Silence is(n't) Golden

Superglue on my tongue.
Not one of the greatest sensations in my life.


The Queen Turns up Trumps

With all the hoo ha about THAT wedding later this week, I thought I should do a Royal blog. This is in spite of the great personal risk that I am taking of being thrown into the Tower for the rest of my natural days for revealing this exclusive on Her Majesty, The Queen, (my apologies Ma'am).

The run up to this exclusive began when I was a young child. I have never forgotten my beloved dad once telling me that the Queen, when out on royal visits, has a very special member of her household who always accompanies her and always walks just a little behind Her Majesty. My dad then went on to tell me that, should the Queen ever "do a frump", (his word for fart), she would never have to be embarrassed by it as this chap had the job of apologising loudly and claiming that it was him what did it.

Extending on his theme, my dad also told the gullible daughter, (me), that there was, employed at Buckingham Palace, an official, (trying to be delicate here), Royal "botty wiper" to the Queen. In other words, (in case you didn't catch on), Her Majesty didn't have to do this base task herself.

Skip to years later and I remained always totally uncertain as to whether my dad had been telling the truth, or whether he had simply been winding me up. So, when last year I had a chance encounter with "a source close to the Queen", of all the things I could have asked, guess what were my burning questions???

This is the answer I was given :

My dad lied to me about there being a Royal Botty Wiper. I have to say that I was strangely "relieved" to hear this! Now onto burning issue "number two", (sorry, I just can't help myself), the chap who walks behind the Queen just in case.

Guess what? Apparently my dad lied to me again. In fact, now I'm thinking about it, isn't Prince Phillip the chap who always walks behind the Queen???? Anyway, there's more..............
Much to my absolute delight, my inner circle source went on to share the following, s/he alleged that the Queen often "frumps" at the dinner table!

Since this revelation I have found myself viewing Her Majesty with much greater affection, knowing that we both have something in common.....

As a small additional insight into my life I thought I would just add that although I have never been to Buckingham Palace, I have been to a social gathering at Number 10 when Tony Blair was P.M. During the evening Cherie Blair came over to tell me how much she liked my frock (I was pleased, the damn thing cost a fortune). The first thing that struck me was what an attractive woman she is in real life, stunning!. Anyway, we got chatting and, me being me, I told her that my mum had asked me to report back on what colour the curtains were. Whilst I thought my mum's request was totally bizarre, Cherie immediately seemed to understand my mother's need and happily told me to wander around various rooms which we were using that evening and also advised me to get hold of the curtains and feel the weight of them! She also identified which windows in what room looked out over the garden and apologised for the mess created by the children's garden play things, she also told me where to look to see the snowman Tony had built for his youngest that day. I really think that this delightful and vivacious lady would have got on fabulously with my mum!


My Apologies To Paris

First let me clarify, I mean Paris the place not Paris the person. As I sit typing, Paris is currently under invasion and I would like to make it clear to the residents that neither myself nor the hubby had anything what-so-ever to do with it.

Assuming she hasn't already be deported back to England, my mother is in Paris. She will be easy to recognise by any Parisian, she is accompanied by my amazingly tolerant step-father who I can honestly say is one of the most naturally intelligent people I have met (yet he still married my mum???!!?). With them is my sister-in-law and my brother.

Mum is in her early 70's and is the one speaking the world's worst French and being absolutely certain it is just the people of Paris who are being bloody minded when they act as though they don't understand a word. My brother is the caveman with the broad Yorkshire accent which has quite likely become even broader just for the sheer hell of it. My sister-in-law is that woman who keeps trying to walk off in the other direction without them noticing and my step-father is the one who is simply nodding and smiling at mostly everything due to the fact that he won't admit he is deaf. Either that or he and my mum will be engaged in bickering and arguing but neither really listening to the other due to the fact that my mother will also not admit she is deaf.

They will already have caused offence in some french restaurant or other as my brother will have asked for his steak very well-done, he will also be muttering on about not being able to find a pub. Mum will be proclaiming things such as, when viewing the stained glass in Notre Dame,
"I'll not deny it's pretty, but it's just as good in York,"
or when faced with the Eiffel tower,
"Well, it's just like Blackpool really, only bigger".
She will also be highlighting things like,
"I'd rather live where we are and be able to pop out to Derbyshire" and "It's only the same as London, except they speak french".

This is mum's first time abroad and she was panicking about leaving England behind for weeks in advance. She also decided that the French would go on strike anyway so there would be delays in the journey and she was never going to set foot outside England again (once more, this being weeks before the actual trip). You may wonder why on earth are they in Paris at all? Well, my step-dad persuaded my mum somehow that it would be a wonderful gift for my brother and sister-in-law's 25th wedding anniversary.

Of course, once everything was booked, paid and confirmed, that's when my mum and step-dad found out they were two years early. My brother and sister-in-law had simply kept quiet on that one!

Obviously, one of the precursors to this whole thing was my mum, after all these years, having to get a passport. It took months! Her advice to me?
"If you're applying for a passport, for God's sake don't tell them your grandmother is Irish."

I kid you not.


A Battle of Wits

The piccy at the end of this is of our younger Dog, Myka, described as per caption when our vet first met her. We now realise she has a lot of bearded terrier in her. We also had her down as being quite bright and a fast learner, until today.

I decided to close the French Windows leading onto our garden. It also matters that you know that I still had the door to another room, which also leads onto the garden but from a different direction, open. As it had been all day.

It just so happened that as I was closing the french windows, both Myka (the dog) and Harmony (the ex-battery chicken), decided they wanted to come inside through that way. "Sorry both of you, you'll have to use the other door," says I.

By the time I had walked back into the other room, Harmony had raced around at high speed and was already indoors. No sign of Myka though.

Curious, I wandered back into the lounge. There, still stood on the outside gazing in at me through the french windows with her tail all droopy, (not it's normal state), because she had been locked out, stood Myka.

So the evidence would suggest that, in the great scheme of things, Myka has less intelligence than a chicken. Oh boy...

Designer Shabby Chique


And Another Thing

The Hubby came downstairs today from the study and told me he had just been catching up with my blogs.
Him : "It makes it look like you married a right numpty."
Me : "Is there anything I have written that is a lie?"
Him : "Unfair question."

Heaven in a Hydranger Head

Harmony (the farting chicken) and I have been giving the wildlife pond it's spring clean today. This entails me fishing around in the pond with my kiddies fishing net scooping out any leaf fall, loose algae, twigs, chicken feathers, bark chippings kicked into the pond by the chickens etc. At the same time, every net full has to be carefully gone through by myself  in order to rescue any pond life I have accidentally caught, but primarily to make sure I return any of the too many newts which live there. Not an easy task when the newts like to hide in the same crap I am scooping out and range from the fully grown right down to babies mere millimetre's in length.
Harmony's task (self imposed) is to stay by my feet and wait for me to check my net then occasionally throw the contents down for her so that she can double check. Course, she doesn't do much in the way of throwing any pond life back. She's more of the eat it, eat it now brigade.
If she thinks I am placing too many net fulls in the trug and not enough down her way, she reminds me by either pecking at my feet or tapping on the side of the trug three times. This "three taps" signal is one which I taught her when she joined us last year and which she soon learnt meant I was indicating I had found something tasty for her, such as a worm. Three taps and she's there like a shot!
Bit of a shock, though, when she started using it back at me. Three taps on the side of the trug from her roughly translates into,
"Oi. Don't forget I'm here. I want some. It's my turn. Stop chucking it all in the trug."
Being a relative newcomer to having pet chickens, I have to assume that other people's pet chickens also make their wishes known in this kind of way? Yes?...No?... It can't possibly just be my lot, that would be daft!
Anyway, the highlight of this morning's labours for Harmony was when I dredged up a full Hydrangea head from the bottom of the pond, (just to clarify, we haven't got any Hydrangeas in this garden).
The whole thing was chock full of "greeblies" (bottom of the food chain in a pond) and I presented it to my little helper. One very happy little chicken indeed.
I also devoted some time to thinning out the pond plants, a task I am much more careful about than I used to be.
Has anyone else out there who might have popped into my "blog-scape" ever begun to pull a plant out of the shallows at the edge of their pond and, after a while of tugging and the plant's roots still coming, then wondered vaguely to themselves "how come the root on this plant is waaaay longer and tougher to get out than it should be?" Has anyone else then looked up to call the hubby for a hand; and suddenly noticed that the same type of plant which was happily growing tall in the deep centre part of the pond, is now distinctly much, much shorter and worse, continues to become so each time you tug at the plant you are doing battle with at the pond's edge?????????????
Please tell me that I am not alone in this...........please!!!!


20/20 Vision

Finally the hubby has given in and admitted it - he has announced his arms just aren't long enough!

What he actually meant was that he was struggling to see things close up and to read things at a comfortable distance. So, the nagging to get him to have his eyes tested began (I never expect a result from this kind of intervention for at least a couple of months).

Sure enough, it's been a couple of months and he has now been to the optician's. On his return he walked into the house with a cry of "I'm blind!" For a while when I asked what the optician had said I simply got a repeat of "I'm blind," but now he added in things like "Please pour me a coffee, I'm blind you know". "Give me a kiss, 'cos I'm blind.", etc..

Turns out that what he actually meant was that he did indeed need reading glasses, but he actually needed the lowest strength possible. Not that this has deterred him from trying to use his supposed "blindness" to get me to do things for him. Obviously, it doesn't work. As always his distance vision was described as "exceptional",  but this time the optician added the killer line "considering your age". I thought it was funny, the hubby not so sure. (Please allow me to hurriedly clarify that both of us have a long long way to go before we become pensioners).

Personally I have been short-sighted since age 9 but never managed to get used to wearing glasses, I can't shake the feeling that everyone is staring at me simply because I have glasses on. Thank God for contact lenses. Given his recent blindness and me laughing at him, the hubby kindly reminded me of one occasion  prior to us getting married when I was not registered with an optician and was way overdue for an eye test. I knew I needed one because the glasses I had were no longer working as well as they should. So, whilst on a shopping trip with the hubby, when I noticed an opticians, I decided to pop in and book an eye test.

Walking ahead of the hubby, I gaily opened the door to the opticians and, as the two receptionists looked up to see who had entered, I tripped up the step just inside the doorway which I had not noticed, fell full length and ended up laid flat on the floor in front of the reception desk. From where I lay I looked up at the two women and said, "I need to book an eye test."

All I heard then were peels of hysterical laughter from the receptionists. Totally embarrassed I scrambled upright, turned to leave, pulled at the door although the sign said push and wondered where the hell the hubby had gone.

When I finally managed to get outside and look around, I found beloved hubby. He was sat on the pavement floor, back against the wall of the shop next door and laughing so hard he was crying.

Needless to say I didn't register with that particular optician's.

I recall that I didn't talk to the hubby for a while either, not that he was in any fit state to talk to. He just kept bursting into laughter and telling me which of our friends he was going to ring in order to share my misfortune.
Really annoyingly he was still looking at me and going off into fits of laughter the next day, by which time I think he had told just about everyone we know, including family members, what had happened.

And yet I still went on to marry him!!!!!


Hubby, Draft Fixing and the Mice

In February I told of the hubby's DIY resolution to a draft which, in turn caused a water leak.  We now have a further impact of his draft stopping technique - mice!

When he managed to fix the leak caused by him knocking something loose when he blocked up the hole from which the draft was coming by shoving some items of clothing in there, he shoved more clothing and a bath towel into the hole, (yes, we are still married).

One night, initially without my knowledge,  our toothless cat brought a mouse into the house. Obviously, due to Fey's lack of teeth the mouse was alive and undamaged, just soggy. A few days later when said mouse was spotted, I put down a humane trap and caught it. I deposited it back in the garden near where I knew there were three little field mice nesting.

I think that what must have happened from there is that "Gary" (as I had named him), then told all his pals about this nice warm place to live where the kind humans had even provided a lovely, dry, fluffy bed area safely out of reach of the cat or the dogs (and Harmony when she is in the house). So, Gary and his mates moved in.

So far I have caught one a day for the last five days. Of course, I am assuming these were five different mice and not just Gary determinedly coming home every time I throw him out.

The hubby doesn't know it yet, but this afternoon his draft excluder has to go......


Trixi and the Doves

Previously I have chatted about our newest chicken Trixi; she that is a cross between a chicken and an emu and has made it her job to stop any wild birds from landing in the garden.

Trixi has stuck with the view that this is her role in life much to the amusement of the hubby and myself. Trixi is bigger now, dwarfing even Harmony our ex-battery chicken. She is now twice the size of her self proclaimed mother, Drew our bantam silky. Not that this has stopped Drew from putting Trixi in her place when she thinks Trixi needs it. Drew gives Trixi a good couple of sharp pecks to the legs by way of telling her off, (really by now Trixi's legs are all Drew can reach). Despite the size difference, Trixi continues to defer to Drew and she is still very wary of our younger dog, Myka. Anything else though has to watch out. I have noticed that our cat, Fey, tends to begin to walk slowly, her belly close to the ground, her eyes never leaving Trixi as Fey carefully walks in another direction. I'm not sure if this is because Trixi has already begun to chase her, or whether Fey just thinks she might!

Recently however there's been a development. We get the distinct impression that the two pairs of collared Doves who are regulars, spending most of every day in and around our garden all year through, are taking the piss out of Trixi!

Whenever the three "ladies" are having their freedom of the whole garden times, Trixi always, at some point, manages to sneak away from Drew's watchful gaze and head over to the wildlife pond area. This is where you will usually find Harmony when she is not in our house sat on the sofa or asleep in one of the dog's beds, (a couple of days ago whilst my mum and step-dad were visiting she appeared from nowhere and flew up onto the top of the cooker. My step-dad asked if that was what the hubby and I were having for our evening meal).

The hubby and I have now noticed that when Trixi is pottering around the pond, the doves appear. They then seem to take it in turns to land on the opposite side of the pond to wherever Trixi is and wait. Obviously Trixi spots them, she immediately puts her head down like a charging bull and races around the pond towards them. Just before she reaches them, the doves fly across the pond and land so they are at the opposite side to Trixi again. Undeterred Trix puts her head down and sets of again at mac 9 (this is one very high speed chicken) and the doves once again wait until the last moment then fly back over the pond, land and wait for Trixi to have another go. This game can go on for quite a while and poor old Trixi hasn't yet learnt to know when she is beaten. More recently the doves appear to have added another element of frustration for Trixi into the game which I think highlights what an evil sense of humour doves can have. Like all garden wildlife ponds, mine has a "deep" end and a shallow end which becomes almost a cobble beach. This allows any wildlife to safely use the pond for drinking or bathing and provided an escape route for anything accidentally falling into the pond (unless it's Harmony who was the one that confirmed chicken's can't swim). I have also placed  a couple of small rock "islands" that most of the birds often use as a landing point when they want a drink. If Trixi wanted to stand on this little island she would either have to paddle a distance of 15cm or take two flaps to fly onto it. No way is she going to paddle and the doves seem to know this, so to add to their game they sometimes land on the island. Trixi races around to that side of the pond, then grinds to a halt and gives the kind of confused look that only a chicken can give when the doves don't fly away, they simply look at her as though daring her to enter the water. Yesterday one of the doves waited for Trixi to run round, then casually turned it's back on her and began to have a drink. I would say this was a clear dove two fingered salute! So, if anyone out there is doing research on "Do Birds Have a Sense of Humour" you need to come round to our house.


Just an Old Fashioned Girl

Until January this year I was a Blog Virgin. It's the Hubby who kept saying "why don't you have a go at blogging? I think you'll enjoy it." (Personally I think he was just looking for ways to give his own ears a rest from my constant verbal diarrhoea). So that's how this wee page started; but I got to thinking during writing my last post that, once again, I am way behind the times and totally not trendy.
Whilst I've only just begun to Blog, the rest of the world is Twittering (or is it Tweeting?) and Facebooking.
I have actually tried Facebooking, simply because all the people we know kept saying they had tried to contact us by Facebook and we were getting loads of emails also telling us that such-a-bod wanted to add us to their Friend's list.
GOD, it was sooooo boring!!!!!!!! I just didn't get it. Why did people think I wanted to know what they had for dinner that day? Why was it important to tell me what film they were planning to watch on TV that night? Or that they had just had the car MOT'd? Why the hell were perfectly sane (to a point) people taking the time to log on in order to amaze me with these kinds of revelations?
I did put a post up asking them all whether this was how it usually was and did I myself have to tell them things like I had got out of bed that day? The answer was yes (apart from one mate who asked what colour my navel fluff was - I told him purple, just like everyone else's). So, finally deciding that I really didn't care who was having sausage for tea, I gave up.
I have now decided that maybe the other methods are for people who either have very little happen in their day to day lives, or they simply have a need to feel "connected". I tell myself, however, that those who still blog are those people of a slightly higher intellect and who have interesting things to share but don't need to feel the world is looking at them. This being the case I ended my ponderings with the final thought of "so why on earth do I "blog"???!!!?


Bryn's Recovery

My beautiful boy.

 I mentioned in a previous blog that my dog, Bryn, had undergone surgery (yet again) on one of his hind knees. For a couple of days after he refused to eat or drink. Then came the fight to get tablets down him every day, closely followed by the mystery of how he was able to vomit out much more than he was taking in.
Being pretty much experts in Bryn nursing, I took him off his post-op painkiller and back on to his pre-op ones. Vomiting ceased and Bryn began to show interest in food and water. he made it clear in the evenings that he wanted to play, (even though he still had to lay down so we made up lots of laying down games).
He has had visits from his favorite (human) Aunt and Uncles and, more recently, has taken himself outside to sit in the garden.
It's still uncertain how much mobility he will regain and he faces yet more surgery in the near future but, however old my boy is, whilst he is happy and playful and interested we will consider whatever treatment is necessary.
The hubby says that in choosing to have a dog you and the dog are entering into a life-time contract. The dog will be devoted to you, loyal, protective, a comfort and your best friend. You're end of the bargain is to ensure all the dog's needs are met and to love him.
Sadly for dogs, whilst they try to uphold their end of the bargain no matter how their human treats them, too many dogs (and other animals) end up with sub-humans/dicks/morons (insert derogatory word of your own choice) as their owners.  As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a bad dog ......


Another Hubby DIY Tip

In a previous rambling I told of my Hubby's technique for stopping a draft which in turn caused a water leak. It's time to add to the advice on what not to do in order to avoid further work or injury (injury in this case).

The advice is this : When unscrewing the fixtures which attach the no leg end of a one legged section of your computer desk, do not do so whilst laying on the floor under said one leg table.

My hubby tells me that a long one legged table will not stand up of it's own accord once the no leg end is not attached to anything anymore....Apparently, instead it promptly falls down, landing on top of anyone daft enough to be laid under it (such as my Hubby).

I am sure my Hubby will at some point provide other seriously helpful tips for the home handy person, until then I am pleased to say he suffered no physical injury, simply a high dose of embarressment.


A Strange Noise Erupteth

Harmony, the offending (& offensive) chicken.

Just a quicky because I need to tell the world (or at least anyone who accidentaly happens upon my blog ramblings) CHICKEN'S FART!!!!!!!

Or at least Harmony does...out loud....a right proper pump. (Also right in my face as it happens).

Cue one confused hen as I roll around on the garden in fits of laughter.


Fowl Play

On March 12 I chatted about the arrival of our new chicken, a Bluebell something-or-other who we named Trixi. The Hubby chose her.

Usually when considering something new or a change within the home, one of us raises it, we then discuss it and put forward each of our views, the Hubby then steps back and lets me have my way.

There has been the rare occasion when I have either given in or graciously said "You choose Darling." For example, I have always wanted a Rowen tree both  to remind me of Scotland and because I love the way their berries seem to glow in the Autumn sun. Finally we went to buy one.

It came down to two, one of which I preferred, the other of which the Hubby liked. Both were slightly different species of Rowen. Feeling generous I agreed to go with the Hubby's preference, even though I had pointed out to him that there were no signs of his preferred choice having had blossom on it and, therefore, it may not produce berries.

Four years on I had a chap dig it up and bung it in the front garden just to break up the open space as this thing steadfastly refused to blossom or berry. So much for the years of wanting a Rowen!

Same thing with our house. When were looking round at properties he kept showing me a picture of a house in another town and I kept refusing to go look at it, pointing out the brick box nature of it (as well as the town it is in). You have to bear in mind that we were moving on from our first house, a 150 year old cottage which I loved with all my heart. I wanted either something very similar or at least a house with some character.

Eventually I gave in and we went to view the place we now live in. Although the house was a brick box, the garden was a very good size and had lots of potential due to the fact that it was just grass and cheap pebbles at that time. One side looked over open fields (as has every home I have ever lived in) and there was even a walker's trail running past the back of it. The (then) owners told us about the trail leading to woodland and the river which runs nearby. The hubby pointed out that we would simply treat it as a short term stepping stone for a couple of years, then we would move back to an older property (house prices at that time were always going up). Thinking of the garden, our dog Bryn and the cats, I agreed.

Seven years on, still here. Waiting for some kind of long term house market recovery but with a new government in situ who have only ever previously evidenced massive rises in interest rates and so in mortgage rates, vast numbers of homes re-possessed, increased employment insecurity etc. I would love to trust it will be different this time, but the signs aren't there yet so it seems we're still stuck here.

So now we are looking for a chicken and Trixi is presented to us.

I had been very clear that I did not want either a black or a white chicken. The Hubby and the seller pointed out her lovely black markings amongst her dark grey (I wasn't as impressed as they appeared to be). My main concern was that our new family member should be a breed that is known to be placid, friendly and to quickly become tame.

Back to the present..... Trixi is growing, boy is she growing. I don't know how old chickens are when they stop growing, but I hope it's soon. I swear she is some kind of chicken/emu cross-breed.

She is being willful and sometimes refuses to play the role of Drew's baby, leaving little Drew frustrated and upset. Even worse, she keeps wandering off with our ex-battery chicken, Harmony. Drew visibly becomes anxious when she can't see where Trixi is.

Trixi is also a sprinter, she has long powerful legs and she can really motivate. Very recently she has added in wing flapping and when she takes off she actually looks like she's flying, unlike normal chickens.

I have also noticed that Trixi likes to be high up, sitting on logs and branches which put her much higher than Harmony and Drew, again worrying little Drew.

She does not like having to spend time in the chicken run, she thinks she should always be allowed the free run of the whole garden.

When I go to get the girls up in a morning, she has now begun to barge past the other two to be first out of the hen house. On top of all this, she seems to have become very territorial.

She has decided that she has no wish to share her garden with the wild birds who regularly come to feed and also nest there so the majority of her garden time is devoted to racing towards any wild bird who dares to try to land anywhere at all in the garden. She doesn't just take them on in one's either, not our Trixi. Bring on the flock, she'll have 'em all!

For the dozens of birds from a wide range of varieties who visit daily it has definitely become a case of "Bugger the Sparrowhawk, watch out for that bloody chicken..."

I blame the Hubby (and obviously myself for stupidly letting him decide). I also blame Trixi herself for not reading and complying with the rules of her breed.

What placid and friendly nature?? Tell that to the Yellowhammers..


Narcolepsy and Me

Thought maybe it was time to disclose a bit more about myself (other than as the carer of a crazy clutch of animals).

In my working life I am a child mental health specialist, although I am also a qualified General Nurse (something I usually don't admit to). In my career I have worked with ages spanning birth to grave and in a wide variety of fields; I am also a professional trainer and a semi professional artist and photographer. I am into vintage jewellery and clothes (my wardrobe is like a second hand shop). I totally love collecting pebbles and rocks; everyone I know has been trained to bring me back a pebble or a shell from wherever they go on holiday and that has lead to some amazing things. I can spend happy hours on a beach fossil hunting. I mess around at golf (I only go to drive the buggy really). Obviously I love animals and wildlife, however, I don't like things that fall into my category of "having no feet".

This generally involves arachnids and most insects. Some people try to tell me they have feet. No they don't. Their multitude of legs tend to end in pointy bits and I've never yet seen any of them wearing shoes. That's because they can't, due to having no feet.

Things that simply don't bother with legs either, such as snakes, I quite like. Oh, and by the way, spiders, no..... they are not more afraid of me than I am of them, otherwise they would run in the opposite direction instead of always racing towards me!

What else??? Oh yes, I have my nerdy side, I like D&D, I watch & read Sci-fi and fantasy and, even worse, I am a regular LARPer . There, I said it!

(P.S. My spellcheck has just suggested Leper instead of LARPer - maybe it has a point!).

I am married to my soul mate who I do not feel was conned into this in any way. We lived together for a number of years before I finally said "yes" so he knew full well what he was taking on....mostly.

How was I supposed to know that as well as me the person who is into all the previous, is crappy at the "housewife" stuff, can't cook, thinks fart jokes are funny, still spend hours chatting at him all these years on, (note the AT him), also came with an up and coming large dose of Narcolepsy?????

Narcolepsy, for those of you who are amongst the many who haven't heard of it, is a nasty and lifelong sleep disorder, (actually, sleep disorder goes nowhere near to describing what sufferers can have to put up with).

Like any other condition it can be mild, and it can be totally disabling leading to wheelchairs and all that stuff.
Of course, me being me I have to go ahead and have every symptom possible and even one or two that were a surprise to my specialist.

I have to say, getting to see a specialist when I first realised what was actually going on with my body, (thank you Discovery channel), was fun. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who's gone to see their GP and found themselves having to patiently explain to the Doc the difference between some of your symptoms and those of Schizophrenia in order to reassure them that you are not suffering the latter!

I'm lucky, despite the severity of the impact on me, through working with my specialist I am symptom free for 99% of the time thanks to drug therapy and I can pretty much get on with life generally, (although even with the medication there are still some comedians that I can't watch safely, they're too funny and guaranteed to cause a collapse).

Narcolepsy is believed by the experts to be rare (actually I feel it is more common that people realise it's just that many people don't recognise they have a problem, or they think it's down to their lifestyle, or they simply don't seek help and, therefore, diagnosis). For those people who are diagnosed, it can be quite isolating due to not being commonplace.

I personally don't know any other people who have Narcolepsy as part of who they are, I guess maybe that's partly why I've mentioned it. Is their anyone else out there???????????????????


Tiara's, Tantrums and Trauma's

Things have been a tad hectic of late for everyone, beginning with the arrival of Trixi.

Trixi is the new girl on the block who has joined the ladies, Harmony and Drew. Although only 16 weeks old, she was already as big as Harmony. Harmony however took but a split second to launch in to teaching the upstart just who wears the tiara around here. Three days. Three whole days. Drew, who had straight away decided that Trixi must be her new baby (despite Drew being a bantam and already smaller than Trixi) desperately tried to herd young Trixi into the hen house for safety. Trixi, of course, had only just landed so the hen house was not yet familiar to her. When Trixi failed to understand Drew's intent (probably due to being distracted by Harmony sitting on Trixi's back and plucking her - yes, P, for plucking) Drew began to tell Harmony off, very loudly and for a good long while. Trixi, meantime, found a small corner into which she stuck her head so that Harmony could only pluck at Trixi's behind. I think bed time was a relief for all concerned.

Finally the girls have now got the pecking order sorted, including Trixi accepting her role as Drew's baby. Two weeks on and this has become quite comical as Trixi is now nearly twice Drew's size, taller than Harmony and appears to have the legs (and certainly the running style) of an ostrich.
As my hubby commented, "we're gonna need a bigger hen house..."

It was also Drew who alerted me to our new (and currently regular) garden visitor.
All three of the ladies were having their free run of the garden time. As usual Drew and Trixi were pottering together whilst Harmony was off by her second favorite area, around the wildlife pond. (This used to be her favorite area, but that honour now belongs to the kitchen and lounge).

I was indoors when the peace was shattered by Drew's tantrum as she kicked off squawking and clucking in her "Eeek, warning, warning, everybody take cover!" voice.

When I looked out of the window Drew and Trixi had withdrawn into the chicken run (although Drew was keeping up her alarm call). Harmony was stood motionless at the base of our large spruce and, out in the open, sat as bold as you like on one of the decking posts was a very handsome male Sparrowhawk.

He was completely unconcerned about Drew's noise and simply sat preening himself in the sun..... for about half an hour! Eventually he swooped onto one of the branches of the spruce which took him out of Drew's view, at which point she shut up thankfully. Of course, poor old Harm now had a Sparrowhawk sat not far above her head. She quietly moved herself further back under the tree. In total the sparrowhawk stayed around an hour and seemed chilled and relaxed. I did have the opportunity to check for signs of a ring or anything around his legs but there were none, this is a wild bird.

Since then he has visited more or less daily, never bothering to show any interest in the chickens, I assume this is because they are roughly the same size. He has helpfully posed for the odd photo and seems simply happy to sit and relax for a while. All our other garden visitors quietly disappear whilst he is around but don't take long to return once he has gone on his way. He's starting to become quite a common sight and we treat him as just another of our regular wild bird visitors.

The trauma since my last post revolves around my boy, Bryn.

From being a foundling pup and suffering from long bone disease (he initially grew too quickly for the joints in his legs to keep up) we were warned he would suffer arthritis in later life. This was compounded when he suffered a traumatic injury whilst spinning to get away from a smaller dog who had decided to have a go. Bryn needed major surgery to the cruciate ligaments of one hind leg. Three years later the cruciate in his other hind leg finally gave way needing further surgery. Eventually the second surgical intervention became weakened and so he has just had his third cruciate op, with plans for more surgery in the near future as he also has a slipped disc, (Thank God for Petplan).

Since the surgery earlier this week he has really not shown an interest in much at all. More worryingly he refused to drink for two days and has only managed 3 small meals. He would simply not move from his bed if we allowed it. For my boy to be so uninterested in anything is totally out of character for him and extremely upsetting. Fortunately I took leave from work so I am with him all day at the moment. I have found that he likes me to lay alongside him and gently groom him. Obviously myself and my hubby are keeping a close eye and he is being monitored by his vet Louise. Updates as they occur. Signing off to go have a minor tearful moment now.


It's a Topsy Turvey World

Myka, the youngest of our two dogs, came to live with us from an animal rescue centre as a 12 week old puppy who had clearly been removed from her mother too young, had by that point had two further addresses before ending up left at the centre and had clearly suffered some abuse. We wanted an older dog, something the same age as Bryn but the rescue centre simply took us "round the back" to introduce us to the pup they wanted us to have despite my protests of "But I never ever want a puppy again!". (This was because when Bryn ended up coming to live with us after being dumped in a bin at around 8 weeks old he was my first dog, I much preferred cats. I have never forgotten the 3 months of Post Natal Depression which I went through with Bryn).
Anyway, we ended up with this scraggy sorry looking little thing who's heritage was questionable. She's now 7 and turned out to be a natural born comic, completely unladylike and a totally stinky muck magnet. Good job we love her (so does Bryn by the way). When we first took her to our vet for her vaccinations, Louise looked at her trotting along at the side of us and said "Ooo. Designer shabby chique!"

We do know that she has an awful lot of terrier in her (bearded we think) and some border collie, a combination which makes her a feisty dog who is happy to take on much bigger dogs if they threaten her.

Bryn, who weighs in at 46Kg and certainly has Labrador, staffordshire bull terrier and rottweiller in him,
had always assumed he was a little dog and had never figured out that his teeth were for anything other than eating dinner and tearing chewy toys apart. This is the boy who was chased up the lane by a chauwawa (or however you spell it). The same boy who seemed to firmly believe that if he sat behind a Daffodil, you couldn't see him, the same boy who frequently had me chewing my knuckles in frustration whenever he decided to be an adolescent and the same boy who spends his evenings sat on the floor of the lounge staring at me......all evening...... .every evening!

It is Myka who finally, (and unfortunately) taught Bryn that a dog's job is to bark furiously if anyone dares to walk past the house or use the public pathway at the side of the house, or chat as they stroll along the Trans Pennine route running along the back of the garden or if any other dog is walked past our house. Bryn is nearly 12 but after all these years I still damn near have heart failure when he barks unexpectedly. As big as he is, his bark is even bigger.

It is because of Myka that Bryn discovered what his teeth can be used for. Despite both my dogs being on leads Myka was targeted and attacked by a (oh God, I wish I could spell) Wiemeraner (tall, good looking grey thing) and a collie when she was around 20 weeks old. Somehow and whilst still on the lead with me trying to get my dogs away and "politely" advising the other dogs' (male) owner to take control of his pair; Myka simply flipped the, by now astonished, Wiemerama straight onto it's back. I felt a tug, dropped Myka's lead and, very luckily, managed to grab Bryn's collar in one hand and use his lead in the other to haul Bryn's head back as he suddenly went full on for the attacking dog's throat. He missed by a hairsbreadth. Both the other dog's realised their mistake and ran whilst they could. From that point on Bryn seemed to realise that he wasn't actually a pint sized pup and that, if needs be, he didn't necessarily have to run away like he had before if another dog glared at him. Thanks a bundle Myka!

Anyway, the point of this day's ramble is that, due to Myka's terrier part and the potential for trouble, whenever we let the chickens out of their run and into the rest of the garden for an hour or so, we make certain Myka is kept indoors, (much to her disgust). This means that on those hot sunny days which happen so often in England, if the chickens are having a garden moment we still have to have all our doors closed.

Last weekend I decided enough is enough, Myka was just going to have to learn to behave, that chasing or attacking the chickens is not acceptable and that everyone can be in the garden together if she follows these rules. So I went for it. I was in the garden working & I had let the chicken out to wander free. I then took a deep breath and opened the French windows where Myka was, as usual, sat staring at the chickens like they were dog TV.  Luckily Myka is very responsive to commands and tone of voice, so I made sure that I knew, (and that Myka knew I knew), where she was in relation to the chickens. I kept saying things like "Steady Myka, leave it, good girl, settle, no etc etc. My Bantam Drew was a little uppity and avoided being in the same space as Myka (which obviously made Myka more interested in her than in Harmony). Harmony remained cool and casual, although she did get a tad "huffy" whenever Myka tried to sniff Harmony's bum.

I repeated the exercise the next day and we can now, finally, leave doors open on milder days (another joy with Myka is that she is a quick learner). Never forget however, this is my world we are dealing with here.................

Currently Harmony is sat asleep in the kitchen where she has discovered the central heating radiator and apparently it's just the best thing ever and it's lovely and warm and it's everything a chicken could desire and she's finally inside the place where the Big Chicken (me) goes.

Myka, meanwhile, is very happily sat in the chicken run. Ho hum.


Nobody Likes Change

Drucilla is my bantam Silky chiken. Anyone who knows chickens will know that Silky's hold the world record for broodiness. Drew can spend up to 6 weeks at a time sitting on an imaginary egg. These periods call for special attention, otherwise she would not move to eat or drink. I think we've been quite creative in our methods of shaking her out of it. For example, taking her for a run around the block in the car seems to work. Throwing her out of the hen house and shutting everything so she can't get back in has some effect, as does not letting her go to bed until after dark.

Last weekend we decided to have a move around in Drew and Harmony's enclosure, including changing the position of the chicken house. Harmony was truely facinated and extremely (un)helpful as ever. Drew though was in mid brood on her usual imaginary egg and had no intention of leaving the house.

We figured we might as well leave her in there whilst we spring cleaned, so we closed the chicken house door and carefully moved it with her still inside. Oops.

Now Drew does regularly feel it is her task to take on the role of cockeral on Sunday mornings. She climbs up onto a rock in the enclosure and starts to give it her best cockadoodledoo, (strange from a chicken but she's actually not bad at it). I know from this that little Drew can kick up a volume, but really.......who knew chickens could shriek their way through the sound barrier???

When we were done I encouraged to come out of the house. She got to the door way, slowley looked around and the shrieking began! All my attempts to get her to shut up failed. Harmony ran into a corner and there she stayed looking from Drew to me and back. The volume was enough to bring one of the neighbours across the road out to see what on earth was happening.

Drew by now had stomped down the new gangplank to her doorway and was inspecting every edge of the enclosure, checking where her rock was, having a quick peck in various bowls to check the whereabouts of her food, grit and water, staring into the dirt bath bowl and sharpening her beak on each of the logs that are around for them to climb up and perch on.

I always feel a little uncomfortable when either of the chickens pointedly sharpen their beaks at me!

Having shrieked continuously whilst carrying out her inspection, she finally stomped back up the gangplank, still shrieking until she dissapeared indoors and, at last, it went quiet.

Only then did Harmony shake her feathers and come out of her corner to stand by me and give me a long look that seemed to ask "What was all that about then Big Chicken?"

I guess the moral to this episode has to be, never change anything without asking Drew first.


Stopping drafts my Hubby's way.

My husband's favorite saying is "I'll promise not to try to fix my car if the mechanic promises not to do therapy." (After all, this is the man who couldn't get the car to start so called the AA who suggested that petrol might be helpful). Despite this I thought that even he could block out a draft coming from near the base of the kitchen sink unit.

 He set to work and pronounced the job completed and I admit I could no longer feel a floor level cold draft. The following day I was filling the washing machine and spotted an item of clothing I had missed. I reached to pick it up and found myself pulling a pair of hubby's jogging bottems out from under the sink unit! On closer inspection I could also see what looked like one of his jumpers and another unidentified item of his clothing.

He admitted that stuffing these under the sink unit was his answer to the draft. As I sat down laughing he protested "but it worked!"

And so it did... until he washed the pots and I noticed a speading patch of water from under the unit.

Yup, he's cured the draft in his own inventive way, but now we have a flood every time the sink is emptied because, I assume, he has knocked something loose. Trouble is, he can't figure out what.

Fortunately he is a good Therapist.


Sound advice

Never put the egg you've found in your pocket whilst you clean out the chicken house and enclosure.


Chickens can't swim

Anyone who lives with ex-battery hens will know how super inquisative, tame and entertaining they are. Mine is called Harmony. Amongst her other attributes she has an Attachment Disorder, she thinks I'm her "Big Chicken". She follows me wherever I go. In fact she follows me very very closely. She hasn't learnt to back off, despite being stood on a number of times. If I appear whilst she is out and about in the garden instead of inside her run with my bantam Drew, she races towards me and boy can she get a speed up! She is always there to "help" when I am cleaning out the chicken house and the run. I fill the trug with the old bedding, she kicks it out again. She gets depressed if she doesn't see me and stops laying. She starts again as soon as I spend time with her. She recognises the sound of the car, answers to her name and knows which window to stare through if I am indoors. More spookily, we have a communication system which we both use to attract each other's attention - welcome to my world!

Harmony is also the living (fortunately) proof that chickens and ponds don't always mix well.......

Harmony loves hanging around by my small wildlife pond, especially if I am there keeping it tidy. Even when I am indoors, she generally makes her way to the pond to potter around. This year is Harmony's first winter with us. On the day she discovered the pond frozen. I glanced out of the window to see her gaily skating all over it, occasionally having a good peck at the pond plant leaves that poked up through the solid ice. Plants she had never been able to access previously. She was having loads of fun.

Sometimes we can all see into the future. I actually said to my hubby "when that ice finally starts to melt again, there'll be trouble".

It happened a few days later when the day was milder, the sun was out and the ice on one side of the pond had melted. Unfortunately Harmony hopped onto the still icy side. It was possibly not such a good move on my part to dive out of the kitchen door to try to shoo her back to the bank, because she set off skating toward me...and ran out of ice.

She squawked, flapped and began to sink like the proverbial stone. Luckily she was within reach and I hauled her out. Actually she didn't seem to mind at all being brought indoors and wrapped in a fluffly towel to be dried off. She simply stuck her head under my chin and started making happy little cooing noises. She was much more upset at being put out again once she was warm and dry and she kept knocking at the kitchen door to come back in. My hubby was at work during this little drama. I sent him a short text. It simply said "Chickens can't swim".

RSPB garden bird watch headache

I feed the wild birds  every day and often at the same time. Because of this I've got to know my regulars and in some cases how many use our feeders. Handy when it comes to not counting visitors twice over. But I'm blessed with a large flock of sparrows who all suffer ADHD. Myself and my hubby have tried before to figure how many there are in the flock, we've managed to get the number anywhere between 12 and 17. Trouble is, being so hyperactive, they won't sit still and be counted. Because for the sake of the great garden bird watch it matters how many we see today, I've just devoted a large chunk of my hour ignoring all the other birds and doing a very passable exorcist head spinning impression counting and re-counting the bloody sparrows. It's not helped that we have now got three teeny field mice who've set up home near one of the feeders and keep popping out to grab bits of food between the bird crowds. Five times have I mistakenly included one or more mice in my sparrow count. I have now decided to settle on the number "many"!
I thought taking part would be fun, instead I need an Anadin.


My pets (including the Hubby) & the Great Frogspawn Rescue.

I'm a specialist children's nurse and when I working with parents/carers or delivering training to other professsionals I generally get asked "Have you got children?"

I always say "Yes" and tell people that I have two kids, one boy, one girl. I also tell them that they are both very hairy, have four legs and a tail that wags.

(Only very rarely have people then asked how I can work with children when I don't have any of my own? I generally point out that I am also a qualified general nurse, but I don't have to personally have any particular illness in order to be able to care for those that have. I also wouldn't need to own a bus in order to be qualified to drive one).

So, my own family currently consists of two dogs (both very different to each other but completely in love), one cat (since her brother was shot by some local moron), two chickens with a plan to increase to three and one husband: possibly the only man on the planet who can put up with me!

I also take care of a garden full of wild birds of a huge variety and a pond which has suffered a population explosion amongst the newts. Not necessarily a good thing, 'cos now I have to figure out a way to keep the frogspawn and then the tadpoles safe this year.

My tiny wildlife pond was created in August 2008, by January 2009 I spotted my first dollop of frogspawn. At first I was excited and made my hubby get out of his nice warm Saturday morning bed to come look. Then came panic....

It's only January! What if there's a sudden freezing cold period? My fogspawn would turn into a lump of ice and all the eggs would die. A rescue plan was needed.

My baffled husband was despatched to the loft to bring down a small all in one fish tank that for some reason was still up there. Off outside I went with my pink kid's fishing net and into the tank plopped the frogspawn. In answer to my husband's curious, "So now you've done that, where do you plan to keep it?" the coffee maker was re-located to accommodate the tank's appearance on a kitchen work surface.

I need to explain something here - only my hubby thinks the kitchen is for cooking in, silly boy!

"It's just until the weather warms up a bit, it's too early in the year for frogspawn to survive" said I wisely.

The following morning though the spawn just didn't look right. I guess in must have been the warmth of the kitchen that conned it, but the whole bloody thing had hatched!

My husband is really good at those kinds of looks that say "You've done it again haven't you?" Of course I went from the oh no moment to laughter to ahh look at the babies and on to trying to count them and then wondering if I could name them all.

Anyway, I was right, a period of big freeze came. The tadpoles lived with us until the end of February then were returned healthy and happy to the pond where, at a later date, I came across the problem of how I could help as many little froglets to migrate as safely as possible: especially when my hubby thought mowing the lawn regularly was important!


Wondering why I've decided to "blog".

1. I hate facebook.
2. People who are involved in my life keep saying "You should write a book."
3. All my animals are crazy but I'm hoping I'm not the only one.
4. I loose diaries.
5. Struggling, but I'm sure I'll think of a number five soon.

By the way, can anyone tell me if there's a damn spellcheck on this thing???????????