Monday, 24 June 2013

No man's land

It's a funny time, odd, not hilarious. I feel in limbo and at a loss. Everything is neither here nor there, one thing or another.

The weather is dull, not sunny and bright as it should be, just day after day of grey. The lettuces have simply stopped growing, the chilli plants died off and hardly any seeds have germinated at all. I try to persuade the children not to wear tights as it's June, the month of strawberries and long evenings, of school fĂȘtes and Glastonbury festival, the time of roses and high teas as well as awesome shades and R&B. But I let them wear tights because it's cold.

It's not the end of term but it feels like it. The school show has been and gone, which was fabulous - the kids still singing the songs every morning with the dawn chorus. One day they will sleep in until 7am. The teaching has slacked off a bit, sports day will soon be upon us but really it feels like the holidays should start sooner - not in 4 weeks time.

Fletch is still lame. Well he's not, he is on the mend. Just not quite sound enough to gallop around and jump fences yet. A 'walk and trot' sort-of-well.

The allotment needs attention, to water or not to water? Decisions to be made whether the downpours are enough for the newly emergent runner beans or the wild flower meadow.

And me? I just don't know what to do. I am going around in circles chasing my tail wandering what is next. Change is in the air - and only I can force that.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Clothes hangers and taxi's

Standing outside the school gates waiting for A and P, which is always a slightly uncomfortable feeling, P comes charging out and dumps her cardi, her paintings, her book bag and sandwich box on me. I try to instil some manners and ask her to carry some of it herself, when a fellow mother laughs and says:

"Clothes hangers and taxi's - that's all we are!"

And for some reason this has stayed with me and given me a rather niggling feeling about motherhood. Am I really just a mother? We all know how important that job is, how precious it is and how wonderful it is being a parent, but what else am I?

The very same day, I was asked what I wanted to do when I was 16 years old - by a 16 year old making her exciting life decisions. It got me thinking and wondering.

When I was 16, I was going to save all the animals and all the people in the world. I was going to be a vet, and volunteer with VSO. I wanted to end apartheid, inequality, poverty and war. I travelled to Africa when I was 18 and this confirmed what I wanted to do, to help animals to help people. I started donating to Brooke Hospital when I was very young and found their practices in Luxor and Cairo whilst on a backpacking trip - the vet even let me look around and encouraged me to stay for an afternoon, watching all the horses and donkeys being brought in for treatment so that they could have more fruitful years working hard for their owners.

That's what I wanted to do, to make a difference.

Am I really just a clothes hanger and a taxi? Maybe something has to change.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Fish keeping

I'm not being funny, right, but looking after a goldfish is blooming hard work. Every week we seem to have a near-death. Bubble is now almost one year old and I think I have done very well indeed to get this far - even the pet shop owner seemed to think so.

"Muuuuuuuum, I think Bubble is dead!" screams A, not with too much emotion in her voice though. A sort of matter-of-fact scream, like we have been here before.

I take a look at Bubble lying upside down among the plants completely still and he certainly looks very poorly. A splash on the surface of the water soon sees him right and I am reminded it is Monday, fish tank cleaning day. He is very sensitive this fish, if his water parameters are wrong he lets me know by playing dead on the bottom, swimming on his side, lying upside down or gasping for air at the surface. I have spent a few hours on fish forums trying to work out how best to look after him and boy, what riveting places fish forums are.

But he is our fish, and we have a duty to look after him well. That included a £25 trip to the pet shop recently for his ammonia testing kit, his water conditioner, some new plants and stuff to put in his filter. And I think he really appreciates it - we have a little bond growing, Bubble and me.

Upside down playing-dead goldfish

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Surprise me!

"Mummmmmmy! Mummy! You've only kissed me goodnight once..." shouted A, clearly in distress. I don't remember when double kissing came in.

I bound up the stairs, two at a time (I like doing that) and kiss A lovingly for the second time, stroking her forehead and smiling at her honest face.

"Mummy, can you also put a surprise note in my sandwich box tomorrow, please?" she asked.

"Oh, OK darling, " I grinned.

A continued, "It could say 'I love you' or something..."

"OK sweetie,"  I agreed, "Night night, love you!" I said leaving the bedroom.

"Remind me about the surprise note in the morning, won't you A?"

"Okay!" she replied drifting off to sleep. And she did.

Friday, 7 June 2013


No matter how hard I try, I can't help being ridiculously superstitious. Don't cross me on the stairs, put new shoes on the table or stir the pots cooking on the hob with a knife. Logically, of course, I know this makes no difference at all to my day, the world is not about to implode - but what if it was, I might as well avoid it.

My most recent nightmare is a family of magpies which live near the stables. On my drive over to see Fletch, I often see one magpie going about his daily business. I am all a frenzy searching out the other little bugger so I can safely ride that day - you know, one for sorrow, two for joy and all that. It's just a magpie, it's just a magpie I repeat to myself and then heave a sigh of relief when I see another one. I am then safe in the knowledge that there will only be joy.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, 6 June 2013


He's not mine, this great, big ginger horse - but I have started to love him as though he is. I share him and pay towards his keep. He's huge, talented but naughty, and has me regularly wondering whether I can cope with his strength, his leaps, his spooks and his almighty bucks. I think I am going through some sort of mid-life crisis, hoping that I have the bravery of a 16 year old and the talent of a 3 day event rider - in reality I have neither. Turning 40 in August is proving to be such a liberating feeling though, making me more determined, more hard-working and even competitive - I want to do this to the best of my abilities while I can, while I am well, while I can afford to, so all in all this could be a really small window of opportunity.

It was all going well with me and Fletch. We have little conversations before I get on, about how nice it would be if he could keep me safe and how I have carrots for him afterwards if I stay on board. He seems to understand this, nodding and nuzzling in agreement but having his own agenda when I climb the enormous 17hh (that's a BIG horse for those of you not acquainted with the hand measurements of horses) - you never know what you are going to get with Fletch - quirky and cheeky or beautiful and composed. Keeps me on my toes you could say.

We have tried dressage together, Fletch and I, and have even been successful at a small local level. He is less than impressed with trotting in circles and would rather be flying over solid fences cross country, galloping and remembering his days as a race horse - but he does the dressage, reluctantly, putting in a spook when he feels like it to make sure we know who's in charge.

And now he is poorly with an infected leg, feeling really sorry for himself watching all the other horses going out for a hack or dancing around the school. The look on his face is one of jealousy, he actually wants to be ridden, to be entertained, to have fun - horses really do love it , all this running and jumping.

It's been 6 days of antibiotics and not much sign of recovery yet - c'mon Fletch. We need to go running and jumping together. The clock is ticking - we need to do this before it's too late.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Lottie

The lottie! The whatie?

The Lottie is the pet name for our allotment. She's a good old egg, churning out weeds and vegetables in that order, but we love her so and don't find much greater pleasures than a couple of hours tilling, weeding and planting on our hired piece of land. She was a complete and utter disaster last year, not her fault admittedly, due to rain and slugs. I think we had three leeks, a small bunch of chard, one courgette and some odd curly-wurly pumpkins which had no flavour at all.

I've been ignoring The Lottie this season, mainly due to the darn weather again and also a great, big, chestnut horse has been occupying my time and thoughts. But this half term break we managed a couple of days digging, she's looking quite trim and ready to accept some plants onto her plot.


We planted some celeriac and it's still there the last time I checked. We sprinkled some wild flower seeds and have taken out all the buttercups no matter how gloriously yellow they are. We crumbled the heavy clay soil, as well as we could, in readiness for beans, chard, fennel, sprouts and leeks which are all growing in pots at home. The apple tree has a promising amount of blossom, the horseradish good and strong, while the blueberries, currants, strawberries and raspberries are lush and floriferous promising good pickings later on.

Happy gardening all - here's to a fruitful Summer!