Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Tuesday twitterings

I have spent a lot of time in the chicken runs today hence the twitterings in the title!! We have had a very productive day, the FH and I.

The YFG spent all day playing with her friend, T, here and there - they were here in the morning and early afternoon, lunching on HM macaroni cheese, then at 3.30pm, T's mum took them to their roller skating date. When they came back, they were skipping at T's house for a while until they returned for tea here at 8pm, playing here afterwards until 9pm when T's dad came to retrieve her for bedtime! The EFG has had a similarly sociable day, disappearing to her friend T's house (different T, obviously) until they came back here to watch DVDs. T went home at about 6.30pm and all went quiet!!

So, the FH and I have been in the garden most of the day. We have put two new windows in to the new chicken shed, because a) it was a bit dark in there and b) we were given the windows! One each side of the house has made a huge improvement to the amount of light in there, and I am so pleased with it all. I have also watered the cucumbers with 4 buckets of water from my water butt, picked a load of tomatoes and distributed them around some of the neighbours as we still have most of the last picking to eat, cleaned out a section of the chicken house and put some young chicks in to a new house and run so that they have a little more room, pulled up the beetroot (aaaargh! must go and get them in!!) and trimmed a lot of shoots off the tomato plants so that the sun can ripen the tomatoes (I know, I know, its the warmth, not the sunlight, but they get warmer when the sun can actually shine on them, surely!?!).

I have also been making some phone calls to people I needed to catch up with, and (whispers) I ordered a couple of books from Amazon - and I am now clued up to being able to earn Nectar points at Amazon - oh, the shame of all the points I have been missing out on! I am also earning Nectar points through searches on a toolbar - 50 a month - glad the new month starts tomorrow as I hit 50 a few days ago.

Just washed the kitchen floor and need to go and fold some washing now, to get a head start on tomorrow - the very last day of the school holidays!!!!!!!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Flowers everywhere

Today, we picked up the triplets at 10am and then came back home for about an hour as I wasn't quite ready to go out, so they sat with the YFG and did some art - one of them drew some exceptionally good pictures of birds, inspired by a book I gave them to work from. We went out at about 11am, heading north towards Wisbech. We just made it to the outskirts of Wisbech when one of the children, travelling backwards in the boot seats of the Volvo, said she had a headache and felt a bit sick. We stopped and moved them all around, then headed into the town to Asda to buy some Calpol. I phoned their mum to make sure it was ok to give the Calpol, and then we gave her some and she actually perked up quite quickly, thank goodness.

We got to Lutton St Nicholas church, which is over 600 years old, and had a good look around at all the lovely flower arrangements. I took some photos of the flowers and of all the girls, but the photos are now trapped on the camera as the computer wants to reformat the card, which will delete the photos, so I will be taking it to the print shop in town later in the week in the hope that the amazing chap there can rescue them for me!!

A picnic lunch was enjoyed on the grass verge where we parked the car down a lane at the side of the church, and some of the girls had a walk down the road in little groups. When we went back to Asda on the way home, the YFG, EFG and I took a triplet each and we got along very well. I have been very pleased with the way that we have adapted today to being a larger family and getting along - my own two daughters haven't hardly had a cross word all day as they have been engrossed in helping to give the other three a good time! I can't say that I would want to be a mum to 5 girls every day, but it is great to be able to help a friend out now and again. She has almost finished her decorating and is pleased with the progress she has made these past two days.

Tomorrow I haven't got to get started so early as we only have one outing planned and that is roller skating at Downham Market at 4.30pm - the YFG and her friend are going. I haven't warned her yet that the Canadian maple (I think that is what it is!) floor is going to be quite different to skate on compared with the pavement. She is looking forward to going, and at 50p for an hour, I can't complain at the value for money!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Another community eating event!

After the service at church this morning, we stayed at the chapel and played games with the children, who all brought along their favourites! There was a Cluedo tournament going on, some Scrabble, several Connect 4 championships, something new to me called Shut the Door, and lots of fun and laughter. We all had some lunch at about 12 and then carried on until about 2.30pm.

One of our church friends needed some time at home today to finish some decorating - she has had an extension built as a sort of granny annexe for her mother, and it is nearly finished. She desperately needed to get the decorating done before Wednesday when she goes back to work at the school so I took charge of her triplets today at church, and then brought them back here afterwards until 5pm so that she could press on. We are going to take them again tomorrow so I am going to be watching the weather forecast shortly so that I can decide what to do - with 5 girls in tow, it is going to be an interesting day - 3 nine year olds, an eleven year old and a 14 year old.....

The YFG has been asleep on the sofa since 8pm so she must be super-tired, but we are not having too early a start in the morning as I am going to fetch the triplets at 10am. We may not go out immediately: we'll see how ready we are by then!!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Community fun

We have had a very enjoyable evening with neighbours and friends on the estate's green space, sharing a barbeque. The weather looked dubious to start with, and we helped to put up a fairly large gazebo (a Gala tent - sturdier than your average gazebo) so that we would have some shelter if it did rain, but the weather held off and some rather black clouds just blew over! Then, later on, we saw a beautiful sunset as the sun sank amidst the few clouds scattered across a deep blue sky. The YFG played tennis with some of the neighbours, and they both rode their bikes around with some of the other children on their go-karts, and generally had a lot of fun. Someone brought along some fab luminous balloons, which were blown up later on, once the darkness had dropped in.

Good memories made tonight.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Free range fun

Leah and her four GPO offspring had a fun day out in the yard yesterday, exploring new territory for them! They couldn't quite believe it when I opened the run up and let them out!

Here's "mum" Leah - she's a grand old bird!

Two of the chicks having a little disagreement over something one of them found in the grass - along the lines of, "That's mine!" "I want some!"

Having a quick drink

With a breeze ruffling her tail feathers, Leah poses in this shot. Her 4 chicks are nearly as big as she is - and they will grow a lot bigger than her!

Burwell museum photos from Thursday afternoon

There is a Nissen hut with a room set up like a dormitory for soldiers. There are a couple of beds, and here (above) is one laid out for inspection, I believe. Very tidy and precise!

Now the sign did say "Do Not Touch" but she was fascinated when we told them that before computers, we had to use typewriters - and that they used to be "manual" before electric ones came along.

Lots of tools in the workshop - the FH could identify some of them.

The anvil - I hadn't seen one of these close up since I was at Gretna Green years ago!

The forge - blacksmiths give demonstrations occasionally so this one really does get used now and again! Glad that they have the kettle at the ready for the tea.

Real, old telephones. We had two grey ones in my house when I was a child, and then my grandmother had one of the posher looking cream ones. The girls were interested in how the exchange (below) worked - and the telephones work: four phones each had a number and could call one another - they ring the "old fashioned way".

The telephone exchange - it was interesting to see all the bits whirring and clunking away as the calls we made from one phone to another were connected.

The teacher's desk in the one-room school.

The small woodburning stove in the corner of the schoolroom.

Old fashioned desks with lift up lids. Each pair of desks are joined together.

Recycling success

The FH has truly risen to the challenge today - a chain of events triggered one another: the enclosure of the verandah to make a conservatory means that the FH wanted to be able to open the French doors from the dining room/office. That was hampered by the fact that the space in front of the doors was the only real space in the room for my big desk.......so I needed to alter the room around if he wanted the doors open. I found a computer trolley in the Argos catalogue which I thought would do the job, so I suggested that he copy it for me. It was £46, and he declared that he couldn't buy the wood for that so it would be more cost effective to buy it. I didn't rush off to Argos, but let him think about it. He thought commendably well, and decided to recycle an old TV stand that we acquired some years ago for free. It is quite similar to the version in the catalogue and does the job really well - and considering that we were given the original, it was free! £46 saved.....good result!

Today the clouds have been in the sky, and they have occasionally been rather grey - but it hasn't rained all day! The chicken runs were liberally strewn with straw today and the chooks have enjoyed scratching around all day outside. I hope that tomorrow continues in the same vein and gives the ground a chance to dry out some more.

I picked more French beans and tomatoes tonight, and we will have the beans tomorrow. UJ has sent more plums - he came to my sister's house today so the FH nipped over there this evening to pick them up. They have been de-stoned and are already in the freezer. Lots of plum crumbles on the menu this winter, I hope. UJ has also been making greengage jam and has kindly sent me a jar - it's my favourite, so I'll be hogging that!!

We have had another complaint about our chimney today. A letter from the council was awaiting us when we returned home at lunchtime - apparently someone on the estate has experienced a "possible odour nuisance". If it wasn't so ridiculous it would be funny - we haven't had the fire alight since May, I believe, so why has this person waited so long to make a complaint?!? The council rep I spoke to this afternoon is the same chap I dealt with over the last episode, and he has done the same thing: the complainant will have to keep a log over the next two weeks of every time they experience the nuisance and then he will act on it. Trouble is, in late August and early September, I am unlikely to be lighting a fire, so they are not going to get much on their log. The chap at the council is very reasonable, and so I am not afraid of this. It makes me so angry that this person is wasting the council's time, money and resources over something so silly. This time she has said that we are burning "old pallets and painted wood" - funny how that corresponds so well to a heap of pallets in the yard, and a uPVC window, which from a distance might look wooden as she will only be able to see a portion of it from her bedroom windows. I doubt anyone else can see them because of where they are positioned.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

You've been framed!

I don't know what the payout is for sending in clips to the tv programme these days, but I would have earned some money yesterday if I had had the camcorder running to video the FH tripping on uneven ground on the lawn, putting his arm out to save himself and ending up with his arm in the paddling pool up to the shoulder, which then pressed down on the pool and released some water over the top to thoroughly wet his leg as well. The F word was heard several times about the rabbits (they dug the holes which made the ground a bit bumpy), the pool (of course) and the chickens (he was helping me to herd a couple of them into their house). After realising that he was OK, I couldn't do any more than stand there in hysterical laughter, tears rolling down my face!! He had to come into the house, have a shower and get a change of clothes, poor man!!

Today has been another rainy day here in East Anglia - the chickens' runs are now beginning to look like paddy fields, the grass is looking very lush indeed and the weather man tonight has said that today has been the coldest August day for 40 years.

However, we haven't let it get us down. This morning the YFG had a quick check up at the optician as her muscles are getting lazy in her eyes so he wanted to see if they were improving - she is supposed to have been doing some exercises to help them. I knew little about this until last night - I asked him to explain them to me today so she will be doing them properly now. We have to go back for another check up in 6 months, although sooner if the headaches come back.

After a quick lunch, we all travelled to Burwell, about an hour away. There is a museum of Fen-edge village life there; we have been there before but about 4 or 5 years ago with a home-education group. It hasn't changed an awful lot, but I will blog about it properly tomorrow with some photos, I hope.

Tomorrow is another busy day - shopping for trousers for the EFG, picking up her friend to come over for a couple of hours, picking up a gym folder from the HC, the YFG's friend (hopefully) coming for a sleepover, and me finishing the massive tidy-up of the office. There's floor in here now!! I also want to get a mountain of ironing done as well before the weekend...

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The days are rushing past

The end of the holidays always accelerates! It was like this in the last 9 or 10 weeks of each pregnancy - it seemed like it had been ages to wait, but the last few weeks sped past. And now we are entering the last week of the school holiday, and the nerves and worry are beginning to show. The YFG is more and more reluctant to go to bed each evening, finding things to watch on the TV - she is watching Evan Almighty right now - and I can remember the feeling: if I don't go to bed yet, tomorrow won't come so quickly. I have the hindsight to realise that it comes just as fast, whatever time you go to bed, but she is young and doesn't have the years that I have, so I am letting her get through this the way she is choosing. All my reassurances are not having an awful lot of impact, but I am just hoping that within the first half term, she will be able to settle in, make some new friends, find her way around and generally feel OK about secondary school. She is definitely nervous, but kind of excited too.

We have some fun things planned for this last week:
Thursday - an afternoon at a museum near Cambridge in a village - we've been before and it is a great place to spend some time investigating as it is quite a "hands-on" museum - rare these days!
Friday - her friend is coming for a sleepover and the EFG also has a friend coming for a few hours.
Saturday - a community BBQ on the green.
Sunday - a church outing to Ely, picnic and fun - pray for good weather for the weekend!!
Monday - the usual band practise
Tuesday - roller skating in Downham Market with a friend at the leisure centre
Wednesday - a day to relax and make sure everything is in place for
Thursday - our own personal D-day.....

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sunshine and showers

Sunday was the day of the sunshine - what a lovely spell of weather we had yesterday! After church, we came home and just relaxed for a while, before I got the washing machine into gear. Wet weather had been forecast for this week so I knew that my best chance of getting the laundry dry was going to be yesterday, and I was right! The machine churned nearly all day and I washed and dried about 4 loads of washing - it was all line-dried and now I have to get it ironed but that will be tomorrow's work.

The YFG was a little fed up in the afternoon as all her friends were busy or out, so she put the paddling pool up, filled it with cold water and sat with her feet dangling into it, for about 2 - 3 hours in the afternoon. Truth be told, she was tired, and an afternoon of chilling out like that was just what she needed. By 6pm she had revived completely and was out on her bike on the estate with her friends, who had returned.

UJ came to tea and I was delighted to be able to serve green French beans from the garden, picked and prepared in the afternoon. The rhubarb cake was less successful as it overflowed from the tin I was trying to cook it in and flowed everywhere! We had to take it out of the oven and decant it into a bigger tray - the grill pan! - and then it was OK to be eaten as a hot pudding with ice cream rather than as a dainty cake. UJ brought greengages and Victoria plums - the greengages were stewed and then frozen whilst the Vics have gone straight into the freezer although I managed to keep a few back to eat fresh - they are gorgeous!

Then it started to rain last night, and it seems to have rained all night. The temperature dropped about 15 degrees today compared to yesterday, and it was much fresher this morning although the humidity built up again as the temperatures climbed through the day. I looked out at the pool that the YFG had covered up and left out hopefully and it was hard to believe that it was just yesterday that she had sat out there in her pink swimsuit, towel over her head for a sunshade, feet dangling in the water!!

Today, the EFG and I had dental appointments. The EFG had to have some root canal work on a molar finished off, but I was lucky and was just booked in for a clean. After that, the library and various stops around town kept us out and about until nearly 3pm. The EFG was unable to go to her band practice tonight as she still had some numbness in her mouth and lips, but the YFG and FH went to theirs in the village - and I went along for the second hour to listen. The teacher is very good and is making it a challenge for the YFG, but she is also very patient with the FH and his trombone.

The chicks in the lounge are all doing well, and given that there are 16 of them in one box, I shall have to sort out a second box for them tomorrow and split them into two groups. There is one that is definitely a Light Sussex, but the rest are GPO or Brown Sussex, I think.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Another birthday celebration in the Fens

The EFG turned 14 today - I can't believe it has been so long since I was just a brand new mum struggling with a newborn and totally scared!! We have come such a long way since then....
The YFG was at her sleepover last night, so we opened the EFG's presents quite quietly this morning and she was pleased to get all she asked for - a big pack of Sharpies, new CD, Remember Me DVD and her phone, to replace the one that got washed. I took her to the cinema to see The Last Airbender - which was good, I have to say. I was dubious, but I'd go to see the sequel if it is made. We then hit Tesco to buy the ingredients for her birthday tea, and then came home and collapsed - she to read her new book that she bought yesterday and me to mull over the newspaper. My legs were seriously aching from yesterday's walking, so I really wasn't up to doing much this afternoon!

I made the tea quite late, and we ate at about 8pm, so we are now getting ready to head towards bed. It's been a nice day, but the last few days have taken their toll on the YFG, what with yesterday's outing, the sleepover and then a swimming party today - she is exhausted!

UJ has been away to Wiltshire for nearly a week, so he is coming over tomorrow to share his news and have some tea. I think he will be bringing plums too - if they are the right kind, I may try to make some plum chutney as we have plenty of frozen plums already so it might be a good idea to try something new with this batch!!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Chick success - again

This is the biggest hatch so far - we have 15 chicks in the brooder box, and one further chick still fluffing up in the incubator! All the 15 look healthy and are lovely and fluffy, so I am hoping that they all make it through to adulthood.

That makes our total hatching of chicks about 40 this year - the most we have ever hatched ourselved in one year. And it doesn't include the 4 GPOs that Leah has brought off as she has done that herself!

Fakenham Wanderers

No, it's not a football team, although it does sound like one! The FH took the girls out yesterday, with the aim of going to Fakenham market, and then perhaps on to the coast. They left here shortly before 10am and by 10.31am I had had a text from the EFG to the effect that they were "sort of" lost. "Dad doesn't really know where we are," she said, when I phoned to see what was going on. He had taken them to Downham Market, and then thought he would head for Swaffham before turning north. It didn't go according to his plan, but by some small miracle, they did end up in Fakenham by lunchtime!

They pootled around the market, bought the wonderful and much preferred doughnuts from Morrisons, and then ate their lunch. They moved on to Sheringham, went to Kelling Heath and then to Holt, where they bought old-fashioned sweets at the upmarket independent department store that is "Bakers & Larners of Holt" and then they came home. I was relieved to get them home together!! They reported that they had a lovely day, which pleased me.

I spent the day at home - I dealt with the chickens, made a couple of loaves of french bread, some pizzas and a chocolate cake, tidied up, exercised, read a little, watered the garden, and generally plodded around here at my own speed - it was very peaceful.

The teatime event was their friends, T & her brother G, coming for pizzas. They stayed until about 9pm when I had to take them home in the car - they live just around the corner - less than 5 minutes walk but the rain was coming down so heavily and persistently that we would all have been drenched. We were all ready for bed early last night.

This morning, we took T & G and their mum and went to Cambridge to the Fitzwilliam Museum as they had never been there before. The car was parked and we went in to the city on the Park and Ride bus - which my girls find a novelty as we don't use the buses out here in the wilderness as they never go where we need to be! We had a fair walk from the bus station then to the museum, which made everyone hungry, so we had to stop for a snack when we got there. After checking in our bags, we began the tour - there is so much to see there, we could have taken longer, but I think our legs would have given out! The Egyptian rooms were first on the list, then the Greek and Roman exhibitions, before we went through to the pottery area and china exhibits - there was a pair of china chickens which I loved, and a chicken tureen as well - a huge chicken with babies on her back, and the whole thing opened up to serve the soup!!

We saw a lot of art in the galleries, although none of us were impressed with the modern art. There are two John Constable paintings which I did like - much more my sort of art. Unfortunately the gallery where the Lowry is was closed, which disappointed me a little as I do find that amusing. There were several paintings with women with exposed breasts which little boys find funny - and they weren't nude women, just women who had one hanging out in a slightly bizarre way!!

After the museum, we nipped into the shopping area of the city before we headed back to the bus stop. I went to Lakeland for loaf-tin liners and a few other bits, whilst the others browsed in Waterstone's - and some book purchases were made in there - although I did manage NOT to buy a cookery book which was some feat as they had a huge selection and I am sure I could have found one or two I liked!!

The YFG has gone off to another sleepover tonight, and tomorrow will bring a cinema trip for me with the EFG for her birthday (14!!!) and the YFG has a birthday party at the swimming pool to look forward to with her friend from gymnastics.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Chicken developments

'Tis all happening again - there are six little chicks in the brooder box tonight, which have been hatching out since the first emerged last night. There are at least two more in the process of getting out of the shells.

When this hatch is done, there are enough Light Sussex eggs to have a clutch of those in the incubator, and then that will be that for the hatching this year. We have retired the Brown Sussex ladies to their "nunnery" for the next four months to rest and recuperate away from Lancelot, and the other ladies will be moving houses as soon as I get their all-female accommodation sorted out. The BS ladies were the most urgently in need of a rest as Lancelot has become very amorous and one of them has hardly any feathers on her back at all - I shall be looking into a saddle for her for next season, I think. She's obviously the favourite wife and gets most of the attention.

Got to go to bed now - tired!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Tuesday torrents

The rain is really coming down again tonight! I was in Downham Market on St Swithin's Day, although I hadn't realised what day it was until one of the ladies in a shop remarked upon it - and it was a damp and drizzly day; she said it would rain for 40 days - she wasn't far wrong!!

I'm not complaining as my grass is much greener than it was a week ago, and it hasn't rained all day - it has only just begun, about 15 minutes ago, and we are finished with our garden work for today. The FH has been busy out there again today, and now he is up a ladder in the kitchen, swearing mildly about the people who installed the kitchen and put a plug in a socket and then installed trunking to the extractor fan, imprisoning the plug in its socket. The fuse appears to have blown in the plug now, as the extractor fan has ceased to work, but it is going to be a Major job to uninstall all the stuff to get the plug out of the socket.......oh dear!

The YFG went to a sleepover last night and only returned at lunchtime; the EFG went to an event in the village hall this afternoon and returned having made a sock puppet. I took the YFG uniform shopping this afternoon, and we came back about £100 lighter of pocket. I'm going to have to stop feeding her for a while so that the uniform fits for a year or two. The EFG needed a new jumper and a new pair of PE shorts, so they were included as well. We also bought some socks! Now I think that all we need to do is visit the school shoe shop and we should be set.

Plans for the rest of the week - the FH has decided to take the girls to Fakenham to have a poke around the market on Thursday, and I am hoping to go to Cambridge on Friday with them, to go to the Fitzwilliam Museum, a big favourite, so fingers crossed that it doesn't rain all day xxxxx.

The latest hatch is due tomorrow in the big blue incubator - but there is a chick out already, cheeping away, sitting on top of some of the other eggs. I hope it will have some mates by morning.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A Slow Saturday

The YFG had a sleepover here last night with her friend, H, and I am told that they were watching a film until well past midnight, but I was fast asleep just after 10pm. I woke early at 5.30 but noted the time and dropped off again - with the blissful feeling of being able to snuggle down for another couple of hours. I eventually woke up and lay reading for another half an hour, before deciding that I really had to get up at 8.30 as the hens would be getting restless!!

The girls had pancakes for breakfast for a treat, and then they packed the bedding away from where they had slept on the lounge floor, and they disappeared outside to play. I pootled around for a couple of hours, doing odd jobs, and then at around 1.30pm, we went out to lunch in Huntingdon. Unfortunately, I had lemonade and not a lot else as the pub chain has changed the menu and the safe salad I used to have there is no more.....I could have asked them to concoct it, as the ingredients were all there in other dishes, but I just wasn't that hungry.

We came home, and there was a torrential downpour this afternoon, so we watched from the verandah as the water fell out of the sky in stair-rods! It has dried up now, but the ground was very muddy earlier on. By 7pm, I was just getting into my stride - better late than never - and I cleaned out three chicken houses, and orchestrated some moving of chickens from one house to another: the second bunch of growers who were on the lawn are now in the chicken shed, with a run; the youngest group who were in the lounge are also in the chicken shed, but without outside access yet, as they are too young. This means that all the pens in the shed are now in use - it is full up!! And the FH has got the electricity installed as well - so there is light!!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Friday flop!

It's a flop of exhaustion, not a disaster of any kind! This week has been so much fun one way or another, but such hard work that I am glad that it is Friday night and I can flop out and not worry about going anywhere or doing anything at a particular time tomorrow - there is no schedule to follow and I can relax a little!

Yesterday we had a Taster Session at gym for about 27 brand new kids, who just came along for an hour to see what we do and have a go. It was good, but it was manic, and I got landed with all the really little kids - the 4 and 5 year olds. They were seriously hard work, but quite rewarding to work with. They have such short attention spans that they really kept me on my toes in order to keep them all engaged and listening. About 15 of the kids' parents said that they would like to sign their kids up for the new term in September, so I count that as successful - and more people have been looking at the website these past two days than have ever looked at it before, so I guess that yesterday sparked some interest.

Today has been the YFG's 11th birthday. We took some cake and snacks to gym and had a little party at the end of the session, which was excellent. The kids have been really well behaved all week, and they were brilliant today. The YFG asked for a new phone and an iPod for her birthday, which she has received, and I also added in a large bar of chocolate. Her friends have given her stationery, nail varnish, Maltesers and lots of cards. Relatives have sent her money, and our new neighbours very kindly gave her a giftcard for Tesco. She has invited her friend, H, here for a sleepover tonight. We were going to go to Sheringham tomorrow but the weather is dire at the moment and we didn't fancy mooching around Sheringham in the rain, so we have postponed that, and we are just going to go out for a meal together at a very reasonable restaurant in Huntingdon tomorrow.

The EFG's birthday is next Saturday, so I've got to complete the shopping for that this week. She also wants a new phone!

The lawn is loving the rain as it is helping it to recover from all the really dry weather we had, but the rain is making the chicken runs very muddy - I expect it in November but not in August. I'll have to do some digging tomorrow for them, and perhaps put some straw down as well to help them keep their feet a little more dry.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hello - waving quickly!

Just to say that we are still here but growing tired!! Early start in the morning, leaving here by 8.10am, so off to bed now. Highlights of today, briefly - morning at gym, afternoon haircuts - and they are good! I am so pleased with the way B has cut my hair today - thanks, B!! Night, all!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Gymnastics holiday club week begins with a bang!

We went to the gym early this morning to set the equipment out. We had decided that today we would use the big trampolines, and a floor area in the big sports hall, instead of all the usual equipment. This would be by way of a "treat" for the gymnasts as they don't often get the chance to use the big trampolines. All was going well - we had the floor area prepared and moved on to setting out the trampolines. I know nothing about trampolines and was just taking instruction from the HC and the Sports Centre Manager. Then the HC lifted a bar and another part of a trampoline fell on to his foot.

The air didn't turn blue, but I am sure he must have been thinking the words in his head, as he was clearly in a lot of pain. A few minutes later he seemed to go into shock as he went very pale, clammy and sweaty, and looked as he would faint at any minute. We got him sitting down, and after about 15 minutes, he recovered from that. The pain in his foot was obviously still there, but he soldiered on and we began the session as the gymnasts had arrived by then. He sat on a chair and gave instructions.

Some time later, the SCM and I convinced him to let the SCM take him to the local minor injuries unit, where they diagnosed a couple of broken bones in his foot, plastered it with a basic plaster construction and made him an appointment at the hospital fracture clinic for tomorrow morning. The SCM brought him back to the gym and I took him home after we had packed up at lunchtime.

After all that drama, I was glad to get home at about 3pm for a sit down and a big mug of tea. The EFG went to one of her friends' houses to watch a DVD, and the YFG went to another friend's to have a water fight - the temperature has been 27 degrees here this afternoon so she got her swimsuit out and had some fun.

This evening has been band practise here, there and everywhere. We came home and I have made the tea and will shortly be heading off to bed as I am quite tired tonight and my legs really ache! I got caught out this morning as I did a different Davina DVD, one I hadn't done before, and it lasted 45 minutes instead of the usual 30, so that put me behind a little this morning, and I don't think I have caught up all day. Tomorrow I am going to have to ask the dentist for an emergency appointment for the YFG as she has chipped her tooth today somehow and is saying that it hurts! Happy days - what will come next?!?

Sunday, 8 August 2010


One of the GPOs has put paid to the GPO breeding for the year today - she sneaked under the wire into the next-door run, had a rendezvous with the Silver Laced Wyandotte cockerel and then went back to her own cockerel's pen.......she'll be fertile by the SLW for a month, and although the FH saw the whole thing, he can't tell which GPO she was, so we will have keep any eggs from them from today onwards out of the incubators. Ho Hum! By the time the month is up, it'll be too late to incubate any more......

I have been researching my Brussbar plans some more today, and boy, is it hard work!?! Apparently, someone somewhere actually has a flock of these, but won't let any be sold. I'm now wondering if I could at least find out who he is, then I could ask some advice.

Apart from that, we have been to chapel this morning for the service to celebrate the Holiday Club. We had a cake made with the Landlubbers logo on the top of it, and it was enjoyed by all the congregation after the service. We also announced this morning that we will be having a chapel outing later in the month, and there was a positive response to that straight away. It is only a picnic in a park at Ely, weather permitting, but I am sure we will all enjoy it. Between now and then we'll just be praying for a nice, sunny day.

The FH has been busy this afternoon, having a snooze, then doing some tidying up, and now watching James Bond in "Live and Let Die", one of his favourite Bond films. He can't understand how I can read a book time and time again and still get something new from it each time, but he can watch re-runs of films time after time and still enjoy them. I think it is because he often dozes off, so he probably catches a bit he missed last time, which keeps it fresh for him!!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Fens in photos

Above we have the Colonel and his ladies - well, 4 out of 5 of his ladies, anyway!

Now we have some of the young GPO chicks who are out in the new shed along with some Brown Sussex youngsters, all growing up together. The feathers have begun to change on the GPOs and I think that I have three cockerels and three hens. It's a bit too soon for my novice eye to sort the Brown Sussex out just yet.

You'd think these guys were posing for me but it is just a lucky shot of the five of them together like this. These are the GPO parent stock, almost a year old now as they were hatched late last August.

Here's my beautiful Lancelot, posing with a wife in the background. He gets more lovely each day - and yes, I am soppy over a cockerel but he IS gorgeous - and so sensible!

My "new" potting shed - interior above and exterior below. The FH has worked hard for several days on this, and has done a grand job - we are both very pleased with how it has turned out. The bikes and lawn mower will be going in there too.

Cherry tomatoes are flourishing - we can't eat them fast enough - but they are delicious.

The courgettes keep producing - and we are eating them daily.

Some of the latest hatch, still living in the lounge - lamps are on only at night now. This is the box we dowsed as female and there is Tarquetta, the blonde one.

My American Vanilla Cupcakes, with their secret ingredient, courgettes! From the Chocolate Heartache book by Harry someone or other - lovely cakes - bad for the diet though!!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Rain in the Fens

These are the pirates' "Pieces of Eight" some of which are hidden around the room each day for the teams to find and then arrange in the right order. The children don't seem to realise that in doing so five times, they are actually learning a memory verse. Philippians 3:8 is the verse around which the whole Holiday Club is centred.
(click on the photo to enlarge so that you can read the verse on the coins)

If it wasn't that the wind has been so warm today, one could have been forgiven for thinking that it was October already! I really don't know where the summer has gone - the weather forecasters tell us that the "summer" we had in May and June was because the jetstream was being pushed north of us, allowing highs to come in, but now the jetstream has sunk to cover the UK, we are getting wet low after wet low off the Atlantic. What's the betting that the new term in September will bring an Indian Summer again, and we'll all be basking in early Autumn sunshine. My birthday is in September so maybe we can have a BBQ then!!

The Landlubbers have had a busy day today, making a board game of their own invention based on a map of the island. They made counters, and dice, and we laminated the maps to make them a little more durable. There was much "Heave-ho-ing" and "Yo-ho-ing" too, games played, songs sung, prayers prayed, and the play applauded again. The young actresses and actor are doing a grand job - some of them have even learned their lines.

This afternoon, after a long lunch break, I had to go to town to pick up some new T-shirts for the coaches at gym, to retrieve my sewing machine from a friend who borrowed it to alter a dress, to return a packet of ham to Sainsbury's that had started to blow up (so we chucked the ham as instructed and just returned the packet for a refund, with the receipt) and to go to the library, where I have stocked up again. I do seem to be getting through the books at a good rate - I wonder whether my late night reading sessions are having any bearing on my tiredness!?!

On our return, I had a little nap! It was then 7pm before I dispatched the girls to go and feed the hens and collect the eggs whilst I rustled up some instant food. Some people would have had takeaway, but we do instant food on a night like this - Fray Bentos pie from a tin, Smash and beans! Three meals for less than £2.50, and I ate leftovers from last night at lunchtime so I didn't want much myself so I've just had a cup of tea and a cake.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Pirates are getting weary!

One of the clues that the Landlubbers had to solve today - the YFG had great fun "ageing" the paper for me at the weekend. There are several of these clues to solve each day.

The Landlubbers are still having a lot of fun, but I have to say as one of the pirates in charge of the action, I am getting tired!! The daily routine doesn't leave much room for a sit down with a cup of tea to recuperate, and the children are very vociferous in their enjoyment of the holiday club! I am very pleased at how well it is all going, but I will be very glad to go and have a bath and get to bed tonight.

After lunch today I took the girls to Ely, which is some distance but a city we really love to visit. There are some lovely shops there which we love to poke around in, shops that we don't have in our nearby towns - Wilkinsons and the Card Factory for stationery and writing stuff, a bigger WHSmith than we are used to, the market stalls, a great cycle and toy shop, Costas - we don't go in, but I do love to smell the coffee as we walk by! We also made use of the trip to have a look at their Tesco and get the things on the list for this week - as well as some paint for the holiday club as we are running short.

We came home from Ely to find that the FH had almost finished erecting the second-hand shed he was given the other week. 'Tis in need of some minor repairs, but he has it all under control, and has even built me a potting bench along one side. The bikes and the lawn mower will be taking up the other side. A friend got us some free felt (No, not off the back of a lorry!) for the roof, so that will be going on shortly and it will look very respectable.

This evening we had some friends' children here whilst Mum worked and Dad played golf, except that they weren't here very long as Mum's client didn't turn up, which was very frustrating for her. She's a holistic therapist, so people pay each time they come for treatment, but she has had a few people not turning up lately so she has had to start charging them for the missed slots, as she has had to heat her treatment room for them, put her time aside for the appointment and make arrangements for her children with me or her husband. She is now phoning them and telling them that they have to pay half the cost of the treatment, which I think is more than fair.

I've also had the sad news this week of the end of a friend's marriage - this has hit her out of the blue and her husband has moved out within just a couple of days of breaking the news to her. She will clearly be in need of support from all her friends over the coming months. It makes me so upset to hear of yet another relationship which has ended - one of my other friends had something similar happen to her just in May, but that was a mutual thing, so it was slightly different. The FH and I have been together 18 years come October, and I count it as one of my greatest blessings.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Landlubbers Ahoy!

The backdrop for the Landlubbers drama which is part of the holiday club.

It is a shame that I can't share the rest of the photos on the blog, but I can't! They would show you the joy on the children's faces as they were singing the songs, doing the actions, enjoying the craft activity, tucking into the Galley Rations, and working on the clues. The club was a lot of fun this morning, and we have got everything prepared for tomorrow. The church members who made this fantastic backdrop from a pair of old curtains and some emulsion paint should be getting a medal - it is a tremendous achievement.

It'll just be a quick post tonight as there is still quite a bit to do around here tonight, so I'm off!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Monday's musings

We started out on a roll and have slowed down somewhat as the day has progressed. I managed to get up, exercise, eat breakfast, feed chickens, water the garden, shower and be dressed and ready to go by 9.55am, with the kids only a step behind me. We had to go to the chapel to put up the backdrops for the Holiday Club drama; the Holiday Club starts tomorrow, so it will be all systems go there for a week.

After all that rushing, I slowed right down and almost stopped as I mulled the week ahead over and drank some tea. The FH went to his art club this morning, so I had a little bit of an early lunch, and the girls fended for themselves - tomato soup was on their menu, apparently. This afternoon, my early morning watering of the garden was proved unnecessary when we had a heck of a storm and torrents of water came out of the sky. I put some extra buckets out and caught some of it for the cucumber plants, and the poor chickens all retreated in to the house.

I strained the goose fat from yesterday's roast and I have it now in six sterilised jam jars, but it looks more like honey right now than goose fat. The wisdom of other home-fat-producers says that this kind of home-produced goose fat will probably keep for 3-4 months, so we'll see - if only I could keep it till Christmas! I bought some last year, and going on their prices, I've probably got about £30 worth of it. Hoping that it will solidify.

This evening, the YFG and FH went to the village band, and the EFG went to the band practise in the nearby town. All are making progress. I started on the shopping for the birthdays - the YFG has made her final decisions and so I have bought her iPod, engraved with her name, from the Apple store online - it should be here by Thursday, and then I got the phone she wanted from Argos tonight. There was a little contretemps in the shop as the online price was £5 cheaper than the one that came up on the till, so the manager had to be called to override the till. She did, so I was pleased. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise, as the YFG is seriously pushing the budget for this birthday - those two items are it this year. The EFG has less expensive tastes (but then she already has a phone and an iPod) so she wants a CD and a DVD, so far, but she has a week or so longer to go till her birthday. Both will get cakes of their choice too.

I have also been on the phone and the computer to arrange courses for the Head Coach and I for gym, and then to get an orthodontist appointment for the YFG and to change a hospital appointment for the EFG - I have already had to change that one once so the bookings lady was a little short with me. Oh dear.

I am so looking forward to September, not because the children will be back at school (hate that bit!) but because it symbolises a fresh beginning and I love those! I'll be spending some time thinking in the holidays about what this fresh beginning is going to mean to us in the Fens.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Special Sundays

Just lately Sundays have been a day for entertaining visitors, and today has been no different: UJ has been here for tea, to share in roast goose.

My fellow worship leader and I led the service at chapel this morning, and then we had a general chatting time of fellowship after the service as we usually do, so we were there until about 11.15am. One of the older ladies needed a carrot cake recipe, and some eggs, so I photocopied my favourite recipe and nipped back up to the village with those for her. I wonder what her cake turned out like as she was going to substitute the raisins for cherries - I am not sure about that flavour combination, but she only has herself to please, so perhaps she likes it.

This afternoon, the FH and I sat in companionable silence for a while as I read another Annie Sanders book from the library and he had a snooze. He had done a little work on the chicken emporium, but had had enough for one day. UJ turned up at about 2.30pm with new potatoes, new carrots (I wish someone would bottle the smell of fresh dug new carrots!) and plums so the FH set to and prepped the plums for the freezer, scraped some potatoes and carrots for tea and peeled apples for apple sauce too. We put the goose in the oven on a rack and had to empty the fat from the pan three times, as so much had drained from the goose as it was cooking.

The YFG had a busy afternoon playing with various friends from neighbouring houses, so I had to round her up at 7pm, and then we ate. I don't think that I like goose so much that I would buy one, but having one donated made a nice change. The meat is quite strong and dark so it has a distinct flavour - but the girls cleared their plates, so they must have approved! To follow, I made a treat: jam roly poly made with plum jam and served with soya cream. That disappeared quite quickly!

This evening, the FH, UJ and the YFG have watched the European Athletics and then The Transporter, whoever he is, and the EFG joined me in the conservatory to watch Sherlock. I hadn't watched the first episode last week, and she begged me to watch it with her this week; I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is, but I couldn't help remembering the actor who played Dr Watson for his role in Love Actually - at least in Sherlock, he keeps his clothes on!!

The hens must approve of their new house as the egg laying has improved considerably amongst the Light Sussex, but we must get the finishing touches in place as some of the pens are still short on perches, and the nest boxes have straw but really need some shavings in the bottom to give the eggs a softer landing as I have had a couple which are cracked at the end where they have been expelled onto the bottom of the nestbox.

Birthdays are looming - the YFG next Friday and then the EFG the Saturday afterwards - present lists are beginning to appear!!