with War lounging about on my imaginary psychiatric couch, eating grapes and telling me to chill; she’ll get up in a minute if I need her.
A few days ago I was intending to blog about the beauties of Portugal, the gaudy tiles juxtaposed with elegant 15th C designs, the glorious beaches, big surf and blessed heat. About the crazy little sparrows bathing in the sprinklers, the weird hoopoes and cycling in the breeze. (I wasn’t going to mention falling off my bike into a hedge. No siree. I brushed the leaves off, ignored the scratches, wobbled bravely on, and I don’t think the Spanish family I crashed alongside noticed AT ALL). I was even going to mention the perfect rosé sangria, and how I honestly think it counts as one of my five a day. Fruit and veg, that is.
But then, as every holidaying mama knows, all good things come to an end as soon as those wheels touch down on tarmac. The snag about six people holidaying together is that six cases of laundry return home too. I’m not complaining too much: the division of labour in this household means that I have to take charge at this point, and although my pet summer project is to train teens 2 and 3 in life skills the sad fact is that this time it was quicker to do it myself than roust them out of bed. So I put the laundry on, and headed to the supermarket to deal with the famine present in an empty fridge and larder. Urgent domestic tasks accomplished, I poured a large coffee and headed for my computer, and my blog.
That was four days ago.
My peace lasted exactly ten minutes before HN returned home with the dogs from kennels, coughing as though they had been doing 24/7 project work for Benson & Hedges. Kennel cough is highly contagious, and the two spaniels waiting at home to greet their pals promptly celebrated by licking the runny noses. Yuk.
I might have spotted the kennel contagion quicker if the youngest spaniel hadn’t decided earlier to welcome us home by starting in season as we walked through the door. Those of you who don’t own dogs may not realise that this is a signal for Teasel to grab a rose in her teeth and exit under the back fence with a burlesque shimmy in order to go and play with any nice male dog she can find. Fussy, she ain’t.
So that’s the pestilence. Almost…
Meanwhile, another Apocalyptic Horseman was lurking outside.
You know all those horror stories about families who go on vacation, only to return and find a merry gang of bearded squatters pulling up the floorboards for firewood and having group sex on the mattresses? Well, in this case the squatters who moved in were several large families of rats, who used the absence of the terrier to occupy a large tree and earth bank near the hen-house. From there, they obviously mounted nightly raids on the run, terrifying the girls, stealing the eggs and pellets, and returning to their nests only to procreate and breed at a terrifying rate. I returned from my relaxing holiday to find that I had to deal with mass extermination within the first 24 hours.
Terry Pratchett’s Death of Rats will be exhausted. They’re not all dead yet, either, and the hens will be in counselling for weeks if the number of funny shaped eggshells is anything to go by…
Pestilence hadn’t finished either, as my help has now been struck down by the sort of bug that means she can be of no help to anyone, and I’m reduced to praying that it’s food poisoning, and not as contagious as kennel cough. The dogs are back from the vets with antibiotics and the bill.
And now it’s Wednesday. Tomorrow is Thursday. Results Day. Two teenagers are already anxiously counting down the hours until they can check online to see whether or not their hard work and dreams remain intact. Life skills training has been put on hold in favour of mounting shotgun on Teasel, or displacement activity on Facebook and golf course.
I can’t blame them; dreams are very hard to hold on to, even with a great deal of hard work. I am supposed to be writing the first draft of my creative dissertation, and unless War would like to get off her backside and guard the door to this study, not much is likely to happen on it this week.