Just emerging from a few weeks of chaos. Alessio was off school for a week, which is the longest he's ever been ill for apart from chicken pox when he was little, and although he did nothing but lounge around all day keeping himself entertained on his PS3, for some reason just having him around was very time-consuming. At the same time, Cassie went badly lame. At the same, same time, the boiler started seriously malfunctioning, billowing out huge amounts of foul, acrid smoke, much of which got into the house via our bedroom (boiler room being under bedroom and apparently the floor isn't smoke-proof). At the same, same, same time our landline went down.
I got the vet out for Cassie because she was really limping in quite a frightening way and didn't want to put any weight on her foot. He said her front feet needed trimming and that the soles were bruised. He prescribed Bute (anti-inflammatory). This was a Friday evening. The farrier came out on the Sunday morning, trimmed her feet and put on a swanky pair of new shoes (normally she's barefoot). Alessio asked if they were made of silver and I said no, that's the wrong kind of metal and anyway it would be too expensive, and the vet said, titanium alloy, causing me to choke and wish they were silver. In the event he only charged €40 which considering it was a Sunday morning urgent callout I thought was jolly reasonable. Cassie carried on limping for another few days though, despite the Bute, and her leg started to swell up. The vet came out again and it turned out to be an abscess at the top of her hoof, and the swelling was the infection spreading up her leg. Nasty, but the abscess was a relief, because it's treatable. Since then I've been irrigating it with the hose and disinfecting with Betadine twice a day, and she's had five intramuscular injections of antibiotic administered bravely into the neck with a huge needle by John, who is needle-phobic despite being an insulin-injecting diabetic. Cass is much better now and hardly limping at all though the top of her hoof still hurts her when you press it. She's very sweet when I get the hose out and likes to suck water from it, but she hates it on her feet because it's so cold!
As for the boiler, I tracked down a chimney-sweep team and it turned out to be a hornets' nest blocking the chimney. Must have been in there since the summer, gradually getting more and more tarred up and eventually causing an almost total blockage. Boiler now working fine. Which is just as well, because it has now become very cold here, after weeks and weeks of mild, wet weather when the UK was under a foot of snow.
The problem with the landline was eventually solved after a week and was the fault of the kittens, who must have dislodged a wire in the phone socket. The Telecom engineer wasn't too pleased and we have yet to see if they send us a bill.
Luckily the kittens are unspeakably cute and so escaped all punishment.