Saturday, 28 June 2014

A ps to the last post, and other news

Would you believe that only 20 minutes after I pressed publish on the last post about our visitors we discovered this.......

It's hard to see I know, the little blighters were fast! But it appears we have a wasps nest in the attic, an inaccessible part of the attic too! They had nibbled a tiny hole through the plasterboard which, after we poked it to see what the noise was, became a larger hole. Right outside our bedroom door!
The Builder has filled the hole so we are safe, for the moment.
We now have to decide what to do next.
Pest control will be needed, for this and our other furry friends, but we'll probably have to take the ceiling down, and, given past experiences it's unlikely to be put back up very quickly - especially as it's the cricket season!
Also with the birds coming down the chimney, lots of people suggested a cowl on the top. Obviously we need to do this but it's so strange that after living here for 20 years it's only last summer and this one that we've had any problems - very odd!
In other news we had a birthday boy a week ago; Number 2 son turned 15. The birthday was on a Saturday so it was cricket for all. Sadly all 3 men were playing in different parts of the county so we didn't all get together until 9pm. Such a shame and I feel that he has so much less fuss made of him than the other two, but I do know that the only thing he wants to do, 7 days a week if possible, is play cricket. For gifts we struggled as he has everything he wants/needs (cricket kit) so he got his second  two favourite things in life (which we always live to regret)
 flavours for his Soda Stream (unlimited fizzy)
and a bucket of sweets (unlimited sugar)
I wrote a post about Number 2 Son a while back, a post I often look up and read again.
He can be a difficult little chap (no longer little though). And he has me raging, crying, shouting and every reaction in between on many an occasion so he doesn't make for an easy life. However he is apparently a little darling with everyone outside of the home so it's not all bad. He's away this weekend on a school mini cricket tour to Bath and Reading (quite a journey from here), he packed his own bag as he's not speaking to either myself or The Builder - we're not really sure why. He'll no doubt be on tour without a toothbrush, shoes or pants!
And Number 1 son had his Sixth Form leaving dinner on Thursday evening after which he was going straight to Gatwick airport with friends for a week in Kavos (yes I know, I know!) 
He organised most of the things he needed about an hour before he left and until I enquired about what he was taking, he'd packed 1 pair of shorts and 1 pair of swimming trunks -
"will I need more than that" he said!
He'd also booked the transfer taxi from airport to hotel and back again on the wrong dates
- and on a different coach than his friends!
We're assuming he's got there safely as the last we heard was a text saying "now on the way to Gatwick" I'm keeping everything crossed, he's probably lost his 'phone!
The only photo I have of him all spruced up in a new suit, he was about 4 inches shorter at the last prom 2 years ago! I got him to stand in many places but we just don't have a nice backdrop anywhere, so the overgrown garden it was.
Talking of the garden, I will do an update soon, it's looking very green!
I must go now, I've spent 2 days baking and making today's cricket tea; they've just called the match off due to a waterlogged pitch! If I start eating now I should have got through the cakes by bedtime! On the plus side, both boys are away and The Builder's match is off, a day out maybe?

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Visitors, some welcome, some not so much!

We've had a few visitors in the last week or so, all of them have taken me by surprise,
not always in a good way!
We've had so many birds fall down the sitting room chimney it's like they're (or rather their poo is) part of the furniture! Pretty much every other day I come downstairs to either a baby starling flapping round the room or fluttering away inside the woodburner. And may I say what a mess they make flapping into the walls and windows with their sooty wings!
Every morning I now check the room for new arrivals and chase them to an open window before I even put the kettle on!
And this morning, as I made my way down listening out for a flippety flap sound I spotted a pair of shoes by the front door which I didn't recognise, presumably not from a bird (feathered or otherwise!!). I looked around and found an unexpected teenager asleep on a very small sofa, sort of scrunched up ball like! It seems Number 1 son had arrived home in the early hours with a friend in tow. Now in our sitting room we have two large 3-4 seater sofas, we also have a large pouffe which turns into a single bed and Number 1 son has 2 beds in his bedroom. So where did the extra teenager sleep? On the tiny sofa, barely bigger than an armchair in the tiny room with the (still) broken window! When I asked why, apparently number 1 son couldn't think of anywhere else for him to sleep!! Is this the boy who hopes to go to University in the Autumn? Worse than that is this the boy who hopes to make it to Kavos all in one piece later tonight (and home again a week later we hope). Where did he leave his brain? answers on a postcard......
But our final visitors have got me a little worried! We have a little courtyard round the back of our house which backs onto a brick outhouse belonging to the neighbours. This is where I feed the birds regularly, well I put seed out for the whole of April, May and June then generally forget until the next April, but I try. We get a lovely selection of pretty birds which I can watch from Little Miss's window or the conservatory.
This is the view from Little Miss's room, not very tidy but I quite like it, makes me think of a walled garden, the wall isn't actually ours, the weeds however, are.


 But a couple of nights ago as I was pulling the blind, Little Miss and I noticed what we at first thought was a family of squirrels eating the seed and nuts which had spilled onto the floor. Hugely fat, furry and , at first glimpse, cuddly! But on closer inspection, not quite so cuddly!

 Great big, fat rats, several of them.

Are you, like me of the generation who went to bed reading The Rats by James Herbert? I'm just a tad scared! I do find them fascinating and sat watching them for ages, I think there's a whole family living in the brick outhouse, and they didn't seem too scared of me either.
Not really sure what to do, I guess I stop putting bird food out for a start, I don't like the idea of poison. Someone suggested shooting them but as we don't have a gun it's not so easy, I've got a water pistol but that may not have the same effect!
Sorry to leave you with those lovely pictures to think about!
Thank you to everyone who commented on the previous post, we'll probably stay in a Travelodge in London but any other suggestions are still welcome, I won't be booking until payday!!
Apparently I have to do this to claim my blog?? Don't really understand but I'm doing what I'm told.

See you soon

Friday, 20 June 2014

The Apprentice

This week I have been mostly on a building site!

In view of The Builder nearing the end of his latest project and also due to his slight incapacitation what with his partially slipped disc and "ladies hips" (see earlier post) it seems my help was needed.

I took most of the week off my (paid) work and donned some old leggings and a big jumper (actually I wear that outfit on most other days too!)

My main task was scrubbing, painting and cleaning. He's had his brother help with a lot of the jobs like painting and now it's my job to try to make good the splodges left by my brother in law. They say if you pay peanuts you get monkeys, well he's not being paid anything........just saying!

I'm not too bad at cleaning but this is some pretty heavy duty work; scraping plaster and paint from windows and floors, it's playing havoc with my nails, and fingers come to that! I'm trying to clean the windows to a smear free shine, in the knowledge that my windows at home were last shown a duster probably 2 years ago.

The facilities are a little lacking too, I was told I could now use the loo as it's connected to the drains, there's no door on the bathroom though, and a few workmen about! I also turned down the offer of a cup of builders tea, well you would too wouldn't you?

The cups haven't been washed other than a sluice around in a bucket of water once a month!
They are far, far worse than this photo suggests!

So I may or may not have sneaked out to use the loo at a nearby store and I may or may not have found myself a cappuccino......

Well he's not paying me so the least I can have is a treat, and a frothy coffee is always a treat.

When it comes to being paid I'm trying very hard to persuade him to finish the job and take some time off. He's getting too old and rickety to keep on with this heavy, manual work - what with ladies hips and all.

Yes take some time off and stay home, he could - repair the roof, paint the outside of the house, fix the conservatory, paint the inside of the house (every room), dismantle the broken loo (flush and cistern won't work but lazy teenagers still use it - bucket on standby!) and make it into a pantry, hire a digger for the garden, bulldoze the shed, find and re-attach the missing door to summerhouse then move it to the other end of the garden (whole summerhouse not just the door), lay a patio, finish the balcony so we can actually open the doors without falling 20 feet to the ground, stop the bath leaking so we don't need to stuff an old towel under it....oh the list goes on! (can you tell a builder lives in this house?)

He'd probably prefer to take on another job, it'll be easier on his back and ladies hips!

PS Thank you for all the lovely comments on the previous post (the very long and rambling one), my garden isn't very nice or well kept, I just photographed it carefully. It appears bigger than it is as it is a square-ish plot and the house is squeezed sideways into a corner, very close to the neighbours, and therefore there is no front or back garden, it's just one square.
I will take some more pictures to show it's faults more accurately but also to show the progress of my veggie patch which seems to be doing nicely.

PPS I have a question which you may be able to help me answer; I'm hoping to take Little Miss (just the 2 of us) to London in the Summer for a couple of nights and maybe a show (for my birthday maybe). I can sort the train and theatre but don't know where to stay. I'd like somewhere convenient for central London and inexpensive, - Travelodge type prices. We may well stay in a Travelodge/Premier Inn but just thought someone out there, with more idea than me, may know of a little gem to recommend to us. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A Gardener I Am Not!

Thank you for all the comments on my last post, Little Miss did very well at the competition and came home with a medal, so all was good in this house!

This is a post I wrote a while ago and couldn't publish as the photos were disappearing (I think they still are), it's a little out of date and I'll do another to show garden progress soon, things have moved on obviously. The photos are still disappearing and this time they were purely uploaded from a file on my pc so I'm none the wiser, Google + seems to be saving my pictures automatically so I'm wondering if there's connection??

Anyway this is the post, from about 2-3 weeks ago..... (with a couple of added updates, it may be a bit muddly, apologies in advance!)

I have vaguely mentioned on occasion that I've been gardening, I've been doing lots (of digging mainly) and was particularly inspired this year to plant a few vegetables. There is a lot of inspiration in blogland and CJ at Above the River has inspired me in particular.

In our garden we have several fruit trees which seem to look after themselves, some years we have an abundance of fruit other years none, I've no idea why.

The builder mainly strims, cuts hedges and mows the lawn, the manly stuff which involves "equipment". Mostly I faff about, spend money on plants which, I believe, I weed out and chuck in the bin as soon as they stop flowering, either that or there's a prolific plant thief about these parts!

This weeks hasty pre-match strimming resulted in this

Yes a smashed window, and the biggest pane of glass we actually have in the house!!
You may also note that the door has no handle (it's been on the windowsill for 4 years) and
a polly-fillered hole beneath where the handle should be. There is a matching filled hole on the French doors directly above (our bedroom balcony/death trap door).
 A few years ago we were woken early on several consecutive mornings by "someone"
knocking at the downstairs doors, then , more worryingly, knocking at the upstairs doors.
Everytime we looked there was nothing there, until one morning I came face to face with a woodpecker! Who had carefully drilled two gaping holes in the outside of the doors!
 He's not been back since he saw my early morning face, but the unpainted repair remains......

Back to the gardening......
My dislike of gardening is deep rooted although I'm trying to change that. My childhood was spent pottering around the garden with my beloved Grandad, he spent all his time gardening, building dwarf walls, laying crazy paving (it was around 1970) and generally tending his plants. A highlight was a trip to Percy Thrower's garden when I was small, if I remember correctly he was much admired by Grandad, apparently as we strolled around the garden Percy himself appeared and patted me on the head!

My Mum also fancied herself as a gardener (still does and has a garden landscaped to within an inch of it's life) and spent every weekend at garden centres; this is when I started to hate it.
I would be woken (in my teens, needing to sleep 'til noon!) on Sunday morning at the crack of dawn (with hindsight it was probably 9am).
 Mum would call my full name loudly with an "ey" on the end - I hate, hate, hate that!
There would also be loud background music on the record player - either Dolly Parton or
Tammy Wynette - I'm sure you get the picture!

I would be dragged to the garden centre for hours and the boot of the car would be loaded up with trees, shrubs and plants and off home we would go. As I had no brothers or sisters and only lived with my Mum, Sundays were incredibly boring, and that's what I associate gardening with.

Anyhoo, my childhood is at least 20 years ago...... oh ok maybe a little longer; so I should be able to get over this fear of the garden.

We made attempts to tend little patches when we first moved into this house but as we had so much work to do on the house the garden was eventually left to run wild. On completing the house (until we started phase 2,3 and 4) we hired a digger and pretty much bulldozed everything flat.
 We laid a patio and some steps and The Builder built himself a shed the size of a bungalow.

We also uncovered the well in the garden which had originally supplied all our water.
And it was renovated to this...
But over the years the weeds have crept back and my attempts at gardening have been a little lame. It's not entirely my fault as for some projects I need a bit of muscle, and he's always at work, or cricket!

I have over the years grown a few things in pots, I often have a tin bath full of mixed lettuce leaves but this year I've branched out. My tin bath now contains beetroot, lettuce and parsnips. I don't know how they'll get on together or if they actually like container growing but they're looking ok at the moment.

 I also branched out with some grow bags containing tomatoes and strawberry plants - go me!
All of the above are now much larger, the photos are about a month old! 
Please excuse the surroundings, this area is directly outside our kitchen and some years ago we laid the base for an extension come orangery to be added. It was to enable us to have a much bigger kitchen table and become more of a family room to accommodate our growing family. However the money ran dry yet again (and the builder ran out of steam!) and the base remains but nothing else was ever built. I keep leaving it in the hope that one day it will be completed, unfortunately I suspect it'll be done just after the children leave home and we won't need the space!
I do have a few herbs growing in pots because I use them quite a bit.
The fruit trees are looking good this year although even though there are buds of fruit
 it doesn't mean to say they'll survive!

The blossom on the apple tree (above) is now gone and the tiny fruits are appearing, Bramley apples, great for a pie or a crumble.
 Loads of plums, for the first time in years
 Apricots, again a tree full after a barren 4-5 years
 Pears, which will change to downward pointing when they get heavier,
we always have lots of pears

And cherries, until something eats them - probably a mouse last year as the tree was netted from birds - we've yet to eat one single cherry from this tree!
But my biggest project which I'm determined will not lapse back into a pile of nettles and other weeds is this....

It's a little patch where I have my compost bins and a couple of current bushes and some rhubarb.
It's also the spot where we throw all the garden rubbish and occasionally have a bonfire. Over the years the heap has got bigger and bigger.

I'm fed up with looking at a pile of rubbish and the weeds begin to wrap themselves around the little fruit bushes and drown them.

The digging has commenced, (a few weeks ago now) the pile of rubbish is getting smaller as I dig the bottom of it back into the soil and remove the stones and broken bricks
 (what were they doing on a bonfire?)
I'm going to carry on until I have a nice, dug over, neat square.
Ideally I would like four raised beds, I find it easier with boundaries, as I'm not a natural gardener.
But for now I'll try to keep on top of this bit.
As most gardening needs to be taken care of during the summer months I have a problem in that the Builder is usually working longer days and at cricket every time he has a spare moment.
I do get cross when I find out he's taken the afternoon off to mow the pitch!
I have planted a few more seeds of beetroot and some carrots; next on my list is onions and garlic as we eat a fair amount of those; I think I'm probably too late for this year.
Update : I am keeping on top of it despite the weather making everything grow faster than I can move! The onions (red and white) are planted but the garlic got forgotten.
 However the bonfire is growing again, but so are my veggies, and I have a little idea in my head about having a tiny greenhouse. My birthday isn't too far away and I may ask for a greenhouse or a hoe, I'll probably get a toaster if previous birthdays are anything to go by!
This is another area I've been working hard on, the hedgerow between our garden and the field. It's very brambly in places and full of hedge roots which makes for hard digging. I've tried to build it up in places and cover with bark chippings.

 The half I've done is above, (note the abandoned cricket stumps!)
 and then turn around to see the bit I've yet to do!

 It's amazing what you find lost amongst the weeds!
 There are some pretty flowers around too, very much by luck not any skill on my part, these pictures are a few weeks old now but we still have some colour in the garden.

 It's hard work this gardening mallarky, especially when you're the only one doing it!
Have a good week wherever you are and whatever you're doing.



Sunday, 8 June 2014

What's been happening at our place.....

Firstly thank you for the suggestions re my blog photos, I will Google around for some answers. As the photos were uploaded from different places, some Picasa, some directly from my PC, I don't know what's going on. And more pics are disappearing from very old posts too - so strange! But thank you for taking the time to comment.
I don't really know where to start, life has been incredibly busy and not just with the cricket for a change. The Builder is nearing the end of a project he's been on for a while and whilst we are stony broke just now the money will be released very soon, so the pressure was on to get it complete. That in itself is a little bit of stress but added to that he has been having various aches and pains for a while now which means he works slower and finds some jobs more difficult than he used to.
He is after all 54 later this year and can't expect to have the energy of an 18 year old
(do they have energy, our actual, real-life 18 year old is mostly asleep!).
On Christmas eve he had a hospital appointment to discuss treatment for the partially slipped disc which had been discovered, that appointment was a mixture of emotions as they started to discuss injections into the disc and possible surgery but ended the appointment by saying as he had the reflexes of an 18 year old (and yes I'll never hear the end of that)
they wouldn't be doing anything other than prescribe painkillers!
As luck would have it he plays cricket with an orthopaedic surgeon who,
on seeing his bow-legged shuffle, said he should get his hips looked at as well, the result of this showed a certain amount of arthritis in his hip joint as well as the slipped/bulging disc.
Fast forward to half term when he played cricket on Saturday and Sunday, mostly as a wicket keeper (crouched down on his haunches for several hours - as you do with a slipped disc and arthritis??) and ended up in extreme pain. He soldiered on until the following Thursday, when he couldn't move and was in agony. At midnight (how like children some men are!) he announced that I needed to drive him to A & E in Norwich as he was worried something very strange had happened in his back - you can imagine the scenarios we went through.
I had to dress The Builder as he could barely move, wake Number 1 son to let him know he was in charge, wedged The Builder into the car and drove into our nearest Accident and Emergency.
He was instructed to stay in the cubicle allocated and wear a gown, so embarrassing to have to undress and dress him again and at this point we realised I'd put his pants on backwards! It made the Doctor (aged about 15) laugh anyway. I wasn't going to whip them off and turn them round, not when the cubicle curtain could have been thrown wide open at any time
to find me with his pants in my hand!
At 5am he was prescribed very strong painkillers and sent home to a very deep sleep for the rest of the day. I stayed awake with the help of coffee as there was a school run to do then there seemed no point in sleeping until an early night beckoned.
Last week he had an official appointment (as appose to a consultation in the cricket club bar) with our surgeon friend who x-rayed his hips once again and was a little bemused by the arrangement and distribution of arthritis in his hip, apparently it's only usually seen in women! - Cue an excuse to rib him forever more! The Tourettes in me wanted to ask if this arthritis could have been caused by him wearing ladies underwear but I wasn't sure, in the formal hospital surroundings,
if he'd have realised I was joking!
So you can imagine how happy I was when The Builder announced he would be fine to play cricket this weekend as he felt the problem was much improved!
 I refuse to take him to A & E again!
On top of that Number 1 son is mid exams, the A levels which will determine whether he gets into the university of his choice, Loughborough. He feels they haven't been going too well and is already talking about other options, it's so tough and there is absolutely nothing we can do to help
other than try to be supportive.
Number 2 son continues to give us grief at every opportunity, only of the verbal kind but hard to take none the less - note to self I must stop "being such an idiot", I'm sure that would help the situation.
Little Miss seems to have been lost in the midst of all this stress and worry which isn't fair. Hopefully her turn to shine will be later today when she takes part in a club gymnastics competition, I'm keeping everything crossed for her. The boys are dotted around the county at cricket so it just leaves me to watch; and cheer!
Oh and I should just mention that in the middle of all this a young New Zealander moved into the garage! Those who've been reading my blog from the start may remember this and the reprieve I had last year. In the intervening time our garage has become full of "stuff", the usual garage type clutter plus those things only a Builder come hoarder would have like a collection of rusty nails
and 3 (non-working) fridges!
The proposition was put to me by telephone in the middle of Tesco by a committee member who said he'd rather speak directly to the organ grinder not the monkey! Apparently this years overseas player who had been staying with another family had only been allowed to stay with them for the first few weeks and now needed new accommodation. It was fine if I said no, I mustn't worry....but he'd be homeless!! Hands up those who think The Builder knew I was about to get that call??
What can you say to that.... the plus side is that a team of people arrived and cleaned the garage and took a load of junk to the tip for us, it's now back to a penthouse suite!
So I have another rent-free lodger............can anyone offer me a place to stay til September??

Thursday, 5 June 2014


I'm just dropping in to say "Hi" and to let you know I'm still here but life has become slightly more hectic than usual - not all cricket related but a long story in itself!
 I'm very behind on reading other peoples posts too, I apologise if I comment on your blog in what appears to be another language but I only seem to get chance to read blogs when I'm out and about - invariably waiting for one child or another in a carpark somewhere in Norfolk!
Anyway I read on my small mobile phone and comment as best I can without being able to see the screen very well!! Sometimes I read them back at a later date and realise that the combination of my eyes becoming long sighted and the predictive text means that I often don't make sense
(actually my friends would probably say I make little sense in real life too!)
What I dropped in to ask was if anyone knows where my blog photos keep disappearing to. If you scroll down you'll see something like a no-entry sign where a photo used to be.
I noticed this a while ago and edited the posts to re-add the photos, however they're disappearing again. Does anyone know why, and can explain what to do to a computer illiterate, long sighted, over weight blogger (over weight not being relevant I guess!?)
Thank you, any help would be appreciated!