Friday, 29 May 2009

Euro Excursions

Half term travel, with Urinal Air, where inflight snacks cost more than the fares. After a short delay, they announced...a short delay. No turbulance so no extra charges for sick bags. Instead spent more euros than decent on less Cava than needed. The injured teenager, two overtired dustbin lids and myself landed in Madrid, at midnight, on Wednesday. Pity He-who-must-be-adored wasn't there to greet us. He had trouble finding the terminal. The same terminal where He has previously met me. And all because of a 'team building exercise'. In a bar. Whilst watching Bacca thrash MU.

So a very different half term holiday from Tallmumchum. She text: sitting out force ten in tent, on cliff top, too dangerous to dismantle. Ever the swot, she later text: tell the book club it was a good read and kept me company at a low point. I text back: it was nice knowing you. can I have your car? But guilt set in when I didn't hear back. Eventually she text from the safety of the car: don't feel guilty, I didn't as I swigged wine early on.

Back in Madrid. Yesterday He-who-must-be-adored worked whilst we played. With no guilt at all. We took the cable car across the city. I thought I gave a brave performance, despite my fear of heights. I neither cried nor puked. Even though I wanted to. The dustbin lids loved it and I tried, but failed, to find their enthusiasm infectious. I clung on for dear life and had a complete sense of humour failure as they tried to rock the boat/car thang that looked a little flimsy in my humble opinion. Afterwards I recovered in the shade of a tree as they enjoyed being the only lids in an 1800 acre park. With her hand cast in the thumbs up position the Teenager couldn't enjoy the full delights of an empty play park. (As if she'd stoop so low.) Later I asked the lids what was the best bit of the holiday so far. The Little-un: watching Art Attack on tv in Spanish; Gorgeous Boy: being able to lay down on the enormous sofa bed, whilst watching TV; The teenager: hopefully her tan, but did I know we were missing Britain's Got Talent, AND the launch of Big Brother?

So worth dragging the couch potatoes abroad then!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Chicks, cits and cava bien

It started at the front door: the threshold was breached a month ago. We spent a few minutes stamping them out. We did the stamp stamp stamp routine on every return home before deciding, let’s not audition for stomp. We need a better pest-control approach. We countered their assault with specially designed traps. It worked for a while. Their next offensive was through the sitting room. When we came home to a motorway of marching ants, clearly by-passing the not-that-well-designed traps we took some tough action. Ant-watch only lasted a few minutes before we established their entrance under the skirting board. We murdered, maimed and hoovered and went on our own offensive with the powerful powdered killing stuff. This past week they have been appearing, in pairs, in the kitchen. I can’t quite work out their entry point, but think it may be somewhere behind the dishwasher. Every obvious and not-quite-so-obvious weak point has been powdered. Still they come. Supersis bemoans one ant in the house: her theory being it only takes one scout to call up a whole army. There is no surrender. I need a more strategic approach. I fear we are attracting super ants immune to the powerful powdered stuff that makes the dog sneeze.

Tonight, the little-un asks what is the point of ants? I describe their strength and organisation skills easily enough. I feel she has a point about the point.

It’s official. My chicken, Kebab, is crazy. And, I worry, a little dysfunctional too. It’s not just because her comb isn’t growing. Clucky, whilst a bit shy, has a nice bright red comb – that means eggs are on their way sometime soon (pleeeeeeeze). Clucky has, in general, cottoned on to the idea that you go out and play, for a while, then you go back in. Kebab, on the other hand, has issues. She has a stunted comb. She has tasted freedom. And it tastes good. She would rather run here there and everybleeding-where than accept it’s time to go in. She’ll learn. With a wee bit more training. Won’t she?

Now I don’t know what teacher training is like these days but I am at a loss to understand how the Teenager’s Citizenship teacher failed to spot the huge cast on the hand that sports the thumb in a completely unnatural position. Despite being cast from thumb tip to elbow the poor Teenager was made to complete a test today. By hand. At the ‘new’ secondary school. With specialist technology status. Where everything is computerised. Yet they fail to read emails. Marked urgent. About injuries. And exams and thangs.

My French pal might say, that’s life, which reminds me…He-who-must-be-adored text me last night. I thought he was asking, in French, how I was (Ca’va?) Apparently not. He was asking did I want some of that sparkling Spanish stuff (cava). My text back saying fine thanks and you, went completely amiss. As they say…c’est la vie. (I do so hope my very special French friend is proud of me tonight!)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Maybe it's because she's a Londoner

So what if I carry 'Hen and the art of chicken maintenance'as my new waiting room read? Doesn't automatically make me one-dimensional, dreary or deluded? Does it?

To another London NHS waiting room today. Eventually my 'Reflections on keeping chickens' was interrupted by the Swedish 'Bone Guy' (you couldn't make it up). Except it's not the Teenager's bone that's broken. It’s a ligament. And (imagine the muppet chef telling you) think rubber band. That’s way more complicated than a broken bone. So the Teenager is sporting a cast, and it looks like she’ll be sporting one for a whole big while. She may need (hurdy guerdy) not one, but two, (guerdy hurdy) operations. So should I be feeling a little guilt that on Sunday we had a choice: casualty or restaurant? The outlaws were staying so the restaurant won and the doctor had to wait. Boy have I paid in waiting time ever since. Yet...every cloud... it legitimately gets her out of GCSE art coursework for a while. Now I don’t have to be so creative with the Monday morning excuses.

To the football ground this evening to watch Gorgeous Boy play. My pleasure at meeting up with my oldest (and only) French-parent-pal dissolved as the Boy hit the pitch. The last thing I need right now is another injured child. Should I ban all Sports so we become fat and injury free together? Luckily some anti-inflams, a bit of ice, elevation and TLC soon had that injury licked.
I’m learning.

It just so happens that last week I bought some ‘super food mix’ containing flaxseeds and other natural organic ‘stuff’. The plan was to secretly mix it in to everything I prepare. My lids will become Superlids, with super fast healing powers. Except, so far, I have forgotten to include it in every meal. I remembered tonight but thought it might look a bit obvious on the supermarket pizza.

I can’t finish today’s blog without some reference to my feathered friends. The geeky gal came today to check out the chooks. Think it’s fair to say that ‘impressed’ is the complete opposite of her response. And still no eggs. We may have been sold a dud with Kebab – her comb doesn’t appear to be growing. No comb equals no eggs. Maybe it’s because she’s a Londoner but my Little-un seems to freak the chickens. Especially Clucky: in her shy and retiring way she tries to hide. In a circular-running-not-managing-to-hide-at-all-type way. Kebab is a bit more feisty and just one look at the little-un starts her squawking in a far from pleasant manner. She tries so hard with her cute little chook chooking and throwing food at them. Yet they see her and run. Like headless chickens. The dog, ever the opportunist, observes all this before diving on the chook food. The chooks flap then cower. The little-un goes in for the kill and tries to catch them. Eventually I feel sorry for them all and distract the little-un with important chores such as drowning the veggy patch.

Ah this is the life.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hold a chicken in the air

Rare and shocking? Yes. Easy for me to admit? No. Safe to blog about? Who knows but here goes: He-who-must-be-adored was right. That’s twice in our marriage. Obviously I’ve not told Him. That would not do. He might start questioning my ‘rightness’ on other matters. That would be a step too far. He almost never reads this so I’m sure I’m safe in admitting it here. I'm worried this is the start of something ugly.

I overruled his desire (as is my wont) to purchase Peckingham Palace. Our Chook Coop looked plenty big enough in the shop (huge in fact). As did the space we spent ages digging and slabbing and fox-proofing. Kebab and Clucky moved in and now it looks…well piddly is the only word for it. The guilt has set in and He-who-must-be-adored has built them a daytime run at more expense. Slowly, He is clearing an even bigger space and designing something approximating half the garden. Well, the dustbin lids can go to the park, chickens can’t. I'm ignoring my guilt about not listening to He in the first place.

Still, once built the new huge thang should cut down on time corralling them into their holiday home. That’s partly why there’s not been much blogaction. Spare time is needed for chicken watch, whilst sometimes simultaneously playing on my i-phone.

Clucky, we think, is older as her comb is almost full grown but it’s definitely Kebab who rules the roost. Boy is she feisty. After happily pecking and scratching, she suddenly turns, takes a half flying leap at poor Clucky, with loud chook-chook-chooking and wing flapping, before just as suddenly going back to her business of eating my plants. Am keeping the fear that Kebab is a psycho chick to myself. Then again, the size of their heads doesn’t allow much space for a brain. This shows in their behaviour. The first night we fretted like new parents as they had to be persuaded to go up the ramp to bed. In the morning they were inelegantly pushed down for breakfast. It only took them three days to get the point. After that whenever they heard the voice of He-who-must-be-adored they ran up the ramp at full pelt. Perhaps not so dumb afterall?

Kebab and clucky are too young to lay eggs. And, by my calculations the average cost of the first year’s eggs will be roughly £50 each. Luckily we’re not in it for the money. We just love the whole idea of country living – whilst firmly settled in London with all mod-cons like the tube and John Lewis. The little-un and I pretend we live in the sticks with our little veggy patch and chickens. We spend ages shooing the latter from the former. I accept a lot of poop, scooping, smelly beasts and dog hair. Lots of dog hair. Well, ‘tis easier to surrender and accept than to drive myself mad with cleaning and moaning. My head is full of animals facts - the latest being the power of chook bedding for good composting. Wonder is my former personality dead in the water?

Yet, I do have other topics of conversation: The dry ole patch didn’t last that long. He-who-must-be-adored is no longer bone dry, but then neither is he as sodden as he was. And The Teenager has my full sympathy for her rugby-injured-writing-hand when she has a GCSE exam. My sympathy is only wearing a wee bit thin from time waiting at the GP’s (one hour) and Casualty (under three hours), only to be shown the teeniest tiny bit of floating bone. Wonder how long the wait will be to see the ‘bone guy’ tomorrow?

Off outside now for more chook action.

Monday, 4 May 2009

If you like it then you shoulda stuck a pin on it

I love technology. I just hate it when it doesn’t do what it says on the can. Or rather, when I can’t get it to do what it can, and should, do. I have been trying to find my inner geek since He-who-must-be-adored gave me a super-dooper-all-singing-and-dancing-thingy-ma-jig of a small shiny thang. It may, in fact, have been a peace offering from He after another one of our little discussions where I was right and He was not. Whatever! I love it. I want to kiss it. I want to marry it. Only, it didn't start off too well:

Me: Take it back
He: why?
Me: because it’s broken
He: how?
Me: there’s no-where for the Sim to go

…later after returning the damn thang to the shop …

He: there's a leaflet in the box
Me: really?
He: there's a pin in it
Me: What?
He: See this leaflet, on the back, there’s a pin, you should have stuck a pin on it!

First hurdle overcome fairly painlessly. Second hurdle - feeling too old for new technology - more tricky. Trickier still was the realisation that my thumbs are fat. Fat thumbs and small shiny i-phones do not go. I feel really sorry for those with fat thumbs and no Teenager. How are they supposed to cope? My lovely Teenager mastered the thang in a nano-second, downloaded all sorts of Apps (applications for you non-geeks) and ever so patiently gave me a lesson, without treating me like the complete old fool I feel I have become. Now I just don’t know how I lived without it.

Ok so I have never put up a shelf in my entire life (I have six brothers for god’s sake why would I?). But now I can tell the shelf-hangers whether their handiwork is level using my handy i-spirit level. I can feel my inner foreman coming to the fore. After criticising his handiwork I could use the i-stethoscope to tell He-who-must-be-adored that shouting at me is raising his pulse above healthy levels.

At the tip of my little fat thumbs, I have instant access to the world, and his wife. So, should the fancy take me I could find out where to buy oysters, get directions there with a traffic and weather update and check out the jam cams en route. Ok so I could have done that before with the yellow pages, a map, the radio, and my computer, but that’s not the point. I can carry my diary and shopping list in my hand so I know instantly where I should be and what I need. Even if I am not where I am suppose to be, I can apologise, by text or email, instantly. I can enjoy a game of hangman or tictac. I can play my mini-piano and drums (‘play’ perhaps is the wrong word for the noise I make). I’ve downloaded a compass app, but can’t find north yet, but Oh how I love that thang.

I pass my time dreaming of apps I might enjoy. Then I wonder if they do exist could I get them to work? If they don’t would anyone want them anyway? So instead of chatting to myself about how to handle the latest emotional turmoil heaped upon me by the dustbin lids or He-who-must-be-adored my headspace goes something like this: A 'lazyreader' could review new books so I don’t have to bother reading them. Mmmn that’s what reviewers do. And I like reading books. Ok, so what about 'The Screwdriver' that could tell me the tools and ‘bits and bobs’ needed for any given job. Mmm I’d rather ring a man who can ie He-who-must-be-adored. I can do i-shopping, banking and social networking, but I really am holding out for the app that will choose a menu, get the ingredients delivered, hire someone to cook it and clean up afterwards. Mmm the high street is already full of those – Restaurants I think they’re called!”

Small wonder no brain space for blogging!