Thursday, 31 March 2011


What's she talking about? A wobble bobble? Sounds like she's got some sort of purple pumpkin to wobble about on, what a laugh, I can wobble without any help from no pumpkin, oo, when I was little we used to play bouncing on the bed. My Urchin, he were a great one for bouncing on the bed. Never did it when Needle were around, though. It don't work so well with edge'ogs.

Mind you, I wouldn't mind a go on that bobble thing meself. Sounds good fun to me. And if I fell off, I'm well padded, so no harm done.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

wobble bobble

Since I've been going to physio, I've had to do exercises balancing on one of those huge inflatable rubber balls. (Like a spacehopper without handles.) They're very good, and the physio has been suggesting that I should get one of my own. Didn't get round to it, of course, but yesterday I came home determined to order one. Immediately. This afternoon.

What a good thing I still didn't get round to it. It turns out that Lady Sunshine had one that she no longer uses, so she sent it round to me via Lovely Older Son. And it's purple. A purple wobble bobble. What would Apple think?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


On the way to the physio today, I saw a very inquisitive spaniel (what other kind is there?) having a little tug at its lead because its owner had stopped at a cashpoint, and what use is that? Spanni had already sniffed that bit of pavement, nothing to report, lets move on, because I am a spaniel, I have things to find and people to play with, I'm a spaniel, that's what I do, the world loves me! A sighting of a spaniel always makes my day. The only thing more fun than a spaniel is a spaniel puppy.

Becky, if you read this, your kittens are a bit wonderful too.

Came home to find that Stephen, the godsend gardener, has begun building a low wall at the bottom of the steps. This presumably is so we can go down the garden without landing in the compost heap. However, should you ever look over a river and see a compost heap with a pair of legs sticking out, it means Stephen didn't build it high enough. Please rescue me.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Happy Monday

A sunny Monday, which is always a good start. Garden thriving, but I have to keep watering everything because it's been dry for so long. The drought is not such good news for the ducks, which have left in disgust and moved downriver. Along this stretch the riverbank is stony and they can't upend themselves without being concussed on a rock. An elegant swim turns into an obstacle course.

Lovely Younger Son has just come back from a weekend with The Lassie. Lovely Older Son is unwell but went into work today in spite of disapproval from Lady Sunshine and me. Daughter is gearing up for a big flute event this weekend. And Tony is out doing an internment of ashes for a truly grand old man who lived well and fully, and died with nothing to regret.

The Golden Child, very small god-daughter, now has come through chickenpox, and learned to walk. Sixteen months old, and she has a CV! Unfortunately she can no longer be distracted from a biscuit by a game of Incy Wincy Spider.

And me? Sorting the heaps of stuff in the study, then I'd better go down to the river. There may be an unconscious duck in need of help.

Friday, 25 March 2011

good stuff

I think Tony and I have achieved a lot lately. Well, little things, but they make me feel big.

About 7.30 on Wednesday night we were just about to get into the car when we saw something roundish in the middle of the road. On closer inspection it was exactly what we thought it must be - a hedgehog, waking up because of the sudden warm weather and a bit clueless about where it was and what it was supposed to do. We were just in time to stop the traffic. Tony stood there and guided the cars round it while I found something to pick it up with (it was a very prickly one) and put it out of harm's way. I left some cat food out that night, but it was left untouched. Stay safe, little hedgehog.

Then I liberated two very old stoneware drainpipes. Drainpipes, yes, but so big and solid that they looked like chimney pots. They were outside a house that's being renovated, so I made some enquiries and was told I'd be welcome to take them away. Why do I want drainpipes? To grow things in, of course. They can stand on opposite sides of the door, or the garden, like sentinels, but with aubretia cascading out of them. Or, then again, I have a friend who keeps ferrets...

Then, when I was at after-school club, Tony did a tip trip. I can now go down into the cellar without wondering what I'm going to fall over, and finally...

It was such a beautiful afternoon that we took all the children out for a story walk. As soon as we found a big clear stretch of grass something went ping in their brains, and it was like unleashing a lot of puppies. They ran, they chased, they tumbled - oh, how they must have needed that! I think it was the most rewarding moment of my week.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


I finally saw off Thundering Grim, who managed to wreck my editing skills the other day. The river is quite a delicate creature today, trickling along because it hasn't rained for ages and it's like midsummer. Amazing. I have to keep throwing the washing up water over the newly planted garden.

I've recently been looking at some Norwegian folk tales (and if God made anything more beautiful than the fjords, he kept it to himself). It reminded me of my old Norwegian phrase book, which had a health section including everything from a slight cough to cardiac arrest. And, in the section for emergencies, it had useful phrases like 'I am drowning', and 'Hjelp!' (I think that was the spelling). I thought shouting and waving your arms about were the same in any language. I seem to remember'I am choking' was in there as well.

When I was in Norway many years ago, I immediately learned how to say 'ice cream' and 'grandfather'. The family we stayed with had an 18 month old child, and those were his favourite words. My absolutely basic phrases for going overseas are

Thank you
Good morning
Good evening
Good night
How much?
I don't know
I don't speak................ I'm English
Where's the loo?

Monday, 21 March 2011

Thundering Grim

Hee hee! My name is Thundering Grim and I am a migraine, a mean migraine, a miserable migraine, the mother of a migraine. I took over her head, and now I'll have her blog. I thudded her, I dizzied her, dizzy, I took away her appetite...

No you won't. I've got you out of my head now, and I even did some work today. And I just ate toast. Yes, with Marmite on it. Now get thee gone. Off my blog before I send a swan to Mistmantle for help.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

bright day

Yesterday was a bright, happy day. The sun shone, which puts everyone in a good mood. There was just time for a quick coffee with Lady Sunshine and a friend while grocery shopping in the morning, followed by an afternoon of piracy and fund-raising with the after-schoolers.

At one point, when I had a mug in my hand, a little boy said to me 'pirates don't drink coffee!' 'How do you know it's coffee?' I asked him, and he didn't have an answer to that.

It wasn't coffee, 'cos there's nothing a pirate likes so much as a nice cup of fair trade tea. It's very tiring, doing all that swashbuckling, shouting orders, and belaying the thingy. I nearly forgot my favourite nautical joke, and remembered it just in time to yell to the mothers - 'avast behind!'

Comic Relief did their big fund-raising tv thing last night and raised a record breaking 74 million, which is fantastic. There will still be money coming in for some time to come, and it all goes straight to where it's needed. Everyone can make a difference.

I missed the beginning of the telly-thon because Lovely Older Son and Lady Sunshine phoned to say they have found a house to rent. I've seen a picture on the net, and I love it. And in a village, too.

Sunny again. Time to plant some things in the garden and give it a watering. And to be thankful.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


Well, shiver me handbag, ruffle me feathers, run up me curtains, what a morning. People are fantastically generous and we raised over ninety pounds this morning for RND, just a our toddler group. We told a piratical version of Jonah and the Whale. Children arrived as fairies, Noddy, cowboys, nurses, dinosaurs and a bumble bee.

The pirate queen has to do it all again with a slightly older age group tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, it's exhausting being a pirate. Her Piratical Majesty needs a quiet half hour and a cup of tea.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Yesterday, after I'd been to see the physio, I popped into a charity shop and saw, in the cuddly toys box, a parrot. So that's it, I thought. I'll be a pirate.

I called at the toyshop and asked if they sold hats for pirates. They did, and what's more it comes complete with eye patch and - er - a parrot. A pirate with a parrot is one thing, but a pirate with a parrot and a parrot is new to me, in fact its a parody of piracy. However, it's a small parrot on the hat and a big colourful parrot on my shoulder, so they don't know about each other. The parrot on my shoulder is safety-pinned to my shirt and keeps falling over. Need to do some work on that. I tried the eye patch, but it limits my vision and tickled, so I think I'll discard it.

Lovely younger son lent me a sword. Not one of the real ones. So off I go to toddlers tomorrow. Hat, parrots, baggy shirt, belt and sword, stripy trousers and boots, and it's yo ho ho and a bottle of organic apple juice.

For those who don't know what this is about, put Red Nose Day or Comic Relief into a search engine. It was started some years ago by a lot of comedians who wanted to raise money for famine relief, and is now a big national thing, led by lots of famous people giving their time and talents free, but involving anyone who's willing to 'do something funny for money', and all those who sponsor, give, whatever. Health projects, education, clean water, feeding the hungry - all good stuff.

Monday, 14 March 2011

as I was saying

As I was saying last time, sad things happen. You get older and lose touch with friends or family. Years later, you find yourself saying 'I wonder what happened to her? We used to get along so well'.

And sometimes death comes all of a sudden, and the people who are left behind aren't ready for it. That's a hard thing to handle. It's even harder if you think 'I wish I'd told him this', or 'we were always going to have a day out together' or 'I should have visited him more'. And the worst thing of all is if you've had some falling out and never made it up.

Send a card, send an e-mail, pick up the phone. Go and say 'hi, how are you?' Do something daft together. Have fun. If they don't want to know, at least you've tried.

On a lighter note, I still don't know what to dress up as for Red Nose Day. Rose suggested a butterfly, which sounds lovely, but might be too difficult. Oldest god-daughter think a fairy godmother would be good, but it might not be practical to wear while supervising a room full of very small people. A pirate is a possibility (but is it a good role model?) Or maybe I'll wear white and stick red bobbles all over it.

Any more thoughts?

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Still don't know

I still don't know what to wear for our dressing up day. It has to be something obvious. Robin Hood? A cat might be good.

The river is chattering away today, and little irises are coming up in the garden. There are buds everywhere. It's waking up.

Before I go on, I have to confess. I was only going to have a coffee before shopping in Marks's today, but in a terrible moment of weakness I had carrot cake with it. And in Lent, too. I really, honestly, won't do it again.

Next time I'll try the almond croissant.

I've just been clearing a lot of space on the sitting room floor to make room for about ten yards of tulle (net sort of stuff), which Lady Sunshine and I are are cutting out to make little bags for wedding favours. At least, I've been cutting out, she's been addressing invites and eating Marmite crisps. She loves Marmite and Lovely Older Son hates it, so I'm most impressed that they've stayed together. Love conquers all, even Marmite. (American readers - it's yeast extract, I think it's similar to Vegemite. Love it or hate it.)

One more thing. I you've fallen out with anyone, make it up. Don't put it off. If you've lost touch with somebody, an old friend or relation, send them a card, or e-mail them. Don't leave things unsaid. More of this next time.

Friday, 11 March 2011


The harsh high wind storming through the valley yesterday nearly knocked me over. But it's nothing compared to the danger of tsunami that we're hearing about now. Those of you who pray, please pray for those people in Japan and the Pacific.

But good things are happening, and those are real and important, too. For those of you in the US who don't know about Comic Relief (Red Nose Day) I will be doing toddlers and after school club in fancy dress next week to raise money for vital work in Africa and in the UK. Hopefully the children will be dressing up, too, or I'll look even sillier than usual. And for when I'm not in costume I have my RND T-shirt with a picture of Shakespeare wearing a red nose.

At present I have no idea what to dress up in, and I don't want to hire a costume so it'll have to be made out of whatever bits and pieces I have around the house. And I have to be able to wear it while managing a lot of small children.

I still have the basics of a cow suit - head, hooves and tail. Might wear that.

Any ideas? Please? I really need them.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Bloomin' 'eck, she's at it again, and it aint properly spring yet. 'Er and Stephen, that's the gardener, off they went to that gardening place yesterday and come back with a 'ole lot of stuff for planting. Stephen got stuck in (Stephen, mark you, not 'er ladyship) and started planting up a flower border. And they've put some nice stuff in me rockery, that'll look very pretty if the wind and rain don't flatten it and the slugs don't gobble down the lot.

He's put a little yellow primrose just where I can see it, which is thoughtful of 'im. Makes a change from looking at the compost heap.

Thank you, Much. Very Much. One of the things we want to put in is pink sea thrift. I never thought of growing it in a garden, but Stephen suggested it and immediately I remembered walking on the springy turf of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) when I was a little girl, and seeing sea thrift everywhere. And, of course, it has precious Mistmantle connections.


Monday, 7 March 2011

this and that

Deep yellow crocuses coming out in the garden and little blue grape hyacinths. It's been dry for a while, so the river is a long way down.

Busy week last week, wedding shopping with Lady Sunshine and The Lassie, physio, theatre with best friend, and lots of this and that.

In the middle of all this thissing and thatting, I passed the tiny bookshop in the wee town near us, and there in the window was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Now, there is a book I have longed to re-read. It's a children's book, and I think I was ten when I first read it, but is a brilliant read at any age. Every time you read it, it gets better.

AND while I was in there I asked if James Thurber's wonderful 'The Thirteen Clocks and the Wonderful O' is still in print. Whoopee, it is, and it's now on order. (Honestly, I don't usually buy books at this rate.) I forget how old I was when I first read it but I know it nearly asphyxiated me because I laughed so much I couldn't breathe.

Any other favourites? Anyone?

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Aspen's garden

This is just a quick update as I'm aware we've been blogless for a few days. All sorts of stuff happening - a trip to the theatre in Sheffield to see Racing Demon was the best bit.

Somebody was asking about the laburnum tree in Lady Aspen's garden. It isn't in the Threadings Code. It was the only laburnum tree on the island, and Lady Aspen fenced her garden around it so that no sweet little animals would be in danger from the pods. It's one of the most toxic plants there is, and Crispin had it cut down and burned.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Mistmantle Garden

A spring-like day and a quiet river. The sparrows in the holly hedge don't notice the prickles.

The garden is now ready for planting and we are already to raid a garden centre, so I asked some Mistmantle animals what they thought we should put in. I didn't get far with Fingal who only said 'can you eat it?', but here are some of the others.

APPLE - You want lots of strong mint for cordials, bit of horseradish, plenty onions, you want good strong flavours. And flowers for yer 'at. Nice big daisies are good on a 'at. And big red poppies that you can see a mile off. And 'olly'ocks. I love 'olly'ocks, me.

CRISPIN - Definitely lavender, it's so good for health, and the smell and colour are wonderful. Plenty of trees for a squirrel to climb. Something with berries for birds.

NEEDLE - What about something with berries for hedgehogs? You could plant a row of raspberry canes along that fence. Are you growing strawberries again? And do take care how to blend your colours.

HOPE - You need things that smell nice. Lavender is good, and you can put it in your bath too. Honeysuckle is lovely. And roses, and that one that butterflies like.

GLEANER - My Lady had a lovely secret garden. She grew such pretty things, Nightshade, Lily of the Valley, Lords and Ladies, and there was such a beautiful yellow laburnum tree. That heartless Crispin had it all dug up. I don't know what those flowers are that the foreign queen brings in but they give me hayfever.