Z and the raising agent…

Well, it wasn’t messy at all.  They put dustsheets over all the furniture and floor, but it was all remarkably clean.  If the chimney liner had been installed properly in the first place, it might have been okay – but this one has a 35 year guarantee, so it’ll see us out.

I was given my cherrypicker ride, huzzah!  Yesterday, the weather turned drizzly, on and off, and Stuart wanted to seal the joint on the chimney, but the ‘picker wouldn’t go up and it turned out that the weight limit had been set to 120 kilos so it wouldn’t take the weight of the cement.  So he put some of it in another bucket and did it in two goes.  I knew I weighed more than a bucket of cement (obvs, darlings) so gave up hope – but still put on jeans this morning, just in case – he managed to fix it to its usual weight limit of 200 k this morning and it was bright and sunny.  So up I went.  It was brilliant, as I knew it would be.  And pictures are best here, so I’ll shut up now … or rather, I will in a minute or two.

For those who don’t use it, Facebook shows you posts you put up on the same day in the past.  And six years ago today, the Wall was being completed as far as I was concerned, though I was away the next week so Dave and the Sage finished the capping.  And a year later, the drive was being resurfaced, after some months of preparation, because we were widening it too.

Photies…img_0759 img_4680 dscf8466 dscf8457 dscf8462 dscf8461 dscf8464 dscf8459 dscf8472
Snapping in all directions, including straight down!  Tim took my picture as I took his – the first two were taken by him, of course, the rest from my perch.  Weeza noted the water on the flat roof, so I’ll have to investigate that – probably a blocked downpipe, doubt it’s anything awful but it’s a good job it’s been photographed as it needs sorting out before the winter.  I’ll shin up a ladder at the weekend, if someone can put it up for me.

I’ll take a picture of the new stove to show you, of course, but that’ll have to wait until tomorrow.  If you are on Facebook, I’ve put up two panoramas, only friends can see my posts of course, but if we are friends, you’re welcome to send a request – just message me to say who you are, I don’t befriend strangers, of course.  I’m under my new large surname.

The two installers, Stuart (on the cherrypicker) and Kiwi (on the ground by LT), were very clean, efficient and really nice people, as is the owner of the company, Justin.  We were really impressed.  And Stuart and Kiwi thanked us for our hospitality as they left.  Wasn’t that nice?  Though LT does make exceedingly good coffee…

Z hopes to go up in the world

We’re having our new woodburner installed tomorrow.  The old one has a crack in it and has had for some years – it’s double-skinned, so no smoke or fumes leak out but it’s reduced its efficiency.  The chap who came to quote for a new one explained, once he’d investigated – it wasn’t installed right in the first place.  The chimney liner hasn’t been attached to the house so is resting on the stove and that caused a lot of stress and weight, which changes according to the weather.  The stove is cast iron, so can crack, unlike stainless steel.

So, new lining, new stove and, instead of replacing the Franklin stove I’m so fond of, we’re having a modern, much more efficient one.  Sorry as I am about this (losing my lovely Franklin, that is), I know it’s the best choice.  And we’re looking forward to all the lovely warmth.

Of course, the new lining will be installed from the top down.  So a cherrypicker was brought along this afternoon.

“I wonder if I can persuade them to give me a ride in it?” I said hopefully.  The delivery man thinks they will.  Let’s hope so.  I’ve been up in one before to look at a different chimney and it was great fun.  Though rain is forecast tomorrow – still, one can hope.

I’ve a feeling the whole procedure will be messy.  I think there’s a lot of soot up that chimney.

Losing their way

I can’t now remember why I wanted to look up St Davids, the very small cathedral city (with a very small cathedral), on my phone but, with the most recent software update and accompanying Apple Maps update, it proved impossible.  It simply didn’t recognise it as a place and tried to send me to St Davids in Scotland, various St David’s Roads or other places and, in the end, the only way I could do it was by adding ‘Cathedral.’  Then, it so happened that we were driving in the vicinity when we were in Pembrokeshire, so we took a short detour and went there, which reminded me to do a bit more searching about on the map app.

And it’s pretty awful.  For a start, when you put in a place name, you’d think that the town, city or even village that you type in would be the first place you’re offered.  It isn’t necessarily .  I typed in a local village just now.  To be fair, the village school was the first suggestion (and it’s nowhere near the centre of the village) but the place itself was fifteenth.  Lots of roads and a few businesses, some of them nowhere near the place, came before it.  I’ve typed several other place names and it seems quite random.  Sometimes, the village is first and sometimes a road leading there, often several miles away, comes before it.

Then, I tried searching for a route from one place to another.  This used to be an option.  For example, say I was planning to visit two separate friends, one after the other.  I know the way to each but not how to get from one to the other.  So I’d look for directions, not from here to point A but from point A to point B.  This had been straightforward, but not now – I haven’t worked out how to do it yet, if it’s possible at all.  It only offers me how to get somewhere from where I am already.

So I’ve downloaded a different map app onto my phone (which can be used offline, so is more useful anyway) and I went to leave a review on the Apple Map app.  But it isn’t possible to do so.  You can give feedback from within the app, but it’s not public.  I’ve a feeling they know it’s not very good.  But why, for heaven’s sake, make it worse than it used to be?

Z & LT prepare for autumn

The day before we came back to Norfolk, I had a fed-up-sounding message from Roses.  One of the bullocks had got into the garden, demolishing a gate and a bridge on the way, she’d been down to close the wrought iron gate to the road, so he wasn’t likely to get out (not impossible, but he wasn’t very likely to leave his friends in the field and head off across the field behind the annexe) but wasn’t well and couldn’t do more on her own.  So I sent a message to the farmer and he’s taken them all away – there were only four left, I don’t think we should ask – a month early.

Lovely Wince, our gardener, has rebuilt the bridge and wheeled over a whole lot of logs that were being stored in the old stable.  It was completely taken over by brambles but, last winter, someone had pulled them away and stolen quite a lot of the logs.  With the weather starting to turn autumnal, I reckoned the rest of them would have gone, possibly within days.  We need to demolish the tumbledown stable next and chop the wood, as much as is reasonable, into kindling.  There’s always plenty to do here, but actually it’s satisfying work, building up stores for the winter.  LT, for whom it’s all new, enters into the spirit of it with great good humour.

I harvested the last of the butternut squashes this morning.  We’ve had an excellent crop and, unlike last year’s, they’re small to medium size.  Last summer’s were enormous, I didn’t know what to do with them and could only use a bit of one at a time.  Rather a lot got thrown out, in fact, which won’t happen this time.  We’ve also started picking the Bramley apples – there are far more than we can use, and it’s a big old tree and we can’t get at half of them anyway.  Family are coming to lunch tomorrow, so they’re welcome to have a go and take some home, if they like.

Weeza emailed earlier in the week, wondering if we’d be free to invite them to Sunday lunch and, by coincidence, Ro phoned last night with the same idea.  So that’s splendid.  And it’ll be the first time we’ve seen them since our wedding.

We’ve also brought in some pots of plants to the porch and have taken up half the top of the tortoise run with them.  We’re feeling very homespun and worthy in, of course, an entirely good way.

Z’s efforts are frustrated

Well, darlings, it’s been a bit frustrating and I haven’t got an answer that I like.  If anyone can advise, I’d appreciate it.

Nothing in my financial life is simple and it’s not likely to be for quite some time.  For various reasons going back several decades, I have a number of accounts with several banks.  There is now only one bank branch in my home town, and I have three accounts there.

The reason I have three accounts with Ll…. is that one is my everyday account, one is the one I use for china buying or selling and one is an executor’s account because I still sometimes receive cheques made out to Russell.  I hope that these will dry up soon, but I’ll keep it going as you never know.

What I want is to change one account to a joint one, in my new name with Tim’s name on it too. But they say I can only have one ‘profile’ with them, so all the accounts would have to be changed to that name.  That’s fine, I have no problem at all with that.  But then, they said, only cheques made out to my new married name could be paid in.  This is simply impossible.  I will still be getting cheques and payments in my old name for ages.  Tim says that, when he married before, his wife had a reasonable changeover period when she could pay in cheques in her old name, but this isn’t the case any more, it seems.  I looked into a business account, but the charge for that is more than I’m willing to pay, though there is a free period initially.

It seems that the only thing I can do is to change just one bank’s accounts (in a different town, inconveniently) to Tim’s and my name.  This seems absurd.  But I’ve had one name for 43 years and my affairs are really quite complicated – I get a lot of payments into various accounts and I can’t possibly change them all overnight.

I came home and wanted to pay my credit card bill.  I have two cards with Bcard.  The reason for that is that one used to be Visa and the other MasterCard.  They changed it, so now I just have two Visa cards.  On one, there was a small amount but the other had over £1500 worth.  So I wanted to pay that first.  I logged on, clicked onto that account, then to Pay, and it took me to the £100ish worth.  I went back, then on again, same thing.  So I paid the small bill and tried to pay the larger one.  It wouldn’t let me, though they still showed the bill.  It was impossible.  So I logged on to my B bank app and tried there.  That showed me what I owed, but wouldn’t *yet* let me pay it via the app.  I paid from my Ll… account in the end with no problem.

I don’t get it.  None of this is unusual, surely?  Fortunately, neither Tim nor I are agitated about which name I use, he doesn’t take offence at me not changing everything instantly and I am not too bothered either.  But women do get married late in life and they need time to change things over.  It used to be possible to have flexibility and now it’s just made as awkward as possible.  I asked what happened if a woman wanted to keep her maiden name for professional purposes and use her married name socially, but the assistant just repeated that she would have to choose for banking purposes.  But there must be lots of occasions when this falls down.  As long as the correct status is accurately recorded by the bank, why does it matter? Is it the case with every bank?


I looked up the post I wrote the last time I went to see the surgeon, in March of last year.  Here it is.  Recently, when deciding to go and see him again, I worked out a score for myself and it was certainly in the teens – my appointment was today, I’ve scored 16 out of 21 and I need a new hip.  And, frabjous day, it’s high enough to be eligible for an NHS operation, he’ll write to my doctor and so will I, to ask for a referral, it’ll probably be done in January, which will suit me mightily and it should be in the private hospital I went to last time.  As Weeza said when I told her, Buy One Get One Free.

We paid last time because I was in such a state about needing a new hip, I felt the need to take control as much as I could.  Which was absurd really, but no matter.

In celebration, I’m going to buy a new phone.  My present one is an iPhone 5S.  Anyone got any comparisons/recommendations between the 6SE, the 6S and the 7?  Certainly another iPhone, no point in starting to recommend anything else.  I don’t want the large screen ones, not with my dainty girly hands (which is why the SE is a possibility) but otherwise, is the 7 – notwithstanding the loss of the earphone jack, when I need it and will have to use the adaptor – sufficiently better to be worth it?  I don’t mind the money if it is and will probably buy outright.

If I’m 16 points now, I wonder what I was before my previous op.  19 or 20, I’m sure.  I could hardly have been worse, in retrospect.  I was in such a panic that I blanked the pain and disability.  I’m nowhere near that bad now though, when I told him that – apart from my wedding day, when I walked a good 250 yards in high heels and without a stick, which was down to sheer euphoria – I normally couldn’t manage more than a couple of hundred yards and sometimes use a stick in the house.  He said drily that he thought I might have said a mile or two.  I couldn’t possibly walk a mile, even with a stick.  I can barely make it to the pub!

Anyway, no need for sympathy, this is really good news.  When something is inevitable, might as well get it over with.

Fire, fire, burning next week…

We’re getting the chimney swept soon – actually, it should have been done today, but we postponed it because we’ve decided to get a new and more efficient woodburner in the first dining room.  And the chimney needs to be relined, chiz chiz.  But it’ll be worth it.  Sadly, the Franklin stove that I love is now completely out of date – the problem with it is that the cast iron has cracked and, whilst Justin was able to come up with a very likely reason for that, not only can it not be guaranteed that a new one wouldn’t do the same thing, but modern models are vastly more efficient.  Indeed, it seems likely that it’ll warm much of the house, which will be jolly good.  Last winter, poor Tim missed his central heating and had to rely on me to keep him warm.

Seemed to work, mind you.

Anyway, that’s happening next week, but we’ve brought coal and logs into the drawing room anyway, because we might want a fire in there.  I should say, obviously the new flue won’t need to be swept, but the second dining room flue needs a bit of attention before it can be swept at all.  But then all will be splendid.

In other news, today we’ve been ordering fruit trees, wedding presents from lovely friends.

Z’s back. Back to front, possibly, but no matter

We’ve had a lovely few days away – it’s been a lot of travelling and LT did all the driving, so relaxing hasn’t really been the order of the day, but never mind.  He takes it manfully and I will catch up on sleep one day, when I finally remember relaxing and stuff.

What I did manage was some concentrated reading time; two books and some of two more, as well as The Times daily, my weekly antiques magazine and whatever else came to hand.  So that was a good thing.  One book I reread, after several decades, was Jessica Mitford’s Hons and Rebels, which I very much enjoyed and, probably, took more from than I did in my teens.  I always used to reread books regularly and I should do so again, you take a different perspective and, perhaps, engage with an aspect you overlooked previously.  I should say ‘one’ but that sounds so stilted, or ‘I’ but that’s possibly too specific, when I suspect it’s the same for many of us.  Anyway, I read with concentration and that’s not something I find too easy any more, so I was glad and felt a sense of homecoming.

On our actual homecoming, back to Yagnub, Eloise cat was tremendously pleased to see us.  I went into the annexe to find her, and to announce our arrival to Roses (who must have been in the garden because she wasn’t in the house) and Eloise miaowed with pleased surprise, it was delightful. In her laid-back cat way, she’s followed us around all evening, played with Tim’s feet, been charmingly demanding and needy, sat on ‘her’ chair at the dining table and shared our soufflé and chased a moth prettily and unsuccessfully.

My dear friend Jan fell and broke her arm last Wednesday – fortunately, she’s now out of hospital and in a local nursing home to recuperate.  It’s her upper arm, she’s 84 years old, it’s also her right arm, she won’t be able to cope at home for a while.  As she’s in Yagnub, I’ll be able to drop in regularly.  She’s dearly loved and will have many visitors, but it’s very frustrating for an independent person.  I have a piece of her china in my auction, in a couple of weeks, and she’s very disappointed that she can’t be there.

It’s hard to get out of the habit of worrying and I won’t until I’ve completed all the personal paperwork I keep hiding from.  All the same, I’m deeply happy.  Thank you, Tim.

Why the Z crossed the road

Hip x-ray today.  Next week, I’m seeing my consultant about a replacement – this is not the one operated on nearly seven years ago, but the other.  I’ll be clearing a space in my diary soon, I hope.

The trouble is with hospitals is that they’re so damn big – that is, so much walking is involved to the department you need.  LT says that the big hospital in his home town has a little four-seater cart that is driven around to give people lifts if they need it.  The N&N, where I was today, would find that of limited use as it’s on three floors – I don’t think it’s a practicable proposition.  The JP, where I was the other day on a totally different mission, is on two and, of course, the place I wanted was right at the back and upstairs.

As I hobbled with my stick across the car park, people were going over zebra crossings to go into the building.  Without exception, they put a hand up to thank the drivers for stopping.  It reminded me of a conversation I had a few years ago, with a friend who moved abroad some 30 years ago.  Visiting Scotland, where he’d previously lived, he was very happy to find that, on single track roads, not only did the person for whom one stopped put up their hand to say thank you, but the stopper responded with a wave too.  It’s not just the case in Scotland of course, this happens round here and, I daresay in other places where there are lots of narrow roads, but it was evident it doesn’t happen in France.  Or maybe all the roads are wide enough for two cars.

I’ll have limited internet contact in the next few days, partly through circumstance but also from choice.  We’ve been so busy recently, we want a few days to unwind, read and do very little at all.

Purple eater people

I accidentally removed my sidebar photo the other day – that is, I removed it, thinking I could replace it with another one.  Too late, I remembered that I’d always left the html whatnots and just changed the bits relating to the photo itself.  And I didn’t know the html whatnot in this instance.

But I’ve worked it out and I’m reasonably pleased with myself.  True, the picture of me with my Wedding Hat is barrel shaped rather than oval, but I’ll work on that another time.  There’s a picture and it’s in the right place and I didn’t have to ask Ro to put it there is a matter for a modest high-five.

Today, LT and I have mostly been preserving.  Cooking for fridge, freezer and storecupboard.  And now, I’m ludicrously over-tired as a result.  But quite satisfied, and awfully pleased to have dealt with nearly all of the aubergine mountain.