Sunday, 28 March 2010

Pig Pens, reading and cross-stitch...

Any doubt I had that Spring would ever arrive in the UK was finally laid to rest last week when I had the pleasure of accompanying my son and his nursery/ kindergarten class to a farm. Apart from the delights of tramping in mud, throwing feed pellets to sheep and goats and bottle feeding quite enormous lambs that were most certainly not born any time this year, the day was made memorable by the events at the pig pen.

Poignantly, we were savouring our ham sandwiches just moments before realising there were indeed more animals in the nearby enclosure. The farm is geared almost exclusively to visits from schools and families, so in many regards is a little sterile. But there was nothing whatsoever sterile at the pig pen. This Pig - a female, we adults ascertained, though the children insisted it was a boy because it was so dirty and so noisily grunting - was no Wilbur.

While the Shetland Pony and cuddly rabbits had been the highlights before lunch, nothing could really trump the joy that ensued watching that enormous, heaving, stinking hog covered in its own excrement and mud, proceed to vomit, and then almost delicately back away from the puddle and seek solace inside its little house of straw. Having alerted several friends to the drama unfolding in the sty, not less than five four year-olds waited eagerly for an encore. Clearly anticipating further regurgitation, Not-Wilbur re-emerged into the now less than fresh air and huge, hairy, pink stomach a-heaving, did not disappoint!

The Vomiting Pig will loom large in our memory of the day for years to come. We have visual aids as well if needed as several photos captured the magic of mother nature at work. The whole event, despite the drizzle, the leaden skies and the cold, seemed so infused with optimism. Indeed, Spring really was on its way.

Accordingly, today is about preparing for the the new season. Like so many major events, changes of season must be the virtual holy grail for retailers. Unlike in Australia, or at least those parts of the eastern seaboard with which I am familiar, where there are really two seasons with a month of 'tween seasonal excitement, if you're lucky, here in the UK, Spring is a veritable bonanza of shopping, branding and publicity stunts, all aimed at getting us to spend and be happy the long grey days are finally behind us.

Mother's Day is long forgotten as we rush to buy Easter eggs and new bright clothes, outdoor furniture and gardening tools at the Home Shows, to book cruises and holidays abroad and renew our memberships with the The National Trust, the local pool and Kew Gardens - thereby giving ourselves the very best chance of not missing a single sunny afternoon getting our kit off in the parks or barbecuing in a tin foil tray.

So much has been said and written about the British weather and the nation's obsession therewith, that I will steer clear of it. Suffice to say that the beginning of Spring heralds a time of growth and action on the personal front, or it should.

How better to avoid cleaning windows and paths covered in moss and lichen, than to embark on some really wonderful Spring time reading.

I would recommend "What the Ladybird Heard" by Julia Donaldson, creator of the Gruffalo, for the under 8s.
If you have tired of vampire and horror themes, perhaps give some celebrity chefs a go. Voluptuous (gratifying to the senses - not merely curvaceous and sexy) recipes are now a big thing...

For the thriller lovers - try Fred Vargas. Truly graphic, original and entertaining with great characters.

If you still need some procrastination strategies to put off clearing out those cupboards, try cross-stitching. The relaxing and therapeutic benefits abound. Not only does one focus entirely on the colours and pattern, the hand eye coordination and creative aspects of the task will no doubt keep dementia at bay while providing a new wall hanging for that spot where the wall really could do with a lick of paint.

Failing that catch up with "The Closer" or "The Good Wife".

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