Alice? Who the…

Meet Alice:


She’s Lola’s new companion – hopefully. I had a horrible moment this morning when I went to feed Lola and there was no movement in her hutch. I gently tapped her little house and there was no response. I told everyone she’d died as well, including the girls. R and G didn’t believe me so I took them out to show them the lack of activity in Lola’s house. At that moment, a black twitchy nose appeared and Lola scampered over to munch some hay. Relief!

Anyway, one of the signs of guinea pig depression is lethargy and Lola is definitely suffering from that, although she is still eating well. Dh and the girls bought Alice (named, according to G, after Alice the camel who lives in wonderland) home this afternoon and she’s in the indoor cage for now while she gets used to us. Dh told the girls to be quiet, so they decided to dress up in pseudo-Halloween costumes and ran around the house howling like ghosts at the tops of their voices.

We’re going to introduce Alice and Lola to each other slowly, as they may fight to start with. Hopefully things will work out and Lola will start to feel a bit happier.

Farewell Charlie

Charlie the guinea pig died yesterday.

Dh went out to feed Charlie and Lola and reappeared with his ‘I have to deliver bad news’ face on. I was really shocked. Charlie was less than two years old and we expected the piggies to live for another couple of years, at least. She hadn’t shown any signs of illness in the last few days (although apparently guinea pigs hide illness as a defence mechanism) and had been eating normally and running around as usual. There were some loud bangs from the fireworks over the weekend but they have coped fine with them before.

I told the girls this morning. R went very quiet, developed a very wobbly lip and launched herself at me for a big cuddle. I stroked her hair as she sobbed quietly. G looked confused for a moment and said ‘Yes but when can we have breakfast?’. I asked her how she felt and she said ‘Not sad’. I suggested that the girls made cards to remember Charlie by. G said ‘Charlie won’t be able to see them and anyway, we didn’t make cards for the fish when they died’. Sometimes G is so very much like her father/Richard Dawkins that it is frightening!

It was with some trepidation that I went out to see Lola this morning. She seems to be fine, although hadn’t touched her food since yesterday. This is also quite common in guinea pigs. The loss of a companion can make them depressed and off their food. I brought her indoors and the girls and I gave her lots of cuddles. She has now eaten all of her food, plus some carrot that the girls and Dh fed her earlier.

We’re going to keep an extra-special eye on Lola over the next few days to see how she copes with the loss of her companion. Charlie was always the first to the food (she practically inhaled lettuce leaves) so Lola is probably adjusting to having first dibs at the buffet for a change. I’m not sure whether I want to get a new baby guinea pig as we might end up in a cycle of replacing piggies. Plus, we don’t know if Charlie’s death was a freak incident or if Lola has something untoward too.

Charlie – you loved your food but didn’t like eating out of our hands. Every time we cleaned your hutch out to tried to escape Steve McQueen-style across the garden. You were always the first to the vegetable buffet. You had quite a lot of junk in your trunk despite the guinea pig run and squeaked indignantly if you thought we had forgotten to feed you. You were a good and true friend to Lola and we will all miss you.


Bong! HoT animal update.

After the demise of Maisy, Eddie and Bob the fantail goldfish earlier in the year we were left with an empty Spongebob Squarepants tank and a lot of fish food. After leaving the tank respectfully empty for a week or two we decided to take the plunge (again) and buy two bog-standard goldfish.

Inevitably, there was a problem. Apparently the tank isn’t big enough for two goldfish so we bought a singleton and three Danios to keep it company. The girls called the goldfish Minnie and the Danios Mickey, Miffy and Kitty. Mickey died within a week. Kitty went to the big tank while we were on holiday. Minnie and Miffy (touch wood) seem to be fine. When we bought them I muttered darkly that we should just number the bloody things. The subsequent demise of Mickey and Kitty proved me right.

Charlie and Lola are simply lovely. Charlie is now sporting quite a lot of junk in her considerable trunk so we need to buy them a large run to exercise in.  They had a lovely mini-break with one of the girls’ nursery friends while we were on holiday. They were thoroughly spoilt for a week and Lola was even allowed in to watch television with them!

We revisit the pet shop periodically for supplies and I still quite fancy getting a rabbit and a hamster. The idea of tropical fish still appeals but it’s pointless because we’d kill them off in a week.

Bong! This is the end of the HoT animal update.

The end of 46 Days

At the beginning of March I had a crazy idea. Instead of giving something up for Lent, I would try to do something every day. The idea for 46 Days came from there. Today is the 46th and last day.

I thought I’d have a look back through the last 45 days and see what’s happened:

0 people offended (that I’m aware of…)

1 holiday booked

1 disastrous week of night training

1 graduation attended

1 Margot Leadbetter moments

2 bouts of nostalgia

2 guinea pigs (Charlie and Lola) arrived

2 fish (Eddie and Bob) bought

3 fish (Maisy, Eddie and Bob) died

3 Easter bonnets made

4 3rd birthday parties attended

4 One Born Every Minute liveblogs

5 separate illnesses (2 for me, 2 for G, 1 for R)

6 twinny observations (I could have written hundreds of posts on this)

7 Friday photos

8 rants (I’m amazed there aren’t many more)

That’s a fairly average seven or so weeks in the HoT. Ok, so you don’t buy guinea pigs and kill off goldfish every day, but everything else was pretty normal…for us at least. It’s a nice little snapshot of our lives.

I only missed one night – when I was away for work – and I made up for it the next night with two long posts.  I have to say, as the weather improved dramatically in April I found it much harder to generate enough enthusiasm to sit down every night and write a blog post. Last night I ‘cheated’ and uploaded the Friday photos from my iphone whilst slumped on the sofa after another busy day. Thank Steve Jobs for the WordPress app!

I speculated at the beginning of all this that a period of sustained creativity might make me want to do some creative writing. It hasn’t, but only because I haven’t had time after writing 46 Days posts. There are a couple of ideas percolating in my brain but I can’t commit them to screen just yet.

Instead I’ve been exploiting my creative mind in different ways. I’m really into card-making at the moment. If there’s an event coming up I’ve probably made a card for it! My cards aren’t going to make me rich and they definitely look ‘home made’ but I hope people appreciate the effort. I attempted my first scrapbook – a graduation present for my Mum. I love getting creative with photos, bit of paper, a stack of embellishments and a ton of pritt stick. I have also made great progress with my latest cross-stitch and am already thinking about the next stitching project. I might do something really challenging this time…

As I get older I can no longer sit in front of the telly of an evening once the girls are in bed. I have to be doing other things, so that I feel my evenings aren’t wasted. That reminds me…I have very strict rules on my ‘me time’ activities. They are all done in the evening in the precious few hours I have when the girls are asleep and before I go to bed. During the day I’m either spending time with the girls or working.

I’m looking forward to having a few nights off (maybe even a week or two) from blogging – or the tyranny of the blank page (which only affected me twice in 46 days) and the feeling that I ‘have’ to write something. I might try something similar later in the year. November is my bogey-month so I might try 30 Days or something like that to ward off the SAD.

That’s all in the future. Now, I’m off to make a Mojito and await our take-away delivery.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

A day at home

We spend so much time dashing around doing ‘stuff’ with the girls that it’s nice to spend a day predominantly at home for a change.

Yesterday we took advantage of the sunny weather to move the piggies into their new home and did a few jobs. Dh and I threw away some told toys that had inadvertently been left outside over the winter – it’s amazing what you find under the trampoline – and cleaned out the indoor guinea pig cage so that we could store it safely away until the piggies need it later in the year. R impressed us with her pedal-pushing prowess on her trike: note to self – remove parent handle from back of trike – and G donned her helmet and showed us some nifty moves on her scooter.

After lunch (I made some rather awesome omelettes) we popped to the shops en masse and bought cake-making ingredients and comics for the girls. Dh and I have fond memories of reading comics as children and R and G love them. They’ve moved on apace since our childhood though. R selected a Peppa Pig comic (sorry, magazine, as she insists on calling it) and G eventually after prolonged deliberation chose a Charlie and Lola comic. The gifts on comics are fab. R got some domino cards and G got a bead bracelet making set. Much more fun than the nail varnishes, hand creams or ‘bags for life’ I get on my grown-up comics.

Dh decided (after extensive prodding from me) that he should really clean the car. I wanted to make cake so we asked the girls what they wanted to do. R helped dh and G helped me by licking out the bowls. It was nice to spend some time with the girls individually, although G really wanted to grab and sponge and help dh clean the car. I distracted her with a bowl of chocolate… R hovered the car with minimal input from dh and after before tea the girls and I sat down and made bracelets together.

Apart from a wobbler by R at bath time (she doesn’t cope with life after 5pm) we had a lovely day. It’s rare that all four of us spend almost a whole day at home and it was great to get out in the garden for a few hours. I hate being cooped up in the house in winter and I’m so pleased that spring is pretty much here and we can involve the girls in activities separately. As  much I love our (many) days out I now remember how much I love being at home with my family.

Guinea pig manor

After a week in their warm, cosy indoor cage Charlie and Lola have been turfed out into their Spring/Summer quarters  – the rather grandly named guinea pig manor. It’s been lovely to have them inside with us as it’s given us all time to get used to each other. On a practical level it makes sense for them to be outdoors most of the time though. Plus if they’d lived in the house for very much longer the dining room would have started to get a bit smelly.

Dh and I have been sharing feeding and cleaning out duties and the girls have been getting involved as well. They love stroking the piggies and have been helping to change Charlie and Lola’s bedding, straw and food. C & L love broccoli, celery and cucumber so the girls help to wash the veg and put it into the cage. G would dearly love to hold and cuddle C & L but they are extremely wriggly so we’ve reached a compromise where one of us holds them and G snuggles into us. R loves observing their behaviour and keeps up a running commentary on C and L’s movements. She frets that they’re not using their salt lick and playing with their toys but finds their (massive) straw consumption fascinating.

Aside from being totally different cosmetically, C and L have very different personalities. Lola is extremely feisty and doesn’t really fear anything or anyone. She spends much of her time gambolling around the hutch like a newborn lamb. Charlie is much quieter and more timid but loves cuddles – when you can get hold of her! She’s a bit of a speedy Gonzales.

Just a quick note on the goldfish. Maisy and Eddie are doing really well and Dh actually allows R and G to give them fish flakes every other day. I think they felt a bit upstaged by the piggies and Maisy seems to be shimmying around the tank more enthusiastically now that C and L have moved outdoors.

I keep thinking about one of the animals in the adoption section of the pet shop. Hobo was a lop-eared rabbit that appeared to have alopecia. He had bald patches on his head but the information sheet next to his cage said that the hair should grow back in time. G was quite fascinated by him and insisted on going to visit him on the numerous occasions we went to the pet shop. Normally the turnover of animals in the adoption bit is quite high but Hobo had been there for a few weeks. Last week R and G sat next to his cage for ages and chatted to him. If he hasn’t already, I hope he finds a suitable owner soon. I was half tempted to suggest to dh that we adopt him but guinea pigs and rabbits don’t really mix…

I have these little guinea pigs…

…..they are small and very funny…

So after our (ahem) overnight success with the goldfish we decided we just had to add to the menagerie. We are now the proud owners of two female guinea pigs (we only do things in twos in this house) called….Charlie and Lola.

We’ll come back to the potential gender confusion later. Buying guinea pigs is a breeze compared to fish. We went into the pet shop, selected our piggies and left the shop 20 minutes later, me carrying a cardboard box containing two scuffly little creatures and dh carrying an indoor cage and a guinea pig starter kit. We drew a little crowd in the shop as one of the staff lifted our chosen piggies from the pen and handed them to dh and I. Charlie and Lola squeaked with…fear? Excitement? Hopefully the latter.

We’ve been debating adding guinea pigs to our collection (of two fish? Yeah. Massive collection) for a while but it took me a bit of time to bring dh round to the idea and to get permission from our letting agents. I’ve always had a fondness for guinea pigs. Less rodenty than a gerbil or rat but marginally less of a commitment than rabbits, they seemed like our kind of pet. Plus they’re sociable creatures and there’s nothing worse than living with a sarky hamster or a cantankerous rabbit.

So, why have we called two girl pigs after a boy and a girl? You’d have to ask R and G about that. Since we told them the piggies were coming, various name combos have been floating around. I quite fancied the idea of Frasier and Niles, Daphne and Roz or Albie and Dustin. G briefly wanted to call them George and Toby but friends of ours will be relieved to hear that I quickly dissuaded her. Percy and James were in the running for a while but G came up with Charlie and R added Lola and it felt ‘right’.

No photos of Charlie and Lola yet as they’re still settling in. They currently reside in an indoor cage while we all get used to each other but the plan is for them to live in an outdoor hutch (the grandly named guinea pig manor) for most of the year and to come indoors in the depths of winter. Lola (black with brown highlights) is the more feisty of the two and has darted in and out of their sleeping area today to check out the environment, sneak food and poo. Charlie (white with large brown patches) has spent the whole day hunkered down in his/her sleeping quarters. At one point I made dh check that we hadn’t freaked him/her out so much that he/she had gone to the piggy heaven in the sky. Charlie is fine, just a little frightened and possibly quite confused. They are approximately twelve weeks old, so were ‘born’ in December 2010.

I don’t think we’ll be expanding our numbers again now. I rather like having eight creatures – three women, one lady fish, two female guinea pigs (one with an identity crisis), one slightly terrified looking boy fish and dh who is beyond description – in the HoT.