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Archive for November, 2011

Wednesday 29 November 2011

When we went away to the wedding in Gretna Green, Gypsy decided that life without us here was not quite so much fun, probably because there was no-one to stop the other cats picking on her, so she ran away.  We know where she went.  Several times Gordon went to fetch her back from the farm up the road, but she’d obviously found the rats and mice were more plentiful without so much competition.  Our friend who owns the farm seems to be happy with the arrangement: apparently she’s an expert ratter and regularly brings him left-over bits as well as the added bonus of keeping the pesky starlings out of his milking parlour so it looks as if she lives there now, the ungrateful thing!  It’s a shame she couldn’t have made the move before costing us about £70 at the vets.

At the beginning of last week, a new cat sauntered in and made himself comfortable.  I’ve spent the intervening time trying to track down where he might have come from, but other than getting him scanned (which I fully intend to do when I can find the time/be bothered), I’ve not had much luck.  According to the friendly receptionist at our vets it’s unlikely he’s chipped anyway since he isn’t neutered.  Apparently people tend to have the two things done together and if they care enough to get a cat neutered then they care enough to have him chipped.  He’s very loving – in fact often TOO loving (he’s currently lying on the table beside my right hand) and we don’t think he’s that old, probably less than a year.  He has a mark on his neck where a collar may have been, but Gordon is of the opinion that he’s been dumped.  Unfortunately the Cats’ Protection League think the same so it looks as if we’ve gained yet another waif.  We’re calling him Tiger, simply because he’s stripey.  I know – it shows a shocking lack of imagination, doesn’t it?

Cute though, isn’t he?

Last week we had a drama here when a van spun off the motorway, clipped the crash barrier, rolled across the ditch and landed in one of the fields we rent.  It happened in the dead of night and quite some way from the house so not surprisingly Gordon and I slept through the whole thing.  We weren’t actually aware there was a van in our field until the recovery people rang Gordon to ask if they could take a lorry into the field to remove it.  A lorry on our fields at this time of year isn’t a good idea so he offered to help with the tractor.  The news article is here and the bottom picture shows Gordon in his tractor.  They should have asked me – I had much better photos of the whole thing!

You can see that a large section of our fence was demolished, but we’ve had no contact from anyone offering to assist with its repair so no doubt that’ll be down to us, financially as well as manually.

I had a good fiftieth birthday despite the fact that it was my fiftieth birthday!  Friends came round to help me celebrate and a good time was had by all.  My sister treated me to a photo shoot which she had arranged with Alex’s help in Cheltenham so on Monday she drove us there, we met up with the girls, did a bit of shopping, had lunch then went for the shoot.  I was very nervous, in fact a lot more nervous than I expected to be, but was pleasantly surprised by the end results.  The appointment included a makeover and one photo on a CD-rom, but it was difficult to make a choice and I went for an extra two in the end.  I like to think that this is how I shall be remembered at fifty!  Because the photos are copyright-free I’ve been fiddling with them in a software package called Portrait Professional which ‘airbrushes’ with the minimum of effort and I have to confess, I’ve ‘softened’ my wrinkles just a little as well as smoothing my skin.

They’re good, aren’t they (considering the subject!).  The company is called Revolve.

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Apples

Sunday 13 November 2011

This is a bit of one tree and I have seven apple trees in my garden!

I’m still struggling to deal with the glut of apples this year.  I offered some to all my friends within hailing distance, but to the last man they’re swamped too.  Today I made apple and mint jelly following a recipe given to me by my friend Beris who gallantly came out last week for a carrier bag or two of apples and thankfully it set before all the mint had floated to the top!  The result is slightly variegated, dark at the top and paler further down the jar but it smelled lovely and is supposed to be good with meat.  Alex’s first thought was that it would be nice with sausages, so we’ll have to try that.

I’ve made crumbles every week as well as freezing lots for future use, but looking at the trees it’s difficult to see where all these apples came from as they’re still groaning under the weight.  A friend today asked if she could have the windfalls for her pigs as apparently they love them.  She and her husband came with four feed sacks and within a short space of time filled them all.  I can see from tracks and poo in the garden that the foxes, deer and badgers are having their fill so not only are we supplying humans, but animals as well.

On Wednesday I shall be fifty.  Yes, the dreaded date is almost here.  We were going to go out for a meal at the weekend as the girls are coming home, but have decided to do something here instead.  I don’t normally have trouble with birthdays but I have to admit this one has me slightly rattled.  I struggled with my thirtieth to such an extent that it is still vivid in my memory, but breezed through my fortieth without a backwards glance.  Gordon and I went to a school friend’s fiftieth birthday party yesterday evening and she seemed to be coping well with the experience having decided to do things during the course of the year that she’d always wanted to do but hadn’t got round to; a bucket-list I suppose.  I thought it was a good idea a year ago when she mentioned she was going to do it, but sadly couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do that much.

I did let my hair revert to its natural colour so that’s a start.  I don’t want to go too over-the-top all in one go!

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I’m Back

Actually, we’ve been back for quite a while, but life has taken over as it’s inclined to do.

We went to our friends’ wedding in Gretna Green and although they drove up to Scotland, Gordon and I decided to fly to Newcastle a day early to spend a little time together.  We were met by a friend there who took us to breakfast and drove us around to see a few sights before dropping us off at our hotel as it was necessary for him to go back to work.  We checked in, dumped our bags and wandered off around the city for a few hours.  The hotel overlooked the River Tyne and the Millenium Bridge; in fact, we definitely had a room with a view.

Our hotel is beyond the converted warehouse.

On Tuesday morning after breakfast we found our way to the Metro and it took us back to the airport to collect a pre-booked hire car, which turned out to be a bright yellow Kia Picanto.  I’d taken the sat nav with the postcode of our destination in Gretna Green already saved so we set off as instructed.  Amazingly the sat nav took us straight there without any complications at all.  Even Gordon was surprised as how straightforward the journey had been.

We checked into our room at The Mill which caters specifically for weddings.

Honestly, if you’ve ever thought of running away to get married, this is the first place you should consider!  They were so friendly and professional, making what is normally a fraught time very easy and relaxed as well as providing so many photo opportunities.  Our room was perfect and Gordon thought he’d died and gone to heaven the first time he got into the shower.  We’re used to something of a dribble here with terrible water pressure and even worse plumbing so a high-pressure shower was wonderful.  I think it’s the best thing about staying in hotel rooms.

The wedding was on Wednesday and my friend had asked me if I would mind taking the photos so I was in my element and luckily the rain stayed away until the evening.  This one was of just the girls in the gazebo.

The bride looked gorgeous and we had such a fantastic day.

Our flight left on Thursday evening so in the morning we drove off in convoy to see if we could find somewhere interesting.  We ended up in Powfoot on the coast where we went for a long walk in the drizzle – it was pretty bleak.

There weren’t many people, but lots of birds.

The view from these houses must be wonderful but I bet it’s cold in the middle of winter!

Since we’ve been back we’ve had a few ups-and-downs.  In my home town of Bridgwater a wall collapsed at the edge of the River Parrett due to heavy rain and took part of the road along with it.  Annoyingly it’s where I usually park when I go to town, but I’m glad I wasn’t there when it happened.  I was actually out fetching the cows and the rain truly was heavy.  I wore my waterproofs which helped, but the rain still found its way through on the seams.  This happened on the afternoon of the Bridgwater Carnival so there was some worry that it would have to be cancelled, but the organisers soon confirmed this wouldn’t be necessary.

I’m still in shock about what happened in the evening and you’ve probably seen it on the news, but we’re not that far from the major crash on the M5.  That morning Gordon and I had been to Taunton so had driven that stretch of motorway.  The crash took place in the dark and must have been truly horrifying for everyone involved.  A friend’s son was injured but I’m not sure to what extent yet although I’m hoping not too badly.  He was in the year above Alex all the way through school.  The last we heard the motorway was due to open again this evening although the heat was so intense it’s reported to have damaged the road surface.  Poor people.

The squibbing that normally follows the carnival was cancelled as the emergency services were all attending the crash, but I expect it’ll be rearranged.  The carnival clubs invest so much time and money into making this event a success so it’s more than likely.

Tomorrow evening the carnival comes to Burnham-on-Sea so Terri and I are going to watch.  I hope it doesn’t rain again.

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