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Some less whingy things

♥Aug. 25th, 2017 // 07:31 pm
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- A few days ago, I went into the pantry to see if we had a spare bag of self-raising flour. There was a bag of flour, so I picked it up to see what it was (strong bread, as it happens) and noticed that the corner had been chewed away. Nothing else seemed to have been nibbled, and a trap overnight produced one of the lovely, sleek, glossy mice with which we are blessed (no more since). When we moved in, it was Policy not to put nibblable things into that store room, and I may need to go back and have a rearrange!

- Yesterday, the outdoor plumber came to try and find the leak in our water pipe. The blokes from the water company, having dug a hole by the meter, said it was about eight metres away by the house. Several holes later, and having come back this morning, he found and fixed the leak. It was, oh, at least a foot from the meter and he couldn't quite understand how the water company guys hadn't found it....

- It turns out that dahlias make nice cut flowers and last reasonably well, which is good: the garden's a bit poor for cutting flowers at this time of year, other than the glads.

- About a week ago, I bought (on Amazon) Mike a fairly niche book (heard about it on R4). Yesterday (ditto), I bought the new KLF JAMs book, 2023. This evening, while looking for present ideas for Mike, I went back to the page for the first book to look at the 'people who bought this book also bought' section and found 2023 on the first page of suggestions. Apparently they're *both* pretty niche books....
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Unexpectedly good bin collections

♥Apr. 21st, 2017 // 03:02 pm

Today is our bin day, which is often a bit of a guessing game: given that they have to go a mile out of their way to just do us, we're usually the first to be skipped if there's a problem.

Today was also double bin day -- green waste/food and recycling -- so twice the chance of one of them not turning up.

Happily, I was able to bring in a full set of empty bins after walking Jo, so I was quite surprised to just see a bin lorry go past. I popped outside while it was turning around, and the driver pulled up at the end of the drive.

It turns out that the scheduled lorry had had a problem, so he'd come out and found that they hadn't done half the bins on the way here, so he'd come down to do ours (on his own: the rest of his crew didn't want to do overtime and had already gone home) and was quite shocked that we'd been done.

Maybe all the complaints that we make are sinking in!
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Mmm, Zelda

♥Apr. 2nd, 2017 // 02:50 pm
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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.)
Link4 kisses // Who loves you?

Living room!

♥Mar. 30th, 2017 // 08:46 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1207414.html]

After a hard afternoon and evening of furniture rearranging and assembling, it's all done other than putting the pictures back up on the walls!

(I very much hope that that rug will start behaving. It's currently got a Wii balance board and a side table holding it flat in an attempt to give it the idea.)

(Jo seems to like the new rug. It's already showing signs of her presence....)

(Sinister Ducks.)

(Aaaand I've just realised that the new sofas aren't really visible in any of those pictures. The blue bit in the front of the last one is the pouffe (it's got a storage space inside!), the sofas are the same colour.)
Link4 kisses // Who loves you?

That was quick!

♥Mar. 29th, 2017 // 06:56 pm
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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 and pieces

♥Mar. 23rd, 2017 // 01:46 pm
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My parents have been to visit, which was nice, and short (possibly the two are related!). They brought us new living room lights (we saw the ones that we wanted in John Lewis, but they were out of stock when we went to order them online. A short panic that they were being discontinued later and my mother had bought them in her local store, as she was going there anyway. They are, of course, now back in stock online), which was good, and then put them up for us, which was better. They're much less fussy than the old ones, and removing the centre light from the ceiling fan / changing the blades on it has also made that look much better.

Just the floor to go, now, and it is finally booked for next week. We went for the middle ground, in the end, and are having laminate from the guy who did the third quote after the other two had annoyed me too much. I honestly couldn't have told you which of the sample books was wood and which laminate, so hopefully it's going to look nice! And then we need to buy some rugs. And new shelves for DVDs. But other than that it's nearly done....

In the less successful home improvement department, we were supposed to be having a new garage door today but the chap phoned first thing to say that his minion had called in sick. Hopefully that will get rescheduled in the not too distant future.

(My parents broke their journey home at Ebbsfleet, in the end, on account of not wanting to get up very early. It all worked ok.)

Following my failed attempt to listen to a bloody mp3 on my bloody phone, I bought the album (digitally, for £7, as the CD was £40!) and then remembered that I no longer have an optical drive in my laptop, so couldn't burn a CD to listen to in the car. In theory, I can use the drive in the desktop as an external drive, so we fiddled around trying to do that but, although I could see the drive, I couldn't see the blank CD that I put into it. (The next day, Mike messaged me from the office to ask why an untitled CD had appeared on *his* laptop. Sigh.) In the end, Mike bought me an external drive, so I spent an afternoon ripping and burning copies of all the CDs that have come into the house since I ceased to have a means of doing so: actually not that many, but it does take a while.

Yesterday, presumably to be blamed on one or other of the parents (although they claim not), I had some sort of odd twelve-hour lurgy: I woke up with a sore throat, got increasingly shivery as the morning went on, spent the afternoon wrapped in a blanket while each of my joints individually got more and more achy, developed weepy eyes and a splitting headache, didn't finish my dinner and felt a bit sick afterwards, felt a bit better by (early) bed time, and woke up this morning with a slight headache but otherwise feeling fine.

In between all that, I've mostly been playing The Last Guardian, which is exactly like the reviews say. It's very pretty, very Japanese, and very random. You are a small boy who is accompanied by a giant cat-bird, over which you have very limited control, while you wander around a mysterious and largely abandoned complex of towers and dungeons. The controls are utterly terrible, and this is a sadly common conversation in the house these days:
Flick: [repeats $keystrokes over and over for five minutes in an attempt to make the cat-bird do a $thing]
Flick: Can you see what I'm doing wrong here? I think that I need to get cat-bird to do $thing but he's not doing it.
Mike: It does look like that's what you need to do. Do you want me to look it up?
Flick: Please.
Flick: [continues to repeat $keystrokes, throughout the conversation]
Mike: It says you need to do get cat-bird to do $thing.
Flick: That's what I'm trying to do.
Mike: You need to hit $keystrokes.
Flick: That's what I'm doing. That's what I've been doing for ten minutes. This game has the worst controls ever.
Cat-bird: [for no obvious reason suddenly does $thing]

I have no objection to tricky puzzles, but these aren't, they're just capricious. Or, possibly, the cat-bird is capricious. Either way, it's a bit tedious. Very pretty game, though.
Link3 kisses // Who loves you?

1 dpi

♥Mar. 9th, 2017 // 08:06 pm
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I'm getting to the stage where I have to decide what I'm actually going to do with them....

I've vaguely thought about making a bag from them, in which case I'm pretty much done. Or I could go on and make an actual quilt, in which case I'm very much not! Decisions, decisions.

Jodie's sofa has arrived, sooner than we expected. It didn't arrive in Ashford on today's lorry, and when they did some digging they found out that it was actually in Dartford. Rather than drive it to Ashford to then drive it here, they just brought it directly. It's rather bigger than the old on, Jo looks positively small curled up in the corner of it!

We've given up on the Dettol automatic hand wash dispensers, because they start having hissy fits after a couple of years and spew soap everywhere until you take the batteries out. However, we've still got three soap refils: does anyone use one and want them?
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♥Mar. 8th, 2017 // 06:05 pm
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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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Ducks and flowers and decorators and seedlings

♥Feb. 20th, 2017 // 08:02 pm
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I've just been looking at the bird 'flu guidance for when the current control order runs out (at the end of the month). Given that free-range birds can only be kept in for twelve weeks before they become barn-raised, which happens at the start of March, I was expecting some changes and had my fingers crossed that I'd be able to start feeding the ducks properly again. Actually, though, they're just officially permitting what I was already doing on animal welfare grounds....

So, it looks like they'll not be getting ad-lib food until at least May. They don't like this at all, and my first duck egg of the year is getting further and further away. I'm very jealous of Mrs Farmer, who moved her hens into an unused polytunnel and is getting far better egg production than usual for the time of year.

In more pleasing spring-time news, yesterday we noticed that one of the dwarf irises on the drive was about to flower and a few more had green flower spikes. We went out at lunchtime today to see that half a dozen of them had suddenly burst into bloom. Oddly, the flowers last year came out the day we went to Eastercon and were pretty much over when we got back. It's been a cold winter this year, and was warm last, so I can only think that it's because they're better established this year: last year was their first.

The decorators have been hard at work on the living room today, and there's one coat of fresh paint on everything. We're camping out in the study: it's not a very small room, and would probably be fine with just the two sofas and coffee/side tables in it. Those plus the usual two desks and masses of books, though, are making things very cosy. Jo is bemused but coping.

Tomorrow, I'm going to pot on the first of this year's veg seedlings. Fingers crossed for a better spring / early summer than last year, and resultant shelves full of passata and other bottled stuff.
Link4 kisses // Who loves you?

The fridge man cometh back again....

♥Feb. 17th, 2017 // 07:24 pm
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This morning, Mike woke me with the worrying news that the fridge and cupboard doors were not longer properly attached.

This afternoon, the fridge man came back and moved the attachment points to ones that are, in retrospect, far more sensible (we were both a bit "yeah, should have thought of that").

Fingers crossed....

Also this afternoon cameth the second guy to measure up and quote for the hall and living room floor. The first guy said "The floor's a bit uneven, we'll need to put something down first to level it off". The second guy, who was actually a floor fitter not a salesman, was really worried about the unevenness of the floor, and thinks we should get fake (vinyl) wood instead because it's cheaper and will work on an uneven floor.

I'm actually quite tempted: I'll be able to use a steam mop on it, for a start, which you can't do with actual wood (you have to use a very-lightly-damped cloth/mop, which sounds like a marvellous way to turn muddy paw prints into a thin even coating over the whole floor). When I asked first guy about dealing with mud, he said "you can wipe it up with damp kitchen roll", which didn't really seem like a satisfactory long-term solution when Jo's left a trail around the room: I think he thought I meant actual lumps of the stuff. Second guy, on the other hand, immediately said that he didn't think we should go with the kind of (fairly rough and grained) wood surface we'd been planning because it's a nightmare to keep mud-free when you have dogs.

Mike's slightly coming round to the idea, but wants to see it in a house. We shall see.
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Note to self

♥Feb. 15th, 2017 // 07:40 pm
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Defrost the ice box in the old fridge more frequently in future.

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The fridge man cometh!

♥Feb. 14th, 2017 // 03:52 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1199288.html]

After a saga of epic proportions, six months of varying degrees of faffing, and six weeks of putting up with the fact that the fridge wasn't in the kitchen, I finally have my shiny new fridge:

Not only is it significantly bigger than the old one (and we've kept the old one), so that fridge tetris will be less of a common game, but it's also actually attached to the cupboard door, so that you only have to open one door!

I am probably more excited than I should be by this.

One of the things we'll be replacing when we have the living room redecorated is the side tables: if anyone would like a nest of three pale wood side tables from John Lewis, please say. Also up for grabs: a hand blender/whisk and a rolling pin with a set of interchangable thickness guides. We can bring them to Eastercon. (There is also our coffee table, but it's pretty battered and would need a good sanding and re-varnishing, as well as being a bit big to conveniently bring to Eastercon. Say if you've a particular desire for it. Again, pale wood from JL.)
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♥Jan. 31st, 2017 // 10:21 am
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(LJ app still letting me post to my LJ even though it won't log me in. V mysterious!)

It has stopped being quite so cold, for which I am very grateful. It is rather misty, but I suppose you can't have everything.

I seem to have been quite busy, with living room redecoration arranging, pooch wrangling, failing to find a new horse, and several quilt-related things.

...living room redecoration... )

...pooch-wrangling, failing to find a new horse... )

...several... )...quilt-related... )...things... )

The down side of my being out at weekend was that Mike had to horse wrangle by himself when they were coming in to bed. They behaved on Saturday but on Sunday went charging off, spraining a couple of Mike's fingers in the process. They were also behaving like idiots list night, trying to get to the new mares (even GB!): possibly they've come into season. To be on the safe side, even though it's going to be a bit slippery I'm going to just let them run down the hill on their own tonight rather than try and lead both of them in along the road.
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Sale dilemmas

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

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

Decisions, decisions....

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

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

I've finally finished doing them:

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

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

Also today, the Aga Man failed to fix our Aga (someone with the right part will come back tomorrow), and we took Jo for a run on the beach, where we met an 18 month old Bernese bitch, who was very friendly. We really should have taken a picture for those times when people give us funny looks for saying that Jo's a midget, though.
Link2 kisses // Who loves you?

Oh, and....

♥Dec. 21st, 2016 // 07:59 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1190725.html]

While we were out, Jodie took advantage of her muddy feet to get rid of the crisp fresh laundry scent on the just-changed bed linen.


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


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

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

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

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

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

Now I just need to order my own copies of the fabrics that we liked, so that we can look at them some more and start thinking about curtains.
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Mid-winter things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm hoping that they just found last year very stressful and, having taken a year to recuperate, will finally do something useful next year!
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It's All Go Around Here

♥Apr. 14th, 2016 // 08:56 pm
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We've had a busy day, today. Well, busy for us!

The electrician came this morning, and (finally: it's been a bit of a saga) we've now got a light fitted above the Aga, so that Mike can see what he's doing even when I've got laundry hanging up there. Seems to be doing the job, particularly for values of 'the job' that include making me go "Argh, it's filthy!"

This afternoon, the farmer came and harrowed our field, which we're glad to get out of the way: the weather's been a bit iffy for it, and last year we ran out of time so it hasn't been done for a couple of years. Take that, moss! (The boys were delighted: they got to spend the afternoon stuffing themselves in the stableyard. Come on grass, it really is time for you to start growing now.... Mike mowed the back lawn today, and got half a box of clippings off it. Pitiful!)

While he was doing that, I was planting bulbs. A little while back, we were in Costco and saw that they had packs of summer flowering bulbs for about £15, which was a pretty good price: I got some calla lilies and some gladioli. Today, when I went to plant them, I realised that although the packs looked the same there was a slight difference of scale: six lilies, sixty glads! There are now lots of gladioli planted along the fence at the front of the garden. Once the shrubs come into full leaf, you won't actually be able to see all of them but, on the plus side, that means I can cut them for in the house without feeling guilty: win!
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In vacuum cleaner news

♥Mar. 10th, 2016 // 02:41 pm
[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1147142.html]

On another topic, I was annoyed with myself when I realised that we'd bought the dead vacuum cleaner from Amazon Marketplace, not Amazon proper, but I contacted the seller and asked if they could do a refund. They said they couldn't, but would do a replacement, so I requested one and didn't hear anything back.

I've taken it to Amazon, and they've opened a claim against the seller. Hopefully that will mean we do actually get a refund, rather than another replacement.

We're currently wavering between the pet version of the Bosch Athlet and just getting another Dyson. The standard Bosch Athlet is about to be on offer at Costco, but probably not the pet one.

Right, back to the programme grid mines.
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Things for today

♥Mar. 1st, 2016 // 01:57 pm
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My parents have been to visit this weekend: we set my father to work doing DIY, and my mother was discovered cleaning the kitchen windows about half an hour after she arrived, so I guess they had a good time...?

My father has an Android tablet, which he waved at us in a 'make it work' sort of way. I've put an ad blocker on it for him, but was stumped by an email problem. He has two accounts set up on it, and if he creates a new message then he has a drop-down in the from field where he can choose which account to use, as I'd expect. If he's replying to or forwarding an email, though, there's no dropdown and he can only send it from the same account that the original email was sent to. Was I missing something, or is the default mail client crap and, if so, what's a better one for him to use?

Last night, we went to the Granville, which used to be run by some people whose *other* pub had a Michelin star. It's changed management, though, and is now serving food that is (by local standards) just perfectly ordinary pub food: rather disappointing.

I was pleased that it was dry while they were here, as it meant that the kitchen floor stayed reasonably clean. Today has been making up for it, however. Bugs, who had been looking positively clean, was covered in mud within about a minute of going into the field. We poo picked the field this morning, and when we'd finished GB saw us heading for the gate and came charging down the hill (Bugs came too and beat him to the bottom) before skidding to a halt against the gate and looking pleadingly at me. We left them out there, but I looked up a bit before noon and saw them both standing by the gate looking pathetic, so now they're tucked up in their stables again. (It has actually stopped raining, now, but there's a nasty wind and (Mike's in London) I don't fancy bringing them in through the mud for a second time on my own, so I think they can just stay inside.
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Oops. Oops. Doh.

♥Feb. 25th, 2016 // 09:38 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1143228.html]

This afternoon, on my way to settle down for a bit of sewing, I went to get a drink and noticed that the shelf next to the Aga, on which my little wooden DCUK duck lives, was dusty.

My parents are visiting this weekend, so this reminded me that I needed to Clean The Kitchen. (I'm a terrible slattern, and so don't do things like move the flour canisters and wipe under them on a weekly, let alone daily, basis.)

Several hours later, I finished (although I didn't bother washing the paintwork down, so I doubt it will Do).

This evening, on my way to get a drink before settling down with my book, I noticed that the shelf next to the Aga was still dusty, so I quickly moved the duck off it and wiped it down (after checking that I hadn't hallucinated the rest of the cleaning).

A little later, Mike accidentally knocked the duck off the place where I'd left it (and where it should not have been, so wasn't present in Mike's mental map of the kitchen), at which point its head and half of a welly broke off. Nothing I can't fix with a bit of glue.

I did start to wonder how the wood had got so brittle that it would snap like that, until I remembered that it had been on the shelf next to the Aga for several years.

And, in writing this, I've remembered that I didn't wipe the cupboard doors. Something for tomorrow....
Link3 kisses // Who loves you?

Good / bad

♥Jan. 20th, 2016 // 04:31 pm
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Last night, I remembered to turn off the water to the outside taps and drain the pipes before putting the foam cover back on the exposed bit of pipe: we decided that this was probably a good thing to have done when it hit -7C in the late evening and didn't budge until morning.

This afternoon, on the way to ride the boys, we went to fill up their water buckets (we'd not even tried in the morning, knowing that the tap would be frozen, and probably the hose as well even though it had been in the barn). I turned the outside water back on, and the pipe went 'splurt': we're now very glad that I turned the water off, else it would have been splurting away from the time it defrosted until, well, whenever we'd noticed it....

A bit of duct tape proved to be enough of a bodge that we could fill the buckets up, and the plumber is (miraculously) coming at 10am in the morning, but we didn't manage to fit the riding in as well.
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Bits and bobs

♥Dec. 15th, 2015 // 04:22 pm
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The parents have been and gone. We had a fairly good time, although the weather wasn't terribly nice: at least it was mostly dry. I kept staying up far too late chatting, oops. It was Mike's work Chirstmas do on Monday, so they took me out for a lovely dinner at Deeson's.

I picked up my new glasses yesterday, and have been wearing them since I got home: no headaches, which is always nice, so I think they're ok. I also got a copy of my prescription: R -1.25, -2.0, 20; L -0.75, -3.0, 160 (was R: -0.5, -2.0, 25; L: -0.5, -2.75, 155, so the change is more eyesight and less astigmatism than I'd thought).

The splashback for behind the Aga arrived, so the decorator came back and fitted it (eventually: it was a tight fit!) and finished off the painting. It looks very nice, now that it's all done, so we're pleased with it. I must leave him some good feedback on MyBuilder: we'd definitely use him again.

I had a rather depressing riding lesson on Tuesday: it should have been Mike's turn to ride GB, but I've been a bit worried about his bad leg (I jumped on him for a quick fifteen minute ride on Monday, and he was fine until I cantered on the bad leg after which my very non-horsey mother could see that his walk wasn't right) so I rode him instead. Our instructor was quite pleased that we'd not stuck to the usual pattern because she'd been struggling to think of enough things that he was still able to do with Mike riding to fill 45 minutes. We did half an hour, and decided that he probably can't have lessons with me riding either (I might go back to just doing fifteen minutes, which we did for a little while last winter, but he's worse this year than he was then so it may not work). Just have to play it by ear, I guess. If I can get him through the winter, he should perk up again in spring, but it's still incredibly mild here (nothing below 8C on the seven day, 24 hour forecast!) so I'm very worried about what will happen if we have a bad January and/or February as they've been forecasting.

This morning, I had Pilates (we did Pilates circuit training, which was fun but a bit too (ie, at all) sweaty for my tastes), and this afternoon I've been boxing up the presents that need posting ready for Mike to take them to the Post Office tomorrow. I've also put the Christmas tree up, and now I'm really quite knackered.

I have a small pile of misc consumer electronics that are looking for a new homes (perfectly fine if annoyingly controlled microwave, digital radio that probably just needs a new power cable, Dyson that works but not as well as it should so probably needs a thorough service). Do charities take electrical goods any more? Any other ideas?
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Trees, both in and out

♥Dec. 11th, 2015 // 04:28 pm
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We have had an infestation of Teenager this week, but she's gone home now. (Actually, she's been no bother as she's been doing Complicated Maths the whole time she was here.) Tomorrow, we're getting an infestation of Parents, which I suspect will be more stressful.

Shortly before lunch, the doorbell rang: it was the tree surgeons, team of four, come to get rid of the enormous conifer and the boring and shade-inducing maple. We thought it was a bit odd that they came when there were only three or so hours of light left, but in fact they were done in about two! Very interesting to see them do the conifer, which they did from the bottom up, particularly the bit right at the end where the bloke was standing on the stumps of already-removed branches, swaying gently in the wind, having a fag break (eCig, admittedly). Infinitely quicker, more professional, and safe-looking job than the one we had taken out just after we moved in.

Even late on a grey December afternoon, the garden was much lighter through the livingroom patio doors.

We're now down to only one remaining Enormous Conifer, and it's a less dense kind than the ones that we've had taken out, and about six or eight leylandii, which are right next to it: I suspect we'll have a think about whether it will stay or go when we've taken the leylandii out and have a better idea of what that does to the light levels in that corner of the garden.

Then, after we'd brought the boys in, we popped out to buy a somewhat less enormous conifer, although we struggled somewhat. We went to the place we usually use (a small garden centre), but all they had left was one that would have been just right but was reserved, one that was too tall, and half a dozen tiny ones, so we went to a place that just sells trees and traipsed around a field trying to find something that didn't have an enormous bare spike sticking up from the top of it (whilst we would be quite happy to get one like that and take the scissors to it, they sell them by height and we've no wish to pay for three feet of twig that we're going to get rid of). We did get an ok one, although I'm a little worried that we'll have to take off a couple of the lower branches as it's got a very short stump.

Not sure why the decent trees are getting sold out so early, though, and I'm glad we went today rather than over the weekend: last year we bought it on the 14th (which is the equivalent to this coming Sunday) and "they only had about half a dozen left".

I've just bought a new microwave, because Costco had one with good reviews at £30 less than Amazon or Tesco in their Christmas deals. We've neither of us ever liked the one we have at the moment, which was a quick grab off the shelf in Tesco job when we moved and left the old one behind: it has a dial to set the timer, for example, which is horrible. If anyone wants it....
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♥Dec. 7th, 2015 // 06:21 pm
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More eggs! I suppose I'd better start feeding them on egg-laying food instead of just tasty, tasty corn. Wonder if it will last? (I stopped because they weren't eating it and then the misc corvids were getting it. At least if they just get corn I can put it underwater, so it's still there for them to come back to later.)

(In other duck news.... I was riding GB this morning when I heard lots of quacking, and I figured that they were just at the end of the garden having an argument about something. Turns out that they were, and the argument about whether or not they should go through the accidentally-left-open gate to the back garden. A few minutes later, they appeared and started poking around. Fortunately, given I was busy, they didn't make any moves towards the pond, or more to the point the nice tangly pond cover, and I herded them back out again when I'd sorted the horses out. They got into the field the other day, again through an open gate, but they've not shown any inclination to explore for a while now: another sign that they're getting hungrier.)

The new splashback for behind the new Aga arrived today, which is good: decorator's booked to come next week and fit it, and paint the new plaster work. I'm about 80% sure I've told him the right paint colour. Not like me to have not written it down.
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Felting and a garden question

♥Nov. 3rd, 2015 // 08:28 am
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This morning, I went to the first of three weekly half-day needle felting classes. I'd been vaguely intrigued by some of the needle felted things I see for a while, so when I saw this one on the Kent Adult Education website I thought I'd give it a go.

People watching )

I was going to make a little spherical robin, of the hanging-on-the-Christmas-tree variety, but my sphere also wasn't terribly spherical, so I turned it into a realistic bird shape, instead. Still needs wings, tail and face, but I'm quite pleased so far! I will have a go at a little spherical robin as well, though. I think I'll try following the instructions that came with my kit, rather than the method the instructor told us today to see if it's easier.

Our hot water tanks's been making those cylon noises again, which always worried me slightly. It didn't think morning, but then neither did the heating come on.... Fortunately, the heating engineer was coming today anyway, to service it and cap off the old oil pipe for the Aga, so it worked out quite conveniently. Apparently, the noise was a failing valve trying to open, and today it actually died. Still, that's all done now, although he did mention as he was leaving that the boiler doesn't have a fire cut-off valve, so that's another job to get booked in with one of his colleagues.

I've got various pots in the conservatory with little plants in them: phlox, penstemon, lupins, hollyhocks. The first pair I grew from seed, the second came as plug plants and got potted on. Am I supposed to leave them as they are until spring, or should they go in the garden now?
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Ah, there we go:

♥Nov. 2nd, 2015 // 02:01 pm
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The mist was mostly lifted when I took Jo out this morning, so here's the photo I had planned for yesterday.

The gap in the leylandii is now slightly bigger than it was when I took this... we're getting there. You can also see the location of the electric fence in the field! For comparison, January.

(The reason that the hedge looks like shit is because Mike is an idiot who didn't have the sense to say "No thanks: it's leylandii, so it will look like shit and anyway we're about to take it out" when TWWOTV offered to get Bad Farmer to flail it a month or so ago. Sigh.)

(Uploaded with the new version of the LJ app. Anyone know how to change the default security of new posts? I remember it being tricky to find in the old one, but I can't remember where it was hidden. Not 'settings', obviously: that's entirely taken up with pages of text about DPA and DMCA and stuff. What, you expected to be able to change aspects of the app behaviour in the 'settings' screen?)
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Phew! Also, pee-ew.

♥Oct. 27th, 2015 // 04:54 pm
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With a bit of help from Mike ("I don't understand why this wasn't booked in as needing a four-man team!"), the new Aga is successfully installed, and heating up.

In the process, it's burning off all the oil and general production grime off the insides of the oven and the top of the hot plates, so today the kitchen's filled with lovely stinky smoke rather than magic insulation dust. I think we might be out for dinner again this evening.
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♥Oct. 25th, 2015 // 05:07 pm
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The plan for the afternoon was that, while Mike chainsawed the leylandii into more manageable chunks, I would rebuild the fire ready for next time, making sure that all the bits too heavy to throw onto a lit fire were already in there waiting.

But then I got about half way through doing that and it caught light again, so there we go!

The laylandii, unfortunately, defeated the chainsaw, but only right at the end when the last remaining lump was just about small enough for us to roll over to the fire and flop on top. Not sure what happened to the chainsaw, it just stopped. Mike is, of course, devastated by this loss, but he's bravely keeping his spirits up by looking at new ones.

I have kept two of the fence panels, because they did such a good job of keeping the inside of the main fire dry until the wind changed enough to light it: we also have a pile of garden stuff to burn on the *other* bonfire pile, which is in a bit of a state because we had to just heap it up any old how to make room for parking at the BBQ. A job for fairly soon, then, is to go and pull it all out, build it into a proper fire that will actually catch nicely, and then cover it up until we get a good day to set it going.

It is nice that the stableyard is back to normal again. Well, apart from a couple of lumps of concrete that old gateposts were embedded in, which we'll have to take to the tip if we can get them in the car. And a big pile of soon-to-be ash, which I suspect we're going to have to shovel into bag and take to the same place, as it's going to be full of nails and suchlike that I don't want the horses getting into....
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Another busy day

♥Oct. 24th, 2015 // 04:25 pm
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This morning, the decorator came to get ready for the Aga installation: taking off the old tiles and re-plastering (wow, he made that look easy!), chipping the bottom part down to the brick on one side to make the space slightly bigger, and levelling off the floor. All done by lunchtime, which was good, we just need to keep Jo off the floor for a bit.

While he was doing that, we rode (Mike's first time on Bugs since his Little Moment, all went ok but we did end up swapping because Bugs wasn't *quite* sound and I wanted to give him a canter. Didn't seem to make much different, but we'll see how he is in a couple of days) and I went to a local craft and (mostly) quilting show for a nose around. Some nice stuff, and some intriguing ideas, as well as a quilt made by Mrs Up The Hill, which I made sure to memorise a couple of conversation hooks from!

This afternoon, we've had a really big bonfire. We've burnt about half of the fence posts and panels, and none of the leylandii: in retrospect, we should have realised that trees that they removed with a digger would need chopping up before we could move them! We're now trying to decide if it's better to chainsaw them, or just to build the next fire on top of them.

(And now it's raining. That's annoying, it wasn't forecast to start for another few hours. Guess we'll get wet bringing the boys in. At least they've got their raincoats on, unlike The Horse Next Door.)
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Oh, the excitement. With qualifications.

♥Oct. 23rd, 2015 // 02:44 pm
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This morning, I rode Bugs, who was a bit nervous to start off with but calmed down fairly quickly. (This is not the exciting part, by any means.)

While I was doing so, I tried to figure out what the small lorry that had disgorged a small gaggle of hi-viz-wearing people was doing, stopped randomly in the road a little way off. I did worry that it was the bin lorry, broken down, but eventually decided (and later confirmed, when they came further along and stopped near our house) that they were actually fixing the road! Very exciting, although we haven't yet had a chance to see what they've fixed it with. Given that, further along, they've cleared away a pile of washed-down-the-hill crap that I reported a little while ago, I have a slight fear that I might know what they've shovelled into the pot holes. Mike says I'm just being cynical, though.

(And, of course, the fact that they'd put a sign at the end of the road saying "Long delays likely" meant that the bin lorry crew went "meh, sod that" and didn't actually turn up....)

I was also wondering, as I rode and then mucked out, where the Aga Guys were: the Nice Man From Aga had promised me that we were their first job of the day, but apparently lied as they didn't get here until noon. Fortunately, this wasn't a problem: the decorator had already said he wouldn't come until tomorrow, and they and the electricians (who arrived at about the same time) were working in different places.

It turns out that Agas of A Certain Vintage are insulated with magic pixie dust. You can tell that it's magic pixie dust because it's so teeny tiny that it just goes right through the filter on a vacuum cleaner. It also hangs in the air beautifully, thus ensuring that the layer of pinkish dust that covers every flat surface in your nice big open-plan kitchen/dining room is even throughout. That was terribly exciting, in a sweary sort of way.

Not to be out-done, the electricians reported exciting rodent damage to some of the electrical cables running through the ceiling, as well as needing unscheduled emptying of part of not-a-loo, rearrangement of the study, and emptying of the fridge. On the plus side, they also temporarily took up some of the carpet upstairs and we have *lovely* floorboards. On the minus side, that's in the old bit of the house, so we still don't know what it's like downstairs or in the new bit, but it does lend encouragement to the vague plan to take up the downstairs (and, possibly, now, upstairs hall) carpets.

Pleasingly, behind the Aga is in much better shape than we'd feared, with barely any need to chip away plaster, so the decorator's job for this weekend will hopefully be nice and quick.

They didn't all clear off until gone 5pm, so by the time we'd (mostly) put things back where they belong and wiped away the dust we took an executive decision to go to the pub for dinner. Rabbit ragu was a bit of a win.

In between times, we've been reading the new Miles novel. That's quite exciting, too, but I shan't do spoilers.
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This may not bode well

♥Oct. 22nd, 2015 // 06:31 pm
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This morning, Mike being off in London, I took GB in the school. (Even though the cows are now finally gone, I didn't want to risk Bugs having another Moment when I was on my own.)

I noticed that he didn't have quite the stamina in canter that he usually has. It's probably related to the loss of muscle on his back that the saddler noticed last week, but I don't know if that physical change is cause (he is, after all, in ludicrously good condition for his age) or effect (possibly because I've been schooling Bugs a lot lately, so he's not been worked so hard). Or, indeed, if he was just able to tell that I'm still rather sore (as opposed to actively aching) from Saturday's Moment, and that was making him less happy about going on (he is very good about looking after people, Riding School Legacy). Something to keep an eye on, anyway.

Tomorrow morning, we're having the old Aga removed, at ludicrously short notice (I think I failed to mention this: it is roughly when the Nice Man From Aga originally said it would probably be, but they didn't actually confirm it for ages because -- sigh -- there was a note on our file that Someone Else needed to check if the short notice would be a problem, which Someone Else failed to do, thus making the notice Even Shorter). (Sufficiently short notice that the electrician is coming in to put the new power cables *after* the old one is removed, tomorrow afternoon, the plasterer/decorator will be working the weekend, and the Nice Man From Aga will have to come for the site inspection on the evening before the installation, rather than several days in advance.)

This evening, as his last, nice-and-quick job of the day (he only lives around the corner, relatively speaking), the engineer from our local Aga servicing place came to quickly cap off the oil pipe so that it was nice and safe for the removal tomorrow. This, I note, is Exactly What The Nice Aga Man Told Us To Arrange, down to the company we booked to do it. As it happens, it was the same guy who combed all his mates' old plumbing supplies to find the right size nut that got the old Aga coaxed back into life last autumn. He's a lovely chap, and I will miss having him in to service the Aga.

There followed a fair bit of explaining, use of torches, inspection of pipes, and contemplation of the practicality of removing the cupboard from the wall to give him better access, but he eventually concluded that, actually, there was no way he could do the job that he'd been booked for when the Aga was still there and, even if he did, we'd still need to get a heating engineer in to finish the job off. Naturally (see above re: last-job-of-the-day), I couldn't get hold of Nice Aga Man after hours.

At present, the oil is turned off by the valve, at both ends of the pipe (but needs to have caps fitted on them and -- for which we need a heating engineer -- the oil in the pipe flushing out to prevent a fire risk). This isn't strictly safe, because "some idiot could turn them both back on and then you'd have a kitchen full of oil", but should be ok in the short term. There's a Special Box that goes between the Aga and the pipe, which is almost certainly full of oil, so that will make a horrible mess tomorrow when they take it off, but, fingers crossed, they will still agree/be able to do the removal....
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How do we stand the excitment?

♥Oct. 3rd, 2015 // 03:23 pm
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This morning, we went to the Country Store, because they were having a sale on horse and pet stuff. The car is now full of sacks of feed, which we keep forgetting to take out (Edit: yay, got most of them out. Damn, forgot to get the last one...).

This afternoon, we went to the opening of the new village hall. Unfortunately, we only arrived fifteen minutes late rather than, say, forty: we were early enough to get the speeches and the Cutting Of The Giant Ribbon by An Old Lady Who Was Born In The Village And Never Left, but too late to get the free fizz.

It does look very nice inside, though, and the new shop is hugely better than the old one (admittedly, that was in a small shipping container, so it's not much of a leap. You could now go in there and leave with the ingredients of a basic meal, though, and they had some nice-looking small-producer frozen ready meals). I picked up a leaflet for the WI, and I'm glad that I did: I've been thinking about going for ages, and meant to go last month but didn't because I had to pick Mike up from the station. Instead, I decided that I was definitely going to go this month but, as I've learnt that it's the AGM, I think I might wait until November!

The new fences are all done, and the dodgy gates fixed, and everything is nice and tidy other than the huge piles of Stuff To Burn, which we wouldn't let them set fire to as what little wind there is has been going towards next door. The forecast for tomorrow looks good for us having a bonfire, though. Igor's Minions are very hard workers, and very nice chaps; their English has vastly improved over the last two years, too, so no more three-way phone calls via Igor. I'd recommend them it would be useful to anyone reading this.

It was foggy this morning (at least that means we didn't get a frost, unlike yesterday morning), so we put off riding until this evening, much to Bugsy's disgust ("If you're going to make me come in from the field then I expect my dinner to be on the table in the bucket waiting for me then I get here!"). They were both good boys, though.

Actually, one vague bit of excitement: I had an annoyed text recently from Not Very Next Door Neighbour, complaining that the hunt had been up near her house and she'd not been warned. Today, though, I had a another text saying that it wasn't actually The Hunt, it was a disgruntled former huntsman, recently taken to court for illegal hunting, who'd been given permission by Bad Farmer to go on his land. All very mysterious. Apart from anything else, where did he get the hounds?
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We need to buy some white spray paint

♥Oct. 1st, 2015 // 04:47 pm
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This morning, while we were riding, we saw a white van with a flashing light on the roof and (it was quite a long way off) a red and white logo on the side, which I guessed was the Kent council logo, so we thought it might be the Highways Man checking the roads.

When I went out to get my legs waxed, I saw that it had indeed been the Highways Man: he's spray painted some (but, naturally, see subject line) not all of the potholes on our road. Of course, all this means is that he's going to tell the local highways people that they need to get to work, but it's a start!

I also had a slight ethical dilemma: the girl who I used to see at the salon left a couple of months ago with no explanation, which was a shame as I really liked her. I found out from the girl I've been seeing since that she's now working at my hairdresser, which is much closer to home. On the one hand, it would be more convenient to switch, and quite possibly cheaper. On the other hand, I do rather like the new girl, and she is slightly quicker. Plus, I often have a wander around Canterbury to do other shopping before / after. I think I'll stick with the current place.

At lunchtime, Mike had an email from the people who're replacing some of our fencing: they'd had a cancellation, could they come today? I got home to a bit of a change: all the old fence is in a big heap, they've taken out the rest of the leylandii along the drive, and gone away for the day leaving a mini-digger in the stableyard. Hopefully, it's mini enough that GB won't object too strongly to it!
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Aga news

♥Sep. 15th, 2015 // 04:47 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1105996.html]

This afternoon, after our riding lesson* (postponed from first thing because the weather was foul), the nice man from Aga came to visit us. He was quite taken with our old Aga, and informed us that "she" (no, really) was from 1938-1945, which is older than we'd been told by a service guy and squares up with the story we'd originally been told about it being the only thing left from the old farmhouse after it burnt down. Slightly surprisingly, they will melt the chassis down and use it to make new Agas, rather than reconditioning it. He told us a sad story about a very old Aga that he once found, old enough to have "Patent Pending" across the front, which got accidentally melted down after the "save this for the museum" sticker got put on the wrong one in the warehouse.

It's going to be a tight squeeze, both to get the new Aga into the house and to fit it into the space, but it should be doable if we a) take the front door off the hinges and b) get someone in between the old one being removed and new one being installed to take down the tiling and chip away a bit of plaster. We're going to have to have it vented into the kitchen, rather than through the chimney, but on the plus side that means we'll notice if something gets left in the oven and burns!

After it's done, I'm going to have the wall behind the Aga painted to match the other walls, which will brighten it up tremendously, and have a splashguard put in at the bottom.

* We did the final round of our dressage competition today. I got 69% and Mike got 58%, but then I'd drawn the long straw and got to ride GB! Very respectable performances all around.
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♥Sep. 8th, 2015 // 05:03 pm
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I'm feeling only slightly pathetic, today, so I managed to get that batch of jelly finished off, and start a new one. I had a bit of a revelation the other night: as I wrestled the bulging jelly bag onto a cane suspended from the legs of an upturned kitchen stool (as is traditional), I realised that I could probably just use the juice from the steam juicer. I checked the juicer instruction/recipe book, and it does include directions for doing so (including the delightful hint about checking pectin levels in your juice by mixing it with pure grain alcohol).

So, now the juicer's bubbling away with another batch of spicy juice and, if I can resist the urge to drink it all hot from the pan, I'll be boiling that up as well, later.

We're having a bit of an expensive month: not just the car, but also the oil tank has sprung a leak (the guy who fills it up did issue a Warning last time he came that we should replace it, it just never seemed to be got around to), although thankfully the top tip of the guy who came to quote for a new one worked: rubbing a bar of soap over it has temporarily stopped it (good, as we were running out of buckets I was prepared to put oil in!).

We've been talking about a new Aga almost since we moved in, as our FrankenAga is a bit crap temperamental, and since we had the solar panels (and with the inducement of being able to still use the hot plates to make toast and crumpets in summer!) I've come around to Mike's view that we should get an electric one provided it was a 3-oven one so I could bake. Their website listed a £1500 trade-in special offer for classic Agas, so Mike popped into the local shop this afternoon and the actual Aga shop called him back later: another, £2k trade-in, offer ends today, did he want to get his credit card out? After a bit of dithering, he did on the understanding that if Monday's visit from an engineer vetoes it then there will be a refund.

Given that I'm insisting on new fencing around the stableyard before the winter, we'll be dipping into the savings shortly, but it's all long-term stuff so it's not too bad.
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♥Aug. 10th, 2015 // 04:21 pm
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1) Today started off pleasantly overcast, if a bit muggy. While I was mid-walk with the pooch, it turned into blazing sunshine: oops. Fortunately, I'd driven her up to the woods, so at least she didn't have to walk in the open, but she's now rather a hot dog. And she got her first proper burr of the year: yay. At least at this stage they're relatively easy to remove. In a few months, they'll disintegrate into little bits when I try to pull them off her. She's also a stinky dog: there's way too much badger activity in the summer pasture for my liking.

2) We had the Aga serviced this morning, so that's all ready for the winter.

3) Mike's been busy trimming hedges. I've been busy spraying that bloody wasp nest....
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Three things

♥Aug. 7th, 2015 // 02:10 pm
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1) The scaffolding has been taken down, and we now have solar panels on the garage roof. Mike is checking the power output approximately ten times an hour, and excitedly reported to me that boiling the kettle used a little bit of grid electricity as well: apparently, it's a bit hazy today, so we're only getting 3.4 thingies, instead of 3.8.

2) Jodie's chamois leather coat really does seem to work. Admittedly we drove up the hill, so that she could stay in the shade, but she had no problems at all on her walk today, even though it's hot outside.

3) Mrs Next Door came over for dinner, followed a bit later by The New Bloke. Nice evening, and TNB is (I'm afraid to say) already much better with Baby Toddler Next Door than Mr Next Door ever was. TND continued his campaign to get into Jodie's paddling pool, but was repeatedly foiled.

GB is back to his usual charming self this evening, to the extent that he came charging across the stableyard after the ducks when I was putting them to bed!

Oh, and we found a random hydrangea, whilst taking a break from pruning the wisteria (urgh, pigeon nest on my head). No idea where it came from: it would be a really stupid place to plant one, and it's so small that it can't have been left by the previous owners anyway!

Huh: that seems to be five things. And there was me, thinking that stealing G's five things was a good idea but overly ambitious!
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♥Feb. 27th, 2015 // 05:10 pm
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It's been a tiring few days, and lo: I am tired. And when I'm tired I get even worse about updating LJ, answering emails, and replying to text messages.

We've had various visitors, including my parents, which was nice (but tiring). On the plus side, my father did lots of DIY, which was helpful: Bugs now has a rack for his rugs, so they're not in a heap on the floor of the tack room.

Bugs seems to be settling in, although it was unhelpful of the weather to dump masses of rain on us just when it did: they couldn't go in the field on Friday or Saturday last week, so we had to have them all in the stableyard together, slightly earlier than I'd planned on letting them socialise as a group. There were a few scuffles, but nothing too bad: GB landed a few bites on Bugs, and Bugs landed a few kicks on GB, but no actual injuries. It dried out slightly, so they had three days in the top part of the field, which is now horribly churned up due to a combination of scrapping, Bugs still having shoes on his front feet, and GB being utterly determined to always stay between Bugs and the Baby (he seems to have slackened this policy now, thankfully). Then they had another two days in the stableyard, and transformed it into a good recreation of the Somme, so they just had to stay in their stables or be tied up all day today. They did get a bit of excitement in the form of a visit from the Back Lady, though. She pronounced them all fine, once she'd done a little bit of tweaking of Bugs.

We had a power cut in the early hours of Thursday morning, which Mike discovered was because the breaker had gone on the fish pond circuit and blown the whole thing. Fortunately, Fish Pond Guy was coming on Thursday anyway, to take out the old fountain and put the attachment on the pump to make it make a pretty jet of water. He declared the pump to be bust, which was annoying as it's less than a year old: Mike will be complaining, and then Fish Pond Guy will be back to fit the replacement. We've got a new pond cover as well, but it needs a little fettling to make it work properly: I suspect that we're going to end up removing a strip of grass around the pond and putting pebbles down, to make it possible for Mike to mow the lawn without having to move the cover each time.

Our bins didn't get emptied last Friday, which was annoying: the official reason is because there was -- shock -- a pair of traffic cones on either side of the gate when they arrived. Not blocking it, or anything, just, y'know, existing. The fact that it was raining may also have had something to do with it. There has followed a week of comedy and delight, including a reprise of the old favourite "But you don't have a wheely bin, you have purple sacks", some Twitter action from the local councillor, at least three failed "within two days" and, apparently, they will be emptied tomorrow. Honest.

(The cones, by the by, were put there by the road mending people, and thus the bin lorry would never have got to the reason for them. They've resurfaced a couple of meters of the road, and done the outside two thirds on a fair bit more. There are, of course, still places that need doing but that was the worst stretch. My current theory is that, back in October, the Amazing Vanishing Road Crew were supposed to put patches on all the problems and then these guys were booked to come and do the worst bits properly. Even though the AVRC vanished in an amazing fashion before doing their bit, the second booking still happened. I suppose that we'd better report it all again to see if the same thing happens next winter: there are now some nasty potholes on the flat part of the road as well.)

Project Grow Your Own is moving along, although the next stage is somewhat hampered by the fact that two of the planks in the side of one of the big planters have swelled in the wet and pinged out: I've emailed the people we got them from to complain. We've got to the stage of planting some of the seedlings out in bigger pots to grow on before they go out, although I'm a little worried by the germination rate of the early tomatoes. There is an actual pod on one of the mange tout plants, as well as masses of flowers, which is very silly.

And I am very tired and achy and brainless and tired. Now. Text messages, then at least some of my emails before I give up.
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♥Feb. 19th, 2015 // 02:38 pm
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While I was riding this morning, a big lorry with various bits sticking out and towed behind went very slowly and carefully past the school. "Cor," I thought (whilst appreciating the care they were taking not to spook the horses), "I bet they regret having come down the hill!"

Only then they (equally carefully) went back again the other way about half an hour later. And, half an hour after that, I was mucking out when Mike reported that they were coming back down the hill with our Tesco delivery following after. When they got down the hill that time they just stopped and asked the Tesco guy where he was going next (reply: not back up the hill), before heading back up the hill. Tesco guy later told Mike that they were, wait for it, actually fixing the road! I deliberately went that way with Jo later, and they had indeed started work on the road. I couldn't actually see any bits that they'd fixed, but it was reassuring to see that they'd actually stripped the top layer off the whole width of the road at the place where they were currently working, rather than just patching it by sticking some tarmac in the holes ready to wash down the hill the next time it rains. We shall see!

Speaking of riding, this morning I took GB and Bugs in the school. I foolishly gave Mike the ok to take the Baby up to the field before I was actually sitting on GB's back, which meant that we had five minutes of screaming, foot stamping, dragging me around the yard, and so on before we managed to wrestle him into his bridle and get him to the mounting block. Once I was on him, he was fine other than a bit of a tendency to run down the road past the house so that he could see the Baby again. As soon as that happened, and we went in the school (so he knew he wasn't being Taken Away), he was all sweetness and light again. Well, other than a bit of face pulling when Mike brought Bugs over and tied him up next to the school ready for me to ride after GB.

Bugs was a bit stiff in the back end at first, but this may be just because he had his first hack with us yesterday (Mike rode the Baby, GB stood in the field and shouted his little head off the whole time we were away), and thus had to go up and down some hills: they're not very well stocked with hills on Thanet, so I wasn't surprised that he struggled a bit. He'll get used to it.

I just hope that GB does.
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♥Feb. 6th, 2015 // 04:20 pm
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The man's fixing the Aga! Yay! It took him a while, but he managed to replace the connection between the burner and the pipe with a new one. Soon it won't be freezing cold in the kitchen any more....

This morning, we went to see a couple of horses. I was not terribly bothered to get a text saying that the dealer couldn't be there and a groom would see to us, but I was a bit annoyed when she mentioned that she wasn't the usual groom and had never actually met either horse before.... That meant that she couldn't say whether the first one was always visibly lame or if it was just a special occasion. The second one was quite nice, although he's very tall.

Jo's been hunting wabbits and then, getting sick of carrying them around the woods with her, scoffing them whole. I'm sure it's good for her, or something....
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♥Feb. 4th, 2015 // 01:22 pm
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We've (mostly) had a lovely sunny day, here. Still a lot of snow about (we've cancelled this afternoon's riding lesson, sigh), but it's been nice and bright.

This is just as well, as we've also moved the first of the seedlings out of the propagator and onto the kitchen windowsill top of the microwave. I'm astonished that any of them germinated, given that Mike has been lifting the lid off five times a day to check for progress. At least he wasn't digging them up to check. So far, we've got some chilli peppers and one of the varieties of sweet peppers, but I'm sure that the others will make themselves known soon. Just hope that they're warm enough overnight in the kitchen: the Aga's still out of action, as the part is proving tricky to source.

Slightly less cheerfully, the glass plate fell off the side of the house the other day. It was glued to the wall of the house, on either side of a repaired crack, the idea being that if the crack widens the glass will break and you can see that there's a problem. However, we're not *too* worried about it: firstly, when we had the roofing guy in a few weeks ago he looked at it and made the perfectly sensible comment that, unless we went up on a ladder and poked it, we didn't actually know that (eg) the glue hadn't perished and it was just balanced up there on the supporting nails and secondly it happened the day after we'd had the windows and gutters cleaned, so the roofer was probably right (and, now that I think if it, thirdly there wasn't any glue on the glass, it's still stuck on the wall). We do now need to decided if we should get a new plate put on, though.
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Heavy lifting

♥Jan. 30th, 2015 // 05:10 pm
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Or rather, pushing: this morning, we had a tonne of rock and two tonnes of pebbles delivered, ready for when we re-do a patch of the back garden. (It was a cheap batch that a company had in, and wouldn't be able to re-stock at the same price, so it made sense to get it now and keep it until spring.) The delivery driver (sigh) completely ignored the instructions in his notes, and came down the hill. I was slightly hopeful that he wouldn't be able to stop at the bottom* and might drive through and smash the fence around our stableyard (which needs replacing) but it was not to be. He did nearly get stuck, though.

My cunning plan was to have him leave the pallets in the garage, as the drive is concrete and that would keep them out of the way. Unfortunately, I'd not quite realised how much of a slope there was.... All three of us pushing and pulling managed it, although we did have to unload some of the rocks before we could get it moving.

* We had snow last night and this morning:

We've also had the outside windows washed, and the gutters, window frames and weatherboards cleaned. We opted not to get the conservatory done, as it was a lot of money, and it now looks incredibly filthy in comparison, but there you go.
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♥Jan. 29th, 2015 // 11:39 am
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Our Aga went out the other day. Mike relit it, and it was rather cold before going out again the next morning, after which he couldn't re-light it.

This morning, the Aga man came to have a look and, after telling me off sternly because Mike left the oil on after the last re-lighting attempt, took it apart and reported that there was a dodgy thread that meant the pipe from the oil pipe to the burner was leaking (as well as the burner being full of carbon).

Unfortunately, we have AncientFrankenAga, so the thread and pipe in question are not only imperial but also botched together out of bits of plumbing supplies. He's taken away the pipe and burner: if we're lucky, he'll be able to get a new nut-and-thread bit. If we're unlucky, he'll be able to change the connection on the burner to a metric one and get a new pipe made. If we're really unlucky, it'll be a new burner and pipe.

He's a nice chap, though, and said he hoped to be back tomorrow or early next week. At least we have a service contract, now (complete no-brainer, as it's the same price as an annual service, which is pretty much what he did today while he was here anyway!)

(He did leave the gate open, though, tsk. Before I took Jo out, I had to herd the ducks back from Next Door's field. They were most amusing as they crossed the puddle at the bottom of the drive: too deep to walk, not deep enough to swim, so they had to lie down and scoot themselves along!)

I'm now checking out All The Weather Forecast Sites: I will probably try to bring the boys in before the rain starts, and I certainly want to have them in before it turns to snow. Mike's in London, so this could be fun....

(In other weather-related news that I forgot to mention, the every-seven-years river in the next valley over is merrily flowing again: third year in a row.)
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♥Jan. 19th, 2015 // 08:52 pm
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Having waited for a cold night, we've finally got around to defrosting the freezer, at the expense of a certain amount of damage to my nails.

Hopefully I'll now be able to open it without cringing at the noise of the ice scraping!
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Alas, poor fishie

♥Jan. 18th, 2015 // 04:44 pm
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(Yuck, new DW beta update page is hideous. They've increased the font size and added acres of white space, presumably to make it easier to use on a mobile, so you now have to scroll and scroll and scroll. In what universe does anyone need a 1000-pixel-wide dropdown to distinguish between the names of their icons? I've slightly improved it by manually changing the font size for the page, but it's still enormous in the text entry box and generally bleh. Anyway.)

It appears that our last indoor fish is no more. I saw him a few days ago, but then my mother asked why we had an empty fish tank and I couldn't find him to show her, yesterday or today. Ah well, they had a good run.

(The visit seemed to go well. No one died!)

This afternoon, we've been pruning trees in the garden. This evening, as it's forecast to be below freezing until mid-morning, we're going to defrost the freezer.

I heard today that our new vegetable planters are ready, and should be with us mid-week, and I had a small accident buying plants online....

It's exciting, out in the countryside!
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On the off chance....

♥Jan. 15th, 2015 // 06:10 pm
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I recently read an article about a garden, which featured a lovely picture of a row of dogwoods, shading in colour from dark purple at one end through red, orange and yellow to green at the other. I'm pretty sure that it was in the garden of one of the Queen's houses, which (given the residence times) probably means Sandringham. It was almost certainly in Country Life. Annoyingly, I can't find it on the CL website, and there's a dogwood called rainbow. It seems deeply unlikely, but did anyone else see it? It looked really pretty, and I'm wondering if we could do it in our garden where we've taken the leylandii out.

Last night, it was very wet and windy. We're not sure how wet, as this morning Mike reported a glitch in the weather station, which was claiming 6 inches. I discovered why when I dragged GB into the school for a bit of exercise: the cover had blown off the rain gauge, so it had been flapping around in the wind and over reporting. The boys have been in for three days now; I do hope that we can get them up to the top of the field tomorrow, but even that was still a bit squelchy at sunset when we checked it. All the time I was in the stableyard this morning (and waiting for the vet to come and give the boys their jabs), I kept thinking that I could hear a car coming down the hill, but it was just the sound of the stream gushing down the middle of the road.

(GB managed a spectacular prat-fall yesterday. One minute he was standing on the concrete looking annoyed that the grass was so soggy, the next he was lying flat on his side flailing his legs as he tried to get up. I think he must have spooked and slipped. He's fine, thankfully!)

This afternoon, for no obvious reason, Mike decided that he was going to change the batteries in the external sensors of the house alarm, so that we could use that as a doorbell instead of the plug-in one we have (which occasionally goes off for the fun of it). Looking through the notes that we'd been left, we decided that the code had been set to 1234. As soon as Mike unscrewed the covers on the sensors, the internal alarm went off with a tamper warning. I dashed to the kitchen and entered 1234... and then tried it again... and then went out to Mike to tell him to make it stop.... When I came back in, though, I realised that the sticky label on the alarm contains the name of the company, their phone number, and a different four-digit code, which thankfully worked. I'll gloss over the bit where Mike accidentally self-tested the external alarm, and just say that it still doesn't work but at least no longer has a row of flashing lights warning of battery failures. (We're mystified by the fact that there were four of them, as we can only think of two external sensors. This is the alarm that just does the property perimeter, not the actual house.)

Oh, and we had the garage door fixed. Busy day!

Tomorrow, we've got a man coming to quote for cleaning the windows and emptying the gutters, and my parents are coming to stay. Oh, and I have Pilates, where I am Getting Bored Again to the extent that I've found a place in Canterbury that does the right variety of matwork classes and will be hopefully starting there next week if they can squeeze me into the advanced class.
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Roof things

♥Jan. 12th, 2015 // 03:27 pm
[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1061916.html]

When we had the survey done on this house, the chap noted that there was Something Going On with the extension: our bedroom floor is noticeably bowed, which he hypothesised was because there's a brick wall between the bedroom and the bathroom / my dressing room, which isn't supported by anything underneath it. We had a structural engineer in, and he said it was actually that the roof beams didn't go all the way to the wall, so the weight of the roof was resting on the unsupported wall, which was causing the floor to bow.

Today, we finally got around to having a roofer look at it. He poked around in the loft for a bit then came down and said, in the nicest possible way, "there nothing wrong with those beams, the structural engineer was talking rubbish", and thought that the best explanation for the floor was the unsupported wall but that it was all a bit odd and might just be that the extension was a bit cowboy-ish. And he thinks that the cracks in the walls up there are because of the old subsidence from when the extension was built.

Which is all a bit odd. Options appear to be to get another structural engineer in ("Which company did you use? Just one bloke on his own. Well, that might be the problem....") or just decorate and see whether any new cracks appear. Hmm.

And, while he was here, he had a look at the back store room, which has a slightly leaky roof: he recommends taking the tiles off and putting a flat rook in, as the pitch is too low for the current setup, and wants to shorten the unused chimney that's out there as well. Not urgent enough to be a winter job, though, so we'll think about it.
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