Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Sniffles, snuffles and thank God for Calpol...

January seems to have been our month for the common cold. Poor R5 (pictured yesterday in a photograph set up and taken by H6) had a very snotty day, then a day of red and interesting rash, two days of complete exhaustion and then (yesterday) fierce earache.

Earache is something I well remember from my own childhood, except Calpol had not been invented in the early 1970s. I remember the awfulness of the pain and wanting to cry so much that, on one day I remember, Mum shut me into the living room on my own for my own safety while she went elsewhere and had a good scream about the injustice of a world which landed her with a small child with earache.

The medicine was fairly foul too. Mum used to take me to Dr Davies and I would sit on his knee, while he would say, before anything else was said: "Which ear?" It was usually the right one and I swear I still can't hear so well in that one now.

The medicine was yellow and gloopy and bitter and "lemon flavour" and was dosed with a big tube shaped spoon. I hated it and can also remember dangling off the banisters to avoid a dose of the foul liquid.

Calpol, on the other hand, is strawberry flavoured and smells sweet and sickly. R5 can be trusted to know when it is needed too. If you offer her Calpol at any other time, she won't have it. There has to be a certain level of pain. Yesterday the ear pain (and yes, it was the right one) was so severe that the Calpol paracetamol was only lasting for two of the four hours between doses. Calpol ibuprofen was therefore required in between times. This doubling up of dosing scares me, but it's on medical advice and was exactly what they did one time we took her to the surgery. In fact the medicine is the same one they gave us on prescription.

Two doses of each took us to the evening and then bedtime when she snored solidly for 12 hours, woke up and demanded to be taken to school. God bless Calpol.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009


We are all besotted with these little chaps. They're only small, but have quite a story.

The one on the left is called Patchy. He started the whole saga, but the story really begins last summer when myself, H6 and R5 visited my friend who is a vet. She had recently taken delivery of three guinea pigs for her sons E4 and F2. They were adorable and we all had a cuddle. Of course the inevitable happened:

"Mummeeeeee. Pleeeeese can we have a guinea pig?"

Of course I took the admirable, quite justified and time-honoured course of action.

"Ask Daddy," I said.

They did. Daddy said (quite predictably):


Then he said: "Maybe next year," which H6 and R5 took to mean: "Yes!"

So plans were made to buy guinea pigs in summer 2009 and H6 and R5 began to look forward to it. But then... B46 (ha!) is a big fan of Freecycle. We had not long taken collection of three bantams from that source (First egg on Christmas Day! What cuties!) and he'd been watching a post about a male guinea pig that needed a home. The next thing I knew he shuffled in and confessed that he'd been chosen as the lucky recipient of said piggy. That was November.

"Where are we going to put it?" I shrieked.

"I'll make it a cage, it can go out in the cowshed," he said.

Wrong. This close to Christmas Grandad and Grandma pounced on the idea and bought a new cage from Petsathome for H6 and R5's Christmas present.
Right. We fetched the pig. He was small and perfectly formed and 110% cute.

"He can't go in the barn," said B46, looking soppy. So small, cute pig moved into his new cage on the wide shelf in our bedroom with a big box and a large bag in front of him.

"Shush!" we said.

"Wheek!" said Patchy.

How noisy is one small guinea pig munching a carrot in your bedroom at 11.45pm? Something akin to a battalion of Welsh guards practising their marching skills with iron shod boots. And he wheeked, and purred, and rattled the bars of the cage (and he whiffed too, but not much really). Astonishingly, despite standing right next to the cage (in its disguise) on many occasions and despite all the noise, H and R never noticed him.

A fortnight later B46 was on Freecycle again. This time it was a "female guinea pig" found wandering in Ceredigion. He applied. He got it. Oh dear. We didn't want babies. Guinea pig castration is not impossible, but anaesthetising them to do so is. We couldn't have a female, so we broke the bad news to the other Guinea Pig people, but with a PS: Please check it really is a girl. We even supplied a picture of the appropriate parts. An e-mail pinged back - a photograph of their guinea pig's parts. It was like taking part in some sort of online guinea pig porn picture swap. It was a boy.

'Lucky', as s/he is now known, had been found in the middle of a farm in the middle of nowhere by a Dutch woman who had never seen a guinea pig before. He's a Himalayan - a blond pig with sooty ears and nose. He's adorable. We carefully introduced him to Patchy and they are now big buddies.

The surprise was sprung on Christmas Day. Grandma wrapped the cage in lots of Christmas paper, while the piggies snuggled briefly in a cardboard box. H and R unwrapped the cage and were delighted with it, H explaining to Grandma, that it would be for the guinea pigs "we're getting in the summer."

"Ah ha!" we said. "Sit down and close your eyes."