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Bits

♥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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The kindness of strangers

♥Feb. 11th, 2017 // 08:00 pm
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At my last quilt workshop, I started making a quilt (duh) and then realised after I'd come home and carried on with it that I didn't have enough of one of the fabrics. And that the piece I had left didn't have the selvedge strip on it.

(Fabrics designed for quilters often have fairly detailed product information printed on the selvedge, to make it easier to get more when you get half way through and realise that you don't have enough. I dare say that sensible people make sure to keep the selvedge just in case....)

I thought I'd bought it at the craft shop in Canterbury the week before, but wasn't sure. The next time he went into town, I sent Mike in with a piece of it and he and the shop assistant looked but couldn't find it. I also went online and looked through all the fabrics sold by the supplier that they usually use, but didn't find it there.

Bugger. No idea where it came from.

This afternoon, Mike was tidying his desk in preparation for having the living room redecorated (we're going to decamp to the study while it's being done). I went and got a bin bag, as the bin was full, and when I emptied the bin into it I saw... a strip of selvedge! Admittedly it wasn't the one I was after, but did it mean that I'd not emptied my sewing bin at the workshop but instead brought it home...? It did, and a bit of rooting produced the one I was after.

Ten seconds with Google found me the (US) manufacturer's website (and the depressing news that the fabric's two years old and discontinued), and an hour or so more revealed that no one in the UK seems to stock it, nor did any of the shops listed on the manufacturer's list of 'shops that stock this fabric'. I did, however, eventually find a shop in Maine that had it in stock!

I crossed my fingers and sent them an email asking if they'd be prepared to send it internationally, and got a very nice email in response that said they would but wondered about payment: could I send them a US money order? Argh. Another look at their website showed that they do take Paypal for online orders, so I've emailed back and asked if I could just pay like that instead.

Fingers crossed, and if there's some reason why I can't then I suspect I'll be asking around for people coming from the US to Eastercon!
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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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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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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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Women's clothes

♥Jan. 22nd, 2016 // 03:09 pm
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I'm on the M&S customer survey panel, which is occasionally interesting but more often infuriating. Every so often, I get an email asking me to do a survey in which, for about a dozen items of clothing, I give a written comment, a 'they would pay' price (on a badly set-up sliding scale that just gives the option of five prices equally spaced between x and y, so that the options are things like "£24.35" rather than "£25") and a 'what do you think' on a scale of 1-5 (but with silly names). Mostly they're ok, although they do sometimes make me want to head-desk when they include the same basic item three or four times but with (say) a different pattern of sparkly embroidery on the front: how am I supposed to say anything different about them?

Today, though, I've just had eight pairs of men's underpants, identical other than a different colour/pattern trim on the elastic. I may just give up on it....

(Questions I'd really like them to ask me might, based on my visit in-store yesterday, include "Would you like to buy women's gym clothes in colours other than (shades of) grey, pink and occasional turquoise?" This is, of course, not limited to M&S. Where are the beige leggings?)
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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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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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Busy day

♥Sep. 17th, 2015 // 08:36 pm
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After we'd ridden and done the boys, I went out to pick tomatoes and decided that, given the way they were going black and mouldy, I'd do better to just have the plants out and put the undamaged fruit indoors to ripen, so that took longer than expected but now I have a couple of boxes that will hopefully become useful later.

(While we were doing the boys, we kept hearing low rumbling noises, which we thought might be blasting at the quarry over the other side of the A2, as we sometimes hear that. There were a lot of them, though, and Mike's just seen a story on the local news website about people feeling tremors in Canterbury that it blames on firing on an MoD range in Essex! It must have been horrible close by!)

Then it was time for lunch, and after that we headed out to the common with Jo, where we got another four bags of apples (which are going to have to wait until tomorrow), some sloes and some elderberries.

Then I headed off into Canterbury for a little shopping: a few bits at M&S, because I had a voucher (and I also handed out the 'friends and family' vouchers to random people in the store, which got confused but grateful responses), a new pair of evening shoes for the Bloody Boxing Do, the last thing I needed for making the Christmas cards, no fabric as neither of the fabric shops had the one I wanted (not very surprised, I'll buy it direct from Moda, but I thought I'd check as I have a 10% off voucher for one of them), and four punnets of strawberries for £1.50 (the lot) from the Panda Bowl man who was just packing up. I also headed over to The Country Shop to get a few bits, mostly because they were on offer in the latest catalogue, and a new rug for GB.

(While I was paying, there was a woman at the next till who's obviously a regular: she was chatting away to the girl serving her, apologising because she was paying with the egg money. I hadn't really looked, but noticed that she was holding a small black-and-white dog. Then I looked again and realised that it was actually a badger. Then one of the other members of staff walked past and asked if it was the one with the funny nose. "No, this is the other one," she replied. Boggle.)

And then I came home and made strawberry and peach juice, and roasted tomato passata, and sorted and froze the sloes and elderberries, and had dinner somewhere in there, and now I am Sitting Down On The Sofa.
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Mostly grey

♥Aug. 30th, 2015 // 02:00 pm
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We went out for a hack this morning, with Jo. Bugs was a wee bit frisky a couple of times, but nothing too terrible. We're not sure how much longer Jodie will be able to come with us on hacks, although in her defence it was still quite warm, if not sunny.

This afternoon, we've been out in the garden. I did some weeding and tidying up (which I'd actually meant to do to before we had people visiting, oops) and Mike strimmed the orchard, slightly belatedly: I'd been assuming that we should wait until everything had set seed, but apparently that's not the case when you've got a first year batch of corn field annuals to make it look pretty until the meadow perennials get going, oops. On the plus side, we'd been a bit worried about not seeing any sign of the latter but now that it's been cleared a bit you can see things starting to get established down at ground level. Need to leave it for a few days and then rake the clippings away.

I'm currently torn about fabric for the next quilt: I have a 10% off voucher for the shop in Canterbury (on account of buying the fabric for the previous quilt there), but I've seen a fabric that I think would work really well and that I don't remember seeing in there last time I visited (although it is a brand that they stock a lot of). I guess I'll go along and have a look: I'm sure that there will be other occasions to use the voucher!
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Poor Jo

♥Aug. 20th, 2015 // 04:21 pm
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1) Off to Costco this morning, via Uniqlo for new shirts for Mike. Rather a big shop, and poor Jo was left alone for weeks and weeks and weeks. Not-A-Loo is now rather stuffed, and various things have overflowed to the floor outside it!

2) Van Man's van was still there when we went out this morning, although he'd not left our spade for us (not really surprised). We're wondering if we should call the police to let them know it's there: he could still be in it, for all we know (it's quite a way from the road).

3) Lovely dinner out with S and G, just a shame they that the praline icecream (which we'd all planned on having) was still in the freezing stage having just been churned....
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Am boggled

♥Jun. 17th, 2015 // 05:31 pm
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This afternoon, I popped into M&S to look for some very light t-shirts and leggings: I'm pretty hard on both, as the former tend to be pale and acquire mysterious stains while the latter usually suffer crotch failure after a few months of hot-weather riding and Pilates. I did get a couple of t-shirts (one in the sale), and a pair of linen trousers (20% off), but was very unimpressed with the leggings: either much too thick and snuggly or in what I suspect could be called 'good for jogging and cycling' colour combinations.

As I had a few minutes to spare, I girded my loins and went inside Primark. When I left five minutes later, I had three pairs of leggings and five t-shirts, all 95% cotton, for less than a quarter of the amount I'd just spent in M&S. I presume that I have some starving Bangladeshi orphans to thank, but I'm really astonished that they're so cheap.

(In Pilates news, I tried the other possible class today and much preferred it to the Monday one I tried last week, and then afterwards had a chat with a woman who's in both and who used to be in my studio class, who was of the same opinion. I'm not sure how I can square doing it with Mike's monthly trips to London, though: either I'll have to do the Monday class those weeks or I'll have to drive him to the station on my way there and then pick him up again in the evening, which will be tricky with the horses at some times of the year. Hmm.)

Joyous news: today, we killed our first horse flies. Sigh. Poor boys.
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Orchards and Amazons

♥Jan. 10th, 2015 // 03:29 pm
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I've had a couple of blokes round to quote for digging over the proto-orchard (just waiting for them to send quotes, and for the one who is supposed to be coming tomorrow to confirm and give me a time), some hopefully-suitable ("alluvial deposits over chalk or limestone") wild flower meadow mix is ordered, Mike is busy putting together a list of trees (apples, pears, damsons, maybe apricots, maybe almonds, cherries, plumbs, medlars: we decided against quince because we can't really see much of a use for them for us, and against mulberries because they get a bit too big for the space; suggestions for what we've missed out welcome), and, following a throw-away comment by one of the GQT team, I've ordered some yellow rattle seed to stick in the freezer and cross my fingers about: if it isn't tricked into germinating, it'll just have to wait until the autumn. Orchard is, finally, nearly, go! Must get around to taking the barbed wire off the fence, as well.

When Amazon announced that they were forcibly bundling streaming video in with Prime, which is completely useless for us on account of having shit internet, Mike cancelled the autorenewal. It's just run out, as I discovered when I went to buy some fencing staples (I'm sure there were some left over from making the duck house, but I can't figure out where) so that I could put up the new duck-proof wire that we've got for a) the front garden (there's a stretch of stock netting that Esme can still squeeze herself through if she has a mind to it, which then leads to the pair of them stuck on opposite sides of the fence looking worried; this is at least better than when they could both fit through and then go wandering off) and b) the gate from the stableyard into the field, which we've been having to keep closed lately because the girls keep making a break for the field: the gate's had wooden boards hammered over it (to keep the previous dogs in), which means it's incredibly heavy and, as the weight has pulled the hinges out of true, very hard work to open and close, so I want to get the boards off and put wire on instead.

Anyway. Amazon. £3.99 to post me fencing staples, approx two working days! £7.99 to get them here tomorrow! "Oi," I said, "I thought you said it would be free if I was prepared to wait a few days?" Plus it's going to be dry tomorrow and then wet for the next few days.

We've got Amazon Prime again.

(I do note a new-to-me option: if you deliberately opt for 3-5 day delivery, you get a £1 Kindle credit, which will be worth it some of the time.)
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This Is Why You Went Bust, You Know

♥Aug. 4th, 2014 // 06:05 pm
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I went to the Big City (well, Canterbury) this afternoon, and one of the things that I needed to do was buy some wrapping paper, ribbons, and gift tags.

Ok, no problem: into Clinton's Cards I went. Found some suitable wrapping paper. Looked at but didn't like any of their ribbons - not surprising. Looked for tags to match the paper. Looked some more. In the end, I went over to the counter and asked where they were. The guy rummaged under the counter and brought out a cardboard box with a heap of random gift tags in it and invited me to have a look for something suitable. Apparently, presumably since the change of ownership, that's how they do it, now. He agreed that it was bloody stupid. I'm sure that making sure that your customers can't find gift tags and, even if they do, only have a random mis-matched selection to choose from is a super way to ensure that you don't sell any, and so justify not giving them wall space.

Then I went to the craft shop and bought ribbon, and decided I'd just have to make some gift tags.

As I was walking to the waxing salon, I passed a little tiny card and gift shop, the back wall of which was made up of a neatly colour-coordinated rainbow of paper, ribbons (both tasteful and not) and tags. Sigh. At least I got some tags in the end.
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Drip. Drip. Drip.

♥May. 1st, 2014 // 06:16 pm
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(That's the noise that the ponies are making. I think we'd better go and let them in a bit earlier than usual!)

Why doesn't our lawn look like this...?

Mike's obviously not trying hard enough. And not using a tractor.

We went on a small excursion today, as we needed three things:
- vegetable stock, or celery to make same (bizarrely, the Marigold that we use has lactose as an actual ingredient, not as a part of an ingredient. The low salt Marigold doesn't, nor does the vegan one, just the regular variety. This is odd and stupid)
- a dried flower arrangement (having decided that it's now warm enough that we're not going to need a fire, I tidied up the fireplace today and wanted something to pretty it up. My apologies for the inevitable upcoming cold snap)
- to pop to the vet and check what the pooch weighs (I came back from Eastercon, having not seen her for a few days, and thought she was looking a bit tubby. As it turns out, she's bang on where she was last time - 35.5kg - so that's good)

In a one of those lovely coincidences, we managed all three things in a single stop: Jodie's vet is in a farm courtyard that also has a somewhat odd farm shop (big on cake decorating, runs courses in it; also sells incredibly fancy food) and a rather expensive florist that specialises in hops and dried flowers (as they grow it all on the farm). Handy!

In the florist, I was wavering between three different arrangements (actually, there was one that I *really* liked but I know Mike wouldn't let me spend £50 on dried flowers!). I asked Mike which he preferred: the one with the blue flowers, the one that was just wheat or the one made from different shades of grasses. He was much keener on the blue one, as the others were all too beige, until I suggested that he look at the prices. "Ok, the beige one is growing on me...."

We also picked up a Hops plant, as an experiment. We'll need to rig up a wire on the front wall of the house for it to climb up. I'd never really considered it, but I hadn't realised that hops is a perennial: we're apparently not to expect much from it this year.

Made macarons, in what I'm sure was exactly the same way as last time. They didn't go splat and look like they should, though I've not yet assembled and eaten one. God knows.
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Phew

♥Apr. 24th, 2014 // 04:31 pm
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We had a trip to Costco this afternoon, which was tiring and crowded. We have now stocked up on various things, like loo roll, so it's good. We're not really sure that it's worth keeping up the membership now that it's such a long drive, though, so this might be the last year that we bother with it.

When we got back, we took the excited pooch out for a walk. As we had to post a letter, we went along to see the highland calves, which were a lot closer to the fence than the last time we tried:


And I've got a definite flower on one of my sweet peas, hurrah!


(Mike's just been mowing the lawn. Jodie finds this terribly frustrating, as before he starts he moves all her treasures from her favourite spot on the lawn. She gets around this by waiting until he starts mowing at the other end of the garden and quickly dashing over to move them back, but then he just moves them again! Humans are weird.)
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Fire burn!

♥Apr. 5th, 2014 // 05:41 pm
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A few weeks ago, we sawed through the bases of the three not-Virginia-Creepers on the wall of our house, and left it. This morning, we went for a look around a local car boot sale and chatted to Mrs Farmer about which of her amazing variety of clematis would be best on that wall (now that we've seen her pitch at a boot sale, we have a better idea of what goes on in those polytunnels that they have!). We didn't buy anything then, on the perfectly reasonable grounds that we can pop up to the house one day next week and choose from a bigger selection.

After we got back, I had a go at getting the creeper down from the wall. It was surprisingly easy, considering the way that it had grown up around the edges of the roof, although dragging it out to the pile of dead stuff was trickier, as it was all intertwined. When we'd got it out there, we decided that a) that was now quite a big pile of dead plant material and b) the weather was just right for a bonfire: the wind was blowing steadily down the valley, away from the houses, and we'd had enough nice dry weather to make the pile crispy without drying out the grass around it. So off we went!



(We also scattered hay seeds on the bare bits of the the field and stableyard, as it's supposed to rain a bit over the next few days, and watched at the Baby ran round and round and round and round the field for no particular reason. GB joined in with us rather than with him. He did chase Jodie for a bit, but she decided that it was slightly the wrong side of the scary/exciting line, and went to lurk on the other side of the electric fence.)

I continue to have frock-buying angst. I think I'm actually going to have to go into Canterbury to show with intent, one day next week. I want new shoes, as well. I did have a quick look at the Fenwick website, that being the department store we have in Canterbury, but was forced to conclude that their buyers were playing cruel practical jokes and also that there was a coding error that had moved all of the decimal points one place over from where they should be. Still, I have a couple of places to try on my list. I'm trying to avoid the cost and faff of a trip up to town, but I may not be able to avoid it: I'm starting to think that I'll have to have a personal shopper thing at one of the department stores and say "I like Ghost and Nitya. I want a frock in a non-patterned fabric that lets me wear a bra and doesn't require me to wear heels. Go and find me stuff." I hate clothes shopping.
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Agricultural Equipment. Of Doom!

♥Nov. 4th, 2013 // 05:34 pm
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I was going to say that I didn't get rained on all day, but then I remembered that I did, first thing this morning. Sigh. It was a lovely, if very cold, late morning and afternoon. This was, I think, the first time we'd had the wind coming in the cold direction down the valley, and it showed.

After I'd ridden him, I put GB out in his medium-warm raincoat. A bit later, when the sun came out and I was in the stable yard, I thought I'd have to go and swap it, because the sun was lovely and warm. But then I went into the field, out of the shelter of the buildings, to poo pick and changed my mind about it!

I pootled off into Canterbury this afternoon, and, amongst other errands, bought myself new boots:



I really wanted something with a zip, but I didn't like any of the designs and didn't want to trust velcro, so I'll give these a go. I also tried on a pair with a modest heel, thinking to get something more wearable and less scruffy looking than the black suede stiletto ones I've had for years, and which made my feet hurt for a good week after I wore them all day at a wedding recently. Rather worryingly, my feet hurt just from standing up to try them on, and continued to do so as I walked back to the car.

When I got home, we took the pooch for a run in the last of the sunshine; she's absolutely full of beans at the moment, in pleasing contrast to when she was feeling poorly, presumably because it's cooler. We drove to the other side of the wood, and in doing so passed the Agricultural Equipment Of Doom that so terrified the horses. Brace yourselves:



You can see why they objected, can't you?
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Rural life?

♥Sep. 8th, 2013 // 09:33 pm
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*So* exciting. I barely know where to start.

We had the neighbours over for dinner --

(a SMS exchange:
- Blah blah (from me)
- Blah blah. A Certain Person has really annoyed me. I'll tell you about it next time I see you.
- We were going to ask you over to dinner anyway. Do you think you could manage to get here without a Certain Person seeing you?
- We'll come over the fence and through the field.)

-- which was nice. The WWOTV has increased their rent (by 11%!! You can tell Mrs Neighbour is an accountant a tax advisor, can't you?), amongst other things. Bitching ensued. I was able, with complete accuracy, to say "Is home-made chicken en croute ok? It's what we were having anyway", and Mike's cooking was duly admired. And Commented Upon by Mrs Neighbour to Mr Neighbour. [g]

I took advantage of her being recently-preggers to have a juice-making binge. She stuck to the made-from-good-bits-of-the-widnfalls-and-what-I-pulled-off-the-tree apple juice, but the peach and strawberry were very nice too.

This morning, Mike took the baby out for a hack. I had been going to give GB an extra day off, as he'd been a bit meh the last couple of days (for a side saddle session in the school and for a hack), but last night I finally admitted defeat and started rugging him and, when I took him in the school for five minutes just to see it seemed to have worked: the cold (it is bloody cold out here at night; we've had the stove lit the last night and tonight) must have stopped him from sleeping properly, or else he was sick of the baby getting in his way in the school: he went beautifully, the cones I stopped to lay out were still untouched by hoof of horse half an hour later when Mike got back, and we only stopped because they did get back earlier than I thought that they would. (First solo hack. Went swimmingly, though, and Mike was happy throughout.)

Afterwards, we had a mission to Canterbury that was mostly centred around getting things with which to poke the fire and lunch, both of which failed: we ended up eating in the cafe of Morissons. Eugh. Although I do /know/ that Morissons has gone relatively-upmarket in recent years, I did grow up in the Frozen North when it decidedly wasn't, and so can't quite reconcile myself. We did get various other bits and bobs from the shopping list (and, thus, I now have a nice wicker basket of small bits of wood sitting by the stove, and the wine is no longer in a heap on the floor of the not-a-loo*).

* Behind our kitchen there is a small collection of rooms, former outbuildings subsequently connected to the house with same-width corridors. Off one of them is the loo, which I labelled as such t'other week to help people out. People still went into the pantry cupboard next door, so another label was made. Given that we also have another pantry cupboard in the kitchen, and had been unsuccessfully trying to remember which we had -- to avoid confusion -- called the larder and which the pantry, the not-a-loo seems to have stuck.

After we'd come home and I'd chopped up bits of wood whilst listening to part two of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (I don't usually bother with the Sunday Drama, but I'd heard part one last week and it was quite good. Thought the ending was a bit predictable and weak, though), we went out to an open garden in the village. We wouldn't have bothered until such time as Mike's mother happened to be here for a weekend when it was open, but the Mad Animal Lady was doing teas there and we'd arranged to meet her as she packed up and have her follow us back to check that we weren't axe-murderers had a suitable house for Jodie. In the event (though, naturally, *after* we'd paid to get in and committed ourselves to buying cake from her tea stall), she had a fit of can't-be-bothereds and said that she was sure we were fine and she didn't need to check the house. Which was nice, but would have been nicer if she'd said so a few days ago. Anyway, we're picking Jodie up tomorrow morning. She's been vetted (or whatever the dog term is), and her heart is sound. She's got a bit of a noisy breathing thing going on, which is apparently an almost-certainly harmless vocal chord issue but incredibly invasive to check. As she's not going to be sleeping on our bed, we don't mind too much.

We had a morning of bizarre fog, earlier in the week. We couldn't see the trees on the other side of the valley but, when we'd wrapped ourselves up warm to go and see to the horses, we stepped outside into a sauna. Most odd.

The misc. Eastern Europeans had, at close of play on Friday, very almost finished: they'd done all the fencing and dug the trenches for the water pipes. Then they vanished. We assume that they're waiting for the Man With Plumbing Skills to come and join the two pipes together before they fill the trench in, but it would have been nice to have been told. The boys were vastly confused by it all: I took out the temporary electric fence by the gate, as usual, and they gave it a very wide berth, as usual, and then they found themselves trapped: the new wire fence was in the way. I walked GB back up the wire fence and through the gate, then walked him down to his stable. And then I realised that the baby hadn't followed and had to go back and walk him through it too.... They currently have the run of (almost) the whole field, though, and are loving it. Sadly, they won't have it for much longer, as we'll need to divide it up to save the grass. Yesterday, we saw the baby positively frolicking, all four feet off the floor, as GB gamely trotted after him, trying to keep up. I swear that he through a few strides of canter at one point!

See, I told you it was exciting in the countryside.
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Minor crises

♥Aug. 27th, 2013 // 11:14 am
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We had two minor crises before breakfast, yesterday.

First, Mike came back up to the bedroom after he'd fed the horses and said I might want to go and look at [livejournal.com profile] vgrumpybastard's nose.

This is a little icky )

The other drama was that I had a phone call from Ikea, saying that they were outside. "No you aren't," I said. Turns out that they were outside our old flat. I've only previously had one order with Ikea, and it came here. Utterly boggled about how they even had that address, but they had a van doing SE London and Ashford today, so it should be here in a couple of hours.
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We are moved.

♥Aug. 11th, 2013 // 06:48 pm
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And we even have our internet connection, finally if rather slowly.

We seem to be settling in ok, even if Mike can't find anything int he kitchen after I unpacked it, and it's starting to feel more like we actually live here and less like we're visiting someone who isn't actually around much.

The horses arrived earlier in the week, and they seem to be settling in ok as well. GB in particular spent a couple of days being very clingy, and he keeps going to stand by the gate at about 4pm waiting to come in for his dinner and thus failing to realise that he's surrounded by all the food he can eat, but he's calmed down a bit now.

I had a nasty moment on Friday, when his eye had swollen up and filled with icky stuff overnight, but he submitted as well as could be expected to having it rinsed out a few times and the swelling's pretty much gone now. I suspect a fly bite, but it could have been anything, really. They're now going out to the field decked out in full-on KKK outfits, which does seem to be working to keep the flies from being too annoying.

(This morning, we went out for our first little hack. There was almost a Moment when we got to the end of the lane to find a farmer unloading some very vocally pissed off cows from a trailer into the field, but with a little coaxing they walked past calmly enough. I thought that that was a good sign, being the most scary thing we were likely to encounter by a long shot, so I wasn't really prepared when GB caught sight of another horse in a KKK outfit, being led along the road, and promptly did a 180 to try and get as far away from it as possible. I have no idea, as he's not bothered by Jonny in the same state.)

The neighbours met thus far seem like nice people, although the woman who owns the valley seems occasionally to not remember that actually, she sold this house a decade ago and doesn't have a say any more. We've not yet met the people who live a bit further along, but have had it reported that they're a bit odd.

(We did have the odd experience yesterday of watching from our kitchen as some of them cleared ragwort from one of the horses' fields. They were merrily trundling around with their wheelbarrow when suddenly their dog started running around madly, followed by his owner. Then the owner's husband took his shirt off and started running around, waving it in the air over his head, and they all dashed back to the house at great speed. We speculated that it was some sort of strange foreplay ritual, but when we saw them this morning it turned out that the dog had disturbed a wasp nest, and the husband had been badly stung where they'd got inside his clothes. Fortunately, he's not too much the worse for it! Something similar having happened to a chap at our old yard just before we moved, Mike is now a little paranoid about it happening to us, too.)

We're in an annoying state of being as unpacked as it is possible to be, but on the other hand we have two big deliveries due for tomorrow, of bedroom furniture and stuff from Ikea, so that's a few more days of unpacking for me and flat-pack-assembly for Mike.

I still haven't managed to get my job to let me quit, either, so I'd better catch up on that now that we're back online....
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Terrible disaster!

♥Jul. 1st, 2013 // 02:09 pm
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On the way home from the yard, I went to the utterly, fabulously crappy WHAT!!! Home & Leisure round the corner, because they sell packs of cakes that I am a bit hooked on: they're little Italian sponge fingers with chocolate goop in the middle, and I suspect that they contain no ingredients not sourced from a chemical plant. They're a whole pound for a pack of ten, and there was the problem: I had no change. Minimum £5 spend to use a card. Oh noes: they don't all fit in the cupboard....
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If I wanted to buy...

♥May. 28th, 2013 // 06:42 pm
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... half a dozen cheap cotton dressing gowns...

... a super-king bed with a non-solid wooden headboard and a mattress-level or non-existent footboard, that wasn't the £750-excluding-mattress one from John Lewis or the one in the manky orangey colour from Ikea*, and I wanted to actually see it in a shop...

* Yes, I know, but it's only the fitted sheet and I tend to just have plain ones of those that tone with the rest of the bedding, so I don't think it'd be a problem.

... the time and equipment of some people to move the contents of the flat into the new house...

... a non-gas BBQ with two sections (so that we can just use one if it's just us, or use one for veggie stuff if there are more people) that doesn't appear to be made of tin foil (like this one seems to be...

... where would you suggest that I look?

Also, if anyone has strong views about the relative comfort levels of the Ikea HAGALUND and LYCKSELE sofabeds for sleeping purposes, or the general quality of Indesit freezers, do let me know, hmm?

Why, yes, we have been looking at things for the house over the last few days!
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Attempting to shop

♥Jan. 28th, 2013 // 03:07 pm
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I made a new blanket:



In order to counteract such frugal* and sensible tendencies, and on account of a) my horse keeps eating my handbag and b) I racked up three extra days of work over Christmas, I also went shopping, and ended up with one of these:



(in 'slate', which is a sort of purpley grey.)

I also saw a lovely jumper in the window of The White Company, except closer inspection showed it was £120 (it wasn't even made from unicorn hair or anything, just regular wool!), and failed to see anything I liked at all in Hobbs, which is very unusual for me: they usually have lots of things that I like but can see no occasion on which I would wear. I also looked in a few other high-ish (as far as Bluewater goes) clothes shops, and came away generally disheartened: I saw a couple of frocks that I like, but no trouser outfits, which is what I actually want for, eg, the upcoming family trip to Dublin Horse Fair (nominally Mike's birthday bash).

If I'd known that Nitya was going to vanish from the face of the planet, I'd have stocked up on their lovely outfits. (If enough people had stocked up on their lovely outfits, one presumes, there would have been no vanishing going on.) Don't suppose anyone has suggestions for places I might look, do they?

* Ha, ha. That would be three and a half skeins of yarn, at £13 a pop.
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I seem to be busy lately....

♥Nov. 18th, 2012 // 04:11 pm
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Last Thursday - Country Life Christmas Show: overdose on orange and cinnamon scent, bought a few bits, thought "I could do that" about many bits, thought "I would do that" about slightly fewer.

Last weekend - Novacon, lovely. I really enjoy Novacon, these days. Lost of nice chats. Contrary to popular opinion, I did not spend the entire weekend sitting in the same chair, and most certainly had not in fact been there since last year.

Monday - new job, first day, sort of. Seems to be doable. Proper start this week.

(An observation: About six months ago, one of my big toes started hurting (ultimately, I think, due to a single side saddle lesson in which I Did Something Wrong and kept scrunching my foot up). It got randomly better and worse, until Mike made me go to the GP who gave me a leaflet for a foot clinic, which I never got around to going to. Then I was jumping up in the air trying to read a price tag in Costco when I landed, hard, on the ball of that toe, which was excruciating. Ever since, it's been pretty much fine: I remember thinking, as I walked down the road on the Thursday, that it seemed to be better. I wore Proper Shoes on Thursday, Saturday and Monday, as opposed to the usual yard and riding boots. My toe hurts, now.)

Tuesday - went riding in the woods, in the sun. It was lovely. We have very pretty colours this year. At one point, a small tree has fallen annoyingly and (bottom of a hill, just after a corner) dangerously across the path. As I was later planning on coming around that corner and up the hill at speed, I jumped off and moved it. GB happily stood and ate the bits of leaf growing out of the tree stump I'd thrown his reins over. The horse I was with was utterly terrified by the crashing noises. C'est la vie. GB, incidentally, has been a little out of sorts this week: grumpier than usual, although I accept that most people can't tell. Not sure what's up, hopefully it's just the change in the weather, or something.

Wednesday - side saddle: getting better at making him listen to the cane, but the grumpiness didn't help.

Thursday - stayed at home. Was Domesticated: I'd decided to make bath balls and bath fizzers for people I want to give small presents to (eg, woman who cleans up my horse's shit). Made them all, much to my pleasure, and put them in the spare room to dry out without stinking the flat up. Went to check on them a few hours later and decided that it was probaly worth, for the sake of avoiding the risk of damp in the books, putting the heating on in there a little: the bath bombs were fine, but the ones that were supposed to fizz up as soon as they went into the water had, um, fizzed up. I should have taken a photo, it was quite impressive....

(Relatedly, I've had terrible trouble buying peppermint essence. I tried in Tesco last week, and found the empty place on the shelf where it should have been. Tried again a day or two later, hoping they'd have re-stocked, and found that they'd rearranged the shelf and got rid of the label. No job in Lidl, or Holland & Barrett, either. Gave up and bought it from Amazon, which feels somehow wrong, but there we go.)

Friday - felt distinctly crappy (someone at Novacon is to blame, I suspect: coff, choo, sniff), so went to see GB but didn't ride him. Came home and lurked on the sofa.

Saturday - went to France and Belgium. Failed to get preferred brand of dishwasher tablets. Refuse to go to Germany just for dishwasher tablets, have set Mike back on the web searching. On the way home, sms from Teenage Girl's mother saying there was a problem, could I call. Later, found out that Teenage Girl has been having "trouble" with other Teenage Girls at the yard, and is too upset / scared to go, hence a morning of sobbing and she didn't go to see GB today. I shall start making enquiries at the yard but I think it's too late; wish Girl had said something to either me or her mother sooner. On the one hand, I could find something else but, on the other, I think I'll just let GB have two days off a week, instead of one, and this means Mike and I can have more flexibility about which weekend day we ride.

Sunday - went to the new Horse World Live show, at ExCeL. Crap. I can't imagine there'll be another next year. Dealers were all going mad with boredom, there was pretty much no one there. Stayed about an hour. Came home. Lurked on sofa.

On Friday, one of our fish died. Given that it was one of the five still-live members of the batch of ten glowlight tetras that were the first fish we put in the tank (after we gave up on the manufacturer's instructions and just set it up properly) three years ago, this is pretty impressive. Looking at the others, I note that one of them is rather lying on his side and another looks worryingly skinny, but the rest of the fish seem to be doing ok so it's probably age, not a water problem. They've had a pretty good run.
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Riddle me...

♥Jul. 4th, 2012 // 10:51 pm
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A few days ago, Mike sent me to Tesco* in search of (amongst other things) pancetta. I went to the bacon-and-sausages place, and I looked and looked and eventually found a single brand of same, that wasn't the same brand as wot Mike usually buys.

Today, I was buying completely unrelated things but hungry, so I was idly looking for tasty and interesting Smoked German Hams, which Mike doesn't like*** and so I have to buy myself****, and there, in the middle of the section labelled 'cooked meat', with a little tag saying 'cook before eating', were three or four types of pancetta.

Which is just a bit bemusing, really. For a simple country girl like me, who doesn't know about how supermarkets work....

* I freely admit that I'm Not Very Good at supermarkets. I didn't go in anything that would today be recognised as one until the age of fifteen, and have spent the time since avoiding them where possible, alternating (when I had to go in one) between "Argh! Too big! Too many people!" and "Ooh, shiny! Must by snacks that I won't eat!"** Lately, I have got Much Better about it, which I put down at least partly to Car, which means I don't have to Carry Stuff, and also to general Sanity Levels.

** It's ok, the snacks get eaten. Several days later, this leads to "Ooh, I just fancy an X... Miiiiike! Waaaaah!"

*** Oddly, despite my general loathing of anything that can reasonably be described as German Food, I like the processed ham and the processed cheese. Basically, I like the breakfast, but nothing else.

**** It had totally never occurred to me to just ask Mike to buy it for me. Wow, shopping has uses!


Have just seen the test laser beams shining off the Shard.

I ache. This may have something to do with a) not making it to pilates yesterday due to traffic hell, combined with b) new saddle meaning that I can actually make GB do some work, leading to c) having a bloody hard schooling session yesterday that left us both knackered and sweaty followed by d) joining in a group lesson with the side saddle today. I was planning to ride tomorrow morning, but based on current communications I fear my legs may refuse. Plus, I have what I strongly suspect is a horse fly bite, delivered thought a pair of more-than-chino-weight trousers and awkwardly placed on the inside of my knee.
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Ouch

♥Apr. 3rd, 2012 // 05:16 pm
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So, I booked an appointment with the GP for Monday evening, mostly for a prescription refill but also because I wanted to check that there was nothing I could/should so about the trapped nerve in my leg.

And, as it happened, I was sitting on the sofa on Sunday evening when I got hit by stomach pain. "Damn," I thought, "where did I accidentally eat large amounts of dairy?" And then I sat and waited for the next stage in the process, which involves running to the loo and which never came. And, pain, ow, more pain. Went to bed. Woke up. Emailed in sick. Sat on the sofa, wishing I felt well enough to at least do a little light tidying. Hobbled to the GP surgery.

At the surgery, a Nice Young Man came over and said he was a third year medic and could he see me first, which was fine by me. He had a jolly old time poking my leg, eventually deciding that it was, indeed, mostly numb in the patch where I'd said it was mostly numb, and that ("could you walk across the room on tip-toe, please?") it wasn't actually causing me any problems other than being a little disconcerting, and so concluding that while it might suddenly get better when the bruise on my knee goes down it probably would take six months or so for the nerve to re-grow (hey ho: as I pointed out, at least my rib is better!).

After that, he poked my tummy a bit, and took my temperature (which was normal, so it's not appendicitis), and asked if I would mind terribly having a urine test, and then he went and got the proper doctor, who tutted at my leg and told me to be more careful and then had a much harder poke at my tummy before sending me off to wee in a bottle.

Wee ruled out an ectopic pregnancy or infection, so the doctor concluded that my appendix was grumbling and that I should go straight to the hospital if I developed a fever or if the pain got worse. So I suppose that's alright, then.

Today, I felt a bit better again, but not well enough to ride*: I gave someone else my lesson (well, it was paid for and I wouldn't have got a refund!) and then fussed GB for a bit until the horse dentist arrived to check him over. Teeth are mostly ok, but he did note that a) the old vet did a much better job of smoothing out one side of his mouth than the other when she had a go, and b) that his upper teeth were twice the length of the lowers, which he would probably do work to correct in a young horse but wasn't inclined to fuss about at GB's age given that he's demonstrably not having trouble eating. Considering that he's had his teeth done once in the last decade, and possibly not much before that, GB's behaviour and teeth were more than good enough, which is a relief.

I may have had a small shopping accident with a side saddle habit. I may, based on the lovely photos that a nice lady emailed me of costumes she's about to sell, be about to have another one. My heart says "Get the cream satin Victorian outfit," my head says "Hello, you have a horse. He slobbers when he checks your pockets for food and gets black hair everywhere," and my husband says "I think that the royal blue Georgian one would suit you best," which is odd as I don't think he's ever seen me in blue, as I very rarely wear it. I shall give him the benefit of the doubt, probably. It almost might be piratical, as well, which could be handy.

* Conversation with Mother: "Well, I can see you might not go to work if you had an excuse, but... gosh, you must be feeling under the weather!"
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Double oops....

♥Mar. 19th, 2012 // 10:14 pm
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On Saturday, on the way up to Cambridge, we took a small detour. I'd read a blog post about a place called the Sandon Saddlery, something of a cross between a tack shop and a junk shop, that bemoaned the fact that all of the second had side saddle clothes were either incredibly tatty or had a 28" waist, so I rather had to go and have a look.

And, oopsie, I came away from it with a side saddle jacket and apron, for about half what I'd pay on eBay.

And then on Sunday we went down to the yard, and I tried them out.

And, double oopsie, the apron is too short. Sigh. On the plus side, they weren't on sale as a matched set, the saddlery has a seven-day return policy, and Mike's back up in that neck of the woods this Saturday. I'll keep the jacket, though, as it strikes me as being a lot easier to make an apron than a jacket. Plus, I know know what measurements I actually need from an apron for it to fit me.

And, even given that it was too short, it did look pretty! At least, it did if you skip over the pictures that Mike took of me mounting astride, getting my leg tangled up in the apron as I moved it over, fishing the apron out from between my legs and under my bum, and so on....





(The hem of the apron should be a hand's width or so above the lower-down ankle, so it is much too short. And, yes, my right shoulder is too far forwards. Sigh. I seem to be only able to get the position Just Right for short bursts of time, and even then only when my instructor is constantly correcting me. On the plus side, I do have a very easy way of telling if I'm right, because GB drops down into an outline for me. I think I managed that once, for about three strides, on Sunday.... No, I'm not going to start riding in a bowler hat. And it was much too early in the day for a topper.)

Also on Sunday, I saw a gorgeous outfit on eBay:

It was only £75, too. But Mike pointed out that I really wouldn't have many opportunities to wear it....
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Things I have done

♥Mar. 11th, 2012 // 08:59 am
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We went to see My Life Story last weekend, in the end. It was, as ever, a cracking gig, but after half an hour of hanging around and being moved from one sanitised part of the venue to another, we gave up on staying for the after-gig-gig and came home. Still, worth going. I just wish the Astoria was still going!

I finally got something to do at work. This made work better. I am now no longer on the verge of walking out, instead I'm just quietly waiting for it to go belly up.

My friend Toni brought her horses to the same yard as me. This is generally good, as it's nice having her there, but I fear it may get a little wearing having her mum there all the time. On the very much plus side, Mike likes riding one of them very much, and did so today: I suspect he'll be riding her a lot, which is good for him.

I, on the other hand, have been riding GB, as ever. I had a good but hard work lesson, I took him out for a nice ride in the woods (in which we slightly-illegally scooted out of the woods and into some land owned by a farmer; GB immediately perked up and started strolling along at a cracking pace. He is much happier out in the open than in the woods, bless him. I need to figure out other open places I can take him), and I got the side saddle out for a ride (hadn't been on it in weeks, and I have a lesson with it next week! Bum hurts, now, worryingly only on one side, so I must have been wonky), and today we had a good session in the arena, with -- as he obviously was dying to have a go - a couple of little jumps at the end.

On Thursday, I did pilates (still enjoying it; much better now I'm in the right class!), rode, and then we went to see Comedy Of Errors at the National: very good performance, with the slight niggle that the guy playing the Duke, who was obviously trying to be Gene Hunt, didn't manage to pull it off.

On Friday, I was walking out on the way to an early dinner with Erik when - horrors! - I saw a girl throwing stones into the dock. As I got closer, I saw that she was throwing them at the swans! As I got closer still I saw that she was throwing them at the just-starting-to-breed pair, who'd managed to pen a year-old cygnet behind one of the emergency escape ladders at the side of the dock, where it had wedged its wing between two of the rungs and thus made itself a very easy target for being beaten up. A couple of quick phone calls, and the swan rescue van was on its way, with me and the girl under instructions to try and keep the adults clear and try and stop the cygnet from pulling itself free. We managed the first but sadly not the second, and of course as soon as it was free again the adults decided it was back to being a threat and started after it again. My long scarf made quite a good swan repellent, as did a small group of schoolgirls who stopped to watch the drama. Eventually, after being stuck behind a broken-down car in the tunnel, the swan man drove up and came out of his van with a telescoping pole with a U-shaped hook on the end, which he got around the cygnet's neck (it was cowering under the bridge, shivering, by this point) and used to lift it straight out of the water by the head, much to my surprise. He got it sitting down, told us to hold its wings against its body, and dashed off to get a duffel bag, into which he strapped the rather bemused cygnet before carrying it off, with its head poking out of the top of the bag, to taking it to the sanctuary. I really should have taken pictures. (On the plus side: it does look like we might get cygnets of our own this year, for the first time in a while!)

So, I was rather late for dinner, but I did have the best excuse ever, followed by very tasty food (other than the pudding: we went for tapas, and I quite fancied a Creme Catalan for pudding, but it was utterly over blow-torched and was completely liquid when it arrived. I sent it back and was informed that the chef said it was supposed to be like that: er, no) .

On Saturday, we ate even more tasty food, and saw a traveller from afar, in Reading, and then today we went to the yard, decided we couldn't really be bothered to trek out to Hammersmith for the Douglas Adams thing, and went to Bluewater instead (shopping list: new riding bras, shoes for wedding, wool, new Soda Stream gas thing. Items bought: wool, Soda Stream thing, baking trays, trousers, on-sale thermal tops, an entire new set of cutlery. Oops. Does anyone want some cutlery? Knives, spoons and forks, twelve of each except there are only eight forks and the range is discontinued, which is why we needed a new set....). After Bluewater, we had a little drive around Kent looking at possible places to live (I've decided that I don't want to move GB again, so if we move while he's still around then it will have to be somewhere out that way. As Mike points out, this means that our choice of place to retire to is being fixed by my refusal to drive through the Rotherhithe Tunnel...); there are some nice little towns out there, though, and it's good for the M25, and there's topography, so....
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Shopping list

♥Jan. 26th, 2012 // 05:52 pm
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- buy new work trousers: got a couple of pairs, and a couple of pairs of non-work ones. Work-style trousers apparently pocket-free this season, bah. Forgot to buy new work shoes.
- look for pirate-themed cufflinks: managed to find the little shop I remembered, and got photos of half a dozen pairs for later consideration.
- buy a shirt that a) fits me and b) looks roughly like a men's shirt: went to all the shops on Jermyn Street, tried on the 'slim fit' shirts everywhere that offered them, sighed over gaping busts and flapping waists. Plaintively asked those places that do bespoke shirts if they'd make me one, got one place that (with some sucking of teeth) said they'd put darts in the waist of a men's shirt and charge me £200 for it. Sigh. (What I really need is a men's shirt made with Bravissimo styling, but all their shirts are too casual / girly this year and - from memory - every year.) I suspect I may have to just buy the best bust-fitting one I can and then get it taken in at the waist, but no idea how I go about finding someone to do that.
- get a new fitting for the (incredibly practical and nailvarnish-friendly) Tiffany keyring that X and Y gave me as a present for helping out at their wedding: went into the store and spoke to the nice lady at customer service, who knew exactly what I needed and then got increasingly bemused as none of the variations she brought out fitted onto my keyring. Then she weighed the keyring, and inspected the Tiffany tag, and rather apologetically informed me that it was a fake. Given that X and Y are no longer together, this is somewhat ironic. Now I need to get myself a new keyring; not sure I want to spring £100+ish for a genuine copy of the one I had, though.

I got half way home and realised that I probably should (on account of having just replaced all my bras with a Quite Different Size) have gone and bought a new bikini for upcoming holiday. Got home and tried the old ones on: indeed, the tankini and swimsuit are still ok, but the bikini's a bit dubious.

Not terribly successful, then.
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Rats!

♥Jan. 8th, 2012 // 04:18 pm
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Our oven seems to be broken. It says "F05", with occasional intervals of "F08". Which is Fun, and Exciting.

So we went to the yard instead, where I put the side saddle on poor, abused, starved GB and then had a nice little ride on him, including a couple of canters, which I'd not don before: much more comfortable than trotting, I can see why a lot of women used to just not bother with trot! (I was going to get Mike to take some pictures, but when I suggested he bring his camera out, he pointed out that the light wasn't very good, so we didn't bother.)

After that, I swapped back to the regular saddle and we had some more canters, in which he was so full of beans that he he even through in what were him were a couple of quite big bucks: I think he hasn't get twigged that he can get all the fun of cantering around when he's in the field, without a rider, so he misses it when I don't let him have a nice run.

After that, Mike jumped on him for a bit, and managed a few bits of canter too (one of them not entirely at Mike's request!), and then we put the pony away and pulled everything out of his cupboard, on account of how the woman in the next stable said "Oh, your loan found a rat in there yesterday...." This, of course, explains why the terrier that is one of the many dogs that lives on the yard keeps trying to get into my cupboard....

(Rats are, of course, fairly normal around horses. They generally prefer to be where the food is, but one obviously decided that the cupboard had enough chance of food, possibly from the smell of GB's treats in their slightly-horse-chewed box.)

So, cupboard contents removed, and then bits of bedding, occasional food dropped by GB when he's been in the cupboard and a small and thankfully empty rodent nest made from straw and bits of carrier bag swept out and thrown in the bin. On the way home, we stopped off and bought two really big Really Useful boxes for rugs (I'm worried about them being seen as a source of nice warm bedding and getting chewed up) as well as a new one for food. And I suppose I shall have to tell the loan girl to not leave carrots out on the cupboard shelf, too. Sigh. I'm not sure if it's worth trying to close up the hole at the bottom of the cupboard that Ratty is presumably moving in and out through: hopefully, cleaning it out and getting rid of accessible food will be enough. I don't particularly want to reach in and find a small nest of wriggling babies and a defensive mother one day.
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