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Still chilly

♥Jan. 20th, 2017 // 06:06 pm
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Part of the reason it's so chilly down here is because this is what it looks like at 9:30 in the morning:



We have one of the horses' water buckets by the school, for when they're turned out nearby. This afternoon, we were intrigued to see how frozen it was, so we tipped it out to have a look:



(I managed to ride GB a little this afternoon, for the first time in a while. I was going to try yesterday but the school was still like concrete when they were due to come in. He was doing ok other than occasional stumbles when he stepped on a lump of sand and it confused him by not squooshing down like it normally does.)

Still, the good news is that "temperatures are set to plummet to -7C in rural areas" tonight, so at least it'll be warmer than it has been. Um. Right?
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Brr

♥Jan. 18th, 2017 // 06:47 pm
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It's been quite chilly here (yesterday, on the evening weather forecast, they mentioned that the afternoon had been sunny with a high of 13 in Scotland, and sunny with a high of 1 in Kent...), and we think that last night may have been the coldest since we moved here: the ducks' water bucket, inside the duck house inside the stable, was frozen over this morning, and when Mike did the animals' water this afternoon the garage tap (which gets the sun, unlike the stableyard one, which he didn't even try) took a while to run: both pretty much unheard of. (The weather station seems to be broken, so I don't have an exact figure. At least -10, maybe -12?)

Mike bought new carrots for the horses a couple of days ago, and yesterday I forgot to put some water in the bucket to store them (carrots keep better under water if it's -- ha ha -- warm weather). This morning, they were rather frosty looking, and the bucket of water from GB's stable that I poured over them had ice floating on the surface, with the end result that the carrots in the boys' dinners looked rather... chilly.



It turns out that the new people in the flat, who we've still not spoken more than a few words to for largely weather-related reasons, actually have three horses, all mares. Bugs was very interested in going to say hello when I brought the boys in past their field yesterday.

Jo had her first (this time around) swimming lesson today, a very easy session to get her back into it but she seemed happy enough and the physio was happy with how she looked in the water.
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Bloody hipsters

♥Jan. 13th, 2017 // 06:48 pm
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My fortnightly box of flowers arrived today (we have a brave DPD man, and his route to get here doesn't involve the hill. As he was leaving, I asked where he was going next and after some discussion, including my describing the van I'd watched take three goes at it before giving up a little earlier, he decided to go the long way around to avoid having to try it).

They are, as ever, lovely -- roses and wax flowers, which are tiny wee things with a lovely lemon scent -- but this week's box included a special free gift as well! A good friend of Freddie's has just launched a new company, and here was a sample of his fabulous new artisanal... toothpaste.

They offer a subscription service, or you can buy it in Waitrose.
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Ponies in the snow

♥Jan. 13th, 2017 // 02:59 pm
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Pooch update

♥Jan. 11th, 2017 // 12:57 pm
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Jo continues to look slightly less silly every day, and her leg seems to be healing on schedule as well.

We've just been for our 'walk': a few minutes down the road and back, but at least it's getting her out of the house. In another week or so, she'll be cleared to lie on the ground outside, so we won't have to keep tying her up in the barn, and she'll be back to swimming lessons.

I do hope that we don't get lots of snow tomorrow. I'll feel very mean if we do when she's not allowed to bound around in it!
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Picking up the pooch

♥Jan. 6th, 2017 // 09:35 pm
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After a rather rushed early morning (the farrier, and Mike being in London, meant I had a fair bit to do with the boys), I headed off to collect Jo from the vet.

Shortly after I got onto the A2, a couple of policemen, car parked across the road, waved me back off it, which made my heart sink: that meant I'd have to brave the Canterbury ring road to get back on track, and the Canterbury ring road locks up at the drop of a hat let alone the addition of all the traffic from the A2.

Fortunately, it wasn't actually too bad: getting to the ring road was slow, but it moved well once I was there, and I was only about ten minutes late to the vet.

Jo was, as ever, very pleased to see me, and nearly dragged the nurse across the waiting room. The poor dear looks very silly.

On the way home, I realised that I'd actually been incredibly lucky with the drive there: the car accident that caused the closure was just being loaded onto a flatbed, and there was a long line of parked cars sitting on the road behind it. When I got to where I'd been waved off the road, there were three police cars and lots of flashing signs: I must have got there very soon after they closed it, and was just too late to miss being stuck there for an hour or more and just too early to miss having the ring road full of diverted traffic.

Jo's putting a reasonable amount of weight on the leg now, but she's obviously sore and struggling to get comfortable when she lies down. Hopefully she'll feel better in a few days. I'd forgotten quite how silly she looked with her leg shaved!
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It feels very odd...

♥Jan. 5th, 2017 // 10:24 pm
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... to be making my evening snack of cheese and biscuits without the sound of scurrying feet when I open the fridge, and the sight of a very politely drool-dripping pooch sitting next to me while I make it....

(The night nurse says she's fine, though, and is eating and accepting of cuddles.)
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Vet news

♥Jan. 5th, 2017 // 01:15 pm
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I took Jo down to the orthopaedic vet this morning, and he thinks it's either a tear in the meniscus of the knee or (less likely) an inflamed tendon.

She's stayed in for surgery, and if it is the meniscus then he'll remove the damaged part and she should be better for two or three years, after which it will become painful (if she's still around).

Just as she'd finished growing her coat back, she'll be back to looking silly again. And then there will be the rehab.

Edit: it was a tear, she's out of surgery and waking up.
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Pooch update

♥Jan. 4th, 2017 // 06:16 pm
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Jodie's continued to be varying amounts of lame since we went to the vet last week, so today she went in for x-rays.

We've just picked her up, very happy to see us. When the vet showed us the x-rays, there was obvious swelling on the joint that had the surgery, and the vet said there was quite a lot of movement in the joint (just like before the surgery). I asked what it meant and she said "Well, I've never seen one of these repairs fail, so I'm not sure," which rather implies that she thinks it has.

Off to the people who did the operation tomorrow, with orders to prep for her going into surgery the same day.

Poor pooch.

Various other stuff is also sucky, so I'm feeling rather glum at present.
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Pooch

♥Dec. 28th, 2016 // 05:41 pm
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Jo was still lame this morning, so I booked her in to see the vet.

The pain is in her knee, and she's not showing any signs of an infection (unlikely after such a long time), so it's either that the joint's developed arthritis from the op (certain to happen at some point) and she tweaked it yesterday morning or that there's something gone wrong with the repairs (worrying).

She's got a weekend of pottering around but no walks, and pain killers, and we'll see how she gets on. Hopefully she'll improve, if not there will be x-rays.
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Worrying

♥Dec. 27th, 2016 // 03:35 pm
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Jo's limping, on the same leg that she had the operation on over the summer. Somewhat ominous, hopefully unconnected.

Vet tomorrow, if she's still not right in the morning.
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Sale dilemmas

♥Dec. 25th, 2016 // 09:05 pm
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We're plotting new sofas, and have pretty much decided which ones we want and narrowed the fabric choices down to two or three (just waiting for the swatches to arrive so that we can see them in the living room).

One of the sizes we want (the one that will be the pooch's) is in the sale, half price but only in red (yuck) or a slightly darker beige than we currently have, which we were avoiding because it shows the mud and such.

Decisions, decisions....

(Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you had a lovely day!)
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Flowers

♥Dec. 24th, 2016 // 04:31 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1191985.html]

My flowers, a week and a bit ago, were half a dozen amaryllis stems. My mother told me I had to put canes up the middle of the (hollow) stems, or the weight of the flowers would make them flop over in the middle, which I dutifully did.

This morning, I cam downstairs to find that one of them had flopped over anyway, right behind the flowerhead where the cane didn't reach. I threw it away and put it down to bad luck, but then another one went while we were walking the pooch and I decided I'd better do something. I put some florist's wire around the weak spot on all of them, but it wasn't keeping the floppy one entirely upright, so in the end I poked a cocktail stick into each stem, just behind the flower, and have crossed my fingers.

Then I went and got some greenery from the garden, to confuse the eye and make the supports less obvious. We'll see how they do, and I'll know for next time!



(I also, today, got an arrangement of roses from my sister via M&S. I suspect my recent experiences will have me going 'tsk' when they don't last as long as I think that they should.
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Hurrah!

♥Dec. 23rd, 2016 // 03:58 pm
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The Aga is fixed!

Of course, now I'm worried that this wind will put the power out.... We've already had a couple of little flickers.
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Bow ties

♥Dec. 22nd, 2016 // 06:16 pm
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On and (mostly) off, I've spent the last six months folding linen squares into little bow tie shapes.

I've finally finished doing them:



And today I started sewing them together, which is looking like taking *far* less time:



(The fabric isn't actually beige, it's pale purple!)

Also today, the Aga Man failed to fix our Aga (someone with the right part will come back tomorrow), and we took Jo for a run on the beach, where we met an 18 month old Bernese bitch, who was very friendly. We really should have taken a picture for those times when people give us funny looks for saying that Jo's a midget, though.
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Oh, and....

♥Dec. 21st, 2016 // 07:59 pm
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While we were out, Jodie took advantage of her muddy feet to get rid of the crisp fresh laundry scent on the just-changed bed linen.

Sigh.

And the ovens on our year-old Aga have stopped working. There's an engineer coming tomorrow.

Sigh.

Saw the first bluebell shoot of the year, though!
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Miss Whiplash

♥Dec. 21st, 2016 // 07:23 pm
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(Only not in the fun way.)

My neck's been getting steadily more painful over the last few days, so today Mike drove me to the physio to get it checked out. Much poking and prodding later, he happily told me that he was fairly sure that I hadn't cracked an vertebrae: yay?

What he does think is that I've got whiplash from coming off Bugs, which probably also means that I didn't catch Mike's illness, I just had headaches and feeling crap and aching because the whiplash was developing. This explains why I didn't get various other symptoms, like a fever and a cough.

On the way there, we stopped off at John Lewis to look at fabric samples for the new sofas we're planning on getting. They had an ex-display coffee table of the model we we also planning on getting, so that came home with us. Half price with a couple of tiny chips to the corners suits us just fine!

Now I just need to order my own copies of the fabrics that we liked, so that we can look at them some more and start thinking about curtains.
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How not to ship things

♥Dec. 20th, 2016 // 10:31 am
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If you're a fancy hamper company, that goes to the trouble of having your own branded cardboard boxes to protect your fancy hamper boxes while in transit, and you only make hampers that come in three sizes of fancy boxes, I'd have thought it wasn't beyond the realms of sensibleness to have three different sizes of branded cardboard box, rather than shipping things in a box three times bigger than is needed.

And if you must send things in an enormous box, at least get those cellulose packing chips that dissolve in water, rather than the plastic kind that will just end up taking up half the volume of my landfill bin at a time of year when it's likely to get far more full than usual, hey?



(It is possible that they'd just run out of the right size box but, if so, the same thing happened last year which might also be a hint about stock control....)
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Mid-winter things

♥Dec. 19th, 2016 // 09:46 am
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We have both been poorly. Mike is still poorly, I ache horribly but think it's more horse- than virus-related.

In contrast to the last couple of years, when riding schedules have been messed up by rain, this year it's been mist that's the problem (as well as being ill. And sore). I had a go on GB last week but had to stop because a) it was painful and b) GB kept stopping and going 'I don't like this' because he could tell I wasn't right, and Mike hopped on GB yesterday while I lunged Bugs braced myself and clung onto the end of the rope while Bugs charged around the school in circles making occasional contact with the ground, but that's been the extent of it lately.

Ponies in the mist: like gorillas, but less endangered.


Our field is is comparatively fabulous condition, because it's been fairly dry: we're not only still using the steep gate, but we're also still letting the horses run down the hill on their own rather than leading them the long way around. Long may it last!

Still, we have managed to get the Christmas tree up:


I did initially think that this year's brown Amazon wrapping materials were a bit dull, but they go quite well with the decorations I've put on the tree this year, so that's nice.

In bad news for upcoming visitors, Mario Run keeps suggesting that I move to a location with a better mobile signal. On the other hand, thanks to a saga involving the new neighbours finding a water pipe in the way while widening their drive that would have been moderately entertaining had I posted about it while it was happening, our water pressure is now better than it's ever been, so that's a win for people trying to shower while we're filling the horses' water buckets.
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Ditto

♥Dec. 10th, 2016 // 03:02 pm
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This morning, Mike went out to give the boys their breakfast and found Bugsy happily eating the front lawn.

I must have not quite latched his door last night, and then he smashed his way through the chain that's there as a second line of defence (this was odd, as previously he's just gone under it).

In retrospect, this explains the happy horse noises I heard outside late last night: at the time, I just assumed it was TWWOTV's mares and a weird echo / sound reflection, which we get plenty of. I'm surprised that GB wasn't shouting, though. He had sweat marks on his coat this morning, and his stable was a complete state (for the first time since we've been here, I just threw away his whole bed and gave him a new one. Contrast with Bugsy, who gets this about once a fortnight), so he'd obviously spent the night being a big bundle of stress.

My back was feeling much better, if still sore, yesterday morning, which was fortunate because Mike was in London so I had the whole stableyard to do on my own. My back is feeling much worse today. I have learnt my lesson and Mike will be doing the mucking out for the next couple of days.

Some experimentation has shown that the ducks will neither eat nor use their pond indoors. When Mike moved the pond outside and refilled it this morning, they charged over to have a bath and Agnes (who has a bad leg and spends a lot of time in there) doesn't seem to have left it since except when they had their corn. We're being careful about getting rid of left-over food before to corvids notice it, but I don't really think that there's much else we can do: there's no point stressing them to death to avoid the risk of catching 'flu.

We went, with a certain amount of trepidation, to get a Christmas tree this morning. Last year, when we went on the equivalent of yesterday, we had great trouble finding one. Today, though, the little garden centre had a good dozen that were much nicer than the one we ended up with last year, and the one we bought seems to be very suitable: nicely symmetrical, branches not starting too low down, no enormous bald spike on top. Phew.

Mike seems to be coming down with another cold. I have explained that this is Just Not On, as it's currently *my* turn to be lying around feeling pathetic, but he's insistent on having it. Men!
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Bloody animals

♥Dec. 8th, 2016 // 05:18 pm
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As we do, we rode the horses this morning. Even though it was a bit windy, Bugsy was very well behaved for me, and we started doing some (for him) fairly complicated sequences of movements. He did really well the first time through, and the second time was also going great until he caught sight of TWWOTV's two mares charging around on the side of the hill and took off after them.

In much the same way as Mike really needs to stop landing on the same shoulder every time, I really need to stop landing (almost) flat on my back. Trotting afterwards was incredibly uncomfortable.

"I'm starting to wonder if we should keep him," Mike said.

Still, I'm doing better than I was: I still can't bend over but I can now crouch down. Getting back up again is pretty horrific, mind. Pooch is wondering why she's not getting stroked as much as usual, and indeed why I keep making peculiar noises when she head-butts me to make sure I'm aware of the deficiency.

This will rather play silly buggers with plans for the next few days, including how long Mike manages to get to the office for tomorrow (rather depends on whether I can muck out; I couldn't today), the amusing scene of Mike attempting to get the Christmas tree into the car on his own on Saturday, and quite probably Mike having to porter Christmas presents and wrapping paper around the house on Sunday as I get things ready to send off.

Poor Mike's had to do everything today, including holding GB for the dreaded blood test of doom. Still, he didn't get smashed into the wall, so that's a win.
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Bird 'flu

♥Dec. 7th, 2016 // 01:25 pm
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It seems there's a bird 'flu outbreak in Europe, and Just In Case there are now restrictions on birds in England.

We can't practically keep the ducks indoors (the stable where they sleep is small and dark), so after a bit of a ponder we decided that they definitely have to stay out of the front garden, where there are far more wild birds. As (bad) luck would have it, this morning the horses had their annual dental check, so they were also in the stableyard for a while. As (good) luck would have it, we've been meaning to have a bonfire for a couple of weeks, so we rearranged the bonfire pile to make a barrier around the door to the duck's stable and just let them in the little patch of outside that resulted, with their food and water inside.

Magrat, in particular, complained loudly for the first couple of hours, but since then they seem to have just gone back to bed. They ate *most* of their breakfast, but it took them several hours to do so (they're not laying at the moment, so they're not so interested in food), which we can't really do: it won't be long before Stableyard Robin realises and starts popping over to finish it off.

After a couple of chats with Old Mother Farmer in the woods (she didn't have time for a long walk, so took a shorter route home, and then we met her again ten minutes later), I've decided that, although the guidance says that ducks should be treated as chickens and kept in, our ducks are so free range / wild that really more like geese / fancy wildfowl, which can't be kept indoors: I'm going to keep them out of the front garden but let them have the run of the stableyard, and I'm going to switch both of their meals to corn-in-the-stable in the hope that they'll eat more quickly.

I can't decide what to do about their pond, though. At the moment, it's in the stable and it's not been used all morning. I'd like to put it outside, but I know that if I do and (especially) if we have another cold snap then the birds will be drinking from it. Hmm.

Speaking of cold snaps, we had one: a week or so of frozen taps, riding arenas, and pretty much everything else. On the other hand, lovely sunny days and, best of all, hardly any mud!



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Pied Wagtails

♥Nov. 28th, 2016 // 01:51 pm
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As well as the robins, we've also got plenty of pied wagtails around the place: every year, some lucky pair (possibly the same one each year) manages to lay claim to our stableyard, after which they have no trouble raising a brood or two of chicks by the simple process of hanging around our muck heap all day.

Now that it's getting colder, there aren't so many tasty bugs to be found in there and they've mostly moved out to the field, where there's still food to be found.

Having been raised in our stableyard, they're not quite as afraid of people as they might otherwise be, so you can get fairly close to them before they fly away. This morning, though, I got to within a couple of meters of a pair of them while they were having an energetic, on-the-wing scrap at the top of the field: if I'd not been wearing rubber gloves covered in horse poo, I'd have grabbed my phone and tried to get a video. It was really quite lovely to see!
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Robins

♥Nov. 27th, 2016 // 04:35 pm
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We have several robins around the house. There's one who has the stableyard, one who has the front garden and one who has the back garden. I'm not sure if Back Garden Robin's territory extends in the field (or, more usefully for a robin, the field hedge) or not.

I've always felt that, whether he has the field hedge or not, Back Garden Robin has the worse deal. Stableyard Robin has it pretty good, with all the insects he can eat from the muck heap and occasional forays into the duck's stable and the barn to pick up bits of dropped feed. The clear winner at this time of year, though, is Front Garden Robin: the ducks are off lay, which means they're not very interested in their high fat, high protein chicken feed, so the tin just sits there waiting for someone else to have a go. Even when the ducks go back on lay (and Esk has been showing signs of interest in food the last few days), there are all the bits dropped from the bird feeders (although we've cracked down on those this year, and decided that two feeders of sunflower seeds per day is the absolute maximum. Even if I relent and re-fill them at lunch time when it gets very cold, we're hoping to keep it down to no more than one 20kg sack a month. Plus the peanuts and fat balls and niger seeds, obviously).

Yesterday, I was weeding the flowerbed next to the drive while Mike trimmed the hedge. I looked around at one point and saw two robins sitting watching me in that checking-for-worms way that they do.

Even given that the drive is probably the boundary between Stableyard and Front Garden, I was surprised to see two so close together. They weren't posturing at each other, just checking what I was doing and keeping half an eye on Jo.

We did have baby robins in the garden this year, so I wonder if they're related and still young enough to put up with each other.
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Experimental gardening

♥Nov. 23rd, 2016 // 04:05 pm
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I planted a load of hollyhocks this year, and a couple of them were a lovely very dark purple. I saved seed from one of those, and have several pots of seedlings in the conservatory, but I wasn't sure if they'd come true so on the advice of the internet I've just taken some root cuttings from one of them, as well.

It's only after doing so that I noticed that all the sites saying that root cuttings work really well for hollyhocks are American, all the UK sites just say to grow them from seed.

I'm now wondering if American hollyhocks are actually a completely different plant: anyone know?
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More free stuff

♥Nov. 20th, 2016 // 03:03 pm
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I have, I think, now finished tidying and rearranging, although I'm not sure what I'm going to go with the masses of stuff to go in the landfill and paper recycling bins, which were already full after yesterday's efforts. (Bizarre as it may seem from the stuff I'm trying to re-home, I've thrown away a huge amount of actual junk. I have no idea where some of these things came from.)

(Actually, I haven't finished: I started this because I wanted to get my fabric stash out of plastic boxes and onto a set of Expedit shelves. That part has happened, but not yet the part where I go through and neatly sort the fabrics by type and colour and so on. Maybe tomorrow.)

So, if anyone wants it...
Various crafty bits:

- silver and gold plastic stars
- various colours of star-shaped stickers
- stick-on diamante thingies
- stickers of fancy party frocks
- blue / purple die-cut flowers
- what the package says are 'fabric luggage tags'
- various colours of leaf skeletons
- blue paper tags
- lots of pairs of small hinges
- little glass test tubes with stoppers that have loops so you can put things in them and hang them on a piece of jewellery

Ditto:

- beige-ish pipe cleaners
- blue paper tags (again. oops)
- microscope slides and cardboard holders for them (some for one slide, some for two)

And less crafty stuff:

- three packs of raunchy wrapping paper (I have no idea who this was intended for...)
- red and gold beaded gift bag
- two white and silver angel gift decorations
- white and silver gift decoration stickers
- red and gold gift decoration stickers
- differently shaped gift decoration stickers

Hmm. In retrospect I should probably checked to see if anyone wanted an entire Really Useful Box full of those little shiny rosette things that you always get in packs of Christmas ribbons and that I hardly ever use because I don't like them. Oh well.
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Having a clear out

♥Nov. 19th, 2016 // 06:38 pm
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I'm rearranging and tidying my bits of the study, so here's some stuff that's free to a good home provided it can be hand delivered (I'll stick the small stuff in the post, as well, but not the bigger things).

Heart and star shaped brads, also some mini-rivets:


A load of beads, first dibs to Giulia:


Random stuff:

- clear plastic food-grade bags with snowflakes on them
- four tubes of metallic acrylic, almost entirely unused
- five small fake birds
- Jessica fusion base and 2x brilliance top coats
- some googly eyes
- most of a block of modelling clay (this is several years old but it has been in a sealed bag and is still squidgy when you poke it; I've no idea if it's still usable)
- a pack of sequins
- an egg dying kit

Various blank books:

(The pink one is about A4, for scale.)

Also half a dozen poster tubes, big and small.

Probably more in the next few days, when I start looking to see what's inside the boxes currently stacked up on the study sofa....
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Possibly not my greatest success

♥Nov. 19th, 2016 // 03:34 pm
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When I made the juice for the medlar jelly, we didn't have any apples in so I thought I'd just slosh in a bit of bottle pectin when I boiled it up today.

(Medlars do have some pectin, but not much.)

Today, though, I realised I'd finished the pectin when I made chilli jelly the other week and not bought any more. Hrm.

I stuck a bit of citric acid in, and the jars are currently in the fridge in the hopes that that will trigger a change from 'faintly gloopy' to 'very soft set', but I'm not hopeful.

And the first storm of the season has just arrived. With amber wind warnings overnight, I hope that the phone and power stay up!
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Things

♥Nov. 18th, 2016 // 06:36 pm
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Novacon was mostly nice, and fairly quiet, but involved late nights (as ever).

I decided that I wasn't enjoying my pilates class enough to make up for the driving there and back in the dark part of the experience, so I've swapped to a different class (daytime), with a different instructor but at the same place. I had the first session yesterday and, even though the people in the class were generally creakier and less good, it was a much better workout. Fingers crossed.

TWWOTV is having various building work done. GB is unimpressed: he can hear it but not see it, so he's a bit stressed by it all, poor lad.

The house Up The Hill has finally completed on the sale, so we now have new Mr and Mrs Up The Hill, and two small girl children ditto. I'd better put together a little welcome hamper, though it's a shame the ducks are off lay.

I continue to be impressed with Freddie's Flowers. I've still got about half of the bunch from two weeks ago, and this is today's selection:


I've finished the little table runner I was making using English Paper Piecing. I enjoyed the actual EPP part of it but found hand quilting to be very tedious, fiddly, and hard on my hands; it is very lightly quilted as a result. Still, I'm quite pleased with it even if I did realise about three days ago that I'd cocked it up right at the beginning and have bought another pattern that I'd been vaguely admiring for some time.


For about six weeks now, I've had a plate full of this year's medlar crop sitting on a plate in the hall, bletting. Bletting is a bit like rotting only less so, and you have to let it happen for a couple of weeks in order to make the fruit usable. Today, I decided that they must have had long enough and took them to the kitchen to make jelly from. When I cut the fruit up, about a third of it looked like it was actually rotten, so I stuck that in the compost and put the rest on to simmer. An hour or so later, they were all still rock hard and the liquid was mostly colourless, which rang alarm bells: when I looked online, I discovered that actually my rotten ones were correct and the rest should have had longer to blet. Fortunately, they were only in the indoor compost bin, so I rinsed them off and stuck them in the pan with the rest and stuck them back in the Aga for another hour. The juice is draining off now, we'll see whether the jelly is actually usable tomorrow....

(Many of the recipes call for a mix of bletted and fresh medlars, if in the reverse of the proportions I ended up with, so it's hopefully not too much of a problem!)

It's definitely getting wintery, now, and we very much appreciated the fire this afternoon. On the other hand, my parents had about six inches of snow this morning, so it could be worse!
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Agitated pooch

♥Nov. 7th, 2016 // 07:11 pm
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Mike's in London today, which always makes Jo a bit worried. What's worse, although she's only just starting to realise after I had dinner on my own, is that he's got a dinner meeting so he won't be back for a few more hours yet. It'll be interesting to see if she wants to go for a run in the field while I'm doing the boys or if she'll go and camp out by the drive to wait for him.

While I was eating, she jumped up and started barking at some nearer-than-usual owls.

Just as I was about to bring the boys in earlier, she suddenly started proper barking, of the 'there is a person on the property' variety* from the front garden. When I went over, I couldn't see anyone around but then, a few minutes later, a woman drove down the hill and got out to ask if I'd seen her lost sausage dog, which made me go 'aha', as Jo sometimes also barks when people walk past with dogs. I told her what had happened and she drove off down the road to look for him, but came back a couple of minutes later dogless. Hope she manages to track him down!

We're having a bit of a spate of lost dogs recently (I've had a couple of texts from Not-Very-Next-Door Neighbour, as well as the one Mike found), hopefully it won't last.

* This is pretty much the only thing that really gets her going, and she keeps it up until she's sure we know about the intruder. For a generally very quiet dog (other than this it's just an occasional woof when she's very excited), this is a remarkably good choice of things to complain about! It was slightly embarrassing the time when she decided that Mrs Up The Hill wasn't allowed in her own field without permission, though....
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It got a bit windy last night

♥Nov. 7th, 2016 // 03:52 pm
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Oops.
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Stuffed

♥Nov. 5th, 2016 // 09:18 pm
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I've just finished the stuffing that I bought for the Loncon Plokta pigeon. Finally!

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough for what I was doing, so I've had to order another, slightly smaller, sack of the same!
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Good / bad

♥Nov. 4th, 2016 // 04:22 pm
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Last night, we went to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets Do Shakespear, the last of the Canterbury Festival events that we had tickets for. It was tremendously good fun, easily our favourite thing this year, and I thoroughly recommend going if you get the chance.

(I have a vague memory there was a SFSP show at a convention some time in the last few years, possibly even Loncon even though I'd have thought I'd be less vague about it if so. Does anyone know if I'm right?)

Today, it rained all afternoon and the boys went out with their raincoats on for the first time they really needed them (they'd had them on a couple of times because it was just a bit chilly). Unfortunately, when I brought them in and put their night-time rugs on I found that GB was fine but Bugs was utterly sodden. I've sent a slightly stroppy email to the woman who cleaned and (in theory) re-proofed them. Mistakes do happen, and at least their thin raincoats will dry out quickly, and I can just order a can of spray and fix this myself, but my real concern is that some of their padded raincoats haven't been re-proofed, in which case the boys will be very uncomfortable and cold standing around in them and they'll take days to dry out before they can be used again....

Bugsy's leg was again not right when I lunged him this morning, and GB was a bit wobbly in his rear legs. I'm hoping that Bugs is having problems when he's lunged a lot, and that they'll go away if we stop doing it and just ride him instead. This might be wishful thinking, but it does fit: last year, we started Mike lunging him to get his confidence back and a few weeks later our riding instructor noticed a problem, and then this year I only started lunging him few weeks ago, when they moved back down to our field.... Wait and see.
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Dilly Keen

♥Nov. 1st, 2016 // 03:09 pm
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Last night, we went to see Dilly Keen (from Fascinating Aida) at the King's School, part of the Canterbury Festival.

It was a good show, but a bit downbeat for our tastes (most of the songs seemed to be about failed love affairs!). As an encore ("Usually we'd do a song, but we've got this fabulous piano..."), she and her accompanist did a piano duet: I'd forgotten that she can actually play serious piano as well as just noodling along to the songs.

Today, I've been to little quilt club, where I did some folding of squares for the quilt I've been working on for months (it's going to be very pretty, I think, but it's quite tedious so I'm doing a bit at a time) and then started a couple of Christmas decorations. It was nice to see people, and have a natter.

Yesterday when I exercised the horses neither of them seemed quite right: GB's bad leg was bothering him a bit and, more worryingly, I think that Bugsy's leg, which we'd thought was better, might have been a bit not-right as well. I'm going to give him a couple of days off and then see how it looks.
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Character fail

♥Oct. 31st, 2016 // 11:16 am
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I'm almost out of correspondence cards, so I thought I'd order some new ones.

The last lot I had were nice, so I figured I'd go to the same people again. After I placed the order, I had a vague memory that there was a problem with a mangled em-dash last time I ordered from them, and a quick check of my email showed that (even though their website preview looked fine) I'd had an email from them afterwards asking if there was meant to be ' â€" ' between the phone number and the email address.

This time, I sent them a pre-emptive message through their 'contact us' form, saying that I'd had a problem previously and (if they hadn't fixed whatever was causing it at their end) please could they put the em-dash in.

I've just had an email saying 'please see your attached corrected proof', which features... two hyphens. I suspect that this is someone not realising that the autocorrect that they usually reply on doesn't happen in this particular bit of software....

It's annoying, but mostly because if it works on the website preview then it should bloody well work on the final version.
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Operation Fill The Freezer

♥Oct. 30th, 2016 // 03:06 pm
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Last weekend, we were given a bucket of cooking apples, and today I peeled and chopped and lightly cooked them before putting four big bags in the freezer, ready for making crumble latter in the year.

We've also put down a new section of heavy-duty grass matting (the kind of stuff they put down on when people will be parking on grass), on a patch that got very churned up last winter where we were leading the boys across it: hopefully it'll be less horrible this year, although I'm not sure what the boys will make of it tomorrow when they encounter it for the first time as it'll be rather slippery until the grass grows up through it!

It's probably just a coincidence of the weather and the clocks changing, but it's feeling very gosh-aren't-the-days-getting-short today. We're going to move the electric fence for the first time this evening, as well....
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Bye bye, craze horse

♥Oct. 29th, 2016 // 06:56 pm
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The Horse Next Door is gone, so I suspect that that means Mrs Next Door is gone as well.

This afternoon, I have mostly been making chilli jelly with the majority of the remaining home-grown chillis. Chopping the chillis took as long as the actual jelly making part, but I think it's going to be ok. The jars look pretty, at any rate.
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New freezer

♥Oct. 28th, 2016 // 11:59 am
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Once the inch of faintly scary pale brown ice (studded with peas and the odd mini sausage roll) at the bottom has melted and been washed away, we'll be starting to fill it up. Whether we ever then empty it again is in the balance: Mrs Next Door said we should either keep or throw away what was in there, and we went for the latter when we saw the dates on things, as well as the fact that various of them were leftovers from our BBQ and, more worrying, Baby Next Door's christening party. Well, I hope they were from then, as the other alternative was Ex-Mr and Mrs Next Door's wedding reception!

This morning, while she and her dad loaded things into her car, I took down her electric fence because I'm nice like that she asked me to. Apparently, she and TWWOTV have been having full-on shouting matches, the most recent of which started last night after TWWOTV knocked on the door repeatedly, was ignored, and so let herself in anyway to demand to know why the move was happening so quickly, and then escalated from there.

Fortunately, I'd already told Mrs Next Door that we were going to be out last night, so felt safe in not returning the phone call she made just as we were leaving, or I'm sure I'd have had an earful about it.

We went out to see Marcus Brigstock, as part of the Canterbury Festival. The non-political bits were pretty good*, but a lot of the political stuff fell a bit flat and was what I'd class as the worst kind of left-wing nastiness-for-the-sake-of-it (about both left- and right- and neither-wing subjects and people).

* Except for the bit about gluten intolerance, which would have been both very funny and very true-to-life if it had only included the words "except for people who actually have coeliac".

An aside: I read an article a little while back about the differing attitudes of left to right and right to left, which boiled down to "the left are genuinely scarily angry at the right, but the right mostly go 'there there, you'll get over it' back at them", and thought it sounded accurate in my experience (and, indeed, it seems lately to be getting even worse with scary-angry behaviour towards slightly-different-left people). Then they discussed something similar on Thinking Allowed a couple of weeks back, initially in the context of the US (both sides loath each other, feeling worse about the other than they do about illegal immigrants) but then asking how it plays in the UK and the conclusion was pretty much the same: the left loath the right, the right are fairly indifferent to the left. Odd, and interesting.
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Out in the garden

♥Oct. 26th, 2016 // 04:24 pm
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We've not had a picture of the house for a while, so here you go:


You can definitely see where the boys have been grazing! We'll start moving the fence along in a couple of weeks.

This afternoon, we've been out in the garden. Mike managed to mow the front lawn, while I dug over the veg patch in preparation for dumping horse manure on it. I'm knackered, now.

Last summer, I planted a load of saffron crocuses in the herb bed. A couple of them put up the start of a leaf spike and then got nibbled off, and I assumed that the rest had all been eaten. This year, though, they all came up but without a flower to be seen between them:

I'm hoping that they just found last year very stressful and, having taken a year to recuperate, will finally do something useful next year!
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Lost doggie

♥Oct. 25th, 2016 // 03:34 pm
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Mike went out to run some errands, but phoned a minute after leaving the house (flukily, he had signal) to say that there was a dog on the road with a collar but no tag.

I walked out with a bit of baler twine, and said hello to a slightly nervous but basically friendly little chap who looked like a tan-and-white bull terrier but without the funny-shaped head (maybe a staffy, now that I look at pictures online). When we got him back to the house, I called the vet and they said to bring him in and they'd scan for a chip and take it from there, so we took him out to the car and he happily jumped into the boot. Then he climbed over the back seat, jumped between the front seats, and curled up on the passenger side seat.... After a short attempt to coax him at least onto the back seat, Mike decided to leave him where he was on the grounds he'd probably behave and headed off again with a new item at the start of his list of errands.

Mike reports that he does have a chip but isn't registered with our vet, so they're going to keep him and try to track down the owner through the chip company: hopefully, the database will have up-to-date information on it.

On the off chance, I rang one of the Joint Masters, but she said that none of them had had anything like that with them. (Initially she thought I meant one of the hounds, and said "Oh, no, I've just had a phone call from [local horse business] saying they've got one in their stables!")

I hope he finds his way home!

Edit: Mike also posted a picture of him to a local Facebook group, where someone recognised him and told the owners, so hopefully he's back at home again now.
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Where did the time go?

♥Oct. 25th, 2016 // 11:34 am
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I've been very crap at updating recently, probably a sign that I've not been doing anything very exciting!

There's been a fair bit of gardening going on, mostly weeding but also taking the finished plants out of the vegetable patch. There are still some tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in pots in the conservatory, but I don't think they'll be productive for much longer. Mike managed to mow the back lawn, for the first time since before our BBQ: it was in a bit of a state! I must get my sweetpeas started for next year, and think about the practicalities of my plan to turn the bee garden into a polytunnel for the tomatoes. The tomatoes did terribly this year, as in we've already finished the passata that I made (last year, it lasted until April!).

We've had our first, very slight, frost of the year, the elctric blanket's back on the bed, and the trees are starting to look very pretty. We've also had our first (and second, third and fourth) mice in the barn traps, which I'm treating as a good thing because we didn't get so many last autumn when the rat was in residence. Still to come: first fire of the year, which I'm looking forward to!

In the house, I continue to be impressed with Freddie's Flowers (my second batch was cabbages and white roses, but I also still have a vase with some of the first batch in!). I've been making jelly and sewing various things that are mostly going to be Christmas gifts for people who read this, so no pictures of those, or aren't yet finished (this isn't like me, but the Christmas stuff jumped the queue). Mike's been busy at work, so it's just been me and the pooch more than usual, but we did have a house full of visitors at the weekend, which included going to the beach, looking at old churches, and seeing the Oysterband in Canterbury.

We were expecting the hunt this morning, but didn't see any sign of them (we did hear the hounds, off in the distance). The boys seemed entirely unconcerned about the noise, but we were quite glad that we'd already finished riding by that time!

We're having some issues with their hay this year, annoyingly: back when we first started using this year's batch, they refused to eat three of the first six bales, but then it didn't happen again so we thought maybe it was still a bit green. Over the weekend, though, they turned their noses up at two more bales, so I gave the hay lady a call. She says the culprit is false oat grass, which she's got in the corner of one of her fields (although though the internet seems to think it is palatable), so next year we'll be sure to take our hay from the other field (which is where we've previously had it from, which is why we've not had a problem before). She did say that later in the year (when there's less grass) they might be happier with it, which I'd also vaguely though, but I doubt GB will eat it.
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LJ spam

♥Oct. 9th, 2016 // 10:35 am
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Is anyone else getting LJ spam that just repeats the first line of the post it's a comment on?
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WTF

♥Oct. 8th, 2016 // 08:10 pm
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This afternoon, while walking Jo, Mike and I came across a length of dark green cord, really quite hard to see in the grey, that someone had tied across the path at chest height.

We boggled slightly about why anyone would do that, untied it, and it was only as I was coiling it up to take away with us (annoyingly, or I'd have taken photos) that I made the connection to the fact that the hunt was out this morning (several miles away, as it happened, but I guess that the sabs had the wrong information).

It was just at the end of a lovely long canter - up a short hill and then a nice wide, open forestry road along the flat - and I dread to think what would have happened if someone had ridden into it.

Whether you agree with hunting or not, I really can't imagine the mindset that would do that. Lots of people ride, and cycle, in those woods, not just the hunt. A couple of years ago, I used to regularly bomb along there on GB.

I sent the hunt, and the Forestry lady, an email about it, and one of the masters just called to say he was going to speak to the police so that at least they'd have it logged. I'm seriously boggled.
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Here are some things

♥Oct. 7th, 2016 // 02:54 pm
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We're back from our holiday, where we climbed belfries, went to museums, bought lots of chocolate and pate and other tasty things, and generally had a nice time (other than Monday afternoon, which was stressful and yuck). We even had pretty good weather, just a little damp at the start and a little chilly at the end. Eurotunnel was pretty horrible going, pretty chilled coming back. We were surprised, in both Bruges and Ghent, by how tricky it was to find some breakfast (we tend not to bother with hotel breakfasts, because we don't eat enough breakfast for it to be good value).

Hotels )There are lots of wind turbines in Belgium, or at least it looked that way from the motorway. Most of them were just sitting there, looking like wind turbines, but there were a few that were cunningly camouflaged so that they blended seamlessly into the surrounding countryside:


I especially like the subtle gradient effect.

When we got back, Jo was very pleased to see us, as ever, and we were very pleased to see her. While we were away, as well as the stuff that she'd told me about by text message, GB smashed into the chain that goes across his stable door and pulled the fixing out of the wall. I'm really quite gobsmacked by this, and the only thing I can think of is that she left him on his own in there and took Bugsy away to be exercised. Because, you know, that wasn't just what I told her to never do. I've complained to the agency, and said that we don't want her back. I'm still not sure if she just didn't pay attention to the instructions (about this and about the riding) or if she decided that she knew better, but I'm leaning towards the latter given that when we got back she kept making 'helpful' suggestions about things we should do differently. Anyway. No harm done, other than to GB's doorframe. Girl Who Rides For NVNDN came and rode him for me in the week, and I jumped on for ten minutes last night: he seems to be ok.

(Oh, reply to my email to the agency: terribly bland "we're very sorry to hear about that, here, have someone different". I wonder if they'll actually say anything to her?)

At the Canterbury Food Festival a couple of weeks ago, I was intrigued enough by the stall for Freddie's Flowers that I signed up to give it a try. Every week, they do up boxes of flowers that will look nice together and send them out to their subscribers (I think in London they deliver them themselves, mine came via DPD), although they're very flexible about how often you have them (you can set it on a week-by-week basis up to six months in advance). The spiel is that their flowers last up to a fortnight, because they buy direct from the farm. Because we were away last week, my first box has just arrived and I'm quite impressed:

I do like having flowers in the house, and there's not much that's pickable in the garden at this time of year.
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This is not what I want when I go on holiday

♥Oct. 3rd, 2016 // 05:13 pm
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(AKA, notes for my shouty email to the pet sitter agency.)

GB's an old shite, and I warn sitters about that (usually with the words 'don't be afraid to smack him *when* he acts up): there really is no point in trying to win him over with kisses and cuddles, he's spent too long with gaggles of kids doing the same, honing his sneak attack biting skills. What he really appreciates is consistence and routine, you aren't going to get that in a couple of days.

(She's giving him 'lots of reassurance when grooming'. I have never known him be remotely concerned by who is grooming him, except for wondering if he'll be successful at nipping you when you do the ticklish spots. Either she's doing something very odd to make him nervous of her or she's misreading 'grumpy old shite' as 'timid and skittish', neither of which is reassuring. Or she's also ignored the verbal and written instruction to never take him out of sight of Bugs, which is worse.)

He's also got a bad leg, and he needs to be ridden regularly and in a specific way to keep him ticking over. It describes what to do in the notes we leave for the sitters, including the line "do not lunge him: if you can't / don't want to ride him, let us know and we'll get someone in". When the sitter came on Saturday morning, I explicitly checked that she was happy to ride and I didn't need to get someone else in to avoid her lunging him.

(As we drove away, I said to Mike "I hope she's not to heavy for him", and have now resolved to be less polite in future and ask people what they weigh.)

I asked the sitter to ride him on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. I texted her yesterday evening and said "how is everything? How was GB when you rode him?". She replied and said that he was a "work in progress" and that she was "working through his arrogance", which is a bit wtf.

This morning I replied and said "you're not going to change his personality and I don't want you to. How was he when you rode him yesterday?", and she eventually fessed up that she'd tried to ride him, decided she was too heavy, and lunged him instead which "wasn't very successful" but she'd try again tomorrow. If I'm lucky, "not very successful' means 'glared at me until I flailed around enough to him enough to make him take a few steps in walk'. If I'm not, he'll have a bad leg for the next couple of weeks at best.

There may have been some ALL CAPS in my reply when I told her not to try to exercise him again, and that I'd get back to her when I'd found someone else to ride him.

Mrs Next Door was my first try: working all day today and tomorrow. Did she think her mate who used to give me side saddle lessons (and so knows GB, even though she's never ridden him) might be able to? She's flat on her back at present.

Ok, what about the girl who rides for my not very next door neighbour? She's never ridden him, but I've seen her ride and she's good.... Fingers crossed.... Girl is riding for NVNDN on Wednesday, would that do? Yes if it's all she can manage but if Tuesday was possible, here have money and petrol money and more money, ok, that's sorted, phew. NVNDN even agreed to pay her and I can drop some money up to her at weekend. Sent epic text describing exactly what she should do when sitting on him.

And that's the best part of the afternoon gone, what with waiting for text messages to zip around the place, and I'm now horribly stressed and worried. And looking at the photo she sent of Jo and thinking "that's not a happy, chilled out pooch". I've asked Mrs Next Door to poke her head into the yard when she gets home to see how things look / the boys seem. Hopefully we won't be as delayed going home as we were coming out, and I'll be back in time to ride him myself.

I've got the same sitter booked for Novacon, which I guess can stand (if I ride him the day we go then he'll have two days off), but I'm going to have to ask them to find me someone else for the bookings I want next summer. With a weight limit, this time.
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Holiday

♥Sep. 30th, 2016 // 08:28 pm
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We're going off to Belgium tomorrow ("Is it a convention?" asked Mrs Next Door. "No, we're having an actual *holiday*!") for a few days in Bruges and then a few more in Ghent. New sitter, so fingers crossed that she does ok!

Today, I went to the Kent Quilt Show, where I had a couple of small accidents to the tune of £60. Could have been worse: I wasn't buying for anything specific other than some Christmas bits!

Also, would anyone like to own up to sending me the WI's book of Home Made Wines, Syrups and Cordials from 1959? I'm not sure if the lack of a note / return address was deliberate or not, although I am currently looking in an Ilford direction! Whoever it was, thank you and I'll be having a proper look at it when we get back. (Six different recipes for metheglin! Two for hop beer: would that not just be 'beer'?)
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Flax attempts

♥Sep. 26th, 2016 // 06:05 pm
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This year, a big field near us was planted with flax. It looked very pretty when it was flowering, and then it was time for harvest.

They cut a bit of it it (and presumably stripped the seeds off at the same time), and then stopped for a few days. Then they cut a bit more. Then they finally decided that they'd got it right and cut the whole field.

A few days after that, they made square bales with some of the straw. The bales looked kinda crappy. A few more days, and they tried making round bales, half of which just immediately collapsed.

A few more days, and they went 'sod it', burnt the collapsed bales and harrowed the rest of the straw across the field to rot.

I really hope that it was the first time they'd grown flax....

ION, Jo is still doing really well, and pretty much officially better now. She even had a little run around with her boyfriend in the woods today, and she's been to the beach a couple of times as well. I had our first riding lesson in *ages* on Bugs, and he did very well (although by the end of it he was distinctly unimpressed with how much he was having to do). Ang's leg has started to get bad for the winter but, as ever, he's having good days and bad ones. We're going away for a few days (note to self: must decide where we're going and book hotels; ferry and sitter are both booked), so hopefully he'll continue to be fine while the sitter's looking after him.

We've gone straight from 'too hot to do anything in the garden' to 'succession of visitors', with added torrential rain for a couple of days: the garden is distinctly jungle-like, and I really must get out there and do some weeding....
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Hello moon!

♥Sep. 14th, 2016 // 08:12 pm
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We're back in that time of the year when I get to know what the moon is doing: the boys are going inside early enough that they need an extra haynet later in the evening, so Jo and I go out in the field at night.

Tonight it was a don't-need-the-torch evening: the getting-on-for-full moon was just rising over the side of the valley as I went up the hill.

I do like this time of year, current daytime temperatures apart.

(This morning, Mike had to walk Jo first thing because it's been such a hot day (although, at 27, six degrees cooler than yesterday). He reported that it was very odd to be driving through the usual autumn valley mist, a thin band about three feet off the ground, with his head above the clouds!)

As I'd expected after the damp and blight-inducing June, the tomatoes are very much not going to supply our year's passata needs. There's currently more tomatillo passata on the shelves than there is tomato, although that's partly because we've been using the latter more. As Mike often remarks, it is odd that no one grows tomatillos commercially in Kent, as they do do remarkably well. Not much market for them over here, I guess, although Mrs Formerly-Up-The-Hill was delighed when I gave her some last year and said she'd not had them since she moved over here from the US.

Firefox wants to correct 'tomatillo' to 'maillot', "a pair of tights worn for dancing or gymnastics". Then again, it wants to correct Firefox to Firebox, so what does it know?
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Serious question

♥Sep. 12th, 2016 // 09:47 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1178570.html]

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What is the point of trying a 95-year-old doctor who spent several weeks treating the guards at Auschwitz?

I appreciate that carrying out an illegal order is illegal, but what does this trial possibly achieve? My understanding (World Service) is that there used to be a policy of only bringing charges against actual decision makers but that in recent years anyone possibly complicit in Nazi atrocities has been brought to trial: is it just that they're running out of cases, or is there an actual reason?

(I thought the same thing a previous case, of a guard who was sentenced, at the age of 93, to prison largely on the basis of interviews he had given to media organisations to counter Holocaust deniers, but this one seems -- as it involves a medic who is mentally ill -- to be even more unreasonable. I am happy to be explained to, but not to be shouted at.)
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Something is eating me....

♥Sep. 12th, 2016 // 08:12 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1177903.html]

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm waking up every morning with more bites. I would say it's mozzies, but we're a bit late in the season for them to suddenly appear and there's not much open water around here. I've been bug-spraying the bedroom each evening, and tonight I've gone to the extreme of closing the window before doing so. Fingers crossed....

Today, the vet called. She wanted to see how GB's eye was doing (fine) and let me know the result of his blood test (not fine). We've upped his medication, but I'm a little worried about it as he's now at the highest dose he's previously been on.

Later, the saddler came to check that the boys didn't need anything changing. They didn't, and she was pleased with how both of them looked when I rode them. "He's put weight on," she said of Bugs. Yep, that's why I've brought two girths over! "Ah, are we having to sometimes use fatty girth?" Yep! (Although he *has* just had a new saddle pad, so maybe it's fluffier than the old one...? No, ok, just fat!) I told her of recent vet annoyances, and she recounted a story about the same chap: an ex-racehorse who'd had spinal surgery years ago. When she went to fit a saddle for him, she tried everything in her stock and got angry face about all but one of them (this when they were just popped on his back, not ever a girth never mind a rider), so they went with that one and he was fine in it. He had a lameness, and when the vet came out he said it was because the saddle didn't fit and it was (drum roll) causing the horse to have the back problem that he always diagnoses. Not, you know, an issue because of the old surgery. So not having him back if Bugs shows problems again.

Later, I was sitting listening to PM when I noticed movement on the front patio and saw Esk wandering around. We've never before seen a duck on the front patio (they're not terribly good with steps), but a bit later Agnes joined her and they poked around in the pots going "ooh, this is tasty", interspersed with looking through the window at me and quacking loudly. It was nearly bedtime, but it did seem like odd behaviour and I wondered where Houdini Magrat was, so I went and poked my head out of the front door. No sign of her, but I could hear her quacking. Out on the road again? No, and I couldn't hear her any more. Went back inside, and heard the quacks again: in the back garden. No idea how she got there, and I'm pretty sure that we're going to have to go hunting for another hole under the fence fairly soon.... (The back garden is off limits, both because it's not duck-proof in the way that the front (allegedly) is (so they could get out to the field and / or road) but also because we don't want them trying to get in the fish pond in case they get tangled in the (heron-proof) cover.)

Archers spoiler: here )

I half decided not to go to and half forgot about B-Movie. Did anyone make it? How was it?
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