Andy is still in hospital; he is going to theatre this afternoon to have the wound flushed out and investigated. The antibiotics seem to be doing their job but I guess they are just making sure everything will heal properly and there will be no permanent damage.
Anyway, I am off to visit later today with fresh supplies and the latest Doctor Who magazine (Tom Baker special...whoo-hooooooo!!!!)
Thank you again for all your messages of love, luck and good wishes. The internet is being particularly difficult at the moment. It is suffering Cottage in the Countryside Syndrome. But I will keep you updated as often as it will allow me!
Of course, Andy is in the hospital ward that is furthest away from the main entrance. So that was my 10,000 step target met for the day. Honestly, at one point in my striding down another endless corridor I thought I was going to have to set up a base camp and boil a kettle for tea. Anyway, I soldiered on and found his Lordship in a six-bed bay at the end of Ward 10 - he was even in the bed furthest away from the ward door! Any further away and he'd be out of the window and in the ambulance bay by A & E.
Anyway, I arrived bang on the start of visiting time (2-4 p.m) despite being stuck behind a Transit van that seemed incapable of travelling at more than 20 miles an hour which is VERY odd for a Transit van, n'est pas? I presented a bag of gifts to his Lordship : clean change of clothes, Kindle and charger, headphones, puzzle book and pen, massive box of fruit (grapes, strawberries and home grown raspberries), Jaffa cakes (well known for their anti-inflammatory properties) and some home made cheese scones. I also pimped his washbag with a new bottle of shower gel (zingy lime) and his shaving kit; he is a brush and shaving cream man.
We then went for a walk along the endless corridors to the coffee shop. Just because I think his Lordship is going a teensy bit stir crazy.
Anyway, the update is that Andy is spending a second night in hospital. The inflammation in his arm and hand is going down, and his white blood cell count is normal which means the infection is localised. This, I believe, is a good thing. As are the normal temperature and blood pressure. He is having intravenous antibiotics every six hours, and every now and then a doctor will come along and squeeze his hand but I don't think this is for reassurance - I think this is to check the yucky stuff emerging from the puncture sites. There has been some talk of maybe having to undergo a general anaesthetic to have any remaining yuck drained from his hand, but it might not come to that and things mostly seem to point to Andy being sent home tomorrow. When I say 'sent' I mean me having another 40 mile round trip to go and fetch him. I tell you, I am getting to know the roads of North Shropshire VERY well indeed!
And amongst all this hoo-ha Andy sustains a remarkable cheerfulness. He feels terrible for having to be off work as he does not like to let down his colleagues. But for a man who has a very swollen arm that has to be permanently in the elevated position, and a canular (is that how you spell canular?) in the other for the adminstration of antibiotics he is, well, on good form.
So there you go. Progress has been made. Thank you for ALL the messages, emails and phone calls. I have passed on all your good wishes and Andy says, 'Thank you!'
By all accounts we have been lucky with the weather up here compared to what we left behind in Kent. On Thursday, for example, whilst my Kentish family and friends were swimming in flash flooding and dodging the thunderbolts and lightning, I was out in the garden all day, bathed in sunshine and adding to the weed mountain I am building next to the compost bins. We have three compost bins - apparently this is the optimum amount for compost building and turning, but they are being woefully inadequate in coping with the extraneous greenery I am excavating from the hedges and borders. Hence the emergency weed mountain which, as it composts down, I shall add to the official bins. It may all be accommodated by Christmas. It may not.
Anyway, some of the seeds I sowed a week ago are appearing - hurrah! The rocket is rocketing ahead, the radish are positively flushing with growth, the cucumbers are nosing above the compost and I think I can see some chard and possibly salad onions. But they could be weeds. I am keeping a VERY close eye. The squash and runner beans are still hiding. But we've been picking bowls of raspberries which is most exciting and I even think the birds have given up trying to get into the fruit cage, mostly because I go marching up there on a regular basis yelling, 'There had better not be any birds in that fruit cage!'
I say, 'we' but I really mean me as Andy has been incapacitated since Thursday, having been bitten by a cat with quite possibly the dirtiest mouth of germs in the Western world, possibly beyond. I know this because Andy's arm blew up to the size of a Zeppelin balloon and he has been unable to use it ever since, even to the point of having to wear jogging bottoms because he can't cope with the zip and button of standard trousers. We've spent several hours in various NHS walk-in centres and A & E on Friday morning when his arm looked worryingly streaky, and he has been tanked up on antibiotics and various painkillers. I have fashioned a sling from one of the many scarves I do not wear but which people give me as gifts because clearly they think I ought. I have also been extolling the virtues of TCP and maybe NOT being bitten by a cat again. Andy has been sitting with either a) his arm in the air or b) with a bag of frozen peas balanced on it like some squat knobbly green parrot. This has resulted in an excess of defrosted peas which I refuse to waste so I've been cooking them up and adding them to our meals where I can. Cheesy peas on toast for lunch anyone?
And then there was the referendum on Thursday. We went and voted at the crack of dawn, at the little village hall in the next village along. The voting officials there were about 87 years old, very chatty and clearly excited by the whole event. I voted to leave. I am full of positivity, hope and excitement at the changes this wonderful country faces - after all, I've just experienced a massive change myself by leaving Kent and moving to Damson Cottage and if I hadn't been brave enough to go for that change I'd still be sitting in Maidstone complaining about the traffic, the noise, the parking, the roadworks, the constant house building programme etc etc etc. You see - taking a chance and instigating something new can achieve better things and I truly believe that this will be the case for Britain away from the EU. I have to say though, that in the aftermath of the last couple of days I do not understand this petition that is doing the rounds calling for a second referendum because the Remain campaign didn't get the required result. How does that work then? Sounds a bit stampy tantrum and dummy spitting to me.
Finally, I got a fab present in the post yesterday, from my beautiful granddaughters...
Look at them! Aren't they gorgeous? I think the picture will go on the stairs so I can see it several times every day!
Out in the garden this morning at 7.30, wrangling some more of the garden into shape. It is taking some wrangling, I can tell you. I mean, it's like stuff is growing. Anyway, Andy continued the lawn mowing and strimming project that he started yesterday, and I took on the borders and hedges.
One of my primary aims is to abolish all nettles; the granddaughters are visiting next month and I know for a fact that Elizabeth will find any nettles that are left and any nettles that are left will find Kayleigh. They have to go, along with child eye height sticky outy bits of hawthorn hedge. Of course, this pruning job is a bit like Sisyphus pushing his rock up a hill, but I shall keep on keeping on because it is very satisfying for my pruning obsession. Andy had a bonfire to get rid of his garden rubbish; I built a clippings mountain.
I wasn't completely destructive in my gardening. I also (and some might say optimistically) sowed some runner beans. I even built a rectangular support structure from bamboo canes and green twine, and it definitely is NOT wobbly and definitely will NOT fall over under the weight of the impending runner bean plants. I am going to plant some squash and radish and rocket. My gardening book says I can at this time of year so I shall.
Beneath the overgrown borders I am discovering some proper flower beds. And blackberry brambles which I am trying to train along the border fence. They are being springily resistant at the moment but I shall perserve, probably with the help of more green twine. I also pruned back tree growth inside the Goat Willow Tree House and swept all the willow fluff from the floor.
On other, non-gardening matters, I ordered some heating oil! I used a site called BoilerJuice and measured how much I thought we needed via the method of sticking a cane in the tank because I don't trust the remote electronic measuring gizmo thingy that is flashing away in the Laundry Room. Andy measured the distance of our tank from the road because, apparently, delivery tankers have hoses about 30m long. (How long their hoses are when they are down the pub sharing a few beers and comparing measurements I do not, nor care not, to know!) Our tank is about 25m away so that should be okay. And Andy sorted out our telephone and internet provider so bye-bye BT and hello PlusNet. I don't know if this will be a good move - who knows until it all changes - but change, as I have discovered, can be a very good and positive thing.
Andy made foccaccia. I researched sewing and art and craft clubs in the area. I also joined the local library which will surprise Andy because he knows how shuddery I get around using books that have previously been in the hands of strangers. But hey! I am embracing change and difference! And I can always wear a pair of rubber gloves.
Tomorrow, we are getting the car MOT'd at what we hope will become our independent and friendly neighbourhood garage. I shall go and collect my new library card and no doubt there will be another bout of garden wrangling. I need to pick up some paint, too, as on Friday we bought two kitchen chairs at £8 a shot from a charity shop. They are fine, but I want to jazz them up in a 'living in the countryside trendy upcycle' kind of way.
The mattress arrived yesterday, for the spare bed in the guest bedroom. We are all set, then, for people to come and stay. Hurrah!
However, if you fancy staying in something a little more adventurous then the tree-house situated in the goat willow tree is available for your outdoorsy delectation. It's only a few steps upwards...
...and, as you can see, has handy hand holds for those of us of a middle-aged disposition who don't often shimmy up trees. It has two windows offering scenic views of the surrounding countryside...
It is suitable for ladies and gentlemen. And finally, you get to have a 'Bridget Jones descending a fireman's pole' moment at the end of your visit. 'Scuse the bum!
Ten pence to park in Market Drayton for two hours? We were robbed! You can park in the main Witchurch car park (a 20 minute drive up the road) for FREE!! For as long as you like!!! Excuse the surfeit of exclamation marks but when you've lived in the South East all your life and you're used to getting stung for quids for parking, this west Midlands revelation has caused me some considerable excitement. Of course, I was very suspicious when we arrived in Whitchurch and I stalked the car park like some paranoid weirdo for a good five minutes looking for threatening parking notices, Andy trailing behind me saying, 'It's ok...we don't have to pay.' But he was right. Free parking it was!
Anyway, we pottered around this rather wonderful town for about two hours, admiring the beautiful architecture and lack of cars and crowds. I found a little pressie to send to my granddaughters along with a postcard, and I popped them all in an envelope and nipped into the Post Office where I got instant service with a smile. People up here do seem to smile more, although I am aware I may be wearing my rose tinted specs at the moment. I am realistic enough to realise that all things will not always be wonderful but Shropshire is doing a darn good job of being wonderful thusly so far. (I expect if we ever venture into Birmingham or Wolverhampton we shall have to pay, oh, upwards of maybe £1 for parking and I could get beeped at by an irate bus driver.)
In the afternoon, because the sun peeped out and we got a sudden rush of blood to the greenfingers, we sought out our nearest large garden centre. And it was ENORMOUS! I think I can safely say I have NEVER been to such an enormous garden centre in MY LIFE! We signed up to the loyalty card scheme, partook of the obligatory tea for me, coffee for Andy and cake for both, and then pushed a very recalcitrant trolley around the enormity of it all, purchasing lady gauntlet gloves pour moi, manly gauntlet gloves for his Lordship, ordinary gardening gloves (bargain 3-pack) for both, three fuschias for hanging baskets, felted lining for hanging baskets to stop their bottoms dropping out (oo-er missus!) and a thyme, a basil, an oregano and a sage with which to start off the new Much Malarkey Manor herb garden. I was disappointed with the selection of rosemary so I shall continue my search onwards for my favourite 'must have' herb.
Back home we set to on Operation Patio Garden. Got all our new plants in, along with two house-warming rose bushes from two friends (thank you Janet and Jane!) and got out loads of weeds. Here is 'before'...
And here is after. Not a massive amount of difference. You kind of have to be here amongst it to appreciate the obvious hard graft that went on. And I apologise for the weather. Flamin' June indeed!
Firstly, I don't think I did the fireplace much justice in yesterday's photo which I took from a recumbent position on the sofa. So here is another which, I feel, shows it off to better glory...
Massive beam! Brickwork! Properly deep! Flora has circumnavigated the perimeter. She reported sightings of elephants and wildebeest around the back.
Anyway, yesterday and inbetween furniture buying, his Lordship Malarkey and I popped into Market Drayton to post some letters and inspect the Arts Centre. We found a car park; himself went off to buy a parking ticket armed with our assorted loose change and hoping we had enough for an hour or two. After a moment, Andy returned and stuck a grim looking face through the driver's door. 'I need 10p,' said he. 'What?' said I. 'On top of all that change??' 'Nope,' said he, unable to maintain aforesaid grimness of face. 'Instead of. I don't have a 10p and parking for 2 hours is 10p and the machine won't take 5p or copper change.'
A slight pause ensued. 'Parking is how much?' said I.
'10p for 2 hours,' said Andy. 'Mind you, it rockets up to 50p if we want 3 to 4 hours.'
10 pence, dear readers! 10 shiny English pennies to park in Market Drayton for 2 hours. Well!! We made a bit of a thing about that for the rest of the day. 'How much???' we kept saying. 'HOW MUCH??????'
We are very easily entertained.
Today, we did some more sorting out of stuff and went back into town to register with a doctor. The nice receptionist gave us a pot each to pee in for when we come back to see the nurse for our 'New Patient Checkup' which for Andy will be next week and for me will be as far into the future as I can possibly make it as I don't like being prodded by doctors. We then went to buy a new vacuum cleaner as the old one went 'Bang!' within 2 seconds of me deciding I ought to do some vacuuming this morning, and then we went to Fordhall Farm for lunch.
Fordhall Farm was in the news about 10 years ago when it was taken over by a couple of teenage sibling farmers to be built up as an organic co-operative. They were very enterprising were Ben and Charlotte; they sold off shares in the farm to fund their project to keep the farm going and they wrote a book about their journey which I remember reading and being very inspired by. It is their 10th anniversary at the beginning of July and they are celebrating with an open day tour. It is about a 5 minute drive up the road from us. Lunch was fabulous. We had a short wander around the farm. I practised my 'Hooey hooey' call for summoning pigs and many pigs came a-running. They were at various stages of size and age, some being closer to the Grim Sausage Reaper than others. I made my usual wishy-washy vegetarian noises of sympathy and we left them to nosey around in the mud for however many days of their lives were remaining.
Back at Damson Cottage Andy put the new vacuum cleaner together for me then promptly fell asleep on the sofa so I couldn't use it. So I did some laundry instead. I have to call it 'laundry' now because we have a very grand sounding 'Laundry Room.' The Laundry Room contains the washing machine and tumble drier, the washing baskets, ironing board and peg basket, and other assorted things like the camping equipment, wine making gear, DIY malarkey, in fact everything that we don't know where to put inside the house. One of the common calls this last week has been, 'Where's the (insert item here)?' To wit the response has been, 'In the Laundry Room!'
I have lived in nine houses during my life - one of them twice. Damson Cottage is the 10th and I can say, hand on heart, that it is the first house that I have loved. We've been here less than a week and already I feel like we've been here forever. Well, aside from still kicking boxes around and me wanting to turn left at the top of the stairs to go to the bathroom when, in fact I need to turn right.
Aside from the garden, which is a MASSIVE love on its own, and the surroundings (I can see cows from the front window - cows!!) there are also favourite bits emerging from the house itself, and we haven't even begun to decorate yet! For example, I love this fireplace...
And I love this set of shelves in the kitchen...
I love that the downstairs doors all look like this...
And the upstairs doors look like this...
I love that the bathroom has one of these...
With one of these...
And that the guest bedroom has wibbly wobbly cupboards like this...
My enormous bear can stand guard on the landing...
And this is the first piece of furniture we bought today for our new home...
Which I love!
Here we are! Back on the interwebbly highway, although I have to say the last three days have been gently quiet, cut off from technology as we've been. The mobile phone connection is a tad dire, too, and has involved a certain amount of running to the top of the garden waving the phone around in the air to send the occasional text to relatives just to let them know we have arrived and are well.
Anyway, enough of that! We have finally done it! Moved to the countryside and got our big garden. Jungle. Garden. Here are some photos, taken this evening on my inadequate ipad after an afternoon of light rain. Yesterday it was gloriously sunny. Today, il pleut. So the photos aren't that great but they'll give you a wee gist...
A bit of the patio. Looks tidier than it did yesterday when it was full of gardening and DIY stuff dumped there by the removal van...then up the steps...
....overgrown with some pretty cottagey plants, to the temporary position of the chicken run...
That's Camilla. Primrose is already in bed, recovering from the excitement of yesterday's gardening expedition. She helped me dig over one of the raised beds until it was suitable enough to dust bath in. Her, not me.
This is the middle part of the garden. I lay under this tree on Wednesday afternoon watching newly fledged tits and goldfinches having a new fledgling party. My goodness but they were noisy! You can just see the bottom of the treehouse. To the right.
Has someone been gardening, perchance? This is the 'around the corner' bit. Raised beds, a fruit cage at the back containing raspberries and gooseberries, and behind that 3 compost bins. And yes, I HAVE had a swing on the swing...of course I have...
....the field next door. In between digging and weeding I stood up and stared at it, just for the sheer hell of enjoyment...
A big lawn for running around on. Needs mowing. Lovely daisies and clover though.
A mini-orchard - apple, plum and pear trees. And one unidentifiable. Might be damson. And the view at the front from the front door. With the five bar gate. We have a five bar gate!
And I am going now because our newly installed interwebbly is being testy and I shall scream if it loses this post! More tomorrow!!
Rantings, ravings, observations and musings, useful stuff, silly stuff, funny, sad and thoughtful guff!