Saturday 30 April 2011

Depression: Doing something about it....

I hate having depression. It is pants. It is worse than pants, it is a bugger. I get tired and I never seem to be able to catch up with myself. I can last a long while but then I collapse and can do nothing. And I feel weak, and silly and stupid and I hate myself for it.
So during May over a period of 31 days I am going to do something about it.  So as not to bore everyone I will blog daily on my other blog "Cage without a key" and update you on my progress. I cannot guaranteee any of it will work but I am going togive it a try.
If anyone has any top tips on how to deal with the perennial blues then I am up for it as long as it does not involve eating fish, which I hate. Especially mackerel. Unless it is smoked then I am OK with it.

Friday 29 April 2011

The Reluctant Royalist

The Daily Telegraph: Kiss me Kate
I think I am turning into my Nan; I mean today I was welling up as I watched the Royal Wedding. I really felt as if I was going to cry, I was so moved and this is from me, the person who back in November when the engagement was announced between Kate Middleton and Prince William, could only think: “Well at least I’ll get a day off to do the garden.”
In 1981 I couldn’t have been less interested. At the age of 15 I thought it all a great big bore and I was furious that my riding holiday had been curtailed so that we could all watch the Royal Wedding on the box as a family.
I couldn’t think why everyone so excited about Prince Charles – he isn’t exactly good looking - or why they thought Lady Di was so perfect. He seemed horrendously old I couldn’t for the life of me reason why she would want to marry him. My Mum and Nan however, sat enraptured while I huffed and puffed and flumped about longing for the whole thing to be over so that I could watch some decent telly or else go down the caravan at New Quay and have some fun at the seaside. Anything had to be better than all this gushing flouncy stuff I was being forced to endure. The afternoon seemed never ending.
For my Nan it was the start of a love affair that endured to her death; she adored Princess Di who could never do any wrong. She read everything about her, watched TV programmes and would expound in great details all the wrongs done to that poor beautiful woman; for Nan was a romantic and she decided her loyalty lay with Diana, a saint who could do no wrong. An angel. How she would have loved today.
Nan didn’t have time for the Royals as such, I don’t think she ever would forgive the Queen Mother for being beastly to the Duchess of Windsor, in fact so partisan was she that I seriously think if she had ever met the QM she would have snubbed her in the way only the Welsh no how.
Today would have been meat and drink; and I can see her in my mind’s eye sitting in her green velvet chair, avidly drinking in the sights and sounds from the TV; commenting scathingly on the fashions and how some people really should know better and why on earth did the young wear so many shockingly ugly hats.
Then she would see the bride, she would have been in paroxysms of delight, gurgling with joy and exclaiming how beautiful she was and how elegant and saying look that’s how it should be done you can tell she has style and state and look how graceful. Today she would have taken ownership and started another love affair… and today I found myself understanding exactly why.
For today I was spellbound and I kept thinking of my own wedding and my own vows and I thought of all the hope resting on those young shoulders and I had such admiration and trepidation for their future.
A Royalist me, reluctantly admitted….

Thursday 28 April 2011

The Rat Man cometh

rattus norvegius
“It’s not the rat’s fault it was born a rat.”
Not the words of comfort I wished to hear yesterday evening but I bit my tongue and showed the Rat Man the problem.
He said nothing and in the way of true countrymen got on with surveying the scene in utter silence. I tried an opening gambit but with a slow raise of his arm I was curtailed. I longed to spill out my woes, to make excuses for the chickens, but the Rat Man now moved swiftly round the pens his expert eye taking in all the detail he needed.
He gazed out to the middle distance, rubbed the ground with his feet, bobbed down to take a closer look at the hut doors. He peered under the sheds. Standing up he walked purposefully back to his stolid green Land Rover, opened it up and started to talk. Caught slightly on the hop, I rushed over to catch what he was saying and was about to apologise for not reacting quickly enough when I realised that he was in fact talking to his dog.
I was just beginning to feel superfluous when he started to hand out an array of large wooden boxes and a basket of the meanest looking traps I had ever seen in my life.
“I only want to kill rats,” I thought, “not men!”
“Now you mind those fen traps, snap your fingers hard they would. Make you cry.”
I smiled weakly and tentatively put the traps on the ground.
“So who’s going to help you then?”
I looked blank.
“Who’s going to help you with the rats?”
I was slightly non-plussed. “Err, you?”
“Well, I can, but it will cost you. Better if you were to do it yourself. I can teach you.”
“Oh great, “I thought, “I am going to have to deal with the buggers!”
“Oh! Yes!” I thought, “I AM going to have to deal with the buggers!”
Sometimes I have great ideas like calling the Rat Man but sometimes I just don’t actually think things through as much as I should. Of course I cannot have him come out here every day twice a day when I am paying him £32 an hour plus £22 travel.
For the next hour he carefully told me what I had to do and helped me set all the traps, patiently going over the routine several times as I struggled to cope with task at hand.
I have no qualms about disposing of the dead rats it was killing those that may not be dead enough that I know I would struggle with.
“Whatever you do don’t try to hold one that is alive,” he warned darkly.
I looked blank
“Quick as a wink it will bite you and it won’t be pleasant.”
I blanched.
“Best thing is to shoot it. Rats may be a problem but that doesn’t mean that they should be in pain when they die. The art is to do it quickly and cleanly as possible.”
I tried to look enthusiastic as I contemplated this philosophy. Perhaps I would be able to take it better if I did not keep looking at the empty chick pen.
“I don’t hold with poison except as a last resort; don’t want rodenticide to enter the food chain if we can help it," he continued. I nodded not completely with the program but coming round to the idea that like all true huntsmen, this fellow knew and admired his quarry.
“Now we can get on top of this infestation but you will have to get these pens sorted, a good foot of wire at the bottom of the pen should help all the way round, rats’ don’t like having to work too hard see. And put wire on the bottom of the door, they don’t like having to gnaw through it.”
I looked at all my beautiful newly built pens and started to calculate the cost of keeping my hens anew…
“And don’t expect to kill many initially; rats are Neophobic,”
“Well them and me both!” I thought as I wrestled with the fen trap while trying to control my fear of having my fingers broken in one quick snap.
Apparently rats don’t like new things and will avoid them at all costs but once they get used to them they accept them as part of their daily lives. Hence the fact that I could keep the traps where they are placed forever and still catch the rats for apparently they will not learn to avoid things they know will kill them as their fear of new things surpasses any other.
“The inside of a rat’s mind is unfathomable, a bit like the Rat Man’s.” I thought.

Wednesday 27 April 2011


Rats. I hate the f******s. I loath them. I really, really, loath them. From their beady black little eyes, their greasy coats and scaly tails. They are vile.
I hate them with a slow burning passion, an indignation and a righteious one at that.
Thye have killed my chicks. Taken from under their mother, dragged those poor terrified little things through the fence, killed them then taken them to their nest near the moat and devoured them. Not satisfied with that they have also got one of my poults through the raised slatted floor of the hen house by grabbing one of her legs as she sat on the floor, held it while they evicersated her then tried to eat her through the slats. I found her lying there feebly trying to get away this morning. I put her quickly out of her misery.
I don't like rats.
And I obviously have a rat problem.
I hate using poison but now I see no way round it. This unseasonably warm weather has helped the buggers to breed like mad and my chickens are suffering as a result. I will never get rid of them , nor will I ever get rid fo the grey squirrels, but I will get on top of the problem. I have to, or I will continue to lose more of my chickens and that I cannot stand. All the ones I reared in the incubator are now dead bar one and to be honest I don't hold out much hope for that unless I hold a vigilence all night to keep the rats away and I can tell you from experience the buggers are bold and my presence is hardly going to make them falter.
I was stil at college and working one Christmas on a farm where they had some beef cattle and  one or two dairy cows. I was there at a difficult calving. Thhe calf  was weak and looked as if it wanted to give up the ghost from the very minute it was born. But I wasn't going to let it. I nursed that calf all night and the next day, it seemed to grow weaker but I would not let it go. Every time it closed it's eyes and looked like it had decided to die I would thump it awake, keeping it alive but you'll never guess what. Even though I was there keeping this creature alive, the rats had started to eat it and I didn't even notice in the dark. They started to knaw on its tail. I couldn't at first work out what had happened and the calf was too weak to make any fuss.  I spent the second night keeping the buggers at bay as well as keeping that calf alive. I grew to hate them then, it was a personal thing. And it's personal now.
PS. As for the calf, he survived though his tail had to be amputated about half way up.

Tuesday 26 April 2011


Grandpa has just spent three hours putting together the Boys new Table Top Table Football, he’s even begun to talk Mandarin or perhaps he’s just being diplomatic. It looks as smart as a new pin despite the fact that I know it’s what my Nan would call “cheap-by-junk”; a curious Welsh phrase which I feel quite sums it up. Far too much time spent on something that really isn’t worth it.
Anyway Grandpa has relaxed and is now talking normally thanks to a judicious glass or two of G&T. I do love that traditional English past time of a libation after Six o’clock and the curious expression that somewhere in the Empire it is always six o’clock does help – especially when flat pack, children’s expectation and holidays all roll into one!
We relax in the evening sun talking of everything and nothing, the occasional raised voice as a point is perhaps too forcefully put but hackles are smoothed with practised ease as can only happen among relatives keen to please and far too happy to see each other after such a long absence. Optimism in the face of reality.
The Boy storms out on to the deck. “It’s not fair Bog Boy won’t play properly. I hate him. I won’t play with him. He’s always doing it wrong!”
Grandpa remarks dryly: "Berlimey three hours’ work and hostilities break out after 10 minutes!”
I respond: “It’s boys Dad, you never had them. You may be a boy who grew up with boys but you never had any of your own.”
The Boy is still chuntering: “But it’s soooo unfair Bog Boy is just horrid. I try but he always gets it wrong.”
We hear Bog Boy wailing in the background: “Boy was horrid! He hurt me!! I’m telling on you Boy I’m telling.”
Bog Boy round the corner and sees his brother already ensconced in the protective arms of his grandmother.
He falters a bit. Then, welling up: “He wouldn’t let me win!!!!!”
Ah, yes Sportsmanship…the next great adventure in my parental learning curve…..

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Moving experiences...

Things I covet: Jim Lawrence tassel
If someone bought your house, how would you leave it? Would you leave it clean and tidy? Perhaps you would add a note about how to turn things on and off and good wishes? Maybe you might even leave a bottle of bubbly and some flowers. A little something to say you cared and hoping that the next owner of your house enjoys it as much as you did.
Maybe you’d do none of the above and just shut the door on a chapter in your life. Being an Army Brat I was brought up to leave my lodgings spick and span. I have an abiding memory (although it may be erroneous) of watching my mother on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor in last ditch attempt to leave our Army Quarter ( military term for house) in Germany, spotless. Finished she closed the door and hassled us into the car where we awaited the Housing Officer to pass the property clean enough so we could leave.
I kid you not these guys would come with clipboards and white gloves to check absolutely everything. They would don white gloves to make sure you had cleaned everything properly, the door lintels the light switches, behind the cooker, under the fridge everywhere. I don’t remember what the penalties were for failing but as a child of eight or nine I got the impression they were dire indeed.
As an itinerant Student my landlords loved me such was the ingrained need to leave each lodging spotless, in fact there were times I felt that the property was left by me far better than when I arrived. I know that when I sold my flat the lucky girl who had bought it was dumbstruck at how clean it was left, so much so that she rang to thank me. So you may forgive me a little when I get righteously indignant when I hear of people leaving their homes in rather a poor state.
Friends of mine bought a beautiful house and moved in a few weeks ago. The couple who left, she an interior designer, were great. They took everything, virtually everything even though they were going into rented accommodation in the same village. They removed every light fitting, every fixed mirror, every flower pot (after dumping the surplus soil on the ground where the pots had previously stood); they even took the gas canisters that ran the hob breaking the connections so badly that new ones cannot be fixed. They took all the chopped wood. If they could I am sure they would have drained the oil – there again I am not sure that they did not.
However, they did leave behind filth, everywhere. Evidence of the great anger they obviously felt about leaving their home. They also left behind two pairs of curtains and told my friends so very magnanimously. I was immediately suspicious. If they had taken absolutely everything else that was not physically cemented to the floors of the house, why would thy leave the curtains behind? In fact when the negotiations were going on for the house my friends were offered all the curtains at a price way too steep for my friends to feel comfortable with, despite being told rather forcefully that the curtains were designer and that my friends should be so lucky to be offered said curtains.
We were shown proudly round the new home and I tried to avert my eyes from the dark patches in the carpet and the badly scraped walls, the piles of dust and ingrained dirt on the bannisters. We were shown the curtains.
“They aren’t our state but they aren’t so bad," said my friend, “just a little stained on the bottom.”
I pricked up my ears, stained? I said: "Let’s have a butchers..."
I approached the curtains already knowing what I would find. I gingerly picked one up
They were stained alright and also felt a bit damp too. I sniffed and staggered back a few paces. The bottom of the curtains were drenched in cat pee.
Now if the previous owners had just left the curtains and said nothing at all about them I would have just considered them filthy people with no sense of pride, but because they actually said they had left the curtains for my friends and they said it so magnanimously I can only say one thing what complete and utter prats and what a nasty thing to do, downright deliberately nasty. And remember this is an interior designer we are talking about, one who still has a business to run.
I must admit I did add after sniffing the curtains that it was blooming lucky they hadn’t opted to buy the rest of them!

Monday 18 April 2011

Blogging is good for you - and I have proved it!

It's been seven days. SEVEN. LONG. DAYS. I have not blogged.
Now is this a good and healthy thing and have I put my new found time to better use? Well, Yes and No would be my answer. Yes, I am sure it is a good and healthy thing not to blog for a week but I can't say yes to actually putting my time to better use...
My desk is still cluttered, my house disorganised, my children running wild and the garden neglected or should that be running wild and the children neglected? To be honest since both are outside I fear the words are interchangeable.
Which actually bodes well for my argument that blogging is good for you  and you should shout it from the roof tops. For while I haven't actually put my spare time into being useful, ordered and housewifely, I have used it in other - how shall I say it? -  less productive ways.
I am now a seriously proficient patience player and there are few of the original 32,000 Windows FreeCell games that I have not managed to solve even if it has taken me in the small wee hours of the morning to achieve it. Luckily I have yet to find Game 11982 which I have been reliably informed is the only unsolvable one there is.
I have also spent a lot of money on stuff; stuff that I otherwise would not have had the time to look at let alone buy had I been blogging and I had to do it normally rather than the Internet which then meant that I had to actually get in the car and drive to the shops to check it all out dragging my poor beleaguered children with me.
Pity the poor shopkeepers of Bury St Edmunds when I descended last week. Touching and fingering the merchandise, asking for different colours ans sizes necessitating countless trips backwards and forwards to storerooms while my children rampaged round the shop causing palpitations in among the breakables, barging past other customers and shouting and laughing so loudly as to be heard over the canned muzak. I am sure they all breathed a sigh of relief when we finally departed. loaded to the gunnels as they say.
Based on my one week without blogging I can honestly say that blogging is good for the environment, I mean I would not have used the car to go shopping if I had been able to blog.
It is good for family relationships nay the good of the whole global community, if I had been blogging I would NEVER have subjected my children to the enforced  trauma of watching Mummy buy a new pair of jeans...and a shirt and a scarf and a pair of shoes and a pair of boots and a ..... well they wouldn't have had to do it OK. They are boys these things will have a HUGE and PROFOUND effect on their abilities to see women in a positive light.
Blogging saves you money, a lot of it. If I had been blogging we as a family would have been considerably plumper in the pocket at the start of this week.
And as for my nerves? well now that I am blogging again I feel almost human and shall bounce down the stairs to cuddle my poor neglected garden and weed my children....

Monday 11 April 2011

The Gods work in mysterious ways…

I have a lot of things to do and, like everyone else, not much time to do them. I travel at speed but that can be my undoing.
Today it cost me £80.
Luckily that was all.
It was a hectic morning sorting out stuff, the paraphernalia of life builders, painters, plumbers, children, dogs, visitors, piano practise and of course taking the boys to their crash course at the local swimming pool affectionately known as the “Sink or swim” programme. It works, trust me or rather the bods that came up with the idea.
Anyway life being what life is I realise that I am going to be late I am cruising through all the stuff I have to do to the extent that I am not actually thinking. I have passports tickets money as I like to say which in this case meant boys swim things, my blog book and my handbag. I am ready to rock and roll.
I get the boys in the car tout-de-suite, the CD is on and booming, the car revving and I am off in a flurry of gravel with minutes to spare.
Ten yards on I come to a grinding halt with the car nose in the air and I am not going anywhere – fast.
In my mad dash to get where I was meant to be going ten minutes ago I failed to notice that the HozeLock reel was out, the really really expensive one that weighs a ton but winds up the hose in a trice. I have driven straight over it and am now on top of it with both front wheels four inches off the ground. This being a front wheel drive means that I am stuck and I cannot even rock the car off it. God how I hate modern vehicles sometimes!
Luckily the builder, painters, plumbers and gardeners who are here on the final push to finish making my house a home were on hand to physically lift the poor old car off the Hozelock and I was safe to carry on my journey.
Safe in more ways than one. The shock of running over the hose was slightly more profound than I had anticipated. For up until that point I was buzzing, almost high on adrenalin and quite obviously not thinking let alone looking at all. What if it had been one of the dogs? What if it had been one of the builders? Or a child? What if I had gone out and hurt someone.
I was a very chastened driver as I drove sedately down the drive and yes my children were late to their swimming lesson but as they say better late than never….I think the Gods were watching over me.

PS. Was very impressed with Hozelock, I mean the reel did break but by 'eck it took some doing!

Go on you know you want to...


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