Archive for October, 2011
We’re back from our Suffolk farmstay (oh, the bliss of a decent shower, a familiar washing machine and two toilets! Sad, no?). The suitcases have been unpacked, the groceries have been fetched and I’ve just downloaded the photos. Amazingly, as I looked through the pictures, I realised one very wet, cold day at the beach was probably the most fun we’ve had in England so far.
I decided to take the kids to Southwold for the day because I knew Southwold had a pier and I knew the pier had some kind of a roof. This sounds like a sad reason to go anywhere, but when you look at the sky and know it is going to drizzle all day long, a roof is exactly the kind of thing you crave most. By the time we got to Southwold, however, it wasn’t just drizzling, it was truly raining. So, as you do, I hit the 2p slots with the kids and set about instilling a lifelong love of gambling in them. Over the next hour or so, we systematically fed 2p pieces into the kind of machines that push coins to the edge of an abyss, but through some odd freak of nature (or the use of simple magnets), never really fall over into your little cup, waiting patiently below. The kids managed to ‘win’ some keychains. ’Win’ meaning, I paid about five quid for two items I could have bought for 20p. Mr5 was thrilled with his little gold soccer ball keychain (being gold, it was obviously a ‘real treasure’). They loved it. And, as their mother, I don’t feel at all guilty because I’m sure they’ll meet lots of lovely people later on in life at Gamblers Anonymous.
By the time we’d had morning tea, a walk up the (strangely deserted) pier, a ‘walk’ of the dog, a bit more gambling (yes, yes, judge me if you will) and lunch, it had stopped raining and we were able to have a walk on the beach in our wellies.
So we’re doing a farm stay for half-term (look at me, using all these fancy new phrases like ‘half-term’!). It became apparent to me on the first day (quite apparent) that a farm stay is not a Club Med-style holiday. For various reasons. Following are some of them, in pictures. I’ve left out the shot of the 50 flies we are spraying each day in the front room. Flies like farms. They also like warm, sunny places. We have a warm, sunny front room next to the farm. And a lot of dead flies. Enough said.
Do tell about your less-than-Club-Med family holiday. I’d love to know I’m not alone in my bunny patting/family train ride/Halloween craft
I have found a new hobby to keep me busy over the long winter months…
Yes, it’s badger cam! Every day from 5-11pm, I can watch a family of badgers on TV, via a BBC webcam (better pictures and webcam here). I’ll be very interested to see if mum badger does the same things I do around this time of day. Namely, yell a lot, fight about dinner and reach for the gin bottle at 7.30pm…
How lucky are we? On Saturday we were invited to a cider-making party!
Now, the first step when you are invited to a cider-making party is to find (or scrump) some apples. Luckily, our next door neighbours have a large rooster run (not sure why you would keep seven roosters, but I suspect it might be for Sunday dinner purposes…). In the large rooster run is a huge apple tree, so we didn’t need to scrump and were able to rock up to the party with a huge bag of apples. Other people were able to turn up, however, with a huge trailer of apples and someone else went off to scrump for a while (because cider tastes better with scrumped apples). The rest of the afternoon was spent cutting up apples, churning them through the scratter, pressing the results to extract the juice and, of course, taste-testing last year’s batch.
There was only one chopping injury that required a hospital trip and we don’t think any actual digits ended up in the scratter…
Thanks to fellow Aussie school mum Gabi for the invitation!
I’m not the best with tuning car radios, but have managed to get three radio stations pre-set into my car in varying states of clarity.
On two of these stations it is forever 1987.
I thought it was odd when I heard Rick Astley’s Never Going to Give You Up twice in our first week in the country.
Now I know it wasn’t odd at all. It was just… 1987.
I’ve heard Wilson Phillips sing Hold On three times.
But the winner is Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder’s (and who’s ever heard of them, I might add?) Together in Electric Dreams. I now have a piece of paper in my car on which I’m keeping a tally.
I’m currently up to seven little ticks.
This is seven times too many. I hate this song with a passion and, Electric Dreams, the movie it’s from, even more. They used to play this movie on high rotation at a school holiday programme I used to attend. Most likely because it is clean. And by clean I mean ‘the most boring movie ever made’.
Even though Together in Electric Dreams is easily the mid 80s most played winner, tough luck. I’m not posting it here. Instead, here’s the runner-up, Rick Astley. Because who doesn’t love a man who can pull off a few moves in double denim and something that looks suspiciously like a flasher’s trench…
It’s slowly dawned on me that lunchtime is a rather sacred event in England. The first time I rang up our real estate company’s office and asked for someone specific only to be told she was on lunch, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was a little odd that no-one else offered to help me out, but had a bit of a shrug and simply called back an hour later. The second time it happened, at another office, I started to twig that I might be onto something here. And now, almost four months into our stay, it has become a running joke between my husband and myself. Here’s a little photo we snapped the other day (after we’d picked ourselves up and dusted ourselves off from where we’d had a good roll around laughing on the floor…)
We’ve found all kinds of places that close for lunch. Post offices. Chemists. Hairdressers. Mini-marts. Call centres. The above picture was taken on the platform of a very touristy train station that runs a steam train. If you were an office worker there’s no way you’d get any running around done in your lunch time. Because everyone else is on lunchtime, too. Eating lunch. And, trust me, there’d be no quick jaunt on a steam train for you, either.
Mind-blowing stuff, a proper lunchtime. I’ve never come across that in Australia. It’s a nice concept — being able to run off to the park for an hour and eat your sandwich. Not sure what everyone does in winter, though.
I might try this lunchtime thing myself and take my midday repast out to the flower meadow tomorrow. It would make a nice change from watching Neighbours and would probably also stop me from eating Weetbix for lunch (the terrible fallback of Those Who Work From Home).
Roxanne, you don’t have to put on the red light (unless you’ve flushed something you shouldn’t have…)
When we moved into the old mill, I did sort of wonder what the red light on the side of the building was for. I considered asking one of the other residents, but didn’t want to cause embarrassment. I mean, if someone’s running a little business on the side, who am I to judge? Those two visitors’ car parks, very close to the red light, were there for a reason, right? I’m the kind of street/old mill-smart girl who can put two and two together.
Well, as it turns out, the red light is there for something else entirely. More number twos than two and two together. It seems that, when someone flushes something they shouldn’t, the drain thingies block up or something (please, don’t ask me to get technical, I spend enough time dealing with the kids’ by-products and cleaning the toilets – I don’t want to know what happens beyond the porcelain rim).
Anyway, last week, the red light started a-flashing and the director of the old mill committee thingie (also not getting technical, but after renting several apartments, I now know to steer well clear of apartment block politics. And a quick tip for you if you ever visit a large apartment block: DON’T PARK IN ANYONE’S CAR PARK OR YOU MAY DIE A HORRIBLE DEATH).
The plumber duly stopped by and everyone raced out to see a) who was here and b) what he was doing (it’s exciting in Cambridgeshire). Apparently it’s the usual assortment of things the plumber fishes out when he’s called, though, once, someone tried to flush a nappy down the toilet. A nappy! I did wonder about this. Having seen many a nappy in my time, I can’t imagine trying to flush one. It would be actual hard work to flush a nappy – harder than putting it in a nappy sack and throwing it in the bin. Plus, the toilets at the old mill have problems just flushing normal waste, let alone waste with a nappy wrapped around it.
Everyone finally wandered off, but I remained, fascinated. I wanted to know what other things this guy had recovered in his time from his plumbing travels. As it turned out, his haul has included false teeth, a whole orange, mobile phones, toothbrushes and Lego. Thankfully, no previously live animals had yet made his list. The most popular object was small children’s bath toys (the toilet often being rather close to the bathtub, you see). And the weirdest thing? A packet of 15 chicken nuggets.
People are odd (or maybe I’m supposed to say ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk’ now?).
I’m going to try very hard not to flush all those things down the toilet at the old mill. Well, not all at once, anyway.