Archive for Aug, 2011

Already, Gypsy?

Sunday 28 August 2011

It is my sister’s birthday today and we went out for lunch as a family, minus Alex unfortunately as she had to work.  We took the first sitting: the restaurant offers a carvery on Sunday and has two sittings, one at 12.00 and another at 1.30, but when I rang the later one was fully booked.  It was a little disconcerting because we felt obliged to leave so they could get the tables cleared, but everyone came back here for coffee and cake.

Whilst we were sat around chatting, Gypsy wandered in with her usual squeaks and meows.  Gordon has taken to calling her Squeaker, but then he really likes nicknames and always manages to change a thing’s given name to something far more suitable.  She was dragging a front leg which looked completely limp.  In fact, on inspection it looked as though it had been broken at the shoulder, but she wasn’t in any pain and grazed on the food like she normally does.  There was a flurry of concerned activity and Gordon rang the vets to arrange for her to be seen.  While I fetched the cows and Gordon milked, Steph drove her to the vets where she was checked over.  Fortunately it doesn’t look as if the leg is broken.  The vet said she thinks it’s an abcess on the back of the joint which is pressing on a nerve and making the leg so limp.  Gypsy was given an anti-biotic injection, the gunk was squeezed out, we’ve been told to keep her inside and have to go back to the vets on Tuesday for more checks.  As I type, she’s crashed out on the sofa almost enjoying the fact that she’s locked in and all the other cats are locked out.

Why is it our animals get sick on Sundays and Bank Holidays, or ‘after hours’ when the vets charge extra?  And how to Gypsy catch on to that so quickly?


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Saturday 27 August 2011

For a while now I’ve been unhappy with our bathrooms.  Actually, since we moved into the farmhouse in 1996 I’ve been unhappy with the majority of the rooms, but the bathrooms in particular are hideous, probably because I always feel a bathroom suite can identify its age in an instant.  The downstairs one is peach and the upstairs one is avocado and both were severely neglected.  When we moved in they were limescaled up.  Need I say more?  Fortunately I was able to clean them adequately enough to bring myself to use them, but have never really felt like they were MY bathrooms, rather that they still belonged to mother-in-law.  However, in the absence of a willing husband who’d agree to either sort it out or be prepared for someone to come in to sort it out there isn’t a lot I can do other than trying to sort it out myself.  Unfortunately I’m neither a builder or a plumber so that’s that idea shot down in flames!

In an attempt to improve the downstairs one (peach!), I thought I would buy a tall narrow cupboard to sit in the small gap between the shower and the wall.  This would reduce the clutter considerably as well as providing a large mirrored door.  To that end yesterday evening I reserved a suitable cupboard online with Argos and went to collect it today.  The youth who served me was typical of someone in his late teens (not that I’m stereotyping or anything).  He sort of nodded at the large box and asked if I could manage in the kind of voice that implied that he hoped I could because he had no intention of offering to carry it to my car.  I looked at him in the hope he would make the offer, but since I hate to make a fuss or inconvenience anyone I told him I could.  And I did although the box was very heavy and I tottered to the car with my arms wrapped around it in a kind of bearhug.

When I got home Gordon carried it in for me and we opened it together on the kitchen table.  We both looked at it, then at each other and asked the same question at the same time.  “Where’s the rest of it?”  We only had half a cupboard.  The sides and back were there as well as both front doors, but no top, bottom, shelves, handles or bits to fit everything together.  According to the receipt it was 1 of 1.  According to the box it was 1 of 2!  Damn.  To say I was cross was an understatement since the traffic had been heavy the first time and I had no desire to queue again to fetch the rest of the cupboard.  However, I did want it straight away and Monday is a Bank Holiday.  Gordon got on the case and since we weren’t able to find a phone number for our local store he rang the main number.  They were very apologetic and rang the local store for us to see if they could sort it out.  They said there’d only been one bit on the shelf and they weren’t sure where box 2 had gone.  Main office gave local store our phone number and we waited for a call directly from them.  When the manager did ring us he said box 2 had been put on the counter with box 1, but I’d failed to pick it up.  I told him they had failed to give it to me since I had no idea how many boxes I was supposed to be taking away with me.  He said they’d deliver it!

A little while later it was delivered to my door and Stephanie helped me put it together.  It’s now in the bathroom with everything hidden inside it.  It doesn’t half make the rest of the bathroom look tired!


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Tuesday 16 August 2011

We had a wonderful day at Longleat yesterday with the weather staying warm and sunny until mid-afternoon.  We started the day with a boat-trip around the lake where we saw sea lions, pelicans, hippos and the famous silver-back gorilla Nico on his island.

He had his back to the boat as it approached, but slowly turned around to gaze at the passing tourists.  Obviously a true professional waiting for his close-up.  He’s about fifty years old now and lost his partner four years ago.  The staff have since provided him with a TV in his house and apparently he likes the cartoons best.

On our return to dry land we walked through a section with lots of small animals including several otters who carried on with their daily lives without any regard for the strange people peering in at them.

We walked through the Monkey Temple where the tiny marmosets were able to run along ropes over our heads.  My friend was slightly nervous that they might jump on to her head, but they’ve obviously got better things to do.

When we entered the park at 11.00 am we were told the Safari section had been closed due to the length of the queues so we decided to have our picnic on the grass in front of Longleat House first before all piling into my friend’s Lucida (normally seating eight, but this time nine at a squeeze) and setting off to see the larger animals.

Our first encounter was with the zebras who crossed in front of our car.  Oddly enough, everyone groaned when I said “look!  Zebras crossing”, but I amused myself!  We were allowed to have the windows open at this stage as everything in this section is fairly placid, so I got some nice photos of them, a baby zebra and the giraffes.

This little one was so cute and stopped bounding around for a few seconds to look at us.

There were lots of giraffes, but this one was nearest to the fence.

Whilst going around this enclosure we debated whether to risk going through the monkey paddock.  Although we all agreed to go, my friend (who owns the car we were in) was extremely anxious all the way round.  Luckily the monkeys don’t seem to like Lucidas, but they did like the van in front, stripping off rubber from around the windows, windscreen wipers and washer jets.  I think this car got off lightly, but later on we saw a lot of cars with ripped off wipers, broken aerials and missing badges.

What kind of example are these monkeys setting to their babies, of which there were many?

At this stage we’d had to close our windows as one of the guides earlier in the tour mentioned that monkeys liked to snatch cameras through open windows.

By the time we reached these guys we definitely had our windows closed, but it was getting pretty hot in the car with nine of us.  This is the only decent photo I got as they were either walking away or lying down in the long grass.

We queued to get into the lion enclosure, watched the four cubs playing for a while then queued at the other end to get out because the females who were sat around this handsome chap all decided to walk across to the cubs, thus blocking the gate.  I sneaked my window open for a few photos as he was far enough away, but he didn’t show much enthusiasm for the passing cars anyway.

In Wolf Wood this wolf was watching the man on the lawnmower and had broken away from the pack.  I’m not sure what kind of wolves they were, but we were a bit disappointed because they just looked like white dogs!

After we’d gone back and parked up we walked through Jungle Kingdom where the meerkats wander around your feet.  Steph was excited as she crouched down and stroked one, but the employee was quick to point out that they can bite.  I don’t think Steph was bothered about being bitten at all.

By now it was raining fairly hard so we toured Longleat House for an hour then regrouped for a coffee before we left.  We arrived home at 8.30 pm pretty tired out, but I think everyone had a good day.

On a sadder note, today would have been mum’s 70th birthday.  Happy birthday mum.

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Monday 15 August 2011

Sorry I haven’t posted for such a long time.  The girls have been home and life has taken over.  We’re all off on a jolly to Longleat today though so there’ll be photos by bedtime.  When I say ‘all’ you realise I do not include Gordon in this outing.  He’s difficult to get away from the farm at the best of times and a day-out just for the hell of it doesn’t usually merit his consideration unless we really push the point.

There’ll be nine of us though and we’re revisiting a childhood experience – not my childhood, but that of the girls.  My sister is coming (she’s a good, reliable going-out-for-the-day friend), our friend Janine and her son who was a toddler last time we went, one of his friends as well as both the girls and both their boyfriends.  We have a picnic – a huge picnic that should keep us going – and anti-travel sickness pills (essential for both me and the girls).  I’m now in an orderly queue of one for the shower (Steph got there first) so will hopefully be able to post again tomorrow with photos.

Catch you then.

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Demise Of The Pipe

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Gordon has decided to give up smoking.  I haven’t nagged him into it, but I did mention about six weeks ago that if ever I was to leave him it would be because of the mess his pipe makes – or I should say he makes with his pipe.  Since then he’s cut down and has been leaving his pipe in the ashtray when we go out, but yesterday he smoked the last of his tobacco.  Since then, life on the farm has become a little fraught.  Despite applauding his efforts – and he is trying really hard – I’ve decided the best course of action is to keep out of his way as he’s become snappy and irritable, as well as eating much more than he normally does.  The biscuit tin is emptying at an alarming rate even though I’m on a diet (again!) and haven’t touched it for ages.  In all the time I’ve known him he hasn’t bothered much with snacks but since starting on this marathon task he’s developed a sweet tooth and is devouring everything he can get his hands on.

As an ex-smoker myself – I gave up in 1998 – I understand what he’s going through.  I ate far too much whilst giving up and am still struggling with my weight.  The main problem is that your sense of taste returns with a vengeance and even though you don’t realise at the time, food tastes far nicer.  Add that to a slowed metabolism and the need to do something mouth/hand related and the weight starts going on.  He does a lot of physical work so that will help, but once the smoking has been conquered it might be time to start on a healthier diet.

Of course, I’m not mentioning that to him at the moment.  He might shout at me!

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Busy Again

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Since I last wrote I’ve spent a lot of time in the garden planting things like lupins and foxgloves grown from seed and until now stored in the greenhouse.  I don’t know a lot about these plants or gardening to be honest so am kind of winging it and hoping for the best.  The plums are ripening and I picked a bowlful yesterday but am determined to get them before the birds/wasps/foxes.  Last year the foxes foraged under the trees looking for windfalls and nothing was left on the ground.  I made some conserve to add to our growing stock of preserves: rhubarb and ginger.  After I’d made it Gordon complained because I’d put ginger in it so I’ve had to look for another recipe that isn’t quite so spicy.  He hates the taste of ginger, but since he doesn’t eat a lot of jam I didn’t think this would be a problem.  Apparently it is.

The eucalyptus tree in the garden, which is now taller than the house, continues to slowly die following the cold winter we had.  I’ve noticed a lot of these trees in a similar condition with brown leaves and drooping branches.  Gordon’s mum planted this one before we were living here but unfortunately it’s so close to the house that it taps on the windows when the wind blows.  I’ve asked Gordon to give it a considerable trim which he’s reluctantly agreed to, but has yet to get around to.

Having said that he’s been occupying himself for the past few days making a radiator cabinet for the hall, which is still not properly finished off (the hall, not the cabinet).  I think he’s been thinking and planning this cabinet for some time, and now it’s almost done.  It looks pretty good too as he’s faced ordinary marine ply (we were given a huge stack of it years ago so it gets used for everything) with some of the left-over laminate floorboards.  When it’s completely finished I’ll post a photo of it.

Our new cat Gypsy is living up to her name and roaming all over the neighbourhood.  One of our neighbours (we only have two) rang to ask if she was ours as she’d appeared from nowhere and was busy making herself at home over there.  They have eight dogs which normally deters any cat from getting too close but apparently Gypsy is not bothered at all.  The fact that they assumed she was a stray despite her shiny new collar doesn’t help as they started feeding her so she didn’t starve.  She’s a typical cat and will go wherever she’s fed the most.  We feed her here of course, but apparently they’ve been giving her unlimited milk.  Little traitor!

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