Friday, 27 February 2015

RIP Leonard Nimoy

RIP Leonard Nimoy


Live Long and Prosper

As children he taught us tolerance and to embrace difference through Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations; he taught us that different cultures were just as valid and had much to offer; he taught us that the heart and the head were equally important and that one should remain true to oneself despite peer pressure and how to be part of a team yet remain an individual.

Not a bad legacy.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Nu Look at Beds

I was walking around the house the other day and suddenly realised just how many places the Nu has to rest in.
She has allowed me to photograph her places and generously agreed to comment on them.

This is where I like to sit in the evenings.  It is acceptable -the gel base is very soft and perfect for pugging  on.  As you can see it is quite correctly placed next to the radiator.

On very cold evenings I like to sit here on the side table in the dining table.  It is also next to the radiator and if it is very cold I can lie on the radiator.  If you look very carefully you can see the comb which they torture me with in the name of 'grooming'.  Pfeh! what do they think my tongue is for!

Here is where I watch the cat buffet from; sometimes I also nap here.
So far the cat buffet has offered blackbird, starling, wood pigeon, collared dove, blue tit, long tailed tit, robin, thrush, pheasant, moorhen, hedge sparrow; but strangely no condiments.  
Where are my condiments?  The service is appalling, a person could starve here; in desperation I snack at the dried food, it tastes like ashes compared to the possible feast I could be enjoying.

I do not sleep here, I store the pitiful toys they try to make me play with.  Why then, do they complain when I bring mice in at night for the same purpose?  
They remain a mystery to me.

During the day I sleep here.  If the Tom is home it is very warm as the computer heats the room nicely.  Also he does not try to stroke when I sleep.  Sleep is important and should be taken seriously.

This is where I sleep at night.  I have been too generous in sharing this with my humans and sometimes there is barely half a bed for me to sleep on.
You can see my glass of water on the floor by the bed.  I always drink out of a glass at night and now that they know they give me a glass of my own.
You can also see my blanket.  I have many blankets, unfortunately as soon as I get them smelling right they take them away and wash them.  They do this while I am sleeping somewhere else.
They did it again yesterday, I was so incensed I had to cough up a furball under the office desk; sadly the Tom noticed before he sat down.

I am exhausted now.  I must rest.

Monday, 23 February 2015

In Virus Veritae

Oh who will rid me of this turbulent beast!

Apologies there to all historians and lovers of the myths of oral history for that dreadful pun.
My only excuse is that I am now in week 4; yes dear reader, week 4; of this damned cold.

You see I live in this lovely, friendly village.  People stop and chat at the local shop, we say hello as we pass in the road, we gather and listen to music in the pub.  Faces become familiar and then friends.
This must STOP.
We must barricade ourselves behind the doors of our houses and eschew company and social interaction, for in being a friendly village we are being hounded by what is becoming known as 'The Cold'.

According to the Daily Mail; a horrendous rag that I don't read (unless researching this years cold epidemic) and that is fit only to line the litter trays of cats if you are unfortunate enough to find it in your house - the paper, not the cat; we are in the throes of a cold epidemic.

Well I tell you what.....we know!
Wherever groups gather you'll hear  'have you had IT yet?', 'mine lasted 3 weeks', 'well I thought I'd got over it but it came back - do think it was another one?'. 
The village is littered with red eyed, red nosed people staggering from the doctors to the chemists like the living dead.
The surgery is full of people coughing, sneezing, wheezing and generally creating a picture of living misery as they wait for the lovely, sympathetic doctor to tell them it is a virus and they can do nothing except suffer, to go home, rest, take plenty of fluid (no not wine) and lemsip and to come back if it gets worse.
I know this as I was one of them when I woke up one morning and found my eyes were so gummed together I couldn't open them.  
I felt my way to the bathroom; ably assisted by the cat, who fulfilling the duties of all cats in this situation, tested my survivability by lurking underfoot; and bathed my eyes open.  As this followed four nights of continuous coughing and sleep deprivation and a throat so sore I thought evil fairies had been grating it in the night, I staggered to the doctors to receive the joyous news above.

For the past two weeks I have been at that point where I am sufficiently recovered to go back to work but not to do anything pleasurable.  I've sat at home sipping lemsip while Jean-Luc sips beer at the pub.  I have stared out at the rare spring sunshine and collapsed exhausted back on the sofa.
And I want it to end.
I want to stop coughing, sneezing and wheezing.
I want my weekends back.
I want my energy back.

I know I sound like a fractious toddler and that many other people have much worse than this to contend with; but as I finish my third box of tissues and drink my umpteenth lemsip, I don't care.  I am being determinedly selfish and shouting 
'Bugger this Bug!'

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Of Birds and Bees

People have been very generous and bought me some lovely birthday presents.
Not only did Jean-Luc buy me the topsoil but he also bought me a bird table - along with bird food.
 The Nu was thrilled.  
As far as she is concerned we have just provided her with a cat buffet and three very large litter boxes!
She has already been seen crouching behind the holly bush with a barbecue and napkin at the ready.

My lovely sister bought me a Solitary Bee hive.  
Solitary bees; as their name suggests; don't form hives.
They look like honey bees and the females dig holes to lay their eggs.
This hive provides a place for egg laying females.

I've put it between the two veggie bed in the hope these potential new residents might pollinate the veggies.

The Royal Entomology Society has more information on Solitary Bees if you're interested.

I have real hopes that this garden will have a range of habitats that will be a huge benefit to the local wildlife. 
Urban biodiversity is a bit of a passion and thank you to my lovely loved ones who have made such lovely contributions to my dreams.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Hard Labour

It was my birthday yesterday.
 I went to work because I had 'an important budget meeting'.

While I was at work Jean-Luc gave me a gift without compare; his time and labour to make something for our future.

He bought me about about 4 tonnes of topsoil for the raised veggie beds and spent the afternoon wheelbarrowing it from the drop off point into the beds.
That's a hell of a lot of work and by the end of it he was aching, sore and bone tired. 
I was overjoyed and amazed when I saw them.  What can I say - actions speak louder than words sometimes.

Almost finished - it turned out the suppliers hadn't delivered all the soil as we were the second load on a lorry; but they delivered the rest today and I helped Jean-Luc shift it.

Totally finished beds awaiting the promised rain to help settle them down.
The next few weeks will be dedicated to cleaning out the greenhouse and starting to plant seeds.  Hopefully I'll do these beautiful beds proud and grow some bumper crops.

I took Jean-Luc out to dinner at our favourite posh Indian restaurant to say thank you.  

ps.  Overnight the local cats had discovered what must seem like the biggest litter trays in the village - there was a trail of pussycat paw prints right across two of them and a little hole dug in one corner.  So glad we could be of use to the local feline population.  I'm thinking a border of echinacea might deter them!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Preserving an Obsession

Hi there.

I awoke in the night to a strange sound; like distant hollow laughter.  I struggled awake only to realise it was the sound of people laughing at my pitiful store of preserves, as pictured in my previous post.

 I know; jams, jellies and some chutney do not a canning cupboard make.
So for those of you who wish to see a real canning cupboard, chock- a-block with preserves and harvest goodies may I please direct you to the amazing Carol at Simply Free

Stare in awe and wonder at this glut of gorgeousness and understand - this is what I aspire to.  This is my goal.
For I shall become Master of the Universe and all shall tremble at the might of my canning cupboard.

Be afraid, be very afraid!

Jean-Luc has just pointed out that while having goals is good, obsessions are not.  he also suggested i might want to cut down on my coffee intake as it seems to be making me a bit manic.  
Slink quietly away stage left, head hung in mortification.

But do go check out those preserves!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Frugal Freezing

Once again Jean-Luc and I have been bartering although perhaps not as formally as that might suggest.  Jean-Luc helped out a friend by cleaning, debugging and updating her daughters laptop.  A couple of days later we mentioned we were on the lookout for a small freezer and guess what?  It turns out said friend had one sitting idle in her garage and would be glad to get rid of it.
A quick car trip and said freezer now resides in our pantry.

Now I use the word Pantry advisedly.
This was it when we moved in.
 It's basically a shed, the opening to the right is the old coal hole; I scrubbed, brushed and swept and we put in some shelves and a cupboard and now our new freezer.

Basically it contains all the preserves and preserve making equipment, the stock cupboard, teh  stock of jars and demijohns, the  laundry liquid and soap making equipment and stocks and our general bulk stores.
And as you can see on the left - the freezer.
I still want to clear it out and white wash it at some point but that's not an immediate priority.
As you can probably see it's also home to Jean-Luc's Black & Decker and golf gear as our shed is less than secure and in the process of falling down.  It's next on our list of priorities after the veggie beds are all soiled up.

One of the things we tend to do is buy meat in bulk, cook a whole load of meals and then freeze them;
and this is where my confession comes in.... the new freezer is our third (yes dear reader - THIRD) freezer.
We have a fridge freezer in the kitchen for everyday stuff, a chest freezer in the coal hole which we use for big stuff like bread and joints of meat; while the new freezer is used for meals and seasonal produce.

It was a good job we got the freezer.... Jean-Luc decided to spend the weekend cooking - in bulk. 

A lasagne.

 Beef and mushroom stew

Fish pies, Cumberland pies, tandoori chicken breasts and lamb rogan josh.

This lot should last us a few months and means that after a busy day we can just pop a healthy, home cooked meal in the oven and just add accompanying veggies - hopefully homegrown veggies this year too!

Friday, 6 February 2015

Decorating by Dot

Ok confession time - this post is nothing about simplicity or frugal living or sustainability.  It is purely about decorating; completely frivolous but also about making the house 'ours'.

Just before Christmas Jean-Luc and I decided to get some of the house painted.  The amazing Dot was recommended by an acquaintance and she was a completely brilliant professional.  Thorough, neat and the Nu loved her; so much so she kept following her around and getting her whiskers into everything - but not the gloss thankfully.

So what did the lovely Dot do?

She painted our halls, stairs, landings and awkward bits.  Basic magnolia and white to bring light into the stairwell and something calm to hang our pictures against.

 She turned the dark and dreary plaster in our bedroom into...

...this bright and cheerful bedroom.

And I finally got my quilt back on the wall - I've had this quilt hanging on every bedroom wall since I made it in the early 90's and having it up again really said 'Home' to me.

Dot also bought a touch of professional pizzazz to our living room.

It turned out the two greens we'd chosen were much too dark so after some hasty consultation with Dot, we decided to go with some much lighter shades, a sort of Wedgewood for the ceiling and spring green for the back wall.  
We were thrilled with the finished job - no more dreary, cold grey paintwork but a bright and cheerful room that becomes really cosy when the curtains are drawn and the lamps turned on.

 Once Dot had finished Jean-Luc put down some edging on the floor

and put in a ceiling rose; while I swept, vacuumed and washed floors before shifting furniture back.

All we need to do now is find a lampshade.

Thanks Dot!