Saturday 29 August 2020

Another week

Another week has happened - where did it go?

This time last week, my parents had been due to arrive.   I can't believe there have been 7 days in between then and now.

The children are due back at school next week, (NEXT WEEK!) including Miss Tween.   Lockdown meant she wasn't able to come over during the holidays,  so she ended up spending every day at the stables.  They were grateful for the help.  Of course, she loves being at the stables - what Tween wouldn't?! - so even when lockdown eased, it wasn't fair to drag her away.   

We've missed her very much.

The week has been rainy and, having been wishing for the wet stuff, I tried hard not to complain.    We rearranged the Girls to try and gve some of the ground a rest.  15 pairs of feet are just too many for the ground to recover quickly.       I was scrubbing the drinkers last night, and it felt like only a couple of days since I'd been doing exactly the same thing.  I guess it was a week, really.

 In fact, the whole week was a bit of a Groundhog Day, with visiting the hospital for blood tests on 3 out of the 5 days.  Day 1, they'd closed early.     Day 2,  when I sat i the chair it turned out that one of the test was meant to be a fasting test, and I hadn't.  Day 3, I'd fasted (and they had trouble extracting blood because I'd not drunk enough water in the morning.... because I hadn't wanted to risk needing to use the toilet at the hospital).   

I did manage to cut up one of the two GroBlinds I'd bought.   In fact, I'd even completed one new blind yesterday,  and almost completed the second one for the other side of the french window.   I needed some additional suckers, from the second blind.  So I had to mark out the second blind and pop out the spares, then stick them in Milton.      Today's tafget is to get them installed and the final hem sewn up,  so both blinds are finished.    I might also try and make a start on divvying up the second blind,  which is going to provide individual covers for a smaller pair of french windows, and the 3 panes of the window.   

The windows are covered in sucker marks where I've been putting the blind up at every step to make sure I haven't made any errors before moving on to the next step. 

DH has had the "we need to do something with the (insert name of something we're growing) today" bug.    He's picked loads of tomatoes and has  done two lots of passata (2x9x500ml jars), al pressure canned;    he also started 2 huge batches of apple wine,  following 2 very different recipes.  One was from Suzy Atkins fab Drinks book,  and the other was from the ever-relable Marguerite Patten  from her 500 Home Made Wines book.      Looking forward to seeing how those turn out.

DH also picked all the corn on the cob.  It's been a disappointing crop.  One variety was, at best, OK for chickens.    The other was variable.    I blanched the cobs (according to size) and froze them.    We ended up with 2 packs of 2 cobs which were for me to eat at some point,  and all the rest were in bags for the chickens.  They can have them in the winter when there really is no grass.

I had a go at making deep pan pizza yesterday, in the style of Pizza Hut.  I found a recipe on line,  and I'd already bought some (too small) deep pan pizza dishes.      It was't bad, but I had list of learnings:
- don't use the fan setting on the oven, use the bread setting
- don't put the dough up the sides of the pan,  it will rise naturally
- garlic butter round the edge wored really well- halve the amount of dough,  or buy bigger pans.

I used the spare dough - there was a lot of it - to make a cheesy garlic bread .  I was too full of dough crusts to face actually eating it,  but DH had some and seemed to enjoy it  Oh I've just popped into the kitvhen and cut muself a slice of it. Its good, even cold.  I used Shirgar butter, which I can only get from Ocado, and it's extra salty. Yummy!I might have to go and have another piece in a minute.  Or I might try and restrain myself, and we can have it with mutton chops for dinner tonight.  Mmm.

I managed to get a few things up in the loft,  and I donated a whole load of bottles and jars.  I had a small delivery of fabric with children's designs on.   Some of it almost too good for kids, and I might have to make something out of it.        I need to get these blinds finished frst so I can reclaim my cutting table.

 Speaking of blinds, I guess I should try and get on and do them. 

 Catch up soon xxx




Thursday 27 August 2020

White Out

Like most people, I guess,  I haven't been to the hairdresser since before lockdown.  My hair was due a colour the week lockdown started,  so its been an interesting 5 months.  

My regrowth has been grey for years. It was always a dirty yellow grey, as if I was a smoker.   As lockdown continued,  my regrowth turned out to be bright white.   I didn't mind it. 

I'm fortunate to have very curly hair,  and a lot of the white was disguised by the curls.  The bits that could be seen made me look like Cruella de Ville. 

The regrowth  grew longer, as did my hair.  My fringe covered the whole of my face,  and i tied it back in various ways depending on how cooperative my curly locks were being.

I didn't mind the white.  The hair was soft and curly,   I'm now at an age where grey hair isn't unusual.   As lockdown  extended,  I toyed with the idea of letting it all go white.  After all,  from a growing colour out point if view,   this was the ideal time!

Sometimes I'd turn the hair so I could see what I'd look like with all white hair.   If I pulled my hair back tightly, so that it was straightened,  it was completely white around my face   

 It was definitely ageing, but it wasn't horrendous.

One day I had to tie my fringe back a bit more securely.   I can't remember why, now.   DH looked up, did an involuntary double take and,  staring at my locks,exclaimed 'Oh my god you're so grey'.

So that was the end of me trying with keeping it.

My hairdresser expunged it yesterday.

I miss it. A bit. 

Sunday 23 August 2020

Testing Times

The recent heat made me very slothful and sluggish, and I suffered a severe bout of CBA (can't be @rsed).  Even thinking and planning was too much effort.  (It's not really that I CBA, it's not that flippant, that's just what I call it). Everything was an effort.

The CBA meant I was sitting still for long periods (mostly trying to do puzzles,  or read, or other things).

I started to have a "pulled muscle" feeling, deep inside my leg - but not in the "usual" place.  I compared the painful leg with the other leg, and could see no difference.    On the second day, I was a bit more concerned.  On the third day,  I got my tape measure out and found a  measurable difference at the knee.   I decded to go to A&E to get it checked out. Just in case.

Long story short.  No DVT, but another unrelated issue confirmed as worsening  and tablets prescribed.

The doctor was very kind, and didn't do or say anything to make me feel that I had wasted her time,  but I did feel a bit silly. 

The "pulled muscle" feeling didn't go away,  and the reality is if I hadn't gone to hospital that day, I would have gone the next, or the next, so I felt a bit less like a time waster.

5 days after my afternoon spent in A&E,  I had a sort of sore throat and an occasional cough.  My throat got worse the next day.   On the 3rd day, worried that I had picked up something in A&E, I decided I'd better go and have a COVID test.  The driver for this is that my parents, who live a loooong way away and have been shielding,  were coming to stay for a couple of days.   We haven't see them since Christmas,  and we had already  moved our pencilled-in July weekend back to August to be on the safe side.

I wasn't showing the classic symptoms but I was unwell, and I thought it best to get tested just in case.    We are fortunate to have a drive in testing centre in a nearby town.  I made an appointment online (although they happily accept people who just turn up) and it was all done quickly, easily and  well.   

The results arrived by text and email the next day (the day before my parents were due), and I was clear.  That was a relief,  although I still felt unwell.

The following day,  my parents got up super early to drive here..... and found their conservatory had flooded in the night.    The visit has had to be rearranged.  

My energy levels have improved a bit, even if I'm not necessarily able to do everything.   Energy levels for me are a combination of the mental drive to do something, and the physical ability to do it.  

To measure the extreme low end, I imagine that it's early in the monring, and I am in bed asleep.  I wake up and hear a fox in the garden.     In "normal" times, I would be up and out there before I'd even woken up properly, the mental drive would overcome any physical restriction.
When my energy reserves are low, a "0" score would be that  I wouldn't be able to get up and stop it  (I'd be mentally and physically unable to get up);   "1" would be, I'd try to get up but would struggle physically and I might not be able to do it, or I might be too slow (I'd want to get up, butit would be a physical push to do so).    

On the day I went to hospital, I was 2/10 on my personal scale.  Today,   I'm probably at 4/10.  My brain and emotional processes are working reasonably well,  I'm physically under the weather.  I'm guessing the new medication is kicking in and helping things.



Tuesday 18 August 2020


It's been so hot.  I know you probably already know that.  Regularly above 33 degrees.  Stifling.

I don't like the heat,  and I class "the heat" as being anything above about 26 degrees.   To try and manage, I've been closing the doors and drawing the curtains and blinds.  I stuck a gro blind (a portable blackout blind designed for use wwith children) to the kitchen window. 

It worked quite well, and I considered chopping it up to fit the individual glass panels.  I also looked for fitted blinds (we have them in a couple of the north facing rooms), but the lead time was too long.  I looked for second hand "PerfectFit" blinds as a compromise,  but they have to be an exact fit width wise and I have't been able to source any for any of the south facing windows.

DH mentioned getting an awning for the south facing kitchen window.   They aren't really my sort of thing, but I was so hot, I didn't care.   I looked online and managed to find a "new other" one for sale,  which was about the same price as getting fitted blinds made for the kitchen window,  was a reasonable size, was only 22 miles away, and was electically operated.    I bought, DH went and collected immediately.

DS2 arrived for the day, which was fortuitous.   He and DH put the awning up. 

It's been fantastic.  It's helped prevent the kitchen from feeling like an oven. 

3 days later, the weather changed.  I don't care.  As soon as the sun shows its face again, I'll be ready


Calm (mostly) continues

The Hens are continuing to live as one large flock.     

Poppy, who is 9 and very nervous of her position,  finally stopped being broody (after almost the whole of lockdown) and caused havoc for a while.   All the settling and henpecking went on while she was broody, and she came out to a Brave New World.  She had trouble establishing her place in it,  and is only just settling now

Violent (previously known as Violet,  but she turned out to be quite an aggressive little thing) has been broody for a couple of weeks.  She's 2 years old, and thinks she should be top chook. She probably will be.

Katy,  who is 9 and from the same hatch as Poppy and Gloria,  is also broody.

We still have a few fights,  and I chucked a bucket of water (which I happened to have in my hand) over one girl who decided to jump in on someone else's battle and got unnessarily nasty.

There's no grass to speak of.  It's all scorched from the constant sun.    I had expected to lose a couple of the older girls in the heat, despite taking precautions,  but so far they are all still here.         Nora, who is 10,  unsteady on her feet and blind on one eye,  laid an egg.  It was shelless, and it caused her a bit of consternation, but it happened.     She and Fleur (who is much younger and fitter) have halted their physical assualts and have actually been seen sunbathing near each other.     They aren't friends, but it looks like they've worked out who's above who. 

The night time arrangements continue to change.   We no longer have 11 (of the 15) trying to get in one coop.

I've been leaving the coop doors open at night , as it's too hot to shut them all in. 

I've been bathing the older girls to cool them down,  and using a damp towel under the wings of the others.    Lettuce, cucumber,  frequent fresh water, frozen peas.     Luckily their area has lots of dappled shade, and there's enough in enough places so thet don't have to sit together (unless they want to).

We're still having nest box issues, and having 2 broodies makes that worse.    The noise to be let out (of their walk in run) now starts at 6am, which is an improvement on 5am.  Some mornings they don't start creating until 7 or 7.30.

Our neighbours have children and a dog.  The children and the dog make a bit of noise, nothing unreasonable or unexpected,  and the Dad makes a bit of noise tinkering.   I worry less about the noise of the Girls now,  but we do still try and keep it down.


Monday 3 August 2020


It's taken many, many weeks,  but peace has mostly broken out.   The one cloud on the horizon is that Poppy, 9 years old, has been broody for the entire peace process, and will not be happy when she finally rejoins the flock.

I'm not entirely sure who is in charge now.   

All 3 Cubes are in use at night and,  with some exceptions,  the occupants change around a bit.  It seems OK.

All the girls, even Nora (the oldest at nearly 10, and blind in one eye) come down to the front of their area now.  They dustbathe in the massive craters they have excavated.   Hens that were bitter enemies are dustbathing together.   The small breakout groups that go and sit in other saded parts of the garden chop and change,  which suggests that some sort of accorde has been achieved.

The turning point was when we connected the two runs.  There was something psychological in them not being separated when shut in that forced them to realise they were one flock.

There is still squabbling, and the occasional bad tempered peck and chase,  and I've seen a few pecked combs.... but I've not seen any of the "to the death" cockfighting that we had originally.

There are still too many of them for the area of grass... this pic was taken a couple of weeks ago, before the recent hot dry weather scorched the grass.

They now have extra bowls with cold water refreshed a couple of times a day, and frozen peas put in. Lettuce, or cucumber, to help keep them hydrated.       Baths for those that need it (or look like they need help in cooling down).

I'm pleased, for the first time, that we don't have chicks this year.  Chicks in this heat are such a worry. 

I'm not sure when we'll have chicks again, as a return to the allotment  looks unlikely.  The thieves have been again - nothing to steal now,  just damage to be done.