Mud On the Road

we're about to go shopping in Salisbury...

Honey, I Shrunk The Universe

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

Adventures in Dolls' House Wonderland
Just popped upstairs to fetch my sheet music';

     From the car park the hotel looked fairly average. We were in Lyndhurst, the New Forest,  on an averagely wet and unpromising Sunday. The sort of Sunday Morrissey had in mind when he wrote the song.*

     Inside  it didn't get any more or less average: a set of blank function rooms accessed via a short run of stairs leading down from a dingy lobby. This was not the stuff of dreams,  not the sort of space in which fancy might take flight nor the imagination be set free to soar.

     The lobby smelled greasy, like the London Underground on a wet weekend in Winter –unwashed anorak and bacon fat.

Ruffling Feathers

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Today for the first time in a very long time I heard Nigella hoot loudly.

     Nigella is our little Scots Dumpy. She is two years old and ample of bosom with sleek blue-black plumage and sinewy snake-skin legs.

     All Summer she informs us how things are going in the garden with our flock of four bantams of which she is the undisputed boss. She hoots louder and that bit more triumphantly than the others whenever she lays an egg.
      I once counted 92 Nigella-hoots in a row at 5 am.

     That was before we tricked the motorised light sensor, which is wired to the pop-hole door on the hen house...into giving them and us, a lie-in.

     Should a predator hove into view Nigella  can sound so effective an alarm that she has us all, dogs, humans, the SAS, racing to the rescue.

     Occasionally, on the longest days of Summer, she comes over all frisky and surprises herself by getting airborne. Then doesn't she show off and preen: strutting about on top of our neighbour's wall/fence/shed - clucking and squawking to show us how very high, how very mighty she truly is.

     But come Autumn the chickens begin their annual moult. It's not a pretty sight. The frantic shedding of so many feathers exposes the tiny vulnerable creatures we share our lives with: in place of blood-red wattle  and combs – drab grey flaps; in place of fabulous pom-poms and plumage worthy of a 1930's Hollywood siren – bald patches of puckered skin,  bedraggled bodies barbed with spiky bits of feather shaft.

     Since October they've scuttled nervously and silently around the garden, maintaining close formation, scurrying for cover if a buzzard or kite wheels overhead.

     But the feathers have finally grown back and today Nigella issued a noisy and sustained proclamation. We have no idea what it meant – certainly not an egg  - they won't lay now until February. Perhaps it was the full moon or a mouse, or maybe she was just rallying the troops:

     'We made it through the storms and floods and gales of another ‘Fall’ girls. Claws crossed we're still here.'


Because the Woods Are Scary
Surrey Hills
But, I Am Not A Mote
I Love the M3
I Love the M3
Situation vacant
Fantasy Pub Landlady

Still Raining

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

   4 pm: I walked Cally down to the Stockbridge common marsh. See the map.

    It was cold and it was raining – a very shabby Sunday afternoon. We waded more than we walked, me in my wellies, Cally-the-dog in her outsized King Kong clodhoppers. She could swat a small bi-plane if you needed her to but she’s not exactly intrepid. I’d say Cally is more placid than your average garden shed. Any adventures she’s had have been accidental.

     She did not seem overly impressed by our little jaunt but, never one to complain, she lumbered dutifully along some five feet behind me.

     What with the endless rain and all round bogginess and the dark about to come down, we had the entire place to ourselves and, even in those soggy boggy conditions, the marsh is magical.

    There were geese on the river and the usual loud and busy coots. It was too dark to see clearly but sudden pools spreading on the water’s surface and sounds of darting and splashing made me think the fish must be jumping and snatching at insects.

    A pair of swans came into land with that distinctive wah-wah sound made by their beating wings. They skidded to a halt and evidently gave the geese a fright.

     We were soaked through by the time we reached home but it was worth it.



Walking the Dog

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     It was still raining steadily when George the big-wet-boxer-blanket and I set off for a three mile nail-trimming walk up Marsh Court Lane.

George will not allow anyone anywhere near his claws, let alone anyone brandishing nail clippers.

     Beyond the entrance to Marsh Court House we encountered not one but two flocks of sheep being relocated to fresh pastures. It was a quite a sight in the rain soaked blustery day.

     George thought so too.

     We had to abandon Plan A and headed onto the marsh instead where he splashed through puddles right up to his middle and I came unstuck in the mud.



A Web-shaped Hole In My Head

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     I spent  the day trying to wrap my brain around Tweet, Twitter feeds, RSS feeds and feed burners and succeeded finally in adding a DISQUS comment box to the bottom of the Stockbridge Dog page.

     Go on, leave a comment below, you know you really, really want to...
     Went to bed with severe brain ache caused by very large web-shaped hole in brain where other, possibly vital knowledge and information used to be stored but has now leaked out and dribbled away in sheer effort of uploading internet data leaving large empty space of glaring nothingness.



The gnarled and twisted tree looks like a sleeping beast, one eye closed

Twisted tree on the marsh

Eggs, by Floyd
The Good Workman 
Myrtle in the Man-shed
Dog Fox, Lady Boxer 
Rescuing the swarm
Day of the Bee,  Part 2

Brimful of Party Part 2

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     Wake up in real universe, with very happy memories of night before but less pleasurable sense of being  full-to-brimming-over with party.

Ate eggs and toast. All day.


Brimful of Party Part 1

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

Midnight: Am pleasurably, gratifyingly, full-to-brimming-over-with party and party happiness thanks to sister's 40th birthday celebrations.

1.00 am Have to say good-bye to beautiful revellers and lovely Mr Disco man as Shedley Mode says taxi is waiting at gate beyond perimeter of venue.

1.05 am Do not want to go but Shedley Mode says Must Stop Dancing and Leave Now Taxi Is Waiting.

1.07 am Have considered limited options available to me and decided to Stop Dancing and Leave Now.

1.10 am Cannot find taxi must be at wrong gate.

1.12 am –Ah. Have lost large security gate with armed guard as well as taxi.

1.15 am – Silly me, how careless. Must have walked too fast. Appear to have lost Shedley Mode and gate with armed guard and taxi.

1.20 am Hmm. Appear to have strayed into parallel universe in which am alone and going round and round on  loop in dark night within fenced-in area no more than 200 foot square.

1.26 am It's like Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner meets that scene in Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome where Harris gets lost in the Hampton Court maze. Almost identical in fact except unlike Harris I have no followers.

1.30 am Am saved! Have been found simultaneously by taxi /Shedley Mode/gate.

1.31 am Think about rebuking Shedley Mode for having mislaid me but err on side of caution.



Walking the Dog

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

A strange dog walk up at Stockbridge Down – thick fog and gunfire. It felt like we were under attack. Bangs to the left of us, bangs to the right. You know they're not shooting at you but at such close range and in the fog it feels like you're under attack.
     I thought about throwing myself to the ground now and then by way of a gesture  and shouting, ‘Incoming!’ But the ground looked awfully cold and damp and gestures without witnesses are surely futile and very likely the first sign of madness.
    Other walkers loomed out of the mist some fifteen, twenty feet away. They passed by without a word; faceless, bulky shapes, intent only on groping their way through the thick air.
     Myrtle watched them curiously as they lumbered by. They did not speak and she did not bark.
     Thank you God.
     This was the dog's first up-close and personal experience of fog, fog-people and sustained loud gunfire.
     She remained alert but calm. I was proud of her.
     So Hampshire has its first Police Commissioner. The independent candidate Simon Hayes won with 80, 669 votes – 55 per cent of the vote. 14.6 per cent of the electorate turned out.



Spoiling the Ballot

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

9 am: To vote or not to vote? Of course I should vote. I will vote.
11 am: I will go to the Town Hall  right now and vote. I think it's at the Town Hall. Hang on,  isn't Thursday market day at the Town Hall?
Midday: I'll have a coffee and check my emails and then I will go and vote.
2 pm: I'll go and vote because one should absolutely assert one's right to vote. It is as the politicians freqently tell us ‘the right thing to do.’
4 pm: I'll go and vote but I will spoil my ballot paper to express generalised ambiguity and Lack of Interest.
7 pm: Didn't vote