Saturday, 27 February 2010

Orange alert

Apparently we are on orange alert for a bit of a howling storm tonight.
What I really want to do is have a bath and sit in front of a roaring fire for the evening - what I am actually doing is acting as taxi for some good friends to take them out to a pub for the evening. I did mention the storms, but as they are staunch party animals it looks like my night in will remain a bit of a fantasy!!

At work today I met the new arrival - a little chestnut colt, born in the early hours of Thursday morning. It never ceases to amaze me how huge they are and how they possibly fitted into the mother a few days previously!!

Here, mostly for Neil are pictures of the wall I am working on at the moment - a picture as I was uncovering the old wall and the next one of my lime and sand mortar in the right hand sections. The first one was a bit dodgy but I am happy enough with the second.
I plan to treat the wood with a rich coating to darken it down a bit so it stands out. Hope you like it Neil

Friday, 26 February 2010

Mon chaton, le voleur

I defrosted two pork steaks yesterday and cooked them both on top of the woodburner. One was for my tea and I left the other in the pan, on a small table to cool before refridgeration. Then the storm kicked off and whilst I battoned down the hatches Tam took the opportunity to nick tomorrows lunch. He then added insult to injury by chewing it on the new chair (the one I don't get to sit on).
I shouted at him but of course he didn't know he wasn't supposed to have it the little git. Not au fait with cat training I ripped it off him and gave it to the dog. Thinking about it i'm a bit worried they've got a double act going on..

A friend of mine came around last night with her children. The youngest, a two year old suddenly decided she needed a pee which was a bit of a problem due to the toilet situation and the ladder – but being a country child she happily climbed on a hastily found old bucket as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

This morning I am considering the great mystery of the duck eggs - I have no idea where they are laying their eggs and as I don't have the time to follow them around, I am assuming one day I will find a large pile of rotting duck eggs. I guess I should have let her build up a few rather than take them every day. I am also having trouble with a white hen who insists on laying her egg in the stable. Quite how they (and her) never get trampled by half a ton of horse is also a bit of a mystery and why she doesn't choose the safety of her purpose built nesting box is beyond me.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Sparks fly

I should have known yesterday was going too well.
Last night I had a call from the electrician to say that he would be around this morning to sort out our electrics. The old electrics in this house are a mess, and as we have been renovating one end of the house, Neil has been putting all the wires in place to be connected, but in the meantime we have been using a shocking (no pun intended ) old system of wires.
In my excitement to clear paths to all the sockets last night (previous comments about clutter come back to haunt me), I knocked a plastic box against one of the old wires, there was a spark and the part of the house I am using was plunged into darkness.
I called Neil in the UK and asked where it may have tripped and what I could do about it. In the cellar was the reply.
Unfortunately we have now replaced the hatch to the cellar with a concrete floor so the cellar is only accessible by a ground level window at the back of the house. Needless to say it was pouring with rain and I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for.
Lack of power here means lack of modem, which means lack of phone, so I was unable to call anyone to help although I wasn’t keen to as it was ten oclock at night.
I decided to just flick the main power off to disable it completely so we would at least be safe for the night and so with nothing else to do I went to bed, climbing up the ladder in pitch darkness with only a silly wind up torch to guide me.

So this morning I have my trusty le cruset kettle on the woodburner and I am writing this on battery power on the computer waiting for the electrician to come and save me.
I am only hoping his plans haven’t changed, as he couldn’t let me know even if he wanted to……..

He's here now, power is on, house is safe. Stop worrying mother!!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A nice day..

I had a lovely day today, although it started rather soggily when I wandered up the garden to let the chickens out in my pajamas and the heavens opened, soaking me within seconds. I wasn't too worried though, and a beautiful double rainbow more than made up for it.

I then got to work with an SDS drill, knocking the concrete render off a wall in our hall. Underneath is a wattle and daub style wall, which we have long dreamed of renovating. I managed to get the dust out of my lungs by going for a ride through some local woods and this time the weather held and it was lovely and mild.

This afternoon I took a very large bag of washing around to my friend Judiths house. I gave her a large bar of Dairy Milk chocolate by way of payment and we sat and had a coffee while she told me about her elderly neighbour, who has a skin tear on her leg.
The neighbour had discarded the dressing prescribed to her by the doctor in favour of a home remedy - which was just a coating of honey covered with a cloth. Judith had a look and told her there was an infection present, but she refused to believe Judith saying it wasn't infection, it was honey.
Luckily a nurse arrived and pointed out the error of her ways, but we doubt she will listen.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

I smell of pee...

Not my own you understand, but it is an inevitable side effect of having an association with stabled horses that you will, at some point, smell of pee.

When I just had my own horse to deal with, it was difficult for me to detect this odour, although Neil was like a bloodhound and could smell me coming from ten thousand paces. Now I have a job at a local stud and mucking out several horses is a regular occurance even I can't bear the smell. "You stink of piss!" my husband lovingly informs me (I say lovingly because even though he can't bear the smell, the fact that I am, at last, bringing in some pennies is reason in itself to love me).

I wonder why it smells so bad? A lack of washing machine at the moment means that I am wearing the same clothes on my three consecutive working days as it seems pointless to make more clothes than necessary smell.

This morning on my way to work I opted not to pop into the boulangerie even though I was desperate for some bread as I didn't want the nice lady in there to think that I had turned into a smelly old tramp.

Oh well, it could be worse. At least the shower works!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Tous sont pleins!

We have a dutch friend who breeds fresian horses. I had never come across this breed before, but they are a strong, solid breed of horse with a placid temperament used for riding and driving.They are always black in colour and I think, very striking.

The first time I met this friend Nicolene was in very difficult circumstances. My horse had just been put down and she had come around with her husband who had a tractor to move my horse to the side of the road. I opened the front door and Nicolene stood there, a tall amazonian lady, and I just burst into floods of tears. She gave me a hug and due to my lack of height I found myself cuddling her chest!! Since then we have become friends and often ride out on her horses.

Yesterday the vet came to test three of the mares for pregnancy. He said that at their stage of pregnancy, if indeed they were pregnant, that echography could be dangerous and that to feel manually would be safer. The poor guy had to don a huge plastic glove and went in via the rectum to have a feel. "Elle est pleine!" he announced for the first horse. "Boy or girl?" asked Nicolene, the vet just shrugged and went "It's black!!"

All three are pregnant so this summer we will have some beautiful black foals gambolling around with a bit of luck. I can't wait!!

Thursday, 18 February 2010


I was over the moon yesterday when I took Tess and Tam to the vets - Tess for her annual jab and Tam for a check over.
Tam was a very poorly kitten when we first took him on, the vet thought he had a heart complaint and that he was unlikely to live. He was tiny for his age, had a massive eye infection and had a huge belly full of fluid and worms.

He is pretty unrecognisable these days, full of life, eats like a horse and is the most affectionate cat I have ever known. The vet says that his heart is perfectly normal now which is such good news.
He still has a bit of a problem with his eyes and the vet has given me a cream to put in his eyes twice a day. After which, all being well, he will be off to the vets to be castrated.
Neil has been joking that we should just get a couple of bricks and do the job ourselves - but seeing as he is yet to have the snip I think he should keep quiet in case I go for a group booking!!!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

todays whinge

Neil has headed off to the UK to visit his family and decorate his friends' house. Back here the hall floor is setting, and although the concrete is a bit of a depressing grey colour, it has got to be better than the rotting wood that was about to collapse into the cellar.

Now I just want to get cracked on and put the whole area back together and looking homely. Neil has other plans. It is the curse of the dreaded first fix /order of works.

Apparently putting things back together and making it homely is the mistake we (actually I) make time after time, therefore making life difficult for ourselves.

I need to realise it is a building site, not a home for the time being, and avoid all efforts to put up pictures and curtains etc and filling it with junk.

I'm not very happy about this but I am sure reading this you will see that for once I have listened to Neil and taken on board his point of view.

I will just go and decide where my baskets will be hung up though...........

Saturday, 13 February 2010

With a little help from our friends

We are hugely grateful to our friends here for everything they do for us, and as usual we had a willing band of helpers for the arrival of the concrete lorry yesterday afternoon.

Despite the weather still being freezing we decided to crack on with concreteing the middle of the house as Neil is going to the UK on Wednesday and desperately wanted to get it done before he leaves.

The lorry swung into the house perilously close to the roof (we were rather concerned as the driver has a penchant for whisky and it was directly after lunch), but the driver managed to park close enough to get the chute within range of the house.

We gave the driver a bit of a shock as he drank his coffee in the house after the lorry was emptied. The computer was on random photo slideshow and he nearly spat his coffee out as a picture of Neil came onto the screen naked and posing with his penis pokey book (a gift from someone who knows Neil well - thanks for that Claire).
I explained what an exhibitionist he is and no doubt news of odd goings on at chez nous will be round the village in no time. Not that Neil will give a toss.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Snow stops play

The snow started to fall last night and so the concrete lorry has been cancelled for this week. Frustrating but it's pretty!
Not sure what these guys think of it...

Monday, 8 February 2010

A quick guide to entrevous beton flooring (just in case you are having trouble sleeping!!)

We have slightly more of a floor today - which is good news as the view from our bedroom door was previously this.... a massive drop down to the bottom of the cellar

On Saturday with the help of Keith we levelled out a ridge around the top of the cellar and laid concrete blocks to hold some thin concrete beams and then concreted around the edge up to the wall

then the concrete beams were put in place

before rigid plastic blocks were slid between the beams to make a floor

These blocks are strong enough to walk around on, but will be covered with a layer of concrete to make the floor. All the concrete fills in the gaps around the blocks and ties the whole thing together. All very simple. Hurrah for technology!!

Friday, 5 February 2010

The work continues

If you were foolish enough to open my front door today this is what you would be greeted with

here is a distinct lack of a ground floor, although to be honest it is probably safer like this as it was so rotten. Neil has horded all the wood for future woodworking projects and is currently working out how the new floor needs to go in.

I have made life difficult as usual by wanting to keep the old wall that divides the space, as it is original cow poo and mud and I think it will make a nice feature for the entrance.

Access to the only toilet is now by ladder and tonight we will be staying elsewhere, somewhere that is quite modern and has a floor and access to a toilet. My mother will now be panicking that I have told the world that the house is empty, but seeing as there is nothing in it and anyone entering will probably fall immediately to their death I am not going to worry about it!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The journey home

Now apart from the landings I have mostly positive experiences on Ryanair but I do wish they flew from the South side of London. Stansted is the absolute opposite side of London from where I stay in Surrey and now our flight is at silly oclock in the morning with the winter schedule it means that to get across town I have to get up at half past three in the morning.
I was relaxed about todays journey though. My mother in law had arranged for a friend of hers, who does a bit of taxi driving to earn some extra pennies to chauffeur me up to Victoria to catch my bus to the airport. He had decided that it would take half an hour to comfortably arrive there and arrived pretty much on time this morning. I suppose half an hour would have been long enough had he not missed his turning and then got himself a bit lost. I could feel my stress levels rising as he didnt seem too concerned that I may be late.
We arrived at the time I was due to depart and I caught the bus by the skin of my teeth.
At the airport I was confident that my case was within the allowed 10kg bag allowance. I then went through into the duty free area and did some shopping, including several magazines of the horse and motorcyle type and a paper, Sweets and a bag of strong salt and vinegar crisps (Neil misses those).
As I strolled towards the boarding gate an officious Ryanair employee herded me off to an area to have my bag weighed. "Pop your handbag in your case and we will weigh your bag" she asked.
"Bollocks" thinks I.
11.9kg. Oops.
"You can either get rid of some items or you can pay 35 euros to put the bag in the hold"
Well paying 35 euros wasnt going to happen so I went to some seats behind the weighing area and opened my case. I removed several of the heavy items and stuffed them in my jacket pockets and took the wedge of papers and magazines and put them on the seat.
I went back to the weighing area and bingo - under 10 kg and she didn't mention my hugely bulging pockets.
"Right, now put your bag in the cage to check the size"
I was quite confident about this one, I have done this before with no problems but oh no, the bloody bag wouldn't just slide in. I rammed and rammed it, tried to half sit on it and then gave it an almighty cloud with a fist and then smiled weakly at the girl as it squeezed in.
"Ok" she conceded.
I then had another struggle to get the damn thing out before going back to the seats, picking up my magazines and heading for the gate.

I feel I had a victory of sorts, as I managed to get everything home, even if my pockets were weighed down and uncomfortable. I couldn't get rid of anything as there were some highly important items such as a nifty new laser level for Neil, and a lovely small chicken waterer for the next time we have chicks. All necessities in life you know.

Its fantastic to be home, even if Neil has done more demolition in my absence. More about that another time, apparently there is a glass of vino waiting which is just what I need after today...