It’s been a while

My birdies are still in avian flu lockdown. Hopefully this will end soon. It’s been boring without them all hopping around free ranging and causing mayhem. The rams are still ramming and I’ve bought myself a metal detector. I am determined to find Roman gold or Viking I’m not fussy. About a mile away from my abode an old 7th century Saxon burial ground was uncovered in 2005. Amazingly the burial ground of a Saxon princess was also found there along with gold coins and jewellery. I can only hope I may find something monumental buried in my woodland.

That’s what my digging uncovered…not the trowel but the round metal thing. Plus loads of nails 🙄
Lil Lacey decided to sit in an old chiminea and supervise my metal detecting

You know I love a good ghost story but I do get a little unsettled when things start getting spooky in the house. The house is around 300 years old so has seen its fair share of people and drama. However, I’ve been awoken the last few nights in the early hours to the sound of a female’s voice singing what sounds like a humming noise but almost operatic. I can’t tell where it’s coming from. It might be coming from somewhere outside, maybe someone likes playing music during the early hours, maybe I’m going insane. Who knows. I don’t hear it during the day only around 5/6 in the morning. I’ve set up cameras previously and never caught anything apart from the cats mooching around. Just going to have to put this down to another mystery this house has.

As it’s a Saturday night I’m having a glass of wine and hoping I’m not suddenly awoken again by strange singing. To be honest it was like a mythical siren calling sailors to a dangerous sea. It was such a bizarre but strangely alluring sound. I hope this doesn’t mean another flood is on its way!

A storm approaches

The weather was awful last week. It’s probably the worst storm I can remember. Gales, rain and snow hit Scotland and the north east of England. I was awake all that night worrying about my animals and constantly checking outside. Thousands of people are still without power a week later. I know how awful it is to be without power for a few days after my flood. Trying to keep warm during a very cold winter is draining. You can feel your health being sapped away. I just hope those still without power get it back on soon.

This power outage map from the website of the Northern power grid shows how devastating the power outage was for the North East this week.

I was in the woodland and noticed my white little bantam hens were in the farmer’s field next door. I desperately tried to climb over the cattle fencing and barbed wire as the hens seemed to be wandering even further away. Mally told me to leave them as he was sure they would come back. He said he thought they’d probably been doing this for weeks. I wasn’t so sure. However, by bedtime all hens were accounted for and safely tucked up in their coops. There is no danger of this happening again soon as all non-wild birds including pets have been placed in lockdown again this year by the government. A few bird flu outbreaks across the country has meant that all birds must now be inside or under cover. Last year this lasted for four months. The gang are not happy, especially the turkeys. We had to buy a 6metre poly tunnel to put them in due to their size. They are not amused!

Erecting the poly tunnel. Still a few extras to go in to make the turkeys enforced flockdown bearable

A new addition to the flock last week…a wild cockerel. A group of young cockerels had been dumped in some nearby woods. A young lady who walked up there everyday noticed them and has tried desperately for months to capture them. We all tried so hard but they just ran into thorny bushes and over fields when we approached. Anyway, the lady has been carefully feeding them everyday trying to gain their trust. Over time only one cockerel was left. Just a few hours before the storm started on Friday, the cockerel approached her and she was able to capture him in a dog crate. Maybe he sensed the approaching storm and thought he’d like to be indoors on this one. Success after four months of dedication by this lady!

The wild cockerel was brought to me…I’ve now named him Loftus as he was found in Loftus woods. I placed him in a covered isolation run on his own to assess his health. However, the turkeys decided they didn’t like the look of this new guy and by the time I had returned to the run with food they had given him a good slap. They had managed to poke through the netting with their beaks. Blood was pouring down his face. I quickly grabbed him and brought him into the house. I held a towel against his wounds and sat by the fire. I was devastated and felt like the worst person on the planet. This lady had spent months gaining the trust of this lad and I’d let my naughty turkeys assault him. I was sure he was going to die. How was I going to explain this!! However, the bleeding stopped quickly, I cleaned his wounds and placed him on a heat pad. He was completely fine as if nothing had happened. He’s been in the house with us for the past week and has been singing us awake with the song of his people at 6am every morning. He also decided he liked camping out in front of my tumble dryer for some reason.

Loftus in his favourite spot

Loftus has now moved up into his brand new coop and run with two of my hens as company. He’s safe from the turkeys as they are all in flockdown now!

Remember remember the 5th of November…..

To me bonfire night is a mixed bag, I hate it because of the loud fireworks and the stress it causes animals. But I also like the warm bonfires on a chilly evening, jacket potatoes and hot chocolate. I’ve put all my animals to bed early today. Filled all their abodes with straw and tried to bed them down before the fireworks start. As I’m typing I can hear a few going off. As a kid I loved watching fireworks but as you get older, wiser and I think more progressive as a society, I think do we really need loud bangs and flashing lights that bring misery to animals, people with anxiety and those who have to look after said animals and humans. Maybe just a garden party with a chiminea kicking out heat would suffice?

A Facebook memory popped up on my screen today from five years ago. I went with Mally, my sister and brother in law to York on the 5th of November. Now as everyone knows, it is bonfire night/Guy Fawkes night in celebration of the fact Guy Fawkes was prevented from blowing up the Houses of Parliament in 1605 in the gunpowder plot. So because of this we place a guy on the bonfire. However, in York they never put Guy on the bonfire as Guy Fawkes was born and raised in York. It is said his ghost makes an appearance on bonfire night and he sprints from the pub he was born in over the road to the York minster.

Anyway, five years ago we decided to visit the pub in which Guy Fawkes was born and on the very night his ghostly spirit is said to appear. Unsurprisingly it’s called The Guy Fawkes Inn. It’s a very old and traditional pub and it was packed. We sat in the beer garden and there was a very interesting mural on the outside wall.

Guy Fawkes Inn
That famous verse. On a wall in the beer garden of the Guy Fawkes Inn

Anyway, as with all my “ghost” stories, we sat, we drank beer and we waited. But no sign of old Guy.

All Hallows’ Eve

I’m sat up in the attic just for the hell of it, waiting to see if any spooks appear on this the spookiest day of year. So far nothing apart from a black cat slinking around the various boxes of bric-à-brac and piles of books. Sound from the street below is amplified in the attic. Rather than trick or treaters singing merrily from the street “Gis some sweets or I’ll egg your house”. All I can hear is the sound of sirens and someone shouting that the meat raffle in the pub next door was a fix….to be honest on the pub Facebook page it had a pic of the said raw meat platter sat on top of a radiator…most off putting I thought and also the fact I don’t eat meat..that also put me off.

It’s a pretty awful night weather wise. It’s been windy and heavy rain most of the day. It’s kept the trick or treaters in. I got Mally to limp up to the local shop earlier today to buy some sweets in case anyone did knock. But no sign of anyone. What a shame I shall have to eat all those sweets…it’s a tough job but needs must.

The attic is not looking particularly spooky tonight in all honesty
Attic stairs
Cagney has seen something in the corner!

Cagney one of my black cats 🐈‍⬛ loves the attic and she’s always looking towards the ceiling. I’ve looked but can’t see anything untoward….as far as I can tell.

Cagney has decided to make the effort this Halloween and dress up as Salem the cat from Sabrina the teenage witch. I think she’s done a great job.

See you can’t tell which is Salem and which is Cagney. Just for reference though, Cagney is in this pic 😁

I’m off downstairs now, bit chilly up here.

I just remembered I have a witches broom. It’s located near the front room fireplace. It came with the house…think they heard a witch was moving in 😂.

The broom came with the house. That’s the real reason I bought the house..the free broom 🧹

I can hear Harold the swan shouting from upstairs. He doesn’t like to be left alone. If I sit beside him then he’s happy as Larry (I wonder who Larry was and why was he so happy?).

Happy now I’m sat beside him

As you can tell, thus far it has been a most uneventful Halloween. However, I hope I haven’t spoken too soon……..🎃 👻

Swan Lake

The cold dark nights are now starting to make an appearance. I must admit I do love the late autumn/early winter. The leaves falling from the trees, the wood burning stove on, the chill in the air, it makes me feel more alive and in the moment.

I’m getting all the animals ready for the winter, stocking up on hay and cosy straw. The tarpaulin has come out for extra protection on the rabbit and hen runs. The rams winter coats are growing nice and thickly and their stone house is now full of hay. It makes me feel content when my animals are all snug.

I’ve just recently took over fostering a young swan from Whitby Wildlife sanctuary. He’s been born with several genetic defects. His wings aren’t growing properly and he walks bowed legged. However, he is the sweetest little guy ever! He insists on cuddles and cries if you leave him for more than a few seconds. I’ve named him Harold. If Harold does progress and looks like he can make it in the wild then he’ll go back to the sanctuary for wilding up and hopefully be released. I don’t know if he will ever get to this stage but if not he’s got a home here.

Harold the swan goes out during the day in the bottom garden with two duck friends and two disabled hens who all get on really well. Harold comes back in on a night and sleeps in a cosy dog basket 🧺. Last night he came downstairs in his basket and watched a movie in the living room….The hitman’s wife’s bodyguard…he seemed to enjoy it! Rather than popcorn to watch the movie, Harold had cracked corn…next best thing. 🍿

Harold watching an evening movie
Harold outside with his buddies

Mally’s sister, brother in law and two children came up last weekend. It was a lovely afternoon and evening of food, wine and talking about everything under the sun. However, when I was showing everyone the animals, the suspicious number of animals with leg issues raised some questions. Fiona (a solicitor and obviously naturally suspicious/looking for new clients) asked if I was doing a Kathy Bates Misery style and ensuring none of the animals ever left by breaking their legs. 😂 I can honestly reassure everyone that these animals came to me already disabled and I have actually successfully got some of them walking properly again.

Halloween tomorrow and I’m considering camping out in the spooky attic to see if any ghostly apparitions appear. I’m going to guess probably not, but it will give me something to do…i.e. a good excuse to switch all the lights off downstairs and not be seen by trick or treaters banging on the door!

All grown up!

I’ve realised I haven’t given an update on the baby bunnies and the little chicks. All are doing fabulously. The little chicks moved up to the woodland and have their own coop. The baby bunnies are now outside along with Fonzie in a big run ready to go up into the their new woodland run soon. The baby boy who I have named Max has to be four months old before he can be neutered so he’ll be staying in the garden until that is done.

Bunny family. Sam on the left, Fonzie in the middle and Max on the right
The chickies enjoying their new home in the woodland

My neighbour Dawn took three of Olive’s chicks, Dawn is the only person I would ever give my babies to as she is animal bonkers like me and loves her babies. Plus there is only a cattle style metal fence between us so all the chicks can still see each other. Dawn also has three ex battery hens and the three bantam hens make a nice addition to her flock.

On another note, I got a phone call from one of my friends Steve and his wife Michelle regarding a hen they had rescued. The poor thing was in an awful state, covered in lice and had been doing that hen classic…walking on the road! They rescued her and popped her in their back garden to recover. They’d asked around but no one admitted to losing her so luckily she was rescued by them. She’s been in my garden for just over a week and a half to recover from her lice and build her strength up. I’ve been powdering her everyday. Last night she went up into one of the coops in the woodland and spend today trying to establish herself in the huge pecking order up there!

White hen Stevie…just after Steve had rescued her and I had brought her round mine.
Stevie today with the woodland gang.
The turkeys were very interested in the new member

I’m very pleased at the moment with everything. Touch wood the animals are all doing really well.

Spooky North Yorkshire Coast part II

In a previous post almost a year ago https://inthecountrynotinthecountry.com/2020/11/29/spooky-north-yorkshire-coast/. I spoke about some ghostly goings on in Whitby. On Thursday, myself and Mally took ourselves off to Whitby for the evening for a ghost walking tour. We arrived in the afternoon…it’s only a 25 minute drive from our house. I was determined to scout the local shops out for a painting fitting for above the fireplace in our newly decorated front room. I was hoping that Whitby would provide me with a moody seascape to fit in with the other Cornish smugglers paintings I have hanging on the wall.

It’s a lovely painting of the front of my house. But not really in keeping with my seafaring, smuggler theme.

So I dragged Mally around the galleries in Whitby despite his knee absolutely killing him. However, everything was too bright and not the moody print I was looking for. By the time I had finished I was becoming Hangry (hungry and angry). Whitby was packed and we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. We managed after going round several times to find a seat in The Angel Hotel (a local Wetherspoons) which we were also staying in. We had a few drinks and few plates of food and waited the four hours for the start of the ghost walk. Yes four hours seems a long time but not when you are in a pub!!

Classic Wetherspoons nachos

Now onto the ghost walk. We hauled ourselves up from our beer, wine and nachos and made our way towards the whale bones in Whitby. Anyone who knows Whitby, knows it’s a slog up some stairs….I’ll call them stairs not steps as you’ll find out why later…

On the stairs there was a guy with a crutch trying to walk up and a lady coming down with a knee brace and Mally limping up. We all laughed as it seemed to be a meeting of those with knee injuries…well I laughed.

At the top of the cliff we approached the whale bones and I could see a crowd was already waiting for our guide….Dr Crank. Turns out Dr Crank was in fact a retired real doctor. I’m no Sherlock Holmes but I don’t think Crank was his real surname.

A couple with an Irish wolf hound had joined the walk and it seemed totally apt as tales of hell hounds dominate this area’s spooky history.

The whale bones looking out towards the Abbey…where Dracula was said to have first come ashore.
Whale Bones

The reason for the Whale bones is the fact that a lot of whaling boats set sail from Whitby a couple of hundred years ago. (Thankfully that practice no longer exists in this country!). Also a lot of ships left Whitby and went straight to the North Pole,Whitby was the last port on that latitude.

So a gentleman all dressed in black and with a black walking stick approached the whale bones. We all just assumed he was Dr Crank and around twenty of us handed over our £7 for the 80 minute tour…turns out that wasn’t Dr Crank at all…I’m only joking it was.

Dr Crank led us on a tour around the alleyways and streets. Telling ghost stories of Dracula, two black cats that menaced a few streets…spoiler alert…they were actually witches. Dr Crank was very funny and very engaging. It was a really enjoyable tour. He touched on the hand of glory which I referred to in my earlier blog. Apparently a gristly hand of glory now resides in Whitby museum, I shall have to pay a visit soon to witness the ghastly spectacle. We stopped off in one street. Near a Dutch house which is said to be a haunted by a poltergeist. The Irish wolf hound belonging to a young couple on the tour suddenly started barking as soon as Dr Crank mentioned the word poltergeist…put the wind up us all at that moment in time!

Now I come onto why I called the steps up to the whale bone stairs. According to the good doctor the folk in Whitby call steps, stairs..I didn’t find out the reasoning behind it…maybe there isn’t one.

Dutch house in front and wolf 🐺 hound to the side

When the going gets tough…you ring the insurance.

So as you all know, I was flooded out quite badly during storm Christoph in January. Although there was no dispute with the insurance and everything was covered no problem, it’s still taken eight months to make the downstairs liveable again. Having watched the horrific floods in Germany and then New York, my heart felt heavy for those people as I know how terrible and disorienting a flood can be. Myself, Mally, my family, neighbours and strangers battled for hours to keep the flood waters from totally engulfing the house, but once the beck breached the wall there was nothing that could be done. At least my house was left standing and no one died during my flood.

Video of the path and road just outside my front gate. Minutes later we were evacuated by the coastguard.
The height of the water inside the house reached at least two to three feet. This was the mess left when the water receded.

Virtually every piece of furniture downstairs had to be thrown away by the insurance team who came in. It was a health hazard due to the sludge that came in with the flood water. Nearly everything downstairs had been virtually destroyed including the telephone lines and electrical sockets. The house was ripped apart in an attempt to dry it out. It took months. The kitchen had to go as it had been damaged by the flood water. We have lived upstairs for months.

However, the long slog is now nearly over, the kitchen has been replaced and the downstairs is now ready to receive furniture.

Below are a few photos taken around four weeks ago just before work started

The pantry
The kitchen
The living room

The kitchen is now up and running which I’m extremely pleased with. I can finally return to making proper Sunday dinners. I wanted to get a country look kitchen and I hope I’ve succeeded, I like it anyway.

New kitchen!!!
Living room now all decorated
Kitchen/dining area

It hasn’t gone without issues, the decorators only did half the job that the insurance were paying them handsomely for, so that’s in the process of some backside kicking. But on the whole I am really pleased. The guy who fitted the kitchen was a real professional craftsman and was painstaking in everything he did, even things I wouldn’t have noticed. He was sad as he couldn’t get it finished on time before he went on holiday and another chap took over. But even on holiday he kept phoning the other joiner to make sure he was finishing it correctly. So it’s been a game of two halves really, unhappy with the decorators but over the moon with joiners. I guess you can’t have it all. I’m actually ecstatic to have a kitchen and downstairs. It’s only when it’s not there do you truly appreciate something.

Rub A Dub Dub, a duckie in the tub

Sorry it’s been a while since I posted, it’s been really busy. Everyone is doing well, the baby bunnies and baby chicks are getting really big now! Time flies and they’ll all soon be fully grown.

One of the baby bunnies having a relax after throwing her food all over
Fonzie and the other baby. I need to think of names now!

The bunnies are just over seven weeks old and they are gorgeous. When the family are old enough they’ll be having a trip to the vets for a check up and a certain other procedure to stop any further little furries coming into the world. Then they’ll all go up into the woodland in their large run with playhouse.

Olive and her chicks

Olive and her chicks are all doing really well. Just like the bunnies, they’ll go up into the woodland when they are big enough.

I also added four young turkeys to my ever expanding flock. They needed a forever home after being rescued by Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. They are beautiful loving creatures. One of the boys I named pumpkin was a little poorly and of course I had him staying in the house with me whilst he recovered. I’ve learnt that turkeys are very messy creatures! Mally woke up after a night shift to find pumpkin snuggled in to him, this was good strategy by pumpkin as Mally was saying pumpkin should be outside but he changed his tact when pumpkin started snuggling in 😂. Although I must admit it took a long time to clear up the mess he had made. Pumpkin is now back in the woodland with his buddies after a course of antibiotics.

Pumpkin on his own blanket on top of my bed.
Pumpkin shouting from the window at a passerby “don’t you come near my house”
Pumpkin snuggling in. Mally got a shock when he woke up 😂

And finally yet another adopted critter to the household….poorly slightly lame old duck George. George was dumped presumably because he was old and was again rescued by Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary. He spends quite a few hours a day laid in his dog bed, he also goes outside for a few hours leg stretch if he is feeling up to it. He’s so lovely and extremely chilled out. He has a daily bath in my bath or in the plastic pool in the garden.

Gorgeous George
Bath time.

I know some people would recoil in horror at having a duck in their bath but it’s not like I’m using the same water. Plus I do really scrub the bath afterwards…I promise.

Tomorrow I will finally be finishing the longest story ever told….my house getting renovated after the flood. Yes it’s virtually all done now, a few calamities all the way but it’s nearly there.

Tiny library

I’m going to start today’s post with a pic taken just a few minutes ago of my baby bunnies 🐰 ❤️

18 days old now!

Now onto other news….Last week work finally started on fitting a kitchen and restoring the house after the flood seven months ago. However, nothing in this old house ever goes smoothly and a lot of extra plastering and damp proofing had to be completed once the kitchen was completely ripped out.

Kitchen finally taken out
Kitchen prior to flood

Still a long way to go but eventually we’ll get there. I must admit I won’t miss doing all my cooking on a portable electric hob…which switches off and on when it fancies it and a small halogen oven. Although I’m not knocking it as it’s been a life saver for the last few months. I’ve been able to still rustle up a few veggie breakfasts using my camping kit, so for anyone in a kitchen less situation it’s been extremely useful.

Veggie breakfast made using the electric camping job and mini halogen oven

The rest of the ground floor is also still in upheaval until the plastering and eventual decorating can be completed. But in a way I’ve enjoyed just living in a bedroom. I like small space living, it’s cosy. I think I’d enjoy living in a wooden hut as long as I had plenty of outdoor space.

My little quail Tiny is still living with me in my bedroom along with her birth mother blondie. I moved her indoors for company for Tiny. Also Blondie is getting old now for a quail and could do with some extra TLC. Tiny still hops on my knee and reads whatever I’m reading on the kindle.

Still reading Tiny
Tiny learning to read when she was a few weeks old.