Tag Archives: spring

Spruce it up


It’s felt a little bit spring like this last couple of days. I know that that sounds ridiculous since it’s the only second week of January but  there has definitely been a hint of spring in the air.

Well, we all know what spring does. It makes one want to spruce everything up and give it a fresh new look. As I type I have a big tub of champagne coloured paint waiting to be slapped onto my bedroom wall.  It’ll match the gawjuss sparkly paper I put on last year and make it positively glow, it’s going to be be beautiful when it’s done.

Once that’s been done the next job will be to jet wash the patio. That’s a massive job as it’s the length of the house and the  two barns, getting wider as it goes along. Still, it’s an easy job that doesn’t require much in the way of brain power. That’ll suit me down to the ground at the moment. Hahaaa ‘down to the ground’ geddit?

Heckling  from the gallery?  What’s that? “Don’t give up your day job!”

Rude!

I’ll get me coat *slinks out*

We’re also waiting for a builder to turn up *sigh* to replace a couple of dozen slates on the workshop roof. After that we’ll drop a couple of tons of gravel onto the track, get a gardener to do the heavy duty garden tidying and Bob’s  yer uncle.  A nicely spruced up house all ready to greet a new spring.

Isn’t it funny how just a bit of sunshine can give you a whole new perspective on life? It’s only yesterday it was all gloom and doom.

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A few chicks and bad manners


It’s colder than a cold thing here in Blighty at the mo. The cold snap has turned into a cold month. The spring daffs have poked their heads out of the ground and then done  a quick about turn and poked them back under it again, telling us they’ll come back when we turn the heating up a bit. Spring?  It’s more like an Arctic winter with it’s sub zero temperatures and bitterly cold easterly winds.  At this rate we’ll be seeing the daffodils in July or maybe even August.

Since the clingons are off school this week, Lashes and I decided to take them to a local -ish farm shop / cafe/ boutique / ice cream parlour.

It’s a place where the farmer, instead of lying down and taking the demise of farming in this country as the end of his livelihood, decided instead to diversify into other things – and a damn fine job he’s done of it too. The plan for today was to let the clingons feed the lambs ( at £3 per child. I think we should invest in a few lambs, hay bales and formula milk – the place was mobbed!), stroke the chicks and join in the Easter egg hunt which cleverly took us to every single department in the shop with the exception of the wine shop which I suppose wouldn’t be totally appropriate.

At the end of the hunt the kids got to enjoy a lovely rice krispie cake and Lashes and me treated ourselves to a well earned coffee. Three excited kids running, until we called out for them to stop,  through an antique shop full of collectables and vintage glass is exhausting, not to mention nerve wracking.

At one point, we were about to exit the food hall, following the clue to the next egg, when we stopped to let a middle aged woman step through before us. Without a word and with a dirty look to the clingons, she walked through the door we were holding for her. “People complain that kids have no manners but she could learn a thing or two,’ I said as Lashes and me stepped through the door at exactly the same moment, elbowing each other out of the way to get through first. Heh. Funny. You needed to be there.

Munki and Dangerous wanted to go and take another look at the chicks while Batty, who hates birds of any kind unless they’re roasted and served with mash and veg, preferred to stay and look at jewellery. Ten minutes later Lashes returned laughing her head off. It seems that Munki was holding a chick and then suddenly let out an ear splitting scream which brought the whole place to a halt. The chick had only been and gone and done a poo on her.  Munki was mortified and in her own inimitable way decided to let everyone know how mortified. The staff must have thought she’s chopped her arm off in a combine harvester for the racket she made. Lashes, being her Mother’s daughter, decided that the best course of action was to laugh out loud at the situation.

Oh, it’s fun going out with the clingons. I wonder what we can do tomorrow?

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+ 22 – 4 = Brrrrrrr


The temperature gauge round here has been swinging  around wildly for the last week or so. Unbelievably, the temperature has gone from a scorching ( for me) 22 degrees to a perishingly cold -4 in the space of a few days. What’s all that about?

Last Tuesday was Boofuls’ long awaited hot air balloon flight. That’s worth a whole post to itself but since the subject of this post is the weather, I’ll stick to that.

As we pulled up at the launch site, twenty or so people were stood in tee shirts, sploshing on the suncream and dusting off their sunglasses. Me and the dog lurked in the nearest bit of shade while everyone else waxed lyrical about how wonderful the weather was for March, that and spouting out all the expected jokes: “Hur hur hur, Hope this isn’t all the summer we’re getting.” Sigh. God loves an optimist.

Mind you – he might have had a point.

Fast forward to this week.

Mornings are spent in front of the wardrobe pondering about what the weather might do today. Even over the course of a day it is changing  so drastically  that no-one really knows what to wear.

The end result is that a stroll through the town centre becomes an urban fashion show of eclectic mixes of clothing never before seen in public.  Mini skirts worn with winter fur boots, sandals or flip flops with warm winter trousers. The younger girls have generally gone for the ‘Yay! It’s summer!’ look and totally embraced stringy vest tops and sandals accessorised with blue arms and lips which does rather spoil the whole ‘Yay! It’s summer’ look. Of course the universally acclaimed leggings and muffin top is still very popular whatever the season. Me? I’ve played it safe and gone for layers, lots and lots of layers.

Walking on the moors yesterday morning with the snow blowing horizontally and the wind trying it’s best to blow  over we hardy dog walkers as we tried to catch a breath, it was so strong. That was in direct contrast to yesterday evening when it was warm, still and positively balmy – or do I mean barmy?  Layers y’see. Whip off half a dozen layers and the job’s a good ‘un – except for the fact you then have to carry them all.

Weather eh? What else would we have to talk about if we didn’t have our good old unreliable English weather? Bring on the Pimms, I do believe it’s Pimms o’clock!

Now that’s how you know it’s summer!

  The weather forecast for easter is of course gloomy and wet. Wouldn’t expect anything else!

Mud! Mud! Glorious Mud!


 

 

Out for a stroll today in temperatures unheard of for March, Dougie the doggie decided to take a leaf out of the hippopotamuses…er…..hippopotami…er….hippos in Flanders and Swann’s song and have a little wallow in the mud to cool himself down. I’m not absolutely sure he wanted quite as much mud as he actually got. He took a flying leap into it, sank up to his shoulders and got totally stuck. Guess who had to wade in and rescue him. Yup. Yours truly.

By way of thanks, while I was still sitting on the bank checking him over to make sure he wasn’t hurt he decided to have a good shake so I ended up wearing quite a lot of it. The walk back to the car was soggy and smelly to say the least.

Tell me again why I wanted a dog?

Here he is still feeling a bit sorry for himself. Oi! What about feeling sorry for me? My nerves are in tatters!

 

This was after a good rub down with a towel. Nothing else for it then, home for a quick bath….

 

before a nice picnic on the field with Munki.

Boofuls Mc Shredderwrecker


So here it is again, that five yearly shred fest. It generally occurs just as a loud boinging sound signals that spring has finally sprung in the nether regions of that great Isle we call Blighty.

I can tell  a shred fest is imminent when Boofuls keeps opens the cupboard in which we keep what we laughingly call the filing. As he opens the cupboard he looks and scowls at the piles of paper that have accumulated since the last shred fest, shoves it back into the cupboard as it slides off the top of the overflowing filing trays and tuts loudly announcing, “I really must have a clear out of the filing tray.”

Several weeks of mental preparation later, the shredding commences.

Sheet after sheet of paper gets shredding. Grind, chew, chomp, goes the shredder for hour after hour after noisy, irritating hour, munching it’s way through the paper equivalent of  a small rain forest’s worth of trees. Eventually the office floor ends up with bin bags full of diagonally cut shreds of paper. Unless……

The curse of Boofuls McShredderwrecker strikes again. Mr McShredderwrecker happens to be a close relative of Mr Strimmer, that well known destroyer of garden plants.

Boofuls McShredderwrecker strikes fear into the very heart of any hardworking shredder. A task master and slave driver in the extreme, the shredders know that no matter how hard they work, munching, chewing and disgorging paper, it’s never enough. They know that they will be worked until their blades are nothing more than blunt instruments and smoke pours out of their innards, at which point they just give up the ghost screaming as they die, “For pity’s sake man, no more, I beg of you.” Death is a blessed relief for them.

Of course Mr McShredderwrecker shows no mercy. Once one shredder dies he simply replaces it with another. The life and well being of a shredder matters not a jot to him.

Thank God it’s only once every five years, my nerves couldn’t stand it more often than that.

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It’s been a tricky day today one way and another.  I was having a quiet five minutes watching the telly and reflecting on the day’s events when I saw this advert which made me laugh out loud and cheered me up no end.

 

 

Hahaa. Makes a change from complaining “I hate bloody adverts!!!”

Be careful what you wish for


Me and my big mouth!

Our little puppy, Velcro, was once again sitting quietly, following me round the house and then flopping down next to e and watched me adoringly as I carried out whatever task I was engaged in.

“This is the most laid back puppy ever” I said to Winklepop yesterday, “If he’s the boisterous one then his brother must be positively catatonic. he could do with revving up a notch or two.”

Oh. Dear. Lord.

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Did someone feed my puppy expresso while I wasn’t looking? He was bouncing off the ceiling last night. Nothing was left unchewed, wires, skirting boards, my expensive designer sticks, the designer stones in their designer copper pot, my wrist. Chairs and settees were bounced on, imaginary cats were chased , cd’s and records (remember them?) were dragged from their shelf and thrown around the room. Nothing I tried to distract him with seemed as interesting as the stuff he was destroying.

In an attempt to burn off some of his energy I took him for a run on the field only for him to run full tilt off the edge of it and down a four-foot drop onto the patio while I stood there horrified seeing what was about to happen and desperately calling his name in an attempt to stop him or even slow him down a bit. Even that didn’t slow him down for more than five seconds while he dusted himself off and readied himself for another rampage.

After a couple of hours Boofuls arrived back from his meeting to find a sleeping puppy. “Aaaaaw, isn’t he cute?”

“Cute? Are you kidding me? He’s fecking possessed!”

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Spring seems to have finally sprung. Isn’t spring fabulous? All the plants are just starting to wake up, the grass is looking green rather than grey and the temperatures have reached double figures. Bliss!

Now we can start the big clean up operation ready for putting our house back on the market and put into action phase one of the retirement plan.

Wish us luck!

strolling, just strolling


STROLLING:  Flanagan & Allen 

Strolling, just strolling,

In the cool of the evening air,

I don’t envy the rich in their automobiles,

For a motor car is phoney.

I’d rather have Shanks’s pony,

When I’m strolling,

just strolling,

With the light of the moon above,

Ev’ry night I go out strolling,

And I know my luck is rolling,

When I’m strolling with the one I love.

(source: http://lyricsplayground.com/alpha/songs/s/strolling.shtml)

Aah, the council organised, Wednesday walks are back on. How I’ve missed them.

From April to October between thirty and 50 intrepid walkers, and me,  meet up in all weathers once a week to explore the hidden wonders of lovely Lancashire.

Tonight was week three. These walks are advertised as ‘a stressbusting two hour walk at a brisk pace.’

Brisk? A moderately paced jog is more like it  – and strolling doesn’t even come into it.  As for strolling with the one I love – it’d kill him!

There has been a definite improvement in my fitness levels though since I first started to do these walks, three years ago. Now I don’t feel like I am actually going to die as we race up every hill the walk leader can find,  and I don’t often have to stop for a breather.

Tonight we covered five and a half miles and it was magbloodynificent!

The bluebells carpeted the floor of the woods, the sun sparkled through the trees and off the water of the reservoir, the birds sang and the overall effect was that there was just a hint of magic in the air. Half expecting to see a fairy peeping out from a mossy tree stump I walked enchanted through the magic wood and was sad to leave it behind as we climbed up the hill back on to the moors.

Sometimes it’s just about perfect. Sigh.

It’d be fantastic if I had half a dozen lovely photographs to show you but we don’t have time to stop. Loiterers get left behind. I did snatch a couple of photos on my phone and then had to run to catch up with everyone else as they disappeared into the distance.

bluebells
sunset in the woods
in the woods

So I don’t have a lot of photos from tonight’s walk but I do have a few photos from the photo shoot I did for my friend and neighbour the other day. The puppy is about nine weeks old and is a cross between a belgian Shepherd and  German Shepherd. He’s going to be gorgeous later. He’s already quite gorgeous now.

Black puppy

The border collie is Mrs Woofy’s bezzie mate. I don’t know why as she took a chunk out of her last week which resulted in visits to the vet’s and lots of money changing hands.

Border collie


What is it about holidays?


So. That was Easter. How fast is this year going?

I’d told the the clingons that  the Easter bunny had left their eggs  in all sorts of odd places this year so they’d have to search for them. One was up on the field hidden in the blackcurrant bushes, one was down in the garden by the greenhouse. It took them ages to find them. Peace, perfect peace.

Mind you, I had to get the timing and placement correct or we could have ended up with a real old mess on our hands. It was quite a hot day and the sun was blazing down. I… er, I mean the Easter Bunny waited till he got a text message to say the kids were on their way then ran out and placed the eggs so that they were kept coolish in the shade of the bushes while still highly visible (can’t make it too difficult).

The Rev was kindly volunteered by Gembolina to help out with the heavy duty work in the garden. Thanks, Gem!!

Between The Rev, Boofuls and Big N they made short work of clearing out the ‘fire pit’, a small built up area that is crying out for decking and a pergola.

While the chaps were getting on with that we women made ourselves busy in our respective kitchens. The least I could do for getting out of the building work was to cook everyone an Easter dinner.

Lamb and chicken were put in to roast, spuds (or ‘praters’, if you’re local) and vegetables were peeled. The bread maker was working at full pelt.

Then I turned my hand to an idea that’s been knocking about for a week or two.  I made Cheese!!!!

Last week I ordered from the internet a cheese making kit which included the stuff to make a starter culture. Of course that needs 24 hours to get going and I didn’t want to wait. I wanted this cheese for our starter.

A quick shufti round the internet later and I had what I wanted, a quick and easy recipe for cottage cheese. How easy is that?

1. Warm milk

2. Add lemon juice

3. strain.

4. Add flavouring

5. Serve

After straining I added salt, pepper and chopped walnuts. Then kept it chilled before serving. It tasted of…… absolutely nothing  – but you can’t have everything and I did have the excitement of making it.

Have you ever noticed how domestic appliances seem to conspire against you while you’re cooking a big ‘High days and holidays’  dinner? I vividly remember the Christmas Day when the dishwasher decided not to work. Is there ever a day in the year when you have more dishes to wash than on Christmas Day? I think not.

Yesterday, the hob decided  not to work. Turning the gas on, I pressed the ignitor button. Nothing. I listened for the sound of gas through the pipes. Nothing. I sniffed for the tell tale smell of gas escaping. Still nothing. BOOFULS!!!!!

After clanking around with the gas bottles for a while Boofuls ascertained that we had in fact run out of gas. Deep sodding joy. There’s a lot to be said for living in the suburbs and being attached to civilisation by nice long pipes that supply utilities on demand.

So. Cook a meal for seven people using the oven alone?  Challenging but not impossible.

The small mountain of chopped leek and cabbage was the most challenging. Big N suggested I cook it on the coffee pot warmer thingy that I’ve never used on the cooker. “It’ll be slow but it’ll do it. The pan went on to warm. I was a bit dubious when it took 5 minutes to melt a knob of butter but we persevered.

I might as well have cooked it using my own body heat, it was so slow.  It took about an hour but it got there in the end.

I sent Gembolina a text to ask her to make gravy at her house and bring it up with her. “I’ve got granules, I’ll bring them.”

“Granules, what do you do with them?”  I asked, much to her amusement.

“Pour water on them.”

“Is that it? Why have I been faffing about with  meat stock and vegetable water all these years?”

Eventually dinner was served, and very nice it was too. Gembolina had made lemon biscuits and an apple crumble for pudding. A show of hands voted for custard to go with it. I popped off into the kitchen to make it. Stopped at the door.

“Um. guys? No hob? That means no custard.”

Apple crumble without custard?  A travesty!

We ended the evening all snuggled up on the settee watching the previous nights ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.

It was a nice end to a busy, family day and I loved it.

Living in the back of beyond


So the perfect weather continues in the back of beyond.

I keep running out every five minutes to see if the potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes and peas that I planted last week have sprouted yet. Bitterly disappointed when there’s still nothing to see I still have to go out a little while later for another look.

Passing thieves, murderers and muggers aren’t something we worry about too much up here. Well, not the human kind, anyway. The animals are a different matter; thieving, murdering sods, they are.

The front door was left open the other day, it would have been sinful to keep it closed on such a glorious day. We went about our business and the sun shone. It was only as we got back in the house towards evening that we realised  – we’d been mugged.

A cat had sneaked into  the house and sprayed in the hallway. The smell left us reeling. It was like a cosh round the head.  Not only that but we realised we’d been robbed as well. A whole dish of cat food had gone missing!

The assailant was nowhere to be seen but I have narrowed the suspects down to two. Our fluffy cat’s old adversary, Fang, a  bruiser of a cat with a bad attitude or the deceptively sweet looking ginger tom who beats our cats up on a regular basis. The word on the fields is that it was most likely Fang, breaking and entering is more his style than violence.

Round at the back of the barn we have masonry bees. How do we know they re masonry bees? Easy.

They fly out of the little hole in the wall wearing their little aprons and white gloves muttering unintelligible words under their breath and shaking hands in a strange fashion whilst giving each other knowing looks. It’s dead easy to spot a masonry bee when you know how.

My God, those little buggers move fast. I set up the camera and a tripod at the entrance to their hive to try and photograph them as they flew off. They waddle out to the entrance and then by the time I’ve registered that they’re ready to fly off – they’ve gone. Quick as a flash.  Mind you, I’ll probably never make a nature photographer, after three goes if I haven’t got ‘the shot’ I’m bored with it.

The clingons wanted a picnic and a game of croquet on the ‘lawn’ this afternoon.

I’m not totally sure the girls have got the hang of the game yet. As much as I told them it was a game of finesse and skill they still wacked the ball with the mallet as hard as possible, I’m sure they were confusing it with golf. At one point Batty wacked the ball with the mallet and somehow managed to fire it off at an angle of 90 degrees, straight into my thumb, damn near breaking it!

There was a small group of walkers about half a mile away and they could clearly see there was something going on so they walked up to our far fence, obviously thinking they’d come for a looky. I could see they were looking for a way in but it was all to no avail, we are pretty well ring fenced in and outsiders just can’t come wandering by willy nilly (Chews on grass while hollering ‘git yer ass off a ma land!’  Mmm, I think I suit these dungarees) .

Here are a few photos from today’s perfect afternoon:

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Living in the middle of nowhere


There are definite advantages to living in the middle of nowhere, as we do, especially when the weather is as glorious as it has been for the last few days.

Firstly, the view across the valley is amazing on a clear day, the air is fresh and sweet and it’s a real joy to get home and just sit quietly enjoying the surroundings.

We don’t get traffic, or even traffic noise.  Being a good mile away from the nearest proper road and half a mile away from the lane it’s rare to see a car and when we do see one it causes everyone to get up for a look. ‘Oohh, there’s a car, I wonder who it is? What do they want? They must be lost’

Passers by? Nope? Very rarely we see a walker with their nose in a map looking for an ancient right of way.

It’s peaceful in the extreme. It’s so peaceful that visitors to our home are often scared at night because it’s so very quiet, as silent as the grave.

Until….. this time of year when the horses go back into the fields.

Not our horses, we don’t have any but as we live in the equestrian epicentre of the north west we are surrounded by livery stables (sounds like something of a wild west programme).

They were turned out into the fields a couple of days ago. In the field to the left of the house there is a lovely piebald horse I haven’t seen before and a couple of  new white ones, one of which is a pygmy. How sweet is he?!?

Of course our old friend the windsucker fence destroyer is still there, bless him. You don’t really imagine a horse to have psychological problems but he’s really quite mad. Very friendly though.

It’s a picture of rural heaven isn’t it? What could possibly disturb it?

Well, dear reader, let me tell you.

Lying in my bed last night, windows open because of the heat I woke up with a jump thinking someone was being murdered.  One of the horses, just a few feet away from the house and my open bedroom window, decided to let out a barrage of loud screams.  Dear God!

I nearly had a heart attack. I shot out of my bed  like my backside was on fire wondering what the hell was going on. Of course once I was up  and properly awake I realised it must have been the horses having a bit of a domestic.  ‘Keep the noise down, chaps, trying to get some kip, here!’

As if that isn’t bad enough then they got bored so they decide to walk up to the metal gate and start kicking it. Just what you need at three in the morning. CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!  Talk about ASBO neighbours, this lot are the neighbours from hell.

Hahaaaaa ‘neigh’bours! Gedit?

I mean, it’s not like I can just send them into another room like I do with Boofuls when he’s disturbing my sleep with his many and varied snores.  I’m knackered.

It’ll take a couple of weeks before they get used to being outside and I get used to hearing noises outside. In the meantime, I may just have to invest in some ear plugs. Can I go back to bed for a couple of hours, please?