Thursday, September 30, 2004

There ya go.


Taken by me at Parc Safari, about forty minutes out of Montreal towards the US border, the day before we flew back to Britain.

I am uncommonly dour at the moment. Can't stop feeling homesick- for Canada. Bizarre.

I'm now on the war-path. My broadband connection is still non-existent, and I'm beginning to threaten poor internet publicity should the company in question continue to fob me off. They seem to have staffed their customer services area well enough, but technical support is both ill-trained and elusive. For some reason they all seemed keen to pass me on to someone else.

*vows, fist waving towards the skies* I shall become the thorn in their sides! I shall never rest nor let up until I am running at 1 Mbps! I shall return firing on all four cylinders!

Love Mons@anto? 

No? Neither do I.

From Blogless Ruth, via email, I received a petition against the World Trade Organisation imposing GMO food on us all. If you feel strongly that you'd prefer to have a choice in this matter, go here, and register your objection.

Am feeling quite faint now, having just written out a four-figure cheque to the stove people. Picture may follow. Or I may just give you my favourite zebra photo. You decide.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I forgot to mention running into an old friend from university. She and I were in the same year. She graduated with a First, I with a third. She now lectures in the French department at Exeter. Having a chat with her yesterday was quite weird at times. She, exceptionally bright, downplays her abilities, and attributes her success to being a "girly swot".

As I sat talking to her, I reflected how far she'd got with her chosen career. She's published articles and books, she's taught goodness only knows how many undergraduates. She is doing really well, and has fully earned her success.

I did not do well at university, and deserved my poor result, I suppose. I was unable, at the time, to ask for the help that I needed. Straight after university, I would no more have had the confidence to apply for an MA than I would have walked to the South Pole. There was nothing I wanted more at the time though- I had loads of ideas for a PhD topic- but I totally lacked the confidence to see them, or argue them through.

So what has changed in the last fifteen years, that now sees me becoming a serial postgraduate course-taker? The obvious, really.

I have gained confidence, and lost my fear of failure. I no longer have the feeling of a presence at my shoulder, watching and criticising everything I do, or want to do. I have become my own person. My life has blossomed since I finally broke free of my parents' oppressive influence, and started to become who I am.

Now, if I want to do something new, my only considerations are practical ones: can I fit it in? Can we afford it? Will it adversely affect my family? Is what I want to do? These might seem like constraints, but they are a lot more freeing than worrying about intangible and disapproving ghosts, which never leave you until you choose to ignore them.

My parents did their best, within the limits of their ability, of that I am certain. I just did not break free soon enough.

Well, we have the beginnings of some wood stoves. They are standing in the right place, nominally with all the bits joined up which should be joined up. The process of finding the flue of the old schoolroom stove was rather heart-stopping, though.

As I sat cringing at my computer, the bloke repeatedly stuck his ear to the wall, craning for a faint tap from a rod being rammed down the chimney by the young and lithe chap they bring with them especially for climbing on the roof. Five times he drilled a hole in the wall, thinking he'd found the flue. Once he even took his hammer to a totally innocent piece of wall, stopping after he'd gouged out a brick's worth and finding nothing.

At the fifth attempt of mauling my beautiful, recently painted wall, he found the right spot, dug a large hole for the stove-pipe and gave up bashing.

All we need to do now is wait a day or so for the mortar to dry. On Saturday, we shall burn wood.

The first time I walked the dog on the common, a couple of days after we got him, he met a number of other dogs. Now, Goofy is an "it" dog. I don't mean that he shops in Harvey Nicks and appears on crappy telly shows, but that he once was a "he", but has had certain bits of his anatomy removed under the surgeon's knife.

That first day, every single male dog he met tried to hump him, a pattern repeated over the course of the following days. I was beginning to wonder if he was giving off the wrong pheromones until I fortuitously ran into some labrador rescue people in the woods. They said that dogs do this to dominate other dogs, but that once dogs sort out their pecking order, it should stop.

This morning I had to move Goofy's blanket to the other corner of the hall, since we're expecting the stove people any minute, and his blanket was in the way.

I went upstairs, and when I came back, the blanket had moved. Goofy had dragged it to the middle of the hall, where he busy trying to dominate it. The poor dog must feel it's the only thing he can be master of in our house. Which is just the way it should be.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Sleepless in Devon 

How am I?

Well, unless you count the sore posterior, complete with large brick-shaped bruise and accompanying abrasions, sustained during a late-night mercy dash to the workshop with the pressure washer in my arms -I really should have remembered about the rocks and bricks I'd left lying on the steps after clearing out the woodshed-, the non-existent broadband connection and evanescent engineers, I'm actually pretty fine, thank you.

I start my course tomorrow morning -isn't it infuriating when people forget to blog about things, and then drop them in casually later?- with a three-hour seminar for new postgrads about how to use the library. Don't you just love universities?

Friday, September 24, 2004

One of my sisters is visiting at the moment, with her four-month old baby (she of the wedding notoriety).

The one thing I really dislike about seeing certain of my siblings is the way it seems to project me back into the role I played as a child. I get really pissed off when she attempts to instruct me about something in what I perceive to be a patronising way. I am well aware that this is just her manner, that she is probably off-hand and patronising with everyone, but it still rubs me completely up the wrong way.

And the words "crass" and "insensitivity" have an annoying habit of popping into my head all the time when I'm talking to her. As she moaned about the drop in salary that her husband, recently demobbed hired killer, has had to take to get onto a graduate teacher training scheme, in a school which is paying him nearly 30,000 pounds per year, I couldn't help thinking about the lovely fully-qualified Jamaican teachers in my former school, who were forced to retake their qualification, and be paid 13,000 pounds per year for the privilege. My brother-in-law's training salary could have put up to three trainee teachers into a state school.

Later, after she had put her kid to bed- by seven, she told me that the fact her baby slept through the night was entirely due to her own hard work with her over the last many weeks (the kid is 16 weeks old), and had nothing whatever to do with immense good fortune. I swear this baby spent no more than four hours awake today, which I would personally find very worrying if it were my baby at this age- mine were awake for most of the day at four months.

I tried to explain to her that it was not very sensitive to go around saying that her kid was sleeping through the night in front of other mothers whose babies were almost certainly not. She assured me that she had hardly met anybody whose baby did not sleep through the night. Yeah, right. They're just too embarrassed to say anything in front of you, you stupid bully.

Much frustration, pointless arguing, water off duck's back, biting on piece of wood soaked in strong alcohol is the only solution.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

As well as not managing to sort out the broadband connection this week, we've mostly been building a plinth. Not, as you might very well imagine, upon which to place the statue of The Boff, commissioned for services to weather (particularly in the West Country), but for the wood stove which will be arriving next week. The chimney place wanted to charge us 250 pounds for a couple of pieces of slate 4 feet by two. For the same price, we are building a plinth surfaced in slate, but much larger, and managing to recover a patch of floor inexplicably made of concrete -the rest of the floor is boards. There will be photos, just as soon as my BB connection is sorted.

So you will understand that with serious fun like this going on, I've had little time to blog. I'm very conscious of spending a huge amount of moeny on emergency dial-up, so I've had to cut back somewhat; believe me, it's hurting me more than it's hurting you...

Things will get better. That's my promise.



Monday, September 20, 2004

Oh, the irony... 

Every night, there are fights in hen house between my feathered beauties about who should get the highest perch.

My three children, gathering last night on a window sill, the better to get a good view of the absurd intercenine wars, begin shoving and pushing at each other, arguing about who should sit in front of whom. I fall about laughing upon hearing one of them saying "Well, I'm four years older than you, so I should."

Friday, September 17, 2004

Blinking 'ell- I missed me own blogversary! Yesterday, it was. Life moves on.

And my, hasn't the quality plummetted around here recently? I'm really selling this, aren't I? I think when I'm settled in more, I'll have more time.

Plus, I'm getting Broadband for my blogversary. What d'you mean "a bit extravagant"?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Wish me luck 

I'm off to see the Wizard, leader of the graduate studies programmes in languages at Exeter University, who may or may not allow me to follow the MA course I want. It's an informal chat, rather than a full-scale interview, but knowing what he wants to know is making me slightly nervous.

Little Vera, the sickliest hen on earth, died this morning. I just wonder if the RSPCA wanted her out in order to improve their "deaths in custody" stats. Cynical, me.

I have resisted any former temptation I may have had to feed her to the dog, in a natural cycle of life kind of way, and fed her instead to the bamboo. Which will consume her body, granted, but a lot more slowly and with no crunching.

RIP Vera.

Culture shock 

My body may be in Devon in the second week in September, but my brain is still stuck in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia in the third week in July. We've moved around so much since then, done so many things, that I think I must have left it behind somewhere and driven off without it.

We left Canada so quickly in the end, furtively checking every crevice of our hired car in the airport carpark, that it almost felt like a flit in the night. Granted, we'd spent nearly two weeks saying our goodbyes to Montreal, but I'm only beginning to feel the wrench now- it takes me like a sudden pain from time to time, as I open a drawer, finish unpacking and sorting through a load of stuff, or spend time lying awake, insomniac.

I loved that place, but I was happy to come back. It's comforting to know that Canada is only six hours away, with its bright high skies. That if I look towards Exeter International Airport, four miles away across green fields, it's as though a tunnel is linking me with Canada.

Canada is not my country technically, but it was so welcoming; life, friendships and entertainment are so easy there, that coming back to Devon, stuck as it is in a curious mish-mash of the 1950s and some appalling brand of 21st century eco-fundamentalism, reminds me how frustrating life in Britain can sometimes be.

Devon is beautiful, its people are friendly and as helpful as one could wish for, but the sky is too close still. It's altogether smaller- even the wild animals are scaled-down. Fallow deer are altogether more tame than moose, slow-womrs are infintely more reliable than rattle-snakes, but even the lack of dangerous animals feels strange. Before I left Canada, with yet another noseful of mile-away skunk, I swore that that would the one thing I would never miss.

I almost miss the smell of skunk.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I wish I had the connection speed to upload a pic of my latest hen- one of the original flock, that the RSPCA held onto as she was too sick to be rehomed.

The poor creature, after a few weeks in their care, is extremely thin, featherless, about the size of a quail, and utterly miserable. She spent yesterday cowering in a box in the shed, and so far today has moved about 2 metres from where I left her this morning in front of her food. Yesterday, I genuinely didn't imagine she'd last the night.

I'm crossing my fingers for her, but Sim is really upset. And thank you for all your spells, BW- maybe they'll transfer from my still missing one to the poor sick one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Batman and Robin 

I'm going to make an uncharacteristic foray into current affairs here, if only to ask:

Are these two blokes really surprised that their exes won't let them see their children regularly? I mean, dressing up as Batman and standing on a ledge surrounded by sharp-shooters doesn't sound to me like the sort of behaviour you necessarily want to pass on to the next generation. Maybe their ex partners are only doing what they think is best for the children...

Quest for self-sufficiency 

Also, last night, we decided to install solar tubes to heat our hot water. This decision, which we investigated for our previous house some eight years ago, has recently been made much easier for us by our LPG suppliers bumping their prices up by some ridiculous percentage as of mid September. In the long run, although the initial outlay is quite a few times larger than a tankful of gas, we're expecting the system to save us a lot of money.

Ode to the countryside 

This morning at dawn
Mad cow on the lawn

Saturday, September 11, 2004

I'm off... 

...for the weekend, to visit the old alma mater for a friend's wedding- or since they've been together an absolute age, should I say some friends' wedding. It's going to be a traditional Jewish ceremony, tomorrow Sunday, but we've decided to go up early and have a good ole knees-up with all sorts of friends. They've asked not to have children present, if people can find babysitters, because they are not well off and the village hall is small.

Having reached my mid *mumble*ies, I've been to a fair few weddings, mostly sicen I've had children. This question of whether or not to invite children to an wedding is an extremely loaded one.

The ceremonies I've attended have ranged from the breathtakingly rude stance of my sister's wedding ceremony and reception, where all the children from my side of the family were banned from the reception at the very last minute by the groom's mother*, to several wonderful ones where even I felt that the bride and groom had almost gone to too much trouble for their friends' children.

At first, I used to find it extemely hurtful if the bride and groom requested that one leave one's child at home, like a dog; this was particularly acute in the case of fully breast-fed infants: if you have one of these, a ban on babies simply means that the mother cannot attend the wedding either- it makes you feel rejected for being a mother at a time when you are often at a very low ebb psychologically. In the case of this friend's wedding, I can perfectly understand their point: they simply can't afford to invite the large number of children spawned amongst our group of friends (2 or 3 each, in the main).

So, for future reference, folks, should you ever find yourselves organising a wedding ceremony and not wanting to invite children, here's the technique: do it politely, not bluntly. NEVER make it known that you do not want children present because you think they'll steal the limelight, make noise in church, or you simply can't stand the little b@stards, because in every case you will cast aspersions on their parents, and offend them deeply. You cannot disassociate a child from its parents, because being a parent is a very personal role.

I can tell you that I am still deeply resentful of my sister because of what happened at her wedding reception, and that we are still barely on speaking terms two years later. It's silly and childish of me, I know, but I and the other parents present were very deeply hurt- not to mention that most people had travelled several hundred miles, and crossed the English Channel to be there.

So do not make the same mistake as that silly sister. No. Be polite but firm. Just say: "I'm sorry, but we really can't afford to have all the children there" or "I'm sorry, but our venue is too small to accomodate all the children as well." Ask if the parents would not mind making alternative arrangements for their children, and if, as our friends have done, you say that if that is not possible, they may of course bring them- I can guarantee that everyone will do their utmost to have them babysat.

Distraught, I am 

I've lost one of my hens. She ran into the hedge yesterday morning to get away from the dog, and never came out again. We seached and searched, but she seems to have found a gap in the space-time continuum.

Being hand-reared, she's utterly defenceless against anything, because she thinks every other lifeform is either food or friend. I don't rate her chances against Señor Zorro very highly. I just hope the RSPCA don't find out and repossess the whole lot of them...

Thursday, September 09, 2004

You know, I'm having trouble getting back into this blogging lark. I love doing it, but I seem to have lost the knack for the time being. I'm just too darned busy with friendly hens, clingy dogs and impotent guinea pigs. Plus I have to keep fielding the RSPCA, and walking about four miles a day. Normal service may resume soon though.

My children have just spent a merry half hour trying to feed their homework to the dog. Despite Dill assuring him that ink was yummy, he spurned it steadfastly. Just how many dogs really eat homework?

Speaking of which, I used to have a mad French teacher who used to feed the essays of people she didn't like, to her dog. She also tipped a waste-paper basket on my head once (see how scarred I am- twenty years later and I can still remember every detail!) for the cardinal crime of wanting to leave on time for the bus.

Reasons to love the countryside- Part 3 

It turns out to be very easy to walk the dog to exhaustion. We've only had him for three days, but I swear he's lost some weight already.

He panted a little less today during his walk, and seemed a little more lively at the end of it, than he did yesterday or the day before.

At 36kg, he's still about 6kg overweight, and just carrying that extra flab at a slow amble is probably tiring enough. I'll keep reporting on his slow crawl to fitness.

Oh, and since I could do with shedding about the same amount, I'll remain extremely evasive about how I'm doing.

Reasons to love the countryside- Part 2 

Egg count:
Sunday: 1
Tuesday: 2
Thursday: 2

I am reliably informed that hens lay on average every 26 hours, and they take time to settle into a new place before starting egg production. I feel lucky.

Reasons to love the countryside- Part 1 

Yesterday at dawn, my dog crapped on a slow-worm in the compost heap. I don't think he even noticed. The dog, that is. You should have seen the look on the slow-worm's face.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


This dial-up's doing my head in, so I need some help from a kind techie-type person. I've ordered the Broadband packagey thing from Bulldog, but they don't come with a free router, although they do come without a limit on the amount of time I can spend online.

Bulldog tell me that I need a thing called an ethernet router for my Mac. In Montreal, that was in our landlords' flat, so I never needed to trouble my head over it. Now I need to choose one.

The question is: What sort of ethernet router should I get? The various features are all very confusing, I find. I'm not sure what kind of router I need, what speed, how many ports, whether to get wireless or not, how many Mbps it should do, etc etc... Bulldog is offering me a basic one at 49.99 pounds, but that seems a little expensive for what I get, having shopped around a little. Any pointers?

Please, someone, help. Thank you.

And welcome, Kitchen Witch. I'm just sorry I can't leave comments, cos we're practically neighbours, it seems. Are you sure you don't want to move to a host that allows the hoi polloi to comment? Oh. You don't. Oh well.

Guinea-pig love quadrangle 

My guinea pigs have gone to stud, to visit the female guinea-pig of my friend Karen. Her guinea-pig Cleo has failed to get pregnant despite having a resident boyfriend, Twitch, so we thought that maybe he was too old, and that my males, Roger and Tripod, might do the trick. The next day, I received the following hysterical email from her:

morning E

thought i'd update you by e.mail as your not there to answer the phone (SHE SHOUTS) I put yours in with cleo on our arrival home,the upshott is....roger showed no interest in her at all not a quiver (it crossed my mind he could be blind) just joking.....tripod on the other hand sniffed he nose kissed her tenderly all over her face, she sat still pretending he wasnt there.

They had a chase about, this time he changed ends and she quite liked his attention then, but was very wary not to stay still for too long, then quite intuitively backed herself into a corner. "there thats stumped you you little bugger". meanwhile roger looked as if he was about to turn in for the night and kipped on and off.

so i thought lets have a party, so i introduced twitch to the run, well roger took one look at twitch and immediately fell head over heals literally he couldnt keep away from my little man. i have some bad news for you e ...rogers gay me old fruit.

Twitch got all fired up and it certainly woke the bear inside, after that he was trying to bonk anything that moved. i tried to converse with my sister-in-law on our cordless whilst perched on the edge of the run and the bloody noise of squeeking and bass like warbling that was emmitting it was hard to hear what she was saying. Anyway the bottom line is tripod has unsuccessfully persued cleo, twitch really fancies tripod and roger thinks twitch is the best thing since sliced bread .....where do i go from here... i'll put them together again throughout the day and ring you tonight

love karen

Public announcement 

Something is amiss with Gmail. I can't seem to log into my email account. So all those hordes of people trying to send me mail should use the Yahoo address for the time being, please.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Out on a limb, again 

I feel as though I've just hit a whole new level of weirdness in the last ten days, in my new struggle against vetinerary, pet shelter, butcher and every Tom, Dick and Harry's opinion on the best thing to feed your dog.

We pick up our new dog today, and for the last week, I've been searching high and low for a supplier of raw meat for dogs. I happen to believe, you see, that cooked wheat is not necessarily the best food for an essentially carnivorous animal, and quite a lot of people out there agree with me. Including dog breeders, some vets, and a fair few purist nutters like me. The eating plan I'm referring to is called by the touching acronym BARF, not because it makes the animal throw up all the time, but because it stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food; in other words, feeding what nature intended.

Our level of civilisation has reached such a peak, that animals are now fed an amazing number of things that, were they raw and lying in front of a starving animal, they would think was part of the decoration. Grains in carnivores' food; meat in herbivores' pellets; feeding deceased members of one species back to its cell mates; these are all utterly unnatural and just freakish feeding practices in my opinion.

Yet if you look at the back of your cat or dog's food bag, the chances are that the first and largest ingredient is wheat. If it is a top of the range food stuff, it probably lists chicken as the first ingredient, follwed by a variety of grains, which I can only guess will add up to around 50-60% or more of the total volume.

When I was a child, and we fed our dogs on special minced bits from the butcher, table scraps and dog rice, everyone around us did the same. I cannot remember ever seeing an overweight dog. Our three dogs were never ill and never went to the vets' unless it was to treat a wound (fox traps, cars etc...) They were slender and healthy, never out of breath.

Many people seem to think that you need to cook dogs' meat, or they will get salmonella, E.Coli, or many of the other nasties that plague modern agriculture. I think that this is utter anthropomorphic nonsense.

Dogs' stomach contain a stomach acid several times more concentrated than our own, designed to dissolve bones, kill bacteria and break down meat protein quickly. Their gut is very much shorter than ours, however large the dog. They simply are not equipped to get nutrients in any quantities from grains. When did you last see a hyena in the Serengeti or a wolf in the Great North unpack its' camping stove to make itself a nice slice of toast? Exactly.

Wild dogs eat soft organs of the animals they kill, stomach contents of herbivores, and meat and bones. I'm sorry folks, but your dog is a lot closer to a wolf, digestively speaking, than it is to you. So don't expect it to eat what you eat and stay healthy. Meanwhile, I'm off to find a butcher that will sell me uncooked beef bones with meat still on.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Breakfast conversation today 

Hen: "Mummy, how come you're inviting people we don't even know to our house-warming party? They might be burglars."
Dill: "Or stranglers!"
Hen: "Yes, we might get murdered in our beds, and then they might take our hens."
Me: "Hmmm..."

They don't get this from me, you know. It must be The Boff.

Please don't think that this is one of those sites where people bang on about their hens all the time ;), but I have to report to that the hens seem to be settling well.

Once I'd got them home and let them out into the garden, with child guards constantly watching them to make sure they don't go near the road, they ran as fast as they could for the nearest patch of gravel and spent half and hour eating grit. They then dashed for the nearest patch of earth andspent two hours looking for wildlife- worms, woodlice and small insects. They THEN spent the rest of the afternoon eating grass. They completely ignored the mixed corn, pecking only a little at the special pellets for laying hens. This morning, the diarrhea, which has been plaguing them for a few days according to the staff at the shelter, has completly disappeared.

Now, I'm not a hen expert, but I can spot signs of ill-health in an animal; in my experience, much ill-health in animals is caused by the wrong diet. The shelter was simply not feeding them correctly. Although grit was mentioned on the diet sheet which came with them, there was none to be seen in the 10' by 10' concrete enclosure they were housed in at the shelter, nor was there any earth to scratch or insects for them to eat.

They also hadn't been feeding them layers' pellets, so they had completely stopped laying- apparently they started again a couple of days ago, once they worked out the problem. I think the poor hens might have been better off straying than being "looked after" by well-intentioned ignoramuses. I just don't think the RSPCA's sphere of experience extends to livestock, however good they may be on cats and dogs. They certainly seemed very relieved to see them hens go.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

We heard yesterday aftneroon from the RSPCA. We've been cleared to bring home the three-legged guinea-pig as a companion for our own bereaved one, and four of the hens. The other two hens are staying at the RSPCA as they were being picked on by the others and are still not in good enough health. I tennd to think that being picked on is the law of the barnyard, but the RSPCA cannot think of putting them back into such a merciless environment. So for the time being, they stay in their six by six cage in the hospital wing there.

Goofy is proving more difficult- apparently the three-foot ha-ha that separates our garden from the churchyard next door, itself surrounded by a ten foot impenetrable hedge, is not sufficient. We have to decorate the top of this lovely 100 metre long stone wall with a fence topped with razor-wire, supported at each corner by watch-towers and armed guards at all times. Never mind that most of the dogs in the neighbourhood (all ten houses of it) occasionally escape, and are simply taken home to their owner by whomever finds them. Apparently the dog must not be able to "leave our property" for them to release him to us.

I did try to explain to the young lady who rang that improving the fence might take some time, but since the best advice the dippy older couple who did the home check could offer was to install electric fence, and that the RSPCA empoyee totally poohpoohed that idea, we are slightly clueless about what to do next.

I've been researching wireless fencing, where the dog wears a collar that emits a mild electric signal when he gets near to the wire boundary, but I should that even mild electric shocks are considered cruel by the RSPCA. What we really should do, is not to teach our dog where his boundaries lie, by walking him round them and letting him pee on them, but to build him a ten foot high compound. I'm sure that would be so much kinder on him. If you'll excuse me, I have a phone call to the animal behaviourist to make, straw to buy, chicken feed to attend to, and guinea pigs to introduce to each other.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

It's been two weeks since we got back, but I'm still suffering from weird sleeping patterns. Last night I fell asleep on Dill's bedroom floor at 9pm, in the middle of a poem. Now here I am awake at 4.30am.

I can't believe it takes me so long to acclimatise to a five hour time difference- I seem to remember that it took just as long when we went to Canada. I wonder whether people actually truly acclimatise if they cross the Atlantic for a couple of weeks- maybe they're back before the full effects of jet-lag really declare themselves.

The children are also taking a long while to settle into sensible bed times- 9 is about the earliest they've been to sleep in a very long time. Sim and Hen have been wide awake and reading at 1 o'clock in the morning (or later) quite frequently since we got back. They then wake up at 8:30 am and spend the day ratty and quarrelsome, unsurprisingly. They go back to school on Tuesday, and I just hope that we can sort them out by then.

In the meantime, here I am, tired and yawning but sleepless. Ho hum.

Small tantrum 

Why is it so damned damp in this country?

Why are the appliances so pathetically under-powered? Do they think we're made of time?

Why is it impossible to find furniture made out of wood here? (I think we have Elizabeth I to thank for that one- her and her blasted expansionism) Why do joiners think that chipboard covered with plastic is just the same as wood, and charge accordingly?

Why is everything so sodding expensive?

Why is everybody so miserable and ratty?

Why do car drivers want to kill pedestrians and cyclists? Why don't they stop to let people cross the road? Why do they feel so self-righteous on the road?

Why do I have to take a bloody exam to adopt a three-legged guinea-pig that nobody else wants?

Why hasn't the Exeter Stoves and Chimneys man sent me my quote yet? I need wood-burners, dammit, man!

...foams at the mouth and falls over backwards...

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