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The filly has been named: Caphouse Alice.

Shortly before this photo was taken she had been poking her nose in a mud puddle, just for the heck of it. So now she looks a bit like a donkey.

Through my viewfinder, this pic looked magnificent. Then I looked at it in detail on my computer and thought “she looks like a dirty, cheeky rascal.” Which I am sure is exactly what our Alice will turn out to be. Her colour is changing already; she is a dull dark brown (not a normal adult Dales pony colour) with grey/ sable sheeny patches.

She is already great friends with m’sister, and comes up to the fence for a nice scratch.

Look at that lip starting to tremble. My Alison is on her way to the top scratching spot.

And she’s got it. Shortly after this Alice moved away, I think in self defence before she fell over with sheer pleasure.

Here’s Winnie the Fell pony. They’re similar to Dales ponies but smaller. Winnie is now sharing a field with Alice and her mother, Doris, and all three have settled down well. Winnie and Alice are fast friends, which m’sister and I are really pleased about as the other ponies have given Winnie a bit of a hard time since she arrived, about 18 months ago.

Winnie also loves m’sister, and here she’s giving her a little nuzzle. Isn’t it lovely?

However what you can’t see is Willis, busily lowering the tone just out of shot with repeated attempts to hump Fly the Border collie. M’sister is looking down as the action is taking place around her ankles. I have to give Willis full marks for persistence as he just keeps on trying, no matter how many times he is shouted at by m’sister, or snapped at by Fly. 

 

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Anyone viewing this blog would probably think I lived an idyllic country life rather than my actual townie existence. So here are a few pics from the town/ city side of my life:

This is at the top of the Leeds University campus. The majority of buildings on the older part are redbrick, and many are terraces like this (go down to the bottom, nearer the city centre, and there are plenty of concrete monstrosities, but I’ll save those for another time). There are also loads of red brick terraces around Hyde Park, nearby. They probably looked lovely when they were built, as the lintels and door frames are of sandstone. There are a couple of buildings which have been cleaned up and the pinky cream of the sandstone really compliments the brick. However, sandstone picks up pollution very easily and consequently Leeds’ industrial history can be seen in the fact that the once lovely lintels are now black. Some people have added to the darkness by painting them black (why, I don’t know); others have tried to regain the original look by painting them cream or white. This is not that successful a move. The cream isn’t too bad, but not nearly as beautiful as the original stone, whereas the white is just – yuck. Especially where dampness and overhanging trees have resulted in the spread of green lichen over the white bits.

Look closely though, and you can still see some interesting features:

Like these coloured stone tops to the window arches. This is on the Faculty of Law, which the last time I visited was an absolute dump inside with extremely fierce and unhelpful staff in the general office. But the outside is nice.

And then there’s sheer beauty round the corner:

A horse chestnut tree in full bloom. Awesome.

 

Here’s Mort after his bath. (I tried to put these in my previous post, but WordPress wasn’t having any of it).

What surprised us most was all that white skin showing up – we thought he would have black skin, given the depth of his coat colour. He also looked a fair bit slimmer when wet, although he’s still definitely overweight. You have to brace yourself to pick him up, he’s that heavy. M’husband thinks he’s picking up food from some other house also, but I think it’s mainly because our other cat, Susan, has a tendency to eat three mouthfuls then wander off, leaving Mort to clean up after her.

 

 

What a beautiful bank holiday weekend. Glorious weather. Saturday I was working, but then Sunday we visited both my MIL and my parents. M’husband fitted a new leg to the caravan, and I wiped down the inside walls and surfaces ready for his trip off with the boys next weekend. Up at Ma and Pa’s, sons 2 and 3 joined me, Sparky and Fly the border collie to inspect m’father’s new field drains and ditches. It was so lovely, being down the field glorying at the hedges. I spotted a good clump of blackthorn and made a mental note to go back in August to get the sloes, and youngest son, the dogs and I hid from middle boy under a hawthorn tree/ bush. We had one of those perfect moments where boys and dogs were running with delight through a sea of buttercups – and of course, I didn’t have my camera.

On Monday we went to see Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull AND I got loads more gardening done. We all enjoyed the film, although youngest son and I simulataneously squeaked “It’s the janitor!” during the FBI interrogation scene. M’husband and I hate having to queue for anything, so we hustled everyone out of the house at 9.45am to get to the first showing nice and early. It was even more of a hustle as, after I got out of my bath, we put Sparky in (firstborn had been complaining of the smell she was making in his bedroom, although I suspect that may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black) and then m’husband decided it would be a good idea to bath Mort the black cat. Mort has a very thick coat, which he regularly leaves clumps of on the furniture and freshly cleaned carpets, and an occasional scurf problem, and m’husband has been theorising for some time that a bath may help. I refused to have anything to do with this scheme, mainly because I was dressed in clean clothes and my best t-shirt, so m’husband captured his cat, let some of the bath water out, plonked him in there and soaped him up with the (rather expensive) Eucerin skin soothing body wash. 

Despite being a pretty placid cat, Mort was appalled at this treatment and stalked off as soon as he was released. When we returned from the cinema and garden centre, m’husband went around picking up cat hair – I think Mort must have been grooming the entire time we were out.

 

You know I said I like stiles. Well here’s something even weirder; I love to see a lonely gatepost. By this I mean a gatepost which stands on its own, no gate, wall or fence surrounding it. History only knows what used to go on here that needed a gate. Like this one:

And notice, it’s not just a plain hunk of stone. Someone bothered to carve a bit of a pattern in it. Those hinges are so well inserted, they’re hanging on even though they haven’t been used (never mind oiled) for donkey’s years.

The two above were taken on the Ouzelwell slopes, near Lady Wood. The gateposts below can be found on the Caulms Wood escarpment a couple of miles away. When walking from my house, first you come to this one:

Which is pretty battered, but if you look closely you can still see bits of a stippled pattern. This stands on the bend of a really old cobbled track – actually, the bit where the track turns from cobbled to dirt.

Next you come to these two. You can still see the line of the old field boundary, and if you scrat around under the turf you can find the stones of a former dry stone wall. The problem with dry stone walls is that once they start to fall down it’s all too easy for people to pinch the stone. Not so with the gateposts, which must have as much below ground as they have above.

This pair of posts, on the other hand, stand in the middle of an expanse of grass with nothing to indicate the former boundary they provided a gateway through. The clump of trees on the top right is the site of a former house whose walls are no more than a foot high and buried in shrubbery. You can’t see it, obviously, but there’s another former house clump behind me. Don’t know whether the gateway was an easy way from one neighbour to get to the other, or whether a section of the track, which carries on across the hillside, broke off to come down to the second house.

The post standing on its own is extremely weathered, as you can see:

Its mate, however, has developed a symbiotic relationship with an elder bush, supporting the growth while the branches stave off the worst of the ageing process:

This was possibly installed by someone who considered themselves a cut above the rest, as they got a curved and carved top for their gatepost:

This obsession with nice bits of stone is maybe indicative of something in my psyche. I’m trying to avoid thinking about what.

 

1. Eat guinea pig poo (Sparky).

2. Eat horse and cow poo (Willis).

3. Sniff each other’s bottoms (Sparky and Willis).

4. Lick a bitch dog’s wee off leaves and fence posts (Willis).

5. Lift their back leg over the head of the licking dog, and attempt to have another wee (Sparky).

They love each other dearly, obviously.

I have been incredibly irritable and tired and snappy the last couple of days. I tried to have a guilt trip about the way I was behaving towards my family but I was too angry to do much more than say “I’m sorry for being a grumpy cow” a couple of times.  Felt like I was going insane and my life was a worthless trap, and I was even being mean to my lovely dog. Then I checked through my diary and turned out I was firmly in the PMT zone, which is a bit of a relief but not that much as I’m usually bloated and depressed at this point rather than snappy and short tempered. What is going on in my subconscious this time round?

1. I have data to key into an SPSS file from around 90 questionnaires. A boring grind, but not anger-worthy.

2. Mucho writing still to do on the research project. But that’s been the same for the last four months, so no change there then.

3. My eldest baby has left school! Well, he still has GCSEs to finish, and revision sessions to attend, and he’s going to sixth form in September, but still…. I had a little cry when he came home early on Thursday with marker pen signatures all over his shirt.

4. M’husband is driving me freaking insane with his rants about the price of fuel and the burden on the motorist. I totally zone out now when he starts, because I’ve heard it so often. I am reduced to suggesting that he finds new friends so he can spread his pain a little thinner. Despite all his financial woes he still decided he wanted our new fridge to be in silver rather than white, which cost him an extra 30 quid! I was staggered by the price of a fridge paint job.

If anyone can see any triggers to angry PMT-ness in all this, please enlighten me. On a more beautiful note, here are some pictures from my walk with Sparky last week, starting with some stiles. I love a good stile. Makes me feel all excited about what could be on the other side:

The dandelions are turning into clocks:

And I came across this flower, which I’ve never seen closer to home. Is it some sort of nettle? I’m really not sure:

And finally… peace and tranquility in the woods:

As found growing out on the tops and everywhere:

 

We’re all celebrating here because Doris (aka Sandtoft Princess) has produced a lovely filly foal. No name as yet; m’sister’s stud prefix is Caphouse and my dad is campaigning for Caphouse Alice. Here are the pics from my trip up there yesterday:

First I spotted Doris, but no foal:

Then as I chatted to Doris there was movement from a clump of grass and the baby staggered up from her nap:

And trotted over to her mum:

Got snuggled in nice and close to the milk source:

After a little while they got bored with me and wandered off, so I took Sparky for a little walk seeing as she was standing behind me pulling her most pathetic “I’ll just stand here while you take yet more pictures” face:

We had a good walk, and when we came back Doris deigned to notice us once more. Baby got up from her latest nap and then, to my surprise, decided to come over herself and say hello:

See the grey on her muzzle, and the sheen to her legs – she’s going to turn out dapple grey, just like her mamma.

At this point my camera batteries started playing up, and by the time I got things sorted they’d got bored with me once again and wandered off:

It’s going to be fun watching this girl grow.

 

Don’t you think that apple blossom is possibly the most beautiful thing known to man?

I do.