Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas is coming ...

The journey to school today was treacherous, only -3 and yet after an afternoon yesterday of heavy rain the roads shine with the secret of black ice and the frost has turned everything white. I drove gingerly down dark lanes to the village , the last day of school before the Christmas holidays begin, and watched as the boys climbed onto the bus leaving the air filled with the scent of aftershave a sign that they are really young men now and not boys any more.

Here in winter the journey to school is done in darkness, the sun crawls out of bed about 8.30 am and before that the countryside is dark and silent except for the odd optimistic cock crow and the dogs barking at unseen movement in the night. Often, at this time of year, on returning home I crawl back to bed for an extra half hour snuggled under quilts before I get up to start the work of the day, it is too early to go and tend to the goats, sheep and poultry and it saves electricity. it is like an illicit pleasure stolen from the busy day.

 Yesterday the arrival of the day was heralded early when I was greeted by our dogs at the kitchen door, in the night  their run had been opened and they were running free,  the poultry run gate was wide open too and our birds were missing. No sign of struggle  no stray feathers just emptiness   I have yet to  meet a fox who can unlock a gate so I blame a two legged predator. One goose returned forlorn and lonely later in the day, not a scratch on her, her mate sadly I imagine  was ear marked for someone’s Christmas Lunch. The ducks and chickens wandered back in dribs and drabs during the day. Not a good start to the festive season. I hope he tastes good.

My living room is suffering from schizophrenia.  The lower half is decorated for Christmas, the tree glistening in white and silver and the sideboard is staggering under a Scandinavian themed display of candles baubles and reindeer in red white and silver. The top half looks like a slum dwelling things are piled up in heaps,  the floor is there somewhere but I can't find it and on one chair is a large collection of birds nests cleared from a windowsill to make way for the  nativity set when we remember where we put it last year. I keep telling myself all will be well  by Christmas eve but I am beginning to have my doubts. The kitchen is no better, I  made marmalade yesterday and  it has been added to the jars of pickles chutneys and jams that are heaped on the farmhouse table, One end is cleared for eating but the other is a mass of vegetables and fruit ready for preserving and cooking. In one corner is a  not insignificant mountain of shoes and boots waiting for the children to try on so we can discard or pass on any that are too small or beyond repair. Outside the  door is a unruly collection of orange boxes ready to be broken up for kindling.

This is country living, real country living not the photo shopped kind where photogenic women wear designer Wellingtons which will never come into contact with mud. Where floors and sofas are free from signs of wear and tear and dog hair and where children are only in evidence by their  hand crafted wooden toys and not as in my case by PS3 controllers, last nights empty juice glass and odd socks. Where cats in their generosity leave dead mice on the carpet as gifts and  the French windows have a tide mark of dogs nose prints at Labrador height. This is real country life mud, dirt, mess and all, this is home and where better to spend Christmas than here.

Christmas is coming and I am glad to be here!

Friday, 19 April 2013

The countryside in springtime

It is a glorious sunny day, a really beautiful breezy blue sky day. Along the lane the katkins  have decked the hedgerow with yellow and green, the primroses are out and the last of the wild daffs bob their heads, The washing is blowing on the line. In the garden hens and ducks are pottering about , the geese are marching purposefully up and down the drive and the sheep have posed themselves in a most  picturesque manner in the shade of the elm tree on a bank amidst the daffodils as if waiting for a passing artist to capture them on canvas. Goats and dogs bask like beached  dolphins in their run, sleeping in the sun . All is right with the world.

 Nature is brimming with bucolic bliss; The air is full of the trill of varied bird song, the sound of cocks crowing, hens clucking  and the increasingly agitated tap tap tap as our slightly deranged gander  head butts the window attempting to get at his own reflection in the glass. The tranquility is  broken only  by the whine of a neighbouring farmers chainsaw , doing his bit for the environment by lopping about ancient oaks whilst balancing somewhat precariously on the roof of his tractor cab. thus setting off the goats doing whatever that strangled cry they make is called at the top of their discordant voices; sheep bleating and the dogs ( not wishing to be out done by the cloven hooved creatures of the household) howling like the hounds of hell, this annoys the geese who honk and call upon the ducks for aquatic support which in turns frightens the hens  who are convinced in true hen tradition that the end of the world is nigh,and it is so noisy I  have to  retreat inside in order to talk on the telephone.

The village church rings out the midday bell. The farmer descends from the dizzying heights of his tractor roof and climbs into his little white van and retreats to his farm for lunch . the animals, having satisfied themselves    of a job well done chasing the farmer away with their combined cacophony ,settle themselves down after all their exertion and all that can be heard is bird song, until 12.30 when the little yellow post van arrives and  honks its horn and it all starts again it all starts.

I  do love living in the countryside, it is so peaceful here.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

For those in peril on the ( bathroom ) sea

Being as it is Holy Week and the wild daffodils are bobbing about  jauntily on the banks in the lane,  I was determined this morning to drag myself out of the pit of despondency into which I seem to have fallen this  long and drab winter,  heft myself out of the treacle well where I seemed to have become mired and engage myself in the spirit of Easter with all the promise of new life and new beginnings it brings.

I had been out and cut a branches for the Easter tree,collected snow white duck feathers to cover up the rocks and old iron weights that are holding them in place in fine and jolly yellow tin bucket and ferreted about the house to retrieve the Easter decorations. My spirits if not lifting were at least getting a bit of an airing and the  chilly breeze was doing its bit to blow away a few cobwebs in my head.

 I unearthed the Easter box with its assortment of ceramic rabbits, wooden decorations and  eggs decorated by the children over the years and all was going splendidly, after a fashion, (despite two bunnies needing their ears glued back on and a rabbit missing his carrot ) until I went over to  check my secret chocolate supply to make sure I have enough to do a two Easter egg hunts for mine and the neighbours little ones.  It was then that I found myself standing in a puddle with on the kitchen floor. Having first glared daggers at the cat suspecting him of  anti-social toilet habits, I ,  upon looking up, saw a wet patch on the ceiling from the bathroom above. 

 I stumbled upstairs to the kids bathroom ( it is hard to do anything more elegant than stumble when you are wearing soggy slippers and the stairs are winding ) to find we have a small pond growing in there with an attractive water fall  feature, beauteous  and unexpected, splashes its way downstairs. I am normally rather fond of water features  but seaside themed as the bathroom is I had rather hoped I wouldn't be forced to retreat every time there is a high tide.

 Sadly the plumber is not free until tomorrow evening always proving it does not slip his mind ( "give me a call in case I forget" he told me, which is  hardly encouraging advise   is it  when one is paddling  ) so the seaside theme in the bathroom  is now enhanced by a rather colourful tin bucket  .

 Ah well I suppose it means I shall not have to wash the floor this week. One must always look on the bright side, and who knows if the tide rises any higher we may have fresh lobster for lunch if I am nippy enough to turn the wicker laundry basket into a lobster trap! 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Sunday catch up

It is Sunday morning and I have retreated to bed with a mug of tea and my laptop after an early and industrious start to my day.  The animals are fed and let out, a soul warming beef stew is cooking slowly in the oven and the clay bunnies drying on the kitchen table have had a once over and a tidy and touch up ready to be fired in the kiln later this week.

Outside the day is cold and grey, but I don't mind, I am enjoying  my early morning indulgence and if I can attract the attention of one of my sons before they disappear outside I may even get another  mug of tea made for me if I am lucky. So far the only one who has tracked me down is one of the cats who is trying valiantly to sit on my chest chatting away to me as I type.

We have been busy preparing a new paddock with what feels like miles of sturdy fencing and a new hen run for the chickens.The place is beginning to look like a prison camp! Yesterday was busy , wielding the chain saw to cut back the primeval forest that was once many years ago, I  am sure. a modest privet hedge but now stretched its branches high up towards the horizon blocking the  sun from the garden. Our goats love privet so they are happy to munch and cavort their way through the piles of twigs and greenery deposited in their run.

 Youngest is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his  Breton sheep, The Ouessant is one of the smallest sheep breeds in the world. They originated on Ile d'Ouessant and he is breeding them for the freezer. Meanwhile he  is  using the tall straight privet branches to make them a wattle and daub shelter in their run. His sister is horrified, not at the wattle and daub but the eating part, I am however thrilled the price of lamb being so high as it is!

It seems winter is not keen to leave us and let spring in . We are still threatened with further snow and the remnants from last weeks blizzards rest in the gullies and ditches. Despite all that I was out planting the earth banks that surround the garden with minature daffodils that I have had flowering in the house and are now past their best so that next year they will come up again.

Aha  as hoped a fresh  mug of tea has arrived along with both my boys, the cat has shot off to avoid the commotion of their arrival and I am signing off  as there is no way I can type when they are making me laugh so much with their silly voices and jokes adn tickling each other!!

Happy Sunday to you all!!

Sunday, 3 February 2013

If only life were as simple as Pintarest...

It is the first Sunday in February. I have a large Billy goat head butting the glass door into the garden. A large  grumpy teenager storming about upstairs, judging by the sound he is making he is dismantling his room, because apparently, in his opinion ,I do not care about him and all I am only interested in is getting him to get things done about the house , and a  younger version of the same who is up the other end of the house humphy because he wants to build a forge in the front garden and I have said no and I have only half painted the kitchen cupboards.

On the other hand...

I have a large Billy goat who loves me so much he follows me around like a dog and is even as I type declaring his love by  banging on the door to try and entice me out to play or, failing that,  in the hope I will let him in to follow me about the house and gaze adoringly at me. A tall handsome teenage son who is kind, loving and helps me  as much as he can despite  being in the throws of teenage angst and is learning to express his independance , and a charming smaller version of the same who is ingenious and inventive and up for trying anything oh and a kitchen which is half painted and which I can devote tomorrow to finishing.

Sometimes it pays to look more closely before you decide life sucks. Life  may not be the perfect place that we avid Pintarest picture posters pick but to...... ( to quote a Pintarest post)  it is wise to remember this...

Appreciate what you have and have a happy Sunday..x

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Restoration Man

I have just been watching, with a slight tinge of envy, a TV  programme documenting a  restoration of a very dilapidated lodge house from a long since vanished Country Estate in Surrey.

After an evening which started with a mad dash out to buy a  present for Middles friend who has invited middle over this weekend to celebrate his birthday, punctuated with the postman returning the children s Christmas present to their father marked "unknown at this address" raising the inevitable question of well if he doesn't live where he says he lives where does he live, and then culminating in a bout of   unadulterated   grumps from youngest  who is trying on the demeanor of  teenage truculence and finding he likes it, I found myself sitting alone on the sofa, sighing enviously as the courageous owners battled their way through numerous years of mud,, frozen pipes, snow and seemingly insurmountable DIY tasks to recapture, using traditional techniques, the beauty of their tiny  house and turn it back into the minuscule magical beauty it once was.

I think the thing that surprised me most was not my wistfulness at the rebuilding work , nor the final finished fairie cottage (although I love doing up houses and wish I had  the energy still to tackle a project like that, I do not seem to have enough umph to clear up the kitchen let alone an entire building project these days!) no, what caught me off guard was to discover myself wishing  that I had someone to share things with. Not necessarily a grand design but just life's little ups and downs . Perhaps someone to  take a turn at handling kids questions and taxi services, someone to  make me a cup of tea at the end of the day and tell me to relax put my feet up , even someone to turn off the lights check the doors are locked and turn on the washing machine before going to bed.

Whether this  was brought on by an unhealthy surfeit of happy ever after movies on Christmas television  giving me a bad case of emotional indigestion, or just simply  having had a week dealing with various hiatus ranging from foxes killing youngest's pet goose, several  hospital runs for anxious neighbours, and helping distressed friends talk through their dilemmas ending in my doing  too much for everyone else and needing to take a pause once in a while to give myself  time out, I do not know .

 In truth I  know I am happier being me even on a bad day than I have been for a long long time.  but whatever it is , it  only goes to prove  that whoever said you can't miss what you never had did not know what they were talking about.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

2013 here I come!

The last wisp of 2012 and  a wish for 2013

Christmas has come and gone with all its hustle and happiness and now, in the quiet time that follows,  I can sit back in the suddenly empty  house, enjoy my own company and  look forward  with excitement and a head full of  ideas for this new year.  I love entertaining and having guests but the quiet that follows is wonderful as well !

It seems nature is looking forward too.  It may be only January 3rd but the  birds seem to think that spring is on the horizon and the hedges are full of  squadrons of swooping squabbling sparrows this afternoon. Our goats are definitely getting giddy  the youngest having taken to sitting on the kitchen window sill looking in whilst his father, being more forthright, head butts the door demanding I open it to scratch his head for him. Even our one remaining goose and duck have taken to marching up to the door to tell me its about time I got of this computer  I buckled down to business.

So Happy New year to you and let us all look forward to 12 months of  enjoying being ourselves.