Tag Archives: birthday

Something you don’t see every day

I know from my own work that people take animals to Care Homes because the residents benefit from having animals around. We’ve even taken ducklings and chickens to visit when we’ve been to Care Homes, though the consequences can be messy, to say the least.

Seeing my father for his 88th birthday yesterday we found something we’d never considered before – a miniature Shetland pony visiting the rooms.  It’s not bad when you can reach 88 and still find something new to do.

The home has been doing well with events recently, and Dad has also been bowling and sailing, two other things he’s never done before.

As a family we’ve had a couple of bad experiences with horses over the years. Dad was cornered by one of his grandfather’s plough horses (an animal well known for nasty temper, as was the grandfather). His father was nearly killed by one of his gun horses whilst serving in the Royal Artillery during the Great War. It panicked whilst under fire and kicked him in the chest. However, I think I’ve mentioned this before so I won’t go on.

I didn’t have my camera with me, and I’d left my phone in the car too, so there is no photograph. However, I did manage to find their website so you can see what they do.

Sorry about the lack of photos again – I’m going to have to up my game. Here’s a cheery picture from the archive to make up for it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Care Bears on the Farm

Birds, Butterflies and Blogging

To be accurate the title really should be Birds and Blogging as there are no butterflies about, so if you have come here looking for butterflies I must apologise.

I’ve just been talking to a pair of birdwatchers who were going round the nature trail. The birds decided to cooperate for once and as we spoke we saw Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Chaffinches, a House Sparrow, a male Reed Bunting and a Robin. Two pairs of bullfinches and half a dozen fieldfares flew past too. That means I’ve seen as many bullfinches in a week as I normally see in a year.

They had seen Pied Wagtails, Bullfinches in the hedgerows and Linnets drinking from a puddle on the way round.

I filled the feeders in the middle of the morning and one of the Goldfinches refused to fly off until I was three feet away. It started trying to stare me down when I was about twelve feet away and almost growled at me…

They are much more aggressive than I realised. If it was five feet taller I really wouldn’t fancy my chances against it.

Julia is having a day off. It’s the first day she’s missed in five years so I suppose I can allow it. She’s at the graduation of Number One son. He didn’t bother going to the ceremony when he graduated from his first degree but now he has a second he’s decided to go. The fact his girlfriend is graduating at the same time may have some bearing on his new-found eagerness for academic ceremonial.

Julia described the whole affair as “Like Hogwarts without the Sorting Hat.”

The dance rehearsals went well this morning, and the group has been producing friendship bracelets under instruction from Dave, our co-founder. Julia and Dave were working for Nottingham City council when she was told she had to re-apply for her job and he came to the end of a fixed term contract. Somehow this led to a discussion that became Quercus Community. I can’t complain because this turned out to be the best job in the world for the last five years. It doesn’t pay much, but I do have plenty of time for birds, butterflies and blogging. I also get to do things that don’t begin with “B” but I can’t be bothered to list them all. The range of words describing my activities over the last five years start with alpaca and end with zoology so it’s been interesting.

It’s Dave’s birthday soon and we’ve had cake to celebrate. He’s claiming to be “thirty next birthday” and everyone is nodding politely. I will make no comment.

As you can see from the photos, he threw himself fully into the choreography, though when I asked the group who was the problem in the Dreamcoat number they were unanimous in pointing him out.

 

 

The Moonstone, pom-poms and birthday cake

I finished reading The Moonstone yesterday, I’ve been eating birthday cake and I’m in the middle of a massive pom-pom production session, so at least the the title was easy today.

Julia and Vicki have birthdays on successive days (though the years of birth are not quite so close) so we always have a surfeit of birthday cake at this time of year. I like the word surfeit. King John was said, in some reports, to have died of a surfeit of peaches at Newark in 1216 (they have been commemorating the 800th anniversary of his death recently), though it is more likely he died of dysentery. Henry I died of a surfeit of lampreys.

Lampreys have always seemed an unlikely thing to surfeit on, but it seems they were popular in the middle ages, and still are in some parts of the world. King John fined the City of Gloucester the equivalent of £250,000 for failing to provide his traditional lamprey pie one Christmas. In more recent times Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation pie was a lamprey pie provided by the RAF, and her Diamond Jubilee was marked by the gift of a lamprey pie from the City of Gloucester. Sadly, from a historical point of view, the latter pie was made with lampreys from the Great lakes in North America, as we don’t have many lampreys left, and they are now a protected species.

However, back to The Moonstone. It’s an irritating title because the Moonstone of the title is a yellow diamond, and not actually a moonstone.  T. S. Eliot called it “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels in a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe.” While some of this praise might be open to argument, it’s certainly long. Similarly, it introduces many classic elements of the modern detective novel, including a country house setting, red herrings, a quirky policeman and a twist at the end. It’s just a shame that the twist in the end is such a long way from the crime.

You may be getting the idea by now that I think it’s a little longer than it needs to be. It is. So are many classic novels. Moby Dick, for instance, could do with being reduced in length and a spot of energetic abridgement would definitely improve Don Quixote. I may have touched on this before, but the book, in my hand, would open with the body of Don Quixote lying on the library floor (probably beaten to death with a big book of heraldry), as the crumpled Detective Sergeant Sancho Panza looks for clues. I don’t know what my ending would be, but I do know it would be a lot closer to the beginning than Cervantes managed – about 300,000 words closer to the beginning in fact.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Varnished frames – almost ready

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pitifully paltry pile of pom-poms…

Yes, despite all setting to work in the middle of the day, we managed just these 16, well 15¾ really, as one is still to be cut and tied. That’s enough for one wreath. Of course, the process isn’t quite as linear as wrap, tie, trim.

It’s more in the region of wrap, stop and help someone, wrap, stop and help someone else, wrap, stop and try to rescue one, sweep away a pile of woolly scraps as the attempt fails, wrap, tie, swear, find the scissors, hack, look for a decent pair of scissors, stop and help someone, trim, try not to look too disappointed, start again…

As Julia pointed out, as I moaned my way through the afternoon, the best days of my life are like a pantomime villain.

“How’s that?” I asked, in my role as perennial straight man.

“They’re behind you!”

Two Birthdays and a Pizza

When you look at my titles you can see why Richard Curtis is considerably more successful than me, can’t you?

We had a school come out for an enhancement day  so just a short post.- working with livestock, making pizza and eating a foraged salad.  I’m hoping they felt suitably enhanced by the end, though I’m a little  concerned that a couple of them looked slightly shell-shocked by the end.

At lunchtime we had a party for Emma, then after filling the incubator, we went across to visit Margaret, the Farmer’s mother. She was 80 today. We had tea and cake. Then it was time to clean up, wash, change and go to the other party – the one with the canapes and cheese board. We finally left there as dark fell.

All in all it was a good day, but I’m tired and full now (possibly even replete) so just a short post. More tomorrow.

Rain,tie dye and a birthday

We saw a yellow hammer on the way down the lane today, and there were 12 goldfinches on the feeders. If only I could find a recipe for them…

It rained hard, we ended up inside most of the day, and in making tie dye bags we ended up decorating the table and ourselves. Number Two son, who had come out to use a dry morning in helping us garden was upset to find there was a distinct lack of dry morning. He did manage to shift quite a bit of work despite this, pruning flower beds from the shelter of the verandah and sowing seeds in the polytunnel.

As we spent some of the afternoon in the kitchen building up a stock of salt-dough shapes we did some father-son bonding talking about dentistry, politicians and the fact that when he comes to write his memoirs doing salt-dough shapes with your dad at his age is going to seem weird.

I also offered my view on personal finances, hard work and the parameters for selecting a decent care home when your parents pass 80. I’m not convinced he was listening …

The group made a birthday card for the farmer using some of the dye from the bags, Jodi also made him a card and even bought him a gift. It’s a Mickey Mouse tie.

As I said, it’s not often that you see a man wearing a tie with the picture of his business advisor on it.

Spring has sprung

I’m finally confident that spring is here, though I’m still waiting to see how good it will be.

I had an errand to run in North Nottinghamshire today – the car temperature gauge rose as high as 21.5 degrees C and there was no wind. It was so nice I actually took off a layer of clothing. Even now at 6.30 pm the farm weather station is showing 19 degrees.

Add that to multiple swallow sightings and an increase in butterflies (one Orange Tip, two Brimstone, a Small Tortoiseshell and I lost count of the whites) and it’s a definite step up in quality of days.

One creepy thing that happened this morning was that when I switched Google on it was showing birthday cakes. Nothing too creepy there, I admit, but when I clicked to see who was having a birthday it turned out to be me. That’s just a little bit too much marketing for my taste. I half expect to turn on to a picture of a corpse and find the message “Google knows what you did last summer , Simon”. Not that have I killed anyone, but having a major search engine wish you a happy birthday is a strange sensation.

Today, in the photographs, I’m going for a cuteness overload. And a picture of good weather.