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Archive for May, 2010

Monday 31 May 2010

I can’t believe tomorrow will be the first day of June.  Month Six.  Very nearly halfway through the year already.  We spent the day as we usually do on public holidays: we worked.  Daniel took a long weekend so I’ve milked for the past three mornings and helped in the afternoon by fetching the cows, feeding the calves, etc.  Gordon has been getting out of bed long before I even wake up at six o’clock.  He says he can’t sleep in the heat and the light of the mornings, but I believe his internal clock is so out of sync that it isn’t aware of the correct time any more.  When he comes in from work he sits in front of the television and almost immediately falls asleep, snoring so loudly that I leave the room.  I wake him to go to bed but by then he may already have been asleep for three hours so it’s hardly surprising he wakes so early.  This morning he was outside before I got downstairs and at 6.15 I heard the milk pumps start.  I drank the cup of tea he’d left on the Aga, thinking to myself that if he wanted to start that early he’d just have to carry on.  By the time I got outside at 6.30 he’d already milked thirty-two cows so was halfway there!  I milked the other thirty-two fairly quickly and was finished by about 7.15, knocking about an hour off our usual finishing time.

We’ve been doing a little work together in the garden, me planting things and him mowing/strimming.  All my seeds are now in the ground (yes, I know they’re late) and other than replanting the onion sets every time a cat decides to visit the freshly-dug soil for a poop, something that’s irritating the hell out of me, we’ve left it all to its own devices.

Gordon is making ominous mutterings about starting the silage making this week “if the weather holds”.  The forecast is for rain tomorrow then brighter weather later in the week so it could be Wednesday or Thursday.  He’s been toiling away in his revamped workshop, oiling and repairing things including the not-quite-right clutch in the forager that gave me trouble when we cut the maize in the autumn.  Despite telling him at the time that there was something not-quite-right with the drive clutch (it kept ‘kicking’ out so I propped my toe against it to keep the lever forward), it’s taken him this long to get around to giving it the once-over.  I’m not sure he even believed me when I told him, but fortunately he’s found things like ‘cracked plates’ and ‘missing split-pins’ or something.  As you know, when he starts rambling on about tractors and engines my brain dozes off so all I really hear is blah-blah-blah, so I can’t be absolutely sure what was wrong with it.  Sometimes I let him carry on, but if I’m feeling particularly snippy (it happens now-and-again – gasp of horror), I tell him I don’t have a clue what he’s going on about.  All I care about is that he found something wrong and mended it.  What more do I need to know?

My printer died on Saturday in a singularly unspectacular manner which is a bit insulting actually.  If it had gone bang or even if there’d been smoke, I could have accepted that and moved on.  It was in the middle of printing something, it stopped and flashed up an error message, which refused to go away and which could not be overcome.  Dead printer.  We mourned for about five minutes and after laughing cynically at the error message which said something like ‘contact your nearest service centre to request a call-out’, we browsed online and found a replacement for less than fifty quid.  How much d’ya reckon a call-out would be?  No wonder everything is so disposable.  The ‘new’ printer, which obviously hasn’t arrived yet due to the Bank Holiday (Amazon are pretty quick, but I’m not sure they work over bank holidays or even at the weekend) has a fax facility which kills two birds with one stone as Gordon has insisted that we NEED a fax machine, even though we’ve owned one forever and we get (on average) a fax every two months.  The fax we have is large (modern-speak: it has a large footprint) and has occupied an entire shelf all to itself, but doesn’t work properly unless we pull it forward to put the paper tray in the right position so it’s been a pain anyway.  Before Gordon could change his mind I offered both the dead printer and the fax machine on Freecycle and someone says they’re coming to pick them up tomorrow.  We shall see.

We finally got planning permission for EDF to erect a meteorological mast to gather data about the wind and weather conditions here so that’s going up on Wednesday.  It’s very tall at 60 metres but only measures six inches across and has a navigational light on the top to warn off low-flying aircraft.  There were many protest letters from the locals who are determined to object to everything related to the possibility of wind turbines here, but the district council approved it anyway.  I’ll take a photo and post it once it’s up.

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Plod, Plod, Plod

Thursday 27 May 2010

Once again I’ve let the paperwork creep up on me and am now faced with a mini-mountain of invoices and receipts, so I’ve been plodding though it all morning.  A good friend of mine who lives in Spain but runs a business here has been plodding through her own paperwork online from sunny climes and just needs it printing out for posting in this country so I’ve agreed to do that for her later today.  It gives me a goal to work towards!

Yesterday Gordon and I went to a funeral for a man called Arthur R Duckett, who sadly died at age 80 following a stroke a couple of weeks ago.  This man was a legend in farming circles – try googling under Arthur Duckett if you’re interested.  If you can find a picture of him stood by his truck, imagine that scaled down – that was his coffin!  White, with large red initials A.R.D. on the side and stickers of bulls, elephants, etc too.  We went prepared to be sad, but ended up laughing at tales of his escapades over the years.  He really was a local hero and someone who rebelled against authority all his life.

In later years he called himself an Animal Technician, which involved shooting injured animals on farms and taking them away for disposal, but he’d also hauled away zoo animals including Wendy, the elephant from Bristol Zoo who had to be taken to Scotland for incineration as that was the only place that had an incinerator large enough.  He was an interesting man who knew how to tell a story in such a way that he’d have everyone around him laughing so much they could hardly breathe.

He’ll be sadly missed.

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Hardly worth it

Saturday 22 May 2010

I’m feeling a bit sick at the moment, probably because I skipped lunch again and have grazed on fruit since breakfast time.  At the moment when I’m at home I don’t seem to have a lot of time in the middle of the day to actually sit down and eat, which is probably why I far prefer to go out to lunch with friends/family/anyone else who asks me.

The reason today was the East Huntspill May Fair.  I need to allow that title to sink in for a minute.  Hang on ……

OK, back to normal.  I thought I should at least make an effort to attend the East Huntspill May Fair.  After all, if one likes the idea of living in a small rural community, then one should at least try to turn up for a few of the organised events every now and again, just to show one’s face.  Besides, it’s quite satisfying when people ask whether I actually live in the village (as if I don’t have the right to be there) and I can answer that in fact I’ve lived in the village for about twenty-five years, but my husband’s family have farmed here since the turn of the century – the last one, of course, not this one.  I then ask how long they’ve lived in the village and they generally come back with “five years” or something along those lines.  Not that we’re competitive here of course, but standards are standards, and ‘incomers’ are incomers.

The Fair was in the Church Hall and I breezed in a couple of minutes after the opening time of 2.00pm.  What a waste of time that turned out to be.  Regular readers who’ve been visiting for a long time may recall I went to one of these a while back.  When I typed the word ‘jumble’ into my blog search it showed me that it was in fact over two years ago.  I wasn’t impressed then and I was even less impressed this time around.  I stayed for a grand total of five minutes, and I still couldn’t bring myself to touch the clothes.

Hardly worth brushing my hair for!

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Monday 17 May 2010

Actually, I’ve been back from New York for almost a week.  It hasn’t taken me quite that long to get over the jet-lag, but there were a strange couple of days just after our homecoming.  I’ve never had jet-lag before although I’ve spoken to others who have, but I suppose I didn’t expect it to be quite so weird!

So, this post will be a bit photo-heavy, but the total number of photographs taken by me (the other three girls had their own cameras) was well over 700.  Luckily for you I won’t be showing you ALL of them!  I did lots of snapping but felt I should since I don’t know when and if I’ll ever get back to New York again.  In answer to one comment I DID take a couple of animal photos – there were the horses, a squirrel, turtles and an American robin in Central Park, but well, you have to, don’t you?  I also photographed animal statues, but I’m not sure if they count!

To say I loved it would be a bit of an understatement even though it wasn’t as I expected it to be.  Some of the landmarks I’d expected to see were smaller than I’d imagined although I expect this is the same in any country (have you ever been to Number 10 in London?).   My sister and our friend had worked out a busy itinerary and I’m glad they did as I was quite happy to trail on behind with our other friend.  We didn’t know where we were going whereas they were in charge of the map and quite adept at reading it, so on the several occasions we stopped to look at something and were ‘lost’ we waited for them to notice we’d gone and come back for us.  Totally lazy, but they liked being in charge, we liked being told where we were going and it worked out very well.  There was a list of must-see places such as the Museum of Natural History (swathed in scaffolding), the National Library (ditto) and the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park (the Fountain Of The Angels) – more ditto!  It seems lots of things in New York were in need of cleaning and/or restoring so typically they chose the time when we were going to do that.

At Customs we were finger-printed and had our photos taken by a stern-looking Customs Official (with a gun!) who flirted outrageously and asked us where we’d planned to go that evening.  We told him we were intending to get a meal in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Marriott-Marquis Hotel.  He advised against it and told us the only thing it was good at was revolving!  We took a taxi to the hotel and checked-in then set off to begin our itinerary.  First stop and only a couple of blocks from our hotel: The Flatiron Building –

The Flatiron Building

and from there to Times Square where we bought tickets for three days’ worth of travel on the hop-on, hop-off bus with the added incentive of a 75 minute harbour cruise.  This turned out to be an excellent investment as the open-top buses were the best way to see the City, albeit a little cold on Saturday and Sunday.

Times Square

Later that evening we were strolling about and came upon the Hotel so decided to pop in for a drink to see what the restaurant was like.  They were serving a buffet and our waiter, Peter, suggested we might like to have a look before we made up our minds.  The savoury table was quite enticing, but the dessert table looked fantastic so our minds were definitely made up!  The restaurant took an hour to revolve once and during that time the sun was setting over New York.  Wow!  What an introduction to the city.

The Chrysler Building at Sunset

After we’d eaten we walked back to the hotel.  This was the view from Terri’s room, but ours looked in a different direction.

The Empire State Building

The next day we set off for Greenwich Village where we had breakfast from a bakery then went on the first of our many bus excursions – the Downtown loop.  There were guides on the buses so they were pointing out places of interest as well as giving us extra information about things that had happened there.

Doormen in the street

The Empire State Building during the day

On Saturday it was raining and we decided to go on the cruise, which was undercover, and see the harbour.

Terri and the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

From the cruise boat

On Saturday afternoon we went to Central Park after another bus tour around the Uptown loop, by which time the sun had come out.

A squirrel in Central Park

I think this is an American robin

The squirrel and the robin followed us around.  I think they were used to being fed scraps!

Statue at one of the entrances to Central Park

Central Park

On Saturday evening we decided to take the night tour of Brooklyn and after walking to the appropriate stop we boarded the bus.  All the while the wind was picking up, and by the time we got to Brooklyn Bridge the driver decided it was too windy to cross, so we came all the way back again.

On Sunday we went to Grand Central Station for lunch in the Food Hall underneath.  The selection was mind-boggling but we settled on Chinese takeaway.  We boarded the bus and took the Brooklyn tour during the day instead, but it was still very windy.  The guide was handing out plastic ponchos, not because it was raining, but because it helped to keep out some of the wind.

Grand Central Station

We then went on the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island cruise, going out past the Statue and turning so we could dock facing in the right direction for Ellis Island.

The back of the Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island

Whilst there we were shown around by a Ranger who told us lots of interesting details about the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island and what it would have been like for them.

Terri at Pier 17

After the cruise we walked along the waterfront to Pier 17 where there are a couple of old clipper ships and a shopping centre.  We decided to have cocktails in a bar overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge.  Two of us had Manhattans (of course) and two had Cosmopolitans.

Me in the foyer of the Empire State Building

On Monday morning we had breakfast at Macy’s then strolled along to the Empire State Building foyer so we could see inside.  We went on to the Rockefeller Centre to get an aerial view of the City.

Central Park from the top of the Rockefeller Centre

Terri and the Empire State Building

Statue in front of the Rockefeller Centre

The Rockefeller Centre

We arrived back at Newark Airport around 5.00pm and after checking-in went to the gate ready to catch the plane later that day.  It had been delayed due to the volcanic ash and was similarly detoured on the flight back so we arrived at Bristol Airport around mid-morning on Tuesday.

If you fancy somewhere really interesting to go for a short-break, I can definitely recommend New York.

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Still In New York

Sunday 9 May 2010

The hotel where I’m staying in New York has a computer in the foyer with free internet access so I’m grabbing this opportunity to warn you!  Brace yourself: I still have another day in New York and have so far taken over five hundred photos.  Some of these may be repeats you understand, just in case the first one is blurred/out-of-focus, but still …. over five hundred!  When I get back on Tuesday you can bet your bottom dollar some of them will end up here.  I have a lovely shot of the Statue of Liberty from the back (and the front) as well as practically every other landmark in New York (we’ve been on lots of tour buses).  Tomorrow we’re going to the Rockefeller building to go to ‘The Top Of The Rock’ and look down on the city during the day, but have to be at the airport by 5.00 pm so won’t see it by night.

Speak to you soon.

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Wednesday 5 May 2010

I am by nature a bit of a worrier.  I try really hard to be, but I do get anxious under stress even though I try not to show it.  I’m ready for New York, I am, I am!  I’m packed.  I have everything in a suitcase or my handbag and it’s ready to go.

So why are those little voices in my head nagging me?

“Have you packed your passport?”

(Sane voice: “Yes, it’s in your handbag ready to go”)

“What if you’ve forgotten something?”

(Sane voice: “Like what?  You’re going to New York, for goodness sake, not the middle of the jungle.  They have shops.  If you’ve forgotten something really important you’ll be able to buy it.”)

“What if I oversleep tomorrow morning?”

(Sane voice: “Oversleep! You know you never sleep properly when you’re going away and wake up every hour just in case you’ve overslept!  Get a grip.”)

Sane voice is right, of course.  Anxious voice needs to get a grip and just shut up.   But, what if …..?

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Counting Down

Sunday 2 May 2010

Early on Thursday morning I’m off to New York with friends for four days.  This is somewhere I’ve wanted to go for a very long time and I’m finally going.

Let’s hope the volcano with the unpronounceable name in Iceland stays nice and quiet so planes will be flying.  I have my camera ready to go and will post lots of photos when I get back.

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