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Archive for April, 2010

Monday 26 April 2010

Since I last wrote I’ve been rushing around with commitments: good ones, it has to be said but still commitments.

On Wednesday I took Dad out to lunch at The Maypole in Thurloxton again.  We’re becoming regulars and are greeted like such by the staff.  It’s nice to go somewhere where they recognise you and the food is great.  Dad and I have an ongoing battle about who’s going to pay for lunch but I’m trying to steer us in the direction of taking turns, otherwise he insists on picking up the bill every single time.

On Thursday I visited Julie in Minehead for lunch, a wander-around the town and then a cup of tea at her house.  The sun was out and we had a thoroughly pleasant lunch in one of her favourite restaurants.  I came away with a present:

a luggage tag she’s designed with a view to making your suitcase immediately visible on a luggage carousel at the airport.  She has other designs and if you’re interested you can buy your very-own from her site.  This is her photo, by the way, which I ‘borrowed’ from her website since it’s the design I chose.

On Friday I went with several friends to a craft fair at Shepton Mallet.  It’s the first one I’ve been to since mum became ill; we always went together and I didn’t feel like going to one without her when she was so poorly.  It was still difficult although my friend Vivien is good company.

Saturday saw us awake at 5.00 am.  There was an Open Day at the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, Steph’s university of choice in September, which started at 10.00 am so we left the house at 6.00 am and picked up Terri en route.  With about twenty minutes to spare we were parked in Luton and finding our way to the entrance of the university.  I’ve a horrible feeling I picked up a speeding ticket on the way – not because we were rushing but simply because we were in unknown territory and I missed the signs!  Time will tell.  The day was interesting and informative with tours around the campus, various associated buildings and accommodation, and she thinks she definitely wants to go there.  I’ve a suspicion that I may take her leaving home even harder than I did Alex’s, but she is the ‘baby’ of the family.  It’s still a shock to see her so grown-up and I’m getting dire premonitions of ’empty-nest syndrome’ already.

Speaking of which, Alex is coming home for a few days tomorrow.  Her dissertation is bound and will be handed in some time today, she’s out to celebrate this evening with friends then I’m driving to Cheltenham to collect her.  We’ll be bringing home a lot of her unnecessary stuff too so she doesn’t have to worry about it on the train.

Yesterday we gardened.  Yes!  Both Gordon and I.  This is unusual, but while he mowed the lawn and strimmed the edges, I weeded the flower-beds and clipped shrubs.  We had lunch and a glass of wine in the gazebo when it started raining with the initial thought of staying there until it stopped but it didn’t so we eventually gave up and went indoors.  After milking the sun had come out again so we carried on until 7.30 pm.  Again, a flash into life at home with no ‘children’.

The farm has been busy this week as we’re now fully into our calving season.  We’re getting about two or three calves a day and are starting to run out of places to put them again.  At the moment the most in one pen is six with three cows even though there’s only one set of twins.  If their mother isn’t interested in looking after them we put the cow back in the herd and hope one of the ‘maternal’ cows will take over feeding it.  This is working quite well so far.  Oddly enough, even though the mothers kick the calves away and refuse to let them drink, they still bawl for a couple of days when they’re let out with the herd.

We had the fire brigade out twice last week and they phoned us again this morning.  The first time was when someone in a passing car on the motorway reported an animal in the canal.  By the time TWO fire-engines turned up Gordon had already found a calf that had fallen off the end of the ramp down to the water and was paddling about sadly looking for the way back.  The mother was peering into the water intently so Gordon simply looked in the same place and found the calf.  The second time was on Friday and unfortunately I missed this one.  THREE fire-engines turned up because someone on the motorway had reported ‘a herd of cows walking into the canal and trying to drown themselves’.  It was a hot day: they were going for a drink and a paddle to cool off their legs, but apparently the person in the car was concerned they were trying to commit suicide!  This morning, someone in the office used their initiative and phoned Gordon before sending out a fleet of engines, which is just as well as the passing motorist this time had reported a cow and calf stranded on an island in the middle of the canal.  There isn’t an island in the middle of the canal, but there is a large ditch on the opposite side of the canal bank and we can only think that it looked like an island from the motorway.

I know it’s quite an expensive business to send out an engine, so I hate to think what the cost of all these unnecessary call-outs has been to the Fire Brigade this week.  Giving Gordon a ring and asking him to check it out first has got to be far cheaper!

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Tuesday 20 April 2010

Yesterday my sister Terri and I went shopping in Bristol, our nearest city.  It was a glorious day and we were able to walk around without coats.  Some children were walking around without any clothes at all, but they were paddling in this –

and this:

and they weren’t very old!  I preferred to take a photo of pigeons doing the same thing.

We used the Park and Ride at Long Ashton which dropped us by @Bristol where we wandered amongst the sculptures

past the water features

this is water running down a stainless steel sheet

then walked along the waterfront.

I didn’t actually buy anything, but had a good day!

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The Plot Thickens

Wednesday 14 April 2010

On Monday morning we took the dry cows (those waiting to calve) up the road to the canal banks that we rent from the Environment Agency.  They’ll stay there until they give birth and will then be walked back to the farm with their calf.  In the meantime, Gordon goes to check on them twice a day to make sure all is well, they haven’t fallen into a ditch, that sort of thing.

When he drove up there yesterday morning, this is what he found:

Not with the cones there obviously – he put them there to stop anyone walking/driving over the broken glass while he came back for the camera.  This is a close-up:

We still trying to fathom out why someone would want to be that spiteful as it’s quite apparent this was done deliberately.  You can clearly see the glass was poured from a bag into three rows across our access.  We’re also not sure whether the intention was to harm the animals or the wheels of Gordon’s quad bike, but we’re now wondering if there’s a connection between this and the spontaneous combustion of Steph’s aerial ornament a couple of nights ago.

Someone out there is trying to tell us something.  We’d prefer them to actually say it to our faces because, to be honest, we’re just not getting the message, but we think it’s either something to do with our proposed turbines or the fact that Gordon padlocks the gates once the cows are on the bank.  As the land is privately owned by the Environment Agency he has their permission to do this and only fishermen with valid permits are allowed on the banks, but it’s become a magnet for every dog-owner in the neighbourhood who thinks he/she has the right to wander over private land (after all, it IS the countryside and therefore belongs to the people) and not bother to pick up their dog’s mess.  Some people drive from Burnham in order to do this.

Time to keep the gates locked again.

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Remains Of Nemo

Friday 9 April 2010

Since Stephanie has had a car, she’s had a little rubber Nemo (one of her favourite Disney characters) on the top of her aerial where it’s bobbed in the wind when she’s driving along.  This morning we looked out of the window and she noticed that Nemo was missing.  Sad faces all round while we decided it had probably come loose somewhere along the road and dropped off, although she was sure it was there last night when she parked the car.

She’s just gone off to work and after saying goodbye and making her way to the car she came back in to say her Nemo had turned to ‘charcoal’!  My immediate reaction was “what?” and I went out to have a look.  In the centre of the roof of her car was this little pile of ash as well as a dangly bit of ash hanging from the top of a blackened aerial.  The ash brushed off and the paintwork underneath was undamaged.  Now we’re really puzzled and it’s a complete mystery!  There wasn’t any lightning around last night, so any suggestions would be welcome!

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Tuesday 6 April 2010

The wedding last Thursday was a huge success despite a rather worrying flurry of wind and rain as the happy couple left the church and ran for their carriage.  I would have been more concerned but there were a lot of people so getting up the church path in a floaty frock, pink shoes and a high wind wasn’t as straightforward as one might suppose, especially for me, not being used to such finery.  The outfit on the whole was a success despite the very muddy carparking area at the church.  After the initial sinking of gorgeous pink heels into disgusting sloppy mud I walked around on tiptoe wherever possible and it wasn’t until the day after when my sister said “oh, I meant to tell you that if you have fabric heels on a muddy day, you should wrap them in clear sticky tape”.  Great advice!  Shame she told me on Friday rather than Wednesday, but I shall remember it for next time.

I took photos all day so I have lots of photos – of other people.  When we got home late afternoon I had to ask Gordon to take a photo of my outfit (with me in it, of course) before I changed out of it.  He’s not best known for being patient and the photos were awful, mostly because I was trying to get him to take them a certain way which just resulted in a couple of me with a pained expression and my mouth open.  Friends who came with us did take some photos, but they live in Wales now so I’ve yet to see the end result.  If they’re any good I may post one here.

In the meantime, here’s one of the horses!

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