Email from my Brother: Flooding Alert!!


Hi Fay,

I’ll start off by congratulating you on your sponsored walk.  I’m so used to taking the car now that if I walked seven miles there’d be severe chaffing going on in places where chaffage doesn’t need to happen.  I am good at wading though as this week’s drama will soon show.

So our property in New Zealand is bordered on the north by the road.  On the east side the boundary is a drainage ditch.  It’s a big ditch as it’s the main one for the valley and is about six feet wide and six feet deep. The ditch runs north and goes under the road to the north through a concrete pipe. On the south and west sides are the wide open fields owned by our farmer neighbour.  Incidentally over the ditch is more fields until the ground starts rising up towards Mangakawa Reserve.  Got that in your head?  If not Google Map our house.

So a couple of nights ago I finally decide to go out to the garage to get the rat trap.  Did you know we’ve got rats?  I may have mentioned it once or twice.  The rain had been heavy but it appeared to have eased off so I thought that this was the best time to hop on out and get the darn thing.  Anyway I stepped out and looked towards our garage which is usually a pitch black scene seeing as we’re in the country.

I was momentarily taken surprise by what seemed to be multiple water reflections from house lights from up the hill.  It seemed that I was staring across Torbay Harbour rather than empty fields which clearly wasn’t right.  There followed  a slight pause where I wondered where I was and I realised what it must be like to be senile.  Maybe I was really in my nineties and had been reliving the golden age with my young family back in the 2010s but was in fact now stepping outside the sea side old folks home in the 2050s and that I’d been a dribbling resident there for some time.  Was this a rare moment of clarity or a common moment of madness?  Did they have a fish and chip shop in this unfamiliar seaside town?  Did they have a pub?  Why had I been reliving painting the new bathroom when I could have skipped right over that shit?

Then I heard an alpaca bleat and the sound of water being kicked around in the darkness and I realised that (a) I was not mad - the ditch had burst it’s banks in the heavy rain and (b) the alpacas were up to their knees in flood water because I’d moved them into the car park paddock and archery paddock the day before.  To add to this the Guinea Pig hutch was now submerged because the flood water was half way up the garden, but thanks to the fact that the Guinea Pig hutch was a two storey jobby the Guinea Pigs (Bubbles and Goldie Looking Horn) had retreated up their ramp like Chewbacca and Han Solo boarding the Millennium Falcon.  You’ve got to love those furry little guys.  They’ve got mites, they’ve cost four times their worth in vet fees so far but they know what to do in a flooding emergency. i.e. not drown and break Eva's little heart.

So it was time to assess the situation.  This starts by banging on the kitchen window to get Juliette to come out.  No point panicking in the dark alone.  The garage was well under water.  I had a brief flash of flood scenes from James Cameron’s Titanic but in a shed rather than a ship.  One of our cars that was parked on the grass was in danger of being flooded so I knew that would have to be moved. But it was time to prioritise, cars can be fixed so first the alpacas because alpacas cost hundreds of dollars where as Guinea Pigs cost six bucks each.

Fun alpaca facts – alpacas don’t like water, they do like alpaca pellets, they are always hungry, they will follow the Alpaca Beelzebub into the depths of hell if he has alpaca pellets, alpaca pellets make a nice noise if you shake them in a plastic container, alpacas love alpaca pellets  and alpacas love alpaca pellets.  Juliette and I lead all four of them up to a dry paddock in the dark no problem.  It was easy and apart from Dougal having a bit of a cough the next day they were none the worse for wear.  I dragged the Guinea Pig cage up to dry land and put in some food for them, backed the car that was in danger of being flooded up to the dry bit feeling like James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me and finally checked on Tom cat.  He’d been asleep in front of the fire the whole time.

Next morning the water had dropped down and it looked like nothing had happened. The garage hadn't been flooded, the water had risen right up to the level of the floor but no further.   If I hadn’t gone outside when I had chances are apart from some pissed off alpacas, two dead Guinea Pigs, a flooded car and load of fire wood scattered all over the paddocks I’d have been left scratching my head.  The farmer says the ditch bursts it’s banks about once every ten to fifteen years when it rains this hard.  Brilliant.  If it doesn’t happen again next week what am I going to write to you about next time?

Take care,
Mark xxx

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'm sure you'd find something! Welcome to my blog, that's me trying to work out something to write about! 
As always Mark I ....



Meal Planning Monday w/c 30th July

Time to plan for the week again, seems never ending! I've checked out the freezer for the menu this week and we are now having:-


Slimming World Minced Pork Hash (because I've pork mince in the freezer!) 
Chicken Stir Fry
Prawn Risotto
Bolognaise and pasta 
Burgers and Slimming World Chips
Creamy vegetable pasta
Baked potato, beans and cheese


Short and to the point this week. I've called a truce between me and my weightloss battle for a while as I've an emotional battle coming in from the rear where I need to concentrate my energy. I will still follow the principles, but won't be too hard on myself.


Have a great week, and take a look at other weekly planners over at Home with Mrs M


Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles

Alex Karras
Silver Linings

Reasons to be Cheerful #R2BC Sunday 29th July



Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Before I forget Michelle is having some down time for the summer and is passing the baton each week for someone else to host.

I'm so lucky to be one of the baton bearers, schedule is


Good luck everyone!

I've had a busy (medical) week, which is partly why this post is late

Monday was blood tests ready for Tuesday's appointment. Then in the afternoon I saw my counsellor. Friday I got to meet with a lovely nurse from an insurance company who are looking after a claim I'm being assessed for. Quickly followed in the afternoon by another blood test and unexpected appointment for a rather nasty rash I've developed.

All is well though, outcomes were good. I'm better at having needles stuck in me, the trick is watch as it goes in. No nasty surprises, eyes wide open and totally aware. Bit like life! All medics are happy and I've a 7 day course of antibiotics for the rash.

If you missed it, I did the walk I was banging on about and in the process raised over £300 for St Lukes Hospice. It was hard, I was very lonely, but I did it! Feels great, big tick in the box.

The counselling session has helped too, I beat myself up too much. FACT. Everyone I've spoken to says the same, so it must be true :) I'm struggling with this thing called cancer. Operations, pain and treatments are something tangible, something to take on and fight. But the emotional side has knocked me for six.

It would be easy for me to paper over the cracks, put on the brave face and smile for the camera, however I'm frightened it would just be delaying the inevitable. I want to be fixed. I want to be whole. I want things back to normal.

So I'm spending some time to just accept. Sounds simple doesn't it. Take it from me, its harder than actually having my kidney out.


But it will happen


E-mail from my Brother: Meet the Alpacas


Hi Fay,

So last time I wrote I said that we had a mouse problem and a blocked sewage pipe.  I’m happy to say that we’ve fixed both problems over the last two days.  First off we put down some humane traps for the mice (almost typed human traps  then, they'd be overkill).  I found two mice in there today and took them around to a neighbour I don’t like and dropped them off at his door.  Not really.  I did drive them about a mile away though.  They were tiny mice too, about the size of a fifty pence pieces.  With all the mouse poo around I thought they’d be the size of a cat or a pug dog.  I think mice must be 80% digestive tract.

For the sewage pipe problem I dug the thing out last Saturday which took a couple of hours.  The new fence post went right through the middle and a tiny little trickle of liquid was dribbling out into the new massive hole I just made.  I decided that rather than risk flooding the house I’d just break that pipe open and let the sewage fill in the hole. What’s the worst that can happen?  So I smacked the busted end of the plastic sewage pipe with a crow bar and it punched a hole that released the two weeks of built of pressure.  I’m telling you I reached around to the back of my jeans and lifted myself out of that hole quicker than you can say “shouldn’t of done that”


The hole I’d dug was deep but it filled up with brown water, little bits of toilet paper and undigested  sweetcorn no problem.  The stench was horrible too.  So I left some messages with some drain layers telling them I’d done all the hard work and just needed someone to put in a new pipe.  It was raining all day Monday so someone didn’t turn up until the Tuesday.  By then the rain had diluted the shit water and it had actually drained away.  So it’s no surprise that the drainlayer guy though it would be okay to jump into the hole only to find himself sinking into shin deep shit.  He only had shoes on too.  He changed into welly boots after he pulled himself out.  Still that’s what we paid him for.  Comedy gold.

Eva starts school next week.  She’ll be five years old and in New Zealand kids start school bang on their fifth birthday.  Happy birthday, here’s eleven years of compulsory education, enjoy!  We got her a play house.  I say it’s a play house but I’ve been painting the disassembled parts for the last month up in the barn and it’s more like … a house.  I started laying the foundations for it today.  Seriously if I run electricity out to it I’d like to live in it.  I’m thinking this is the wrong sort of present for a five year old, she’s not going to appreciate it.  Let’s wait until she’s eighteen and she can move out into it.  She’ll put up a disco ball and some fairy lights, throw down a futon.  It’s do-able, we’ll get her some My Little Ponies as a replacement, she won’t know.

Juliette’s been getting stuff off the New Zealand equivalent of eBay for Sam’s birthday too.  So far he’s got an awesome pirate ship (three masts, accessible hold, complete with plank to walk your little figures on), a load of knights and men-at-arms figurines and a wooden castle big enough for him to sit in.   So far I’ve been hard pressed to get into the imaginative play with the kids, Eva likes ponies and Sam doesn’t do stories yet – he just likes throwing stuff.  But I have to say when Sam gets those for his second birthday we’ll be playing the shit out of them.  I’ll be digging a hill for the castle and running water through for the ship to go on.  I’ll be making siege engines in the garage and we’ll be under mining the east wall of the castle in real time with little trowels.  Sorry Eva, but those little plastic horses just aren’t as much fun.  I can’t get into the whole platting pony tails thing.  When Sam starts school he’ll be the only kid urging his classmates to play “the Siege of Rouen” from The Hundred Years War.

So anyway, I hope you’re good.  I check on you blog now and again but no you’re not dying of cancer I find the urgency has gone out of my checks.  I’ll probably fall back into the old habit of asking mum and dad if you’re okay.  I feel we must reconnect over a beer in my garden, so please visit when next convenient.  As an incentive I now include pictures of Solomon and Peter, two of our alpacas.  Solomon is the one not doing an impression of a grinning rabbit.  They would love to meet you.

Take care of yourself,
Love,
Mark xxx


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As always Mark

Meal Planning Monday w/c 23rd of July

It's going to be sunny this week! I can't quite believe it! Meals this week will finally be amended accordingly! All slimming world friendly (lost 2lbs last week!)

  • Sausage, mash, peas and gravy
  • Pork balls and spaghetti
  • Paella type dish
  • Baked potato, cheese and salad
  • Slimming World Chips with pasta salad
  • Omelette and salad
  • Slimming world scotch eggs* and salad

Actually, doesn't look much different. Oh well! Still trying to get lots of vegetables into the diet and keeping it low fat as possible.


Don't forget to check out Mrs M's for hopefully more summery meals than mine! 


*If anyone wants the recipe, let me know.

I DID IT!!!!

7 Mile walk completed, it's just me which feels a little broken! The base of my feet are swollen and sore, I'd say 8/10 on the pain scale and I look like I've pooped my pants hobbling along (attractive)

I only bloody did it

Favourite images from the evening?

  • Seeing hundreds of woman on the 13 mile route streaming along as we drove to the start and know we 7-milers would look like that very soon
  • Noticing all the squashed slugs on the pavements! There were a lot of woman marching along in the dark, trying to eat up the miles by looking forward, not down
  • A couple, possibly mother and daughter tied at the ankle, walking it 3 legged. That is amazing!
  • Your tweets of encouragement along the route, so thank you.
  • A group dressed as bumble bees and another as cows!
  • Someone using a wheelchair
  • The finish line! 

And at the time of writing this post we've raised £247. Thank you for your generosity. The page is still open, help me reach target by clicking and donating - http://www.justgiving.com/Fay-7-Miles




I won't lie. It hurt, a lot. I was emotional before I even began. I sat, overlooking the football ground trying to prepare myself mentally. I had to complete, for St Luke's, for everyone who had taken the time and hard earned cash to sponsor, but also for me. To prove to myself, with hard work, determination and a lot of bloody mindedness, I can do anything, no matter what.

It's what I need at the moment

Was it worth it?

Hell Yeah!

Email from my Brother: poo and mice this week!


Hi  Fay,

How are things going in your part of the world?  I’m writing to you moments after finding out that our fencing guy may have driven a gate post through the pipe that links our house to our septic tank.  How do we know this?  There’s a suspiciously large puddle forming a few metres away from the back door.  It doesn’t yet have any turds floating in it because they’ll apparently come up in the brand new shower tray in our brand new bathroom.  Yay us!

And we paid extra for a low profile shower tray.  There’s no lip on that mutha and it’s near flush with the floor. I’m ruing the day we decided on that.  It’s going to be poops ahoy as they wash over the Italian floor tiles and lap up against the free standing vanity unit.  Do you remember that scene from “The Shining” where the lift doors open and gallons of blood wash out into the hotel corridor?  I’m thinking that but with frapp├ęd shit.

After going so long without a bathroom there has been a certain pleasure in taking long hot showers.  Not anymore.  Now it’s a gamble of how quick can you shower before you realise you’re paddling in sewage.  I’m thinking that maybe we should get the pipe fixed.

Juliette’s dad says I should dig down and find out where the break is then dig a run off trench to another part of the paddock to take the shitty water to.  Then I can call in some drain layers to but in a new bit of pipe.  I’m dry retching just thinking about how bad that’s going to be.  I’m thinking full Hazmat suit, the ones with those unnecessarily large and really fragile looking head pieces.  You know the ones, they’re yellow rubber, all tight fitting around the wellies and gloves but come the helmet bit it looks like it was designed to fit over the head of a It’s A Knockout foam novelty character.  They also have what looks like a vacuum cleaner pipe coming out of the back of the head piece for you to breathe through and that hooks up to a backpack full of potpourri or something.  No doubt I’ll just have to dig it out in jeans and a hoodie though.

We also have a bit of a mouse problem.  Just the one mouse I think.  I’d seen it skirting around the place out of the corner of my eye for a couple of weeks now.  It’s tiny, about the size of my thumb.  It’s a little brown field mouse.  Tom caught it last Saturday in an amazing display of speed and dexterity (he actually caught it about five times because he kept letting it go just to give the poor creature a bit of a chance).  Juliette had to take the mouse off Tom and she dropped it outside the back door.  Usually you’d want to take it off somewhere a bit further but it was cold, dark and raining.

So last night I’m asleep, deep asleep, Inception dream Level 3 at least, and Juliette wakes me up to tell me that a mouse has run across her back and was walking along the headboard.  No this is true, mice do this because there was this one time in Jersey when a mouse tried to make a nest in Juliette’s hair three times in one night.  So I switch on the lights and make a show of looking for a tiny mouse that I'm never going to see without my contact lenses in before I flop back into bed and going back to sleep.  I’m just drifting off when I hear the scritching sound of tiny mouse feet running across the top of the headboard for myself.  So I leap up, switch the light on and there’s the mouse, in mid pose, ready to leap into Juliette’s hair for the second time.  Not really.  I heard the mouse but just went back to sleep.  

If a mouse can climb up onto our headboard and run along it in the dark he’s obviously up to something more awesome than just hanging around in the kitchen looking for crumbs.  I want to see what this mouse is doing.  I suspect he’s going for Juliette’s jewellery  tree.  Just one more job and he can finally retire to Rio.

We could of course just let Tom the cat sleep in the house at night and let him catch the mouse but if there’s just one thing Tom and Jerry cartoons have taught us it’s that as soon as you leave a cat in all night they’ll be playing Jazz records with their zoot suited cat buddies and breaking the place up quicker than you can say "Hey Toots!".  So Tom stays out.

Take care,
Love,
Mark xxx
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hey you, as always

Reasons to be Cheerful Friday 20th July #R2BC



Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
I have totally lost the plot on which week I'm upto in the year so have resorted to dates. This agrees with my inner Virgo which likes absolutes!

I've been naughty and wish to confess. I've wanted a new camera for a while now, kept putting it off because I couldn't warrant the cost. On a whim I went into the shop, tried a couple out and bought a Sony SLT-A37K, plus lots of extras. It was a lot of money to spend on a luxury item.....just for me. Feel a little bit guilty but at the same time happy. A guilty pleasure. Still not sure how to use the thing, so many buttons and settings, but will have many happy hours working it all out

Finally it looks like the weather will be improving. Maybe my mood will too!

Following last week's #R2BC post I've posted three or four quotes along the theme of Silver Linings. I've enjoyed going through my photo's to find just the right picture to accompany each quote and think I'll make it a regular feature on Glass Half Full. It's combining a healthy positive attitude with my joy in taking photo's. Win win all round. Take a look at the ones already published here, and let me know what you think.

I'm taking part in St Luke's Midnight Walk on Saturday and am getting excited if not a little bit scared.  If you are able to sponsor, I'd be grateful. The link for my Just Giving Page is https://www.justgiving.com/account/your-pages/Fay-7-Miles/

My chemo feet are killing me, I'm not sure I will make it round, but will put my best foot forward and try. Hopefully will have 'completed the walk' as part of next week's #R2BC

Midnight Walk - Yikes!!!

This arrived in the post........sent me into a panic. "The walk is this weekend. This weekend? Saturday 21st of July. At midnight. 7 miles. 7 long and hard miles. This weekend!!??!!"


No way!!!


I planned 30 miles as Big Ben finished chiming on 1st of January


"30 miles?? No problem, a challenge, but I love a challenge, an end goal, an aim. I'm losing weight, I'm going to the gym regularly, I'm fitter than I've ever been. It will be hard, but it's doable"


But since then, a few things have changed. I'm down a kidney and a gallbladder for a start off, without the cancer diagnosis and now drugs trial side effects. I knew I needed to be realistic so downgraded to seven miles. Easy peasy, I can do that distance standing on my head....can't I?

Friends and relatives have looked concerned (I even had a tut from Mum) whenever I said I was doing it. MrC put his foot down at one point and said a downright NO! (very dangerous, he was taking his life in his hands!)


However I think he soon realised it's become more than a sponsored charity walk to me. Most things have changed and taking part is my way of doing something normal, of giving back. Plans have been put on the back burner since I was ill, time to bring at least one forward and get cracking.


So, the walk is on! 


Mentally I can do this, the main sticking point is extremely sore feet, a side effect of the drugs trial. They will hurt. A LOT. But painkillers will help.


Onto the begging bit and the point of the post, please find a couple of minutes and a couple of pounds to make the pain worthwhile and help a good cause. And it is a good cause. St Luke's Hospice care for terminally ill patients and their family. And although I'm nowhere near needing their services, you never know where life's turns will take you.


You can donate at my Just Giving Page http://www.justgiving.com/Fay-7-Miles or by text! To donate £2 text FayC50 to 70070




Painkillers will help, your support and donations more so.

Meal Planning Monday - w/c 16th of July

I don't know about where you are in the world, but when planning meals for this week (Sunday), it was actually sunny! I didn't go mad and plan lots of salads or barbecue's because lets be honest, Summer is officially a wet one this year. Not a lot we can do about it, but plan appropriately! 


So it's the usual yummy Slimming World friendly food this week, firm family favourites. We won't talk about weight loss though, I've had a bit of a * cough cough * hiccup. But hey, there's always next week :)


Onto the plan, in no particular order

  • Slow cooker gammon and SW chips, salad
  • Slow cooker sausage casserole with rice
  • Stir fry beef, vegetables and noodles
  • Stuffed tomato's, rice and vegetables
  • Burgers and SW chips
  • Seafood risotto
  • Slimming World friendly cooked breakfast

Not too shabby I think! Get yourself over to At Home with Mrs M for more meal planners! 

Silver Lining

I got sent a lovely little book from my even lovelier daughter this week. It's packed full of sayings and proverbs which have made me smile (probably why it was sent my way) but how often can we recall that perfect inspirational quote on cue? Well for me, its rarely! 



I'm a visual learner so diagrams, colour and pictures always help. I've decided to post my favourite's with an accompanying visual aid/photograph to help with that perfect recall.


I'm calling the series 'Silver Linings' and in keeping with the title, my philosophy and blog, here is my first.



Every cloud has a silver lining

Reasons to be Cheerful - Silver Linings #R2BC



Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart
Been a while (it feels like forever, in reality two weeks) since I last joined up with Michelle's Mummy from the Heart Reasons to be Cheerful meme #R2BC

All I will say about the absence is sometimes things are just too hard and even I can't fake it until I mean it. But I'm trying (and no-one say 'very' or you'll get a Paddington Bear stare!) 

The living room is being decorated! Yay, at last! It's been 16 years since it was last revamped, when I thought the deep pinky red was cool, contemporary and comforting. All these years later it's just tired, old hat and frankly past it's best (don't even try and compare it to the author of this post or I will give you the 'mother is not impressed stare'! Take it from me, a step up in severity from Paddington's)

Floor's being laid Friday, furniture (a la Ikea) delivered on Saturday and will take about 3 years to put together. If it looks vaguely okay I'll post photo's. Who am I kidding? It's going to look 1000% better than what was there before. Will be somewhere to relax and chill out. Can't wait.

I reached my four stone Slimming World award two weeks ago, still buzzing about that!



I reached my 30,000 tweet and wrote a post which got for me quite a few comments and views. I always love getting comments! 

I'm getting some pretty horrid side effects from the clinical trial drug. Feet hurt most of the time (around 7 on the pain scale) I'm tired, irritable, depressed, rashes, sore hands and scalp, mouth ulcers blah blah blah. However, unless my mind is playing a horrible trick, it does mean I'm not in the placebo group and therefore getting cover from a recurrence.
Silver linings and all that.



E-mail from my Brother : Meh......


Hi Fay,

How is it going?  Nothing much has happened this week unfortunately.  I haven’t been trying to catch any more rats, there haven’t been any workmen around to put in any bathrooms or put up any fences and I’ve largely spent my week trying to keep my sanity while winter rages outside and Sam rages inside.

I bought a backpack weed sprayer today that cost a small fortune.  It straps onto your back and make you look like a Ghostbuster.

The weed sprayer was made in Spain and had an exploded diagram of all the component parts labelled 1 to 292 with the information “Step 1: attach part 182 to 131”, “Step 2: Pump handle and use sprayer.”

I spent ten minutes trying to figure out which part was which and made the mistake of having music playing on Windows Media Player while I unpacked it.  It was mistake because the songs were on random and started playing a track from the 2004 film King Arthur.  

The instrumental was part of the score that started slowly and ramped up the tense music to reflect the tense and dangerous battle that was going on in the film.  For me that music just made me feel like finding Part 182 and attaching it to Part 131 was something from a Hollywood bomb disposal scene.  Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, where’s the part!?  Where’s the part!? He doesn’t know!  Teeeeeeeee-ension!  Dum, dum, DUM!  DUM, DUM, DUM, DUM!  Where’s the f*cking part!?  De dur!  Dum, dum, dum!  DUM!  DUM!  DUM, DUM, DUM, DUM! Violins!  

Part 182 was a hose, part 131 was the handle.  They’d over complicated the whole thing.

I went into the store and had asked for some advice on the actual weed killer.  I had been looking at the garden week killer stuff but on finding out that we had a bit more land the salesman took me out to the professional farmers section.  “This is the one you want,” he said gesturing to a shelf full of tiny plastic bottles.  One little bottle of Merlin’s Magic Plant Killy Potion cost $160 dollars.  I looked carefully at the bottle but could find no evidence of it being made from solid gold or that it had rubies studded in the cap of the bottle.  “Make sure you don’t put more that six millilitres per litre of water,” he said, “otherwise it’ll kill everything including the grass.”  Oh, so that tiny bottle would actually make up a swimming pool size of weed killer?  Cool.  But then I wondered on how I’m going to measure this stuff accurately into the water.  Six mills isn’t a lot.  Maybe I’ll just guess…

I’ve got my yearly eye check up tomorrow.  I hate those things but they won’t re-order my contact lenses unless I get them rechecked.  I hate them in the same way I hate having my haircut.   I don’t like someone invading my personal space and having some stranger shine a light into my eye and tell me not to blink just seems unnecessarily cruel.  I also find myself holding by breath when they lean in close to look down my optical nerve or what ever it is they feel the need to get so close to do.  I have this fear that I’ll breathe out and the optometrist will back off gagging at my fetid garlic fug.  It’s an irrational fear I know because I’ve trained myself up to breath out of my perforated ear drum.  Sure my ears are waggling when I do it, but I think it’s better than drawing attention to myself.

As I say, nothing much has been happening this week.  About this time during winter in the northern hemisphere there’s be some sort of mid-winter festival to cheer folks up.  Some people call it Christmas.  Down here there’s nothing.  Nothing until spring comes along.  Imagine a winter without a Christmas and that’s what it’s like at the moment.  Short days, long nights, cold, fog and drizzle.  The occasional weed killer backpack bomb disposal exercise for sure, but mostly it’s “meh”.

Love Mark,
xxx
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meh, eh? About right for my week too!

As always ........


30,000 Tweets....

Please note : Before you read this I need to let you know, I've called out a few people who follow me, just a few. I love all of you, please don't be too upset if I've not included you. The post would have been just too long otherwise :)**

I've reached a milestone of 30,000 tweets, not much for some, but a big figure for me. But what does that number actually represent?

I've been on Twitter since May 2008, but it took until I got my iPhone late 2009 before I really 'got into' Twitter. Before that, it was weekend and evening's only and then only when I thought about it.

If I'm being honest, back then, I used it more to figure out
a) where my boss at the time, @Breenster was, and more importantly
b) what sort of mood he was in before I asked a question !!??

People I mainly followed were work colleagues. I used to get a bit star struck when visiting another site and realising I was sat near to the great and good of twitterati company fame. I bumped into @peewii in a hotel corridor and realised who it was from her avatar. First and probably last time we met face to face!

It was a bit of fun, a novelty piece, like looking through a window onto someone else's view of life.

It changed for me though when I was told I might have uterine cancer, the treatment of which was a total hysterectomy. I started this blog and through Twitter I 'met' and made friends with people who helped me through it. For the four or five months I was ill and not as mobile as I would have liked, Twitter was there with a supportive tweet at silly o'clock in the morning and a virtual hug on the bad days. @cleanless @grealis and @alittlebit are just a couple of tweeters who come to mind.

Through Twitter I've learnt so much. The best iPad apps to use, the greatest sites for funny pictures, amazing people to follow, great tips on reducing clutter, recipes, new foods to try, inspirational quotes (the one on my header is from @inspirationguy)

I've watched programmes like The Apprentice, Britains Got Talent and The Voice, not to mention important sporting events like England matches or tennis, and feel like a bunch of friends are in the room with me. The observations make me laugh and I feel part of something bigger.

Three years ago, although alone on New Years Eve, as MrC underwent surgery, I wasn't lonely.

@peter_agambar had faith in my son from a speculative tweet last summer to give him a job, landscaping the garden (Bless him, he started on one of the hottest's days and got sun burnt. The second day it poured down and was soaked through to his skin!)

I'm now more in touch with what is going on in my local area from the guys I now follow (and keep planning on meeting up with one day!) and more upto date with what's going on in the world in general, thanks to the people who tweet links to important events (The London Riots, Gaza, Whitney's death, who won the Apprentice to name but a few)

I joined Slimming World last year and now have a support group of SW devotee's. Who needs to go to a meeting when these wonderful people are there for me at the touch of a button? Want to know the syn value of something or need talking out of eating that chocolate bar, turn to twitter. (@BeeBeeCavendish @Anjeebaby @Vicki_Harrop @fiannah@Sulalee1 and many many others) Want to plan your meals to help keep on track? Meal Planning Mondays from @madamding has hit the spot! 

Even some of the spam bots have made me smile! Hello 'marmite bot' and the 'spelling' bot is very useful too!


When @Churchyc4 moved to London she found the easiest way to keep in touch was through Twitter! (Does that make me sad!? Hey, it works for us) It was fun and we know what sort of day each other is having.

I've been introduced through friends and friends of friends to new blogs which have made me laugh, made me think, inspired and made me cry. I've read about birth, death and everything else in between.

I talk to people from the other side of the world, people I've never met, but feel connected to. (@JaneofAustralia is just one who springs to mind!)

Reasons to be Cheerful (#R2BC) from @michelletwinmum has enabled me to share my good days and brush over and forget about the worst of the bad ones.


My #tedthetumour this year has been interesting to say the least and new twitter friends have been there for me too. @woolhatwoman @MrsBorderreiver @laurenbigeejit @LizAnne_x @PhilippaDavey @SAHDandproud @TheBoyandMe @amumonamission @TheBoyandMe @Kateab @MammyWoo to name just a few.

@dorkymum wrote a post recently called Twitter is Like If you haven't read it, please do because it sums it up beautifully. I'm lucky to have that room in my house

The last six months have been hard, the hardest I've ever had to deal with. And I won't lie to you, when I say things are still difficult. However Twitter has helped me immensely. It's entertained, informed, supported, counselled and listened. It's made me realise there are always people worse off than yourself and be thankful for what you have.

That's where 30,000 tweets have gotten and given me. They represent friends and a supporting network and here's to the next 30,000

What does Twitter give or mean to you?


** Maybe if you weren't named this time, you'll be included in the 50,000 tweet posting!

Monday Meal Planning w/c 9th of July

Back to the normal grind after a lovely few days away. Was 'off' Slimming World last week and managed to only put on 1lb. Think because I'm following the extra easy plan, which essentially teaches me to make sensible choices, I must have made sensible choices! 


Result! 


Onto this week's meal plan. Nothing amazing, but also nothing summery either. The lack of sun is screwing with the choices. But nothing I can do about it but enjoy the pasta......


Here we go

  • Slow cooker gammon, Slimming World chips and dry fried eggs
  • Beef stir fry, vegetables and noodles
  • Ribbon vegetables and pasta
  • Slimming World friendly creamy pasta with bacon and salad
  • Sausage casserole and pasta
  • Cheese and ham omelette with salad
  • Baked potato with beans

All the meals are syn free on Extra Easy and literally extra easy to cook; we are also decorating! Meals need to be quick and easy or I will resort to a takeaway
Don't forget to check out the other menu's at Mrs M's for more plans and/or inspiration


Email from my Brother : Beat the Straw!


The next mail from my brother, they are coming thick and fast! Last one was all about wood, this is now paddocks and the rats are back!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Fay,

How’s it going?  This week we’ve finished the fences at our place.  I say “we” but of course the fencing guy finished doing the fences and we transferred the money over for his troubles.  Well Juliette transferred the money over, I just made a pot of tea and laid out the chocolate digestives on a plate while she did it.  Sometimes you’ve got to get your hands dirty to get the job done.

So the fences are all done that is all except the fence that will eventually block off the main house from the road because we’re getting the new, smaller front paddock turned into a car parking area.  From that point on it will be known as the “car park” paddock.  Likewise my archery range paddock will be known as the “archery paddock”.  The vegetable paddock will be known as the “vegetable paddock”, the largest paddock will be called the “big paddock” and the paddock between the vegetable paddock and the big paddock will be called the “middle paddock”.  Finally the paddock in front of the barn will be known as the “barn paddock” (because it’s in front of the barn).  Juliette disagrees with my naming system because she’s Mary-Mary-Quite-Contrary and wants to call the paddocks A,B,C etc.  I suggest my naming method is better as it’s clear to whom ever needs to know which paddock is which (“Which is the “car park” paddock?”, “The one with the freakin’ cars parked in it!”) but Juliette insists on naming the paddocks after prison blocks or like we’re Cold War spies and must not let on to the enemy where we’re grazing the alpacas this week.

So now the only problem we’ve got is that we now need lights out on the car park paddock (henceforth known as paddock F) for when it gets dark.  We’re in the country so when it gets really dark (i.e. when there’s no full moon and the clouds block out the stars) it’s really dark.  I had looked into getting 1000 watt mains driven 240 volt floodlights but decided instead that two LED lights run off three double-A batteries was the best.  You know, because I don’t have to faff about running electricity out to a field.  You just nail the LED jobby up on a tree and let it do it’s battery driven thing.  Easy!

I did of course test these battery flood lights by first of all buying them, popping three AA batteries in them and then waiting for night to fall before going outside and waving my arms in front of it.  They switch on when they detected a human presence and the box says the batteries last nine months based on three light ups per night.  So I waved by arms and hey presto, two beams of light came out of these two little LEDs and lit up the garden.  Okay so you’re not going to be looking for any needles with the amount of light they give out but they do the job.  They even powered down by dimming the light when you were out of detection range rather than just switching off.  Classy.  So I’ve got these LED lights in my hand right….

You may remember I caught a rat in the loft a few weeks ago.  I took that trap and put it in the garage because there were quite a few rat droppings in the garage and wondered if maybe Tom the Cat had decided to lose a bit of weight and cut down on the rat meals.  I’d left the rat trap on one of two desks we’ve got stored in the garage ready to go once Eva and Sam are old enough to have their own rooms and need desks.  Obviously I was planning on flicking the rat shit off them before moving the desks over to the house but for now all they sport are a petrol can, some tins of paint and one rat trap primed with peanut butter.

So I go into the garage and because I’m carrying the LED flood lights I use that to illuminate the interior.  That’s cool because in such a small space there’s more light given off from the battery operated flood light than the two energy efficient light bulbs that have their light switch currently blocked off from easy access on the other side of the garage because ome idiot parked two desks in front of the light switch.  One day I’ll move that light switch to somewhere more convenient, but for now I can see from the LED lights that the rat trap is no longer on the desk.  It’s on the floor.  Or more accurately it’s on the pile of hay on the floor.  We keep bales of hay in the garage to do the Guinea Pig bedding and feed the alpacas.  Currently we’ve got two bales opened up and loose and so nestled in that hay was one end of the rat trap poking up.
See previous post called Email from my brother : Stab! Stab! Stab!

I think I mentioned last time that I had tied a piece of string to one end of the rat trap and as that end was poking free I stepped as close as I felt comfortable to grab the string (burying my legs up to my ankles in hay as I did so).  I could then pull the string up to see the trap and ascertain whether I had got a rat.  This I did successfully and saw that there was no rat and all was good.  Not really.  I grabbed the string and found that the string pulled back because I did in fact have a rat in the trap and that little f*cker was still very much alive.

Earlier in the week I was feeding the Guinea Pigs with their five kilogram bag of Guinea Pig and Rabbit Food.  I grab the bag, carry it out to their cage, get the bowl and tip some of the muesli like contents out.  I was a bit surprised this time when the little nuts and stuff stopped flowing out of the corner I’d cut into the plastic bag because of a blockage.  After a couple of shakes the cause of the blockage revealed itself to be a field mouse because it's fury arse dropped into the bowl.

The mouse looked a bit shocked.

I was a bit shocked.


I wondered if I had picked up a bag of Comedy Cat Food by mistake and almost turned the bag around to re-read the label.  The field mouse judged that it was time to go all Bourne Identity on me and he back flipped out of the bowl and ran off into the long grass never to be seen again.

However that moment made me realise what the big black momma from the Tom and Jerry cartoons felt when she saw Jerry Mouse strut his stuff in front of her.  It was a kind of a primeval fear of something small and bitey.  That however was a cute field mouse and now I had a plague carrying death rat the size of a Chihuahua to deal with.

So I didn’t feel happy grabbing the string with my bare hands because that felt a bit intimate now.  I looked around and played Goldilocks and Three Gardening Implements.  There was a pair of secateurs (too short), a pair of gardening shears (too long) and a pair of long handle secateurs (just right).  I mean that yes, the long handled secateurs had what is essentially a pair of scissors on the end but the thing was the handles were looooooooong.  Long was good.  I reckoned that if I gripped the string in between the jaws of the blades gently enough I could lift the string, pull up the trap out of the straw and see the rat long enough to figure what my next move was.  So I did.  The long handled secateurs worked a treat.  I lifted the string, pulled up the trap and there, its little rat claws struggling against the plastic jaws the held it’s head, was a really, really pissed off rat.  Better not let this one out!

It was at this point that the LED security lights I’d left propped up on the desk to illuminate the garage decided that there were no humans in need of its services.  Of course not, the little Fresnel Lense and sensor was trained on a dangling shit house rat.  So the LED lights began to fade.  I gave a little involuntary move of fear and the blades of the long handled secateurs closed together.  The sound of the “snip” as the string cut was shortly followed by the “thud” of the trap landing back into the hay.  So I’m in the dark, ankle deep in hay, with a pissed of rat that now may be out of it’s trap and looking to seek revenge.

"Think?  What am I wearing on my feet?  What am I wearing on my GODAMN FEET!  Steel toe capped boots?  No, I am not.  Wellington boots? No.  I’m wearing Crocks again aren’t I?  

Yes I am.

How thick are my socks?  Big woollen winter socks?  No.  Marks and Spencer ankle socks that Juliette’s parents brought me back from their last trip to the UK?  Yes.

How much protection would those socks give me from a rat bite?  Give me a Dungeons and Dragons Armour Class Rating now brain!  
Chainmail class?  No. 
Leather class?  No.

I reckon these socks would give me slightly more protection than not wearing anything at all.  At best I may delay the pain of the teeth biting me for a fraction of a second.

Time to wave my arms around like a loon to get that LED security light working again.  It’s not coming on!  It’s not coming on! 

The light has fallen off the f*cking the desk!  It’s in with the rat!  Oh my God where the f*ck is the rat!  Oh my God where the f*ck is the light!  I’m going to cave it’s rat skull in with these long handled secateurs before it gets me, I am!  Beat the straw!  Beat the straw!"

So I’m beating the straw in the dark, basically doing the Dance of the Morons when the LED lights come back up and I can see that the trap successfully held on to the killer rat and I was panicking for no reason.

Of course I then stepped in and cut the rats head off with the long handled secateurs, stepped from the garage and never gave the place a backward glance.  Of course that never happened either.  I left the rat to a long slow death by rat trap choking.  I came back in the morning and found the rat well and truly dead but missing it’s back legs.  Maybe Tom the Cat had weakened and broken his diet?  Or maybe there’s a bigger rat in there?  I reckon the bigger rat.  So, I’ve got to convince Juliette that I really need to splash out on some medieval plate armour for my feet ...

Love Mark,
xxx
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Good luck with that one! And as always