Friday, 24 February 2012


The first lambs have appeared in the field by our house!

Admittedly, they were born a few months ago care of artificially-inseminated ewes and have been sheltering from sub-zero temperatures in the poly-tunnel barn across the farmyard. But they're our first sign of spring and the relief is palpable.

It's been quite a long winter.

Ok, so it's been nothing compared to last year, as the locals keep reminding me, but last year we were in a snug newly-built terrace in a pollution-heated city. This year I'm listening concurrently to rain ricocheting off the windows and news of "droughts in the South East of..." - double take - yes the newsreader really did say "England".

Then today the temperature creeps into double figures. We venture into the conservatory without needing five layers and the rain (temporarily) isn't battering on the plastic roof and we remember why we fell in love with this house in the first place.

City break

There isn't much hesitation when my husband asks what I'd like to do for the February half-term.
"A city break!"
"Lisbon?" he suggests. "Dubrovnik?"
Slight hesitation at the temptation of warmth, then quick resolve. "London."

We arrange to stay with good friends a stone's throw from our rented-out house. It's an opportunity to see a few more friends, catch a bit of culture and pound those pavements I'd longed to leave.

A trip to the ever-popular Natural History Museum in the middle of half-term isn't my brightest idea, and the buses and tube are still the buses and tube, but a change is as good as a rest, as they say. And I'm beginning to appreciate a side-effect of living so far away...

Overnight stays!

So long as we can persuade people to trek up north, or put us up down south, we get the added bonus of long wine-filled evenings when the kids are asleep, and breakfast in pyjamas with mates. Anyone fancy a visit?

Monday, 6 February 2012

Hooray for cricket

It's one of those days. Our tenants in London inform us their boiler's broken, our kitchen ceiling has an ominous leak, the car's playing up and we're nearly out of coal. A thick, cold fog envelopes our house and the kids get ratty.

Thank goodness my husband is working from home and thank Test Match Special for cricket. From the sunny climes of Dubai, via our invaluable internet radio, we hear the reassuring tones of England losing another test match and take a deep, calming breath.

Joe shows us how bowlers hold the ball: two fingers and a thumb pointing forward. "It's the sign for triceratops," he informs us.

Our landlady comes round and stabs our ceiling with a BBQ skewer, lancing the puddle of leaked water. She assures us that the plumber will fix it tomorrow. We arrange for a British Gas engineer to visit our tenants, book a coal delivery and send the car to the garage.

At some point, the sun manages to break out. We go outside to check the snowman and knock down some snow castles, and realise that the fog hasn't lifted - it's sunk... and we're now above it, looking across a shrouded valley to the next hillside.

I make a snowball to throw at Joe.
"Wait a minute," he says, and pops inside to get his cricket bat.
So I bowl snowballs at him, and I'm not sure what's more joyful: the snowball exploding on the upturned bucket stumps or Joe obliterating it with a straight drive.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Sledging update

Rosa: It's quite fun actually.
Joe: I like falling in the snow best.

Most awesome are the icicles. Freezing rain has lashed onto any walls, fences, sheep or vegetation in its path. We remove whole sheets of glass-like ice from stones and posts, and unhoop icy cylinders from twigs and thick blades of grass. The icicles are still hanging on the sheep though.