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Archive for August, 2010

Tuesday 31 August 2010

This morning Gordon came in with a big grin on his face.  Ferdinand’s first live calf was born during the night – and she’s female.  Her mother Nancy was out with the herd as we had no due date for her although we knew she must be near her time, which probably means she was one of the first served by Ferdinand when he joined the herd in December.  She calved by herself and walked in this afternoon when Gordon went out to bring the girls in for milking.  Her calf ran the whole way, which is why her mouth is covered in drool in the photo.  Less than a day old and already running all that way!

She allowed Gordon to stroke her, but quivered the whole time, poor little thing!  Her ears were really flapping.  Isn’t she beautiful?

Stephanie and I went uni shopping today with a friend and her daughter; first to Asda for duvet, pillows and some household stuff then on to Dunelm Mills in Weston-super-Mare.  As I type, Steph is on the sofa surrounded by her new goodies like a pig in whatnot.  She’s storing it in Alex’s room for the timebeing until transferring it to her car in a couple of weeks for the big moving day.

When we got home I had a pleasant surprise in the form of some delicious blog candy from Julie at KC’s Court.  She was running a blog giveaway on the event of her 500th post and her granddaughter’s first birthday.  It was so exciting to open the package and find all the lovely goodies, so thank you very much Julie.

I have to say, I have a bit of a ribbon fetish going on so was almost as excited by the wrapping as the contents.  The parcel was tied in brightly covered ribbons, which I’ve included in the photo.  Julie designs some lovely samplers and there was a chart for one called ‘Make Much of Time’ too.

All in all, a good day.

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Sunday 29 August 2010

I’m milking this weekend and tomorrow too as it’s a bank holiday.  It doesn’t make any difference to us, of course, as I think I may have mentioned once or twice before: in fact I’m sure I have.

I tend to slip into ‘automatic’ mode when I’m milking as it’s become so routine now, which gives me lots of time to think about other things.  Today whilst milking I planned lots of things in my head, mostly tidying-based or sorting-based.

I haven’t done one of them!  Sadly this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

We had a good day in Cheltenham yesterday with Alex in honour of Terri’s birthday.  We ate lunch in an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant.  All-you-can-eat was far too much for any of us, but unfortunately we didn’t realise that until afterwards.

Isn’t that always the way?

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Out To Lunch

Friday 27 August 2010

Yes, I know there are those who think I’m permanently out to lunch, but this week I really have been.  I’m out again today too, later on when I’ll be meeting my sister and father in Burnham-on-Sea.

On Tuesday I went to Clarks Village in the nearby town of Street with my friend where we did a little bit of shopping, had lunch and came home again.

On Wednesday I went to Montacute House with another friend.  I’ve never been there before although she has and we had a wonderful morning wandering around the house.  It was raining when we went into the house and it was still heavy by the time we came out, but we walked around the garden with our umbrellas up, trying to take a decent photo one-handed.  Just so you can get an idea of how wet it is, have a look at the following, very water-logged flowers!

This one was taken while we were debating whether to risk the rain:

And this is Montacute House itself on a rainy day:

One of my favourite bits was the Library where each window was stained.  Some of these panels were very old.

Yesterday I was in Bridgwater where I had lunch with members of my family then went shopping on my own afterwards.  I suppose I’m going to have to get used to that as Steph is counting down to the start of her University course.  She’s visiting Cheltenham today to look for accommodation, then I’ll be visiting there tomorrow as Alex has the day off.  My sister’s coming along too because it’s her birthday so we thought she might like an outing.

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Exam Trauma

The past week has been slightly anxious here as I’m sure it has been up and down the country as Steph and thousands of others waited for their exam results.  She’d been provisionally accepted to the University of Bedfordshire following our road-trip visit a while ago but was beginning to get cold feet as the time came closer and she realised just how far away Luton was.  Part of her was hoping she’d failed her exams so she wouldn’t have any choice but to do something else.  She’s never been particularly good with decision-making!

Yesterday she went to College to collect her results and phoned me to say she’d passed everything with acceptable grades so had been offered a place at University.  What should she do now?  She discussed it with tutors and lecturers, and came home fired-up with enthusiasm again.  Instead of going to Luton (a four-hour drive) she thought she might go with her ‘insurance’ choice of Gloucestershire University – the same one Alex went to.  This is much closer of course and has already been extensively road-tested by her elder sister.

This morning she rang them to confirm her place, only to find the course she wanted was full.  They would accept her on the grades she’d achieved, just not on that course.  Much panic ensued, followed by a stream of phone calls and this afternoon she was told a place was available, she could go, so that was the end of the panic.

Now all she has to do is find accommodation!

On a sadder note the first (and second) of Ferdinand’s offspring was born today two weeks early.  It was twins but the first one (a bull-calf) was still-born and the second (a heifer) lived for a few minutes before dying.  They were both far too small and a male/female combination in twin calves is not very desirable as often the female is unable to reproduce, but it would still have been nice if they’d made it.  Gordon has left them with their mother.  This reduces the amount of stress for her as she soon realises they’re dead and accepts it much easier than if they’re taken straight away.  At least we know that Ferdinand is capable of breeding and hopefully the next one born will be in two or three weeks as well as stronger.

Gordon often says this is the 2% of farming he hates!  I have to agree with him.

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Why is it that I’m the only person in my household with the magical ability to spot cat poo or vomit from across the room?

Yesterday morning I came downstairs to find one of the cats had been sleeping on top of the deep fat fryer (as evidenced by fluff all over it) and had thrown up on the work surface beside it.  I walked into the kitchen and noticed it straight away.  Gordon had been up for at least an hour before that but despite making coffee on the neighbouring work surface he’d failed to notice it.  When asked he denied all knowledge. Do you reckon he’d seen it but pretended he hadn’t so he didn’t have to clean it up?  Too late to give him a hard time about it now, but I suspect he may have.  In true ‘I-love-housework’ style I cleared it up and disinfected the vicinity.  Actually, I gagged and muttered the entire time I was doing it.

Why is it that I’m the only person in my household with the magical ability to put lids back on properly?

Have you ever lifted a jar of coffee by the lid, only to find the lid is just resting on the top?  Do you know how far instant coffee granules spread when dropped from a height and how sticky the floor is for days afterwards?  No?  You should come and live in my house.  We’re not just restricted to coffee; most things with lids seem to be beyond the abilities of my husband and the lid is often sort of thrown in the general direction of its container.  This includes the breadbin which is a large storage container with a lid! It’s rectangular – how hard could it be?  Judging by how often the lid is off just enough to allow the flies into the bread, practically impossible.

Hey, I don’t care, I don’t eat bread!  Or anything deep-fat-fried either.

Why is it that all the irritating calls are received while I’m sat at my computer?

No, really, I don’t want anything else.  I have enough rubbish of my own without you trying to sell me more.  Most of the time I either can’t hear or understand the call anyway.  A lot of the calls at the moment seem to be wine-related.  Why would I want to buy wine over the phone when I can pop into my local Asda (where I get 10% discount because Steph works there) and buy three bottles for £12 – or in my case twelve bottles for £43.20?  “Ah, but this is good wine.”  The Asda stuff is normally £9 a bottle so I suspect that’s good wine too, but I don’t have to pay for delivery!  The last time one particular wine company rang and asked for me by name (damn internet surveys) Gordon told them I’d run away and didn’t live here any more.  I’m not sure they believed him because they still keep ringing.  I registered with the telephone preference service a while back and had one company ring me to say they’d noticed I’d registered to not receive any more phone calls, but that didn’t mean them, did it?  I told them that actually it did.

When I was younger I had a phobia about answering the phone.  I’m beginning to remember why!

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Well, Who’d Have Thought?

Saturday 7 August 2010

There was another consultation day in our village on Tuesday by EDF regarding our wind turbines.  Lots of people came: some were in favour, some were against, but the atmosphere was on the whole a good one.  Several people were aggressive and said things like “well, I suppose you’ll be able to afford to go somewhere nice, while we’ll be stuck here to look at them?” which we found a bit confusing, but our standard answer of “we already have somewhere nice” didn’t seem to make a lot of difference.

It wasn’t until later in the evening when Steph picked up one of the protesters’ leaflets that it all became clear.

There was a paragraph that said something along the lines of “the only people who will benefit are the landowners who will be paid a total of £12 million per turbine over the course of their lifetime (the turbine’s lifetime, not ours)”.  I’d love to know who gave them this improbable figure as it’s far, far more than the one we were given (I’m talking about approximately £11.7 million more).  If electricity companies are paying this for windfarms then how come we never see farmers on the UK’s Richest People list?  I know we feature strongly on the ‘Most Likely to Commit Suicide’ list, but there’s a farmer in Scotland with over 70 turbines – wow, the mind boggles.

This morning we had our first letter pointing out that with that much money at our disposal perhaps we should contribute something to the community – yes, the same community that don’t like us any more – as we’d barely miss it.  The letter was unsigned and also unstamped, so whoever sent it presumably figured we’d be OK with paying postage, but the postlady delivered it anyway.

We don’t even have planning permission yet.

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Been Gone

Monday 2 August 2010

I was gone because I crashed.  Not me, you understand, but my pesky computer.  Strange things started happening, shortcuts started disappearing and it was generally getting on my nerves so I reformatted.  Anyone who’s ever done this will know it can be traumatic, especially when you realise halfway through that you didn’t back up something really important.  In my case, my internet bookmarks, but I can live without them for the timebeing and build them up all over again.  I know where I like to go, but there are lots of blogs that I’m unsure how to visit now they’re gone.  No doubt I’ll ‘harvest’ them from various sites over the next couple of weeks.

The recipe for courgette chutney that I promised ages ago gave me a moment of complete panic when I couldn’t find it anywhere, but it eventually turned up in a notebook that I’d obviously started last year.  Talk about memory failure; I must have been more organised then than I am now.

It is:

1kg courgettes (one courgette in my case!)

1kg tomatoes or plums (I used both at different times and they were both nice)

1kg apples (cooking or eating, it doesn’t make a lot of difference although the cooking apples add a bit more bite to the chutney)

500g onions

1 litre vinegar

500g sultanas

500g brown sugar (I used demerara)

A little salt

A thumb-sized piece of ginger, chopped.

This turns out to be a River Cottage recipe so you know it’s going to be a good one.  I added bits including some spices for different batches, but you can amend your recipe as you go along.  My instructions are pretty basic – chop stuff, chuck it in the preserving pan.  You don’t need to be told to peel onions, apples and bigger courgettes do you?  You can scale it up to make more, but my very large batch last year boiled over the top of the preserving pan and made a sticky mess on the Aga, so I wouldn’t recommend doing that.  I put it in clean and heated screw-top jars which vacuum-sealed themselves as they cooled so it’s kept beautifully.

I haven’t actually got round to making mine yet otherwise I’d have included pictures.  Stuff got in the way including a day out to Dunster with friends, Alex’s impromptu two-day visit, several lunches out and today, a consultation day with EDF who are introducing the idea of wind turbines to the general public in surrounding villages.  We spent the morning with them and in all that time only one angry person wanted to talk to us to ask us why we’re doing it.  Gordon got into a …. um….. heated discussion with a woman who was slagging us off in a very loud voice and she left shortly afterwards.

In the meantime, here’s some photos I took in Dunster.

This is the stables at the entrance to Dunster Castle.  This must have been something when it was full of horses.  The smells and bustle of stablehands would have been fascinating.

I love hydrangeas, especially these deep pink ones.

The front of Dunster Castle

A painting on leather, which covered the walls of a whole room.  Check out the knees – the left one looks a bit swollen we thought.  That or it was difficult to paint good knees!

I just can’t resist taking photos of flowers.

These cottages are typical Exmoor and very pretty, but I bet the owners are fed-up with people taking photos of them!

I’ve left the last photograph slightly bigger so you can see the pollen on the back of this fly.

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