You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2009.

After some deliberation, I have come up with the following answer to the problems of parenting teenagers: Be skint. Stony broke. In the financial doghouse.

For if you are skint you can respond to various demands with absolute conviction in your tone when you say “I’m really sorry my darling boy, but I have no money. None whatsoever. You will have to buy your own designer jeans/ hair bleach/ deodorant/ illegal alcohol/ chavvy cap.” Your blasted yet beloved offspring may rant and rave at the basic unfairness of life, but in my experience they never fail to recognise the basic, unvarnished truth and either accept the lack of bleach/ jeans etc or go and get a part time job.

And whenever my darling boy proposes that he will drop out of sixth form in order to spend six months getting fit and applying to join the Paratroop Regiment, I can say with conviction: “Of course darling. It’s your future. But you must have either a job or a college place right up to going on basic training, or else I will be even more skint than I am now.” (Note to the childless – m’husband and I get family allowance plus tax credits until Firstborn is 19 AS LONG AS he is in further education).

For the first time ever in my life I am congratulating myself on my financial ineptness.


Yesterday I did a shortened version of the Myers-Briggs personality test on Facebook and got ENFJ. Which I have got before in the full version – or maybe it was ENFP? Anyway, there was an E and an N in there, and I’m pretty sure of the F. I think it’s pretty accurate.

This morning I did an even more bastardized version and got this:

ISFP: The Crackpot



Your personality is characterized by your impulsiveness, defiance of conformity and orthodoxy, and competitive nature. Taken together, these traits make up the ideal crackpot. While your personality might seem flighty and your attention span short to an outsider, you live by the motto “Life is best approach–oh, look, potato chips!”

You are always on the cutting edge of new trends. Whether it’s podcasting, taking up the guitar, or running away to a far-off east African compound and joining a doomsday apocalyptic cult, you are always following your heart and quickly embracing new ideas. However, you tend to be fleeting in your passions, which means they often may lack the dedication that marks a true cultist. While you often lack the dedication most people give to careers and family, you can still support yourself in more unorthodox ways, like by selling blood plasma, turning tricks, and mooching off your family.

Famous Crackpots include Joan of Arc and–oh, look, potato chips!


Stop laughing, brothers of mine. Although I have to say, the potato chip remark is uncannily accurate.

Loads and loads of beautiful blackberries are out there on the brambles. berries2 aug09

For every walk I take I must remember to wear thick jeans and stout shoes. For I cannot resist a berry if I see it. Even if it means I have to send a son into the thicket to retrieve it.

berries1 aug09

canal1 aug09

I walked Sparks along the canal the other day, starting from m’brother’s yard, and came to this lock. I’d forgotten all about it but we did used to go down here as kids. M’father had a yard at the top of the lane, which is known as Lock Street. (NB, yard = workshop/ industrial premises).

canal2 aug09

This is the Calder and Hebble Navigation, and the section I’m looking down is known as the Long Cut. I had walked along the offshoot which leads to the canal basin in Savile Town. If you click on the link it leads to a very good site, which has virtual tours along several canals including the Calder and Hebble. I particularly liked the views along the Rochdale Canal.

canal3 aug09

I couldn’t work out which bridge that was in the background.

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So that evening m’husband and I dragged Third-and-Final-Son down there for our evening dog walk. There was another boat just starting to go through the lock, so husband and son offered their services to help with the gates.

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At this point we started to think it might be fun to go on a canal boat holiday.

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The following week m’husband and I set out on another evening dog walk down by the canal. We set off from Thornhill, m’husband’s boyhood home, and walked past the ruined hall with its medieval moat, farm and duck pond, plus the medieval bowling green on the other side of the lane and over and under several disused railways until we came to Lady Anne Bridge.

canal7 aug09

It would have seen lots of industrial traffic a century or two ago, but now it will be rare for it to see anything other than the odd walker.

We walked further along the canal and then across the River Calder, as m’husband tried to work out how he and his brother used to get to the marshalling yards to watch the trains. Then back along the canal to the Midland Junction and Lock, and up the hill back to Thornhill. At this point our tentative plans for boating went on to the back burner, as the water was stinky. Really stinky. Stagnant. The stench stayed in my nostrils all the way back up the hill.

Pretty and tranquil is good. Stinky is not.

blueberries aug09

Lovely big fat blueberries growing on the allotment. They rarely make it back to the kitchen as Sarah and I stand and eat them as we chat by the polytunnel.

Yet again I am fed up, tired and depressed. I’ve had enough of being a mother to teenagers (one of them in particular) and working weird hours. I’ve only been back from holiday two weeks and I’m worn out already. I’m worried about money and I’m not getting any essays written.

Yesterday I had an appointment to discuss said essays with Cathy, my colleague and temporary tutor. Due to total lack of progress I seriously considered cancelling, but then decided that it was always good to see Cathy, it’s a nice drive through countryside to her house and, very important point, my preferred route takes me past the farm shop so I could buy my favourite cake and perk myself up. At which point good things started to happen:

Good Thing #1: The drive takes me through my home village. The sun was shining, the fields have been shorn of hay and corn, and the light was beautiful. At one particular viewpoint my heart swelled so much I nearly burst into tears. Sorry, no pictures of that. As per usual I was running late, and so couldn’t stop.

Good Thing #2: Excellent conversation with Cathy about work, study, teenagers and other stuff.

Good Thing #3: I bought chocolate brownies at the farm shop. Not what I went for, but still a good cake.

Good Thing #4: On my way home m’father flagged me down and gave me a big hug which smelt deliciously horsey. He and Gordon were working Foxy in the field.

seekcake1 aug09

She’s only been in harness a week, but she’s going really well. Look at those hocks – stepping under beautifully.

Good Thing #5: I got an ecstatic welcome from Walter, m’father’s wirebrush terrier:

seekcake2 aug09

Good Thing #6: Standing and watching the mares and foals.

seekcake3 aug09

Look closely – can you see how Belle (or is it Grace?) has got her foot up on Duke’s back:

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From now on, this is my motto:

Seek cake, for happiness will surely follow.

gyshorse15 jul09

Alice gets a final polish in the collecting ring before heading into the Ridings Ring for the yearling and two-year-old class at the Great Yorkshire Show.

I was holding the grooming bucket. I was also very much on my toes, so to speak, as I hadn’t planned to be joining the collecting ring crew and so was wearing a summer skirt and flip flops. Alice and Jasmine (below, with m’father) are good girls, but other people’s yearlings aren’t always so well behaved. Plus, these are horses with big feet, so a slight shock to any one of them can hit the barefooted human hard. My plan was to stand on the sidelines with m’husband, waving supportively, but then m’father spotted me and thrust the bucket upon me.

gyshorse16 jul09

Note to self: if attending a show where father and ponies are also present, ALWAYS wear boots. No matter what the weather.

caphouseduke2 jun09

Isn’t he gorgeous? Gorgeous and also, according to m’father, getting a little bit bolshy. Entirely understandable, seeing as he’s a colt. However, that lovely white blaze down his face means he is classed as a section B Dales pony (‘allowable’ white marks only include a star or snip), cannot be registered as an approved stallion, and will therefore have to be gelded in September.

He’ll be fine, I know he’ll be fine. The wondrous, beautiful Waterside Duke was a gelding. However I can’t help saying to the Caphouse boy “Enjoy your ballsiness whilst you’ve got it.”

Our holiday this summer was in Bodmin, Cornwall, at a very pleasant cottage named Clerkenwater Vean.

holiday1 aug09

It’s a semi-detached cottage and we were in the right hand side. Very very quiet and peaceful place, down in the valley bottom. Those who know me well are aware of my aversion to flood risks but, even though there was some heavy rain and Clerkenwater Leat runs past the cottage just a few feet to the right of the car, the water stayed securely within the banks so I felt safe.

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We would stroll along the lane with Sparky and turn onto a green lane alongside the leat. The air was always cool and moist, and there was moss and ferns everywhere.

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It was very soothing watching the water burble over the rocks.

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A little way along the track there was a ford, with a footbridge.  The light was dim from the overhanging trees and, this being Cornwall, there are no street lights. Not like West Yorkshire where street lights illuminate just about every road where there could possibly be night time traffic, even out in the countryside. Peace, perfect peace.

Just three slight snags with all this peace, quiet and tranquility. One, I came back home, ventured out to the shopping centre, and was absolutely overwhelmed by humanity and advertising. Note to self: leave any shopping for at least a week after returning from a relaxing holiday.

Second point: when holidaying a long way down a quiet country lane draw back your bedroom curtains after you’ve turned the lights out. I forgot on our first night in Cornwall, and when I woke up in the middle of the night I thought I had gone blind. There was no light, shade or anything I could get my bearings by. None whatsoever. After a minute or two I remembered where I was and groped my way across the bed to the window and pulled the curtains back. Even then there wasn’t much light, seeing as we were deep in the valley and surrounded by trees. I never drew my curtains growing up, seeing as my bedroom looked out over fields, but even then there was plenty of night time light as we were on top of a hill and you could usually see the street lights on Whitley Road a mile across the valley.

Third: Even though you are deep in the countryside, pull your curtains after dark if you have the lights on and the window open. Because, if you surrounded by trees, your house will soon be full of Very Big Moths.

gyshorse7 jul09

Heavy horses. Enough said.