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Hay ho...

♥Aug. 4th, 2017 // 09:21 pm
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The day before we went Up North for The Wedding, we were due to get our hay delivered. Shortly before we were expecting it, I got a text from the Hay Lady to say that they'd decided that they'd put it in their barn and bring it to us later.

This was somewhat ominous, as normally they don't have enough room in their barn for our hay. Mike has taken Jo up there the day before and when he came home he said "they've cut it and there's nothing there!", so I made a mental note to get it from her ASAP before someone came and offered lots of money for it: it's been a bad hay crop here, because it was so dry, so prices are going to be silly by the new year.

Today, she brought a trailer-load, which is a third of our order. As we were unloading it, she said words to the effect of "er, yeah, about the hay crop... I can do you one more trailer load but that's it". She's got half what she usually does, has already told her first-time customers that she can't do anything for them, and is trying to spread the pain around her long-standing people.

After she got home, she called a much larger-scale hay producer to see if he could help: he could, but wasn't very enthusiastic (he was 800 bales rather than his usual 1200 this year and, again, wanted to save it for his regulars) and so quoted a fairly silly price.

I had a vague memory that Mrs Farmer had mentioned having a good crop this year and, as luck would have it, she was blackberrying when we took Jo out for her walk. She did indeed have a good crop this year, and has about 500 spare bales. When we got back from our walk, we drove up there to get a test bale ("ooph, we won't need as many of *those* as we do of our usual supply!" I thought as I staggered to the car with it). The boys seemed happy enough to eat a handful of it this evening, although the real test will be tonight: GB has a haynet of Mrs Farmer's as well as a net of his usual.

The Hay Lady came over in the evening as well, and took a third of the bale away to try it on her horses. Based on looking at and sniffing it, though, she said that if the horses were happy then could we put her in touch with Mrs Farmer to, if Mrs Farmer would like, find homes for it all (as long as it's a reasonable price. I've got no idea what Mrs Farmer is going to charge us, and suspect I'll be bargaining her up rather than down).

It's not nearly as nice as our usual stuff but I'm hopeful that the boys will eat it as long as we give it to them while it's still fairly fresh. And hopefully all the rest of the Hay Lady's customers will be sorted out as well!
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Getting ready to go....

♥Aug. 4th, 2017 // 11:21 am
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We're off to Helsinki tomorrow, via a night at Heathrow. I'm not really looking forward to it, and would much rather stay at home with my pooch, but Mike assures me I'll have fun when I'm there.

Yesterday, the power went off and on again with no problems, and the boys were surprisingly good going up there, with the digger going, and back again in the evening when it all looked different, which was a relief.

The day before, after going through the power cable, they also went through (just that house's) water pipe. As Mike said to Mr Up The Hill, at least they didn't take the phone line down as well....

Bloody rabbits have eaten (entirely) two of the French bean plants and chewed through the stem of one of the borlotti beans, which does at least explain the wilted leaves I saw yesterday. One of the tomatoes is very nearly red, though!
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♥May. 22nd, 2017 // 06:41 pm
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So I may have got the garden weeded but I did it at the expense of my wrists, which have been very sore for the past few days. I've been trying to rest them, which is frustrating as I have things that I want to be doing!

It's also a pain for Mike, who keeps having to do things like follow me around the garden while I point at places where he needs to dig up weeds or plant out seedlings. Still, "we"'ve got most of the veg bed planted out now, so hopefully it will all get on with growing and making tasty food. About the only useful gardening that I can do at the moment is watering things and pulling up nettles, which means I'm covered in stings!

On the assumption that it was actually a combination of gardening and cutting out pieces for quilts wot done it, I've put aside the quilt I started last week until I'm doing a bit better. I did, this afternoon, have a go at making a block for a different quilt on the grounds that it's paper pieced and so involves less repetitive/precise cutting of fabric. I'm quite pleased with the results, but my wrists aren't. Sigh.

The whole quilt will have the dark blue and cream fabrics in the background, and then I've got a range of different blue and cream fabrics for the stars.

The Up-The-Hill's came for dinner at weekend, which was nice and (we think) went well. Various amusing but not unexpected things about TWWOTV, including the fact that she's already not speaking to them although they're not sure why!
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♥Jan. 18th, 2017 // 06:47 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1195675.html]

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

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

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

Jo had her first (this time around) swimming lesson today, a very easy session to get her back into it but she seemed happy enough and the physio was happy with how she looked in the water.
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♥Nov. 18th, 2016 // 06:36 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1186533.html]

Novacon was mostly nice, and fairly quiet, but involved late nights (as ever).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥Oct. 29th, 2016 // 06:56 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1183239.html]

The Horse Next Door is gone, so I suspect that that means Mrs Next Door is gone as well.

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

♥Oct. 28th, 2016 // 11:59 am
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1183070.html]

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥Apr. 11th, 2016 // 08:26 pm
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[xpost |http://flick.livejournal.com/1151833.html]

I'm, finally, much better: basically fine other than occasionally trying to cough my guts up. Annoyingly, that's still happening most often when I lie down to go to sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

♥Feb. 10th, 2016 // 06:44 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1140328.html]

Baby Next Door's birthday present (he's a bit obsessive about our ducks):

Birds are all sewn together, and this is now going in the cupboard until after I've done a class in a couple of months:

I think I've got a Plan for the 30-themed quilt, based on "30 days hath...". A bit out of my comfort zone, as it's mostly going to be appliqué and embroidery rather than nice precise OCD patchwork:

Also, most of a stuffed bunny and about a quarter of a blanket of weaving....

(Ok, not strictly true: not all of the work on these was done on those three days!)
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Poor ponies. Poor ducks.

♥Jan. 7th, 2016 // 02:58 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1132142.html]

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

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

(In doing that, I discovered an interesting new light on the car's dashboard, which seems to be some sort of non-specific 'take me to the vet mechanic now please' thing, which is a bit worrying. Ex-Mr Next Door is away until Monday, but we don't think we need it again until next week, so we'll wait until he's around.)
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♥Jan. 5th, 2016 // 07:42 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1131900.html]

1) Today, Post Man Rob (after I put my boots on and ran out to save him having to go in the lake at the bottom of the drive, and before he confessed that he was a little worried about his cellar but hadn't quite dared to go down and check on it) handed me a letter dated 31 December from Parcelforce, saying that they had a parcel for me and would return it to sender if they didn't hear from me in five days. When I phoned, and sat on hold for a while, a rather rude and completely not interested bloke told me that there had been a delivery attempt "before Christmas", then it had gone to the Post Office, then been sent back to them. Quite how I'm supposed to know that when no card was left I don't understand, and I have to wonder if the cover driver who 'attempted' the delivery was the same one who did the same thing with a parcel in August. Actually, given that I'm not actually missing any parcels, I will be tremendously amused if it turns out to be the parcel from August. I may have to write a letter.

2) This evening, Mike was half an hour late getting home, which was somewhat worrying for me. It turns out that someone has dumped a pile of old tires at the end of our road, so that he had to go the long way around and come in at the other end of the road. (He did think about moving them but 1) he was wearing shoes rather than boots, and the road is underwater and 2) that would have meant moving them onto TWWOTV's land, when it would have ceased to be the council's job to move them.) I have to wonder if this and gategate are connected, and someone (probably TWWOTV) has pissed someone off....
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♥Jan. 4th, 2016 // 03:02 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1131008.html]

We've had a lovely New Year, but Mike is somewhat sick of cooking, and I am somewhat sick of washing up, running the dishwasher, and doing laundry.... I'm also incredibly knackered, but we're going out to see ISIHAC this evening, so that should be fun.

It's been rather wet, which is annoying: we've had to keep the horses in for the last couple of days, and I suspect that the next couple will be the same. They aren't very impressed by this, as you can probably imagine, but it really is horrible out there. The standing water in the stableyard yesterday was very nearly deep enough for the ducks to swim in. (It could, of course, be Much Worse.)

In the ongoing drama that is gategate, Mrs Next Door phoned a few evenings ago to ask for help: someone had re-hung Mrs Top Of The Hill's PGATRTIOTTAPINUTR, and then either the same or a different person had tied it shut with a knotted piece of baling twine. I drove up there with scissors to let her out and then, having thought about it a little more, drove back up with a chain and padlock to make sure it didn't happen again. It had been off the hinges still a couple of hours before, so the chances of two different people being involved are slight. That means that either someone helpfully put it back as a favour to Mrs Top Of The Hill and then idiotically tied it shut or they went to a huge amount of effort in an attempt to inconvenience Mrs Top Of The Hill (which failed because she's not here). It's all very odd. Anyway, I emailed her and told her what I'd done and she said thanks and she'll sort it when she gets back.
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(Things that, around here, pass as) DRAMA!

♥Dec. 22nd, 2015 // 01:41 pm
[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1128973.html]

We'd heard, from Darren-the-DPD-man and Yodle Guy* via TWWOTV, that the local Hermes driver quit in a huff and with a house full of parcels, which was unfortunate timing.

This morning, I had two emails from Amazon to say that my parcel was out for delivery today with Hermes**, so I awaited with interest. As I was taking Jo out for her (rather short: it's foul weather) walk, I passed a car coming down the hill and was asked by the driver where my house was (I do like easy questions). He was the new (he hastened to add) Hermes driver and knew absolutely nothing at all about what had been going on, no sir, couldn't tell me a thing.

* This naming convention says more about Amazon's local courier preference than anything else
** DPD must be really busy, Amazon never use Hermes

After I got back, and recovered the parcels he'd (as requested) left in the garage, I went out to do things related to horse food, both before and after the horse is involved in the process (it's, as mentioned, a foul day. They went in the stableyard for a couple of hours this morning, and are back in there now for a bit, but in between I put them back into their stables). The horses were determined to get into the barn, source of All That Is Tasty Other Than Grass, so I had the door shut. Fortunately, I popped out to put some hay in the stables and saw a van on the drive. Going to the house revealed the presence of another Hermes driver, this one with, I suspect, the contents of the ex-driver's house. He also didn't know the route, and treated me to an exasperated rant (you'll have to imagine the Italian accent) about why don't you people have numbers on your houses, everyone else has numbers, it's not too bad for this house because it's all alone, but why don't you have numbers in the villages? And why don't people even know what the house next door is called? Is it really so hard to have numbers? What is it with this country?

Anyway: I got a completely unexpected package, which I would never have missed (part two of a Christmas present that I'd assumed came in one part only), and he was last seen on TWWOTV's drive, so I assume she's also got the one she was waiting for.

In other potential drama, Mrs Top Of The Hill's pointless gate across the road that is only there to annoy people into not using the road (as distinct from TWWOTV's PGATRTIOTTAPINUTR) is off its hinges and propped up against the fence. Now, it has been incredibly windy for the past 24 hours or so, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the hinge had come out of the probably-rotten post, but it also wouldn't surprise me to learn that, knowing the Top Of The Hill's have gone away until the new year, one of Persons A, B or C has nipped out there and taken it down. It also wouldn't surprise me if it vanishes entirely in the next week or so, although that could equally be down to Persons C, A or random unknown (I can't see B bothering, though, not having anywhere out of sight to easily stash it).
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Things for today

♥Nov. 27th, 2015 // 09:00 pm
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We've has a heron hanging around a bit, lately. Our fingers are crossed that the new pond cover is working, and it does seem that way: no evidence of fish being taken, although it's hard to tell when they're being sluggish in the cold.

(The blue tit was trying for the study windows today. Persistent bugger!)

My legs are considerably less sore today, thankfully. Not sure if it's helped or not but I did do a few gentle squats as part of my morning Pilate today. At least I managed to walk the pooch!

(My only consolation is that if I was that sore then I suspect that most of the rest of the class will have been unable to walk at all. I look forward to the conversation at the start of the next class.)

Earlier, Jodie produced a couple of exceptionally disgusting farts, which isn't like her: we did check that she didn't need to Go Outside, but she seemed inclined not to. Then, just as we were finishing dinner, Mrs Next Door phoned in a panic about her laptop having given her a scary error message as she was using IE: it was just a scam you-are-infected-call-this-number pop-up, but she couldn't get it to close so she brought it around for Mike to poke. As she was leaving, she mentioned that her lab has been incredibly farty all evening. Interesting. Apparently, TWWOTV's hideous rats pugs have been ill all week and had to have visits to the vet, so I suspect there may be something going around the local dog population.

(Mrs Next Door was looking for inspiration for a new hair cut, which initially struck me as an odd choice for nasty pop-ups, but actually makes sense when you think, statistically, of the level of IT security knowledge of the people likely to be looking at celebrity hair styles.)

Speaking of Mrs Next Door, I've finished the fiddly hand-sewing bit of Baby's quilt (thankfully: my hands approve), and pinned the quilt together: should be well on course to finish it in time for Christmas!
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How do we stand the excitment?

♥Oct. 3rd, 2015 // 03:23 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1110616.html]

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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Language oddities

♥Sep. 23rd, 2015 // 10:08 pm
[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1108635.html]

This morning, both of us in a rush, I saw Mrs Next Door. I had a horse on each hand, about to jump on GB, and she was taking the dogs out for a quick wee.

"I've overlain this morning," she shouted in explanation for her rush.

Given that the Baby wasn't with her, I was momentarily terrified, until I realised that she meant she'd overslept!

I've never come across that meaning before: I guess it's a (localised?) Kent thing. Anyone else ever heard it?
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Enough of a good thing

♥Sep. 22nd, 2015 // 09:49 am
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1107972.html]

Mrs Top-Of-The-Hill has finally admitted defeat, just when we were thinking that she never would, and said she now has enough horse poo on her compost heap, so now we're making a pile by the field. It's only taken two months!

There's also been enough rain, thanks very much. We did need some, but now we've got enough. We're starting to worry that we won't be able to leave the boys in the their summer pastures for as long as we'd planned, it's getting terribly churned up between the field and the road.

Jo and I are home alone again this evening, as Mike's popped up north to see his mother. I hope the boys behave themselves when I'm bringing them in today and tomorrow....
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♥Jul. 14th, 2015 // 08:16 pm
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[xpost |http://flickgc.livejournal.com/1092129.html]

We've borrowed a field (the one above The Horse Next Door's, for those who've visited) from the people at the top of the hill. We're going to put the boys in it for a few months over the summer: our field gets to recover and grow tasty grass to last them through the winter, and they get their field mown down a bit, hopefully with added knocking over of hummocks and anthills. (This is astonishingly nice of them, and so different to certain other neighbours we could mention. We've made them promise to tell us if the water bill is significant, as it's on a different meter to the house. And we did get a new gate put in.)

Yesterday was the first day that they were up there. They spent the first half hour or so running up and down along the fence line, as Bugs and The Horse Next Door tried to figure out a way to get to each other and have a spat. (We had anticipated this, based on how they behave if we lead Bugs past his field, and, as it's barbed wire, ran electric tape all the way around a couple of feet in from the fence line to stop them from being able to get up to enough rough housing to catch themselves on the wire.) After that, they settled down to being annoyed that they couldn't stuff themselves silly: the grass is pretty long, so we'd put their grazing muzzles on.

This morning, there was a distinct scarcity of poo in their stables, so they obviously didn't get enough to eat through their muzzles, so on the way back from Jo's walk I took them off to let them eat at will. I suspect that that's going to turn out to be too much time without them, but I am somewhat influenced by the thought of having to climb the hill an extra time to take them off in the late afternoon.... We'll keep an eye on their weights, and I've moved GB's next blood test forward to next week so that I can keep an eye on his sugar levels.

The field is closer to the woods, so there are more horse flies, but I don't think it's going to be too much of a problem (although one of the buggers got me while I was putting Gb's headcollar on this evening). I'm slightly concerned about the water situation: the owners patched up the leaky trough so that it could be turned back on, but this evening GB started towards his dinner but then changed his mind and had a long drink first instead. I'm slightly worried that Bugs isn't letting him at the trough (there are two in our field), but if that is the case then I'm afraid that they'll have to work it out, because they'll only be able to get to one of our troughs for most of the winter.
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Umm... hang on...

♥Dec. 24th, 2014 // 09:07 pm
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So, there I was, doing the usual evening check-and-feed on the boys. It's chilly outside, slightly frosty. Earlier, we watched the International Santa Sleigh pass overhead.

As I picked up GB's haynet, I flashed the torch into his stable to wake him up (he's an old man and although all that waking him up usually causes is for him to have a wee, I don't like to risk surprising him) and there was an unexpected sparkle on the bench outside the barn. I flashed the torch back to have another look and found we'd acquired a few more ducks....

Also, for anyone who's both a fan of The Archers and Tom Robinson, a Christmas treat!
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♥Nov. 8th, 2014 // 02:40 pm
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Up in the woods this afternoon, we came across a Machine of some sort. This is presumably related to them doing some work up there: I had a text from not-very-near neighbour, saying that she'd seen signs of life, and Mike managed to find a diagram online that shows them doing some coppicing and felling over the next couple of years in that area. Hopefully, it won't be on the scale of the work that we saw starting in the slightly further off woods, last week: they'd put masses of hardcore in to widen the paths, and had signs saying that bit parts of it were going to be closed for six weeks.

I'm slightly surprised that they're doing anything in our woods, as they do generally seem mostly abandoned by the Forestry Commission.

Esme, having been so much better the day after starting her antibiotics, then had a couple of days where she was worse again (possibly because it was so cold: we had the first proper frost of the season the other day). She does seem a bit better again now, but I'm still quite worried about her. The porridge, now mixed with corn and meal worms, seems to be going entirely on some days and being untouched on others. I'm taking the opportunity to pick Magrat up as well, each evening, and she does seem to be getting more used to it.

Next Doors for dinner this evening. "Can Baby have some of the food?" Err... he's welcome to, I have no idea what babies eat...?
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Updates and new things

♥Oct. 30th, 2014 // 10:08 am
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Esme came out of the duck house with what appeared to be hiccups this morning. She seems fine other than that and not having laid an egg. Most peculiar.

This morning, while I was riding, Mike got some interesting news of a possible deal between Next Door and TWWOTV, which might mean we could buy a few more acres of land next to our field. This would be incredibly convenient, but I'm not holding my breath on either side actually going through with it; instead, I've been talking to Mrs Farmer, who rents a field from the people at the top of the hill that we could use relatively conveniently.

GB seemed better a couple of days ago, and then a bit worse again today: I'm just playing that one by ear and keeping it very gentle for him. This woman's coming to look at Baby this afternoon, so I shall be riding him later for her to look at. I'm not greatly looking forward to that, as my shoulder and, now, back are still very sore, but we'll do what we can. Physio tomorrow. Waa.

We've still not heard from the drain guy who's supposed to be coming out to sort out the kitchen sink, which I'm unimpressed with: I think it's partly him being crap and partly the office being crap; they're chasing him. At least, hopefully, the dishwasher will get fixed this afternoon.

I'm not sleeping well, because of my back, so I'm knackered. At least the sun's come out today.
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Various things

♥Sep. 18th, 2014 // 01:54 pm
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On hotels (specifically, Americans coming to Europe in the late Victorian era) (The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett):
"The rich man demands something almost as good as he has left at home, the man of moderate means something much better."

The hop vodka has been decanted, and will be forced upon 'volunteers' this weekend.

This morning, I was late for Pilates. This was partly because Mike was late getting back from Bluewater (it's a good job he'd reserved his new iPhone, as the unreserved line was apparently enormous) and partly because of the woman in from of me on Stone Street who was driving at 30 mph, except where it was a 40 limit and she was driving at 20. It was a little misty, but come *on*! (On the way home, by contrast, I was stuck behind a tractor towing a load of potatoes. This didn't annoy me nearly as much, partly because tractors towing enormous trailers of potatoes are, by their very nature, slow but mostly because it was going faster that the earlier woman had been.) (Since we moved here, Mike and I have pondered slightly on the sign in Stelling Minnis pointing to the High Chimney Potato Store, but over the last month or so we have become aware of how very much it is apparently needed, as there are lots of potatoes being taken there.)

Yesterday, while we were out riding, we got mobbed by some dogs whose owner (when she'd eventually managed to get them under control) asked if we'd seen her elderly collie, who'd been missing for a couple of days. TWWOTV had apparently reported seeing him late on Tuesday night, but nothing since. I very much doubted that she'd find him but, on the way home, I passed her walking up the road, presumably out looking for him again, so I stopped to see if there was news and there way: she'd just found him, and was on the way home for the car and a wheelbarrow (I'd have offered her a lift, but she was only a couple of hundred yards from home and I wasn't sure how many dogs she had wither her: I only *saw* two, or maybe three, but...). He was stuck in a barbed wire fence, dehydrated and covered in blowflies, but seemed as well as could be expected otherwise. The field he was in? Belongs to TWWOTV, and contains sheep owned by The Farmer. Just think, if the fences were actually looked after, he might not have got stuck. If The Farmer checked his stock properly, it might not have been two days before anyone found him....
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Which was mildly terrifying

♥Aug. 31st, 2014 // 09:27 pm
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I was just in the kitchen, bottling some apple juice, when a frankly suspicious-looking chap knocked on the window and waved a strip of paper at me. I had the sense to open the kitchen window, rather than going to the door, but it turned out that he was bringing a take-away for the Hairdresser, so I was able to send him on his way....

I did make sure that Jo was with me when, a few minutes later, I took the remains of the apples out to the compost, Just In Case.

(He did in fact have a carrier bag and a bottle of wine in his hand, so I'm sure he was legit. Just a bit scary to see a face appear out of the garden darkness!)

(Another kilo of blackberries, today, which have been made into crumble filling with some of the apples and (mostly - nom - gone into the freezer for when Mike's family visits. Also another half kilo of sloes, and damn: I forgot to get Mike to put another bottle of gin on the Tesco order, too late now.)
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Busy weekend

♥Jun. 23rd, 2014 // 01:06 pm
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We've had a busy weekend, being inundated with the Cabal and Jan.

Actually, we didn't get as much done as I thought that we would, but we've helped Jan out with some Worldcon stuff, so all is good.

We had lots of healthy walks, which often involved looking at orchids:

And were often too hot for Jodie:

(We came back early from one of the walks, which was a Good Thing: there was a certain amount of dragging her the last hundred yards to the fish pond.)

And this morning we had riding lessons, which we had completely forgotten about (I think that we said "we can do M/T/W that week" and she said "Ok, I'll let you know" then didn't, in fact), but it worked out ok because we just left people to fend for themselves and Giulia even did the laundry for me: win!

And, in fact, yesterday we also left them to fend for themselves while we went to Baby Next Door's christening, which was small and thankfully short: it was a touch embarrassing, as there were so few people there that the audience participation bits were barely audible. Good job that there was no singing involved!

We're obviously terrible hosts, and no one should ever come to stay with us again!

Oh, we are now fairly confident that Magrat lays the white eggs, Gytha the blue eggs and Esme the ones where she forgot to include the shells. There was scrambled duck eggs with breakfast one day: nom!
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♥Jun. 13th, 2014 // 06:08 pm
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Some of the smaller paths through the woods are getting a bit brambly. I might have to stop using them, at least when I'm wearing linen trousers!

(Do all brambles generate blackberries? What's the difference between the pink flowered and the white?)

This afternoon, I've been making elderflower cordial and elderflower-and-wild-strawberry* Turkish Delight, which is a Bit Experimental.

* Shortly after wistfully telling [livejournal.com profile] dorispossum that I wished we had some wild strawberries in the garden, she kindly sent me some from her garden. About a week later, the bank at the side of our riding arena became covered in tiny white flowers.... I had to go along there to get to one of the elder trees, and I figured that I may as well pick a handful of strawberries while I was at it.

I saw TWWOTV, earlier: she told me (very pleased with herself) that she was replacing the knackered gates at the end of the valley, which I already knew (and was puzzled by: last time we spoke about them, she said she wouldn't get them replaced because someone would steal them. Boggle), and that she was going to put a proper horse latch on it, 'just for me'. She then went on about how it was going to cost an extra £60, but fortunately I'd already jumped in with "Oh, there's really no need, just get a gate with hinges and a latch that are in working order," so she couldn't even /hint/ that we should pay for it: I strongly suspect that that was her plan.

On the down side, the farmer is now going to graze the valley much more often, so we'll have to faff about opening and closing the gates every time we go out.

Salmon and asparagus and baby veg and new potatoes and hollandaise, and possibly Mrs Next Door, for dinner. Mr Next Door will be late home: she's sent him to Dorset to pick up a cot. More boggle.
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♥Apr. 27th, 2014 // 08:01 pm
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The cows at the top of our field are not as photogenic as the ones up the road:

(They're also a very odd mix. There are half a dozen of them, and as far as I can tell there's one year-old boy, who I guess The Farmer might be keeping for breeding, a couple of very very pregnant ones, and a couple more who look full grown but aren't so enormous.)

Today, however, they've been playing 'dodge the metal detectors': we've had another invasion, presumably because the previous visit resulted in someone finding a 1790-something penny that's worth a grand, so TWWOTV thinks it's worth her while. They also found bags and bags of unexploded ammo, so note to self not to encourage visiting small children to try the hobby out in our field.

They all seemed to talk very loudly, probably because their conversation partner was half a field away. And I had to remember to put a dressing gown on when I went upstairs after my shower. Hmph. I did, however, figure out why GB randomly spooked during my dressage test the other week: as we rode down the road this morning, the boys were rather nervous about all the strange people. Once we got to the bit of the field where they'd parked, though, Baby calmed right down. I explained to Mike that GB was still worried because some of the cars had their boots open, and he's scared of that. Turns out that he spooked the other week just as K&M opened their car boot to load their bags into it....

We planted the clematis. The one nearest the camera keeps flopping over. I might have to go out there with a piece of string and tie it to the wire.

In common with various others, it appears, I've been having a Worldcon Admin Day. Fortunately, for me that mostly involves re-reading old email: our internet was down for most of the day, and for once it wasn't because we have a crappy phone line.

I did also make more macarons. I treated the eggs the way that I did for the first batch, and they whisked up very nicely, so I was terribly encouraged until I put it on the baking trays and it went *splat* again. Sigh.

Jodie has developed an annoying habit of chasing GB and barking when we canter in the school. It's not actively dangerous, as she knows she's not allowed in the school and GB isn't actually scared by it, but it is distracting for both of us: I'll have to figure out a way of telling her off without stopping the canter. Hmm.

I'd forgotten to mention: they had a 3D printer on sale in Costco! Expensive, but cool.

It's been raining, which is bad in some ways but Good For The Garden Grass: even the side of the field with the boys on is looking lusher, and the side they're not on is now noticeably greener, if not as nice as, say, the hay field.
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Job of the day

♥Apr. 9th, 2014 // 06:13 pm
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This morning, I was poo picking in the field when I saw a man in hi-viz having a shouted long-distance conversation with TWWOTV, which ended with him walking towards our house. So I popped down the hill, and he said he was there to read the electricity meter. I took him inside, and he sighed and said "That's not it...." I checked the address, and it was our house but TWWOTV's name, so I sent him back to her, and went back to the poo. When I'd finished, I saw the pair of them walking down from her house to the farm yard, and went over to see what was up: it wasn't the meter in her house, either. Then she remembered that she had one in the farm yard, and that one had the right code number on it, much to everyone's relief.

The chap turned out to be a roving, trouble-shooting meter reader: every month, he gets a list of about a hundred meters that the regular meter readers haven't been able to find / get access to for a long time, and he drives around the countryside trying to find them, with a big pile of maps and a willingness to knock on all the nearby doors until he manages to find someone who can help. As I came back to the house, TWOOTV was looking at his list and giving him directions to all the local farms that he had to find.

On a lovely spring day like today, that's a pretty cool job to have, I'd have thought!

Yesterday, while we were riding (hence long-distance photo!), we saw a few of these flowers. I can't decide if it's something like a hyacinth or if it's an early orchid:

(They were, I think, much pinker in real life.)
Must go up there on foot for a closer look.

More bluebells! I'll stop soon, but they did look lovely in the sun today:

And more white ones, too:

I experimentally picked some wood anemones, today. I suspect that they won't last long, although they did feel slightly more robust than I expected when I was picking them:

Must speak to Top Of The Hill about digging some of them up for our garden. (Although, naughtily, I'd rather have some from a patch in the Forestry Commission woods that has some lovely pink ones as well... decisions, decisions....)

I made macarons, this afternoon, fitted between gardening, walking the pooch and painting some wooden crates. I think that they came out quite well, although I wasn't massively impressed with the recipe listing as ingredients both '1 egg yolk' and '100g of egg white'. I appreciate the variation in eggs, and need for precision, but some sort of idea of how many that would be might have helped (three, it turns out, almost exactly).

Mike's in town today (after spending all of yesterday frantically updating SSL). Jo knows it's nearly time for him to get home: every time I stand up, she runs to the front door, thinking I've heard him....
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A harrowing experience....

♥Apr. 3rd, 2014 // 04:36 pm
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Finally managed to get the farmer pinned down, and this afternoon he came and harrowed the field for us. He also did Next Door's field, which we watched while the back lady was checking the boys (all good, although she agrees with my feeling that GB's getting annoyed about his saddle; as the saddler's coming next week, this is not a problem! It's always gratifying when she turns up and says something like "Wow, doesn't he look wonderful for his age?"). Next Door's field is, in places, much steeper than ours, and there were a couple of times when we all held our breath as he turned the tractor around! No accidents, though, and we've much less moss now. Next time we have a bit of rain forecast, I'll go and throw some seed around (I've been saving the seed that falls out of the hay, and I've got three sacks tucked away in the barn for just this time of year).

Not terribly exciting video of the shiny red tractor:

(I was *somewhat* irritated to learn, via Next Door, that TWWOTV had phoned up the farmer and informed him that he wasn't to harrow either field, because they didn't need doing and we were just being silly. It's one thing -- although incredibly rude -- to do that about Next Door's rented field, it's another to do it about ours!)

After all that excitement, I took Jo out for her walk. Even though I'd had a look at the weather radar before going out (mostly because I didn't believe the Met Office's suggestion of showers at tea time), there were several times when it got quite dark and windy and I thought I was about to get soaked: not ideal, as I was only wearing jeans and a thin, pale t-shirt....

The bluebells are looking very fine, and did have a noticeably scent a couple of times when the wind was in the right direction:

The wood anemones are also still being very pretty:

Yesterday was quite blergy with the smog, bit it is a bit better today. We've been having some misty mornings:

(That's still uploading. It should turn up eventually....)
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Jodie at the beach

♥Mar. 29th, 2014 // 04:24 pm
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(Not actually, although Mike has sort-of done that today: he's just on the ferry back from France.)

Jodie at the beach:

I think I quite like my seagulls:

Today, Jodie came out with us for a hack this morning, and then I've just taken her for a quick dash in the woods and through the field, where she found many things to chase. I'm quite glad I didn't need to take her for a proper walk, partly because it's been quite warm but mostly because I've been hearing trail bikes on and off all day, crashing around in the woods.

(Speaking of bikes getting the way, apparently we're having a road cycle race coming through the valley next Sunday morning. Only they're not actually allowed to race, so they'll be setting off at intervals and racing the clock. Lovely. I'm in London next Sunday for lunch, so hopefully they won't be in the way when we're driving around.... Surprisingly, TWWOTV has declared that she's going to be nice and leave her gate open. The woman at the top of the hill, on the other hand, says she's going stand next to *her* gate to make sure that they close it after themselves....
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Various babies

♥Mar. 23rd, 2014 // 03:18 pm
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Bloody badgers have been ripping our field up looking for insects. Fortunately, only the mossy bits (so far...).

This morning, we started a new bale of hay. When we rolled it away from the wall, we found this:

Which explains where half a bag of carrots disappeared to overnight, last week. Jo wasn't terribly interested, though, so hopefully it's not been used recently.

GB went out for his first hack since he got shaved, this morning. He was on cracking form, occasionally a little too much so, which was nice to see: he's much better off without a fur coat at this time of year!

While I was walking Jodie, I noticed that she was carrying something. "Oh," I thought, "she's picked up a stuffed toy. No, wait, we're in the woods not in our field...."

After convincing her to leave her bunny in the garden, we went off to meet Baby Next Door. It is indeed a baby. They're tired but seem pleased with themselves, which is good.
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Guess what?

♥Feb. 14th, 2014 // 01:47 pm
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Still raining.

Actually, it wasn't too bad yesterday, and we even managed to get a bit of sunshine:

I also finally got Mike to make the new shelf for the DVDs in the living room, and moved the old one to the study, and thus managed to finish unpacking the books (yay!), with room to spare (wow!).

(Why on earth is it not possible to have equally-spaced, DVD-height shelves with Billy? Very silly. I'm sure that we managed it with the old-width half-height ones that we used to use for the DVDs.)

(We do need another shelf, but [livejournal.com profile] bohemiancoast is hopefully going to bring us one tomorrow. And, of course, we now have two spare shelves from the old one, so if anyone wants a couple of 60cm Birch Billy shelves then shout. We also have half a dozen spare 40cm shelves, because the height extensions inexplicably came with an extra shelf.)

The only things that we now still need to unpack are the games, which just got dumped in the library: we have the shelves to put them on, but the old built-in wardrobe needs to come out to make room for them. Nearly there. Then we can think about decorating....

Today, I gave Mike a heart made out wool and twigs:

He seemed to like it, once he stopped being bemused.

I Pilated this morning, but am feeling a bit grotty. That, plus the weather, means that the pooch isn't getting a proper walk today. I just took her out in the hay field, with the Next Door dogs (as they're out for the day). She was very confused, as I put them on leads to walk along the road and she wasn't sure if she was supposed to come with us or not, but once she got out there they all had fun running around: I'm sure that Jodie got more exercise than she would have if they weren't there, so that was good.

The boys did get an hour or so in the field, after yesterday's wind dried it out a bit, which was good: we went and put them out before they'd really finished their breakfast, and got them back in after mucking out, before we went off to Ashford and it started raining. Once the Baby realised what was going on (ie, when he was practically at the gate and had thus lulled Mike into a false sense of security) he Objected Strongly, and went charging around the field. GB joined in for a bit then came back over to me and went "oops, she caught me, guess I'll have to stop now". They've made a bloody mess out there, which we'll need to go and sort out at some point, but we're almost glad that they did actually have a run around and throw their legs up a bit after days stuck inside.

In a little while, I'm going to have a second attempt at getting my hair cut. I'm a little suspicious, as the town the hairdresser is in has been quite moist (and they stopped people from parking on the main road, which is always full of cars), but when I phoned a little while ago she seemed to think that I'd be able to drive through it, and park, with no problems. We think that the closed road at this end is easily avoidable, too, but I'll be leaving plenty of time just in case.
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Rain, rain, go away...

♥Feb. 6th, 2014 // 04:40 pm
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... please?

It started raining at about 11am, and it's just not stopped since. Mike's Device Of Weather Measuring says that we've had 10mm. There's more than 10mm of water in the pond at the end of our drive (I just took floated the wheely bins out, and I had to hold the bottom of my coat up out of the water. Admittedly, it's a long coat, but still), but then there is a small stream running down the hill, again. It's spread out into the stableyard, again but bigger, and has now emerged in the front garden as well: lovely.

The dining room roof is leaking again, to. I say 'again', but maybe it's 'still': it was only when Mike noticed the drips and mentioned it that I realised that, actually, the floor there has been a bit wet for a few days. I'm afraid I'd been mentally blaming it on the pooch. Must (get Mike to) chase up the roofing guy. At least it's a fairly slow leak, although I think it is getting worse. Edit: yup, it is. Sigh.

Jodie and I went out for a soggy walk in the woods, although it is actually getting less muddy in places: there's been so much rain that the mud's been washed away, and dips that were muddy a few weeks ago not just have fairly clear puddles of water in them. We saw Mrs Farmer while we were out, which gave me a chance to find out the back-story to the somewhat incoherent email I had from The People Up The Hill this morning ("Some sheep got let out the night before last. The Police say to make sure that you keep everything locked up, so please shut the gate at the top of the hill." None of these statements leads to the other by any logical process...). There's a house up at the top of the hill that has just been bought by (as it happens) Jodie's vets, and they've been having lots of work done putting in a stableyard for their ponies and housing for their sheep. It looks as though someone was checking it out to see how easy it would be to nick (eg) the tack, and so drove into a convenient field to have a look over the fence. They didn't close the gate on their way out, so off the sheep wandered. (How easy would it be to nick the tack? Mrs Farmer rang the vet to let them know what had happened. "Oh, god," said Mrs Vet, "My tack isn't locked up!" Tsk.)

Anyway, Jodie liked her run, and she ate her entire (belated: it was about 2pm) breakfast when she got back! Plus, she left Squeaky Ball in the field for the whole day. This is definitely an improvement, although we'll see how much dinner she manages this evening.

The boys have, not surprisingly, been in again, much to the Baby's disgust (GB doesn't mind too much, although he's much happier when there's a nice steady supply of food for him to occupy himself with). We did manage to ride this morning, before the rain started: Mike's back is still bothering him, so I got evicted from the comfy horse after about five minutes and had to fight the Baby instead. I did get a couple of nice canters out of him, though, so it's not all bad.

We're having a fire tonight, for the first time in a while: it's not that it's cold (the Aga's still off--Tuesday, we hope--so the heating's been on a lot more lately) but it's bloody dreary. We have a different brand of firelighters, and I was going to say "Why on earth would you put each firelighter in an individually sealed plastic bag?" until I opened it and realised how much they stink. I wish I could remember where we got those lovely compressed paper ones that we had when we first moved in: they didn't smell at all, and I think they were actually better than the chemical ones. They came in a red box, and that's about all I can remember. (Hmm. I did think "I'll try Google!" but all I'm getting is pages telling me how to make my own. Sigh.)

Over the last week, I've been pootling away on a little project, which is now finished:

(Hmm: poor light, but this lens cover is definitely on the way out, isn't it?)

It was a bit experimental; learning points include that it's tricky to keep the spacing on the warp threads even when they're not held in place, and that I should have tied the frame properly together before I started, rather than half way through when I realised that the sticks were moving slightly and making tension on the warp threads go a bit funny. And the bunny might be a bit *too* well camouflaged.

I think I'm quite pleased with it, though!
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♥Jan. 19th, 2014 // 04:14 pm
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The Baby seems to have something against his feed buckets. They get mangled very quickly, but he managed to be very impressive today:

(It may be that he just doesn't like pink, or maybe he just gets really annoyed with them when they're empty and don't magically fill back up.)

I took GB out for a hack, so that Mike could have the school to himself. It was all rather marred by having to negotiate the gates across the road: the one outside our house was ok, although it would be better with a one-handed mechanism, but the one at the far end of the road, which was a bit pathetic-looking even before a tree fell on it over Christmas, is downright dangerous. It's not so much the way that you have to drag it, screaming, across the road. It's more the fact that the mechanism's bust, so it's held closed with a loop of rope that just about fits over the gate post and, when not hooked over it, hangs down to about two foot off the ground. So I was having to hang off the side of the horse, with all of our eyes about three inches away from some barbed wire, flailing around to grab the rope and then trying to force it back over the post and hoping that, say, a cyclist wouldn't come down the hill and make GB jump into the wire.... As it happened, I saw the farmer as I was coming back and told him (nicely) that he had to get it fixed. I'll be saying the same thing to TWWOTV next time I see her: I'm not going to close it again from on the horse, so they can either fix it or they can have the sheep get out! I've had a look online and not found anything, but logic says that if the landowner installs a gate on a public road (I suspect it was grandfathered in when the road was adopted, in fact, but not sure) then the landowner has to make sure that it's fit for purpose! ([personal profile] raven - don't suppose you came across anything similar in the old job, did you?)

It's been a lovely day today:

Plus, the days are getting enough longer that we're not going straight from walking the dog to bringing the boys in. Today, therefore, we committed Gardening in the extra hour of daylight. I proved to be absolutely brilliant at instantly sorting plants into "weed", "not a weed" and "no idea", whilst randomly chopping bits off some smaller plants, and Mike did an excellent job of hacking branches off some of the bigger ones. I fail to understand why people do this for fun, and am now plotting ways of making the field bigger by giving the boys some of the garden. (And, it must be admitted, simultaneously working on turning a patch of waste ground into an orchard. I'd probably actually rather turn, eg, the whole back garden into one, but there's a lot less stuff to get rid of on a patch of waste ground.) *And* some bastard plant corroded my arms, though my fleece. Bah.

I filmed the birds today, and got a few inadvertent gardening action shots. I think I need to avoid it on days where there's a mix of sun and cloud, though, as it is a bit strobe-like in places (and that's after I cut out the morning stuff!)

I don't know what this is (other than "a plant"), but I walked past it in the garden and thought it smelled nice as well as looking pretty, so now I have a minimalist flower arrangement in the hall.

It actually matches some of my test patches of paint quite well....
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Insulate! Insulate!

♥Jan. 16th, 2014 // 05:04 pm
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This morning, as I was getting dressed, I saw an unmarked van drive down the lane. It slowed down at our house but then kept going, so I thought it was going Next Door. Then, as I was putting my boots on, I saw it drive back past our house and make a really poor attempt to reverse into our driveway: I popped out, and the driver said he was there to do our cavity wall insulation, which we'd completely forgotten about. Over the next hour or so, another van arrived, then went off to Dover to get a longer drill bit (flint walls!), and another came along and disgorged loft insulation as well.

(I just left Mike to it and sorted out the boys, instead! They were a bit bemused by the strange noises, but otherwise didn't seem to fussed.)

We did ride, just in the school to be close by in case of problems. The only problem was when the loft guy came out to get us to sign paperwork: he sidled up to the garden gate and hovered, confused, because he didn't want to call out and scare the (terrifying, we later found) horses. We may have previously mentioned that Jodie isn't the most observant of dogs: it was only at this point that she realised that there were strangers around the house, and what's more one of them was definitely *lurking* in a suspicious and fearful way. She'd be a great guard dog if she was consistent, and stopped when you told her to....

(We did eventually convince him that she wasn't going to attack him, and he brought the paperwork out for me to sign. As he handed it up to me from slightly further way than was strictly possible, we helpfully pointed at GB and said "If anything's going to bite you around here, it's this old thing," at which he practically fled without his paperwork, poor chap.)

Naturally, as we've just had the house made toasty warm, I've been freezing cold all afternoon. To be fair, I think it's mostly because I didn't get my walk: we had the vet coming, to give the boys their 'flu jabs and to take a blood sample from GB. Mike, sensibly, flatly refused to have anything to do with the process of extracting blood from GB (today, as usual, it involved me hanging onto his head from one side, as he slammed me into the wall of his stable, and the vet desperately trying to a) get the needle in and b) stop it from falling out again and c) actually get the vial filled with blood), so he took the pooch out while I 'supervised' the cavity wall guys and waited for the vet to arrive. They appear to have had a good time without me, based on the amount of mud that Jodie acquired.

("Shower!" I told Mike when they got back, and off he took her. Five minutes later, the carpets were covered in watered-down mud and the shower room looked like a mud-wrestling competition had taken place. Sigh. If you want something doing, apparently....)

The days are definitely getting longer: we didn't go out to get the boys in (admittedly, just from the stableyard) until after 4pm, and it was still light when we'd done that, put the temporary bit of fence back to keep them in the top half of the field tomorrow, and come back to the house!

Further neighbourliness, just for [livejournal.com profile] guybles' amusement: after all the SMSes about the delivery yesterday, Mrs Next Door asked me for instructions on how I make apple juice (that being what she usually gets to drink when she comes around here, on account of the parasitic growth currently distending her abdomen). "With my fabulous steamer...." I replied, so she left a bag of apples on the counter for me to collect when we took her dogs out for a wee, and I'll be taking her a couple of bottles over later on. Mike seemed a little sad when he learnt that the apple juice wasn't for him, but he perked up when he tried it and realised that it had been made from those vastly inferior sorts of apples that normal people can eat without adding sugar. Hmm. Might try juicing the crab apples next year, now that we've figured out that that's what they are....
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Up and down and up and down and....

♥Jan. 15th, 2014 // 03:17 pm
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Mrs Next Door SMSed me earlier and said she was expecting a delivery between 11 and 3, could I let them into the house with it. I replied and said I'd be in other than when I was walking the dog.

Then the farmer up the road SMSed to ask if I was around "After lunch" for him to come and empty the muck skip. As I'd already eaten my lunch and was just about to take the dog out, I said "Just taking the dog out, I'll be back in an hour," and headed out with her.

Just as we got to the bottom of the hill, along came his tractor. I waved and said "I'll pay you when you come back with the empty one," and then carried on up the hill. Just as I got half way up it, Mrs Next Door sent me a SMS to say the delivery would be there in ten minutes, so I went back down, paid the farmer for taking the poo away, let her dogs out, and twiddled my thumbs, while Jodie wondered where her walk was.

Along came a van, and the driver gave me.... her veg box. Rather bemused at why she needed me to be there for it, I put the dogs away and left the veg in her kitchen, then took the pooch and headed back up the hill.

Just as I got into the woods, I saw Mrs Farmer. "Are you expecting a delivery? I just saw a big lorry trying to come down past us to get to you. I told them they wouldn't make it, and sent them round." And then I got a SMS from Mrs Next Door: "Sorry, they got lost, I've just given them directions and they'll be there in ten minutes...."

Oops. I guess it wasn't the veg box that I was waiting for. So, down through the field we came, much to Jodie's confusion, and shortly afterwards the actual delivery arrived.

And then we went back up the hill and actually had our walk!

This is new, I'm slightly confused: we've not had a storm since I last walked past it, but it looks fairly thoroughly trashed!
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♥Dec. 22nd, 2013 // 04:33 pm
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Bleh. Not very keen on this weather. Neither are the boys, I suspect: they've not been allowed in the field, because it's so soggy out there. Need a good hard frost, and a bit less rain, please!

It's so warm that the trees are getting confused:

We had the neighbours 'round for pre-Christmas drinkies, last night, which was nice, but mostly we've been doing the minimum in terms of exercising animals and spending the rest of the time huddled inside in the dry.

(Actually, it did get lovely and sunny this afternoon, for about two hours until the sun went down, so Mike got some wood chopping done. Other than that, though, bleh.)

Jodie demonstrated her hunting prowess again today, on a pigeon. She was very pleased with it, and actually brought it home with her rather than just abandoning it as soon as (I squished its head and) it stopped wiggling. Slightly oddly, having carried it for a mile, she dropped it on the road outside our driveway and lost interest entirely. Still, someone else was pleased: when we rode the boys past it an hour or so later, the breast had been stripped clean and the buzzard was circling above the valley waiting for us to let it get back to dinner. Maybe we can work Jo up to pheasants yet....

(We found out last night that the farm that had the fire raises something like half a million pheasants a year, I dare say that they don't all end up around here, but it did seem like it sometimes when they'd just been released!)
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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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