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20th, October - 4th. November 2003
Two weeks of pretty good news all round, but lot's of obstacles getting in the way and trying to spoil thing's.
A large well known Computer Retailer phoned me with an offer of part-time employment. This will be 20 hour
The obstacles were that I took Leo home Sunday evening and had the rest of the day planned to get ready etc., and I got a puncture coming down the Lane. Not the front tyre of course, the back one, so it meant having to take the gears, chain off etc. Not very nice in torrential rain and 40 mph winds. I finally got to bed at 0100.
Who said cyclings good for you ?
All in all, the winter is looking a bit brighter now. I have the Store job, plus other bits in between. You have no idea how much this will help (not cure !!) and is a load off my mind. I was beginning to have nightmares about a full time job through til March. I couldn't face the same place day after day and the routine would do me in.
We went to visit Vicky and the grandchildren for 6 days and I came home successfully 'drained', but it was so nice to be there. Thomas (Aged 2) loves us being there and Leo has become 'The Main Man' in his life.
The chickens haven't laid an egg for 7 days ! Following extensive talks in the Pen last Sunday, Management Side (me) clearly stated we would not accept under 20 eggs per week during winter. Chicken Side (them) said they had taken offence to the Graph pinned on the shed wall and there toilet area being lined with old chicken recipes.
The winter salad is growing well in the Greenhouse. I've had to cover these up well though. Not because of the cold, but because of Ginger who sees the place as a 5 Star toilet area.
What the next two weeks will bring, I just don't know. Every day is a new one and a different one.
5th. October - 20th.October 2003
As it seems I'm only using the car very occasionally, I quite like cycling and the old Doc says I should only drive when I have to (awaiting another scan !!!), I've decided to hang up the car keys until next March.
I have two bikes in operation; a light commercial and an HGV. The HGV is the one with the bigger plastic box !
In the kitchen, the Rayburn is doing us proud. There was a time on Saturday when we had Beetroot boiling, Beans and Squash Soup cooking, hot water going on top with egg-shells (for grit) and chestnuts roasting in the oven. Put that with tea bag drying, candle wax melting over the top, clothes drying on a stand, a nice warm downstairs - a very production machine. I only burnt wood that day as well, so it cost nothing.
I did an on-line recruitment form for a part time job yesterday and it had one of those Personality forms. I scored well on 'Agreeableness', 'Extroversion' and 'Emotional Stability', but 'Conscientiousness' and 'Conformity' were interesting. I quote >may not always be particulary organised - may only look at the biger picture - might find your role restrictive - unorthodox - may be too informal - don't pay much attention to convention<. Oh well, that'll be interesting at the interview, if I get one !!
I actually didn't go to the Poultry Auction last week. I think I was too scared I may take pity and bring another lot back with me, even at 20p for my ex-battery hens, I simply can't afford to keep any more at present. The cost of food is out weighing the amount of eggs I'm not getting. If they want any new friends up there, they'll have to lay some ! I would love to have more and watch them getting well etc. I gladly 'take them in', but I can't afford to be a 100% charity if you see my meaning. I've had 6 eggs in the last week from 21 hens.
Saying that though, I have contacted the RSPCA to say they can bring any hedgehogs thay may have around here. I've only seen one since we moved here 6 years ago and it's a shame seeing the space we have and all the derelict buildings about. Lots of cosy bedrooms for them and, of course, they'd help with the slug 'natural selection' !
An old friend of mine who lives in Germany phoned up the other day and asked if I could help him with a removal job he was doing from Stuttgart to London. So I had a day out through the city streets and earnt a few bob. Nice to see old friends again
I've been working a lot on the Web Site. It soon became apparent that 'Frugal Living' was going to finish ahead of the other subjects in my poll and I've already started on this. The 'Fr ugal Living' page has been altered and one out of three new pages is up and running. I should have the other two done by the weekend. After that it'll be 'Downshifting' and work down the list. Results of poll on left.
The summer seems long past. I read the progress of the two Kent players in the England team touring Bangladesh / Sri Lanka and our other 'stars' in far off sunny places and think 'why them and not me', the answer being pretty obvious 'I'm no good and too old anyway' !!
This weekend Leo and me travel to Vicky's house in Netley for 5 days. A welcome break, but with two grandchildre 2 years old and 7 month's old, my expectations of returning home suitably rested are pretty slim.
The wording on the cardboard (photo of Battery Hen on left) reads ;
23rd.September - 5th.October 2003
I've started my cycling purge. Last week I cycled 35 miles in 4 trips to town and thereabouts Two of the trips were quite beneficial in so far as I had mystery shopping jobs. So I saved about £3 on petrol and made another £12 from the jobs and twice got breakfast paid for in the bargain. If I got that every week, that's £780 per year!
I was very pleased and honoured to hear at the Kent Cricket Club Presentations evening that I got one vote for 'Player of the Year'. They obviously saw me throwing the ball back from the boundary a couple of times, or the athletic actions in taking the drinks out during the South Africa game.
Around here, the farmer has harvested and this led to a busy weekend cleaning the windows. I also severely trimmed down our long Rose Hedge, cleared the Greenhouse, sawed a load of wood generally tidied up the whole garden.
I did not succeed with my aim of not lighting the Rayburn til after 2nd.October. In fact, it was the day after the last entry. It turned cold so quickly that drastic lighting was warranted. At least it saves using electricity for boiling up the left overs for the chickens. Also saves turning the water heater on - I should explain; During the winter I only turn the heater on if I'm bathing. The rest of the time, for washing up and self washing, I use the water from a huge Pan we have going all the time on the Rayburn.
The chickens are still not laying which means I'm in a loss situation. I need them to lay 36 eggs a week to break even (the money we save by not buying and selling the rest). At the moment they're laying about 15 ! At the height of summer they were averaging 55 per week. The good news is they seem to have stopped moulting and are growing new feathers. The rough and the smooth comes to mind, but I don't have so many to make money, break even all year round would do.
I went for an interview last week for a flexible hour part-time job with a well known Computer Retailer. At the interview I had a distinct feeling of 'being a bit old' and when explaining what I'd been doing for the past 3 years since my CV ran out, I had a rather puzzled look from the Interviewer.
I'm hoping to find more time to really spring clean the web site in general and would like to know your thoughts on which section I should start expanding upon first. I'd be most grateful if you could take part in the Poll on the left. I've found one which won't send about 140 pop-ups on your screen (none atall) and - I can't vote and you can only vote once. I shall take this off in 10 days time.
8th - 23rd. September 2003
Busy busy busy are the 3 words to describe the present situation.
On the freebie frugal front, I've had lots of goodies bestowed upon me; a windy night on Sunday gave me 87 walnuts which had fallen in the Lane, the Mill House replaced carpets so the old one's are going on the veggie patch / compost heap, I had the chimney's cleaned today so the soots safely tucked away for 2005, Leo and I completely raided the disused orchard of apples and more Horseradish found in the field.
The chickens are on their second official verbal warning over egg production; one day 6 and the next day one etc. The pen looks like a feather duvet has exploded and the broody one is still broody, still pecking me if I go withing 4 feet of her. Speed is the secret. The other hens like to lay eggs on top of her, they roll down and she tucks them underneath. So you distract her with one hand, grab her head with the second swifly moving the first hand underneath and getting the eggs. Well, you know what I mean.
I'm restarting the window painting over the Lane, only 31 to go !! Between this I have two other customers which I do a little work for and I have the Mystery Shopping jobs starting up again.
From two old bikes I acquired sometime ago, I've spent a day making them into one good one - and I'm proud !! This means I have two good bikes now, so may sell one if there's a rainy day. I'm also making some freebie gifts. It goes; bit of tree, saw, hand drill and some varnish - the result is the photo at the end of this entry (I feel more like Tom Good every day !!). Don't think I'll get invited to many parties Christmas after next, "Jam, chutney, pickled something or a pen holder this year Richard ?".
In the last entry, I 'announced' the new Forum. Well, I received emails saying that on 56k Internet, it was taking about five hours to download. So, I've yet another new one. There are no pop-ups, it's fast loading and much easier to read. You can register and logon as a member (this enables you to have private messages to other members, hides your email (though you could simply make one up) and enables you to post photo's etc) or you can post as a guest. So, please, if you have a comment to make about anything, please post a message.
It's strange, on Sunday it was the last day of Cricket and it was 27 degrees, two days later it's 13 degrees and there's a frost forecast for tonight. Last year, I lit the fire for the first time on 2nd October (sort of sad thing I remember !). This year I'm determined not to touch it until at least the 8th.
26th.August - 8th.September 2003
In the 4-day Championship, Kent go from strength to strength and again we polish off another
I'm getting on with painting the windows over the Lane and managed to do three last week. This may seem slow but the paint scraper has a habit of going straight through rotten wood all over the place, so much preparation takes place. Only another 31 to go, some better, some worse, some bigger, some smaller.
Leo and I had a Boot Fair last Sunday. I didn't have loads, but between us we managed about £70 - half and half. It was at a Village Cricket Ground where they were playing a Kent X1, this attracted families, so Leo sold most of his old Playstation games. Scoop of the week was that the day before I found a Bar Stool in a skip which needed a bit of glue. This was actioned and the following day I got £4 for it.
A good example of what an expendable society we are now came to light when I went to buy some Printer Ink for the PC. The ink was £27.99 colour and £25.99 B/W. A brand new Printer with a supply of Colour and Black / White ink was on offer at £23.99 and the printer is about the same standard as my old one !
In the garden, the last of the potatoes are now dug. We sowed some more lettuce about 4 weeks ago and that's coming along nicely. I've weeded most of the bare patches now ready for transplanting Spring Greens.
I was interested to read an article in Saturday's Daily Telegraph about Hugh Fearnley Whittingshall. Apparently, he doesn't grow his own Onion's, he finds it easier to just buy them at the Farm Shop. I was a little pleased to read this as I don't do main crop potatoes on the same theory - they're cheap, organic and save a lot of garden space.
Tomorrow I am summonsed to the Bank - not so good news ! But they have money of mine in a 'can't get hold of' savings account for which I have their letter saying it was a good idea. So I'm hoping I won't have too much of a hard time. Even so, 'ready cash' is much needed at present, especially with the egg shortage. I even spent time yesterday repairing and cleaning my bicycle. If I cycle to town (which I do a couple of times a week) plus cycle to see Leo, I reckon that's £5 a week quite easily saved. You have to see it that way, then find another 5 thing's to save £5 a week on = £30 a week before you know it. Then of course, just as you're getting there, you need a new car battery or the PC packs up - never mind, I'm still here ! The Reaper pops his head over the fence once in a while, but he's not climbed over yet.
12th - 26th. August 2003
A very pleasant 7 days in North Wales with Leo.. We had 4 days walking / scrambling up various peaks and the other two just chilling out.
Not so busy with cricket at present, so the last few days have been concentrated in my garden and bits and pieces at the Mill House.
I dug up some of the wild horseradish and am waiting for the right moment to uniform myself with goggles and nose mask to shred the roots !
My cauliflowers continued the reputation I have for not being able to grow them. All seemed well, but they've suddenly bolted. We've managed to cut off all the small flowers and freeze them. This will probably amount to four meals, but for 59p on the seeds, I'm not too downhearted.
Nows the time of year when 'free food' is in abumndance; fruit and herbs especially. I have access to a disused orchard, a quince and a plum tree, so you can imagine the work that's going on at present in the kitchen (quince not for 8 weeks or so yet). I've had a quick sortie at the blackcurrant situation and that's looking pretty good as well.
The chickens aren't laying at present which is a worry, in the last 3 days I've had one egg from the 22 chickens. I can only think of 3 reasons; the weather, the recent un-invited visit of the fox or I was away and the routine changed a little. They seem to hang around the shed more than usual rather than wandering round the pen all day. The fox and weather theory appear to be the favourite reasons. I've also noticed some are losing feathers on the back of the neck. I wouldn't think this is moulting, more likely fleas or ticks. So a spray is required I think.
With only 12 or so days work at cricket from now til the end of September, I have started to paint the 27 windows over the Lane. They probably haven't been painted for 15 years I would guess and being sash, they are going to be hard work. I'm not on any time limit, so it'll give me ample work for quite a while. The house, being 400 years old, always needs something done to it, so I think I can rely on regulay income there.
I have already received notification of my 'further tests' at the hospital and go next week. , wait
Next Wednesday, the Kent v Surrey floodlit game is on Sky Sports One. So if you're a fan,look
1st. - 12th. August 2003
Blimey, it's actually raining outside. I forget the last time that happened. On Sunday our garden reached 36 degrees in the shade and nearby Gravesend hit the hottest day ever recorded in this country.
My big moment came at Cricket though, when I had to take the drinks out on to the Pitch. In 56 years, this is the closest I will have got to being a Professional Cricketer !! I didn't even fall over coming off to some sarcastic applause my a number of members.
On my return I start painting the windows of the Mill House. About 27 in total, sash, old and most untouched by human hand for many a year. This will be welcome though with the cricket season only now giving about another 14 days work.
Most of the vegetable patch has now been harvested and stored and we are busy making various chutney's, relish's and pickled this, pickled that.
Downshifting is great, you can do virtually what you and when you want, but the financial side is something to be so aware of. Two month's ago I was flowing along quite well and made up huge ground on the disasters of January / February. But - in the last four weeks, I've had over £400 unexpected costs, had to change two of my tyres, the kettle blew up, the chickens have almost stopped laying and two matches have finished a day early at cricket (only get paid for what I do).
I finally had my hospital appointment and heard a couple of theories which are slightly worrying. I now have to go for some further tests, which I hope won't be another 18 month's. Anyway, not life threatening.
It's now chucking rain outside and I watch with pleasure as it flows down the leaves of the veggies. Rain always seems so much better than watering can from a tap. Saves a lot of work as well !
19th. July - 1st. August 2003
What's happened in the past few weeks ? Well - I've been bitten by an alsation, Ginger's been attacked by an alsation (not the same one), I've lost a chicken, I've had to kill a fox who was stuck in the chicken run, Leo's Rabbit died on me and both Leo and me got food poisoning. So, quite normal really !!
Ginger had been out for two weeks and because the owners of Mill House have been away, he'g ot used to having a stroll round their garden. They came back, Ginger walked round the corner and came face to face with the dog. Poor little thing had eight teeth punctures, spent the night at the Vets on a drip and had five days on anti-biotics. Thank goodness he's OK. Although my concern is only for Ginger, that lot cost £267 - find me a poor vet !!
I was just going out the other day and I heard commotion in the Chicken area. I walked up and found a fox limping around with a chook in it's mouth. I scared him and he dropped the chicken, I herded the others into the 'inner sanctuary' as I call it, opened the gate and tried to get the fox out. He wouldn't go for that one and persistantly tried to jump over the corrugated sheet fencing - but it's about 5'6" high and he couldn't make it. He finally got caught and injured himself even more. I had no option but to help him on his way. I really hated doing it as the main idea for the fence is to keep him out thus out of harms way.
As before, after a fox attack, the chickens have gone from laying 10 / 12 eggs a day down to 5 / 6; a big difference and not helping on the financial side either.
Leo and myself went to Southampton last weekend. Vicky, Thomas and the two of us went to a famous fast food restaurant. Leo and me were the only two to have burgers. We paid the price within 15 minutes of each other three hours later. That was six days ago and I don't feel right yet. Serves me right though. Here I am promoting home grown produce and how healthy it is and this happens !!!
Squash, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Tomatoes, Carrots, Peppers, you name it, they're being eaten already. 6 bottles of chutney have already been made and we reckon on another 20 bottles at least. This with all the freezing, the early harvest is proving highly sucessful.
There is no better enjoyment at present than having an Egg Salad knowing that every ingredient is your own. 'In the head' maybe, but it looks better and tastes better than anything you'll get in a Supermarket or Farm Shop.
At present I'm on a 11 day out of 12 at Cricket. We beat Essex in the 4-day match, next week we play South Africa which should be a goodie. Then, Monday week it's a televised day / night game and off to Wales for a week.
On Tuesday I go for my 18 month waited on appointment with the Neurologist (this following on from a couple of TIA's and a bang on the head (which probably made it a lot better !!).
7th. - 19th. July 2003
Ginger the cat has progressed swiftly from attacking butterflies to pigeon's !! On tuesday we were sitting quite comfortably in the Sitting Room and uproar reigned in the kitchen, a wounded pigeon flying around with Ginger in hot pursuit. I got the bird out but it was so badly wounded, I had to put it out of it's misery. What next I wonder ?
I was in the Mill House garden talking to it's owner last night and I suddenly spotted the fox walking around the side of our house. Their White Alsation spotted it at the same time and I've never seen two animals go as fast. The dog was certainly catching up when the fox vanished into the stinging nettles up the end of the garden. I noticed the fox had a bad limp and I couldn't help feeling sorry for it. Foxes can't help being what they are; they have to kill for meat as we do - and look at the way we do it ! I have nothing against them - I have the chickens pretty well protected now after learning my lessons last year, so old foxey can prowl around if he wants. If it isn't him, it's something else - even of the two legged variety.
If I did wish any creature off this planet, it would be the Thunderfly. The place is full of them and it makes going into the garden a real misery. As soon as I go out, you can virtually hear the "Human 5 o'clock, dive, dive, dive". You think you've just cleared the last one off you and there's another. One of the downs of a heatwave I guess.
We're eating tomatoes and cucumbers already, so with the lettuce, spring onions and potatoes, we have 100 per cent salads from the garden. Next in line will be chutney making. I rather fancy some relish as well this year, so we're busy looking up the various recipes.
Sad to say one of my new ex-battery hens has died. This is the third or fourth time I've lost one of a batch. I don't know exactly the reason, they seem OK one day and the next day they are gone. I can only think it's the sudden change. For over a year they been with 4 other chickens in a 20 inch x 20 inch cage, even before they get there, they are loaded into boxes by a moving conveyor belt. This battery farming business is really annoying me. I mean, we treat the chickens like we do, then at 60 weeks old, kill them for dog / cat food or even to go in pies for humans (occasionally selling the better ones at Auctions). Take a look at the Battery Farm Photo Page. I've been quite fair I think, some photo's I've seen are quite frankly disgusting. The RSPCA and CIWF sites are well worth looking at.
Oh yes, if you want to see some 'really cool' chicken sheds, go to this American site I came accross. Click here. They certainly put my 'Nettle Cottage' to shame !!
At cricket Kent are enjoying a strong run with two wins and a draw.This has helped us away from the bottom of the tables a little and we now look forward to a good run through to late September. People at the Grounds often ask me what I do on my days off, so I've done a special web page of a typical Dressing Room Attendants time at home. Please go to 'Roomy'.
With two extremely large Electricity and Water Bills to pay, I'm now trying to work flat out to pay these and have enough for Leo and my camping week in Snowdonia. It's going to be tight, but I'm determined to get there.
25th.June - 7th. July 2003
Good times and bad times in the last two weeks. Last Tuesday I had an enjoyable day out to see my Mother and brothers and sisters at my brothers Pub in Scaynes Hill, W.Sussex. Nigel has a suitcase full of family history and over the past few month's I have been slowly doing the family genealogy.
On the way home I developed a sore throat which led to me not being able to work Wednesday and Thursday, fever, cough, stuffed nose - the lot. But it's my first cold for two years, so I haven't done badly I guess.
I brought yet another six ex-battery hens at the Auction. I now have a total of 22 hens, 18 of which are ex-battery. But I'm getting between 8 and 12 eggs a day at present.
Leo and myself spent a couple of night's in my new tent at the Weekend. Nature has a funny way of seeing a tent going up - it rains for the next five days !! But it's a nice biggish tent and I'm really looking forward to a week in Snowdonia during August.
I took a walk down on the fields the other evening and found loads of horseradish - something else to do during August / September - the roots are only about 12 - 18 inches deed and it's good stony soil !!!
I haven't a clue about flowers, but the lilacs are just blooming. I had to dig up a load from a persons garden two years ago. Rather than dumping them, I scattered them around our place. Only thing is with them, they seem to flower for about two weeks and that's it.
Ginger the cat is now out and about and enjoying his new freedom. But I've told him, as he never seems to stop eating, he's got to earn his keep and get the rats. I'm sure Mimi will guide him through an intensive training course. He loves sitting up by the chickens and watching them, so that's a good sign.
A busy few days now at Cricket in Maidstone. I must confess to being a bit whacked out at present. You just have to think that in four month's time you'll be wishing it was July again !