…….when life becomes a little trying I heartily recommend a long, overdue and boozy Uni. reunion…….

I am not for one minute suggesting that we go back to this as I have discovered one of the positive sides of technology………….

I hold my hands up and admit I am somewhat of a Luddite when it comes to technology. I am a very recent convert and view it with a great deal of scepticism and general suspicion. I tend to favour a more traditional approach to things and have happily let the world carry on at lightning speed whilst I potter along behind shouting at random items of equipment when they didn’t do what I want. I wouldn’t go as far as advocating carrier pigeons and smoke signals however I do think that old-fashioned letters and notes are rapidly being replaced by stark, instant and somewhat cold forms of communication such as text messages and emails.

However, about nine months ago I finally admitted that I was the last person in The Western World to have dodged Facebook and signed up. I spent a couple of giddy winter evenings looking at people’s profiles, being slightly bemused by some of their interests and likes who would have suspected an interest in mounted butterfly’s and had a cursory flick through pictures of their children, dogs and holiday snaps. I certainly did not use it as a tool to look at ex-boyfriends, that would have been very silly I can tell you. A few days later I was clearing out a cupboard containing the usual detritus of life and I stumbled upon some long-forgotten photographs that had been taken whilst at University. So began the ‘I wonder what they are doing now ?….’ questions. Aided by the modern miracle that is Facebook I was promptly up to date with all the births, marriages and deaths from the last 16 or so years.

Emails were rapidly exchanged by all of my old house-mates and the two other dear friends who more or less lived there. I tentatively suggested we should all meet up and reminisce about our child-free, freedom filled and booze-soaked days and the resounding response was an absolutely.  After much changing and revising of dates due to one person forgetting her father’s birthday we eventually found a date that suited all of us and the countdown began.

As the date drew closer I started to worry that we might all have changed so much in the intervening years that we would sit in silence and stare at our hands. Or long-forgotten arguments would be resurrected and finally settled by an impromptu dual and the ultimate death of one of the party. Or that we would all be so exhausted with our current lives involving children, working and commuting that we would be in bed for 9pm after the lure of a night’s sleep uninterrupted by small children, proved too great.

My fears were needless, sixteen years evaporated in seconds and suddenly we were all back to being students, teasing each other about events from many years ago and retelling long forgotten dramas. Old photos were passed round, the sun shone in the Park and the wine flowed for many hours. We beat a hasty retreat when our aging bones started to become stiff after sitting in the long grass for hours and sought the comfort of the local pub and so the conversation continued and even more wine was drunk. I can honestly say I have not laughed and relaxed as much in a long time and whilst I was somewhat delicate the following morning whilst the band played badly and out of tune in my head a walk down by the Thames soon cleared my mind. I have returned home relaxed and with a bounce in my step.

Our reunion at the weekend…..honestly!

Some people believe that to go back to and revisit your old life albeit briefly is a backwards step and an indication that all is not well in your current life. Others believe you keep in touch with those of importance whilst other people whom you knew go off in different directions and cease to be part of your life on a day-to-day basis. They are resigned to being part of your personal history but no longer an active part in your life. Personally I believe that sometimes good friends fall off the radar through no fault of anybodies but purely because life in your early Twenties, fresh from University is fast-paced and hectic. I think that it is quite healthy to go back sometimes to eat – a little, drink vast quantities and be very merry and remember life before we all grew up, got proper jobs and became adults.

This weekend for a brief period a gaggle of grown-ups got together from the various parts of this Island and once again were carefree students at University in London albeit with a few more wrinkles, hair that was coloured or thinning and with more life experiences which have given us happiness and sadness in various measures. I think this is the beginning of an annual reunion for us all, I certainly hope so and if various husbands/wives/partners and children promise not to interrupt our reminiscing then they may be allowed to join in next year too…….or maybe not.

Much love and thanks to The Gang, I had a blast. x


Sad news from The Barbour Residence, being a grown up is not much fun sometimes….

There once was a girl who meet a much older boy. He made her laugh until she thought her head would fall off, they shared similar values and goals, well apart from newspapers. He was and still is for some unknown reason loyal to The Times whilst girl is a loyal Telegraph reader. Girl thought that their differences over newspapers would not be a stumbling block and it certainly paled into insignificance when their musical choices were examined.

Anyway, not long a brief four months truth be told after meeting girl moved from her beloved London to be with boy, embracing country life with ease and only occasionally yearning for her old life. She started working in a large city so had the hum of people during the day and the peace of the country at other times. Boy had a dog which Nutter ex-girlfriend had abandoned which he inherited when aforementioned ex ran off with new chap decided the relationship was over. Girl meets Dog and fell in love; not in a let me put bows in your hair and talk to you in a high-pitched crazy voice way but in a it’s been a bugger of a day let’s go for a walk down the lane and I will moan and you will ignore me and chase birds/look at cows or stare at sheep way, but all will be right with the world afterwards.

After about six months Girl decides that Dog needs a companion and Boys birthday is nearing and given that boy has most things he needs remember he is old there have been quite a few birthdays already Girl decides Dog needs a chum. Boy is allowed to choose new dog and falls for a cute 8 week old puppy one of a litter abandoned by the roadside. We pass our home check with flying colours despite Boy Dog attaching himself to the very nice ladies thigh who came to interview us and despite the heavy aroma from Boy Dogs flatulent bottom. Boy Dog welcomes new puppy with some vigorous sniffing and rough and tumble playing in the garden which on the third day results in a broken leg for puppy. Many hours are spent driving up the motorway and signing credit card bills with lots of zeros on to see a lovely Vet who specialises in mending puppy bones and Puppy recovers, although she can never fully stretch out her back leg when she sleeps but it doesn’t bother her unduly.

Many walks are taken, hedges peeded on, beaches walked along and chickens sniffed by Puppy who grows up to be a fine dog with a sweet nature. Then fast forward eleven and a half years to today. After a blood transfusion last week was unsuccessful and numerous drugs and treatments have made little difference we have decided that we can see her suffer no longer. Her red blood cells are not being replaced and slowly breathing is becoming the hardest thing for her to do. As I type I see her lying on her bed trying with all her might to keep going. There is no chance of improvement and so we have an appointment at the Vets this evening.

When Boy Dog died it was 6 years ago when he was on the operating table for a twisted bowel so there was no decision to be made. This has been one of the hardest things we have had to do. When Husband went to work this morning he said with great big tears in his eyes sometimes being a grown up is not much fun and today I have to agree with him.

Girl Dog, a sweet little soul with a love for the seaside. Thank-you to a dear friend who took this picture on Tuesday.

Right that’s it, I have had enough of this weather, where has our Summer gone? I need sunshine………

The other day, as I pretended to tidy the house whilst actually waiting for a break in the rain in order to go and clean the chicken coops I found myself wishing I was somewhere, anywhere in fact with a warmer climate.

Where would I go if I could just step on a plane without thinking about the horror that is packing to go away? I have a very relaxed attitude to packing, I hate it with such a passion that I avoid it until the very, last possible moment. There was the time many years ago when myself and The Not-Yet-Husband were traveling out to spend Easter at my soon to be parents-in-law in Cape Town. I rose early on the morning of the flight and began to pack a few books, makeup and some clothes. I threw in some shoes, a few more pairs of linen trousers and closed the case. I then set about packing for The Not-Yet-Husband, we had only been living together for a few months and so were still in that giddy everything you do is so sweet, funny or thoughtful stage. A stage which has long since passed I can assure you. So I packed for him in about 10 minutes and kept ignoring all the pacing he was doing and all the irritating questions he insisted on asking. We grabbed our passports, tickets and luggage and drove to the airport.

After a long but very pleasant flight down to Cape Town, remember this was pre-children so the flight was actually enjoyable in that I read a book, watched a film, ate passable food at normal speed and slept when I felt the need. We arrived to a lovely warm summers day and were welcomed by the in-laws for a few hours before they flew off to Namibia and The Skeleton Coast. All was well until the now Husband went to shave, shower and generally freshen up.

The first hint that anything was amiss was surprisingly quick;

” Darling which suitcase did you put my wash bag in? ” he asked

” Which  wash bag do you mean? ” was my sleepy response.

” I only have one ” he replied slightly edgily.

” Bugger ” I whispered, having only a hazy recollection of said wash bag and I could imagine it quite clearly in our bathroom at home.

” Is that the one will all your medicines in? ” I inquired

” Er, yes that’s the one ” came the reply.

Just to compound the matter it very swiftly became apparent that none of his underwear had made the trip with us either. In my haste to pack he had plenty of shoes including a pair, I later found out that he had not worn for ten or so years. He was also very well supplied with shorts, trousers and a jumper, but alas not for pants or any life-preserving diabetic medicines. He was forced to hurriedly borrow a fresh pair from his father once he had showered so we could go to the local Mall and find some replacements after we had also been to see the local Doctor to get all the medications that I had left on the kitchen table………

Thankfully we had two other couples who are friends of ours flying out the following day to join us and so they were able to do an emergency dash to collect the medication from our house on their way to the airport. Unsurprisingly I have not be asked to do the packing for The Husband since.

So, if I could just go anywhere, with a bag packed by someone other than myself where would I go? Look below, it’s just about perfect in my opinion. Now I just need to sell all my worldly possessions, uproot The Gaggle from school, work out how to transport twenty-two chickens and two dogs across two continents, conquer my fear of massive spiders, work out how many Tanzanian Shillings there are to the UK Pound, sell a house oh and break the news to The Husband that he is moving. I think he will take the news surprisingly well…..

Oh how I wish this was our back garden…….obviously with some chickens then it would be perfect. This is a beach on Zanzibar which unfortunately is approximately 4694 miles from where we live and significantly warmer. I was last there over ten years ago and I <<stamps feet>> want to go back. Or maybe KwaZula-Natal or Mozambique although my Portuguese is non-existent and my Swahili very basic, but I could learn……..

Oh dear…..Husband is going through a carpentry phase again………….

Imagine if you will a conversation between myself and my Husband this morning that was vaguely as follows;

Me: “some of those pullets are going to be quite large when they get to Point of Lay so I might look at coops at the next Mart”

Husband: “Don’t panic dear, I have it all in hand, I am planning on building a really big coop so that there is only one coop for you to clean and all the girls can be in the same place together and snuggle up when it gets cold”

Me: (bemused expression) “Really? That sounds like a rather large undertaking darling……….”

The voice in my head is screaming “Noooo, you have clearly taken leave of your senses and lost any sense that you were born with. How have you forgotten the removal of the wardrobes from a house we were renovating which resulted in your knocking down a wall? Or that summer evening many years ago when very heavily pregnant with Flit I thought that it would be a bonding experience for us to attempt, together, to put up the coving in the dining room. It was only the miraculous powers of half a tub of filler and five coats of paint that disguised our ineptness. Oh how the neighbours must have laughed that evening. After many hours of lively discussion about the best way to mount said coving I opened our front door at the exact moment our lovely neighbours, who in all the five years we lived beside them never so much as whispered loudly at each other; arrived home from a pleasant evening out to be greeted by the sight of me throwing your car keys into the flower bed and peppering the night air with some agricultural language.

Or who could forget Curtain Pole Gate?” Upon finding out that our usual ‘man who can do all the things that Husband can’t’ was busy and we had a clutch of viewers lined up for the following day, Husband attempted to hang a curtain pole in our newly constructed and freshly decorated bedroom. After over an hour had passed with an amazing amount of drilling, I could contain myself no longer and so armed with a reviving cup of tea I went upstairs to check on his progress. The bed was festooned with a spirit level, a drill and a tool box and there were screws all over the floor. Husbands face said all was not going well. Then I looked at the curtain pole which was listing from side to side at such an angle it appeared we were actually in the middle of a force nine gale. If I had affixed the curtains to the pole they would have fallen off and formed a large puddle on the floor. In between howls of laughter from me I am ashamed to say, I managed to plead with our ‘usual man who can’ and happily he arrived the following morning just after 7am to perform life saving surgery on the curtain pole. None of the viewers that afternoon were any the wiser as to the previous days traumas. He may be many things but being handy around the house is most certainly not one of them.

So when Husband went out to get a copy of The Telegraph this morning I spoke to The Gaggle and informed them of their Father’s intentions to build a coop, Flit the oldest replied “I really don’t think it is a very wise plan”. Bean, started to shake her head and muttered “Oh dear no?” whilst Rhino carried on eating a Brioche with far too much jam in it, in a way only the young and carefree can manage during worrying times.

So how do I stop my husband from attempting this act of lunacy? I fear that if he starts building a coop it will take many months and probably cost more than if we commissioned Viscount Linley himself to make it. I am also acutely aware that very soon our garden would resemble a Saw Mill. So I have decide that the only possible courses of action open to me are to either hide his saw and tool box or to consider asking our electricity provider to cut us off……candles at bedtime and no television for a few months seems like a small price to pay to avoid the inevitable coop building project I think.

This is what Husband thinks he would produce…….after 6 months labour and a budget of approximately £2,347.83p….I have my doubts.