Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Something has got in and eaten Teriyaki, one of the Indian Runner drakes.  The Under Gardener found that there was only one drake in their run when he went down to feed everyone yesterday morning.  Hoisin was running up and down in a nervous manner but there was no sign of Teriyaki anywhere.  There were, however, white feathers floating about, and a pile of bloodied feathers in the nettle patch.

Our first thought was that it was a fox.  But we could see no hole that a fox had got in. The nettles were not squashed down. There was no indication that anything had got over the fence. The plants in the field were not flattened.  There was no sign of disturbance in the garden over the side fence.  Not only that, there were no paw prints of any kind in the run, which is muddy and soft after the large amounts of rain we've had lately. And as Lindsey rightly pointed out, a fox would have killed both drakes. It is also rare for foxes to take carcasses away with them.  More to the point, the little fence separating the drakes from the hens and the new girl ducks is only chest high and not firmly fixed.  It keeps the birds apart but would be no barrier for a fox.  If it had been a fox I think we would have had no birds (or maybe we would have had the chooks, if they had had the sense to sit tight in their house and keep quiet).

So not a fox, we don't think.  Not anything that moves along the ground. No paw prints at all, apart from our boot prints.

So a bird, then.  We get buzzards overhead from time time time.  And we see the very occasional goshawk. Both of them would be big enough to take an Indian Runner duck. We get sparrowhawks too, which might not think they are big enough to take a duck, but which probably could take an Indian Runner if so minded. They are long but not big, and not at all heavy, as I discovered when I picked Hoisin up.

We have put Hoisin in with the chickens and the new girl ducks.  A bird of prey will find it more difficult to take birds from in there because there are lots of fruit trees which are in leaf, so not much room for aerial manoeuvres.  We hadn't intended to but the males in with the girls just yet because the girls are only 9 or 10 weeks old, but there didn't seem to be much choice.  Anyway, he seems to have other things on his mind than adult entertainment at the moment.  And I think it was Teriyaki who was more keen on pro-creating with the chickens!  Everything seems calm at the moment, although Hoisin, Fennel and Celery were spending quite a bit of time looking up to the sky during the afternoon.

We shut everyone up last evening.  The chooks were in their house anyway; we just shut their gate.  The ducks were slightly harder to persuade to go into their house in the evening but eventually we got them in there.  And everyone was still there this morning when the Under Gardener went down to left them all out at breakfast time.

We might keep the little fence up just for the moment.  It will give us a chance to tackle the nettle beds without interference from chickens or ducks. I think we might use chemical warfare on them too.


The day started quite well yesterday.  It was raining, but that was OK.  We had a lazy start to the day. Nice cups of tea.  Coffee. Up later than usual, for us. Toasted cheese and tomato for breakfast? I'll get on and make that while you go down to feed the chickens and the ducks

Then The Builder was back.  We've lost one of the birds.  Lost?  Lost how?  Flown away? Died overnight? And which bird?

Turns out that one of the Indian Runner drakes had been taken, we think by a bird of prey, such as a goshawk (which we see very, very occasionally) or a buzzard (which we see more regularly), or possibly a sparrowhawk (we see a few of them).  I've put an account on the garden blog - which I have finally updated with what garden news there is.  Fortunately, it wasn't raining when we went down to see what had been going on, but we definitely put our boots and coats on anyway!

We did get our toasted cheese and tomato breakfast, but a good bit later than planned. I got a little potter in the garden but then the rains came back and I retreated inside, where we remained, pretty much, for the rest of the day.  I went down from time to time, between rain showers, to check on the birds, but all seemed quiet.  I got a bit of the asparagus bed weeded, when I went down to gather some in. We ate chicken cooked in a soya and plum sauce with rice and veg for lunch. Steve, lately of next door, chatted to me over the garden fence. Sarah from next door but one came round to ask if the Builder could go round on weekdays and let the dog out for a bit, or even take her for a walk if the weather was nice. The Builder is up for this, indeed.  She came down to meet the chickens and the (remaining) ducks. We had new potatoes, asparagus and poached eggs for supper.  And that was it.  The Builder went up to the allotment to check progress up there in between the rain showers.  And that was as far as he got during the day.  I didn't leave the premises.  A quiet day, then, marred only by the kerfuffle over the Indian Runner drake.

Back to work today.  It's still raining

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


It was Monday yesterday.  A holiday Monday.  And although the weather wasn't wall to wall sunshine, it was pleasant enough for most of the day. Mostly sunshine until mid-afternoon.

I talked to Stella and Tony on Skype.  Ordinarily we do this at 18:30 Melbourne time on Sundays, but at that time this Sunday The Builder and I were in the car rattling down the M1, so we deferred it by 24 hours.  I had tried to talk to Austin at the pub on Sunday lunchtime, but the wifi wasn't very stable so we deferred that until he got home from work on Monday evening.  While I was waiting for him to get home from work and the gym, I pottered in the garden, did some light weeding, and The Builder and I went to the supermarket.

Everyone safely back home, Austin and I got in contact.  We were happily chatting when all of a sudden there was a distinct hullabaloo!  Marlo, who had been peacefully sleeping on my Japanese Study bag on the dining room table suddenly came belting through into the lounge room and positively LEAPED up onto the front window sill in a way that seriously belied his 12+ years.  I looked up, somewhat surprised.  And there was something flapping up against the top of the window.  At first I thought it was a humungous moth, but then common sense kicked in and I realised it was a smallish bird.  Sparrow?  No, a robin, which Marlo was absolutely determined to catch. I grabbed him and took him and Austin into the kitchen.  Marlo was determined to get back into the lounge room and get that pesky robin.  I shut the kitchen door.  In the meantime, The Builder was busy opening all the available windows so he could shoo the bird out.  Eventually it went out into the porch.  Somehow Marlo knew it was in the porch and headed with determination to the cat flap.  Move, Frannie.  Lock the cat flap!  And the robin flew safely out through the open garden door, back out where it belongs.

Now I have said before that Marlo is not much of a birder.  He prefers to hunt for mice.  But he does object to birds that come into the house.  In particular, he objects to cheeky robins who fly into the house and land on the table centimetres from his sleeping nose.  Which is what we surmise happened, judging from the tiny blob of bird poo next to my Japanese Study bag on the dining room table.  You can see his point.  I probably wouldn't be best pleased to be woken by a bird landing centimetres from my sleeping nose either!!

Austin said that from his perspective it was as though masked gunmen had broken into the lounge room or that there had been a massive earthquake, as our peaceful conversation via Skype had been abruptly interrupted by chaos and mayhem.  (I did keep talking to him while all this was going on.  And to Tatsuki who was peacefully playing some sort of game and was supremely unbothered by the excitement in our lounge room!!)

The rest of the day was much less exciting. Once the rain set in properly, we watched TV and ate teriyaki salmon and pootled about and went to bed relatively early.  But we need to do something about those birds.  That's the second one that has come uninvited into the house in two weeks.  The Builder is thinking about making a fly door, which will not only keep the birds out but hopefully the flies and midges as well.

It's a university holiday today, so an extra day off for me.  It's forecast to rain all day so probably no further light weeding in the garden.  I'll just have to think of something else to do.  I'm sure I'll manage

Monday, May 26, 2014


We hadn't seen Gwen for simply ages, not since we got back from Australia and popped down to Salisbury for the weekend.  We don't have any plans to go down to stay until August, when we are going to stay with Jeanette and Matthew for a weekend and then when we are booked into the Old Mill for the late summer bank holiday.  We couldn't leave it that long between visits, but didn't want to go down and stay in a B&B. We are going to Ireland for a few days mid-June and are saving our money for that.

Then,  couple of weeks ago, I remembered that this weekend is a long weekend.  And not only do I have the Monday off work, but I happen to have the Tuesday too. We decided that this would be a good weekend to make a day trip down on the Sunday because there would be no need to get up and rush about on the Monday.

So, at 7:15 in the morning, we left home in wind and rain and dismal weather and headed south towards Salisbury.  The big advantage to leaving at that time on a Sunday morning is that there is almost no traffic.  As we headed south, the weather improved.  By the time we reached Gwen's place the sun had come out and the temperature had gone up.  I was rather too warm in the wintry clothes I had put on at the crack of dawn that morning!

We gathered Gwen up and off we set for a drive through the New Forest.  It was a beautiful morning by the time we got out there and the paths and roads were filled with cyclists and walkers and people out enjoying the day. We saw ponies and cows, as you would expect, but also donkeys which we weren't expecting. I don't think any of us have seen loads of donkeys wandering about in the Forest before.  We had a nice lunch at The Red Shoot.  Its not an easy pub to get into if you are not especially ambulatory, but it is picturesque, the food is all right and the pub is popular with walkers, cyclists, drivers and the people from the holiday camps round about.  Gwen enjoyed it, I think, despite the difficulty she had getting in and out.

Then we headed back to her place through little country lanes and small villages. Gwen is pretty much housebound unless there is someone available to take her out in a car, so we try not to use the main roads and motorways when we take her out if there are viable alternative.  And if what you are doing is going for a country drive, then there are alternatives :-D

And then we came home.  Along the motorways.  We had pretty much been in the car all day, barring an hour n the pub at lunchtime, and were keen to get home expeditiously.  (The advantage to leaving at about 2:30 on a Sunday that is in the middle of a long weekend is that there was still very little traffic on the roads.)  You can understand that the Builder was tired when we got back.  He had been driving since 7:15 in the morning.  But all I had been doing was sitting in my chair, admiring the view, reading the Sunday papers on the iPad and messing about on the internet.  It's surprising how very tiring that is.  We were in bed by 9:45

It's a bright and sunny morning today.  I might even get out into the garden.

Dappled sunlight in the New Forest

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mixed bean goulash (mostly for Freyja but everyone else can use it too!)

I ran across this recipe for mixed bean goulash somewhere online.  I do follow Jack Monroe's blog but I think I ran across the recipe on Twitter.  Anyway, it doesn't really matter where I found it.  I made it today for whatever you call a main meal that you have in the middle of the afternoon.

I didn't have any kidney beans, but I did have a tin of cannelini beans and a tin of borlotti beans.  I also had multiple tins of baked beans but it seems incredibly wasteful to me to open one and then wash all the sauce off just so you can use the beans in an unadulterated state.  I didn't have any vegetable stock and I wanted to keep it suitable for vegetarians so I used an extra scoop of vegemite (no marmite in this house).  I also had some tomato paste that needed using up so I chucked that in as well.  And I used a mixture of sweet and hot paprika.  I have to say it was very, very tasty.

It would have been suitable for any passing vegan

- until i put some natural yoghurt on the top! We had ours with pasta and mushrooms on the side. And there's more for later

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Garden update

I have planted out the pumpkin, tomato, squash and zucchini seedlings.  Oh, and one small watermelon seedling.  The heritage tomato seedlings are mostly in the greenhouses up on the allotment, apart from three that didn't fit.  I've also put in one pumpkin seedling and the little watermelon seedling.  Everything else is in the garden back at the house.

The tiny leek seedlings have mostly been eaten by slugs and snails, as have my golf ball carrots, which were in troughs in the driveway.  I have planted more golf ball carrot seeds, but it's a bit late for leek seeds.  We might go to the garden centre and see if they have any seedlings.  The sweet corn is struggling a bit.  I think I might just plant that directly out, rather than potting it on first, and see how it goes.

The asparagus in the first bed we planted is doing really well.  We are getting asparagus every couple of days or so.  However, only two or three of the plants in the second bed are producing and it seems a bit wasteful to have one whole bed set aside for not much purpose.  We are thinking we might just dig it over and put the sweet corn in there.  We could transplant any asparagus plants we find alive.  This is, of course, not an ideal time to do it, but we might give it a go and let them take their chances.

I have weeded my way up most of the side  path in the flower garden, and have also weeded about half the patio.  The ongoing rain that we've been beset by has made it hard to get out to weed - but does make it easier to tease weeds out from between the bricks!  I am losing the weeding battle with the bindweed.  The next time I am at home and it is not raining and not forecast to rain - I shall take to chemical warfare and a paint brush.  I don't want the hollyhocks, daisies and other pretty things to be collateral damage in my battle against the pernicious bindweed!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The rest of the week

Mostly, this week has been warm and sunny and almost summery.  It was a beautiful day on Sunday. We didn't do very much though.  I had thought about lighting the barbecue again but decided to cook inside on my griddle instead.  Mostly we spent the day planting things, both on the allotment and at home.  I'll put that onto the garden blog, if you want to find out more.

The lovely weather continued on through the week.  I came to work. The Builder went to the allotment and worked there and in the garden.  I went to my Japanese class. The Builder stayed at home and watched telly. The week progressed, warm and sunny and summery.  I moved the summer clothes into our wardrobes and the winter clothes into storage.

Then yesterday the wind and rain and low temperatures returned with a vengeance! It absolutely poured. We managed to get to the village hall to vote in the European Elections without getting drowned, but only because we chose our moment.  I came into work a little later than usual.  I was rostered as the Duty Librarian from 5-7 and didn't feel it necessary to turn up at my usual time of 8 - 8:15!!  The Builder sat at home, in the dry for most of the day.  I stayed in and around the office, also in the dry. And after I had finished my frantically busy shift as Duty Librarian (not a single enquiry came my way :-D ) I trundled back to Chesterfield on the train, where The Builder met me.  We tried to have dinner at The Three Cottages, but the car park was full and the place was fully booked.  So we went to The Wingerworth instead and had remarkably nice fish and chips with a couple of glasses of wine.  A pleasant end to a wet and windy day.

It's still raining.  It's still windy. It's still on the chilly side (I have put my cardigan away and put on a jumper!).  It's a long weekend this weekend.  The schools are on half term next week.  I expect the warm, sunny weather will return on about Monday week!!

It's been a week for birthdays, some quite significant.  As well as Steve's 50th birthday last week and Penny's not 50th birthday on Saturday, it was my brother Simon's 50th birthday on Wednesday, The Builder's grandaughter's 16th birthday also on Wednesday and my brother in law Ian's not quite so significant birthday yesterday.  He and Freyja celebrated it by going on what looked like a fantastic wine train tour in California


My aunt Joan has moved from her house in Girton, where she had lived on her own since my uncle Peter died in 2010. She was finding it increasingly difficult to cope on her own, to cope with the stairs, to cope with daily life.  She had carers coming in and had meals delivered.  My cousin and his wife, (who live a few miles away) dropped by regularly. But it was becoming clear that none of this was sustainable in the longer term and she has moved to a dementia care home in Sheffield, not all that far from where my cousin Penny lives.

Joan was very reluctant to move, it must be said. She was used to where she lived and felt the upheaval would be too much. But needs must and move she did. She seems to be settling in moderately well. Penny visits her pretty much daily. The boys visit fairly regularly.  However, on Saturday Penny and her family were going away for the weekend to celebrate Steve's (50th) birthday and Penny's (not 50th) birthday.  Tim couldn't come down from Scotland on both Saturday and Sunday.  Jeremy and Jill were unavailable.  So The Builder and I stepped into the breach.  I baked some cupcakes, grabbed some milk, and off we trundled.

The place where Joan is living is absolutely beautiful.  It's a former Victorian Industrialist's mansion. There are several of these mansions dotted around in Ranmoor and Fulwood - not used as mansions any more. They are now guest houses or apartments or care homes.  This house has beautiful gardens and a lovely lounge area for the residents.  A lady came round with a tea trolley as we arrived and we had a cup of tea and a biscuit.  Then we went up to Joan's room where we had another cup of tea and a cupcake.  Joan has a stunning view out over the valley and up to the hills.  There are houses in there.  I know there are.  I used to live in that valley.  But you can't see them from Joan's window.  All you can see are trees. Joan thinks she is living out in the country.  You can see why she might think that!

And she herself is not too bad.  She had been in hospital earlier in the week which had confused her quite a bit, but she seemed to be OK when we went to visit.  She was obviously making a bit of an effort and was tiring when we left an hour later, but she knew who we were, remembered my parents and siblings and seemed very pleased to see us.  We were very pleased to see her. We haven't seen her for ages.  But it will be easier to make short visits now that she is a 40 minute drive away. It's much harder when you have to drive all the way to Girton just to make a short visit.

Then we went home and celebrated the absolutely beautiful weather by finally launching the new barbecue that we bought at Easter and couldn't use then.  I suppose we have had occasions when we could have used it since, but we hadn't.  We have now :-)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Four and twenty blackbirds

We were peacefully sitting in the lounge room on Saturday afternoon, relaxing after a fairly busy morning. The sun was shining.  I had doors and windows open to let some air in.  We had turned the heating off again (We turned it off a little while ago but then turned it back on one chilly evening and had forgotten to turn it back off again!).  The birds were all singing.  There was a blackbird, somewhere close by singing a beautiful territorial song.  This is my bit of fence.  All mine.  No other blackbird can have it.

Mind you, it was quite a loud beautiful song.  It must be sat on the fence right by the back door and absolutely belting it out.  A very, very loud song.  You might almost think it was in the kitchen.

I got up and headed to the kitchen to see where it was, expecting to find it on the fence by Steve and Debby's back door.

But no!  It wasn't on the fence.  It wasn't even in the kitchen.  It was in the dining room, sitting on the freezer by the window into the porch and claiming the dining room for its own.  Perfectly happy it was, sitting on the freezer.  Until it saw me come in!  AAAAAAAAARRRRGHHHHHHHHH!  A human!!!!!!!  And it tried to fly out through the (closed) window into the porch.

The Builder came through and opened the window and out the blackbird flew, ceding its territorial rights to the giant humans. No great drama, but certainly a bit unusual.

We get small birds in the house from time to time, usually in the porch or the kitchen.  You find little birds hopping around on the ground outside the back door, for there are usually tasty things lying around out there. In search of more tasty things they will come in through the back door if it is open and raid the chicken food or the seeds or whatever we have left lying about in the porch.  If the door is closed they hop in through the cat's door. But they seldom venture much further in than the porch or occasionally the kitchen.  We once had a robin in the lounge room but robins are brave explorers and this one wasn't afraid of me or The Builder and was relatively easy to usher out - and I think it had come in through the open lounge room window.  But I have never seen anything as big as a blackbird in the house before, and wouldn't ever have expected to find one in the dining room, where there are no windows or doors which open to the outside.  This was clearly a very intrepid explorer indeed!

Just as well, mind, that the cat was actually upstairs, sleeping on the windowsill of the front bedroom and oblivious to the presence of a bird in the house.  He is not, normally, a bird hunter. He's a mouse hunter for preference and only catches birds if they are in the herb garden around the pond, behaving like mice.  But he takes a dim view of them coming into the house and most definitely tries to catch them if he sees them.  This seldom helps matters along!

The rest of the weekend was uneventful, compared with that excitement. We didn't catch four and twenty blackbirds and bake them in a pie, although I think we probably could have had we been so minded.  In years gone by we have had a couple of pairs of blackbirds in the garden, and about a million starlings (along with a plethora of little birds but they tend to be around most of the year).  This year we have almost no starlings, just one pair, I think, and a large number of blackbirds.  We almost have blackbirdy turf wars along the fence sometimes.  Maybe that is why that blackbird was making a take over bid for the dining room!  But we were not minded to have blackbird pie. We had pizza and burgers and chips (all home made) and things from the Japanese supermarket instead.  The weather was mostly very pleasant with the occasional very heavy shower.  We did a bit of gardening, a bit of pottering, a bit of not very much.  It was all very pleasant and relaxing.

And now it is Monday morning, and I am looking down the barrel of the first full five day working week I have had since before Easter.  I suspect it is going to be a Very Long Haul Indeed

Friday, May 09, 2014


I had to go to London yesterday for a meeting.  As I booked my train tickets a few weeks ago, I could hear Roger's voice lugubriously telling me that I hadn't left enough time to get down to town and then to get across town for the meeting.  But Roger - the train is due in at 12:30.  The meeting is at 1.  It takes ten minutes.  TEN MINUTES to get from Kings Cross/St Pancras to Houndsditch.  Ten minutes.  Bags of time.  I booked the tickets.

As I got to Chesterfield Station yesterday, I could hear Roger whispering - you haven't built in any time for delays.  It'll all go horribly wrong. You'll be laaaaaaaaaate.

I wasn't late.  For once all the trains ran beautifully and smoothly to time.  I wish I could say as much for the wifi which I paid £7.50 for a day's access to.  Took from Chesterfield to beyond Derby before I finally got logged on. And at no point either going or coming did it ever actually work.  In both directions I turned it off and relied on the 3G network, which might be intermittent but which at least works when it is there.

Still.  The trains ran on time and I got to the meeting in good time.  It was an interesting and productive meeting.  They provided a sandwich lunch with cakes and fruit to follow.  It finished in good time and off I headed to Piccadilly to have a play in the Japan Centre's new location.

I like the Japan Centre. It has a supermarket which sells Japanese things (as you might expect).  I can get some Japanese things at Tai Sun in Sheffield but that is an Oriental supermarket and sells mostly Chinese things, along with Korean, Japanese, Malaysian and other Oriental countries.  You get a lot more choice in the Japan Centre.  Also, there are associated ramen bars dotted around Piccadilly and Soho.  I had a really nice bowl of curried chicken ramen for tea after spending my money in the Japanese supermarket :-)  As I finished and went to pay for my ramen bowl I was asked rather anxiously by a couple of the staff if I hadn't found it perhaps a bit hot and spicy.  No, not really.  It certainly was spicy but there wasn't a lot of chilli in it.  It was very tasty.  I will have it again.

Generally when I go to London for these meetings, it's after 10:00 in the evening when I get home and even later when I go to bed.  If I can, I take the following day off.  So I arranged to take today off - and then booked myself onto a train that got home at 9 rather than 10.  So here I find myself with an authorised day off and I am not especially tired.  Excellent!  I shall find lots of things to do.  Indoor things, I suspect.  I think it's supposed to rain for quite a bit of the day.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The May Day long weekend

Tabitha contacted me during the week to ask if we were doing Bishops' House on Saturday morning as it was the first Saturday of the month.  I hadn't even thought about it. We pretty much always do the first weekend of the month, unless we are away. I just hadn't really noticed that we were about to fall into May! Fortunately, the  calendar knew that we should be at Bishops' House and was nice and free.  So I put it in.

Saturday mornings, as I am sure I have mentioned before, tends to be the quietest of the four weekend sessions. The previous time we had been there we had only had four visitors all morning - and they came in close to us being relieved! I thought, given that this was a holiday weekend and lots of people had plans, that we might be similarly lacking in visitors.  Still, the sun was shining and the temperature was relatively warm (although the entrance room to the museum was still a tad on the chilly side - we were wearing nice warm clothes :-D). Lots of people were out and about in the park, walking their dogs and/or their children. And, as it happened, their visitors, who they brought in to admire the house.  Others were out doing the Sheffield Round Walk, or bits of it. They too called in. We had quite a lot of visitors, for a Saturday morning!

Then we ambled off home, via a garden centre for some potatoes and potting mix, and sat about outside in the late afternoon sunshine with a drop of wine and a bite to eat.

Not a bad Saturday :-)

Bishops' House, in the spring sunshine
On Sunday, we went shopping.  We headed to Marsh Green for some supplies. We called at the dairy for milk and things. We went to the pet food shop for cat food.  And we went to the DIY store to buy a new picnic table.  We had seen them in there a little while ago at not a bad price, and our outside furniture was beginning to look decidedly shabby.  So we thought we'd replace the shabby stuff with new stuff :-)  The Builder spent the afternoon varnishing every individual bit of it, while I pottered around outside doing a bit of weeding here, a bit of digging there, a bit of pottering over there.

We treated ourselves to lunch at The Nettle on Monday. They are usually closed on Mondays but we figured that with it being a public holiday they might be open.  And they were. And doing quite a good trade with passing walkers calling in for a pint or some lunch, and with people like us purposely going there for lunch.  Good!  The Builder assembled the picnic table, which I musts say looks really good. Steve's brother is going to take away the old chairs. Apparently he refurbishes them.  The old table has gone down to the greenhouse at the back to be a bench for keeping carrot boxes on.  And we are planning to get another picnic table is the DIY store still has any when next I get paid.  You can't have too many picnic tables !

Monday's activities were enlivened by a text message from Lindsey.  They had taken possession of a second rescue great dane (Charlie, around 15 months old) on Sunday afternoon.  She and Sam were getting on quite well.  She appeared to be settling in OK. Until Ross arrived, as is his habit, at about half past four on Monday afternoon, to spend the evening with the dogs and to watch a bit of TV and generally to be a human presence about the place (Lindsey and Ian are not routinely at home on Monday and Tuesday evenings, so Ross takes their place). He let himself in - and was knocked flying by Charlie who dashed at him, out the door, hot footed it down the driveway and vanished.  Lindsey and Ian were summoned back home by a rather stunned (and bruised!) Ross.  Charlie was nowhere to be seen, and didn't respond even when Lindsey and Sam went out looking for her.  I was following all this by text message  until things went quiet, I assumed because Lindsey had gone to bed.  Then I got another message, much later on.  Charlie had been found!  Her foster carer had come up to Mount Helen and gone looking for her, and Charlie had responded to her!  Much relief all round. They have acquired a stair gate to block off access to the front door, so not as much danger of Charlie storming her way out as hapless humans are coming in!!!

Fortunately, our new acquisitions are showing no signs of trying to escape

They seem to quite like it in their new home.

Not a bad weekend, then.  Quite a lot of sunshine. Quite a lot of food and wine. Quite a lot of pleasant activity. And one dog that was lost, found again.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Village life

There are some advantages to living in a small corner of a (large-ish) village.  Not least is that we know most of our neighbours, if not by name then at least by sight and well enough to say hello to them and sometimes stop for a bit of a chat.  (Another advantage is the fact that it is a large-ish village where people almost all commute to work, if they work,and the nosiness that I have encountered in other small places is almost entirely absent. People show interest but mostly are not judgemental or excessively inquisitive).

Even so, we were puzzled when we got home on Tuesday evening.  The Builder had come into Sheffield to meet me after work so we could drop off Cally's bike and car seat. On the way back from Sheffield he had been telling me about the lawn mower and how it needed two new wheels.  He was planning to head into Clay Cross or Alfreton where there are places that just might supply new wheels for a lawn mower.  Imagine our astonishment when we got to the back door of our house, only to find that the lawn mower fairy had delivered two wheels that were exactly what he was looking for.  They were sat in a neat line right outside the door.

But, in the absence of lawn mower fairies - where had they come from. As far as we were aware no one else knew about the need for new wheels.

Then The Builder remembered that, as he had been bringing the lawn mower back from the allotment he had run across the father of one of our neighbours down the road and had stopped for a brief chat.  Clearly he had mentioned the wheels to him.  And the father of the neighbour had taken note and had remembered that he had some spare lawn mower wheels and had toddled off and got them.

He isn't even a neighbour! He is the father of a neighbour!!  Alas - he is the father of a neighbour who is about to move.  They're staying in the village, but moving to a bigger house in another bit of it in a couple of weeks' time.

Steve and Debby have also moved, although their house is not yet sold. We still see quite a bit of them, though. They come back on  an almost daily basis to do various things about the place.

It's the first of May today - and the weather has defiantly returned to winter conditions.  Well, not quite but it is noticeably colder than it has been over the past week or two, it is very dark and gloomy and foggy, and it is raining with determination. I hope it reverts to spring fairly soon.  I have outside plans for this, the last of my three day weekends.