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The sweetpeas are taking over

♥Jun. 25th, 2017 // 05:42 pm
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Last year, I planted a couple of perennial sweetpea plants in one of the flower beds. They did ok, but weren't really anything special.

Either they needed a little while to get themselves established or they much prefer the weather this year:



I had a go at putting normal sweetpeas along the drive this year, as I had spares and thought they'd look nice if they grew up the fence. They've rather been out-competed by the stuff on the other side of the fence (in the stableyard), though. I think I might get myself another pack of perennial seeds and see how they do there!

We went to see a horse on Sunday: he seemed to have a lovely personality, and looked nicely put together, but he'd never been ridden properly and didn't have a clue what he was doing in the school. Hopefully she'll find him a nice home where he can do nothing but go for long hacks....

I went to London last week, to see the dentist. Some sort of viral thing seems to have come back with me, which explains why I was so knackered all weekend, and probably also the upset stomach. I'm not exactly *ill*, but I'm also not entirely well. Possibly, in the light of this, I should have spent less time weeding today. It did need doing, though: it's been too hot recently to contemplate working in the garden.

We seem to have a lot of what look almost like yellow thistles appearing in the garden this year. Not sure what they are or where they've suddenly appeared from!
Link1 kiss // Who loves you?

Hot hot hot...

♥Jun. 17th, 2017 // 08:17 pm
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This morning, we went up to the summer pasture and set up the electric fence (to keep the boys away from the (rickety and barbed-wire-topped) real fence), and then took them up there. It was quite warm. As ever, they spurned the water trough up there and so drank all the water in the stableyard when they came back down. Sigh. (It always takes them a few weeks to deign to drink from the trough up there, presumably because it tastes different: it's a stone trough when they're used to plastic, and/or the water doesn't go through the softener that treats our water.)

I'm a little concerned by Agnes, aka Limpy McDinosaur Duck. She's being even limpier than usual, and holding her wings very strangely as she hobbles around the place, and when she's lying down she's been wibbling her beak and twitching her wings. I was half thinking I'd pick her up for a quick check when we put them to bed, even though she hates being handled, but she made it easy by getting most of the way to their house and then just collapsing with a splat on the ground. Couldn't find anything obviously wrong, and I'm not going to be calling a weekend evening vet for her, but I am quite worried that she's suddenly got much worse. Fingers crossed that the magic 'pick her up to see what's wrong' cure will work and she'll be better tomorrow.

The garden, on the other hand, is going along well. The polytunnel's looking very green, and there's at least one actual tomato set on the early russian variety:



(10th May, to compare: they have grown!)

We've also got actual you-could-eat-those baby courgettes, very teeny squash, lots of tomatillo cases with baby fruit inside, and runner bean flowers. This afternoon, we shared the first mange tout of the season. The wild strawberries by the riding school are also doing well, and the jar of strawberries in vodka is filling up nicely.

I have been appreciating my hammock, which is on the grass in the shade, and so lovely and cool. I *almost* came inside to get a light blanket when I was in it a couple of days ago!
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Here are some things that have happened

♥Jun. 12th, 2017 // 03:59 pm
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Last Tuesday, it rained. It rained lots and lots and lots. Because he is a special snowflake, GB decided that it was nice weather for a walk and so Mike and I spent an hour or so walking around the stableyard in circles until the vet arrived and gave him some drugs.... I'm increasingly convinced that he gets gassy when the air pressure changes rapidly, because this is by no means the first time that he's had a colic in the pouring rain after a sunny spell. And then there was the time he did it in the snow.

Anyway, he was fine fairly soon after the vet did her thing, so no harm done! (It was also Little Quilt Club that day, so I missed going to that for the morning: bah. On the other hand, if I had gone then Mike wouldn't have had the car to go and collect people, so....)

While we were enjoying our lovely walk, our incoming visitors, who were cycling to see us, phoned to ask if we could possibly go and get them from where they'd spent the night. Once the vet had been, Mike did so, and shortly afterwards the rain (inevitably) stopped.

Still, we had a nice visit, including a trip to The Sportsman, which we'd never previously been to as we'd not got around to booking a table sufficiently far ahead. It was quite nice, but I'm not sure we'll be rushing back, and we weren't terribly impressed by the veggie-friendly-ness of the menu (which didn't have any veggie mains, although when we asked they were able to make two of the starters into mains).

We went to see a possibly horse (not Git Face; someone who managed to co-ordinate better with the owner's schedule got in before us and he's sold), who was terribly nervous of Jo. We put Jo back in the car, but he was still terribly nervous: not actually doing anything, but very tense. While the woman was riding him for us to watch, Mike said "I'm not sure I want to get on him," and I said "I'm not very sure that I do, either," so we said thank you and went home instead.

We've sent off some soil samples from our field for testing, in preparation for getting Mr Farmer to fertilise it when we've moved the boys up the hill to their summer quarters.

My hands seem to have got over their over-use, and I've been able to do some weeding and some sewing, which is a relief. I'm slightly concerned that the tomatoes in the polytunnel aren't setting fruit. We have been leaving one of the doors open, so there are insects in there, but it's possible that we need to open the other one for a few hours each day to get a bit more pollination going.

Today, we've had more visitors, but just for the afternoon. It turns out that iPads make small children much more easy to entertain than I had feared, and that running down our field is terribly fun but walking back up it in order to do so again is less interesting. Horses are a bit big and scary up close, though, which GB would probably be happy about if he realised: he was very grumpy this morning when I put his saddle on and rode him twice around the stableyard to check he would be up to a pony ride, but it turned out not to be necessary in the end.

I realise now that that's probably the last time he'll ever be ridden.
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Sigh

♥Jun. 1st, 2017 // 03:50 pm
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Jodie )

Horses )

Wrists )

Oh, and grandad got thrown out of an expedited discharge from the hospital because he was causing trouble, and it looks like he's about to be thrown out of the latest home as well.

Still.

The ducks are laying well and the horses are busy getting fat.

The tomatoes and tomatillos are flowering, and I'm expecting the veg patch to suddenly explode into life any day now.

Mrs Farmer gave me a couple of evergreen honeysuckle last week, which I've planted next to the front fence in the hope that they'll grow over it and look / smell lovely, and the dahlias that I thought had been lost by the courier have arrived and been planted out.

I've just realised that the Pilates book that I bought months ago and never actually looked at not only goes through the exercises but has some ready-made routines in it, which helps with my vague plan to give up on classes in favour of doing it myself at home with an occasional (monthly?) private lesson to check I'm not getting bad habits.

Even with the good things, though, I'm feeling rather brittle and balanced on edge, which isn't a good way to be if you then have a wobble.
Link9 kisses // Who loves you?

Things we have done

♥May. 17th, 2017 // 08:11 pm
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The swallows have come back: we've seen lots of activity in the last few days, including plenty of flying in and out of the stable, so we didn't scare them off. Phew!

The bird 'flu restrictions are, finally, over, which is also a big phew. The ducks are very happy to be back in the garden, and it's meant that we could put the boys in the stableyard, which was getting rather overgrown, so that the field could have a rest. It's currently raining steadily, and set to keep doing so for a few more hours (another phew!), so hopefully the grass will be able to get a bit of growing done tomorrow without being instantly munched back to nothing.

It's been quite hot for the last couple of days, so the Jug Of Minty Water has reappeared in the fridge:


It was much appreciated this afternoon when I came in from weeding the jungle front bed, which is always a sod and got away from me rather this winter, not helped by the lack of ducks disturbing the weeds. It's taken me a week, but at least it's not quite a Forth Bridge job.

I finished off the quilt from my workshop:



("How did you get it done so quickly?" someone asked me at a fabric sale last weekend. "I've had my mother-in-law staying..." I replied. Then she mocked me because I was carrying bolts of fabrics in two solid greys and three beige patterns, so I picked up a plain teal as well and bought some just to show her!)

Does anyone fancy having a go at some orchid identification? I'm stumped by this one, which is potentially more troubling than it would otherwise be as it's in the field we borrow in the summer and I don't want to let the boys near it if it's rare!


It's probably just an odd common spotted, but.... It's not monkey or military, or an insect one. The pink buds make it look like a burnt, which I don't think we get around here and the petals aren't right for anyway. The petal colours look a bit like a chalk fragrant, which is local, but the shape is wrong. That pink border, and the lobe shape, have me quite stumped. It *might* be a lady, but I can't see any 'arms'. They do have the pink buds, and the two-lobes on the petals, though. Hmm. I might go and have another look at it tomorrow....
Link6 kisses // Who loves you?

Animals....

♥Apr. 9th, 2017 // 09:46 pm
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Yesterday evening, we took the fence down so that the boys can have the whole field.

(Fingers thoroughly crossed that we'll get some bloody rain some time soon so that it can get to work growing before they strip the new half to bare earth.)

This evening, GB is in an utterly foul mood, waving his teeth at me at every opportunity and not eating his hay. Can we say 'tummy ache'? I think that we can.

Sigh. I'm sure he'll be ok in the morning....

Still, polytunnel's ready to go for when we get back after Easter!
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Mmm, Zelda

♥Apr. 2nd, 2017 // 02:50 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1208337.html]

On Friday, the nice young men from the tree surgeon came to visit. They took out the last few leylandii (we are free! Free!), and the variegated conifer by the front gate, which was getting a bit too big and squashing the ornamental cherries (we now have a much better view of the road, as an added bonus).

They also took the top off the beech hedge along the side of the house, so now it's hopefully at a height we can keep better in check. (Unlike all the letlandii, the beech is actually useful, acting as a windbreak.) Unfortunately, doing that involved standing on the roof of the very dilapidated shed, at least until one of them put a foot wrong and did the comedy disappearing from sight thing.

We'll be looking for a new shed, then.

Yesterday, the Nintendo Switch arrived, so I was mostly playing Zelda when not moving the contents of the shed to a different outbuilding. First thoughts are that not only do the controllers indeed frequently drop their connection but that they do it in a bloody stupid manner: rather than just stopping moving, Link wanders off in a random direction, eg: off a cliff. It is quite fun so far, though.

Today, we went to see a horse. Either we've been lucky or we've got a lot more picky about which we actually bother to go and see (probably a bit of both), because we both liked Galahad enough that I'm trying to set a date to go back with our riding instructor to see what she thinks. (Unfortunately, she's in France without her diary. Back on Tuesday, though.)
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That was quick!

♥Mar. 29th, 2017 // 06:56 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1206929.html]

Quicker than expected, in fact: the new floor's all done, when we were expecting it to take until tomorrow. Unfortunately, we'd ordered things like new shelves, rugs and little felt pads to go under the furniture to stop it from making scratches for delivery tomorrow to tie in with it, so we're still a little short of furniture in here. Hopefully, we'll be all sorted by tomorrow evening. Hopefully.

Jo is pleased that she has her sofa back. The sofa bed was just not a suitable substitute, her legs were always hanging off the edges.

Both the anemones and the horses have been making the most of the sunny weather we've been having recently:


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Bits

♥Mar. 8th, 2017 // 06:05 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1201583.html]

We're still rather up in the air about the new living room floor. In fact, I've just booked another quotation: wood-flooring guy replied to a request to quote for vinyl with cheaper wood options, vinyl-flooring guy a) still hasn't actually produced a quote and b) lost a lot of brownie points when he looked at our upstairs bathroom flooring and pronounced it to be cheap B&Q stuff. That didn't quite ring true with what we know of previous-owner's decorating habits, so we checked the box and it's actually the brand he's pushing us towards, admittedly their cheapest range....

On the plus side, we do have a new sofa. On the minus side, we don't have two new sofas: one of them didn't make it onto the delivery lorry and is in the wrong warehouse somewhere, although we're assured that it does actually exist. At least it's only Jo's one that's missing, not ours!

My mother has panicked me slightly by revealing that she's got her outfit for my sister's wedding all sorted. I did have a look in the shops in Canterbury this afternoon, but the only thing I was ever slightly taken by was a £200 (in the Hobbs discount shop) beige linen trouser-and-tunic combination. Given that I have at least one much nicer beige linen trouser-and-tunic-and-jacket combo in the wardrobe upstairs, my next mission is to rearrange enough of the living room furniture currently in the spare room to actually get into the wardrobe and see what I have that might be suitable. As my parents are coming to visit in a couple of weeks, I may enlist mother's help. (Father is tasted with putting up the new living room lights, which should do to keep him happy for a few hours.)

I think I have found some suitable shoes, though: some lacy Skechers, which look vastly nicer in the quick snap I took in the shop than they do in that official website photo.

We were supposed to be going to look at a horse this morning, but then the owner sent me a message to say that they'd decided they couldn't bring themselves to sell him. This, I suspect, will be the down side of trying to buy someone's beloved but no longer needed middle-aged horse.
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Brr

♥Jan. 18th, 2017 // 06:47 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1195675.html]

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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Ponies in the snow

♥Jan. 13th, 2017 // 02:59 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1194653.html]



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Mid-winter things

♥Dec. 19th, 2016 // 09:46 am
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1189664.html]

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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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1189369.html]

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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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1188988.html]

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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Good / bad

♥Nov. 4th, 2016 // 04:22 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1184749.html]

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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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1184210.html]

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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Operation Fill The Freezer

♥Oct. 30th, 2016 // 03:06 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1183532.html]

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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Where did the time go?

♥Oct. 25th, 2016 // 11:34 am
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1181287.html]

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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This is not what I want when I go on holiday

♥Oct. 3rd, 2016 // 05:13 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1179478.html]

(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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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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Something is eating me....

♥Sep. 12th, 2016 // 08:12 pm
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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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Harvesting

♥Jul. 31st, 2016 // 10:25 am
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That, with the addition of a veg-box aubergine, a jar of passata, and some pasta looks a lot like dinner. (Sadly, our aubergines aren't yet doing more than flowering and I'm still at the 'look! a ripe tomato!' stage rather than the 'better make another batch of passata' one. There are no plans at all to make pasta any more from scratch than Mike already does!)

We had our first visit from the new farrier today (the old one having retired for the sake of his back). He is approximately twelve but seems to be competent. Bugs didn't have a hissy fit, and GB didn't bite him (although the last of those says more about GB's mood than the farrier!).

Speaking of, GB has (sigh) started growing his winter coat, so here's a picture of him in his three-weeks-of-the-year summer best:

Bit more white every year....

Jo's also growing her coat back, and now looks a lot less silly than she did.

She's doing really well, and has her first swimming lesson on Wednesday. However, I could almost suspect that she's been reading ahead on her aftercare notes, because she's not supposed to do the spinning around in circles on the spot exercise for at least another couple of weeks. She thinks she's better, poor thing. We are up to twenty minute walks, though, which she enjoys except when a squirrel crosses her path and she's unaccountably not allowed to go and chase it.
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At least he managed to get back down the stairs again afterwards

♥Jul. 13th, 2016 // 11:58 am
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This morning, when Mike fed the boys he just left their doors open so that they could occupy themselves until I got back.

As we drove off to take Jo to the vet, he said "And I did remember to close the gate so that they couldn't get into the field." "Did you close the garden gate?" I asked. Umm. Well, the ducks weren't out, and after all it wasn't all that likely that Bugs would walk down a gloomy, narrow corridor and up a few steps just to see what was in the garden, right?

Jo is safely at the vet, they seemed very nice and asked lots of detailed questions (Will she be happy to go to the loo on a lead, or should she be let off it? Does she prefer to go on grass, or will any surface do?). She's probably in surgery now, I should here something mid afternoon. We talked through our particular layout and routine with the vet, and he's happy for Jo to come to the stables tomorrow, as long as she's on a lead / tied up, which is a huge relief, but he says three weeks before she can go up the hill to the field.

After dropping Mike at the station, I came back to at least one very muddy pony (it's hard to tell with GB) safely in the stableyard, and some extremely irate ducks in their house, and then I mucked out, and then, in a fit of keen-ness, I went up the hill and poo-picked the field up there so that it'll be Sunday before we have to leave Jo alone while we do it again: given the trouble I had getting the wheelbarrow through the mud by the gate so that I could put the poo into bags for Mrs Up The Hill's new compost heap, it's a good thing that we decided to leave the boys down here today. It was just starting to dry out, but now not so much.

(We were hopeful that our hay would be cut this weekend, but it now seems less likely. On Monday, the five-day forecast was dry all week. On Tuesday morning, it was for rain every day. On Tuesday evening, it was for rain on Tuesday but then dry. Now, it's back to dry, after this morning's rain clears up. I'm not sure that they know what's going to happen!)

And then, finally finished with all the jobs, I came back to the house and noticed this on the lawn:



Sigh. It can wait until tomorrow.
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Boys

♥Jun. 18th, 2016 // 06:06 pm
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This morning, we rode the boys. Mike went on GB, and I briefly lunged Bugs and then rode him as the vet instructed.

They both seemed fine. GB was a little reluctant to stay in the canter, but whether that was because he was sore or because he's lazy is hard to say. Mike reported that Bugs looked very good, and he didn't feel at all lame to ride, so fingers are crossed.

(Although, as I said to my riding instructor, and never mind what the vet says, my current plan is to work Bugs every day for a week so that next week I can go back to the vet and say "right, he's lame again, please will you come and see him when he's not just had a week off?")

One of the things that the vet was muttering about yesterday was sacroiliac, which is some variety of gubbins in the back - a nerve, maybe? It's not a terribly common problem. This vet has been in the area for about six or eight months. He also diagnosed it for The Horse Next Door (wrong) and for Not Very Next Door Neighbour's horse (has had the treatment and is now having the summer off, after which we'll see if it worked). This does rather make it seem as though it's his pet diagnosis.

Jo seems to be hobbling less today. Whether that's because of the laser treatment that the vet did or because we're trying to get her to rest it is a mystery. She's feeling enough better that she's doing that 'hang behind when the humans walk off so that I can run to catch up' thing that she does when walk-deprived....
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The News

♥Jun. 12th, 2016 // 09:26 pm
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Earlier, I spoke to my parents. After I'd done that, we were putting the boys to bed when I remarked to Mike how odd it was that my father (who, despite being on the boat, does keep up with what's going on in the world) didn't know that the monsoon had failed for the last two years leading to drought in India, or that South Africa has declared a state of natural disaster due to drought (and, natch, similar things going on in neighbouring countries), or that Ethiopia has been pleading for aid for the last year or so because the government knew that they were heading for a crisis (but that there was no aid available, because Syria).

Mike looked at me blankly and said "Well, you do listen to the World Service a lot". And then I came to write this post and, as you'll see from the above links, couldn't even find the SA story on the BBC UK website (and why on earth do they not let you sort search results by date? It's a news site! Ooh! Just got asked to do a survey about what I think of their search, how fortuitous). Is this all under the radar for the UK media? I tend to not keep track of what's on WS and what's on R4 (especially as the same things are often on both in slightly different forms), so I just assumed that everyone knew.

(Here's a great story that I doubt has had much press. There have been similar schemes on the Indian subcontinent.)

Yesterday, I went to Quilt Club Class. I learnt something moderately interesting, and made most of the top of a quilt that I dare say I will finish at some point, but I haven't taken any photos so tough. Today, I have been quilting the current project. I liked the effect in the centre, I'm less sure about the look of it further out. I'll have another look in the morning.

The boys have been happily stuffing themselves silly on Mrs Up The Hill's grass, but are sadly both still lame.
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Animal magic

♥Jun. 7th, 2016 // 07:09 pm
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Jodie: unsettled*
Swallows: impatient**
Ang: grumpy***
Bugs: long-suffering****
Cow: confused*****

* We had a lovely big thunder storm this afternoon. When Mike was half way through mowing the lawn and I was in the middle of potting on veg plants.

** The pair of them have been spotted flying in and out of the spare stable, beaks crammed full. While we're mucking out, however, they sit on the telephone wires, alternately preening and wishing we'd get on with it so that they can get back to feeding duty. We are in fact tremendously pleased to see them: Previous Owners always left that stable door open with good results, but we'd never seen any interest in previous years. Then I caught them checking out the inside of the barn and the duck's stable, neither of which we can leave open at night, so we opened the stable up instead.

*** Ok, not much different to usual there then. On Sunday evening, he came in from the field limping: probably just had a spat with Bugs. But then he came in limping last night, too. We trotted him up this morning and he looked ok, but Mike reported that it came back / got worse as he was ridden. This is Ominous, and will hopefully go away before the vet comes on Friday. Even if it has, he'll still be grumpy because he's due for a blood test.

**** He was very well behaved when I lunged him today, even though he was hopping along like a hoppy thing in the canter. I got Mike to video it, just in case he's sound when the vet comes, and later booked her in to see them both on Friday. 95% sure it's the same thing as he just had treated in the other leg: there were signs of it, and now that the other leg isn't sore any more he's suddenly noticed that it hurts.

***** As am I: how the hell did it get through a closed gate and into our garden? Or, alternatively, what kind of idiot drives along a road, goes 'oh dear, some previous person left the gate open and now a cow has wandered through' and then carefully shuts the gate as they go through, leaving the cow on the wrong side of it, without saying anything?
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Positive things

♥Jun. 5th, 2016 // 05:33 pm
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This morning, Mike rode Bugs for the first time in a couple of months (I've been on him a couple of times in the last week or so). Even though it was windy, and he'd had a hissy fit the last time I lunged him, Bugs was very well behaved. It would be even more of a result if our riding instructor wasn't convinced that he isn't right in the *other* back leg as well / now that the one he had done isn't bothering him. We're currently trying to make him do enough work that it gets sore, so that I can then have the vet come when there's definitely something to see.

(Yesterday, they all went a bit mad: our two and The Horse Next Door spent a good couple of hours running up and down their fields. GB was covered in dried sweat when he came in for dinner. We've no idea what got into them, but hypothesise that it might have had something to do with the deer that have been spotted in the area recently. If it is that, I hope they get used to it.)

This afternoon, I went to the Quilt Club show, where I saw Mrs Up The Hill. I was working around to asking if we could use the field by saying how lovely the grass looked when she asked if we could put the boys in there to keep it looking neat, so that's a result. Must get a new battery for the portable electric fence. ("What do you want me to do with the poo?" I asked, hoping that we wouldn't have to cart it down the hill to our skip. "Oh, if you could make a heap that would be wonderful, I need it for my new garden!" "You must be so annoyed to have to start a new compost heap, after all that manure you carted around last summer!" "Oh, no, I took my old compost heap with us when we moved!")

Then I had a look at the quilts on display. Lots of them weren't my sort of thing, and very few of them were the same style that I do (and, coff, those that were weren't as good [g]), but I have come away with a few ideas. When I got to the display of the on-the-theme-of-30 quilts, I had a nice surprise:

Joint second, because (a note said) while first had been blazingly obvious they struggled with second / third. (First was blazingly obvious: the person who made it seems to specialise in dolls'-house-sized quilts anyway, and she'd done a gorgeous sampler with thirty different quilt blocks in miniature.) And Mrs Up The Hill didn't get a rosette [smug].

Also, points to Hazel for plant identification skills, as my plant-or-weed was indeed a poppy:
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Good / bad

♥May. 19th, 2016 // 09:00 pm
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Today, the vet came to have another look at Bugs.

The good news is that she has pronounced him successfully medicated, so a) it is bone spavins and b) we'll start bringing him back into work tomorrow. This injection will wear off in a few months, after which we'll have the longer-lasting one that should just need repeating once a year until the bones fuse (hopefully not too long!).

The bad news is that part of the way he demonstrated that was by going 'you want me to trot from one one of the school to the other? it'd be much quicker if I just flung all my legs into the air and then ran at full speed!'

Well, *actually* the bad news is the fact that my leg was in the way of one of his feet when he did the first part of that.

Sigh. Just as the bruise on my other leg was fading....

(Mrs Next Door came over to see how the vet visit went whinge about her useless boyfriend. When I hobbled out onto the patio to talk to her, she gave me a look and said "Oh, not again?")
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Stitchy

♥May. 10th, 2016 // 08:30 pm
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I have, probably, finished the flying birds quilt, unless I decide that the actual birds need quilting. I think that they probably do, but that I'm bored of quilting and want to start my next project. Shall see how I feel about it in a few days.

I've also made my sister a bunny, as well as making another one and a little stuffed elephant for the Quilt Club sales table at next month's show.

Today, it has mostly been moist. I was fretting because GB needed riding and it was raining, but then I realised that I was going to be putting him in the field without his rug anyway (as it's so warm), so it didn't really matter if he got rained on when I was riding. Both horses are now thoroughly filthy, naturally.

When I took Jo out, I ummed and ahhed and eventually put a coat on. As I walked up the hill I decided that I'd made the right call, as I wasn't vastly too hot in it. Then I walked through a thermocline and felt like I'd entered a sauna: yuck.
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Updatey, and Xanth, and clothes

♥May. 6th, 2016 // 08:36 pm
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This morning, I rode GB, taking it quite gently: both of us seemed to be fine with our bad legs!

Later, the vet came back to see Bugs. She sedated him and had one go at the injection he got worked up about last time then, when he got worked up again, went on to try the next part of the sequence. He wasn't having that, either, so she doped him up even more* and just gave him the medication, after a bit of woozy complaining on his part. Now we wait another couple of weeks and see how he is: if the medication works, we have a diagnosis.

* She couldn't just do that for the first two tries because he would have needed to be able to trot around afterwards so couldn't be too heavily sedated. He was very doped, and kept drooling on my shoes....

In the mean time, GB was hanging around the stableyard stuffing himself: when I just went out to give them their evening hay, his dinner haynet was still conspicuously full. On the plus side, the field looks better just for having a day off, so we're going to keep them on other bits of grass again tomorrow, so that hopefully the grass can grow a bit more and get enough of a head start to stay ahead of them! (On the minus side, the flies have woken up and started pestering them. It really does seem to have gone from winter to summer in a week.)

When I got my new phone, the one thing that didn't transfer over was my local ebook library. It's not a great hardship, as they're all stored elsewhere, but is slightly annoying because I couldn't just scroll through it and go 'oh, I'll re-read that next'. Mike suggested that I start at A and work my way through and, indeed, I re-read HHGG for the first time in years, as well as trying Watership Down (which I'd never read). I got to Anthony, P, and started on the Xanth books: I know that they're tosh, but I did love them when I first read them, and knew I hadn't actually read all of them. I got into the low teens, and then ploughed through Isle of View, aka the-one-where-he-wrote-in-a-kid-who'd-been-in-an-accident. I don't think I'd read Question Quest before, and found it rather odd: a re-cap of the history of Xanth, that added in a few background details about Magician Humphrey's life / take on events (with a bit of random retconning), and I was sure I must have read The Color of Her Panties but didn't really remember (or enjoy) it and whoa mega retconning going on there.

I've skipped on ahead to Asimov, now, but has anyone actually read all the Xanth books? Is he just having a tedious and sexually charged patch that coincided with the realisation he was running out of ideas so needed to put some more back-story in, or is it just not worth bothering to carry on (given that I did quite like the early ones: I know there are those who would tell me that it wasn't worth carrying on after page two of the first book if I even got that far!)?

I went into Canterbury this afternoon and, amongst other things, popped into Primark and got half a dozen lightweight tops (to replace the ones that I took out of winter storage yesterday and went 'hmm, that's a bit manky'). Then I did the obligatory walk around M&S without seeing anything much that I liked other than a single lightweight top, almost identical to one of the Primark ones and the same price as the total for the ones I'd already bought. I'd like to say that I'm sure the M&S one would last longer, but the ones I threw away were a pretty even mix of the two brands so I'm not sure it's true.

What I really want is a nice, longish, snuggly-but-lightweight sweater, but I didn't find anything that fit the bill. Bah.
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Invaded and battered....

♥May. 4th, 2016 // 04:53 pm
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We've had repeated incursions of visitors, some significantly more enjoyable than others, over the last week or so, which is why I've been so quiet.

On the plus side, Mike manfully removed the less enjoyable ones when he could, so I managed to get all of the background of the flying birds quilt quilted. Now I just need to decide what to do with the actual birds: the background is quite dense, so should I do something similar for the birds but in a different pattern, or should I leave them as oases of calm?

It has been very cold and miserable, but now it's nice and sunny: hopefully this means that our grass is finally going to start growing, because I'm getting quite worried about the state of the field (and, indeed, the prospects for the hay crop). This time last year, the boys were coming in when it was getting dark and only getting one hay net in the evening; this year, they're still on full winter rations and we're bringing them in before dinner because otherwise they're ravenous and grumpy when we let them in.

(We do at least think we have enough hay to last even with the late start, which is good as I've been getting friend-of-a-friend 'do you know anyone with any hay' queries and that suggests we'd struggle to get more. I'd much rather throw away (or onto the garden) half a dozen bales than be scrabbling around looking for more.)

(Actually, they're still pretty ravenous and grumpy, and would much rather stay in the stableyard and stuff their faces on slightly better grass for a while before they have their actual dinner. On Monday, Bugs was doing his usual trick of refusing to let Mike catch him and spooked GB, who ran off in panic. I was mid-way through putting GB's headcollar on at the time, and so unfortunately his pre-emptive wave of the back legs in Bugsy's direction got me instead. I have a truly *spectacular* bruise, and am finding walking up and down hills to be almost impossible, which is tricky around here. I--whisper it--skipped Pilates this morning, but at least now I have a good excuse for not going to London for a boring meeting tomrrow.)

Bugsy has had the vet to visit, trying to narrow down what's wrong with his leg (or rather, trying to confirm that the problem is what we think it is). He was a very good boy about it all, right up to the point where he suddenly decided that he'd had enough. She tried sedating him a couple of times, but he (quite politely) made it clear that he wasn't having any of it, so she's back again tomorrow for round two, which will (just in case) not involve the exact (long-shot) thing that she was trying to do when he stopped cooperating. In the mean time, he's getting to swan around in the field doing no work: I would say he's getting fat, but he's not because no bloody grass.

GB, on the other hand, has maybe gone slightly backwards in his spring-time improvement. I'm hoping that this is just because I was pushing him a bit too hard in my delight at his getting better, and a time when I'm not really able to ride seems to be a good one to test the theory!

Today, I have mostly been gardening: there were a batch of seedlings that needed potting on, and then I was running out of space on the conservatory shelves so I figured that, if I sat on the walls around the beds, I could plant out some bedding plants I'd grown that were getting a bit sad at being tuck inside. Then I thought I could probably manage some hoeing, but mostly ended up contorting into strange positions so that I could dig out blobs of grass from the flower beds: one of those 'it's lucky I'm strong' occasions, I think. Really need to do more weeding.

Text messages with my sister:
Sister: [a date, next summer, presumably for her wedding]
Me: Do you want a quilt?
Sister: What kind of quilt?
Me: One for your bed. If you do, I need to start it in plenty of time.
Sister: No thanks, I have a nice throw on my bed.
Me: Ok then, let me know what you do want.
Sister: Just having you there will be enough, we don't need presents.
[a short pause]
Sister: I really like that stuffed rabbit you made for mum.
Sister: Here's a photo of my living room decor.
Sister: Here's a close-up of my tartan feature wallpaper.
Me: Yes, I was already going to make you a rabbit for your birthday....
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In the quilting mines

♥Apr. 23rd, 2016 // 08:23 pm
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It's getting there: I'm about half way done. I had to order more thread, I thought that the enormous reel I'd bought would be enough but apparently not!

Note to self: life is much easier (or at least, more forgiving) when the quilt backing is a similar colour to the background of the front so that the stitches don't show so much on the back. I fear that I have learnt this lesson before but it failed to sink in.

I'm now using the new laptop: seems to be going ok, although I'm still not quite used to the keyboard: even for me it's got very little travel, so I'm sometimes failing to hit a key / hitting a key accidentally on my way past it. People who like Proper Clicky Keyboards shouldn't get the new MacBook. It doesn't have a magsafe power connector (which makes sense given that it's the same port as the USB), but even allowing for that it needs a serious (two-handed) yank to pull it out. I dare say I'll get used to that, though.

Bugs finished his two week rest today, and was still lame: time to get the vet back and spend some serious money....
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Done! (I think.)

♥Apr. 13th, 2016 // 07:58 pm
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This afternoon, I Caught Up (what on earth is that solicitor thinking? Presumably soon someone will remember that Carol's daughter is a barrister, yes? I do hope he dies, but I doubt that it will as that would make things too simple) and did some sewing: I think that my 30-themed quilt is now done, and it's turned out to be fairly close to my original sketch, except that I abandoned the idea of needle felting some sheep onto the background. I'd quite like to have something alive in November, but I can't really think what: there's not much space, maybe a crow in the tree?

Anyway:

(Click for much bigger!)

This afternoon, just as one of the afternoon's flash squalls kicked in, I noticed that the ducks were in the field.

The boys were over at the other side, but I feared that there would be trouble later when the boys started hanging around the gate looking for their dinners so I went out to move them. Esk immediately went back to the stableyard: good duck! Maggers and Agnes, however, headed further up the field. Until the boys came over to see if it was time for dinner and getting out of the suddenly heavier rain, at which they tried their best to get into the stableyard but did so by trying to get through the fence, not the gate. The boys got quite interested / excited by this, possibly because they were worried about what was scaring the girls (that would be: the boys, with a small side helping of 'oops, we're not supposed to be in here and the human's come to chase us away').

Agnes did her best to squeeze through the fence, which gave me a chance to grab her and lift her over, but Magrat turned tail and ran up the hill. GB excitedly followed suit, and unfortunately that brought his back leg into contact with my shoulder: ow.

(Magrat did the sensible thing, finally, at this point and dashed under the gate while the boys were distracted by running around.)

Fortunately, it was just a glancing blow, and I think it's just going to be a bruise: I've got full movement in it, it's just A Bit Sore. Even more fortunately, it's not so sore that I couldn't drive to the station to pick Mike up, although I struggled a bit with roundabouts!

Oh, and I got soaked. Lovely.

Tomorrow, we need to do something about the gate. It has got chicken wire under it, but I think something larger than a duck is pushing under it and bending it out of shape. Maybe a bit of wood across that corner?
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Coff (one of an occasional but intense series.)

♥Apr. 11th, 2016 // 08:26 pm
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I'm, finally, much better: basically fine other than occasionally trying to cough my guts up. Annoyingly, that's still happening most often when I lie down to go to sleep.

We've had a lovely weekend full of visitors and bluebells: there would be a picture, but the LJ app is failing to upload it. See Mike's Facebook instead.

This evening, I saw the first bat of the year.

The vet phoned this morning (damn, she's keen: I was still getting dressed!) with GB's blood test results: very slightly over what they should be, so she's happy to say it's ok. No more tests until June, now, and then it will be every few weeks in the hope of catching it before his levels of whatever-it-is skyrocket and we have to increase his medication for a few months. He's shedding, which is always a bonus and a sign that we've got the levels about right. (New Vet still needs training in his ways: she will keep going on about laminitis, which he's (unusually) never had a problem with.)

Bugs was looking quite perky as he trotted along the edge of the field this evening, so the drugs are probably working: we'll see what happens when he comes off them again.

A little while ago, Mrs Up The Hill told me that they were moving. We (and Mrs Farmer) been speculating for a few weeks that they had in fact already moved: the car was rarely there, and when it was it looked like it was being loaded up; the pots had gone from the front patio. I saw her today and they have indeed gone, and the house will be going on the market next month. If the price is right then we'll buy one of their fields, but we suspect it won't be.
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Catching up, yet again

♥Mar. 31st, 2016 // 06:50 pm
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Eastercon was good, except the bit where I woke up snotty one day and voiceless the next. I'm back to talking again, but still sniffly and with a bit of a sore throat. Still, an almost-entirely enjoyable con, other than a few wobbles that were either relatively minor or only short-lived. As I am weak-willed, I managed to get roped into doing things next year and the year after. As I am feeling crappy, I have failed to do most of the post-con jobs that need doing.

While we were in the area, we had dinner with my parents (but not my sister and other half: he tripped over one of the dogs, fell down the stairs, ripped the child gate (there to keep the dogs from going upstairs, um), and came to a halt on the back door, which is now needs new hinges. In one of those 'could have been worse' ways, he's got a broken wrist and toe, is black and blue, and only didn't break his hip because he had it replaced a year or so ago). Mike also had dinner and some time wandering around town with his mother, but I didn't make it along as they were running late and I had jobs to do by the time they went to eat.

We had a crappy journey up but a fairly good run coming home, so I suppose that it balances out. Mike finally gave in and got the Tom Tom app on his phone, so that I no longer have to spend the journey hitting refresh on Google Maps and trying to work around problems (which Google seems to be frankly crap at: there's no point telling me that Route 1 has a one hour delay and Route 2 a two hour one, tell me Route 3 that - gasp - leaves the motorway for a couple of junctions to avoid it!), although I did spend the trip home being an occasional stunt iPhone holder (proper one now acquired).

We don't seem to have suffered much damage from the storm, other than one of the stems of the elder on the drive having split and (fortunately) landed on the fence rather than the sitter's car. There are a lot of broken branches on the roads and in the woods, though. Animals all seem fine, although Bugs was a tiny wee bit lame (in the same leg again) today: worrying but probably not reliably enough present for a vet visit.

Today, my new iPhone arrived. I didn't make it to the Virgin shop at weekend, and I failed to order a new SIM yesterday, so that will be arriving tomorrow. It's a moot point anyway, though, as it turns out that I once enabled encryption of my iTunes phone backups and none of the passwords I'd expect to work did so. We're now, very tediously, doing an iCloud backup: it's been wandering between 19 and 22 hours remaining for about the last two hours. And, of course, once it's done and I've got the SIM, I'll have to re-download it, and then download all my apps. Mike's in work tomorrow, and if the process is at a stage where it makes sense to do so I may have him take the new phone and syphon off a bit of the office wifi.

I also made wild garlic pesto, so there's a stock of that in the freezer. There's also still masses of garlic left, and I'm vaguely wondering if I could bottle it instead of freezing.
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Hello again

♥Mar. 21st, 2016 // 03:34 pm
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I've been very remiss at telling you all about the exciting things I've been doing, haven't I? Must try harder, probably not helped by the fact that I'll be away from home at weekend!

Recently, I have:
- taken Bugsy's saddle to the saddler, to make sure that he didn't damage it when he rolled in it (he didn't)
- done things with seedlings, including putting some of them outside to harden off (they're back in now, though, as I expect a frost tonight)
- worked on my little quilt, which is very nearly done other than embroidery. I still haven't figured out how to do the geese without them looking crap.
- heard rumours that a very large red deer stag has been spotted at the top of the hill
- got a blister on my heel (spent the whole riding lesson lunging Bugs, in my riding boots), which finally (after a week) now no longer needs plasters
- tidied the barn and (with Mike) moved the hay we had been storing in a spare stable into it. We now have enough pallets that we don't need to balance the stacks of hay bales on a grid of old fence posts, which will be vastly more convenient
- rescued a bumblebee from the front porch, and moved her to inside one of the crocuses so that she could have a nice breakfast
- got various things ready for the Eastercon newsletter
- watched the lambs.

Bugs is doing very well, and last Monday we tried lunging him with side reins for the first time. He'd obviously had them on in the past, inevitably much too tight, but he seems to be relaxing a bit now that we've used them a few times. He's also had a Proper Ride, because it occurred to me that he's either just been lunged or been lunged and then ridden for fifteen minutes a lot recently. I think it was a bit of a shock to his system, but he did very well.

I'm rather concerned about GB, though. Other than the day when Jodie stayed in the garden while I rode him (when he was spooky as a spooky thing until I went and got her, after which he was fine: I don't know if he was worried she was going to jump out from somewhere or if he just missed her), he's been fine to ride, and his leg seems to be doing ok. Unfortunately, for the last week or TWWOTV has been having building work done, replacing water pipes, and he's very unhappy about both the noise of the machinery (which echoes oddly around our stableyard and makes him nervous because he can't see what's causing it even though it's All Around Him) and about the changes that mysteriously happen each day while he's in the field, which he only sees as he's coming in.

Add to that the fact that there's Something Worrying (possibly the stag?) up in the woods, and the fact that Mrs Next Door has been away, so The Horse Next Door has been bored/lonely/cold and so running along the fence as we walk down the road (asking to come in for dinner as well) and bringing him in from the field hasn't been a whole barrel of fun. He's getting really worked up and stressed, which isn't usual and can't be good for him At His Age. I called the vet today, and they've posted me a sedative to try (one that's usually used before clipping nervous horses). I have to go out and feed it to him half an hour before he comes in, but if it breaks the stress cycle then it'll be worth the hassle. Hopefully the landscape plumbers will be done by the end of this week, but she's talking about having a new drive put in as well....

(The landscape plumbers are rather terrifying. I'm forever seeing one of them in a hole in the ground while the other one is digging it with a back hoe. Plus the one in charge not only looks 'im from from Twin Peaks but apparently is called Bob as well....)
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Bloody animals

♥Mar. 10th, 2016 // 02:17 pm
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This morning, Mike being at work, I groomed the boys (took a while to get a certain blue-eyed boy scraped clean, as ever) and then took them round to the school to ride. It was a five-sigh session.... )
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Nap time

♥Mar. 3rd, 2016 // 07:34 pm
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I'm unable to decide if I should be worried about this or not, as GB never usually lies down in the field, he just stands and dozes. (This to the extent that, when we got back from Loncon, Mrs Next Door told us with concern that she's seen him lying down. We diagnosed at the time that it was because his bed wasn't being done properly, and he doesn't like to lie down on dirty bedding, so he was having to catch up on his sleep in the field.)

He's been doing it, on and off, for a few weeks, and I had thought that the cold might be keeping him awake. It's warmer now, though, so I worry that it's a sign his leg (or some other ache or pain) is bothering him.

Mike's work have been asking him to do two days a week in London (again: when he first started they wanted him to do two days and offered to pay for a hotel room in between), so he's trying it as an experiment for the next couple of months. He's been there today and was going to go to the Ton until he had a migraine start: he's had to give in to the inevitable 4am waking up and has taken himself to bed.
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Diversions and alarums

♥Jan. 28th, 2016 // 12:32 pm
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Mike's in London working so, as I often do on such days, this morning I led both of the boys down to the school to put them through their paces.

Whenever I do this, I stop outside the school, let them both go, close the gates to stop them getting out, and then reclaim the one who's going first and take him into the school. I do this safe in the knowledge that they will go "ooh, grass" rather than "ooh, the chance to ESCAPE". This morning, for reasons best known to my subconscious, I took them into the school before letting them go.

They looked at the floor, briefly, to check for grass, and then Bugs wandered off to the other end of the school to stare down the valley. I sighed, started to go after him, and then got diverted by the fact that GB, ignoring the fact that he was wearing a saddle, had decided that this was a good time to lie down and have a nice roll. Then Bugs decided that the view down the valley wasn't sufficiently diverting and decided that he'd like to perform a complex series of acrobatic manoeuvres, preferably without touching the ground.

GB, by this time, had realised that something was interfering with his rolling, and so performed his own aerial acrobatics in an attempt to remove the obstruction. After a little while, he stopped and lay down on the other side to see if that worked better. It didn't, so he joined back in with Bugs.

I sighed and went back out of the school to close the gates.

Round and round they went, until GB got tired of it and came to stand apologetically by the gate. Bugs, however, was enjoying himself too much, so he came charging back to the gate himself and off they went again. And again. And again.

Eventually, I was quick enough to nip in and remove GB before Bugs realised I was spoiling the fun and, by the time I'd taken GB's saddle off and reattached it on the top of his back, rather than under his belly*, Bugs had also come to stand by the gate and look innocent.

* Bugs was going first, so I'd left the girth very slack, but I was still quite impressed.

I started off lunging Bugs (still not riding him when I'm on my own, Just In Case) with a certain amount of trepidation, in case he decided that he'd been having such fun that he wanted to carry on, but actually he was good as gold: I guess he'd worked his fidgets out. When I was done, I put his rug back on and discovered that he'd managed to break the clip on one of the straps. This was particularly impressive given that (as he was only supposed to be wearing it for a short, sedate walk to the school) I'd not actually fastened that strap.

There was also a little trepidation when I go on GB, in case he'd done himself an injury, but he seemed to be fine and, given that he'd recently been charging about the place like something a tenth of his age, I figured he could work a bit harder than usual and we had a good session.

Note to self: just leave them outside to eat the grass next time, ok?
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We've got a little nut tree...

♥Jan. 26th, 2016 // 07:16 pm
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Having decided that we're definitely not going to plant a new hedge to replace the leylandii along the front of the garden, we're instead on the prowl for things to partially fill in the gaps between the existing shrubs a little. Among other things (some of which are already bought and planted), I quite fancy a corkscrew hazel, because it's nice to have something that's interesting to look at in the winter.

I got the new Sutton's catalogue the other day, and picked out a few bits that I wanted: a couple of hellebores to try, some fuchsias that (according to GQT) should do well in the spot currently covered with a horrible and un-weedable sprawl of currants and something unidenitified, and some new lavenders to replace the scraggly old ones we inherited. I thought I'd just check and see if they had a corkscrew hazel: they didn't, but they did have something else in the same family, a Purple Filbert nut tree, which looked very cute in the picture and, I'm reliably informed, should give us a good crop of nutmegs and pears edible nuts, as long as we beat the squirrels to them.

It arrived this afternoon, bare-rooted, and as I was already wet and muddy from walking the pooch (Mike had a conveniently timed work emergency) I thought I may as well pop it in rather than leave it in the conservatory until the weather improved. Still on the lookout for a corkscrew hazel, but I've a vague memory of seeing them in the local garden centre.

Glad though I am that we didn't get the US version of it, the current stormy weather is unpleasant. The boys couldn't go out today, so I popped them in the stableyard for an hour before the farrier came this afternoon. Fortunately, it was actually less than an hour in the end: when I went out to get them and hose their feet off ready for their pedicures, GB had managed to get his headcollar comprehensively tangled up in one of the two remaining leylandii bits that hadn't yet been put on the bonfire. (We did try to have a last fire a couple of days ago, the wind having been in the wrong direction for weeks, but there wasn't enough breeze for it to really get going.)

Also fortunately, this is GB we're talking about: rather than having a hissy fit, he just stood there looking annoyed and giving an occasional tug on it, and when I released him he followed me to his stable and went 'food?'. I have now moved the remaining bits of tree onto the bonfire, where hopefully the boys won't be trying to poke underneath them looking for grass.

(And then, after standing around in the cold for half an hour, I sent the farrier a text saying 'where are you?' and got a reply saying that he'd sent me a text yesterday saying he was poorly and asking to reschedule: apparently the fact that I'd not replied to it didn't make him think he should maybe follow up on it. Sigh.)
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Backs. And forths.

♥Jan. 13th, 2016 // 03:22 pm
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Mike was in London today, so there was some to-ing and fro-ing between here and the station. The journey in the morning, when Mike drove there and then I went on to Pilates and then home, was fine (other than the fact that I'd not driven in a month). This evening was pretty horrible, with lots of sitting in traffic, often in the rain, and then (because we now have a weekly rotisserie chicken truck in a nearby village, and we'd asked them to save us one and then got stuck in traffic) driving along Strange Roads in the rain worrying that we wouldn't get there in time (we didn't, but he waited for us). Actually, I think Mike found that more stressful than I did. He doesn't like other people driving him, especially me....

In between, I ran around: GB's neck has started making a clicking noise when he turns his head, and I'd eventually managed to pin the Back Lady down but this afternoon was her best offer, so after I got back from Pilates and grabbed some lunch I went and rounded them up (they, naturally, were taking advantage of having the whole length of the field for the first time in weeks by running up and down the hill while I tried to convince them to come and be caught, and then as soon as I got one of them the other was off and so the first one had to join in).

"I can hear it clicking... let's see how many of the vertebrae I can get him to move through..." she said, as she poked his head until it was practically flat on his side facing his bum. "I don't think you need to worry!" The verdict was that she'd rather have clicking with movement than neither of them, the movement would be good in a horse half his age, and incidentally his back's in good nick as well. Bugs has come on nicely since she last saw him, which is good to hear.

Thankfully, she was on time, so Jo even got a walk before it got dark and I had to go out again. In fact, I even got half an hour to sit on the sofa and play trashing iPhone games: luxury!

Gategate: they're back, I took the padlock off, they've made it so you can fix it open or closed like before.

Tyregate: still there. Probably time to chase the council....
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Poor ponies. Poor ducks.

♥Jan. 7th, 2016 // 02:58 pm
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We managed to get the horses into the field yesterday, but then it rained again overnight / this morning, so they've had to make do with a couple of hours in the stableyard this afternoon. The ducks are unhappy about this, because it's keeping them away from their pond.... Still, the sun's out now and we've no serious rain forecast for the next little while, although I'm expecting a frost tonight (which will be fun in entirely other ways).

In gategate news, we walked up to the gate with Jo this afternoon and met Mrs Next Door driving the other way. The gate was shut. Whoever-it-is had snapped off the small tree I'd chained the gate to, closed it, and tied it shut with another manky bit of knotted string. I have now chained it to a significantly larger tree.

(In doing that, I discovered an interesting new light on the car's dashboard, which seems to be some sort of non-specific 'take me to the vet mechanic now please' thing, which is a bit worrying. Ex-Mr Next Door is away until Monday, but we don't think we need it again until next week, so we'll wait until he's around.)
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Stupid animals

♥Dec. 23rd, 2015 // 06:49 pm
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Both of the boys have been idiots, today.

This morning, we managed to get them into the field but only in the top part. After we'd let them go and put the fence across the middle to keep them up there, I was standing keeping an eye on Bugs while Mike squelched down to connect the fence to the power, just in case he decided to make a break for it.

We think that he didn't realise I'd closed the temporary 'gate', and thought he could make a break for it and get to some tastier grass: all of a sudden, he came charging down the hill towards me, which meant that he was going much too fast to successfully slam the brakes on when he realised he was going to hit the fence.... It bowed out in an alarming way when he skidded into it, but fortunately the tape didn't snap. It was probably also fortunate that Mike was still a few seconds away from turning the power on, because Bugs was already terrified enough without getting zapped!

This afternoon, we decided to ride them down the lane and back before taking them for a spin in the school (partly because Jo had only had a short walk, as we were worried about the light going). GB was a bit fretful as we went out, being worried about something in the woods, but nothing too bad and Bugs was as happy as he ever is. We got to the turning around point, and I pointed Bugs back towards home. Mike got about three quarters of the way through turning GB when he suddenly took off and fled up the field: most uncharacteristic behaviour! Fortunately, Mike did All The Right Things, and I managed to keep hold of Bugs so GB stopped fairly quickly (he doesn't like to run off on his own).

We've no idea what set him off, but I do note that he's been looking fretfully at that patch of woods for a few months now, and we've had an occasional spook when he's been on the way in from the field and turned to corner to face it. One of Mrs Next Door's dogs got very fretful about going outside after dark, around this time last year, and she thought she'd seen glowing eyes up there one night. I do wonder if there might be a wild boar up there. I do rather hope that there isn't.

(As a general rule, horses are scared stiff of pigs, because wild boar are dangerous. GB is actually ok with pigs, as he used to see them on the farm, but it's the only thing I can think of.)

ION, my parents kept talking up Lee Child's Jack Reacher books, and in the end I said "send them to me, then". They are absolute, unmitigated, implausible tosh, full of ludicrous conspiracies with even more ludicrous foreshadowing (none of which is remotely relevant to the even *more* ludicrous leaps of intuition that Our Hero takes in order to solve the case), and have the unfortunate habit of starting the climactic scene about three quarters of the way through the book, which has resulted in severe damage to my sleep patterns lately. (I was really quite glad to spend a few days reading the less compelling books I'd bought with my Amazon credits, as it let me catch up on my rest.) While they were here, my mother reported that one of them ended on a cliff-hanger without you knowing if he was dead or alive (although the presence of a further five or six books does rather give the game away). We also worked out that she was reading them completely out of sequence, though, so I didn't really think much of it. I've just finished that one and, on going to Wikipedia to check what the next title is, discovered that that was the last of the ones that they gave me.... Fortunately, Amazon has provided.

I had been assuming that "K-turn" was an OCR error for U-turn*, but it's very consistent: is it American for three point turn? (Mike says not, and either he or my father suggested it was an OCR error for J-turn, being a reverse-fast-then-use-the-momentum-to-swing-180-and-accellerate-away, but the K-turns don't seem that urgent, and anyway there is one of those and it just gets described and then has admiring noises made about the driving skill involved.)

* Some of them are a little dodgy, although infinitely better than some old SF books I've read OCR copies of. The best is the one where 'Glock' has been consistently rendered as 'Clock'. The bad guys keep making me laugh, when they pull out their Clocks and wave them threateningly at Our Hero.
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Changeable

♥Dec. 21st, 2015 // 03:32 pm
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We went outside this morning to lovely clear skies, with just a few fluffy little white clouds. Sadly, by the time the sun actually got to the bottom of the valley, after we'd finished riding, the clouds had increased in number but it was still quite nice.

Then it rained a bit, and there was a nice rainbow. Then it got grey and there was another little bit of rain, so we got slightly damp on while we were walking Jo. By the time we got back from our walk, the wind was picking up a bit.

By the time we brought the boys in (early, for the farrier), things were pretty much horizontal: both the rain and, when I dashed up to re-assemble the electric fence*, several of the fence posts.

Yuck.

* It's getting soggy up there, and the first (and steepest) gateway is really quite horrible, so we temporarily moved the fence so that they could leave the field through the other gate.

As seen in The Horse Next Door's field: a primrose. Flowering.
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Huh

♥Dec. 18th, 2015 // 05:34 pm
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I tried to use my laptop without my glasses on, this morning, and couldn't read until I poked my nose up to the screen. Guess I've got used to the new prescription, then.

Rode GB yesterday: we just went for a little wander down the lane and then into the school for a few minutes. I did have a canter, but only on the good leg. All seemed ok.

Also yesterday, the boys had their 'flu jabs (which went fine), as a result of which Mike actually looked at GB's passport: it turns out (that it says) he's a couple of years younger than we'd always thought, so he's not actually 30 yet.

Today, I have mostly been tired. Not sure what's going on there, but I've been tired for a few days now. Hope I'm not poorly.
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I don't like Wednesdays

♥Nov. 25th, 2015 // 08:17 pm
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At least, I don't like Wednesdays when Mike has to go to London. Particularly when he has to be there relatively early....

Today, we chucked the boys into the field and I did a bit of mucking out while Mike showered, then we headed off to Ashford and I left Mike at the station and went to kill some time at the Designer Outlet Village: his train was at 9:30ish, my Pilates class starts at 11 (but I like to be there by ten to because parking is a nightmare and you have to be quick to snap up the spaces that the previous class were using as they leave). I failed to know, and Mike failed to tell me, that the shops don't open until 10, so I spent a bit of time walking around and then went for a hot chocolate. As soon as the shops opened, I dived into M&S and bought some jogging bottoms, because it's kinda chilly out there and I was dressed for Pilates....

(My actual plan was to buy some nice Pilates-suitable clothes, but all the sports shops had was hideous fluorescent and/or pink-or-teal-or-purple running stuff. I know the sort of stuff I want, and indeed there are a couple of people in my class who wear it, but I have no idea what sorts of shops it comes from. Sigh. And, now that I think about it, a lot of it does tend towards the pink-or-teal-or-purple. But some of it's white and beige, so it must exist.)

Then I did Pilates, and discovered that I don't much like one-legged squats, a first impression that firmed up as the day went on. After Pilates, I came home, released the hound, had lunch while listening to the Autumn Statement, walked the pooch, and then did the rest of the stable jobs and tidied the kitchen. Foolishly, I sat down for ten minutes after that. It was a struggle to get off the sofa, let Next Door's dogs out to (fail to) have a wee, and bring the horses in.

Proper sit down came next, but falling asleep over my book sounded like a bad plan so I did some sewing instead before getting dinner ready to go and then driving back to Ashford to pick Mike up (yuck, I hate driving down the Roman road at that time of night: narrow and wiggly in places, no lights or cats eyes, and lots of traffic coming the other way to stop me seeing what's coming next. Made worse this evening by the fuckwit about 500 yards behind me with his full beam headlights on. He dimmed them every time a car came the other way, which was considerate of him, but then turned them back up again afterwards, which was not). Dinner, boys' bed time hay nets slightly early, collapse on sofa.

While I was 'making' dinner (dinner being frozen ragu, which I'd put in the oven before I went out, and dried -- the horror -- pasta), I called my parents, having had an answer phone message from Father while I was out. When he answered, he requested the complaints department. It turns out that last weekend Sister had been poking around in their fridge and found the bottle of ginger liqueur from last year's Christmas hamper. "What's this?" she asked interestedly, before saying "Oh, it's not been opened," and putting it back. My parents decided that they'd better at least try it before she came back and finished it off. (She has form for this sort of thing. I'm surprised she didn't just open it there and then, tbh.)

Now, I must confess that I've only ever had the stuff when it's about a month old, and it's pretty fiery. I don't know what happens to it if you leave it in the bottle for a year, but Mother took one sip and then poured hers back! (I suggested mixing it with lemonade next time.) Father seemed to be enjoying it, though, for all the complaints and questions about whether it was actually surgical spirits as a base.... He concluded that he would tell Sister to help herself next time she was poking around in the fridge, and have his camera ready when she took a gulp.

(Mother also got to score points on Father, as when he'd called and got the answer phone he'd hung up saying "Where are they? They can't be doing the horses at this time, in the dark!" and she'd replied "She's probably picking Mike up from the station." Father was ever so surprised to learn that Mother was right. Well, it keeps them amused!)
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Walking in the rain

♥Nov. 19th, 2015 // 03:08 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1122064.html]

Last Christmas, I got Mike a voucher for a half-day falconry thingie at Leeds Castle (him to do and me to watch), and today (having planned to do it a few weeks ago then cancelled as Mike's foot was sore) we finally got around to going along. It was just us, so we got a lot of attention from the falconer!

(The falconer went to a falconry display when she was ten and got hooked. By the time she was thirteen, she'd convinced her parents that this really was what she was going to do with her life, and got her first hawk, which is the one Mike was mostly using today. After spending six years volunteering at various falconry places, she finally got an actual paying job in the field!)

First we met all the birds, and learnt various interesting things (New World vultures are a type of stork; in the wild birds of prey take about eight months to moult, as they have to keep flying in order to eat, but if you put them in an aviary and give them loads of food then they get it finished in about four; they mostly feed their birds on day-old chicks because the yolk sacks are full of healthy goodness; hand-reared birds tend to be very vocal), then we went out with a Harris Hawk for a walk through the woods. He was in his teens, and knew exactly what his job was: fly from tree to tree keeping an eye on the humans, not getting too far away, and every couple of hundred yards swoop down to eat the bit of chicken that the falconer had put on Mike's glove. He was very impressive!



(Before we headed off he went and perched on the scales for a weight check: too low and he won't have enough energy to work that day, too high and he won't be interested enough in food to cooperate, particularly with a stranger.)

Every so often, he'd see (or think he'd seen) something to hunt, and he'd go off into the undergrowth: didn't get anything, but a few days ago he got an enormous rabbit and, last year, several pea-chicks. He's not allowed to fly near the peacocks any more.

It was rather a damp day (although I think less so there than at home), so the walk wasn't as long as it usually would be: he was getting soggy feathers and starting to struggle slightly, so we paused at his dinner-eating-place (the non-moulting birds are taken to the same spot each day for their dinner. It's always somewhere nice and open with a distinctive view (in this case of the castle), so that the bird can find it easily. If a bird ever gets lost, the first place the falconers check is the dinner place). He got two chicks today: usually he only gets one, but he'd been working and would need the extra energy to dry himself out, and wasn't working tomorrow so wouldn't be overweight for that. I feel as though I have a greater insight into the food habits of ballet dancers now!

Rather than send us off an hour early, the falconer put him back on his perch and got the buzzard out instead. After being weighed, the buzzard had a little homing beacon cable-tied to her leg, Just In Case she decided to go soaring off on her own, but actually it was still damp enough that she stayed close to the ground. We went to the area where they do their falconry displays, and Mike flew her a few times (bigger bits of chicken!) but she wasn't really very impressed with the weather!

Moving pictures! )

After that, we had a quick lunch in the coffee shop, a brief walk around the outside of the castle (we saw a pair of kingfishers flying over the moat underneath us, and one of them left a little trail of bubbles when it scooped something out of the water!), a slightly longer walk through the grounds to the car park, and then came home to Release The Hound. I would have quite liked to see the inside of the castle and the historic dog collar exhibition, but we don't like leaving her for a very long time, and we're unlikely to go back, as we've seen pretty much everything except those two bits and I can't imagine that they're £24-per-person good!

After which I went for another damp walk in the woods, this time with a different mighty hunter.


(Actually, the sitter took that last Saturday after another damp walk. Isn't she adorable?)

I drove up to the woods, because I was feeling knackered and it was wet, so I went in a bit I'd not visited for a week or so. The loggers have been very busy, but I really hope that they're going to put the bridleway back into some sort of order before they leave, or at least smooth out the foot-deep tire tracks that cut across it:


I had at least half an hour to sit down after that before we went to get the boys in, slightly early as the farrier was visiting. They are disgustingly muddy: we turned the hose on their legs to make it less horrible for him! Tomorrow, we're supposed to be having a riding lesson but the weather forecast isn't great. Tonight, they're wearing their thin cotton summer rugs. Tomorrow night, they'll be in their thickest winter ones....
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Novacon and coming back home

♥Nov. 16th, 2015 // 04:22 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1121339.html]

That was Novacon, that was.

I had a nice time, although some of it involved drinking too much. I did have some epic lie-ins, though, so result there! Very glad we left before people started plotting Eastercons and Worldcons, though. Got a reasonable amount of sewing done, which was good. I even went to the art show and bought a book from a dealer!

We had a very good run home, so somewhat surprised the sitter before she was ready for us. Jo was, as ever, very pleased to see us, though. "It sounds like she's eating you!" the sitter said as she put her boots on to come outside and say hello. Today, I am somewhat grumpy with her (the sitter, that is), though: she's obviously not actually read the notes we left her, just done stuff based on what she remembers having done before, some of which has changed and some of which she's mis-remembered. I don't think that the bird feeders have been filled while we were away, but the ducks had a big pile of nicely mixed poo and corn on their floor where she'd over-fed them but not cleaned up the poo properly, for example. I also suspect that she's not included the weight of the nets when doing the boys' hay, because the ones I put in last night felt heavy and GB didn't finish his. Sigh. We'll have to Have A Word next time she's here.

She said GB felt a bit off when she rode him, which was worrying. She didn't ride Bugs (we'd told her she might be safer lunging him, and it was very windy so he would have been hard work anyway): he had a terrific time leaping around and throwing his heels up in the air, so I think she made the right call. When we went to poo pick this morning, GB looked very lame in his bad leg, which worried me even more. I think he must have just tweaked it shortly before we went out, though, because I got on him this afternoon and he was a little stiff but basically fine. After I'd decided that, we swapped horses and I gave Bugs a bit of a run: no problems, thankfully.
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Soggy

♥Nov. 5th, 2015 // 10:58 am
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1119430.html]

It's a bit soggy out there. I know this because I just went outside to bring the boys in.... GB was being a G B, because he was wet, so there was a fair bit of charging around making a mess of the field and stableyard. Sigh.

This morning, they had the vet: time for GB's regular blood test. He was actually pretty good today, only barged me into the wall a little bit. Bugs had one as well, in the end: he wees an awful lot, and this morning I went into his stable to find that the entire bed, other than a tiny bit in one corner, was wet, which was annoying and much worse than even he usually is. When I mentioned it to the vet, she suggested checking his kidney function, which seemed like a plan. He was fortunately pretty relaxed for it.

(New vet. The vet who used to have us on her weekly round has moved away. The new one seems nice enough, though, and managed to get the vein first time on both of them, which is always a plus in my book. Slightly annoying, though, as I'd wanted to talk about GB seeming slightly feeble lately and I knew with a new vet I'd just get a bemused look and a "well, he /is/ quite old". We did have the traditional "He's *how* old? He's still working? OMG!" conversation, though, which always makes me smile.)

I've even remembered to turn the new Aga up ready for making my dinner, go me!
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Tired Flick

♥Nov. 4th, 2015 // 04:58 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1118869.html]

I was quite tired yesterday, but today I am really rather knackered.

Today, we did the horses and attacked some leylandii, and then I went to Pilates. While I was there, the horses' dentist came to check them both (and pronounced them both fine, which is always good to hear).

Then we had lunch, and I took Jo for her walk, and did laundry, and then I sat down for half an hour, and then we went out, groomed and rode the horses and then put them to bed.

Bugs was doing so well, until he had a small attack of the don't wannas when I asked him for a second nice canter. So after I got him back under control I made him do a much longer nice canter than I otherwise would have. I hope that this isn't going to be a permanent thing: in theory, if he keeps doing it and it keeps failing to achieve his objective then he should stop.... My back is still a bit sore from his Moment the other week (which probably isn't helping with the knackered), and I suspect that, small though they are, these little bucking fits aren't helping it to get better.

Then I did some charity stuff. (I've got out of going to the boxing night! Yay!)

And now I would like to just stay here on the sofa, please. Rather than going and emptying the dishwasher. Say.

Tomorrow, on the plus side, there will be no leylandii to drag across the lawn and stack up by the bonfire. On the minus side, that's because Mike's in town again. He'll be at the ton for a bit, though, so some of you will probably see him there.

Here, have a picture of a cute little moss-and-Jodie-hair nest that Mike found in a leylandii:
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