A house sold name

11.15, Friday morning. Drinking coffee, looking out of the window. The rain has stopped. A man walks up the hill, carrying a carton of milk. A black cat trots past, with a bouncy step. He knows his way about, he won’t get caught by any of the dogs. A lot of visitors bring their dogs, which are allowed on the beach. It’s a good place for walking, relaxing, playing. 

I’ve just had a phone call from my conveyancer, confirming that the money from the house sale has been received and will be paid into my account by the end of the day. I’m suddenly startlingly cash-rich. Not for long of course, I’ll be paying out next week.  

Next, I’ll go to where there’s an internet signal and post this.  I’ll buy a paper, download emails and phone my in-laws (not actually mine, they’re Tim’s, but I think of them as family and hope they do too), who live locally. I’ll see them sometime over the weekend. Otherwise, I’ll practise doing what I really want to do and no more.  

12.35 pm

I’ve bought a bottle of Laphroaig, a cream cake (bit random there, but it’s a change), some raspberries, local strawberries and an avocado. The last three were more to look less decadent, whilst keeping the self-indulgent theme. And the sun is out.

Going, going, gone

I’ve had a fabulous day at the house and garden of Henry Moore, the sculptor. I’ve visited the gardens before but the house wasn’t open then and it was wonderful to see. Not large, certainly very unpretentious, but filled with treasures and interesting bits and pieces that give a genuine insight into his mind and the objects that shaped his art.

I was, all the same, on tenterhooks, because I expected a call at any time to say that the contract had been signed by the buyers. I was in the coach on the way home when I received it – it was a final check that Friday was okay for me. I confirmed and then I reckoned it was out of my hands, there was no point in worrying. But it all finally did go through, just before 5 o’clock, so the house is sold.

Too tired to write more after a day in the sun, with added emotion. If I write again over the weekend, it’ll be on my phone and in a brief online glimmer, so it may not be managed. I hope to relax once I get to the caravan. The forecast is – not unusually for Pembrokeshire – rain, so there won’t be much else to do but relax.

Z winds down a bit

I’ve just finished a conversation with the friend – the husband, that is, of the couple – who stayed the other night. As I said, he’s a great raconteur and conversationalist and my landline phone actually ran out of battery, so I phoned him back.

Perdita is a darling, the morning went well. Ronan was a little frustrated by a colleague who keeps changing meeting times – everyone works from home, which is fine if you have self-discipline and can prepare, but maybe this person can’t. But to change the time twice and then the day has knock-on effects to other participants and I suspect there will be observations made to the person’s manager. I was playing with, reading to and singing with little Perdita while Ro was working, so all was tranquil on my side.

Eloise cat is lying on Tim’s table, looking relaxed. She spent the evening outside, so doesn’t know I had crab for dinner. Half of it remains, so she’ll be welcome to share the rest tomorrow. I’m not in the mood to cook, or even to prepare food at present, so it’s only a sense of self-respect that stops me living on crisps and chocolate.

That photo is returning me to happier times. I thought it was taken the year that we moved here, or the next year at any rate, but all my children disagree and tell me that I’m a couple of years out. It was still a happy time and I might feel like retreating there. Reminiscing can be good for you.

Dot and carry one

Old Polly bantam is getting less mobile by the day. Rather than feed her on the perch, I bring her down to the ground in the morning, so at least she does move about a bit. I’m sorry to say that Jabber the Cluck is a bully. However much food there is about, I have only to bring some to Polly for Jabber to try to push her aside to get it herself. She gets unceremoniously shoved away. But Polly is eating and drinking well and still has bright eyes, so I just hope she goes gently one night, as her cousin Jenga did.

With three roosters left, there’s a clear pecking order and Stringfellow is at the bottom of it. Jenga Junior rules the roost and Stringfellow is afraid of him – this is better than them all vying to be top cock. But this evening, Stringy didn’t come in with the others and I just shut the hatch on him. He’s got a secure run, a waterproof, comfortable shelter, food and drink and he can just put up with it.

I was supposed to meet Tim’s sister and niece in Norwich today, but his niece has come down with Covid, no doubt caught at the Elton John concert last weekend. So we’ve postponed. I visited Ronan though, who’s been going through Tim’s LP collection. One of his friends would like any records I don’t want, so Ronan did the preliminary sweep to save me the work. He’s really enjoyed it, they shared an appreciation of music and had much the same style of taste. To the 30 he thought I’d like to keep (or hoped I would), I added another 8 or 10. I’ll deliver the rest, two boxes full, to Reading on Thursday.

He also showed me his work MacBook Air – he’s got two at present, as his needed updating, so work sent one along for the stuff on it to be transferred. I’ve always much preferred a desktop to a laptop, but I’m thinking of buying a new computer before long and I have a feeling that the ideal will be a laptop plus a monitor, to have the best of both worlds. Once I have some breathing space, I’ll look into it, asking Ronan to come along to help me.

While turning out yesterday, Squiffany and I found this photo. I think it dates from 1986, the year we moved here, judging by Ronan’s size, though it could be the next year.

Tomorrow, I’m looking after Perdita while Ronan is working. It’ll be fun. Then I really must get myself organised for going away and for the final tasks before the house sale goes through.

Before the storm

I had a blood donor appointment booked for the first week in July, but I had an email cancelling it on Thursday, with apologies. So I looked on the app and found an alternative venue, fairly local if not as convenient, on the same day. On Thursday, I had a text cancelling my appointment. It didn’t say which one it was, so I was a bit puzzled – but looked on the app and the new one was still there, so I guessed they were just being thorough. Today, I had a letter in the post, cancelling the same appointment. I’m sure there’s a pun in there somewhere, but I haven’t thought of it yet.

The house is chaotic. Squiffany and I have been turning out. The further dining room is the worst, as it has the contents of the strongroom in there, not the items that need to be kept in there but packing materials and items of furniture. Russell put his big kneehole desk in there, thinking he’d use it as an office, but he never did, unsurprisingly. I certainly won’t. I’ll get rid of the desk, one way or another. it’s too big and I’ve nowhere else to put it. There’s also a nice little Edwardian escritoire, which looked good in our last house but there’s nowhere to put it here. So that will go. I’m eyeing up a few other items that I just don’t need or want.

I’ll be away next Saturday, but Squiffany has her eye on some cupboards and will turn them out. Today, we also swapped two chests of drawers, which I’m pleased about. The one in my bedroom is big and solid and rested on the floor (it has no feet, I don’t mean others float) so was difficult to shift when a bird fell down the chimney behind it. It was the chest that Tim used and I hadn’t emptied it, so we did that too, removed all his shirts that I hadn’t previously taken out of his wardrobe and took a dozen or so bin bags of clothes down to the clothes bank at the village recycling centre.

I was too tired from emotion to do much more once Al arrived, but he and S brought a couple of things I wanted into the house from the workshop. I’ve not done much since, but had a long bath this evening and a sandwich for dinner. And there’s just been a great clap of thunder and I’m going to bed. Goodnight.

Keeping on keeping on

Wink went to London yesterday, to watch the tennis at Queen’s Club. She had bought her ticket two years ago and had hung on to it ever since – the friends she’d been going to go with had cashed theirs in, but Wink is persistent. She was also lucky in the Wimbledon draw and has got two tickets for the second Monday, so we’re going together – first time for me. She’s booked into a guest house the night before, with car parking so pfft to rail strikes.

I announced we were going out to lunch, so we did. With my vague bump of direction, it’s always wise to put on the satnav, but it took us a different way from last time and it’s one of those villages where a post code gives a wide area. So we were slightly lost, a couple of hundred yards from our destination. I really should let them know that clicking on the route on their website takes one to a similarly-named place in Kent., more than three hours drive away instead of twenty minutes.

I picked up my phone every time a message came in, but it was nothing important. Inevitably, I was away from the phone for an hour or so when the email I was waiting for came in. But as soon as I saw it, I printed it and phoned my neighbours at the Rectory, to ask for a witness to my signature.

So, I’ve signed the contract and posted it. I’ve done my part. Still quite a lot to do, in fact, but not in relation to the sale of the house. It’s up to the purchasers and the solicitors now.

It’s the 86th anniversary of Russell’s birth as well. So the bottle of local Earsham Charmat Rosé that we drank was in honour of him as well as Tim. No wonder I feel confused. Wink and I both had fish and salad planned for dinner, so combined our menus and ate outside on the lawn, it being a mild and warm evening.

Tomorrow, Squiffany is coming to help with more turning out. On Sunday, I’m meeting Tim’s sister, niece and great-niece in Norwich and we’re going to the cinema. Then I’m going to look after Perdita on Monday. I don’t stop running. Occupet extremum scabies, as Horace put it (that more or less means, devil take the hindmost; last one is a rotten egg).


Catching up, hanging on

I’m not sure how much I’m likely to post, I feel as if I’m shutting down and talking about it won’t help much. Though, as this is a record as much as a place to engage with people, I do feel I’ll regret it if I don’t keep up with events. I feel as if I have to conserve what communication I’m capable of, to do what I have to.

I went to Reading last week and, with the help of Tim’s in-laws, Al and Phil, everything I wanted to keep was removed. On the Saturday night, we had a lovely dinner with friends, I couldn’t quite believe that I was spending my last evening there cooking but I’m glad I did. The one person who couldn’t come on Saturday visited on Thursday for wine and a chat. I really do love and value my Reading friends, who have been so kind and supportive to me over the past months.

My house and workshop are full of Stuff that needs a home. I have my list and Squiffany and I will plough through it gradually, sometimes with the help of her kind parents.

After a conversation with a friend, in whom I confided about a specific matter, I had something of a meltdown on Thursday night, which I’m not over. I’m lying low for now, but I have now posted a very forthright letter to a (not very) professional who’s not been doing their (very important) job, in relation to the matter I confided. It’s posted, the die is cast.

Dear friends, of many years’ standing, have been in the area for a few days and we met for lunch yesterday. Asked where they were staying for the night, they acknowledged that they didn’t know yet. To their surprise, everywhere they’d tried so far was fully booked. So of course I swept them home for the night, it was lovely to have more time with them. Sadly, Lynn is losing her short-term memory and, though still the delightful, entertaining, intelligent woman she always has been, she asks the same question many times and, if you leave the room, she forgets you’d been there. Her lovely husband is a great raconteur and the silver lining is that she enjoys his stories hugely, as it’s the first time, as far as she knows, that she’s ever heard them. Wink and I fielded her repeated questions with effortless patience, we all know it’s not her fault.

Contracts might be exchanged tomorrow, with completion on the 24th. I’m relaxed. I’ve done my part. If it takes longer, it’s not going to inconvenience me, but of course I’ll cooperate completely.

Polly bantam is getting frailer. She eats and drinks well, but can’t move at all easily. I now lift her down to spend the day on the ground, rather than feed her up on the perch, which she can’t flutter down from. I don’t know how long she can manage like this. I’m considering putting her in a crate overnight, so that she’s safe but isn’t able to fly up to the perch, where she can barely hang on. Poor old girl.

Dowager Polly

Bantams still seem to be the focus round here. It’s been Polly, the last few days. She’s got mobility problems, like the Queen. She doesn’t walk very well. We trimmed her claws, but she still hobbles and she doesn’t always bother to come down from the perch. So Wink and I take her a handful of corn and a bowl of water and she seems to appreciate the attention. It’s evidently done her good, because she was out and about all day today. All the same, I’m not sure whether she’ll survive her next moult – she always moults very heavily and mopes for a few weeks and, last year, I thought I was losing her. But then the feathers grew back and she perked up again.

We went out for lunch with Al and the family, which was really lovely. Squiffany came over yesterday to help me with turning out – this is a project that will last weeks of Saturdays. The whole house hasn’t been ‘done’ for a while and it’s overdue. I’m going to be bringing in some of Tim’s possessions, so I need to get rid of anything that isn’t wanted, to make room. I was rather dismayed, a few weeks ago, to find a whole bag of shoes in a drawer and wondered why I hadn’t simply thrown them out? Although, when I investigated further, most of them weren’t badly worn, there was just some reason why I wasn’t wearing them any more, at least not then. One pair, almost new, had hardly been worn at all and they were too small for me. I can’t remember them and can only assume I was given them by someone else whom they didn’t fit either. Others had the wrong heels, but were in good condition and very nice quality. They’ve gone to the Scope bin at the village recycling, they’re absolutely good enough for resale at a charity shop. And I was fairly ruthless with the contents of the bathroom cupboards and so on. I also did All The Ironing on Thursday, which was three laundry baskets full and took me all afternoon, with a final hour in the evening. Al dropped Squiffany off on his way to work, at 6.30am on Saturday, which was quite disconcerting. By the time we stopped for coffee, I felt as if I’d already put in a day’s work. But I was pleased with what’s been done. I’ll be away in Reading next week, so I’ll leave a list. It’s the laundry room, larder and back lobby next time.

All sorts of festivities locally, which I haven’t joined in with at all. I can only be sociable in fairly short bursts and I went out for a Jubilee tea party on Friday in Norwich, which was enough.

Bats in Z’s belfry

It seems that I’m no less batty. I wrote four letters this afternoon, which I wanted to get in the post as soon as possible because of the double bank holiday. The post is picked up from the village post box in the morning, which would mean Saturday at earliest, whereas the one in town goes at 5.30 pm. I hope the letters will reach their recipients for Monday. So I got them all into addressed envelopes, got out the stamps, took them out and put them in my bike pannier and cycled in. And when I arrived and was about to post them, I’d only stamped one of them. So I had to cycle home and start again because – well, I don’t know. I suppose I’m just distracted.

Three of the letters are ones of condolence, to the wife, son and daughter of our former Rector Ian, who died in the night. It was expected, but dreadfully sad. He was very much loved and respected and was only in his early 60s. The fourth was Tim and Viv’s marriage certificate, which my buyers’ solicitors insisted on receiving, to ensure that they actually were married. They’ve seen her death certificate, probate and will, which have her maiden and married names, but they were insistent. So I had to send off for it, which has taken three weeks. But there it is. All boxes to be ticked.

Jenga drops off his perch

Honestly, I must be going batty. Of course it wasn’t 7 years ago that I met Tim, it was 10. So the 7-year memory I referred to was just Mig. Tim brought her 10 years ago and couldn’t come the next year, so Mig brought Linda and Di (over from Australia, she was staying with Linda). Then she came a couple more times, at least once with Barney.

But what I’ve come here for, apart from correcting myself, is to say that dear old Jenga, the bantam patriarch of the whole flock, died in the night. He was 7 years old and getting a bit faded in the comb and long in the spur, but he was doing well and still watching over his ladies. He tucked into some treats earlier in the day and had gone to roost by the time I shut the chickens up yesterday evening and he must have literally dropped off the perch sometime in the night.

Here’s a picture I’ve copied from Rose, with her permission. Handsome boy.