So the good news is: Hubby successfully doctored the hypochondriac that is our printer. It’s been malingering for weeks, protesting plaintively that its innards were suffering from a major paper feed malaise, when all that was actually causing the jam was a microscopic spec of paper on a sensor. Bloody thing.

The fabulous news is: my laptop arrived.

It’s second hand and, ummm, cosmetically past its best, but when you fail to return to work after maternity leave, you tend to be a tad impoverished and distinctly less picky about appearances. Consequently, I don’t give a rat’s arse what condition it’s in, as long as it permits my chilly person to abandon the freezing office (single radiator, controlled by central heating, programmed by frugal hubby, who conserves his personal heat better than a woolly sodding mammoth) and spend my winter evenings in the living room (single radiator in a huge room; but also one woodburner which, fully stoked by wifey, can melt an average-sized polar cap into Slush Puppie in minutes) perched comfily in my long-coveted Dutailier.

The wifey-piles do prefer soft upholstery when they can get it, but my immersion in the blogosphere has been the cause of some solitary office suffering this summer.

Cough. Annnnnnnd moving right along, the bad news is: the new laptop appears to have router issues, and refuses to actually… route, or whatever the damn things are supposed to do. Despite much cajoling, it will not find our Wifi. John has even attempted to hack into borrow next door’s Wifi – what explanation he was planning to give had the neighbours spotted him standing among the hens with the laptop, I cannot think – but nada.

The crap news is: our office PC has become even more unstable than our child’s newly-acquired locomotive skills, and needs brutally attacking with a fucking great axe Windows re-installing. Should I disappear for a time, I will not… probably… have fallen critical illness insurance victim to a murderous hubby, but rather, will be baffled by a malevolent box of failing electronic junk. Hubby is grinding his teeth over Bradford and Bingley though. And the Halifax. Sigh. I feel we may not be holidaying anywhere at all this year; Hubby will be even more jumpy about expenditure than ever. Can we come to your house? We have a caravan: just sling us a extension lead through the window, and we’ll be quite happy in your garden.

And finally, the uber fabulous news is that I have now lost count of Harry’s solo steps. He managed twenty-something this morning, triumphantly tottering right across his bedroom. I happily took him into town to be measured for his very first pair of proper shoes. And look what they gave us!

Bugger me if I didn’t cry.

Hairy Farmer with Nuts

It has been a good week here at Hairy Farmer Mansions.

Firstly, we had a lovely Sunday. The morning was spent happily sheep-bothering with Harry, who hung out of the Land Rover window and squeaked excitedly at our sheepdog’s demented attempts at round-up, hammering his little fists in joy-overload. I made a picnic in the afternoon and we drove over to Broadway Tower (complete with detour for John to look at some wheat, rumoured to be pancake-flat with 6-inch green shoots) and ate it on the fragrant grass in the warm sunshine.



I think it’s the first time this summer that I’ve actually felt pleasantly warm. Baths don’t count.

Secondly, Harry is eating well – and starting to walk. His first proper steps were a couple of weeks ago, and in the last day or so he is really managing to string several together before wipeout. This means that one day soon-ish, we shall be able to take him places again. He loathes the push-chair with the force of a thousand suns, and only wants to travel under his own steam. He seems to feel the need to put some serious work in on his speed and stamina, mind you, as I can’t keep him from clambering onto my (dusty) cross-trainer machine lately.

Thirdly, John had a begging phone call at lunchtime today from Farming Neighbour, whose uber-pricey combine harvester

has come off atrociously in the sludgy conditions. FN began the year by boasting about the prowess of his brand new shiny 100k acquisition. By mid-August he was complaining bitterly that the mud was collecting ominously under the wheelarches. Today he has admitted that it has sustained repeated damage, cannot cope with the conditions, and would Hubby please bring his 20 year old machine

round to finish some fields for him?

This does not please me personally, you understand (meaning as it does, that John will now be too busy to take Harry to his swimming lesson tomorrow), but Hubby’s glee is virtually palpable. I think it was only the fact that we had guests to lunch that precluded him launching into a full-on Snoopy dance, in fact. (Speaking of which, does anyone know a long distance moving company in the area? Friends are looking to move and can’t find anyone who’ll take their belongings all the way to California. Let me know!)

Which brings me nicely to Fourthly, and hold your breath, coz it’s a humdinger…

May and H came to lunch.

There! Told you it was exciting!

I have been thrilling at the prospect all week, and had dressed Harry up in his very best togs specially. I was utterly consumed with nerves and had been widdling anxiously like a small puppy all morning, but they are both just so bloody nice that my bladder control managed to reassert itself. Harry promptly worked off his excitement at their arrival by playing an enthusiastic game of pat-a-cake in the dogs’ water bowl, thus neatly managing to shed the best togs within minutes. Meh.

People, if I could have kept them both here permanently, I would have. They are extraordinarily delectable, lovely individuals whom I should totally be permitted to see every week, dammit! And even if I could be persuaded to let them go home with good grace (which I can’t; exceedingly bad grace is all I can manage) then I feel that Harry is immovable on the subject. Whilst May and I nattered away (Now, as you would confidently expect if you read – and of course you do! – her blog, May conversed cogently, fluidly and enthrallingly, whilst I, predictably, interrupted haphazardly and incoherently.) Harry quickly decided that H was simply the best thing since sliced bread (a very credible belief, too) and there was much chuckling and chortling. Although distracted by the twin lure of a trike ride and hen feeding, the wail he let out upon seeing their car disappear down the drive was one that spoke loudly of unending woe.

He wants them back, and so do I.

Look at the Pretty Pink Clouds!

Look what I bought.

Just for a laugh, you understand. I am not actually that deluded. I know full-well that tragi-comedy is all we can expect from playing around with the drippy Urine Sticks of Confusion. I’ve detected LH surges during my period before now, Goddamn it! I can’t for the life of me figure out why I would still be peeing OAS at that point, but that’s what I appeared to write at the time; the time being September 2004.

Adding breastfeeding hormones into my already-comically-underfunctioning hormonal stew will probably now give rise to some really fucked-up test results. I can’t wait. I’ve almost drawn the conclusion that I must simply enjoy peeing on things, and then staring intently at the results… a desire that you’d think I could easily gratify in any number of discreet locations, at a cost of considerably less than £19.99.

Fun and games, ladies. Fun and games.

Sticky Fingers

I have a series of unfinished posts. Realistically, none of them will see publication, because a grumpy little klaxon keeps sounding 20 minutes into my twice-daily coffee breaks. (A grumpy little klaxon who was, incidentally, due to be born this day last year. Ummm. Didn’t do so well on that…)

There was the post about taking Harry to his first stock sale. In precis: Harry cried, John nearly cried at the cost but bought two new rams anyway, Harry cried some more, a huge ram escaped and butted our good friend Phil smack in the midriff, Harry cried, and we came home.

And there was the post about the family (Harry, Ann, John and Tebbit) haircut. Hubby, Tebbit and I were all looking distinctly shaggy, whilst a friend of mine had remarked that Harry was, alarmingly, beginning a small mullet. I am Chief Groom in HFF household, so I wielded the clippers on John first, Tebbit second, and finally, the scissors on a sleeping Harry.


note how Kanga has stopped for a double-take at the delicious tickly baby curls,

and after:

I then took myself off to the hairdresser, having saved ourselves £10 at the barbers, £30 at the pet salon (pet salon! My God!), and £8 for a child’s haircut (£8!). I promptly blew the net fiscal advantage by booking a massage, but no need to tell Hubby, m’kay?

And there was the post about the Bloody Weather, but I’ve binned that one for being far too repetitive. There’s only so many times I can bend your ear about how goddamnfuckinghorrible this summer has been. But I will tell you that the patch of sloping scrub we cheerfully call a garden has been so sodden that the lawn tractor couldn’t manage the gradient for a month. The grass has enjoyed all the rain enormously,

and regrettably grew so luxuriant weed infested and tall that, when John did eventually cut it on Saturday afternoon, my dear little pet garden sheep were unable to catch his eye in time

and fell bloody victim to his blatant inattention.

And then there’s the post about the turd.

I think I may tell you that one anyway, despite coming hard on the heels of a suppository post. Those of a delicate constitution, do come back another time you’re reading the wrong blog, bless you.

Harry’s bedroom, Saturday morning, 8am: Harry was bouncy and bright, playing enthusiastically among his legion of toys, and, as he often is for 10 minutes or so, minus a nappy. I was slumped sleepily in the rocking chair, watching him with half an eye, and trying to work up the energy for Downstairs and Coffee. Situation normal. Right up until the point where Harry let out an unexpected and unscheduled grunt of concentration. I went from inertia to maximum propulsion at eye-watering speed, and streaked toward the nappy stacker like a very chubby, dressing-gown-clad bullet, but alas! far too late. As I watched in fascinated horror, a solid five-inch turd erupted out of his bottom like a firework, and thudded heavily onto the cream carpet.

Now, let us consider the situation. A naked, busily-cruising, rapidly-crawling infant. A cream carpet. A large turd. Distinct smearing-and-rubbing-into-carpet possibilities. A farmer’s wife who has been liberally coated with sufficient types of shit in her life to know very well that poo comes off hands an awful lot easier than carpet. Decision time.

I snatched it away, instants before a questing, curious fat baby-fist smacked down onto the – phew! – virtually unmarked carpet. I manoevred the offending object onto one palm and headed towards the door. And stopped. You see, in shuffling it gingerly into one hand, I had managed to get the fingers of my other hand… sticky. One end of this mammoth offering was substantially softer in texture to the other, and the heat of my hand had rapidly… how shall we say? compromised the structural integrity of the item. So! Picture, if you will, me, standing with a turd balanced precariously on one upturned hand, horribly sticky fingers on the other hand, having come to a halt in front of the child gate. The tall child gate, that you can’t actually step over unless you are John Cleese. The child gate with the particularly cunning handle.

I was reminded suddenly of a friend of ours, who once, whilst staying in a mate’s bedroom, was sick at very short notice into his own cupped hands. Jubilant at containing the entire amount, he turned to head for the toilet, only to find that the door to the bedroom, with its very round knob, was firmly shut…

Wiggling that gate open without A) dropping the turd, B) smearing the handle or C) letting our exceedingly nosy child get in on the act, was a challenge. My dressing gown, regrettably, did not survive pristine. But I opened it, and Harry and I headed for the bathroom just along the corridor. I had just divested myself of the ghastly article into the toilet, and was about to commence hand-washing, when the sound of a mobile baby caught my ear and I saw that Harry had departed back into the corridor. There is not yet a gate at the top of the stairs so I revved after him at high speed, but as I turned the corner into the straight it became apparent that road conditions had suddenly become extremely hazardous.

To cut a long story short… Harry hadn’t finished. By quite a margin. After surreptiously evacuating another supersize brown Mr Whippy onto the carpet, he had obviously taken off at record speed, being so very much lighter now.

Let us consider the situation again. A naked, busily-cruising, rapidly-crawling shit-smeared infant, at the top of the stairs. A red carpet. A large trail of turd. Distinct smearing-and-rubbing-into-carpet reality. A farmer’s wife who has been liberally coated with sufficient types of shit in her life to know very well that poo comes off hands an awful lot easier than carpet, so it’s rather bad luck that there is now quite so much of it on both.

I picked my poo-encrusted child up with my very crappy hands, and plonked him into the empty bathtub. I washed my hands. Twice. I also washed my feet, because, yes, I’d stepped in it. I removed my dressing gown. I tiptoed gingerly around the piles of poo to reach a phone, and dialled Hubby. Summoning instructions were barked. I collapsed on the toilet seat in mental exhaustion and watched Child playing merrily with his bathtoys in dry-dock for 5 minutes, before Hubby arrived home and commenced bathing. He generally recoils in horror from any possibility of human faecal contamination (a farmer!), but on this occasion he could see very well that there was a far worse job on offer.

I took this after I had scraped up the piles and had a cursory wipe with kitchen paper.

The baby books don’t talk about stuff like this.


Harry’s latest round of inoculations (inevitable soaring temperature) taken in conjunction with as-yet uncontrolled reflux (much baby-rage) resulted in my dosing him with paracetamol in an attempt to palliate the pervading misery in maison HFF. I explained to Harry that if he persisted in refusing to even look at the approaching Calpol – craning his head around 170 degrees whilst taking wild (yet uncannily well-aimed) blind swipes behind him in hopes of knocking the spoon away… then his anal privacy would be unavoidably violated. And he still wouldn’t swallow, so he was obliged to undergo a torpedoing.

His expression was… curious. Somewhere in that undefinable middle ground between Urrrgh!, Ahhhhh! and WTF?!

Harry’s last epoch of reflux medication, some 10 months ago, constipated his (entirely breastfed) belly for up to 9 days at a time, so we have travelled the laxative suppository route before. (Ummm. Is it just me, or was there something a little wrong about the finish to that sentence?) Hubby was generally reduced to a quavering presence hovering nervously in the doorway – although precisely what aspect of the proceedings he was unsettled by, he could not explain to anyone’s satisfaction. He was no different this time around, when I instructed him to entertain the non-business end of child: his fussing reluctance distracted me sufficiently, that I very nearly missed the tiny illustrations on the instructions altogether.

I would have paid hard currency to have been a fly on the wall for the commissioning conversation for this. How do you tell a (presumably) self-respecting illustrator that in order to earn their crust today, they have to produce anthropomorphic suppositories?


A suppository, looking at a box of suppositories… wearing spectacles. How surreal unusual bloody strange.

Note the fetching apron on the Mummy suppository – the one holding aloft the lard torpedo. And no wonder the kid looks nervous, the thing’s a fifth his own width and a tenth his own length! I’m 5ft 4 and oooo (sucking breath), say, 18 inches across in places. To me, that’d be 3.5 x 6.5 inches to scale.

I’d start running now, buddy, if I were you.

A Mummy suppository, wearing an apron, with Inspector Gadget arms. What splendiferous Google search terms this post will open up for me.

Now the kid looks cheerful! He’s radiating joy! He may even be holding one aloft in triumph, if he isn’t giving a jubilant thumbs-up to… to… the pharmacy shop window? The dreaded things are going back! Every other kid he knows has had a good butchers at his parent carrying his bum-plugs all the way across town in an open box, but hey, lets accentuate the positive. They’ve left the house.

Of course, if we pan back to the night before, we might spot the reason for that.

How to Talk to Children

OK, so Friday evening at 6pm I loaded a Hubby, a baby, a decorated cake, a victoria pancake sandwich, a pot of plum toffee jam and 6 photographs into the car, and we drove 23 miles, in the rain, to Moreton-in-Marsh, where a cheery chap who was stood in the showground gateway getting torrentially pissed on informed us chirpily that the show was not happening. Cancelled. Mudbathed. Rained off. Except for cakes! Cakes were still happening! Moreton town hall had been co-opted at short notice. So we trundled off to the town hall, which was ever so shut. So then we went to the show office, which was chaos. Yes, cakes and jam were still happening, but could only be delivered  in the morning. No, there wasn’t space for photographs. Oh.

So we drove 23 miles home, in the rain, glumly, with a bored, tired and screaming baby.

And the next morning we got up and drove 23 miles, in the rain, back to Moreton. I delivered the two cakes – making sure that no-one actually saw me and my less-than-appealing victoria sandwich together – and then I had a bad attack of OMG-it-will-poison-the-judge-paranoia, and didn’t enter my pot of alleged jam after all. I really couldn’t see the point. 

We then carried on to Oxford and had a wander about, in the rain, until lunchtime. I have been hankering to visit Christ Church college for ages, but I still didn’t get further than the entrance,


as the place is apparently liberally strewn with steep steps and supposedly swallows pushchairs whole. Harry would have been delighted to jettison the hated vehicle – in which he writhed and struggled and grizzled for most of the day – and continue scurrying forward on his hands and knees, but the bulldog in the bowler hat didn’t look too keen. So we carted Harry off to a distinctly inferior cafe where he insisted upon cruising noisily among the chairs, patting either the empty seats or the occupants’ bottoms. He instantly adopted his accustomed strychnined-starfish stance


(with added helping of aggrieved roars) when attempts were made either to limit the scope of his marauding, or sit him on our laps. Our bill, unsurprisingly, appeared promptly, without us having to summon it.

After another 30 minutes of strolling, in intermittent rain, among the shops, Harry’s crescendo of tired howls and wriggles were becoming aggravating, so we bunged him into the car (Immediate snores! But why? They’re both moving chairs with a view!) and headed back, in heavy rain, to Moreton.

Now, I had, admittedly, rather been pinning my rosette hopes on the decorated cake. I usually do fairly well in the photography, and have won the odd edible class before, but the cake decorating was a brand new class this year and therefore I had vaguely thought that I’d be the only one to make an effort with it.

Now, although it’s pretty enough, because I know what this cake was supposed to turn out like, I can see plenty of things wrong with it. The thing was, you see… so could the judge. Because I didn’t win. I didn’t come second, either. Or third. Oh… erm… bugger. That’s disappointing, then.

This came first. There’s a lot of work here – and an awful lot of plasticine, too. I think there is an actual cake under there somewhere. But I’m not sure.

This came second – and I really do like this cake. I don’t actually mind losing to this one. The waves were rather cool.

And this came third.

I was a bit miffed about this one. I mean, yes, it has a extremely nicely-done foliage spray, very seasonal, yes, because summer’s well and truly fucked right off for this year now, and the ribbon matched, and the icing was nice and smooth, yes… but… but… mine took longer! and… and… and… I didn’t win! ANYTHING! They took my trusty photo classes away! I had to win this class just to win anything at all! And I didn’t! And… but… and… but…

We edged past the throngs of elderly battleaxes bastions of the WI, toward the Victoria sponges. I was expecting no accolades here, which was useful, because there weren’t any. Hubby amused himself by by picking mine out whilst still at a distance simply from my description – dark and flat. Meh.

Anyhoo, after a few minutes of moping and a jutting lower lip, I totally got a life, and went for a wander around the children’s exhibits on the ground floor. We liked this particular dude

and this chap deserved his first place, I felt.

We had 40 minutes to go before we could take my abject failures home and Harry was getting totally fed up of being carried in Hubby’s arms, so we scuttled across the – rainy – road to an adjacent hotel. The lounge to this place was a oasis of peace and tranquility – until we fetched up in it. The couple who had been blissfully ensconced in two squashy wells of leather comfort huddled deeper into their newspapers, and attempted to blot us out. I felt for them, as that once was me. But now, I am the inflicter of a litany of Child. Oh yes.

Harry sweetheart, don’t pull on the newspaper stand, it’ll… oh. Oh dear. Never mind, sit on Mummy’s lap and Mummy kiss it better. You want to get down now? Ouch. You really don’t have to hit Mummy in the boob, Harry. Pull that chair around, John, so he can cruise about in a circle. Oh, he can pull it about himself! Strong baby! Yes, it doesmake a good scrapey noise, doesn’t it? No, it won’t go any further, darling, you’ve pushed it nearly up against that gentleman’s… NO, Harry! I do apologise, has he spilt it? Come here, Harry. That’s right, stand by Daddy’s chair. Yes, those are Daddy’s laces, you like undoing those, don’t you? No, don’t let him crawl under… oh, he’s gone already. Give him my handbag to play with, but can you just pull that zip closed… oh God, he’s got my tampons out. Stop him, John, before he rips the paper off. He can have the car keys instead… yes they make a nice noise, don’t they, sweetie? Maybe you could play a little quieter with them, though? Careful now, don’t… oh crap, has he bent the ignition key? Oh, coffee, lovely, thank you. Yes, he’s into everything, isn’t he? He’s just at that age! Oh, biscuits too, fabulous. John, look out for your plate, he’s after your… ah. Yes, you’ve lost that. It’s a bit chobbly for him, maybe he’d better have a baby rusk instead… give it back, Harry, Mummy has a yummy rusk here for you… no, no… give it back… no… swopsies, Harry, look… nice rusk… no… Ouch! Fine, keep the biscuit then. Get off, you bugger, those are mine, you shouldn’t have let the boy steal yours. Oh, don’t drop it, you silly boy. Look, it’s rolled over here. No, no, Mummy doesn’t want it back now, it’s all wet and stic… can you pass the napkin, please? Thanks. What’s he found under that chair? Has he put it in his mouth? Harry! Harry! Quick, if you stand by the armchair I’ll corner him by the fireplace. Has he bit you? Again? Yes, but has he spat anything out? Oh. Well, he’s swallowed it then. Look, he’s sat still now, maybe he’d sit on your lap for a little bit… No, Harry, you can’t have Daddy’s coffee. Hot, burn, bad! Grrrr! Play with Daddy’s biscuit wrapper, look. What’s the matter? Oh. Really?  Umm. That’s why he sat still to concentrate, then. It can’t smell that bad, surely? Well, put him back down, then, I’ll find somewhere to change him as soon as I’ve drunk my… is that a new biscuit he’s got, or the one that went on the floor? Oh, actually, it doesn’t matter, he’s just rubbing it into the floorboards. Yes, Harry, that’s some very good babbling. Quite loud babbling, too. Don’t pull at your nappy, sweetie, it only makes things worse. Mummy knows you’re excited about your biscuit crumbs, yes. Don’t squeak quite so loud, darling. God, it does smell, doesn’t it? Maybe I’d better…Oh! You’ve brought our bill over. Thanks, that’s very kind…

Busy Busy Busy

I’ve done it again. Why did I think that I could manage A) an off-colour, moody baby, B) a menstrual tsunami of biblical proportions and C) entering nine classes at Moreton Show? Because, clearly, I was wrong.

OK. Let’s think through this logically. The stuff needs taking over to Moreton late tomorrow afternoon.

Of the 6 photography classes, we have finished buggering about with the photos we are entering in 3.


The other 3 need more tinkering with in the morning, because I’ve had enough for one night. And the 3 black & white photos require mounting. Which necessitates, probably, a trip to town tomorrow morning for mounts. Which is ok, because I have to go anyway to get the damn things printed out.

I have finished my decorated cake. Check. Phew

I have not made my Victoria Sponge. I will do this… tomorrow morning? After I fettle the photos, print them out and buy the mounts. 

I have made two separate lots of jam in the last 2 days, and burnt both of them. My sanity stuck its heels in and refused to make a third lot, so I have bottled the bastard stuff anyway. My jar of plum – we shall still call it jam, ok, coz you can’t have plum toffee – is, I assure you, not going to win. I hope the judges have no pre-existing loose molars.

I have also belatedly realised that I am committed to attending a local playgroup for 2 hours… tomorrow morning.

la la la…

[giggles oddly]

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