Tag Archives: Trees

‘In the Midst of Life….’ (alternate title) ‘Do Ghosts Eat Custard Creams?’

‘In the Midst of Life…’

(alternate title)‘Do Ghosts Eat Custard Creams?

The other day we wet for a walk through a local nature reserve.  The sun broke through the clouds for a few precious hours and we ambled around eating wild raspberries and throwing grass seed at each other.  Dragonflies darted, I sulked for a bit because the grass seed got stuck in my hair, it was your average family trek around the countryside.  It was fun mostly and as always, I found it a welcome change from being trapped indoors.

Everything seemed alive and literally buzzing, bees, hoverflies and butterflies floated around the Cow Parsley and birds flitted around the upper branches of the trees – most likely cursing us for being such a noisy bunch.

As we walked along, probably singing about going on bear hunts, I came across something that looked really peculiar.  The rabble ran ahead of me and I paused for a minute or so to take a closer look.

Yep, it really was a double pack of Custard Creams cellotaped to a tree down by the river’s edge.  I’m unashamedly nosey, why would anyone in their right mind do that?  I had to find out.  So, I jumped down onto the banking and wandered over.  Then I saw the dead roses tied to another branch.  By this point I was seriously wondering if I’d come across some weird pagan custom that involved sacrificing biscuits to river gods.

Next I spotted two small neat looking envelopes in a plastic sealed bag, also taped to the same tree.  A little note on the front of the bag said,

‘To my little brother and Sno, we miss you both so very much’  

Each card had one name on it, they were obviously left for these two people named on the note.  It really, really makes you wonder what stories unfold around us while we bumble along through life oblivious.

Judging by the state of the cellotape, the faded, unopened packet of biscuits and the very dead roses, plus the unopened envelopes – they’d been there for a long time.

I could hear our rowdy kids yelling and laughing in the distance as I stood there.  No way would my curiosity let me open those envelopes even though I suspected they’d never be opened anyway.  They weren’t addressed to me and I had no right to open them.  The biscuits would no doubt be washed away if the river flooded and would probably end up as fish food.  Eventually the roses would dessicate and crumble.  But….  in the mind of whoever left them, the Custard Creams would be eaten and the cards read and treasured by the little brother and Sno.  Why else would they have been left?  It was a beautiful, simple gesture and I’m not embarrassed to say, it gave me a lump in my throat.

I presume they all spent hours fishing down there maybe, eating biscuits I’m guessing.  This was a place that was special to them, away from the well walked paths, hidden mostly by over hanging trees.

I’d only been a minute or two, but I knew I needed to catch up with my lot before they wondered where I’d got to. I left everything as it was, untouched.  I am a sentimental fool, always have been, prone to thinking things that don’t always make absolute sense – so as I left I couldn’t help but imagine two ghosts sat there in the twilight of a balmy summer’s day, eating ghostly biscuits with half see through fingers, dropping crumbs in the mud and reading their cards.

I scrambled back up to the path, through nettles and headed away from what I now recognised as a shrine to two people, lost for reasons I shall never find out.  Back towards my family, my noisy, bickering, giggling, frustrating but ultimately full of life, reason for living.

Just as I spotted the kids in the distance I looked to my left, and there perched on a branch over the river was a Kingfisher.  Stock still, it sat there, bright electric blue wings and an orange tummy, poised and ready to catch an unseen fish in the shallows.   Whenever I’ve seen them before they’ve always flown away almost instantly.  It’s like they dart in one swift rush of energy, wings moving so quickly you can barely see them, like a ball of blue thrown through the air.  Not this one.  It just sat there and I swear it knew I was watching it from just a few feet away. Eventually, bored of being stared at, it moved on.

I finally caught up and babbled on about Kingfishers to the kids and in a slightly more hushed tone about riverside shrines to Horace.  The sun still shone, the bees still buzzed, the kids still hassled us for packets of crisps and drinks.  We were/are in the midst and muddle of life, which is more than can be said for someone’s lost little brother and his friend Sno.

Even now, as I type, it seems slightly unnerving to think that just a short distance away, hidden from sight, away from the roads and life, there’s a riverbank where there’s ghosts and yes, I think they eat Custard Creams.

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Just Another Day…

Just Another Day…

…made up of little things that seem inconsequential really.  Still I have to remember these times, because they’ll be ammunition for when my kids are 21 and I want to embarrass them.  Cos I’m nice like that.

I bought Sausage and Darlek a small bottle of Vimto (or Vomit as I call it) on the way home from school.  Darlek happily drank hers, no problemo.  Sausage said it was ‘spicy’ but decided he liked it when he realised he could do brilliant burps with it.

As a result the last 10 minutes of the way home were very noisy.  If I had closed my eyes I could easily have pictured a sea-lion lolloping alongside me up the hill.

‘Baaarph!’  ‘Boooooaaark!’  ‘Brrrraaawph’  ‘Buuuargh’  etc etc.

I kept telling him that he’d make himself sick, but to no avail.

Darlek is acting like a teenager too, which is great.  I told her she couldn’t have a sweet at 8.45pm because she was just about to go to bed.  So she went to the fridge, opened it, threw the sweet in and slammed the fridge door with more than a little venom.  I told her if she slammed anything like that again she’d get sent to her room immediately.  So she burst into tears and I felt very guilty.  I hate arguing with either of them.  I slam things around when I’m annoyed so I guess she’s growing up just like mum.  I reckon the next time I slam a door she’ll tell me off and tell me to go to my room, and I’ll deserve it probably.  What goes around, comes around.

Last day of school today and I was supposed to pick them up at 2.30pm.  At 2.45 I was drinking a leisurely cup of tea when the phone rang and a rather annoyed receptionist told me my children were still waiting to be collected.  Oops.   It’s definitely not just my kids who act a bit daft sometimes.

Good news!  I saw my consultant yesterday and he has booked me in for an urgent flexi-sigmoidoscopy, but didn’t seem too worried about my recent symptoms.  He said that urgent flexi-sigs are done by surgeons, so if I need any work doing whilst they check out my innards they can sort that for me.  I’m hoping they have some good drugs because I don’t fancy being conscious whilst that’s going on.  The good drugs are the only nice bit really.  It’s a great excuse to get off my head and not have to worry about getting told off by my mum.

Horace has had a stinking cold but has been typically dedicated to his job and has gone in anyway.  Which is admirable, although I’m still rather unsure whether or not his colleagues will appreciate him giving them a cold for Christmas.  I’m sure they’d prefer a small bottle of vodka or something.  But if he wants to give them mild influenza, then it’s up to him.  It’s cheaper at least.

As for Christmas…well.  Our Christmas tree is up and decorated.  I have ordered a turkey too.  There were only a few turkeys left in the shop so I had to get the smallest one, which incidentally looked like it was actually ostrich rather than turkey.  I think we’ll all be a bit turkeyed-out by New Year, there’ll be tons left!  I might do a series of recipe blogs, ‘Turkey a-la-fried’  ‘Turkey a-la-microwave’ ‘Turkey wrapped in turkey parcels’  ‘Turkey with added seasoned turkey’.  You know when you say something too many times and it starts sounding stupid?  Turkey, turkey, turkey, turkey, turkey….. (downs small glass of sherry)..tukey, turkey, toonkey…. toorkney..turkey…twoknee…tooknees..toorkee…

Anyway!  I have a nice little Christmas craft tip to impart.  You only need two props.  A) A Christmas Tree and B) A box of Quality Street.  Are you up for it?

Right, Step 1:  Prise open huge tin of Quality Street. (make sure no-one else is around so you don’t have to share it)

Step 2:  Eat all the caramel barrels first before anyone interrupts you.  This is important.  They are the nicest ones.  If anyone comes in and asks where they are, say that they must have forgotten to put any in this tub and blame poor packing standards. That way you’re blameless.

Step 3:  Pile the papers in front of you.  Do not stop eating until you feel vaguely sick.

Step 4:  Get each sparkly wrapper, nip them in the middle and squish them upwards so they look sort of like scrunched up flowers.

Step 5:  Hold as many sweetie scrunched flowers as you can in both hands and lob them at the Christmas tree.  Most will land on the branches and will nestle there like delightful multi-coloured decorations.  Fallen Quality Street flowers blend nicely with the bits of shredded tinsel and pine needles embedded in the carpet.

This is a brilliant Christmas tip if I say so myself. I came up with this idea because I am very environmentally minded and am an avid reader of BBC Wildlife magazine and National Geographic.  I care about my surroundings.  So, save energy!  Don’t walk to the bin, throw pretty litter at the tree instead.  Recycle!  Repurpose sweet wrappers as Christmas decorations.  That way it will disguise exactly how many you’ve eaten too, so your partner won’t be able to sit there and look at you with that ‘I know you’ve eaten all the caramel barrels’ expression.

It’s a win / win situation.

Happy Christmas by the way.  Wishing all my readers a stress free, sparkly, family friendly, chocolate filled, sherry infused, drizzly with patches of sunshine, wonderful Christmas and an even more fabulous 2013.

Love from me. x :O)

Our Very First Harvest!

Our Very First Harvest!

We have owned the garden across the road for about a year now and I am proud to say, so far we have lopped a load of massively overgrown Christmas trees down and destroyed masses of bushes of unknown origin.  We are rocking the ‘Garden Thing!’ whatever that is.

As you can see our garden is beautifully manicured, well maintained and not at all rainforest like.

In addition to this, last year I had a load of peppers, cucumbers and other veggies in the polytunnel which Sweara (MIL) gave me.   I would love to say that they grew really well and we had a fantastic harvest and I spent many hours slaving over a hot stove making home made veggie curries etc ….but I can’t, because I didn’t, I murdered the plants instead.  In cold blood I’m afraid. I deprived them of human comfort and denied them water. I’m a plant killer.  Bad me.  Very bad me really.  My initial burst of enthusiasm was dampened by drizzle and laziness.  There I’ve admitted it.   I promise to try harder.

At least this year we’ve managed our first proper harvest!  It’s erm…potatoes.  Yes, I know!  Potatoes grow themselves really, and it’s not hard and it’s nothing to be really proud of, but goddamit I am proud anyway!  We grew something and now we get to eat it!  In yer face ASDA!

Sausage shouted ‘Potatoes-tatoes-tatoooes!’ hysterically quite a bit. He was very excited and sulked if no-one passed him any to put in the spud box.

I know a bag of spuds cost barely anything and the effort that goes into growing your own is hardly worth it really, but we get completely organic, home grown potatoes on our plates within hours of them coming out of the ground this way.  How cool is that!

Darlek shows off our very first harvest! Spuds, glorious spuds! *bursts into song*

I’ll admit finding finding potatoes with suspicious holes in and finding weird wiggly things in the spud box is a bit of a downer, but I’m willing to persevere with this regardless.  There’s something so rewarding about digging them out of the soil, I think it’s the remainder of the hunter / gatherer instinct.  I get the same satisfaction from picking berries and collecting eggs.

My parents used to keep hens until a fox massacred the lot of them one gory night.  I do like foxes, but I don’t like it when they mix with livestock very much.  I’ve toyed with the idea of chickens a lot recently, but I’m not sure if I could cope with Reservoir Foxes in my back yard if one of the blighters gets into the garden and has a feeding frenzy.  Maybe we will have feathered friends, maybe we won’t.

Apples of the earth! We have more Pomme de Terres than we know what to do with!

So what’s for tea then? Mashed spuds with a side order of chips? Or maybe wedges with boiled potatoes for pudding?

I do love that the kids got so excited about our very first harvest.  Sausage and Darlek both know exactly where potatoes come from, they’ve planted them, watered them and dug them up too. From what I can gather they really enjoyed the experience and I do hope that they continue to be enthusiastic about where their food comes from and pay attention to how it’s grown a little from now on.  If nothing else I’ll be happy if Sausage now knows potatoes don’t grow on trees and Darlek remembers that a single potato has the potential to grow and multiply itself many, many times.  It really is quite amazing that one single lonesome spud has the potential to reproduce itself so many times.  Nature is amazing, it’s easy to forget that sometimes I think.

Treasure! We found the spout of a tea-pot which I thought looked very much like a tiny brown leg. So it’s not a mahoosive slug, or a poo before you say as much.

After a lot of digging and muttering about mucky fingernails, we took a bag of them indoors and I washed them in the sink.  The colour of the water was disgusting, Sausage refused to put his hands in there although he did like plopping them in the water in the first place.  I decided to make boiled new potatoes to go with our erm…..supermarket bought pizza and beans out of a tin.  Classy meal eh!  Well, maybe not completely ‘In yer face ASDA!’, maybe just a quick ‘Ner-ner-ne-neer-ner!’ instead.

Tiny spuds! Some were the size of marbles and were actually cute. I’ve never seen ‘cute’ potatoes before.

Here’s the end result!  I know the meal itself wasn’t exactly nutritious and that Annabel Karmel would probably tut at it, but at least it included home grown, organic, freshly dug, cute potatoes!

I think the potatoes cancelled out the trashiness of the rest of the meal, or at least that’s what I told myself anyway.

So there you have it, our very first harvest.  From garden to plate!  I noticed the peas have grown too today, so we will be sitting in front of the TV snacking on crunchy pea-pods instead of popcorn very soon too.  I’m sure the kids will be overjoyed.  Maybe, maybe not.  Most likely I’ll resort to bartering, ‘If you eat three of those pea-pods, you can have some Coca-Cola.’  Well it’s a start isn’t it!

Christmas Tree!

Christmas Tree!

Today we put up the Christmas Tree!

The kids climbed on the sofa and a very sturdy table to reach our tree and scared Horace and I out of our wits.  Darlek placed all the chocolate santas very high up so her brother couldn’t reach them (you have to admire her logic).  Sausage put tons and tons of baubles on the same two branches for reasons known only to himself.  The Kitty got tinsel rage and pounced a lot.

'Sparkly Tinsely Treey Bedlam!'

Horace and I sat there making intelligent suggestions such as:

‘Don’t stand on the window ledge, the sofa is high enough.  Whoooooooaaah!’ 

‘No you can’t decorate kitty, he doesn’t like it’

‘Stop it! You can’t hang advent calendars on Christmas Trees!’

And a gem of a conversation totally unrelated to Christmas too (I can’t not record this, it made me grin loads)

Horace: ‘Sausage, your pants are falling down, you look like a rapper’

Sausage: ‘I not a rapper, you a rapper!’

Horace: ‘You don’t even know what a rapper is!’

Sausage: ‘I do!  He someone who’s pants fall down like this!’   (Sausage drags on his waistband a bit showing Thomas the Tank Engine undies. 

Anyway, the kids are now in bed and I’m left with a sparkly devastation area.   Kitty is in cardboard box / tinsel heaven.

By the way, we do still have kitty although he’s on his last chance. The vets say he possibly has IBS and the very last thing that could help him (before surgery and massive vets bills) is high doses of steroids.  So he’s on two tablets a day now and hopefully things will improve.  It seems he might have something very similar to Colitis.  You see, Colitis can be inherited and he is my furry baby after all.  I do hope that this helps you know.  I’d love it if he could have one more Christmas with us.  As long as he doesn’t try climbing the Christmas tree that is…

7 Bells!

7 Bells!

Yep, we’ve been knocking seven bells out of our new house across the road, it’s looking a wreck, but at least we’ve started.  Horace spent all afternoon hacking at the horrendous fake beams with a hammer, covering himself in dust and I’ve been his dutiful tea making wife.  Go me!  (I’m well good at DIY…)

The kids ran around the house with their cousins, playing hide and seek or something – eventually deigning to join us downstairs where they got in the way something chronic.  It wasn’t raining so they went outside eventually and ran in circles around the outside of the house.  They banged on the windows and the front door and shouted ‘Mumeeee!’ really loudly, daring me to tell them to pack it in.  Then they just all ran off giggling out of sight of the windows.  This went on for quite some time and kept them nicely occupied – I’m hoping that this behaviour has got the old game ‘Knock-a-door-run’ out of their system so they won’t torment the nieghbours in coming years.

Sis put me to shame and joined in with pulling the front room to pieces, while I stood there like a spare part commenting on the old wallpaper layers.  ‘Ooh, look at that, it’s so garish and 70’s!’  (I’m such a style guru!)  I so need to get a bit of DIY confidence.  It’s just, knowing me, I’ll climb on a ladder, hit myself in the head with a hammer and fall off dramatically, Laurel and Hardy style.

More damsons anyone?

In an attempt to make myself completely useless I went outside and picked some more damsons from our tree.  Our neibours now have damsons too, our freezer is full of them and I think I’m going to start dreaming about damsons at some point very soon.  It’s the tree version of a damson mine in that garden, I’ve never seen so much fruit!  Everyone in the family will be getting damson gin or damson jam for Xmas, and probably for their birthdays, anniversaries, and for the hell of it too. I’ll be known as the Damson Gal if I’m not careful.

I just loved the sillhouettes of these against the sky.

Made sloe gin last night, not damson gin, although I do have plans for the stuff! My fingers are stained a nasty shade of brown and I look like I smoke 100 roll up fags a day.  I’ve scrubbed them loads and they still look grotty.  It’ll be worth it though! Love the stuff!

Autumn's bounty!

Went picking the sloes in the rain day before yesterday.  I had a proper case of cabin fever and absolutely had to get out of the house / cabin (whatever!).  In all truth, stood in the shade of the tree out of the rain, on a stool, picking sloes, in a stupid anorak – I think I looked deranged.  But it was so peaceful to have an hour to myself to just enjoy a bit of calm and fresh air.  Horace had taken the kids to the pictures, and I flatly refused to do an ounce of housework.  I’ve been tormented with the stuff recently.

Sheltering from the rain.

The day ended with Darlek gipping into a bright pink wash basket, while Sausage ran around the living room yelling nonsense.  Poor mite seems to have a bug of some sort, temperature, headache etc.  I hope it’s not catching and I hope she gets over it soon.  Hate to see either of my two poorly.  She didn’t even eat her tea and that’s not like her at all.  I on the other hand ate two portions and felt like a fattie.  It’s fairly decisive really, my colitis doesn’t seem to be aggravated by food particularly.  It seems to get worse when I’m stressed, so I suppose I should ‘chill out’ or something.  Like that’s gonna happen!

Apologies for the excess of damson photos.  I have no photos of our half derelict new house and only pics of my current fruit obsession.  They are a lot prettier than a house being pulled in pieces though, trust me on that.