Z is cleaner than ever before

Think of me tomorrow, darlings, when I’m taken apart and put together again.  I’ve been reading  my blog posts from the time of my first hip replacement and it really didn’t take long for me to be up and about again.  The work and anxiety is all for lovely Tim, of course.  Roses will look after the chickens and outside cats and he’ll look after me.  And Eloise cat and Natasha tortoise, who I planned to have hibernate in January, but now my operation has been brought forward and I haven’t had a chance to slow her down gradually, I’m not sure if it’ll happen at all this year.

I spent quite some time wrapping presents this evening.  Not all of them, I ran out of enthusiasm after an hour or so.  I can’t remember the last time I was so organised for Christmas.

One good thing is that I don’t have to worry about the chickens, with the advice (requirement for poultry farmers but it’s less strict for people with a few backyard poultry) to keep them indoors and away from wild birds, because of the serious illness of poultry in parts of France.  Since I had that bantam turn up on 1st February with a clutch of 11 chicks. I have kept them all indoors.  But that actually means their good-sized henhouse with a tunnel through to the 40 foot greenhouse, which has a number of missing panes covered with nailed-on netting, so they are under cover but not confined.  They are perfectly happy in there and never try to get out.  Rose is going to put her four in my other greenhouse (three ten foot ones, end to end, though she will probably keep feed in the first one and keep them in the other two).  At this time of year, it will be no hardship for them.  Fingers crossed that the outbreak of bird flu doesn’t spread to this country.

I’m going to have a bath, wash in Hibiscrub and get into bed with its clean sheets.  And tomorrow I’ll get up early, because I’m not allowed to eat after 7.30, and then shower and scrub again.

And soon it’ll all be done and I’ll be back bothering you again.  Toodle-pip!

and it’s a long, long way…

We’re back down south for a couple of days, leaving Rose to hold the fort back in East Angular.  LT has an appointment and we’d invited friends for dinner on Wednesday – Tim’s in-laws, in fact, who have kept him as part of their family.  We had to cancel most of our engagements between now and the new year, but we thought we could keep the ones up to the date of my op.  Luckily, the three hospital appointments fitted in nicely, one of them being today, which we went to on our way here.  There was freezing fog, so we went on the main roads instead of nifty short cuts, which don’t really save more than a minute or two anyway.

There was a road sign as we left Yagnub, giving “advanced warning” of roadworks on the way to Norwich next year.  We were so busy making humorous remarks about A Level warnings and beginner’s warnings that we didn’t really take in what the notice was about, but I sort of took in delays from May to the Autumn.  We may have to take another route to Norwich altogether, if that’s the case.  The days grow short when you reach September, after all.

With rare powers of organisation, I’ve made the bed I’ll sleep in when I come home from hospital.  In fact, I’ll sleep in it on Thursday night, which will be a sensible thing in more than one way – if there is anything I can do to make it more comfortable, better to find out while I can go and do so.  And they are, wisely, very anxious to keep the hospital as hygienic as possible.  I’ve been given a bottle of Hibiscrub and instructed to wash with it for five days before the op (which seems a bit ott, but no matter) to sleep in fresh sheets the night before and, on the morning, to wash myself especially thoroughly, all over including between my toes, leave it a minute before rinsing, then repeat, including my hair; then dress in completely clean clothes.  So the post-op bed is an easy way of getting that bit right.  Oh, and I’ve also packed my suitcase.   Anyone might think I’m really looking forward to this op.  And they’d be right.

Yesterday, we had a visit to our solicitor – still sorting out legal things together as well as my own stuff, which hasn’t yet been finished.  I said apologetically to her, as we were leaving, that things were going a bit slowly in regard to changing my name.  I told her about the aborted attempt with the letting agents and that they wanted to check all my details as if I were a new client.  She rolled her eyes and said that they were being absurd, there is no legal requirement for it.  And the only small bother, if I’ve changed some things and not others, would be a few extra bits and pieces of paperwork if I were to die.  She sounded pretty relaxed about it.  We get on very well.

Z’s anecdotage

I went to visit my friend Jan today – she’s been in a local nursing home for some weeks, having broken her upper arm in a fall.  She couldn’t manage at home, being in her mid-eighties, living alone and none too steady on her feet and, though her arm is mending, she hasn’t been able to walk yet as she needs a frame and can’t yet use one.  The home is in Yagnub, so I call on her quite often.  She’s feeling despondent as she hardly can think she’s got a chance of being home for Christmas and isn’t at all sure if she’ll be able to manage at all.  Since she’s always been very fit and well, it’s a depressing thought.  She’s still interested in the outside world (which is not always the case when someone is in hospital long-term) and has lots of visitors, which is one good thing.

My good blog friend Pat were talking on Facebook recently about the need to not fall over as one gets old.  It’s the most vital thing for keeping ones independence.  It reminded me of a marvellous interview I listened to on the radio a few months ago, between Alistair Cooke, the Letter from America chap and I can’t remember who, from quite some years ago.  He was quite old at the time, though his manner never seemed to age – anyway, he was being asked about being recognised.  “When I get the ‘should I know who you are?’ line, I always say I’m Bob Hope,’ he chuckled.  And told a story about one day in New York, when he saw an elegant, elderly lady walking out of (I think) the Plaza Hotel, walking in that careful way that meant she knew how imperative it was that she kept her balance.  And she looked at him and recognised his face, and asked who he was.  “I’m Bob Hope,” he said helpfully.  “What a coincidence,’ she said.  “I’m Mrs Bob Hope.”  And she was!

Alistair Cooke never reached his anecdotage, I don’t think, but maybe I have, and it’s not even my anecdote.

I’ve booked my car in for a service, bought sensible slippers (good for the Factory Shop, better at half the price – in this instance – than the other places I tried) and dealt with some vital paperwork by passing it on to someone else.  I know!  And he offered, so I don’t feel at all guilty about it.

Z is equipped

The spam getting past the filter seems to have settled down after 39 comments – thousands are caught and I don’t see them until I go to delete them.  So I’ll leave it for now.

I had another hospital appointment this afternoon, as a result of which we came home with a chair for the shower and a frightful loo seat that looks more like a commode.  I still have my raised seat from last time and that’s the one I’m likely to use.  I’m glad of the shower seat though, I dislike showers at the best of times and, as ours is spacious and doesn’t have any rails to grab, I was going to feel very unsafe.  We will have a rail put in, I think, when we next see the plumber – who has some trim to fit and has yet to present his bill.

We went to Norwich to buy me a new phone – after four years, the battery is getting a bit unreliable.  I don’t mind that the charge doesn’t hold for long, but it swings wildly – the worst was the day it showed 91% charge, I opened an app and it shut off with zero battery.  Yet sometimes it still works with under 10%.  Anyway, I’m keeping it as a back-up for now.

This was dealt with swiftly (I didn’t need to have a new contract as I bought the phone and just switched the SIM card) and then we went in search of nightdresses, which I’ll need for hospital.  I’ve one suitable but wanted a couple more.  House of Fraser only had pyjamas.  M&S were little better.  I finally found one acceptable one but no slippers.  The better looking ones were backless and they’re not safe for me to wear.  I’ll rootle through drawers and find ancient nighties that will do – it’s fair enough in a way, the last time I bought one was when I was going to be in hospital seven years ago, I think, but you’d think the ones they do have wouldn’t be ugly.  Or Christmas themed.

By the time I got home, I could hardly walk, though the milder weather had been much easier on my hip.  But overdoing it shows how badly it’s deteriorating.  It was only about six weeks ago we parked in the same Norwich car park and walked to a restaurant in the same shopping mall and I had no trouble walking back again then.  But it’s not a bad thing to be reminded I’m not making a fuss about not much.

LT is cooking dinner.  Guinea fowl.

Being sent spam is a bitter irony

I’ve had 24 spam comments sent for moderation today – quite puzzled about it, but if it happens again, I’m going to have to turn on comment registration again – it’s not very much liked and I’d rather do without it, but hardly anyone comments anyway, so it won’t make a lot of difference!

I’ve had my pre-operation visit to the hospital, which went well, I trust.  That is, it is fine as long as the blood tests don’t show up a problem.  Darling Eloise cat was very happy that we’re back and sat on my lap for quite some time – she’s not a sitty sort of cat usually.

But I’m absurdly tired – must be age, darlings – although it’s only half past nine and I’m going to bed.  Fabulous meal last night, I’ve rarely had anything anywhere near as good.  I’ll tell you about it when I’ve slept.

Hey, Wayne

As I said, the hotel has only five rooms and so there isn’t a reception desk as such.  Incoming guests sign in and pick up the key left for them – this wasn’t the case for us as we arrived at Sunday lunchtime.  Last night, I noticed that the three couples staying were named Large, Littlechild and Kind.  Sounds like the Mister Men or at least, something out of Enid Blyton.

Today we visited Constable country; East Bergholt, Dedham and Flatford Mill.  After a sharp overnight frost, it was a perfect late autumn day, sunny and warm but with a nip in the air.  I’d been taken on a tour of the area some years ago by a friend who lived in East Bergholt but I’d not been to Flatford and I was enchanted – the National Trust has resisted the temptation to touristify it and it’s simply there.  Willie Lott’s cottage looking picturesque and mossy of roof, though not uncared for, the mill buildings kempt but simple and the mill pond, with a thin layer of ice, tranquil.  It was heartening.

i had the bright idea to visit the peninsula between the Stour and the Orwell estuaries.  It looked quite a short way on the map but the road meandered bewilderingly, and we weren’t quite sure what we’d find when we arrived anyway.  The map seemed to show the road vanishing into the sea.  What a fair bit of the view showed, as should have occurred to me, was the port of Felixtowe to the left and Harwich to the right, but it was rather appealing all the same.  We thought there would be a pub there for lunch, even if a simple sandwich and there was, but it was closed for redecoration.  However, there was a stall with a few people clustered round and an aroma of bacon frying, so we went there instead and chatted while our bacon roll was being cooked.  Three generous slices of back for £2.50 went down well.  And then we took a slightly more scenic route back than expected, when we went through Dedham village and found ourselves on a road heading back towards Manningtree.  I looked at my phone satnav and found a left turn so that, a few minutes later, we were back in Dedham, going the other way and on another road towards Manningtree.  “There should be a right turn opposite the church,” I said and there was, but it was no wonder we hadn’t realised to take it the previous time as it just advised car and coach parking.  Yet it was actually the route back to the A12.

i put LT through his driving paces, mainly on single track roads with many tight bends, but cresting one hill and rounding a bend – I think it was Higham Hill – there was a fabulous view, which I assured him was the reason for all our meandering.  We returned through Hadleigh, where we’d stopped this morning – sadly, we weren’t able to meet Mike and Ann today.  In the church, I mentioned their names to a friendly local: he knew them of course.  Since I was last there, they’ve removed the pews, though a number of them have been retained and were at the sides, and put in stackable wooden chairs.  As the church is wide and airy, it does make a very good space as a community centre and I was pleased to notice a pool table – evidently, the local youth group is catered for.  There were also armchairs, a kitchen area and a notice mentioning the monthly market.  Church shouldn’t be all about religion, nor just for Sundays.

We’re anticipating a splendid meal tonight, having booked a table in the hotel.  Sunday lunch was one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time, other than those LT cooks for me.  Ofcourse.


We’re having a few days away – not so much to celebrate our two month anniversary as because we actually had a clear week and decided, quite some time ago, to set aside part of it.  The timing has worked out luckily as the day we’re coming home is the day I’m going to hospital to have my pre-op assessment.

We’re staying in south Suffolk, having decided not to have far to drive.  There is lovely countryside round here and fabulous buildings, many of them going back to mediaeval days, when this was a very wealthy area because of the wool trade.  Actually, much of it still is – wealthy, that is – there was an Aston Martin parked outside the hotel when we arrived yesterday – there’s an excellent restaurant and a couple we’re having lunch – and a different one there this morning, though (yes, we kept our eye on it) the owners aren’t staying at this hotel.  Parking is in the market place just outside, it’s very convenient.

It’s a small hotel, only five bedrooms and ours has a four poster bed and a separate sitting room. It’s been owned by the same French couple for several decades and there’s a feeling of warm hospitality and attention to detail.

We thought we might spend some time in Sudbury today, but had a driving fail.  I can’t walk far, even with a stick, and we took some time to find the town centre – the road seems to spiral towards it, we went past the church several times but never at quite the same angle.  We noted that Gainsborough’s House was open so thought we’d go there and followed the sign for the short stay car park.  Having turned right,the road immediately forked and it wasn’t clear which was the correct way – evidently, we chose wrong.  And, though driving slowly, we nearly grounded on a nasty speed bump.  We tried one more circuit but we’d misplaced our way in the scheme of spiralisation and gave up and went elsewhere.  After lunch, we tried again, failed again and – do you know, we rather feel we’ve had it with Sudbury for a while.  However charming its residents may well be, getting into the place, as with many other town centres, is decidedly unwelcoming.

now, at 4 o’clock, we’ve come back to our hotel.  As it’s so small, there isn’t a desk, they leave the book open for incoming guests to sign in and put their room key on the table.  It’s really rather endearing.

Z’s best buys

We were talking last night about ‘best buys.’  Some definition was necessary – I wasn’t meaning something that was clearly necessary (such as somewhere to live or wear, or a means of getting about) but a luxury of sorts that had such a wow-factor in terms of usefulness or life-enhancement or sheer joy that it was exceptional.

For this year, it was the set of two silicone baking mats that I bought in the spring.  They are brilliant and I use them several times a week.  Whether I’m roasting vegetables, making biscuits or meringues, or open-freezing something, they can either line a dish or sit on a baking tray and nothing ever sticks, they save the dish from baked-on food residue and they clean with a squirt of washing-up liquid and a sponge.  They’re dishwasher proof but I’ve never bothered to put them in, they’re so easy to wash.  And, with a splendid finishing touch, it’s suggested that you store them, rolled up, in a kitchen paper tube.  We use the roll that’s in use, so they don’t actually take up any space at all.  Simply excellent.  When the family was over a couple of weeks ago, I promised to buy each of my children a set – which is the only present (times three) that I’ve bought yet, though that’ll have to change soon.

These things soon become part of normal life, of course, and one forgets how jolly pleased one was with them and the difference they made, but I’ve been trying to think back for other things that might come under the same category.  The unexpected benefit is an advantage, but not a requirement.  For example, when we moved here thirty years ago and bought our first dishwasher, I knew just how much I wanted it but that’s often not the case.  The satnav I bought eight years ago to drive to the London flat, where Weeza and Phil then lived – it proved its worth at once as I knew it would, having once got lost on a rainy November night when I drove down (I have no idea now why I drove rather than going by train, but there must have been a good reason).  But, whilst I’d certainly be able to navigate across the country without it, driving on my own through unfamiliar towns to a specific address is where it’s best of all.

Then there are the little electronic kitchen scales I bought three years ago for the purpose of tortoise weighing.  So, so convenient and I use them almost daily – they change at the touch of a button between grams, milligrams, ounces and fluid ounces.  I never use my old scales any more.

Top buy of all time remains, of course, my first iPhone.  I’m on my third, now four years old and it’s still a daily joy – incredibly useful and a pleasure to use too.

Z the punk

It was just after five o’clock this evening when the phone rang.  For once, we weren’t in the middle of a conversation, so I didn’t resent the phone ringing  –  I’m so grumpy, darlings.  I do like speaking to friends on the phone very much, but if we’re interrupted, I grumble on my way there, until I find it’s someone I  actually want to speak to.

It was the private hospital in Norwich – not beating about the bush, they’ve had a cancellation for a hip operation (on the NHS) on the 9th December and were offering it to me.  Rather than the 25th January which is the scheduled date, she said.

Reader, I took it.  I was a bit taken aback and actually asked for overnight to think about it, idiot that I am, but I phoned back two minutes later to say yes.  And sorry to vacillate, I was being really, really silly.   Except that I needed to have 10 seconds discussion with LT.

I feel lucky.

Z exerts more patience than Z feels

I’m taking very slow steps towards changing my name.  Fortunately, LT understands me as I understand him (we’re very alike in many ways) and knows that it’s no reluctance on my part but a sort of caution – the ins and outs of things are complicated.  For example, I’ve sent our marriage licence to my solicitor so that she can get my name changed on various documents – which seems to be quite enough to register the house, shares and other rather important things – but, when I told the agents who let my flat in London, they said that, not only would they need the licence but also my passport and a utility bill so that they could do a money laundering check.  Of course, this is ridiculous.  Total jobsworthiness.  I’ve written back good-humouredly  to say that, in that case, since I haven’t changed any utility companies or my passport, it’ll have to stay as it is but they’ll have to either pay my rent into an account not in the name they have or else it’ll have to be paid into a different account at another bank that is.  I daresay they’ll get back to me in the next day or so.  They will find nothing in my new name anyway, of course.  I’ve got plenty of credentials in my previous married name.  I’m finding it quite hard not to overreact and find it discriminatory.  But I’m a reasonable, balanced sort of woman on the whole (yes, I see you snigger) and I’ll get over my indignation.  But if it’s this much trouble, I’ve a feeling it’ll take years for me to to return to a single identity.  And there’s a sense in which I haven’t just one, of course, but you know what I mean.