Wednesday, 22 May 2013


I've just found a birthday cake recipe that I thought I'd try from a blog and it's got me thinking.

The lady who writes it has done loads to try and simplify her life - from decluttering to changes in how she does certain tasks. It's interesting. I have always been a person who has stuff and likes stuff, but conversely it drives me a bit mad. And I could do with a more simple approach when I start work in less than two weeks (eek).

So could I simplify things? It's possible and the results might be helpful. Things could take less time and potentially cost less money.

Obviously I can't simplify the children (their activities, social lives and family time comes first) or the pets (we've committed there so no going back now: members of the family and all that). But maybe decluttering and putting some routines and systems in place could make a big difference in tidying up, cleaning, laundry, admin and meals. It sounds like a lot of up front work though.

Essentiallyit all needs a) time to do it and b) inclination (when I'd rather be watching Touch and The Mentalist). I'll think about it some more and start by reading more blogs. Because funnily enough I can find time for the internet. Maybe I'll absorb other people's processes by some kind of world wide web osmosis.

Edited to add: I've just decluttered the kitchen cupboards. Well my sort of decluttering that involves keeping three duplicate pots of baking soda because otherwise that would be wasteful. I'm not very good at getting rid of things evidently...

Monday, 20 May 2013

So so tired: It's still the rabbit's fault.

I'm sitting at the computer now having got the kids to school only just in time. I'm eating banana bread and drinking a vat of tea from my mug that says "You can't scare me I'm a mother" on the front. I thought it might give me some oomph but so far not so much.

Yesterday we were a bit foolish and left the girls together in the pen most of the day. I have just re-read this and realise you may think I mean Tilly and Phoebe. I mean the rabbits. Perhaps my attentions have more than a little unbalanced this last week.

Anyway the girls (rabbits) had been grooming each other and sitting together - all seemed positive and very sweet. So we took our eye off the rabbit ball, so to speak. This it turns out was a rather big mistake.

It ended in a quick angry, fluff on the lawn sort of battle that I could have avoided if I'd separated them quicker. Needless to say whilst I had read for the need of a water spray bottle and a towel to throw over them (just think Rocky) I had neither of these to hand and clearly they don't respond well to stern instructions. In the end I pushed them away from each other, in slight fear for my fingers, and put one on the lawn. Which was another error as we then spent the next ten minutes trying to herd her away from the bike hut and the plants she's not supposed to eat.

We eventually caught her and put both away, but not before noticing two minor cuts over a rabbit eye each. Plus the whole thing seemed to start Betsy going back to attacking her own stitches at night.

It puts sisterly bickering over swings into quite some perspective. Although we might try a jet of water at T and P when they start screaming next time.

Anyway at 3am I woke up having had a nightmare about starting work (oh excellent) and then panicking about how Betsy was. There was no chance I could go back to sleep without checking so for the next hour Paul and I took turns to go downstairs. We looked at her, moved basil so the web cam might work (it didn't), wrapped and re-wrapped her in bandages and custom designed t-shirts which she promptly got stuck in and then took off, and generally fretted about the insanity of it all. I honestly think human babies are less stressful.

By morning she was naked again (seems like an odd term for a rabbit but hey ho) and the wound was bleeding slightly. So more wrapping and constant checking on her all day again. Joy. My sense of humour is waning more than a little.

To make matters worse, as they reach sexual maturity the fighting is likely to get even more dramatic leading to the need for spaying them both at quite some cost and most post operative angst. Times two.

I honestly thought getting them from babies would be better - but it really is a challenge. It's so difficult I feel like I should be raising money for charity - it's like my own personal three peaks or half marathon. Anyone want to sponsor me?

Saturday, 18 May 2013

End to End

It's been a busy week to say the least, and it finished with a night out for me and two of my friends to The Lantern theatre in Sheffield. And before I go any further if you have never been it's very important that you do. The theatre is tiny, so the plays, music and comedy you see there are eclectic and reasonably priced and you are really close to the action. I'd say there are about a hundred seats and that's it. Plus it's beautiful - a tiny little theatre in the heart of Nether Edge. So far we've seen Robin Ince play there and a slightly strange silent comedy from the Fringe. In the next few weeks we are seeing Lucy Porter, Mark Thomas playing a pre-Edinburgh show and singer songwriter Lewis Watson. We could have bought tickets to much much more. So there you are, go and find something you like, or do what we did last night: pick something that looks interesting and go for it.

I love a road trip story and that is what 'End to End' by the Gramophones is. A play re-enacting an 18 day trip from Lands End to John O'Groats, taken by three friends. I wondered what they were expecting when they set off. Did they expect it to be a trip full of funny experiences? Certainly there were a few presented, but the journey came across as more of an emotional one exploring the idea of adventure, risk taking, relationships and the draw of home. The dramatisations were imaginative and amusing - I especially enjoyed the micro-lighting  swimming and hitch-hiking sections. And being wafted - you'll know what I mean when you see the show.

The girls are doing the journey again up to Scotland again, this time with their play. If you live further North of Sheffield they might be coming to you - including Harrogate, Newcastle, Berwick and a few dates in Scotland too. Go and support them if you can, and then you have to go on a journey yourself to carry the idea forward.

Great night out. I feel shattered after this week but it was a lovely way to end it.

Ok so what to do today? Oh yes buy a fish tank, redress a rabbit, try and catch a 2p bus to Pete McKee's art exhibition, household chores, decorate a dolls house, plan a party, finish rabbit proofing in the rain...I guess I ought to get everyone some breakfast!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Rabbit Trauma - It Goes On

So Betsy no longer minds us putting the coat on her. This is because she can remove it in about half an hour.

When I went to bed at midnight last night she was wearing it. By 5.30 she had taken it off. I put it back on bleary eyed.

By 8am she was no longer wearing it so I sewed bits together and put it back on. By 9am she had removed it.

So then I put it on backwards with the velcro on the top and it's still like that now which is boding well. But she's probably just humouring me.

The trouble is she needs it on. She's obviously been bothering her stitches in the time she's had without it, so I'll persevere.

The other thing to persevere with is her sister. Apparently they may fall out with each other because they have been apart. So now we've got musical hutches (not literally although I might market that idea along with rabbit jackets). The hatch is shut and the ramp removed and I swap over the rabbits and their toys several times a day. Plus I make sure when one is in the run she can see the other one through the wire. It's like a medium security rabbit prison with an easily confused prison warden letting them out of their cells for exercise time. If one of them starts digging out like the Great Escape I might have a meltdown.

Right I'm off to clean out their cells, I mean litter trays and then to design a range of rabbit ear warmers.

Pretty Special - See what I did there?

Last night I skanked a bit. It's not something I've done for a good few years. I don't honestly think I have danced so much at a gig in my life as I did at The Specials yesterday. Such great music and a fantastic atmosphere. So why do I feel a bit frustrated?

It's down to the fact that I like my gigs to have something personal about them. When they don't I get the overwhelming feeling of being a bit let down. Surely bands do it all for the love and enjoy every second?

Ok I know. I suppose they would be a fool not to tour when they sell out venues and receive the reaction they got last night. Gift horses and all that.

Anyway I like a bit of banter. Terry Hall didn't exactly say much apart from "Sheffield, Sheffield" (which could just as well have been "Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes"). Throw in a reference to the state of both football teams and have a dig at Leeds and you have the crowd on your side. Very lazy if you ask me. I mind this more than I minded getting splashed in the face in the first ten seconds by a jettisoned drink (that's what I'm telling myself it was).

But obviously you couldn't call the rest of the gig lazy. The music was incredible. And the additional great thing about the Specials is that loads of the lyrics are simple. Which means you can look as if you've known the words all your life and sing along enthusiastically after only hearing one chorus.

I also loved the crowd. It was like a scene from 'This is England'. I did have to chuckle though when everyone started bouncing up and down like a maniac after the first couple of notes of the classics, like "Message to you Rudy", but couldn't keep up the level of fitness for the full three minutes. The bouncing ended up reduced to a low level shuffle. That's what comes with being middle aged. All of the enthusiasm for reminiscing and none of the fitness required for a Ska gig.

So in the words of The Specials "Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think." Just have a nice sit down and a cup of tea afterwards to recover.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Rabbit Trauma - Continued

Well it's two days post op, give or take, and things have moved on slightly.

Betsy and I have become close having lived in each other's pockets for 15 hours. I have learnt that rabbits never close their eyes and they "sleep" (with eyes open) for approximately ten minutes at a time. Usually waking up the instant you stop looking at them. I also have a strong feeling you cannot train a rabbit to do much. Certainly not to stop licking their stitches.

The nurse rang again yesterday to check she was alright. I regaled her with tales of 'bunny watch' whether she was interested or not. She suggested finding a dolls t-shirt which we all found hysterical, but clearly we tried anyway. What the heck.

The girls agreed to give up an old dolls t-shirt which does up with velcro. We wrestled her into it. She jumped out with quite alarming speed. Perhaps it was a bit dull for her. Tilly suggested drawing a basketball on the front.

Paul pointed out it was miles too big so then the tailoring began. I can only say Peter Rabbit's mother must have had excellent sewing skills. I don't have paws and I found it hard to fashion a coat that the rabbit couldn't get out of. It's no wonder she was cheesed off when he didn't come back wearing it.

We cut bits off, inserted darts (sort of) and ended up with something that looked like a cross between a Michael Jackson outfit (cue Tilly breaking into "Heal the World" for the billionth time), and Matthew Wilder's leather jacket ("Nobody gonna breaka my stride..."). It was on and it looked natty. I didn't bother with brass buttons.

Then we went about our business and eventually went to bed.

This morning Paul went to check on her and...drum roll...she was just in process of taking it off. It was like she'd waited all night to reveal her escapology skills in front of an audience. I'm worried all this attention is going to her head.

So I've sewn it up again and added bits on. She's been back to the nurse who basically seemed impressed with our efforts and said to try and keep it on her for five days. We have not a hope. I think she'll get faster at removing it as she gets more practiced. I suspect I'll need several on rotation.

On the upside by the end of the week my sewing skills will have improved and she will have moved on in sartorial elegance to be wearing some patchwork garment made out of colourful offcuts. Like Betsy and her amazing technicolour dreamcoat. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Rabbit Trauma

My coffee has gone cold. Just like when the girls were tiny and you never got a hot cup of anything. Today is a bit intense.

So to catch you up, in case you are interested in rabbit issues, Betsy's lump seems to have been a reaction to the vaccine. She was prescribed antibiotics initially in case it wasn't - apparently the same sort you get for children (banana flavour). Funny then that it cost £8.90 for about 140ml.

Getting her to take it wasn't easy. The vet suggested one of us hold her lower back down to the table and the other give the medicine by syringe. It worked once or twice but overall I wouldn't recommend this method. Unless you want a) biting, b) kicking and c) a great sense of frustration. At one point she jumped out of my arms and onto my shoulder like a parrot. I couldn't use my tried and tested child medicine method and give her a Chewit afterwards. She isn't allowed.

Google advised wrapping her in a towel and holding her legs under and forward which was more successful. By the end of the week we had the method down which was typical because of course the antibiotics did nothing whatsoever.

So yesterday it was back to the vets and he decided it was necessary to remove the lump (at the cost of the people who make the vaccine apparently, which is a good job taking into account the cost of the medicine). So I left her there. I felt like a bad mother on all sorts of levels and spent the day achieving little and fretting a lot.

At 3.30 we picked her up. The girls did well I thought - they didn't seem horrified by the large bald patch and sewn up wound. The nurse told us we have to keep an eye on her to ensure she eats and drinks, and to keep her apart from Petal as her sister might try and bite her wound. She assured us Betsy couldn't reach her own wound to bother her stitches.

Wrong again. This rabbit is like Houdini. She is stretchy and bendy and on returning home I realised she was not going to leave them alone. When she started pulling at her back with her teeth I rang the vet and he advised trying to stick a plaster over the wound. This advice, it turned out, was not wholly sound. I managed to scare the living daylights out of Betsy chasing her round her hutch trying to stick plaster after plaster to the patch of skin. Each one I put on she tore off in seconds. Eventually I built up a sort of plaster patchwork - I used everything I had. Tiny round ones to hold on massive big ones, joined together by normal long ones. She ripped them all off. I hoped the kids didn't choose that moment to fall over as our supplies were running low.

Then she managed to rip a stitch and I stuck the final plaster over the bleed while I checked the opening times and rang the vet again. By the time I was back downstairs she had ripped it off and there was no sign of it. So now I was  panicking about the stitches and the fact that she has clearly eaten a Boots plaster. Which I'm sure doesn't fit into the category of only hay, grass and nuggets.

The nurse was amazing. She agreed to come over on her way home, bringing with her a cone even though they don't normally put them on rabbits. Apparently the situation she has had is extremely unusual being so little and she has to leave the stitches alone. She explained everything, chatted to us and put the cone on Betsy, then went home.

At this point everything got a bit out of hand. Betsy, as predicted, hated it. She threw herself about and generally looked extremely stressed. The kids got upset. It was awful.

Eventually the girls went to sleep and we decided to trim the cone down so she could drink and eat properly. This we did and we left her for a while to get used to it, feeling extremely guilty.

When we went back outside before bed we discovered she had managed to push the cone up so her mouth was sticking out, but the cone was over her eyes and ears. It was a bit of a surprise (I told you she was like Houdini) and the approach did have it's merits. She couldn't reach her stitches but could eat and drink. Of course it was stuck around her eyes so she couldn't see and it was still fastened round her neck so we decided her plan wasn't a great one. The decision was made to bring her indoors and take off the cone. Not least because we'd worked out we might have to hand feed her her own poo. 

Paul stayed up until 2am working next to her, with a window open on his laptop showing a webcam. Everytime she went for her stitches he stopped her, until he came to bed exhausted. At 4am I came downstairs and took over. I've never slept on the kitchen floor before. It reminded me of camping. What with the sound of the pouring rain on the roof and me wearing more clothes than I had worn in the day including a pair of hiking socks. I'm not sure being down here helped much with the stitches but it did at least make me feel like I was trying to help.

And today? Well today I still can't bring myself to put the cone back on. It's too distressing. So instead I am doing things that take place in the kitchen. Blogging and minute writing, cleaning, I might even stretch to a bit of ironing. Interspersed of course with telling Betsy off every three minutes for biting her stitches. And for eating the carpet. She really hasn't a clue about this restricted diet for junior rabbits things. Deep joy. I'm hoping the sound of the washing machine will make her fall asleep like it used to for Tilly, although so far it's not looking promising.

Oh well it's only for a couple of days until she will apparently lose interest in the stitches as they start to properly heal.

It's just as well I like a bit of camping. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Harder than I thought

Ok so this rabbit malarky is trickier than I at first thought.

1. I assumed the rabbits would stay in the run with the top off and enjoy their semi freedom. I did not realise that even at 11 weeks they could jump up the side of the run and freely enter the garden without so much as breaking a rabbit sweat.

2. I've done my research. Little rabbits should only have grass and nuggets for the first 16 weeks ish. Fine I thought, that's no problem. But see point 1 - it's hard to control what they nibble when they aren't where they are supposed to be. Over the weekend I wrestled heather out of their mouths in some bizarre rabbit vs human tug of war.

3. Then there's vaccination. I was smug and did this immediately we brought them home. Partly to double check that they are girl rabbits, and mostly so I can be assured they don't catch horrible illnesses. But then last night I noticed a lump on Betsy's back, and today it looks like a sore on the skin and a lump under it. So it's back to the vets. It's either a reaction to the myxomatosis (essentially a bit of the disease, if so ugh) or she's hurt herself while leaping out of the run (see point 1) or we have hurt her when trying to catch her and put her back. Or she has hurt herself while trying to leap out when the top is actually on. She is a bit dozy. All of these possibilities and more have me extremely worried. Did I really order this extra emotional stress? Surely I can't have irrevocably damaged her in less than three weeks? If it carries on like this I'll need counselling.

4. Oh and there's all the planning. Paul and I have talked endlessly about getting a gate on the side of the house and attaching chicken wire around the shed and decking bottom so they can't disappear underneath never to be retrieved. It sounded great in theory. If only we had actually got round to doing it.

Today I didn't slide the catch on the run gate shut enough and the rabbits have seemingly been out in the garden for about two hours today. I nearly had a heart attack when they weren't in their run and the top was still on. I nearly ran down the street screaming "Rabbit theft!". Of course they had simply used their skills and thrown themselves at the door until it opened and sought their freedom.

They had a whale of a time essentially eating things they shouldn't be eating (see point 2) and hiding under the shed (ah the planning). The neighbours must have loved my swearing and running around the garden liked a possessed woman, and especially giggled at my trying to squeeze down the side of the shed. I tried to tempt Petal with a dandelion leaf. Which is ironis since she isn't supposed to be eating them yet. She was disinterested but probably because she was full up of things of other things she shouldn't have been eating.

Eventually I caught her and went back to the run to put her in. Of course I had very wisely shut and locked the top and door so Betsy didn't get out. I couldn't open it without putting down the rabbit. I tired doing it one handed and inevitably lost Petal again for another ten minutes. Should this really be like the Crystal Maze? And if so where are all the prizes?

So I'm laughing and yet weeping at the same time. And I still have to go to the vets yet to see whether Betsy is alright. Please don't let me have to nurse her back to health with a pipette.