So very sad.

How I wish I’d updated my blog ages ago, there is one very special person who loved to read it and had gently reminded me just a week ago that it had been ages since I posted anything. Now she’ll never be able to read it.

Last week my wonderful stepmother Judith passed away, suddenly, unexpectedly and so very very sadly. She died quickly, Dad suspects a heart attack although we don’t know that for certain, one second there and the next gone.

Judith was the kindest person you could ever want to meet, she took me on as a stroppy ungrateful child and no matter how appalling my behaviour she never wavered in her love.

I think the most important thing she taught me was how to keep house, you’d never ever catch Judith with a dirty kitchen or with crumbs on the carpet.  Whenever I do a deep clean in the house I always think of her and how she’d be proud of me with my arm down the Ubend or waving bleach about the place. She taught me to take pride in and find joy in a clean and tidy house, a well prepared meal or a crisply ironed shirt, lessons I still hold dear to this day.

She took amazing care of my father, who, like me, is prone to doing really stupid stuff and injuring himself in strange and unusual ways. Tomorrow would have been their 38th wedding anniversary.

Judith was a camera ninja, I have very few pictures of her as she would disappear as soon as she saw one, but here are a few of her at our wedding.

I shall miss you very much lovely lady and think of you often.

Your daughter


(P.S. If you are looking down, please excuse the state of the boot room)








Hormones or lack of hormones everywhere. I feel slightly sorry for my husband, he’s surrounded by bonkers females.

So it’s been just over 3 weeks since I had surgery and I’m mostly mended, still tire easily and I can’t lift heavy stuff, but I’m pottering about the place doing useful stuff again.  Yesterday I had my final consolation with the surgeon so she could discharge me back to my doctors care and she asked how I’m coping with the menopause and the HRT, any mood swings, hot flushes etc.  Well apart from the fact my face has exploded with spots and I appear to be growing a beard (be handy in the winter when I’m doing the ponies), all is good.  But I thought later I should ask the hubby about the mood swings as I probably wouldn’t notice, bless him, when I asked I could see on his face… Oh heck, it’s a trap, there is no right answer, abort, run away…

It was tough being incapacitated and seeing all the stuff that needs doing around the place not getting done, however, I can’t thank both Hubby and Michelle enough for all their help while I was being hopeless.  Hubby for taking time off work to treat me like a princess (which I’m definitely not) and Michelle for looking after the horses for 2 weeks.  She came round every day, twice a day, fed watered and picked up poo and made sure that the dispensing of extra strong mints was fair, Michelle works hard, she’s got 2 boys and her own animals to care for, the gift of her time and friendship is something very precious and I’m completely touched.  I wasn’t allowed in the field as Rosie has a habit of frisking me and nuzzling my stomach, which is less than ideal when you’ve got multiple holes in it.  So I had to make do with pony kisses over the fence.


I also owe a debt of thanks to Gaynor for coming over and picking out the girls feet for me, I was so proud of Rosie who a year ago did flying pony if you tried to get her to lift her feet up, she stood solid as a rock, picked her feet up politely when asked and there was zero drama.

It used to be that Rosie and Carmella were the only horses about for miles, but recently there’s been a gypsy pony explosion round here, there are a herd of 10 in the field that joins the back of our property (6 mares, 3 foals and a stallion) and little Domino in the field over the road.  MrC moans that it’s impossible to look out of a window now and not see a pony.

There has been an unexpected side affect to the influx of horseflesh nearby, in particular the stallion in the back field.  Rosie has come into season, normally she’s fine, just a bit grumpy and uncooperative for a few days, but with the stallion neighing sweet nothings over the fence she’s turned into a complete nympho.  She is spending her days either galloping round the paddock neighing her head off, or gazing over the fence at her true love neighing her head off.  My friend Karen also has a mental mare when she’s in season (the mare, not Karen who is definitely not mental nor in season) she has given me a supplement of Chaste Berries to try to lower Rosies libido a bit, these apparently lower estrogen levels and knock the worst of the season side effects on the head.  She’s only been on them for a few days but fingers crossed she calms down a bit and the next season isn’t quite so intense.  However, Rosie got busted, she’d spent 5 minutes galloping round the paddock shaking her mane about  like a demented supermodel yelling at the top of her lungs and she got a bit puffed (due to being really bloody unfit) so she dialed it back a notch and launched into the most balanced, floaty and beautiful extended trot I’ve ever seen.  Now I’ve asked Rosie to do an extended trot many times and all I get back is “I’m a cob mate, extended trot, never heard of it, how about I buck you off instead?”.  When I do finally get back to riding, I am so getting that lovely trot out of her.

Whilst studiously turning a blind eye to the rampant weeds growing like crazy I’ve been out in the garden and local hedgerows harvesting, foraging and a little light scrumping (I confessed to the farmer I’d raided his field for blackberries, but he forgave me when I gave him a pot of blackberry and apple jam), beans and sweetcorn are in the freezer, I’ve made jams and chutneys and gallons of tomato soup and cooked up huge batches of chilli and spaghetti bolognaise, the freezers are now full to bursting, but this lot will keep me fed all winter.  If anyone out there would like a couple of pounds of chillies I’m your girl, I slightly overestimated the amount of plants I needed and I’ve got literally hundreds of them I’m not entirely sure what to do with.  The butternut squash plants loved the hot summer and they are currently hardening off in the greenhouse, I’ve got lots of recipes I can’t wait to try.



I went for a lovely day out with my Auntie Carolyn and Hubby, a cream tea on a steam train (hubby loves steam trains, I love Carolyn and clotted cream, so there was something for everyone), after a delicious lunch cooked by Carolyn we headed to the train station and hopped on board to drink lots of tea.  We did think that the rather short journey was taking a long time, with lots of strange stops in the middle of nowhere, as it turned out, the ash plate on the train hadn’t been fitted properly and we were starting fires all over the place.  Once they’d sorted the problem we had a lovely trip through the Norfolk countryside, I love this time of year, the hedgerows are full of berries and everything seems to being doing a last push of fecundity before the winter sets in .


I had another parcel from my Dad, who is still mucking out his sheds, a set of horse brasses and an ancient old driving bit.  The bit still needs work, but hubby polished up the brasses, ordered a new leather and they now have pride of place in the tack room.

As I’ve recovered, I’ve been taking on a few more strenuous jobs and one I’ve been meaning to do for ages was to plant up an area near the pond with plants I’ve been bringing on in the greenhouse.  This is only a tiny section of what needs doing, but I’ll slowly get it done.  I had the added bonus of Michelle seeing some iris’s in a nearby village that were free to a good home, so she snaffled a bunch of them for me and they’ve gone in as well, love plants, love free plants even more!!

In the meantime, unbeknownst to me, nettles had been happening in the stream at the back of the gardens, now MrsC snr has an ongoing battle with nettles and they made a valiant effort this time, but she’s vanquished them!!  MrC snr has had a jolly time weedkilling docks and other assorted nasties around the place.  They’ve both been brilliant while I’ve been under the weather, keeping things ticking over, lots of people moan about their in-laws, not me, I hit the in-laws jackpot, and I love and appreciate them very much.


I tend to write this a bit at a time, and then publish when I’ve got time to upload and sort out the photos as it’s very time consuming, as of now, Rosie has stopped being in season and is back to her fairly docile affectionate self and thinks boy ponies are a waste of time.  Carmella, however, is definitely IN SEASON, she’s gone from being a little teddy bear to a complete monster, yesterday she tried to climb the gate to get to the stallion, I’ve never seen a horse try to climb a gate before,  I knew I should have got geldings.

Finally, I talk about the ponies a lot, but I’ve been reminded that there is only one “proper” pet round here, and here she is being adorable.



Slice and dice time (part 2)

So this is a bit of an unusual blog, I don’t have any achievements or gardening triumphs (or failures) or any before and after photos.  I have to admit this illness is kicking my ass this time around, thankfully I go for surgery tomorrow so with luck and a fair wind I’ll be back to my (what vaguely passes for) normal self fairly soon.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been spending a lot of time with Michelle and her boys (Levi and Bailey), contrary to what MrC thinks, we don’t just lounge about in the garden hoovering up large amounts of wine, although I have to confess we do get through a fair amount of coffee.

They all came round last week to give me a hand giving the ponies a bath (probably the last one of the year) there was much filling of buckets, scrubbing of poo stains and swearing at Rosie for having so much damn hair and pooing down her tail.  She does come up lovely with a bit of elbow grease, Carmella wasn’t too impressed with the whole bathing thing though.



After they were washed and drying off in the sun I could hear my new neighbour horses making a right racket and setting my girls off.  Hands up, I’m a nosey neighbour, if I hear horses that sound a bit distressed I’m going to stick my nose right in there and see what’s up.  After a peek over the fence I could see 2 horses in the field and another that looked as if it had escaped.  So I popped round to see Kathy who rents out the land so she could call Julian the horses owner and would he like me to try catching them.  As I was returning home a police lady flagged us down and said she’d been called out because of horses on the road.

That’s a bit of a different matter, loose horses on the road are a huge danger, both to themselves and anyone else using the road.  Levi and Baily went to grab a headcollar and Officer Charlie, Michelle, me and the boys went to do a bit of horse wrangling.  The field they’d escaped into had no gate and was open to the road which is why they’d been reported.

It turned out it wasn’t just one horse that had escaped but a mare and a foal, I couldn’t see the foal when I had a look over the fence.  The penny dropped then as I’d been chatting with our local farmer earlier in the week and he’d mentioned he was renting a field for a mare and foal.  Eventually we managed to drive the mare and foal into my neighbours field (not ideal as they didn’t belong there, but a lot better than them being on the road).  Michelle went to let the farmer know what had happened and get his tenants to come and catch the escapee’s.

After all the running about we were all a bit hot and bothered so it was back to mine for a cool drink and Levi got a go at being arrested.


Eventually the owners of the escaped horses turned up, we managed to catch the one that belonged in the field (his name is Domino and he’s adorable) and separate him behind some electric fencing.  We managed to catch the stallion and headcollar him, the mare and foal however were a bit feral and we couldn’t get near them, so the Farmer  blocked the road one way with his tractor and the owners blocked the other way with their car, Officer Charlie led the Stallion (kudos to her, he was very agitated) and the rest of us herded the mare and foal back to their proper field.

Lots of excitement.   I kept an eye out for Julian, his little gelding had taken a couple of nasty kicks from the mare and I wanted to let him know to check him over and explain why his fencing and field had been trashed.

Eventually I did catch sight of Julian and said to come over to the house when he’d finished looking after Domino.  Which is why hubby (having caught a slightly earlier train than normal) finds me in the kitchen, in my PJ’s, having a glass of cider with a strange man.   Bless him, as per normal, when confronted with me doing something weird, he didn’t bat an eyelid 🙂

Domino was fine, albeit a bit bemused by the paddock invasion.

The next day Michelle and boys invited me to go with them to the World Horse Welfare farm in Snetterton as they were having an open day.  This is an amazing place, paddocks to die for, lovely well mannered horses and ponies that liked a kiss on the nose over the fence.  So we decided to have a mission, somewhere round here they’ve got to have a place where they stash the asshole ponies who’d eat small children, let’s go and find them.  We had a lovely walk and eventually found the paddock where they keep the ill tempered ones, far far away from anywhere the public could get to!

What did sadden me was the disproportionate amount of Gypsy ponies they had there, this breed is so lovely (yes I might be a bit biased), they’re generally kind and willing, they’re strong and intelligent and seeing so many that need rescuing is so very sad.  But, I’d promised MrC that this wasn’t a shopping expedition and came home ponyless, although this cute little foal was in some danger of being kidnapped and stuffed in the back of Michelles 4X4.


As I’m not feeling too good, work on the garden is mostly me just trying and failing to keep on top of the weeds that have gone crazy now we’ve had some rain, and gathering and processing harvests from the garden.  The freezer is now full of sweetcorn and I feel there is a chutney making session in my near future.



Anyone need any marrows??

Whilst it sucks being ill, I’ve been so incredibly touched by how many of my friends have been so lovely, offers to help with the ponies, kind messages and hugs, I appreciate them all,  just how wonderful my friends have been is definitely the silver lining in being ill.  Tomorrow is surgery day, a new chapter, I’ve basically been either full on unwell, recovering from being surgery, and then unwell again for a couple of years now, enough is enough, I am looking forward to waving goodbye to this and hello to being me, hale and hearty again.






I only hope I can recover from surgery as fast as my pony!

As I ended my last blog on a rather sad note with both ponies unwell and me facing surgery AGAIN, I thought I’d update some good news.

Carmella got the all clear on her eye today so no more eye drops thank heavens.  She was a very good girl about it but she’d had enough and we hated having to force her to have them, although lots of bribery with apples made the process easier.

As for the big fat one, she’s made an absolutely astonishing recovery, even the vet was a bit stunned at just how quickly she’s improved.  She spent 2 days hobbling on 3 legs and dragging the toe of her hoof on the injured leg on the ground, completely unable to lift it, I’ve never seen a horse that lame before, it was horrible to watch.  Both me and the vet were a bit fearful she’d broken or fractured her shoulder.  On day 3 she was able to lift her leg and place her hoof flat on the floor.  Day 5 she managed a trot and yesterday she came cantering across the field to get her supper.  The vet says she’s sound enough to stand for the farrier which is good because she’s 2 weeks overdue and is looking a bit pigeon toed.

They are both very pleased that the grass is growing again after we finally got some rain.



As for me, I have a date for surgery, the 30th August.  At my consultation the doctor wanted to complete the surgery with a progesterone implant in my womb, which along with estrogen patches will fend off the worst of the side effects of my going straight into sudden onset menopause after the surgery.  The insurance company were umming and ahhing about funding this, but they’ve agreed to cover the cost, so I’m all set.  The surgeon is hoping (but not promising) to do keyhole surgery, if she can, I won’t even have to spend the night in hospital.  Fingers crossed.

Today I managed to finish a job I’ve been working on for a while.  A year ago I sowed a large number of foxglove seeds.  A year of pricking out, potting on and generally fiddling about with them I ended up with about 120 plants, which I’ve planted out in our woodland.  This will look awesome next year and I’m hoping they’ll selfseed and perpetuate so I won’t have to faff about in the greenhouse.  Anyway, they had to go out because I need the space in the greenhouse for my next long term gardening project, I’m going to plant a lavender hedge around the veggie garden, so I’ve currently got about 200 tiny tiny lavender plants I’ve germinated from seed that will need tending for a year or so before they can be planted out.

The flower beds I planted up a month or so ago are maturing nicely and looking good.  Only problem with the lovely rain we’ve had recently is a weed explosion in the gardens and the paddock.

Had a visit from Mr and Mrs C snr yesterday, they helped me out with 2 pony problems, with a trip to the vet to pick up Carmella’s eyedrops and a run to the tack shop to get some liquid plaster to try to cover Rosies wound because the flies won’t leave it alone and it’s pretty much impossible to bandage a horses shoulder and the adhesive wound plasters drop off after about 5 minutes.

Mr C then set to with mowing the lawns and making the place look tidy and Mrs C resumed her war on nettles, picked all our ripe raspberries and gave me a hand clearing the weeds in the woodland to get it ready for planting.


So a much happier update this time and now I’m off to make raspberry jam.


From the sublime to the horrific.

When I last wrote, I was lounging on a sunbed watching MrC sieve dirt whilst sipping a glass of Pimms. Alas, this state of affairs didn’t last long (about an hour and a half).  With works complete on the patios and paths, we’re on a deadline, 1 week until family and friends descend on us for a BBQ.

Before they come, I need to sort out the wildlife pond, every year this turns into a weed strewn mess. It’s a fairly big job this so with heavy duty gloves on time to remove all the bramble and nettle and other assorted weeds that have taken up residence.  I have finally decided what I want to do with this, I’m going to plant it up with mostly ornamental grasses and some self seeding flowers like aquilegias.  It does look nice once it’s finished and if I can get it planted up next year, hopefully there will be less weeds to deal with.


I also need to dig over and plant out the new flower borders we’ve created, with MrC snr’s help I removed the grass and then started digging. As we’ve had no rain for months now, the ground is completely solid, I had to use a mattock to dig them.  This weather is not ideal for planting but I’ve been watering them daily (takes forever) and with luck I won’t lose too many to the heat.  When the shrubs start growing this will all fill out and look amazing.

I managed to get most of the jobs finished in the nick of time and it was time to start preparing for the hoards to descend upon us…

I can’t even tell you how much I love having people over to eat good food, have a laugh and conversation, and Pimms, and for the kids to go nuts, the rules are simple, no running with the ponies, stay out of the asbestos outbuildings and a new one for this year, if you spray me when you’re having a water fight, your barred!!!

Carmella had the best day ever, 11 children to play with, she loves kids so much she was literally dancing with excitement and almost every photo taken where there were children, had Carmella photobombing the background “I’m here, I’m absurdly cute and tiny, make with the kissing already”.  Rosie also likes kids, but would struggle to eat a whole one.






Many thanks to MrC snr who did all the cooking and MrsC snr whose mighty lists of what needed doing and the ticking off thereof were definitely key to the success of the day.

During the BBQ Jan had a word with me, she apparently had a garden table and chairs cluttering up her garage that need a home and would we like them, heck yes we would, very much please. Now she downplayed the fact that they’re awesome so when Mr and MrsC snr hauled them over in their trailer a couple of weeks later I was so delighted, they’re completely perfect, need a sand and an oil, but otherwise perfect, we wouldn’t have been able to afford something so lovely, I’m very grateful, and comfortable when sitting on them.


IMG_0638.JPGSo now we’ve got posh garden furniture, it seems that MrC decided that my tatty old plastic sunlounger wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore, he told me to watch out for delivery drivers as he’d bought me a present, and lo, a chappie turned up with a sack of paddock grass which totally made my day, MrC gave me call and apparently, that wasn’t the present, and an hour or so later a John Lewis van turned up and delivered a rather posh wooden sunlounger and my tatty old plastic one has been banished from the back garden. I rather like my tatty old plastic one though, and it will live on in the summer garden, although, I barely have enough time to lounge on one, I shall be hard pressed to give two the attention they deserve, but I shall try (and a sack of paddock grass is an awesome present, I got 2 presents in one day and I did nothing to deserve them, I married the best man in the world).


I know I should be pleased the summer is so hot and lovely, but I’m not, in fact, this horrible hot weather can just get lost, the ponies have no grass to eat, which is a problem, because they basically just eat grass, they should be fetlock deep in lovely green grass this time of year, but all they have is a brown burned mess. Thank heavens Mr Murton our lovely local farmer had done a cut and bale of most of his hay fields and could bail me out (pun intended, come on…).  The ponies are loving the fresh lovely hay, but I’m worried, they are basically eating their winter fodder, in the middle of summer, what on earth am I going to feed them in winter?? Normally the farmer would get 2 cuts of hay, if not 3, but this year, just one, I think a lot of livestock is going to struggle this winter and I’ve a sense of unease, last year there was a shortage of hay because the winter was so wet and we couldn’t get the animals out on spring grazing until very late in the year so the price of hay went sky high, I dread to even think what’s going to happen this winter and it’s not just fodder that’s been poor this year.  In the veggie garden I’ve had a lot of failed crops, the onions were a disaster, I had to remove our entire grape crop due to grey mildew, all of my root crops, carrots, parsnips, celeriac and swede have failed completely.  Apart from the carrots (which Rosie isn’t allowed anymore as it causes her to have outbreaks of an affliction called mallenders), these are all crops I use to supplement the ponies diet in the winter.  It’s worrying and I’ve just got 2 ponies, my heart goes out to farmers with herds that they might not be able to feed this winter.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, sprouts and leeks are thriving, and my butternut squash is making a good effort at world (ok, garden) domination, the cut flower garden is producing a lot of flowers for the house and the soft fruit garden is bountiful.. The tomatoes are doing well, as are the cucumbers and I had to ask on a local facebook site if anyone out there would like some marrows as I was drowning in them.  I had a couple of people come round to get some, and one lovely lady bought round her 2 or 3 year old toddler when she came to get them, oh my goodness, Carmella went nuts, she spotted the child and tried her very best to get through the fence, neighing and jittering from hoof to hoof with excitement, of course she got pats and cuddles and kisses, and I had to apologise to the lady who came round as I’m pretty certain a large amount of any money she has in the future, will be spent on riding lessons….

Other news in the garden, harvest has come nearly 2 months early, garlic, the sad and tiny onions that didn’t die, and maincrop potatoes have already been lifted, which is crazy. Plums and apples are ready for picking, although the greengages which are normally the first fruit of the garden are hard and bitter and I wonder if they’ll ripen at all.  I very much hope this summer is an anomaly.


I’ve been writing this entry for about a month now and just not got round to posting. In the last couple of weeks there have been a few bad news items.  Poor little Carmella had a serious reaction to horsefly bites, she got incredibly itchy and took large chunks of her fur off rubbing on everything in sight, this needed a course of steroid injections, which worked nicely along with a soothing mudpack on the face which she’d rubbed so badly.  That’s the first time I’ve ever applied mud TO a pony, a big thank you to my friend horsey Maggie (I have to call her horsey Maggie or the hub thinks I’m talking about the cat) who gave me the powder to make up the mask…  Carmella now has a small but nonetheless significant ulcer in one of her eyes that with the advice of the vet I’ve been treating.  She’s such a good little girl for treatment, lets us pull her about with very little struggle, she had a vet check this morning and it’s not cured yet, so we’re continuing treatment, after Maggies eye problems and the eventual loss of her eye last year, I am trying not to panic too much.


Yesterday, Rosie had a very nasty accident, I was putting the ponies to bed in the evening and Rosie decides as I’m closing the gate to canter at it full throttle and impales herself on the 8 inch pointy bit that locks the gate, that’s bad enough, but the pointy bit had a plastic tip on it, HAD a plastic tip on it, the plastic tip is now deeply imbedded in the pony. After checking she didn’t have an arterial bleed I ran to the house and made a panicked phone call to the vet who thank God gets here in less than 20 minutes. She had immediate surgery, the plastic bit was removed, wound cleaned and stitched and pony is drugged up to the eyeballs on painkillers. She’s hopping lame and the vet isn’t sure if she may have fractured or broken her shoulder, we’ll need to wait a few days to see if the lameness improves, if she’s still bad on Friday the vet will do some x-rays.  I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps I’m not cut out for horse ownership after all.

And finally, I am not without health troubles myself, about 2 months ago I started to feel off colour, in the same way I did when I had to have a huge ovarian cyst removed in 2017. I lied to myself for a while that I couldn’t be that unlucky, but after a slightly inebriated chat with my friend Marco, who was also lying to himself on a health issue, we had a mutual “I’ll go to the doctors if you will” pact.  The upshot of which, after many undignified tests at the hospital, yes I am that unlucky, I have a  cluster of cysts on my last remaining ovary, which I shall have to have removed as soon as possible.

I hate to end on a negative note, but I try to keep this as warts and all as possible.

Hopefully Rosies lameness will ease and her shoulder damage is just muscular and not a fractured (or a possibly life-ending broken bone), she’s definitely improved since this morning and Carmella’s eye will heal quickly and I’ll get sliced and diced and be back digging, weeding and chopping down trees soonest. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a pic of my beautiful girls before their health problems being treated to a bouquet of willow leaves (one of their favourite snacks) by my darling hub.















Horseflies suck


We’ve been busy, I didn’t think anyone apart from me read this, but the amount of complaints I’ve had for not updating for ages I guess people do.

Where to start…

We’ve been busy, very very busy, and for the last 4 weeks I’ve fallen into bed about 10pm (I’d go earlier but I feel guilty leaving Mr C on his own) and sleeping like a log kinda busy.

When I last blogged, Mr James had been and made a start on the patios/paths (and was off elsewhere for a couple of weeks), the raised beds had been started and the ponies were grazing over the road in my neighbours field.

Alas, I had to pull the ponies home even though we’ve almost no grass left due to the lack of rain, as the grass is so long over there, it’s rife with horseflies, one evening when I went to bring them home Rosie was in a terrible state, covered with flecks of blood from fly bites, sweating and panicking, poor little girl had been utterly savaged by the bloody things, Carmella wasn’t so badly affected but there was no way I could put them through that again, so even though the grazing here is very poor at the moment, both of them are fatties so they’re staying at home from now on.  I too am covered in horsefly bites, but I’m getting a kill rate of about 80% now and I’ve been bitten so many times I seem to developed an immunity to them.


Carmella is so plump, I was wondering if she might be pregnant, so I followed her around for a few days and managed to do a pregnancy test on her (although not in the same field there was a stallion at her previous home, and where there’s a willy, there’s a way), but nope, no foal, she’s just fat (I’m often covered in horse poo, but this was the first time I’ve been covered in horse pee, for the record, I prefer the poo).


Rosie is once again afflicted with feather mites so all the hair had to come off, it looked like I’d sheared a sheep by the time all the fluff had been removed, but I can now treat her properly and with luck and a fair wind, eradicate them properly this time. She’s got strangely elegant feet under all the hair.


While Darren is away MrC has been working on a few of my “can you justs”, as he won’t allow me to play with power tools (we’re quite a long way away from the nearest hospital so this is fair). Here he’s removing a metal spike from the veggie patch that was in my way, but as it turned out, it was buried about 3 foot deep, into a buried wall.  Nothing is simple in this place…

We were paid a visit by the very lovely Philip Stack who has sprayed half the paddock for ragwort (the bit Rosie trashed over the winter), I’ll keep them off this as long as possible, ideally until late September, but unless we get some rain soon, I’ll have to open it up earlier for them.


Ironically, the grass in the orchard does need to be cut, it too was sprayed a few weeks ago and needs to be cut before I can put the girlies in there to graze it. This was a day with men on tractors to the rescue (than you Mr C snr).


The garden is starting to produce fruit and veg, so I’ve had a crack at making rhubarb cordial, this was amazing, tasted like summer in a glass (along with a healthy slug of vodka and some lemonade).

Mr James returned and cluttered up the drive with sand to make large amounts of cement for laying the stone. Here we have the very first slab being laid!


He also arranged for a huge load of woodchip to be delivered to cover over the weed suppressant membrane in the veggie patch. I had a bit of help from Mr and Mrs C snr, but I moved most of this by the medium of shovel and wheelbarrow (I currently hate woodchip and never want to see any of it ever again, in unrelated news, my bingo wings are a thing of the past).


Once he gets started, he doesn’t hang around does Mr James, this path was laid in no time flat.


So at the end of the first day of paving, it looked this this…


The next day, Darren decided that laying the stone on the existing path near the house wasn’t going to work, there were millimetres involved apparently and this provoked much muttering and measuring, but the upshot was, the path had to go. I had hoped, due to us removing about 2 tonnes of buried asbestos near the house the last time Mr James was here this would be an asbestos free job, just once.  But no, I swear to God, Darren is like a bloody asbestos seeking missile…  The path had been laid on a bed of asbestos, time for me to get the red bags out again.


Once that was sorted, Darren laid crush down, whacked it down and then started laying stone.


I in the meantime was shovelling woodchip, at this point in time, nobody could get in or out of the driveway due to about 6 tonnes of the damn stuff in the way. We’re awaiting a delivery of railway sleepers to complete the raised beds so I just had to pile it up until that job is completed.


Mr James started work on the circular patios, this involved a lot of muttering and measuring.


Starting to look really good now!


There was a lot more muttering and measuring but the second circle is complete!


Thanks to both Mr C’s the raised beds have finally been completed, the bloody woodchip has been spread and the veggie garden is looking a lot more tamed and manageable (at one end at least).


Of an evening, the lady of the house likes to come out to inspect the works, thus far they are pleasing to her…


Darren has finished the sweeping curved paths that encircle the oak tree (and will be laid down to lawn for a picnic area eventually), we’re definitely nearly there now!


Final day of the week, Mr James begins the pointing, he’s using a special lime mix that apparently has removed all of his fingerprints (could be handy for a petty crime spree). This job should take three days, but I think Darren is sick of my company, so he gets it done in one.

It’s given the Maggie seal of approval!


Darren has done an amazing job, as per usual, he’s just one more day here to do a bit of clean up. In the meantime, we’ve a deadline, in just a week the Casey clan and others will be descending upon us for our niece Jessica’s birthday.  Time to make the place presentable and safe(ish) for about 11 kids ranging from a few months to 16 years to let loose and have some fun.  MrC started on the large bed that will become a herbaceous shrub border, being extremely conscientious and sieving the soil.  I started on testing the patios by getting out the sunbed and pouring myself an enormous glass of pimms!


That’s an update till about a week ago, I’ll do the rest soon, I’m busy!





Sometimes I feel like I’m in an episode of groundforce (although, they only took a week)…


It’s been an utterly mental week here at Purbeck, which was expected as the redoubtable Mr James and various bits of heavy machinery paid us a visit.

The bit of garden outside the back door has undergone several transformations in the time we’ve been here, firstly clearing the almost unimaginable amount of weedage that was present, then we discovered a couple of tonnes of asbestos which had to be dug up, bagged up and removed. There was an ancient fountain and pond made of large pieces of Purbeck stone which was dismantled and I spent several weeks making the land a bit flatter.

Now, it’s time for its final transformation, Mr C has designed a lovely garden layout, there will be a couple of circular patios, lots of paths (this bit of the land is the most heavily trafficked) leading down to the paddock, the greenhouse, the orchard and other places. There will be a grassed picnic area under the oak tree and lots of flower beds (mostly perennial shrubs).  I’ve been collecting a lot of these from the “rescue” section of the local garden centre when they’re on sale for just a few pounds and  bringing them back to health, I also got a great deal from an online plant sale where I got 22 bareroot shrubs for £25.00.

So, it begins, Gerald the lovely chap who supplies us with all the plant we use (of the mechanical variety, not the leafy variety) dropped this pair off. Oh how I love a digger, it’s a very very close thing which I love more, a skip or a digger…  Nope, can’t call it, if there is a digger here, I love diggers most, if there is a skip here I love skips the most.  If at any time we should have both here, I might have a nervous breakdown.


When we very first moved here, this was the view out the kitchen window.


Gradually we whittled away at all the debris and exposed the waterfall and the Purbeck rocks.


This is what it looked like a week ago, before Mr James came round.

Let chaos commence…

This was a moment of pure joy for me, this damn post has been getting in my way for nearly 3 years, but we couldn’t dig it out because of it’s location, cess pit on one side, concrete path on the other, it’s gone now thanks to Darren and his digger (did I mention I love diggers??)


We had a huge delivery of stone, we are using natural stone, Indian sandstone and the variety we’re using is called mint fossil, it’s very beautiful and has a lot of plant fossils in it.


Whilst Mr James is trashing the garden, Mr C and MrC snr tackled the veggie garden, Darren had dumped some topsoil on there and had dragged it about with the digger to make it mostly level.  The MrC’s then rotovated and raked to get it properly flat (to the level of the new path).

Never thought I’d see Mr James doing veggie gardening…


More Chaos..

Darren did do a few of our “can you justs” for us, the muckheap has been turned, as was the pile of grass cuttings

More Chaos, but it’s starting to take shape now…

I made a tactical error, we were expecting a delivery of crushed limestone, but it was late. I wandered off to give Rosie’s tail a wash (Rosie’s tail is disgusting, it always needs a wash, even when I’ve just washed it, it still needs a wash), leaving 2 bored men and 1 teenager alone with a digger.  When I got back to the house, they were digging up the sewerage system…

In fairness, we’ve had a problem with that pipe for ages, the toilets do back up on a fairly regular basis, which is why we’re the proud owners of a full set of plumbing rods.

The main sewerage pipe was broken, the guys dug it out and MrC went off to Jewsons to get a replacement.

New pipe was installed, they stole some shingle from the drive to bed it in.

Yay, all flowing properly again, we can now poo with impunity!

The crushed limestone finally arrived.


More chaos…


The crush is all in place and flattened.

It’s really starting to take shape.

We are on a bit of a hiatus for a couple of weeks as Darren has another job to do, he’ll be back after that to start laying the stonework, that’s when the magic will really happen, as good as he is with groundworks, Darren is an artist when it comes to laying stone.

With Darren gone the 2 MrC’s set out to construct the raised beds on the veggie plot. They look fantastic, I’ve more sleepers on order to make some more, but I’m really pleased with how these look.  My job over the next few days will be to fill them.  I’ll be using all the rotted straw and poo and mud from where I had to put a bed down in front of the paddock gate for the ponies over winter, straight up unadulterated  horse poo and a few inches of top soil from the various piles Mr James has left dotted about the place.  I can then finally get some of the veggie plants in the greenhouse planted, they’re desperate to get out of their plug pots and do some proper growing.  The white stuff on the veggie garden is a weed suppressant mat.  MrsC snr spent the day renewing her war on nettles and other weeds, I think she finds an empty brown bin an affront!



I was starting to panic a little about the lack of grass in the paddock, we haven’t had any rain for over a month, so I’ve not been able to reseed it. Luckily, my neighbours field was terribly overgrown so the ponies have generously volunteered to help her out!  They’re spending their days over there at the moment,  no lack of grass here!  When I took her headcollar off, Rosie looked like all her Christmas’s had come at once.







Wherein, I am mostly a pack mule.

Why does everything round here take 3 times as long as I expect it to?

Started a “small” job a couple of weeks ago, that I’ve finally finished (with some brute force assistance from the hubby.

At the front/side of the house we’ve 2 gardens that are separated by a row of (horribly overgrown) shrubs/trees.  I tried to give them a bit of a sorting out last year, but they laughed at my efforts.   So after checking for nesting birds, it’s round two.  I’m tooling up with a handsaw, loppers and other assorted pointy objects.  No prisoners this time, I shall either bring order to chaos, or make a bloody great mess.  I have a vague idea what I’m doing, I watch gardeners world…

Here are a few pics from when we first moved in…

And here’s what it looks like this year.

I chopped and hacked at it for a couple of weeks.  In truth, the actual tidy up didn’t take that long, but dragging all the debris down to the willow trees near the fire pit, trip after trip was what hoovered up a lot of my time.

We now have a truly extraordinary amount of stuff waiting to be burnt.  Fires, however, are one job I won’t do when I’m alone, especially the sort of raging infernos we have round here.  So I’m waiting for a nice day with no wind when MrC is about, or when Mr and MrsC snr are here.

I was a bit wrong in my assumption that what separated the gardens was just a row of shrubs.  It’s really not, there is a whole copse between the two that was virtually impenetrable and needed to be cleared, (mental note, everything needs sharpening).


I got most of it cleared and sorted out, but called in the big guns for some bits I really couldn’t cut down with a hand saw.


A lot of the dead trees in there were so rotten they can just be pulled out of the ground, something MrC rather enjoys doing so he came out to give me a hand.  I pointed out one that needed removing, with a small amount of grunting “got it” says MrC.  “erm, no” says I, “what do you mean?”, “dude, the tree you’ve just ripped out with your bare hands is still alive, the dead one is over there…?


I married a caveman.

Having deforested the copse, he turned his attention to a tree stump and beat the living daylights out of it.

Did I mention I’d married a caveman?

The stump is now nestled between a couple of conifers to provide a nice insect hotel.


So, here’s what it looks like now:

And the inside of the copse, that I didn’t even know existed.  Once again, we’ve some weird and wonderful trees that have grown in the most mental ways to try to get some light.  Believe it or not, that trunk that runs along the floor, ends with a living tree (that hubby didn’t get hold of).

There was an awful lot of thorny shrubs in there, I’m currently covered in numerous scrapes, bruises and assorted puncture wounds.  If I drop dead tomorrow, hubby might have some explaining to do as to why his wife looks like a battered pincushion.

On a rather disgusting sidenote, my hands are generally so full of splinters I’ve stopped even trying to remove them, I just wait for them to get infected then squeeze the pus and splinter out all at the same time, or they just get absorbed and go away, is this normal or am I just now suitably cavewoman to match the hubby?

The ponies have been turned loose to graze the lawns during the day when I’m there (I don’t trust electric fencing enough to leave them out in it unsupervised), they trashed their winter grazing, then they trashed their spring grazing so grass is a bit scarce in the paddock at the moment, I’ve re-seeded today and am praying for a bit of rain to help germinate it.  Most days I groom them and then turn them out, but one morning it had rained hard overnight and was too wet to let them out, I don’t mind them eating the lawns, but I don’t want them trashing them, so after grooming and giving them a ton of hay, I headed back to the house.  Rosie, when realising I wasn’t letting them out had a massive tantrum, I mean a full blown, toys out the pram, hissy fit.  She galloped around the paddock, bucking and neighing, she even had a try at JUMPING the fence.  Obviously that wasn’t going to happen, she’s a 13.2hh cob pony with the aerodynamic properties of a wardrobe and that fence is over 4ft tall, but she did give a go.  Pony tantrums are both hilarious and terrifying at the same time.


Other little jobs I’ve done, the shed got a clean-out as it was so full of junk I couldn’t actually get in there anymore.

The strawberry bed got a weeding, I can’t wait for them to start fruiting


On the veggie patch, this sorely neglected bit was where the brassica cage was for the purple sprouting broccoli, that’s been eaten and the cage has been moved to protect the broad beans.  Time to prepare this ready to sow winter root veggies for both us and the ponies.  Digging that over by hand nearly broke me, I like a bit of digging, it’s a very satisfying pass time, but that was a bit much.

The plant that remains is a parsnip that I missed harvesting over the winter, I’ve left it there because I’m curious what a parsnip flower looks like and also to try to harvest my own parsnip seeds for next year.

We also had our first BBQ of the year, just Mr and MrsC snr and the hubby and I, it was lovely to sit outside and enjoy the place for a little bit.

Friends and people who have read this for a while, will recognise this face…


Yep, it’s that time again, Mr James will be returning soon to create chaos and destruction out of which, something beautiful (and functional) will emerge.   Sadly, this time I’m going to be laboring for him, so for 2 weeks I think I have to be nice to him.  This is going to be a struggle.

OMG it’s cold, no wait, hot, no wait, wet…


I know, it’s been a month since I last updated, but this time of year it’s pretty dull reading..

Weeded some stuff, trimmed some shrubs, weeded some more, did some weeding, planted bulbs, planted seeds, raked up some winter debris, did some weeding… That’s when it’s not snowing or so wet you need a pair of flippers to get about.

I’m not entirely sure how we went from having a foot of snow to baking summer in the space of 3 weeks, but now I’m not ankle deep in mud I’ve managed to get a few non mundane things completed.

On the pony front, it’s shedding season and I remove about a bucket full of hair off the pair of them every day and it’s still coming, everything we own is covered in horsehair. Rosie did a post stretch shudder in the paddock a few days ago and a massive cloud of white hair was slowly carried away in the wind.  It’s got to stop sometime, doesn’t it?? Before we all drown in pony fluff?

Carmella had a visit from the farrier and had a good trim, she was not impressed and it was 3 days before she’d let me catch her again. Then just when she’d settled down from that, she had more trauma as it was time for a visit from the horsey dentist Mike.  This guy is so brilliant with the girls, even before he started on her teeth he got down, nose to nose with Carmella and spent 5 minutes making friends.  She was terribly naughty at first, a whole bunch of rearing (with the whole raking the air with her legs at the top of the rear, she made a very nice shape) and bolting round the stable.  She’s such a tiny little thing it would have been easy for Mike to just bully her into submission, but he was so gentle with her and by the time he’d finished she was standing nice and calm.  Hopefully the next time she’ll remember it’s not so terrible and there will be slightly less theatrics.  Again it was a few days before she’d let me put the headcollar on her, but she’s utterly incapable of resisting extra strong mints, so we’re friends again now.

Poor Rosie has feather mites again, so she’s had a course of injections from the vet, fingers crossed this will work, otherwise we’ll have to shave her feather off again and treat her legs topically, she’s spent all winter growing her rather magnificent feather and they look so lovely now they’ve got so long.

My friends Anne and Kev came over for a visit and Anne helped me give Rosies disgusting tail a good wash. Her tail, even though I chopped a substantial chuck out of it, is really heavy, and she doesn’t or can’t lift it very high when going to the loo, so it’s covered in all sorts of unpleasant things… I did some research on how to get heavily stained tails looking a bit whiter and so we mixed up a concoction of whitening shampoo and bicarb of soda into a paste, massaged that in and left it for 20 minutes.  Then we rinsed it off with white vinegar, shampoo’d again and then conditioned it.  It’s not exactly gleaming white, but it certainly looks a whole lot better than it did before.


The sudden hot weather hit the ponies hard, they’ve both still got winter coats, but Rosie was worse, under her abundant mane she was drenched in sweat, so she spent a few days rocking a really ropey set of braids to try and give her a bit of relief. I definitely didn’t miss my calling as a hairdresser…  And why is it, that a pony that doesn’t even notice getting rained on has a nervous breakdown when I try to pour  a bit of water on her to cool her off a bit???


The good news is, they’ve definitely bonded, they graze and sleep together although I’ve not yet seen them grooming each other (would save me a job, but they’re probably worried about swallowing half a ton of horsehair).


I found a buyer for my old car and she’s been hauled away to have an overhaul and a new lease of life with someone who’s head over heels in love with MX5’s. Apparently she’ll be heading over to Europe in July for a bit of a holiday, I’m just glad she’s gone to someone who’ll have fun with her.


Out in the gardens, the trees are finally blooming, especially the magnolia which is utterly magical.

I have a new toy, as MrC won’t let me shoot the local wildlife in the face and the local wildlife insists on eating my overwintering veggies, with the help of Mr and Mrs C snr, we erected a smallish polytunnel. Unless the pigeons, squirrels, rabbits and deer develop opposable thumbs, my broccoli should be safe next winter.  I’m also going to use it to grow melons and chilli’s over the summer as they love heat.

The asparagus beds we planted last year are bearing fruit, so to speak… You’re not supposed to crop until the third year, but I might snaffle a small taste.


Life is bursting forth in the greenhouse, soon I shall be potting on and planting out like an insane person, I figure for every plant I put out, that’s room for one less weed (please don’t disillusion me on this one, it’s a life raft for my brain when faced with the tonnes of weeds we get round here).

The first potatoes of the year are in! MrC snr brought them round and planted them, I can almost taste them already.  A big thank you to MrC snr for mowing the lawns for us and Mrs C snr for her renewed war against nettles.


I have finally completed a project I’ve been looking forward to, had to wait until the weather had cheered up a bit before I could start it. When we moved here, the back wall of the garage looked like this…


Since then we’ve cleared all the rubbish away and painted the house (not much I can do about the window, it’s broken and rotten and needs replacing). I’ve sanded and painted the facia boards and used up about half of the massive pile of rocks we’ve got cluttering up the place to create an alpine rockery type garden.  I’ve managed to do this really cheaply, the rocks we already had, the plants I’ve been collecting for ages, mostly from the “rescue” section of the garden centre and have nurtured them over the winter, I ordered a set of tiny plug plants in the autumn and have brought them on overwinter and some I’ve grown from seeds.  So although this does look a bit Alan Titchmarsh instagarden, I’ve been planning this for some time.  I think it cost about £65 including the compost.  I’m really pleased with it.  Although hauling all that rock was back breaking.

MrC helped me out with my compost, he got his sieving gadget out and we got about a third of a tonne of compost out of the bins that I’ve been brewing for the last 2 years. Won’t last long…

My next project is to overhaul the veggie patch. It’s just too big for me to keep weed free and actually have time for anything else, such as eating or sleeping.  So, I’m going to cover half of it with weed membrane and create eight raised beds, which we’re going to make out of railway sleepers.  But before I can do that, the veggie garden is bit uneven, so I need to move soil about until it’s level enough so that the beds don’t look drunk when we construct them, MrC has made a start on this and has rotovated the ground to loosen it up a bit.  Time to get me shovel out!

This Sunday we had the most epically biblical storm I’ve ever seen. In just a few minutes storm clouds rolled in over what had been an lovely sunny day, then in the space of 15 minutes the storm dumped about 2 inches of rain and hail.  Then it left and we had bright sunshine again.  The aftermath was a bit eerie, the ground was warm from the sun and everywhere you looked there was mist rising from the ground.  Is April monsoon season in the UK now?


Misty and slightly battered ponies after the storm (you can tell the rainfall was huge, Rosie looks clean).


Sorry about the time stamp thingy on the last photos, I’ve accidently turned it on and can’t for the life of me figure out how to turn it off.





Itsy bitsy teeny weeny pony


Winter is definitely not my favourite season, and snow is definitely not my favourite weather. We’ve had plenty of both the last month.

Luckily before the snow hit, I decided to give Rosie a mini bath as she had balls of mud hanging off her and it was pulling at her skin, I used the light pressure washer gadget that MrC. bought me for my birthday and Rosie was good as gold, she’s come a very long way from the skittish behaviour she showed when she first arrived. Our lovely local farmer now does a regular hay delivery and dumps it all on the hardstanding for me, this makes Rosie very happy, she thinks all her Christmases have come at once.


Then the snow hit…

It made for some very pretty pictures, but I hate it and retreated into the house to commence binge watching rubbish on Netflix for the duration…


Maggie and I share similar views on the snow, she ventured about 3 foot out of the door, then hastily retreated back under her radiator.

Once the snow had melted, we had the aftermath to deal with…

The stream blocked up and MrC had to rescue it.

We have standing water everywhere and it’s all very unpleasant, roll on summer.

We had a visit from Mr and MrsC snr and their friend Roger, now Roger knows everything about everything as far as I can make out and he came over to help us with a job I’ve been meaning to do for ages but didn’t really have a clue what I was doing. Winter last year Hubby bought 20 apple dwarfing root stocks and they need scions grafting so we can grow big apple types, on small trees.  Roger very kindly bought us some scions (the deer ate all of mine) and showed us how to do grafting.  It took a little while, but we now have 20 apple trees that will hopefully graft successfully and can be planted out next winter.  Roger bought us all sorts of different varieties, Cox, Discovery and a host of others, we also took a few scions from trees in our orchard.

My next job was to sort out a bit of scrub and turn it into a flower bed. Turned out really nicely, lasted about 12 hours, until the deer ate the lot…  I’ve also planted 400 bulbs in this area, so we should have a nice summer display when the deer are slightly less destructive.

Next up was the yearly chop down of the miscanthus, as I’m not allowed to play with power tools when I’m on my own, I had to do this the hard way, loppers and secateurs. Hard to imagine that in just a few months we’ll have 6ft growth here again.

MrC snr has been busy with the rotovator in the veggie patch, all the horse poo I’ve carted from the muck heap has been ploughed in and with any luck we’ll have a good yield this year.

I’ve been busy in the greenhouse, it’s seed time! The fun part starts when all that lot needs potting on…

Interesting things I’m going to attempt to grow this year include, cape gooseberries, melons, butternut squash and celeriac along with the usual beans, potatoes, onions tomatoes etc.

I’ll also be growing a lot of winter veg for the ponies, it’s important when they have no grass to get a bit of fresh veg for them to snack on.

And lastly, but very much not leastly, we have a super new addition to the family.

Poor little Rosie has been lonely, so I’d been keeping an eye out for a companion for her, I wanted something small because I don’t have a huge amount of grazing and I can’t ride two horses. MrC and I went to see a Shetland who we thought would fit the bill, but that didn’t pan out.  Then I saw a post on facebook from a lady who needed to loan her falabella horses out quite urgently.  After a lot of messages and phone calls and the appropriate paperwork being drawn up, she kindly agreed to let me loan her little mare for a couple of years.

Carmella is just the sweetest little girl, as she came from Scotland she had spent the best part of 2 days in transport to get to me. She came off the trailer calm and curious (unlike Rosie, who came from 10 miles away and arrived in a massive sweat, shaking and all over the place).

I had read all sorts of stuff about introducing horses and what you should do, much of it conflicting or, as I’ve only one field, impossible. So I messaged Sam the lovely horse dealer who sold Rosie to me, she has 100’s of horses pass through her hands and asked her what she thought would be best.  “Chuck her in the field and let them get on with it” was the advice and that’s what I did.  I opened up the spring grazing just before Carmella arrived so Rosie had good grass to occupy her.

This is Rosie clocking Carmella for the first time (she’d been too involved with eating spring grass to notice her arrival)…


Rosie then dropped her head, pinned back her ears, bared her teeth and cantered full pelt at poor little Carmella, obviously determined to establish herd dominance immediately. For a few seconds I thought it was all going to go horribly, horribly wrong as Rosie chased Carmella around the field, but Carmella luckily was all “yep OK, good, you’re the boss, got it, no problem” and they both went to inhale spring grass, narrowly averting a heart attack for yours truly.

Since then, they’ve been getting along, grazing next to each other and each guarding when the other one is asleep. Rosie is still being a bit of a bully, but mostly when they’re being fed (I make sure Carmella can eat in peace) or when affection is on offer, Rosie thinks all the cuddles should be hers, but she’s calming down, hopefully within a week or two they’ll be firm friends.  Rosie got a bit bolshie with me after the new addition, but we had a couple of fights (Rosie and I), which I won, and while Rosie is ahead of Carmella in the herd pecking order, I am firmly back on top as “lead mare”.  I will monitor them carefully, I won’t let Rosie break Carmella’s spirit, but today when Rosie was doing the ears back, teeth bared, mare face at Carmella, she let rip with a buck and a kick right in Rosie’s face which is encouraging.

Whilst Dozy Rosie is my baby, my very first pony and I love her to bits, I already adore this new little pony (her owner is yelling right now, “she’s a HORSE not a pony” sorry in advance Claire, I’m probably always going to call her a pony), she’s super sweet, adaptable, just so loveable and very very tiny.

She’s also a bit cheeky!