New Things

I’m beginning to think this blog may have had its day. Purportedly it is about “leaving the UK to raise llamas and other animals in France”. Well, what can I say? Been there, done that – movin’ on. If it is to carry on in any way, shape or form, it may have to be retitled. “Après les Lamas” perhaps? A blog about “leaving France to raise grandchildren and other animals in Derby.” I suspect however, that the care and education of the genus grandchildus will be considerably more labour intensive than the raising of llamas, and will leave considerably less time for the writing of blog posts.

In the meantime however, I will endeavour to (very occasionally) update our most faithful of readers (yep – that means YOU) on the excitements and dullments of the transition process.

So – what’s been occurring since I last posted? Um…let me think….

Animal-wise, we have had a few ups and downs. Lilas got pneumonia (introducing us to the amazing and very penetrating sound of the persistent llama cough), and after an entertaining visit from the vet involving some extremely unwelcome rectal temperature-taking (hers – not ours) and two Very Big Injections, she promptly aborted a pregnancy that we had failed to anticipate. Poor Lilas – two almost full-term pregnancies and yet still no babies. On the plus side – she has made a full recovery, and is now bouncing around full of the joys of spring and relentlessly flirting with a very disgruntled Lenny, who continues to spend his days running snortily up and down the other side of the fence line.

Having become suddenly aware of the possibility of another round of llama pregnancies, (after having wildly underestimated rampant Lenny’s fertility levels) we did a bit of calculating, and realised that Capucine could be due to drop another live one some time in late March. Which she did – predictably earlier than calculated and therefore a couple of days after I had left on my last visit to Derby. Doh!

Capucine and baby Souci


So now we are just waiting for another littlun from Elif, (which she will no doubt manage to delay until my next time away from the ranch – it is a llama conspiracy), and wondering what the hell all these bloody llamas are going to eat this year. Really – this town land ain’t big enough for the both twelve of them. We really MUST get on and find new homes for them – especially since we are now the (proud?) owners of a house in Derby!

Yep – next bit of news is that the completion of the house purchase went according to plan, and despite the discoveries of all sorts of tatty-house-bollocks (the like of which you only ever get to notice after the previous owners have moved out), I am reasonably content with our purchase. I spent a few busy days moving stuff from my son’s house in multiple over-loaded trips in his car on the few occasions when it was available, and got enough basic equipment in there to be able to stay overnight and experience the unparalleled joy of waking to the charming middle-distant sound of early rush-hour traffic on the A38. However, once I discovered the knack of pretending it was the sound of a rushing river, my mood improved, and I gradually settled back into the old familiar mode of urban life.

The neighbour’s dog is rather annoyingly yappy and howly, but this fills me with relief rather than irritation, because it means I won’t have to feel so awful when our barky hounds eventually move in and create ear-splitting hell, as they learn to deal with the fact that cars, and people and OTHER DOGS go past the house EVERY day. Yay – I’m sooooo looking forward to that, NOT. Luckily (for us at least) it seems that the aged, dogless neighbour on the other side of our house is somewhat hard of hearing.

Anyway, choosing to ignore the myriad things-wrong-with-the-house (which I won’t even talk about, because, you know, I am choosing to ignore them), I decided to focus on the good and the lovely – which of course is all about the garden. The gorgeous, well-kept, flowerful, treeful garden, and the open green-green view, and the fact that the layout of the house means that every daily living space looks out on to the loveliness, and the big-big windows let in lots of lovely, southerly light. It may not be the oh-so-perfect countryside, but for a town-dwelling house it feels pretty fine.

Of course, the fact that good-old Mum now has a spacious house of her own in Derby means that her offspring have capitalized on the opportunity to create more space in their own abodes by unloading as much junk as they can in the motherly direction. So my virtually furniture-free home (there is a single bed for me to sleep in, and a small old sofa left by the previous owners), was soon overtaken by bags of miscellany and Jennifer’s Big Toys. Luckily the Narnia-like wardrobe between the two extension bedrooms swallows miscellany whole. And luckily I find a lounge full of childishness to be a Very Happy Thing. As did Jennifer, who, delighted to discover her massive doll’s house and all manner of previously hidden-away fun strewn about Granny’s New House, declared that this was her ‘pre-school’, and promptly set about organising ‘areas’ for different types of play.

Room to play


And of course the garden was “great”, and a perfect place for “Going On A Bear Hunt (we’re not scared)”, and for Hide and Seek (“Granny, find me! I’m OVER HERE!”) and for galloping about on Big Sticks (Is there Room on the Broom for a Granny like me?) And the tadpoles were squiggly and the newts were dinosaury. And the ladybirds were tickly and the pampas fronds were wands.

"We're going on a bear hunt..."

And “I don’t want to go home yet” And “Can I come to Granny’s house tomorrow?” And “Is there a bed for me?”

Soon enough, my dear, soon enough….

So, at the end of March I once again left behind grannyhood, and the only-just-starting-to get-to-know-you house, and flew back to the Middle of Nowhere accompanied by My Wise Friend and her charming youngest, who took the opportunity for a quick (and very possibly last-ever) visit to The Land of Doing Nothing. Where of course they predictably did quite a lot of Nothing, while I eventually got round to doing a fair bit of the sort of Something that is required to get a horse-box filled with furniture and boxes of Life’s detritious.

And last Friday Simon pulled away from the yard in an early-morning rush, with a car full of tools, and visitors, and food-for-the-long-journey, and a trailer full of random cobwebby possessions, leaving me alone for a week with the animals, the post-packing mess, and a Very Bad Back (which, although a massive pain in the arse muscles, is actually the reason that I have sat down long enough to write a blog post). Oh, and a head full of worry about WHAT WILL HE THINK OF THE HOUSE, which he has bought, and which he has not seen until now? He is either very brave or very stupid. Or maybe he is just very trusting. Or maybe he just loves me very much. Or maybe he just very sensibly and admirably doesn’t give a rat’s bottom about such worldly, materialistic things. Whatever the reason, MASSIVE Brownie Points for him! He truly is a Jolly Good Fellow.

And I may get round to telling you what he thinks about the house some time soonish, but not just yet. Because Time -he marches relentlessly on. And Backs – they get better. And dirty, dusty, messy, post-packing houses – they need cleaning and sorting in preparation for the next delightful round of visitors. On Monday, Simon’s daughter and son-in-law and two very precious grandsons will be arriving for their first experience of This Present Loveliness, and I need to get a bit of spick-spannity occurring in this decidedly unspick vicinity before they do.

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3 Responses to New Things

  1. Chris says:

    So good to hear from you again! What is more, the news is almost fresh from the press.

  2. Lydia says:

    Have you found any new homes for the llamas yet? Things seem to be moving along fairly swiftly at the moment – will the chickens move with you also or is that a condition in the small print of any future house sale that the new owner must like cats and chickens! x

    • Val says:

      We are negotiating a new home for some of the llamas at this very moment – argh, it’s a hard thing to consider parting with them, though.
      And we’d love to take our chickens with us – they really are part of the family – but realistically I think they’d be happier staying here (if the new owners are willing/able to keep them).
      And the cats! Ah, the cats! At least the barn cat family has shrunk to two now, since Eric and Tommy went walkabout and never returned. And if someone would be happy to put a bit of food in the barn for Fifi and Lula each day, they’d be happy to keep the mouse population down in return. We will definitely take Min and Blue with us, but Big Cat and Mother Cat are an open question. They are both very much part of the surroundings – Big was here before us, and Mother moved in from somewhere else hereabouts. They really are country cats at heart.

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