Saturday, 28 June 2014

Embarrassing admission

I realised to my horror today that it was actually 6 months (plus a few days) since hubby and I had been for a walk together down our long road. How do I remember? Well, it was Christmas Day and I was sobbing my heart out because one of our cats had gone missing.

Now, it is rather shameful that we have taken so long to take advantage of our wonderful environment, but part of the problem is that our garden is so huge and we are so inept and slow at everything we do, we don't NEED exercise beyond our own two acre boundaries! Anyhow, we took off for a stroll. We greeted one of the kingfishers who regularly hangs out on the telephone wires and watched the welcome swallows swoop. Two harriers also caught the thermals above us. Unfortunately the temperature soon changed, so we didn't get much further than the bridge over the Kuku. I'd gone prepared with bread for the various ducks. We caused a waddlepede when they figured out there was a Sunday breakfast to be had.

One of the local farmers has parked his young heifers in the field close to our house, and one is able to do the party trick of getting her tongue inside her nostrils! The black girls were just very curious and came to the hedge to say hello. One was obviously a bit partial to cow pats, as she had applied one to her face!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Sprightly Esquire

As I pulled up at the gate this evening, I saw my neighbour in his tractor, just about to head up his drive again, scraping the metal from the driveway and rearranging it. He is doing a great job, and looking at the result, you sort of know he really knows what he is doing. Normally he has his fox terrier with him, (at least he does when he drives down to deposit his rubbish bin on a Thursday evening).

I usually have at least a 15 minute chinwag, and am always amazed at his energy. He is also a mine of information for us townies who really have NO clue what we are doing most of the time. My neighbour is 82! Sadly, I can't help thinking of my Dad, who was the same age when he died, having had ill health for at least 40 of those years. Two very different stories, but I know they would have got on famously.

There isn't a day goes by that I don't wonder about how Dad would have responded to Coneysthorpe; its wonderful sunsets, noisy birdlife and hairy Highland cattle. I could just see him walking down the road with his stick or taming the vegetable patch. Here he is, on his allotment, only three years ago. How I weep

First class post and ratatouille

One of the many blessings of living on a rural road is that the local post lady still COLLECTS mail from our post box. You have probably seen the kind of post box for this arrangement. It has an arm which can be raised to show that there is mail to be collected even if there is no mail to deliver.

This evening I walked down our driveway with a very shonky torch to put out two pieces of mail for early collection. The Milky Way was better illumination than the Never Ready slumbering torch. When I returned, I perched for a while to read in the kitchen where the fire was roaring. Our very dozy Tom cat sat with me for a few minutes then suddenly went into "I hear something with whiskers which may be worth pursuing" mode. He trotted to the kitchen and pointed like a gun dog at the dishwasher. Hubby pulled the front skirt off it, but nothing. I then opened the cupboard under the sink to find a chewed box of candles.

So, Ratatouille Lives! Or at least he will perhaps for one night more. The sink cupboard has been stripped out and the doors left wide open for easy entrance by the cats, hopefully for a midnight snack. Ruppin had better finish what he started!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Peter Rabbit and his guardian

We have two guest rooms. One I was determined to keep "Kitty free", but our old cat isn't well and got into the habit of sleeping in this room when we had a house sitter. I am indulgent and let him go in today. It is Saturday and every cat needs a weekend nap.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Multi tasking

I blame my habit of trying to do too much at one go for the fact that I ended up at the Dr's surgery first thing this morning. For the last week I have felt very unwell in the evenings and not slept much at night. I have a temporary job in a local town, and am still doing the usual house stuff. Last night, whilst making a rather nice chicken chilli and peanut stir fry, I decided to tackle some weeds! As the pot simmered, I headed out to the borders directly opposite our kitchen window. I got the gloves, a supermarket carrier bag, and filled it to the brim as the pot simmered. It looks great, but it probably wasn't such a great idea on not much sleep.

The previous week I had done something similar with raking leaves along the long driveway.

I think I've invented something new; "Speed Weeding", kind of like "Speed Dating" but different........actually, they may not be that dissimilar!

And on a totally different topic. I gained a new friend on our trip to the UK. We had been having lunch at a country hotel with friends, when we realised the annual summer fair was taking place on the village green. By the time our meal was over, the stall holders were packing up and going home. I noticed a tombola stall still with a number of prizes left. The fundraising was for the local hospice, so I decided to buy lots of tickets. What really caught my eye on the table was a delightful knitted Peter Rabbit. I was determined to win him. I did win a prize, a salad spinner. Seeing my look of disappointment, the lady on the stall swopped the winning numbers and gave me the rabbit! I don't think I've been so excited about a prize before. And better still, the lady who knit him was sat behind the stall! So, Jean Copeland, I just want you to know that he is happily installed at Coneysthorpe, keeping our local bunnies in order!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Bird count

This evening, returning from work, it "clicked" why I had seen an Australian Harrier in a certain part of the grass borders on our road. Dead opposite a barbary hedge runs for almost a kilometre. It is full of sparrows. Kerching, three meals a day for the Harrier. He is so big, I mistook him for a pheasant, but one evening he hopped out of the long grass and took off. He was unmistakably a bird of prey - proud and lethal.

At twilight there are thrush, starlings and kingfisher on the telephone wires and chaffinches make a noisy welcome committee in the trees along our drive.

Altogether a delightful conclusion to the day.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The randomness of life.......

I got 7 phone calls from my mother in the middle of the night. She doesn't understand that the answering machine isn't my husband. She panicked and kept calling. I called her after message number 7, so have been up and about since 3 a.m.

I got offered a 3 week casual position locally, starting next Monday (yay!)

I baked bread with stone ground flour from a Dutch windmill at Foxton.

Hubby and I skyped with a friend in Central Asia.

I watched the cats bask in the warm sunshine on the verandah. This is winter! The sky is blue, the sun is warm.....and Otto thinks he can fit in the lid of a photocopy box (elevated derriere, but who notices?)

We just had a 5.1 earthquake.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Dear Cats of Coneysthorpe

I would like to say a sincere thank you to whichever cat deposited the back end of a mouse next to my bedsocks this morning. Having become too warm overnight, I discarded them next to the bed. No doubt it was the heady fragrance which drew you to them, and smelling them in the dark, you thought it was me. How sweet!

Yours gratefully,


I crave your indulgence

This blog is about our home. We love it more and more, and each day seem it gives us more surprises (of the nice variety). However, our history is mosaic. We are both British and have travelled and worked internationally. Perhaps you won't mind if I share some of the pictures of our recent trip (not too many), just so you can smile at the variety of our wonderful world.

Firstly, a few from Oxford

Monday, 2 June 2014

Back where we belong

Our tabby youngster is a funny wee thing. We got him as a kitten, but perhaps a little too late before the wild habits had got established. He is only a cuddle cat on his terms, spends most of his life outside, regardless of temperature and rarely sits still.

This morning (ahem, 4am) he is dozing off on the table in front of my computer, after several attempts to chase and chew various wires. He is totally adorable in this mood, but it is so rare I took a photo of the moment.
He was eventually distracted by a cloth mouse which I made for Ms Ginger (and which she ignores)

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Family stuff

Our return to NZ was of the very heavy suitcase kind. Thanks to a generous allowance with Emirates, we managed to transport three heavy folders worth of Dad's family history research. I also brought back personal items which I intend to frame and hang in our long hallway.

The biggest challenge I have however, is how to use the many items from WWII. I have booklets and notes from my Grandpa's stint in ARP, stories from my mum's service in the ROC, letters from my great Uncle who served in Italy and N. Africa and other random things. None of these have any monetary value, but I want to weave them into something new so their historical value is preserved. My family were amongst the millions of ordinary heroes of that conflict and I want to honour them.

I have a story whizzing around in my head...I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile here is my 88 year old mum who plotted planes with the Observer Corps from a den underneath the Knavesmire in York