And it’s all go – again!

As we are in the midst of yet another crisis I will have to just give a quick outline of what’s been happening here:

• Our last crisis is much more settled and we feel more in control of the situation, thank goodness.
• I’m busy in my clinic just now with both old and new patients and seem to be spending more of my time there accommodating their needs
• At the hospital we finally have a starting date for my new colleague. K should hopefully be starting at the beginning of March and I can’t wait. She is lovely and it will be great to work with her. In the meantime I am still like the proverbial swan – calm and serene on the surface, paddling like mad underwater.
• I am STILL trying to write my two talks that I am giving next week – making some headway with one, but not even started the other! (People/things keep snatching my time away from me.) AGH!
• Raji has been moving his stuff in to the house bit at a time, with Billy’s help. To me they seem to be going about it all in a very illogical fashion which has created chaos (for me!) Raji has also been spending a fair bit of time here making it difficult for me to know what I am doing food wise. At least once he’s in I will know which meals I am providing hopefully and can shop accordingly. It’s also difficult at the moment to know where he DOES live, and sometimes we come home from work and he’s here watching TV, or we have some post for him, expecting to see him and we don’t. He should be fully moved in in about a week I think.
• Billy and I went to watch the City v Newcastle game and although we disagreed on some things, we did agree that it was a poor performance by both teams. However, I was pleased that we managed a win and have been fairly gracious thus far – only mentioning 4 points a couple of times 😉 We had met with a few friends in the pub before hand which was very pleasant too.
• We stayed that night with Mum and she took the next morning off work so we could have a full English breakfast together and a leisurely morning.
• On the way home, we carried out Nel’s instructions and picked up a new Syrian hamster for her. A black and white female who has been named Luppi – and she’s living up to the name! Nel does have some concerns about the new addition’s eye-sight though.
• Nel’s hair is now black as she got me to help her dye it last weekend. Funnily enough Stephen was 16 when he dyed his black too.
• Billy, Nel and I went to the Solicitor to start the process of her changing her name legally to “Nel” and to Billy’s surname.
• Mum has discovered the cause of her awful pain and she needs an op. It’s good that it can be cured, though bad that she has to have an op with the associated convalescence time.
• We played darts on Friday night, away to The Rose & Crown and had a very nice evening despite losing. I thought we all played well and was pleased with my own darts even though my worthy opponent beat me. He was lovely as ever and we exchanged cuddles again. We don’t have a game this week as it’s cup week and we are out already.
• I was in my clinic with patients on Saturday so had to record Stoke v City and watch it when I got back. I needn’t have bothered as it was an awful game and a poor result. We lost 1 – 0 against 10 men – moreover, in the 2nd half we didn’t manage a single shot on target! We just don’t have the killer instinct in the final 3rd which is so frustrating.
• The transfer window is finally closed – hallelujah! I hate it! It’s basically a media circus. In summary I am relieved Kaka didn’t sign for stupid money – it would have been wrong for him and for the club I feel. Also glad we didn’t pay well over the odds for Santa Cruz. I’m underwhelmed with the Bellamy signing though willing to change my mind if he impresses. Pleased with the signings of Bridge, De Jong and Given. Sending Jo out on loan is a great move too – a win-win situation.

So, I think that is a speed update of life in this crazy, hectic household. I never seem to get any time or space to myself these days, my house is always full of people, and full of mess and I can never keep on top of everything that needs doing. Thanks to my herbs I am coping with all this pretty well, which is quite amazing at times. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we now have another situation which needs our attention and resources but I will tell you when we know more.

Speed-blogging isn’t really as therapeutic for me as doing it properly but I think I just need to go with the flow at the moment and hope that things settle down soon.

R.I.P Rikki

Last week (Tuesday night actually, but I didn’t know until Wednesday) Laura’s Syrian hamster Rikki died quietly in his sleep. We’d half expected him to go soon as he had become sleepy and much thinner but it’s still sad. We all loved him – he was totally mad, but so bright and cute. Billy particularly enjoyed his company when he was left to run around the living room in his ball. Billy had to keep moving his feet hurriedly out of the way, and one night he also had to move an open packet of digestives. Thus did we discover that Rikki rather liked digestives, and so he occasionally got a treat whenever Billy got the chance to spoil him.

We found a nice box on which Laura wrote Rikki’s name, then Billy placed him in it and buried him in a new plant pot bought for the purpose. (With me in bed recovering, Billy went plant-pot hunting but when he was unsuccessful, Raji kindly drove to the garden centre and picked one up for us.) Billy then arranged white stones on top of the soil, and in the spring, Laura and I will go and choose a pretty plant to put in the pot.

Laura now just has the three dwarf hamsters but says she would like another Syrian in the New Year.



Eat your heart out Changing Rooms!

Poor Laura has had a muddle of a room since we first moved in to this house 5 years ago, and she’s had to put up with the grotty, DISGUSTING, blown vinyl wall paper on the walls for good measure. I had a very casual conversation with her a couple of months ago and established that if she could choose paint for her room, she’d pick orange and blue. I had decided to decorate her room as a surprise for her whilst she was in Spain visiting her grandparents, Sue and Joe, so as soon as we had left her at the airport, I set to work.

It was 7.45 am on a Sunday and I looked around her cluttered room and wondered just what I’d let myself in for – WHERE to start with moving stuff out? (Could have done with that fast forward button they use on TV shows to empty the room on which they are working!)

By the afternoon, I’d cleared everything out (and deposited it in my bedroom, the hallway, the landing, the front room ….) and begun to strip the hated wall paper – which further irritated me by stubbornly clinging to the walls as though part of them! (I can’t use steam in this house as it was built in 1895 and parts of the walls are the original horse hair plaster – and as I remove paper, half the wall leaps out too in places!) Happily, I remained patient and managed to remove it all (eventually) without losing any bits of walls – though the walls were not great in some places.

After the break on Monday, I knuckled down on Tuesday and removed the rest of the paper, cleaned the walls, ceiling, skirting boards and dado rail, and filled in as many holes as possible. Then I went to Homebase to buy the paint. Nice, bright, orange and blue – just like she wanted. I felt really pleased with myself for finding just the right shades, and couldn’t wait to start painting.

I spent all morning Wednesday and all day Thursday, giving the room two coats of paint, and painting the plain MDF shelves I wanted to use. These were 4 huge shelves and obviously needed painting on 5 sides each, so that was both time and space consuming. There was also a little corner shelf to do too. The colours were lovely and bright and cheerful – but once they were on the walls, I suddenly started to panic. I remembered clearly, the conversation in which Laura had said she wanted orange and blue – but I could not recall her saying BRIGHT shades – yet I had got it into my head that this was what she wanted. Oh God! What if I was wrong? AGH!

I calmed myself down with the thought that if it came to it, I would simply have to re-paint the room, and at least I wouldn’t have to remove the wall paper again! However, I was unsettled now and feeling less confident about what I was doing.

On Thursday evening (when my every ache had aches of its own) Billy and Paul played the role of Handy Andy and they dismantled the bunk bed/futon which we had bought when Billy’s mum was with us, and reassembled it in Laura’s room. This was no mean feat and they did very well to get it done in a couple of hours. (Steph and I sat downstairs, sipped wine, and chatted over the background thumping, banging and cursing.) Laura had mentioned that she would like to have this bed and it made sense since she sits in her room a lot with friends, and she often has them to sleep over. There was only one place it could go, just inside the door, but I was sure she would like the extra privacy afforded her by the difficulty larger people would have getting past it. (Unfortunately, at this point, the futon does not open out into a bed – I’ve chatted up “Handy Raji” to see if he can figure out what’s wrong.)

On the Friday I assembled her new desk, which Billy bought when we discovered that her old one was a) in pieces and b) being used as a surface on which to sit the four hamster cages (propped up with other bits of furniture to support it!) Not only does it offer two options for how it is placed, but it’s also called the “Tokyo Desk” and Laura loves everything Japanese! (Incidentally, we ordered it from the seller on Ebay on Sunday night and it arrived Tuesday morning at 10 – how good was that?!)

I then put up all the shelves (with a little difficulty, but I got there in the end (HOW did we ever manage without power tools?!)

I also put up the new Japanese voile panels which I had been amazingly lucky to find online. I hoped Laura would like them instead of nets, but she needed a bit of privacy and I chose a dark shade to try and soften the light as she says it’s too bright sometimes.

During the evening, I re-hung the Japanese wall hangings on the walls – having removed and stored them very carefully at the beginning.

And finally, just before dropping into bed exhausted, I put up most of the posters – equally carefully set aside until this time.

On Saturday (by which time, I was very unsure if Laura would like it!) I made up the bed, and started putting all her things back again – trying to keep them in the same sort of places as she’d had them, and hoping I wasn’t messing up the arrangement of her figure collection too badly. She has SO much stuff so the room looked really cluttered again by the time I’d done it, but this is how she likes it – she likes every space, corner, nook, and cranny to be used, filled, or covered. Although I found it slightly difficult to see all my efforts covered up, I did know that Laura would like this – and would want to know that her things were all where she wants them. Being such a gifted artist, I tried to give her plenty of desktop space to draw and paint, and I’d bought containers to store all her materials and drawings so that she could easily access them and move them as needed.

Finally, the four hamsters could move back in (having lived in the front room for the week, and being discovered there by three curious cats! Luckily they seemed satisfied to just look at the cages with interest.)

On Saturday evening, I wrote Laura a note explaining what I’d done, hoping she liked it, and reassuring her that I had fully respected her privacy and not looked through drawers, containers etc. I also asked her to text me if she liked it as I was really, really nervous about it and wouldn’t be there when she saw it. Billy was also told to make sure he told me everything she said and every face she pulled (he didn’t!) – and to text me if she liked it as I was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY nervous about it!

On Sunday I went to see Mum and then to my football match (I had someone’s ticket so couldn’t stay at home despite the game being switched to the Sunday) I got more and more worried all day and almost had myself believing Laura would hate it and hate me. Then her flight was delayed so the suspense went on for an extra hour or so. Finally, Billy sent a text to say he’s picked her up from the airport so I started calculating the time they’d get home, and when she might see her room. What if she never spoke to me again for invading her space?

A text arrived shortly after I started driving home and was followed by another shortly afterwards. Oh God! I had to wait another hour, until I reached the first services, to find out what they said!

1) From Billy: Relax, she likes x
2) From Laura: I love the room =)

PHEW!!!!!!!! Oh what a relief!

When I finally got home at 9pm, Laura had waited to say that she was really pleased with it, that she’d been thinking whilst she was away that she wanted to do something with it, that the colours were perfect and she was amazed I had remembered (no sweat – never a doubt! 😉 ) and that she wasn’t worried about me invading her privacy.

I still wish I could have seen her reaction, but I could tell she HAD been surprised and pleased and it made all the hard work worthwhile. Teenagers might like to live their own lives, be cool and not be mollicoddled – but it’s still nice to show them they are loved and aprpeciated sometimes, isn’t it? 🙂

Happy Laura, and HAPPY MUMMY! 🙂

Saturday Snippets

• Felt very ropey again, all day, but think that the usual winter mix of herbs I take to boost my immune system is keeping something larger at bay, so I can live with it. I definitely have a bit of a temperature, which I enjoy when it makes me actually feel warm, but mostly I am feeling cold.
• Billy and I went to CostCo as we were running out of just about everything we normally buy there, but most importantly, we needed printer ink so Laura could print her art work for school. It was also membership renewal time but we saved the cost of that (£23.50) in this one trip. For £80 we bought: 2 black HP printer cartridges; a 5L wine box; a 1.5Kg tin of ground coffee; 2 x 4L Robinson’s Orange squash; 168 tablets Bold 2-in-1 tablets (enough for 83 wash loads); 24 part baked petit pains; and a filing carry-case thing for Billy. Of course, the main attraction is that by buying in bulk, I don’t need to buy these items in the weekly shopping and they last for ages.
• This week I bought Laura’s hamsters a hazelnut each, the idea being that it will keep them amused, given them something to gnaw, and if they manage to get in, they get a treat worth having. Trea and Schnee both gave up quite quickly, but I think the race is on between Rikki and Nel to see who can get in first. Nel is quite clever and has been trying various things including taking the nut up to the highest platform of her cage, and dropping it to try and crack it. Rikki just keeps gnawing at it (noisily.)
• The cats have been mainly sleeping on the sofa all day since the weather changed – though Tinker does like to go out when it’s pouring. He came in about lunchtime and was absolutely soaked through. (Think scene in “The Fantastic Voyage” where the cat had fallen in the river!) He looked so pathetic and eagerly came to me to dry him off with an old towel. Oh boy, did he purr!? Daft cat!
• Winter has definitely arrived and I’ve been freezing the last couple of days (though this could well be worse because I am poorly) so that’s it – time for warming soups again. Whilst I was making the chilli for Saturday’s dinner, I also made a pan of soup ready for next week’s lunches.
• Stephen and I watched “Transformers” together which I quite enjoyed. I’d wanted to see it for a while so am glad I now have. I liked the light humour that ran throughout which made it more entertaining than if it had taken itself too seriously.
• I was very pleased to get into bed at the end of the day (and a marathon ironing session) – and slept well for once. Just as well as I’m off to see my boys on Sunday 😉 We’re at home to Liverpool, and whilst I live in hope, I can’t see us beating them and would happily take a point if offered right now. Come on City!

Round Up.

Well, as you will have gathered by my silence, and my last post, it’s been a stupidly busy week. I spent the entire time doing my best and feeling guilty that I wasn’t elsewhere. The inevitable result of having to cover at the hospital whilst Lee was off sick, was that I was behind there, in my own clinic, and at home too. Mrs Gem was sick and unable to come to clean the house, and I didn’t have time to do it myself. The poor lady returned this week to a tip – probably almost enough to make her ill again!

Laura returned to school, and is less than enthusiastic about it, which is a shame as she had really started to pick up in the holidays. She has less than a year to go, so I’m hoping she can grit her teeth and get through it.

Billy seems to have spent the week procrastinating – and therefore getting nowhere fast! However, he has decided that for this week and next week, he’s spoiling me and so for the last 4 evenings, he’s either cooked or bought the dinner. 🙂

Raji went down to stay with his mum whilst she had her first chemotherapy treatment and returned on Sunday. He says she is coping fairly well at the moment, so let’s hope that continues.

Stephen mainly worked last week, but has none this week, so he will be roped in to helping me as needed – else he won’t eat! He’s now talking animatedly about moving out in a few months (assuming he first finds work) and sharing a flat with his friend. Already he’s negotiating what of ours he can take with him – but it’s good to see him so enthusiastic (and he’s only proposing to move 10 minutes away.)

The hamsters are all well, and thriving, and little Schnee now has his own cage and loves it. Watching him hop in and out of his wheel, it really is hard to believe that he has half a leg missing. Rikki seems to be losing fur again and his skin is very dry so we’ve been gently rubbing on some olive oil, which we are hoping is non toxic if he licks it, yet soothing and moisturising. We think he has some sort of allergy now, but to what, we don’t know.

The cats have been sleeping through the rain, and going out hunting when it stops for a few minutes. We’ve had a well munched rabbit carcass deposited in the garden, amongst other things. Garfie was missing for a couple of weeks, but is now back again and suitably pleased with himself.

Hopefully the coming week will be slightly more normal, as I have things to do at home. Mum is coming up for my birthday next week (the big 4-0 !) and I want to make sure the spare room is all ready and welcoming. She hasn’t been up to us for ages, due to lack of opportunity, and I’m really looking forward to it.

It’s a Boy!

Schnee is a boy – so we need to buy yet another cage!

I can’t believe some inspired manufacturer hasn’t designed a block of flats for hamsters! But if such a thing exists, it’s well hidden.

I expect we’ll get something like this, though as Billy claims Rikki is a “space cadet”, perhaps we should buy HIM this, and let Schnee have his old home 😉

The Latest from Hamster Farm…

I’m sure you’re dying to know about Nel and her baby.

Laura is not entirely sure yet, what gender the baby is, but she’s named it “Schnee” (pronounced “Shnay” being the German for snow.) However, she’s discovered that it has three paws and a stump – which only served to make her more determined to keep it. The missing part is just from the “knee” down on the back left leg, and doesn’t appear to bother the baby at all – it runs around merrily and you wouldn’t even know. Apprently it is common in hybrids (of Winter White and Campbell’s Dwarf hamsters)

Schnee is sooooooooooo cute, being so tiny, (about 2″ now) yet perky, and we are besotted 🙂

Here are mum and pup together – Nel pops out of the tube and makes Schnee jump, at the end:

But you see more of Schnee in this one:


Dr Max – Having been granted his licence to practice in Hexham, Max is starting at my clinic on September 9th, so we have had the local newspaper come to the clinic to take his photo and interview him (with me chipping in here and there 😉 ) I will need to do a lot of work soon, re-writing the web site and printing up new leaflets. It ended up being a rather hectic day on Wednesday but hopefully it’s all going to be well worth it.

Hamsters – Laura waited until the babies were 13 days and then very carefully cleaned out the cage. (She couldn’t touch the babies at all, and had to scoop up the nest with babies into a pot and then gently put them back before Mummy, into the clean cage.) She found that there is actually only one baby remaining, so Nel must have eaten the others earlier on. However, this baby looks to be very healthy and is so cute that Laura’s decided to keep it! If it is a girl it can continue to live with Nel, but if it’s a boy he will need a cage of his own – apparently Trea would eat him if they were put together now. She had better be as good at sexing hamsters as she claims! 😉

Left holding the babies!

On Sunday 17th August, I drove Laura and her friend to Chester and then after one of Mum’s lovely Sunday roasts, I came back home, leaving the girls to stay there for a week. The pair of them are such delightful giggle-pots when together, that I wondered if Mum knew what she was in for 🙂

Mum had to work Monday and Tuesday but had taken the rest of the week off so that they could go to the zoo, and do a few other holiday-type things together, and the girls were also planning to meet up with Laura’s friend in Chester.

Today (Sunday 24th) I am driving down to my match, which is a 4pm KO, and then on to Mum’s to stop for the night before bringing the girls back again on bank holiday Monday.

Laura being away has meant more than just some driving for me – guess who’s been left holding the babies! Looking after little Rikki is fun – he’s such a dear little thing that I just wish I had more time to spend with him. Billy and I have had him running around the living room in his little ball whilst we’ve been watching TV, or I’ve blocked off stairs and let him run around the hall way whilst I’m upstairs. He has such fun and he’s so clever, he comes back when called. I give him a little cuddle before feeding him a fresh treat and putting him back in his cage for the night. Trea has hardly stirred, and I feel a bit guilty that he has had little attention – I think Laura will have to spend a lot of time really taming him and exercising him. She’s spent most of her holiday money on hamster things apparently, including an exercise ball for the dwarf hamsters (Rikki’s being too big.)

Little Mummy Nel, has been hard work! I was given instructions by Laura before she left – the nest must not be disturbed at all, and Nel must have plenty of food and water available at all times, else she might kill her babies to prevent them dying a slow death of starvation and thirst. Also, any wet sawdust must be removed and replaced with dry as damp is very harmful to hamsters. After the pups were a week old, I was to put bits of cucumber in the cage in case they are starting to wander around and are thirsty. Sounds simple enough. Except that Nel has her nest inside the cage’s partitioned off “house” which is behind the water bottle. In her eagerness to protect the pups, she keeps piling sawdust near the nest, which buries the spout of the water bottle:

Not a great pic, but you can see what I mean:

The pressure of the sawdust on the spout, pushes the little ball up and allows water to trickle out – emptying the bottle and making the sawdust very wet. I’ve been replacing water and sawdust 3-4 times a day! And as soon as I do it, Nel puts it back as it was again! She obviously isn’t thirsty though as she doesn’t even stop to have a drink before piling up the sawdust. I can’t wait for Laura to come and relieve me of this chore. (Billy will have to do it Sunday night – Ssh, I haven’t told him yet! 😉 )

As for the pups – I heard them squeaking on Sunday night when I returned from Chester, and then didn’t hear them for a couple of days and feared the worst. But I wasn’t quite sure, since Nel was still behaving the same. I thought I’d best prepare Laura so I sent her a text saying I’d heard nothing, and she replied that they don’t always squeak so all might be OK. I was ecstatic on Wednesday morning when I heard them again. They’ve been quiet again since then, but Nel is still acting the same, and I’m a bit more relaxed about it now. I haven’t seen anything of the babies yet, and they’re not yet venturing out of the nest, but as they are now 10 days old, I think we might soon see some activity.

EDIT: Just sorted the cage again, and a baby tumbled out after Nel – an inch long perfect replica of Mummy 🙂 It’s SOOO cute, I just melted. What a clever little Mummy. She picked it up and took it back inside again so we’ll have to wait until she’s ready to let them out before seeing any more I think.

Are you SURE you don’t want a hamster? They’re SOOOOOOOOOOOo cute, and if you only had ONE, it’d be no trouble at all …………..

Four Babies.

On Thursday afternoon Laura noticed some blood on the bedding in Nel’s cage and that she was breathing heavily, so the pair of us spent a fair amount of time crouched on the floor next to the cage. We couldn’t see anything bar the movement of bedding where it poked out of the nest, but after a while we heard little squeaks which told us Nel had a live pup.

We left her to it after that, and on Friday morning, when Laura cautiously changed the water in the bottle, she managed to see that there were four, tiny, bald, blind pups. We’ve heard squeaking now and then so we can only assume all is well, but the nest can’t be disturbed for at least four days which means we can’t actually check. We can’t wait to see the little babies when they start growing fur, opening their eyes and moving about.

What is it about baby animals that’s so endearing? (Rhetorical question, I did see a documentary on this subject many years ago, so I know why we are so attracted to them!)

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