Pullets & Bullets

Half-way through Friday afternoon, I saw a flutter of feathers out of the corner of my eye, and glanced up to see a fox in my hen run. I am all about Economising on things these days, so I’ll re-use my phraseology from last May’s post.

I nearly dropped my cup of coffee as I swelled with fury. A small shriek of indignation may well have escaped me. I galloped to the front door and erupted out of it like an enraged jack-in-the-box. I’d have booted him heavily up the arse if I could’ve got enough speed up, but I present a fair amount of surface-area wind-resistance these days, and I was therefore confined to roaring BANG! at the top of my voice. He took off like a rangy red ballistic missile heading for next door, and I suspect he will not be back to dine today.

There must be a local litter of cubs catalysing these daylight parental raids. I have no rancour towards the foxes themselves, as feeding your young is a fairly blameless occupation; I’d tackle a woolly mammoth sporting an extra helping of pointy tusk if it stood between me and my child’s starvation. But there’s any amount of other prey about at this time of year, so they can keep their damned dirty paws off my hens.

I cursed, but all my hens were ok – albeit shaken and suffering ripped-out feathers – and I reckoned I had scared him sufficiently in order to buy myself a couple of days in which to improve the electric fencing (trans: change the power unit and switch it on); I noted he had jumped over a section where a branch had fallen over the white tape. Clever bugger.  

Saturday morning, shortly after breakfast, John trailed upstairs with bad news.


All massacred apart from my original Brahma hen (a clever old girl whom I noted had gone to ground to hide somewhere during Friday’s attack: she is now a wizened veteran of at least 4 fox incursions) and one of her sons, who came wandering back some hours later looking dazed.


I shall borrow again, because I’m tired and lazy, from last spring’s near-identical poultry perils:

Fox #1: ‘Did you ever manage to get out to that lovely little place I told you about? Divine menu, darling, simply divine. Can’t believe we’ve not discovered it before.’

Fox #2: ‘Well I did, Reynard, and thank you so much for the recommendation. The electric fencing isn’t effective, you’re quite right. I popped in for a late lunch yesterday, and had a simply marvellous cockerel.’

Fox #1: ‘Yummy, yah?’

Fox #2: ‘ Totally, darling, although I was a leeetle disappointed that hens were off the menu. I think someone was a bit greedy before, yah? I could only see one and that was a Brahma, and I always think they’re tough.’

Fox #1: ‘You’re just too picky, darling, it’ll be lovely with a spot of slow munching. Meet you there for lunch?’

I am out for most of the day. Very tempted to tuck Mrs Brahma under my arm and take her with me. Leaving her in the run is tantamount to making a present of her to Foxy. Hairy hubby reacted badly when I requested a proper hen run, with a wire ceiling. Poor henny-penny, what shall we do? 

I have lost Mrs Brahma’s sole remaining daughter, from whom I hoped to breed. Mrs B is a tenacious survivor and responds well to male companionshipCOUGHCOUGH, but I have no unrelated cockerels left, and I doubt she will still be laying by the time I’ve bought some unrelated brahma eggs to hatch. She is now being assiduously courted by her own son, whom I have unimaginatively named Oedipus. I could theoretically hatch their eggs provided that the next generation had fresh genetics to breed with – I know enough people that do – but it seems… icky.

And it’s all a waste of bloody time anyway, if next spring is going to wipe the lot out again. Sigh. Why can’t I get myself a hobby that involves fewer mass killings? I can’t even leave my spaniel on guard in the garden, because he’s a little devil and worse than the bloody fox for killing my hens, and, embarrassingly, next door’s hens. Sigh. And an even bigger Sigh because – and some of you won’t like this – I have rung John’s cousin, who owns the field in question, to tell him that the gamekeeper thinks the vixen and her cubs are living under a large bale stack. If they are, they will now be shot.

I’ve never been mad on shooting things, but I am, after all, married to a farmer, and pest control is all part of the farming gig. I have shot rats and fluffy bunnies with both air rifles and shotguns, but I have never to my knowledge killed a mother with young, and I’m fretful about it. 

But I’m also mithered about my poor hens, who were still distressed from the previous day’s attempted assassination when they were slaughtered, and it’s a straight it-or-us scenario. I don’t have the wherewithal to construct a 12ft fox-proof fence around the hen run. I have 11 fertile eggs incubating in the kitchen, and as the current situation stands, I’m just rearing fox-food.


Harry shrieked like a bugger last night, after 3 nights of sleeping straight through til 6 – 7am, and he’s complaining again now, a mere hour after bedtime. I thought we’d cracked him, but no. I’m having an early night (good book, warm drink, small snack, electric blanket set to High Roast. Wifey heaven) to prepare myself for the rigours of house-cleaning and dinner-party preparation, and if he wakes me up tonight I shall go spare, because I’m propping my eyelids up on matches here.

Rancid coloured chicken Coq au vin has now been replaced with a bland chickeny-whitewiney-mushroomy-tarragony thing, and a beef bourguignon. I hope this is ok with the shed.

I am tired. Harry’s tantrums have moved up a gear, and I now sport bruises. The house is a pigsty. The laundry is still on the line, in the dark. You can’t put a plate down anywhere in my (5+ metres x 5+ metres. Don’t hate me, my MIL owns it all) kitchen. My dining room is still a playroom. I am really tired.

Night night.

Mixed Feelings

Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on the fact (as it’s been continually Bang! Bang! Bang! between your eyes) that I am an acutely over-anxious parent. I don’t mind admitting to it. In fact, I’ll put my hand straight up to it, even when I am being gently rebuked for it. The rebuker generally tends not to have had 1) as many fertility treatments as I have, 2) as many miscarriages as I have, or 3) baby photos looking anything like ours.


I’m more relaxed about Harry these days. It’s been… well, let’s call it gradual, shall we? Because it sounds that much better than absurdly delayed. I only moved him into his own room – monitored to the max – at the tender age of 12 months. I stopped using the apnoea monitor when he was 14 months or so – you know, the thing that was deemed medically superfluous after his first, ummm… 20 days of life – solely because we were getting 3+ false alarms per night.

The last 6 months I have taken his health pretty much for granted, aside from my continuing worries over his speech and balance problems. I no longer check him for fever every night when I come to bed. I cheerfully leave him with his grandmothers as frequently as I can get away with. I have left him in my gym creche for an hour to be cared for by strangers, and when he first complained vocally about being abandoned, I mentally shrugged, figuring that he was now old enough to lump it with no major ill-effects.

Harry rolls in plenty of dirt – eats some of it, too.

But I’ve never been apart from my son for more than 6 hours.

And then Helen Shannon emailed and said… wanna come? Eat? Drink? Bring the boys!  And I did want to go. Really wanted to go. But I didn’t want the stress of taking a child who is still regularly screaming for hours on end during the night (and OMG-my-brain-is-beginning-to-dribble-lumpily-out-of-my-sodding-ears-over-this) into a household where I knew that there were beauteous twins who sleep from 5.30pm to 7am without stirring a bloody peep. NOT ONE PEEP, I TELL YOU! My heart sank at the prospect. Harry does not Travel Well. But I had a big incentive to go, so… I eventually decided to leave him with John and go alone. We weren’t worried about the evening: bath, story and sleepytime have long been an entirely Hubby-led operation. It was Harry’s morning boob that was troubling us.

I have been muttering about weaning Harry for a while, but I am heavily conflicted. He is nearly 21 months, and I have long felt that the only women in the entire British Isles still stoically breastfeeding were Barren Mare and I. I’ve held off on weaning for a number of reasons, both practical and emotional – essentially, I never really anticipated that breastfeeding and I would have such a long and happy relationship.

Firstly: he’s only on one feed a day and it’s not exactly a problem to provide: John has no issues with my breastfeeding, and fetches him whilst I stay in bed, 90% comatose, before Harry hurls himself upon me, jaws gaping like a Great White in anticipation.

Secondly, he obviously enjoys his first breakfast. I have castigated myself with the thought that I’m contemplating removing something he revels in, something beneficial to his health, too. I’ve worried about his calcium intake if we stopped, as although he devours yoghurt and cheese, he won’t touch cows milk except a small dash on his morning cereal.

Thirdly, when he’s been poorly and extremely wound up, breastfeeding has always conferred instant calm and comfort when cuddling and rocking has failed. Having a magic baby-soothing device up one’s sleeve t-shirt is not to be sneezed on at.

Fourthly, having any decision of mine swayed by peer pressure and public perception sits awfully badly with me. My instinct is to raise a finger or two to the ‘really?‘s and the ‘still?‘s and the you are?‘s and carry right on with what suits us. However, my tongue has been disregarding my instinct’s instructions lately and telling porky-pies to non-intimates. I have been disappointed with myself about it. I’ve talked about the trouble I had getting my boobs to work properly on the radio, FFS.

Lastly, and this is the biggy, it’s the last tie I have to his babyhood. I went through the usual stages of acute breastpump hell that breastfeeding mothers of premature children undergo, in order to acquire an – eventual – effortless supply and demand situation. I cannot count the hours we have spent in quiet blissful communion; at first by the exhausting-hour-on-end, and – more lately – often the only oasis of peace and closeness I achieve with him all day. Perhaps my feelings can ‘seldom withstand the melancholy influence of the word “last”‘, but I sat and cried like a heartbroken child a year ago when I read the first paragraph of this post of Thalia’s – and her words to Pob have been in my head ever since. How can I make the decision to dissolve such an elemental, visceral bond?

So… I simply haven’t. But I’ve worried a fair bit about when and how we were ever going to stop. I’ve also worried that his early waking and night screaming are being sustained by the alluring dawn prospect of cosying into bed with Mummy for a nice warm milky drink and (often) a bit of an extra snooze if I’m sleepy enough myself to let him get away with it.

The prospect of Harry thundering boisterously down the corridor, wheelspinning around the corner into our room, and taking a flying scramble towards… an empty bed… was concerning. But I’ve felt lately as if I was ready to test the weaning water, at least. John was game – although not enthusiastic – to face Harry’s emotional fallout. I was very appreciative of the big hug and kiss Harry had bestowed as I left Saturday afternoon – running late and flustered – but I was guiltily (A-ha! Finally, the G-word is spoken!) anticipating a rough Sunday morning for the little lad.

I suppose I might theoretically have missed Harry during that evening and the small hours, had I not been in fabulous company and exceedingly… relaxed. Yes, that’s the word. Not drunk. Relaxed. So, actually… it was fine. 

I rang home when I surfaced properly at 9am with a sinking heart, wondering if I would still hear his inevitable 6am BOOB FURY! ROAWR! continuing. All I heard was a cheerful husband, CBeebies and a happily babbling child.

Apparently, he leapt into bed, gave the bedroom a cursory sweeping glance before catching sight of a televised Teletubby, and settled back against the pillows next to Daddy, seemingly highly appreciative of the extra space available in bed. After a minute or two he deigned to look at some of his books, and then they went and had breakfast. End of. After some brief internal conflict, I settled for Half Delighted, Half Astounded, with a tiny soupcon of Hurt.

By Monday morning my boobs were ouchy and I fed him as normal, but this morning I scuttled off into the spare room before John fetched him into bed: exact re-run.

This is obviously going to be easier than I thought in one sense: Harry’s not going to give me a hard time over weaning. It’s evidently a habit, not a need. All I have to deal with now is my own sadness – and I’m pretty damn wistful about it – that this time is coming to an end, and may never happen for me again. I’m not quite ready to go cold-turkey, but I’ll work him down gradually now to a gentle stop. God knows, there’s a lot more to motherhood than this, but it’s been… emotional. 

I was also emotional when I saw the incontrovertible evidence on my scales this morning that I’d had a really bloody good weekend amongst two delightful people I hadn’t met before and two very wonderful people that I had, with witty, hospitable, clever, charming and perfect hosts, and paid for it in pounds. Alastair cooks. Shannon cooks. They cook spectacularly well. I eat spectacularly well. Divine harmony…

Not wishing to arouse too much envy among the rest of the bloggy populace, but we did enjoy ourselves. I really had the most fabulous time. Shannon does not exaggerate: the seven of us managed 14 bottles of wine with extras. We also managed an awful lot of good nattering, a bit of soul-sharing, some highly inappropriate googling, and a 3.30am bedtime. I was also privileged enough to have me some serious twin-munching time the next morning.

Now, I am reasonably immune to cute. I get cute on a daily basis:


These two? Beyond cute.

Cheeky babies by everyday_stranger.

This one is my new favorite photo of them. by everyday_stranger.

Cute is a line to this pair…

Crime & Punishment

I have often mused on what I would hurl gleefully into Room 101 were I to magically be given the opportunity; I have mentally lined up entire squadrons of things that have monstrously pissed me off over the years.

But there was always the nagging feeling that throwing something away forever, as punishment for the unspeakably heinous crime of Getting On Ann’s Nerves, might be a tad short-sighted. Consigning, for instance, Visa cards into permanent oblivion because one of their number wriggled from your temporarily and inexplicably ataxic goddamn hand 3 times on the trot whilst trying to pay the stunningly good-looking chap behind the till… momentarily satisfying, yes, but ultimately… not clever. You know that the last laugh would not, in fact, be yours.

Yet… the sheer malice of the inanimate objects that line my cosmic path with ignominious tripwires is breathtaking. Forgiveness is absolutely not an option in the face of such determined wickedness. I am frequently, and for no good reason, embarrassed, delayed, injured, confounded and roundly beaten by a whole host of everyday inert items. They piss me off with spiteful impunity, and I can do nothing. Nothing.

Until now.

The embryonic existence of this wondrous product was only made known to me at tea-time today, but already I can see how it could change my life. If anyone wants to get me an early Christmas present, I need one of these…

Cuisine III

You know that whole thing they used to do with sending a canary down a mineshaft to see if it croaked or sang? Yeah? Well, my culinary canary just fell off its perch and hit the floor with a sad little thud.

I have just had a dinner party trial-run and cooked a delectable coq au vin. Fucking delectable, I tell you. I followed this recipe to the letter; it took me over 2 hours – at the wrong end of a day in which I have driven 120 maniac-filled miles, moreover – and it turned out beautifully. The flavours were fabulous.

I summoned John to come and dish up, and he peered cautiously over my shoulder into the pan. A pan filled with chicken, cooked in red wine.
“That chicken’s gone a funny colour!” he announced.
“It’s gone all… rancid-looking…”
“Well, the skin’s gone all… red!” he exclaimed, before catching my cryogenic look and adding hurriedly “But I’m sure it’ll be lovely!”

We ate. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. I cleared my plate and faced him.
“Ummmm… I’m not… I’m not that taken with it.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“I’m, er… not sure. Perhaps the brandy. And the chicken’s… gone a funny colour.”

Sigh. It’s pointless trying to talk him into liking it; it’s simply not what he’s used to eating. And if he doesn’t like it, then none of them bloody will. I learnt my lesson over the goat’s cheese incident. Hubby pulled some mighty funny faces when I was preparing that, but I pressed on and served it anyway. 12  full-ish plates came back to the kitchen, in various states of toyed-with-ness. I felt… dejected. Almost sulky, in fact.

I’m not having a good culinary week. I cooked ratatouille yesterday, came to check blog feeds, got distracted, wildly overcooked it. Bugger. I also tried to cook half a butternut squash, completely forgot it was in the oven – are you seeing a theme? – and 2.5 hours later was attempting to scrape out the innards to mash. I reached for maple syrup, and remembered that John smashed my bottle, which I can’t replace because there’s a worldwide bloody shortage of the stuff. So I reached for the cinnamon instead, and managed to accidentally up-end half the wretched jar into the bowl. Arse.

I’m going to bed and back to the drawing board.

Cuisine II

knew I could rely on you, innernets. Knew you wouldn’t let me down.

I have purchased my Wild West-themed murder mystery, cast my guests, lost two guests, re-cast one character with Harry’s godmother who is now coming down from Edinburgh specially, unfortunately minus her boyfriend who is vet on-call that weekend, which still leaves me a male character short but fuckit fuckit fuckit the clues are easy to tweak and we’ll all have more elbow-room round the table with one less.

Deep breath. Sorted.

All I have to do now is edit the clues for the characters I actually have attending, remove long speeches from nervous guests, re-allocate speeches to confident guests, print them out, cut them out, sort into envelopes, create a Town Mayor costume, ensure John sorts out an Undertaker costume, ignore two more weeks of a vaguely disturbing litany on a theme of ‘Am I the murderer, Wwifey? Can I be the murderer? I expect I’m the murderer, am I? I want to be the murderer, Wifey!It’s my turn to be the murderer, isn’t it?’, lug my entire dinner service out of this sideboard


without Harry seeing me do it, as he currently doesn’t know that the (deliberately) handle-less doors are, in fact, the doors to my much-cherished Wedgwood, but is beginning to turn suspicious about their appearance of general door-ness-ness, wash off the dust that has somehow covered the crocks inside the cupboard, find the cutlery that should be in the cutlery canteen and isn’t, move the dining room table  – which currently looks like this:


– into the middle of the room and make it look rather more like this:


polish my candlesticks, rinse the wineglasses, locate, launder and iron the tablecloth, locate, launder and iron the napkins, fold napkins into fancy shapes because I get off on lil’ bird of paradise and tudor rose shapes, m’kay?, bring extra dining chairs out of the garage, and oh, yeah… cook some food.

I have closely read all your kind and wonderful suggestions, and the projected menu is coalescing. It currently stands thus:

Entree: Homemade soup with rolls, rolls possibly home-baked by John if he can be bothered. I really fancy making asparagus soup: it’s a local Vale of Evesham crop and is in tasty peak season. However, it’s ouchy-pricey even at the farm gate and I’m not shelling out £10-£12  for 4lbs of green stalks, be they ever so tender. So, still working that one out.

Fish Course: Sarah made mention of smoked salmon and cream cheese, which two ingredients put together sounded just right, in what I call my mind. Tiny lil’ Smoked salmon, cream cheese and watercress parcels it is.

Main Course:

Katie captured the food ethic of our guests beautifully: coq au vin will be absolutely perfect. Improves with being left for a day and re-heats like a dream, too, apparently. You’d think I might have remembered to thank her for this suggestion in person, given that I had the opportunity yesterday, but no. More on this topic later.

Lynne and Pam both suggested ratatouille, for which I thank them profusely. Loads of veg; one big dish; reheats well. All my boxes ticked! I’ve never actually made this dish before, so I’m planning a trial run this week, as, if there’s a way – often a previously untrodden one – to balls up even the simplest dish, I can generally unerringly find it.

 Andrea Jennine pointed me in the direction of butternut squash puree. I have a thing for squash currently and have been eating wheelbarrowfuls of the fat, vaguely phallus-like items, but I have been baking them, sliced small or cubed, with a cinnamon, orange juice and maple syrup sauce. The skin has been proving tricky to negotiate, whether it is removed beforehand (I am allergic to the raw sap, hence John is obliged to prepare them) or served with it left on, as Harry and John have both Complained about the Fiddliness either way. The concept of leaving it in two simple halves, scraping out the flesh and creating a chunky butternut mash ( Harry is not yet old enough for me to have forgotten puree purgatory) was too obvious for me to think of it, and is delightful. I salivate in anticipation. 

For dessert, I am planning on serving red wine-poached pears, with homemade cinnamon ice cream and tuile biscuits. I am over-cluttered with kitchen gadgets, but the ice cream maker is kick-ass and well worth the cupboard space. I am also making lavender creme brulee, because John will sulk like a bastard if I don’t. Oh, and Lakeland’s chef’s blowtorch? Blows. I wasted my money: under the grill turns out far better every time. I also have a large block of fountain chocolate left over from Harry’s Christening, which is 4 months out of date. I own two fountains (over-cluttered, I told you) so I will set one going and loudly publicise the use-by date to my guests, in the happy knowledge that they will still cluster round it like flies to a cowpat. 

How I’m going to get all this done with Harry hanging about the place, and frequently onto my actual ankle as well… I really dunno.  He’s turned uber-high maintenance since the Ulcers, which is laughable when you consider that I couldn’t even visit the loo unaccompanied before. He has developed a lovely line in huggy kisses which melt my soul down into a little puddle on the floor (which is what that thing that you stepped in was, honest) but he has also discovered the delights of Walking the Windowsill this week. Previously happy just to stand still and look, he now prowls up and down the ledge like a caged tiger who’s been on the Pinky-Ponk Juice. When he falls off, he naturally chooses the section un-ramparted by sofa to fall from.

Katie, aka Dr Spouse was in our neck of the Hairy Woods yesterday, and dropped in for tea and cake. Harry greeted this delightful visitor by embarking on a wailing session that only Shaun the Sheep could stem, and then proceeded to gallop about climbing on things, which is Situation Normal. Poor Katie was perched neatly on the sofa arm, politely minding her own business when she was nearly clobbered by an unexpected 22lb toddler full in the back – twice. I nearly think he does it on purpose for attention.

Katie’s visit re-inforced my previously held belief that infertility only affects completely lovely people (excepting myself, of course. I’m merely a titchy little bit lovely). It’s been such a long and difficult five years for them both, and they are now thoroughly immersed in adoption proceedings, about which I have a Very Good Feeling Indeed. I shall anticipate their eventual adoption news – (because someone that scrumptious simply has to become a lucky little person’s Mum. It’s the law.) with great excitement, as I’m near enough to Katie’s family to totally demand a proper snuggle of said lucky little person.

After a months-long work spell in San Diego, Katie is now returning to the North-West UK day job, which just happens to be A Senior Academic in child development, with particular regard to the way language develops. And! And! And! She could totally decipher words in Harry’s stream of babble that are completely passing John and I by. This has cheered me up no end. Words… they’re in there somewhere

I have begun to secretly hope that he might actually say ‘Fank-oo’ – or something vaguely approximating to it – for his 2nd birthday presents. He has 3.5 months to brush up his enunciation.

C’mon kid! You & me. Together. Manners! We can do ’em!

Syllabic Fog

I shudder to type this, but the possibility has to be faced. The evidence of the last few days leads me to think that eating vast quantities of chocolate, specifically my child’s chocolate, possibly, just might… gulp… give me a headache. Just when I’ve paracetamolled the thing into submission, back it comes. It could just be the guilt, of course. Investigations continue.

So does my period, in spades. The pain factor seems to have increased since having Harry – which is (another) one in the eye for all those canting aunts (and, I have to say, my otherwise delightful mother) who used to carol chirpily at my doubled-over haemorrhaging teenage undiagnosed-didelphic self that it’d all sort itself out when you have a baby! 20 years later, I’m still soaking multiple pairs of knickers and trousers in a bucket, and having to stay at home because I’m losing so much blood I can’t quite keep it sufficiently coralled to comply with socially acceptable standards anywhere, despite a bulging cupboard of bichon frise tampons © Everyday Stranger and sticky-backed duvets © Nuts in May.

This particular period has aggravated me because the Uteri have not performed in tandem. The left hand one kicked off first, and kept me groaning until about Wednesday morning, whereupon the right hand one – which had been suspiciously quiet and painless hitherto – decided to make a late entry to the pain party. 4 days of torrential flow. Bah! To be fair, I also bitch and complain when they empty out together and necessitate me sitting indoors in old clothes (preferably on an elderly bath towel, draped over furniture I don’t much like), for 2 days.

Harry’s speech therapist came again yesterday, and we watched a video she took of us playing with him the previous visit. It was interesting to see, despite the artificial context of the video, that we’re not really leaving Harry enough time-gaps to have a go at copying our words. The silent close was never quite my style when I worked for a living earned a salary, but it seems I need to use it on my son. We also need to make sure we target our conversational commentary more narrowly towards what he is concentrating on.

It’s dawned on John and I that Harry’s first words are not going to suddenly pop out of his babble like perfectly-enunciated bubbles, like many children’s do. His words are crystallising, very slowly, out of the syllabic fog instead. For instance, he has been trying to say ‘geese’ for a few weeks now – varying combinations of ‘eaze’, ‘giss’, ‘eees-eees’ and ‘gee’. He’s never got it quite right, but the pointing figure and the animated expression is pretty easy to interpret, especially when there’s 3 great white honking things stuck on your front lawn every day. He also says geese-like words while pointing at other, completely random, non-geesey objects. It’s all still pretty much noise.

However. Last night, after the now-obligatory (Sob! He used to be SO GOOD at this bit! Sleep: only-slightly-improved living Hairy hell. AND we are both being Consistent. Sigh.) bedtime howling session, I went upstairs to pat and reassure him. It was going well, and he was just beginning to sigh, relax and take long blinks, when outside the window a goose honked noisily. His sleepy eyes shot wide open. ‘Geese!’ he informed me, portentously. I beamed back, and nodded. ‘Geese!’ I agreed. And went downstairs and cried for a clear Word. This morning, he was back to using ‘gee’ or ‘ease’, dammit, but it’s coming. Slowly.

I asked his therapist about any possible learning delay arising from our current problems (especially given that Harry’s prematurity dictates he will be starting school a whole year earlier than we expected, at a very young 4 indeed) but she seemed to think – like us – that Harry is a switched-on little lad who seems bright as a button. His other development areas – pretend play, for instance – all seem fine, and his receptive language is obviously far ahead of his expressive skills. She said she wasn’t worried, and really, neither are we.

The wobbly walk, on the other hand, bugs the absolute living hell out of me. I still can’t let him out of the pushchair for a toddle – take him anywhere a little bit new or different, and he struggles to put one foot in front of another. His new sandals are not helping, either, which is a shame, as he likes having his toes wiggling free. His boots obviously offer better support, but he does so hate wearing socks and shoes. Discounting his generic toddlerly misjudgements, the balance problem only tends to actually cause him bruising these days when he cannons off doorframes because he’s misjudged the gap – a straightforward trip, stagger or fall he is so accustomed to that he generally saves himself well with his hands. His speech therapist has now spent enough time with us at home to see that Harry does indeed have an issue with balance, and is now having a chat with some colleagues to see if she can wangle us a referral to Somewhere-Else-That-I-Didn’t-Quite-Catch. It’s the department where kids with more than one area of developmental concern get hoicked to, apparently, but she wasn’t sure if Harry’s wobbliness was sufficiently weeble-like to get him assessed yet. Still under 2, and all that jive. 

Apropos of nothing, I caught him feeding his lunchtime sandwiches into the video last week, the little blighter. I thought he was eating unusually well.

My head thumps, the uteri are cramping and Harry’s just started crying. Again. Can I swop lives with someone very rich, healthy and untroubled, just for a few days? Please?

Echoes Inhabit the Garden

Did you know that 3am is the new 6am? Yes, it is. And our son hates his naps, his cot, his room, his bedtime, his sleeping bag, all of his teddy bears, and most of all, his parents.

We’ve gardened hard today. Some people use lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, secateurs, and the like. We feel they lack vision.


I drove the blue tractor & trailer on the road to bring them here, and I’m worryingly out of practice. I had a brief insight into how those pensioners who end up driving 10 miles down the wrong side of the motorway must feel, and there’s a helluva lot more sticks and pedals on a tractor. There are also snags to using tractors as everyday vehicles when your (exceedingly lardy) spaniel only has one hip joint.


My hens were a little alarmed by the machinery influx, and retreated to squawk at us from a distance. I’ve decided I need, yes, need some more hens to entertain me. My Golden Brahma and Gold Laced Orpington chicks are all grown up now,


happily shagging their friends, siblings and mother (poultry are Bad for this sort of thing), the weather is getting kinder, and Hubby has just blown silly amounts of cash on a camera lens, ergo, I am totally allowed to purchase some more fancy breeds with crazy feathers; I have recently borrowed my SIL’s incubator again.   

I’m bidding on some Silkies, because they have mad hair. I have mad hair.  John has mad hair. Harry has a double crown, and madder hair than either of us when it grows longer. These’ll fit right in.


I’m also bidding on some Lemon Pyle Brahmas


 and some lavender/splash cochins


Hubby is alarmed at the (unlikely) prospect of my winning all 18 eggs, which then all prove fertile and hatch. He should have thought of that before he bought the lens, yes?

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