A Letter from Lockdown Me to Future Me.

My god has 2020 thus far been a bag of dicks, and it’s only May. I seriously hope you’re having a better time of it now and are actually allowed to touch other people (not inappropriately though, we’ve spoken about that before).

I decided to write you a letter to remind you of the actual things you learnt during this quasi-apocalyptic crazy world you existed in *hopefully* not that long ago.

And by that I don’t mean learning to play the flute/speak a new language/become a landscape gardener overnight – all laudable, but you’ll be pleased to remember you didn’t jump on that bandwagon of this being a sodding productivity contest.

1. I know we’re only in the middle of this sh*t show – and what a sh*t show it is – but something to takeaway from this is that it’s ok to look for positives and appreciate the small things without being criticised for not taking things seriously. Not only that, it’s actually a lot easier than you think…you learnt to find moments of joy and appreciation when you could have easily sat there feeling mightily sorry for your situation.

Side note: Turns out, you can have good things come out of a pandemic – focusing on what you CAN do & enjoying it, planning for the future – none of it means you are being disrespectful or inconsiderate. I promise you. And if it does, well then you’re in good company, I managed it without (at least knowingly) offending anyone…you’re surprised, miracle! I know.

2. At the moment, when we ask how someone is, we really mean it. Not only that, we feel we’re more able to be honest with our answers when we’re being asked. Continue with that trend please – what an awesome thing to come out of this, people being more caring and open. Imagine!

3. If I’d have told you at the beginning of the year that you’d be living with the parents again, well firstly you wouldn’t have believed me, but secondly I probably wouldn’t have relished the idea that much either.

One of the positives in this (aside from the fact you’ve found a new gin drinking buddy in mum who was equally willing to drink doubles on a Thursday, just because) is the fact that you wouldn’t have ever thought you’d get the opportunity to live with them in a ‘positive’ light again.

No, Corona isn’t positive, what I mean by that is when else would you have lived with them for an extended period of time again in your life? It would have most likely because you f**ked up and something drastic happened, or when they need you to be a carer for them. Yes there are limitations, but currently we’re able to enjoy each other’s company and spend some quality time together. And no, you and dad aren’t getting on each other’s nerves yet!

4. I can’t tell you the amount of time I have said to friends “we should SO do [insert batshit crazy/incredible plan here] when all of this is over”…do me a favour and actually make sure that you follow through with all of those plans please. I’ve realised that ‘should’ is where all the fun things in life live, and they need to be turned into ‘will’s’, or better yet ‘did’s’. Don’t be one of those arsehole let-down friends. Ugh, I despise them, and so do you still.

5. You were right when you said last year that you had found out who your true friends are. That bunch have been absolutely legendary. Remind them now how amazing they are and how grateful you are to have them. Organise another meal with everyone, even if you have to plan it for bloody 2022. Just do it, now please, not later.

Cheers.

It’s All Gone A Little Too Far Now

So we’re 2 weeks into lockdown and to be quite frank, this sh*t isn’t funny anymore…Mum is baking a lemon drizzle cake every fourth hour, dad is swearing at the constant drivel on the telly and there isn’t nearly enough alcohol for me to get through living with my parents again!

I jest, in reality I am actually SO relieved and grateful that my amazing parents invited me to hot-foot it down to Devon to live with them during the apocalypse. Not least because living in a flat without a garden would have been less than ideal for a certain ginger labrador who would have ended up eating the walls by week three.

I’m still doing my day job, working in my parents office/small spare room whilst the Irish genes are coming into full effect in my mother and she checks whether I need a drink or something to eat roughly every 23 minutes in between baking cakes. If I come out of this only 2 stone heavier, I’ll be doing f**king well.

Now, I know I should be grateful, and I am happy to have job security and all that. But I’m not sure I’ve entirely got the best deal here when a lot of my colleagues are on furlough being paid to sit on their arses, whilst I’m working away like a woman possessed to hit deadlines. I know I’d moan of boredom before a week was through, but I’d at least like the chance to try and prove myself wrong!

Anyway, on my days off I’m volunteering at the farm next door to my parents’ house. Ever the realist, I am more than happy to admit that, yes, they really must be scraping the barrel for ‘skilled workers’ if they are reduced to accepting help from a townie who lived on a farm for a bit, whilst their usual staff are self isolating. Either way, I’m having an absolute blast!

For any of you that have read about Dotty pig, this is where she lives now and I am DELIGHTED to be seeing her so frequently again. Plus…and you won’t believe this…I actually went into a field full – and I mean FULL – of at least 100 chickens.

So proud, I managed to resist every urge to drop kick the things and run in the other direction but, good news, I didn’t sh*t myself (that could have been awkward) or scream once! Video evidence below, because I know you won’t believe me.

Other jobs have included: rescuing a goose from my stupid dog who thought it needed picking up, prizing my fingers from a micro-pig’s jaws, weeding an enclosure for a raccoon (WTF?!), convincing a Shetland pony who I have renamed Bastard (actually called Custard, but I misheard this) that he can walk through a wide open gate, and fitting a harness to a slinky rat, otherwise known as a ferret – you can take the girl out of the town…

Mika, my beautiful quarantine buddy

Speaking of the stupid mutt, he is proving to be equally as much of a townie as his mother and can’t possibly run in front of the Gator like a real dog, he has to ride in it and embarrass me in front of the farm people and their proper dogs…*facepalm*

Luckily, the farm people (aka Tim and Tina) seem to tolerate us well enough, even when I do look for the date stamp on a fresh egg 🙈 (see reference regarding extracting townie from girl above). They didn’t even mind when Trigger took a running jump into the duck pond or tried to hump their poor 4 year old son, Jake (who we managed to convince that Trigger just wanted a piggyback from).

Speaking of their adorable children, Annabelle drew me a portrait today complete with my green wellies, black gloves, red jacket and brown hair with a blonde ponytail…! Evidently others are starting to notice my appalling roots* and I feel that a trip to Tesco for a box of hair dye would most definitely now be considered essential…

The incriminating portrait…

*read as: half my head

Until next time, I hope you are all keeping well and safe x

How I Know I’m Getting Old

So I am finally facing up to the fact that my birthday is hurtling towards me at a rate of knots and next week I shall be 29 with 4 years’ experience. Ghastly thought.

Over the last few months the evidence has been mounting against me to prove I’m no longer able to deny the inelegant process of ageing, to the point where it’s now smacking me in the face and I’m just going to have to bloody well accept it. Let’s peruse…

Exhibit no: 1

My body has suddenly decided that it is physically impossible to contain fluid for any more than approximately 45 minutes at a time. So it transpires that practically overnight I have obtained the bladder of a 60 year old and need to pee…constantly. I’m still lucky enough to not have to wake up in the night to go but it’s only natural progression!

Exhibit no: 2

I make noises when I bend down to pick things up or sit down in a chair. You know the ones I mean, those involuntary “ooof” groans like your grandma makes. It’s as if I’m all of a sudden a decrepit OAP. Not cool and certainly not attractive! My joints also click when I stand up, I’m literally one step away from saying “Ooo me knees”. *facepalm*

Exhibit no: 3

I now have zero social life and the only person that actually ever wants to speak to me is my mother, no exaggeration and I can prove this to you…

As much as I adore my mother, it’s quite a pathetic sight I’m sure you’ll agree! Which brings me nicely onto:

Exhibit no: 4

I went to Cheltenham races last month and at the sight of freezing twenty-somethings, rather than admire their daring outfit choices and hasty application of fake tan, I found myself somewhat appalled. I could hear myself using phrases that my mother would be proud of like “put some clothes on woman!” and “layers are sexy in winter, not skin.”

Gone are the days when I would even dream of wearing stilettos and a mini skirt in 5 degree temperatures all day. No, no sensible boots and tweed was the theme of the day for me. In fact the only piece of skin you could actually see was my face, and even that was covered up half the time.

So, it transpires “young at heart” is really a thing and “forever young” really is a non-thing. Smashing.

Until next time (when I might feel the need to talk about the price of bread these days and when pensions actually gave you a retirement wage to look forward to)…FML I’m getting old!!

I’ve Got A Confession…

So it’s been longer than I’d like (as per usual) since I last wrote a blog post but in my defence, I’ve been wrestling with a moral dilemma about whether or not I should share something with you.

I’d feel like I was living a lie if I didn’t confess it, but it’s so embarrassing that I’m afraid you’ll judge me if I did. But I’ve decided to be brave, so, here it goes…

My name is Amy and I’m afraid of chickens.

Utterly petrified in fact, to the point where I tried to climb up a fully grown adult (sorry Fiona) in the petting farm at London Zoo because they were loose and one “cock-a-doodle-do’d” at me. Full on nearly crapped my pants. *Classy*

It’s caused no end of troubles in my life, I’m even questioning my status as a “true country girl” as I speak.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat the buggers, that’s my revenge! But all the money in the world couldn’t convince me to keep live ones at home. My excuse is that the Labradors would likely try and constantly pick the damn things up and bring them to me, and that’s just animal cruelty. In truth, I find the concept completely horrifying!

“Where did this phobia come from?” I here you ask. Well, interesting story, let me share it with you. I was at a BBQ at a stables where a number of friends kept their horses and on the yard was this, frankly hideous, giant chicken (some rare breed apparently) called Kellogg. Put me off the cereal for life.

Anyway, this thing had the evilest beady eyes and scaly dinosaur legs that, quite honestly, totally freaked me out. I stupidly aired this concern amongst my piers and a certain someone who shall remain nameless (Tim Taylor) decided to PICK the damn thing up and SIT it on my shoulder when I had my head turned.

I s**t you not, I covered that yard in about four and a half strides at a pace that would have made Linford Christie (1990’s Usain Bolt to you millennials) proud, I tell you.

And thus, scarred for life! So you can imagine the joy I felt when I moved my horse up to Wiltshire and found only after we’d settled into the yard that they had a flock of chickens…f**king smashing!

The little bastards then naturally chose to roost in my stable, obviously. They can sense the fear I’m sure. But I did eventually get brave enough to pick them up with a shavings fork (mucking out tool for you townies) and tip them out the door.

At least the eggs tasted nice, I coined them “little butt nugget peace offerings.”

I’m not sure that I really feel like I’ve got a load off my chest, but at least I no longer feel like I’m deceiving you all into thinking I’ve fully embraced this country life lark and forgotten my true city roots.

Anyway, judge away…just try to be a little sympathetic!

Until next time!

Who’re You Picking Up?!

So it’s been a long enough time since my last blog that it’s now got a little bit awkward and I figured it was time enough I just bit the bullet and got back into it, but I just couldn’t think of what to write…

Then thanks to the joys of “bumpkin language” once again providing a suitable sized opportunity for misinterpretation, I found the inspiration once more.

Stuck waiting round the coffee machine in the office, I decided to break that typical awkward silence with one of my less familiar colleagues and we defaulted to the usual back up convo of weekend plans.

Forgetting I was talking to an utter townie who has little to no background knowledge of my lifestyle, when he asked “what are you up to then?” I simply said, “oh just the usual now it’s winter, picking up on Saturday and mucking out the pig on Sunday.”

Queue the bemused look illuminate his face as he tried to work out a diplomatic way of asking if I was either into casual swinging or openly cheating on my husband…”Erm, aren’t you married?” He asked.

“Yeah but we don’t always spend the whole weekend together and he’s working both days anyway”, I said, blissfully unaware of the even larger hole I was digging myself.

“Riiiight, ok. I mean it’s great that you have such an open relationship, but that’s not the conventional type of activity I’d expected from a farmers wife, I have to say.”

Now queue the bemused look slowly creep over my face. “What on earth are you going on about?!” The penny suddenly dropped…”ohhhh you thought I meant picking up men!! Good god no, I’m not a tramp!”

My colleague looked visibly relieved that I hadn’t just massively over-shared to break an awkward coffee silence with a guy I barely knew. But the bemusement quickly appeared again, “so, sorry, but what do you mean then?”

Suddenly I found myself having to break down the set up of a day’s pheasant shooting and then got into the equally awkward conversation about what I have to do with the birds that are still alive when Trigger brings them back to me after picking them up.

He looked so appalled at the thought of me bopping a half dead pheasant on the head that, quite frankly, I’d rather have continued the conversation about extra-marital coital activities! At least he’d have stopped staring at me as if I was a murderous lunatic that he needed to hide both sharp and blunt objects from immediately.

I admit, only 3 years ago I myself balked at the idea of “people shooting something in the face for fun”, but it’s been an engrained part of culture in the farming community for over a hundred years, forming and renewing friendships that have been neglected over a busy summer & harvest and traditionally supplying them with a source of food over the leaner months, and learning more about it has given me a better understanding.

I like to uphold this tradition of using the birds for consumption as my attempt to justify the sport to myself (still unsure how successful this ploy is) and will always make sure to take home any birds my husband shoots, offering them to friends and colleagues who wouldn’t necessarily otherwise have access to eating pheasant.

So basically, what I’m getting at is, unless you want to be fed game bird and possibly chow down on a piece of lead, I’d advise not coming round to mine for dinner from now until about April…but if you don’t mind giving yourself an expensive dentist bill then come on over, there’s plenty to go round!

Until next time…

Farm or Petting Zoo?

Most of you will have read the escapades with my pet pig, Dotty, from my first blog post. However, for those of you that haven’t got a clue what I’m talking about, it might be worth taking an extra 5 minutes to read it so that you get a bit of a back story.

So, we’ve ascertained I’m a city girl living in a country world – as the blog title suggests – but I wanted to do a post about exactly what this means for my poor husband and his exasperated family…

I collect animals. Not just domesticated ones, but proper commercial, farmyard animals. And it drives my family nuts!

Perversely, my city friends are more understanding of my desire to make every being on the farm my friend as opposed to eating them, than the country folk are. Most likely because one set doesn’t make their livelihood from them and one does…no points for guessing which one is which!

Let’s start with Dotty the full grown, definitely-not-a-micropig pig. Weighing in at a good 250kg (leave her be, she’s just big boned!), this porcine princess is the absolute queen of the farm. We have cuddles and belly rubs (just her, obvs), we play games running around the yard and yes, I sit on her back.

Dotty is used to me now strolling into her sty in my finest office clothes and heels at 8pm for a cuddle after a busy day in the London office, and she always makes sure to be careful of my toes, love her!

She’s also a star attraction when it comes to family and friends visiting, everyone wants to meet her and feed her bread (her favourite treat), and my parents’  make sure to deliver her a full on goody bag of all their veg scraps for Princess Pigpig on a weekly basis.

In addition to Dotbags (you’ll soon work out that all my pets have at least 3 nicknames) there is Chewy – the calf featured in my blog profile photo – and yes, he is giving me kisses.

I met Chewbags when he was just 3 weeks old and he arrived with his 5 brothers in November. He was the bravest of the bunch and after 10 minutes, he walked up and started chewing on my coat sleeve, hence the name.

Daily visits to the barn ensued and we became close, so close that this technically wild animal is as tame as you like. In fact,  my 7 year old niece can stand and have cuddles with him in an open field.

Chewy isn’t the only calf with a name though, of the 21 that I helped care for (I say “we” in the loosest sense of the word, I was more of a hindrance than a help to be fair), 10 of them have names. We have in no particular order:

Chewy, Daffodil, Terrance, Roy, Bump, Bubblegum (name courtesy of said 7 year old niece), Frank, Lilac, Patch and Tank.

Yes, I will be devastated when they leave, yes I am a stupid townie for naming the cute baby calves that are destined for the dinner table, but come on…can you blame me?!

As this post is now longer than I expected, I’ll leave the introduction to the dogs for another post I think!

Until next time…

Profile of a Murderer

  • Piercing black eyes
  • Short blonde hair
  • Ears slightly too big for their head
  • Always looks like they’re plotting their next move
  • Visibly pleased with their devastating actions
  • 60cm high
  • Wet black nose…

Mugshot

Yes, that’s right. There is a murderer in our midst. Rusty the one year old Labrador (who, coincidently isn’t rusty coloured at all, even though we thought we were buying a fox-red lab. But that’s another story altogether).

So far this cold blooded murderer has killed a hare, a mole (although eye witnesses can neither confirm nor deny the health status of the mole before she delivered it to them, we have our suspicions), countless flies & spiders and now worst of all…her brother Trigger’s favourite toy, Doggie.

Trigger is the chalk to Rusty’s cheese – couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to as he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, let’s say. They aren’t coined Dick and Dork without reason, after all.

So when my darling ginger dork (who is very rusty coloured, by the way) was presented with Doggie as a birthday present in April, he was utterly delighted – paraded him around for all to see, laid resting his chin on his faithful friend during the day and slept with him at night. Just too cute for words.

So one quiet Wednesday evening I had a friend round for dinner and as we were chatting, I suddenly noticed it had gone extremely quiet and neither Labrador was hovering around my ankles in the kitchen as I prepared dinner. Like children, the ominous combination of silence and labradors is a foreboding prospect, especially when food is present.

Prompted by this suspicious circumstance, I started to wander into the sitting room, “what are you two up – OH.MY.GOD!!” Doggie was dead. Not just dead, ruthlessly decapitated and disembowelled with his innards strewn across the floor.

Trigger, lying there holding Doggie’s limp, lifeless body came running to me with a look of pleading to save his most favourite toy. Whimpering, begging me to help his bestest friend.

The suspect tried to flee from the scene but was swiftly apprehended by Giovanna and upon questioning, quickly confessed. Her lack of guilt was evident, a look of delight convinced me that only a psychopath could possibly have committed such a heinous crime.

Poor Trigger was inconsolable, I tried to prize the tattered, floppy Doggie from his mouth but he clung to him, desperately trying to protect his buddy from any further harm.

After a thorough post-mortem, it was evident that there was no bringing Doggie back from the dead. The murderer was temporarily imprisoned in her crate whilst I tried to comfort Trigger and break the news that Doggie was indeed deceased. RIP Doggie.

I must admit, his grieving process was rather quicker than I had anticipated. It only took a couple of days in fact before he seemed to have processed the traumatic experience and moved on. Aided, of course, by the fact that Grandma had scoured the shops of Seaton to find Doggie Mark II for her favourite boy and successfully found a replacement.

Not quite the same model, I admit, but Trigger clearly relates to Doggie Mark II’s Orange body and look, beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway, right?

He certainly looks pleased at least and I can confirm that no lasting psychological damage has been identified – in him at least, not quite sure I can say the same for “Rusty the Shredder”…

Until next time!