Tag Archives: Land Rover

You’ll have to call back – I’m in Narnia

I am beginning to believe that the farmhouse has been trapped in its own snow globe.  Never have I had a better excuse to settle in a chair by the fire, read books or play board games with the girls whilst eating endless homemade crumpets.  Is there anything more decadent than licking the dribbles of warm butter from a third toasted crumpet off one’s fingers I wonder?  Don’t answer that.  We can’t all live a high octane lifestyle, dear Reader.  Despite the gradual shift in temperature, everything is smothered in a thick blanket of snow as I write and although I am supposed to be head down at the writing desk today, I find myself clutching a mug of hot tea and staring out of the window at the fluffy white eiderdown covering the farmhouse garden.  I never thought I’d say it but….sadly school isn’t shut.  Jerry has managed to get to London too so I am home alone.  I was hoping for another snow day to be honest, dear Reader.  The last lot of snow ensured days of bombing about on the little tractor round the garden – girls and dogs whooping about like mad things.  I know the snow isn’t fun for everyone and there’s a lot to be said for all the amazing people who have kept everything running despite the so called Beast from the East making life awkward.  A massive shout out to so many farmers who were out with snow ploughs, rescuing stuck vehicles and those who are battling with their livestock in truly difficult conditions.  These are awful lambing conditions.  Just getting water to our hens and ducks has proven tricky when pipes are frozen solid and drinkers ice over in seconds and we haven’t had nearly as much snow as some parts of the country.  It’s not just farmers who deserve our praise either.  The Herculean efforts of doctors, nurses, carers and so many more vital people in the community who have braved the elements to get to work has been awe inspiring.  Our local Facebook groups have been awash with kind souls offering help, giving lifts and taking shopping to those in need.  As they say, not all superheros wear capes.

However, I can’t help but feel that the white stuff has brought a bit of wintry magic our way.  Lazy days are few and far between these days and our first winter at the farmhouse has been memorable because of the snow.  We’ve been living in our own little bubble.  I can’t remember the last time I threw myself into all day baking sessions with my girls, danced round the kitchen to Moana with a tutu on or snuggled up on the sofa under a blanket to watch a film together without something drawing me away from time spent with them.  Snow days have banished any feelings of guilt that I should be doing something else.  Instead of missing out, I have made it my mission to forget the other stuff for a while and focus on making snow blobbies (Poppy’s version of snowmen) and finding the perfect number of mini marshmallows for a mug of hot chocolate.  It’s eight if you’re interested, dear Reader.  With enough wood in the log shed to keep us going and plenty of provisions, the snow has given the four of us the perfect excuse to slow down and shut out all the calls on our time from the outside world.  That and the driveway was rather slippery even with a Land Rover so staying put seemed a far better option than going out when the first lot of snow hit our little corner of Hampshire.  Swathed in layers, we stepped out into our very own Narnia and time was lost.  I may even have eaten a box of Turkish delight, dear Reader.

So with Jerry and the girls back to their everyday routines today and my head full of words that desperately need to find their way onto the page before me, I am rather sad to bid farewell to what we hope will be winter’s last hurrah.  The sun is out and great clods of snow are already thudding down from the roof as it warms up.  By tomorrow, the snow will have disappeared as quickly as it came.  It will soon be time to welcome in spring, dear Reader.

Oh what a week!

winter leaveDear Reader, I can only apologise for the wall of silence from me of late.  It has been one thing after another lately!  Water coming through the ceiling, trees coming down making roads impassable, escaping chickens, 3 cracked windscreens (twice on my car, would you believe it?), 2 flat tyres, 1 pair of favourite trousers ripped and the week from hell when Poppy caught the norovirus and was very ill indeed, resulting in our first trip to a countryside hospital!  I wish spring would really take hold, dear Reader.  The four of us are sick of the rain as I am sure so many of you are too.  Our school run route is under water and we can see sandbags are out, water is being pumped on to country roads and carpets have been taken up.  Farmland is awash with water and the landscape is more brown sludge than green with flecks of white snowdrops and yellow daffodils.  Still, we must be thankful we are not in Somerset.  My thoughts go out to those poor people.

I found myself ever grateful for the wonderful nature of country folk around here  a week ago.  Trying to get home after dropping Primrose off one morning, I found myself face to face with rather a lot of water.

Ah....where's the road gone?

Ah….where’s the road gone?

Luckily for me, a very nice chap in a tractor (Poppy still hasn’t got over that a tractor stopped to talk to us) stopped me before I went any further.  The road was in the process of being closed (no guesses as to why…) and there was even more water further down – only really just passable with a 4×4 and certainly not with a puny school run car.  The ‘very nice chap’ looked me up and down and asked if I had any wellies in the back.  I replied that I hadn’t but I did have a rather smart working cocker spaniel who enjoyed a swim.  Judging by the bemused look I was given, it would appear, dear Reader, that Monty on this occasion would be of no use….and wellingtons would have been a more sensible addition to the boot that morning.  Said very nice man then told me to follow him through the water and I proceeded to drive through the wake of a tractor until I reached a dry track again.  I also received a very much needed lecture of the list of countryside must-haves for the boot of the car should I find myself in a similar pickle in the future.  To the ‘very nice chap’ – you are my hero of the day!

I’m afraid it didn’t stop with watery incidents either that day.  Jerry’s supposedly trusty Lanny giant got a flat battery and Jerry and I spent half an hour in the dark trying to extract the enormous thing from the car in the freezing cold before attempting to recharge it in the laundry room.  I am sure that this sort of stuff only happens to us.  It just hasn’t been our month.  Still, as someone said to me this week, we must count our blessings and looking at all the flood water in the surrounding countryside, I have to say, our lot could be far far worse.  There was even a hint of a rainbow this morning so that has to be a sign that things are on the up, wouldn’t say, dear Reader?

If you squint really hard, you can just about see it....

If you squint really hard, you can just about see it….

In all the recounting of chaos, I forgot to tell you dear Reader, that Monty, our gorgeous spaniel boy, turned 1.  Any excuse for cake.  He even got a feathery birthday treat when Henny, our little brown hen tried her special ‘escape from chicken Alcatraz’ number and shimmied under the fence.  The birthday hound saw an opportunity to embarrass me further chasing her all round the garden whilst I ran after him in my dressing gown, pyjamas and wellies, yelling “Leave”.  I imagine that our neighbours had a good old giggle at my expense that morning.

Pup all partied out

Pup all partied out

My silver lining finally appeared though……a couple of nominations in the Mad Blog Awards for Most Entertaining blog, Best Blog Writer and MAD Blog of the Year.  Whoever you are – I could kiss you for nominating me.  I got the tweets just as I thought the week was a complete dead loss!  I hold no hopes out for winning but the nominations have cheered me up no end.  So….THANK YOU!  I raise a gin to you!

Almost there…

A day old calf at Acton Scott Farm earlier in the year.

Do support National Countryside Week – we owe so much to the countryside and it needs us too!

This week is National Countryside Week and also our last in the Big Smoke.  Dear Reader, quite frankly both of these things have been horribly upstaged by the birth of a certain little prince!

Despite the distraction of #RoyalBaby or perhaps my personal favourite Twitter hashtag (from the farming community) #Katescalving, Margot and Jerry HQ is finally a hive of industry as there are only 4 days left in our little corner of suburbia. Jerry’s Lanny (Land Rover) purchased, an extortionate amount of money paid for a parking suspension for the removal lorry, 4 bags of clothes, toys and 6 pairs of shoes to the charity shop……it would seem I am on a roll now!  Panicking a little, I phoned the removal company twice just to check that they do actually pack EVERYTHING and to add to the list of jobs done, a new house ration pack has been ordered to arrive on day 2 of the move too.  Well, I have to make sure that there is plenty of gin in the cupboard….however even I am now worried about the level of efficiency I have managed to achieve, dear Reader!

To stop myself from getting too carried away with coloured stickers, labels and a nifty floor plan of the new house courtesy of Jerry, I decided that the only way to mark the last week in the Big Smoke was a glass of champagne at The Ritz…..would you expect anything less from Margot?!  In 1777, when Mr Johnson wrote “No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford“, he was probably supping a small glass of something in a well-known London drinking establishment too!  Jerry and I can’t be sad as we have enjoyed so much of what London has to offer for over a decade and the time is certainly right for pastures new.  So when the boxes arrive on Wednesday and we leave our dear little cottage for middle of nowhere ruralness on Thursday,  I shall be ready for another glass of bubbly.  This time though, our surroundings will be somewhat less grand than The Ritz.  Jerry and  I will be in our new country home and probably drinking our little bottle of fizz from paper cups after the colour coding on boxes will have inevitably gone wrong!  I am sure it will be bliss though, dear Reader so….please Thursday, would you oblige this batty townie and hurry on up?!  I am looking forward to having to negotiate vehicles like this on the school run in the mornings!

Beats sitting behind a row of cars in town!

Beats sitting behind a row of cars in town any day!

All the fun of the fair

Oooh I love a country fair!

Oooh I love a country fair!

Jerry and I decided that amidst the moving mania, we ought to make time to experience a few country pursuits before the packers and boxes descend on us (also because I am known for my ‘last minute Larry’ attitude towards such things and the move feels like ages away)!  So we packed ourselves off (sorry couldn’t resist the pun) to Highclere aka Downton Abbey for the day and set about enjoying all the sights and sounds of the Highclere Countryman fair!  Country fairs, dear Reader, are the summer staple for countryside lovers and a bit of a firm favourite with Jerry and I, bringing back memories of the county shows of our childhoods.

Well, it really didn’t disappoint, the whole day was UTTERLY brilliant.   Falconry displays, jousting knights, a food festival tent and hundreds of country stalls from the sublimely satisfactory amount of  tweed to the hilarious including a wonderful double take moment when I spied a  ‘I’m a NOB’ badge.  Yes…dear Reader…a badge for members of the National Organisation of Beaters and Pickers Up.  Bet you didn’t know they were using that acronym!  I was also astonished by the sheer volume of countryside gear on offer.  Just how many camouflage jackets and boiler suits does one need in the countryside?  Thank goodness, I had read all the helpful country fashion advice put together by the lovely Bea at Life After London (with help from Out of the City) otherwise I might have come away with some outfits that would really turn heads in our new village!

Primrose has not stopped talking about the real knights jousting!

Primrose has not stopped talking about the real knights jousting!

Perhaps the best thing of all was the fact that we could take Monty too!  Child AND dog friendly…!  One can see immediately, dear Reader, why such events are universally popular!  Monty was adored by many a passer-by with ooohs and aaahs of  “Is he is a Springer?  He looks just like…” and was thoroughly chuffed with the overwhelming number of opportunities for hoovering up leftover lunches!  He was also glued to the Gundog Field Trials and loved watching all the dogs retrieving and jumping over bales!  I wondered if he was sizing up the competition for next year’s Countryman fair!  Jerry and I (well I say Jerry but it was mostly me) got thoroughly carried away with all the ‘doggy’ stands and we came away with yet another lead for the Montster.  That would be lead number 3…..  I just can’t help myself!

After 4 hours or so of carrying Poppy, Jerry and I called time on the fair, especially as Poppy was considerably heavier after demolishing a hog roast sandwich with all the trimmings and poor old Jerry was developing every parent’s worst nightmare, “Backpack Back”.  With sleepy children and a pooped puppy, we headed back to town and vowed that we would go again next year.  Leaving Highclere, Jerry even managed to have the girls spotting ‘Lannies’ (his Land Rover obsession has reached fever pitch now the move is looming closer).  It would seem that every journey is now to be accompanied by the excited whoops of ‘LANNY’ from Poppy and Primrose….so the sooner Jerry has one, the better, dear Reader!