Sunday, December 04, 2011


Hubby has a good friend who is a Loading Master/Mooring Master in Equatorial Guinea. For those of you (like me) who are geographically challenged, that's off the west coast of Africa. He enjoys his job but it's a challenging region, to say the least. On the equator, the ratio of humans to nasty creatures you'd really rather not meet is seriously in favour of the reptiles/insects/parasites/bacteria. Every now and again he sends us a photo of something truly...unique...and this is the latest. His (edited to prevent any akwardness) description follows:

"Hi Holger, thought you might want to show this to the kids at home.It was taken 1st thing in the morning in *** (1 mile from here) a couple of weeks ago. Its not a wind-up."

All I can add is that every time I look at this photo I get goose-bumps and feel slightly nausuous. Frankly, it's made me think the cockroaches in Singapore weren't so bad after all.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I was going through the memory card in my camera when I came across some photos of Niels birthday, waaaaaay back in May, and realized I'd never posted these. Turning 10 was a big thing for him and he wanted to do somehting a bit more adventurous than in previous years, so we booked a carting track nearby and took along a few friends. We weren't sure how it would go, but they had a blast.

Fortunatley none of them had done it before so they were all at the same level. Driving there in the car the boys were so excited we were wishing we had earmuffs of our own. Details of just how fast and daring they were going to be and the types of stunts they were going to do became more elaborate with each passing minute. So it was pretty funny to see them each doing their first couple of laps, not daring to go faster than walking speed and looking for all the world like a bunch of grannies on the track!

However they soon got the hang of it and were zipping about. They stopped for a break to scoff down some lunch before heading back out to the track again.

By the time we left they were all total converts to carting and unanimously declared it to be the best birthday party they'd ever had!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Because We Can

Kan u not zee, I iz buzy?

One of the fun things about bunnies is that they are constantly busy, and no matter how domesticated you may think your Flopsy or Coco or Rocco or Dumpling may be, the heart of a wild beast pumps beneath that cute fluffy coat. Spring and Autumn are the busiest seasons as the rabbits instincts kick in to dig a burrow for breeding for the former, or a shelter during the winter in the later. Punky Muffin is a particularly fanatic digger a tthis time of year, takes her projects very seriously. Her first autumn excavation occurred about a month ago; I came home for work to find her crashed out exhausted and filthy on the lawn with what could only be descirbed as a suspiciously satisfied look on her snout. Turns out she'd been digging a tunnel in the sand pit (good bunny, that's why it's there). However after a couple of days of tunneling the tunnel became too deep and long so I filled it in; I didn't want it collapsing on her, or have her get so far down I couldn't get her out again.
Not to be thwarted, she waited until her aching muscles were back to normal then took to one of the borders. It's fascinating thing to watch a rabbit burrowing; this is excavation as an art form, not just digging out dirt in some wild frenzy like, say, a dog would. Being prey animals rabbits seems to hae a built-in instinct to conceal their work. Not a successful strategy in a garden, true, but in the wild it must come in handy.

First the hole is started; frantic digging wth the front feet, and when a small pile has built up between the front legs its flicked out through the back legs to create a long pile behind. Once this pile has started to build up the bunny turns round and uses its front legs to push the pile out flat, spreading the loose dirt in a large fan shape. It repeats this process and keeps spreading the loose dirt out in an increasing radius so the resulting build up is not more than about 3-5 cm deep. I guess in the wild this would make it harder to spot, and it would quickly wash away in rain, disappear into grass and leaves, etc.
Pushing the dirt away with her front feet

As the amount of loose dirt increases, she will alternatively pull dirt towards the edge of the pile with her front feet, and then turn around and push it away and flatten it. Finally, the whole thnig is smoothed down by hopping over it, with those big back feet doing a perfect job.

It's a time consumering process, but if every there was therapy for a rabbit, this must be it. The only problelm is figuring out when it's time to go and piss her off by filling it all in again. Trouble is, I know she'll just go and do the same thing somewhere else until winter arrives...

By the way, one bunny is flat out doing all the work while the other spent most of the time fussing with his hair and 'supervising' - not much equality in the rabbit world!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Magical Cameleon Bunny

Dumpling has surprised us all by changing colour, seemingly overnight. When he arrived he looked like a scruffy mix of breeds that had been splashed with white paint. Now he's grown his winter coat, he looks like...a scruffy mix of breeds without the white paint. His formerly short curly white bits are now long soft grey bits, and he's more uniformly camouflage colour than before.

No need to guess who taught him this trick...

Guilty as charged! Punky Muffin demonstrates her startled "guilty as hell" look.

Who, me??

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Normandy 4

I've just realised I never showed you the photos of the amazing house we stayed in during our second week in Normandy. La Chapelle is a 15th century chapel which was lovingly restored about 5 years ago. I'ts actually the former chapel and priests living accomodation together; the door separating them has been removed.

The original leadlight window is still in place, and there are niches evenly spaced down the walls of the living room - the former chapel- which once would have held statues. Above you can see hubby at the massive wooden table which seats 10 people, checking emails in quite a profound contrast to the ancient surroundings. The stone walls were incredibly thick and that, combined with the stone floor, kept the whole place quite cool.
One of the most amazing features was the vaulted wooden ceiling which went throughout the length of the building. It's obviously been replaced when the restoration was done but they certainly made a great job of it. Even the staircase leading to the upstairs - there are four bedrooms, sleeping 9 people with 2 bathrooms - was handcrafted and held together with wooden pegs rather than nails in keeping with the original style. Despite the age of the building it was fitted out with all the modern equipment you could want, although it was the massive garden the kids loved most. So if you're looking for a fab place to stay in Normandy, we can recommend La Chapelle.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Scouting About

There have been a few changes with our wee scouts recently. Both boys have moved up to the next group: Carl to the Welps (ages 7-9), and Niels to the Land Scouts (10-14). This involved of course a change of uniform, the chaotic ceremonial changeover involving the entire combined Scout group, then the official 'proper' ceremony for each of the chapters where the boys have to say the Scout  code and promise to obey the Scout law in front of their leaders and own personal group. All very important stuff. Oh, and don't forget the bit where Mum gets to sew 10 badges by hand onto the new shirts. Have I ever blogged about my sewing skills before? Well, there's a reason for that: I don't have any. Suffice to say there may not have been sweat or tears involved but blood was definitely shed. The top photo shows Niels, pre-ceremony, demonstrating his new salute (3 fingers for Landscouts!) and if ever you needed proof he is growing up, this is surely it.

Niels managed to learn his new Scout code by heart, then promptly forgot most of it in the heat of the moment. The leaders are all quite young and is was amusing for the parents and grandparents gathered around to watch them going red-faced and looking flustered trying to remember the code in front of an audience as well. Above he is shaking hands with the leader of the gruop - Scouts always shake with the left hand as it's closest to the heart (bet you didn't know that!).
Carl was quite nervous about his ceremony, and forgetting that there were 7 kids moving up to the Welps, I saw him looking stricken when 3 boys were called forward to go through the ceremony and he thought he'd been forgotten. We quickly whispered in his ear that he would be one of the next, and his lip stopped trembling and he waited, at full attention with his back ram-rod straight, in tense anticipation until his name was called. After it was all over he allowed him self a little smile, befitting a boy who is "not small any more but medium sized" to quote him.
I've included this last photo of Carl getting his new shirt before the ceremoney as it shows the one essential item apparently no Scout can do without. Never mind the shirt, the tie, the friendship knot or the badges; a grubby pair of blue jeans is apparently an absolute must, and our little Scouts are able to turn a perfectly clean pair of jeans, laundered especially for the ceremony, into something looking like this in the 30 seconds it takes to walk from the car to the club house.  Amazing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Places I'm Glad I Don't Live #1...

....anywhere near where this monster crocodile was found! Captured in the Philippines, this enormous salt water crocodile weighs an amazing 1075 kilos and measures 6.4 meters in length. So far it's being hailed as the biggest croc ever caught, and almost a meter longer than the previous Guinness World Records holder 'Cassius' from Australia. See that little guy behind him? That's a fully grown man. Looks like you'd fit a few of him inside this beasty.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Well Hello........Dumpling!

As you know, a couple of weeks ago our beloved rabbit Rocco died, passing away in his sleep at the grand old age of 10.5 years. When you have pets you know one day they'll be gone, but with rabbits you also have to accept that you'll have to find a new mate for the remaining bunny fairly quickly too. Rabbits are very social animals who shouldn't be kept alone, and the day after Rocco died we could see that Punky Muffin was very nervous and unsure of the changed situation. I prepared for a trip to Eindhoven to the rabbit rescue centre run by my friend Liesbeth, Opvang Franky, to find a suitable match for our widowed Madam P Muffin.
Fate, however, intervened.
Rocco died on a Wedneday, we buried him in the garden with tears and flowers on Thursday, and on Friday a new rabbit appeared in the garden. You could call it coincidence, or serendipity, or karma...we decided to call it Dumpling.

This little guy is a young buck who was in all likelihood dumped by his owners because they couldn't be bothered arranging for someone to look after him while they went on holiday. One of the next door neighbours kids found him in front of their house, frightened, hungry, thirsty and wondering how he'd gone from family pet to tossed away garbage in the space of a day. Assuming it was one of ours, the neighbour plopped him into the garden to the surprise of Punky Muffin who thankfully decided to make friends rather than attack him. I made enquiries at the vet, local petshop, and posted him on the website for lost and found animals in Holland called Amivedi, but no-one was looking for him.  A wee dumped man, Dumpling seemed the perfect name. It's also what Liesbeth calls the many 'second hand' rabbits she rescues and re-homes every year, the cast-offs of a society that thinks animals are a disposal item to be used for our entertainment until boredom sets in then thrown away under the guise of being 'set free'.  Domestic rabbits can NOT survive in the wild; they are very easy targets for cats, dogs, mean kids, cars, disease, starvation and dehydration. Even if they survive those things there is a good chance the local wild rabbits will attack and kill them to defend their territory and as for the freezing snowy winters....a definite death sentence.
Anyway, as Niels pointed out, we were lucky to have this little guy turn up, and he was extremely lucky to have been rescued in time, so his full name is Lucky Dumpling. Personlly I think it sounds like something you'd order with a side of fried rice from the local Chinese takeway, but he did have a point, so Lucky Dumpling it is. He's settled in nicely and can be seen - now minus his balls - racing around the garden all day and generally creating havoc. He's a very strange mix of colours and textures and clearly there wasn't too much planned parenting going on when he was bred. It looks like he's been held under his armpits and dunked into a glass of milk, and his fur is a mixture of long, short and in-between lengths. However we of course think he's perfect.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Normandy 3

 ...where was I...oh yes, locking up the kids. Well of course they weren't really locked up, these see-through boxes are part of a very cool attraction at Alligator Bay, a reptile park with tunnels for the kids which wind  through several of the snake exhibits. Look out points allow the kids to pop up in the midst of an enclosure full of pythons, or anacondas, etc, which was quite exciting and just scarey enough to have them screaming and squealing in only partly-faked terror. When do we we become to old to scream just for the fun of it anyway? I'm sure the power of a good yell is vastly under-rated and to be honest there are often moments in my day - usually when a deadline is rapidly approaching - when a blood curdling scream would actualy be the most appropriate response.
Apart from snakes Alligator Bay had hundreds of retiles, from lizards to turtles to (obviously) alligators. And while they are all quietly impressive, I hadn't realized how much they poop! And stink! I mean these giant tortoises are all very nice and all but the kids were like "oh my God look how big that poo is!" It really made me wonder why people would want to keep reptiles as pets. Quite apart from the bite-your-leg-off factor of course.

Well enough reptiles, we were about to leave the hamlet of Ver behind and head northwest to our second holiday house...a 15th century chapel which was recently lovingly converted into the most amazing house, in the hamlet of Cerney, which is in the middle of nowhere, about an hour's drive from Rouen. More about that shortly!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Surprising Level of Self-Awarenesss

Carl and I were in the car the other day with our very good friends who are in their sixties. There was a short lull in the conversation and Carl leaned forward and asked "You don't have your own kids, do you?"
"No, we never did" was the answer.
"Well why not?" asked Carl.
"We wanted to but we went to the doctor when we were younger and he told us we couldn't"
There was a long pause while Carl thought about this, and we could almost hear the cogs turning in his head. Finally he leaned forward again and said in a low voice:
"I bet you're glad now".

Definitely a classic Carl moment!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Normandy 2

There are a lot of 'must sees' in Normandy and pretty much near the top of everybody's list is surely Mont Saint Michel. A rocky tidal island about 1 km off the coast (more like mud flats really), the monastry was first built in the 8th century and it's been a strategic spot for even longer. It's an impressive and beautiful site, with every rock having been built upon. From a distance it rises elegantly from the polders and tidal flats surrounding it, seeming to float magically in the bay.

On closer inspection however the illusion was somewhat shattered by the sheer numbers of tourists clambering over the Mount. The first hint was the queue for the carpark, which started about 5 km from the actual site. Have paid our 6 euros to park, we joined the swelling column of foot traffic making its way across the causeway to the Mount itself. Unfortunately the Weather Gods weren't impressed by the effort we'd all gone to just to get this far and as squalls of wind blasted us, driving rain horizontally into our faces and whipping hoods and jackets into a flapping frenzy that sounded as if we accompanied by a flock of hysterical seagulls all taking off at once, I had time to reflect on the joys of mass tourism. Yes, we knew Normandy would be busy in July, and yes we were trying to be tolerant, but my God! The people! Finally we arrived at the impressive entrance port, just in time for the rain to stop, and the wind was silenced by the high stone walls all around.

We then joined the throng of people shuffling forwards, in some places shoulder to shoulder, as we headed up the stone-paved paths (there are no roads of course). I admit I was a little disappointed to see that the paths were lined, chocka-blok, with souvenir shops. Signs in Japanese, German, Enlgish and 20 other languages tried to entice tourists in to buy postcards, place mats, calendars and t-towels all printed with pictures of the Mount. Other popular items seemed to be nougat, little wooden boats, and replicas of every possible type of ancient weapon. Predictably the boys were entranced by the swords, muskets, battle axes and morning stars and reluctantly agreed to keep shuffling rather than get side tracked.
So it was nice to see Mount St Michel but if you're planning a trip I suggest you go in spring or late autumn to enjoy the experience more. To the credit of the French, none fo the shops had neon signs and none were visible above the walls/ramparts from a distance. It was only once you entered that the tourist trade took over. Apparently it's also very beautiful at night but once we'd clambered down to the bottom we were pretty intent on just getting away from the crowds.
However nearby (literally about 4 km) was a place the kids were really keen to see; Alligator Bay. I know, coming all the way to France and then visiting a reptile park is kind of odd, but it looked very cool and we weren't disappointed. Plus it was an opportunity to lock up the kids....
...but more about that next time!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Normandy 1

Our trip to Normandy, France, started as it was to pretty much continue; with a visit to an historic site. The first day we drove as far as Les Andelys, on the river Seine. Ít's about mid-way between Paris and where the river finally meets the sea, on a strategic bend which allows sweeping views over miles of the surrounding countryside. This is where Richard Lionheart built his magnificant castle, Chateau Gaillard. Niels has wanted to visit this for years.

Today there's not much more half remaining as it was intentionally demolished once the French had wrested it from the control of Richard's son and heir after a two year seige. Still, what's left is still very cool to visit and the boys enjoyed prowling around the dungeon:
 ...and part of the wall has been restored so you can see how it would have originally looked, with a striped pattern made by two different types of stone. We stayed the night in a very cool family-owned hotel in the town, with Dad working as chef in the kitchen, Mum taking care of running things and the daughter serving meals in the dining room. I highly recommend the Hotel Paris to anyone passing through the area, and if you stay, make sure to eat dinner there too! One fo the best things we discovered in France is tht when you go out for a meal as a family, there is not a separate kids meal comprised of fries and some other deep fried junk food. Instead, for the very modest price of 7 - 9 euros they just order off the regular menu and are served small portions. So Niels enjoyed two types of terrine followed by duck, while Carl scoffed down langoustines followed by delicious monk fish fillets in a delicate sauce. Heavenly! We drank their wine for them of course!

The next day we braved the traffic around Caen and (eventually) found the tiny settlement of Ver, near to Gavray, in southwestern Normandy. This was home for the next week as we settled into a converted barn and planned our day trips to nearby sites.
One of the first was to Utah Beach, one of the famous beaches from the D-Day landings. Standing on the damp sand, the wind whistling around us and watching Carl and Holger trying to get a kite in the air, it was hard to imagine what it must have been like in the early morning of 6 June 1944 when thousands and thousands of allied troops struggled to come ashore and find shelter from the hail of gunfire and shells pouring down on the from the German positions. Today it's a peace stretch of beach but then it must have seemed like hell on earth.
 There is an impressive memorial museum dedicated to the men who died here - largely American - and dotted along the shore are reminders of once took place.

While in the area we also visited the Azeville Battery, a huge network of underground tunnels topped with canon emplacements which was once home to 170 Germans. It's hard to imagine living underground like a mole in those conditions but with a clear view out to sea in the directly of the UK, it was a hugely strategic place.
It was a sobering day and a reminder that we should never take the freedoms we enjoy every day for granted. Tomorrow we decided, we'd do something a bit more cheerful, and hope for sunshine! More about that next time.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Goodbye Rocco, you will be missed

Last night our dear bunny Rocco died, having spent ten and a half fluffy, floppy eared and mostly fun-filled days on earth. The last few days he seemed to be a little tired, content to sit in the shade or stretch out in his favourite spot in the hutch and watch the summer showers fall. I'd booked him for a check-up with his vet today, but she didn't get the chance to say goodbye to her "turbo bunny".  After munching away on a piece of apple at dinner time, I went to close up the hutch at around 8pm and found him stretched out in the same place I'd left him, never to snore again.
Never again will we have a chuckle at Rocco having fallen asleep on duty, 'guarding' the hutch and his precious Punky Muffin; 

And she is learning to adapt to life without her dirty old man, still up for it despite being the equivalent of about 110 in human years, I guess. In recent months his efforts didn't amount to much more than a front leg - or sometimes even just an ear - draped over her but in his mind he was still the undisputed stud of the garden;

After all, they have been together for a couple of years and while she wasn't his first love, she was his last.

He was often to be seen trailing after the kids, having figured our early on that small children often leave a trail of tasty treats, and he even managed to steal a peanut butter sandwich from Carl once;

However his main achievement was stealing our hearts, and there are many people who will miss him.

Goodbye old friend. You were much loved.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Back from Normandy...

...and the second load of washing is in the machine. It's been a fun couple of weeks with lots to do...the first week we stayed in western Normandy and the theme was pretty focused on WWII and the D-Day landings, with a bit of early British history thrown in re. Richard Lionheart during a visit to Chateau Galliard. More later, including photos, but first it's a well earned gin and tonic before hitting my beloved bed, sorely missed this past fortnight.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Running in circles

You know the problem with taking a holiday is that enormous amount of work you have to finish beforehand to clear a couple of weeks free. Hence you've heard nothing from me in a while. That and the fact that life has been so very very busy with the end of the school year, camps, work, etc.....
Last week Niels had his annual Scouting camp, a week-long adventure with a group of 20+ other kids. With a theme of Lord of the Rings, the kids were woken at 11pm on the second night by a grey-bearded Gandalf, who beseeched them to destroy the cursed rings in the lava lakes of Mordor. The Scout leaders who are in charge of his group really out-did themselves this time, with an imaginative, non-stop series of adventures that culmiinated in the kids tossing their rings into a fiery inferno after trekking by moonlight through the forest near Lunteren. Goodness knows what the locals thought, hopefully they are used to Scouts getting up to all sorts of nocturnal adventures.
I collected him - and an enormous pile of washing - after seven sunny fun filled days and brought him home to his first shower in days and a welcome nights sleep. It brings back fond memories of my childhood when I would spend a week in the summer holidays at Kiwi Ranch, a horse riding camp near Rotorua. I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist any more but I have fond memories of riding horses up and down the hills overlooking Lake Kawau, trekking the paths through the pine forest and riding through creeks. By the end of the camp all the kids would be gaining confidence in their riding and we would race to the paddock in the morning to grab the fiestiest horses because they were the most fun. It was a Christian camp and we endured a couple of hours of 'education' in the evenings. I would have endured a month of such brain washing if it meant I could have stayed to ride the horses during the day! I even convinced my Mum to try and buy one of the horses - a pretty mare called Tosca - but her owner couldn't bear to part with her.

The only steed Niels got to ride on his camp was his trusty bike, but he had just as much fun regardless.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The problem with apps...and why I love Apple

In these days of booming technology, it seems our kids are learning how to use the latest computers and mobile devices faster than we can keep up. The danger is they can also find ways to bypass our security measures. We're all supposed to be super alert for instances of our innocent/ignorant family members becoming victims of the internet revolution,and my friends, I have discovered a new victim: the iChallenged husband. Before I undermine his credibility any further (and don't worry, I still love him to bits but he has taken at least a year off my life in the past week), I will offer a full explanation.
If you know me, you know I love Apple products. When I was an editor at Reed Business Information I reluctantly agreed to work with an Apple Mac next to my p.c. in order to directly edit magazine pages. Within a week...I was hooked. Apples are smarter, more logical, and just downright sexier than p.c.'s. My next love was my iPhone; it's getting a bit senior in years by now but still going strong and still awesome technology and just lovely to work with. Next step, obviously, was the iPad. I restrained myself throughout the iPad 1 hysteria but thankfully by the time iPad 2 came out hubby was also intrigued and one day wandered back into the house nonchalently after returning from Aberdeen and plopped something into my lap with a casual "here you go".  It is a gorgeous piece of technology and I can't resist stroking it working on it every day.
If there's one thing that iPads are perfect for, it's playing games. You can download thousands of free games from the Apps (applications) Store online at iTunes. You have to have an account linked to a credit card for when you want to purchase items that cost real money, such as music etc, but the range of free products is awesome. The boys love to play the jet-fighter game where they're sitting the cockpit and 'fly' the plane through a stunningly real landscape by tilting the screen in every direction in their hands. Carl's favourite is 'Tiny Zoo' where you build your own zoo and spend 'credits' slowly built up over days to purchase and breed new animals. Although you can speed up the process by buying credits with real money, my policy is that games shouldn't cost cash so don't even ask.
Last Tuesday I was at work when the phone rang. "Hello, this is Jan from the fraud division of your bank. We are seeing suspicious activity on your credit card...are you using it at the moment?" Obviously not, it was safely tucked in my wallet beside me and hubby was at home, so clearly something fishy was going on. I wasn't too worried; the bank is responsible for fraud and I've been through this with my business credit card already; it was copied when I checked into a hotel in Brussels then used to purchase a truckload of things in Lithuania, of all places. About an hour later I was home and Carl raced up to me. "Look at my zoo, I've doubled the size and bought 20 magical creatures!!!"  Alarm bells started ringing...I raced upstairs to hubby and asked with a sickening feeling of dread "honey...did you buy credits for Carl from iTunes?"
Of course not was the answer....but when Carl had shown him a screen on the iPad that demanded a password that "Mummy always fills in" his response?  HE FILLED IN THE PASSWORD. He didn't realise it was for a real account with a real credit card attached.
This is the point where I'm going to stop giving a blow by blow account because it just got so bad, so quickly. Phone calls to the bank revealed it was our fault so tough shit, phone call to Apple led to the suggestion that I send an email to customer support. Yeah, right. We didn't know how much money Carl had spent except that it was "well over 100 euros".
I sent a desperate email to Apple and didn't expect any joy. The next morning I left for a business trip to France with a sickening feeling of dread in my stomach. For almost 24 hours I heard nothing. Finally, in the car with a colleague on the way back from Paris, an email from Apple. I've seen the terms and conditions. I know all transactions are final. I know Apple doesn't own the app that Carl spent the money in. Things looked grim. The opening sentences were all standard: Hello Joanne, my name is Judy, I'll be helping you with your enquiry..." blah blah blah.  My colleague is sending worrying glances my way as I groan through the first paragraph.  It continued:  "I understand your awesome son downloaded a lot of credits in Tiny Zoo. Being a parent I understand your concerns..."  WHAT? I hadn't expected that.

 "Your sons total purchases are in excess of SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY EIGHT EUROS".

Let's just revisit that figure: 658 euros.

I'm gonna say that again: 658 euros.

In less than 30 minutes. That's about 1400 New Zealand dollars.

...."I am pleased to say I have refunded the full amount to your credit card as this was an unintentional purchase...."

This is the point where my colleague thought I had seriously lost my mind. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, I couldn't believe that a massive company like Apple would be so HUMAN as to respond in this way. Let's just say it's reaffirmed my belief in human nature and the possibility for big business to have a big heart.
So thank you Apple, and thank you friendly support girl from iTunes. And let this be a lesson to all. When you choose your passwords it's obvious that your kids shouldn't know what they are: but under no circumstances, should you ever, ever tell them to your iChallenged husband.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Udderly Charming...Not

I was putting Carl to bed the other night and as usual, on request, was lying down with him in the warm glow of his night light talking about the days' events. In order of importance according to Carl, the topics we covered were the kid who got in trouble for pooping on the floor of the gym changing room that morning (not him!), what we're doing in the summer holidays, who he played with today, etc. I was wearing a v-neck shirt which had pulled down a bit as I lay there so a bit of cleavage was showing and he looked down, pointed his finger and laughed ""Ha-ha, I can see your tits!"
Of course I didn't find this amusing so put him straight about how that (a) wasn't funny and (b) that we don't use that word. He reconsidered for a moment while I waited expectently for an apology and then said "All right...I can see your udder!"

I'm still not amused.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Here There Be Bunnies...

After all that excitement I need some food!
This must be a bumper year for wild rabbits because we've never had so many bouncing around the neighbourhood. As long as we've lived here there has been a stable local population, and the little pile of bunny poo on our driveway stands testiment to the rubbit who most evenings sits there, presumably intrigued by the scent of our rabbits who by dark are safely locked up in the Bunny Bungalow.

 However the dynamic has changed this spring; perhaps due to an increase in numbers the wild rabbits are becoming bolder, approaching our garden even during daylight hours, which has never happened before. It started a few weeks ago: I was putting Carl to bed when hubby came in and said: "I just walked out to the garage and found a wild rabbit in the hutch!" Initially I thought he was kidding; wild rabbits are (I thought)  too shy of humans to ever come into the garden, let alone hop INTO a rabbit hutch right by our back door. But then I glanced out the second floor window down into the garden and was amazed to see a large wild rabbit making very macho overtures to Punky Muffin, who was behaving for all the world like a love-struck teenager who'se just come face to face with her favourite rock star. She was practically FIZZING with excitement.
Planning to take out the competition...wild Casanova vs Rocco

Now one of the main differences between domestic and wild rabbits is their size. Pet bunnies can be far larger, and I've never had a rabbit who could squeeze more than their head through our fence to nibble on any plants unfortunate enough to grow within nibbling reach. But as I watched this big wild bunny easily squeezed like a ferret through the gate! I grabbed my camera and started clicking. He hopped, as casually as you like, up to Punky Muffin and gave her a quick lick on the nose as if to say "I'll be back for you in a moment cupcake" before heading straight for Rocco. It was pretty clear that he was aiming to take out the competition so I chucked my camera on the bed and raced downstairs to chase away Casanova before poor old blind Rocco, who was first stunned then extremely pissed off that a strange bunny suddenly barged into his territory (and him), ended up in a fight he surely couldn't win.
An hour later emergency fence alterations were in place, with extra netting fitted to hopefully keep out the marauder. Days passed and the wild rabbit never returned so we assumed it was a one-off event.
This morning however, as I was working at the table in the kitchen, my attention was cuaght by Punky. For a mute animal rabbits are surprsing eloquent and her body language was saying as plain as day: "OMG who the hell are YOU??" On the other side of the fence was a juvenile wild bunny, about as big as my fist, hopping back and forwards excitedly. Whether it saw Punky Muffin as a Mummy or a Hot Mama wasn't clear but she was out of her mind with excitement at this new development. I walked out to check it wasn't a pet rabbit that had escaped but as soon as it saw me it took off at the speed of sound to a nearby stand of trees, so it's definitely wild. It was gone too fast to take a photo so I've snapped some of Punky in her hyper-excited state.

"Did ya see him? Did ya see him? Didya? Didya? Didya see that?"

Rocco typically missed the whole thing because he's blind, but did his best to calm down Punky Muffin in the only way he knows how...
"Forget ze boy...only a man can give you ze lurve you need..."

Whether she is in the mood for love or war isn't clear but she's now patrolling the fencline like a doberman, hoping to spot her new acquaintance again. The rabbit fencing is clearly sufficient to keep out the wild bunnies but frankly she's looking a bit disappointed about that.