Archive for February, 2008


Friday, February 29th, 2008

Some drama in the garden this morning: there I was sat at the PC (where else) when I heard a bang and some feathers drifted past the window. When I went to investigate I found this bird of prey – since identified by my helpful and knowledgeable hubby as a male sparrowhawk – consuming a collared dove on the patio! He was there for at good 45 minutes, allowing me to get some reasonable photos (there’s a couple more on flickr, too), although it was tricky because of the excessive gloom and his refusal to stay still! My morning room has lots of glass and white paint, too, so I had reflections to deal with…but still, you can see a beautiful bird. Of course, I love our collared doves, too – but he really is a bit special.

I now have half a pigeon on my patio: have made a mental note to get rid of it before I next send the children out to play!


Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Last summer, for Ann’s birthday, we were all booked to have a lovely spa day until Tamsin got chickenpox* and I had to cancel. It’s taken 8 months to rearrange but finally, this Sunday, we went! It was touch and go as I dosed a very sad Tamsin with calpol* on Saturday night, but by Sunday morning she seemed a little more cheery and frankly I needed some time off, so off I went. A spot of lunch; a float about the pool – more chat than swim – steam room, jacuzzi then off for our “treatments”, a lovely facial and a pedicure. Hoorah! I don’t care what Julie Burchill has to say about it, I think being pampered is rather nice from time to time.

Today, I feel achey and shivery, which I very much hope is a manifestation of lack of sleep because I do not have time for a lurgy. Maggie has been back to the doctor with her cough, which is keeping everybody up for hours every night, as the inhaler did absolutely nothing. We now have antibiotics, which are not expected to do anything “but sometimes you are surprised” (I actually very much like this doctor – coughs are just one of those things, aren’t they). Tamsin has a nasty cold and is like one of those revolting toddlers with a green streaming nose that I dislike so much when they belong to other people; she’s refusing to settle at night for hours on end too, and is very thin post-virus. Tempers are starting to fray.

On the bright side, a sunny (but very cold) day today persuaded me to take the girls to the zoo for a quick run and to see Margaret the new baby giraffe. She’s less than 6 foot tall with big eyes and absolutely gorgeous so I am very glad we did. And the elephants were having fun in the pool.

*Is it only my children who are constantly ill?


Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Another hour in the doctor’s waiting room today (I know it’s a cliche but why can’t they give sensible appointment times that have some bearing on reality?), this time to come away with an inhaler for M. He’s not saying she has asthma, but thinks it might help with her cough (and frankly I think Cameron is going to explode if he has another night like last night: T was up for nearly 2 hours then just as she dropped off at long last Maggie started to cough) and I am prepared to try it. She does seem to get a cough with every cold, and Cameron does/did have asthma, so who knows. Maggie was most reluctant while we were in there – I don’t think the doctor helped by telling me what I should do if the inhaler was “too scary” but by the time we had been to the chemist and got home she was quite excited to try it. I think several of her preschool friends have inhalers so they are not the freaky scary weirdy things they might once have been.

She’s had a puff which appears to have made no difference. Fingers crossed for 5 am.

(Tamsin update: no episodes for over 24 hours; still whingy.)

turkish delight

Monday, February 18th, 2008

I’ve been having a slightly trying time of late: Tamsin started to be sick last Monday night and hasn’t stopped yet. She waits nearly 24 hours between bouts, just long enough to lull me into thinking she’s stopped…then off she goes again. I finally took her to the (lovely trainee) doctor today who diagnosed viral gastroenteritis and was very reassuring. Which is just what I wanted: I expected them to not really do very much but after a week some reassurance was required. We agreed I should steer clear of having her weighed for some time, though our motives were slightly different: I just don’t want to be mithered by bullying health visitors while the doctor was more concerned I would worry. I’m just glad she’s still breastfed as at least she is absorbing some nutrients from something: it is a bit of a pain that she’s reverted to a near-newborn feeding pattern, but she wants to be on my knee all the time anyway.

Anyway, she hasn’t  been sick since teatime yesterday so fingers crossed she’s on the  mend.

In the meantime, Cameron went to a freezing, snowy Istanbul. He spent a day at what sounds like an entirely health-and-safety-free steel mill but did manage to squeeze in the blue mosque &c, and brought home a photograph of himself with an unusually slim and glamorous belly-dancer. It’s not all work work work.

I zipped south armed with kitchen roll, antibacterial spray and spare clothes aplenty to stay with my parents for a couple of days. We braved the cold to visit the new glasshouse at Wisley which, as seems to be the way of these things, was more impressive from the outside (though I liked the root zone and we coincided with an orchid show, which was gorgeous).

Saturday was a bit of a nightmare all round – we were supposed to rendezvous with Cameron in Harrogate around lunchtime, for Mia’s birthday party. He made it around 7.30 pm having spent the day crossly at Frankfurt airport (though on the bright side his bag unexpectedly accompanied him home). We got there after 3, about 10 minutes before the start of the party, having sat in traffic queue after traffic queue on the M1. And Tamsin was sick on her party dress.

Sunday morning Suzanne and I left the daddies in charge of diarrhoea-Tamsin, vomit-and-diarrhoea Callum (Tamsin kindly shared her bug) and the two falling-out big girls, and spent a pleasant and much deserved couple of hours in the Harrogate turkish bath: what a treat! It’s a very old-fashioned Victorian bath house – all patterned tiles and ancient plumbing – with a steam room, an icy plunge pool, and three rooms heated to different temperatures for lounging in. Atmospheric and wonderful (especially after the estimated 4 hours’ sleep I’d had the previous night) with some very scary attendants.

Before and after

Monday, February 11th, 2008

I am very happy with the new furniture: doesn’t my room look larger and lovelier? Something of a saga getting hold of it: we initally ordered some bespoke free-standing stuff last March. Excuse followed excuse (at one point the cabinet maker cut off a finger, which we thought was a good reason for a delay, but the replacement just seemed to spend all his time making expensive kitchens); the chap in the shop never once rang us spontaneously or for weeks after when he promised to, and sometime at the end of last year he sold the business. Eventually, patient people that we are, we just asked for the deposit back (and got it after 6 weeks of hassle).

Then we rang Neville Johnson. I cannot praise them highly enough: if you are in the market for fitted furniture and have plenty of cash* (they were not cheap but it appears you do get what you pay for) then put them high up your list. I suppose it shows what shoddy service one gets used to that I am utterly delighted to have found a company whose employees ring when they say they will (within half an hour when they say they’ll call you back), turn up spot on time, are courteous, clean, and well-presented and completed the entire process from initial contact via design (3 hours at our house), planning and installation in less than 2 months. I am a very satisfied customer.

In other aren’t-people-fab news: Tamsin dropped my purse in Asda today and apparently when I picked it up I left my card behind. Flustered in the queue (T climbing out of the trolley**, M crying because she hurt her finger), I was on the verge of putting back all my shopping when the lovely kind shining-armour lady behind me in the queue paid for my shopping! Gave me her address so I could send a cheque: she deserves some really fantastic karma. (My card had been handed into customer services by somebody else kind so I could get cash out to pay her back on the spot.)

*or are sufficiently fed-up to pay anyway.
**why don’t they have straps?


Thursday, February 7th, 2008

This is dedicated to anybody who has not been sufficiently put off the thought of visiting us by my last post.

So, it’s one thing having rats waaaaay away at the bottom of the garden (who hasn’t?) but slugs in the living room? I’m less keen. (Fortunately the monster spiders are nowhere to be seen at this time of year, else I’d be firmly esconced in the travelodge up the road by now.) We’ve been aware of their presence in a vague back-of-the-mind way for some time, as we often come down in the morning to a silvery trail on the carpet: I was actually moved to do some research into getting rid* just last week.

Tuesday morning, Cameron was up at some ungodly hour to go to London – his taxi arrived at 5.15 – and decided to investigate. The three slugs gruff (daddy slug, mummy slug and baby slug) were parading around our dining room, bold as you like. On the bright side, they appear to be coming and going via the fireplace, which covers step one of how to get rid of slugs (“find out where they are coming in”) if not giving any clues to step two (“and stop them”).

*Possibly the least-useful google I’ve ever done: the consensus appears to be that they prefer older damper environments (no shit Sherlock) and that one must find out where they are coming in and stop them.


Monday, February 4th, 2008

We have always been very dismissive of people who told us not to add meat to the compost as it would attract rats. Bah, we said, slinging everything in, there are rats everywhere anyway so why would we care. And it’s true except. Except. I lifted the lid of the compost bin yesterday to check its progress*, and there are tunnels. Large ones. I dropped the lid sharpish – and, while I am still unbothered by the presence of rats in principle, I feel rather uninclined to turn it or even to pull compost out to use.

*it’s doing really well: in fact all 3 bins are composting fantastically just now. Rotting even faster, it seems, than they did in the summer. I wonder if they reach a kind of critical mass then just take off?

without leave

Friday, February 1st, 2008

I know I’ve been a bit awol but frankly all I can do at the moment is whinge and moan, and I can do that just as well elsewhere! Cameron is away again (that is at least 2 usually 3 often 4 solo bath-and-beds every single week this year so far: fantastic) and Tamsin is teething really badly, with accompanying cold, cough, streaming nose and miserable not-eating-not-sleeping. Maggie has a cold. I have loads of work on. Last night, for example, I spent the evening going upstairs every 30 minutes or so either to resettle sad Tamsin or to help Maggie back into bed (she fell out)/find her a tissue/give her a big optimistic dose of Medised – I finally finished work after 11. Tamsin didn’t really settle properly until I got into bed with her (even then we were up every couple of hours through the night) and when I came downstairs this morning I was confronted with last night’s tea things that the fairies hadn’t dealt with overnight. I am Very fed up.

On the bright side, we had a fun weekend at centerparc and Maggie can swim! She’s not yet 4: I am so very proud I feel quite teary. She doesn’t just do it for us, either, she’s done it at her lessons, which means she is going into the next class after half term. Mixed feelings there – I’ll miss going in with her as I do enjoy it (especially when, as I was explaining that I wouldn’t be going in with her any more, she said but I’ll miss you!) – but the relief at having my Tamsin-care issues solved is quite large.