Archive for Aug, 2009

What the Heck?

Monday 31 August 2009

The first of our heifers calved a couple of days ago and has now joined the herd.  This can be a fraught time for all concerned, not least because the heifers are left to their own devices for several years and often revert back to ‘wild’ behaviour.  Bringing them into the parlour where they’re expected to behave themselves and mingle with the older, more experienced girls leaves them confused and panicky.  So far she’s so muddled she’s been very good, but as they get used the idea they realise that actually, they don’t want to be milked, thank you very much and show their reluctance with their feet!  The copious quantities of cow cake help as it acts as distraction while the units are put on.

We had to laugh watching her with her new calf though.  She didn’t have a clue and although she knew this was somehow hers and she should protect her, she wasn’t sure where she had come from or what she was supposed to do with her now she’d arrived.  She spent the first day backing away from her and every time the poor calf approached her udder to drink she spun round and flicked her away with her head.  We bucket-fed her while the mother watched curiously, but on the second morning she’d been sucked on one quarter so the calf had finally reached its destination.  This morning she’d been sucked on all four and can be seen happily licking the calf’s back while she drinks her fill.

Instinct is a wonderful thing and it’s a good job the calf knows what she’s expected to do!


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Happy Birthday

Friday 28 August 2009

To Terri, my sister.  It’s her birthday today and tonight we’re all going out for a surprise party.  It’s OK, I can announce her surprise party even if she looks here because Dad let the cat out of the bag several days ago.  He says no-one told him it was a surprise, therefore he didn’t know it was a secret.  This would be fine if he was pleading his case to someone else, but I told him it was a surprise party at the beginning of the week.

Hey-ho.  He’s never been a great one to tell secrets to!  I should have known better except I asked him whether he wanted to stay here the night after the party and he explained to Terri how he was bringing his toothbrush and pyjamas to lunch today!

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Wednesday 26 August 2009


I’ve been given an award from my friend Julie at KC’s Court and all I do is list five of my obsessions then pass the award to five other fabulous bloggers, so here goes:

1   I can’t resist buying craft stuff.  I buy on average about 75% more than I actually use, but I just love owning it and looking at the niceness of it!

2   I love my computer.  You may have gathered this before, but I’m not sure what I did before computers.  Everything I know is here and if it goes out of action I don’t know phone numbers, birthdays, addresses … well, you get the picture.  I know I’m not the only one!

3   Shoes.  You knew this, but I love shoes.  When I go shopping now I have to fight the urge to buy more and if I had more space to keep them I wouldn’t resist.

4   Reading other fantastic blogs.  They’re all so interesting and indeed some are truly exceptional.  I aspire to be that good, knowing that I probably never will.  I’m not fishing for compliments, just stating facts.

5   Grammar and spelling.  I try not to let this one rule my life, but I do get anxious for some unknown reason when I see bad spelling or grammar, especially in public places or places I consider should know better such as banks and solicitors’ offices.  When we visited our solicitor recently I was surprised to see a large sign that said “Have you written your will’s?”  It’s not my problem I know and I resisted pointing it out, but I really, really wanted to!

OK, so I’m passing this on to the following blogs:

Diary of a Desperate Exmoor Woman


Kirsty Wiseman


Lindsay at


Somerset Seasons, Dorset Days


Uphilldowndale (the photographs are stunning)


I also really like Julie’s blog, but she’s already got an award!

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Tuesday 25 August 2009

I finally got around to making chutney yesterday with one of my giant courgettes.  According to the recipe I also needed apples and tomatoes or plums.  My ‘orchard’ is currently groaning with fruit and surprisingly this year I have fruit on every tree.  I don’t think I can remember when this last happened as I usually have at least three apple trees that sit there looking sorry for themselves and I have even toyed with the idea of removing them and planting new ones.

I harvested –


then prepared the ingredients according to the recipe.  I needed one kilo of courgette, but just one of these weighed over two so I doubled everything up.  Naively, I thought this would only take a little while but in fact it took most of the day.  However, by the end of it I had fifteen jars of chutney which smelled divine.


We tried some this morning with our bacon sandwiches (yes, we always have odd things for breakfast!) and it tasted pretty good too.  I’m now hooked and can’t wait to buy sugar and vinegar to make more.

Whilst looking for a different recipe to try that still involved courgettes and/or apples (both of which I have loads of) I dug out ‘The Aga Book of Cookery’, left behind when mother-in-law moved out.  I’d never looked at it before since I rarely use recipes when I cook, preferring to make things up as I go along with whatever ingredients I have to hand.  According to Gordon the Aga was put in during the sixties, but the book looks as if it was written quite a few years before that and contains such delights as Brain Sauce.  I asked Gordon if he fancied that for tea and he asked what was in it.  “Brain”, I replied, then proceeded to read the recipe out to him while we both made grimacing faces:

Ingredients: 1/2 pint white sauce, 1 sheep’s brain cooked and chopped, 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method: Remove the skin from the brain, cover with warm water and leave to soak for two hours.  Put the brain into a saucepan with enough boiling water to cover it, bring to boiling point and simmer for about twenty minutes.  Drain off the liquid, chop the brain finely and add to the sauce.  Just before serving, add the lemon juice.

If you can picture yourself doing this and then eating it without making all kinds of faces, you’re welcome to give it a go.  If you do, let me know how it went!  Presumably the lemon juice is for taste, but yuck!

How did housewives in the past even get their children to look at this, let alone eat it?  I can’t see any member of my family even entertaining the idea, but hey, who am I to criticise?  I’ve never even tried brains; for all I know they might be …um….delicious.

Yeah, right!

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Wednesday 19 August 2009

I’ve had an e-mail from the Halifax to say my online account’s been suspended.  I will never again be able to access it and all my money will disappear forever into a virtual pit unless I ‘click here’ to re-activate it.

Phew!  All I can say is it’s a good job I don’t actually have an account with the Halifax.  Or Lloyds-TSB.  Or Egg or anything else that has an online account.  I don’t even have that much money in the account I do have so am not that worried about it disappearing forever.  Does anybody ever fall for this, do you suppose?  Even nowadays when we’re made so aware that phishing e-mails are common?  Sometimes I click the link, just to see what happens.  Nothing, is the answer.  My browser tells me this is a fake site and not to go there because bad things happen, so it won’t let me.

Talking of ‘nothing happening’, what is it with these e-mails that promise that something jiggy will run across my screen and make me howl with laughter if I forward a threatening e-mail (you will have ten years of really bad luck) to at least twenty innocent bystanders?  I don’t, by the way.  Forward it, or consider that I will have ten years of bad luck.  Stop sending them to me, so-called friends!  They aren’t real!  Someone made them up one wet Monday afternoon because they couldn’t think of anything better to do.  I don’t care if there’s an angel out there with my name on her lips, waiting to bless me or curse me for all eternity.  I don’t believe it.  Don’t you have to believe it for it to work?  If you want to send me something then send me something useful.  Money.  Chocolate.  A blank cheque.  Any of those would be perfectly acceptable.

As for the one that says if you don’t forward it immediately, someone you really care about will drop dead – well, I don’t want that one either.

End of rant.  Have a nice day.

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Saturday 15 August 2009

….. remiss.  My blog has been ignored due to a total lack of enthusiasm this week.  I’ve looked at it now and again and even thought about updating it, but haven’t.  Today, I thought I should.

….. away.  To Glasgow and Edinburgh with my friend Lorraine, who gets married in just a few short weeks.  The weather was kinder than it has been on the majority of my previous visits to Scotland, although it rained on the last day in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle after the rain

Edinburgh Castle after the rain

It was warmer though.  We stayed in a lovely hotel on Princes Street and I could see the Castle from my bed in the morning.  Not the same bit of Castle as last time, but the view of the other side.

My view from the hotel window

My view from the hotel window

On Friday evening we went to the Tattoo, which was fantastic and definitely worth another visit, although the seating was very cramped.  We were above a stairway so although we weren’t looking over people’s heads our legs were very constricted by the barrier in front of us.  On Saturday evening we could hear the pipes and drums from our hotel room and stayed up late to watch the fireworks at midnight when the second Tattoo of the day finished.

Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle

Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle

The glaring light was on the side of Jenners in Princes Street and directly opposite the hotel window.  It wasn’t as bright as it appears in the photo, but the curtains were very heavy so it didn’t disturb my sleep.

Back in Glasgow we had hair and make-up trials as well as the final dress fitting.  The dresses are being collected at the end of August ready for the big day on 5 September.  I’m flying up again on the Wednesday beforehand.

….. thinking of things to do with courgettes! While I was gone nobody picked any courgettes and if you’ve ever grown them you’ll know that once they start producing they need to be picked practically every day.  Consequently, I came home to find eight or nine that had grown to monster proportions, the heaviest of which weighed in at almost six pounds!  The first thing I made was soup which went down very well.  Even Gordon agreed it was tasty.  I’ve been looking at chutney recipes but haven’t yet got around to buying enough vinegar.  Should I be organised enough to do so I’ll photograph the end result!  My last chutney-making effort was years ago before we moved to the farmhouse.  We lived in an unheated cottage and I went off to another room leaving the chutney bubbling away.  By the time I got back the steam had condensed on the walls and they were dripping with sticky brown water.  I haven’t been brave enough for another attempt, although I may get around to it this year with any luck.

….. feeling sad. Tomorrow would have been mum’s 68th birthday.  We’re going out for lunch as a family and I expect it’ll be an emotional day.

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Monday 3 August 2009

I entered the East Huntspill Annual Summer Show this year after vowing to for several years previously, but having been asked to judge the photographic entries for two years I thought I would enter this year instead.  Typically the other entries were excellent and far superior to last year’s snapshots – competition is a good thing.  I didn’t win anything, but didn’t feel too bad when I saw the quality of the winners.  It’s interesting that digital photography seems to have produced ‘photographers’ rather than people who take photos, giving a whole scope of effects so easily.  Whereas pre-digital, a good photograph was the result of experience, a thorough knowledge of the principles of photography and one’s camera, now it’s more a question of a ‘good eye’ and a quick camera.  I’m not belittling this at all as I think it’s the best thing to have happened to cameras since …. well, ever …. and it’s unleashed the creativity in so many people.

I also decided to enter one of my many finished cross-stitch pictures and chose the Owl in Flight, a design by John Clayton of Heritage Stitchcraft.  It won first prize.  I’d like to crow about coming first, but in fact it was the only cross-stitch entry in the class.  There was another submission, but it wasn’t actually cross-stitch as it contained a wide variety of stitches, none of them crossed!  The judge said it was ‘well deserving of its first place’ but it wasn’t like there was a lot of competition.


On Saturday afternoon the family went to a barbecue at a friend’s house.  Alex had to come home as she’d picked up a tummy bug at the children’s nursery where she’s been working since she came home from university.  Typically, she was ill over the weekend.  One of the ‘side-effects’ of working with small children seems to be that they harbour all kinds of nasty bugs which they’re more than willing to share around.  She was well enough to go back for more today, much to her annoyance.

Stephanie has gone camping in Newquay with a group of friends.  She texted me this morning to say she was OK, but the ground was hard and her shoulder now ached.  Also, it was raining in Newquay.  It’s such a shame: they’ve been planning this for months as a summer holiday and it hasn’t stopped raining.  I’m worrying of course even though I have to let go sooner or later and she is seventeen now, but she’s still under threat if she doesn’t text me morning and evening to let me know she’s still alive and well.

I may not have a chance to write again now before next week.  On Wednesday morning – very, very early on Wednesday morning – I’m flying off to Glasgow to stay with my friend.  There’s a final fitting for our dresses, hair and make-up trials then a hen weekend in Edinburgh to shop and go to the Tattoo at the Castle.  I’m looking forward to it although I’ve been warned to take warm clothes as it can get pretty nippy up there on the hill in front of the Castle.  I’m actually more concerned about getting wet in the rain, but it’ll still be an interesting experience.  I’ll take lots of photos.

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