Life gathers pace

Monica is here and well. Fifth day after her flight and already giving me grief. Our stuff, though, isn’t due to land until the 16th so it’s unlikely to be here when Neil’s up. We’ll borrow a double air-bed; with that and the single bed, I hope he and the kids can cope. We have two good sleeping bags but they might want to bring one of theirs rather than rely on odd blankets. The central heating will be on, so it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable. We just did a mental inventory and realised that we won’t even receive sofas or beds in the first load: they either stayed until the last pack or were given away. As a result, the Christmas dinner here will be conducted exclusively at the dining tables, of which we will have ample.

Today, we met Aunt Mona plus Jane and family at Manchester airport. We couldn’t offer a lot of assistance beyond pushing trolleys and the loan of a hat; and I hope we weren’t too pesky. Mona has rented a house in York for them all. I don’t know what they’ll be up for in a week or so’s time; perhaps we can pop over there while Neil is here or maybe they’d like to see the farm. I’ll play that by ear. Jane did say she’d love to see Neil, though. Their eldest reminded Monica of Rowan and the boy is around Mitchell’s age by the look of him. Didn’t really have time to get to know much about the kids except that they’re very giggly. Charlie looks like, and apparently has been mistaken for, Howard’s son. They’ll be going to see the old scrote because of that bond. Mona agreed that they don’t know him well enough to be wary.

Neil’s clock just chimed the half hour; it has been very reliable and accurate. The wall clock is silent because it gets stuck trying to raise its hammer to strike and I’d rather get it fixed than repeatedly force it.

Jeff, the odd-job guy, and his carpenter friend are close to finishing the floor for the workshop area of the Shippen. It’ll make a grand clog-dancing platform for Kevin until the tools arrive. The carpenter is the kind of guy who comes across stuff and has already found me a wood-lathe and chisels for cheap. Also, Dave from next door has confirmed that he’d like to bring his metalwork lathe, milling machine and a few other bits to live in there. Gonna be a fun place to hang out!

It snowed yesterday so we dove out to buy emergency food while we could get down the hill. We almost had to catch the bus and train to the airport today. Waiting for documentation from DVLA to allow me to get Angela on the road to save such embarrassment.

Tomorrow, Monica is bringing her Mammy out: Daddy asked that we mind her while he goes to a Proctor & Gamble reunion. It’ll be the first trial of this arrangement but I’m sure all will go well because Kitty is great fun and good company. She still hides most of her forgetfulness very well. On Sunday we have a bit of a feast happening with a few different lots here for the day: Monica’s school friend, Kevin’s mob and a Treesponsibility guy.

Keith, the last of these, is also a founder-member of Blackbark, Hebden coppicing specialists, so I’m keen to hear what he advises after a site visit. This Thursday, the meadows specialist visits, too. Along with reading our growing library, we’re learning very quickly from all of these various sources. It’s all very puzzling: what species will grow here, how to design the plot etc. Even questions like, “What wood burns best?”, seem generate many different opinions. Hey ho.

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