21 December 2009


Yes, it really is that time of year again, already, and I am for once reasonably organised. Hot hubby struggled through the snow to get the last of the food shop today while I stayed at home and made sure the fire didn't go out....girls were home due to adverse weather and I can't see them getting in tomorrow either as getting home could be an issue so Christmas holidays have started a few days early. the only sad thing is that means no carol service and nativity which is always one of the real highlights of the season.

So, that's 2009 almost over and I was only on May! Hope 2010 is a little slower.

09 December 2009

This just in...

I saw this on my friend Michelle's page and I loved it! Watch right to the end, it's so funny.

04 December 2009

A High Old Time at Highland Madness!!

I'm home again after a day and night away Christmas shopping in Aberdeen. Lots of lovely lights, lots of shopping and no I do not feel in the least bit guilty about missing pilates as I spent 5 hours trudging round shops with only one - yes ONE - tea stop. Hot hubby stayed at home with scrumpy while Bear was away at respite. It was me and my shopaholic sister in law hitting the town unsupervised! It has become an annual event, well this is the second year we've done it.

After Meg let me do something aside from fuss her (I left her! What was I thinking?? I was back! YAY!!) I checked my emails and found this which I thought was great! Still lots more Christmas stuff to do, but I made it back in time for the school coffee morning (so now it really is officially Christmas)

27 November 2009

Hijack a Holiday!


To one and all but especially those across the pond!

Remembering how lucky we are is always a good thing but turkey and pumpkin pie will not be on my list of good things...bleuch!

21 November 2009

Live and unleashed!

Click here for the link to BBC Scotland iPlayer and we're about 45 minutes in...I'm not sure if people outside the UK can see it but this was our four minutes of fame! Feel free to laugh, cry and comment - it's only up until 28th November so don't say I didn't warn you.

03 November 2009

I'll not let it go to my head......

Had a call from the BBC. Our producer spoke to Press Office and now they want to use us for the advertisements for Children in Need.

Tesco shopping will never be the same again

- "Do I know you?"
- "Oh you may have seen me on the telly...."

Can you imagine it?? Oh this is just so funny!!

One neighbour is in on the reality TV joke and is primed to confirm if asked by the one who "happened to walk by" when we had our day filming. I'll let you know if it comes off, well, I'll get my people to tell your people.....

28 October 2009

Confessions of a rotten mother

Scrumpy is very seldom naughty, and when she is it's short lived, but yesteray I went to check on her in her room to find that not only had she moved her pine double bed across the room in an attempt to get it out the door (again) she had also detached the head board. The bed is dead.

I sort of lost it. I didn't shout, but I dished out the punishment big time. It was the ultimate and in retrospect it was maybe a little heavy handed. I confiscated the video remote control for two sleeps.

She cried.

For about an hour, she cried. A little puffy face came and said "Control disappeared"

"Yes" I said but as the word left my mouth I realised all too late what I'd said and she crumpled again - "Disappeared" means gone for good. I tried my best to convince her, to get her to understand it was not disappeared just gone for two sleeps (a concept she can understand) but the sobbing kept getting in the way. We went through all our usual comfort things, reassurance things, what's happening things - including the return of the remote - I did all I could do.

I am a bad mother.

She cried herself to sleep. Scrumpy never cries, and I made her cry herself to sleep. I'm hoping I have done the right thing in sticking to my original plan and not caving (which I really wanted to do!) but only time will tell. Tomorrow the ordeal will be over.

23 October 2009

Fame at Last!

As you know, our girls get to go to holiday club and after school club run by a charity and although we pay for them to go , places are heavily subsidised to maintain the right staff ratios. It works brilliantly and provides a lifeline to a lot of families, sometimes it's the only form of respite they get.

The charity got a large donation form BBC Children in Need and to cut a long story short we got asked to do one of those "Why we still need your money" slots they show on the fund raising nights. By the way, Children in Need is 20th November this year.

Yesterday, after a multitude of questions over several long phone conversations with the researcher we spent from 9.30 to 5.30 filming with the BBC. What a day!

First they filmed us arriving at the holiday club venue with the girls. Scrumpy was good and walked in with Hot Hubby but Bear decided to go all camera shy and locked her arms around my neck saying "Hug you! Hug you!" so I had to walk her backwards to wards the door. Once in she took a moment to get her bearings and then she was off. Phase one (for us) complete, they continued to film the girls doing activities while we dashed home to have a meeting with the speech therapist and some of our support staff.

Just as we finished with the therapist, the film crew arrived and we barely had time to wee before they had us interviewing outside the house. We were really nervous but the crew were really good at putting us more at our ease and encouraging us to stick with it. Not sure what the neighbours thought but I did see one lot "happen to walk past" - we're going to kid them on it's for a reality TV show.

From the outside slot we moved in to the house and I had to do a little talk about each of the rooms we have specifically for the girls - wet room, Bear's chill out room, that kind of thing, followed by the "Oh yes, and here we have one of our many keypad locks....."

We then had to do sit down interview and got asked all sorts of questions about what autism means (hope I did it justice, I managed to get in that what it means to us is different to what it means to other families but I laid in bed last night and thought of so much more I wanted to say!) and what the funding from Children in Need means to us and the charity.

We just about had time to stuff back some lunch before collecting the girls and heading home to be met by the crew who filmed for another two hours - you know that chaotic time between coming home from school and tea? That's what they got.

All in all, it was an exciting, exhausting experience. Considering the finished article will only be a 4 minute slot there'll be an awful lot of us on the cutting room floor. I certainly wasn't prepared for it to be as full-on as it was and I'm not sure I'd want to do it again - for one thing Bear would DEFINITELY get the hairy sound thing, it just escaped this time....but next time.....

We will get a DVD of the final film after they show it on 20th November, BBC Scotland. I will post a linky thing if possible.

09 October 2009

Twenty years and counting!

On 7th October 2009, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary (yes, I was a child bride!) and to mark the occasion we had a great big idea to go camping and have special meal out. We stuck to the plan right up to the point we saw the forecast was for high winds and lows of freezing. We would have still gone but our nights of total respite (both girls in at the same time) are precious and as we were both already tired we decided to ditch the adventure in favour of a bit of luxury.

Heaven is an hour and a half north in Helmsdale!

We booked into the Bridge Hotel in Helmsdale and had the most amazing food ever. Hot Hubs and I are partial to seafood and chose, after long deliberation with a G&T, lobster and crab to start. They get them from the harbour at Helmsdale and keep them live in tanks. (Anonymous stop reading NOW!) we were shown our lobster prior to cooking so it really was just about as fresh as you can get. It was just amazing. We absolutely stuffed ourselves on beautifully cooked starters and had barely any room left for our main courses. Hot Hubby stayed with seafood and had his ultimate favourite of queen scallops and I had a roe deer dish which was cooked with an array of mushrooms and was just divine. The dessert list looked great but sadly there was no way either of us could even contemplate it.

We retired to our suite(!) to veg on the sofa and watch a film with the end of our wine and a coffee. No children, nothing to do, just us.

We were woken in the morning by the clock tower chiming outside and (some of) you will have no idea the luxury it was to lay there knowing we didn't have to get up and no one was going to leap on us or drag us out of bed by the ankles (thank you "Lady & the Tramp").

We wandered downstairs for a spot of breakfast just after nine (scrambled eggs and I didn't have to wash the pan!) and hit the winding road home just after 10am. We took a back road which had been recommended for the stunning scenery and we weren't disappointed. We did wish at a couple of points we took the Landrover instead of the Mazda but it was good fun and we were back in time to relax before the girls were home ready for the holidays.

05 October 2009

Got something to say?

I LOVE getting comments on this blog or on Facebook. I also love to know who thinks what so I have gone down the comment moderation route and from now on no name, no comment.

Think it, say it stand by it.


Today, tomorrow and the day after

Today I collected a box of 15kg of lamb. I peeked inside as I put it in the freezer and was pleased to see a range of lean looking joints and chops. Tonight I've got to crate up 17 ducks ready for transport tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'm going to be processing 17 ducks.

The day after I'm going to be gutting 17 ducks.

Anonymity in numbers is a good thing.

On the subject of anonymity, the previous commenter will be pleased to read that my original 6 ducks will be remaining unharmed as usual in their happy home. Malcolm and his girls will be flying around the place tormenting next doors dogs for few years yet and it's not just because they're too old to taste good.

29 September 2009

The deed is done

From this

to this

and then to my freezer.

Yesterday I took Sean to the slaughter house and next Tuesday I'll be collecting a big box of bits. I'm planning a celebration dinner of Roast Lamb and all the trimmings.

Actually, next Tuesday is shaping up to be a big day. Not only do I collect Sean but it's also the day I take the ducklings to be "processed". I'll have a far more hands on roll in their journey from field to freezer and, having had a training session I know what to expect, it's not so bad as you might imagine. I'll spare you the details but if you really want to know I'll email you.

14 September 2009

Autism parents (and others!) take note

I have found a great blog called autisticspeaks.blogspot.com. Read and inwardly digest, people, you will learn a lot from Lydia. And for those of you who know my Bear - read very carefully, for this is what we have. They are so similar it is scary.

The source of all that chunkiness is....

Toads. Tim has a taste for toads. This morning, in my half asleep state putting my dickies on for bird duties, I couldn't make out what it was on the floor in the half light. On further investigation in turned out to be a live toad, about 4 inches long and breathing hard. On the worktop sat a cat looking very pleased with herself. I put the toad outside and by the time I got back it was gone - I'm hoping to the undergrowth not Tim's tum!

12 September 2009

I'm back...

Not sure where to start so let's just dive right in and start with the menagerie.

Sean the sheep is still with us and eating like a demon. He's due for the chop first week in October or when we can get him booked in after that. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I feel privileged to be in a position to grow my own meat, to know exactly where it's been and what's happened to it. I'm looking forward to tasting the difference - and the best part is the price lambs are fetching at the mart is up this year so I'll be saving even more money! On the other hand he's our first lamb and we've raise him as an only one so no anonymity of scale and numbers. He's chewed my dickies, butted my hand for a pat and made a dash down the corridor when Bear let him in the house. He's still going for the chop.

The ducks have all grown like weeds. The first hatch will be ready for the oven in October. I have no worries about these as we have 21 of them. They've only been here for 16 weeks when they go so no emotional attachment. Just don't try anything with my original six. Two have already gone as livestock and another pair will be going shortly once the fox proofing at their new residence has been tested.

The chickens and bantams are all in good health, entertaining as ever!

On to the cats. Bruce is a murderer. He's been catching swallows in the garage and eating them. I have no problem with this - he's just being a cat after all - but does he have to bring them in to eat? I think not. I have put a request in that if he must catch birds can he make it a crow. He was listening, watch this space. Tim is cheeky as ever and getting quite chunky so she must be earning her keep.

Meg is still a big sook and doing her best to keep us all in order.

Scrumpy has been having a high old time of it with different medications, seizures and treatments. Will we ever get her seizures under control? Possibly not until we get the other side of puberty, but I have hopes for the current new drug. At time of writing she has been seizure free for 7 days. Don't go getting too excited though, historically this is just to lull you into a false sense of security. She has a pattern of a good spell of a week or two after we introduce something then it's back to square one. MRI, play therapy and an EEG to come. The play therapy is to desensitize her head so she can tolerate the EEG. Aside form all of that she's really enjoying school and the routine of term time. Since coming off one of her medications she's much brighter and has come out with "You've just made a serious mistake!" in response to a request to tidy up videos and "Nice try" when caught "borrowing" toys from the respite centre!! My favourite was "Whatever!" when asked to pull her trousers up. She turns 12 this month, my baby's growing up!

Bear is just the best. Language is coming in spurts - "Pasta, Wow!" and "Please" best word is "Cheese". Sleep continues to be a non-event passed 4am, that combined with Scrumpy's 11pm settling doesn't give me a lot of time in between. Speech therapist and school are working on a plan for her so although she's still in the same class (should have moved really) she'll have her own itinerary and a more appropriate work load.

Aside from the lack of sleep I have to report a good year for veg growing, shame about veg sales. Last year it was the opposite way round. Maybe next year we'll get it together? We all ready have the prospect of a weekend down south as my sister in law is expecting twins (!!) in April. A three year old boy and twins - God bless her! Who knows what else is in store. Can't beleive I'm already thinking of next year and we still have three months left of this one. Am I wishing my life away? No, it just seems to pass me by way too quickly.

Good news! I don't have to do two weeks jury service next week - YAY!! It would be quite interesting to do jury service but just not now. I have a birthday to plan for a very special 12 year old, a 23 yearold to hold up at the dentist (root canals don't hurt, do they?) and 20 years of marriage to celebrate. I do not have time for jury service now. Ask me another time, when things are calmer. Huh? Well, when it's not the best birthday of the year then.

18 August 2009

Ah, um, well, it's like this....

I have been absent, a bad blogger, for a while now because of several cumulative factors - primary of which is the lack of internet connection but I must confess that life has a peculiar way of interrupting. We've had weddings, school holidays, sickness, seizures - all toppped off with WAY to much to do. So, you see, I haven't exactly had much time to write and now I'm only stopping by to say I don't have time. I'm off to do farming things while the kids are back to school and Hot Hubby does the property developing thing - we just bought two houses to rent out seeing as the bank rate is in free fall. Oh no, wait, it hit ROCK BOTTOM, any lower and we'll be paying them for the pleasure.

Hope to give you chapter and verse in the not too distant!

29 June 2009

At Last!!!

I FINALLY have my order, my COMPLETE order from Argos. 44 days and numerous monumental Argos stuff-ups later I have my order. I'd like to say I'm happy but I think what I'm feeling is better described as relief. Relief that the whole s@*ding nightmare is finally over. CC reports I am not alone. So - why didn't you tell me BEFORE I ordered?? Now there's two of us sworn off Argos on-line.

25 June 2009

The shambles that is Argos on line

Never again. Never ever again will I shop at Argos on-line. Complete and utter shambles does not even come close to describing their complete incompetence. Here's the story of our one-date-wonder.

16th May we decided to take advantage of a scheme run by Family Fund and get a discount on goods bought at Argos. The registering and purchasing was a song and dance in itself but having eventually completed the order we sat back to wait for the thud on the mat. Like most Autism parents we're experienced internet shoppers. We know how it works. Argos on-line apparently do not.

Time passed and our order didn't arrive. I called the customer services number and was told it had been shipped and should be with us by the end of the week. The end of the week came and went. No order. I called again and customer services was not happy when I wouldn't be fobbed off again with the same story. They gave me the scary music treatment but finally told me it had been delivered and signed for. What?? Well not by me matey!

After much persistence on my part they eventually found out they had sent vouchers for my order to the Family Fund office. Why would I ask for vouchers to take to the store?? I'm shopping on-line because it's more convenient!! This isn't rocket science. I order goods and pay for them, they dispatch them to me. At this point I start to loose patience. Thankfully they put me on to someone who appeared to have use of a brain cell who called me back to say what had happened and that she had sorted it out. My order would be dispatched and would be with me in the next few days. Again we waited. Again no order arrived.

I called her back. She gave me dispatch numbers so I could track it on line and sure enough a week later HALF the order arrived. By this time it was 222nd June. I talked to the delivery guy - we live in the back end of no where, we know our delivery guys - who said if he wasn't here by half ten he wasn't going to be here. The next day, you guessed it, no order. I went on line (thankfully our internet connection was holding up) to discover someone had signed for it in N7 not IV7. By this time I was beyond shouting. Steam was coming out of my ears.

I called again. Apparently, even though Parcel Force were able to deliver the other items, they "had trouble finding the address" and the other items had been returned to Argos depot. I sit here seething, quietly waiting for the rest of my order. I have a new dispatch number and I know how to use it. If it's not here as promised on Monday there will be big banana trouble.

Watch this space for further developments and in the mean time don't even think about using Argos on-line unless you are loosing the will to live. You have been warned.

13 June 2009

We have ducklings!!

Our very first home grown babies. Cute or what?

05 June 2009

I'm back all too soon....

For the most part I will let the photos talk for themselves. Hot-hubby and I had a wonderful two days away (well, one night, but I want to big it up!) on the west coast. There was no mobile signal anywhere. We were incommunicado. It was warm and sunny, we sat outside the pub (no kids around because they're all in school) with a pint of local beer, or two. Life just doesn't get much better.
a view on the way

The sign at the beginning of the road....

The view up the valley

and the view back down the road we just drove

and the view from the top of the highest road in Britain! That's Skye and Raasay you can see, what doesn't show is how cold and windy it was up there!

Camp Highland Madness! Look at that sunshine!! I actually regretted not having sunscreen with me.

Those hills again but from Applecross Bay....well, just outside the pub actually, right before the second pint!!

Having gotten the camping bug we intend to get a better tent, a WAY better bed accommodation (self inflating mattress my eye!), not to forget the chairs or the tea pot and to get some enamel mugs because tea out of plastic mugs borrowed off the kids just doesn't taste good. Next trip, Cairngorm national park...

03 June 2009

Ging gang goolie and all that ....

We interrupt this planting marathon to go camping at Applecross!! We have a tent, camp cooker and a self inflating mattress. Just call me Bear Ghrylls!

(not sure if that's how you spell it but you know who I mean!)

Yes of course it's just me and Hot-Hubby, I'm not brave enough to take the girls. There now, I've broken out in a cold sweat just thinking about it! Full report and possibly pics to follow.

What if....?

This, amongst other things, got me thinking again about the age old question - what if my girls were "normal"? Where would life have taken us? What would life be like? One thing for certain is we would not be here at Highland Madness. the girls being the way they are was the catalyst that gave us the push, the drive and the courage to make such a dramatic change to our lives, both geographically and actually. If they were "normal", we wouldn't have the quality of life we now have. Hot-hubby would still be working 25 hours a day, I would have gone back to work once the kids were at school, we would have lived comfortably, as we did in our previous life, but would we have been happy? My guess is probably not as happy as we are now, or maybe it would just be a different happiness.

All in all, I am so content here, having dropped out, planting trees and currently feeding lambs, thinking how tasty they're going to be and trying to remember to water the blasted poly tunnel.

I wrote this post some time ago and have been too busy to get round to publishing it. I can report no change, just more jobs and more planting - I'm on to veg and strawberries now!

23 May 2009

Every home should have one!

Sean's filling out nicely, all those early morning feeds are paying off. Unfortunately Spot didn't make it. He got pneumonia and despite my best efforts and the guiding hand of the Sheep Whisperer he is now pushing up the orchard. It was all valuable experience and hasn't put me off keeping livestock. Sean goes for a little trip to Munro's in the autumn when (fencing allowing!) pigs arrive. There is a hopefully minor hurdle to overcome for all of this to be successful. I need to learn to reverse a trailer. I'm hoping to persuade the Sheep Whisperer to teach me - apparently if I didn't have Grandma rights I'd have to take another test in which I would have to parallel park in a space no longer than 1.5 times the length of the rig drop the trailer then pull forward and reverse in to hitch up again only getting out the car three times. With 1" leeway each direction that's hard.

08 May 2009

Granny Power

Scrumpy and Bear's Gran (my Mum!) is walking the West Highland Way to raise money for SOAR Youth Projects. It's a long way over rough ground and she almost wasn't able to do it due to surgery on her shoulder last month. Let her feel the love by sponsoring her here. It's lashing wind and rain right now so she needs all the encouragement she can get!!

28 April 2009


I'm on a roll. Not only have I faced my technofear demons to add the follower's button on here, today I blasted them and joined Facebook. So far I really can't see the point of it - the people who are my friends and wrote on my wall would know my email address and I got emails to say they had written on my wall and what they had written. So why do I need Facebook? They can just email me. I'm obviously missing something monumental.

By the way I'm on there as Amanda highland madness

26 April 2009

The new bit on the side bar....

I've fought the techno-fear and added a new feature - you can now sign up and be a follower of my blog. Just click on the button thingy on the right and do what it says and you'll get to know when I post a new story, and I'll get to feel less like Billy No-mates!

Not for the calory challeneged....

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

4 tbs flour
4 tbs sugar
2 tbs cocoa
1 egg
3 tbs milk
3 tbs oil
3 tbs choc chips (optional)
splash vanilla plus your favourite tipple

Add dry ingredients to your largest mug and mix well.
Add the egg and mix thoroughly
Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.
Add the chocolate chips (if using), vanilla extract and a drop or two of your favourite tipple
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high)
The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous)
Those of us who don't eat cocoa can of course substitute flour for cocoa and design our own flavours!

24 April 2009

Todays the day!

We're off with out the kids!!

No, we're not abandoning them with a little sign around their necks saying "Please look after me" (tempting as that is) we're off to a family wedding. We even get to fly in a proper aeroplane! I'm so excited!! Flying, posh hotel and frocks - what more could a girl ask for?

Scrumpy and Bear would not enjoy it so they're going to have more fun than you can shake a stick at in the respite centre. Whoever's looking after Bear's going to get a work out. The evenings are getting lighter and that means mischief. Unfortunately she thinks it's hysterical to pee on her bed and put her fingers down her throat to make herself sick. I'm hoping for a short phase. That and a new washing machine with a bigger load capacity.

Hotel AND a washing machine. Does that make me high maintenance??

20 April 2009

This is actually pretty cool...

Did you know Mars is going to be the closest it's ever been in human history in August this year? It'll rise in the east and fall in the west, growing throughout the month but being at it's peak on 27th August. It'll be the next brightest thing in the sky to the moon and of a similar size.

Here's hoping for some clear nights in August, it'll be worth a few late nights as it won't happen again for another few thousand years - something to do with Pluto apparently.

Don't say I don't tell you anything interesting.

18 April 2009

16 April 2009

We have new arrivals

One of the many joys of having proper farmer friends is you get to help out with orphan lambs. Spot and not spot were chosen for the fact they have a distinguishing feature meaning I can identify them without naming them. They are not pets. They may be impossibly cute but they are not pets and someday in the not too distant future they will be taking a short trip to Munro's. After that they'll come home to live in the freezer....This is the thought I kept in the front of my mind when I was up at 6am in the freezing cold feeding them. They've just had a top up and spot is not gulping down quite as much as not spot but I'm hoping this will sort out and is not a bad sign. I have been warned they have a habit of dying on you before time.

So here they are

and here's not spot feeding

How cute is that? Now think rack of ribs and sunday roast....

We're hoping to swap lamb for bacon with Catherine who has one of these

and if we can get our fencing sorted we'll maybe produce our own next year.

Bear is in her element and is just delighted with the lambs. She was equally excited about Catherine's pig so maybe we have a budding farmer in the family. Her excitement was tempered with gentleness with the animals but the joy on her face was uncontainable.

Livestock means we have to get a stock trailer and I have to learn how to reverse it. I'm going to book a course so if you're wanting a good laugh, watch this space.

14 April 2009

A sigh of relief and a bacon roll

Aahhh! That lovely feeling when term starts again, and my treat for the first day back - bacon roll for breakfast after they've gone. You all know how much I adore my girls but it is so good when they're in school, and they'll be going everyday except one until the end of June.

We had a lot of fun over the Easter break, in fact I would go so far as to say it was two weeks of fun and mayhem. We got out and about nearly every day and the weather was so good Scrumpy was paddling in the sea in bare feet on two days. Everyone else had waders or wellies on but she was in there, happy as a sandboy, gradually turning blue.

Now of course I have to catch up on all the jobs that didn't get done because I was bunking off, plus all the chaos because it was school holidays. Oh well, there's no such thing as a free lunch as they say so I s'pose I best get going.....swimming tonight followed by chips in the cafe.....more fun, Yippee!

12 April 2009

Happy Easter! (and happy baking!)

NEIMAN-MARCUS COOKIES (Recipe may be halved)

2 (500 ml) cups butter
680 g chocolate chips
4 (1000 ml) cups flour
2 (500 ml) cups brown sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) Bicarb soda
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
2 (500 ml) cups sugar
500 g Grated Cadbury chocolate
5 (1250 ml) cups blended oatmeal
4 eggs
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
3 cups (375 ml) chopped nuts ( optional )

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder.
Cream the butter and both sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla, mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt,
Baking powder, and Bicarb (soda).
Add chocolate chips, grated Chocolate , and nuts.
Roll into balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes at (180 ?C ) 375 degrees.
The above quantities make ? 112 cookies.

07 April 2009


Today was a good day. We went to Landmark Forest Theme Park and not only did we all have a good time, our visit was seizure free.

Last year we tried a visit, packing two extra pairs of hands as one does, and had a disaster with Scrumpy having a seven minute seizure at the top of a 30 foot high slide. we then had to carry her, post emergency meds and post-ictal, down the assault course that was the approach to said slide. Not fun at all.

Today we packed three extra pairs of hands and arrived feeling mildly confident that the park would not beat us this time to see the longest queue to get in you have ever seen. Scrumpy and Bear just about made it while we found a place to park, there was no way we were going to queue. Luckily I spotted a person who looked like they worked there. Actually she didn't but she did get the general manager out for me and he very kindly walked us right to the head of the queue (I can still feel those eyes burning into me. Oooooh the venom!) He actually remembered us from last year (still not sure if that's a good thing!) and offered to get us to the front of the line for one of their new activities. Not only that but he apologised for not being able to take us to the front of the waterslide for fear of being mobbed with complaints. I'll give him that one, it is very popular and we couldn't expect the red carpet everywhere!

Everything went brilliantly, even the promised heavy showers didn't materialise until we were driving home. The only snag was a Scrumpy special - the longest loudest and most demonstrable tantrum you have ever seen in your life. It started before we left the park and carried on for the whole hour driving home. at one point we had to pull over to calm her down and get her back in her seat. But, Bear coped well and did not retaliate.

Like I said, today was a good day.

02 April 2009

Oh the joys of Easter Holidays!!

Day six and I still have all my hair.

Last night we went swimming after Holiday club, much to Scrumpy's disgust. She really needed to go home first and then go but the "Disabled session" time meant we had to go from one to the other. She had a tantrum/meltdown all the way there (partly because we were NOT going to the aquadome, home of the guarnteed seizure) and then, after much persuasion to get out of the car, laid down on the door mat in reception. For half an hour, give or take.

I did my usual is she safe? Yes. Ignore it routine, much to the amusement of a mum sat at the other end. She completely understood, in a been there done that got the t-shirt kind of way, and the staff as usual were amazing. They followed my lead ignoring her and then when she calmed down one of the guys came over and asked if she wanted to go swimming.

"NO!!" as only scrumpy can

"OK" quite matter of factly and he walked away.

I love our leisure centre staff.

She did eventually get in the pool and had a great time. The staff ran the flume for her and then put all the water features on too. Just for us. Did I mention how much I love our leisure centre staff?

Bear was just delighted to be swimming again with Surfer Girl and Aussie.

Credit crunch bites Chicken!

Hot Hubby went to get more wood shavings for the chicken house. The guy at the suppliers said he didn't know when he would be getting any more in because construction has taken a down turn.


The joiners aren't working so the saw mills aren't getting orders so the wood shavings aren't being produced.

Straw it is then.

27 March 2009

Eat like a King for 9p

Hot hubs has found the delights of Morrisons near closing time. They reduce all kinds of stuff down to 9p.

Swordfish steaks £3.50 down to 9p
Pack of four fresh meat pies down to 9p
5 pack of doughnuts - 9p

Why 9p I have no idea but it works for me!

Meat loaf, enough to feed four hungry people - 9p
Cooked boneless roast pork - 9p

So, see you there around 7.30pm?

Spinach Hairs

This week saw a leap forward for Scrumpy. She started going to Youth Club run by SOAR youth projects. Surfer Girl is going with her just to keep her away from the dvd's and computer but other than that she's on her own, with her friends, hangin' with her honeys. What would I give to be a fly on the wall?? She's not a little girl any more, she's started her teenage years already. (sniff!) As part of the deal the SOAR bus picks her up and drops her back at a half way point so it really is going out without the parents! (sniff!)

So she would know what it was she was going to we first took her for a visit. We went in and she was immediately off with a girl she knows from school - positive start I thought - I hung around and felt quite the spare part so nipped off and got a take away for tea. When it was time to go (cold curry not such a treat) Scrumpy was having none of it. she wasn't going home, not even for TV, videos or computer. Serious indeed (autism mums are with me, right?) and just proves what a hit youth club was going to be.

We eventually persuaded her to come home. On the way I had a full and detailed report from Surfer Girl, "she really loved the spinach hairs"

"Spinach Hairs? Who are they?"
"No, spinnin'chairs"
"Never heard of them, I've only just caught up with Scouting for Girls"
"No, spinnin'chairs"

By this point Surfer girls was killing herself laughing

This went on for a while so I'll cut to the punch line...

"S-P-I-NN-I-N-G C-H-A-I-RS!!"

Fork handles any one?

Scrumpy has also had a hair cut - it's now a short layered bob with a fringe and opinion is divided as to weather she looks older or younger with it. Whichever, it looks great and she's just full of herself doing the whole hair stroke flounce thing. In order to get her out to the hairdresser for the 4.30pm appointment Surfer girl ran in and confiscated the TV remote before Scrumpy got in the house from school. Scrumpy was not impressed. We had our first door slamming moment. I am quite proud to say I managed to ignore it, more due to shock than anything else, and we made it to the hairdresser on time.

It wasn't the best time for Scrumpy as she was over tired but after a couple of false starts and lots of "brother bear"s (big hug) we managed to get it done and went for a bag of chips to celebrate.

In other news, Hot hubs and I had a hot date while the girls were both in respite. We took a drive down to Carlisle in the little black car to see Big Help - she who left us for love. It was a beautiful day and we had the top down, music blaring all the way to Perth where the motorway starts. There were no serious hold ups but it still took about 5 1/2 hours door to door. So much for Big Help's "4 1/2 hours tops".

Hot hubs drove there and I was able to take in the beautiful scenery as we zipped along. Thanks to John Robison I also had a new appreciation for all the ancient bridges we passed and a sadness for the 1960's concrete spans we passed under as we blitzed the motorway section of our trip.

We arrived safely and found Big Help and her house. A quick tour of the farm, cows, calves, dogs etc and we hit the pub for a couple of pints. Proper beer in a proper pub. Can't remember the last time we did that. Then it was back to Big Help's house for Chicken fajitas and a glass or two of wine.

The journey home the next day wasn't quite so exhilarating as it was too cold to have the roof down but it was fun all the same and we made it home in time to get a cup of tea before the girls came home from school. We were tired but it was fun and we some how felt recharged in a knackered kind of way.

As you can tell by the length of this post, the weather is too wet to get going out side. We have puddles in our poly tunnel and it's not funny any more. On a positive note the chucks are laying well and provided the Easter presents for the staff at school. Scrumpy and Bear decorated egg boxes and we filled them half with real eggs then topped them up with chocolate ones. We had quite a production line going and I'm pleased to say both girls did their bit, which funnily enough wasn't filling the boxes!!

Easter Holidays start today and I'm looking forward to two weeks of fun and mayhem. We have organised a lot of help so with two days a week at holiday club and getting out and about with us the girls are in for a fun time. Pray for dry weather. Pray really hard or we're going to get wet.

PS Cats are now earning their keep. Bruce has brought two dead bodies in to play. I found him batting a dark shape across the floor and leaping on it. "What's that act got now?" I thought "Oh." Thankfully they were very dead and still intact so easily disposed of. Tim seems to be keeping her "activities" outside, which is to be encouraged. So should I praise Bruce for his efforts or reprimand him? Cat's are too dense to get "Good boy but keep it outside next time"

PPS Just got a letter in the post with respite dates - we have another night off in April. WHOOPEE!! What shall we do?

21 March 2009

The after shock - I mean shot!

So here it is, proof indeed that Hot-Hubs has sexy legs, complete with logging scars. He was very brave and even let amateurs have a shot at ripping the wax strips off his leg.

There's still time to donate HERE. to boost the current running total for the fun day of £745. Come on let's make it a round £800, you know you want to! Wasn't that picture worth it??

15 March 2009

Hot-Hubby gets in touch with his feminine side!

On 21st March these legs will not only be sexy but waxed in public at the SOAR Fun Day. You can make it all worth while by making a donation HERE. I told him it wouldn't hurt so please be generous!

SOAR provide after school clubs, holiday clubs, youth clubs and a YOFI group (Youth Opportunity For Independance) for children and young people affected by disability.

27 February 2009

'mooning in America

My niece and her betrothed are planning a road trip from Atlanta to Nashville for their honeymoon - anyone got ideas where they should visit and what they should do? They're going in August this year.

15 February 2009

It's a hard life being Bruce!

Oh the shame of it! Who thought ginger and pink was a good look?

14 February 2009

A waste of good wine

I confess, I like hospital dramas. There you are, it's out there for all the world to know, sort of like an AA moment - "Hello, my name's Amanda and I like hospital dramas" I tend to record what I want to watch and then view it around kids and house in snatches. Occasionally, as last night, I get to sit down with a glass of wine and watch a bit while Hot-hubs is chef-ing. Holby City - I feel you cringe from here but come on, it's harmless as vices go - the story line unfolds about an adult with Aspergers' who's current obsession is his illness. Fine, no issues so far, then the consultant character says - and I quote as closely as I can - "Autism's a gift, no big deal, like being left handed." That's the wine spewing moment. "Like being left handed" Words fail me. Auntie Beeb has obviously sacked it's researchers. They certainly didn't ask any questions before that went out and I wonder how many people complained about the misrepresentation? Probably none. If a similar throw away coment had been made about a kid in a wheel chair you can bet the phone lines would have been jammed.

02 February 2009

Better late than never!

OK, so I'm a month late with this, the healthy eating and exercise routine has started today. We had a hideous weekend and ended up eating way too much pizza last night washed down with a couple of glasses of wine. The good thing is it triggered my "THAT is IT!" response so this morning I was up earlier and Meg has had a good walk round our forest circuit. I'm doing this every morning with her no matter what and timing myself so I can see any improvement and also get a bit fitter for the Race for Life on 9th May which I will be doing with Llama Chick. I'll let you know the details later but feel free to sponsor me! this mornings' time was 50:45 -not bad for a 4 mile circuit but I still hope to get it down nearer 45 or maybe faster. At the end of the day I will f course be governed by dodgy knees so no running for me...you burn more fat walking anyway.

Back to hideous weekend - Bear is off her ADHD meds and having got her over whatever ailment it was she is now making up for lost time. Obstructive, boisturous, I think the professionals call it "challenging behaviour" she may well end up back on the meds sooner rather than later. Scrumpy was doing a very good impression of normal hormonal teenager complete with door slamming and fighting sister. We made it to the playpark for 10 minutes (Bear refused to get out of the car) but that was about it.

Today they are in school, Scrumpy is away tonight and Bear has after school club. Surfer chick is back after a weeks' holiday and all is right with the world.

(Surfer Chick works with the girls after school most days and a day at the weekend. She loves water sports and snow sports so Surfer Chick it is!)

Ginger twits are now venturing outside first thing of a morning with Meg. Hot Hubby has confessed he would miss themif they went to live in the stable so they will live in but still go out at night to hunt. I'm thinking cat flaps everywhere EXCEPT the house so they don't bring anything home to play.

26 January 2009


We are now in the habit of feeding Bear's water addiction by going swimming on a Tuesday and Wednesday after school. Scrumpy just adores going too so it's a great night out as we stop off for chips in the cafe on the way home.

Last week we had a disaster I'm afraid to say of my making. Some how we managed to leave the house two kids, two carers one parent and a stack of bags only to get to the changing room to find we had managed to leave Bear's costume behind. It's pool side changing cubicles. The whole leisure centre knew Bear was not happy. I ran back to reception to ask if they had any costume in lost property or to buy - receptionist had a look but came up distressed and empty handed. While we were trying to figure out a way of getting round the missing costume issue - was pants and vest an option?? Bear was trying to limbo under the cubicle door naked. She was going in the pool, costume or not. Thankfully she is now too big to get under the door but she was giving it a good go.

Just when I was really starting to panic one of the poolside team went for a hunt around and came back proudly brandishing a suitable costume. He'd actually gone to find some shorts and was so pleased with himself to have found a costume. The smile that Bear gave him was reward enough.

This isn't the first time I have been moved by our leisure centre staff going the extra bit. We've been the only people in the pool in a disabled session and they've put water features on for us and run the flume. Just for us, to see my girls smile. That is special, and never will it be taken for granted and always will it be appreciated.

12 January 2009

Ginger Twits venture outside....

and back in again at a rapid rate!

Thinking Bruce and Tim needed to get more stimulation and, more importantly, off my kitchen table I tried to get them outside for a bit today. To start with, my big bad barn cats ran for the safety of their hidey hole in the coffee table when I opened the patio door, so following this flying start I grabbed Bruce and took him out. He was singularly unimpressed and showed it by scuttling back in the moment I put him down on the grass. Tim, being a girl, was more adventurous and got further out only to be beaten up by the birds. I had to rescue her from under the water butt. I think my fears of the birds getting attacked by the cats have been laid to rest.

So, we will try again tomorrow but in the mean time, if anyone has any good tips about training a stupid cat or two that paws belong on the floor or outside I'd be most grateful.

05 January 2009

Don't expect to hear from me....

well, not for a bit anyway! Burst pipe at school means MINIMUM extra two days holiday, my house is definitely post Christmas and I have a stack of jobs to do.

After that? You might get lucky before I sit down with my new book! Santa brought me Lottery by Patricia Wood and Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison so following the post holiday shake down that'll be me, nose in book and a big fat do not disturb sign above my head.