Sunday, 28 September 2008

The Apple

One lovely bit of of the weekend was sharing our last apple from our James Greeve tree with my younger brothers kids.

I took a photo of the three of them standing next to the apple tree, then got Carlo, who is 4, to pick it.

We took it inside, cut it up and shared it between the lot of us. Even Douglas whose appetite was not very good at the time (hes feeling much better this morning by the way) had a slice.

Our last apple was sweet, crunchy and.. just totally delicious. One of the best apples Ive ever eaten.

I hope we have many more apples next year!! Yum Yum Yum!!

PS .... there were no creatures inside this apple.. although I was on the lookout for a spider, a grashopper, a ladybird and a glow worm (and maybe James himself???)

Saturday, 27 September 2008

A bumpy week

The beginning of the week went well.

I had my one to one (regular "hows it going" meeting with my boss) in which we had a good catchup session, looked at stats for the last month and discussed various normal work issues. All is going fine :-) Its also an opportunity to let her know how home life is going, and tell her of the slightly traumatic rescue of Douglas from his Pagan Camp.

Its a good thing my boss knows how things are with Douglas, as on Wednesday night his Gout flared up again, and I had to take Thursday morning off work to get him to the GP as an emergency visit. Poor old Douglas was in a lot of pain, also feeling (and being) sick.

He was just about well enough for me to go to work Thursday afternoon, and reluctantly I went to work Friday morning too, although he was still feeling pretty bad. I felt so miserable and worried about him - nearly started crying at my desk, but pulled it back in.. somehow.

I went on my lunch on Friday, phoned Douglas who was in an awful state and desperately needed me home to look after him. I went back into the office, and was very quickly given permission to go. They really are pretty darn good employers, and Im so grateful that they understand that now and then Douglas needs me to look after him. Poor boy.. he dosnt half go through the mill....

I went and picked up Martha, Leo and Carlo, my brothers kids, as we were having them for the weekend, and we had a lovely evening, despite D not feeling too great. I took them to my parents house for the night as we had agreed to share them for the weekend.

Friday night we went to sleep - Douglas in the spare bed level with the bathroom, and me in our attic bedroom. I made him promise to call me if he needed me.

1.30am he called. Surprisingly I woke on his first call (I'm normally a very heavy sleeper, and have been known to sleep through very loud fire alarms before now!) I went down to see what was going on, and found him to be in extreme pain. He had called the NHS Direct Helpline who had summoned a paramedic out to him.

The bloke who arrived was very nice but a bit slow, but eventually got a portable cylinder of Nitrous Oxide out and Douglas breathed it in desperate for the pain to subside. After a while, another person was summoned, but he was unwilling to give Douglas any pain relief due to his cocktail of tablets and kidney failure, so.. another wait and an ambulance came.

At the hospital after about an hours awful awful wait (Douglas writhing around in agony, trying hard not to cry out with the pain) the A&E Dr gave him 10 mg of morphine - a very strong pain reliever - and after a few moments, the very worst of the pain went. Waiting in A&E to get Douglas seen to is the very worst bit for me as well as him - I know that there is a system of treating the worst first, but it just kills me, seeing my beloved in so so much pain and distress, and all I can ever do is sit there, stroke his head, hold his hand and tell him how much I love him :-(

We got back home at about 5am, totally shattered, emotionally and physically. I fed the circling sharks (aka Billy and Lilly) to ensure that when I got to bed they would leave me alone and let me sleep. We slept till about 8, and as Douglas was feeling a fair bit better, I picked the kids up and took them to see a delightful film called Nims Island.

After a quick hello to Douglas, and dropping off some tablets we got from the hospital pharmacy, I took them back to my parents, came home via Tesco, and collapsed, with Douglas into bed. Hes feeling much better now but was absoltuely shattered.

Ive just had a shower and cleaned my teeth, got clean clothes on, and feel partly human again!

D is still sleeping, bless him.

I'm now off to sit on the kids for the evening as parents are going out to a concert! I'm looking forward to spending an evening with them. I will come home to sleep, and will sort out Sunday when it comes.

Monday, 22 September 2008

James and the giant...

I was looking out of my office window onto the garden - there was a strange golden glow to the evening, and our lovely little apple tree - a James Greave - was proudly waving its branches. One of them is weighed down quite heavily with one beautiful perfect looking apple.. a gentle combination of red going into orange and gold.. It put me in mind of the wonderful story by Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach. (Look it up on Wikipedia if you do not know the story)

I wonder what amazing things are going on inside our one red golden apple?

Today, being the Autumn Equinox seems a good time to find out, but I will leave the tree to enjoy its apple for one more day before I part the two of them.

In the new year, we will wassail our tree, thank it for the three beautiful apples it gave us this year, and ask for a few beautiful ones for years to come.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Quick update

My beloved and I passed a peaceful night sleeping in the spare bed :-)

Ds feet are still sore but much better now.

He is ensconsed in favouite position - on the reclining sofa, with Billy on one of the armchairs. (Billy seems to feel hes had a busy night, and is snoozing peacefully)

D can walk but its quite painful and his feet feel very stiff.. so hes using a staff that hes making.. and looking very pleased about it too!!!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Best laid plans...

of Anna and Douglases sometimes gang a-gley....

I planned a nice quiet weekend for me, with a bit of housework and lots of sleep as sleep is a great cure all for Annas.

Douglas varmooshed off up to his stone raising location a couple of hours North of here in the car on Friday night, planning to stay till Sunday. A group of people have been building a stone circle .. pulling the stones up the steep little hill and setting them in their rightful places with help of a wooden "A" frame.

I was rudely woken very early on Saturday morning - I was lying on my side, and Billy decided to sit just above my hip, whilst Lilly batted me from her usual place on the floor. Eventually I gave in to these two bullies, went and fed them, played on line for a bit, then all three of us snuck back upstairs for some more sleep :-)

I woke up to texts from Douglas saying his gout had flared up badly, and his very strong pain killers had not even touched the sides. An hour or so later, the pain was still as bad, so i offered to hop on a train, and get a taxi to the location. Douglas was in no fit state to drive home.. so it was Anna to the rescue!!

I called and ordered a taxi, then looked for my little black shoulder bag that had my purse in.. it was nowhere.. nowhere to be seen at all, and I realised that it was looped over the gear stick in our car (you may realise at this point, car was with Douglas)

My heart sank.. I cancelled the taxi.. and wondered what on earth to do next - I did so want to rescue my poor Douglas, but its rather hard when you have no money to pay for transport.

Ohh if only I could gather up some runes and teleport to places as I do so frequently in Runescape.. or mabye step into a fairy ring.. put the right code in and magically appear at my chosen destination...

I digress... I called and spoke to my Sister in Law, Katy and told her of my plight.. she was super, and called my brother to ask him to divert on his way home to rescue me! My darling baby brother.. he took me - via a cash point to give me £50 - to the station, where I purchased my ticket, a newspaper and a bottle of water, and hopped on a train North.

The journey was pleasant..I saw lots of combine harvesters hard at work making best use of the good weather, but I also saw some very soggy fields with what looked like rotten stems sticking out of the mud :-(

The taxi driver, bless him, knew from my scant directions, where to take me, and soon I was on Camp going into the converted Cow shed to find my dearest Douglas :-) he was in bed, in one of the funny little cubicles -each just big enough for a double mattress, screened off from the next by thin cotton walls... like four poster beds with curtains drawn.

I packed the car, then helped a very sore footed Douglas limp out to the car, and took him home.

Having installed Douglas on the sofa, and unpacked the car, I got our meal ready, and collapsed next to him for some R&R.

Douglas somehow managed to drag himself up to our spare bed which is right next to our bathroom. There is no way he can manage the other stairs up into our attic bedroom, so we are both sleeping down one level tonight :-)

Poor Douglas.. but Im so glad I was feeling well enough to rescue him!!! Im glad hes home.

One year old!

Last week saw my first year of working for the environment agency. I took brownies in to celebrate. Out of the 11 of that started training at the same time, only four of us remain! On the whole the retention rate is much better than this, cause it is a nice place to work :-) I hope the four of us can have our "birthday" celebration together, as the two other girls work at our other office, and it would be lovely to catch up.

The week went well until Wednesday evening when I felt a little dodgy. On Thursday morning, my tummy was not a happy one, but I still wanted to go to work... got dressed and went out to wait for my lift.. not feeling on top form, but not at deaths door so I knew I would cope. I got about 3 houses down the road and knew that unless I made a very quick dash to the loo, things would not be good.

I will brush over the nasty details, just suffice to say I felt rotten on Thursday and Friday, feeling better today, Saturday but still not 100%. I will be back at the grind stone again on Monday Im sure.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Friday 12th September at work..

Working for the Environment Agency has its benefits. Alongside our normal allocation of holiday, we get 2 special days a year to go and do something environmentally beneficial.

On Friday I had my first special day off. My team had organised to do some work with the River Stewardship Company

All but two of us gathered at work and went down to the site having hung around on what we thought was the correct bridge. We enjoyed the view.. and waited.. and waited.. looked at the pernicious Japanese Knotweed.. and waited some more. One of the group wandered over the bridge, noticed it was not the right one so we walked back to the cars, piled in and eventually found the right bridge!

We were met by the two stewards who look after the area – who were waiting for us with van and trailer. We hung around and waited for the last two in our party – Alex and Malcolm – to arrive, then at last started work. Whilst we were waiting, we watched some police hunt round in the bushes next to the river, and come back with two men that they arrested and bundled into their van. I must hasten to say, the men were not Alex and Malcolm!

Our task for the day was cutting huge buddleia bushes back from the side of the River Don. It was growing over the path, and the roots were damaging the steep sides of the river. We were given loppers, bow saws and a saw on a long pole, that looked as if it belonged to the Grim Reaper Himself! It looked a bit like the one in this link.

We all worked hard, and before long we had a huge amount of branches on the path, so we cut them into more manageable chunks, loaded them onto the trailer, and weighted them down with the heavier logs we had sawn off. The work was quite hard, but very satisfying being able to see the stretch we had hacked, and the difference we had made in a short period of time. Here is a link to the place we worked on.

We had a well deserved lunch break at a local pub, where we examined the gashes and wounds on our bodies after such a hard morning Ok.. we only sustained one or two little scratches, nothing drastic lol… We had a nice lunch (my ravioli with cheese and spinach was lovely) the meals were washed down with glasses of pop.. of course it being officially part of work we would
never ever even consider touching a drop of the harder stuff!!

We got back and found the stewards waiting for us. They had taken the first trailer load of buddleia away to a site that would chip then compost it, and were ready for a second load. We did another few hours of work, loaded the trailer, and made a few tidy piles of the excess where it wouldn’t show.

This is one of our group, Simon, taking a well deserved rest, with Richard in the background.

One of the stewards took us for a walk along the river, but I – not being super fit – found a rather comfortable log that wanted me to sit on it, so I sat and rested, listening to the sounds of the car tyre recycling plant, and the occasional birdy.

I got home that afternoon, filthy, exhausted but very happy – it had been a really satisfying day!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

How to live with a calculating cat...

If you look at the time on the last post, you will notice it was written at about 7am on a Sunday morning, when all sensible mortals should be tucked up in their beds enjoying the "I don't have to go to work today" feeling.

We have cats.

This morning it was Lillys turn to wake me, by miaowing insistently by my side of the bed. Long ago the little terrors worked out that trying to get Douglases attention in the mornings is a waste of time. He sleeps more heavily than I do, and wears ear plugs.

Lilly does not mince her words when shes hungry, and told me - in no certain terms that I should jolly well get up and feed her. Like a good human I obeyed, and bleary eyed made my way downstairs. Lilly keeps her eye on me until she is absolutely sure that I am getting up, then races downstairs in anticipation. If I dare pop to the loo first, she comes back up and tells me off!

Now and then Billy takes his turn in the game called "Waking the human". He has a more direct approach, and quite often starts the process a darn site earlier than he should do (IE 4.30am). He hops up onto the bed and walks the length of me , purring loudly. If that does not work, he then has a fight with the duvet and rushes around a lot on top of both of us :-) If this happens at 4.30 am, he get shoved firmly off the bed, but if its nearer 6 on a week day, the game is usually successful!

Another little ploy...

Now and then, at the weekend, Douglas will get up early and feed the cats. Last time he did this, I was still fast asleep. I woke an hour or so later, and went downstairs. Billy and Lilly were there, and circled round my feet, yelling and pointing to their furry gobs, telling me that it had been several years since they had even seen the ghost of a cat biscuit, and could I please please feed them?

Yes.. you guessed it.. Anna was conned into giving the furry ones a 2nd breakfast :-)

Its just like having two kids.. they wake you up in the middle of the night.. they eat you out of house and home and never say thank you .. but.. we still love them!!!

What we were going to do...

Douglas had been invited to go help with security at a Pagan festival near Coventry, and was looking forward to going.. and one of our friends - Dangerous Dave - had persuaded me to go too!

On Friday it rained.. and rained.. and rained some more. Most of Wales, bits of Yorkshire and a fair bit of the South West turned into swimming pools, and the outlook for the Midlands was for more of the same over Saturday and Sunday. As you know, we have to consider D's health, and we decided that a weekend in pretty damp and grotty conditions would do him no favours at all.. so with reluctance, we cancelled :-(

After we had made that decision, and apologised to the group via Dave, I received an email from a mailing list I belong to from a lady called Jacey Bedford. Jacey lives in a little village called Birdsedge in West Yorkshire, and was a third of a wonderful accapella folk group called Artisan. (do please have a good mosey round this site and follow the links - some lovely stuff to be heard!)

The email came with an empassioned plea for members of the list to stir their stumps and come to a concert raising money for the local Village Hall. The concert was originally going to be in the local Church Hall (Village Hall is leaky!) but so few people signed up that Jacey moved the venue to her house!

It was a lovely concert, listening to the Tania Opland & Mike Freeman sat very comfortably on the sofa, just a few yards from the aritsts!!!

We got back through the rain and fog at about 11pm.