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Batten down the hatches

After a dreary Summer, comes a miserable Winter. They’ve been bigging up shortages, and now shortages are coming to pass.

Partly self-fulfilling. BP announced gas rationing for their filling stations today and this afternoon our local (non BP) station had a brutal queue.

Meat, particularly beef, is getting scarce. I had a hankering for a slow-cooked beef joint and we couldn’t find a brisket for less than £8. (Still not eating the bugs, tho).

Tuesday we went into a supermarket – in person! – for the first time in…oh, fifteen months. It was fully stocked, but the online shopping has shown up some missing products. If they keep talking about it, people will naturally start to hoard toilet paper again.

Natural gas prices have exploded. Electricity also, and little suppliers are going bust. We’re preparing for blackouts.

That’s the second fire of the season. We’ve opted to go with all wood this year (instead of switching to solid fuel for the coldest months) because it’s much, much easier. Also we once had a delivery guy drop a literal ton of coal at the end of our drive, blocking it. We’re getting a little old and crunky for that kind of manual labor.

If it’s a cold one, I’m disappearing under the electric blanket for the season.

September 23, 2021 — 7:23 pm
Comments: 14

Lookitim go!

Bill the Badger takes his leave. I tried slowing the video down, but then he’s just a slower streak of blur.

He was snuffling around the front garden late last night right when I wanted to go to bed. I knew the moment I opened the front door he would vanish, and there you have it (I can hit a button and manually record to this computer).

Behold, my white trash chicken empire! This is what happens when you expect three or four bantams and you get ten.

The house to the far left was my very first. It was slated for demolition when I suddenly had to house a bunch of cockerels. The one in the middle was a hospital cage I used for sick chickens. It was never meant for permanent housing. Whoever gets stuck in it overnight gets the most free range time next day to compensate.

The one at the far right is the proper new chicken house. Currently, it houses the two hens and one rooster. Why is the fox so much better at catching hens?

September 6, 2021 — 6:40 pm
Comments: 6

He’s back, dammit

I kept the chicken food inside for six weeks, which was a right royal pain. I thought by now, he would have gravitated to a new neighborhood, but my June badger has returned to pinch chicken food.

That’s the picture from last time. After that, I somehow managed to turn off the recording function on my surveillance cameras. I’m kind of relieved. I always dreaded seeing something awful unfold on video.

So late last night, I spotted an amorphous hump of fur rooting around in the feed bin on the camera last night and I said to Uncle B, “You sure you don’t have raccoons in England?” El baj was so into eating my layers pellets that I walked right up to him and he didn’t notice me until I spoke.

It’s a nearly full 20-kilo bag of chicken feed with a nearly full 20-kilo bag of cracked corn, so I don’t think I can drag them in the house without making a mess. Funny, he’s never been interested in the corn, just the pellets.

I tied the lid of the bin down with a bungee, but I doubt that will stop him and I don’t want to hurt him. Bungee cord-associated ocular trauma is a thing, y’all.

So I put a couple of folded, defunct metal lawn chairs on top of that. It won’t stop him either, but I’m hoping it’ll be loud and that will startle him. Or at least alert me.

I’ll keep you posted. Good weekend, all!

September 3, 2021 — 7:28 pm
Comments: 20

He’s outdone himself this year!

Uncle B is the gardener (my mother used to say I have a purple thumb – every plant I touch dies). This year’s back flower border is especially superb. Everything the right height, all in bloom at once, lovely harmonious colors.

No, of course I’m not going to ask you to judge by that manky black-and-white snippet. Here it is in color.

Picture shows about half of it and doesn’t do it any kind of justice, though. So much so, he went out and bought hisself a wide-angle lens to capture it the lot Sadly, by the time it came, things were going over a bit.

August 23, 2021 — 5:49 pm
Comments: 12

There’s a fungus among us

This idyllic forest scene is brought to you by…the wastewater pipe in the downstairs bathroom? Yeesh.

This is the room we lovingly refer to as the Tudor crapper. Sometimes, living in a 500 year old house has its disadvantages.

August 18, 2021 — 7:45 pm
Comments: 4

Lockdown has been harder on some

It never occurred to me that lockdown would be especially tough on…Jehovah’s Witnesses? They haven’t been able to go door to door for sixteen months so looks like they’ve been reduced to handwriting letters. This came in the post today addressed to “the Resident” but had our full address and a stamp. Poor silly bastards.

Inside was also a card with a QR code which I imagine whisks you away to their Zoom meeting. Anyone want it?

JW’s are common where we are, which surprised me. They’re aggressive canvassers. Not nasty aggressive, for the most part, but they’ll walk up to you in your garden. This is very much Not Done – the English are fierce about their back gardens. You don’t walk around the house uninvited.

I’m told Witnesses (Witnessers?) caught on here because the Church of England was seen as snooty and highfalutin. Alternative churches flourished in the country. JW’s, Strict and Particular Baptists, various flavors of Methodists. John Wesley preached his last sermon in Winchelsea, not too too far away from us.

I have to laugh when English people get caught up in proselytizing religions. Walking up to strangers and blurting out scripture is so inimical to the national character.

I hope they earn double Jesus points for it.

July 28, 2021 — 6:51 pm
Comments: 11

Busted!

Uncle B’s been entertaining his buddies. This is almost certainly a young bachelor. Year-old males are kicked out of the sett when they reach sexual maturity to fend for themselves.

These boys go off on their own and scavenge for food. Kind of sad, really.

Uncle B called the local badger group for advice, but there’s not much to do. Get rid of the outdoor chicken food. If he starts to claw at the chicken pens, electric fence. Badgers are a protected species.

Uncle B asked the badger lady whether it would be okay to feed the poor boy and she said sure, she did that 25 years ago and now she’s feeding a whole colony of his descendants and she’s head of the local badger group. So, no.

Good weekend, all!

June 25, 2021 — 7:53 pm
Comments: 14

Salad days

It ain’t all gooseberries: sometimes it’s garden produce without a deep personal vendetta.

Grown in a pot, these were. Already cut up, fermented and ready to eat now.

It’s a shame food looks so awful in black and white. Uncle B takes nice photos and grows nice carrots.

July 17, 2019 — 8:31 pm
Comments: 9

erm…

These two objects are very old, very rusty (and, in the case of the top one) very long nails. Evil looking things.

The first one — the long, wicked one — appeared on the step outside the front door maybe six months ago. We had a little laugh about gypsy curses and left it on the sideboard in the hall.

Uncle B found the second one in almost exactly the same spot today.

I know, I know…the house is north of 400 years old, stuff is bound to fall out of it from time to time. But the ground around it is brick and the entryway was stuck on the side in the Seventies. Wherefore came’st it?

If anything…weird happens, AVENGE US! Oh, and have a good weekend.

April 26, 2019 — 8:08 pm
Comments: 12

…and finally…

We were out late tonight, so I shall fob you off with one last picture of our inglenook: the old bread oven.

It’s in the upper right corner of the inglenook. One of these days, I’ll have to put a camera on a pole and get some proper pics of the interior. You can’t quite make it out, but it’s a sort of beehive shape on the inside.

The way it worked, you’d shovel hot coals in to warm it up, then brush them to the sides and put your loaves in middle and shut the door until they baked. I see no evidence of hinges, so the door was probably just a wooden shutter sort of thing.

Note the bottom right bricks have crumbled away, we suspect where the wooden paddle (called a peel) was inserted to move the loaves.

Thus ends a week of sperging about my inglenook. Good weekend, all!

September 28, 2018 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 12