Monday, 30 September 2013

Going Postal

You would think, wouldn't you, that given the Post Office is to be privatised, and the media is full of adverts telling us what a great investment buying into it would be, they would be selling their excellence in their branches, too. Wouldn't you?

Well, because of my Post Crossing hobby ( two more cards arrived today - one from Poland and one from Russia; it is all marvellous and cheer-making stuff) I go into the Post Office fairly regularly to stock up on stamps, and thence I was today.

Now, a few months ago the main office in town was installed of some fancy shiny red leatherette banquettes, upon which people can sit whilst waiting to be served. To me, this said, 'You might as well park your backside because the queue will be massive and the counter staff non- existent.' To me, this is NOT GOOD. I want to stay standing and move asap to the front of the queue and then be gone as swift as a swifty thing. When I sit down I want it to be at home with a cup of tea in my hand and a cat on my lap. 

When the banquettes first arrived I wondered how much they cost and if another member of counter staff could have been employed instead. Not for people to sit on, I hasten to add, but to cut through the extensive queues. Same with the installation of a couple of 'Serve Yourself' stations, which are okay providing you know what you want, which buttons to press and you don't get stuck behind someone who doesn't. 

But the queues remain the same as they were pre-banquette/ serve yourself. The only difference is that  you can now seethe about queue lengths and rest your bunions at the same time. Oh, and one of the counter staff has been re-deployed to tell people, nay force them indeed, to sit down, and to tell them how to use the serve yourself machines, although the lady on that duty today seemed just as confused as everyone else and took so long to show another lady how to get the correct stampage for a letter to Australia that I almost snatched the thing from her hands and said, 'Oh for heavens' sake - this is how you do it!'

But I didn't because I was resolutely avoiding the banquettes and standing in the queue, Number 114 on my ticket and with 17 people ahead of me.

Well, at some point a Time and Motion Gnome must have employed his pointy stick because there was a flurry of counter activity and the queue standees and banquette sittees began to move at a goodly brisk pace. It was 'Ticket Number 98 to counter C, ticket number 99 to counter H, ticket number 100 to counter D, ' and it all got a bit frantic, what with us standees crossing paths with the sittees who were becoming standees and cutting across the path of the queue.

And because it is Monday, which I believe is pension day (correct me if I am wrong) there were several senior citizens attempting this cross dancing routine, and some of them were very senior indeed and understandably not the quickest of movers and shakers. 

Number 111 was called twice by a counter staff person who, in the common vernacular, had a face like a slapped backside. Or bulldog chewing a brick. Or possibly a wasp. Any how, you get the idea. She did not look like serving the Great British Post Office was a vocational thing. And after calling 111 to her counter twice in quick succession (feeling the sharp end of the stick of the Time and Motion Gnome no doubt) she moved on to Number 112. 

The owner of ticket Number 111 was a very, very senior citizen. He was sitting on a banquette. He had a walking stick and a hearing aid. He looked frail, and a little confused. And when his kindly banquette neighbour pointed out his ticket number and gave him a nudge in the direction of the right counter, he negotiated the cross queue of us standees, and arrived at the same time as Ticket 112.

'I called your number TWICE!' barked the counter staff woman. 'You have to come when I call your number or you lose your place in the queue.'

She was unkind. No, she was more than that. She was horrid. Buy a share in her? I think not.

Luckily, Number 112 insisted this elderly gentleman was served first and stood patiently to one side whilst Grumpy Horrid Woman did her job, for which she is presumably paid, with all the grace and cheerfulness of a bag of poo. 

Now, I am not saying that we can all be cheerful all the time. Heaven knows, when I worked in Customer Services I could have quite cheerfully told some of my customers where to go sometimes. But I was in Customer Services and the Customer Is Always Right, so you smile and grit your teeth and then, at the end of the day, go out the back for a good swear.

And this chap in the Post Office today wasn't even being awkward or cantankerous. He was coping with his great age. He was coping with what amounted to two sets of queues, and an automated voice  calling ticket numbers and counter places at a fast pace. He did not deserve being told off like a teenager. 

I'm just saying. That's all.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Bits of Stuff

Generally, I like to write a blog post focused on a main theme, like work, or cake, or yet another of my ridiculous 'Grand Plans For The Future.' (This time last year, for example, saw Andy and I travelling from Kent to North Wales and back in a single day to view a house that we had taken a fancy to. Complete whimsical madness, the house being a dark and gloomy overpriced wreck, but for me, at least, it proved that I do not want to live in North Wales, especially up on the side of a very steep hill in a house with no water supply apart from 'what we can catch in the tank when it rains.' Which, in North Wales, is quite a lot.)

But this week, I have had nothing themic to write about. Absolutely nothing. It has all been a bit, well, odds and sodsy.

It has been a crazy-mad busy week. Lots of work at school, plus Ofsted appeared, which was nice (!), and this had the effect of putting everyone on edge for two and a half days and then producing and eating lots of homemade cake on the day post-inspection. I also rescued an enormous spider from the disabled toilet. The toilet, I hasten to add, was not disabled by the size of the spider. I was almost disabled by the size of the spider in a manner of being frozen with fear, but I couldn't back down as I was being watched during the rescue by several interested parties, so I just opened a can of 'Toughen Up' and hoped the spider wouldn't suddenly lunge at me and send me screaming up the corridor.

Also, I have received a flurry of Post Crossing cards, which was lovely. One came in an envelope, complete with two sides of a closely typed A4 letter telling me all about the life of the sender a la Christmas Round Robin style. I feel duty bound to reply, and then I thought, 'I could write a silly Christmas Round Robin for the Malarkey card this year - you know, saying things like, 'February saw Andy and I in Antarctica, testing out our Lycra camouflage body stockings amongst the penguin population. Spent three days under arrest in the local constabulary for indecent exposure of cellulite, but all turned out well because it transpired the Deputy Constable went to school with Andy's Great-Aunt Philomena. What larks!'

On Thursday evening I partook of my annual attempt at buddleiacide. Time will tell if I have, yet again, failed.

And this morning? Well, Andy has just walked past me announcing he is 'going into the garden to do something useful.' He is carrying a large mallet. I am staying indoors. Just for the time being.

And I have also decided to learn how to crochet. I can knit, I can sew, I can make cards, I can bake, I can even cover a baked bean can in sticky backed plastic and call it a pen-holder, but even though I have tried several times over the years, I just cannot grasp crocheting. My Gran tried to teach me when I was a child, but even she gave up in exasperation. Yet I have recently discovered the world of the Craft Magazine, and there are several lovely projects that involve crocheting, and I woke this morning thinking , I MUST learnt to crochet. I have changed my magazine focus away from things like Good Housekeeping and Woman and Home and Country Living towards publications that are more useful in my latest 'Grand Plan For the Future' which is 'Make A Hobby Into A Career.' Plus, craft magazines don't scare you with health living and pension articles. Apart from occasional warnings not to hold pins in your mouth in case you inhale them and puncture your lungs.

So, the sun is shining here in Kent. The local park is gearing up to host a weekend festival thingy, which will involve a lot of loud music and local resident parking issues and no doubt give me plenty of fodder for a themed blog entitled 'Angry' come Monday. Washing is drying on the line because I am up to date with housework, hurrah, and it is only ten of the clock. There is a new series of Strictly, to ease me carefully into the darkening evenings and stave off the effects of S.A.D for a couple of months. Flora Bijou Mybug is almost 10 weeks old and continues to grow apace in tooth and claw, and to annoy the older cats with her rambunctious joie de vivre and 'Isn't everything such FUN when you are a kitten?' approach to even the most mundane activities. 

And now I am going to venture into the garden to check up on mallet-wielding Andy, and then I am going to find a crochet hook and an appropriate You-Tube tutorial, then hopefully get sidetracked by elevenses before any atrocities with wool are committed.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Don't Panic!

Panic Number 1 - thought I was developing vision problems. Things were looking mildly blurry here and there. But panic over. Turns out it was cat lick on my glasses. And my i-pad screen.

Panic Number 2 - thought I had developed mild middle-age stress incontinence. But panic over. Turns out is was a patch of cat lick on my trousers.

Panic Number 3 - thought the whistling in my left ear had returned after a lengthy and blessed absence. But panic over. Turns out it was a snoring kitten, asleep on my shoulder.

Panic Number 4 - thought I was developing some horrid skin problem, with symptoms of puncture wounds all up my legs. But panic over. Turns out it was a kitten discovering she can climb upwards by digging her claws into human flesh really hard.

On other, non-panic related matters, I was saving our damson harvest to photograph and show you. But Andy ate it. One damson we had this year. One! Mind you, it was a very fine damson, almost of plum-size proportions. And the lack of damson harvest was more than made up for by the mega-apple gathering, much of which was retrieved via the use of a shrimping net and with not too many boinks on the head.

I was offered another job on Thursday. Unexpected phone call in the evening. Slept on it, then turned it down. Nearly didn't because I thought, wow - more money, and given I am, at the moment, mildly obsessed with paying off our mortgage as soon as possible so we can escape to the countryside as soon as possible and get away from the noisy neighbours as soon as possible and live amongst fields and hills and trees and bunnies as soon as possible, it would have helped achieve this.

Then I thought, are you bonkers? Did one too many apples drop on your head? You are supposed to be developing a work/ life balance so that the life bit will give you time to do lovely things like learn about textile art, and felting and doing clever things with paper and wool and pretty floral material. How are you going to do THAT if you keep trying to up the balance on the work side? (You muppet, I added, as an after thought.)

So a mild panic over on that score. As I said to Flora Bijou Mybug, as we stood by the living room window, looking out on the world as it drove past, and I was telling her all about the DANGERS of cars, and people who ride their bicycles on pavements even though it is ILLEGAL, and people who sit on our front wall and make me want to throw rocks at their heads in order to remove them, 'We shall, one day, live away from all this tension. One day you shall be able to romp outside, free from the dangers of the motor car, and people who might kidnap you because you are turning into a mightily attractive kitty-cat.' And she said, 'But what about the dangers of wild animals like foxes and badgers and great white sharks, who might decide I look like a mightily attractive supper.' And I said, 'There are no great white sharks in the countryside,' and she said, 'And the foxes and the badgers?' And I said, 'There are no great white sharks in those, either.' 

And she said, 'Okay,' and licked my nose. And now I think I might be developing a cold.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Release The, Kitten

There comes a time when new animal members of a family have to be allowed to run free with the older present incumbents. Without the supervision of a responsible human being. 

And when this day comes there is a certain amount of tension and fraughtness in the air because one never knows what will happen. 'What will happen' is the loose phrase that encompasses every eventuality from total ambivalence to murderous carnage.

Yesterday, Flora's day came to run with the wolves. Or Phoebe and Tybalt, as they are commonly known up our end.

Flora is now 8 weeks old. She has spent 5 weeks in the company of Phoebe and Tybalt and I have left her alone with them for a couple of hours already with no ill effect. And, of course, when we are home, she has the free run of the house. However, for any longer amounts of time, like us all being out at work, or at night time, Flora has been confined to barracks which is a large animal cage also known as the chicken hospital as it has, in the past, been used as an isolation unit for injured or unwell hens, because when a hen is unwell the other hens in the flock have no mercy and murderous carnage is a real possibility.

Anyway, Andy and I went out to visit friends last night. And we thought, right, we'll be gone about 4, maybe 5 hours, so let's leave all the cats to it and see what happens. I have to say I was feeling a bit on edge, images dancing to the front of my mind of returning home to find a kitten pinned by her ears to the wall by a couple of cat claws, or finding Phoebe sitting on her cushion saying, 'Kitten? What kitten?' whilst trying to conceal the end of a teeny tiny tabby tail dangling from the corner of her mouth.

As it was, all was well on our return. No traces of blood. No clumps of fur. No quivering wrecks mewling pathetically from behind the TV cabinet. 

'Let's let them have the run of the house together overnight,' said Andy. 'That way, they can get away from each other if need be, plus we shall hear any undue fracas that may occur.'

Usually cats at MMM are confined to the kitchen of a night. This is because Phoebe is wont to chew telephone and computer cables very, VERY loudly in the wee small hours - NOM, NOM, NOM - and Tybalt is wont to come into our bedroom, climb atop the wardrobes and jump, with a massive and considerably scary 'THUNK!' onto our bed. And they are both very good at trying to open the cupboard under the stairs - BANG, BANG, BANG - and remove the carpet from the stairs - SCRAAAATCH - and run up and down the stairs like small noisy horses, thus keeping everyone else in the house i.e us awake.

And so to bed. All doors akimbo. Lights off.

Tybalt immediately makes an appearance. Bounces on the bed a bit. Flings himself around on the duvet. Purrs very loudly. I know what he is thinking. He is thinking, 'Jumping off that wardrobe as soon as they hit deep sleep dream mode. KAPPOW! BOING!!!'

Downstairs, Phoebe can be heard eating cat biscuit with great vigour, and then scrabbling around in the litter tray. A few seconds later, the smell of cat poo wafts up the stairs. 

Flora arrives. There is a bit of hissing as Tybalt departs in disgust. Flora decides chewing feet is an excellent midnight activity. Ours, not hers. 

The night moves on. Flora has settled between us and is making cute whistling noises in her sleep. Andy and I are afraid to move because we don't want to squish Flora. I think I doze off for a while, then wake up because a tiny patch of eczema on the instep of my foot starts itching like crazy. Andy then wakes because he currently has a bad back (pulling up shorts whilst using jogging machine injury). I scratch and apply tea tree oil; Andy refills his hot water bottle and applies a medicated heat patch. We nod off again... 3.00 am I wake to a vicious hot flush. Chuck off duvet. Get too cold. Pull duvet back after checking location of Flora, who, unbeknownst to me has been removed to Andy's study because she wouldn't lay off the feet chewing. Wake Andy to ask where Flora is. Drift off briefly to wake half an hour later to the noisy arrival of Tybalt who wants to play and roll and jump around. 

Tybalt exits. Flora reappears, having been attracted from Andy's study by Tybalt antics. In the distance, the banging sound of Phoebe trying to get into the cupboard under the stairs. Flora vanishes. I doze off. Wake just as it is growing light to Flora licking my nose and smelling ever so very slightly of wee wee. Andy has decamped to the man chair in his study, Tybalt is stretched across the back of his chair. Flora burrows under duvet. I lay awake worrying she is going to suffocate under the 12 tog. 

Doze off. Suddenly awake because it is VERY light and the hens need letting out before they start making an unholy racket.

Needless to say, all the cats have today caught up on their sleep because of the natural day time napping habits of cats. And Andy and I have been drifting about like zombies because Andy can't nap because of his back, and I can't sleep during the day because, contrary to popular belief, I am not a vampire.

Tonight, ALL the cats will be in the kitchen. 

Friday, 13 September 2013


It had to be done. It was horrid. It was sticky. It was itchy. And I'm not talking about eating candy floss.

You know we have a willow arch in our back garden? Andy and I planted it, oh, two or three years ago now, and it affords an authentic woodland outlook for the hens who are very fond of eating the leaves and thus never suffer a headache, what with willow being, I understand (though please correct me if I am wrong), the source of aspirin. 

But willow grows like crazy and has to be pruned back every Autumn else it would grow to the moon and we all know where THAT would lead us.

('We do?' says Daisy. 'Yes,' says I. 'Just don't ask me to explain right now. It would require too much thinking.')

Now, this year the willow arch has not only grown upwards several metres, is has also grown a healthy insect colony. Namely the giant willow aphid.

I have never before encountered the giant willow aphid. And given the choice, I'd rather I hadn't. If ever there was an insect to give you the willies, the giant willow aphid is that insect. They live in heaving great grey masses on willow bark and should you try to remove them without first safeguarding your hands with a sturdy pair of rubber gloves they will leave sticky orange goo all over your skin. 

And if you blow on them they raise their dangle spidery legs in unison and wave them in the air in what I can only describe as an insecterly menacing manner. They work by safety in numbers. There are at least 156 billion of them. There is one of me. 

I am sorry, but they are hideous. Google them at your peril. Have the anti-histamine ready. The sight of them WILL make you itch.

They also attract wasps. Wasps in their droves (which are not, as is oft thought, a pair of small leather hot pants). Wasps think great willow aphids taste like chicken.  And hornets like to join in the aphid-fest, too. And you all know what I feel about hornets.

So putting the chickens to bed and letting them out in the morning has been an interesting experience this last month because one has to traverse the willow arch in order to reach the hen pod. And in doing so one also has to run the gauntlet, gladiator-like, with the aphids, the wasps and the hornets. 

I am better at dealing with this activity than Andy, which is odd given he is the VET and a MAN and ought to be more used to creepy-crawly bug life than moi, a pathetic girly. 

Anyhow, yesterday, with the arrival of a burst of late summer sun, and feeling heady with enthusiasm for filling up the green waste bin before it was due for collection this morning,(we pay £30 a year for the privilege of a green waste bin and I am determined to cram it full every two weeks without fail to get my money's worth) I ventured into the garden armed with aforesaid rubber gloves, a pair of garden shears with a goodly length of arm, the garden trug and, it turned out, dressed in a totally unsuitable way for the task of 'Cutting Back The Aphid Ridden Willow Arch.'

I shan't go into detail of what occurred during the ensuing two hours, dear readers, because you may have Googled the Great Willow Aphid (I did warn you) and you will be squirming in your boots by now. 

Suffice to say that if you should be about to prune your willow, and your willow is full of creepy-crawlies, you would be wise to follow this hastily constructed Much Malarkey Manor Guide:

1) Never look upwards with an open mouth during pruning
2) Never knock violently against the base of the willow - aphids many have long spidery legs but they are legs that are useless at clinging on
3) If the buzzing becomes too loud, stand back from the willow and sing The Happy Wasp Song
4) Always keep your eye firmly on the hornet
5) The fake tan effect via the medium of squashed aphid orange bug innards is not a good look. Too streaky.
6) Work through the itching. Think of the hot shower at the end of the exercise because there is no way you'll want to go back to the willow if you complete only half the job in one session
7) The chickens will be NO help whatsoever. Not even in providing an encouraging cup of tea mid-prune
8) When you have finished and you head for the shower for bug decontamination, it is best to avoid looking downwards as you divest yourself of clothes, and it is DEFINITELY best to avoid counting stray aphids as they drop out of your 36Fs.

And as an after thought, and a note-to-me for next year, should the bugs return, I really ought to remember I have a bee suit and that a bee suit is the only appropriate outfit to the pruning and debugging of a willow arch. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013


Cock crow was at 5.51 this morning.
'How did you know that?' says Daisy.
'Because some one in the close vicinity has clearly started keeping hens, and one of those hens is clearly a cock and it was crowing at 5.51 this morning,' said I.
'A cock in the vicinity?' says Primrose.
'Indeed,'says I.
'Oo-er,' says Daisy, and I note more than a little glint in her chickeny eye.

Now, I don't mind a cockerel going off in the morning. I'd rather a cockerel go off in the morning than say, as a random example, a couple effing and blinding at each other at 3.45 a.m, trying to goad each other into a drink fuelled fight. Woke me up good and proper that did. I wanted to yell out of the window at them, but am too much of a coward to face the likely implications of intervening so I clenched the duvet until my knuckles turned white until they went away. And that set off a string of very hot flushes. Couldn't get back to sleep, so decided to get up and write instead. 

I haven't written much recently. Very little impetus. Almost lost impetus completely this week when I realised that I could no longer participate in free speech. But then I thought, if I stop writing I'll no longer be a writer and that would be a very sad thing indeed, so between 4 and 6 this morning I sat at the computer and wrote and wrote, and heard the cock crow at 5.51 just as the sky began to lighten.

And because of the hot flushes I thought I'd make the most of it being the wee small hours and open my study window,to let in some cool night air. This is something I haven't been able to do since the new neighbours moved in as they, and their many acquaintances, sit outside all day chain smoking and shouting at their children and mobile phones.

So I flung open the window. Breathed in the air. Lovely. Fresh. Peace. Calm.

At 4.45, I heard the back door open next door. Someone emerged. Coughing up their lungs. And then the stench of cigarettes drifted into my room. I COULD NOT believe it. Who, in the name of all the demons in Hell, gets up in the wee small hours especially to have a smoke? I slammed my window shut. Carry on writing, I thought. Carry on writing.

By the time the cock crowed I had completed almost 2,000 words of a rather maudlin short story. That is what happens when one writes in a less than happy mood, but hey, it was pretty good writing and at least I had spent the time productively and got the accumulated annoyances of the week out of me.

And I got to thinking about people, and how we live together, tolerate each other, and do or do not stand up for ourselves. I suspect, given this is a built up area, that Mr Cockerel will not last long because someone will complain and he'll be given his marching orders. I hope he ends up on a field somewhere, rather than in a pot with a spot of vin rouge.

 Pity the same can't be done about shouty drunks and anti-social neighbours. They will always be around, disturbing the majority of us who live peaceably alongside each, tolerating the little niggles because that is what polite people do. Be a satellite, I think. I could be a satellite. I could cut free and live my life how I want to live it. Free from noisy, stinky pollution by neighbours. Free from compromise of all sorts because who has the right to tell me what I can and can't do with my life, including getting a decent night of sleep?

But would that make me just as irresponsible as the very suburban society I want to escape? Would that make me equally as selfish, intolerable, careless? I have as much duty to respect the way others want to live their lives. I have to accept the consequences that may occur if I satellite myself. If the neighbours want to chain-smoke their lungs into shrivelled, black lumps, then I should respect that lifestyle choice. Shouldn't I? If a couple want to sort out their issues in public, and maybe have a better relationship for it, shouldn't I be thinking, 'Good for them! At least they aren't afraid to stand up for themselves.'

It is a tricky thing. I have MASSES to be thankful for, of course I do. More than most. And this perhaps is merely a response to me feeling raddled through lack of sleep. And getting older and crabbier. And running out of lovely, cuddly 'n' caring nurturing hormones.

And now I must go because it is not good to wallow. Action is what is needed. Action. How much is a field in the middle of nowhere with a caravan plonked on top? Shall I go and rescue that cockerel now? 
'Yes please,' says Daisy.
'Strumpet,' I say.
'With butter or jam?' says Primrose.
'Strumpet not crumpet,' I say. 'But now you mention it, check the bread bin will you?'

And also, Flora Bijou Mybug has woken from her morning nap and is attempting to help with blog typing and she STILL has no concept of how to use an i-pad!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Flora Bijou Mybug

Flora Bijou Mybug...

...does not understand the correct use of an i-pad not very sensitive to warning signals from other MMM cats that she is getting on their nerves with her frolicking and cavorting and had better decease and desist NOW or ELSE!
...does not realise the tail she is chasing is attached to her kitten self
...sees herself as being as big as the world, if not the universe
...has no fear very keen on cleaning everything - carpets, cushions, floors, faces with her raspy kitten tongue
...finds the washing machine way more fascinating than is sane
...likes watching Masterchef
...dances with wolves...okay, bigger cats and people. (See point 5) going to end up under a saucepan very soon if she keeps playing with the pan rack
...does not understand that the kitten in the stainless steel kitchen bin is her own reflection
...gallops like a small horse. And makes the same sound, too. Subtle approaches are not part of her kitten remit very good at rolling on feet (ours) first thing in the morning
...concentrates very, very hard when having a wee
...has today discovered tuna and rain. One she likes and one she doesn't 
...has an A level in Cuteness MMM wrestling champion 2013
...answers to the call of 'Flossie, Flossie, FLOSSIE!' appalling at filing paperwork
...believes in free speech
...can now climb the stairs much to the chagrin of Tybalt who believed upstairs to be the last male bastion and kitten-free zone in training to be a guard dog, defending MMM intruders with her best ninja kitten trip ups
...whispers in your ear
...has bat ears and a freckly nose freaked out by opera firmly a part of Much Malarkey Manor!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sniffers and scrapers

Following on from a post by a fellow, and might I say, excellent blogger (CT, you know who you are - at least I hope you do or we're all in trouble), I wondered who else out there in this big, grubby, germ filled world of ours is also a 'Sniffer 'n' Scraper.' And by that I mean someone who ignores sell-by dates in favour of using their nose to test the edible viability of food, and someone who is not averse to scraping a bit of mould off the jam and the cheese and cheerfully slapping what is left underneath 'twixt two slices of bread for a sandwich. (Not to be recommended if you are a contestant on the Great British Bake Off, I hasten to add, if purely for aesthetic purposes. And did you witness the Custard Thief Drama? I reckon she did it on purpose - poor Howard.)

Anyway, I happened recently to be in the presence of a friend, and I had with me an apple picked that very morning from our tree in the back garden. I mentioned this to my friend, and after shuddering a bit she said,'Ooooh, I couldn't eat that. Not straight from the tree.'

'Why?' said I. 'It is fresh and organic and I gave it a good wipe on my trousers.'

'I don't know,' she said. 'I just can't eat any food that has been picked directly from source. I can't even drink tap water. Everything I eat has to come from the supermarket in plastic packaging.'

Well, I thought, how odd. One of the best things about growing your own food is going into the back garden, the greenhouse or the allotment and picking stuff straight from the plant and eating it immediately. Okay, so I might give the carrots a good wipe because I am not keen on loam, and I always check for insects inside of things like raspberries because I am a vegetarian, but what is better than standing in your greenhouse a-munching the tomatoes all warm and gorgeous smelling straight from the vine?

And as we continued lunch, I thought, what about eggs? Straight from a chicken's bottom? Does she eat those? 

And hands up who observes 'The Ten Second Rule?' That is, if something is dropped on the floor, provided it is retrieved within ten seconds and shows no visible sign of having acquired unsavoury crud e.g a fur ball or a bit of cat litter, then no harm is done and it's carry on eating.

And one does have to be a little cautious about observing the Ten Second Rule with other people's floors. I'll eat things dropped on my floors because I know the maid who cleans them (that'll be ME! We are not wealthy enough to afford a cleaner and even if we were I'd be one of those people who went around and cleaned before the cleaner arrived), but I have witnessed some floors belonging to other people that I wouldn't retrieve a rubber glove from with very long tongs, let alone food. Actually, I have also seen some floors where, if you dropped some food, you'd never find it amongst all the other clutter, but I digress. 

Don't we all need a few germs? Don't we need to be able to cope with non-sterile living? Aren't human beings built of sterner stuff than anti-bacterial wipes?

Of course, there are a few things I cannot abide, my not-eating-food-from-the-source equivalent, I suppose. And they are:

1) spitting in the street
2) breathing in cigarette smoke
3) pub carpets (NEVER observe the Ten Second Rule in a pub. EVER!)
4) being licked on the face by an animal (Flora Bijou Mybug is a face licker. I am doing a lot of 'Stop it, Flossie!' at the moment)
5) children with snotty noses, especially when they blow snot bubbles

And just in case you are having your dinner or snacking on guacamole, I shall leave it there!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Little Things

Through sheer dogged (or should that be catted?) determination on behalf of Flora Bijou Mybug, and sheer exasperated weariness on behalf of Phoebe, Grand Duchess of Duchessness, I can now declare a feline entente cordiale betwixt the two who are now Firm Best Friends (and I shall gloss over the incident at lunchtime where I found Phoebe sitting on top of Flora which, given their size differences, could have gone horribly wrong, but was, in fact, a Happy Arrangement between the two parties 1) because Flora was snugly warm and experiencing Mummy Cat comfort and 2) Phoebe had an extra and very comfy cushion on which to rest her not insubstantial tush.

And I can also announce that Flora says watching the washing go round in the machine is the Best TV EVER! The characters as colourful, the plot is twisty and there are enough breaks in the cycle to pop off for wees and poos and a bit of a bite to eat. And a scamper and a stalk and a pounce and a savage of a passing bare foot.

And I can confirm that although Flora has been secretly harbouring some teeny tiny skin mites, which have caused her to lose a smidgeon of her lovely fluffy kitten fur, the in-house veterinary surgeon has been on the case with appropriate bug treatment and return to full furage is expected forthwith. The in-house maid has been on the case with the vacuum cleaner and hot washes on the cat bedding, sofa blankets and cushion covers. She has also been itching, but suspects it is a psychosomatic thing. Like mentioning head lice.

Also, at the grand old age of 6 weeks old, I am pleased to say that Flora has more than doubled her weight since arriving at Much Malarkey Manor, and does proper, albeit very smelly, cat poos. And the night feeds are finished and litter training has been accomplished and hanging off the bed sheets whilst Mum is doing the ironing is the new extreme sport for kittens.

Other little things...
...sorted out a subscription to yummy craft magazine - 'Craftseller.' 
...noticed a new shop in town. Three businesses sharing one site in the shopping centre (clearly the Council is overdoing it on the rental) - a babywear company, an industrial wear company and, slap bang in the middle, a hairdressers! So if you are a pregnant construction worker in need of a root touch up, this is the shop to be!
...harvesting lavender like crazy. Enter MMM and be prepared to zone out within 10 minutes, it is that soporific! The bumbles are few and far between, now, so I feel I can get the lavender cut back.
...Post Crossing proving very entertaining. I've had 17 cards so far from places like Australia, America, Croatia, Russia, Holland and South Africa. It is really lovely to arrive home and find a postcard on the doormat from a complete stranger. This morning brought cards from Germany and Belarus. Yesterday I sent cards to America, Holland and Croatia. Lovely randomness!
...back to work tomorrow. Out with the walking boots!
...bought 6 novels for £9! Oh yes, I am all booked up for the nights that are a-drawing in! 
...going to try growing lavender from seed, as lavender harvest has surrendered what I think are lavender seeds and not, as the case might be, bug poo. We'll find out the truth if nothing grows. This experiment will facilitate a trip to gorgeous garden centre to purchase some vermiculite, and whilst we are there, why not have a nibble of cake and a pot of tea in the gorgeous tea-shop? insurance secured for £150 PLUS a free meerkat! Get in there!
...tarot reading booked up. With me, not for me. Another few quid closer to the house in the countryside...

And finally...

...Grandchild Number Two is on his or her way.