Tuesday, 19 August 2014

An even keel

Thank you all so much for your kind comments and good wishes for the biggest boy.  He's a lot less sore now, and today's x-rays revealed that all is healing as it should be.  He can have the plaster off in four weeks, then there will be a brace for two or three weeks and some physical therapy for his weakened leg.  We covered quite a lot of distance at the hospital, it's miles between the departments we needed to be in - firstly the Children's Hospital, then the trauma clinic, then the CH, then the trauma clinic and finally back to the CH.  I stuck the biggest boy in a big wheelchair with a long leg rest.  Someone explained to me that they had been designed so that it was easier to pull them backwards.  We tried it but honestly, it wasn't easy.  So I tried pushing it.  Imagine pushing a caravan.  It had that same kind of motion.  Any slight sideways movement resulted in an enormous arc in the opposite direction to the one you'd expect.  The corridors weren't particularly wide.  I can't tell you how tricky it all was.  It was about a hundred degrees in the hospital and most of the double doors weren't automatic.  As so often, I got hot and bothered and made quite an exhibition of us.  I tried cheering the biggest boy up by running full tilt towards the double doors shouting, "Brace yourself, we'll blast our way through".  His bad leg was leading, so he didn't completely see the funny side of it.  (I did scream to a halt just before we hit, in case you were wondering.  Although I am quite clumsy, so in retrospect I can see why he was a bit nervy.)

He has a dental x-ray tomorrow, and I'm really hoping it's good news there as well.

There have been a couple of other hiccups this week.  A trip to the vet for the guinea pig, and what we thought was a little boiler problem that turned out to be a big boiler problem that will be hugely expensive to repair.  And the boiler is only about eighteen months old.  Yesterday it all felt a bit overwhelming, but today things are looking brighter somehow.  None of this money stuff is the end of the world is it?  It's hard, but there are so many worse things.  So I feel on a little more of an even keel.

I've taken the little people out a bit, to parks and the allotment.  We haven't stayed out for ages, as the biggest boy has been staying at home.  He's allowed to wander around a bit more now though, so I shall lever him into the car and we'll get out and about where we can.

The littlest boy is back on wheels.  I've been shouting, "Be careful" a bit more than normal.

I'm trying to be a bit more relaxed about the allotment.  It will get tidied up eventually, after a fashion.  In the meantime there are odd bits of produce to be had, which we're appreciating.  And I'm remembering how lucky I am to be tending this little plot of land, growing vegetables here where people have been doing the same for nearly five hundred years.  I love the sense of history about the place.  How I'd love to step back in time and see the people who were there before me.

It's a privilege to be a part of this land, and I'm happy we have it in our lives.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Flowers for bees

The children opted to grow flowers in their little garden beds this year.  We bought seeds called "Bee Mixture", and also sowed some cornflowers, marigolds, nigella, cosmos and sunflowers.

It occurred to me the other day that our garden is hardly ever without a bee at the moment.  In the past, when we've only had fruit, vegetables and herbs, things for bees have been in short supply.  It's been so lovely having bees buzzing around all the time, it really has added something to the garden.    I think from now on I'll try and make sure bee-friendly flowers are always interspersed amongst the vegetables.

I've noticed that some of the food plants are great for bees too, particularly raspberries, oregano, chives, marjoram and beans.  The last picture is an artichoke flower.  The bees seem to absolutely adore them, and they spend ages poking around deep down inside the flower until their little fluffy bodies are covered in pollen.  Bee heaven I think.  I'm all for helping these amazing and industrious creatures, that are so essential to our way of life.  Things for bees will be at the top of my growing list for next year.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Be careful what you wish for

We're halfway through the summer holidays, and it occurred to me at the weekend it's time to raise my game.  More walks, picnics, exciting days out.  I wanted to make some memories, you know the kind of stuff.

One of the boys' friends came for the day on Tuesday.  Between showers I took them to the park.  They took scooters, and climbed trees and scooted up and down and generally had fun.  I stayed a few minutes longer than I meant to (we had a dentist's appointment in the late afternoon).  Right at the end, just before we were about to leave, the biggest boy scooted down the massive ramp, then up a small ramp, and then he went down the small ramp.  The scooter did not go down the small ramp, rather it stopped dead at the top.  He hit the ground really hard, face and knee first.  It was horrible.

I scraped him up, took the others home, and headed for A&E.  The local one referred us on to the Children's Hospital because their X-ray department closes at 4.30pm.  The Children's Hospital were wonderful as ever and put him in a splint and sent him home for the night.  The next day they X-rayed him and discovered that his patella has been snapped.  So now he has a plaster cast from his ankle to his thigh.  His tooth and face were banged as well, so we struggled along to the dentist.  It will need X-raying next week when the swelling goes down (he has a look of Pamela Anderson about him at the moment.  Facially that is).

It's quite tricky levering him in and out of the car with a completely straight leg, and not at all comfortable.  He's been told to rest as well, so he's pretty much confined to the sofa.  The sad part for him is that he will have to miss his Year 6 camp in three weeks' time.  It's supposed to be the highlight of their time at primary school, a bonding trip and it's constantly referred to for the rest of the year.  I'm devastated for him.  Of course he's also out of football for 8-10 weeks.  The good news is it should heal okay.

It occurs to me that he might have escaped a broken bone if he'd been wearing knee pads.  And he would have had less damage to his mouth with a gum shield.

So there's a bit of a crimp in my plans for summer.  I'll take the littler ones out a bit, but I don't feel I can leave the biggest boy at home too much (his dad works from home, but nonetheless I don't want him without us for very long).  I know it's not a big problem in the general scheme of things, but I'm just in the adjustment period.  Changing my plans, rethinking my expectations for the end of the summer.  When I said I wanted to make some memories, this wasn't quite what I had in mind.

I managed a quick trip to the allotment today while I was in town with the littler ones.  I knew we'd missed a cucumber last time we were there.  In fact, there were seven fairly enormous ones.  I'm sure if you sat there quietly you'd actually see them growing.

On the walk to our plot, the shade was starting to creep up the site from the stream and hedge at the bottom.  The shadows are lengthening a littler earlier these days.


I felt a little out of love with the plot today.  It's messy and not particularly productive.  I've written a post about why I have an allotment, but it seems a bit hypocritical to publish it right now.  It won't last, of course, but I'm just not feeling it this week.  Too many giant cucumbers and weeds.  Too much of life slipping slightly out of my control.

At home things have been quiet.  A little entente cordiale broke out briefly after the accident.  The littlest boy has so much empathy for one so small.  He was so happy to see his big brother home again.  He curled up next to him and stroked his hair.  He fetched and carried and helped him get his legs onto the sofa.  He did briefly push one of the crutches out from under him earlier, but the error of his ways has been vividly explained and we are back to calm loveliness now.

Card houses are still being constructed.

There's the odd fig, and I'm eating them all myself.  I don't think anyone else would fully appreciate them.  Not like I do anyway.

Thank you for all of your kind wishes on my last post.  I'm feeling okay now, almost back to normal.  And all in all I'm really counting our blessings.  A trip to the Children's Hospital will do that to you.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Badgers, sweetcorn and a pain in the neck

You know when you've been told that a certain disaster will happen because it always does, but you cling to the vain hope that in your case it actually won't?  And then it does.  Well, that happened.

We'd been told that all sweetcorn at the allotment is eaten by badgers the minute it's ready.  But the middle boy wanted to grow sweetcorn, and the littlest boy had his heart set on popping corn, so we planted it anyway.  And it was almost ripe, and I was living in hope.  And then this.

All except two plants (one of each) mashed into the ground, and almost all of the corn eaten.  The littlest boy said, "I wish badgers didn't live in this country".  They'd somehow stripped out the corn from inside the leaves, leaving empty husks.

Oh well.  Onwards and all that.  Next year we'll try them at home and plant something else at the allotment.  We're over it.  At least some of the sunflowers survived.

The bees absolutely love them.  Between the sunflowers and the artichoke flowers, they're in heaven.

A single solitary sweetcorn survived the badgers.  It wasn't a big one, just small and sweet.  We debated who should have it.  Someone small, sweet and deserving.

It was appreciated.

The littlest boy's little patch of garden is looking good.  Lots of bee-friendly flowers, and all sorts of different bees.  It's all taller than he is now.

We've been thinking about what we might plant next year.  Maybe some square foot gardening, where the 3' x 3' plot is divided into nine squares and each square gets a different crop.  The biggest boy helped the others decide what they might plant and even drew diagrams.  He wants to grow herbs himself.  I'm thinking we might visit a local herb farm and have a wander.  I haven't planted this idea in his mind myself, honest...

It's been quite a hard week and a half around here.  My cold dragged on in an unusual kind of way.  I've had a headache every day since it began about twelve days ago.  And a heavy feeling in my head.  It coincided with a crick in my neck, which also got worse and worse.  I felt quite exhausted as well - not a good feeling for the summer holidays with boys needing to be entertained.  Thursday and Friday were particularly bad.  I took a painkiller on Thursday because my head hurt so much.  This is so unlike me - I literally haven't taken one for years and years.  On Friday I took the boys to a park about half an hour's drive away.  I felt so grotty I ended up lying on the picnic blanket under an oak tree - despite all the lumpy little acorns.  My head hurt and my neck was stiffer than ever.  Last night it occurred to me that the stiff neck was connected to feeling ill.  I Googled it all, and came to the conclusion that it's probably viral meningitis (not the scary bacterial one, thankfully).  I'm feeling quite a bit better today, and grateful for living somewhere where there's healthcare available if and when needed.  Hopefully next week I'll be a bit more on the ball, I feel that I haven't been doing particularly well when it comes to the boys.  The summer is short, I'd like it to be a good and memorable one for them.  Tell me, what plans do you have for the rest of the summer?  Grand plans and small plans, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Lazy summer days

Garden stuff.  Snacks on the bench.   Tennis over the wall.

Skate park.

The littlest boy on the middle bike.  His own little bike is too small and he is desperate for a bigger one.  We keep visiting the local bike shop in the hope that the perfect second-hand bike will appear.  At the moment they're all pink.  He's not that desperate.  Not quite.

Tree climbing.  There are two boys in there somewhere.  I try not to look when there's a slithering sound.

Tomatoes ripening.  The labels are lost, but this is the yellow one that Flighty sent me I think.

And little orange Sungolds.

I put them in a Greek salad with cucumbers and salad leaves from the garden.

And served it with homemade pita breads.

We tried popping the corn grown by the littlest boy, but it didn't work.  I think it needs to grow for longer, to get older and drier.

In the garden the deadly crab spider has been busy.  Another hapless bee has wandered into his clutches.

I feel I have to counter the scary spider pictures with pretty flowers.

I took the two smaller boys for a bike ride this morning after dropping the biggest at his friend's house.  We played by the stream for a while then went to inspect the community orchard.

Some of the apples are doing well.  We picked up a few windfalls and had them stewed with sultanas after tea.  I made a curry with borlotti beans from the garden as well.  Free food makes me happy.

A snippet of conversation as I passed by a heated swingball game.

Middle boy:  "It's not over till the fat lady sings."

Biggest boy:  "Mum, can you sing please."