Monday, 30 April 2007

Cat on my knee

I am trying to blog on my laptop with a cat on my knee. This is not easy. She keeps getting up, moving round, digging her claws in, rubbing the side of her face against the screen and generally being a pain in the backside. She is only here because she is getting so thin, scraggy and balding that I am sorry for her. But whatever is the matter with her cannot alter her essential spirit - stroppy, demanding, noisy, caterwauling and a bully of all other cats, even those three or four times her size.

We had a great visit to our friends in Derbyshire: lovely food, wine, good conversation, leisurely walk after lunch and a mooch around their very fine garden. Once again I have come back with plants for mine. I wonder if there is any market for advanced plant scrounging skills?

These friends are the best kind. You know how you have friends of all different kinds? Friends for having a good time with, friends for serious conversation, friends for drinking too much and staying out too late with, friends for hard times, friends for easy times, friends you have to be feeling in the mood for, friends who you love but who can still baffle or infuriate? Well these friends are the kind you are always in the mood for, who can do serious and silly, good times and bad, who are similar enough for easy empathy and understanding but different enough (artistic and design types) for the difference to have a sort of glamour. God alone knows whether that works both ways, certainly we are a bit short on the glamour front but we can do, indeed have done in coming here, mad.

So it was worth going away from home for but tomorrow it is back to London. I have ludicrous amounts to do for work. I even thought of doing some work when we got home tonight but first I had to catch up with blogs and now I am blogging myself and then it will be time for bed. Get your priorities right.

We have been trying to grow mushrooms in a box on the floor of the pantry and tonight we opened up and there they were, looking uncannily like mushrooms. I don't know what I thought they would be like but these have amazed me by looking just like mushrooms from a shop. Will post pic to prove it.

Something of a scattergun blog today. Certainly would not sustain a column in a quality glossy.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

A day of two halves

I woke to sunshine and the sound of a car door. Our cottage visitors were packing up to go home. Not a morning for turning over and going back to sleep. They had recovered from the trauma of no water and seemed keen to come back. That's always good. We must be doing something right, even if it is only living where we do.

A gardening day with occasional unenthusiastic forays into the house. I've been weeding and planting cornflower seeds in a dry bed in the kitchen garden. Ian is moving on with the chicken house. Everywhere is full of things to do and not enough time to do them in. Tonight we are going into Manchester for a fundraising do and staying overnight. Tomorrow we are going to some very good friends in Derbyshire for lunch and won't be back home until Monday evening. I am looking forward to seeing our friends but the pull of home and garden is strong. It will require an effort of will to wrench myself away.

This morning's post brought an appointment for my scan: Tuesday when I can't go. I will be in London. Part of me wants to cancel everything and get it over with. Another part wants to carry on as normal and make it fit in with me, not the other way round. I think we will go with part number two.

So it's time to shower and iron something glam, to scrub my fingernails and resign myself to sitting on my hands. This is such a short blog I thought I would indulge myself with some photos of the garden: the irises, some early apple blossom and an old one of the piglet eared daffodils which I am still hoping someone (Milla seemed to know what I meant when I mentioned them a few weeks ago?) might be able to identify for me.

Won't be blogging for a couple of days but look forward to catching up when I get back.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Eggy blog

This morning my friend P and I set off to buy some eggs for her to hatch - some for her and some for me. Rather guiltily I left Ian dealing with the fact that our water supply had failed last night to the not very great delight of the guests in the cottage. We have a pump house in one of the farmer's field from where mains water is pumped up to the house and then on to cottage. No pumping, no water. The man who worked on it last year had turned up at ten past seven this morning so, feeling very glad that Ian was here today, we drove off into the sun.

It was a beautiful drive towards Oswestry and then through Chirk and out into deepest country. The lanes became narrower and steeper as we carefully followed directions: the ruined house, the farm buildings, the blue spot on the tree. Then over two cattle grids and bumping down a track, wondering if we should have brought the four by four.

The farm sat at the bottom of a quiet valley by a stream. The woman who ran it was welcoming and friendly, drying her hands as we arrived, two little terriers bouncing at her feet. Over the stepping stones on the other side of the stream were large pens with different breeds of hen and turkeys and cockerels wandering free. One of P's Buff Orpingtons has just become very broody so the original plan was for us to buy about twelve eggs and let her sit.

"Well" said the egg lady as we oohed and aahed and wanted everything, "you could take twelve for the hen and twelve for the incubator."

We were off! Six Welsomer eggs, dark brown, the perfect boiled egg. Six Rhode Island Reds for the handsome glossy birds with their shiny chestnut feathers. Six cream Legbars for the lovely blue green eggs, magic eggs to delight children, and six little Dutch bantams, Freesians I think she said although don't believe my spelling, for the dainty birds with their beautiful cream and fawn feathers and delicate markings.

So we shall see how we get on. I only want four and P only half a dozen but it seems that eggs produce more cockerels than hens and it is the hens we want. The cockerels will be for the pot. In seven days time P will candle the eggs in the incubator checking for life and I will go up to watch. Three weeks to hatching. How exciting.

As we arrived back, the eggs cradled in their boxes on my lap, the pump man was preparing to leave, water restored after what sounded like a hairy morning. We ate bread and cheese and the last of last year's chutney outside under the yew tree.

Tonight is Welsh class and no home work done as yet and tomorrow is another journey to London, eight hours travel all together for a three hour meeting so need to stop blogging and start welshing.

Thank you so much for your comments and thoughts yesterday.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

what a day

Well, check up day today and all the usual sensations when returning to the Christie. Mostly now I don't think about last year (except for the extraordinary rush of writing about it on my earlier blogs, must retrieve them but don't know how) but walking the corridors there brings the slow shuffle with the drip stand and the bag right to the edge of my memory. I turn away from it.

I explain some slightly odd symptons and the doctor examines me. "I'm pretty sure everything is ok" he says. "We'll do another scan just to be sure. I am practically certain there is no recurrence but we will check."

He is about to retire from the Christie but will continue to work at a private hospital. I have medical insurance through work. Would I like to transfer to someone else here or come to the other place? I like this man. He has a calm, kind face and is reassuring without patronising. I feel he sees something of me as well as the patient. "I'll come to you" I say. They will send me a date for the new scan.

We drive away and Ian drops me so I can get a bus into the city. He is going into work. I must not be pissed off about having a scan. It is the right thing to do and the only way of getting complete reassurance. As I sit on the bus I give myself a little mental shake and realise that the person sitting next to me if shifting away slightly. Whoops! it was a physical shake too.

I am having my hair cut and going shopping to fill the rest of the day rather than going back to work. These days I am only ever in the city when I go to work. Otherwise I am home which is where I want to be but definitely no shops. I hate window shopping and shopping as relaxation but I quite like a blast of shopping in a short space of time.

My usual hairdresser is busy but I was so determined to make this day have useful stuff in it that I have booked to see another girl, small and sweet and younger than Nicola who is practically a friend as well. This means I come out with shorter and blonder hair than usual but what the hell. I never look like me when I go to the hairdresser anyway because my drying skills are nonexistent and they produce a smooth and glossy look which I never repeat. My hair really wants to kink and bend and go its own way.

After the hairdresser I go for lunch in Waterstones, and then go to buy a beautiful pale blue and white linen dress (yes, yes, I know, last time I bought linen I said never again but it is just lovely and far too expensive and sod it, when I put it on it moves around my legs in a way that reminds me of me).

I talk to my sister and we plot a girlie night away. She and her partner with five children between them live on the edge of Dartmoor and time to herself just doesn't happen. I suspect she would kill for the night to myself I blogged about the other day. We will meet in the middle of the country somewhere and drink white wine and talk all night.

Ian and I drive home together and arrive with the evening light vivid and gold on the other side of the valley against a granite sky. We live here. Will we ever take it for granted? We walk around the garden, check the greenhouse, walk through the field to inspect the new trees. Everything is now in leaf except the whitebeam. Does anyone know if they leaf late? It doesn't look dead, with swollen buds but still resolutely bare.

Tomorrow it is down to Oswestry to collect the eggs for hatching to produce our Welsomers. Isn't life good?

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Home again

Ian is watching the Manchester United match which means that, even though I have been away a couple of nights, I can do some guilt-free blogging. I have been living my other non-country life today and yesterday. Dinner last night with clients and a meeting all day today which kicked off at 8.00 and was very hard work, quite confrontational and knackering. I think I am getting better than I used to be at switching off from work things but also less prepared to put up with them. I wonder where that will lead?

Driving home tonight I was struggling to keep awake but arrived back to a fire lit and Ian cooking my tea. What a man.

Tomorrow I am back to the Christie for my six month check up. A couple of days ago I suddenly found myself feeling unexpectedly wobbly about this but I am ok again now. You have to take the view that if they are monitoring you so closely nothing can creep up on you unawares. That's what I tell myself. Works just fine in the day. Sometimes falters in the middle of the night.

I am really enjoying catching up with blogs again and working my way through all my favourites. I have decided that every day I will also try to read one person I haven't read before. Don't want to miss anything but have got a non-computer based life to live as well. I was amused to see suffolkmum's comment about keeping children off computers and doing it ourselves. That rang very true!

Because I am so full of work and tomorrow's appointment I am going to do a picture blog today. I will try to find one of the view from the second pigsty and one of the privy. Let's be down to earth today.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Sunday morning

I woke this morning to a quiet house, Ian away, the only sound the steady murmur of rain on the roof. I love this. I miss Ian as well and I am already looking forward to seeing him again tonight but sometimes the deep peace of the place to myself calms me to the soles of my feet.

I have plenty of friends who don't get it, who say "I wouldn't want to be here by myself at night, so isolated (Stephen King type visions presumably in their heads), so many creaks and noises. Uurgh no."

And it is true that the old house, particularly in wind, creaks and sighs and moans like a ship at sea. But I know its noises now and to ride the night with it, waking, turning in the warm bed, safe in its arms, dropping back down into sleep, is one of the best things. When I wake at night I often go the window, the curtains are never drawn, to look out at the utter dark of a cloudy night or the high stars or the moon washing the valley silver. Last night was cloudy, true dark like burrowing under the blankets as a child.

This morning is grey and soft with gentle rain. We have had no rain for nearly three weeks and I have been watering the vegetable garden so though I feel sorry for the visitors in the cottage it is welcome to me. Already the green of the grass and the new leaves is more intense. The carrots and the mangetout and the new sowing of broad beans all need more rain to germinate and the new magnolia and the osmanthus and rhododendron I brought back from Bodnant Garden will drinking it in.

Today I am going to do some of the many things I ignored yesterday in trying to set up my new blog, indeed I have already shaved my legs. Let's get our priorities right. I have a work dinner to go tomorrow night, a skirt to wear and teddy bear winter legs just will not cut it.

I hope I am able to attach a photo of the kitchen garden from June last year. It doesn't quite look like this yet as the apple trees have yet to flower and to come into full leaf but you get the idea. The rain is clearing now. Time to have a look in the greenhouse.

Hoping there will be more blogs to read later in the day.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

A toe in the water

I have been dipping in and out of purplecoo all day while supposedly getting the cottage ready for guests. It's just like going back to school after the long holidays and rushing around to see who else is back. I'm so very glad to see so many names and some new ones and some, like brownmouse, who seemed to have disappeared and who has popped up again. Do hope chickenlicken will change her mind and has anyone been in touch with woozle?

I have a load of work to do but Ian has gone away to babysit for Sam and Chris has gone back to university so there is no guilt, nobody being neglected and every opportunity to mess about for a bit and find my feet here. It is supposed to rain here tomorrow so I will work then, along with doing the ironing, potting on the nicotiana, cleaning out the pantry, sending out some cottage leaflets, ringing my mother, shaving my legs, doing some filing, yeah right as my sons would say.

I never really cracked putting up photos in the other place so hope I can sort that here as we have so many I would love to share.

Ian has been making progress on the henhouse, to his own design naturally. It seems to have got bigger and more ambitious as the day wore on. I am really looking forward to going on the egg collecting foray to Oswestry on Thursday. The idea of our chickens being hatched for us really appeals. Might even buy a couple as point of lay as well and then we get the best of both worlds.

Right, going to post this now and see what we have achieved!

Friday, 20 April 2007

making sense of it all

still reeling from the last couple of days. really want to rediscover the pleasure and the innocence of blogging and commenting for the joy of it. let us hope it works for us all here

welsh hills

not sure whether this is what i wanted to do. may well have started something else entirely