A Work of Fiction

Martin and his girlfriend Steff have moved into the cottage of their dreams in deepest, rural Wiltshire.
Read her diary and live the life.

Rundown and Romantic

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Ruby's Bad Leg

Well, so much for a happy day with the sheep. Popped down with a bucket of veg peelings later in the day, only to find Ruby flopped down under a tree looking very forlorn and sorry for herself. I'd noticed before that her foot was definitely giving her problems and now it seems she doesn't want to put any unnecessary weight on it. I texted Martin who told me to call the vet, which I have done, but I've got a feeling it's arthritis kicking in. Being the mum of them all, and a little long in the tooth it has to be said, it's a wonder she hasn't suffered something like this sooner.

We sat together for half an hour or so and had a little girlie chat. She said Gandalf is getting too greedy and always head-butting the others out the way, and Daisy and Ditsy are always hogging the hay bales. Typical mother; always fretting about her kids.

Anyway, while the others were busy scoffing the sheep mix and peelings from their trough, I fed Ruby a few special bits by hand. I would have shared them with her, but cold, wizened parsnip shavings aren't really my idea of a good lunch. Ruby seemed quite happy though, so now we just wait for the vet.

Monday, 24 January 2011

What a glorious morning I've had!

Martin at work, Joe at nursery, Seb a long way away in Chester (thank goodness. I'm determined to get him out of my system, the sooner the better). It's just been me and the sheep, basking in a touch of early spring sunshine and turfing all the muck and crap out of their stable. There's something lovely about the copious amounts of mud and mess that clog up your wellies, and the raw smell of animals that can't be equalled elsewhere. I generally find myself stopping every few minutes, leaning on my fork and grinning stupidly. Romantic, but not very practical.

The animals seemed to like their clean abode and promptly dropped a few marbles on the clean straw to show their appreciation while I struggled with an overfull barrow that was intent on tipping up and pulling me down with it. I'm glad to say my muscles and sheer willpower prevailed and I've only ended up with two minor bruises instead of the usual crop on my legs this time.

Tea from a flask may taste peculiar at the best of times, but when you're perched on a warm straw bale, gazing at a stream, it's got to be heaven in anyone's book.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The House that Seb Built

Q: How can a few chunks of old stone give a person so much pleasure?!

A: By turning themselves into the walls of a pigsty, of course.

Seb came over as promised (minus the Connelly harpy) with a trailer full of lumps of stone from his garden. Apparently they had formed a ha-ha behind his house many years ago which began to tumble and fall and has since lain like a lot of broken teeth across the grass. Seb says he prefers them this way to being in a uniform line and I have to agree with him. Still, the old ha-ha will now grace my garden in a very different guise. Ha-ha, indeed.

Seb brought roofing tiles too (not sure where they came from), so all is just sitting there, ready for him and Martin to get cracking. I'm not sure who is most excited about the whole venture; me, Joe or Martin. Or Seb. He seemed pretty happy to be sharing his bounty with us. Or maybe it was good just to offload some of his extraneous stuff! Either way, we will have a pig soon and she (the pig will be a she) will have a house to rival our own.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Martin's downstairs building a lego castle with Joe and I've slipped away to scribble this quickly. I'm so full of conflicting emotions, all I can think of is to pour them out onto these pages and hope to God no one finds them.

The sad truth is I've been so wrapped up, like a little kid, with this pigsty idea that I forgot Seb would soon be going away to Chester. It's all to do with that copywriting job. That, of course, means he won't be coming round to help build the sty. Well, not for a while, anyway. And if Martin gets on with it too soon, Seb won't need to come over at all.

Why should that worry me? I tell myself that it's because Joe will be disappointed. But that's not it at all. I want a pig, we all want a pig, but part of the charm of it is that Seb will be involved in the whole project.There! I've said it. It's there in black and white and I'm not at all proud of it. I want Seb's company far more than I should. It's ridiculous and wrong. But it's true.

And did I really forget he was going away? More like I convinced myself he wouldn't.

And the worst bit of the whole stupid thing is that Lydia Connelly is there with him right now doing the Dance of the Seven Dusters, if I know her.

But that's her business. And his. And now, pitifully, mine.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Spring in January?

Good news and bad news.

The absolutely brilliantly great news is that Seb Lancashire, our neighbour and friend, is coming over later to look over the soon-to-be pigsty. He's got plenty of old stone and roof tiles lying around on his land, apparently, and he and Martin are going to use them to build the pen up as soon as the weather gets a bit more settled. I can't wait, and nor can Joe, who is desperate to install a kune-kune like Seb's Stanley, but I think Martin's got other ideas.

The not-so-good news is that we have discovered a ream of niggly repair jobs that need seeing to as soon as possible. All that arctic weather has wreaked some damage outside. The fences are loose and when I fed the sheep this morning I noticed a large hole in the stable roof. Martin's out there now patching it up while I hang the first of this year's washing on the line. Not much hope that it will dry, I know, but I can't resist the touch of spring that's in the air today. I can almost smell it.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Rain, Mud and Snow

Thankfully all that snow has at last melted away -  the only thing is, it has left the ground around the mill exceptionally muddy. The chickens are turning their beaks up at the goo squelching through their toes and it's quite funny to see them viewing it from the top of their ladder wth disdain. The sheep don't mind in the slightest. Nor, might I add, do Joe or Bertie, who will splat through just about anything given half the chance.

But the orchard is churned up and my little vegetable patch, which I still tend even though there's not much growing in it right now doesn't look too spectacular. What's made it ten times worse is the hammering rain we're now experiencing. I can hardly see the top of the Mound for mist, and the stream by the kitchen door is choked and swollen. Joe threw a couple of sticks into the water, Pooh-style, this morning and raced them along the bank until they disappeared between the trees. It worries me that one day he will try one of his superstunts and wade in to reclaim them, but Martin says I worry too much.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

It's going to be a while before we can actually start on the pigsty sadly, but Joe and I did manage to drag Martin over to the outhouse to poke about and give it some serious thought. He's gone out now in the Land Rover and Joe wants me to take him for a paddle along the stream bed in our wellies before lunch. The dog seems to understand far more English than I gave him credit for; he's already off across the garden, barking in delight.


Look what we stumbled across! We always thought the loud gurgling we could hear was just the stream chuckling along, but having followed it downstream for a short way, we've discovered a natural dam and a secret waterfall. It's so beautiful! Sometmes I wonder if this home of ours will ever run dry of treasures. It just gets better and better.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2011 - The BIG ONE

I have decided to put all my silly doubts aside and start the new year with a smile, for Martin has had the best idea ever, in the whole wide world!

It was while we were eating a huge cottage pie last night (Joe's favourite cos he douses it in Worcester Sauce then just drives his spoon in like a garden shovel) that we got talking about finally doing something with the outhouses this year. They're still very broken down like dinosaur bones piled in various corners of the garden, and although they have a particular charm of their own, we agree they really ought to be rebuilt and made use of.

But for what? The usual suggestions of another shed and an apple store came up, but neither were very inspiring, nor terribly necessary seeing as we have other 'old sheds' already in use for just these purposes. Then Joe pipes up, his mouth full of meat and potato, and says, 'Couldn't we keep a pig like Seb?'

Now, most ordinary families would smile kindly at this point and change the subject (quickly), but not ours. I know my eyes lit up instantly at the idea for Martin laughed when he looked at me and nodded thoughtfully as he dug his fork into his dinner. 'It wouldn't be a problem to turn it into a pigsty,' he said.

So now we're all in a frisson of excitement and 2011 promises to be brilliant. Chickens, sheep and now a pig. 

I love my home.