Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Just to wish everyone a very merry Christmas:-)

Monday, 20 December 2010

My Hair Turned White!

It was minus 10 when I took Bar-Os to the paddock this morning. By the time I'd walked back home, my hair had frozen and the frosty, foggy atmosphere had turned it white. Brrrrrrrrrr.

There's a field not too far away that has a selection of horses and ponies on it. Yesterday there were several concerned looking RSPCA officers at the field. I have noticed that the horses are being fed; there's hay on the ground, but they aren't rugged up and there's no shelter for them.

I thought it a very ill considered statement a couple of weeks ago, when an RSPCA spokesperson said (on the news) that the Charity were tired of people calling them up to report horses in fields without rugs. The spokesperson said that this wasn't a problem because horses are capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures. Well I beg to differ. Sure, they will withstand a frosty night of minus 1 or 2 without too much hardship, but the current weather is too harsh for many horses, particularly the older ones or the finer thoroughbred types. I suppose the RSPCA have shot themselves in the foot here because they can hardly prosecute people for following the Charity's own advice.

Bar-Os is very grumpy at the moment. He doesn't like the cold weather and he particularly doesn't like my woolly ski hat. As I approach the stable, he flattens his ears back and once I'm inside, battle commences. He's determined to grab the hat off my head and doesn't mind if he grasps a mouthful of hair at the same time. Barman stands looking through the kitchen window, laughing at the sight of it all. If I put both hands to my head, he grabs the zip on my jacket and yanks that down. If I take my hat off, calmness prevails, but it's bloody freezing. Oh, and he also doesn't like having the belly straps done up on his rug (I assume because they feel cold against his skin?). As I bend down to pull the straps through, he makes a grab for my bum, or even worse, the back of my knee. I'll be a battered and bruised wreck by the time the weather improves.

Still, I'm not complaining. At the end of July, I was told that he had 3 months to live. Here we are, 5 months later and he is such a lot better. His previously limp tail is regaining movement, he goes to the loo quite nicely too. It's just his bladder that is a little weak. I have to smear his 'bits' with petroleum jelly each day, as the drops of urine freeze to his skin and make him sore. It is slightly troubling that Bar-Os loves the warm flannel and subsequent smearing of Vaseline around his nether regions. Wonder what Freud would make of it all!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Application Form Avoidance and Bah Humbug

I really should be filling out an application form, but having read the person specification and all the associated jargon, I've lost momentum. It must be bad because I even vacuumed the house to avoid said form filling. On my travels with the vacuum cleaner, I accidentally came across a bag containing prezzies that Barman has bought me for Christmas. I know that I shouldn't have, but...

Ok, so it's the giving that counts, and I'm a very ungrateful person, but I do seem to get more than my fair share of crappy Chrimbo prezzies and my 'yes it's lovely' smile does take some doing at times. Barman and his family are particularly chronic prezzie choosers and I always undo their gifts first to get the disappointment/shock out of the way:-) Last year I thought that I'd play it safe and specify what I wanted - something simple, a fool proof prezzie - a nice plain white shirt with collar, size 10/12. I got a white shirt with frumpy frills down the front and a banded neck-line, it was very Miss Jean Brodie. Oh, and it was a size 18. I'm allergic to soap, always have been and received 2 bars from my mother-in-law (who said that Barman had told her I'd like some soap), and a 42 inch chest shirt? I once requested something nice and snugly. Big mistake. I received a pair of massive, white, thermal bloomers - the ones that come half way down the thigh - the 'yes they're lovely' smile was impossible to perform on that occasion. As was the case when Barman bought me a pair of size 18 jodphurs (there's a theme emerging here don't you think?) - I didn't speak to him all day and was even more furious when I took the jodphurs back to the shop and the assistant (who we know) informed me that she'd told Barman they were far too large for me, but he'd disagreed.

I knew that I shouldn't have peeked in the prezzie bag, but I was put on notice last week-end when Barman said "You are a 36D aren't you?". "In your dreams" said I! It reminded me of the time when Barman bought me some bright blue, very tarty, lacy undies, which were so stiff and starchy that they made my boobs itch incessantly - it was very embarassing, but at least I had an excuse to not wear them again.

There was also something very shiny in the prezzie bag, which on closer inspection turned out to be a pair of dodgy jim jams with pink bows on them? I'm quite certain that if I tried to get into bed with them on, I'd slide right out the other end. Fear not though, I have a cunning plan - I'll give them to Barman's mother next Christmas;-)

Oh well, at least I have plenty of time to practice my thankyou smile, I'll need to draw on all of my advocacy skills for the thankyou speech though.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

6 school buses, a church and a defibrillator, but no County Court

There are circa 150 residents in my village; many of whom live on the outskirts of the village in the farmhouses that scatter the local countryside. There are 6 children who are of school age in the village. We have 2 schools in nearby villages, one is an infant/junior school, the other a secondary school. So why do we have 6 school buses in a morning? The first one comes through the village at 7.30, followed at ten minute intervals by the other 5. What an utter waste of money. The buses do pick up children from neighbouring villages, but nevertheless, they are barely half full on a good day, and on a bad day (when parents drop the kids off on their way to work), there are only a handful of children on the buses. And why the early start; the junior school is only a mile and a half away. Bizarre.

My village has a nice little church. I would have gotten married in it, but the vicar (at that time) said I was a sinner (yes, I'd committed the ultimate sin, shacked up shamelessly with the boyfriend before tying the knot). Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the church has a very small congregation - about 4 or 5 on a busy day, 2 of which stand with their backs to the vicar for the duration of the services, because the vicar is a woman. Bizarre. And of course the church is always in need of funds, its most recent face-lift costing tens of thousands.

The village telephone box is to be purchased for a pound. Some villages make use of old telephone boxes by using them as tourist information booths, or book exchanges, or even mini newspaper kiosks. Ours is to house a defibrillator. The bus shelter is next door to the phone box. Of course the village children wouldn't dream of zapping one another with the defibrillator whilst waiting for the school bus... I'm going to be extra careful not to slip on my arse when taking Bar-Os to the paddock, I don't want an over zealous adolescent zapping me before I've had a chance to pick myself up from the un-gritted (more cut backs) road.

Which brings me onto the closure of the County Court situated in my local town. It's primarily a Magistrates Court, but has the add-on of a County Court. The Magistrates Court will remain, so I can't see how the closure will save any money in the long run. Still, if a phone box can be used as a mini heart attack centre, perhaps the few rooms set aside at the mags for County Court purposes could be utilised as a drop-in centre for DIY hip replacements. I reckon there'd be a call for it, what with all the un-gritted roads and pavements.

I would write a letter to my local MP about it all, but the nearest Post Office is now 5 miles away (more cut-backs) and what with petrol approaching £1.30 a litre, I just can't afford the travel costs to buy a stamp.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Life in the freezer

Christ it's been cold here; it was minus 11 the other morning when I took Bar-Os to the paddock. There's been no let up with the weather and although it hasn't snowed for a few days, the extreme cold has prevented the existing snow from melting and it's become extremely compact and slippery under foot. I have a self-filling water trough in the paddock, but it's been frozen solid for several days, so I have to take hot water down to the paddock in milk cartons to top up the ever freezing, temporary water bucket. For the first few days, Bar-Os was able to nuzzle the snow out the way to find himself some grass, but I'm now having to take hay down to the field, along with a buckets full of chaff and carrots to keep my boy's boiler stoked up.

All of this toing and froing has to be on foot because the lane leading to the paddock is snowed under. I resemble a sumo wrestler waddling through the village, what with all the layers of clothing - long sleeve tee shirt, shaggy fleece top, topped with another shaggy fleece top, topped with a fleece lined jacket, scarf, ski hat, thick gloves and a pair of Caterpillar fleece lined boots (steel toe caps and 'tractor tread' soles - what a sex goddess!). To think, I live in one of the most temperate parts of the Country, allegedly!

Bar-Os is a 'native breed' - made for withstanding the bitter cold, except no-one has told him that and he stands in the middle of the paddock squealing loudly at the sheer woefulness of it all. Wouldn't be quite so bad, but he's turned out in a thick winter rug and downs enough nourishing food to sink a battle ship. And he comes home at night to a stable full of soft, dry bedding and 4* room service. All of my horsey friends are fretting at how their horses have lost weight during the cold spell - Bar-Os is positively barrelesque; he swears this is an optical illusion and that the roundness effect is down to his fur standing on end. I'm not convinced.

My plan was to go Christmas shopping this week, but I've succumbed to the lure of the internet again and optimistically await the delivery of the cyber-prezzies. Somehow my cyber travels took a wrong turn and I have, for some unknown reason, taken delivery of a very nice Karen Millen coat? With my grunge lifestyle, God knows when I'll get a chance to wear it, but I convinced myself that it would be ideal for pupillage interviews (ever the optimist eh) and it was VASTLY reduced in the sale.

My Aunt died a few weeks back and I have spent much of today thinking about her. She moved to America many years ago, as did the rest of my Dad's family, but she would periodically come home to visit. As a kid I thought she was wonderful and glamorous. America was made for my Aunt - she was all boobs, belly and bum, and lived life in the fast lane, on credit cards for most of the time. I remember how expensive international phone calls were years ago, and what a carefully planned operation the Christmas day call to America would be. My parents would be working out what time it would be 'over there' and would time their call so as not to interfere with my Aunt's Christmas dinner. In recent years it has become so much easier and cheaper to keep in touch, and Dad would phone periodically to chat with his big sis. My Aunt had kept a secret from Dad, she had bowel cancer which had later spread to her bones. The last time Dad spoke to her, she had lost her appetite and was too weak to stand, but asked Dad to tell her daughter how to make beef stew and Yorkshire pudding. My Aunt died later that day, before she had a chance to savour some good old British grub. She had been an ardent supporter of native Indian rights and has been buried in a Red Indian reservation called Monkey Island. I'll miss her this Christmas.

Anyway, that's enough woe. I have applied for a couple of jobs. One is a conventional pupillage at the employed Bar, the other is a legal, public sector role with progressive training. The latter sounds an interesting job, with much of the work involving contentious property related litigation and regulatory enforcement. There are a few other pupillages that I shall be applying for in the New Year and I eagerly await filling in those lovely application forms:-(  A while back I applied for a mini-pupillage via email, following the consumption of (far) too much red wine. Much to my surprise and angst, I was successful in gaining a mini and spent the week dreading one of the barristers asking me an email related to question, to which I had no recollection penning whatsoever! Perhaps that is the winning formula and I should do all forthcoming applications post piss-up?