As usual, I can’t let a numerical milestone pass without using it as a lazy title.
I checked Haibun Today yesterday, remembering that I should be in it. I am. (Despite things being approved by editors I always worry that a last minute glitch will prevent publication).
My first post, on 8th October 2014, was about Guinea Fowl sheltering from the rain. I was hoping to be appalled by my poor quality writing and banal subject matter, but it seems as good as anything I’ve done, which is a bit annoying – I was hoping I’d improved over time.
When I worked in South Africa I used to have a family of Guinea Fowl that walked across the front lawn on a regular patrol. The ones on the farm did the same thing, stalking the gardens, eating pests and depositing manure.
There are still four left on the farm, defying the odds. They have lasted better than we did.
Looking through the old photographs, as I was yesterday, I am reminded of the complexity of regulations around photography.
Care Bears came to visit
I have photographs of children and vulnerable people and I have permission to use them. So I’m clearly OK to post them on the blog aren’t I? Well, no. According to some regulation, which may be data protection rather than safeguarding, I should have asked for time-limited permission and I shouldn’t use them indefinitely. Schools, for instance, are only supposed to use photographs of children while they are attending the school. This would tend to suggest that I shouldn’t use the images now we have closed down.
This suggests that even if you are lucky enough to get a decent shot of a child you can’t keep using it. Unless you’ve paid a child model – that will be OK. That’s one anomally. Another is that I can’t publish names, but newspapers can. Presumably predatory perverts only cruise amateur blogs – professional photos and newspapers hold no interest for them.
The Quercus Group in disguise
There’s another anomally – if I want to take pictures of children on a visit I need permission, which some schools take more seriously than others. We once had a teacher shouting at one of our group members because they had taken a picture with their telephone, which might have included a school pupil.
Yet that teacher thought it was OK for the school to take pictures of the visit without asking our permission and without checking with the vulnerable adults in the group. In fact no school ever asked permission to take pictures.
I’m not saying they should do, but I am saying that there should be one rule for everyone, particularly for schools that insisted on coming on days when the group was in. Julia, being soft-hearted always resisted my requests that we should have a photo permission form for visits and only give permission to groups who gave us permission.
It’s funny how a train of thought can rise from a few photos…
Imagine what that would mean for the famous Pears Soap advert. They used this one for years. Oh, how Admiral Sir William Milbourne James GCB must have mentally thanked his grandfather for this portrait of him in green velvet as he strode the decks of his various commands, where he was known by the nickname “Sir Bubbles”.
Image downloaded from the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with permission. Despite a lack of medals and dead animals this kind gesture has elevated thm to the status of one of my favourite museums.
I haven’t been particularly fluent in the last week and I’ve missed a few things out.
The anti-coagulant blood test came and went. They managed to get the blood first time and the next appointment is in two weeks time so things are back on track. I’m hoping to extend the interval so I only need monthly tests. I know someone who has quarterly tests, which would be even better.
We went to the farm on Friday, as I mentioned and found that Evie the sheep dog had died at the weekend. The general view is that she had eaten poison, though I’m not sure where she would have found any as all the rat poison round the place is put out properly in bait boxes. It’s not the best run farm but they do get that right.
She was bred to herd sheep, and as I mentioned when she first arrived she immediately tried to herd the Quercus group, but she was never properly trained and I’m not sure if she had a fulfilled life or not. She didn’t seem overly happy at times, which is a shame.
The new puppy
The men in sheds were saying how good my bread was on Friday. This isn’t linked to any proper measure of quality, they just used to like getting free bread when I was practising and made too much. I said I didn’t bake these days as the kneading plays havoc with my arthritis. Next thing I knew I was being offered healing.
I’m not much of one for faith healing and that sort of thing, and was prepared to feel no benefit, but can’t say that was the case. There may have been some improvement for a couple of days, but it might just be wishful thinking. The jury is out, but I’m certainly not going to dismiss it. The improvement may show more about my imagination than about my arthritis, but even an imaginary improvement is worth having.
Then on Saturday I met a paranormal investigator. You’ll have to come back later for details, as I need to get down to the launderette now. Suffice to say that if I had doubts about healing…
I could start with my normal Saturday opening – “After dropping Julia off at work…” but I’m feeling like doing something a little different today. Same goes for the photos of the Mencap garden yesterday morning. They are OK but I’m just feeling like something more is needed. (As the post developed, not quite in the direction I intended, it became a little negative. It developed naturally, as I wrote, and I decided to let it stand. Not quite sure if it’s too negative or too personal. Let me know if you have any views on the tone.)
And that is why I am showing you pictures of cookie cutters.
Novelty Cookie Cutters
I’m torn here. I love alliteration and I am committed to resisting American English. In the case of cookie cutters I feel as if continents are colliding in my head. I really don’t want to say “Cookie Cutter” but some irresistibly force makes me do it. There is no natural alternative – Biscuit Bodgers just isn’t going to do it. I’ll try Biscuit Cutters and see if that works.
I found the cutters recently whilst decluttering. They had disappeared without being used during one of the chaotic times on the farm. We made a lot of gingerbread with the group and these cutters (with six different designs) seemed a good idea.
The problem was that after the introduction of the Farmer’s Sister into the mix everything went wrong. It started with her telling me “we’re all on the same team” which is a management shorthand way of indicating we weren’t all on the same team. Then it progressed to her shouting at me because she said I thought she was stupid because I had a degree and she didn’t.
All I had done was proof read something I’d been asked to proof read and send her the corrections. It seems that this was wrong – I should have sandwiched the suggested changes between telling her how good she was, how valued she was and how hard-working she was.
There’s a vulgar term for this, but rather than expose my gentle readers to it I’ll post a link to it for those of you who are interested.
The truth is, I don’t have a degree.
I also, at that time, didn’t think she was stupid. I just thought that she had made a mistake that needed correcting. She had used a word wrongly. I can’t recall what it was, but it was something like uninterested/disinterested. It’s no big deal. I have to think hard when using affect/effect. Getting something like that wrong doesn’t make you stupid. If someone had corrected me on it I’d have thanked them and looked it up to learn the lesson fully.
No, what made her stupid, for I did eventually have to admit she was stupid, was her refusal to learn or improve.
We were stupid too – we should have realised that it was time to move.
However, that all belongs to another story, and stupidity was probably the least vile of her personality traits.
After the team comment, and the shouting, she started a turf war, and kept moving out stuff. We had to start moving it back home every time we used it, and eventually, things got lost in the confusion. That’s how the cutters became lost.
Other things disappeared and turned up in bins or dismantled in the workshop. Like over-sized children the Farmer and his sister knew nothing of how they got there. She took down the group’s art work and binned it. She once needed a book for kitchen use, so she took the garden diary book off the shelf, tore our notes out and took the book away.
Sorry, but it just seemed the appropriate time for this to be mentioned, and once I started, I thought I would finish.
Anyway, back to biscuits. I found the cutters. I will make some biscuits.
Here, to provide a happy ending, are some previous biscuits (and some peppermint creams.
In the last few years of our time on the farm there was a certain amount of conflict, which I hope I managed to conceal in the blog.
There were two schools of thought – one being that the kitchen had been built to deliver educational sessions and promote healthy eating. This was a view shared by me, Julia, the funders and several other people.
Then there was the view that it existed as a plaything for the farmer and his sister to hold family parties and loss-making social activities.
I think we know who won.
Corrugated iron bar
Looks like a bar…
That’s the old butchery table under the new wooden top
Looking at it now, it seems our (short-lived) replacements did a lot of work and appear to have transformed it into a replica of a South American shanty, including corrugated iron, re-used wood and coffee sacks. You half expect Indiana Jones to stroll in.
New shelves for playing shops
Table and coffee sacks
Where did all the work tops go?
Unfortunately, the kitchen, despite the extension,The End is not now a practical venue for teaching. It will, once they have staff again, be an interesting place to eat, but we will no longer be teaching a thousand kids a year to make pizza or scones.
Nor, I feel, will it host the bread group again.
The final photograph is a young Wren. There were five of them but this was the best I could do. They are so quick! It’s a cheerful way to end the post, and a reminder of all the broods the Wrens have reared round the centre in the last five years.
No, not the poem, just a judgement on the remains of our old Butterfly Garden. We had a look while we were visiting the farm on Friday to visit Men in Sheds.
There is nobody in the centre or kitchen anymore, as things didn’t work out. This is a shame as they did a lot of work and it has presumably cost them a lot of money. It may still be costing them money if they signed a lease.
Sadly, without our (free) help, the farm appears unable to maintain the place.
Standing and looking at the place we spent five years working you half expect a tumbleweed to roll past, or a loose door to creak in the wind.
Dog roses running wild
Willow fedge turning into trees
Willow features in need of renovation
The willow work is out of control, the buddleias are going mad and the log xylophone has been torn out.
In other beds the shasta daisies, the borage and the oregano have all been ripped out.
Where are the daisies?
Barren Borage Bed
As a result we didn’t see many as many pollinators as we should have been and there were no brown butterflies, which used to love the oregano.
It’s seven months since we had to close down (or were evicted, to be more accurate) and the negative feelings are gradually fading as we move other things.
It’s also time to re-evaluate the title and content of the blog, as it’s clearly no longer the story of a Nottinghamshire Care Farm. I’ve been thinking of this for a while, and putting it off as it seems so final.
After a leisurely breakfast we dropped off some dry cleaning and went to have two new tyres fitted. Including tracking it cost me £270, which is more than I’ve paid for some of my cars. After that it was off to Men in Sheds to drop off birthday cards and then on to Rufford Abbey, where I failed to capture photos of Wrens, Nuthatches, Marsh Tits and a Kingfisher.
Just a few shots for now, showing the guinea fowl enjoying themselves in the sun, the new bird feeders being made by Men in Sheds and the kitchen extension.
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The guinea fowl seem unaware that they should be staying inside to avoid bird flu, the bird feeders may never be filled (there has been no feeding done since we left) and the kitchen extension has meant that the pizza oven and barbecue have been demolished.
We went back to the farm today. It was raining heavily and the farm track, which seems to have had some hard use recently, had several streams running down it. In terms of the pathetic fallacy it was like the sky was crying onto the ruins of the farm. In fact that was rubbish, it was just bad weather and a badly maintained track, but it gives me a chance to allude to past problems and the fact they are too lazy to maintain a simple farm track.
The aim of the journey was not to remember the bad times but to visit Men in Sheds and eat chocolate cake to celebrate Bill’s 85th birthday. We didn’t know it was chocolate cake when we set off, we just knew it was “cake”, with the chocolate element being a bonus.
Since we last visited they have sorted out the catering and now make breakfast for themselves as part of the daily routine. They have also been making nest boxes and bird feeders and are now making markers to identify the trees in the new edible woodland. That’s woodland that produces fruit and nuts to eat, not a selection of trees you can eat. You’d have to be a beaver before woodland became truly edible.
It was a pleasant enough way of passing a couple of hours and we have been invited back in a fortnight for another birthday.
We followed up with lunch at the garden centre and a trip round some charity shops looking for curtains. We found some at the 5th shop (oh, how glad was I?). They are excellent curtains, even I can see that, and are long enough to cut down and use the leftover bits for making a couple of cushion covers.
That’s a woman thing – no man would think of it.
I wouldn’t have a cushion in the house if it were left to me. I’ve never seen a use for them, apart from throwing at the kids, and in a house full of books you don’t really need cushions for that.
This is probably due to my management of liquid intake during the evening (as what goes in must come out) but may also be due to the events of the day. I certainly feel happier than I have for some time.
Three notable things happened, two of which produced a feeling of wellbeing. Those two were the conversation with the new tenants and a visit to the farmer’s parents (where we completed a jigsaw to check it had all its pieces before it went to the charity shop). I like jigsaws.
The third event was lunch at the Garden Centre. I swear they have reduced the size of the paninis. It’s difficult to say without evidence to back it up, but it seemed to me that the bread was shorter and the fact was concealed with artistic arrangement and an extra dab of salad (which is, let’s face it, just adding insult to injury).
It’s a re-run of the eternal Little Chef Breakfast Conundrum – you know something is lacking but you can’t quite recall what it is. I’m sure that the Olympic Breakfast is half a tomato and a full sausage down on what it used to be. If only I had photographs…
With the panini all I needed was a ruler.
Julia, as usual, has little sympathy with my quest for value, or my thirst for scientific knowledge.
Olympic Breakfast with fried bread option
I can’t imagine Pierre Curie met with such obstruction in his scientific research/
Today effectively started last week when we arranged to visit the farm and pick up the rest of our rammel. It’s been hanging over us for days after what happened on the last visit
Fortunately it turned out to be quite a lot better than we were expecting.
The big bird feeder has been moved. That wasn’t really a surprise as that sort of thing has never been of much interest to the farmer- apart from the occasion when he had to put up nest boxes the week before an inspection for a grant payment. Money is a great motivator.
Apart from that things were going pretty much as expected.
Some things have been moved by the horticultural project, and the people renting the centre were tidying today. I braced myself for exposure to these high-flying corporate predators and…
… found that they were very pleasant people.
This is a useful lesson.
Looks like the future of the Ecocentre is going to be in safe hands after all. Strange how things work out. It now feels like we’ve passed the baton rather than been thrown out.
Now, if only someone rings to tell me the farmer has an embarrassing rash, my day will be complete.