Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Planning The New Duck Run

 I have been out planning and measuring yesterday. I have studied the instructions (it all looks rather complicated) and today is the big day. Poor Tom is tired as he didn't get in from work until 11 o'clock last night but we can't have a box of duck run panels in the dining room another day!

We really love our ducks. I was checking last night to see exactly how old they were. We hatched Scoot the female duck in May 2014 so she is nearly 7. She was  the cutest little duckling. 


 As she was an "only duckling" we were worried she was growing up to think she was a dog, she absolutely loved them! We travelled to a farm on a round trip of 100 miles to rescue a two week old male Call duckling who was going to have his neck rung as the farmer had hatched too many males. I'm afraid to say he has never shown a minutes gratitude for our efforts but we still love him. 

So hopefully today we can get it all done and secure against the foxes by this evening, otherwise I can see the ducks in a cage in the kitchen overnight! I hope everyone has a wonderful day what ever your plans. xx

Monday, 1 March 2021

Little Pointless Facts

 The 1st of March is finally here. My Dad has taken, now the weather has improved, to walking up to the church at the end of the lane near where he lives each day. It is just a nice distance, once round the graveyard and then home. It has led to a regular evening conversation on the phone that goes something like this. "Do you remember so and so who used to live at the end of the lane years ago." "Yes I do, the family had a Labrador dog and a tabby cat." "I can't remember that but they had a Rover car." "Yes he grew vegetables and always had bonfire going in the garden." "That's the one, he had a little cheerful wife." "Yes I remember her now, how are they?" "Dead, I saw their grave in the graveyard." "Oh dear." I'm really not sure how uplifting these walks are turning out to be but at least it keeps him fit and he is enjoying admiring all the spring flowers coming to life. 

However these evening conversations have made me realise another thing. Our brains are full of snippets of information we have stored there over the years. Sometimes I think everything is there just waiting for something to remind us of them and they come to the surface. Except maybe how to solve maths problems. I think that may have gone forever! Little things we store away about people and things that happen throughout our life, put in a box in our brain marked "Save For Later" Whenever I look at flowers starting to bloom at this time of year and little shoots coming through I remember a poem we would recite at school about spring. 

A Spike Of Green

When I went out

The sun was hot

It shone upon 

my flower pot.

And there I saw 

A spike of green

That no one else 

Had ever seen.

On other days

The things I see

Are mostly old

Except for me.

But this green spike

So new and small

Has never yet

Been seen at all.

It's so strange when I look at green shoots appearing everywhere I can't get this poem out of my head. I could be eight and reciting it at school. We used to have hand writing cards with short poems on, that we had to copy in our best handwriting. It was on one of those handwriting cards and I wonder if because I wrote it down as well as reciting it, is why I learned it so well. How is it still there in my brain after all this time. Maybe it has stayed there because even after all these years I still find the sight of these little green shoots appearing everywhere so special. My favourite time of the year. Everything to look forward to and the darkest days behind us. Never have I felt it more than this year. Spring really does feel very precious. I hope everyone has a lovely 1st March what ever you are doing and Happy St David's Day. xx

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Layla The Springer Spaniel

 I have had dogs all my life yet I have never met a dog like Layla our Springer Spaniel. She came into our life in such a strange way. Our eldest son, I have mentioned before, cannot help but find animals in need. I could literally write a book about his animal escapades. What ever country he travels to on holiday he will have some animal drama. If he sees a dog tied up in a yard in miserable circumstances he can't just walk by. When he rented a yard for his buses next to a travellers site he spent as much time sneaking around with food and water as he did working! It was one of the many reasons he gave the place up and moved to his present one and even then within weeks he had found a stray cat as a companion for my Dad.

Nearly three years ago a friend of his mentioned that he knew someone who was getting rid of a four month old Springer Spaniel as they couldn't manage it. He knew eldest son was an animal lover, did he know of anyone who could take her as they were so desperate they were going to put her on Preloved for a very cheap price to make sure she was gone by the weekend. Eldest son was horrified and said that it was such a dangerous thing to do to a dog. It could end up anywhere. He went to the tiny bedsit in Lewisham, South London and paid the price for the little Springer Spaniel that was locked in a cage. 

He phoned and asked could we take her for the weekend and he would take to Springer Spaniel Rescue on the Monday. So Layla arrived. She had all her documents and a pile of equipment. Someone had really wanted her at some point but I suppose the reality of an energetic puppy had been just too much. I phoned the microchip company to make sure she hadn't been reported as stolen and she hadn't been. I think the saddest thing on her inoculation certificate was all the crossings out of her name as she had been passed from person to person. 

That weekend we took her to the park with our dogs, who she she stuck to like glue. I could see her distress as she scanned all the people's faces in the park for someone who looked familiar, it broke my heart. Tom and I looked at each other as we got home and said someone has to commit to this dog. We decided that was that, it stops here.

She has definitely not been the easiest of dogs. Her early experiences have had an enormous, lasting affect on her but I know she is happy. She has terrible trouble focusing and concentrating for more than a few seconds but as I say to my four very individual children, don't conform just be yourself. She is our dog with all her funny little ways. She would never win an obedience class and definitely never win a prize for walking in a straight line for some reason but who cares. She has brought us so much happiness and when I look at this video of her in the park yesterday I can see her life has brought her the same.

It is not quite so bright here as yesterday, but still nice and dry so I'll be out and about again, walking the dogs and gardening. Tom is working again on a late shift. I tend to just mooch about doing jobs that need catching up on and spend the time in the evenings working when he works late. It all feels quite relaxed at the moment so I shouldn't complain at all as life isn't always like it. I hope everyone has a lovely Sunday wherever you are in the world. xx

Saturday, 27 February 2021

The Reality of Caravan Holidays

 It was a lovely sunny day yesterday doing Dad's shopping and it gives a feeling of hope that better things are around the corner. Dad has been able to get out in the front garden which has brightened him. Last year he moved a garden bench to the front path so he could have a rest after he has mowed the lawn and before he started the next job. It has led to a procession of "old people" resting on their way through while he is gardening and has given them all a place to have a little chat out in the fresh air. It is a proper little social club he has built up on his bench. I am slightly concerned word may spread and he may start getting street drinkers in the evening but knowing my Dad as long as they were willing to chat about his beloved Liverpool he would welcome them too!

All this nice weather is starting to think make us think we may be able to book a bit of time away in our caravan. We  have managed to find an original 1970s awning to go with our 1970s caravan, the only problem is it's missing poles. We need to find some replacements but of course all the caravan dealerships are closed at the moment. 

When it is sorted out this is hopefully how it will look. It will almost double our space while we are away. I imagine us sitting having our evening meal in it when it is not quite nice enough to eat outside.

Our awning is an Isabella awning and I have contacted the company who are still in existence. They have been so helpful but sadly don't make the poles for these awnings anymore. I have been searching through old brochures from the company to get ideas for the inside and they have made me laugh

It's strange but my memories of caravanning holidays at the time are of us in wellington boots in the middle of a muddy field. I suppose this photograph sold more awnings than the reality!

I do remember this kind of family feel though and I will definitely be trying to make some wonderful retro curtains like this for ours. However I think this next photo is probably the furthest from a family caravan holiday reality though.

Although it did give me an idea for a bit of authentic 1970s when we are away. Candles in wine bottles, maybe a bit dangerous for in the awning, but outside on a summer evening, perfect! What 1970s meal would have been complete without them. These brochures have certainly given me lots to think about but the reality of our caravan holidays when my sister and I were children was this photo, and we loved every minute!

I have a day in today with the exception of some dog walking. I don't want to waste this lovely weather with inside jobs but there always seems a lot to catch up with on both. No matter how hard I try I never seem to get the same amount of enthusiasm for housework as I do for gardening. I think because of that reason the garden will probably win through if the weather stays nice. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing. xx

Friday, 26 February 2021

Local Cakes

 The new duck run arrived yesterday. It slightly concerns me what a small sized box it is in. I have the feeling it is going to be very hard to assemble and it has to be all done in one day as once the other one is taken down we have to have the ducks safe again by that evening. I see a long day ahead of us soon! Scarlett was very excited  by it's arrival and is expecting to see it all up and ready by next week so we are going to have to start planning.

I was right about the weather yesterday it was just a bit grey and drizzly really. It could have been much worse though. We managed to go for a walk and then incorporate gong to the bakers, which is Scarlett's new favourite thing, to chose a cake for after her lunch. She chose a shortbread teddy bear, then I bought two more for youngest son and daughter for when they got in from work, then worried eldest daughter would feel left out when she came to pick up Scarlett, I bought her one to take home too! Scarlett insisted on carrying them all home with the paper bag pressed up to her coat so unfortunately this was only the only one which arrived home without losing a limb. I was assured however they were delicious!

I have mentioned before about our wonderful local bakers. They still make all their items on the premises and in the past few years have expanded to make a coffee lounge which until recent times, when of course it has been closed, is always busy. As soon as it is open again I can't wait to take Scarlett to sit outside and eat our cakes! 
In 1977 when I worked in a bank in London, on a Saturday I used to do voluntary work with the disabled children at nearby Queen Mary's Hospital. I planned to start training as a nurse when I was 18 and at the time, hoped it would make my transition easier. It was an incredibly enjoyable time of my life. I would travel on the train from my Mum and Dad's house and get off at the station to walk the mile to the hospital and spend the day in work I enjoyed enormously. After the monotony of working in a bank it seemed such fun.  I would walk past this bakers, still run by the same family in those days, and think to myself how lucky the people of this area are to have such a lovely bakers, although I never went in as by the time I came past again at the end of the day it was always shut. I used to think one day I would love to live round here.

In the spring of 1981 as a third year student nurse I would catch the bus to travel from St Helier Hospital to Queen Mary's for my two month paediatric secondment. I would get off the bus outside the bakers to walk that familiar walk through the area I liked so much, with such happy memories of my days as a volunteer. I was pleased to see "my bakers" was still there even though I still didn't go in. 

Over 20 years later in 2004 we moved house, to the area I had always liked, just a five minute walk from a shop I felt nostalgic for even though I had never been inside . I joked with my family as the house purchase was going through I may finally get to go in that lovely baker's shop and the first thing I did on the Saturday morning, after we moved in on that Friday in August was to walk up there to buy everyone cakes as a treat. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my life! If anyone had told me in 1977, that one day I would be popping in and out with my granddaughter all these years later, I wouldn't have believed them. How strange life can be.

I'm going over to do shopping for my Dad today and it looks like it's going to be a nice day with lots of sunshine. I hope everyone has a lovely day, with some sunshine what ever you are doing and where ever you are in the world. xx

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Looking Forward To David Essex

 It was another warm day yesterday, a sunny cheerful sort of day that somehow brightened us all. Tom is on late shifts all the way though until next Tuesday but at least that means he gets the morning at home. I had ordered an extension to the hosepipe with the replacement attachment and we ran it up the side of the garden fence so not only does it look much tidier I can sit on the bench and give the ducks a shower instead of them just having a swim about in their little pool. They loved it and I can see on warm days this will be a job all of us will want to do as it is so amusing to watch their antics when they are enjoying themselves.

I may even try the cockatiels with a bit of misting on warm days now the hosepipe reaches right up to the end of the garden. They certainly seemed to enjoy the early spring sunshine yesterday.

There has been more news about things hopefully opening up later in the year. Musical festivals have announced they will be taking place later in the summer. A friend of mine who is a musician has announced he will be playing at venues later in the year, after a year with no work I am so pleased for him. For me, one really exciting thing I am looking forward to almost seems possible now. My sister and I were meant to be going to see David Essex in concert last September which was of course cancelled and postponed until this September. It was looking as if it was a distinct possibility it may not even happen then but now suddenly it seems a bit hopeful! We saw him at The Sutton Granada and The Hammersmith Odeon in 1974 and 1975. Sigh! What happy days. For any one else who remembers that twinkle in his eye here is a trip down memory lane!

Scarlett is coming today and sadly the weather doesn't look quite so good for us, but other parts of the country who have been having rain are at least due some sunshine. Hopefully we'll still get out for a walk and have a bit of fun today. I hope everyone has a lovely day what ever you are doing and is managing to plan something nice for after lockdown. xx

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Vaccination Passports

 Disappointing news arrived yesterday from the phone buying company. They had magnified the corner of the phone by about 200x and there was a tiny crack in the join of the screen. We had not noticed it with our old eyes! In the end the company offered us £20 not £80, I don't really blame they as they do have to make their profits but £20 off the duck run cost is obviously not nearly as much as £80 off it. Oh well, it's disappointing but I have to tell myself it's extra money from something that was just stuck in a drawer.

There has been a lot on the news yesterday about covid vaccination passports. There seems to be a possibility that we may have to carry proof of vaccination before we are allowed to go on holidays abroad or even to visit pubs and restaurants. It reminded me of an incident that happened in 1973 a few weeks before we went on on holiday to Corfu. A young 23 year old woman who was a laboratory technician was admitted to the Harrow Road branch of St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, on the16th March. When smallpox was suspected on the 23rd March she was transferred to Long Reach Smallpox Hospital in Dartford Kent but in the intervening period a man and his wife, who were visiting another patient in the same ward, became infected and were admitted to an infectious diseases hospital on the 2nd April and transferred to Long Reach on the 4th April. It was thought the source lay in the laboratory in which the young woman worked. 

All of a sudden from nowhere, we were not allowed to travel unless we had a Small Pox vaccination. I remember my Mum, Dad and my sister and I had to go to our GP for our vaccination just days before the holiday. I presume we must have had a certificate to be allowed into Corfu, I can't remember, but I do remember we probably wouldn't have needed one, we would have just been able to show our arms as every British person at the hotel was sitting around the swimming pool with a swollen lump oozing pus on the top of their arm. I had a scar that lasted years! Strange how we didn't seem to complain about our rights back then!

No other patients were ever treated at Long Reach and the hospital was knocked down in 1974 to make way for improved flood defences. The last outbreak of smallpox in England was in 1975, from a laboratory in Birmingham and the last case in the world in Somalia in 1977. On the 9th December 1979 the World Health Organisation declared that smallpox was eradicated. Incredibly in the early 1950s there were an estimated 50 million cases of smallpox occurring in the world each year with a 30% mortality rate. So hopefully no matter how terrible coronavirus seems now, one day, the same thing will be happening with this.

We had a lovely day yesterday with the sun shining and I was out and about most of the afternoon. I know so much of the west side of the country is having terrible rain and I hope the sunny weather arrives with you soon. Our sunniest flower bed is all ready for spring when it should be a mass of colour. I can't wait. I hope everyone has a lovely day and you manage to see some sunshine where ever you are. xx

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