Fact Number One:

There has been a damn funny smell in our kitchen for the last couple of weeks. It started as a breath of unpleasantness which I quite happily ignored: the house is inhabited by a farmer, complete with encrusted overalls carrying their own individual bouquet, two extremely clarted dogs (just so we’re clear, by ‘encrusted’ & ‘clarted’ I actually mean shit-plastered) and a toddler who not only insists on being ambulatory whilst eating, but drops food behind him like rain. We frequently have zephyrs of Unpleasantness passing through, and they are thankfully transitory. The dogs generally find the dropped food before I do, then leave, in company with the offending overalls, and we return to the usual inoffensive status quo. 

This particular scent stuck around. It became Ominous. Initial forays in cupboards, under the sofa, behind the dresser and beneath the island all drew a blank. It was a tang I couldn’t positively identify, but it was certainly beginning to fill me with a mild apprehension. The last time I was obliged to investigate an emanation that had outstayed its welcome, I dragged a furry dog bed out from under the worksurface to discover that my extraordinarily dim spaniel (frequently in disgrace) had eaten a small bird before vomiting it neatly UNDER the top cushion of said bed.

I began to think about the parents of an old boyfriend of mine, who had a similarly elusive aroma in their immaculate, minimalist master bedroom in a recently converted old barn. We crawled all over that room, sniffing like the Bisto kids,

 trying to pin down the origin and nature of the Whiff. We emptied the wardrobes. We took the bath side panel out. We turned out the divan bed drawers. We discussed anxiously whether there was an animal buried under the floor that was mysteriously sending a putrid stench through the concrete floor raft.

Eventually, someone shone a torch into the 1-inch gap between the divan bed and the floor, and it was suddenly like that scene out of Se7en where Brad Pitt goes all hoarse.

‘You better come take a look at this!’ 

It transpired that the cat had brought in a mouse that was not quite expired; it had evidently scurried just underneath the bed before finally succumbing to its injuries. I am puzzled to this day to how the decay of this tiny creature could produce such a noxious, near-solid stink, but it was a real rip-snorter of a whiff right enough.

As I say, this episode, coupled with the Congealed-Bird-In-Dog-Bed Horror, was making me nervous. I had searched everywhere, sniffing like the bloody Child Catcher, and drawn a blank. Walking into our kitchen was becoming distinctly – and increasingly – repulsive.

Fact Number Two.

During my recent short-lived pregnancy, I had a collection of pregnancy sticks lined up on the kitchen table, where anxious comparisons of the (phenomenally sensitive. A win for Tesco’s own brand pregnancy tests!) line colour-depth were made on a day to day basis. Following an excruciating incident when I unexpectedly entertained 3 friends, in full view of the elephant in the room row of fading peesticks, I decided that they would be better off living concealed in the tin on which I had been balancing them in order to photograph.

I duly shoved them in there, and dismissed them from immediate consideration. I wasn’t planning on taking them upstairs and storing them, but neither was I quite ready to throw them away; they were the only thing I had to reassure me that I hadn’t imagined the whole incident.

Can you connect facts One and Two? No? Well, here you go:

Fact Number Three.

Our kitchen island often looks like this;

the tin is vaguely visible on the left hand side.

Every few weeks someone generally wants me to create something that requires a hygienic kitchen and a large clear space, so I boot every living thing apart from myself out the door and blitz the rubble of bills, toys, fruit, cameras, paints, coins, binoculars, catalogues, telephones, fridge magnets, biscuits, books, newspapers, junk mail and cheque books into tidy order. Upon performing this task earlier this week, I looked at the peestick tin and resolved that it would actually suit Harry’s crayon collection better than his current pot. I also decided that I was now ready to let go of my ephemeral double lines. I moved toward the bin, briskly removed the lid, and… wowsa.

Ain’t nothing ephemeral about that.

Now. Ladies. I know quite a few of you have kept your ancient, yellowing, positive pregnancy tests. That’s just fine. I still have the first two positives I ever had, in fact, sat harmlessly in an envelope upstairs in the bathroom cupboard. The trick to keeping old tests successfully, it appears, is to keep them someplace where gaseous exchange isn’t an issue.

In other words, don’t keep them in a very-nearly-but-not-quite-airtight tin where they can’t dry out.

They pong, you see. And when you have 8 of them, they have a reek-potential level somewhere between ‘Eye-Watering’ and ‘Deadly Poisonous’. Merely putting the cap back over the damp end does not mean that you have rendered them socially acceptable and futureproofed.

Urine smells!

And I live and learn.

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. Hairyfarmer@tiscali.co.uk 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.


No, ma’am. We’re musicians.

I forgot about these little guys. Highlight of my day on Sunday! Winners of the Fancy Dress class, apparently.

The Oddest Pair

Harry’s suspiciously flushed cheeks of yesterday have morphed into snot and high temperature. The last 3 weeks he has been beautifully well, and it had been his longest snot-free period since Christmas. His blocked tear duct and sore eye even cleared up last week for the first time ever, as his inflamed little membranes had obviously been snotless long enough for the swelling and irritation to subside. But fluid came pouring back out of his eye this morning. Yummy. Poor little chap. He catches everything, and it just isn’t his turn again yet. 

Today was a local village scarecrow and dog show day, organised mainly by Hubby’s parents.



Harry submitted listlessly to being pushed around the village in Behemoth, but bestowed beaming smiles on no-one. Some of his stern glares, in which he can specialise even when healthy, were particularly ferocious today. It’s always a tad embarrassing when a local gurgling granny hunkers down for a nice coochie-coo, only to be met with the glacial facial equivalent of an icy blast in the unmentionables. 

By dint of a judicious mixture of quiet avoidance and barefaced disinterest, Hubby and I had managed to evade his Mother’s dragnet for volunteers; my mother was less fortunate, as she arrived alone and was promptly cornered. So, mother was pinned down on the raffle stall, and John and I perambulated down to the church where we were married.

This little lot were awarded second place, although only the organist seemed to have anything about her, to my mind. Slightly reminiscent of a beakier Miss Marple.



This thing came first.

Whereas my babies and dancer came nowhere! Wail!

The Sheik was, admittedly, looking a bit unfinished. He looked as if he’d fallen foul of Sharia law at some point, as he appeared to be minus any hands and awfully lacking in the foot department, but heigh-ho.


John and I thought that this chap had been robbed of a much-deserved first, as he was A) a classic scarecrow, and B) the scariest sodding thing we’ve ever seen.


We also thought that junior Spiderman deserved an honourable mention in the Funny Peculiar category, on account of his walloping great packet.


Slightly down in the mouth at our lack of scarecrow-rosette, Hairy Farmer Family returned to the social club where the dog show was drawing to a close. There was a ring for the serious kennel club classes, and a ring for the novelty, fun classes. We had missed the fancy dress, the waggiest tail, and the junior handler classes, but were all there ready to jump triumphantly into the ring for the final class of Oddest Pair and claim our inevitable First. Ain’t no dogs odder-matched than ours! 

Then some discordant notes began to sound faintly. It occurred to me that I didn’t recognise a soul around the now sparsely-populated ring, apart from the band of loyal friends we had rounded up to generate maximum applause when we cruised to victory. There weren’t, in fact, any local dogs at our village dog show. It was all… well, despite the straw bales we had furnished the rings with, polished, really. I have an aunt and uncle who are mad keen for showing dogs, and when I was small I often used to go along with them. It was dawning on me that we had stumbled unawares into a society clique that I recognised. The novelty classes were not yokels-bring-your-hounds-for-a-laugh classes. Oh no. They were deadly serious. We were surrounded by a fug of dog fur, which had floated away from the frenzied grooming taking place on all sides. The sun was gleaming off shining, glossy coats. I began to pick nervously at the dried fox shit on Maddie’s fur.

The delightfully camp flunkey called for all Odd Pairs to please enter the ring. Shooting a last glance at Hubby, who had also correctly assessed the situation as one in which we Did Not Belong and was clutching the camera with an enormous, expectant grin, I ducked under the tape. We made a grand entrance among the pedigrees, as Tebbit was gaily hacking his lungs up, and Mads was leaning against her lead at a crazy angle, scrabbling keenly towards the other contestants. Not one of whom was Odd. Not one. Beautifully groomed and impeccably behaved, they sat primly in a decorous row, whilst I circled at the end, desperately tugging against our two wildly lunging mutts, before I eventually jerked and hissed them into something approaching stillness. The sun did glint nicely onto the large patch of dried tractor-oil on Tebba’s back though.

I do wish I could properly illustrate the embarrassing disparity between them and us, but I’m afraid John under-achieved with the camera, no doubt suffering from total mirth overload, and only managed to take a (so hideous in expression that I have been obliged to obliterate my head lest you all run away) photo of us which included no other dogs. So you’ll just have to imagine.


Prizes were awarded 1st to 5th, and there were 5 pairs of dogs entered altogether.

Bloody kennel club. No sense of humour whatsoever.

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