Monday, 29 March 2010

Reviewing the focus

I was beginning to think that I may have to change the description of this blog as being about life, llamas and cycling to omit the cycling bit since I haven't ridden my bike for ages. We have had so many things to do at the weekends that cycling had become a thing of the past. However, this weekend Ian decided that as he is no longer riding to work everyday he would like to go out for a bike ride. Yipee! This is one advantage of  Ian not working in town as he now has some energy! We decided to go along the Cuckoo trail, a fairly flatish disused railway line that we have ridden before. We did about 20 miles all in all and for the last three I thought my legs had dissolved! It brought home to me that if you want to stay fit once you are past 50 you have to put in the hours. We stopped at Wessons cafe in Horam for tea and a bun. The cafe was quiet except for 10 or so bikers. They were very quiet and polite and I joked with the owner that I didn't expect to find all the varieties of herbal tea in a bikers cafe! Today my rear end is suffering!

I also haven't written much about llamas, since our focus has been so much on making progress on the house and making our way there that the llamas have taken a bit of a back seat. I have written more about the problems with my current animals, especially the aged cat Norma who was approaching deaths door a few weeks ago. However, as Fiona (of Two Shelia's and Dog) predicted she has made a miraculous recovery on her medication and now looks like she might be fit enough to get her rabies jab and chip and maybe last a little longer. What I would disagree with however is that the cost is reasonable at a combined cost of £40 per month ! Must have gone up! The other problem is that now Norma is feeling better she is putting up more of a struggle when I come to give her the tablets! I have a technique that involves me pinning her between my legs and thrwing the pill as far down her throat as I can get it. However, she is quite good at preventing it from going down and discretely spitting it out at the food bowl!

Finally, this blog has really been more about building the house in France than all the other things. With that in mind we are off Wednesday for 10 days. We have a full van and a list of jobs longer that we have time to do. Ian is pleased as I agreed that he could start work on garage. There is some logic there as if the garage is done then we can store things in it while we finish off the floor in the house. He is now exitedly planning the concrete slab. We have also applied to have Internet connected, but this is France and so far we have not heard back so we will still have to resort to the neighbour's Wi Fi connection!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Birthdays and cats

This weekend it was Ian's birthday and I made him a mad cake. The picture on the top was an edible version of one of my photos! Actually his birthday is not until tomorrow!

We are still without a kitchen at Ian's but work is progressing!

Norma the cat is enjoying a new lease of life since starting on her medication! However, getting the tablet down her throat is getting harder now she is getting fitter!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

It wasn't like this in my day

It is a well know fact that when recession hits and people's jobs and livelihoods feel under threat, the number of protests, strikes and demonstrations increases. When times are good you don't see many people manning the picket lines (unless you are in France!). Other known facts of life are that the Conservative party always get caught out over unfortunate sexual liaisons or acts that compromise national security whereas the Labour party get caught with their hand in the till, there are more unofficial protests when there is a Labour government in power and if you haven't got the boll*cks to demonstrate when you are a student then you never will have!

With this in mind it was with much dismay that I read that a student protest over proposed cuts at my neighbouring university in Sussex was handled in the heavy handed manor so liked by the government .  The antics of the vice chancellor in calling in the riot police and then suspending students without giving a reason smacks to me of this modern obsession with smoothing over the cracks and blemishes and doing all you can to create the impression that everything is great; with the impression that people have of you being more important than the actual reality.

For goodness sake, protesting and demonstrating about things you disagree with is part of being a student. Part of a university education is that people are taught to be independent thinkers and so when they do think for themselves and decide that they don't like something and get the energy together to do something about it, rather than calling the police, those of us in education should be celebrating the fact that we have empowered them in this way.

But then maybe that is not how the  Government sees the role of universities.

Monday, 15 March 2010

The render

Ian has been in France this week and it has happened to coincide with the man coming to render the outside. Ian has just sent me a photo using Skype. It looks a bit yellow at the moment as it is not dry.

He has been doing various jobs in the house and trying yet again to solve the problem of the leaking cellar.

As a protest for taking him down the vet Mandi sat on the keyboard earlier and seems to have changed all the setting so that everything on the screen is extra large! I wish I knew what he did so that I can change it back!

Dilemmas of pet ownership

I have had a dilemma playing on my mind for the past week. I was always quite sure that I would take Mandi cat with me to France but thought that probably Norma wouldn't make it, as with her advancing age and frailty, nature would eventually take its course. I then realised that to take any cat out of the country I would need to get them pet passported, which basically means a microchip and a couple of rabies jabs and saying goodbye to the best part of £150! It also needs to be done a little in advance (moreso if you want them to come back ever) and so the time was approaching to head for the vets.

But, what should I do about Norma? The idea of the journey seems cruel in itself and something she may not survive. After agonising about this I finally took them both down the vets to ask advice. I must admit I was quite nervous and I don't really know why. Maybe it was the thought that this was the start of the end for Norma.

Mandi went first. He had his rabies shot and chip and seemed quite happy with things. He goes back in three weeks for a booster and then a blood test. Next up was Norma. She was agitated and not happy. She struggled to get away (not like her) and generally looked stressed. The vet examined her and then decided that she almost certainly has hypothyroidism, and when I read about the symptoms it seems very likely. Blood tests were done, (Norma fought and struggled and I think the vet thought that she might pass out!) She was given some ACE inhibitors until the results of the blood tests come in and I am £202  poorer! Ouch! Still, it may be that with all this Norma will be well enough to at least travel to France and if not then I am hoping that someone will take her on a palliative basis for the last few months of her life. It seems to me to be a lot to ask of anyone but I have been quite suprised that there are in fact a few people that may consider it. People can be great sometimes.

(Of course I will be gutted about having to leave Norma behind but then I keep reminding myself that it is not about me and my feelings)

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Signs of an election approaching

I am by myself this weekend as Ian is still in France. I have spent the day trying to catch up with things in the house, inluding 2 hours of ironing! Progress is slow and my boredom threshold is low so although I have made progress there is still more to do!

We had a leaflet posted through the door last week about a 'street meeting' at 4.00pm today, with our local community support officers. I can't say that I was terribly interested in attending but at 4.00 a very 'Women's Institute' type knocked loudly on the door and asked me if I was coming. She identified herself as a local councillor. I guess my naughty schoolgirl guilt got the better of me so I hurredly put on my shoes and went out into the cold. One other neighbour was there. I know the rest were in as I could see their cars but they had sensibly stayed away from the front door!

The community support officers are known as the teletubbies around here as they are round and yellow. The two who turned up were not particularly round but one had the air of someone who wanted to be a proper policeman and the other would probably have been more suited in a job in public relations. They certainly didn't seem to have anything interesting to say. In fact they didn't say much at all.

The councillor could obviously smell an election and had already steroetyped everyone around here as rather stupid. I did not make any attempt to disillusion her and thought it was quite interesting that she seemed totally incapable of making eye contact with anyone. After 10 minutes they decided that they were wasting their time and we all went back indoors.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Hampered by cold and no Internet

Ian has gone to France for a few days by himself. He chose to arrive just as a cold spell hit the South and although there has been no snow down by the land, it is not far off. Temperatures are colder than they were when we were there over Christmas which makes it very difficult to work in the house with your hands. However, the most annoying problem is that we have no phone or Internet connection meaning that we either have to speak on the mobiles (very expensive) or Ian has to walk over to the neighbours and use their wireless network to get Skype. Phone calls are limited by the cold! It is an indication of how dependent we are on this means of communication that next week, he will try to get us a phone and Internet connection. This is before we have a proper electricity supply, heating or flushing toilet!

The other bad news is that the water is still coming in the cellar, although only in one corner. Ian is very dissapointed and has come up with yet another theory as to why, although what it all boils down to is that the builder didn't put in any drains. It is still an unsolved problem and the builder does not seem interested in sorting it out!

On another note, I went to Brighton today to do some teaching and was a bit taken aback to see that several University buildings have gone and in their place is a large part of the stand for the new Brighton football stadium! It is a lot closer than I thought!

As I walked across the campus to the railway station the wind was icy cold and went straight through my down jacket. It reminded me of the long winters in Nova Scotia. It is sunny but still bitterly cold for mid March. Coming over on the train I thought the countryside of the South Downs looked pale and faded. Spring can't come a moment too soon!

Ebay addiction

Oh dear. My blogging has been limited of late by my obsession with selling off all my unwanted things on Ebay. It really has become quite addictive. Definately, the money I get for the items is the least interesting thing, although I do get a bit exited when things fetch more than I thought. I have started selling off some old clothes that my sister gave to me a few years ago and I never bothered to do anything with. What I enjoy most is creating witty little adverts, and describing the clothes in detail ("this dress really does not make your bum look big... this 80s dress looks best with really big hair"). Then, there is the careful packing required and the regular trips to the post office. Fortunately there is one near work so I can go at lunch. I am even getting on first name terms with the counter staff! My latest item to attract interest is my mothers old pressure cooker. I tried to give it away on Freecycle but no one wanted it and then I discovered that they can fetch up to £15! I am now eyeing up anything I see around the house to see if it has any potential value. Anyone want two brass candle sticks!?

Then there are the people who buy the items. There was a collector of Edinburgh Crystal, someone into vintage clothing and a man called Ken who bought my old black evening dress for 99p. When I emailed him I did not like to say 'thank you for buying my little black dress' in case his wife sees his emails and it is not a present for her!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I am still at work and Ian has now escaped. I am really jealous and realise that staying at work for much longer is going to be a great struggle. I was cross  today and the temptation to hand my notice in there and then was quite overwhelming; so much so that I came home to avoid any more confrontations. I think this is not going to get any easier! However Ian has not found the first few days of being unemployed that easy either, as his friends and family seem to think that now he is at home he can spend all the time helping them. Adjustment is going to be hard work!

A collection of hoarders!

Spring is slowly appearing. The crocuses are beginning to poke up, the days are longer and after school the kids are kicking their football around using my car as the goal post! However, this morning there is a heavy frost even in our seaside town, reminding us that we have not quite seen the back of winter.
Our clear out continues. Over the weekend we cleared out most of Ian's kitchen and removed the units. We then took some of the old cabinets to Ian's mother's house for her to use as craft cupboards in her shed. Ian has a tendancy to collect things and has bits and pieces everywhere. Mostly this means that when he needs something he can't remember where it is and so has to go and buy more! Ian's mother is the same and by all accounts his father was even worse so I fear that Ian has inherited a double dose of the hoarding gene! Ian started to help his mother sort out her cupboards. One box was full of old half empty paint cans of various speciality finishes. There were three tins of Lambretta paint which made me smile as the Lambretta was sold in 1976!

I am now attempting to sell off some of my old clothes on Ebay! One thing I found in the back of my wardrobe was an old evening dress, worn once! The date on the label was 1986 and so now should be desirable as a retro item!