Friday, 25 January 2013

Exterminate, Exterminate

It's not all cross-stitch and homemade bread rolls for the country wife, you know. No sirreee; in fact, sometimes things get really glamorous, and today was no exception. Oh, if only I'd painted my nails to match the box. Red would have been good, don't you think?
Yes, that's right, today the ever-glam country wife turned rodent killer. Well, I didn't actually kill anything today, but I've set the wheels in motion and I soon hope to be enjoying a spot of taxidermy. Joke.

A couple of weeks ago we spotted a huge mound of earth inside the chicken's run; at first we thought the chooks had been making themselves an enormous dust bath and had flicked up all the dirt; it wasn't till we looked around the back of the hen house and saw this, that we realised what was going on. Sorry, the photo isn't very clear, but it's basically the entrance to a rat's nest (is nest the correct word? makes it sound all cosy.) The other entrance/exit is right inside the chickens run.

Neither hubby nor I have any desire to move the chicken house/run and confront the rat, so we've taken the coward's way out and gone for poison. Fear not, the chooks can't actually get hold of the poison themselves so they are (fingers crossed...) quite safe. Hopefully Ratty is less so. Apparently it can take one-two weeks before the rat will even eat the poison as they are very distrusting of new things, but once s/he is used to seeing the poison in the run for a while s/he will hopefully enjoy a feast and then expire. Hopefully the expiring will be done somewhere in the fields beyond our house.

It's clearly the time of year for rats to be making their presence known because at the other end of the garden yet another of the blighters has been enjoying time on the patio. Bold as brass.
After following this one's tracks in the snow over the last couple of days, I worked out that it was coming under the fence from our neighbour's garden and having a little run around on our patio. So this morning I blocked the hole that it's been using (with a highly technical device, known as the [very heave metal] base for the parasol - which clearly we're not going to be needing for the foreseeable future.) Hopefully that will do the trick. If not, I shall reach for my trusty poison once more. Just call me Cruella.
Oh, and while we're on the subject of glamour, yesterday I had a bit of a tidy up in the fridge - flicked a wet cloth at the shelves and rearranged some sticky old jars. I even rummaged around in one of the salad drawers for good measure, and that was where I found this:

I think it might have been a carrot. Now it is an unrecognisable piece of mummified vegetation. Damien Hurst would be proud - and I did this all withough the aid of formaldehyde. Perhaps I shall frame it alongside the (soon-to-be) dead rat as part of a little tableau. I think it will look quite the part, don't you?

And, on an entirely different note, thank you for the comments left on my last post about DC's shyness; it's nice to know he's not the only one! Nursery are still unsure how to handle it; we're happy to ignore it and let him just get on as he is (for the time being at least.)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Shy, Reserved, Call It What You Will

When hubby went to collect DC from nursery on Monday, one of the nursery workers pulled him aside to tell him they are a little concerned about DC. Apparently, in group situations, he's not at all keen on talking, singing, or generally joining in. One-on-one, or two, he's absolutely fine - his commuinication skills seem to be above average with the words/phrases he uses, etc. And we know all too well how much he likes to chatter, read, sing, etc when at home.

So they are calling in a child psychologist-type person to observe him in the hope of finding out whether his unwillingness to join in is, or will be, a problem. They are a little concerned because he'll be off to school in eight months at which point group situations will be something he has to contend with all day, every day. I guess they don't want his shyness (or whatever it may be) to have any negative impact on how he gets on out in the big, bad, educational world.

I'm unsure what to think about all of this. I know full well that I have never enjoyed, and still do not enjoy, speaking to a large (maybe more than three or four) group of people, unless they are people I know well, have known for a long time and know to be on the same wavelength as me. And I'm 37 years older than dear little DC, so you'd think by now I'd be ok in those sort of situations. I mentioned it to my Mum and she says I was the same when at school; the teachers often mentioned to her and Dad that I didn't like speaking up in class.

So it would seem that DC is taking after me; although I cannot think of a time when he would have seen me talking (or not, as the case may be) to a large group of people and clearly having a hard time of it. Does this mean that his shyness/reserve is genetic? Or is it simply that lots/all/some children go through a phase like this? Should we be concerned? My initial though was to worry and think about what we can do to help DC; there was also a fleeting moment of blaming myself for not providing DC with a sibling, as if that might be the solution to the issue; but then I also thought that he should be allowed to be himself, he's not even four years old - maybe he hasn't found his feet in all/any social situations just yet. We can't all be gregarious, outgoing, etc, etc, can we? Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks, right?

Do any fellow bloggers have any experience of this type of behaviour with their children/grandchildren/themselves? Any hints or tips or thoughts to pass on? All will be gratefully received!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Snowy Weekend

A few snaps from the snowy weekend in our village.

The back garden on Friday morning as the snow fell.
The front garden as two excited boys made a snowman at about 9am.
A trip to the village shop to stock up on essentials.
The walk home from the village shop this afternoon with the snow beginning to disappear and a beautiful sky in the background.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Country Wife :: Country Life

This is a completely true and unembellished tale from the life of a country wife.

On Saturday morning while hubby and DC were out tramping through the snowy fields, I settled myself down by the fire to do a little cross-stitching. As I stitched I thought about the things I needed/wanted to do during the rest of the day. The list included three things:

1) Go down to the woodshed and saw up some more wood for the fire
2) Make/bake some bread rolls for dinner

3) Shovel the snow off the front garden path.

And then it occured to me what a very 'country' life I had planned for myself that day; and it felt very nice indeed (not to mention very different from anything I could have imagined for myself.)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Pressies Galore!

Here's a little picture-based run down of the lovely gifts I received for Christmas this year. Please don't think that I'm showing off and saying 'Ooo, look what I got', this is just my way of documenting the kindness of my family and friends and a way of helping me remember where/who the many lovely items came from.

Firstly, some of the fabulousness from hubby. These gifts were a combination of Christmas and birthday pressies really, since we were away in the USA for my actual birthday.
At the top a selection of books, including the auotbiography of my boyband crush, John Taylor from Duran Duran, which hubby bought with absolutely no prompting from me - good woork, hubby!
In the middle some new sheepskin liners for my Ugg boots (not the slouchy suede-y ones you see yoofs trolling round shopping centres in, but proper leather ones that us old folk know to be sensible footwear), a leather birthday book so I don't have the excuse to forget anyone's special day again (unless I forget to put them in the book...), a Christmas tin, and a 2013 Cath Kidston diary.
And at the bottom some lovely Cath Kidston velvet trainers and a box of chocolates.
More gifts from hubby - a glass cake stand and trifle bowl; the trifle bowl had to be given to me early so it could be used for the Christmas trifle, as seen in the next photo.

Super Joules gilet, so that when DC starts school in September, I can hang around the school gates like a proper yummy mummy (yep, like that's going to happen.)
A slouchy cardigan from M&S. And a terrible photo of it.
And, last but not least, my favourite gift from hubby: a set of Beswick flying ducks, so I can come over all Hilda Ogden in the snug. Can't wait to get these hung on the wall.
My lovely Mum spoilt me, as usual. A voucher for the local beauty place, a DAB clock radio, lots of smellies, some bedsocks, a candle from one of my favourite home shops in the USA, and some chocolate biscuits that can only be found in Starbucks in the US.
Plus the traditional bags of goodies for the whole family from Mum. This all started when I was a student and Mum & Dad used to give me toiletries and food to take back after the Christmas holidays, and the tradition continues twenty-plus years later.
Yes, that's right, Mum buys us ketchup and soup, just like we are poor, starving students again!
Enough toiletries to open my own shop; is Mum trying to tell us something?!
And my in-laws were also very kind, giving me a large box of Santuary goodies
Some new bathroom scales (as requested - they weren't dropping hints!)
And a dustbuster; of which I seem to have not taken a photo. Again, as per request and not a hint that our home is messy (even thought it is.)

As you can see, I was spoilt rotten, but I'm not a brat (well, not much...) I hope Father Christmas was kind to you all, too.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Holiday (Remember That Far Back?) Part II

A few more snaps from our November/December trip to the US of A.
Here's a spot of cloud-writing, or whatever it's called. We watched this plane as we drove along, wondering for ages what he was going to write - we thought it was going to be 'Thanksgiving', but looks like it turned into 'Thank God This Cloud Got in the Way So I Don't Have to Write Thanksgiving'
DC (plus sword) discovers the delights of the water fountain. Mothers everywhere shudder at the germs, but not I; DC has a remarkable immune system due to the number of chocolate buttons he has eaten after they've fallen on the ground and the fact that I always forget to ask him to wash his hands when he has been playing with the chickens. Who's going to nominate me for Mother of the Year Award?
This is the park in aptly named Winter Park, a very lovely little town (or is it a suburb?) just outside  Orlando. 
Whilst there, Mum and I popped into the fab Charles Hosmer Morse Museum and admired very much its collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass. GEEE.ORRR.JUSS. Sorry, no photos were allowed, so you'll have to look at the website to see how lovely is the glass, etc, that they have there.

On Thanksgiving we made an early start and headed for Sea World; after our dismal outing to Disneyland a few days earlier, I wasn't looking forward to it, but it turned out to be one of the best (theme) parks we visited.
The shows were fantastic, particularly this one that featured dolphins, plus parrots that flew around the audience.
We enjoyed lunch under the watchful eye of the sharks... Yes, those are real sharks in the background, watch out DC.

Here's DC (yes, he's wearing a pyjama top, but it's his favourite and as we've already decided, I am a worthy of Mother of the Year), eating an ice cream and holding favourite bear Teddy George. A pretty perfect moment in a toddler's life.

Not to mention the fact that he'd just been on his very first rollercoaster (or roastercoaster, as he likes to call them.) Hubby and I had to tag team since DC enjoyed the coaster so much he ended up riding it six times, yes six, back to back. Puketastic.
Here he is practising his gormless expression just as the coaster was about to set off (for the umpteenth time.) 

Oh, and lest we forget amid the blue skies and balmy 70F weather, it was actually mid-November. Here are some of the lovely Christmas decorations at Sea World - the Sea of Trees.

And one last shot to show the best way to finish off a great day (if you're a toddler that is; the best way to finish off a day in my opinion is to sit on the sofa with a magazine to flick through, an episode of Corrie to watch and a box of chocolates to eat.)

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Book No. 1 of the Year

This morning I managed to get an extra half hour in bed while hubby entertained DC, just enough time to finish Book No. 1 (of 25...) of the Year.

I'm appalling at reviewing books - it's the part I dread about book club, telling everyone what I thought of the book we've just read in an informed, intelligent manner, when all I want to do is say '"I really liked it" or "I didn't like it much" before handing over to the next person. So, this is not to be a review the likes of which you might read in the TLS (if the TLS is the sort of thing you like to read, that is; I read it, but that's because I have to for work, and I won't think any less of you if you don't read it, but I shall be very impressed and ask you to become my new BFF if you do actually read it for pleasure/leisure.)

And so, without further ado, I present to you Book No.1: The Poisoning in the Pub by Simon Brett.

This is the tenth installment in the Fethering Mysteries series, featuring Jude and Carol, two "old biddies" (as they are often referred to by the crooks who they foil) who live in the small South Downs town of Fethering. A lot of wrong-doing seems to occur in and around Fethering, so there plenty to keep these two occupied - there's been a murder in the bookies, on the beach, at the hairdressers, in the museum, at the hotel, to name but a few, and now there's food poisoning and a stabbing at the Crown and Anchor pub, where Jude and Carol like to pop in for a glass of Chilean Chardonnay (although they'll probably avoid the scallops from now on.) The landlord is at his wit's end and considers selling up - can Carol and Jude save the day?!? 

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I have a bit of a soft spot for what's known as cosy/cozy crime. The Fethering Mysteries aren't "cosy" in the true sense of the word (or at least I don't think they are), but they come close, and they certainly aren't dark, Scandinavian, pyschological thrillers. I first heard of Simon Brett and his books when I went to hear M.C. Beaton giving a talk at the Reading Festival of Crime Writing; one of the audience members asked her which authors she enjoyed reading and he was one of them. And I thought to myself, if it's good enough for the lady who invented Agatha Raisin, it's good enough to me and off to the bookshop/Oxfam Bookshop/eBay I toddled to get me some.

I've found all of the books in the series so far very easy to read; the main characters are pleasant (with the odd quirk, but not annoying) and as the series goes on more is revealed about them and their backgrounds without the stories becoming bogged down; the crimes aren't gruesome (or at least aren't described in a gruesome way) or overplayed; the clues are there for you to try and work out 'whodunnit' and there aren't any ridiculous twists or lurches in the plot that leave you scratching your head and turning back 50 pages just to try and make sense of it all.

So, this book (as with [nearly] all the others in the series) gets a thumbs up from me and an "I liked it very much, thank you for asking."

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Resolute Failure

A big shout out to me for failing; less than 24 hours after announcing to the world that my one and only New Year's Resolution was to banish tardiness from my life I got to Book Club this afternoon four minutes late. Womp womp waaaah.

In my defence, I would like to point out that it wasn't really my fault (although only giving myself 10 minutes to walk from home to the Post Office and then round to the house where Book Club was being held was cutting it a bit fine [but the village where we live is tiny - population 404.]) I got to the Post Office in plenty of time; in fact a lady who also attends Book Club said she drove past me and was going offer me a lift but I looked like a "woman on a mission", so clearly I was marching along. Unfortunately, when I got to the village shop-cum-post-office the lady who serves in the Post Office was nowhere to be seen; in fact, she was 'out the back' having a chinwag with the manageress and it took a few minutes for them to realise I was (somewhat impatiently, in the style of someone whose NYRes. was about to be broken) waiting. So, I blame the lady at the PO for holding me up and forcing me to fail, just 9 days in.

What is the etiquette now for the NYRes.? Is it
1) admit I'm a failure and continue the rest of 2013 being late
2) dust myself off, put it down to experience and vow to show the NYRes. who's boss?

And, in case you're interested, this month's Book Club book was The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato. On a positive note, we (10 of us) mostly agreed it would make a great holiday read; it had some interesting information about the history of glassblowing and the story wasn't too bad (in parts). On the less positive side, it was described as "a bit Mills and Boon-y"; "contrived"; "affected"; "badly written" and "obvious". Personally, I didn't really enjoy it, but it was a quick read so I'd probably give it 4/10.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

New Year's Revolutions

Well, let's start with the niceties: Happy New Year and I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

And now, let's resume normal service. Family W is finally just about getting back on its collective feet after about a month of being proper poorly, one at a time (which was the one positive in the whole situation.) First poor old DC came down with a cold and nasty ear ache(s), then it was my turn to succumb to the flu, and then on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (how unfair?) poor hubby was struck down with flu. My after-flu cold symptoms (perpetually runny nose + tickly cough) finally cleared up this weekend, while poor hubby is still glugging the Lemsip like it was going out of fashion - here's hoping his flu/cold follows my pattern of being around for bang-on three weeks, which should give hubby just 48 hours more of snot and splutter.

Now, on to the New Year's Revolutions - just trying to be different/hip/in with the kids. I only have one this year; that might actually be an increase on most years where I don't bother. Anyhoo, my resolution this year is...drum roll please...wait for it...

to be less tardy
not to be late
to turn up on time

There, I said it. Now I just have to do it. Actually, I managed it today - I picked DC up from nursery and I was a full two minutes early - oh yes, not only was I not late, I was the opposite of late, by 120 entire seconds. Woooooo me.

Moving on from the resolution, I have also set myself a challenge for 2013. Yes, you can call me Anneka (if you're of a certain age and you get that reference.) In 2012 I read 24 books, so my challenge for 2013 is to read 25 or more. Exciting, eh? Hubby has pointed out that lots of the books I read in 2012 were cosy crime, coming it at around 250 pages each, and not weighty tomes of the War and Peace variety. But, what of it? I say. I still read 24 books, so there. And, no doubt, many of the books I read in 2013 will be cosy too, but the challenge remains. Can I do it..?