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Moving blog

I've decided to move my LiveJournal blog to our own website, which wasn't doing very much (in fact it hadn't been updated for about two years).  We're also taking this opportunity to make it Robin's as well as mine (though I suspect I'll still be doing most of the posting).

All the old posts and comments have been migrated to the new site.  I'll keep this account up so I can keep track of my friends on LiveJournal and post comments, but as far as new posts go, they'll be happening on Edessa.

Hope to see you there!
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Sunny weather

What a gorgeous weekend! Now that enough of the scaffolding and rubble have been removed that we can actually access the back garden, I have sown broad beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and basil; dug over most of the bed which will eventually contain parsnips and carrots; and helped Robin clear large quantities of dead plants and very straggly winter jasmine out of the front garden. I never realised how wide the flower bed in the front garden was, it was so overgrown with junk.

Then this afternoon we decided to get rid of some of the dead shrubs we'd just extracted by burning them in the barbecue and cooking some burgers on them. It worked a treat – except for the bit where the paint on the lid of the barbecue caught fire, but that was over fairly quickly. So there we were sitting out in the garden in the evening, in T-shirts, drinking chilled wine and eating delicious burgers. And it's still only April!
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Extension progress

I think that an abandoned blog is a very sad thing, so I'm going to try and kickstart this by talking a bit about the progress of our extension.

So far we (or rather Robert Mason Contracts of Cupar) have demolished the garage and conservatory, made a surgical incision in our porch (depriving us of the use of our dishwasher but crucially not the washing machine or boiler), and erected walls and started on the roof. The slate for the roof is due on Monday and the windows on the 25th. At some point between the two they'll have to demolish the porch entirely and we will have no central heating for a couple of weeks. We've had a first draft of the kitchen plans and they look very good.

We don't quite know when it will all be finished, but we have a sofa on order due in about mid-April, so it had better be done by then!

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Faith's gravestone has now been put up. We visited the grave and brought flowers on Tuesday – six months since she died. I miss her.
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I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth

We'd been planning to go out somewhere at the weekend, but the weather forecast was looking unhopeful, so we decided against it. I went out in the morning to do some gardening: I mowed the lawn and did a bit of weeding, and checked the seedlings. The tomatoes are now a bit over a foot tall and looking very happy, so I staked them. We have sixteen sweetcorn so far, of 36 sown (they're old seeds so I wasn't expecting them all to germinate, but these have come up so quickly I think they might), and several cauliflower. The Brussels sprouts aren't doing so well, and neither are the broccoli. I blame Robin for accidentally putting a hot frying pan down on the seed packets, and me for leaving the seed packets on the dining table. We also have a courgette and some basil. The broad beans are doing nicely and so are the peas – as are the pea sticks, many of which have decided to root and sprout. I should have some rather twiggy buddleia plants to offer soon!

Just as I finished mowing the lawn the rain started to spot down, and by the time we'd eaten our lunch it was raining steadily. But Robin had looked at the satellite pictures on the weather forecast and discovered a spot on the east coast (around St Andrewsish) which promised to be, if not entirely clear, then at least not raining. So we drove to Tentsmuir, about an hour away.

Not only was it not raining there, it was bright and clear. We wandered around the sand dunes and the woodland in lovely warm sunshine. We saw some striking butterflies (some black and red, and some tiny bright orange ones with black spots), tadpoles, a deer, a raven, finches and sundry other small birds we didn't recognise, and, in the sea, a pod of seals sporting among the waves. I could feel myself unwinding just gazing at the green ferns under the pines and the light filtering through the beech leaves, and listening to the calls of the birds. I remembered again that the area we live in is one of the most beautiful places on this earth, and was thankful.
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In memoriam

Thank you, everyone who donated money at Faith's funeral or sent us money afterwards. All together, we raised £1695.69. Much of this money came from the wonderful people at the Baby-led weaning forums, who have been a source of great comfort and support.

Most of this money has gone to Edinburgh Zoo, where they have now put up a plaque with her name on it in the Mansion House Gardens. The money will be spent on their conservation and education projects. I mentioned Faith's fondness for tigers, and they told me that the donation would go towards work in DNA analysis for the captive tiger breeding programme, and working with local police in Vietnam to stop illegal trade in tiger skins. There is an image of a tiger on her plaque.

We also gave £400 of it to our local library. Faith loved Rhymetime and storytelling, crafts and drawing, climbing the book tower and watching the fish in the fishtank. And she was exceedingly keen on the books!

We are buying the library some new seating and a rug for their storytelling corner:

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They dug up the road just for me!

Well, for us.

I've always thought of roadworks as being centrally organised by the council, and it turns out you can get your road dug up just by asking! (Well, once they've determined that you actually have a problem, anyway.)

Our gas supply is fixed now and we have heating again. The hole in the road is still there. I assume that once we were sorted it stopped being urgent, so they're now leaving it till after the weekend.

Incidentally, I don't recommend obeying that arrow.
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Home from holiday!

We've just come home from Thailand, where we've spent the last ten days or so on holiday. It was fantastic: first we went to Chiang Mai, where we went on a cookery course (photos here) and spent a day at an elephant park. Then we went to Ko Samui for relaxation on tropical beaches, where we stayed in a wonderful luxurious hotel. We hired a car for a day there (a horrible big US-style pickup truck: apparently diesel is subsidised there so everyone drives gas-guzzlers) and drove around the island, finding a lovely walk through some jungle to a waterfall that wasn't in the guide book. There will be photos once we've sorted them.

Now we're back home and shivering because our gas main is being dug up. We'd noticed some slight pressure fluctuations in our gas supply just before we left, and when we came back the problem was, if anything, worse. The drops in pressure were causing the pilot light on the boiler to go out and we were having to reset the boiler manually before the heating would kick in. So once we'd got the house heated up a bit we called the engineers out. They've dug up our drive in two places trying to find the water in the gas pipe that's apparently causing the problem, and next they're going to dig up the road. In the meantime, we're keeping one room warm with an electric heater. I'm hoping they'll find and fix the problem today!