Thursday, 25 October 2007
We have a grotty bathroom. It has a corner bath, which I can't stretch out in, and how I love to stretch out in the bath! It is a horrid beige and is a 'whirlpool', which, to be honest, I find just disturbs a peaceful bath and plays havoc with my bubble bath. I once forgot about the bubble effect and disappeared under a heap of foam! The novelty of that soon wore off.
Now it looks like this! Brian has spent the morning hauling out the offending corner bath, while a lovely roll top bath from the Bathstore sits promisingly on the path outside the back door, with a new loo, wash basin and ladder style radiator.
But we have just spent a good ten minutes with me sitting on the lid of the old loo and Brian standing in the middle of the bathroom gazing with amazement at the incredible creativity of previous plumbers. The cold water supply for the whole house comes in through the middle of the wall under the window, goes round the bathroom, stops off at the loo, then out through the wall to the washing machine, back on itself to the pump and then, presumably, upstairs to the tank. It comes from the Antarctic, filtering out the icebergs on the way, so is FREEZING. The warm, moist air of the bathroom hits it and the result is gallons of condensation. Added to this, the geniuses who built the 'wheelchair path' (complete with steps) around the house put it above the cold water pipe, which is a foot higher than the bathroom floor level, hence the damp.
So, as with all jobs, what seemed to be a simple task of taking out one bathroom and replacing it with a new one has turned into a marathon of digging up concrete, relocating pipes and making good. When we finally do get our new bath in, boy are we going to deserve it!
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Our neighbour is not allowed to assume ownership of our side of the hedgebank and must stop his boundary in the middle, as is the local custom. He must remove the lean-to shed he has built on our side of the boundary too. The soliticor is going to write a letter to that effect.
Even more interesting, given 'C's assertion on Sunday that we 'only have right of access over the driveway', was the fact that not only do we own the driveway, there is no legal document giving them the right of way over it. They really haven't got a leg to stand on.
As I sit at my desk typing this I can hear 'B', just a few yards away, cutting the hedge. He waited until Brian went to work, presumably to avoid another altercation, which is sensible. But it is making me very tense. My mouth is dry, my heart is racing and my skin is going all clammy. It feels really uncomfortable. He's really revving the hedgetrimmer in a very aggressive and quite unnecessary manner. He has a weak heart, I hope he doesn't overdo it. And I have just survived an encounter with 'C' in the library van. No words were exchanged. At all. I can live with that.
Now we wait for the letter from the solicitor to arrive. We are going to pass on a copy of it to our neighbours, with a covering letter. It will not make them happy, but they have driven us to this point.
Brian has been talking about this problem at work, of course, and one of his uniformed colleagues has offered to come and have an advisory chat with both parties. I don't think our neighbours have noticed that Brian works at Police HQ now, they probably think he's still a journalist. That isn't going to make them very happy either, especially as 'B' already has a criminal record for dishonesty. But if it means we can step out of our house without fearing an uncomfortable confrontation, then it's a step I'm prepared to take.
Otherwise life is carrying on as normal. The girls are going to school as usual and they finish on Friday for half term. We have hair cuts planned for this afternoon and the school photographer is coming tomorrow for the annual 'look how they've grown!' Christmas card picture.
Brian has hacked off all the tiles in the bathroom in record time which was a real stress-buster apparently. And he has located where the damp is coming in, so the walls aren't going to look very pretty for a while until the damp is cured. Luckily we have chosen a roll top bath with feet, so it's moveable when the time comes to fix the tongue and groove to the walls. The new suite arrives tomorrow and I can't wait to have a bath in a full length bath, not a corner one. I shall get a lovely glass of wine, light a few candles and lock the door!
PS: Thanks to everyone for their lovely supportive comments. It really means a lot to me. My self confidence was rather battered after Sunday and it is nice to know that I have so many on my side. xx PM
Monday, 22 October 2007
I say 'was' because when we arrived we were pounced on by our neighbour and verbally abused. My husband and her husband had had a row in the week about the perennial problem - our adjoining boundary. They exchanged words. He called my husband 'stupid' and 'idiot', swore at him and came towards him as if to take him on. My husband called him a 'moron', but did not swear and stepped back when it looked as if a fist was heading in his direction.
So 'C', I'll call her, approached Mum, Me and my two little girls outside church and had a bit of a shout. She had been out when the row took place. I wasn't, so perhaps have a better idea of what went on. Not in her book. 'C' called my Mum a 'hypocrite' and called Brian 'evil'. She says he used four letter words, adding that she hoped he didn't swear in front of the girls (he didn't and he doesn't).
They were, obviously distressed, as was I, as was Mum. 'C' won't listen to us. She is sure she is in the right. Her husband, 'B', I'll call him, has, in the 22 years we have been living here, regularly come around to shout and to bully. He rarely approaches quietly, always arriving with a full on shout. He was so bad once that Hannah, who was then only two, had nightmares about him and was so scared of men in beards that her grandfather had to shave his off before she would stop screaming. 'C' says 'B' doesn't shout or swear. All they do is criticise and complain, never listening to our point of view. She kept saying how they had lived there for 30 years and we have 'only' been here for 22. One of the other churchgoers laughed at that.
'C' said they are a quiet couple, never bothering us. But that is not true. When the girls were babies 'B' was doing a lot of work on their house and had a concrete mixer running all morning and all afternoon. It kept my babies awake. As do his banging noises in his garage until late at night, and his pressure washer whining all day for several days each month as he washes all the concrete he has laid, and there is the constant lawn mowing, strimming and hedge trimming. After their meal they wrap their meat bones in plastic and burn them on their fire. They have a bungalow, so the smoke drifts neatly into our upstairs, meaning we cannot open our bedroom windows. They have woken us all up when arriving back late at night, slamming car doors and talking in loud voices. We have a shared driveway, which they used to regularly block or just open the gates into our farmyard and turn their vehicles around when they felt like it. That's fine, but they should ask first.
They are guilty of being thoughtless. Their thoughtless behaviour and arrogant attitude is causing us inconvenience and stress. But to them we are the 'bad' ones. Last night I couldn't sleep for worrying about this.
Tomorrow Mum and I are going to see our solicitor for advice. But this has been happening for 22 years to us. Before we moved here our predecessors were so upset by 'C' and 'B' that they dumped a trailer of manure outside their entrance. I wish we had known that before we moved here.
But I have been trying to remind myself that we are nice, popular people. Even if 'C' and 'B' don't think so. It was a lovely harvest service. We may have 'only' been here for 22 years, but whereas 'C' left straight after the service because she does not really know that many people, we were the last leaving by the time we had caught up with all our friends. We were the ones who did someone a good turn by returning a lost wallet. Presumably 'C' took her poison home to 'B' and told him how we had attacked her outside church. Since Sunday, and especially in the middle of the night, I kept thinking of all the things I should have said in reply. As it was, I headed into church with my two little children and just hoped that someone, somewhere, would provide some kind of solution, divine or otherwise.
Sunday, 14 October 2007
Yes, it is my mother’s middle name and she got it from my great-grandmother.
2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Yesterday during a row.
3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
Yes, it’s okay.
4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAL?
Baked potato and cottage cheese with a green salad. Soup and crusty bread.
5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
Yes, two girls.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
Yes, I think so. I hope that I’m a warm, friendly and open person.
7. DO YOU USE SARCASM ALOT?
Sarcasm? Moi? Um, yes, unfortunately. Mostly on my husband.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
Definitely not. Bad back and utter terror would stop me. I’d also be scared that my boobs would fall off.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
Muesli, but the proper organic kind, not the dusty sweetened common stuff.
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
Yes, otherwise they won’t come off.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
When the chips are down, yes.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
15. RED OR PINK?
Red if we are talking about colours, pink if we’re talking wine. I love a good crisp rose.
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
Physically, my post-baby belly. Mentally, my shyness.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
My late horses Jamie and Orrie. My cats.
18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU?
Yes, I’d love everyone to have a go at this on their blogs.
19. WHAT COLOUR PANTS (TROUSERS) AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
Chocolate brown trousers and no shoes, just my socks.
20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
Lentil dhal and rice, followed by stewed apples and custard.
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
The dishwasher rumbling through its cycle. The TV in the living room where my husband is ironing his shirts watching SWAT.
22. IF YOU WHERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
My daughters’ hair, freshly baked bread, roast chicken, a box of chocolates, a new book, a new magazine, new shoes fresh from the box, mown grass, freshly baled hay, puppies’ and babies’ heads, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely perfume, coffee.
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE?
My mum to ask her what Sunday paper she wanted me to buy. She wanted the Telegraph, as usual.
25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?
Probably, although I have never met her!
26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Three day eventing. Last night’s rugby!
27. HAIR COLOR?
Reddy auburny brown.
28. EYE COLOR?
29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
30. FAVORITE FOOD?
Roast chicken and salad with crusty bread. Sticky toffee pudding with ice cream AND custard.
31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Happy endings. I’m not very brave about scary movies.
32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
Ratatouille, yesterday with the kids at Theatr Mwldan. I laughed until my sides hurt.
33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
Chocolate brown t-shirt.
34. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Summer. Pimms with lunch in the garden, followed by a barbecue in the garden. Gardening in warm soil with the sun on my back. I like being outdoors!
Winter for cold frosty mornings and roaring log fires. Summer wins by having more pros than cons.
35. HUGS OR KISSES?
36. FAVORITE DESSERT?
Coffee ice cream. Chocolate mousse. Sticky toffee pudding. Pavlova. Chocolate truffle torte. Chocolate cherry trifle.
37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
38. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND?
39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
Sea Room by Adam Nicolson. This is the tale of a man and a Scottish island. Adam, who is the husband of Sarah Raven, inherited the Shiant Islands off the coast of Harris from his father. His book is about the islands, their history and their inhabitants.
40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
My mouse – and a picture of my two little girls at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT?
The rugby! Then a recording of The Tudors and QI from Friday night.
42. FAVORITE SOUND?
My girls playing happily and laughing. The blackbird singing in the garden. The chattering of the swallows on the TV aerial.
43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES?
44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Norway on a family trip when I was four. I don’t really like being to far away from home.
45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I can’t think of anything in particular. I’m very average really.
46. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?
47. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK?
48. WHAT TIME IS IT NOW?
Thursday, 11 October 2007
To mummy get wel swn.
ai hop hut yw get wel swn.
ai wis hut yw wil get wl swn.
lost odd luv
hugs and cisis
In English, it reads:
To mummy get well soon.
I hope that you get well soon.
I wish that you will get well soon.
Lots of love
hugs and kisses
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
This is Parc Yr Odyn, around six acres or so of organic pasture. It looks a bit scrappy, but it's my favourite field. It faces south, warms up and grows quickly in the spring. It is right next to the house and has a lovely spring or two feeding into the little stream which pops into the bottom corner by the buildings to water the animals.
Now it is a field of two halves. Here is the other half:
The badgers have been digging for grubs. They are probably after leatherjackets, the larval stage of the daddy long legs or crane fly. The badgers, in their quest for a tasty snack, have removed the grass and it now looks like the surface of the moon.
I can only imagine what someone who was earning their living from the land would think, looking at this. Imagine if it were a silage field, all that lovely grass ruined by Brock's industrious front paws.
But we only have thirty sheep and their associated lambs. Luckily. I don't earn my living as a farmer. Luckily. The farm, all 22 acres of it, is Soil Association registered land. We're not supposed to plough, but the badger don't know that. The day after tomorrow a woman from the Ministry is coming to see us, but she's coming from the environmental point of view, to assess us for suitability for management under the Tir Gorfal scheme. Hopefully our vigorous badgers will earn us extra points.
Now, gather round gardeners, and look at this:
Lovely, crumbly loam. Tip-top top soil. The picture doesn't really do it justice, but it's good stuff. Which is why I've already annexed part of the field to grow flowers and veg on and have designs on the rest, particularly the section which currently looks as if it has been ploughed.
Instead of tearing my hair out at the damage, I was rubbing my hands with glee!
That's my hand print in the middle of the soil above, below is a badger's foot print.
It is a great deal of damage and at the moment it looks terrible, but they do it every year and by next spring it will be all green and grassy again. But there is a very large part of me that wants to run a fence along the middle, scrape up all the pulled off grass, and go mad planting up the lovely soil with all the plants currently waiting in pots.
We don't really need to grow grass on it do we?
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Hannah filled her pockets with acorns. In the kitchen we have a small collection of acorns, peach stones, plum stones and conkers to plant. We also have last year's haul of acorns growing happily in pots. They are a couple of inches tall now. By the time the children are my age, they'll be big trees. I love the idea of planting trees for posterity. In the first house I lived in, a 1970s built house in a little hamlet in deepest rural Worcestershire I planted acorns in between Mum's roses. When we moved from there in 1975 there was a little oak sapling. I wonder if it is still there?Colby Woodland Gardens were restored by a Mr Peter Chance, who donated them to the National Trust in 1980, which explains why we never went there as children, despite visiting Pembrokeshire every weekend to go sailing. Instead we went to the Malvern Hills, clambering up to the top of Worcestershire Beacon and rolling back down again. Then we'd have lunch at the tea rooms, which my childhood memory tells me were the Copper Kettle tea rooms, but I could be wrong on that. We used to have ham or cheese and salad. I saw them recently on television, actually, when Monty Don took his group of drug addicts there for a meal. The tables were in a long conservatory looking out at the view. On Monty's programme (Growing Out of Trouble) it still looked exactly the same.
I'm conscious, taking my little ones out for the day, that I'm forming their memories and I hope they will have happy ones of lovely, calm, family friendly Colby too.
I love the contorted branches of the old rhododendrons. They are quite Tolkein-esque. The sort of trees that would have alarmed a Hobbit, adventuring far from the Shire. Today I alarmed my girls by reciting Jez Alborough's Eddie's Teddy story and they got worried about bears in the wood. They're a bit young for Hobbits, yet, but I'll think we'll come back looking for Frodo and his diminutive pals when I've infected Hannah and Rosie with Hobbit-fever too.
We bought dolly mixture from the shop on the way out and headed home, stopping at Bethesda on the way to buy milk and double cream from the fridge in the farm's dairy.
On the way there we went to the garden centre at Tavernspite for sweet pea seeds. did I just get my seeds? No, of course not! I also got a tray of beautiful little cyclamen, a gorgeous variegated ivy and two packets of tulip bulbs. Hopeless!