The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roll On April

March has been a very boring month. The weather has been cold/wet/windy/sleety/snowy and I have only got out into the garden one afternoon this month to prune the fruit bushes.

The plus side is that I have been ploughing on with my cardbox studying, now having reached the top 12000 mark for sevens and eights. I sometimes wonder why I spend so much time after my last couple of tourneys, but it should pay off in the long run.

I have also continued knitting, and have completed the front, back and most of a sleeve - I am making up the design as I go along, just basing the size on another pattern.

One of the highlights of the month was actually getting into the dental practice in Duns. I hate to think how much work will need doing after two and a half years...

If all goes to plan the next couple of months will be more interesting. The big thing happening is the extension. It has been about two years since we set the ball rolling on extending the house with a utility room and a sun room, using the extra land behind the house and the site of the cowshed.

The cowshed should be demolished in a couple of weeks time. We then need to get a big hole dug for a 'porosity' test, and hopefully it will pass to get the building warrant. Then work on the extensions should begin in May. We have a blacksmith coming on Wednesday to discuss gates and railings. It's all costing well over the original budget, even allowing for inflation. Still, Paul is going to be doing a few weeks work over the next couple of months so should pay for the patio and garden walls...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Nature Watch at Todheugh 2


We have some extra pets in the house, presumably due to the extended cold weather. Last week I was a little disconcerted to see a large mouse run across the bathroom floor and disappear under the bath. Paul has started setting the traps again. He caught two that night and two the next. He was not impressed that I would not identify the one from under the bath. None have been caught over the last couple of days...

I am now getting quite blase about hares and deer.

I heard on the radio last week that there are record numbers of hares and I am not surprised. We see them almost every other day at the moment.

Deer are not quite so commonplace to see, but it is no longer a rarity. Last week there were two right by the fence in Margaret's (Poncho's) field. They did not seem too concerned at me and Jen standing watching them - after about 20 seconds they ran off towards the copse. Their numbers have increased significantly around here to the point where they are a nuisance to the farms and they have started to be culled. We have benefited with some venison in our freezer...

Today was a first for me. I was walking back with Jen across the bridge when movement caught my eye. I stopped and looked. I was really excited to see three otters. I watched them for a couple of minutes, swimming around, climbing out onto the bank, back into the river... They were a real joy to watch.

I then hurried to get Paul, binoculars and camera. They had moved further up the river - too far away to photograph them. Paul went to get Ann, but by the time they got back the otters were out of sight. We had heard rumours of otters around here, but until you see for yourself you are not convinced.


The snowdrops are just going over up here now, although there are still some patches in the shadier places doing well. I need a good day to transplant some from my 'stock' area to the next section of the long bank.

There are lots of narcissi in all the verges around here, and the first few started flowering last week. It will be another couple of weeks at least before we get the full impact. The miniature ones in my garden have been flowering for quite a while now. The ones I planted in the grass verge at the end of the drive two years ago have bulked up well.

Primroses in the more sheltered verges are flowering.

The leaves of wild garlic have sprung up all around us, but it will be a while before its pungent smell fills the air.

The heart-shaped leaves of celandines can be seen everywhere, but no flowers yet.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Jen to the Vet

Jen appears to have been jealous of Poncho's visits to the vet and developed a stomach upset last week. This only manifested itself in the evenings and overnight. After four evenings, including one when I slept on the sofa, it was time for her visit to the vet on Friday evening surgery.

He couldn't find anything obviously wrong. She was not dehydrated and her temperature was normal. However, she has been given some tablets (dog equivalent of Immodium) and is now into day two of three on a diet of boiled rice.

4 tablets twice a day. Jen is not like Poncho, who will just swallow anything you give him. The first four were given to her when she got back. She ignored them. Paul rubbed them with a smelly treat and she did then eat them. We were not so successful with the next four, but she did eventually manage three of them when Poncho tried to get them...

The next morning and they were mixed in with her rice. She was not impressed. I don't blame her - I don't like rice either. She is also a very messy eater, and we ended up with grains of rice all over the lobby floor. Poncho is normally a hoover for any spilt food, but even he ignored this.

Lunchtime - more rice no tablets. She was obviously hungry and tried her best. We have found that Poncho will eat rice if it is in a food bowl...

Last night I decided to allow her some Chappie with the tablets, mixed with a little warm water. This worked a treat. Poor soul must be very hungry now - never seen her lick her bowl so clean.
This was repeated this morning with similar success before her breakfast - more rice.

The tablets are working. We will only know if she is better when the treatment ends...

Friday, March 07, 2008

Knitting Is Like Riding a Bike...

I can't remember how many years it has been since I last did any knitting. This is quite amazing considering how much I used to do.

When we moved up here the wool mountain of Europe, as Paul likes to call it, came with us. I have one large camphor chest, one small handicraft box and one large removal company utility sack all filled with wool that I have accumulated from various holidays. In amongst all that I had one started jumper and one almost complete jumper that had been sitting on the needles for however long. It was probably the latter one that caused my extended break. I had realised I had gone wrong and at the time did not have the heart to work out quite how far back I needed to go.

Yesterday all that changed. I have been wasting far too much of my time hooked on games on my laptop. After clearing my cardbox in the morning rather than wasting half an hour losing at spider solitaire I got the almost finished jumper out of the camphor chest. This was from a pack bought in Iceland way back in 1995. I really cannot remember when I started/stopped working on it. I undid the last round stitch by stitch, counting as I went, and discovered I only had to undo one more round to get back on track. I appear to have skipped a row completely in the pattern.

I then started knitting. And I kept knitting. I had a break to clear my cardbox again. And then continued knitting. Before I knew it I had finished the patterned yoke and was up to the neck. Hmm - this needed to be done on a set of 4 double pointed needles. Luckily I had a set of the right size. And I could remember how to do it...

I had a phone call from Paul, who had been out playing bridge, saying they had overrun so he was only just setting off for home. I kept going. By the time he walked in the door I was just casting off.

I saved the delights of sewing it up until today. I hate this bit - I cannot understand why anyone would buy a knitting machine. At least having been knitted on a round needle it was only really the cuffs and armpits that needed doing.

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