Thursday, 20 August 2009

Sunshine versus grey skies

Well, what a funny couple of days it has been!

Yesterday was beautifully sunny and we all spent most of the day outside doing various long overdue jobs in the garden. We moved the duck pen (one of them has been laying since sunday- yipee!), dug over the hen run, sorted out the workshop and the big stack of wood outside it waiting to be chopped up for fire lighting, and made some more paper logs. We made a secure pen for Merlin near the house and put the gazebo back up after its nasty fall while we were in The Lakes. There was a lot of heavy rain and it doesn't seem to drain as well as it should. It filled up with water and the weight of it bent a couple of the poles We managed to er... bodge them so it should last for a few more weeks!

It was soooo hot during the day that Louis had to wait for a good run until after tea. Tom had gone off with Phil to do some more errands of the free stuff variety (more about that later!) and just before going to sleep I realised we had forgotten David's swimming lesson. Bah!
And then today it was a really grey start so we all felt subdued and being indoors was probably what we needed. Rob was working for the first time in a couple of weeks!!! (LOL More about that later, too!!) and I had forgotten how miserable the grey sky can make me feel.
All was not lost. Jonathan made flapjacks and David and I did some research for a Lego kit he wants to get with his birthday money. I finished the LEA 'reports' for the younger two boys and we got them posted. David and I also did some literacy worksheets that I had printed off ages ago but never felt that he was ready for. He did 9 of them all on a similar theme and did tehm without too much difficulty. Before he has always needed so much help and pushing but he did them pretty much alone. I just gave the instructions. I was so pleased. He was pleased with himself too. Just goes to show that even without doing anything, a child can progress. No forced learning. No repetition.
The sun came out for tea time, and so Rob and I went off for an evening present hunt and a canal walk. This is thanks to Tom being more than happy to babysit and almost insisting we go out and do something.
Tom is a first class son. Not that they aren't all great, but for a boy his age he is fabulous. A real diamond. The best thing is that he is recognised by others outside the family as such.
His reward is nigh.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A glimpse at what other people eat.

I have just spent 2 hours watching TV. In bed!!!!! I hurt my back this morning. Not really sure how but it is all down one side of my bum a bit like sciatica.
That isn't the reason for my posting. It is what I watched that has got me typing!!
I found the link to this programme via another blog and as she put it on her flabber has been ghasted!!!!
Do people, or more importantly, why do people, spend THAT much money on such awful food?? One family of 5 were spending £330 or more a week on food which totals something like £17000 a year!!!!!!! OMG
It really is worth watching. There are 2 to view on iPlayer now and another one to be broadcast next wednesday, or I guess, thursday for me! At the ned of the 2nd episode, I think that they said next weeks family spend £21000 a year on food!!!!! Does look like a big family but goodness me.
Economy Gastronomy is the name of the game! A bit twee, but I guess living frugally or within your means just doesn't sound as up beat does it?!!!
They take the family's weeks worth of shopping and pile it up on the table, before axing their current budget by about £100 a week and giving them a menu planner and some cookery lessons!! I do not usually go in for such 'reality' TV programmes, (hence no TV license here) but this was a good way to spend my time this morning. A good ego boost. A much needed pat on the back and a reminder that I need to give myself a break if we buy a pizza from the co-op for tea if I'm shattered or we are late home. This is a rare occurance for us. Some people eat like that all the time and much worse. Ready meals and takeaways every night of the week.
I sound a little smug here. I am sorry. I do not mean to. Obviously the people on these programmes are extremes and have probably been exaggerated for effect. We are not perfect when it comes to food or spending our money, but we try. And judging by that programme, we are doing pretty well.
So thank you Greentwinsmummy for the link. I am enjoying reading your blog!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

'Magical Merlin' or 'Now you see me, now you don't.'

Disappearing rabbits I thought I only happened as the result of a magic trick by a magician using a wand and a hat.
How wrong could I be!!!

I would do a photographic representation for comic effect but that might be deemed childish!!
I looked out of the french doors in the kitchen to see Merlin munching away happily on the grass underneath the pirate ship. I made a cup of tea and then looked out again. No rabbit. I expect he's gone back under the table I thought to myself....nope. No rabbit there either. Nor under the quail hutches or in the little house or run where he had been sitting happily earlier on today.
No Merlin anywhere.
He couldn't really have squeezed his bulging tummy through the palings of the fence half way up the garden could he?
Or under the side gate? Surely not!
We looked all over the garden including the end where the shed is and the only possible escape route all be it piled high with fence posts and spare wood etc We walked around the lane behind our house but no sign.
David was extremely upset by this point. 15 minutes had passed from noticing that he had gone. It was beginning to feel like we had lost him, when a cry from next door of 'Mark's got him!!'
What a relief!! He had got down the side of the shed and thankfully Mark had a small hole on his side that he had covered with a large piece of wood secured with nails. He had pulled it off and there was Merlin in the gap. He just grabbed him quick and it was all over.
Thank you, Mark!!!!
A few hours later, Mark popped round with a roll of chicken wire for David to make the garden secure. Our hero!!!! It was only yesterday he'd popped round with a bag of chicken feed to say thanks for taking care of their animals while they were away last week.
Faith in humanity restored. Thank you, Mark. It is all very much appreciated xx

Friday, 14 August 2009

Introducing Merlin.....

We went to the pet shop the other day to buy dog food, and as always we went to have a look at the rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, chinchillas and degus. We made a 'rule' last year after Flapjack went to live with Ollie, that we wouldn't have any more useless pets. Only pets with a purpose we said. Meaning that if it didn't lay eggs, orwe couldn't milk it or eat it, then it had no place in the garden. Louis was the only exception to this rule. Ooops!
Well, to be fair he is gorgeous and the coolest rabbit I have ever met. His owners were divorcing and he had been a much loved house rabbit. David fell in love with him, and as David had never really had a pet of his own before, or even really asked for one, we decided that he could.
One catch though. There were several people interested and we were told he couldn't be homed until Friday so if we wanted him we would have to beat the others to the door!!!!
It was very nerve racking. David and I were both feeling sick and shaking, but we were the first ones there!!!!! It was like queueing for the opening of Harrods sale!!! the atmosphere outside the shop could've been cut with a knife!!!
I believe he is a black otter standard Rex rabbit, more or less.
And Louis seems to like him...or is that, likes his toys!!!

And this is part of my lunch today...tomatoes and cucumber from the garden!!! Its a miracle!!! Firstly RED tomatoes, and secondly...I still can't believe you can grow cucumber without a greenhouse!!!

What a day!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Beetroot ice cream and my first tomato!

Well, here it is. Th efirst of my tomatoes turned red. It is only small...cherry variety but it tasted absolutely divine!! Even better than the organic veg box ones. Or maybe I'm just biassed?!Davis here, forcing the cooked beetroot through the sieve. Well, how else do you make beetroot puree?
And the finished bright fuschia pink mass!!!! Where did the wonderful deep purple go?
David wasn't too keen on it to be honest, although he loves beetroot. I think they needed to be cooked longer and therefore be sweeter before mashng them to a pulp. Would have made that job easier too!!!
But we made ice cream, fo rthe first time ever and without a fancy ice cream maker. It has an excellent texture and would definitely give it another go. Maybe a more conventional flavour next time....sorry Hugh :-(
Oh and we went to see Harry Potter last night.
*winces* while she can hear Han shouting and snorting in disgust and the unfairness of that last statement.
Sorry Han, but you know us.... and it was a later showing. I'm sure David would go again for company!!!
It was fantastic and dare I say the best of all of them so far? There were some cracking Ron moments and it went so quick. I'm not great at the cinema because of the loudness and massive screen gives me eye ache but it was fabulous.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

This is me.

The last few years have been a struggle for me as most of you who read this already know. There have been times when I think I have it all sorted and then something happens that sends me back down into the abyss.

During the last few years, Rob's artwork has been going from strength to strength and has refrained from doing too many portraits of me as my self confidence is pretty well non existant.

But this week, following a few events that have seen my self esteem take a real knock, Rob decided to do a portrait of me. As he sees me...not as I see myself.

I suffered a gruelling 15 mins of photos where I felt so embarrassed and silly and just wanted to give up until finally the cat wandered over to me, broke my concentration and voila!! The perfect picture says Rob.

I can still see the tiredness, strain and depleted self respect in my face. The look that shows I am not a happy bunny. I can see that I am 2 stone overweight. But it is a good photograph.

Rob changed it to black and white and spent two sessions with pencil and charcoal, creating this.

I love it. It is the first picture of me from the last few years that I actually do like. I can't bear the camera being pointed at me these days. I freeze and consequently the picture looks awful. But this one is different.
So guys, this is me.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I just wanted to share these.

Loweswater at night from the shingle beach outside the bothy. Fabulous photo taken by Rob who has much more patience than I. He changed settings on the camera and persevered until he got it just about right I guess! I like this photo too....I took this one, but it was just a lucky one!!! No patience and planning here!! I'm a point and shoot photographer!! This is Tom welding his off road buggy.

Whinging Wednesday

There is a wonderful blog that I read, with Wordless Wednesday, which is a post with lots of beautiful pictures but no words (obviously!!) This was my intention as I sat down to blog, but I remembered how long it took to load the photos the other night and thought better of it!
So instead, you get 'Whinging Wednesday!'
I have a house full of stuff...clutter everywhere, none of which I feel I can legitimately part with.
I have a house full of dirt...which when I clean it, only seems to touch the surface and returns almost immediately.
I have a garden full of mud...yes, I knoe, its a has to have dirt in it...but mine is mud. The sort that sticks to your boots and you then drop all along the lovely clean path back to the house.
I have a kitchen floor that positively sparkled this morning...but now looks exactly as it did before I mopped it. MORE MUD in the shape of dog footprints and boot prints.
I have a whole host of books I want to read, stuff I want to make, things that need mending and feel too unsettled to sit and do anything other than blog about it.
Whinge, whinge, whinge...

BUT, on the good side. I actually have a little surprise coming my way from Mrs L's blog giveaway. Some handmade cards and I am so excited!!! Thank you!!!!
I love making used to be one of my favourites. A reason to draw or create something. I hope that they will inspire me to start again.
BUT, I need a tidy and organised house before I can relax to do such things.

SO? Stop whinging woman and go tidy!!!!!

Monday, 3 August 2009

The most memorable things from our escape from civilisation...

These two rings made by for each of us. I just love them. Hand carved with love. And this phenomenon!!!!
Now I'm not saying that the boy doesn't read...just its usually horse magazines or fishing books. This is a fabulous fiction book called Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver, that I bought for Tom from a charity shop a while ago. He said that I would like it so I took it with me. I couldn't put it down. So I tentatively said to Jonathan that he would like it...and this is just one of the occaisions that he was sat reading. He read in the bothy. He read in the car. He read in the tent. He was engrossed completely. Jonathan sitting quietly with his nose in a book. For hours!!! Even reading by the light of his MP4 player until midnight. FABULOUS.
I bought the next two books in the series to read and now Rob is reading the first one too!!!

And this is what we have been doing.....

Looking at the water..
Swimming in the water...( That little head bobbing about there is Rob btw)

Skimming stones across the water...

Pulling things out of the water...

Playing with things made of wood....

Building with things made of wood...

This is where we have been hiding...

The Lake a beautiful little bothy on the shore of Loweswater. No electricity. No beds. No running water to speak of.