Lincoln Longwools, Illness and Ikea: 2013 365 Challenge #37

Aaron posing for the camera

Aaron posing for the camera

We are a house of ill. Son has a temperature of 38.8C (I think that’s around 102F), daughter screams every time we go near her with her medicine and I’m coughing like a seal every thirty seconds.

The only option today was to divide and conquer. That’s what we call it when we take a child each. One is so much easier than two because you only have to follow one rambling non-sequitur laden conversation instead of two. So husband took daughter to Ikea (lucky them!) and I took my son to Sacrewell Farm.

Running for the muddy puddle

Running for the muddy puddle

Followers of this Blog will know I love our local Farm. I call the feeling I get when I’m there Farm Calm. Today was no different. Despite a hacking cough, an icy wind, and a tired and poorly boy we managed a lovely two hours under blue skies. Aaron was even brave enough to feed Humby Keith – a Lincoln Longwool Ram with a very loud baa.

It was just as well we went early as it has been snowing/sleeting/hailing/raining all afternoon.

A happy boy to be at the Farm

A happy boy at the Farm

Husband came back from his road trip with the usual Ikea extras – a new ball for the dog (she loves the soft footballs they sell but does tend to chew them up), cutlery, some gadget for the wardrobe and chocolate. He did at least also come back with the expedit unit he went for!

A more surprising thing he came back with was a thought for something to do with Claire.

“She should take part in Race for Life”.

Humby Keith with the loud baaaaaa

Humby Keith with the loud baaaaaa

Great idea. It fits into her personal growth nicely so will definitely plot that in for May or whenever it happens wherever she is at that point! That’s if I’m still writing the story by then.

The daily blog is definitely taking its toll. I am trying to remember we are a house full of illness and flux, with husband’s lack of job sending ripples across everything else. It feels like me spending 2-3 hours a day on the laptop is the root cause of the kids’ tantrums and anxiety but it’s probably as much to do with none of us knowing where we are on any given day. Hopefully things like my son’s terrible Separation Anxiety (I can’t leave the room at the moment without him screaming) and daughter’s feelings of being unloved will improve when we can put some structure back in their lives.

I hope it happens soon for all our sakes, especially Claire’s!


Claire looked at the flashing phone, trying to decide whether to ignore it. She and Josh had left for Ninebanks, the next hostel on Claire’s list, early that morning and the journey had been swift and painful. Since their brief conversation about photos the night before Josh had done little more than utter monosyllabic sounds like a sullen teenager. They had booked another twin room and Josh hadn’t made a single suggestive comment about the double bed that formed the bottom of the bunk. When he pulled on his boots and muttered something about going for a walk Claire waved him off with all the relief of a mother on the first day of term.

The phone continued to flash silently, dragging her eye from the accusing stare of the iPad. She reached over to check who was calling and saw only the word International. Her heart plummeted. The only person she knew that went overseas was Michael. Well he can just sod off. Stalker. She reached to hit reject but made a sudden decision to connect the call. If I don’t face him sooner or later I’m going to need a restraining order.


“Claire?” Harsh tones boomed down the phone and into her brain. She ignored the surge of disappointment that it wasn’t Michael and took a moment to place the owner of the angry voice. She hadn’t heard it for a while.

“Robert? Long-time no speak, brother mine. To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure?”

“This is not a social call.”

Claire tried not to laugh. Her brother sounded like a posh TV detective come to arrest the pretty protagonist. “Then why are you calling? You never call, is your Skype broken?”

“I did not want to risk Francesca overhearing my conversation. It is not for sensitive ears.”

Has he taken to perusing Gothic novels? I thought I was the one reading bad literature to pass the time.

Suppressing a sigh Claire settled back as best she could in the uncomfortable chair and gazed at the flickering of the wood-burner. When it became clear Robert was not going to add any more she inhaled through her nose and asked the obvious question.

“What isn’t for sensitive ears, Robert? And since when was Francesca sensitive? Judging by some of the stories she told on that hen do you made me go on she could give Frankie Boyle a run for his money.”

“I have no idea who Frankie Boy is…”


“And I don’t appreciate being interrupted, thank you.”

“Robert you’re my brother, not my father.” Claire fought against the teenager she could feel rising within and lost. “Just spit out whatever stupid reason you have for calling and get out of my head, I’m trying to work.”

“Ha! Work. Is that what you’re calling it? Debauching with strangers, singing and dancing drunk in a bar, hanging upside-down from trees flashing your flesh for the world to see. It is not what I would call work. Nor is it the behaviour I expect from a member of my family. I have a position to uphold and you posting half-naked pictures of yourself across the Web – on LinkedIn! – is the outside of enough.”

Claire hit mute on the phone halfway through her brother’s rant so she could laugh without restraint. Tears streamed down her face. She was hiccupping with mirth when he finished and she was forced to turn the sound back on. In her mind she saw the picture that had got her brother so upset. The one Josh had taken of her the day before on their double hike of Hadrian’s Wall. After Josh had climbed the wall and posed for the camera she had found herself needing to go one better. School-girl gymnastics came to her aid and she’d managed to shimmy up the sycamore tree and hang from one of the branches like it was an A-Symmetric bar. Her coat had obeyed the laws of gravity and she recalled a few inches of frozen flesh creeping out into the chill winter’s day.

Eventually Claire stopped snorting tears and managed to compose herself enough to respond to her brother. She could imagine his increasing wrath at her laughter but that only whipped the flames hotter.

“Is that why you called? To tell me off like a first year caught skiving class? I had a hard enough time following in your prim and prudish footsteps at school Robert. You are not going to rule my life from Geneva. If my blog offends you don’t read it. Who, besides you, is going to know we are related? My name isn’t even on the blog.”

“Thank goodness for small mercies. What the hell does Sally’s Cat mean as an author’s name anyway? Mother tells me this is your job now and that you’ve left AJC. Sounds like a suicidal career move to me.”

“I’m amazed Mum got even that much right for all she listened while I was there. I haven’t left AJC, they’re still paying me my normal salary. Not that it’s any business of yours. I am working on an assignment to promote healthy living on behalf of the YHA and Coca Cola. If I’m managing to have a bit of fun while I do it it’s more than you’ve ever managed in your entire Head Boy career.”

She heard the rush of air as her brother sucked his breath in through his teeth. Her mouth spread wide in an unholy grin. She loved getting under Robert’s skin. It was so easy yet so very satisfying. She waited for him to speak, picturing his face contorting as he tried to respond without swearing.

“If you have nothing else to add Robert I’ll say goodbye. My blog isn’t going to write itself. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to go to Gaol or down a Lead Mine to explore the locality. I’ll be sure to keep my clothes on either way. It is winter here after all.”

Robert muttered a barely-civil farewell and hung up the phone.

Well if I’ve managed to irritate Robert I must be doing something right.

Claire closed down her blank blog page and brought up “Things to do in Ninebanks”. Mentally she reworded it “Things to annoy your eldest sibling”.

That shouldn’t be hard.


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