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).