Saturday, 31 December 2011

PS

Just a little concern over Ivory.......

Her right eye does not open fully and her right wing looks fragile.

Provided she can cope with these things we certainly can.

It's not really surprising after those long 5 hours without heat.

I will keep you informed.

Can't Stop 'Em!

This morning we had to go out for a couple of hours.

This is what we came back to......

By around 1.15 p.m. (we were eating our lunch in the lounge) Little Ivory had emerged!

CLEARLY an Aylesbury!


And even more good news - the egg that is next to her in the top picture now has a 1/4 " hole in it too! So that will be another Aylesbury.

The 5 in the background would have been Ebony's sisters, but we are certain they are all DIS as they were due on Boxing Day.

I was a little concerned about Ebony actually as she just seemed to sit in her brooder (we took her out of the incubator last night) and do nothing. I hadn't seen her eat or drink.

So I found some egg food from when we had had the cockatiels and put some in a tiny glass dish next to her. Also put some water in a similar dish. I also had a syringe at the ready.

BUT

I am happy to report that she is now eating and drinking like a good girl!

                                       Ebony in her brooder - Ivory should join her later today.


And now of course we have a new issue - names! Ebony and Ivory may be cheesy, but they suit them so well. But what do we call the third?

I jokingly said 'Fred' but that is not a very feminine name. And we like to think of them as girls (egg layers).

So I started thinking along the lines of precious elements.....Precious as a name was favourite for a while, but Lord of the Rings has put paid to that!

Ebony, Ivory and........Pearl?

What do you think?

Any better ideas?




Friday, 30 December 2011

12 hours

At 4 a.m. I awoke full of trepidation.......

The eggs' stay of execution was almost at an end. We had decided that they would have to go to the pond today or tomorrow. None of them could have survived those 5 hours a week ago with no heat.

Then I realised that today was a shoot day. Did I mention that we are right in the middle of pheasant country? The beaters all park outside our home so there is no way we would traipse past them with 8 eggs in our hands.

Tomorrow then.....

I drifted back to sleep.

The next thing I knew Steve was opening curtains and telling me I should go look in the incubator........

This is what I saw.....

                                                            OMG - one of them survived!!!

This was amazing - a miracle. Five hours without heat, and this little duck had got through it!

As we ate breakfast we could hear taps and peeps - oh wow - didn't think that was about to happen.

We had to nip out for a couple of hours, this is how it looked when we got back.....

I sat and watched as millimetre by laborious millimetre this brave little baby duck opened its shell. I felt honoured to be watching this new life emerging.

At 3.10 .p.m...........



And by 3.30 p.m........


Our gorgeous little Non-Aylesbury * Duckling


                               (Sorry, no cropping or editing has been done today - been too busy!)

AND

One of the white eggs has been pipping too, and there is now a hole in its shell!

So a day that started with such sorrow has ended up joyfully.

* Non Aylesbury......There was an issue with 6 'Aylesbury' eggs we bought from a lady in Scotland. That is where Ace appeared from. She is not Aylesbury and neither is this little treasure. The white one that is now pipping we know will be an Aylesbury as that is all that lady in Essex deals with.

We don't really mind at the moment, we love Ace and will love this one too. But when your business is called 'Puddleducks' it would be helpful to have a few Aylesburys!

This precious, miracle baby is going to be called Ebony, as when the next one (hopefully) hatches it will be white, therefore Ivory. Yeah, I know but we like it!


Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Lovely Day for Ducks.

This is something my Mum used to say when it rained.

I was never sure about it, where it came from, why it was a lovely day for ducks. I could only assume they liked rain, but had never been able to observe the same ducks in and out of the rain.

Until we had ducks of our own.

It poured this morning and I had to take photo's of them in their first proper rain.

I don't know how we can tell, but they really did look very happy. Honestly!

                                                           Haven't they all grown though?

Steve pointed out that they probably like rain because it brings all the worms and other delightful duck delicacies to the surface. I will stick to my theory that they love the feel of the rain as I do.

I also took some close-ups of Ace this morning. She remains a mystery.....

At first we thought she was a Khaki Campbell - she had the classic duckling appearance. Now though, with the colours of her feathers we are more inclined to think she is a Rouen.
Poor little duck.....

                                                              Whatever she is we love her.

Just hoping she really is Martha not Arthur or we probably won't be able to keep her.

Quick change of subject now......

I was feeling industrious this morning.

So I made some Chocolate Yum Yums


I don't know the real name for them, but they make me think 'yum yum' when I eat them so they are Yum Yums.

And it wasn't until they were cooling that I remembered Steve doesn't like them.

Oh dear.

12 little actually they are quite large chocolate cakes.

Only one person in the house liking them.......

And that's The Girl With The Hypno Band.

Steve is going to give me a tightening session.

When all the Xmas goodies (and Yum Yums) have gone.......


                                                                        

I Wanna Tell You a Story (sorry Max!)

Once upon a time there were two sisters.

The elder one did not like the younger one at all and bullied her.

The younger one was too timid to answer back and was very unhappy.

Their parents always treated each daughter the same and specified that when they died their estate would be split exactly in 2 - to the penny.

The elder sister lived with the parents, but treated them badly. She stopped calling their father Dad and called him ****head instead. Not just referred to - she actually called him this to his face. He was a very placid person (like his younger daughter) and allowed her to do this. What a nasty way to treat a parent.

The younger daughter had an exciting life travelling to wonderful places, finally settling in a little country cottage with her beloved husband and their animals. She was very happy.

Their mother died and left their father (****head remember) at the mercy of the eldest daughter.

Younger daughter was living very happily until one day she received the shock news that her father had passed away, a year ago and elder sister had not bothered to tell her. That's a bit mean isn't it?

So younger daughter contacted their parents' solicitor who was as confused as she was. He advised trying to reason with elder sister.

*********************************INTERMISSION***********************************

Unfortunately that is all I know of this story.

There is no end yet - that is down to Elder Sister.

But watch this space.



Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Wonderful Wednesday

First off I had a crap night.

I don't know why but it took me 2 hours to get to sleep.

Then when I finally slept I kept waking up needing the toilet. I have drunk gallons of water for the past 48 hours to ward off the beginnings of cystitis. Yes, it has worked, but I have had to wee every 2 hours.

So a pretty miserable night.

Never mind - we were going to Romsey today.

Romsey is the third town close to us - there is Salisbury, Andover and Romsey.

We went there a few weeks ago and found a charity shop that had an 'everything £1- day - Wednesdays between 12 and 2. Today is Wednesday. So we went.

Huh.

They don't do it anymore.

They had a rail of clothing marked £1, and I did find a half price top there. So that was 50p. And a pair of jeans for £1.99.

We also got some humourous Xmas cards for half price in Oxfam, in case we do Xmas next year.

And that was pretty much it.

Great fun at home - the ducks have learned to escape......




Steve put the little fence in to keep them off his newly-laid grass (yes it was grass 2 days ago), but these 4 had somehow found a way around it.

I went to tempt them out (with food - never fails) and saw the gap they had got through next to the Palace. And they clearly remembered it as they headed straight for it to get out. So I 'rewarded' them with some dried worms (!?!) and blocked the gap. Little tinkers.

And we had some Xmas cake today.

Well let's start at the beginning - we have had a cake here for a couple of months from Steve's Mum's kitchen. When we got it out on Xmas Eve we discovered it was not iced. Steve was not impressed - his Mum always makes the cake and his Dad always ices it.

Not this year.

So we had a slice each, but he kept moaning that it wasn't a Xmas cake without marzipan and icing.

So he bought some yesterday.

Marzipanned half of it.

Iced it today.

And wrote our 'names' on the top.

His has marzipan and icing, mine just icing as I don't like marzipan.

He is a great big soppy ole Hector......x



                       Um - I have just realised that his 'half' is almost twice the size of my 'half'.......

STEVE....................................!!!!!





Tuesday, 27 December 2011

No Interwebs?!?!

My dear old friend from Leicester phoned me today at 11.30.

I didn't get to the phone in time before the answerphone kicked in. She left a message that she would ring me back. Of course I couldn't phone her could I?

BUT

The internet died.

This used to happen to us every single time the phone rang which was a real pain. Steve phoned poor little Mr Gupta so many times they were practically on first name terms. But the nice little man fixed it.

Until recently when it has been dropping out for a few minutes after calls.

Today was 5 hours. (Incidentally that's the same as the power cut the other day).

What do you do when there is no interwebs?

Of course, there was loads I could do........

Think I will play with my Perfect 365 programme. It wasn't working - think it needs to be connnected to the you know where....

I know - I'll make those chocolatey crispy cake things I bought the cake cases for. Now where is the recipe? Bugger - I was going to find one online.

Can't edit any photo's as I haven't taken any today.

Done a bit of animating........none of which are prepared to be animated here. Fine on my desktop though. Steve, at this point, is sighing a HUGE sigh of relief.......

SO what to do?

It's actually quite worrying that a 'grown adult' can't think of anything to do that doesn't involve the www.

Did I say grown adult?

Nah - I mean me.



And no, I didn't animate this one.

BUT

I did personalise this (in honour of HRH Audrey Hepburn) courtesy of Moonpig.












Monday, 26 December 2011

Dancing Duck(s) and cats. Or not.

OMG it worked!

I have just followed an online tutorial to create animations in Photoshop CS5.

And it worked!

I am pretty darned pleased with that.

So I have had to do it again haven't I?

But for some reason this one isn't working......

Back to the drawing board......

So I have tried a cat this time.....................

So what am I doing wrong/different? I have followed the tut to the letter.

I don't get it.........

This is weird - it works in Photoshop.

It works in Incredimail.

It just won't work here.....

One more try.............
NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!..

Just for the record the cat's tail wags.

It does!

I will NOT be beaten.


YAY!!!!!!


I can go to bed now!





 



I will live with you forever.....


In a bit of a sombre vein today - there is death around.

Three times this year I have been linked (albeit remotely) to death.

The first was finding out that my Dad had died a year previously. This one took some getting my head round.

The second was a friend's  friend's daughter. Aged 30. Accidental.

This morning, Boxing Day, I have heard of a third. This one was another friend's brother's wife's sister's child. A 3 month old baby girl.

I could go through all the expected 'oh and at Xmas too' but that implies there is an 'easy' time to lose a child. And there isn't..

It is every parent's worst nightmare - to have one of your children die before you. It goes against all that we believe to be the correct order of things.

I don't know how these people cope.

I stood in my garden this morning watching the ducks grubbing and the cats chasing each other. I had an overwhelming feeling of contentment. How lucky I am to have the life I have.

And yet it could all be snatched away in a second.

So no jokes, jovialty and silliness today.

Just a moment to think of those who are not as lucky as us.

                                                    

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The Best Laid Plans.......

Happy Morning, Good Xmas!

So how has it been? Or indeed still being?

Ours is over - life is back to 'normal'.

It started at 9 am with the ducks - they don't know it's anything different so needed attending to as usual. They also got a couple of handsful of worms (dried) and a bowl of cabbage (fresh).


Yum - Cabbage Pond Soup


Kitties got a tin of mackerel between them. Initally - oh yum, this is posh.....But half of it is still in their bowls. Fickle creatures.

His and Hers bowls (they would argue over one bowl between them.

Our posh breakfast was a bacon sandwich and a glass of orange juice.

We lazed around most of the morning then at around 12 o'clock we packed our lunch and set off for the seaside.........Yipee! I love the sea.


Posh restaurant-style menu

We have never been to Lepe beach before, but from the photo's on Google Maps it looked pretty wild, remote and deserted.

Google Maps lied - there were millions of people there. Oh alright about 50 or so cars, but still too many people. The sea, however was all we had hoped it would be......

Wild Solent Sea.

But no matter how beautiful the sea, there was no way we could relax and eat our lunch with so many people around. I have a thing about crowds (so does Steve), and while you couldn't really class it as 'crowds' there were still too many people milling around for our comfort.

So we drove 4 miles along the coast to Hythe (Google it) on the estuary. Obviously the sea wasn't wild there, but there was only one other car in the car park. Much more like it, so we ate our lunch there.

There were a lot of people out and about generally - the roads were pretty busy. Why weren't all these people at home doing the Xmas thing?!

When we got home (just before 3pm - in time for 3 at T!) the ducks still needed looking at and locking in safely. They have been out all day again and have clearly had a ball judging by the state of their 'ensuite' pond.

So just another day.

All those weeks/months of planning and preparation and it is over in a day. Not that we do the weeks and months of course.

As we were driving along I was looking at peoples' homes and wondering what was going on inside them. Were they all greeting family? If so was it with genuine pleasure or with trepidation? There is such pressure on everyone to be merry and bright it's enough to push you in the opposite direction. Many a Xmas night I have spent in tears, feeling I had not done well enough.

No more!

There are only 2 people I have to please - me and Steve.

We spend 24 hours a day together all year, so Xmas really is just another day to us.

Even if we did all have posh food!`

Saturday, 24 December 2011

I was Wrong...

....about the Boxing Day sales.

I have just read somewhere that millions of pounds will be spent online tomorrow - Xmas Day with special deals being offered.

Can people really not go for 24 hours without spending money?

Sad.

A 'Mother's' Love

Well I am kinda their mother aren't I? Closest thing they have ever known anyway.

Who?

The Ducklings, of course.

We spent a very disturbed night, mainly concerned for their well-being. Needn't have worried - the ones outdoors were perfectly fine. To such an extent that they have moved again - they now live in Puddleduck Palace!

They were taken in a box and  unceremoniously tipped into the pond. That's the BIG pond at the bottom of the garden.........

I haven't edited any of today's photo's yet. For a start there were 52 of them - I didn't want to miss a moment of this important day. And I haven't had the time yet.

So they are in the pond........(carefully guarded by Sam and Ella)


..............and clearly loving every minute of it. They are being ducks. They are in and out of the water at will, they are waddling around the garden grubbing for worms/slugs/other disgusting duck delicacies.

They are Ducks.

And whilst I am very, very proud of them, I am still a little sad - they are no longer my 'babies'.

News from the incubator - there is none. I haven't heard any pips or seen any movement from the eggs at all. Huge sadness if they are all DIS.

But there is nothing we can do about it.

On a Xmas note.........this is my vision of last-minute shopping......

I am imagining thousands upon thousands of people descending upon shops today. Some for presents, mostly for The Food. Much of which will go to waste. Waste? Yes, because people tend to get Xmas Blindness...'I know nobody likes Cranberry Sauce but it's traditional isn't it'? In other words you have to buy it.

Can they not think for themselves? Can they not decide to buck the trend and replace it with something most people do like? Nope - that is not being traditional.

I remember as a child my Mum always made Bread Sauce. No one liked it, no one ever ate it. But she had this mental block - it's traditional so it has to be on the table. And be thrown away.

And this from a woman who had a little sauce jug bearing the words 'Waste Not, Want Not'. I told you she wasn't perfect didn't I?!

So I am proud not to be part of this obscene spending of money for 'traditional' reasons. We will not be exchanging gifts tomorrow. We will be eating a picnic lunch of foods we actually like. And we will be on a wild, remote beach. No signs of tradition anywhere in sight. And that is just how we like it. We are grown adults and no one can tell us what to do or not do. So we please ourselves.

I imagine by this time tomorrow (3 o'clock) after all these weeks of preparation, Xmas will be largely over. The presents will have been opened, the dinner will have been eaten, the Queen will be preparing to speak. Goodwill to all men (and women) will have flown out of the window and the real feelings will be emerging. Eastenders will have yet another cliff hanger before and after the evening news.

And the next day many will go straight back out to the shops and spend even more money in the 'sales'. Perhaps they could send their super-sale savings to charity? Perhaps not.

Then it will all be over for another year. No one has to pretend to be happy/nice/friendly. We can all go back to 'normal'.

God, I am such an old cynic aren't I?

Or am I just a realist?

Friday, 23 December 2011

MAJOR Panic Attack............

OMG.

We had just finished our Tea at Three which we have every afternoon we are at home.

Rothwell Tradition.

The electricity went off.

Not a big deal - it does it now and again - something to do with where we live. So we weren't concerned.

An hour later it was still off and we I was getting concerned. Not about us - I love the excuse to light dozens of candles and sit by the open fire - but our duckies.....

I checked the outside ones and they seemed fine.

Eggs.........seemed fine too....

BUT

After FOUR hours I was thinking of bringing the outside ones back in. It seemed so unfair that their first ever night outdoors should be cold and without any lighting.

But the biggest concern was still the eggs. The temperature in the incubator should be 37.7; it was 20.

RED ALERT.

Steve put some tap-hot water in a hot water bottle and rested the eggs on it. It seemed like all we could do.

FIVE hours later the electricity came back on.

First thing to do - check duckies.

Outside - all snuggled up and apparently none the worse (I know - I worry too much).

The temperature on the incubator soon got up to 30 degrees, so we took the hot water bottle out.

All we can do now is hope.

Again it seems so unfair - today was a seminal point in their development......We stopped turning them today and increased the humidity and ventilation ready for the hatch over the next few days. It couldn't have happened at a more crucial stage.

I haven't heard any internal pipping......

Please that our babies survive........................



The Day You Knew Would Arrive is Here, You'll Survive.....*

(* Credit to Tim Rice - quote from Evita)

Which day?

THE day.

My babies have moved outside to the nursery.

Yes, I know they should have been there a week ago.

Yes I know they are far easier to clean.

Yes I know we have new ones hatching any day.........................

                                                                                                        But I MISS them


The kitchen is so quiet ( and non smelly!) without them.

I keep going out and peeping through the window at them. I must get the baby monitor sorted out so I can see them from where I sit.

Realisitically it does make a lot of sense.

We took them out (in a bucket - a bucket of ducks) and put them straight into their outside cold bath. Poor babies.....But they were soon splashing around and getting clean. It's a very mild day for 23rd December so I didn't have any real argument did I?

They were allowed 5 minutes in the bath then put into the nice warm nursery......


They seem to have adapted straightaway, unlike me who is going through the 'first day at school' trauma 9 times over. Think I'll just pop out to see how they are now. BRB......



Not the best photo' ever, but you can see they have all snuggled down for a snooze as they always do after a swim and a preen.


So then I start worrying - what if they can't make their way up and down the ramp for food and water? But I know they can really. No duck ever starved because they couldn't manage a ramp! If they do struggle we have some rubbery matting we can attach to help them.

It is really weird to go into the kitchen now.....no ducks/noise/smell.......

Until a couple of days' time when it all starts again 



Thursday, 22 December 2011

In Just 4 Weeks.....

..........our babies have got SO HUGE.......

After their (COLD) swim I gave each one a cuddle in a towel to get them warm (we did put the heat back on in the brooder).

It occured to us that we had taken loads of photo's of them, but none of them being held since they first arrived.

So we took some.

And I had a play on Photoshop.

This was the result......



Probably not the same duck, but they are all pretty much the same size as each other now.

These photo's shocked us - we forget how tiny they were and tend to think they have always been HUGE.

I am still sad that they have to go outdoors, but I keep being reminded that they are not all our pets - we will be selling some of them. They are a 'commodity'.

Doesn't stop me loving them though does it?

Nothing Much is Happening Today.....

.....so it seems like a good time to post this.....

I received it from a very good friend in Egypt. She is of a similar age to me (52) so we remember most of the things mentioned here.....(What an admission!)

It takes a bit of reading, but it is very thought-provoking.

See what you think.......



                                                            

                                                        
                                                                   
                                                                         THAT GREEN THING
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.
The woman apologised and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days." The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, fizzy pop bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the factory to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over again . So they really were recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two streets.
But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 240 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.
But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Norfolk. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not plastic bubble wrap.
Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.
But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.
But we didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people got the bus and children rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electric socket in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza hut.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old people were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?
Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.
Remember: Don't make old People mad. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to p*ss us off."





PS - Something has happened today - the duckies have had their first COLD bath.

OMG I felt sooo sorry for them - they just froze. Literally. No movement at all for a good few seconds. They did acclimatise eventually but it felt so cruel.

They have had a stay of execution - they are now being moved outdoors tomorrow. TOO SOON!!!!

I am in 'trouble' for molly-coddling them.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Oh Xmas Tree

Ta-Da!


This is our tree in all its glory.

It has to live in the kitchen or the kitties would think it was a new toy for them, and we would come in one day to find it felled with 2 kittens somewhere underneath. Sam was chasing balls all over the place as I was decorating it.

This tree, actually is a perfect example of the throwaway society we live in.

It was bought either last year or the year before, whichever year black was the fashionable colour for your tree. It came from Homebase. 5ft tall. So I went to Homebase's website. It was £40 when new.

So someone paid £40 for a lovely tree 1-2 years ago. When it was fashionable to have a black tree.

Presumably it is no longer such a fashion statement, as they have got rid and presumably replaced it. With whatever is this year's fashionable colour.

I don't get it.

When I think back to when I was a child we had the same old tree for donkey's years until it collapsed from sheer exhaustion. We got the same old ornaments out each year too, buying one new one every so often. None of this 'in' colour and style.

Shameful waste.

Oh, and BTW, what is it about tinsel that it has always has the same smell?

I just love that smell.

Evocative of childhood I guess.....


Later, the same day......

I have been to Damascus.

Or was it Eureka?

Not sure, but 'something' inside me changed this morning.......

This Xmas business......

It has been on my mind a lot. A lot more than it has for years. I am thinking constantly about my Mum and I am pretty low....

Or at least I was.

We went shopping this morning - there were bits we needed for the duckies' housing (as ever) so we went to Andover. We nipped in to The Range while we were there and I browsed the Xmas decs. And found myself buying a tiny hang-on-the-tree ornament of a Xmas Tree. Oooer - we have a Xmas Tree! Where did that come from?!

We then went on to Enham Alamein. This is a small village that has been created for the disabled in the community. All the shops are ramped for easy wheelchair access and there is an atmosphere of acceptance everywhere. There is also a charity based there http://www.enham.org.uk/ who help people with disabilities.

2 years ago when we were both very depressed we had assistance from them in the form of a grant to start our business. Who would have thought that depression is classed as a disability? We didn't.

But they were marvellous to us and we go to their charity shop in the village as often as we can. Our little way of giving something back.

So we were in the charity shop this morning. One of the ladies who works there was trying to sell a couple of artificial Xmas trees. She asked us were we interested and we both vehemently shook our heads no!

THIS WAS MY MOMENT........

I started to think about this carefully.......Did we want a tree? It didn't mean we had to do all of the Xmas thing, but would a tree be nice?

So I approached her and explained that although we don't 'do' Xmas a tree may be nice after all. I suddenly found myself pouring my heart out to her over my feelings of Xmas and my beloved Mum.

She took charge.

In that case, she said, I think it's time you started celebrating your Mum's love for it and had a tree! Oh no, I said, then we would have to go and buy decs and lights and.....

No need. We have everything you could need here.

First - how would a black tree be?

Perfect!

Decs? You can have whatever you want and the price will be £5 for the lot, including the tree......

I found myself in a frenzy of choosing baubles, a fairy and lights. And suddenly there were tears rolling down my cheeks....How embarrassing, in the middle of a shop.......

But she was wonderful. As was Steve.

We made our choices and went to the till to pay. The girl on the till clearly hadn't heard what was being discussed as she rang it all through and it came to £14 something. No, said our 'Fairy Godmother' - it's just £5 - this is a special Xmas for them.....

More tears.

Steve left me looking at other stuff and disappeared into the back of the shop.

When he came back he was glowing - he had offered to clean their carpets (free) as a Thank You for helping me deal with my Xmas issues. They were overwhelmed. He explained how Enham had been our saviour and without them we wouldn't even have a business. So this was a double Thank You.

I left the shop, still 'leaking' but feeling like a new person.....my heart was soaring.....

SO

We still don't 'do' Xmas in the way most of you do - we still have issues with the commercial aspects and the overspending. We will continue to buy gifts for those we love whenever the mood takes us, and not when the date dictates we should. Surely that is the true spirit of giving after all?

But we have a tree.

And I just know that wherever my Mum is, she is smiling down with happiness at this change in me. She would hate me to be miserable, and she approves that I have had the sense to compromise my beliefs.
I love you Mum.

(photo to follow........)

This Xmas Malarkey......

THIS is as close as we get to celebrating!
http://sendables.jibjab.com/view/sJPSXh4HqxcIvuxD

Thank you to my friend for introducing me to the fun of JibJab.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Let's Talk About Mums

My Mum was the definite Mum.

Each Mothers' Day I would feel smug sending her a card that told her she was the Best Mum in The World. Because she was. I know everyone thinks this of their mother but you are all wrong.

Dulcie was the Best Mum ever in the Whole History of the Universe.

Reasons?

Too many to list - I would have to write a book......

Dulcie adopted me. When I was teased at school (as inevitably I was) she told me to tell the bullies that my Mum had chosen me, theirs were stuck with them. It may not have stopped the bullying but it made me feel so special.

Dulcie was my hero and my role model.

When I became a mum she was my example of how I should be. I don't mean she was perfect - she certainly wasn't. But she instilled in me all the good things that I taught my children. And also showed me the mistakes to avoid.

She taught me manners - they cost nothing.

She taught me to respect my elders (although I now believe respect should be earned).

She taught me how to be a nice person. And I believe I am. Not on her scale, obviously - she didn't have a bad bone in her body.

She taught me humour - how to laugh at life and not take myself too seriously. She definitely succeeded there!

She taught me how to love. Although, strangely enough, I never once heard her say the words. I just knew she did love me.

This taught me to tell my children they were loved. Every day.

She taught me humility. No one is better than me - they may have more money/power/whatever, but it does NOT make them a better person.

By the same token I am no better than anyone else. We are all equal under the skin.

She taught me about Xmas. This stayed with her all her life. She loved it. Which is the main reason why I don't anymore.

Slight deviation here....we did our Xmas shopping this morning. We spent less than £10. That was it. What on? Nice food for a Xmas Day picnic.....

Each year we try to do something different. Something that sets us apart from all the stress/hassle/overspending.

Last year we felt obliged to visit Steve's parents after them nagging us for years. They also love Xmas.

2009 we had just moved into a new home (just as in 2 days before) and had beans on toast for lunch.

2008 we were living in Egypt. We went to Banana Island (Google it - Banana Island, Luxor) and ate burgers for dinner.

This is an example of how we behave!

Today we have picked the spot for Xmas 2011



This is Lepe Beach which is around 25 miles away from us. Very quiet and un-commercialised and almost guaranteed to be deserted on 25th December. We will eat a posh picnic whilst watching the beautiful winter sea crashing to the shore. Perfect!

Anyway, back to Mum......

I have called her The Original Xmas Fairy before. She loved the whole concept of it.

As a child I would wake to a HUGE sack of presents, and the traditional stocking complete with fruits and nuts in the toe. She told me this was all she would get as a child - fruit and nuts - if they were lucky. She had 9 brothers and sisters and a single parent mother - her husband was a victim of the first World War. This was a tradition I happily carried on with my children.

I can remember one year  (I was about 10?), I rather cheekily asked for a pair of tights to hang thinking I would get twice as many presents. True to form I was given a pair of tights to hang, but each leg was only half-filled. Another valuable life lesson learned.

Even as an adult I would receive far more than my fair share of gifts. And my children - I was embarrassed at the piles of presents they received. But she loved it, and I loved her for it.

I would always cook the lunch. Traditional Xmas dinner with all the trimmings, but I would always add a little twist of my own. One year it was an Ice Cream Xmas Pudding which I made by mixing traditional pudding fruits with ice cream. Yum.

Once she died it was like the Spirit of Xmas had gone. There seemed no point to it without her. She was the Reason for the Season.

So we don't do it anymore.

But I will take a few seconds out on the day, as always, to wish her a Very Happy Day. And I know that, wherever she is, it will certainly be that!



Happy Xmas Mum.

















Monday, 19 December 2011

Water off a Duck's Back

Now I can see this happening for myself.....

We all know how ducks appear to be waterproof - like a car when it has been wax-polished? Well I saw that effect for myself today. Our duckies' natural oils are developing and doing what they are supposed to - waterproofing them!

I am not sure how clear the effect looks on this photo, but the little droplets stood proud when they were having their swim.


So darned sweet......


This next photo' is not so sweet. In fact it's downright scary

Trouble with ducks is they have no sphincter muscle. So when they gotta go they gotta go. And go they do. Then they are not the world's cleanest eaters, and they dribble water all down their 'chins'. Which makes their home super-messy. And it has to be cleaned out every day.

This cleaning Steve describes as a chore. To me it's a pleasure as this is when they swim and I can play with them most. But to Steve it is a nasty, dirty, smelly job. So he goes in all kitted out....

(At this point I should perhaps warn readers of a delicate nature to look away.......)

I did warn you didn't I?!
Back to the ducks.....

We think of them and the kitties all the time. Whether we are at home, or shopping or working.

Today we signed up to Booker's a cash and carry warehouse. OMG I loved it - all these BIG packs of stuff really cheap.....Bargain of the day had to be 6 x green cabbages for £2.50. Honestly. I had to read it twice to make sure it was right - £2.50. To my mind they were destined for the freezer - a good 8-10 meals' worth there. Steve, bless him, said they will be good for the ducks.

So when we were getting ready to bath them I chopped up the outer leaves of a couple of them to put in their bath water.

To say they liked it would be like saying they like water. I had to keep counting my fingers they were grabbing so frantically.....

So cabbage is a success.

Don't know how to tell Steve it could well have an effect on their innards......

I have also started sprouting some buckwheat for them. Will inform you of their verdict.....

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Just Spotted.....

....these gorgeous little wing feathers......

The 3(?) biggest babies have these growing quite noticably, and I'm sure the rest won't be far behind. Including our Little Dot.

And just to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside - this is the view in my kitchen right now.......


                                                            Nan-night little duckies, sleep well.

Everybody Out!

I think they were keen to get into the bath this morning. If you'd seen the state of their under-bellies it was hardly surprising. In fact we think they could well be a new breed of duck altogether - 'The Grubby-Bellied Aylesbury'. And 'The Grubby-Bellied Whatever You Are' Ace.

But I digress.

Steve had got the bath out ready to fill with water. One had seen it. Now I didn't know much at all about ducks pre-Ace, but I have learned that they are like sheep - one goes somewhere and they all follow. This was the first time we had seen the Great Escape.......

Quit Pushing at the Back


I said QUIT IT!


Filthy looking creatures aren't they? Oh, but when they are bathed, cleaned and preened they are just the most gorgeous little things ever. And soooo soft. Like stroking a cloud....

And look at Miss Ace showing off her chest this morning.......

And doesn't she look proud of herself?

On a personal note, I am not feeling the best ever today. Varying reasons, but Xmas has a fair bit to do with it.

Have I written before that we don't 'do' Xmas? Can't remember. But we don't. It's not a religious thing, just a choice. My Mum's passing ended the joy of Xmas for me as she was the original Xmas Fairy - she loved it. And now I don't.

And with just a week to go, everywhere is frenzied activity.

Most of me is relieved (how the hell do people afford it all?) but there is a twinge of sadness - I so wish my Mum was still alive.





Saturday, 17 December 2011

Becoming Real People

The ducks that is. Who else?

Ace. Well we all know what an impact she has made on us. She was the first one, and whatever else happens with any of the others, she will stay with us for the rest of her life.

We named one Bob today as it was bobbing its head up and down as if watching us at the table. But once it stopped we obviously couldn't say which one it was. They are all so similar.

No, that's not quite true. When they are clean and dry they are all similar. When they are swimming/have just swum it is a very different story. Then one person stands out as being quite different. And I don't mean Ace.....

Just look at this little person...........


This is our Little Dot - a face only a mother could love.

Doesn't she look pathetic? It's not that she is much smaller than the others anymore, but she is behind in her development. She still has several bald spots (wings and face especially) and seems to feel the cold more than the others. She did hatch a little behind the others, so perhaps she will catch up? But she, like Ace, has a home for life with us. Can't see anyone wanting to buy her anyway!

Look at the size of her siblings though. I took this avant-swim photo' this morning to show how little difference there is in size between Ace and the largest of the Aylesburys. They are a week younger, but a larger breed so will catch up with her.



I also took this one of Ace's wings as they are just stunningly gorgeous now and this was a perfect position to see them clearly. She did manage to stand still for longer than 2 seconds - there must have been something edible on the floor!



Beautiful, isn't she?





Friday, 16 December 2011

All Change. Again.

Who knew we wanted a new sofa? Neither of us did that's for sure.....

But there was a scrummy one on Freecycle yesterday afternoon and Steve said 'go for it' so I did. And won :-)

Trouble is it is rather large. And white.

But it takes a lot to deter a Rothwell so we went out in the rain and semi-dark to collect it.

Once we got it home it was mud-splattered from the road. No matter, loose covers wash.

BUT

Would it go through the front door? You guessed......

It was cold and dark by now, it was raining. So we decided to cover it with a tarpaulin and leave it in the front garden overnight. If it survived it was meant to be, if it didn't it wasn't.

It survived. Sort of. It was a fair bit wet in places where it had rained all night, but we could let it dry and it would be fine. Now to get it into the house.....

We finally found out how to remove the legs, but it still wasn't going to go around the angles of the front door and hall. So we carried around to the back door. And it went straight through the kitties' bedroom and into the lounge.

The cover has been washed and is drying. But it is covered with blankets and throws at the moment. And the cats have staked their claim....Ooooh look, Mummy and Daddy have got us our own seat. Huh!

This is the life eh Ella-Me-Lella-Bo?


I was going to upload a photo of the whole sofa, not just the kitties' seat, but it has disappeared. I know - I'll take another one. BRB........


That didn't take long did it?

Notice that Ella has abandoned Sam? She is looking out of the window - counting pheasant? So Sam looks very smug with the whole of this new playground to himself. Doesn't it look nice? And it is sooo comfy.

So all the trauma of last night was worth it.

Of course it means we have a 3-piece to get rid of. I tried to Freecycle it, but all I got was 'can you send photo's' and 'can you deliver it'? No and No. So we tried the Burnbake Trust. They cannot do anything until 5th January. So it has been relegated to the woodshed. If things get really tough in the meantime it would make decent firewood!

A friend came round to see the ducklings this morning. She hasn't seen them for a week and she couldn't believe the size of them. They have the same effect on us every day. I invited her to hand-feed them, which she was keen to do until she realised what I had in my hand - dried mealworms. Live ones, no I couldn't touch, but these are dead. And dried. Wuss!