Wednesday, 29 April 2009

It's just not cricket

As I write, Mr Grigg is involved in the post-match analysis going on in the pub. I am not there because I don't have a clue when it comes to cricket, nor do I much care. However, they are lucky there is at least one solicitor on the opposition side. When I walked up to the pitch earlier, past the wild honesty, dead nettles and red campions, I heard leather on willow, closely followed by 'clunk' as the ball whizzed over the top of the hedge and on to a 4x4. The elderly occupants ducked when the blow struck but amazingly drove on. They looked terrified. Probably thought they had strayed into a parallel universe (which would be correct) and hit by molten lava from Dantes Peak or caught in the Millennium Falcon as it stormed through the asteroid belt.

After that, I felt the best course of action was to stay just long enough to take a few pictures.

Get that ball will you? Skipper Super Mario lets Celebrity Farmer's nephew do the running.

With my reputation? Mr St John, loved-up from his birthday trip to Venice, plays the field in shorts.

That turncoat Mr Loggins, in the hedge looking for a ball, batted for the other side.

Our lads, bravely led from the front by Super Mario, were beaten - but only just, I am assured. And on occasions like these, the super-competitive Mr Grigg always maintains it's the taking part that counts. Yeah, right.

Meanwhile, down at the plot, Mr and Mrs Sheepwash have been bringing the girls into line. The five French hens, egged on by the audacious token Brit, have been on the move. Jane, the Light Sussex pullet, who has not laid since her maiden double yolker on Saturday, was spotted on a fence post the wrong side of the pen, looking in at her mates singing: 'I believe I can fly.' Fortunately, Pelly has spent the last five days training them so well that Jane came back when called. And her reward? She and her disciples had their wings clipped.

No wonder the Sheepwash-lets left home.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Here come the girls

Pelly is like a cooing new mother. And all because of five French pullets and a Light Sussex named Jane. We picked them up in a cloak and dagger operation yesterday, armed with three cat baskets and a wadge of cash. We weren't sure where we were going, only that we were meeting at an agreed location and taking it from there.

Our contact, a 6ft 5ins former banker we knew only as Piers, apologised for the secrecy and explained in an incomer London accent: 'I've been having trouble with pikeys. They nicked 200 birds last year.'

It occurred to me that Piers could in fact have been a very clever pikey and the birds he sold us were someone else's. But it was clear he knew a great deal about hens and good animal husbandry.

And as soon as we saw the lavender marans, that was it, Pelly and I were in love. They matched our tops. Darling Loggins, however, reserved judgment and her money. She is rethinking her hen strategy and may well end up at the Gaggle of Geese at Buckland Newton for the poultry fair next weekend.

I'd wanted a barnvelder and a welsummer. But Piers didn't have any. So I was content with a cuckoo maran (Delia, the runt of the litter) and a lavender sister (Nigella). I was keen for them to move in to the best little henhouse in Dorset at the same time as Pelly's brood.

We drove back in a clucking car and coaxed the girls into their new home. Piers advised us to keep them in their house until morning to give them time to get used to it. Two hours later, Pelly phoned me. She sounded very emotional, as if she had been crying.

'You'll never guess what,' she said. I had visions of poor Delia being pecked to death and lying in a pool of blood and feathers.

'What?' The suspense was killing me.

'They've only gone and laid three eggs.'

Bless them. Pelly has swiftly become an expert on poultry. I didn't like to tell her that laying eggs is what hens do. I held my tongue and suggested we had scrambled egg for breakfast the next day, after the official hen house opening ceremony.

So this morning, armed with umbrellas, Mr Grigg and I walked down the lane to the Sheepwash plot. Pelly made a little announcement and Mr Sheepwash grumbled about playing second fiddle to a load of hens and having just a diet of Ginsters pies to look forward to while his wife was otherwise engaged. Celebrity Farmer's dad drove by in the Landrover on his way to feed the lambs and made some remark about The Good Life and then Felicity Kendal, at which both Mr Grigg and Mr Sheepwash swooned in nostalgic bliss.

'It was the dungarees, wasn't it?' Mr Sheepwash said, trying to explain Miss Kendal's eternal appeal.

Back at the henhouse, first out was Nigella, closely followed by Jane (after Jane Birkin), three as yet unnamed hens but possibly Brigit, Simone and Colette (they are all French, don't forget). Bringing up the rear was my dear little Delia.

They are so far adjusting well to their new surroundings. Pelly is looking out to their every whim, providing them with mirrors to gaze at their own reflections, sand to bathe in and plumping up the straw in their house six times a day.

Back at the Sheepwash abode, we cracked open a bottle of bucks fizz left over from Easter and three fresh eggs.

And do you know what? One of them - we think it was Jane's - was a double yolker. Pelly almost cried (again).
So we have a week, I hope, of fresh eggs to look forward to. Also on the timetable is the first turnout of the season for the pub cricket team, skippered by Super Mario and featuring appearances by Mr Grigg, Mr Sheepwash, Mr St John (fresh from his love trip to Venice), Celebrity Farmer and, batting for the other side, Mr Loggins.

Egg sandwiches anyone?

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

All about me

I have been tagged in something called a 'meme'. It took me a while to realise the word rhymed with neither 'hem' nor 'seem'. It's all about me, me, me, me, me, me.

I'm squirming. It's usually me behind the camera, not in front. The one listening rather than talking. Except when I get drunk and then I can't stop talking, shortly before waving my arms about wildly and then falling asleep.

It's all Exmoor Jane's fault. I've never met the woman but feel as if I have known her for years. If a friend had sent me a chain letter I would have cheerfully thumped them and they would take it with good grace. However, as I have not mastered the art of virtual thumping, I am laying my soul bare and seeing if I can throw Jane a virtual Chinese burn through cyberspace at the same time.

So here goes:

What are your current obsessions?
1. Work, work and more work to pay looming bills.
2. Shoes. Lots of shoes.
3. Cushions. I can't walk past a nice one without touching it and wanting to possess it.
5. Social justice.
6. Wondering when I'm going to find the time to do that 2,000-word OU essay on genre films between now and next Thursday when I've only got halfway through the course book.

Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
My black Levi's.

What's for dinner?
Goulash I made on Sunday, froze and defrosted today during an organised Mrs Grigg moment.

Last thing you bought?
1. A top in the White Stuff sale. When Mr Grigg sees it I'll tell him I've had it for years. What is it with me? I've earned my own money for 30 years and still feel guilty when I spend any of it on myself.
2. Six oranges, four apples and some Fair Trade bananas.
3. Boots Evening Primrose moisturiser and some deodorant that's not meant to leave white marks but it bloody does.

What are you listening to?
Number One Son, 20, has great taste in music. So when I walk from my car to the council Death Star, instead of a black cloud over my head, I have Lemon Jelly and Royksopp turned up full blast on my iPod.

If you were a god/goddess who would you be?
Demeter, the Greek earth goddess. That would make me Exmoor Jane's mother. I am attached by an invisible umbilical cord to the countryside. I'm also a Virgo and a Chinese Ox. The Empress is my significator card when I try to do my own tarot reading but only in moments of crisis.


Favourite holiday spots?
1. Ithaca - I love all things Greek but especially this place. Its very name makes me tingle with Homeric joy.
2. Provence - I spent my honeymoon in my dad's cousin's house in Cotignac and in a previous life cycled up Mont Ventoux.
3. New York - a living film set. I could imagine being a very attractive high flyer with superpowers.
4. Can I have Ireland too? I love the scenery of the west coast, the spontaneity, the friendliness and the craic.

Reading right now?
1. The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
2. Simon Shama's History of Britain (I bought the three volumes for £3 at a book sale and I dip in and out of them when I'm in the loo. It's more fun when you do it out of chronological order. The reading, that is, not your loo business stuff)
3. OU books on film and television history and advanced creative writing

4 words to describe yourself.
Quirky, determined, cynical, tired.

Guilty pleasure?
Galaxy chocolate under my Primark blanky after 9pm.

Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak?
Peter Kay (especially this Phoenix Nights clip), Mr Grigg and Tom Sharpe.

Who's your heroine?
Marge Simpson. Such patience and wisdom. Great hair too.


First spring thing?
Mr Grigg always brings me home the first primrose of spring, just like my dear old dad (84) still does for my mother. That's so sweet.

Best thing you ate or drank lately?
The Lidl's lager I'm drinking now after sitting through the most tedious annual parish meeting with my reporter's notebook trying to look interested.

Flower of the moment?
Wallflowers. Their scent takes me back to growing up in Somerset in the 1960s, when the days were warm and long and you could still get change from a sixpence.

Favourite ever film?
Jungle Book. I know all the words. When I was five I told our neighbour: 'Now just a minute, you pompous old windbag.' Definitely NOT The Perfect Storm which Mr Grigg is watching now. I first saw that on the eve of my first-ever sailing holiday.

Care to share some wisdom?
My creed:
There's no such word as can't (my primary school teacher)
Life is not a dress rehearsal (Mr Grigg)
Just do it (Nike)
Never turn down an invitation (Mrs Bancroft)

The only one of my own I can offer is: if you ever feel intimidated by someone, imagine them naked. This, of course, won't work if that someone is Elle McPherson or Posh Totty.

That's about it.

So, in the words of Exmoor Jane: Rules of the meme. Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Tag 8 people.

I’ll tag the following (but you don't have to do it. But if you don't, don't blame me if all your luck falls through the luck sieve. That was just a joke. This thing has no power. You do).

A Curious Girl's Guide to Life

Buggles Balham High Road
Claire Fordham
Crystal Jigsaw
Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2 3
The Diary of Dagenham Dave
Private Secret Diary
Bath's Big Ed

Love Maddie x

Monday, 20 April 2009

Another day at the races

The sun beat down in Dorset again yesterday for a glorious afternoon at the point-to-point races. Turning up just after the first race, we managed to miss the £25 per car entrance fee, which was just as well because Mr Grigg would probably have turned back. We could have walked because the course is only about a mile away as the crow flies. But then crows fly, and we don't.

I got very excited when my horse jumped in first place over the last fence. Until I realised they had another circuit to go. I am not very up on this horse racing business. I still call racecards 'programmes'.

Posh Totty was there and so was Celebrity Farmer. I have candid photos to prove it. But other friends, who shall remain nameless, kept away because of the amateur steeplechase's association with hunting. As a former placard-carrying, aniseed-spraying sab, I have mellowed in recent years and almost turned completely the other way when hunting was banned. It's not that I approve of hunting. I don't. But I resent an urban government telling country people what to do.

It's been a busy weekend here in the village. Celebrity Farmer's dad is bottle feeding four lambs and has been joined by a camcorder-filming, pyjama-clad holidaymaker every morning. The square became busier than Picadilly Circus on Friday when a runaway lorry on the main road forced all the traffic to take a detour. We always know when there has been an accident. The square suddenly becomes gridlocked chaos.

A mattress was dumped just down the road but fortunately no-one was in it. Mr Sheepwash has just built the best little henhouse in the village. Our boat idea is moving forward and the harbourmaster is being very patient. Mrs Bancroft is one of five WI ladies going to Prince Charles's Highgrove House this week.

And a thief has come back to the village hall and stolen more bloody oil.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Friday, 17 April 2009

Jolly good boating weather

A group of us is thinking about pooling some of our resources and investing in a communal boat. A boat, at a time when the credit crunch is biting hard and we are all meant to be pulling in our horns because nearly all of us are feeling the pinch.

So what better time to get a boat, when prices are low and everyone is fed up? Especially when the village is so near the sea. Near enough, but not so near that we get tangled up with day trippers and second homers.

The reason for this possibility is that we suddenly have an opportunity. And we're not sure what to do with it.

Some years ago, when Mr Grigg was having a Howard's Way moment, he put his name down for a mooring at Lyme Regis. This is the place made famous by fossil collector Mary Anning, in Jane Austen's novel Persuasion and John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman. The place where ichthyosaur skeletons were discovered, where Austen's heroine Louisa Musgrove dramatically banged her head because of her own impetuosity and where Meryl Streep famously walked to the end of the Cobb in a big hooded cloak and then looked smoulderingly over her shoulder.

It is the place where the gardens literally tumbled down to the sea before the council stepped in to prop them up, the place pictured in the broadsheets every time there is a storm (thanks to the artistry and news sense of photographer Richard Austin), and where locally-born chef Mark Hix has a restaurant overlooking the Cobb.

And now, we have just been informed by the harbourmaster that Mr Grigg's name is at the top of the mooring list. This is great, but the problem is we don't have a boat. So, after a few glasses of wine, talk has turned to getting a little day boat a few of us, under Mr Grigg's watchful sailor's eye, could have some fun in.

Mrs Bancroft has visions of her city-bound family coming down at weekends for picnics and waterskiing. In his mind, Mr Grigg has already bought the lobster pots and has fishing lessons lined up with Number One Daughter's fiance, whose prowess with a rod and line has won him many competitions.

Mr Loggins, if he knew about it, would have bought his captain's hat. I can see Posh Totty lying out in her Boden swimsuit on the deck while MDF Man and Sparky Mark sit down for an ice cold beer. There would be Night Nurse exquisitely turned out in blue and white striped jersey and white capri pants and navy deck shoes.

Celebrity Farmer would be trying to use the boat as a babe magnet, Super Mario and Princess Peach would be entertaining us with tall stories. There would be Mr St John in shorts, and his Lady Friend in the cockpit sipping G&Ts. Darling Loggins would be in charge of deck games, Nobby Odd-Job would be tinkering, Mr Sheepwash would be fiddling around with bits here and there and Pelly would be slaving away in the galley and worrying about the vessel's seaworthiness.

Packman would be bellowing 'land ahoy' from the crow's nest, Randy Munchkin would be enjoying a well-earned rest away from the children, Dudley would be naked at the piano like Terry Jones in Monty Python, Tuppence and Caruso would sing The Owl and the Pussycat, our resident DJ, Ding Dong Daddy, named after a Louis Armstrong number, would be told to put soft, mood music on and Monty Chocs-Away would have to leave his flying helmet at home and put on something more appropriate.

Yes, I can can see it now.

Hmm, I think we'll need a considerably larger boat.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Follow your dreams

There is a world beyond my window. I see it sometimes when I am out and about. But more often than not, it comes to me through the power of the television screen.

Reality TV, game shows and talent competitions? I avoid them whenever possible. But after a busy day on Sunday (see previous post), I plonked myself on the sofa next to the kids and prepared to switch off for Britain's Got Talent. This is the show our pub landlord once auditioned for. His fine rendition of a Frank Sinatra number was upstaged by sword-swallowing, egg-juggling unicyclists.

So I was prepared to be underwhelmed. And then, out of of the blue, a woman the same age as me but who looked a bit like my mum, came on the stage. She was wearing the kind of gold dress you see languishing in the corner of a charity shop, black tights and even blacker eyebrows. The audience and the 'celebrity' judging panel sniggered. And then Susan Boyle began to sing.

It made me cry - and it's already had more than two and half million hits on YouTube.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Monday, 13 April 2009

Apocalypse later

The sun is belting through my window as I look out on a quiet village square. The shop is closed, people have gone to the beach and Mr Grigg and friends have jumped in the car to watch Bristol City at home. I have just seen my first swallow, chattering away to himself on the telephone wires.

Yesterday, this house was choc-a-bloc with family. I am one of five and there are hordes of us. Mr Grigg is one of three and there are not so many in his family. And with some relatives on holiday, working or perhaps deciding it was just all too much, he was a little outnumbered. He took it well. But I felt rather sorry for him. He has been working very hard lately. Being in the bosum of his family would have been good for him. Still, my 'all-talking-at-once' family more than made up for it.

He was on good form as we prepared for Easter Sunday, making a massively hot chilli while I rustled up a vegetarian lasagne, cous cous with Mediterranean vegetables and a kind of bread and butter pudding from leftover hot cross buns. 'Is it Jamie Oliver's recipe?' someone asked me yesterday. 'No it bloody isn't,' I almost said. Instead I just smiled and shook my head.

So we had about 27 people over yesterday. Everyone brought food, having been given the choice of sweet or savoury. We seemed to eat from noon until 8pm, off and on. But when people all contribute, such gatherings are so much easier to host and everyone feels involved. My family is not the sort to scoff at table napkins that don't match or Simpsons beakers mixing with cut-glass crystal. That's not important. It's the getting together that counts. And the food.

However, it was not a good day for the dishwasher to pack up. But there were plenty of willing helpers.

In the afternoon, the spaniels were bursting to go out for a walk, especially nine-month old Bertie, who widdles everywhere when he is only slightly excited. This is becoming very wearing, and is something I need to deal with. Two bricks, maybe.

Joining me on the walk was Number Two Sister, my grand-daughter, a sister-in-law and a niece-in-law. My immediate family are true sons and daughters of the soil, very much country born and bred. My niece-in-law is French, very French, so teetered on her high-heeled wedges around the field arm-in-arm with my petite, city girl sister-in-law. Both of them lagged way behind and looked like actresses from Sex in the City. All that was missing were Louis Vuitton handbags and carrier bags and hatboxes from Macy's.

A little later, when my sister and I left the field and closed the gate, it crossed my mind, just fleetingly, that neither of the in-law ladies would be able to open it again. Then I thought, 'don't be silly Maddie, how patronising is that?' As we walked along the lane, we could hear their squealing, swallow-like chattering. Then there was a wail: 'How do we open this?' It was pitiful. Rather like me when confronted at the London underground by the machine you need to put your tickets in before you can get to the platform.

Later, I almost had to throw Number Three Sister, a busker, out of the house so we could get to the pub in time for the quiz. We did not win it, despite the inclusion in the team of Number One Son. He was still hungover from the night before but managed to win us nine points by putting all the planets in the right order. We were stumped on naming the fourth horseman of the apocalypse. We hazarded a guess that the first three were Dave, Mike and Pete and thought the last could have been Colin. The answer was Death. Death? At Easter?

Colin, bringing up the rear.

Just as we got going on the beer leg, a shout went up from the landlady. ' First aiders please!' It wasn't Dudley this time but a young lady who'd cut her knee after falling over on her way home. First in the queue to assist was the unattached vet, who just happened to have a medical bag with him. He is a horseman but his name is neither Colin nor Death, which is just as well really.

What a way to spend Easter.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Friday, 10 April 2009

Donkey hotey

As a former wild child, or as I tell people, a child bride, I am lucky enough to have a three-year-old grand-daughter at an age where fellow bloggers have children. She is a delight, the love of my life and nudging Number One Son in the Chosen One Stakes.

This week, I spent a delightful day at the donkey sanctuary with my grand-daughter, along with Number One Son and my friend Pelly. This was a good place to visit because 1) it's close by 2) it's free 3) it takes care of abused animals.

I have mixed feelings about this place. It's rather like Old Ladies' Legacy Land. The donkeys live a life of luxury with no expense spared. The donations boards are full of the names of the great and the good, predominately single females with double barreled names, whose bequests help keep it going. This is not a bad thing. It is lovely to see otherwise abused donkeys enjoying their senior years in the paddocks of Devon.

But I always think if I won the lottery, I would set up a cow sanctuary.

Don't get me wrong. I love donkeys. As a child on the farm, we used to have one every winter. In the summer Rosie would take children on rides along the sand (or mud) at Weston. When autumn came, she would be transported to our farm and be ours for the winter. Or mine, to be exact.

But I have always felt a strong attachment to cows. They give us milk, their beef brethren feed us but when the dairy cows are barren their days are numbered. Are there old ladies to keep them in luxury? No. They end up as dog meat and their feet are boiled up for glue. Is that the way to treat something that has provided us with the sustenance of life? This is why I would make a crap farmer, because I would want to keep the cows in their retirement as a way of saying thank you.

So I did something at the donkey sanctuary I shouldn't have done. I tried to keep it real. Which is not fair when your grandchild is only three and your friend Pelly is a vegetarian. As the grand-daughter went into raptures over the fluffy donkeys I told her that Grumps (aka Mr Grigg) had eaten donkey when we were in Italy last year. In rather too loud a voice she said earnestly, with tears in her eyes: 'But why did Grumps eat a donkey?'. She said this over and over again, as we passed the old ladies who in a few years time would be bequeathing their money to the donkey sanctuary, and as we passed the children just enjoying the fluffiness and cuteness of the donkeys all around them.

Me and my big mouth. A case of foot in mouth rather than foot and mouth, thankfully.

I have Easter to repent my sins, which includes a quiz in the pub and a family gathering on Sunday chez moi for 26+.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Grope the Pope

Mr Grigg returned yesterday from the boss-eyed doctor's after a 'little operation'. He walked in to the kitchen as if he were John Wayne and had just got off his horse. He had tousled hair and the top two buttons of his work shirt were undone . He looked rather raffish, like the man in the Golf GTi advert who lost all his money in Monte Carlo. He smiled. He was still intact.

I had been worried about him. Our doctor is notorious for keeping people waiting. You can be his first appointment of the day and he still manages to be running half an hour late. Mr Grigg had already flounced out of the waiting room a couple of weeks ago when it slowly dawned on him he would be there at least an hour before seeing the doctor. I wish receptionists would tell people the state of play when patients check in.

Mr Grigg hates being kept waiting. He also hates needles. So those two things, together with having what is called a 'tag' removed from a rather intimate place, did not bode well.

There was just a 15-minute wait before he was summoned into the surgery.

The boss-eyed doctor asked Mr Grigg to drop his boxers. The doctor prepared the syringe, looking myopically at it as he did so. Mr Grigg bent down for the doc to administer the injection. The doc was just about to say, reassuringly, 'it's just a little prick'. But looking down with his good eye he quickly said 'er, well, maybe not'.

He then proceeded to get out an implement similar to that used for removing ticks from dogs and cats and whipped the offending tag off, while talking about antiques and grandfather clocks.


Both Mr Grigg and I would like to thank the doctor for keeping a steady hand. I had visions of myself after the operation standing in front of the papal-chair as pictured above with Mr Grigg in it. I would do a 'grope the Pope' test from below, which comes from the time of the legendary Pope Joan, to declare 'he has testicles'. Mr Grigg would then stand up and pontificate.

Fortunately for me (but not necessarily for Mr Grigg), this was not required.

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Monday, 6 April 2009

Happy hens

The village has been full of shiny, happy people this weekend as the sun beat down on walkers, gardeners and people just going to and from the shop. My wallflowers are just about to come out, although obscured by orange brick dust created by builder (with shirt on).

Yesterday, Mr Grigg, still bathing in the glow of organising a very successful work-related event on Friday, used his bartering skills to great effect, swapping stone for bricks with Packman. The latter's garden is taken over by long-haired guinea pigs, goats and children's toys, which is just how a family lawn should be.

Further down the lane, Mr Sheepwash was digging out the foundations for a hen house and run. As Mr Grigg and I wandered down with a bucket to get some tadpoles from the pond, we saw Mr Sheepwash through the trees, digging furiously with his shirt off and listening to his iPod. He spotted us, sucked in his stomach and quickly put his shirt back on.

Pelly says I can keep two hens on their patch of ground, alongside four Sheepwash hens and two belonging to the Logginses. I would like to get a couple of unusual breeds, maybe a Wellsummer and a Barnvelder. I will name them Delia and Nigella respectively.

Delia, the Wellsummer.

Nigella, the apparently legless Barnvelder.

My father, a retired farmer, used to rear poultry on a very small scale. His speciality were Barred Plymouth Rocks, which are a bit like Marans only leggier. The cockerels were bonkers. There were many times when I was chased around the farmyard by Adolf and Caligula, who ended up in the pot just after going for a small child who had the misfortune to be walking by with its parents.

So I am pleased to say the Sheepwash pen is going to be a cockerel-free zone.

I will not be letting on to Pelly that when I was growing up my job on the farm was cleaning out the henhouses. I think I'll leave that for someone else.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Larger than life

Number One Son was poked and prodded as we ventured into the pub last night for the football. The deal was that Mr Grigg could watch the match in return for the three of us taking advantage of the pub's weekly steak night. This meant the pub was full of World From My Window characters including Celebrity Farmer, MDF Man and Posh Totty, Packman and Sparky Mark.

The latter told my boy: 'Ah, you must be The Chosen One.' At which the undergraduate blushed deeply. I was then reprimanded for not updating the blog often enough, especially with tales from the village. My retort is that they need to do something to make it interesting. Sparky Mark then proceeded to explain his rather complicated living arrangements in two counties. It sounded more like a sitcom script than real-life.

Celebrity Farmer, meanwhile, has just returned from London with my radio recording equipment including a large microphone. He was pretending to be a researcher from Farmer Wants A Wife. He says the women were falling at his feet. I have been asked to download the audio footage for him so, to use one of Celeb's own chat-up lines, I might slip in a snippet here some time.

Back in the village there is nothing much to report, apart from the fact that thieves have stolen heating oil from the village hall tank four times in the last month. I have to say I just don't think the Heath-Robinson catgut and windchimes alarm is much of a deterrent.

Mr Sheepwash showed me video footage of his pond at least four times the other night. It is a seething mass of tadpoles. Mr Grigg came in partway through the showing and thought it was Mr Sheepwash's sample.

It was due to be my last day at the Death Star today, the day when I finally got to see the light. However, I have been asked to cover maternity leave, possibly until September, so the novel will just have to wait and the corporate black slacks will be staying on the hanger.

Oh, and by the way, because I am in paid employment for the next six months, it was me who footed the steak night bill. Mr Grigg sure has a great life.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

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