Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Thwarting the thief of time – by blogging...

There is a certain irony in the fact that after perusing a fascinating article about procrastination on the BBC Viewpoint page last night (and recognising too many time-wasting traits for comfort) I suddenly felt spurred to pen a long overdue blogpost.  There is undoubtedly further irony in the fact that, by turning my attentions to writing this blog, I am neatly dodging a host of other – possibly definitely more urgent – tasks...
After the plethora of ‘pre-fifty’ pontifications published in my last blogpost, you’d imagine that in the three weeks since I penned it, I’d have been exuding positivity and rigorously pursuing a ‘sensible’ diet for a middle-aged woman who is striving to achieve mens sana in corpore sano by August 7th, 2013.
Yes, after all my heady promises about becoming a ‘half-full bottle of Irn Bru’ person and getting into shape to embrace my half-century, you’d imagine that by now I’d be oozing wellbeing and starting each day with a lowfat-milk-and-branflake-fuelled bellow of “Say ‘no’ to negativity! “ You could imagine all that – but you’d be wrong...
In my defence, there were a couple of setbacks on the positivity front. Firstly, my beloved little Shetland pony Veness (named after a place on Orkney) – whom we’d been treating daily for laminitis for the past 2 months – suddenly fell seriously ill with internal haemorrhaging during the weekend that we were en famille (almost) at the Olympics.
Luckily, Veness was being cared for by the eminently practical P (she who single-handedly cooked dinner for 80 at DD1’s 21st back in June). P called the vet immediately, and the only explanation he could offer was that being desperate to eat any greenery (because we had to keep her off grass in deference to her laminitis), she had possibly eaten a poisonous leaf from a neighbouring tree, perhaps wafted into her small enclosure by the wind. As Veness was on a diet of dry feed, she would no doubt have avidly gobbled up anything remotely green, even things Mother Nature would normally have told her not to.
So it was that on Friday, 10th August, I had the rather surreal experience of standing in the middle of the wonderfully upbeat and inspiring Olympic Park in Stratford, fresh from watching the GB women’s hockey team winning a bronze medal, and giving our vet permission via mobile phone to put our lovely little Shetland pony down.  It felt utterly wrong not to have the chance to say goodbye to her and, even now, I still look out our kitchen window every day while washing the dishes and expect to see her peeking cheekily back at me from the field shelter. P thoughtfully cut off a small piece of Veness’s forelock for me to remember her by, and I’ve squirrelled it away safely.
Columbine, aka Combine, the Highland pony is looking rather ‘sheepish’ with her new field companions (Spot and Cocoa the Shetland tups)
A further (much less serious, but still frustrating) disappointment came in the form of yet another injury to Son+Heir. After at least 30 seconds of contemplation, he had opted to forego our long-planned family sortie south to the Olympics in favour of an unexpected invite to join Scotland U21 men’s hockey squad in Germany, for their final weekend of training games before the European Championships in Holland (still happening at time of writing).
Sadly in the second training game against a top German club side, Son+Heir was on the receiving end of a hefty tackle from a former German national senior team player, resulting in a re-dislocation of that unlucky left shoulder. Not only did this unfortunate incident rule him out of contention for the European U21 Championships team, it also means that nearly three weeks later, he’s still not able to wield his hockey stick in battle.  Still, at least the shoulder is steadily improving, thanks to the interventions of our friendly local physio.
Meanwhile, out in the Sparrowholding garden,  green things that should be growing and thriving are - quite simply – not! [That bottle of Irn Bru is looking less full by the minute, n’est-ce pas?!]  The leaves on the lovely Victoria, our valiant plum tree, have evidently been hosting that lethal larva The Very Hungry Caterpillar – plus all his chomping caterpillar friends in Scotland by the looks of it.  Not one of the baby plums that I spotted earlier in the season has survived, and the same goes for the nectarines in the polytunnel. Only one of the 20 apples on the apple tree has resisted the relentless ‘summer’ rain splurges, and now – to top it all – the potatoes have succumbed, perhaps inevitably given the season, to blight. However, on the POSITIVE side (pour in a generous measure of Irn Bru), the blackcurrants and Tayberries were plentiful, and the spinach in the polytunnel is proving superprolific this year.  Better still, the peas have formed a promising crop of pods, so it’s not all doom and gloom J
Holy Moses – a holey plum tree! 
Bothersome blight – our once healthy potato plants don’t look so good now...
All in all, HunterGatherer and I have one very good reason to be hugely grateful. For despite the various minor horticultural horrors that we may be facing, at least we’re not full-time tenant farmers trying to scrape a living out of this precarious, weather-governed, growing game!  I positively shudder to think how my brother and father (Farmerbruv and Farmpa) must be feeling at the moment.  Indeed, I suspect their bottle of Irn Bru is looking pretty darned empty...

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