Tuesday, 29 December 2009

More sadness today

I went outside this morning to let the chickens out and to feed them - I made them some hot mash, let them out and they were all in seventh heaven, strutting around the garden, moving from one of the feeders to the others and looking to see which had more food! Then I came into the house to get a bowl to put the rabbit food in, fetched that and went to feed the rabbits, and there was Coco, dead on the gravel drive. She had been eating along with the others, typically scurrying around as she did - she hated to not be in the thick of the action, she was last to bed every night and the first out the of the door in the morning. When I picked her up, she had food in her crop and was obviously still warm, but very dead. It is a mystery to me how she died, in the four or five minutes that my back was turned. I cried.

Although the picture you will find at the link shows her as a small chick, she had grown into a beautiful Gold-laced Orpington. Her plumage was striking and she was a very inquisitive hen. We'll miss her - she used to make such a lot of noise that we nicknamed her "Cheepy" as she was always cheeping for food when she was little.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Departures today

The first departure happened sometime overnight and was only discovered first thing this moring: one of the Buff Orpingtons died in the night. She was found, very cold and looking rather pecked, in the house this morning. Another Buff was also in a miserable state but alive. It is looking rather like they were being bullied, so we have removed the other one from the run. She spent the day in the greenhouse in the sun, and then tonight I have put her in a small pen in the workshop under a heat lamp to keep her warm. She ate voraciously when we offered her corn and warm mash today, so I think that part of the bullying had involved keeping them out of the food. I hope she makes it through the night, and we'll have to see what we think over the next couple of days as to whether we re-introduce her to the flock.

The second departure wasn't until 4pm when Uncle J left for home, taking his Christmas cake along with him. He had plans to go bellringing tonight and then has work tomorrow so he had to go. We were sorry as he is good fun to have around, but he will be back on New Year's Day.

The YFG and I popped into town today to Sainsbury's for clementines, carrots, and greens. That was what was on the list, but we also got a lovely joint of beef for NY and a new electric kettle, so we spent a little more than we bargained for, but it was OK. We were only gone just an hour, so that was a rather rapid shopping trip, but it just proves that it can be done when we are focussed! The town was quiet at 3.30pm with the shoppers wending their way home, but the lady on the till said that it had been busy at times.

The washing machine is on the go and I have kept the fire stoked up to help to get it dry overnight. The EFG is still unwell, so she had a shower and put on (my) new PJs today, and I changed her bed again to freshen it for her. She has been downstairs for some time today but not too long. The cough goes on. She woke at 7.30 this morning and I went in to sort out her pillows and duvet for her, and re-administer the cough meds, and then we all went back to sleep until 9am. She has not had many decent nights' sleep this holiday, so I will not be surprised if she sleeps for a day or two when this is over.

Tomorrow - that'll be Tuesday - I lose track of time so easily when we have these high days and holidays - not sure what we'll get up to but we haven't had time to do the Christmas puzzle yet, so that will be on the agenda this week.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The snow has gone at last

Unfortunately, the thaw means that the mud is back...never mind - more snow is forecast for later in the week, although I do hope that we don't get as much as we have had recently. Enough is enough!

Christmas Day was spent very quietly here, just the four of us. We all went to church first thing, and it was a lovely service, led by a husband and wife team, and there was a splendid feast on which to munch if we got peckish during the service! Afterwards, we came home and the girls enjoyed looking at their gifts and sifting through the layers of paper - they were both pleased with their things, and the FH and I were lucky enough to receive some beautiful things too - I got some new PJs, earrings, chocolates, a poetry-set-to-music CD, and some novels. The FH also got chocolate (Toblerone), two new fleece sweaters, some socks, lots of art equipment for his art class, and a military band CD from his cousin.

We popped the turkey into the oven and relaxed whilst it cooked, then enjoyed it with all the trimmings at about 2pm. The FH was well and truly stuffed by then and passed on the pudding, and actually didn't eat anything else all day. The rest of us just had a sandwich during the evening as we were all pretty full too.

The EFG has been suffering terribly with a cough, and although she managed to get through the big day, she spent most of Boxing Day in bed, just getting up and having a bath at about 4pm when the FH's cousin, cousin's wife and son came to tea. She came downstairs after her bath and sat on the sofa but apart from coughing, she hardly made a murmur all day, and ate little.

The YFG has spent some hours playing with the little boy (5) next door, and his new Wii. He needed a friend to play on it with him as Mum and Grandma were getting a bit worn out! She has worn herself out cycling, Mario Karting and playing tennis with him too. She has enjoyed it tremendously, and the FH was there today and came home saying, "We've got to get one of those!" so the YFG was overjoyed! She spent quite some time on the internet this afternoon researching all the best prices for me, and I have ordered it with all the extras. Luckily, I had about £90 in Tesco clubcard vouchers, so they have been spent on it. The website promises that it will be delivered Wednesday, and that is also when I have an Asda delivery due so we will definitely be staying home that day.

Today we have been back to church for the usual Sunday service, which I led. The main theme was Holy habits, which was a very thought-provoking idea, and connected well with the time of year and making resolutions to try to keep for 2010. My uncle joined me and the YFG for church, and the FH stayed at home to look after the EFG. We had a cold lunch of salmon sandwiches and freshly made cheese scones, and then relaxed for the afternoon before I cooked a chicken dinner for 7pm. The EFG has spend most of the day in bed in her new PJs or on the sofa. Uncle J is staying for the night, but he will have to go home tomorrow as he has to go to work on Tuesday - his last three days of work as he will retire completely on Thursday. He only works three days a week part-time, but at 70, the time has come to rush around less and get a few lie-ins! With bell-ringing, gardening and looking after the house, he has plenty to do without going to work and he feels that he should be relaxing a little more at his age. I totally agree.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The snow is thawing, the turkey is in the fridge, the presents are under the tree, and we are all just about ready to get to bed and sleep the night away until the most exciting morning of the year!

We have had a lovely evening with our neighbours, and I have made chocolate muffins to take to church in the morning - not very Christmassy but far quicker to make than mince pies! I'll make some of those another day....

Today the YFG has enjoyed a Christmas get-together over lunchtime at her friend S's house in the town, so the EFG and I did some last minute errands in the town - some of the older neighbours needed sacks of corn for their chickens/ducks, so we picked those up from the feed shop, there was money to bank and a few items needed from the grocery department too. I'm through with shopping for 2009, I truly hope! I have booked a delivery for next Wednesday, but I may cancel it as I think we have enough food in stock BUT I might let it come and then I can have January as a store-cupboard month like I did this year - saved loads of money! Last January was when I saved the bulk of the money we needed to install the wood-burner, and now we are Really reaping the benefits of that effort - the feeling of walking into the sitting room when it is lovely, warm and cosy is beyond compare!

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Keeping warm

I think that we will be staying at home today and keeping warm as more snow has indeed fallen overnight. The car we use to tow the trailer doesn't seem to be in very good form this morning, either, so the FH has had to use the other one to pootle off down to the doctor's - he has been coughing up phlegm all night, which means antibiotics are on the menu for him for a few days.

Still, there is plenty to do here, so staying in is no problem!

Monday, 21 December 2009

More snow, some spending too!

I've made up for all the No Spend Days in one fell swoop today!

The snow is still lying in the streets, and this road where we live is treacherous as the gritting lorries don't come down here, but the main roads are OK. Tonight, more snow has fallen for about 2 hours, and there is more forecast overnight - I'm kind of dreading waking up in the morning to yet more snow - this seems to be hanging around just a bit too long now; snow is one of those things which is great when it first happens as it is a novelty, but now that it has been here five days, the novelty has worn off and it is becoming just plain bothersome.

I went to the Post office in the village this morning to send a couple of parcels, and unwittingly locked the FH out! He was on his way home from the art club just as I was going out, and I presumed that he had taken the full bunch of keys: he hadn't! Just taking the car key is not terribly helpful, but he went next door to the neighbour, who kept him sustained with tea and mince pies until I returned about 20 minutes later. We joined them for tea and then came home for lunch.

After lunch, we all went to town. There was a Long List for Tesco and there were things needed from the town as well, so the FH and YFG hit Tesco and the EFG and I went to town. We also picked up a floor lamp from Focus which we had ordered last week, but which is going to have to go back as it just refuses to go together - some of the screws don't fit and the FH got very frustrated trying to put it together this evening. And a bulb was broken.

We are supposed to be going to Peterborough to take a load of books back to the unit, but although they are all loaded into the trailer, it will not be safe if the weather continues in this vein as there will just be too much weight on the brakes to be safe. The plan was to drop the books off and then go to my uncle's house to pick up a trailer load of logs but that may have to wait.

I emailed this fantastic calendar to my local printer and he did some copies nicely bound for me to give to a couple of my friends as a little Christmas gift. It is from www.moneysavingexpert.com and is really very helpful with no end of hints for saving cash, arranged for the appropriate months in which to do them. I hope the friends who I have decided to give them to like the ideas! Have a look and maybe you'd like to print one off for yourself. I'm keeping one for me, and I'm going to put all my important financial dates on it like the house insurance and car tax renewal dates, as well as the MOT dates - I'm always paranoid about forgetting them!

Stay safe in this challenging weather - and keep warm!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Strictly Sensational

Chris Hollins has just won Strictly Come Dancing!! We only began to think he could win tonight with the fantastic dances that he and Ola have been doing. He deserves the win as his character has been shining through and he and Ola are just so entertaining, although I do acknowledge that Ricky was probably the best dancer.

The snow is still here, but we are spending our time cosied up around the fire. The YFG is getting over her stomach bug but the EFG seems to be coming down with a cold as she is really suffering tonight with a sore throat and bunged up nose giving her a headache. I think that perhaps we may not all make it to church tomorrow morning.

The cat spent another night in the utility room last night, but if she tried opening the door again, she would have been thwarted by the sack of potatoes I put up against it! She has been in since about 6pm and is curled up tight on one of the FH's fleecy sweaters (it's an old, manky one!) on a chair.

The tree is up, at last, now that the curtains are up again in the lounge after the decorating. We took all of half an hour to get it all up - I just need to buy some tinsel when we go out again. I have started a shopping list as I reckon that the next time we do go to town will be the last time this year so I want to get all the bits and bobs we are running out of, as well as the vital supplies for Christmas like cranberry sauce! I must go to the Post Office on Monday with some parcels even if we don't go to town.

Friday, 18 December 2009

No Spend Days are here again!

Yes, there are several inches of snow on the ground, so I am staying home and not spending!! Therefore snow is good for the bank balance!!

The YFG has been unwell since Wednesday evening, so I couldn't go anywhere although I did send the FH on a mission to Focus and then Tesco. We have had the sitting room painted and the FH unfortunately broke some of the curtain rail fixings when he took them down, so I wanted him to get replacements so that I could get the curtains back up again, but no joy - they don't keep that make. Also made the mistake of asking him to nip in to Tesco as it is right next door to get some bread and clementines. £35 later, he came home with bread, meat, clementines, a cheesy french stick, milk, three boxes of cereal (THREE!!) etc....I should have known better.

I'll be back later to update the week's happenings, but I have to go back outside. I fed the chickens and came in to thaw out, but now that I am, I have to go and thaw their water out so they can wash their breakfast down. Some of the chickens are experiencing snow for the first time and they are hilarious - prancing round and pecking at it. We let the cat stay in the utility room last night for the first time, but she was investigating the rest of the house at 3am and meowing rather loudly so I let her out. She must be one of those cats which can open doors as the utility room door was firmly closed last thing.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Shop till you drop!

Well, my little expedition to Lidl turned into a major shopping trip. I started in Lidl and did find some lovely art sets for the FH, and some for the girls too. Then I went into the town and hit Superdrug for little girly bits and pieces for their stockings, as well as some regular shopping.

I also had a look in the "pound" shop for some battery-operated tree lights for the Christmas tree at church - the only place we can put the tree is not convenient for plugging lights in properly, but a tree without lights looks a little bare, so I was pleased to find a small set for £4.99 which I hope will do the job. They also had masking tape which I will need when we do the decorating.

I had a quick look in Mackays (now called M&Co) and got something for the EFG. I nipped into Sainsbury's and then went back out of town to Focus for paint charts, and to Tesco for the mens' socks I needed. Needless to say, I picked up a few groceries in Tesco as well!

When I got home, the whole lot had to be stashed away! Hiding stuff from the girls is so hard at this time of year, but actually, sometimes hiding items in plain sight works well - they just don't see things right under their noses...

I brought home the YFG for her lunch today as she has had a traumatic couple of days at school what with one thing and another; she didn't really want to go back at 1pm. She ate very little of her packed lunch yesterday so I was pleased to see her wolf down a tuna and sweetcorn sandwich. We have paid for her to have a school dinner tomorrow, so hopefully a change of direction will help - and perhaps I need to up the ante and give her more interesting lunches.

Tonight the FH has gone out to a village history society meeting - a speaker is coming to talk about Oliver Cromwell as this is definitely Cromwell Country around this area! He is going to discuss the opinions people hold on Cromwell as to whether he was a villain or a hero......the jusy is still out on that as far as I am concerned as I really don't know enough about him to make a decision. My first knowledge of him came in a book my grandmother loved called "The Children of the New Forest" about a family during the Civil War who took to the forest to live in hiding. I must have a look and see if it is still available these days as it was a good read.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

One day at a time

we are making it through the week!

The Lakeland parcel has arrived, my hair has been coloured (not the colour the packet indicated that it would end up, but it has been coloured nevertheless - one daughter likes it, the other is not so keen!) and another load of pallets is now strewn about the garden. The hairdresser, my friend B, brought her Christmas cake, the first one she has ever made, and I showed her how to marzipan it, but we ran out of time for me to do mine, so I will have to get mine done asap as she is coming back early next week to do the icing. She is thrilled with it, so I just hope it tastes as good as it looks!!

B was also an angel and helped my neighbour M whose hair had been butchered at a local salon on Saturday morning. She was almost in tears over in on Saturday afternoon but B has sorted it out rather well and M is well pleased with the result; she finds hairdressers traumatic at the best of times, so to have it all go wrong like that was even worse - and to be charged £18 for the privilege was rubbing salt into the wound.

Plans are underway for the party on Sunday and it looks to be coming together nicely. I haven't offered to bake anything this time, so that is one less thing to do. The HC's wife is doing some of the food shopping tomorrow and then I will get the bread for the sandwiches on Saturday afternoon, so it is fresher. We are looking at about 80 children at the party, so I think it will be fun!!

Tomorrow the FH is out doing deliveries for me, and I shall be doing some housework, and ironing. I may watch a DVD whilst doing the ironing, and there may even be a spot of knitting - I am feeling much calmer than I was at the start of the week, when I just felt like there was too much to cope with. I may have a quick trip to Lidl tomorrow as well, if I can fit it in, as their promotional items for sale this week are art/craft based things, and I want to get a couple of things for the FH's stocking to restock (pardon) his art supplies as he is enjoying his art classes so much.

Monday, 7 December 2009

"What am I doing?" she wails!

I feel a bit overwhelmed at the moment!

We have had a good weekend, and all the events went to plan - the coffee morning on Friday raised £220, then the choir came on Saturday evening and sang most beautifully, adding another £100 to the fundraising total, and Sunday.....well, Sunday happened....church, lunch, Dad coming over and then me popping round to D's house to lend her the sewing machine, but ending up playing charades with the family. I managed to watch the beginning of Hugh F-W's Christmas programme, but fell asleep sometime after he made the venison joints, and never saw the final feast, unfortunately!

I have agreed to do too much, as usual; there's the Christmas Party at gymnastics - next Sunday evening, the HC is going to redecorate the lounge before Christmas for me, I have almost all the Christmas presents to choose, buy and wrap, I have to prepare a Service for church for the 27th, hymns to remember how to play so need to practise, clean the house as it is a tip and I am harbouring FAR too many spiders - webs aplenty here! Meal planning - what's that? Ironing - yes, there's that to do, the washing machine is spinning so that needs rebooting asap, the chickens - oh, the poor chickens - too much mud - sorry, I am becoming a bit Virginia Woolf-ish in this rambling! My friend B's mum came to the coffee morning on Friday to help B with her stall, and then shocked everyone by having a mini-stroke that night and being hospitalised till yesterday afternoon. Poor B hasn't had much sleep, but she is coming round on Wednesday morning to marzipan our Christmas cakes (must get some apricot jam!) and do my hair for me. She may need chocolate brownies to keep her going.... And to cap all my hassles, Lakeland has lost the parcel they were sending me! They promised to re-dispatch so it will be delivered tomorrow but this second parcel hasn't got the cake stand in that I ordered as they are now out of stock, but if the first parcel should happen to turn up at any point, I am to open it and remove the cake stand from that one, and then send the rest back......

My week is looking like this -
Monday 1.30 - Governor visit to school/FH to art group
Tuesday - stay in for parcel, FH and friend to fetch more pallets, then 3pm YFG and I to gym
Wednesday - hair/marzipan/chatting with B in the morning; FH out to lunch
Thursday - FH out with deliveries/forecast to be dry day so chickens need attention
Friday - gym at 3pm with YFG
Saturday - gym from 9.30 to 1pm; promised girls trip to Ely to shops, then baking for party
Sunday - church at 9.30 then REST I hope until 4pm setting up for party, 6pm - 9pm party.

Could we just stop the world for a couple of days so that I could catch up with everyone else??

Thursday, 3 December 2009

I can't believe it - I'm fashionable!

The EFG took (with my permission) a long scarf, a bit like a pashmina, from my wardrobe earlier in the year, and likes to wear it around her neck all the time. She has the deep lilac one, and there is also a navy one in there somewhere, which she now has her eye on! Anyway, the point being that she wears it to school now that the weather has turned so cold, and it seems that she is following the latest trend - these scarves are worn by all the "in" crowd. One of them asked her today where she got hers from, so she answered, "Mum's wardrobe," to which the girl said, "Ooh, is that in Cambridge?" thinking it was a shop. The EFG had to explain that no, it was the big cupboard in the corner of Mum's bedroom!?! The EFG added as she recounted this to me tonight that the girl IS blonde...(we're not - and no disrespect intended to bright blondes - it was just the way she said it!)

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Countdown to Christmas with NORAD

I have added a link to the NORAD site at the bottom of the blog roll on the left of the page - we love to watch this on Christmas Eve to see where Santa is delivering all those parcels; he certainly moves fast! At the moment, the site is showing a very handy countdown to Christmas, although I do believe that it is probably set to US time, rather than GMT, so it is not even as long as that to Christmas.....

Again, I have been absent and I can only apologise - I just need about 28 hours in a day at the moment. This wood burner in the lounge is fabulous, but it means hoovering in there every day instead of a couple of times a week, and then there's the heap of logs to keep replenished. I do love it, though, and the warmth which it kicks out into the room is just toasty!

Sunday afternoon was the village's Christmas bazaar event - lots of stalls, school choir, village band, Father Christmas, refreshments (where you would have found me, making tea for everyone!) and it was a great afternoon. It seemed like the whole village turned out for it, so I am sure they must have made pots of money for the cause - we took £100 on the refreshments for them, so it was good.

This Friday we have a coffee morning at church, and we are having a few stalls there too, as well as the usual raffle and cakes......and the FH is also busy helping me in the book business this week. This morning, we have had to do some chicken-work in the garden. The mud in the chicken runs is several inches deep, foul-smelling and trecherous to walk on, and the poor chooks hate having wet feet. There is no way of draining it at all, so we have had to come up with a plan B: we have used some of the pallets he fetched last week to make a shelter along one side of the run, with floors, so that there is somewhere for the chickens to be during the day - it is covered, there is a perch for them to roost, and lots of straw for them to peck around in. We both got absolutely filthy making it, but I am pleased that we have made something like a small improvement for them - let's hope the chooks like it.

The FH put the new chicken house together yesterday - it went together quite well although there were a couple of little snags with the woodwork. They were nothing that he couldn't fix, but I wouldn't have had a clue on my own. Anyway, it is smart, and we are pleased with it overall, so I think that the Partridge/Black/Gold-laced Orpington crew might find themselves rehomed into it shortly as they are getting a bit big for their current accommodation.

Now, what to have for supper tonight? I should have made a longer plan, but I didn't. Add that to the "to-do" list!