Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dressing down is the new dressing up at 2am

Unless you’re lucky enough to be newly in love, under eighteen, or some sort of night worker, there is no dread deeper than the 2am phone call. Good news does not come at 2am. That’s the bad news hour, with conversations that start, ‘I’m sorry,’ or, ‘I don’t want to worry you, but…’

I blinked at the mobile in my hand without even remembering reaching for it. The word DEBBIE shone out in the darkness and some idiotic ringtone split the silence. I pressed the green button, noting the time and feeling an iceberg form in the pit of my stomach. ‘Darcy’s escaped,’ Debbie said.

Fumbling about on the bedside table for the nightlight, not used to the layout of my mother’s spare room, I sent pictures and nick-knacks tumbling to the floor before I found the switch.

‘Okay, that’s not a problem,’ I said.

‘Yes, yes it is a problem. Did you hear me, Darcy’s escaped.’ Darcy, twelve stone of lolloping Great Dane dog and the world’s biggest baby. Untrainable, unpractical, unintelligent, and utterly adorable.

‘Where are you?’

‘On the land, just walking past Kylie’s enclosure. I think she’s asleep, does that mean Darcy hasn’t been past here? Oh, I think I might have woken her up. Hello sweetie.’ I could hear the pig snorting and snuffling in the background and imagined Debbie shining a torch into her face. Yep, that’d wake her up.

‘Darcy!’ she yelled. I did that stupid pull the phone away from my ear and stare at it rudely thing. Then I lifted it back. ‘Can’t you shout quietly?’ I complained. ‘Or at least move the phone when you do.’

‘Sorry. What am I going to do? I can’t see him anywhere. It’s not so bad if he’s contained on our bit, but what if he gets out? You know how soppy he is.’ Actually I was more concerned he might get tangled up in one of the electric fences, or find himself face to face with General Lee the boar, but I kept that to myself.

‘I think he must have gone out the end path. I bet there’s a bitch in season somewhere in Barbrook and he’s gone after her,’ she said. ‘The thing is, I’m not sure I can go out there.’

‘Why not?’

‘I was in bed. Darcy said he needed to go and it was urgent. I wasn’t expecting to go traipsing through the streets.’ She sighed, ‘I’m only wearing wellies and a coat.’

I started laughing. ‘You’re joking?’ Silence. ‘You’re not joking,’ I laughed even harder. Then I put on a mock stern voice, ‘Mr Dawson, we’ve arrested your wife for streaking through the centre of town.’

‘I’m not streaking, I’m decent. I’m just not fully decent. Besides it’s two in the morning, who’s going to know? Oh damn it, I’m going to have to go and find him, hang on.’ The sound of her footsteps changed to a slap-slap sound. I guessed she was now walking along the pavement.

‘Isn’t it a bit chilly?’ I asked.

‘Shut up. Wait, I think I’ve seen him. Yes, oh no, he’s in the petrol station.’ Then very quietly, almost a whisper, she called, ‘Darcy, here boy.’

‘Where are you?’

‘Sssh. Hiding behind a bush. Darcy, come to mummy.’

‘But the petrol station’s closed.’

‘They don’t turn the lights off, and I bet there’s CCTV or something. Darcy, please, for me, please. Got him.’

‘Better?’

‘Simon, it’s two in the morning, I’m nearly naked, walking the streets, freezing cold, with a dog that thinks I’ve come out to play. Do I feel better? Better than what, exactly?’

Monday, 26 July 2010

The secret to keeping flys away

If you've got a horse, or stock, or you yourself are plagued by mossies and flies, then watch this!

It's just an Avon body moisturiser that's gaining a massive reputation as a truly brilliant, and very cheap fly repellent. Obviously always skin test an area first.

video

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Lesson No7, pay more attention!

‘I have three different lipsticks,’ Debbie told my mother. ‘A daytime one, an evening one and a fun one.’

With mother down from London for a week, there were a lot of conversations about make-up, moisturiser, eyeliner and now lipsticks, and I was learning a lot – not about make-up, but about my wife. I didn’t know she had three different colours, and I certainly never knew about a fun one! With my mother distracted, I looked a question at Debbie.

‘What?’ she mouthed.

I didn’t bother to reply quietly, ‘I never knew you had three different colours?’

The seconds that followed were some of those horrible moments in a relationship where time gets sticky and slows down. I watched her shoulders sag and her eyes close in an exaggerated blink. When they opened, the look she gave me was utter disappointment. She wanted to scream at me for not recognising and I wanted to explain that it wasn’t my fault because … um, because … oh dear. Instead we both looked at my mother and smiled.

‘Come on, let’s go and move these pigs,’ I said.

We needed two vehicles down on the land, and I would like to have engineered it so Debbie and I rode together and we could clear the air, but unless my mother could drive the quad bike down on her own, that was never going to happen.

In fact she rode on the bike with me and my dog Dex, who had taken the opportunity to dab a little perfume on some intimate spots by rolling in something unmentionable in the top field.

‘Don’t worry,’ I announced, gunning the engine into life with mother gripping on to my t-shirt for dear life, ‘as soon as we start moving the smell will go.’

Doris and Whinny are the best of friends. Two sows who have spent their entire lives together. Now they are both pregnant and due in just over a week. Time to bring them in for a spot of pampering.

With Dex well out of scent range, I parked mother to one side and hitched the stock-box on the back of the bike and drove down to the pig area. The trick was how to get the two pregnant sows in the back and not all the others. And I wanted to show off.

With devil-may-care, I leaped the gate and landed in the thick of a scrum of pigs with nothing more to protect me than a bucket of feed, a stern voice and a very pointy finger. I walked some feet away and poured feed on the floor, before rattling the bucket quietly next to Doris and Whinny hoping they would take the hint. They did, and followed me back up the ramp of the trailer.

‘That was easy,’ mother said.

‘You didn’t get bitten this time dear?’ Debbie said. ‘What a shame.’

The birthing area is an open fronted field shelter with gates and fencing making two snug quarters side by side so the pigs can see, touch and hear one another. Doris and Whinny walked in either side like a dream.

I wasn’t until we went to bed that I finally got Debbie alone. ‘It came out wrong,’ I explained. ‘Of course I know you have three lipsticks. I was just surprised at the fun one, that’s all.’

‘Yeah? Name them.’

‘Sorry?’

‘If you know all about them, what colours are they?

‘Ah, you think I don’t know. Well I do. Lipsticks don’t come in colours, they come in numbers. Your three shades are slight variations on the same colour, so they all have the same number.’

‘Which is?’

I started grinning at how clever I was. ‘No7.’

Friday, 23 July 2010

Rainbow Bridge where pets go and wait

“You’ll appreciate this,” the email said. I get lots of emails (there’s nothing more disappointing than when you click on and there’s nothing there for you). I double clicked the message.

Man alive, I couldn’t even get halfway though the first paragraph without welling up, doing that quick inhale like a tiny sob and looking round to see nobody was there to see or hear me, even though I knew I was on my own. By the end of the second paragraph, oh forget it. I was sobbing like a teenage girl who’s just been dumped by her boyfriend.

I don’t know if I’m the last person on the planet to discover this, but if you’ve ever had a pet, read this.

Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals that had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

(Anon.)

Sorry if you’re reading this on the train or somewhere public. Phew, I know I’ve had a lot of pets, and maybe you could argue that quantity should make me somewhat harder, more resilient, but imagining all my animal friends playing happily together in a big field waiting for me, and I’m in bits on the floor. Until I was twenty-two, I’d only had one cat. Now, they’d have to put reinforced girders under the Bridge to cope with the weight of all the pigs, horses, dogs and cats – gosh there have been a lot.

I’m not normally a cryie type of person. I watched Titanic with dry eyes, saw Ghost, ET and the last episode of Friends without even blinking back a tear. But I couldn’t watch Babe—Oh, do you remember those old Lassie films? Lassie Come Home, I think it was, when the dog would wait by the gate every day while the little boy went to school, and then the boy grew up and joined the army, and Lassie went with him. I watched them as a kid, but there’s no way I could watch them now.

I even refuse to watch Chicken Run.

Mass slaughter, sadness and annihilation of humans in films are fine, as long as they don’t harm the puppy!

I think the more you spend your life with animals, the closer you get to them – with the possible exception of sheep. This is just a guess, but I doubt anyone ever reached Rainbow Bridge and mistook it for New Zealand.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Just hatched chickens

These little chickens had just battled their way out of the shell in the incubator about 10 minutes ago, when i took them out and carefully placed them under a heat lamp to start drying out.

The biggest one is about an hour older.

video

Monday, 19 July 2010

10 most embarrassing moments of country living

Don’t even consider stepping foot in the countryside until you have read this. This is the urbanites and cityites guide to avoiding red faced calamites that could haunt you for the rest of your life.

10 Stopping the car for a pee. Come on, who amongst us hasn’t? You’ve been on the road for ages and you’re still miles from civilisation (otherwise known as a McDonalds) where they have half sensible loos. There’s no way you’d ask at a petrol station, and as for public conveniences, forget it! So you find a quiet road and drive slowly. You haven’t seen another vehicle for miles. You are alone. You spot a cut in, and pull off. Open the window. Silence. You’ll be out of the car for no more than a minute max – what could possibly go wrong? As soon as you nip out and assume the position, a caravan appears out of nowhere with the longest tailback in the whole history of the countryside snaking out behind it, and it’s not just cars, oh no, there’s coaches, a school bus, tractors and a police car.

9 Country pubs. This is a hive of potential for anything from an awkward moment to a full blown “Oh my God” disaster. First there’s the accent. People in the country don’t talk proper, and even if you can understand the words, the context can be mystifying. One thing to remember is, rather like the French, in the country everything is either male or female. Everything. A gate post is male, referred to as “him”, where as a gate is “her”. “Her swinging on him quite nicely now,” is nowhere near as baffling as it sounds.

8 Beware of local delicacies. The temptation is to do the, “When in Rome, do as…” bit. Eat like the locals. Surely in the countryside that’s going to healthy, wholesome and fresh? Isn’t it? Possibly… and then possibly not. To give you an example, the old Devon farmers’ traditional breakfast – this is breakfast remember – is called, Thunder and Lightning, which is toast, smothered in clotted cream (thunder) and topped with maple syrup (lightning). The heart attack by lunchtime is optional.

7 Mud. Mud is Satan’s two fingers at God for chucking him out of heaven, along with traffic jams, people who whistle in public and Peter Mandelson. Like most things, country mud is way different to town mud. Town mud is the stuff that clings to the leather soles of your loafers, or the tiny bit of a high heel that actually connects with the ground. Country mud, on the other hand, has the consistency of quick drying cement and can suck a man’s welly-boot from his foot as fast a look at him.

6 At night, it really, really, really gets dark. I’m talking a hand an inch from your nose, and you still can’t see it. Foxes bump into hedges. Cats walk into walls. And it’s not just in the middle of a field, or a rural farmhouse that it happens, step out of a pub in the winter’s evening past nine o’clock and it’s as though someone’s turned your eyes off. If you haven’t got a torch handy, the trick to finding your car is to use your mobile phone – when it’s that dark, a mobile switched on casts enough light to grope your way amongst the bonnets in the car-park without serious injury until you find one that’s familiar.

5 Fitting in. Lots of things will mark a townie out. White jeans… in fact any light clothing… or any clothing that’s clean for that matter. The inability to talk knowledgeably about the price of tractor tyres. The, “I did have three riding lessons when I was young – and there was that time in Portugal that I rode across the beach – so yes, I am a good horse rider!” brigade. If you’re planning on spending any longer than a brief holiday in the country, there are only one of three ways you can possibly fit in, and that’s by joining the church, school or stables, and of the three, the stables rule the roost.

4 Pony club. Take the Freemasons, the W.I., The Police Force, MI5, The Maffia, The KGB, The Yardies, and they all look like school children grumbling about a wet-break in comparison to, The Pony Club Riding Instructor. Big busted, grey hair scraped back into a tight bun above a face that’s only ever moisturised when it rains, beige jods like a second skin over iron thighs, permanent PMT and the ability to reduce a child of three to tears with just a glance. Stand The Pony Club Riding Instructor in the centre of a sand school, and suddenly your little poppet who’s been collecting My Little Pony for years in a build-up to her first moment on a horse, is now sobbing with terror as she gallops round like Frankie Dettori’s understudy. Your urge as a parent will be to interfere, but DO NOT! Look away, bite your knuckles, do whatever you like because if you do interfere, The Pony Club Riding Instructor will take this as a challenge to her authority over all little children, and will announce, in a loud, proud, who’s boss now? voice, “I think we’ll finish with a jump. Set the jump to three foot six… wide!”

3 Amorous animals. The countryside is awash with sex. Awash with it, it is. Bulls humping cows, rams humping sheep – a ram can service up to twenty females a night, which is something even Tiger Woods would struggle with. They don’t care about privacy, in fact if the more of an audience, the better, and has given way to a phenomenon known as, the countryside second. The countryside second is the period of time between a coach pulling up to watch a herd of cows, and the bull leaping on the nearest female.

2 Are we alone now? You have booked a rural cottage in the middle of nowhere. The road outside has grass growing down the centre of it, and you haven’t seen another human being for days – but don’t be fooled! The minute you relax and dispense with the dressing gown and wander around in your underwear, maybe doing a muck-about dance to a song on the radio while you put the kettle on fix breakfast in bed for two, the minute you start doing that, it’s a given that a group on horseback will ride by all staring in at you through the window.

1 Visiting. It’s nice to see how the other half live. Bundle the children into hats, coats and boots, get a towel ready for the dog, and make your way over to a smallholding close by to have a look around. But there’s a vital question you have missed. Something you should have asked at the point you agreed to take a sightseeing trip over to a local’s. Something that could have avoided traumatising the children back into wetting the bed, and that question is, “Do you have any dead in the house.” The thing is, from a country folk’s point of view, there’s nothing so convenient as a coat rack by the back door for hanging all your dead pheasants, chickens, ducks and turkeys while they’re waiting to be processed. Ah, the country life.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Guest blogger

Okay, you know when you watch a film and part of the credits read, "and introducing..."? Well this is the blogger's equivalent. So, without further ado...

And Introducing... Andy Kirby, this week's guest blogger.

Round of applause please.


Give a man some pork.... teach a man to butcher....

I've always had an affinity with food. I like to eat well, I enjoy cooking, I fish and have hunted rabbits and pigeon, I forage wild mushrooms and berries, so it made sense for me to learn how to prepare and process my own raw ingredients.

To this end, over the last couple of years, my wife, Sally, and I have been on a few courses learning how to make cheese with www.reddevoncheesecompany.co.uk, keeping bees with www.rivercottage.net and most importantly in our eyes smallholding and butchery with the revered self-sufficiency guru Simon Dawson at www.hiddenvalleypigs.co.uk. Fuelled by this 'extensive' training we set about creating a sub-urban micro-holding - we've got a corner plot on a Woking residential estate so it would never qualify as a smallholding.

Step 1
Since we started out 4 or 5 years ago, we have put together a couple of hens, a couple of bantams, 1/2 a dozen quails (added to the kid's 4 rabbits, guinea pig and 5 cats) and most recently 2 Indian runner ducks - not bad for a plot the size of one of those extra large postage stamps (the ones that hide the most important part of the address when you stick them on - and then can't get them off so you have to write a separate address label).

Anyway, we were doing fine on the livestock front and even grew a few veggies etc. - when the chickens allowed - but this still wasn't enough. We wanted to take advantage of the skills we had acquired, so taking a leaf out of Simon's biblical tome The Self Sufficiency Bible (available online and in all major bookstores) we started small.

Step 2
One Thursday evening, whilst walking around our local Sainsbury's we saw 6 pints of full fat Goat's milk reduced to 20p per pack and I said to Sally "shall we make some cheese this weekend?". She looked at me like a baby hedgehog unable to avoid the onrushing lorry whose handbrake I'd just taken off and simply said "OK". At 60p for 6 pints we figured nothing ventured, nothing gained, and after all we could throw it away if it tasted awful or didn't work - but it did. It was the best. It was like a slightly sour, but extra creamy Philly. Sally added some garlic and herbs and we munched our way through it in pretty short order with some home made bread. Since then, every time we see reduced milk in the supermarket we both get really excited, buy as much as we can carry and make up a batch of cheese.... baby steps.

Step 3
Next up, I noticed that the chickens had not gorged themselves on our blackcurrants this year and, not wanting to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity - the chickens love to stand under the bush and jump like Masai (straight up and down) pecking off the fruit one piece at a time, endearing and amusing but also really annoying - I picked what amounted to one small Pyrex bowl of currants.

OK, so I have a bowl of currants, now what do I do with them? I tried one straight off the bush but it tasted ropey, sort of floral and slightly bitter but nothing like blackcurrant. Like the reduced Goat's milk though, I thought it would only cost me pennies to try making some jam. So I placed the fruit (stalks and skins intact) with some lemon zest sugar and a splash of water straight in a pan and boiled it away for as long as it looked like it needed (I've never been one for recipe's and precise instruction as you'll find out later). Every 1/2 an hour I would take a teaspoon and put it on a cold plate (I knew that much) and test it's consistency and flavour.... the flavour..... it was like Ribena but better; sweet, sour and sticky, wow it was good! Anyway, getting carried away with myself, I placed an empty jam jar into the oven to sterilise and after 15-20 minutes took it out and poured the hot, sticky, purple compote into the jar (forgetting to strain off all the 'roughage'), replaced the lid and stood it on the side to cool before I placed it in the fridge to test.

This approach didn't work, I'd tasted nectar and wanted more, so I took several slices of bread from the fridge, buttered them and applied a liberal coating of the ambrosia (lumps and all). It was the best jam I had ever tried, but for one thing - the flimsy pieces of green stalk stuck between my teeth and the shaving of lemon zest that I had to chew. I consoled myself with the fact that this was my first attempt and rustic was to be expected, after all I wasn't going to waste this on a WI competition or anything like that. That jar lasted less than a week and has convinced me to grow more soft fruits next year to conserve and preserve for consumption when the lovely summer weather fades away to rain.

Step 4
So, we'd had two successes and the momentum was behind us. With growing confidence, I suggested that we try to butcher half a pig which would have been sensible if I'd suggested it immediately after the course with Simon, but I'd left it over a year. How much would I remember? Sally gave a resigned look but, being as supportive as ever, agreed to let me give it a go.

Having tried a number of different breeds of pig before I thought it might be nice to try an Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB), a small pig that is good for pork, but like the Berkshire could be used for bacon too, so I looked up a supplier on the internet and booked in my half. The clock ticked round and, before I knew it, it was time to collect. Jim at www.bamptonpigs.co.uk showed me around his pig fields (well paddocks), introduced me to some of his pigs (all very happy and well behaved) and talked me through his set up, before we proceeded to his local pub to collect my 1/2. Money changed hands and I raced home to watch my son represent his school in the district sports.

I parked in the shade with the pig rested on the back seat covered by a couple of black bags while I went in to watch the relays and presentations and, after a while, collected my son to go home and play at butchers. Oliver got into the car, gave the pig a half glance and said nothing, obviously used to Dad's eccentricity.... "yeah... whatever!" his face said.

So, we got home and I carried the pig indoors. Fortunately none of the neighbours noticed as I threw a child sized pig carcase over my shoulder and did battle with the front door. I walked straight in and faced 5 cats looking at me quizzically. I continued past them into the kitchen, placed the pig onto the empty and cleaned work surface and turned to gather up my knives, steel and cutting board. As I turned, I noticed that I had an audience. The cats had followed me out and, intrigued, they were lined up in a row looking on expectantly as if I had brought the pig home just for them. I ignored them and turned back to the job at hand.

I faced up to the pig and.... went blank! I now faced a dilemma. All my books, including the exemplary Self Sufficiency Bible by Simon Dawson (available online and in all major bookstores), were in the living room... the other side of the cats! I called to Oliver, but he had gone out to play with his friends, so I had no choice. I raced through into the living room, whipped up the books and returned to the kitchen in a time that Usain Bolt would be proud of, ready to scream and shout and curse at the ravenous hoards. Fortunately, none of them fancied 1/2 a pig and, having initially scattered, rearranged themselves in a line to watch.

A brisk review of a couple of pages (the pictures and diagrams), it all made sense again and I positioned myself at the head end and confidently cut through the neck leaving me feeling like a proud Viking holding my prize of a severed head aloft. I then proceeded to prepare each of the primary cuts and, handling my knives in a way that would definitely have had Debbie and Simon wincing, separated out sausage meat (more than a professional would have ended up with), chops (of varying size and shape), belly and back bacon, roasts and hams. When I'd finished, I felt a massive sense of self satisfaction. A job well done.

To be honest apart from; my brawn not setting, my first set of sausages disintegrating in the pan, and the looks the local kids gave the skeletal pigs head that I'd placed on the doorstep (only kidding), everything else went really well. The kids, and their friends all lent a hand with the sausage making, the bacon and my prized hams cured beautifully.

Step 5
In summary, as The Self Sufficiency Bible (available online and in all major bookstores) says, anyone can be more self-sufficient it just takes a few small steps. My next step is to find someone local to where I live who has a corner of a paddock free for a few pigs of my own and some chickens for the table... I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Have you ever seen anything this cute?

This is a video of twelve, four day old piglets playing.

Piglets are so funny when they play. They kind of remind me of puppies, but with something a little more solid about them. I love the bit when mum tells off the two main protagonists by putting a nose underneath one of them and tossing it into the fence.

I'll keep them in this open fronted barn until about the middle of next week, and then hopefully move them into the woods.

video

Monday, 12 July 2010

Trying not to like my mini Jurassic Park

video

Imagine a Tyrannosaurus Rex in miniature, give it a huge pair of swimming flippers to walk around in, and then give it all the stability of a twelve month old baby walking its first few steps, and there you have a gosling.

How geese ever made it through evolution is a complete mystery. If challenged as young they’d be hard pushed to summon more than a flappy foot in defence, and they certainly couldn’t run!

I have two of them. The thing is, I don’t want to like them. I don’t want to dislike them, but I don’t want to, you know, like them. I don’t want to be fond of them. They’re just flappy footed mini dinosaurs who follow me around the chicken field, bumping into things and falling on their backsides. Stupid things. And they’re ugly. They are! They look moth eaten with their white feathers poking through the yellow down and a silly little head and an over-sized silly beak.

I’ve known them since they were eggs, but that makes no difference, no difference at all. They’re meat. That’s what geese are, they’re meat, simple as that. I’m going to rear them, and then… you know. That’s the circle of life. I know it’s tough, but it’s a tough world. I have no problem with that at all. No problem at all.

I hate it when they follow me about. Why do they do that? Can’t they tell I don’t like them?

You should feel their little hearts beating when you pick them up. There bellies are all soft and squishy like jelly and their heart slams away in their chest, bang, bang, bang, bang, bang. I tell them, calm down, chill, you’ll be sending more blood around your body than you can cope with – it’s probably all going to their feet, no wonder they’re so huge.

I pick them up and carefully put them in a safe wooden house at night, and then in the morning I lift them out and place them in their run for the day. Of course when I’m around I let them out completely to explore the chicken field, and when they’re old enough, and have a little more control over those feet, they’ll be out and about all day anyway.

They don’t explore the field though. They follow me, cheeping and calling. When I walk fast they try and rush to keep up and trip over, and then sit there looking at their own feet in disgust as though they’d done it on purpose. I only stop and wait for them because I don’t want them injured, not because I like them.

Obviously I’m not going to name them – you never name anything you’re going to eat. I named their parents Honey-Bunny, but that’s different. I won’t name these two.

One of them tumbled head first in the brook which is a bit muddy and when he stood up dirty water was running all down his back and made him look as though he had long dark hair, and I thought, if I was going to name him, which I’m not, I would have called him Marc, who was the singer of T’Rex. Marc The Flappy Footed Long Haired Mini Dinosaur. Marc for short.

That’s not his name, of course. It’s just, well, I’m going to need something to call him. Not a name, just a reference. A tag. A label. It’s defiantly not a name.

I don’t even like them. I’m going to stop them following me about. I’ll run away from them, and I won’t stop even if they do trip themselves up. And I won’t listen to their cheeping calls as they shout after me. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’m glad I sorted that out.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Nicely confused



With Debbie’s arm still out of bounds – she’s ripped the muscle away from the shoulder and now it’s all inflamed and she can’t use it. She should have gone back to the doctor for a quaterzone injection into the socket, but funny enough she didn’t fancy that and went into stroppy teenager mode with head on one side, arms crossed (see, she can use it when she wants to), one hip shoved forward and a pointy toe tapping.
I did manage to get her to a chiropractor yesterday and the verdict was, nasty. “It’s nasty,” the chiropractor said. I could have told her that! Anyway, she can’t use it for a week, can’t drive, can’t do anything.
So, with the farm work all pretty much down to me, I decided to treat myself and downloaded an unabridged audio book for my MP3 from Audiobook.co.uk. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larson, all twenty-three and a half hours of it.

What a wonderful book. I know it’s won loads of awards, but honestly, fantastic book. The funny thing is, far from just doing the normal rounds of feeding and watering the stock, letting the chickens, ducks and geese in and out, feeding and fussing the horses, making sure the sheep still have four feet and they’re all pointing down rather than up in the air, and chatting ten to the dozen with the pigs, I’m searching for extra things to do so I can spend more time out listening to the book.
I’ve got to say, this new regime is working for me on so many levels. I’m enjoying myself bumbling along listening to a great story, I’m getting loads done, and when I finally come home, Debbie is so swamped with guilt because of the extra hours I’m putting in that I have wine, nibbles and a hot bath all waiting for me.
Happy days!
The only slight downside, and I’ve really had to search for one, is that although I have fallen in love with listening to a story as I work, I don’t want to give up that comforting lovely sensation of actually holding a book in my hands and reading from a page. I don’t think audio could ever really replace that. So I’m reading a book as well, which can get confusing.

I’m reading, Survivor by Tom Cain, totally different to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but when you’re submerged in two books at the same time, there are times when you think hang on, where on earth am I?
Actually I do have a little previous with mixing books up, as a while ago I had over ten cd books stored on my MP3 player, and listened to so many times I was totally bored with them, so I set them on shuffle – now that makes interesting listening!
“Call the White house, I need to speak to the President of the United States immediately!”
“I’m afraid oral sex has never really been my bag, even if I do love you.”
“A handbag!”
Classic moments.