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Archive for April, 2009

Thursday 30 April 2009

Driving home from dropping Steph off at the bus-stop this morning I did a double-take as I turned into our small lane.  There it was, sitting on top of a gate.  In all its glory.  A peacock!  Yes, a fully-grown male with full tail and the whole shimmering feather thing.  I didn’t have my camera on me of course and although I’ve been out a couple of times since with my camera in my bag, I haven’t seen a feather of it.  According to Daniel, this peacock’s been around for a few days and he tells me he’s almost run it over three times!  I wonder how you encourage a peacock to move into your garden and stay there?  I quite fancy the idea although the neighbours reckon they’re noisy.  I bet they make great guard-dogs.

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How Typical

Sunday 26 April 2009 (Part 2)

I know, I know, no blog entry for ages, then two come along together, but this is important.

While I was fetching the cows this afternoon, I came across a ring of these –

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and as you can tell, I picked some.  I know I’m virtually visited by other country-folk who might know better than I (bearing in mind I used to be a townie) whether these are edible or not.  The underside looks like this –

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and the top looks like this –

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What I want to know is – if I eat them, will I be really sick?  Are they poisonous?  As an added bonus I’d quite like to know what they’re called, but that’s not quite so important.  Just the poisonous bit.  If this is my last blog entry you’ll know I braved it and ate them anyway, in which case if you find some that look the same, don’t eat them!  Oh, although they look like mushrooms they don’t smell like mushrooms, which is why I’m so hesitant, they smell a bit like a wax candle.

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Sunday 26 April 2009

Whilst doing a spot of online banking the other day I decided we no longer need paper statements since I keep the accounts as well as I’m able on the computer and check them regularly online.  Considering the mere sight of numbers makes my brain stick its fingers in its ears and sing la-la-la to itself very loudly thus becoming extremely unhelpful, I think I manage fairly well, keeping all accounts, business and personal, under control.  I’ve already made the transition to making payments online, saving me hours of writing cheques as well as a small fortune in postage so why not go the whole hog?  “I have enough paperwork”, I thought to myself, “and continuous statements are not doing the environment a whole heap of good.  In this day of technology, let’s do away with the need for an envelope, postage and countless pages telling me what I already know, and go down the paperless route.”  Therefore, I clicked on the relevant button, filled in all the information and sat back feeling I’d done a little more to be environmentally-friendly.  I mentioned this decision to Gordon the next time I saw him and he nodded vaguely and said something like “whatever”.

Two days later a letter arrived (with an envelope naturally) informing me that I’d signed up to go paperless on the website and was this OK?  Actually, it said something along the lines of “one of the account holders has signed your account up for online statements” and if I wasn’t aware of that fact, could I write to tell them of my ignorance.  Paperless, the button on the website said!  What about the letters?  Why didn’t they send me an e-mail?

Even Gordon saw the irony in that.

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Student Finance

Monday 20 April 2009

Alex is in the final stages of reapplying for finances to cover the cost of university next year and we received a letter telling us that Student Finance has a new look!  It’s now possible to apply online and to quote the letter ‘you’ll find it much simpler to support them’.  Yeah, right.  I’m sorry – an online application that’s simple, you say?  For about a week I’ve actually been trying to log on to the website which persists in ‘locking’ my account after three stabs at the password even though I only ever use the same one on everything.  The problem is, when I try to register it informs me I already am.  Then it tells me that since this is my first visit (can you see a problem emerging here?) I need to pick a password.  In order to do this all I need to do is enter my current password and it’ll let me pick a new one.  How does that work then?  I’ve rung the helpline three times already and pressed countless buttons to get me through to a human with a voice – admittedly a voice with such a strong Scottish accent that I’ve had to concentrate very hard to understand it (the website is called Student Finance England by the way).  The first one assured me she was sending me an e-mail “just now” (imagine that with a Scottish lilt) and it would be with me in about ten minutes.  Well, it wasn’t of course and sadly this didn’t even surprise me.  I didn’t expect anything to be that smooth.  The second attempt was met with a computerised voice telling me the computers were down for maintenance and to try again later.  The third call today was eventually taken by a young man who told me the computers were down for maintenance and to try again later.  I forgot of course until gone 6.00 pm, by which time I assumed they’d closed up for the day and gone home for their tea.

This evening, trawling through my secret book of passwords and log-in details – I have to keep one otherwise I ‘can’t remember a f*****g thing’ (henceforth referred to as a ‘craft’ moment courtesy of Lizzie) – I found a strange note under the heading of ‘Student Finance’ which meant nothing to me.  Being the eternal optimist, ever hopeful that perseverance will win the day, I cautiously entered the details in the correct places.  Blow me down, it worked!  Well, partly since they were obviously Gordon’s details and not mine, but I figured the chances of him ever filling in an online application for student finance or anything else for that matter were slender to none!  I proceeded and in the click of a mouse it congratulated me on a job well done.  Now all I need to know is whether I have to fill in my part of the form under my own name?  Trawled the site – looked at the FAQs – not a flippin’ clue!

Simpler, you reckon, Direct Gov site?  I don’t flippin’ think so!

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Sunday 19 April 2009

Daniel has taken an extended weekend since it’s his birthday tomorrow.  For some odd reason he wanted the day off!  It’s his brother’s birthday too although they were born five years apart so happy birthday to the pair of them tomorrow.

Now the cows are out the work load is reduced and we’re milking an all-time low of forty-eight!  Several are on anti-biotics for different reasons including Heather (59) who was operated on last week to remove a large growth from her side.  Alistair the vet gave her a local and she munched silage throughout the operation, behaving herself impecably for a change.  She’s usually fidgety but didn’t seem to mind the attention.  Gordon and I were present and for a large part of the time talked to the vet over our shoulders so we didn’t have to watch.  She’s healing nicely and isn’t bothered by the fact that she’s sprayed daily with antiseptic to keep the wound clean, thus becoming a lovely shade of teal down one side.

The dry cows have gone on to the canal banks until such time as they calve when they’ll be brought back to join the milking herd.  We picked up the three new calves from a week or so ago as their mothers weren’t very interested in feeding them.  Milly, the cow I mentioned before, adamantly refused to feed her calf so he was bottle-fed from the off.  Stephanie, who usually chooses the names of all our calves carefully, has christened him Michael.  She only has to find names for the bull calves as heifers are named after their mothers, but is quickly running out of male names beginning with M!  We have a lot of Margarets and Millies in the herd.  We also have a lot beginning with A for some reason – Alexandras, Alices and Annies to mention a few!

Mum is still doing well after her stint in hospital although suffering greatly from fatigue.  It’s quite usual to ring to see how she is only to speak to Dad who informs us she’s asleep in bed.  She has a hospital appointment this week and since she’s not able to drive at the moment I’ve offered to take her.  She has to be there by 9.45 am so I’m hoping she’ll be able to wake up in time.

I’ve managed to damage my shoulder this week in what I regard to be a freak driving accident.  I believe I looked over my right shoulder to see if anything was coming!  There was a large crack and a twanging sensation, and it hasn’t been the same since.  I’m taking ibuprofen with liberal helpings of udder mint which is far more effective than deep heat.  It even clears your sinuses at the same time as it’s main ingredient is peppermint oil!  Thomas the cat loves the smell and I have to fight him off to prevent him licking me, but all the other cats leap backwards the minute they get scent of it.

I had a startling credit card statement this week and it appears as if someone else has been using my card.  Odd, since it’s never left my purse!  I believe Lindsay over at Rural Villager had a similar problem a while ago.   I’ve contacted the bank responsible for the card and explained that the major purchase was made from a computer while I was away in Scotland … without my computer.  I’m hoping this is enough to convince them, but have a horrible feeling it won’t be.  I’ll keep you informed.

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The Cows Are Out

Monday 13 April 2009

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Since it was such a beautiful day today and the ground has started to dry Gordon decided to let the cows out for the first time.  It’s one of those things the whole family try to be present for since the cows’ delight at being outside on the grass usually manifests itself with much leg-flinging, rolling in untouched grass and head-butting.  They charge from the building with such excitement and erupt into the field like racehorses ready for the off that it’s difficult to watch without smiling.  All these normally sedate creatures leap around for half an hour before settling into the business of eating grass for the first time since November.

Whilst leaning on the gate and watching all this we noticed how clear the sky was and the presence of a square cloud with a tail leading from it!  As you may recall, I take a lot of photographs of the sky especially when it’s so blue.

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One of our favourite cows calved today.  Milly finally got her act together and presented us with a lovely little bull calf.  She’s been dry for years and kept as little more than a pet with daily head-rubbings and conversations with whoever happens to be passing.  This obviously included Harry the Hereford bull back in July who was evidently in the mood for something other than conversation.  For quite a while we assumed she was barren and Gordon said he would ‘sort her out at some time’, but fortunately never got round to it.  There’s a surprise.  She’s one of those cows that claims every calf as hers, usually to the detriment of the calf to be honest because she’s so adamant that it is her calf that she won’t let the real mother near it.  Consequently it doesn’t get fed properly if we don’t get in there quickly and take the calf away.  She’s in seventh heaven now she’s got her own.  She’ll be in the milking parlour tomorrow morning for the first time in years; let’s hope she hasn’t forgotten what to do.  When cows get out of the habit they become a little bit unpredictable and wild.

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Must Dash

Thursday 9 April 2009

I’m having one of those months where everything seems to be done at a gallop.  I’m the sort of person who considers my social calendar busy with just one commitment a day, and here I am at the moment with at least three places I have to be on a daily basis.

Today I’m meeting a friend for lunch in Bridgwater.  That should see off the best part of two, possibly three hours!  I’m going to the Slimming World weekly meeting at 5.00 pm and somewhere in between I need to buy groceries.  Maybe it’ll be possible to squeeze a trip to Sainsbury’s in after lunch.  Tonight my friends are visiting to share a takeaway – origin as yet undecided so I’ll have to leave the meeting earlier than usual.

Added to that is a proposed ‘drop-in’ on mum to see how she’s getting on now she’s home from hospital, taking Steph round to Ben’s, and picking up a reserved magazine from my local craft shop, something I’ve been trying to do for weeks, but following the untimely death of the lovely lady that ran it it’s been closed at irregular hours while her son struggles to run it whilst sorting out her affairs at the same time.

Phew.  No wonder my poor blog is taking a back seat.  Anyway, can’t hang about here chatting.  I’ve got to get in the shower and ready to go ….. must dash!

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