Thursday, 28 December 2017


It's a beautiful day today, but bitterly cold.   The sun is quite strong, and there are areas of the house which are warm becasue the low rays are forcing their way in.

The bird feeder has been busy all morning. Yesterday we had about 20 birds waiting in the nearby tree, while  10 or so birds clustered round the feeder.
Queing in the tree, waiting for a space on the feeeder

Birds on the feeder (photo taken through window)
The  birds continue to ignore the 'new' feeder, which has premium suet balls stuffed in it.  Cue eye roll.

I popped into town today.  It was really quiet, very sad. I'd expected it to be heaving.  I allowed myself to park in the rip-off car park right by the shopping centre, instead of the cheaper one a bit further away.  I went up to the roof. There were plenty of spaces on all levels,  but I love the view from up there.

I farted around in  one shop for ages, couldn't fnd most of the stuff I had on my list, and decided I'd order online instead.  I also went into Waitrose to get some stuff for dinner on New Years Eve.   That was a waste of time,  I'll have to go back tomorrow or maybe even Saturday.  

I did pick up some reduced price vegetables for the Girls though.  They tried the kale, but waslked off, leaving the pile apparently thesame size as when it started.    Maybe the Allotmenteers will be a bit more grateful?

I've got swede and lettuce for them for later.

The car park was busy when I left, and it took ages to get out.  People were trying to find the one of two empty spaces in the lower levels, instead of going up and enjoying nearly empty floors.  The spaces are quite narrow, with lots of pillars,  so getting in and out often requires a bit of manoeuvring. The car park flow is bck-to-front, so people trying to exiyt have to go up and down each and every level to get out, and this means long queues form while someone is trying to get in to their space. 

I  got home eventually, and started to clear out the fridge,  eating leftovers for my lunch.

I did some clearing up but ran out of steam and have been 'busy' catching up online.     I do want to get some stuff put away though, so I'm going to Get On WIth It, just as soon as I've finished this blog post.


I am going to.

Just as soon as I post this,

Wednesday, 27 December 2017


My pre-Christmas planning suffered something of a hitch.

On Thursday evening I ate something which didn't agree with me.  I spent the next day being ill and sleeping (although I did get up, get showered, and went to deliver a cake.  I got back into bed as soon as I got home).

I lost Friday and Saturday.  Saturday I did actually get up, but I wasn't really functioning and I wasn't able to eat anything after toast for breakfast.  I couldn't face tea, or coffee, or water.     I drank a lot of tonic water both days.

Christmas Eve I did all the usual food preparations, but without the merriness of Madeira.  Late afternoon, I ate a bag of ready salted crisps.  I know it's a strange thing to decide to eat, I can only guess that my body needed the salts replacing, or something.  It worked - a few hours later I actually felt a tiny it hungry, and was able to eat a bowl of weetabix.

Christmas Day happened.  I had an egg for breakfast to see how my tummy was feeling.  It grumbled a bit, but seemed OK.   I cooked lunch,  a bit more stressed than usual.   The  goose was lovely and,  I ate a reasonable sized lunch.   Still no alcohol.    Afer the washing up and clearing away,  we watched TV,  no energy for anything else.

Boxing Day also happened, and I felt much better in the morning, near normal. I made coleslaw, which I just couldn't face making on Christmas Eve.      I made a gin cocktail in the evening,  no other alcohol for me.  Lunch, Tea and Supper was a running buffet, I ate quite a lot. I was reasonably hungry.

Today, I feel fine. 

a cake for Judith

I iced the cake for my friend J first thing Thursday morning.   

I originally wanted to put a very large Free Standing Lace (FSL) Poinsettia on the top.  However, when I did a trial stitch out, the poinsettia was tiny.  Unsurprisingly, the designer wasn't able to do an enlarged design for me this close to Christmas,  so I spent some time looking for alternatives. 

 I'd decided that an FSL snowflake would work well,  but all the ones I could find were far too small.  Eventually I found one, bought it,  and stitched it out.  The stitch time (excluding me changing threads etc) was 80 minutes,  it was a very elaborate design.   Thank goodness I did the stitching on Monday, which gave the washed out design plenty of time to dry before it was needed on Thursday morning.


Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Small Person before Christmas

Time has zoomed past once again.

I've just said goodbye to Small Person, who is off to Slovakia tomorrow for Christmas and New Year.  We've been looking after her this week as she's on holiday from school, ad it's been the usual chaos.

As always, she's been a blast.

I decided to try and get her to do her homework BEFORE she goes away, so it isn't hanging over her while she's on holiday.    The first part was easy, it was about baking some biscuits and writing detailed instructions and including pictures.  That was Monday, after she went to help DH check on the Allotmenteers.

The next part was to do with The Ancient Greeks,  so that involved a bit of internet research,  a reminder about not just writing down what you see on the screen,  and trying to produce a poster.    She did the preliminary work yesterday,  including a sketch of the poster layout and writing down some key facts.

Today, after we all went to the allotment,  was trying to rewrite things neatly and produce the poster.   I forced her to  strongly suggested she write everything on pieces of paper, and then glue the papers to the poster. I explained that this meant any errors could be corrected without having to re-do everything, and she could also move them about to finalise the layout before glueing.    She wasn't convinced, but gave in.... and it was a good decision.

The poster took several hours to produce, and she was desperate to finish it before her mum came to collect her.  She had very definitely bought in to the idea of having it all FINISHED before she went away.   She did a good job, and stuck at it, which was a challenge for her as she does tend to get easily distracted.

Last week I impulse-bought a Tefal snack maker which was at a bargain price in Costco.  It came with toasted sandwich plates and waffle plates.  I'd had a go at a most acceptable toastie at the weekend,   and I'd promised Small Person that we'dtry making waffles today.

I made some this afternoon while she was working, and she had a break to eat them. She then pronounced that they are even better than pancakes! which means she'll be having those for breakfast from now on when she comes to visit.  Her Nan (my lovely late Aunt) taught her how to make pancake batter, and Small Person makes it herself when she comes to visit.  I have an electric griddle which I get out so she can cook them herself, at the table - and she loves doing this. I'm hoping she'll find making her own waffles easy enough to do.  They really were rather scrummy, even DH asked for one after tasting some of mine.

We had cocktails last night.  For her, this was half a lime,   home made Jostaberry cordial, with more Jostaberry cordial in place of alcohol,  lots of ice, and lemonade.  For her second cocktail, she added home made blackcurrant cordial.    She got the giggles when she accidentally got out a bag of potato croquettes instead of a bag of ice cubes.

When she came back from the allotment on Monday, she mentioned that Nora seemed to be moulting, she'd lost feathers from her head and from her side.   I realised that this was probably caused by Bertie, so I mentioned that Bertie was probably mating with her.   I had to explain that sometimes the cockerels legs rub, or the spurs catch,  and cause the feathers to come off.   The reason I went to the allotment today was so we could catch Nora and check her over, to make sure she hadn't been injured.  Of course there was a barrage of questions:  how might she be injured, what would we do if she was injured,  did a saddle have stirrups,  how would the saddle help,  why didn't we just put a saddle on anyway....

Today she saw Bertie mating with Pong, and she asked me why he was biting her comb.  I explained that he isn't biting, he's just having to hold on to her comb.  She hasn't asked me yet what actually happens when they mate,  I suspect it's just a matter of time before that subject comes up..  I'm starting to practice my answers now.

Her TV request was The Persuaders.  We've watched a few episodes the last two times she's visited.   I've no idea why she likes it, although I did love it too when I was her age (or younger, probably).   I think she likes it because it is easy going, a bit silly,  and humorous; and because  it's not gritty, it's not a kids program,   and it wouldn't be acceptable if it was made today. 

I meant to ice a cake for a friend today, but there just wasn't the time or kitchen space to do it.  I marzipanned it on Monday (while Small Person was using the cookie press),  so I'll get it done tomorrow morning and delivered tomorrow afternoon.  

Sunday, 10 December 2017


It's snowing.

I got up to let the girls out, and there was a slushy covering of snow, and fat wet flakes were continuing to fall.    It wasn't really settling snow though, and the water wasn't frozen.

The Girls took ages to come out from the coop.   It continued to snow outside, with the snow getting a bit thicker and a bit more, well, snowy.   They hadn't come out of the Run at all, so I went out to give them some swede and hang up a cauliflower for them.  At least two of them had gone back into the coop!

Before the thicker snow started, I cleared a path down the driveway, and swept the path immediately in front of the house.  I was surprisingly knackered at this relatively minor exertion, and I sat on the steps to recover.  I felt a teeny bit woozy,  so I wonder if I've got something affecting my balance.

Small Person stayed last night.  We went to the local  Pantomime,  and she was very happy in the company of my oldest friend, S.     Her dad collected her at about 9.30am,  and she was disappointed that it was too snowy to go riding.

Yesterday afternoon I made a quick pair of leggings for her out of some Christmassy scuba fabric.   Scuba is a thicker stretch fabric,  with a lot less stretch than the stuff I've been using for her up to now.  They fitted well, and she liked them because they were warmer than the usual sort, and were Christmassy.     I need to hem the legs, which I could and should have done then and there....  I just couldn't face trying to rush doing that this morning.     I've made a mental note of the alterations to make the next pair using this pattern fit even better, and I'll try and get those done in the next day or two.

I decided that I really MUST try and make some Christmas cards.  I did a design so I could do four cards worth in one go.  The machine started off all right,  and then started complaining.   I tried a few adjustments, couldn't solve it,  and in the end turned the machine off and walked away.  I might buy cards this year.  Or not.

The bird feeder is inundated with finches. blue tits, coal tits and great tits,  plus the odd robin and other brown birds/   Usually we get four birds feeding at once, with the others waiting in the nearby apple tree, or rose bush.  Today there were 10 on the feeder at once, and there were a dozen or more in the tree.    I guess other food options are scarce.

It's not a huge feeder, and I'm filling it up half way through the day at the moment as well as in the evening.    

I put up a new feeder with some suet balls in.  So far, it's been completely ignored.

I realised I hadn't phoned up the animal sanctuary to find out how the little hedgy is doing.  I'll try and remember to do that next week.

Friday, 8 December 2017


A year ago I started to make trousers with my SureFit Designs (SFD) kit.   I got them almost right (3rd pair), but then my 4th pair went horribly wrong.  I went on to other things, promising myself I would finish my blueprint soon.

Well, it wasn't soon.

We recently started Pilates.  My yoga pants, made to my 3rd Blueprint,  just weren't right.  I made some leggings using cheap fabric and a bought pattern (Patterns 4 Pirates).  They were OK, but not right.  I decided I could/should try mashing up my SFD blueprint and the P4P pattern.  I decided I should fix the blueprint before I did anything.

I did it!

It took a few more iterations to work out what was wrong (technically, I mean.  I could see what was wrong, but I couldn't work out what it was from a construction point of view).   I made a 5th pair which were rubbish,  and then I made a pair which were... really good.  I'm sure they need some tweaks, but they are damned well good enough.

I then, immediately, set about trying to adapt the pattern for leggings.  I wasted a day trying to cheat,  and in the end I gave in and followed Glenda's process.   Tonight, exhausted after lots of fiddling about,  I have a template for leggings with side seams.  I also have a pair of leggings which are basted together... I need to take out the basting and then sew them properly but I'm to  cream crackered to do it.

The next step is to convert them in to single seam patterns, which shouldn't take long.  I suspect they are going to look very similar to one of my first "cheat" attempts, but we'll see.

I've also cardboarded my successful templates,  cleared the kitchen sewing area,  put away the offcuts.

And I've ordered loads of cheap stretchy fabrics to try some more.

I've done nothing about Christmas,  so I need to stop clothes sewing and do some Christmas stuff.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Shortish visit

We were lucky enough to have Small Person on Saturday afternoon and overnight. 

I picked her up from her Saurday activities,  and we drove straight to the allotment so she could see everyone - especially Bertie Ping Pong,  and Siouxsie and Camilla.   They all looked well.

On the way back to the car she casually mentioned that she wasn't going riding the following day, so I messaged her Mum to see if we could keep her beyod the 9am we'd previously agreed.  Mum said yes.

Back home,  she checked on the Big Girls, and then she helped me prep for dinner.  We were having Slow Roast Pork, which takes about 8 hours in total and was about 6 hours of the way through the cooking time by then. 

She put her bedding on the bed,  we made Cocktails (Laverstokes for DH and I,  Laverstokes-with-no-alocohol for her).    She quite liked it, but she didn't love it I could tell.  So we did a tonic taste test to see what might be a good sub for the ginger ale.    

I have some particularly pretty shot glasses,  and I lined them up for her.  Each one had a different tonic in.   She tried to drink one like a proper shot, but fizzy tonic isn't the ideal thing to drink that way.

After tasting four tonics, she got the giggles, so we put any more testing on hold until 'next time'.

She stayed up far too late, and we ended up watching several episodes of The Persuaders.

Sunday, when she eventually made her way downstairs, was making pancakes (she did it all), She was wearing the latest pair of leggings I'd made for her,  so I was very happy about that.  I've ordered some slighly more expensive Christmas fabric, and I'm planning to make her some more from that.

After breakfast, which finished very late,  she went to the allotment with DH. She was in charge of Vegetable Distribution,    Tuna Distribution (which ended up in quite a detailed explanation of why we were feeding tuna and why, therefore, there was a priority about who could have it),  and Mealworms for SiouxsieAndCamilla Distribution.    DH was going to the pub straight after,  so SP was being collected from there.

He messaged me at about 12.20.  When are they coming to collect her?    I messaged back that they were on their way, but had planned to stop in a nearby town first. Shall I come and get her? I asked.
No, she's fine. Just wondering.

The pub has a 'raffle', but it wasn't the sort of raffle she was used to, and they had to explain to her how it worked (there are 100 - or whatever - numbers, and people pick the numbers they want).  They let her count the money, I think, and she enjoyed the responsibility of that.


A couple of nights ago I spotted a small (young) hedgie in the garden.  I put some sunflower seweds and some cat food (not fish flavoured) beside him, and let him get on with it.

I didn't see him yesterday,  but I found him in the middle of the garden path this afternoon.  We'd been ouy,  got back, and I went to let the Girls out and found him.  He didn't curl up, he didn't run away.  He was clearly in a bad way.

I hurried back to the house to get some gardening gloves, and shouted for DH to come and help  I scopped the poor little thing up and brought him in to the house, while DH and I discussed what to do.

I checked online,  and DH went out to Myshed to get the cat/chicken carrier.   I looked online for local rescues, all the while holding the little hog in my hand.

The nearest rescue was only a few miles away , but their answerphone message said they were full and to phone the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for the numbers of other rescues.  I did that,  and got the number of one a bit further away. She advised us what to do in the meantime  so we popped Hedgie on a heated pad (luckily we had one which is microwaveable),   put some food and water nearby,  and covered him in a little towel.   His nose wiggled at the food, but he didn't try and eat, not even when I put a bit right beside him.

The lady who answered from the 2nd rescue was very apologetic, but they were full also.  She gave me the number of another rescue, further away still, and reiterated the advise given by the BHPS.  

I phoned the 3rd rescue(on a premium rate number, all proceeds go to care for the animals).I weighed him for them,  and he was only 250g. They need to be 500g-600g at this time of year o have a chance of surviving the winter.  They said they'd have space to overwinter him,  we jumped in the car and had a bit of an excursion - about 45 miles round trip.

I didn't make a donation (we'd already spent quite a bit on the premium rate phone line and fuel),  but I felt a bit mean.  I bought something from their Amazon wishlist instead.

 I hope the little sausage is OK.

Saturday, 25 November 2017


DH messaged me from the Allotment. "All chickens are in the big girls bit. The fence had lifted in the wind the other day"

The Littlees had taken the opportunity to go under the lifted fencing, to join the big girls.

"Are the Littlees OK"?

"Seem fine. Bertie is loving it.  The hens seem ok, they are staying away from the others".

I phoned him.     The Littlees were keeping themselves to themselves and the older girls ignored them the whole time DH was down there.

We decided to leave them merged,  and opened the gate that formally separates the two areas. 

It's not our turn today but I have Small Person staying overnight, so I think we'll pop down to the Allotment to see everyone.  I want to check over  the Littlees  - and the four bottom ranking hens from the Big Girls.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Reintegration continues

I accompanied DH to the Allotment today.  I wanted to check on Siouxsie and Camilla, to make sure they hadn't suffered any reintegration injuries.

We were greeted by all 12 Girls, all waiting to get out to munch grass.  When we opened the gate,  Camilla and Siouxsie stayed behind - which is what they did before they came home for a week.

I shut the gate so the others couldn't get back in,  and I gave Siouxsie and Camilla some mealworms.  Then I opened up the gate into Bertie's bit,  and Bertie and Ping and Pong all came out for an explore.  Then I opened the gate to the outside,  and everyone charged in.

Bertie got extremely excited, and did a lot of wing fanning.  The Allotmenteers all ignored him,  and they ignored Ping & Pong too.    I opened a tin of tuna and crumbled it up so everyone got some,  and Bertie picked his up and dropped it on the floor, making encouraging noises.

I did the waterers, and then gave everyone some sweetcorn.   Camilla and Siouxsie were not in the general melee,  so I shut the gate behind me, and went to find them to give them their tuna and sweetcorn separately.  They both look OK, no obvious wounds or marks.

I opened the gate again and distributed corn, starting by giving some to Bertie.  He immediately started calling the Girls,  and some came to eat the corn.

When we'd finished out chores,  we herded Bertie and Ping & Pong back to the safety of their own  pen.  We had to do them one at a time,  but it was relatively straightforward.  Each was rewarded with mealworms for going back in.

We're going to open the gate permanently before long.  Ideally I'd like Ping&Pong to be laying first (being in-lay gives hens a bit more confidence at standing up to each other), but I guess it'll depend on how long that takes to happen.  In the meantime, we'll carry on letting them mix while we're there before doing anything more serious.

I miss having Siouxsie and Camilla in the garden, and I think of them everytime I walk past the coop.   We're not dismantling it until Ping & Pong are integrated,  just in case we need it.


On Monday morning we took Siouxsie and Camilla back to the Allotment.

We arrived,  shut the entire flock in a different part of the allotment with some treats, and let Siouxsie and Camilla out of the cat carrier and gave them time to wander round and reacquaint themselves with the old homestead.

We let Bertie and Ping & Pong out as well.  Pong didn't venture out.  Ping did.  Bertie couldn't decide what to do.  

After a bit of farting about, we opened the 'gate'.   Bertie and Ping went unnoticed.

Two girls immediately spotted Cami and Siouxsie and went on the attack    It was most unpleasant.  Camilla and Siouxsie fought back,  and I intervened to separate them.    It was interesting to see who was threatened by their return,   I assume the two 'offenders' must have been at the bottom of the remaining ecking order and wanted to make sure they didn't slip down any further.   It was one of the harem girls - I don't know which one,  we've long stopped having leg rings -  and one of the Yllis twins (Phyllis or Dyllis, can't tell them apart ).

When we'd finished with the mucking out, watering, filling feeders, we herded Bertie and Ping back to their area.    I  gave the main flock some corn over on the other side of the allotment,  and gave C & S some tuna.

And then we left them to it.

When I got home, I immediately pulled out all the temporary fencing,   cleaned out the coop,  and  cleaned and put away the feeder, drinker, coop cups and other bits and pieces.     I decided not to dismantle the coop just yet.

I wish I could have kept Cami and Siouxsie here in the garden.   However,  the little bit of garden they had is not suitable for long term living,   and keeping them would have meant integrating them with the existing 5 Garden Girls.   That would have been incredibl stressful, probably more stressful than having to go back to the Allotment.

It was very hard though.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Feeling Blue

Spent the day at Laverstoke Mill,  the home of the Bombay Sapphire distillery.

I don't actually like Gin;  I hate the smell,  I hate the oily mouthfeel,  and I hate the taste.    We bought a Gin Masterclass and a Tour for the five of us for  my sister in law's birthday back in January, and the way the year panned out meant that this was the earliest we've been able to go.

The drive was lovely because we had a perfect November day.    The Distillery site is amazing,  it was the sort of place I'd like to work - just because the place was so wonderful. 

We were early, so we went to the cafe - which is housed in a really well-done conversion of a double decker bus.  The coffee was excellent,  a great start.

The Masterclass started at 11.00, which was a ridiculously early time to be drinking gin. The class was chokka block.  I didn't count the number of participants,  but every station in the well equipped room was taken.  30 people or so I'd guess.

A tasting of the gin, and an intro into the botanicals used in Bombay Sapphire.  BS is the only gin to have all the botanicals entirely vapour infused (rather than being steeped in the gin itself,  or a combination of the 2).

The tasting of the nearly neat drink confirmed to me that I'm definitely not a gin person.   The host demonstrated the first cocktail,  the house special, The Laverstoke.  Lime juice, BottleGreen Elderflower cordial, Martini Bianco vermouth,  Bombay Sapphire. masses of ice,  ginger ale,  mint and ginger garnish,  all in an oversized globe shaped glass.  We then made it, and it was divine. 

More chat.  Demos and discussions of other gin based cocktails, and then our second and final cocktail. This was a make-along of a something or other 75 and was made in a Boston shaker.  I'm comfortable using that.    The shaken cocktail was then added to prosecco.  It was OK, but not great - I'm not a gin drinker, so no surprise.  I didn't drink mine.

The Masterclass lasted about an hour, and then we did our tour.We did the self guided tour, which actually included a guided part anyway,  and we spent about an hour and a half there.  As part of this,  we had a smell test.  You get to smell variations of the 10 botanicals that go into flavouring the gin,  and you pick your favourite 3-6 smells.   This then shows you which cocktails you might like,  and you get a cocktail at the bar.   You can choose what you want,  you can get advice from the barmam.   Non drinkers have a non alcoholic cocktail,  and get to pick up a take-home cocktail in the shop.

We were surprised at the similarities and the differences in our tastes.  We all had something different, and we all tried each other's drinks.  

We finished by going in to the shop.  DH and I ended up buying a bottle of  East Bombay Sapphire which, in the UK, is only available in that shop.  It's Bombay Sapphire with 2 extra botanicals (lemon grass and pepper).   I also bought 2 of the bowl glasses.  I don't really like branded glasses, but I thought these "would do" until I found something suitable.  I also bought a bottle each of Martini Rosso and Martini Bianco,  so that I could make The Laverstoke and The Laverstoke Winter at home.

DB1 bought some glasses. DB2/SIL bought a hamper of Bombay Sapphire stuff, which was a bit of a bargain.

We left just before 3pm,  and were all very happy with it.

I'm going to try Hendricks next.  I understand that has cucumber as one of its botanicals,  and I love cucumber.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Half a week

Bertie and Ping & Pong (BPP) seem quite happy in their new run at the Allotment.    Small Person was keen to see them in their new environment so on Monday I collected her from school and we went straight there.  

It was still just about light when we got there, but everyone was already in bed.  We opened up BPP's coop so that Small Person could see them, and she stroked them.  Then we cane home,  so she could see Camilla and Siouxsie in their temporary quarters and then her Mum arrived to collect her.

I can't work out whether Siouxsie and Camilla are content to be on their own together,  or whether they'd rather be back at the Allotment.   Much as I would like them to stay here (they are bottom of the pecking order at the allotment,   and Siouxsie is our oldest girl at well over 8 years old),  it isn't viable.   We don't have the space to have 2 separate areas on a permanent basis, so  I'd have to integrate them with the existing girls. I don't want to put them (any of them) through that stress.

Camilla is having her feet soaked in warm water and epsom salts each day,  and I've been trying to work off the scab/plugs.  It's a horrible job; painful for her and really stressful for me.    Everything has to be sterilised before hand, and afterwards.     Her feet are bandaged each day in an attempt to keep them soft.  She's toodling around the garden OK, and she's getting up the ladder to bed without any apparent problem.  

I don't want to keep them here any longer than necessary, mainly because the longer they are here, the harder it may be for them to reintegrate when they get back.   And I don't want to introduce BPP to the bigger flock until Siouxsie and Camilla are back.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Emotional Day

This morning when I let Bertie and Ping Pong out of their run,  there was a difference in their behaviour.

Every morning for the past few weeks - every morning - when they've been let out, they go haring around their area, and then Bertie 'attacks'  each Girl.   Peace is restored quickly.  During the day,  Bertie pushes himself forward to get first dibs on anything edible, and has not shown any courtesy towards the Girls.

This is perfectly normal.  He's a young, inexperienced, lad.  The Girls aren't yet in lay and are of no interest to him so he hasn't shown them any courtesy.

This morning, for the first time ever,  he warbled and called the Girls over to investigate a tasty morsel he'd found!

It was very appropriate that he should do that today,  because today they were moving.  It made me smile,  it made me happy to see his behaviour improve,  and it made me sad that I won't be seeing it from my kitchen window any more.

After breakfast, we got everything (apart from the chooks) packed into the car.  Their feeder,  veggies for them and veggies for the allotmenteers.   I'd already brought in the carrying boxes from the car.   I went out and managed to catch Bertie easily,  which surprised both him and me.  I popped him in the cat carrier, and he proceeded to crow and call and be a bit of a nuisance.

The Girls were going in a box together and, because of the way the lid works, we needed to put them both in at the same time.  So, I caught each girl in turn and popped them in the Eglu, with the pop hole closed.   Then DH and I picked up one each, and popped them in the box.

At the allotment,  we put them straight in their Cube, with the pop hole closed.   All this had been prepared 2 days ago.  We did other jobs, like mucjing out the Allotmenteers,  filling up the feeders, hanging up the Veg for the Trio.    Then we let them out.

Bertie was straight out and in the feeder.   Ping came out quickly and looked a little shell shocked.  Pong took longer to come out.  We continued with our jobs while they explored their new space.   Teh exiating Allotmenteers were interested to see they had new neighbours,  and there was a lot of noise going on.

When all was done, we locked up and left them to it.  They were scratching around the area when we left, and seemed happy enough.

We'll go back this evening to make sure they got to bed OK.

I'm not sure how long it will be before we let them join the Big Girls.  Maybe a couple of days,  maybe a few weeks.  We'll see how it goes.

Before we left, we caught Camilla to bring her home.  She's got a nasty case of Bumblefoot.  And then after a discussion, we caught Siouxsie as well.   Camilla is bottom of the pecking order, and I think Siouxsie is not far behind.   Siouxsie and Camilla both keep a little apart from the others; not exactly together,   but I didn't want Siouxsie being apart on her own.  It was a tough call as Siouxsie is 8 years and some months old,  and I was concerned about the shock the change might cause.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Bit of a stretch

We had our first Pilates session today.

We're both incredibly stiff and very unfit, and I couldn't face the trauma of joining a class and trying to do this in public.  So, we decided to book a course of 5 semi private sessions (just DH and me) to see how we got on.

It was quite good.  It really seemed to help DH's arm, and I'm hoping that the course of 5 will help him with getting some mobility back.   

DH had a shower, I had a bath, and I'm now sitting in m PJs waiting for the dinner bread rolls to cook.

I wore the Yoga Pants I made back on the Sure Fit Retreat nearly a year ago.   I'm going to make another pair for next time,  with my waist a little lowered. I might make them a bit more like leggings, I'm not sure yet.  It depends which fabric I settle on.

I might have to do this tomorrow, before the memory of the adjustments I need to make goes out of my head.


Monday, 6 November 2017

Alison Moyet

We went to see Alison Moyet yesterday.

It was a really cold day,  I'd lit the fire late morning,  and I was sitting wondering whether to bother going to the concert.  I'd bought tickets as soon as they were announced, and I'd expected to be really excited by the time the concert came round.  I wasn't.

We went early,  eating at a surprisingly reasonable german fastish food bar near the venue.   DH only vaguely knew who Alison Moyet was,  I said he'd probably recognise some of the songs.  I also explained that a lot of her material is very detailed and dark,  and that my friend and I used to speculate about what sort of life she had had, given the heart-renching nature of many of the lyrics.

Sitting in our ideal seats, I was surprised to see a friend I hadn't seen for 11 years walk past. I shouted her name, sprang up and hugged her. Poor girl, bit of a shock I expect. An extra bonus to the evening :-)

Alison Moyet came on, looking amazing.  She sounded fantastic, just as I remembered her.  I found myself crying a little as she sang her second song,   the lyrics resonating a bit too much for comfort.   I cried at a few songs,  in some cases at the sentiments of the lyrics,  but mostly because I remembered hearing those very same songs back in the day. I guess it was a combination of them stirring up feelings I had at the time (her songs accompanied some of my darkest times),  the lyrics themselves,  the memories of the times... I don't know.

I was waiting for several songs, some of which she sang.   I liked her new stuff, it really helped that she explained what was behind each new song.  The new stuff wias sprinkled in between the old stuff,  and she got the balance about right.

I was hoping she would sing That Old Devil Called Love,  which she sings so beautifully,  the best ever rendition of it.   And I was waiting for Invisible.  I wasn't really surprised that she didn't sing That Old Devil.  She can't include everything,  and that isn't one of her own creations.

At the encore, I was sure it would be Invisible, although it did seem a bit of a bummer to end on.  She said had 2 songs for us, one from the 80s and one from the 90s.  Having cried quite a bit already,  I wasn't sure how I'd hold up to hearing her sing it. 

I'll never know, because she didn't sing it.

I was really surprised, and I was also both relieved and extremely disappointed.    Of course it wasn't such a big hit in the real world as her other songs,  a fact which completely escaped me.  It was a huge part of my life at the time, as it was around when I was completely crushed by a failed 'romance' and I felt my life was over.  I love the song as well because it  reminds me that, although it seemed important at the time,  that  romance was nothing compared to the love for the man who became my husband.

Despite the lack of Invisible it was a fantastic concert.   The venue was small, which was perfect. Muh more personal,  much closer, much better.

I'm so glad we went. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Home news

Bertie is now sort-of-crowing quite a lot.

It's not very loud, and it still sounds hoarse, but it is getting more often.  Sometimes he stands on the ground and does it, other times he flies up on to the coop to do it.

His hormones are also taking over a bit.  When we let them out to free range,   he goes mad and chases and pecks Ping and Pong.   He hasn't made any attempt to mate,  so his hormones realise that they aren't yet ready.

He's not exactly eyeing up the Big Girls,  but I think he is now a bit more aware of them than perhaps he was before.

He hasn't started alerting anyone to tidbits,  but I guess this is normal.  He'll probably start doing that once the girls mature.

I really like having them here.  They can't stay though. I'd have to integrate them all if they stayed,  so it wouldn't be any easier for them.  And there isn't much (any) chance that Bertie will remain quiet.

Besides. The Allotmenteers could really do with a cockerel.  Although perhaps not just yet.  

We'll have to take them to the allotment soon.  I was hoping that Ping & Pong would be in lay before they went,  as this will give them a little bit more maturity and help them deal with the established flock.   

Also, all but two of the allotment girls are moulting,  so the last thing they need is a randy cockerel.  Nora, our second oldest hen, has not only finished her moult, her comb and wattles are bright red and she's back in lay.  Siouxsie, our oldest hen, has also finished he moult (I think), but he comb is very pale.   I don't mind if she doesn't come back into lay,  she owes us nothing.

DH moved the Cube recently, so we can put them down there and keep them separate for a while.

A rare day out

We visited Bletchley Park yesterday.  The weather was glorious: cold, crisp, sunny.
The house was beautiful,  the huts were amazing,  and the exibits were fascinating.  It was really well done.

One of the huts has an exhibit which talks about saving Bletchley.  Apparently a council meeting approved demolition of the house and huts to be replaced by a housing estate, supermarked and petrol station.   That's when the campaign to save Bletchley started.... and now it is a magnificent and worthwhile monument and tribute to that amazing effort which shortened the war (by 4 years).
Without the achievements of Bletchley,  Hitler would have won.

We were there for a little over 3 hours.  We didn't see everything, but my brain was full.   We giftaided the entrace fee,  so the ticket is actually valid for a year.  I hope we get round to going back, as I'd like to visit the National Museum of Computing, which is a separate museum on the site.

We didn't take any pictures (rolls eyes).

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Tears before bedtime

My brother, who was babysitting his granddaughter,  brought her over to say hello on Tuesday.  AL was overjoyed to find that Small Person was here.  Small Person taught AL a ballet step some time ago,  and we had promised that SP would  teach her some more.

Before the learning though,  there was going out to see the chooks.  Not with me, but with SP. When they came back in, I said "oooh, I think I have a little present for you",  and I rushed upstairs to get it. 

When I was buying bedding for Small Person and the Twins, I'd seen some ballet bedding which I knew little AL would love. 

I handed it to her - and when she saw the design, she was so excited.  She read all the words, her eyes glowed, she showed her granddad.

I was pleased I'd bought it.

Small Person took her away to teach her some dance steps,  and later they performed for us.  Lovely.

We ate some cake, which had been baking in the oven when they arrived,  and then it was time to go.
AL wouldn't say goodbye and, at first, I thought she was doing that (annoying) child thing of 'going all shy'.

Then there were tears. Not angry, sulky, tears;  just tears.

I think AL had a lovely time, and didn't want it to end.

Bless her.

Forgotten to take pics

I actually did some sewing, and I forgot to take pics!

I made Small Person some leggings,  in a bigger size.   She picked the fabric from my stash.  They look quite good, although - as usual -  I'll be surprised if they last more than a couple of washes.  Mind you, the first wearable pair I made her some months ago are still going (she wore them yesterday in fact), just looking a little...short.

I don't like doing the encased elastic waistband, so next time I might try chopping the waist down and putting on some of the extra wide supersoft elastic I bought recently.  I used it on her circle skirt, and it worked well.  

I went to the extra effort of making a cardboard template this time.  Because these are a bit big for her (her choice!),  I know this pattern will last for a while - and cutting round tailor's card is a bit easier than laying out and cutting round tracing vellum.   Besides,  having a template hanging in my collection reminds me of an achievement.

I also managed to embroider a (bought) tee shirt for her.   She loves Game of Thrones,  and I did a Direwolf and the Stark motto.  Too late I realised she's probably more of a Targaryen.

I think I've made her 3 pairs of leggings now and 1 circle skirt.   I've also embroidered 2 (?) tops.

I don't think I've photographed any of the wearable stuff I've made her.

Sunday, 22 October 2017


Collected Small Person from her drama and singing class yesterday afternoon.    Got home, and we started on dinner - Gulasch with Spätzle.  I showed her how to peel and slice red onions, and she used a proper kitchen knife to do it.  I was using shin of beef, which required a long, slow cook, and I explained why.  I'm not sure she retained the info, but you never know.

Once the Gulasch was in the slow cooker, we started on the dough for the spätzle.  She asked if she could eat some raw (she has a thing about raw flour-milk-egg batter), and I said no.   After 15 minutes or so of the food mixer beating the dough,  it had changed to a very sticky and glossy mass of stuff. She ate a small piece. (shudder).

Last time we made spätzle, we used the bottom of a colander to make the noodles.  It was tedious, alhough the resulting noodles were delicious.  After last time,  I looked online to see what ricers could also be used for spätzle, and was a bit put off by the price. And the size.  It wouldn't be something I'd use for anything else.  In the end, I went for the cheap option of buying a metal plate thing, which fits over a saucepan lid.  The recipe I was following said that this would result in shorter stubbier noodles, but these were perfectly acceptable.

It took ages to make the noodles - mainly because I'd made such a large quantity of 'dough'.  Every few seconds, I'd stop spreading,  scoop out the cooked noodles into SP#' waiting colander.  Then I'd go back to spreading dough, and she dropped the cooked noodles into cold water.

SP wasn't impressed when I started to complain about getting cramp in my hand, so she decided to have a go herself.  I held the plate for her, and she worked the dough across it.  She quickly realised it was harder than it looked.

The tray thing actually worked quite well. It was similar to the colander, but the holes were bigger and there were more of them.  The edge is also shaped so it sits securely on top of a saucepan of water.    I'd be tempted to get a ricer-type thing now, but I'd need to see one in action to assure myself that it would be easier overall.

When all the spätzle were cooked and cooled,  I drained them and rolled them in some butter. The bowl then went in the fridge until we were ready.

Rice Krispy cakes next.

When the Gulasch was ready,  I fried the spätzle in butter to heat them upk adding a good grinding of pepper.      They were lovely!  We ate loads.  There was no Gulasch left but I froze the gravy to use another day with toad in the hole.  I also laid most of the remaining noodles on a tray and froze them,  popping them into a bag when done.  I can then just hoik a few out when we fancy them.    I also kept some unfrozen in the fridge to use in the next few days.

This is the spätzle recipe I followed,  I found the pictures really helpful in making sure my dough was beaten propely

Friday, 20 October 2017


We've been busy trying to get the summerhouse ready to be a suitable sleeping place for 2 of the grandchildren for 1 night next week.  Their parents are staying too and, because they will use the guest bedroom (my sewing room), this means the kids get to sleep in the summerhouse.  

Following their last overnight stay, we've been trying to make it better for them. We'd already bought a much better heater,  and we'd put up a curtain pole.

I hadn't actually got round to getting curtains to put on the pole  mainly because I don't really want curtains in the summerhouse.    However, now that they are definitely coming, I went to Ikea to buy some inexpensive, ring top,  curtains.  DH hung them up today so I could measure and mark for adjusting.  I adjusted the length straight away, a quick and dirty turn up job.

I bought 2 pairs, but I decided to only use 1.  They cover the windows perfectly well, and it's not as if they are in our living room and need a double-width drape.   They look fine, and will do the job.   And they will be easy to remove and put away afterwards.  

I'd also already bought some "gro" blinds, which they can stick on the other window. I really don't want to have to put a curtain pole up on the second side as well

I also bought them each their own personal duvet cover, hopefully with designs they will each like.  I've washed them ready.

DH has emptied a load of stuff out of the summerhouse (some folding chairs,  the pumpkins,  that sort of thing) and I'll give it another look over after the weekend to see if we can make some more space, and make it cosy.

They don't like the noise the fridge freezer makes.  I can't move that, unfortunately... but I though I'd fill it with drinks and snacks for them.  If they can see a use for it,  they might not mind too much.

While I was shopping for suitable duvet covers for them,  I saw a great horsey one for Small Person.  I was surprised to find that it comes in a king sized version, so I bought that.  That is also washed, and is on the guest bed now, ready for SP's overnighter tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my sewing table (aka our kitchen table) is piled high with stuff.  I've got some stuff to Ebay (have to pay for the duvet covers somehow, lol!),  and some stuff to sort.

My lovely DIL keeps her home immaculate. 

I'm going to need to have a major clean and tidy before they get here.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Fingers crossed

DH has gone to see his Mum.  It'll be a bit stressful for his poor arm, but needs must.

I took the opportunity to go to Ikea.   Needed some curtains for the summerhouse before next week.

Also taking the opportuniy to air the house.  Windows open in all rooms,  it's flipping cold, but it needs it.    DH really feels the cold, so it's easier to do it when he's not around.

DH range me late afternoon.  He'd found his mum in a bit of distress when her arrived.   He sorted her out, took her shopping to get some essentials, and she's feeling much happier now.

He took her a new phone.  She doesn't use the contacts or redial button on hers, always keying phone numbers in manually.  As she often loses (puts them in a drawer and can't remember which one) the large cards I sent her with numbers on,  she sometimes can't phone when she wants to.   This new one, by Doro, has 4 clearly labelled buttons on and nothing else.   We're hoping she'll find it easier (although it does mean she can only phone the 4 numbers that we have programmed,  which is both a good and a bad thing). 

He put her Sim in the new phone last night and tested it,  and he'll be giving her the new phone today.  I hope it works OK.

Monday, 16 October 2017

It's been a domesticated day so far.

I put the oven gloves  in to a much needed Biotex soak.  We have  Coolskin gloves and gauntlets,   superb oven gloves, but they get really mucky really quickly.   One pair is black and just looks tatty; the other, newer actually, pair is a cream colour and they look... well, they look disgusting.      They were so bad I was going to throw them away.

Instead, I dumped all four goves into some biotex, and now they are in the washing machine.   I'll see how they come out before deciding what to do with them. I don't hold out much hope for the cream coloured pair.

I had a new pair,   a cheap knock-off version, stuffed in a drawer, so I got those out.  I sewed some hang up loops (chuckling to myself as I sews the loops - properly folded to the centre and then folded again) and attached them with Kam snaps.       These knock-off versions have studs on both sides, which is great as it doesn't matter whether you're left or right handed.    

I made some bread.  That's not unusual, we make bread several times a week.  I made a millet loaf, which I haven't done for a while,  and I'm looking forward to eating it.  The cheap gloves worked on that.

I picked apples.  We have several apple trees.  This particular one has had large delicious looking fruit on for ages,  but each time I test them to see if they're ready for picking, they've not wanted to come off the tree.  Today one did, and it was lovely.   Fearing we'd lose them in the promised storm, I picked all the ones that wanted to come off.   

Fruit juice was my immediate intention,  as I munched through a second apple.  And then I fancied something else.  Maybe a cake?  Ot a tart?   DH will only eat cooked apples if they are mushy,  and dessert apples don't really work that way.   I'm sure I used to make a fab apple cake recipe, but I can't find it.    I've been through loads of cookbooks.

I also dug out the small maslin pan,  bought a couple of years ago but never used. Quince jelly.    I cleared and cleaned the kitchen,   and then started to cut the quinces.  Rotten. All of them.   That will teach me to leave it so late.  The maslin pan is still sitting on the hob.  I'm vaguely considering going to see if the local crabapple tree has any fruit.......

We also put some stuff in the loft,  which enabled me us to clear some of the stuff in the kitchen.  It's still looking a mess,  I just hope I can get it respectable enough before DDIL comes to visit.  Her house is always immaculate.

The daylight is looking very strange at the moment, as if someone has put an arty film type filter over the lens.   It's like someone has taken the sky away,  the grey-whiteness is so uniform that it looks like an absence of sky.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Gnashing of teeth

My Dentist asked me if I ground my teeth.   I told her I didn't grind them in my sleep, but I did grit them a lot.   She suggested I try and stop - I've started to cause cracks in the enamel of my teeth.

I've since been very aware of just how much I do grit them.  When I'm cross. Frustrated.  Irritated.  Stopping myself saying things. 

Gritting has been an effective way of me manageing and releasing emtional pressure.  It's like the release valve on a pressure cooker.

I know this, because not being able to grit them means it's much harder for me to let things go, to let them pass over my head.     Today I found myself mentally screaming.  

[For clarity, I wasn't actually screaming.  I was screaming in my head.]

Despite making no sound, it was deafening.  I felt like I was a child having a tantrum.

My husband, who had inadvertently caused me to start screaming,  had no idea.  He carried on talking to me,  and the screaming got louder.

Later, when I'd got myself under control, I found my jaw was aching.  I've had it ache occasionally when I've had to grit my teeth for an extended period,  but this is the first time I've had it ache from me trying so hard not to grit them.

I need to find another way to manage.

Hot Air

Windy weather is forecast for the next couple of days.  Looking out of the window, with the kitchen door wide open to air the house,  it seems unbelievable.

It's warm, pleasant, sunny.

I've cleaned out the coops, including scrubbing the roosting bars,  and topped up the feeders.    I've cast any eye round the garden and I can see lots of items that have been put down 'temporarily' and have been left there for ages.   I can see lots of things that are going to get blown around if the wind does come.

I'm planning to go out and clear loads of them up. In a minute. Or two.

I took some quick photos of the chooks to send to Small Person.  She messages me most days asking about each chook in turn.

Sasha is moulting a bit at a time.  Her new neck feather shafts are through, and she'll have new feathers shortly

Poppy's bald head is starting to look a little spiky

Fleur went for the all-at-once moult.  Her new feathers are coming through, but she's still looking scrappy.  She's looking better every day

 Bertie's curly middle  tail feather is definitely coming through:


The wool mattress topper promises many things.
These sumptuous wool mattress toppers are the best in helping achive a great nights sleep as they add approximately 4cm of added comfort to your bed and many people find this very comfortable.  Whilst our wool mattress toppers cannot take the place of a good mattress, they will certainly give an added softness to a firm mattress and relieve pressure points.  
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Our Toppers are easy to care for, turn regularly on the bed and use both sides.  To keep fresh, simply hang outside to air.
It was pretty much what I was expecting.   A bit like a duvet, with straps on the corners.  It felt soft and fluffy, smelt wonderfully of the lavender that was included with it.  The craftswomanship is evident.

We looked at it, and tried to work out exactly how to do this.   Should we take off the superking cover that held the mattresses together?  Probably not.  How would the mattresses stay together if we did that?

OK, so we put it on top of the mattress cover. And then put a fitted sheet on top.   There had been a promo code for half price bedding with the purchase of the cover, and I'd bought a 400 count Egyptian Cotton sheet.   We put that on.

To me, it looked horribly untitdy.  It looked like my worst nightmare of what a mattress topper would be like.   It looked like we had  some crappy mattress with a bit of padding stuffed under the sheet.  To be fair, I suppose that's what it is.

I suspect that it's a homely look that many would find comforting and charming.  I don't.  I think it reminds me of a particularly horrible old bed I had as a child, and that might be why I have such a strong anti reaction to it.

DH usually hates it if the fitted sheet gets wrinkled and isn't taut,  so I could see this was going to be a disaster. 

We went to bed.

DH loves it.  In fact, he's slept really well since we put it on, and he's commented a few times on just how comfortable it is.

It was comfortable to sleep on and, more importantly,  I couldn't hear the mattress crinkling.  At all.  Bliss!

I've slept reasonably well, but I'm aching a little bit. I don't know if that I'm not getting the 'benefit' of sleeping on the gel now, or maybe its just coincidence and I've been a bit squished up using my tablet while sitting on the sofa.

The topper has stayed in place.  The the new sheet has moulded itself to to the contours of the lengthwise quilting lines on the topper.   Without the duvet on,  the bed looks like a really badly made sandwich.

It may be that it'll work better with my not-so-expensive John Lewis fitted sheet, and I'll try that in a couple of days and see.    f that fails, I expect I can run something under the mattess to pull he middle of the sheet more taut.

I am wondering if I should have got the extra wide topper. I didn't get that because I could not imagine how the corner straps would work in that case. 

I might email them and ask them.  Just out of interest.


3 years ago we bought a new mattress to replace our 8 year old support mattress bought from a specialist back shop.   We went back to the same shop, and tried all their mattresses.  The Tempur and other memory foam type ones are hopeless for me,  too hot, too difficult to get out of. 

They used their little device to scan to see which mattress gave our spines the best support,  and suggested 2.

We picked a gel mattress from a company called Technogel.   It was marketed as being cool (great,  I was bound to be going through the menopause at some stage), and it felt supportive and comfortable. It was a lot of money,  but it was guaranteed for 20 years, we assumed we'd keep it for 10, and the price per day wasn't so scary.

When it arrived I was surprised to find they sent two single mattresses with a superking zip up cover to keep them together.  I queried this with the shop and they told me that was how the superking mattresses came for this brand.  I was dubious, fearing an unncomfortable ridge down the middle.

It was fine.  It was really comfortable.  It was cool when I got in to bed each night,  but that didn't last. SOme nights I was very very warm.   I realised that the gel might well take a bit of heat away, but at some point the gel would warm up,  so the cooling claims were a bit rubbish really.     It was still comfortable. All was well for probably a year, maybe  18 months.

And then.

I realised that I could hear 'crinkling' in parts of the mattress.   The area that 'crinkled' graduallygrew and, from a noise perspective, it sounded like I was sleeping with crumpled polythene underneath my sheet.   Eventually, it covered a large part of the mattress. 

When I realised just how far it had spread,  I contacted the company I bought it from. I sent a video so they could see and hear the crinkling.   There was correspondence between them and the manufacturer, and me and them.  They sent someone from whoever-theindpendent-body is, to inspect the mattress. He turned up on a Saturday morning, with instructions to 'cut the mattress'.

I was horrified. Cut the mattress?  Wouldn't the gel leak out?

He examined the mattresses.  He said he assumed they meant cut the stockingette cover off the mattress.  The problem with that is that once the cover was cut, it couldn't be put back on.  There wasn't a seam which we could cut and then re-sew.  Once it was cut, it was cut.

How would that work then? If they said there wasn't a problem with the mattress,  I'd have lost one layer of protection between me and the gel.   He tried phoning the manufacturer for advice.  It was a Saturday. so he didn't have any luck getting hold of anyone.

The inspector said I could refuse to have it done, and he'd understand that.  So that's what I did.

I waited a few weeks for them to work out what to do.    Then DH had his accident, and everything slipped by.    The mattress got noisier,  and the whole of the surface was now affected.   When I got into bed, all I could hear was the rustling and the crinkling.  If I turned over,  the sound - in the silence of the night - was disturbin. 

When normality started to return, and DH stopped having restless nights,  I realised that the noise was waking me up when I turned over.   I contacted the shop again to ask what was happening.  . They checked with the manufacturer and came  back to say it was customer misuse, and the warranty had been voided.  I asked for an explanation,  and it turned out that on the other side of the bed there was a stain,  and any stain (water, tea, bodily fluids, didn't matter what) was classed as misuse and therefore invalidated the warranty.

I asked how that worked when we actually had 2 mattresses,  and the problem was on my mattress, which wasn't stained.  The shop have gone back to the manufacturer,  so we'll see what they say.

I've read up a lot about mattress guarantees, and I now know just how worthless they are.

DH said we should just buy a new one (although obviously we wouldn't touch TECHNOGEL with a barge pole now).  I'm reluctant to do that though,  because it's just so difficult to be sure that the mattress we get will actually be comfortable.   I've seen the ads for the relatively cheap 'try for 100 days' mattressess,  but I've also read just how those guarantees aren't quite what they seem.

Maybe we should go for a cheap mattress and replace it every 18 months.

In an attempt to do something to help in the short term,  I bought a wool mattress topper from Devon Duvets.     I already have a wool duvet (soooo much better than feather or synthetic),  so I read about their toppers and decided to give one a try.

It arrived a few days ago.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Good intentions

Pong has dtsrted to escape the paddock, and follow Bertie around the garden.   The Big Girls are up in wings that the young upstart female is free when they are not.

So, we decided to replace the netting.  For chicks we use inexpensive black netting, with 1 inch squares - too small for a chick to get through.  The dosnside of it is that it doesn't behave very well. and the bottom tends to curl.   Now that Pong is actively seeking escape routes, this netting just isn't working.

DH toolk down all the netting and strimmed everywhere.   I attempted to move the mega-long house and run (it's about 4m),   I wanted to turn it 90 degrees as well, so it was a bit like trying to turn an oil tanker in a space that's only a bit wider than the oil tanker.  Not that I've ever turned an oil tanker.

Eventually I resorted to brute force and lifted the back up and moved it, and then I went and hefted the front round too.    I raked the ground to remove tale food,  dead bits of grass, and goodness knows what else. 

They now have an enlarged area,  which encompasses an additional bed. Theyre having a whale of a time excavating it.

Later in the day, the new cover I'd ordered arrived.  It's clear plastic, designed for use on a market stall.   I wanted to be able to cover the top and one whole side of the mega run.    It was packed tightly, and I'd lost the will to undo it all after abpit 5 minutes.  

I got there in the end, it fitted well... and then I realised my mistake.   If I cover one side completely, I can't open the door.    I should, of course, have gone for smaller covers to enable me to fold up different parts.

Oh well.  Coulda Woulda Shoulda.

I might have a go at cutting a door opening, sewing some sort of edge on to stop it tearing. In my minds eye I can see the little bit rolled up like an awning......  

I expect I'll be glad that I bought it, when we get some more horrible weather.

I've rinsed the two green shades I'd previously had a long the top.  I'll put them away when they are dry.


Monday, 9 October 2017

Crazy babies

I was whiling away some time on my laptop when I heard a kerfuffle and a lot of squealing. 

I dashed outside to find that Pong was in the Big Girls' paddock and was being pecked soundly by Fleur.

I leant over the netting and managed to grab her and get her out. She lay quietly in my arms, no struggling.  I stroked her, offered her some sunflower seeds (which she ignored), and then I put her in the Baby paddock. 

 I was a bit confused as to how she had managed to get in to the big paddock (BGP). Nothing was open.  She might have managed to go under somewhere,  but why would she even try?  I decided to see if the CCTV had caught what happened.

It had.

She climbed on to the back of the bench, facing the opposite way to the BGP.   Then she took off,  turning 180 degrees as she did so, and flew out of the baby paddock, across the path, and landed in the middle of the BGP. 

Impressive.  And stupid.

Hopefully she won't be doing that again.

Later I heard Wash trying - and failing - to get in through the cat flap.  Fearing that the batteries might have died, I went to let  him in.

It wasn't Wash..

It was Bertie.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Through the Ringer

I've given in and put rings on the two Dorking girls.   I can't tell them apart, even when they are standing next to each other.

I know that one is very dominant, and will not let the other eat at the same time.

I know one likes to shadow Bertie, but I don't know if it is the dominant girl or the shy girl.

I know one is more squawky than the other, but I don't know whether she is the dominant girl or the shy girl.

 I'll know soon enough.

I put a ring on Bertie as well.  He doesn't need one, but I know that rings sometimes attract interest and peckiness,  so I thought it might be a good idea for them all to have one.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Alzheimer confusion

My darling Mother In Law (DMIL) is gradually losing vocab, in addition to getting confused.

We had the incident of her needing apparatus to do the number puzzles we had sent. I had sent her another large format word search book (Not a number book),  and two boxes of pencils, wich had erasers on the top.  [   I'm not sure whether the missing apparatus was the pencils or whether she hadn't realised that the oencils have erasers on the top.  She'd asked for erasers because she'd got into the habit of obliterating the letters completely when she found a word...which meant she couldn't see those letters any more when searching for other words.

She now refers to the home as "Work" or "the Office".    So, she'll tell us about things that happened at work today,   or that the office has been rearranged.      It doesn't matter, we know what she means. 

We don't correct her, there's no point.

She gets upset that her daughter doesn't visit.  Except, of course,  my SIL does visit.     In today's phone call,  DH was explaining that his sister had been to visit at the weekend. This was strongly denied.   "She brought you a television",  DH continued.     

DMIL was adamant that she doesn't have a television.

She does, of course.  SIL and her hubby installed it at the weekend.


Yesterday I was out and about in a tee shirt.

I was thinking, as I walked down to the Allotment, that it was very Indian Summer-ish.   I stopped walking and stood with mu face turned towards the sun for a moment or two,. Then I restarted walking, feeling a bit foolish.

Only two eggs out of 12 hens,  and almost everyone at some stage of moult or other.  Some of the girls looked really dishevelled and tatty,  and there was a bit of squabbling going on

I mucked out the shed,  fed the Girls their extras, and walked back to the car.

At home, I spent sometime getting Ping and Pong to stand on the treadle and open the feeder.  Bertie kept bargin in to steal the treats.

Later, without the sunshine, I needed a jumper.

This morning was also balmy.  Amd ow, this afternoon,  it's cold. Really quite cold.  So cold that I think I might have to light a fire. Or put the heating on.  Or both.

It's also a bit windy. Bertie,  who has escaped yet again,  is wandering around with his feathers billowing out.      Ping and Pong are squabbling,  one of them is definitely dominating the other - I saw access to the feeder being refused today.   I'll keep an eye on it and put a second feeder in if necessary,  but I hope it isn't needed.

I moved the extraordinarily long run today.   Although there are only 3 birds, they have created some weaknesses in the lawn and are busy exploiting those weaknesses.   Parts of the lawn are looking very sad, and I suspect that it'll be a mess until next Spring now.   Not much I can do about it, apart from moving the 3 youngsters down to the allotment.   I'm reluctant to do that just  yet, partly because I've ony just forked out for run extensions!

At least I can go out occasionally and not feel guilty for locking them in their run. 

Well, not too guilty.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Moulting madness

Around 10 of the Allotmenteers are moulting.  They are all looking very dishevelled and very sorry for themselves.  I've been giving them extra protein each time I go down to see them.     The egg laying is down 1 or 2 eggs a day, not surprising given just how man of them are busy losing their feathers or growing new ones.

At home,  3 of the 5 are moulting.  Fleur, who decided to drop most of her feathers at once, is at last showing regrowth.    Poppy, who I thought had finished,  has suddently started moulting on the top of her head.   Sasha has just started moulting, and is losing her tail feathers and her saddle feathers.     Gloria and Fay are currently not moulting - as far as I can tell.

Today Fleur astounded me by trying to jump on my arm.  Well, she wasn't really trying to jump on my arm... what she was actually trying to do was imitate the three girls who fly up (landing on my outstretched arm) and get rewarded with a treat.  I've tried to train Fleur to do it, but she just doesn't understand.  If I try and stand her on my arm (which is how I taught Sasha),  she panics.

But today,  her feet left the ground and her wings flapped, as she jumped in the air.  She had no concept of actually aiming for my arm, she had no idea what she was doing really.   I gave her a treat each time she did it.     Whenher feathers are through, and she's not feeling so uncomfortable, I might try training her again.

The Youngsters are having none of it. Ping just about comes and eats out of my hand,  but that's it.     Even Bertie has stopped flying up when asked,  although I'm hoping this is because he's got some new feather growth coming through.    

I've started adding layers pellets to their feed today.  Not a huge amount, I'm not in a rush to get them switched over.  I emptied out their feeder and replaced it with fresh feed, and thought I@d just mix in some layers while I was at it.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Long distance "bargains"

A for sale ad popped up recently on a poultry related FB group.  An extension for a Go Up.

I thought about buying it, but it was a GL postcode, and Guildford is a bit of a trek. (Although it did used to be my preferred shopping centre, funnily enough.  I think it was my nearest Lakeland at the time).

Yesterday morning, however, I decided to take a look.

We'd been out to Oxford the day before and the chooks had been shut in for about 4 hours.   For Bertie and Ping Pong,  the run seemed a bit small.   I know they won't be here for much longer,  and they are hardly ever confined to barracks,  but it would be good  to have a longer run, just in case.
It was actually quite a bargain, because it was actually two extensions, for less than the price of one new one.   I contacted the seller to make sure that I was reading right,  and I also checked that the end panel was included.  It was.     I checked on TOmTom, and discovered that it wasn't actually GUildford,  it was GLoucester.   It was only an hour and a half.   Even with diesel,  it was still a bargain.

So, I bought it.

I set off to collect it.  I left at 12.45, I shoudl be there by 2.15,   leave there at 2.30 and home by 4. I memorised the important bits of the route (which motorway junction,  which turning to what village).

En route, the satnav changed and sent me further down the motorway.  I assumed that there must have been an incident on the arterial A road, so I followed my SatNav.    I got to the village I was looking for,  it wasn't too bad, only 15 or so minutes later than planned.

And then it didn't go so well.  The sat nav started to lose its signal,  so it wasn't keeping up with my actual position. 
I couldn't find the road it had told me to turn in to. When the signal came back, momentarily, it told me to turn round.    I did, and the signal went again.    I searched and searched, but the road I was looking for no longer existed.  There weren't many roads to choose from,  so I took the one nearest to the one that wasn't there.... and  entered an under construction mahoosive housing estate.

In vain, I tried to find my way to the point on the sat nav, or to any of the recognisable points on the sat nav display, but I failed, and failed.     The satnav kept losing its signal.    None of the roads on the map were on the ground. 

I parked by a local shop,   and my phone didn't have a signal either.  I looked ta the new names of the roads, and I could see that this must have been an industrial estate that had been converted, and the names were probably related to the industrial estate.  I just couldn't work out how to get to the "x marks the spot" on the sat nav screen.  The new roads were culs de sac.

Eventually, I did what I should have done some 20 minutes earlier.  I drove away from the housing estate until I got a phone signal, and then phoned the seller.      They gave me detailed directions,  and I tried again.  The seller waited outside their house to wave me in.

The run was partially dismantled, so it was in DH's car in seconds.   I started home.

DH phoned me to say his friend was popping over to give him a lift to the pub, , and was I nearly home or should he put the chickens away. I explained that I was still the other side of Oxford and would be about an hour and a half.

Overall I was only about an hour later than planned. I'd made up a lot of time because I'd assumed it would take 15 mins to dismantle the run, when in fact that wasn't needed.

It's all piled up on the grass, and I'm just getting up the enthusiasm to go and re-mantle it.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Bertie Ping Pong

Ping and Pong....

...and Bertie

Buttering up

I'd briefly looked at electric butter churns some years ago.  I was interested in something which would speed up my home processing,  or would in some other way simplify what I do.  When I saw the price, I decided I'd better carry on doing it as I do.

I set up alerts on Ebay, Gumtree, etc,  just in case.  Over the years I've had a few alerts.  These are broken machines,  or ones which aren't at all what I'm looking for.

And then, some time ago,  one popped up for exactly the machine I had been interested in.  It was a ridiculous amount of money, so I ignored it.  Some days later,  long after the ad had gone,  I found the link to the manufacturers website and I realised that the machine I'd seen was actually a bit of a bargain. It was still a lot to pay for a hobby butterist,  but I couldn't imagine ever getting a new machine for that sort of money, nor a used one.

Eventually I found the seller advertising elsewhere,  and I bought the machine.   My parents collected it for me, and brought it with them a month later when they came to visit.   It was summer, and too hot to make butter, so I put it in the utility room.  Then DH had his accident, time passed, and I had got into the habit of buying butter.

In Costco the other day I decided I'd better get on with it.  I bought cream, which I stuffed in the fridge.   I decidid that yesterday was going to be the day.

I unpacked the machine, washed it all, sterilised it all, watched the videos.    I put in my 4l of cream (I can only process about 1.5 - 2 litres a time in my Thermy), turned it on... and it didn't work.

DH sorted the fault out for me, and I tried again.

It did an excellent job of the initial churning and of course it was converting a lot more cream at once than I could otherwise do.     Big Tick.

The buttermilk drained off through the tap at the bottom.  Big Tick.

On to the washing step.  For the first batch, I used water from the tap (for the second batch, I'd put water in the freezer to chill).

The washing seemed to work really well.  Much less hassle than doing it by hand and spinning it.  I also didn't lose butter in the process, which was a bonus. Big Tick.

The butter was, however, a bit.... loose.    I don't know if this was the weather, or because I hadn't used chilled water,  or whether it was because water was being retained in the butter itself.    I hoiked the butter out and put it on a colander in a bowl in the fridge, and left it there while I made the second batch.

When the second batch was ready,  I started to salt the first.  Some water had drained off, but not a lot.   I salted it in the food mixer, and potted it.  Its all now in the freezer and in the fridge.

Cleaning up was really quick and easy, and there was a lot less collateral damage cleaning to be done as well.

I won't know whether it has a lot of water in, until I start using it.   If it does then I guess that I'll have to add in a step where I use Thermy to spin the water out  Or use Scotch Hands.  I have a pair, but find they make a lot of mess.

Even if I do have to put in an extra step,  it was a lot quicker and a lot less labour intensive than my normal production line. When I did it BC (Before Churn), I used to process 10 litres of double cream in a session,  1.5 to 2 litres at a time.       Next time I might go up to 12 litres of cream (3 batches).  Or I might stick at 8 litres and do it more often.

The machine is the Milky FJ10.