A feast fit for a king

Since moving to the pretty Suffolk countryside we have decidedly more wildlife around us. Including a frog in the loo and a big scary wolf hiding behind the bunny hutch!

Deer2We were used to seeing cats and dogs, having pet bunnies and guinea pigs and the odd fox roaming the streets in the evenings. But here we have a family of deer (Mum, Dad and baby) who visit our garden almost on a nightly basis. They squeeze under the gate and stay for a couple of hours before heading off again.

Next door to our garden are very cute Bantam hens, which can be very vocal! We have a wonky-donkey down the lane, as well as a field full of alpacas, which peer at us over the wall on our walk to school. And pheasants! I’ve never seen so many. It’s like they play ‘Frogger’ with you when you drive down the lane. It’s a miracle I haven’t hit one yet.

There are also of course horses, dogs being walked by country folk wearing posh wellies, bunnies and hares bouncing across the fields whilst birds of prey circle above. And badgers snuffling around in the hedgerows after dark – not to mention the owls who decide to become ‘all chatty’ at some ungodly hour of the morning! Oh and bats. Lots of bats in the evenings at certain times of the year. I recently learned that there is such a thing as a ‘bat detector’ which apparently makes a funny noise when there is a bat in close proximity. On hearing this Mr G got all excited and immediately started searching online for one. As we know Mr G loves a gadget! Quite why we need a bat detector is beyond me as we can see perfectly well the bats that fly over our garden. I don’t need a little device to beep at me telling me so. And even if I couldn’t see them, what would be the use of knowing they are in the vicinity? It’s not as if I have a craving for bat pie.

Lane_2Anyway, we also have typical farm animals in the fields too – lots of piggies (oh why do I like bacon so much), cows and sheep. So as you can see, we have a real menagerie here, which is truly lovely. But unfortunately some of the animals do become road kill, which is very sad. On Sunday evening Mr G and I were driving home (after enjoying the sunshine in a beer garden with friends) and spotted a deer, rabbit and a pheasant dead on the side of the lane. I said to Mr G, “There’s a feast fit for a king just lying on the roadside”. Friends be wary when I serve up venison burgers at our next BBQ!

 

 

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Knock-a-door-fly!

When I was a child (many moons ago) I used to play ‘knock-a-door-run’ with my friends (much to the delight of our neighbours). I did feel a bit naughty doing it, so didn’t play it that often. But for the record, I’m really sorry, neighbours of old. For those of you who haven’t played this before, you basically sneak up to someone’s front door, knock on it and then run and hide. It’s not the most complex game but it kept us entertained for about ten minutes in the six-week summer holidays.

Here in Suffolk it’s not children who play this game, but birds: Long-tailed tits, to be precise. Mr G and I were sat working when we heard a knocking on the front door. We both looked but nobody was there. It happened a few times and eventually we caught the culprit – a very cute, long-tailed tit, balancing on the edge of the window in the door and tapping on the glass with his beak. He has a couple of friends who now join in and they knock on both the front and back doors. We are now familiar with their ‘knock’ so no longer get up to answer the door. And I have forgiven them for disturbing us, as they are super-cute.

Bird_2 PortraitThe birds have been ‘playing’ this game for over a fortnight now and don’t seem to be getting bored of it. So I can at least be assured that my brain is slightly larger than that of a bird as I played this for about ten minutes before running into Mum declaring that I was “Boooooooored” for the millionth time that summer holiday.

I am now fully aware of how irritating it is to hear those words from your child when you know they have a bedroom full of toys, not to mention the stack in the shed!

And so I find myself sounding just like my Mum all those years ago, repeating to Amelie exactly what Mum used to say to me and my brother “How can you be bored when you have all of those toys”. And then I go on to say how we didn’t have game consoles, only had four TV channels (what!?), tablets were a solid form of medicine and ‘Mr Google’ hadn’t been born! My goodness, no wonder I was playing knock-a-door-run to help fill the holidays.

 

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. . . _ _ _ . . . (SOS)

One of the reasons we moved to the Suffolk countryside was to escape the hustle and bustle of town life. To enjoy the simple things in life, including the peace and quiet. I’ve mentioned before that you could hear a pin drop here it’s so quiet, especially at night. If there is no wind then all around is quiet and still.

Owls and bats as we know, like to fly around at night. This is all lovely until they fly past the security light sensors, as they trigger them to come on. During the night the outside lights can sometimes flash on and off like the owls are communicating through Morse Code!

To add to the array of security features on our house, Mr G has bought an outdoor security camera kit. This is great, but considering we get on average about three cars a day down our lane – the likelihood of one of them being a burglar is slim. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

He has been busy setting it all up and getting very excited about being able to watch the pitch black of night on the TV in the lounge. To be fair it can be a welcome relief to the trash telly we sometimes sit and watch! Of course, the kit comes with a little booklet full of all sorts of interesting facts and settings for the camera kit. One of which is if the cameras pick up movement outside it will ‘helpfully’ send Mr G an email to alert him.

Let me just explain a little about Mr G’s mobile phone. He has many a useful App on there, all of which come with their own little noises and alerts. If there is a setting for a noise to type, to give an alert, a reminder, or to just open the App Mr G will turn that on. He is also a person who has kissed the pen and paper goodbye and literally does everything on his phone/tablet. I on the other hand have a love/hate relationship with technology. It’s great when it works but without a doubt it will let you down when you most need it. Like when I’m lost (daily) somewhere in the countryside and need to call someone who can tell me where to go. This is why I still use my trusted paper diary and notebook on a daily basis. All of my To-Do lists are on paper – from my house admin, work tasks, Christmas lists and the general daily To-Dos. Crossing tasks off on paper is much more satisfying than deleting them on your mobile phone/tablet. You can cross them off with much more of a flourish on paper.

As Mr G’s life is on his phone, it is constantly binging, bonging, ringing, whistling and screaming reminders and alerts all day and all night. I swear it happens that often I think it’s reminding him to breathe in and out. He’s like a one-man band with that phone. So when he reads me the helpful little feature that the camera kit will send him an email (which will have it’s own little ‘binging’ noise) to alert him of movement outside the house, I am less than overjoyed. As well as the lights flashing on and off through the night, I’m also going to have his phone binging every time an owl or bat flies past the cameras!

So yes, apparently we moved here for the peace and quiet!!!

Ladybird invasion!

It’s funny how you can go from liking something when there is just one of them to being totally freaked out when there are many! (Apart from chocolates, cakes, glasses of wine). I’ve just popped across to the house (from MY office) to find Mr G surrounded by lots (and I mean lots) of ladybirds in Amelie’s bedroom window. He was kindly hanging up a new Halloween costume for Amelie when he spotted them all. Her window (like ours) is open slightly to let some air in. So remembering this I dash to our room to find the same thing. Loads of them in the window, on the wall and on the curtains. Ew!

ladybirds_1.jpgWe try to catch as many as possible to throw them outside, to then see that the house is covered in them. It’s really freaky!

Only yesterday I read in the news about a dog owner finding lots of ladybirds in her dog’s mouth which I have to be honest made me feel a little ill. I won’t include a link to it as it’s not a nice photo. You can search for it if you want to have a nosey.

And there are lots of different types, the usual red with neat black spots, some black ones with large red spots and orange ones. They would be really pretty if there weren’t so many of them!

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Seriously, the countryside should come with some sort of warning about the strange wildlife. Estate agents who deal with country properties should provide a pack to poor unsuspecting buyers to detail things like frogs in toilets, mahoosive (there’s that made-up word again) spiders and a ladybird flash dance! I did not sign up for this. Can we not just have sheep and cows in fields like a ‘normal’ countryside???

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One of the things I’ve noticed since moving to the countryside is the lack of roads that are wide enough to let two cars pass. They are few and far between let me tell you!

I’ve been driving for years and call me strange, but most of my driving has been done in a forwards direction. I haven’t had the need to do much reversing, apart from parking or maybe backing up a little bit in a road, so my reversing experience is minimal. But around here half of your driving seems to be done in a backwards direction.

I presume driving lessons in the countryside must dedicate a good half of the time teaching you to drive in reverse for miles. The only reversing I had to do on my test was to reverse around a corner. To now be faced with having to drive in reverse for a mile or two (slight exaggeration) to let a tractor come past is terrifying!

Tractors are in abundance around where we live. In fact the only traffic that goes past our house are tractors or other cool farming vehicles. (I’ll share my love of tractors some other time).

There is a partino-entrycular lane near our house that Mr G has BANNED me from driving down on my own. It’s a tiny, twisty-turny (technical road term) lane that for most of it is only just wide enough for one car. The useful little pull-in areas in the hedgerows are minimal so if you come face to face with a tractor or indeed just another normal sized car you have to reverse a fair old way to let it pass.

If I were to come face to face with a tractor (after getting over my initial excitement) I’d just have to sit there gripping my steering wheel and try to out-stare the farmer in the vain hope he would reverse his (lovely) tractor. Obviously there are some risks with this strategy, so this is why Mr G has banned me from driving down that particular narrow lane when I’m on my own. I’ve agreed to steer clear of this lane, even though it means I have to drive further to get to some places. But even I realise that if I got stuck I couldn’t just sit there and shout “Geeeeeeeeeeeeee” and hope he comes running with a pint glass and a piece of card to get rid of the tractor!

Going for gold

Picking blackberries in the lane started off as a bit of a novelty. We live in the countryside, which means it’s the law to partake in these cute little seasonal activities. Amelie absolutely loves blackberry picking. So much so that we have blitzed the hedgerow down our lane. I defy anyone to find one more blackberry outside of our house!

Admittedly they have come in handy for sprucing up the MANY apple crumbles I’ve been baking which I’m truly thankful for.

However, this cute activity has now turned into something much more serious.
Every time we go for a walk we are on the lookout for blackberries. We scour each hedgerow, stomp through prickly brambles; tear our skin on thorns and brace ourselves for nettle stings just to reach the shiny, fat juicy blackberries right at the top (which all sensible people have left well alone). We pick blackberries like it’s an Olympic sport.

Today for example we went for a quick walk after lunch across the fields in the autumn sunshine. Not long into our stroll did we start to see blackberries. We quickly look at each other, nod knowingly and then swarm around the blackberry bush, all of us looking for the fat juicy ones. We each grab a few and then stand looking in dismay, as we have nothing to put them in (rookie mistake). It’s coming to the end of the season for blackberries so they are a little squishy so we need to handle them with care. blackberries-in-hood

Then we have a flash of brilliance – we can stash them in the hood of Amelie’s coat. Yes!!! (You’d have thought we’d just won the lottery). Come on Team GB-P (Great Blackberry Pickers), let’s go for gold!

Threesome!?

One of the few downsides of living out in the countryside is the mobile signal – or lack of. Our current provider doesn’t seem to have one of those signal mast things anywhere near us so we can’t use our mobile phones (useful).

We have bought an array of signal boosters and we have routers coming out of our ears but still nothing. However, as with lots of problems in modern life – there is an ‘app for that’. So we now make calls and send texts via this app, which is a blessing. I’d be lost without my texts!

However this app only works with general texts and not with texts that may have a security issue, which is fair enough. I had the joyful task of completing my online TAX return just after we moved here. I love TAX returns just as much as I love spiders! Anyway, the site has recently upgraded its level of security, so now it asks for passport information, inside leg measurements, your GCSE grades and favourite holiday destination. Oh and it helpfully sends you a secret pin number via text message. You get so far into logging into the system and then you have to wait for the text to come through. We get a slither of a mobile signal right at the top of the garden in the far corner up the hill. I take my phone out into the garden, trek up to the top and stand there like an ejit with my phone in the air trying to attract some sort of invisible text laser beam from the mast that is a trillion miles away.

Of course today is a day where we don’t even get a spec of a signal. I call up the lovely TAX people, listening to various menu options and by the time I’ve got through to an actual human being my log-in screen has timed out. !@*!!*@!!!!!!!

Whilst searching for an app to help us with our phone signal issue we came across a ‘walkie-talkie’ app which comes in really handy when one of us is in the office or workshop. It’s super cool and works like a proper walkie-talkie – you have to press and hold a button on your screen whilst you talk. Now, this REALLY excites me as I’ve always had a secret wish to be a spy. Move over James Bond, Spy-Barbie is taking over! Anyway, as cool as this app is, it sometimes doesn’t work because of the lack of signal, but it does oddly store any conversation you have missed and plays back once it picks up mobile coverage.

I was fast asleep in bed last night when I was woken up by Mr G announcing that the “Tesco man is here”. WHAT!?! Have I woken up in the middle of a fantasy that I’ve not been aware of? Have I agreed to some bedroom extra-curricular activities and not remembered? As nice as the Tesco delivery man is, I don’t want to have him snugged up with Mr G and I. I gingerly ask Mr G what he’s on about and then we realise that the walkie-talkie app has picked up that slither of a signal from the mast in a galaxy far, far away and played back the call G made earlier to me today.

I fall back asleep wishing my Tesco delivery man was Brad Pitt, George Clooney, James Martin, Denzel Washington, Daniel Craig…