Thursday, 12 July 2012

Restless and Bored

Am thinking Turkey would be nice. The heat. The fact that they don't have a monsoon..... Meadow looking gorgeous though, and all trees growing like weeds. The rest of us restless and bored. #3 came back from a play date in tears - pure rage at the fact he had been inside all day (this the child they thought might be suffering from Ricketts, or vitamin D deficiency..)
#2 in London now, apparantly charming grandparents, while #1 is in Suffolk (not Scotland, as was planned) festering at the thought that he might be about to score a third trip to Nobu..

#4 is bankrupting me with Kindle. I know reading is good... but even so....

I imagine Ataturk will be busy this time of year. People waiting to jump off to far flung bits of Turkey. 

Ah well. 

Luis the lovely back next week to fix a beam or two, and a hole in the wall inexplicably excavated by one of our younger guests. The same room that it rained in.  A busy space....


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Olympic Torch bypasses Aunby

Shock horror. We all lined up outside the Larters House again, this time not her Maj in her bullet proof car with the windows down, this time, the hooting tooting Olympic Torch procession.
When I told my mother I was going, she said "Is that still going? I've already seen it twice, once in Aberystwyth and once in the Lakes".

#2 and #3 opted to skip it, but #4 accompanied her Mama. The usual deluge, but we enjoyed it, and a fantastic party put on to cushion us all from the rain.

All clear on the MRI front

Have retreated to my own bed, in the middle of the afternoon on the first day of the summer holiday. House has been colonised already. All I can hear from here are birds, and the dog licking itself. I can't see the dog, so that's fine.

Just got back from the absolutely fabulous new hospital at Peterborough. When #3 had his MRI, on a Sunday 10 days ago, the hospital diagnostic bit was completely deserted. I have never been into a hospital where the reception is unmanned, where the lights flicker on and off, where you can hear the humming of machines you can't even see. A piece of paper said 'Wait here until we come for you'.  Today, the place was over-flowing. The fracture clinic was standing room only. We had to wait an hour, but the Registrar, when she came, was lovely. Explained all the bits of damage #3 has done, although neither of us really understood 100%. At least it is not some scary disease, although I stupidly left the piece of paper I tore out of the colour supplement, (describing the symptoms of a paraolympian which made me nervous) at home.

#2 is still recovering from having savaged his hair yesterday. He called out to me from the bathroom in  a voice of pure distress "oh my God, what have I done". Even with my gammy leg, I ran. I expected blood, or a broken window. In fact he had somehow managed to cut the front portion of his hair short,to about a 1 cm length, whilst leaving the top part long and parakeet-ish
Very astro boy. He was devastated. I took it seriously, of course, and he ended up cutting the rest off to match. Now he wants to get some doc martins...

News on Aunby? Not much, unless you count the rain. We have acquired a new sheep. This one has been raised with dogs, and so  refuses to associate with sheep. Was due for the chop because of this, until Becky stepped in and removed him to our stable. Now #4 takes him for walks on a lead. He is quite a cutey actually. But he can't hog the stable for ever, so may have to face his fellow sheep at some stage.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

A reunion, a funeral and a sports day

Life in the cottages goes on. One lovely family have just left us, heading back to Grenada, and another arrive, this time from Africa, where they teach. A definite plus of this whole Cottage affair is the brief glimpse we get into other peoples lives, as they touch down in Aunby, stay a moment or two, and head off. #4 is delighted that this family also come with a small child, so she and her friend are preparing to adopt all over again.

Outside the Aunby Plot, life has been busy in the last few days. First a reunion, 25 years since we left Durham. Quite a while. We circulated with drinks, gradually perfecting our 'life precis'. Ashley delivered hers in bullet points, but she had been going a while by then  - numbers of children and/or marriages (not that many divorces actually, me aside) - geographical location - any major life events out of the ordinary (a near death experience via parachute in Nepal was one) - plans for the rest of the evening... One person I know stayed away because he felt he would not be able to stomach the success. He would have been quite safe. It was difficult not to semi ignore whatever anyone has done in the intervening years, and just step back in time.  One father, whose son was performing the lead role in a school play ('Robin Hood'), seemed to take as much delight in the fact that his child had pipped the child of another durhamite, (sadly not at the reunion to be able to deny giving a monkey's), to the title role as he did in the fact that his son was a star. It was all comfortingly familiar..  There was only one person I failed to recognise. Plenty of people to identify him though.

Bit of a crisis on Saturday. Torn between the funeral of a dear little girl whose parents I met when they were our first ever guests here,  and sports day. I had thought I would let the weather make the decision, drive to Bath for the funeral? Or stay in Lincs and cheer # 3 and # 4 on? Woke at 8 to a clear day, thought that this was decision made, but by 8.30 it was thunderous and black. Rushed into clothes, had a couple of short worded conversations with husband about location of picnic ware and planned content of picnic (which he had bought the previous day so not sure what he really needed to know) and a miserable conversation with #3 who was desperately sad about the whole thing, remembered Alice vividly, knew I wanted to be there for her parents, but also wanted me at sports day. 

He told me to go, so I did. Drove off at 8.40, to collect Flick, fellow friend. On way, made various calls, trying to finally decide if this was right decision. Called School to ask whether they thought sports day would even happen, and to check whether #3 or #4 would be getting a prize, as this would obviously alter plans. Unknown on the weather front, and no on the prize front. Also set up welcome committee for new young family arriving at 3 from Africa into the cottage. All sorted, but son's little face in my mind, and of course had not had time to discuss with #4 as she was at school on Friday night.... anxiety anxiety anxiety. 

Collected Flick and set off with her for Uppingham to collect third member of Bath party. On way, went over everything again with Flick and clarified my thinking. Dropped her at house of the third friend and returned to speech/sports day. Which went well, except for the ritual humiliation of the obstacle race. #3 won the 100m hurdles and #4 came second in the 100m - so honour was upheld.

After all that, today's activities have been limited to arguing with Son #2 about who is going to clean his bathroom, which is disgusting. He clearly thinks this is not his problem. My problem is that it is easier (though revolting) for me to do it, than to wait for him to. My ultimate sanction, refusal to take him to train station, will not have any bite until 11 July, when he plans to head to London. That feels like a long way off.

Have just bought Kindles, not arrived yet, for #3 and #4. For #4 because she reads so ferociously that I am faced with hauling a stack of books around this summer. #3 because I think you might be able to read Kindles in bed at night, after lights out, and this might be a new plan to help him conquer the horror of  having to wait for hours in the darkness for sleep to take him, (since the house parents at Witham, whose children are about 2 and 1, want everyone tucked up and out of the way by 8.30, which poor #3 cannot manage.). More on the Kindles to follow....

Monday, 25 June 2012

Old mirrors

I am sitting in Lincolnshire. The sun is shining. I can see insects flying about. The ground is practically steaming. There are screams and giggles coming from the trampoline.. Gorgeous evening. On the news, the weather man is telling me about the early warnings coming through for yet more torrential rain.
I booked tickets for our university reunion today - a mere 25 years. Seems appropriate since daughter one about to start her own clock ticking on that front. Funny things, reunions. However much you ignore the evidence in the mirror everyday, standing in a roomful of old mirrors kind of makes the point inescapable. Of course, I will be checking for staples behind the ears and those who do not appear to be able to frown... (botux...)

Oh and now Wimbledon is on. And there are shadows on the court. Yay!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Getting lost and getting scanned....

We have had quite a busy weekend.

First - No 2 son got lost. He had a harrowing time. He and his Bear Grylls buddy said they wanted to go for a long walk. They in fact wanted to walk to school (?) but we said that was quite out of the question. Far too far. And uphill most of the way. Wrote out a pirate web of a map, for a walk that should have taken them along the bridleway, in a bit of a loop, and home. "Turn right at every opportunity". Obviously they ignored that advice, and ended up in Castle Bytham, accidentally walking 5 miles (or 4.9 but who is being picky?). I SAID he had been gone too long. They got a lift home from the lady in the old Mrs B sweetie shop. Poor son & friend. Clearly quite scared. And of course son's ankles killing him. They had to have a calming bowl of cereal. It is one thing to watch and want to be Bear Grylls, another thing to have to consider foraging for supper in Castle Bytham. I note they went straight to the sweetie shop.

Also, number one daughter lost her caxton card in Laos. Again. How is this possible?? She left the last one in the ATM machine, (which totally wasn't her fault because they give you the money before they give you the card back. If that makes sense). Following a series of cloning crises in Brazil,she went off to the Big Moon party in Thailand armed with not one, not two, but SIX cash cards, and is currently down to four. A touch of frantic card cancelling as we were trying to eat hurried pre hospital visit lunch....

The biggest news of the day/weekend was the MRI scan. Finally, we might find out what is wrong with The Ankles... He was booked for a 2 hour slot from 1.20. TWO HOURS? I didn't think it would be possible for him to lie still for so long, alone, in what feels like a space ship, but which bangs and clanks like a victorian tardis. The hospital, which is fabulously brand new and shiny, was weirdly deserted in the diagnostic bit. No one there. No one to sign in with. We sat for half an hour, totally alone in a huge waiting area, with the lights flickering sporadically. But then a lovely red haired nurse came out and we were ushered through. She asked him whether he had ever had any metal bits in him? Any bullets? Any shrapnel? Shards of metal in his eye? Tattoos? (She told us prison tattoos are the worst for MRI machines, they use ground up paperclips instead of iron filings to make the black colour. Nice). 
He answered slightly nervously, double checking with me about the metal implant question. Then he had to put on gigantic pyjamas trousers and a back to front dress. I took a photo of him on his I-touch, we both thought he looked quite funny. 
Another nurse came to escort him to the machine. He said he needed to just double check a couple of things. Then he asked all the shrapnel, bullet, implant, tattoo questions again, and I think by now son was thinking he must have got one of them wrong, and so he kept looking at me, making sure I agreed. Then he went in, all by himself. So brave.
Hour and a half later (so he did obviously lie still), out he came, smiling, and now we are home. 

The sun is shining. Daughter 2 is riding Splash around in the school. The laundry from the weekend change over is drying in gale force winds. Uniform next up....
Oh joy. School tomorrow.

Cottage news - near horizontal rain again, (which probably means it has been raining from the beam in the downstairs bedroom in Piper again, but lets not go there now).

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Bear Grylls Corner located in Lincolnshire meadow

Bear Grylls eat your heart out. Son number two has established base camp in a corner of the Aunby meadow, tucked behind one of the new oak trees. He has mined through undergrowth and created a leafy cavern. Bit muddy underfoot, but he has excellent view of the bridleway through the hedge at knee height. He did try and appropriate my brand new second-hand prada satchel as looking quite 'Bear' like. Thankfully I intercepted that. He now has a compadre here, and I feel the rest of the afternoon will be stake-out, followed by cook-out.
Poppies are looking gorgeous, somehow surviving the rain. 
Daughter number one skyped this morning from Laos, enjoying tubing, in a muddy river. She woke this morning with a bed full of ants, not a problem we have had to deal with here in Aunby, yet.

Other news, following the mysterious case of the rain inside bedroom number one, which is downstairs, I have managed to track down the stone mason, currently working on Lincoln city wall, he is coming to check out the ancient stone work, find out where the rain is getting in....

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dead partridges. The post GCSE era beginneth again.

One of the partridges nesting in the meadow has been killed. I presume by a cat. Left all mangled. So upsetting. I love seeing the line of little chicks running around in the yard. That won't be happening this year. Do partridges pair for life? Don't know. Hope not. Having a broken heart in the meadow seems so sad.

Have just been trying, and failing, to send money via Western Union to Peru, to retrieve a camera left by Daughter on Gap Year. It is not possible to send online, so I shall have to actually get up and go to an agent and send money like in the old days. Mostly I quite like the old days, but right now, looking out at driving rain, I am feeling less enamoured. Incidentally, this rain will completely knock every poppy petal off. Disappointing.

I am not in a particularly up beat mood. 
Plus I have physio later today - more ferocious massage of the tethered scar tissue.

First Son is home! Finished GCSEs yesterday. He lies sleeping in his lair as I write. Building his strength up for a couple of parties before knuckling down to some hard core work experience back at his old school. He will be Canterbury clad, and revelling in the adoration of little children. Think his ego is quite probably large enough already. But still. The alternative, him lying on the sofa flicking through sky options, leaving half drunk cans of coke and cheese crumbs everywhere, is more 'in my face' unappealling. Anyway. It will do him good. Plus he will get all the gossip from the staff room, which I might enjoy.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pull Buoys and beaches

Plans for the day include experimenting with new leg movements. I plan to take to the waves and swim with my new Pull Buoy. It took me an age to manage to buy a pull buoy because when I was told I needed one, and that it was a swim toy, I naturally assumed it was a 'pool boy'. Searching for 'Pool boys' took me in the wrong direction entirely. Anyway, I survived that and now have my yellow and blue 'Pull Buoy' and am told I must swim. NOT shaped like a shrimp with my back bent and belly reaching south, but FLAT like a plank, clenching this yellow and blue thing between my knees, with whats left of my shrivelled thigh muscles, and somehow get from one end of the pool to another, still flat, and still clenched. The point is not to kick my leg and risk damage to my precious new tendon. I mean ligament. While I am frantically paddling up and down, I will try not to worry about my daughter, who has emailed from Thailand this morning to complain that while she has spent about 2 months lounging around on a beach, because she thought it was THE BEACH, from the film so named, has now found out, just as she leaves to go 'tubing' (?) in Laos, that this was not where the film was made at all. What a waste of time. All that dedicated lolling on the 'most beautiful beach in the world' for nothing. I told her she should send her therapy bill to the local tourist authority.
Which leads me to wonder where I think the most beautiful beach in the world is. Having given it a moment's thought, I would go with either St Martins. Or Iona. Or actually maybe Calgary Bay. All of these in sunshine preferably.

Plans for the day re the cottages? Well, have already delivered the newly laundered little hooded towels to the children in the cottage. Makes me feel surprisingly happy to know these little winnie the poo and minnie mouse towels, so loved by my own children on beaches gone by, (beaches again..) are now in use and being enjoyed by Max and Tavia. A happy find in my slightly groaning towel cupboard.
Also, I must email the lovely Portuguese carpenter about fixing the hole that another child has mined in Piper Lodge wall. Not sure the next guests will think much of it.
Otherwise, things are looking up. The sun is shining, the sweet rocket is going ballistic along the front of the property. I saw at least another 10 cornflowers in the meadow yesterday...

Better get off with my Pull Buoy then.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Chicken phalanx overcomes rowdy lamb problem

No surprise that it is raining again, but this time disappointing.  I had planned to patrol the meadow this morning.. Got a couple of ladies coming to lunch, not something that happens very often, Husband and I generally eat eggs together. Today he is at a funeral, and I am eating eggs with other people. I had thought the meadow might be a nice way to walk the eggs off afterwards, but not unless they come equipped with wellies. Still. Got to make sure the lone cornflower is still there. 

On an animal update, think the sheep may be relocating, which the chickens will be happy about. Last time I went out there with stale cornflakes, the lambs were headbutting the poor chooks off them. The chickens need to work out a kind of strategy, maybe consider forming up into a phalanx and going at them like geese, or red arrows. Such a relief no one but hopefully  a spider is reading this....

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Creaking knees and delays in the cleaning regime

Now 7 weeks post ACL reconstruction, I am beginning to creak about the place a bit... not sure I would not have been better staying in bed, at least from a psychological point of view. But the time had come to face the hamsters, the attic where the children roam free, and the dining room, which looks more like a car boot sale without the cars. The knee is coping, so far, going upstairs I am pretty normal looking. I come down like a belly dancer whose speciality is perpendicular hip hitches, in slow motion. My knee, in fact more my leg since the only thing I can feel in my knee is my knee cap, which feels as though it is clinging on for dear life, is not really swollen anymore, except for the lumpy bits where the scar tissue has 'tethered' itself to something. That long hard lump which I thought was a piece of metal (because that's what the physio TOLD me it was) under my knee, which I therefore resolved never to touch, let alone massage, because how disgusting is a piece of metal jutting out under your skin? (The physio actually said I was lucky since she had seen 'them' (the bolt things) that were far 'prouder'). So the hard lump/bolt/scar has had a head start and taken the time to usefully lay in defences, like a tether.
The downside of movement of course, is the dimishing excuse for cleaning the cottages. Ah well.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Royal Stamford

Gorgeously mint green, inciting giggles and flags. Miss M quite beside herself to get time out of school, and definitely felt she had a private wave... Beautiful Stamford a very nice place for the red arrows to fly by as well.

Rain and ancient stone work

Rain. Rain. Rain.  I wonder that anyone wants to come here at all. At least the cottages are uber insulated, unlike this house..
This building has stood through rain for nearly 1000years, well, parts of it have
Was watching a film last night, Legends of the Fall. I find myself looking at the 'characters' as though they could all somehow be ancestors. Like I look at the stone pillers, with the medieval cut marks, so unbelievably old. You can run your fingers along the grooves, and wonder how many people and who else has done the same. Who made the marks? 900 years ago? Who leant against the pillers when they were part of the monastry? Who sat at the foot of them in 1450? 1675? 1780? 1890?1914?