Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 11th & 12th May, 2021

Now it's light when I get up I'm back into my summer routine, taking a wander around the garden whatever the weather to check what's popped up overnight. Tuesday morning was no exception and I saw that my petunias weren't far from flowering and an old hebe already had. After my Wii Fit workout, I caught up with blog comments until Jon got up. The previous evening he'd spotted something strange on Frank's face and, after some research, discovered it was a tick. Lacking the confidence to remove it ourselves he called the vet and managed to get an appointment. We were supposed to be going on a National Trust visit which I cancelled and rebooked for later in the week.

While Jon and Frank were out I ignored the rain and thinned out the crocosmia and Oriental poppies in the border replanting them elsewhere. Just as the lads returned the rain became torrential and a deafening clap of thunder had me joining them indoors. The vet had managed to remove Frank's tick, check his ridiculously thick fur for more (thankfully, not) and give him a liberal dowsing of tick deterrent. After a bowl of chicken, Jon was all but forgiven.


After our lunchtime noodles, we did a tip run, taking four of the five sacks of garden waste we'd filled last week, then spent the remainder of the afternoon in the garden. Jon built more wigwams and planted out his Greek beans, sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers while I potted up sempervivums and more nasturtiums. 












We'd grown a cerinthe major from a seed we collected on a walk last summer which I popped into the border before planting the geraniums Jon had managed to divide.


How fabulous is the limestone corbel we unearthed a few weeks ago? Some of Stonecroft's skirting boards are limestone, I bet this came from an old fireplace back when the house was a terrace of three farm labourer's cottages.


Whilst tea was being prepared I did a little more ancestry research and discovered another interesting relative, Jon's great-great uncle, Richard Hartshorne. Richard was born in Walsall in 1883 and was employed as a pikeman in the local coal mine. In September 1903 he married Eliza "Lizzie" Skitt, who worked as a warehouse girl in a Walsall iron foundry and they had four children. Despite mining being a reserved occupation and Richard being exempted from military service, he enlisted in the British Army in January 1915 joining the South Staffordshire Regiment. He saw two and a half years of active service and was killed in action in the trenches on the night of 21st October 2017. He is buried at the Philosophe British Cemetery in Mazingarbe, France.

Richard Hartshorne (1883 - 1917)

Am I alone in thinking that Richard wouldn't look out of place in Peaky Blinders?

Eliza "Lizzie" Hartshorne (1885 -1956) 

An extract from this war diary records Richard's death.

Night: 20/21st    Trenches: HULLOCH     9pm - 2.30am

2nd Lieut. Jukes and Webb and 15 other ranks patrolled into the enemy's front trench, but not realising their advantage, failed to make the best of it. 2nd Lieut. Lindop on patrol further south failed to find a gap, and lost Sgt Hartshorne - killed -  a good and plucky NCO., who is a loss to the battalion.

Wouldn't that make a great plot for a thriller...an excess of free time due to lockdown leads the protagonist to develop a passion for genealogy. On discovering their heroic ancestor was killed due to the ineptitude of a superior officer they decide to trace his family tree and avenge his death by hunting down and punishing his surviving family. I've obviously been reading too many crime novels!


Tea was pizza and salad and the evening was spent watching Waking The Dead although I was nodding off by 9pm. I was in bed by 10pm, tucked up with Stephen and my latest read. 


Glorious sunshine greeted me when I got up on Wednesday morning. Frank and I went for an inspection of the garden before my Wii Fit Workout. I sprayed the houseplants in the lounge and joined Jon for breakfast. There was much excitement as we'd decided that today was the day we'd go proper charity shopping - driving to a nearby town with a profusion of high street chazzas - as opposed to popping into the clearance shop in Walsall. 

Jon had received a text to confirm that the bench I'd ordered at the weekend was out for delivery so I posed for an outfit photo while we waited. Keen to wear the copal beads I'd found on Sunday's charity shop expedition I wore a 1960s Dagina Indian block printed cotton maxi dress (eBay, 2018) to pick up the yellow. I'd not worn this vintage suede jacket since End of The Road Festival in 2018 and, the smell of damp was dreadful but I figured that everyone would be wearing masks so they might not notice.

The bench was delivered bang on the estimated delivery time so off we went. We'd not been to our favourite charity shopping town since March 2020 (I'd tell you where it is but then I'd have to kill you) so didn't know what to expect. To our delight, the free car parks were virtually empty and, even though mask-wearing is only mandatory inside, just like in Walsall, almost everyone opts to wear them in the street. We've been spoilt with the supermarket-sized charity shop we normally visit and were wary of how busy shops would be but there was a strict limit on customers so it was absolutely fine. There were hand sanitising stations in each shop we visited and we didn't encounter a single non-mask wearing shopper. 

Having only my own wardrobe and the Kinky Shed to play in for over a year it's easy to forget how poor quality most modern clothes, shoes and bags are. We managed to find a few gems amongst the dross - 1970s reversible suede & leather jacket, 1980s gents leisure shirt, 1980s Nightingales crinkle cotton sundress, Adidas Originals Firebird Rose trackie top, 1980s wool felt fedora, 1960s beaded shopper, 1970s emerald green cocktail dress, 1970s cotton velvet waistcoat, 1950s London-made waistcoat and a Santelli Francesca, Italian-made straw hat with the tags attached which was sold at Anthropologie for, no doubt, a hideously over-inflated price.


Back at home, I bunged everything in the wash and we had a bowl of noodles. We changed into our gardening gear, filled the car with garden waste and deposited it at the council tip then spent the rest of the day in the garden. I edged the lawn, Jon erected the new bench (FSC certified, the eucalyptus wood is from an environmentally responsible supply). Yes, we do machine wash leather and suede!


Jon mowed the lawn. I know it's No Mow May but our garden been no-mow since September 2020. He's left plenty of clumps of grass where wildflowers grow in abundance so hopefully, we haven't upset too many creepy crawlies & pollinators, although if it gets rid of any lingering ticks we'll all be happy!


After tea; sweet potato chips, a three-cheese melt and mushy peas for me, fish, chips & mushy peas for Jon, we took a bottle of beer outside and sat on the new bench in the evening sunshine. It's The Great British Sewing Bee & rum later and tomorrow we're off on a National Trust visit, ticks permitting!

Cheers & see you soon. 

46 comments:

  1. I'm happy for you being able to be out and about and refill your stock/or your closet. I too can't help but here good history and think there must be a novel in that plot! Please, go ahead and write one and I'd read it. Tick weather-I give pup a good look each night.

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    1. It felt like the last 14 months had been a strange dream, other than veryone in masks life seemed the same!
      I din't even know cats could get ticks especially in suburban Britain - maybe the garden's a bit too wild! xxx

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  2. Poor Frank. One of my cat's had a huge tick, she had so much fur I didn't see it for awhile. Yep, a vet trip happened. Love those beads and that a sweet bench

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    1. Frank didn't even know he'd got that tick, he couldn't understand why Jon wasn't letting him headbutt him like he usually does! xxx

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  3. To me your life is idyllic. I am so ill but heading to80 so what can one expect. I came home from a farm holiday at2 and as my mothe undressed me I had a big black tic on my singlet. I remember she said stand still. All was well. How nasty are they. Kiss Frank from me. Your. Pizzas always look so yummy. What do you put on them ? I am gluten free but have pitta. breads that can be split. ❤️

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    1. Your tick story made me shudder, ugh!! I bet you've been wary of them ever since!
      Jon used to make pizzas but we buy them ready made now as they work out the same price. Mine are usually mozarella with a few veggies, I don't like much cheese on the. Jon likes the meat ones! xxx

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  4. Nasy ticks - I found one lurking on a cushion recently and promptly got Mollie cat a tick collar you can buy a tic remover (it loos like those old fashioned hairpins)dead easy to use and practice regularly so cats get used to it and all will be fine - I brush Mollie daily too as worried about tics lurking, got bitten on my hand in the woods by one last year - nasty bite. If only our chazzas were as good as yours - the well heeled of sunny Surrey seem to hang on to their goodies and half their population actually volunteer in the chazzas to bag the bargains for themselves lol!

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    1. When we googled ticks we saw that you could buy a tool but after that terrible skin infection he had a couple of years ago when we nearly lost him we decided we'd rather let the vet do it rather than mess it up. Becky doused him with tick treatment and we do regularly grrom him - his fur's more like a sheep's fleece than a cat! xxx

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  5. Poor Frank with a nasty old tick on his sweet little face. Glad the vet took care of everything. So nice that you were able to get out and about a bit even if you did have to delay the National Trust visit. I like the new garden bench, and everything else in the garden is looking great too! :)

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    1. Frank didn't even notice there was a huge creature attached to his face, silly boy! xxx

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  6. I'm glad that you noticed the tick on Frank and got it taken care of - his fur does look luxuriously thick! How nice to read in bed with Stephen too. Love your plot to your "true crime", Vix - you may have missed your calling! ;-P

    What a nice haul you got! You would love the shops here - tons of 50s-70s vintage still.

    How cool you just dug up that limestone chunk in your yard!

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    1. I think Frank was a sheep in a past life, his fur is ridiculously thick!
      I bet I would absolutely love the shops by you. There is still vintage to be had but not all vintage is good vintage! xxx

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  7. Glad to hear you can venture out and explore the charity shops and you managed to uncover some gems. Hopefully Frank has now fully recovered.
    I can see a novel in the making with the family history.

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    1. It was the first time in 14 months we'd been on a proper charity shopping expedition, it was exciting! xxx

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  8. Although I'm usually not up as early as you are, I love nothing better than stepping out into the garden first thing, often still in my dressing gown, to see what's popped up overnight. This is a really exciting time of year for us gardeners, isn't it?
    I'm glad you got Frank's tick removed, we wouldn't have been keen on doing it ourselves either.
    I'm glad to hear your first regular charity shopping trip went well and everybody was well behaved and wearing masks. Might it have been the town you sent us to back in 2018, I wonder? If so, I swear I won't tell a soul :-) Speaking of charity shops, I think I saw that book you're reading in a chazza last week. Do let me know if it's any good, then I'll pick it up next time. The copal beads look amazing with your 1960s block printed maxi, and that vintage suede jacket is gorgeous. Hurray for masks to "mask" any smells :-) xxx

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    1. I can't wait to get outside each morning and see what's happened. I love popping out after a heavy shower, too - sometimes I swear that things have grown inches in an hour of so!
      It wasn't that town - but it's on the agenda in the next couple of weeks. We've discovered lots of ancestors on both sides who hailed from that part of the world so we might combine it with a ancestry road trip!
      That book is incredible, I think you should grab it when you see it next time! xxx

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  9. Ticks are a curse. A fellow walker's grandchild got bitten by a tick and became seriously ill until they discovered what it was and removed it. They now never go walking without a little gadget that hooks the tick out - but that presupposes you feel the bite in the first place! I don't wear shorts or leave my arms and legs uncovered when I go walking to avoid the ticks. Poor Frank, but he did look contented laying in the sun...

    I can see the family resemblance between Jon and his great uncle. I like the plot line of your story; you'd do it really well as you have a gift for writing. Go for it, write your own whodunnit!

    What good pickings you got at the chazzas. I just waited for more than 10 mins to get into a charity shop that only allows 3 customers at a time; two of the three women customers in the shop weren't wearing their masks correctly! What's the bloody point? I loved the dress you were wearing under the camouflage jacket and the block printed eBay find looks fab. The necklace was good match with the jacket; I hope the damp smell is subsiding.

    The garden is turning out to be almost a full time job with you and Jon - roll on the weather when you can sit out in it and enjoy it. The limestone corbel was a wonderful find and even better that you knew it came from the family home
    originally.

    Who's your favourite to win TGBSB? My money's on Serena!
    xxx

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    1. That poor child! Back in the 1990s we were trekking in Malaysia and went for a swim in a waterfall, an hour of so later I looked at my legs and they were covered in leeches, I've never screamed so much in my life!
      Why on earth do people have a mask and not wear it properly? Jon says that anyone wearing masks as chin straps or under their noses in Morrison's gets told off and threatened with being ejected from the shop, it seems to work!
      Serena's an excellent sewer, isn't she? They're a lovely bunch this year, I'm struggling to pick a favourite. xxx

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  10. if i would get a fiver for every time i removed a tick off lisbeth i would be rich!
    no way to go to the vet for this - we bought a pair of tweezers esp. for ticks - for us and for lisbeth - and every evening she´s checked. with all the wildlife around we have many ticks.
    your new bench looks great and your garden is on its way - lots of veggies for your meals!
    sad discovery of jon's great-great uncle richard - but you definitely read to much crime novels ;-DDD
    love the outfit you build around your new fab beads! how nice was the quiet and comfortable shopping experience in your favorite chazzas......
    i too wash leather/suede in the machine with the wool cycle.
    xxxxx

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    1. It's the first cat tick I've ever come across, I didn't even know they could get them! Hopefully it'll be another 53 years before I see another!
      I'm surprised that more people don't machine wash suede. xxx

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  11. That corbel, so beautiful and such a lovely find in your own garden. So happy for you to be able to visit charity shops and do a few normal things again.

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    1. I love digging up treasure, such an incentive to keep going! xxx

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  12. Ah, ticks!!!! Glad you were able to get it removed easily! I love seeing your raised bed and all the crops! (can we have a future post on a tour of the veggie beds please?)
    I really love your pale Indian dress worn with the suede jacket/coat. How do you stop things from smelling? x

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    1. Horrible things, it started crawling along the vet's table after she'd removed it!
      Yes, that's a great idea, I'll do a produce tour, all this rain is causing everything to shoot up!
      Tumble drying with a lavender bag or hanging outside for 24 hours (weather permitting) usually does the trick! xxx

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  13. Unless the vet did it cheaply it's worth getting a tick remover. Once though I had to cut one out of my leg with a razor blade! We were in rural France at the time and I had no option, makes me wince to think of it.
    Those copal beads look utterly fab.
    Yesterday was lovely here too, it's been torrential rain today though. I hope it was better for your NT visit. xxx

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    1. Noooo! That's horrible! Jon had to burn a load of leeches with a cigarette light after I got covered in them in Malaysia back in the 1990s, I'm still traumatised!
      It was very wet for our NT visit but it was so lovely I hardly noticed! xxx

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  14. I remember pulling many ticks off our dog when we lived on the farm-just couldn't be avoided out in the country, but he had white fur and they were easy to spot. I once managed to get one on my scalp which was not fun.

    Our mask requirements have been eased now which doesn't thrill me because like you, I've been putting off washing my coat figuring no one could smell it through a mask!

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    1. The thought of a tick in my hair made me shudder with disgust!
      I can't see an end to the mask wearing mandate here yet, it's not looking great in some parts of the country with this Indian variant! xxx

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  15. Wednesday’s outfit is lovely, smelly jacket or not haha. I like how Jon is road testing the new bench already. The joy you both find in the everyday things always comes across Vix and it’s what we all need.
    We are off out tomorrow despite the rotten weather forecast. Philip will be having a pint outside Honest Jon’s and we will have a look in the chazzers.
    I’ve been in touch with Gemma at Barnados Vintage charity shop and she is going to open up one Sunday for us to drop off a pile of stuff. It means we can have a browse round the shop with no one else there. It’s like being a celebrity xxx

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    1. Just as well blogs don't have smellivision - I can still smell that damp smell now, not sure why it's started to honk like a cellar!
      Get you with your VIP chazza shop access, I bet you'll come back with more than you donated! xxx

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  16. ~I thought i was the only lunatic who machine washed leather and suede...lol

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  17. I did not know you could wash leather and suede! My boss sends it to the dry cleaners. Your history is fascinating.
    Love the vintage jacket by the way. I only have 5 days left in the covid hotel. All I have done is sleep! I must have needed it.
    You got some good finds there. Take care and keep love and hugs

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    1. Yes, it's always worth running leather and suede through the machine first. I've yet to have a disaster. I never take anything to the dry cleaners, too expensive and too many evil chemicals. Tell your boss to save his money!
      I bet you can't wait for freedom! Stay sane! xxx

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  18. It's so good to catch up with you via your blog, Vix. Glad to see you and Jon are still keeping yourself occupied in the garden.

    Richard certainly looks like he's straight out of Peaky Blinders! And your novel idea is excellent!

    Love the 60s shopper bag you found!😍

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    1. Always lovely to hear from you when you've got the time, Jess! xxx

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  19. Until you wore them, I hadn't recognized the size of those tribal copal beads! Please tell us more about them. Is yellow a common--or the only-- color?

    I've found jackets, like hair cuts, work for me in two lengths: bolero short or beneath-the-bottom long. Your "smelly" jacket has a lovely line with your dress. Perhaps if one were to bag it with a clump of lavender or Sweet Annie? The thought of popping it into a washing machine....!

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    1. Copal is a tree resin, some sellers describe it as "young amber" but it's not related or as precious. It's always yellow and it's more common in Berber jewellery.
      I'm with you on the jacket lengths, anything hip length looks boxy and unflattering.
      I shall tumble dry that jacket as it's still very smelly, too much metal to risk the machine! xxx

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  20. Ticks are a pain in the proverbial! Definitely worth getting some special tweezers and perhaps instituting a regular fur check? We used to have a malamute so did a weekly check looking for lumps and bumps and anything out of place, just in case. He never picked up any ticks but it was worth the time spent just to avoid the side-effects.

    I love Sewing Bee to bits but have mostly been exploring grim foreign stuff. If you get tired of Waking the Dead - I did think the stories got a bit unlikely and overblown in the later series - or just want a change try Floodlands, a Belgian/Dutch co-production about people trafficking that is very grim indeed. The new BBC4 Blinded: Those Who Kill is pretty compelling but relies on people who should know better making stupid decisions or obvious mistakes to keep the tension high, which I do find irritating.

    I've never been brave enough to wash leather garments, although I have washed shoes and sandals as a last resort (very smelly feet on my part I'm afraid) and they mostly come out okay if you stuff them well to dry the insides and keep them from shrinking too much, so there's no reason why a jacket shouldn't work the same. Those tribal beads are very eye-catching; definitely my kind of jewelry. I imagine you wish you were pairing them with a cotton bikini on a beach somewhere. It's ironic that the very short and odd list of countries we're allowed to travel to include an about-to-be warzone and several with no flights in or out, whether their government is prepared to welcome us or not. So all in all not really a choice at all. Personally I will stick with the UK for this year, not being a sun lover. In fact I'm off to walk in Northumberland next week, where rain is forecast for all but a handful of hours during my stay. And without your foresight I've missed out on booking any attractions as everywhere is now super-busy it seems. Oh well, the forests and moors will still be green and quiet! Will you visit Greece again if possible this year?

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    1. Hello Fifitr! I didn't even know cats could get ticks, I was horrified. We do comb Frank regularly after he was really ill with a strange skin infection a few years ago. Although Jon's brilliant at administering tablets he was a bit scared of prising that tick off. Malamutes are gorgeous, one of our neighbours has a beauty of a boy.
      On yours and Vronni's reccomdation we started Floodlands last night and really enjoyed it in a grim way so thanks for that. We'll have to take a look at Blinded but I know what you mean about intelligent people making stupid decisions.Sewing Bee is particular good this year, apart from the kids' clothes its featured stuff that both Jon and I would wear, no complicated kilts or corsets....yet!
      I couldn't wash my smelly jacket as there's too much hardware on it and I was scared of cracking the drum but I've washed suede trench coats and mouldy leather jackets with great success. The only thing I'd recommended is a wash that doesn't have a vigourous spin cycle and just line dry it or the creases are really hard to shift.
      Those green list countries are very odd. The cynic in me thinks they've chosen places most holiday makers wouldn't be able to/want to vist just so they can say they've stuck to the roadmap and enabled people to travel abroad.
      Have a wonderful time in Northumberland, somewhere I've never been but have admired it from afar. the NT website now says that booking is no longer essential during the week so if you're passing somewhere it might be worth calling in just in case there's spaces.
      We're hoping Greece might be on the cards for the Autumn, we booked a flight a while ago and can always change or postpone if needs be. xxx

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  21. I'm having the horrors reading all the tick stories above! My cousin got bitten and got Lymes disease and is still not fully recovered so I do have a proper fear of them. the garden is looking fab. xx

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    1. Lyme's disease sounds awful. That thing on Frank's face was disgusting, the vet removed it and it started crawling off the table! xxx

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  22. 'Good and plucky' Richards looks perfect for Peaky Blinders. We haven't researched any on Monsieur's family history. Even though there is at least one known pirate in there, he's not interested. Also, there's also the worry that we find out we are related :0

    I remember when our old cat Deidre Raschid had a big tick attached. We took her to the vet and he showed us how to remove them with a special tool / twist and turn method. From that moment onwards, it was Monsieur's job as he has the steadiest hand. My brother is currently on antibiotics due to a nasty tick bite. He's paranoid about Lymes disease but fingers crossed he caught it in time.

    You're looking very fabulous pottering around the garden Vix... and I love those old teapot and pan planters. Lulu xXx

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    1. How exciting, Monsieur having a pirate as an ancestor! I decided to trace Richard's branch of the tree and found some very interesting ancestors although Jon now thinks he owns America!
      I've lived with cats for over 40 years and that was the first tick I'd ever encountered, I didn't even know they got them, I thought it was a dog thing. Frank's was right under his eye, Jon's ace at adminstering tablets but the thought of trying to pull that hideous beast off his face was a step too far.
      Your poor brother, I've heard horrible things about Lyme disease, there used to be loads of warning about men not weeing in the bushes when we used to go to The Big Chill 'cos of the deer ticks! xxx

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  23. Poor Frank, I'm glad that the tick could be removed by a professional, so annoying!, I'm extra careful when we go for a walk in rural areas, after some friends got sick because of ticks. It's recommended to go to the emergency room if you find one on yourself, as you can need antibiotics. So it's a great idea to take your pet to the vet too.
    Lovely that you could visit usual chazzas safely, it feels like an event!. And you found some great pieces!
    Love your massive beads and your deligthfully matchy cotton dress and coat!. Looking fabulous in these summery colours!
    besos

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  24. You are very lucky you were able to get Frank into the vet so quickly to get the tick removed! I'm glad Sylvester has been very healthy this year as it's hard to get a vet appointment these days, and you can't go in the office with your animal, which would definitely upset my boy.

    I think that would be a great idea for a novel! I hope you're keeping a detailed journal of all the interesting things you've learned about your ancestors.

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Lots of love, Vix