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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

ALL HAIL Easter holidays cometh

Here at the salt mines the Easter holidays are almost upon us. Therefore, we have not spilled a sack of salt, nor had snow, but the hail is piling up nicely. The weather today is absolutely attrocious. I wish I was wearing more vests. Only consolation is that it is not snowing as in Scotland!
Easter chicks hatching as I type, much cheeping and pecking going on in the incubator. They will be making their way to the salt mines on Good Friday for customers to squeeze and stroke. Have discovered why only one chick hatched from first lot in incubator - home produced eggs which are all fertilized by one pedigree cockerel, who is firing BLANKS! Embarrassing for him, but true. The rather sad result of this conclusion is that he will go into a fattening pen, eat his head off for a couple of weeks, then it will be Coq au Vin all round..... This leaves a career opening for another cockerel who is lurking in the farmyard, with only two 'excluded' hens presently in his entourage. He is definitely fertile, and so will be promoted to chief cockerel indoors. Some guys have all the luck.
Extra mattress finally going to be collected by bed company this week. New gas cooker connected up last night and old one ejected for recycling (hoorah). Yellow horse back in resting mode until this awful weather passes over (end of week perhaps???) and has behaved very well for farrier so twinkling with new shoes.
Youngest returned from school trip to Poland and seems to have mostly experienced Polish beer. Now wants to spend his 18th birthday in a beach in Crete with 6 other ne'er-do-wells! Hoping they can get themselves a suitable (and safe) package of flights to go with the furnished tent they are hoping to hire on the beach. Apparently, only swimming trunks needed, the holiday compnay provide the only tee-shirt they will need. Can't wait to see the photos after they have been in July..... This holiday to take place after A levels have finished, and approximately 2 days after youngest turns 18. Am hoping they all survive!
Eldest doing house clearance today for Chartered Surveyors where he is working for the summer. Tomorrow its back to the cattle market and sheep moving - but he will be cross, because wet sheep are quite smelly and he comes home smelling like a pile of old fleeces! Must remember to tell him that the fleece lanolin is probably good for his hands!!!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

oops, there goes another problem

Monday ordered a new mattress for youngest's bed. The springs sticking through his old one. Tuesday ordered new small gas cooker for kitchen (which needs a mains electric feed too), and take delivery of perfectly satisfactory new mattress as ordered (marvellous). Wednesday electrician turns up to drill through 12 inch brick wall to bring 13 amp socket for new gas cooker. Electrician drills straight into 1 inch copper hot water pipe from aga. Water fountains everywhere in kitchen. Telephone plumber. Plumber turns up within half an hour to divert hot water pipe around pierced and completely inaccessible spurting pipe. At same time lorry arrives with second mattress (unordered). Two for one perhaps? Plumber and electrician work like beavers all day to sort out mess. Additional, and frankly unwanted, mattress perched in porch awaiting fate. Telephone number for mattress supplier turns out to be unobtainable for two days on trot. Youngest boy arrives home from after school hockey match with fat ankle, limping badly, and reports hearing his ankle crack when it was hit. Not usually a problem EXCEPT at 11pm he needs to board coach for school history tour to Poland. Physio friend visits and assesses damage. She reports soft tissue damage, binds him up tight and advises rest, cold bathing and elevation. Might be difficult, but he will do his best. Dodging around spare mattress he has now departed for foreign parts complete with heroic limp. Eldest still evading sheep on Thursdays at Louth Cattle Market on behalf of his employers (local Chartered Surveyors) and enjoying all aspects of work so far. This bodes well for his 2011 admission to Harper Adams for a degree in Chartered Surveying. New windscreen now in place in red Skoda, but engineer smashed the water squirters in process. They are being replaced today. All in all its been a trying few days, but hoping for a very quiet and restful weekend with one son absent. Hoping to contact bed company about bloody mattress today.

Think I saw a tawny owl yesterday morning, huge, brown bird, but neighbour tells me they are quite aggressive to other birds, and food stealers, so not as delighted with his presence as I was. Hope neighbour wrong. Barn owls everywhere, must be just the right conditions for them.

Have volunteered to take friend's 5 year old twins to see Fantastic Mr Fox at the theatre in a couple weeks, which quite looking forward to. Must book tickets.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

giant egg

Yesterday one of the big boy's hens looked quite sickly and was thought to be on her last legs. Today she produced the egg in the photo! It weighs just over 5 ounces, a normal egg weighs between 1 1/2 and 2 ounces. She looks heaps better, quite relieved in fact!

icy stuff!

Salt Mines staff kitchen, this morning. Milk fridge been a bit temperamental lately, so Ula (the help) volunteered to give it a clean. Deary, deary me. What rubbish housekeepers we are. All this ice stuck fast around the ice box. Practically needed a shovel for the bottom of the fridge too. Obviously all clean and sparkling now. I would like to point out that this disgraceful state of affairs is no reflection on the cleanliness of the Salt Mines holiday units. Its obviously just like the cobbler's children who have no shoes. Guest accommodation spotless, own back kitchen leaves much to be desired.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

spring, the tail fairy, and phantom denting

At the supermarket the other day, returned to my (well parked) car, and found a courteous and generous driver had left me this anonymous gift! I was so angry it almost prevented me from driving safely home (red rage). I have moaned and wailed, but accepted that for now I will drive a dented vehicle, as it will be so expensive to get it repaired, and I refuse to sacrifice my insurance bonus for such a small bump. The local body shop staff were telling a friend only recently that most of their work comes from Morrisons car park - perhaps they employ a secret bumper car driver to bring them business.

More cheerfully, as I rode the horse beside a neighbour's garden today I noticed that he had burned out his pampas grass clumps. I came home and suggested to him indoors that we have a go at our two gigantic clumps at the front of the house. He was not keen, particularly as they lean quite nicely onto the house wall! Therefore, himself struck up his petrol engined hedge trimmer (which scares the bejazers out of me) and attacked the two clumps with vigour! The results are heartening, as you can see, and the next task is to dig out the middles with a spade to really thin them. Its not that I want to finish them completely, but they are awesomely huge, and need a few setbacks to bring them under control.

The Wonderhorse got his coat off today, about the first time for 6 months. Absolutely heaps and heaps of yellow hair groomed out of him, and I followed this intensive brushing session with a shampoo and full conditioning rinse of his tail, which was the colour of mud. I don't suppose he cares much, but I think it looks a picture. The tail needs about 12 inches cutting off the length, but I couldn't bring myself to snip it off today. Its trailing on the floor, and I like it! Hugh thinking of making it into a wig for himself..... The Yellow one then hacked quietly round one of our circuits like a good boy. He has lost quite a bit of weight during the winter months, mostly owing to the sodden state of the land. Hoping the Spring will bring him a bit more flesh on his (lean) bones.
Salt mines now boasting facebook page, and twittering too. All this techie stuff, its really not for me, but Lincs Tourism keep hammering on about using all avenues for business promotion, so going with the flow for the time being.
Parents evening for youngest tomorrow night. Not sure whether to tell the wretched maths team that he has been having 2 hours private tuition every week to help with mathematics, which has brought his grade up to A standard. The school maths teachers are, of course, taking all the credit for this improvement, but half the A level students visit the same (wonderful) tutor, who is a retired Uni professor and does a bit of tutoring to keep his mind active. I begrudge the school maths teachers their self-congratulation, if they were delivering the syllabus properly there would be no need for the outside help.

And finally, my garden is just a mass of snowdrops. Cute little things. Hoping the daffodils all come up together in a rush too and put on an equally dramatic show.
We went to see FASCINATING AIDA on their nationwide anniversary tour at the weekend. If they come to a town near you on this very long and demanding tour GO AND SEE THEM! They were absolutely fabulous, so clever, so cutting, up to the minute and very, very cruel. The Tesco Song, Dogging, 'Ealth & Safety were all well shredded in their fearsome lyrics, along with heaps of others. Well worth the drive (again) to Lincoln, which has proved to be the source of much great entertainment for us this wintertime. If you don't know who they are, or what they do, some old material is available on UTube, but sadly not the Tesco song (yet). So scary, and yet so true. By coming out and meeting the audience after every show to rattle a bucket they have also collected over £41000 for Help for Heroes, and Combat Stress. Commendable service after a tiring and long show. Dillie Keane, Liza Pulman, Adele Anderson and Lara A King make a great team. Just buy a ticket.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Melton, AandE, Snipe Dales and grumpiness

The new signs have just been delivered for placement at the salt mines entrance, and to replace the rather scruffy and worn existing boards. Quite pleased with them and hoping they will attract one or two more passers-by to explore our holiday options! Man and dogs taken on Sunday morning, bright and early, at Snipe Dales Country Park. A few years ago it would have been man, woman and two small boys being worn out to ensure a quiet and peaceful Sunday afternoon. Principle the same, but now trying to run the legs off two small and energetic balls of fur aka 'the girls'. Some participants were exhausted by all the activity, and needed extra naps, but it was not the dogs, obviously. We took the 'olds' out for lunch on same Sunday. They never really like this option as no-one gives them two plated meals each to take home and eat later, so always some mild complaining that I didn't cook and produce. Get used to it, season now here, and I cook even less often than usual! Tuesday (day off) found big boy and me off to Melton Mowbray cattle market at 6.30am (yawn) to buy fertile eggs for the incubator, which SHOULD hatch just in time for easter chicks for Reception at salt mines. These poor chicks will be cuddled and squeezed by the guests for a few days, then returned to the peace and quiet of farm life. If they hatch. Some doubt, as the first incubator hatch provided only one chick on Monday, out of about 60 eggs. Temperature issues probably. Sadly it was a cockerel chick. We bought about 6 dozen eggs at Melton auction and also two well grown greengage saplings, so some good should come of the outing in the long term. The big boy and I cannot be trusted with money in our pockets and an entire live cattle mart to go at. It was nothing short of a miracle that we were not trying to crush a couple of young heifers into the back of the Skoda too, along with the trees. It would appear that we are as bad as each other when it comes to spontaneous purchases of the agricultural kind. Also some sheep looking like they needed bidding for, but we resisted. On our way home from Melton we called in at the hospital to spring an 'old' from A&E (well that's what it felt like), and took same for slap-up late lunch and buckets of tea as a guaranteed treatment and cure for national health assessment times. Then, to complete a very tiring day off, called at tyre garage with big boy's car to check balance and tracking, and, as always, too late - so needed two new front tyres as an added treat. Luckily, as he is working, he paid for that little lot himself, and learned the hard lesson that when your steering wheel vibrates, it is a sign that you need to see the tyre man, not an invitation to ignore the symptom and keep driving around for weeks.....
Skipper the wonder horse probably needs to see his manicurist shortly, when I can find time to make the booking, and is otherwise chilled and cheerful. Have moved his cob neighbour back into a separate paddock, so Skip's food is no longer being stolen by the black beast, and we are able to get in and out of his field without lots of shouting, and a stick. Peace has returned.
Some A level results are coming in today for youngest, I am awaiting a text with trepidation. He MUST do well to boost his chances of taking up his place at Leicester University, so it was a bit tense this morning. Fingers crossed.
Off to see Fascinating Aida in Lincoln on Saturday evening. Its their 25th year together, and something of an anniversary tour. I saw them 23 years ago in London, and still remember how clever and sharp they were, so hope age and maturity has not dulled their edge.
Having consulted the calendar it would appear that we have a few weeks grace coming up, with less bookings for outings and events. This will mean more nap time, and might also add up to a slightly less grumpy person (me)... ever hopeful. If my tetchiness does not improve with rest it could mean that it is a middle-aged character trait for me. Oh dear.
As soon as the weather improves am hoping to push off with the beaten up old touring caravan for a few days in Derbyshire eating out and sleeping late. This will add to the waistline, and also deduct from the bank balance, but the net result should be a sunny temper. Bring on the warmer weather please.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

skegness round table ball

Ball headgear for the discerning guest

Andrew bracing himself for 3 different complimentary cocktails (of which 2 were absolutely ghastly) and remained, sticky and unloved, long after our departure

One of the two available desserts, shockingly sweet and overpowering - it beat me

It didn't beat Nola though!

Mrs S proving that large amounts of chocolate can brighten anyone's evening with a sugar rush!

Oooh gladrags again

Been busy, what with one thing and another, park opens in 6 days which is a contributing factor! Youngest had 7 friends to stay on Friday night, last stragglers didn't come in from 18th party until about 3am, and I was producing bacon butties for those with Saturday jobs from 7.30 am Saturday morning, so all a bit jaded on Saturday morning. Then Saturday night we went to the Round Table Ball, and big boy attended another 18th, assisting the birthday boy towards paramedic assessment at 2am, and taking him home to his mother's wrath and worry thereafter. Our boy arrived home at about 3.30am complete with ambulance blanket and sick bowls 'just in case' his friend attempted to be sick in our car. Luckily we had a rather more civilised (and successful) evening at the Ball.

Sunday morning at 9am saw us stamping around Snipe Dales with the little dogs, clearing our heads and trying to recover from the lack of sleep. Absolutely beautiful outing, frost on the pathways and clear blue sky. Feeling all energised and ready to take old people out for Sunday lunch. They are beating a path to the door as I type. I would like to think that I shall spend this afternoon riding my beautiful horse around the countryside, but the ugly truth is that I shall light a fire and have my own medicinal nap after lunch. C'est la vie!

Back to salt mines in the morning, and increased attendance of 6 days per week for the open season. Tuesdays now become the happy day, and all the rest pin on the grin days!