Tiny and Insignificant – I Think Not!

It would seem we have swopped one pest for another. In our old house we were kept awake at night by the scurrying of mice above our heads.  Over the years we tried many DIY methods – chocolate on traps, Sonar and shop bought bait to name a few. Always we ended up calling in the pest man. He came, laid his special (and very expensive) bait and four weeks later his method had appeared to do the trick……. until the next time they came to call.

Last year in our new house of only a year we were plagued by tiny moths. The long suffering spent many evenings leaping around the room, air swatting to reduce the population. Tell tale signs of white empty egg cases were duly noted around the edges of the carpets but not particularly worried about.

Big mistake…….it turns out they were carpet moths so called because they literally munch carpet.

Carpet damage was found while putting our house back to rights after a week long visit from the family at Mole Hall. The rollaway bed I have to confess does not get moved out that often – a carpet moths dream. The bed under creates a dark place hidden from view and inaccessible to the vacuum  – a carpet moths enemy!

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The long suffering duly helped me pull out the bed ready to vacuum underneath. As I wielded the dust enemy over the carpet the fibres were fast disappearing up the nozzle revealing large unsightly bare patches.

My cry of alarm caused long-suffering to drop to the floor and join me on all fours as further detective work revealed the evidence of the attacker. Tell tale white cases in the pile surrounding the bare patches identical to those last summer we had chosen to ignore were plain to see.

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A quick google on the phone allowed us to identify at once what we were dealing with…….

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The native carpet moth – Tinea pellionella to give it its Latin name are tiny, destructive and difficult to eradicate. Their natural habitat it outside when they would be winter dormant but with central heated houses their lifecycles increase dramatically.

It pupates and emerges from tiny white cases looking like a single grain of rice these are normally hidden behind furniture – especially heavy not moved often- and the nooks and crannies around skirting boards or as in our case last year can also appear on walls and ceilings.

The tiny emergent moth – wingspan 15-17mm – lives just long enough to mate, laying up to 300 eggs on the carpet where the cycle starts all over again.

Further research has thrown up that we need to vacuum more often and be thorough about it……..More damage from the dining room!

This although helpful will not solve the problem. There are DIY sprays readily available, however we are thinking the pest man route once again will be our best hope at complete eradication. I fear more than one treatment will be needed, meaning the much needed redecoration will be put on hold. Judging by the long-sufferings face at this news it will be a welcome relief of his decorating skills………… For the time being at least!

Have any of you had the carpet moth visit and what – if anything – worked for you?

 

Snow days in Spring!

We are snowed in! Our rural village in a Valley makes driving conditions hazardous if not impossible madness. Luckily the long-suffering came home early from London on Wednesday evening his man-flu all the excuse he needed to beat the forecasters warnings of heavy snow.

This morning armed with a ruler he walked out the back door to measure the extent of the recent snowfall before diligently clearing the front path for me the resident hippie. The snow had drifted off the paving slabs last night and the ‘freezing rain’ had landed causing a skating rink effect. The long-suffering showed off his agility as he ice-danced his way to the gate. It turns out he had a depth of 16cm to clear.

Once the pathway was clear we both ventured out on foot to explore this winter wonderland while it lay still, pristine and relatively untouched except for the milkmans cart and a few tracks of hungry wildlife searching for food.

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The ground beneath as our feet crashed and crunched down through the thick ice covering the powdery snow below, made for difficult walking. Our feet sinking with every step, we marched rather than walked. Every raise of our feet sent slivers of ice  skimming across the surface the smaller shards tinkling as they went.

Without the benefit of any sunshine, the grey skies and cold winds caused instant wind chill against any exposed skin although for the most part we had it covered. It was left to me to provide the sunshine and contrast against all this white and grey, as a marker/muse for the long-sufferings photographic hobby in my sunshine yellow coat.

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and some from me….

 

Back home Whats App went into overdrive, the first photos – arriving from our son were quite alarming – ‘snow in the loft’ and required an immediate phone call to check all was well!

It was, apparently normal, for an Edwardian house exposed to the elements. My son and daughter-in-law still have a water tight roof just not under the eves if the wind is blowing the wrong way!

The next photos from the renamed family The House at Mole Hall……

formally at ‘The house of two halves’ was a more pleasant perusal. Grandchildren out playing in the deep snow!

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Where did April Go?

The whirlwind that is our family from the house of two halves in Cyprus have flown back to their home after spending sixteen days living with us. Calm – but not necessarily order – has returned to our humble abode

This past month has flown by in a whirlwind of activity as first we faced the reality of back to work after two months away on the other side of the world, whilst at the same time with the garden in full wake up mode there was jobs to do outside as well as in.

In the midst of all this activity, our sons Wedding Day was fast approaching – eighteen months of planning now only weeks away. Our daughter in Cyprus was to be bridesmaid the reason for their extended stay and our frantic endeavours to prepare the house for a family of six!

Preparations started out in the garage as the long-suffering swung himself monkey style up on the rafters to retrieve stair gates, Jumperoo, collapsible buggy, outdoor slide, toddler car seat and booster seat. Next it was the loft, down came the old  cot, toys, high chair and changing mat.

Through the door over the course of two weeks there followed by courier a steady stream of baby wipes, nappies, fold out mini bed, extra bedding, baby cream, breast pads and much more besides as the long-suffering catered for every eventuality.

Meanwhile I took the recyclable option and toured the local charity shops for toys and books to help keep the little ones entertained!

And like all the best Grandparents entertain we did! Every morning we woke up to read the wheels on the bus or incy wincy spider until we knew them word for word and the actions too.

Breakfast, first the toddler – a surprisingly clean affair, next the baby – totally the opposite – with that mornings offering over her, me and floor! My own breakfast was always a shared affair with toddler finishing hers extra quick to help me with mine. The older two – boy and almost teen – followed down later at intervals boy first with messy hair and teen her ponytail perfectly smooth after hours of repetitive brushing.

The end of the day always finished with the regimental routine of bath-time this used to be long-sufferings time, but now baby in too means back up is needed, we both and baby end up looking like drowned rats as toddler demonstrates her prowess at splashing every one and thing in sight!

I am left to do nappies and pyjamas, a stressful experience as the toddler has hers so tight as to stop leakage and possibly circulation!  The baby now rolls constantly while sucking her toes – her only option as sucking thumbs is frowned on by the parents – causing powder to not always land where directed, still the carpet has a lovely marbled effect now! Story time follows, book of choice Incy Wincy Spider!

The days went by too quick a never ending cycle of daily washing, cooking, working and best of all spending time playing with the young and chilling with the parents when young are in bed! Easter came and went leaving behind a mountain of Easter eggs in its wake.

Plug plants from Sarah Raven –  my guilty secret this year – steadily arrived at intervals in the midst of all this increased activity sending my stress levels through the roof as I secretly potted on the tiny fragile seedlings, so as not to alert the toddler to the delights of water and compost.

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And then the big day arrived, our son, ‘the baby’ of the family married his long term girlfriend. The ceremony was conducted and held at Athelhampton House in Dorset, more on this to follow in another post as I write my review!

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So here we are in present day ‘the aftermath’……………The washing machine is ready for a rest from the relentless daily offering of all things messy that only babies, toddlers, boys and teens provide. We have given away or are eating the Easter eggs left behind along with half eaten packets of biscuits and wedding cake – bad news for long-sufferings expanding waistline!

We have dismantled equipment now stacked waiting for the return to loft and rafters.  Our lounge once again is a grown up space as is the kitchen without high chairs, bibs, wipes, baby cups and cutlery.

The vases of table flowers so carefully arranged for the big day by the brides father and myself are gradually dying, each day on my return more petals from the ever depleted blooms have fallen until soon they will be no more.

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Only now in the eerie quiet of a house without children, we are suddenly both in mourning for the holiday of a lifetime so long in the planning over and gone, grandchildren arriving and then leaving, a wedding excitedly anticipated – bringing family and friends together if only for a weekend.

We will rally, quicker than we think too, already the long-suffering is back enjoying the rectangular box in the corner of the room showing all things sporting.

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Me, I will happily retire to tending the garden and endeavour to get back to regular writing again, away from all things sporting!

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Facing MY Fears!

°Brisbane Australia, three days visiting Richards uncle and cousins – for once long-suffering had the upper hand on the next stage of our ‘trip of a lifetime’. He sat calm beside me on the three hour plus flight from Christchurch to Brisbane as I sat freaking out at all the wild animals, insects, reptiles, sharks etc. that may or may not  – crawl, jump, dive, slither, snap or bite terminating me from existence!

We had it on good authority – our youngest daughter – that Richards cousin Andrew and his wife Jodie – both originally from New Zealand with its almost zero population of nasties – would be great hosts for the duration of our three day stop in Brisbane. We were not disappointed.

Walking out from the airport we were not prepared for how hot this country really is and although our hosts were waiting with their air-conditioned car our clothes were already sticking to our bodies.

As my head swivelled  360° outside the terminal looking for any rogue predators – Jodie happily informed me their house – under her orders – was fumigated at least once a week to keep down the risk of any nasty intruders of the crawling/jumping variety. Already we were best friends!

Brisbane city – cousin Andrew had to work behind the scenes at the Adele concert taking place at the Gabba, leaving Jodie with the task of entertaining us for the evening – no mean feat considering we had only just met for the first time ever!

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We drove straight into Brisbane city from the airport dropping Andrew off at the Gabba before parking up beneath Eagle Street Pier in an underground car park. We took the steps up which led straight out onto the pier. From the terraced pier busy with bars and eateries filled with workers and tourists like us, tall skyscrapers loomed above our heads.

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After a couple of drinks getting to know each other – instant ease – at a River front bar we moved on to George’s seafood restaurant, not that any of us had seafood. But we did have a table overlooking the Brisbane River and Story Bridge.

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Had we had more time we would have liked to spend more time in this vibrant city, however the time we did have, was happily spent catching up with family we had not seen for many years, all who had once lived in New Zealand and had followed our recent travels there, especially the South Island where they once lived.

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At Uncle Rogers we browsed through old photos he had from when he first emigrated to New Zealand from Kilnwick in Yorkshire  – one of the original £10.00 a passage skilled workers needed out there. First working in labouring jobs including helping to build the Haast Pass eventually setting up his own sheep farm in Timaru before retiring to Brisbane. We compared photos – our full colour, all singing and dancing present day and his mostly black and white grainy snapshots – important documentation  of a bygone age in the South Island.

 

It was a welcome relief to stay in a family home  – especially one as welcoming as  Andrew and Jodies – after the impersonal hotel rooms before. We slept like logs in our boutique style room, ate like kings, and even had resident young Chinese students to keep us entertained during our stay and not a predator was seen – not by me – long-suffering did see a cane toad but I don’t think he counts!

All too soon it was time to leave for the next stage of our journey … Whitsundays beckoned ………

From hands on to Hands free!

We are home safe from the icy house of two halves.  With every tear of joy reunion, a waterfall of sadness at leaving must come again. It does not get any easier.  Four months will pass until next we meet and April seems such a long time away.

The older children will not forget us, our faces are almost as familiar to them as those of their parents, even the toddler will not look vaguely upon us as we appear – often as buffering images – on ‘mummy’s’ phone or iPad.  The baby however is a different matter.

For her we have been just two more faces blending together like a field of smiling sunflowers, only those she sees hourly/daily will stay within her mind.  Over two wonderful weeks the bond we have shared has for her already been forgotten, as I write this post.

When next our eyes meet her smile may be wary, without the slow spreading radiance we have lately enjoyed.  Instead of relying on us for support she will likely be sitting unaided, possibly even rolling over from back to front – as we left she was already halfway there!

We are as Grandparents not alone of course in our present situation and luckier than many.  Cyprus is not the other side of the world, taking only one days travelling by car and plane.  Nevertheless the enforced separations only accentuate the speed at which all the Children but especially baby, develop over days rather than weeks.

Last night though, my sadness at leaving was tempered on our arrival back at Heathrow and still further as our onward journey, on a motorway blanketed by thick fog made driving conditions hazardous. I could not but think as we drove slowly along – ever mindful of what may lie in the murkiness ahead – of the families lives torn apart by recent road accidents in conditions just such as these.

Fate dealt me a lucky hand at escaping the carnage of my own crushed vehicle and as the many miles separate us all once more, I feel thankful for the continued time to spend with family and friends.  For some in an instant that has been cruelly taken away.

 

Did I Say Rest?

Currently we are spending time with our Daughter, Son-in-law and Grandchildren out in Cyprus. There are four children in total three girls ages 12, 20 months, 3 months, and one boy of 6, a very bouncy 2 year old springer spaniel completes this exhausting line up!

Our days start with 19 month old toddler arriving in our bed any time from 5am onwards, our daughter – having first fed and settled baby – disappears (in secret) downstairs for a ‘workout’to something called insanity, surely at this ungodly hour insane it is!  Our son-in-law will – if he is lucky while we are here – be in bed on baby watch duty until the day job calls.  The eldest, 12 going on teen is normally still asleep or reading (the latter her favourite pastime) whilst 6 can be found building Lego, playing with action figures or zapping anything that moves or otherwise with his light sabre.

Between seven and eight on a non school day it is breakfast time. Unfortunately to reach the relative warmth of the dining room – if someone has switched the gas heaters on – we all have to brave arctic conditions immediately we step outside our  bedrooms.  Wearing excess layers to keep out the cold I now resemble a ‘bag lady’ in my mismatched layers.

Temperatures in Cyprus at this time of year can be minus overnight. In the day, the sun when it manages to break through the cloud feels warm, however most days after our arrival rain has lashed down creating rushing rivers in the deep gullies that line the roads.

Inside the icebox house of two halves – it was once two, three bedroom semis – cooling fans now sit silent on extra high ceilings, making the too few heaters work that much harder to heat the extra space in the rooms. The sun when it does put in an appearance seems not to penetrate through the windows and walls at all.  We draw straws to decide whose turn to make hot drinks/meals in the icy room that is the kitchen.  Call of nature runs are held off as long as possible, whilst Ice cold tiles underfoot – thank god we packed slippers – render naked toes immobile.

After breakfast, more layers go on for walking the mad springer spaniel.  We depart the house a motley crew on our various modes of transport – pram or hands free sling for baby, trike with added adult control for toddler, push-bike for 6 and scooter for 12.  The four walking adults are split between being pulled along by dog, pushing the pram/trike, racing a bike or scooter, intermittent snails pace walking due to toddler exiting trike along with carrying, picking up when fallen, providing shoulder rides and pooh picking.  Eventually once the slow stop start has tried all our patience we try to persuade the toddler she has tired legs, this rarely ends with a happy outcome, only a rigid, screaming uncomplying body as we try to manoeuvre her back into her trike.  This excursion gets repeated late afternoon too, remember this is the fit outdoorsy family!

We all love Christmas time with the exception of husband/dad/grandad (VM) even though he is in the house of children and all things Christmassy he continues his relentless, mostly tongue in cheek Bah Humbug routine. Frowning, mumbling throughout the day whenever things go off plan as often they do!  So far he has cut his lip on a bacon buttie, making more fuss than the youngest child – the pouting went on for the whole day! The toddler while having a tantrum at ungodly hour knocked tea all over his slippers causing another day of moaning about cold feet as said slippers slowly dried out elsewhere. Water knocked over by the man himself narrowly missed his myriad of tech gadgets laying on the floor below. On the rare occasion he does nappy duty the floor resembles a battlefield and we have to send out for more supplies of baby wipes. Keeping up with the fit family he has found himself a running partner and although secretly enjoying being pushed physically to greater distances, we are all on his return suffering the consequences ‘I need to rest, my calves/quads are aching’.

I have decided my wrist will not be resting any time soon in Cyprus. How can I not pick up and cuddle our beautiful new baby Grandaughter who amongst all the hullabaloo that continually goes on around her is calm, serene and generally so good natured as to sometimes be forgotten.  Our animated, funny toddler loves to be picked up to sit on my lap and listen to her many storybooks or being bounced frantically up and down on my lap singing ‘half a pound of tuppenny rice’ and then disappearing between my knees as we ‘Pop goes the Weasel’ evoking chuckles galore.

With 12 and 6 there has been in the making a gingerbread house, seventy-two mince pies – including twenty-four special gluten-free for our daughter – and an elaborate lattice mince pie to use up the leftovers.  All the rubbing in, kneading, rolling and squeezing of thick icing through icing bags has, even with the excellent help taken its toll on my poor wrist.

The good news is although my wrist/hand is not improving my new hip parts are working particularly well with still not a clunk, click in sight!  Lots of walking with mad dog and without, along promenades by the sea.  Swimming in the local pool – a necessity just for the warm comfort of the changing rooms – floor workouts playing with the toddler and baby – toddler is well trained in providing a comfy cushion for  ‘Nannas’ accident battered knees and hip against the cold hard floors.  Climbing up and on or below and under a cabin bed to read 6 his bedtime story is a particular highlight, giving me hope that eventually mountains will be within my grasp.

To be able to do all these things and more fills me with so much joy.  I may never be able to run alongside holding hands or roly-poly with abandon down grassy slopes and hills, nevertheless the many things I can still do, thanks to technical advances and a skilful surgeon I will be forever grateful for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjusting in a Smaller Space

Moving to a much smaller garden although good from a less stressed hip point of view, has at times made me feel like a chicken with her wings clipped.  Like them I scratch about on the surface, my boundaries closer, with few places to expand in a ready-made garden and for the most part made well!

My long-suffering as he commutes home on a Friday will say this is a blessing.  He can feel safe in the knowledge there will be no grand labour intensive surprises, long lists – of the garden variety – or worry from watching his wife limping around from labouring overkill.  Few things at all in fact to interfere with his weekend sporting fixtures in front of the TV!  The biggest exertion for him most weekends since March is getting the mower out of the shed for the 15 minutes it takes to cut our much reduced – by at least 90 minutes in mowing time – the back lawn area.

In the early days when we were making our previous much-loved large neglected plot my term of endearment for my wonderful husband was not ‘long-suffering’ – he became this post accident. No my preferred choice was ‘Victor Meldrew’ inspired after the often morose fictional sitcom character from ‘One Foot in The Grave’, with his negative grumpy mutterings and dour face pulling every time I came up with a new spade wielding ‘project’, the resemblance was uncanny minus the bald head.

At the beginning of our gardening journey from winter 2000 and beyond especially while reconstructing the overgrown and hidden stream area his energy and enthusiasm was easily on a par with mine.  Unfortunately a few years of digging heavy clay soil – constantly wet in winter or rock hard in summer – gradually whittled away all the above.

Gardening  journal, excerpts from four years on…

17th Feb 2004.  Time was spent this morning evaluating the front grassed area resulting in my decision to turn a third into a new Kitchen garden.  After lunch I marked out the area to be fenced ie. rabbit proofed, with canes and string.  Later my excitement at relaying and showing my plans to Richard on his return from work was  severely tempered by a very grumpy ‘Victor Meldrew’ impression!

18th Feb 2004.  Not to be disheartened by Victor Meldrew – from hereon in for the purpose of this Journal shortened to VM – I have organised the position of the raised veg beds and rung round suppliers to acquire prices for posts, netting and hire of a turf cutter.

20th Feb 2004.  VM needs three weeks – only three!  Preparation for this new project I have thrown at him obviously needs contemplation time.  Very grumpy for the last two nights however there is light on the horizon I think with a bit more persuasion he will slowly come around to the idea.

24th Feb 2004.  Great excitement!  VM went to bed with yesterdays birthday present my new book ‘Making Gardens’, leading me to believe my kitchen garden and other ‘projects’ could soon after the prerequisite VM become a reality!

Although not on the grand scale as before I have still on occasion given Richard cause to put on his VM face even on our much reduced landscaped plot.  I write this with a smile on my face, so far borders have been extended, widened, trees thinned, rope swags erected for rambling roses, a new wild flower meadow in an existing front lawn, planted up with 300 bulbs and 300 native wild flower plugs.

I think over the last few months my wings have slowly grown back, whilst not needing to change the layout of  the hard landscaping areas, some of the planting needs much rejuvenation.  The question is how long can the confines of this garden sustain my free range ideas before I feel clipped once more?