Saturday, March 31, 2007

I am off today, to a place where they might or might not be Internet. Mildred MacApple is going with me, but quality may be patchy around here for the next couple of weeks. While we are away, Hen will turn 12, which surprises me somewhat.

See you...soon. Maybe sooner than you think...

Friday, March 30, 2007

I left the house to walk the dog, cramming a piece of dark chocolate in my mouth as I locked the front door.

He was standing in the driveway, waving a metal detector up and down.

"D'you know where yer stopcock is, luv?", he asked.

"I beg your pardon?", I quipped.

"Yer stopcock, d'you know where it is?", he insisted. "Water board. We're going to reline the pipes."

"Well", said I, "I fondly imagined that you guys might actually hold plans of where you put stuff."

"Oh no," he answered, as though I'd just suggested he stand on his head and push bananas up his nose. "Well, we'll have to shove a camera up them then."

He wandered up and down the driveway and verge outside a few more times. Later, I passed him at the crossroads, on the phone to his HQ requesting a camera survey.

Good to know how our money's being spent.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


There was quite a nice Georgian house on the way to Dill's school. It was made of yellow brick three storeys high, with dormers in the roof, and many evenly-spaced sash windows across its façade. It stood in a field, surrounded by green green grass.

For 18 months I caught tantalising glimpses of it out of the corner of my eye as I drove past.

Then, one day, I rode as a passenger past the gate separating the green field from the road, and saw that my Georgian house is in fact a Dutch barn filled high with bales of yellow straw. I don't know whether to be disappointed or not.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Today I did a good trade: 8 fertile lavender araucana eggs for 3 beautiful lavender plants.

It seems fitting, somehow. Now all to do is find a suitable trade for a noisy midget cockerel.

Monday, March 26, 2007

In short, in no particular order 

Wednesday: Manage to get Hen to return to gymnastics for the first time in 7 months.

Thursday: Drop pedometer down the loo. Two friends announce their marriage has hit a rocky patch. Spend part of day on phone. Ma-in-law to supper.

Friday: Exhausted and unwell. Spend part of day in bed, other part pottering around garden.

Saturday: Dill horn lesson. Sim orchestral rehearsal. Prepare packed tea for Sim. Hen to sleepover. The Boff drives her and her friend to mid-Devon for party. Dill and I to farm supply shop. Sim orchestral rehearsal. Back home. The Boff, Dill and I to Sim's concert.

Sunday: Retrieve Hen. Move chicken enclosure, rabbits and a load of compost. Usual 4 mile walk in the forest in the afternoon. Film (Casino Royale from online film rental) with popcorn, which as usual I only half watch and have to ask for updates all the time. Make bread, supper, do some admin and flop.

I'm sure I must have done something else on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It seems that even here, in deepest darkest Devon, we are not immune to the times.

Sim and Hen, along with their friends Alex (14) and Anastasia (12), also siblings, were attacked on their way from school to the bus stop yesterday afternoon by three youths, possibly as young as themselves. It happened in a quiet, relatively affluent street of terraced houses, that according to our neighbour used to be really rough for Exeter.

The girls were unharmed, having crossed the road to avoid the situation as it developed from some harmless but insistent questioning into something rather more scary.

The youths demanded money from the two boys. Alex, scared to turn his back on them, walked backwards and fell over a recycling box in front of a resident's gate. The youths riled him, and one of them chased him down the street with a bottle, as he ran for the shop at the end of the road.

Sim then crossed the road to get away from the boys, rejoining the girls, where the youths then set about him physically. He was punched in the head twice, and in the stomach once.

The children all then ran for the corner shop at the top of the street and took shelter in there until the bus came.

Just to illustrate how phlegmatic insane my son is: he left the shop every so often to check on the arrival of the bus, and every time gave the little yobs a cheery wave as they hung around the corner waiting for their quarry to leave the shop. As I said before, the boy has no pain threshold.

The bus came, the children left the shop and sprinted for the bus, asking a young man waiting there if they could get on before him, as the youths were by this time sprinting down the road after them.

Sim and Hen seemed remarkably unscathed, considering the scary situation they'd just been in. We thought they'd dealt very well with the situation, refusing to fight, asking the aggressors to leave them alone, and keeping engagement with them to a minimum. Taking refuge in the shop was also a good tactic, as was refusing to give them the money they demanded, although I'm not sure I'd recommend that in a more dangerous situation -ie if the youths had been threatening them with a weapon.

Sim went to sleep very early last night, claiming to be none the worse for his experience, and rather nonplussed by my insistence on reporting the matter to the police. I told him that I had to for the yobs' sake as much as anything- if they are demanding money with menaces and violence at 12/13, to what dizzy criminal heights will they have graduated by 16?

The police did not come to take Sim's statement last night, as they had something more important to do. They say that they will come tonight.

Alex and Anastasia's mother is livid as Alex is refusing to take the bus ever again- he may be the most affected of the four of them. The poor lad was so scared.

Sim and Hen are worryingly gung-ho about the whole thing. Does this reveal a complete lack of awareness of acceptable boundaries, or an extremely solid emotional state? I do not know.

Update: the police will not come even today. The police officer helpfully suggests that maybe Sim should write down the details of the assault while they are still fresh in his mind, as they (the police) are too busy dealing with two serious RTAs to come this evening. When I tell them that it does not sound as though they are taking this especially seriously, and ask what the yobs will be doing in 4 years' time if they are demanding money from strangers, with menaces, now, she tells me that my son is safe whereas the people in the RTAs are not and rings off abruptly. I thought the ambulance and fire services dealt with the immediate life-threatening stuff. I must be wrong. As Imperatrix said in the comments, it really is no wonder we have the problems we have with street crime in this country. They will only take these youths' behaviour seriously when they have knifed someone, or punched them unconscious. I can feel my MP, writing to, finger, itching.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Mothers' Day in the morning 

Friday, March 16, 2007

I am very fed up today. When I'm less fed up, I'll come back and tell you why. In the meantime, I think I'll go to bed with "Human Traces".

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I'm making omelettes 

We thought we'd cracked the egg problem, we really did.

I proposed an eggciting business venture to Sim the other day: that he set up a stall at the end of garden, and that he organise the eggs every morning, wiping them if necessary, dating them, and placing them in the box he'd sorted out.

In exchange, I suggested that he keep the proceeds, which at the price I was suggesting for the eggs at the time, would amount to some 7 pounds a week. The downside for him was that his regular pocket money would stop.

I thought he'd jump at the chance, but he didn't.

The lazy little so and so instead pooh-poohed the viability of my business venture, demanded full costing of materials, and debated whether 1/4 of his age in pounds every week in the hand, was better than 7 pounds in the proverbial bush. He ummed and arred so much that I decided he was not taken with the idea, and went ahead the next day with the venture myself.

Sim was moderately impressed by my stall, but not too bothered that I'd gone ahead without him.

At the weekend, someone stopped and bought that day's dozen, leaving behind 30 more pence than was required.

The Boff took 3 half-dozens to work on Monday.

On Tuesday, nobody had bought any at the gate, and seeing 12 to 14 new eggs each day added to our stockpile, with the inevitable warehousing problems this entailed, we made the bold business decision to offer the eggs on the intranet at his place of employ. Since his work employs 2000 people, there was a real risk that demand would quickly outstrip supply, a risk that had till now kept our sales confined to The Boff's immediate departmental colleagues.

Certain packaging problems are being circumvented by offering a reduction to those donating boxes to the venture, and we have put prices up to those from outside the Boff's department (we await anxiously for this to be challenged as price-fixing, or offering unfair advantage).

Yesterday, someone bought the full dozen from the bottom of the garden. Yesterday evening, the Boff came home and announced that he has sold all 18 he'd taken in that day, and had orders for 6 more half-dozens.


Our chickens are good layers, but nothing on earth is going to convince 16 laying hens to produce 36 eggs in one day. So we have a supply problem. The Boff went to work armed only with a weak promise that I would bring today's lay in at lunchtime, and I made an emergency call to our lovely neighbours, whose chickens are even more organic than ours.

Mary's hens are laying up to 8 a day, and since there are generally only two of them at home, they have trouble giving them away fast enough. She agreed to supply me this morning with as many eggs as she can spare by lunchtime tomorrow- she'd been talking about selling them anyway.

This is madness though. I am having to "buy"* in eggs to cover the demands of our client base, who were only ever enlisted to mop up any surplus in the egg production designed to cover our own needs. This thing is taking on a life of its own.

And now I have my son and hair** accusing me of setting up the business behind his back, "waiting till I went to school", and saying that he wanted to be involved all along, and trying to back-peddle on his initial lack of enthusiasm. He can see his coveted laptop slipping away.

I told him: "You snooze, you lose". I daresay he'll come and whisper those words savagely at me in my nursing home in 2048.

*Obviously, I will not be taking a cut. Obviously. I may be willing to go behind my son's back for £1.40 a day, but Mary is far too sweet.

** We managed to get a bit cut off yesterday. Hooray!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dill is not at school this morning, since she is off to a play in Torquay later, for which trip I am being a chaperone. Since I don't want to make the 6 mile trip three times in 3 hours, she is staying at home this morning. Which is nice for me, partly.

As I write this, she is getting cross at not being able to hit a note on the horn, and is kicking her music across the room. Apparently the music is stupid and uncooperative, and she can't do it.

Earlier, she was putting the finishing touches to a pair of paper towel galoshes (don't ask), and they were being uncooperative and stupid. She had to throw them across the room and trample on them before throwing them in the fire basket.

She's really rather cute when she is cross, but it's more than my life's worth to say anything of the sort.

She's now decided to try that tested method of distraction, eating. Walnut pavé with a big wodge of tuna fish. Comfort food. I wonder if she'll get that note in a moment, tuna crumbs and all...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Daniel and the lions 

I've forgotten to tell you about Sim's incredible pain threshold. He's never one to moan much or be especially weedy. It was a surprise therefore when ten days ago, an hour before he was due to go to his friend Duardo's house, he complained that he could hardly walk because he'd done something to his foot.

It was Duardo's birthday lunch, and they were going to spend the day damming a stream and charging around outdoors.

We had a good look but could see nothing more than a small cut to the skin on the side of his heel. He thought he'd scraped it against a needle, and that the needle had broken off inside his foot. We could see no evidence of that, and thought he must just have grazed it with the needle.

So he went off to Duardo's house, hobbling pitifully. Duardo's mother was dubious that any foreign object might be lodged in the foot, and we agreed that he would be in excruciating pain if a needle were indeed stuck deep in his paw. We debated whipping him over to the hospital, whilst doubting that there was anything stuck at all. I decided that even if there were something stuck, his body would try to force it out overnight.

So I left him, readers, to charge around all day in wellies, damming up streams in a horse field. And that evening, after he'd washed off the bog water and mud in a good long soak in the bath, that bloody needle reappeared at the surface. We grabbed it with tweezers and pulled it out, and it slid out in a rather nauseating way, nauseating because it makes you realise how easily it went in, nearly an inch long, and pointing straight inwards, where it was buried out of sight.

Bad, bad mummy.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

It seems that some of our very, very old friends are turning 40 these days.

Accordingly, we're hotfooting off to London today to commiserate with a pair of them.

You will find us in a drunken stupor.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

tamagochi yawn 

Dill: "...so I need to go on the internet and type in "Tamagochi Cheese""

Me: "What? Tamagochi CHEESE???"

Dill: (audible eye roll) "No, Mummy, Tamagochi Cheats...


Dill: "So Tiger's tamagochi came round to mine, and did a poo, and now they have babies- twins! One each. One lives with Sasha*, and one lives with Molly**"

Me: *Just what are they trying to teach you?* "Right, so in Tamagochi world, they go round to each other's houses to poo?"

Dill: "Yes."


Dill: "...so Tiger says that you can get codes to go shopping in Tamagochi Town, and you can get a mobile phone, and your tamagochi can call its friend, or at least tell you when it wants to call, and you can get CD players, and play track A or track B, and it actually plays a little tune at you, and there are different types of shop there, not jut one like with normal tamagochi shopping, and...."

Me: "Zzzzz"

* & ** Dill and Tiger's tamagochis are both transgendered- Dill ended up with a boy this time, that she had already called Molly, and she had wanted to smother it at birth and get a girl instead, but didn't get round to it. It is now 7 tamagochi years old, and she can no longer bring herself to do it. Tiger's tamagochi is called Sasha, which she claims is a girl's name, but anybody Russian would think otherwise.

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