Modern appliances

are shit.

We moved into our house 6 years ago this summer, and bought several shiny new appliances to match the shiny new house we’d just built. (Yes, we. My hands and lumbar region have never quite recovered from lugging breeze blocks about, and picking the builders’ cigarette packets off the floor, despite my pointedly supplying a well-placed bin. I was eventually obliged to withdraw their cake perks as a result.) These shiny new appliances are now turning up their collective toes in unison.

The tumble dryer can only be coaxed into life like so:

or by standing with your finger on the button. (I know it’s June. This is the United Kingdom. It’s pissing down out there.)

Our washing machine (which is actually nearly 8 years old, as I demanded that John’s house acquire one before I moved into it. Previously, he took his washing home to his mother once a week. He was 30.) has acquired a deeply unpleasant old-water smell that taints every load of washing placed inside it. I have scoured comment threads for smelly machines, cleaned everything that can be cleaned, and it has not improved matters one jot. Only blasting with the tumble dryer set to Max banishes the smell from our clothes (see masking tape and wine-cork improvisation above).

John broke the tablet-dispenser whatchamacallit door on our dishwasher within weeks of purchase and never got around to re-fitting the spring, so we have been carelessly chucking the tablet inside loose for years. Recently, the top tray is becoming increasingly divorced from the vital bits of metal that prevent it parting company with the dishwasher mothership, and has taken to crashing – expensively so – down onto the bottom layer of crocks. In addition, during the last fortnight its cleaning of cutlery has become noticeably substandard. Significant smearage has been reported.

The freezer section of our fridge-freezer packed up last Saturday. Astoundingly, considering he had just rolled in from a rural tractor-pull very well lubricated indeed, Hairy ‘Beady’ Hubby noticed that the tiny high-temp-warning LED had lit up, and we were able to transfer the still-solid food to our chest freezer. I rang Hotpoint, who were suspiciously desperate to sell me an extended aftercare package for about half what the machine is worth – per annum; I also rang a local chap who told me kindly that 6 years from a frost-free Hotpoint was all I could realistically expect, and it sounded like the compressor was going. He would buy a new one, apparently.

My parents have a perfectly serviceable and energy-efficient fridge living in their shed for Dad’s fishing bait – that they had in their old house. They moved when I was 2, and I won’t see 34 again.

The silver lining to the fridge-freezer Sadness should have been that, as John and I have hankered painfully after one of those huge American-style muthas with an ice maker and sufficient cubic capacity in which to lose an entire tribe of hairy farmers, we could, if we robbed a bank, upgrade. Except we can’t, coz some monumental fuckwit managed to design a monstrous 5 x 6 metre kitchen in such a way that only a 600mm appliance will fit.



It’s 3am and I have been driven from my bed by my usual demons: a tormenting mixture of insomnia and recurrent waking nightmare-type things, in which I invariably end up cradling my dead son. It appears that my years of infertility, miscarriages, eventual knife-edge pregnancy, NICU and possession of an over-developed imagination have left me a tad prone to anxiety and disproportionate existential dread. Quelle surprise.

Between 1am and 2.30am I tried, although not concurrently, sex and sobbing; both were entirely satisfactory in their way but ultimately not helpful, so I’ve left Hubby in peace and sought solace downstairs in a large mug of sweet tea, twinkly fairy lights, and eBay retail therapy. If I look like I feel, then be really, really thankful I don’t have a webcam to scare you with.

Harry was curled peacefully in his cot when I came downstairs, undisputed King of the jumbled heap of soft toys he has carefully amassed before falling asleep over the top of them. I am so happy to say that his tantrums have markedly reduced this month – (fortuitously, as I elicited this week that the paediatric psychology service A) lost his referral and B) said he was too young to be referred there in any case. I have left his Paediatrician’s secretary chewing on that particular problem. I also have days when I think know that if I didn’t, de facto, administrate his medical paperwork myself, we’d never even have made it out of the blasted maternity unit.)

Harry has started to (potentous intake of breath) play with other children. I first noticed this about 4 weeks ago when I saw him chase, giggling, after some older girls at the soft-play barn. I smiled. Then he began playing alongside other toddlers at playgroups without always resorting to his usual unpredictable wild aggression if they so much as looked at his toy or stood too close – although I’ve been careful not to take him out tired or peckish. Yesterday afternoon we hosted 8 children aged 7 years to 7 weeks for a playdate and I was fully expecting the usual toddler rodeo. Mind you, I always quietly sympathise with his indignation: if someone who I only vaguely recognised walked into my house and promptly started rifling through my stuff, there would be kicked arses ere long.

Harry was… angelic. Simply and wonderfully angelic. He took the hands of the other children and led them toward his toys. He gave them enthusiastic bear hugs. When I saw him take toys from other children, he handed them back obediently when I asked him to. By 5pm I was sat in a bemused heap on the floor, staring in wonder at my son – who admittedly was just beginning to turn a little tired and tetchy over his toys, but entirely within normal parameters for 28 months – while behind me, two of his peers squabbled loudly over a tractor. It felt wonderful to be able to tell John when he got home that Harry had been so fabulously good; I simply couldn’t praise him enough. He had even shared his absolute favourite toy: perching as a contented, albeit wobbly, passenger, whilst F (a month older and 50th centile for height, to give you some scale…) piloted him jerkily around the dining room.

It’s now 4am: the cheeky fucking laptop has just shut itself down without consulting me in order to install updates. I went to the kitchen in a huff, made another cup of tea, took a couple of paracetamol, and bid on a jumper. This insight into my insomnia will probably cure yours.

John’s snores are audible from here  – and likely in the next village along, too. The man deserves his rest; he will doubtless end up picking up the slack in the morning when it’s nearly time get Harry in the car and I am once again too wiped out by my own insomnia to have actually successfully dressed or fed our child. John managed to rip a muscle playing hockey yesterday – he is also the possessor of several flesh-wound scars and the conspicuous non-possessor of a number of teeth due to playing this sport for Stratford with entirely too much gusto and a fair dollop of accident-prone-ness. Instead of tearing down into his groin it has, more unusually, torn up into his abdomen. He can hobble about ok, but only has limited use of one leg. Our wonderful and kind GP neighbour, a sports injury specialist, has told him to take it bloody easy for 10 days and then start Pilates. If that doesn’t mend it: it’s a surgical job. Which is a bit of a shit, really, because John will be utterly incapable of taking it easy at work; at home I can barely shift the bugger off the sofa, but his farming ethic is fairly demented.

I am first in the queue for abdominal surgery, at any rate. He’ll just have to wait his bloody turn.

The last two months have inexorably reduced me (alas! not in literal size) to a limp, slack-jawed slattern with a monumental headache. Today was the last day I’m working before Christmas; I now merely have a house in acute domestic disarray to sort out while maintaining Harry’s weekly schedule of nursery and play groups: now with an extra sprinkling of Christmas parties to add to the chaos.

Apropos: the adage about never working with children or animals? True.

Last year’s outfit… no longer appears to be a fitting option for this year.

Wiping his nose with a Christmas Pudding hat. Really.

Ran off to play peepo.

Having a crisis of confidence regarding his motivation for playing this reindeer.

I rest my case!

5.20am and the main road outside is starting to get busy.

Will try another go at this sleeping business.

Malice of Inanimate Objects

Our marriage is saved: we have ordered a new laptop. No longer am I condemned to spend the long, damp English winter alone, huddled in the office with frozen feet, arse and hands. I am freed – freed! – to the warmth and light of the woodburner-heated living room, where Hubby resides of an evening – usually snoring in front of badly-chosen TV channels. He will now have the pleasure, not only of his wife’s company, but also that of turning the TV down. He is unlikely to cede control of the zappers – I am, after all, a mere woman, and zapper possession is a clearly established male Hairy Farmer trait –

zapper king

zapper smiles

zapper 2   zapper4    zapper   zapper5

but I’m sure we’ll work something out.

I think the final straw came yesterday, when John found me walloping the mouse into the keyboard and weeping tears of insane fury, while the clock ticked inexorably (a shockingly unco-operative bit of wall furniture, that thing) past the numbers at which Ann Must Leave Or Be Shamefully Late, and the desperately-required page of labels was still a mere twinkle in the unblinking red LED eye of our yet-again frozen computer. 

And I’d tried to start it all earlier, really I had, but I’d had a coffee & cards event to run all morning while Harry was at nursery; John picked him up at lunchtime and drove around until Harry was juuuuuust sleepy enough to think that he had actually had his nap, whereas he had only closed his eyes for half a goddamned minute. When I arrived home for lunch, laden with urgent orders and with preparations to make for an identical evening event, Harry naturally would not even consider entertaining the shadow of a possibility of a snooze, but was overtired and clung to me like an abused koala, demanding looped Little Red Tractor DVDs until my eyes wanted to bleed.

I put some sterling work in on my attempt to hang on to my Mother of the Year 2010 title by sneaking off to the PC intermittently (this is my points-clincher: I kept telling him I was going to the kitchen to fetch him some choccy milk, the current yummy favourite) – but Harry was having none of it; an imperious and indignant little chap would appear at my knee within seconds and bodily drag me away.

Now, rightly or wrongly, I felt John to be heavily implicated in my plight, on the basis that he had half-cooked the drive-to-sleep business to begin with, and I repeatedly phoned him with the intention of telling him so. Possessed of as much husbandly ESP as the next man, he had cleverly mislaid his phone and by the time he did finally return home from whatever tea-drinking, foot-propping, gossiping, entirely bloody frivolous activity* keeps a farmer (who has, smugly, completed all his drilling) busy in late October… well, it was late, and so was I.

The PC, sensing my desperation and haste, displayed utter, blatant and outrageous fuckwittage. This was by no means its first offence, and I would have promptly sentenced it with a fucking heavy mallet had one been available; I eventually disappeared out of the house at speed, possessed of wet labels and a boiling  bad temper. The wretched thing continued to play me up late into last night when I realised today’s schedule of speech therapy and safari park – more anon – inescapably dictated a late night online, ordering in stock. I went to bed at 1.45am, brooding darkly.

Overnight, I remembered the inspirational piece of work that is the Torture Box. I worried that unplugging the wires for a judicious dose of punishment might shift the thick layer of dust about and cause even further loss of performance, so…


there. Take that.

And… I swear it’s been running better since.

* there may be two different opinions about this.

Couldn’t Hit a Cow’s Arse with a Banjo

HFF wifey has been busy; neglectful of bloggy chums (for which I abjectly apologise; I have still been reading) and a victim of faceless cyberspace malevolence. I am not glamourous enough for it to be the flamey-trollish kind of random malice – only the very best bloggers attract that sort of spineless venom – my emails simply quietly decided to stop appearing in my inbox, having got themselves thoroughly bunged up out in cyberspace. I have 3 email addresses and it took me some weeks to notice that I wasn’t recieving things that I should be. It took me even longer to get myself together sufficiently to report the problem to tiscali, no time at all for them to email back from India (incomprehensibly), another week for me to force myself to actually decipher their meaning and fire back another email, a further 2 hours for them to send their automated

Thank you for contacting Tiscali UK Ltd.In an effort to improve the speed and accuracy of our email customer support we ask that all support contact requests now go through our online support area.Please click the following link access our online support Online Help

email requesting me to contact them via the route I was already using – and about another hour after that for me to realise that the only person who was ever likely to sort this out was myself.

Our main email address is fine. The email I recently set up as Harry’s name (my own was already bagsied) is fine. which (by what I’m sure is complete co-incidence. Almost) was set up by Hubby – was not fine. The emails that I had shouted at Stratford college that very morning for repeatedly not sending were (ahem!) all there – and I blush to think of what Shannon & Alistair must have thought of me, as there were 4 or 5 emails in among the 55 (not a spam among them! they were all ones I wanted!) I discovered, asking, in increasingly shy terms, whether I wanted to, you know, come to a party?!

So: Utter Mortification has featured highly on my emotional agenda this week. So has Frustrated Crossness, as all three of us are still horribly diarrhoea-stricken. I have also had more than a soupcon of Envious Angst, as a friend (a nice and lovely friend, too) has announced this week that she is entering her second trimester. Absurdly, all the ‘left behind on the breeding! WAH!’ feelings that should have been banished forever by Harry’s birth have snuck in round the back when I wasn’t watching and bit me hard on the bum. I harbour no seething rages towards the lucky expectee, mind you – in distinct contrast to my usual reaction, prior to Harry – but I am officially Jealous as Fuck, can’t stop telling myself that she’ll have a bump and I won’t, and experienced significantly less hand-wringing and pointless vacillation than usual when my LH surged Sunday night.

Jealousy is not the only thing to bite me on the bum lately: I was delivering some flyers around my local village Sunday last, when an elderly canine denizen took a marked dislike to my face, even greater exception to my (calmly) departing rear, and launched itself snarling at my arse. How it missed the target is completely beyond me – major cataract affliction is the only explanation I can proffer – but it did, and my favourite shirt was the sole item left perforated. 

dog damage

The owner – alerted by my issuing a loud bollocking on the topic of The Error Of Your Ways to his dog – was fairly apologetic and embarrassed – although I note he never actually left his doorstep – and I mentally had him pegged as someone who would respond to my flyer out of sheer guilt and desire to make reparations, and turn up on the designated morning in order to spend some money. 

I constantly misjudge the human race!

I was intending to explain why I was in happy expectation of an opportunity to see an open wallet, but there are wails from upstairs and I feel Naptime – that brief daily oasis – is Over. Tomorrow!

Assorted Thoughts

I am currently ranked 117th on the Lolcats NomNomNom4Fud game. I am equal parts shamed and proud. Hubby and I are both terrible suckers for annoying little blatblatblat games.

I keep dissolving into tears over the horror that is this. Harry was born the day Baby Peter died, and noticeably resembles him. There’s a special place in hell for this bunch.

Did I tell you that the last remaining hen disappeared last weekend? 

This batch of chicks are nervy little buggers, and are fast becoming a pain; I thought Harry would be fascinated by them but he’s hardly bothered at all. (Although, I very nearly died of teh cute when I saw him stretching his empty spoon through the bars, offering them imaginary food and making encouraging munchy noises to them.) They have started to jump out of the box, although they have – thus far – been sensible enough to jump straight back in the warm.


If they stray outside the bars only God can save them from A) the Toddler (aquila non capit muscas, and all that, but if one starts running about his playroom I can’t very well see Harry passing up a chance to… interact), and B) the Spaniel, who always exhibits an unhealthily keen interest in poultry.

thelwell dog poultry

The only thing pissing me off more than WordPress at the moment is our actual PC. It’s not responding properly to keyboard or mouse input (I sound restrained, but I’ve been beating the keyboard like a coked-up hip-hop star this evening) and it seems moribund – again. I think I shall start calling it Lazarus. It has more chance of long term survival than our laptop, however, which is currently dismantled on top of a bookcase


with zero (zilch, nada) hope of resurrection, and I can’t afford another one.

Which should bring me neatly onto the whole Going Back To Work Because We Are Flat Stony Broke topic, but I don’t have the energy for that one just now. It… isn’t going well.

Harry’s one word: ‘Geese’ is getting much more reliable. He says it about 150 times – at least – a day to practise, triumphantly. He has other words – which are not words. ‘ISS! ISS!’ I suspect is a bastardised ‘this!’ and means ‘Do something NOW with whatever I am pointing at. Open it/Give it here/Turn it on.’ A funny little Akkhh! sound in the throat is occasionally meaning No. He won’t shake or nod his head, and still refuses to make eye contact to denote a choice, glaring instead at the desired object with combustible intensity. He has a try at saying ‘teeth’, too. In fact, he’s big on sibilants, full-stop. He’s not given to sticking his tongue out at all – I’ve checked for tongue-tie any number of times – but he now seems to think that all words must begin with his tongue stuck quarter of an inch through his teeth. When he is trying particularly hard to attempt a word, I can see his tongue rolling into all sorts of contorted shapes. The speech therapist is allegedly coming Tuesday, and not a day too soon. I am feeling alone.

I found Harry trying to feed a Shaun the Sheep DVD – his favouritefavouritefavourite thing ever – into the slot, with a fair degree of success, despite the fact it was still closed. I was, oddly, delighted by his multimedia progress.

Harry is stoically coping with the fact that his lip is, essentially, pierced. He is my tiny brave soldier who has had to suffer far more than his fair share of mouth-trauma, and I have no words to tell you how much I am in love with him and his infinitely awesome cuddly-kisses. But not his tantrums. Not loving the ‘trums at all.

Earlier this week, I discovered hazlenuts where hazlenuts had no right to be. My focus pulled back and I realised the little terror had been climbing on top of his cooker.

cooker ladder

It’s cool. It’s not like there’s a glass door nearby he could smash straight through or anything.

Today an aeroplane flew overhead and Harry pointed at his cheek (should be his ear, but he abbreviates!) and then pointed upwards to tell me what he heard. I did the arms-wide universal aeroplane impression, which he copied. A minute or so later, Me Too! came onto CBeebies – a program with a sweeping CGI bird’s eye view of a city for opening credits. As soon as he saw it, he whipped his arms out into an aeroplane impression – and made a brrm brrm car /truck /tractor noise. 

How the buggery bollocks did he know that’s what a city looks like – from an aeroplane? I’m hugely impressed. But also very puzzled.

I keep starting to cry when I hear the Timmy Time theme. Because Timmy leaves the farm (sniff) and goes out into the world (lip trembles). You see, I have been making brave noises about booking Harry into nursery when he is 2 – the nursery, that is attached to the pre-school, that is attached to the primary school he will almost certainly attend. So, when he does start, he’ll be there continuously until age 11. And his birthday is only 74 days away.

That is all.



I’m so frustrated, I could scream. I suspect hormones are actually the culprit, but from where I’m sitting (in the angry seat) it is all the fault of my pesky offspring, who will not let go of my bloody leg. At all. He’s driving me even further round the bend than I was to begin with. There will shortly be no bend left, fer Chrissakes. We will be driving up our own arses.

The Ann that was childless is still there – currently pummelling me senseless in rage, howling that I am just lucky to have him, so stop complaining already. But it’s no good. I am in a spectacularly foul mood, despite the fact that my nausea-tummy-thing finally, finally, receded this  morning. There was actually an awful lot of morning to get through today: Harry decided that 5am was the optimum time for a bit of a sing-song. When the audience didn’t join in the chorus of his atonal la la composition, he began calling loudly for room service. Attempts to distract him from the menu (house left, or house right. No udder milk will do) failed miserably, due to Auntie Beeb not making CBeebies available until 6am. Parent-hating bastards. 

Harry is completely bunged with snot, probably feeling nauseous, refusing any food not totally saturated in… saturated fats, and is clinging onto parental clothing like a particularly determined barnacle, all the time while whinging for Great bloody Britain. You’d think I would be sympathetic… I should be sympathetic… but no. I ran clean out of sympathy about midday. He is being a proper little piglet, and is making me want to bang my head into the wall with a satisfying smack. He is about to be put to bed, and if he doesn’t keep his trap shut when he’s there, I think I shall drive myself down the pub, get naughtily drunk alone at the bar, before summoning a taxi home. Mummy has Had Enough.

When I read this tomorrow, I shall most likely feel embarrassed by my grumpiness. Tonight, I am far too busy: contemplating what weight of hammer would best serve my purposes when I finally snap and attack this wretched PC. There is a loose wire somewhere, causing it to suffer severe cognitive lock up at varying unpredictable intervals and require a complete re-boot. It is also running like A FUCKING PIG, necessitating several mouse clicks of increasingly blind fury and pressure in order to achieve what one leisurely click should do. The letters are appearing on the screen about 8 seconds after I type them – if they appear at all – meaning that I have to go back and correct… and correct… and correct… before the evil contraption locks-up again mid-way through. 3 times so far, just on this post. 3! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

I must go. The junior dictator requires his bed.

NB. I am about to purchase some more ovulations tests – if the computer sees fit to allow me.

See here:

for some interesting info on high/low sensitivity tests, PCOS, and not peeing first thing in the morning. Or peeing on ovulation tests, anyway. Morning peeing in general is probably ok. Perhaps even advisory.


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.

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