There was a website address included and it said I should go there to book my NSAC20 course – I assume NSAC stands for National Speed Awareness Course.  The website told me the nearest course to me was in Swansea; a three-hour drive into Wales – unless I was a crow of course, because as the crow flies it isn’t that far.  Far enough by road though.

I couldn’t ring them to discuss this until the Tuesday so spent the day trying, but unfortunately ‘all their lines were busy’ for the entire day.  On Wednesday I spoke to someone to ask whether I could go on a standard speed awareness course being held in the next town.  Apparently not.  They’ve introduced this new crack-down on speeding near schools without any appropriate courses being offered countrywide.  We eventually narrowed down a course in Filton, but it was still further than I really wanted to go so I told her not to worry, I’d just pay the fixed penalty if she could send me a form.  She immediately attached one to an email and it told me I could pay my fine online, by phone or by sending a cheque alongside my driver’s licence.  I went to pay it online but it wouldn’t let me so I tried by phone – it wouldn’t let me do that either.  She pointed out in her email that when I sent my licence to them, registered post would be a good idea since a licence is a valuable thing.  I conceded defeat, wrote a cheque, paid for the registered post and off it went.

It came back today.  Not just my licence, but my cheque too.  The letter was clear – since I’d opted to go on a speed awareness course, no payment was necessary at this time.  It came back in a plain envelope by second-class post!  I didn’t even have to sign for it.  I rang the Speed Enforcement Unit again and they were apologetic.  Something had obviously gone amiss on their system and she would rectify it straight away.  Within thirty minutes I should be able to submit my payment online and then I’d have to send off my licence again (she still recommended registered post) and all would be peachy.

I tried.  I couldn’t.  I’m losing the will, to be honest.  I’m a bit of a mouse when it comes to ‘rules’ and have been fretting.  I wish they’d just sort things out.

Upcycling (Part 1)

I don’t know about you, but I’m avid browser of Pinterest.  I absolutely love to see what others have made such as cakes, crafts and things for the garden. If I acquire a new stamp I quite often look to see how other people are using it and although I don’t like copying it exactly I use it as inspiration.

A while back I spotted a planter made with the headboard and footboard of a single bed. lt was painted red and yellow which I thought was quite garish, but I liked the idea and looked on local selling sites for a cheap bed base – a very cheap or even free one.   About two weeks after I started looking, someone fly-tipped one into a gateway up the road. There was a headboard, two footboards and the slats.  I had to negotiate with a neighbouring farmer who had his eye on it for firewood, but we comprised: I got the ends and he took the rest.

On Sunday while Gordon was painting the table I decide to drag it all out of the workshop where it’s been stored and think about how to make a planter with it.  Love him, he came across when he’d finished and we discussed what I wanted to do with it.  Within about half an hour he’d chopped, sawed and joined it all together as if he had the instructions in front of him.  He has an uncanny knack of being able to see exactly what needs to be done and the finished article was what I’d hoped.  The extra footboard was sawn in half and made the sides.

I spent a couple of hours today sanding the old paint off and painting it in country cream paint.  I still have to line it with plastic, fill it with soil and plant something, but thought you might like a preview.

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It’s a great shape, isn’t it?  I’m most pleased.  I do like to give something a new lease of life.

Did I forget?

A long time ago I decided if I wanted something done around the place I had to do it myself.  Today I finally realised that’s not strictly true.  If I want something done I need to start it myself or even suggest starting it and Gordon will invariably take over.  He can’t help it.  He has that kind of nature.  If he could split himself into a dozen people he would because he likes things done his way.

Yesterday I’d finally had enough of the state at the front of the house and decided to do something about it.  Lord knows I’ve asked Gordon often but somehow it just never happened.  Within a very short space of time the pressure washer appeared and he set it up, making a start on washing the concrete.  When he got a bit bored of that I took over, but he’d done quite a bit. 

We have a wooden picnic bench there and it had reached a stage where you could only really sit on it in old clothes, so I bought some garden paint in ‘Country Cream’ and announced at the end of the day that I would paint it today.  Gordon has an aversion to painted wood, but I thought that if I was going to do it, I’d do it how I wanted.  Lo and behold, a tin of timber care in rustic brown miraculously appeared from the shed, he’s upended the table, brushed it off and is busy painting it.  It isn’t the cream I would have liked, but at least it will look tidy.

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I can’t believe I forgot he had that trait.  Now, what else can I start badly so he feels the need to show me how it should be done?

Doh!

Yesterday after work Gordon announced he was going to water his roses.  This came as a surprise since I didn’t know he had any.  I knew I had some growing in pots until I got round to planting them in the garden but in my absence he’d gone ahead and planted them himself, thus turning them into HIS roses although he’d somehow managed to lose the labels so now I don’t know which one is where.   He’s not particularly good in the garden, usually restricting himself to mowing the grass (whilst complaining) and digging occasionally when really nagged into it, but for a country boy he’s pretty rubbish with plants and flowers.  To add to my surprise he’d decide to wander round with the weedkiller too.

In a completely separate incident (I think) it seems I won’t be growing foxgloves this year.  The conversation ended with him protesting “well, how was I supposed to know they were foxgloves – they look like weeds”. He therefore sprinkled them liberally with weedkiller and that’s the end of them.  Maybe next year?

Hare Hunting

My friend Caroline (the artist) wanted to take photos of hares, but didn’t know where, so I mentioned we have them here.  I’m not one hundred percent convinced she believed me, but she came on Tuesday with her camera and we set off around the farm.  Didn’t see a single one!

She was a bit disappointed until Gordon, always the voice of reason, pointed out that the best time to catch hares (not literally) was very early in the morning or in the evening, so she set off again on her own since I was helping with the milking.  When she came back several hours later she was very excited to have seen and photographed a group of three hares and a fox, not together, obviously.  After some discussion she asked whether she could come again and we arranged that her husband could join her here later so we could get a takeaway.

On Thursday we both set off with our cameras at five o’clock.  Our ‘silent hunting mode’ was slightly wrecked when Lola tracked us down and bounded around for the next couple of hours, but on the plus side she did stir up a few sleepy hares and when they weren’t outrunning her (easily) we were able to take a couple of shots.

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In this time the sun went down – very dramatically, it has to be said – so we were able to get a few good sunset shots too.

I’ve started going to a craft group during the day organised by my friend Myra once a month in a nearby hotel owned by her brother. Most of the time we make cards but in order to do something different she arranged for someone to show us how to make Easter cake decorations from fondant icing.  As you may recall, my favourite place in the house definitely isn’t the kitchen, but I wanted to go along for the experience – I’ll try anything once (well almost anything except maybe bungee jumping which I have no urge to attempt).

Much to my surprise I was rather good at it.  I seriously didn’t expect to be and I don’t wish to blow my own trumpet too loudly so here are the finished products so you can make your own mind up.  I enjoyed myself so much that I may even attempt it on my own.

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My first effort.  It’s an Easter bunny obviously and stands about three inches high.

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Easter ducklings.  Aren’t they cute?  These are smaller and are only about an inch tall.  Steph reckons the one in the middle looks a bit angry but I poked too big a hole for his eye which gives him a slightly manic expression.

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My third ‘project’ is the chicken on the left.  I didn’t like him so much, which is why I didn’t take a photo of him on his own, but he looked better once his beak was snipped open.

I’m not sure I’ll eat them although I don’t know what to do with them if I don’t.  I may even have to bake a cake!

AWOL

I didn’t realise I’d been gone for such a long time, but I can’t believe March went by that quickly.  At the beginning of the month we celebrated Steph’s birthday here with a party in the evening.  We were also celebrating dad’s 79th too of course and as usual it was a combined gathering.

The past week has been taken up with work.  Daniel departed on his holiday to Thailand and is expected back at the end of April.  He wasn’t going to go at all as he didn’t want to leave us to cope on our own even though his partner and several of his friends had made plans, but we told him he’d be silly to pass up an opportunity that probably won’t come his way again.  In the meantime we’ve become foster parents to the lovely Lola and although she’s coping well, it’s plain she’s missing him.  There are lots of long sighs and a fair bit of whimpering – I know how she feels.  Milking is fine when done twice a week as there’s a light at the end of the tunnel come Sunday evening, but at the moment I’m milking every morning for the next month and twice a week at least in the afternoons when Gordon has to ‘bed-up’ the animals. The last time I milked this regularly was about eleven years ago before Daniel came to work with us.  I found it hard then and I’m a lot older now!  Roll on the day when they can go out into the field – hopefully by the end of this week.

Our main herd started calving this week too.  The first calving didn’t go well and the vet had to be called to assist one of our old girls.  It wasn’t a good calving and she’s down now.  I think she may be despached this afternoon.  To add insult to her injury she had a very large bull calf.  The second cow to calf was easier, but also had a bull although the third has presented us with a heifer this morning.

Bring it on.

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