Saturday, 30 July 2011

Clean and tidy

Cleaning is all I seem to have been doing all day!

I cleaned the chooks out this morning, which was an intensely dusty job, and then I had to clean myself by having a shower. I have cleaned lots of clothes, using the washing machine, of course and they have blown beautifully on the line - resulting in Mount Ironmore. Can't worry about that tonight, though! I have cleaned the kitchen up after the YFG and her friend made cupcakes, and I have cleaned the downstairs cloakroom.......

We are off to bed now! Looking forward to going to see the EFG and FH tomorrow at UJ's house - and my cousin and her parents are coming to see him and share tea with us all, so it will really be a day of rest and chatting - can't wait!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Domestic days

I have enjoyed quite a bit of cooking the last few days - a lemon curd marathon yesterday produced six jars, and today I have cooked and bottled in vinegar a large number of beetroot for the FH's lunches. He loves to have some crispbreads with salad and beetroot. He likes all manner of pickles and vinegary things, which I can't abide, so they are his and his alone...

The YFG has been to the optician this morning and given a year's guarantee, and I picked up my new glasses, and some contact lenses to try. I had some last year and they dry my eyes out terribly so I haven't worn them much, but these new ones are supposed to be different - and they are more expensive - so now I need to check out Lensway's website and see if I can get them any cheaper!

I treated the YFG to a few streaks of a very subtle colour in her hair this afternoon, after borrowing a streaking cap from my friend who does our hair. We had bought a semi-permanent colour this morning and she was itching to try it out. She was going to do a skin test before we did it for real, but didn't read the instructions properly and mixed the stuff up completely, which they then say you have to use "immediately" so we took a chance and used it. To be fair, it hardly touched her head at all as she had the cap on, so it wasn't as much of a chance as it would have been doing her whole head. She now has some subtle tones of warmer colour through her dark blonde hair. I can see it because I know it is there, but I doubt a stranger would realise!

The EFG had a wonderful day at the Botanic Garden in Cambridge yesterday - I was very surprised to find out that there were only 7 of them on the course as I was imagining that she would have about 15 or 20 people there. The EFG made a friend of a girl from Lincolnshire, from Boston, so that girl must have had quite a journey to get there. They did all sorts of things with bread (yeast being an organism) and fermenting other things too, and walked around the garden. She says she has even been inspired by the garden with some new ideas for her art homework, so double whammy there - biology AND art!

The FH is getting a little bored and fed up with his caring duties, and given that he tells me that UJ has been hoeing the garden today, I guess that he won't need to be there much longer, although there are still some things that UJ needs a hand with. By the end of next week, though, I am hoping that the FH will be home. Really hoping! We are missing him here too.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Fab Fern

Oh, dear - I stayed awake until 12.40am this morning to read Fern Britton's book - New Beginnings - I just couldn't put it down! It is a romantic read with some twists and turns, and all ends up jolly nicely, with the heroine getting her man at the end, but I really enjoyed it, and just had to know what happened before I turned off the light........

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Brave girl

The EFG has survived the tooth extraction today, and is recovering well. She sat in the car whilst I had to do some shopping, and then she laid on the sofa when we got home, and watched a DVD for a couple of hours. She is up and about now though, and thinking about tidying her room - still. It has been an ongoing project for about three days, and still isn't done - it's a major re-arrangement job.

I have lost my enthusiasm for tidying, or doing much at all, to be honest, today. I have had the trip to town with her today, and I have done the things that needed doing, but rather than do the challenging stuff, I am thinking about going to bed now with a new book....we had some vouchers for WHSmith, so we spent them! I do have a heap of ironing to do, but that will be there in the morning.

The YFG is coming home tomorrow, when the FH and UJ come back to the village for their lunch club. She has missed us, and been quite vocal on the phone about coming home, but this time away has been good for her! She has certainly caught up with her sleep, so she should be full of beans. The EFG will be going back with them tomorrow afternoon, so that they can take her into Cambridge early on Thursday to attend a Gifted and Talented Biology workshop at the Botanic Gardens. She is looking forward to that; she attended one at the end of Y7 which was a week at the Engineering Dept of Cambridge University, then at the end of Y8 she did a 2 day Writing workshop at the UEA in Norwich, which she loved. Last year, the courses on offer were a bit strange and she didn't fancy any of them, but this time I found this one just at the last minute and there were some places left - and best of all, this one is free! I hope she enjoys the day.

The garden is getting over run with weeds in a couple of the raised beds, and I am going to have to attack them with some weedkiller on a still day, because they are thick with couch grass which is impossible for me to dig out. If I can get them clear soon, I will be able to sow a winter nitrogen crop, ready to dig in in the spring - at least, I think that is the plan, but I have never done it before. There is always a first time.

The EFG will be thinking about which A level courses to apply for come the Autumn, so we will be attending open days at local 6th form colleges, and considering her options. At the moment, she wants to be a teacher, so A levels are definitely on the cards, but her thoughts currently involve Biology, ICT and Art, which seems like a strange combination, so I think we had better take some advice on that! Any teachers out there who care to shed any light on the matter - feel free!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Moving out

The YFG has gone to stay with the FH and UJ until Wednesday, so the EFG and I have had a day at home, pottering around. We had a long sleep in this morning, not waking until past 9, so the first thing I had to do was feed and water the poor chooks, who must have thought that they had been forgotten!

I have done several loads of washing today to take advantage of the sunshine. I am keeping an eye on our electricity consumption, and reading the meter every Monday, so that was done this morning too. We are using about 140 units a week - that has been the rough average of the past 9 weeks, which is coming in at about £18 a week; this doesn't include the monthly standing charge. I want to see what I can do to reduce the amount we are using, and to see if I can find a cheaper supplier. I have looked a couple of times, and got cheaper unit rates and then been stung with a higher standing charge, so I am being very wary.

I have changed our telephone to BT, but then the broadband has been a nightmare - it was ordered at the same time and has been cancelled twice by BT, and now the MAC has expired so I have had to ask my present company for a new one, which I am now waiting for. I am afraid that I will be without broadband for a time whilst the handover eventually takes place as I had to give the company I am with a month's notice, which I did, and now it may not get taken over in time.......if it wasn't for the fact that BT is so much cheaper than the present arrangement, I would have told them where to go by now. It has been very frustrating. Because I am afraid of not having internet at all for a while, I can't put any of our stuff on eBay at the moment, and the EFG has quite a pile of odds and ends she wants to pass on to new homes.

The EFG is doing her agony aunt bit tonight with a friend - that friend called last night at past 11pm, and they are chatting away now - the girl only lives half a mile up the road, and they could have got together in daylight, but she leaves it until this time of night to talk every time.

The YFG has been on the telephone several times today. She was bored this morning, and called to see if I would fetch her home!! I said no. The pace of life there IS much slower, but I think it will be good for her to slow down for a couple of days, and have less stimulation to be constantly doing something. Apparently she has been for a walk to the park with the FH this afternoon, helped him with some shopping and some gardening, and had a snooze on the sofa this evening, so it does sound as if she is catching up on some sleep, just like we did this morning.

Tomorrow the EFG is having a tooth out, so I know she will be squeezing my hand hard whilst she is in the dentist's chair. If I can't type tomorrow, you'll know why!

Sunday, 24 July 2011


Gosh - what a week to end the term! There has been a lot going on, and we have finally made it to the summer holidays - thank goodness. The FH has been home today and taken the YFG back with him to UJ's house for a few days, so the EFG and I are about to settle down to watch a DVD together.

Hope everyone is well - our thoughts are with the people of Norway today, and I am also hoping that our friends in America are coping with the heatwave as I know that Ohio (where my friend C and her family are) is pretty warm, according to the weather map in the newspaper!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Relaxing on Sunday

The girls and I slept in, pottered over to UJ's house for lunch, had a lovely meal with UJ and the FH, mooched around his garden, wandered home about 4pm and then relaxed through the evening! It was altogether a relaxed day, and it did us good.

UJ is doing well; he is increasingly mobile, and getting around the house remarkably well. The district/community nurses are keeping an eye on him regularly and seem to be saying that all is going in the right direction.

We are missing the FH terribly here! The house is not the same without him, and it has been very quiet here today whilst the girls have been at school, but I have had enough to do to keep me occupied, and I have even watched tv whilst I was shredding a huge heap of old papers!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

What a week it has been

It feels like it has been a really long week, because we have done so much, but on the other hand, it has flown by. UJ went into hospital on Monday morning, and then Tuesday my dad visited him, my sister went in on Thursday and then the FH and EFG fetched him home last night. I spoke to him on the phone daily to see how he was doing.

Thursday the FH and I went to UJ's house to do a bit of preparation work for him coming home, and brought two chairs back to our house for the FH to work on them - they needed to be higher so he made a frame to put under each one to raise them up to the right height. So UJ has a chair to sit on in the sitting room where the TV is, but also one in the living room, where much of the time is spent - he doesn't watch a lot of TV.

So I have also had gymnastics, school meetings and household and garden stuff to continue to do. The garden is producing courgettes like mad, and I haven't had time to do things with them to preserve them, so I have just been giving them away at the moment. There will be time to do more later! The chickens are also giving us nearly two dozen eggs a day....I see courgette omelettes on the menu.

The freezer at UJ's house now contains sweet and sour turkey, chicken curry, beef casserole, bolognese sauce and some sausages. The meals are pretty much ready to defrost and heat, and all the FH has to do is prepare some potatoes and veg, or some rice or pasta to accompany the meat part of the meal. The FH will be there with UJ for some time - at least whilst he is on crutches. They are calling the house a home for retired gentlemen at the moment, and I am sure they will be fine there together. My dad lives quite close by and will pop in on them often, and the girls and I are going back tomorrow for Sunday lunch. Once school is finished next week, we will be able to spend more time there too.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Hip Hip Hooray

A rather cheesy title, I do apologise - but UJ had his hip replacement operation yesterday and so far, it seems to have been successful. He is in hospital in Cambridge and I am over 35 miles away, so I haven't been to see him yet, but my dad went in today and reports that he is "nicely" - so that is excellent news. I spoke with UJ briefly on the ward telephone this morning, when he requested a bottle of orange squash to make the water more palatable, and he said that the pain from the op is bearable, but they are giving him plenty of medications.

We are gearing up for him to possibly come home on Thursday or Friday, so we are going to his house on Thursday morning to do some jobs - make a bed for the FH, have a look in the cupboards and see what shopping I need to get in for him and UJ, and probably do some watering in the garden. The FH also has to put some blocks under a chair for UJ to sit in so that it is higher and more comfortable for him.

I think that my sister may visit him tomorrow, and I know my dad will be pleased to see him home again, as he has been worrying about him! He is not my dad's brother, but they have known one another a very long time, through my mum, who was UJ's sister.

Home on the range, there are the earliest runner beans ready already! They are a variety called Teeny Beany, and they are very small, but perfectly formed. We had the first dwarf beans yesterday - and the courgettes - I am giving them away to anyone and everyone. I took some to school on Friday, and last night I sent a visitor home with 4 and told him that if he didn't like them, he could give them to his neighbours!!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Saying "no"

I've been practising saying "no" to things - and although I am not doing great, I have resisted getting involved in something new. The girls are involved in Guides, and this weekend has been a key time that they have been expecting help - the parade on Saturday involved decorating a float in advance, organising costumes, chaperoning the float, and today - dismantling it all. I would have got stuck in, and gladly helped, but I didn't. I deliberated, and then I stood back and let others do it. I have to say that it didn't feel great, and I do feel a bit guilty, but on the other hand, I know that if I give an inch, they will take a mile, and I don't have it to give.
However, I did help with the morning service today, and although there weren't a lot of the usual congregation there today, we had fun with the parable of the sower, and the prayers for Action For Children Sunday. That is a charity associated with the Methodist church, and it does a lot of good work with children and families.

The EFG isn't feeling great, so she and I are having a little Torchwood festival this afternoon, watching some DVDs in preparation for the new series, series 4, which is starting on Thursday evening. To say we are looking forward to it would be an understatement...we have series 1 & 2 on DVD but I wasn't that impressed with series 3 which aired over 5 consecutive nights, so I haven't bought that ("yet" says the EFG). It will be weird to have new characters in this series, as there are only 2 of the original cast members, Jack and Gwen, left. And it seems to be moving to America as well, so that will add interest. Any of you fans?

Chicks again

You can guess that we are rather preoccupied with chicks at the moment here in the Fens! Having about 29 of them (18 + 11) at early stages of development does rather concentrate the mind.

The 11 older ones have just spent their first night outside. I left them in the run, but put a cloth over the roof to give them some protection - in case it rained - today I will be extending the run and giving them a wee house to go into at night. It was too late to do that last night in the dark when I decided that last night would be the night!

The 18 at the just-hatched stage need another box! We usually keep them all together, but there are a few too many for comfort in there now that they are growing and moving around more, so today's job for them will be another clean out, and splitting half of them into another box. So that I can put them all back together when they go out, each time I clean them out, I will mix them up, as otherwise they may form themselves into two distinct flocks and then fight when I bring them back together in a couple of weeks' time.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Chick photos this week

Bundles of fluff just put into the brooder box, fresh from the incubator. We dip their beaks in the water and leave them to it!

Looking a bit bewildered whilst they get used to their new surroundings and bright, warm lights! Their legs are getting stronger by the minute at this stage and they gradually stand taller.

Novel mode of transport - well washed afterwards - there are about 12 fluffy bodies in here, I think!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Raring to go!

Today has felt like one of those days when you have done a day's work before breakfast!

I was up at 5.30am to get stuff done and the chickens fed and watered before leaving at 7.40am to take the EFG to her placement.

I dropped her off at 8.05 and continued to Asda - I don't go there often, but I bought her a pair of navy trousers there for her work experience, and now that I have turned them up (saving myself the £6 the local seamstress charges) she is wearing them and looking very smart. I hoped to buy another pair, but the navy co-ordinates have been shipped out and black is now "in" so I had to settle for the same pair of trousers but in black. I also picked up a couple of pairs of shorts and some strappy tops for the YFG, who has "nothing" to wear, apparently. I found an orange Tshirt for her as well, as she is a carrot on a float in the village parade this weekend...

Then I headed homeward and called in to the other town to drop the books off at the charity shop, whilst a policeman kindly looked the other way whilst I was parked where I shouldn't have been so I could lug the boxes into the shop.

A branch of the Co-op which deals with home electricals, homewares and clothes is closing down, and has a massive sale on, so I have had a quick look around in there, too. Nothing too much purchased, apart from a few bits to put away for gifts and birthdays.

All that, and I was home by 10am. Have to admit to flaking a little since then! Some lunch has been had, some emails read, a quick trip to school to sign a letter and to put a box of free courgettes in the staffroom - I have a glut already and hope that the staff will help themselves, and me, and take some home. Must phone the water company to pay the bill, and then I am on cleaning duties for a little while.

Money is a touchy subject here this week - the FH and I went to the optician's on Tuesday and came out with a bill for £355 between us for three pairs of glasses (two for him, one for me) and a sight test (me - FH doesn't pay because of his age - thank goodness!!). He is having a pair of varifocals for reading and for playing music, and then a distance pair for driving, and I just need an updated pair as my prescription has changed. The FH has vowed and declared that these have to last him out now! He doesn't "get" that I have the money and that they are worth having; he is out of touch with prices and seems to think he should be able to get a pair of glasses for about £9.99. I am finding this increasingly with the FH these days - because all our money is paid straight into the bank account and he doesn't see any of it (well, not often, anyway!) he seems to think we haven't got any....bless him! I am saving hard from our regular income, and we are able to pay these bills, thankfully - it is two years since I had a pair of glasses, so at £145, they are costing me pennies over £6 a month, and I wouldn't be able to do much without them. Contact lenses would cost me about £30 a month if I wore them daily, so these glasses are a bargain in comparison, surely.

Hoping everyone has a good weekend.

Just pottering

Thursdays are generally "at home" days now - and that is what I did yesterday - stayed at home and enjoyed the feeling of not having to be anywhere or do anything!

I spent a bit of time watching the chooks and counting them! There are a dozen Copper Marans hybrids, a trio of Barred Plymouth Rock, 12 adult GPO, 11 adult Brown Sussex, 9 Light Sussex hens, and two older brown hens, one of which is Goldenburg. Then there are a dozen GPO growers, 11 GPO at about 4 weeks old and 18 GPO at 3 days old. Quite a few now - that makes a round 90 chooks.

I had a little discarding/moving-on session as well, and I have liberated well over 30 books from my shelves, so there are a few gaps. Most of them are going to the charity shops this morning, although I have kept back a few as-good-as-new titles to put in the raffles at chapel. That felt good. Must do more of that - and thin out my clothes too.

This morning, I have to take the EFG to her work experience placement, about 15 miles away. She usually gets a lift with a teacher I know who works at the school and lives in the village here, but she doesn't work Fridays, so the transport is down to us. I am taking her, and the FH will fetch her home tonight. She is enjoying the whole thing, and the children are lovely, she says. They went on a whole school trip yesterday (small school!) to a multicultural festival. There is a KS1 trip to Hunstanton next week, so she is hoping the rain stops by then...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Even more

Three more chicks have hatched overnight, making this our most successful hatch yet - 18 out of 24 eggs! The fertility rates may have gone up, perhaps - I have been feeding the chickens on breeders' pellets which are supposed to give them a health boost, so maybe that has had something to do with it.

The light Sussex eggs arrived bright and early yesterday morning, but one of them was filthy. I was not pleased to find such a dirty egg in the selection and thought twice about using it. If I had planned to put it in the incubator in that state, I would have run the risk of introducing infections, so, although it is not recommended because of the impact on the hatch of the egg, I washed it. I thought that was the lesser of the two evils - I may lose the potential chick from that egg, but I am preserving the cleanliness of the incubator's environment.

The Barred Plymouth Rock eggs have yet to arrive.

Pictures of the chicks coming soon - we took some on the EFG's phone last night.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

And then there were more...

At the latest count, there are 15 chicks: 14 are in the lounge in a box under the heat lamp and the other is still in the incubator as he has only very recently hatched and still needs to fluff up. There are two more eggs being broken from within but I am not sure if those will make it, as we have had to have the incubator lid off tonight, so it will have altered the temperature and humidity in there. We can hope, though!

Chick update

At least 8 this morning! More to come, I hope...

Monday, 4 July 2011

Feeling better

I can't thank you all enough for all your thoughts and prayers and virtual hugs. It means a lot to me to know that people I don't know in real life are caring enough to think about me like that. Thank you.

So, how am I? Mostly up, sometimes a bit down. More up than down, and feeling a little more energised this week, so let's hope it lasts.

Cheerful news - there is another hatch coming off in the incubator :-) The first chick has hatched already and I am sure that there will be more. They should all be GPOs, but the chickens have been doing a touch of wife swapping, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are a few cross breeds in the hatch this time. Must get the wire repaired!

I have bought some Light Sussex and some Barred Plymouth Rock eggs from sellers on eBay so that the incubator can be refilled after this hatch. There will be 24 eggs altogether so the incubator will be full - and it will be the last run for this season, I think.

That GPO hen that went broody didn't get to sit properly, but she is still sitting in the nestbox. She hasn't got any eggs, and she wouldn't have been a good broody as she is moving from one nestbox to another and frequently sits on nothing.....

The Copper Marans are up to 9 eggs today from the dozen of them, so I am very pleased, and the egg numbers in general are up to about 23 a day! I have been lucky today and sold 4 dozen eggs to friends and neighbours, so that is a bag of feed paid for.

The EFG is on work experience this week - early starts - better go to bed now! Will tell you about that another day.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Still here


Tired, and more tired - hope to come back tomorrow...