Z cleans carpets

It’s alarming, when you wash a carpet, quite how much dirt comes out, innit. There were a few marks on it but it looked okay overall before I started, but evidently it was filthier than I realised. There was some soapy water left in the tank at the end, so I gave a quick going-over to the small landing carpet – and that looks rather a different colour, I have to confess.

Last night, we went to Gardening Club where the talk was on garden beasties – insects and so on – which was interesting and the chap, a specialist entomologist, was excellent. He told us about a Spanish slug that is rather alarming – we don’t have them here in this garden, but they’re encroaching on Norwich, at any rate, and they are quite a nuisance. Basically, if you just have the odd big slug, you probably don’t have the Spanish ones but if they swarm all over anything they can treat as food, then they are and you need to put them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. They can eat an awful lot of slug pellets before there’s any ill effects.

We went to a lecture on Gustav Klimt today, which was excellent. I’ve heard that speaker before a few times, so was pretty confident it would be. We were only just in time as there were roadworks on the way, which held us up for ten minutes – that particular village has roadworks for months on end, and has done for years. They must have renewed all the utilities by now, yet it keeps on going. Heaven knows what it is this time.

I found a place for two bookcases and a desk. Just another few hundred books to go…

Z goes shopping

I might have mentioned that, when we were last in Reading, about six weeks ago, we went to Ikea in search of wardrobes. I’ve been looking for a while and not found anything suitable, so this seemed a possible option. And, indeed, we found what would do quite nicely. But we couldn’t face the hoo-hah of actually ordering it at the time (we had to take advice from another customer about getting out of the damn place), so I thought I’d do so online once we got home. Yeah. Bewildering, especially as half the pictures didn’t show up, and the app on my phone is useless (and has had a 1* rating in the App Store).

So yesterday, we toddled off to the branch in Norwich. You can’t buy anything there, only order it from the showroom, which is okay to an extent, because you do need to have a fair idea of what you want: but we did and the chap who helped us was very good and talked us through it quite reassuringly.

The room where it’s all going had to be cleared. It’s the smallest bedroom, which will become the dressing room, though it’ll still have a single bed in it. Basically, two big wardrobes, two bookcases, a chest of drawers, a bed, an ironing board and a clothes rail if there’s room. Until today, there were several more bookcases and a desk, as well as a lot of Stuff. We’ve cleared it. LT was mildly concerned that we’d get the new wardrobes and not have the room ready, but pfft, clearing out is what I’m good at. He is too, in fact, we’ve done a sterling job. Tomorrow, I’ll wash the carpet and then *all* we’ll have to do is assemble the wardrobes once they’ve arrived on Friday.

*All* isn’t quite it, of course, because one of the other bedrooms is full of everything we’re removed from the potential dressing room. All those books are in boxes, for instance. It’ll be fine. We’re on the case. Ho ho. Wish us luck….

Z’s ups and downs – and ups again

We’ve had some lovely sunshine in the last few days. I sowed some seeds in the greenhouse, strolled round the garden and, on Friday when I was in London, spent an hour or so relaxing on a bench in a little Islington public garden, basking in 15º of warm sunshine and enjoying the feeling of being slightly too warm.

Worryingly, one thing that gave me pleasure was walking through a cloud of gnats – midgets, as they’re known in Norfolk, because we can’t quite cope with midges. I rarely destroy an insect nowadays, they have become too rare. I’ll swat a mosquito if it’s in the bedroom at night, I’ll kill a flea or a tick, if I found I’d got headlice they’d be combed out and destroyed but, for the most part, insects are welcome, even the plant-eating ones. Aphids are left on the roses or the beans, because they’re food for birds and ladybirds and they, along with butterflies, moths, pretty well everything except for the parasites, are diminishing so shockingly.

The crash seems to have happened in the last few years and it’s accelerating. There are now articles in the papers about it, but it’s been apparent for a while. I don’t quite understand why here, because the garden is surrounded by unsprayed fields, this should be a haven, but actually numbers are so low that they don’t seem to find their way here.

There are still ants. And fleas etc. In terms of birds, there are plenty of pigeons, gulls, rooks and magpies. I’m sure there aren’t as many bats as there used to be, nor are there hedgehogs. Rats seem to be doing okay, if my henhouse is anything to go by. I see rabbits when I drive at night, but I haven’t seen them in the garden recently, though I guess the barn cats deal with as many young ones as turn up.

Sorry darlings, I started by thinking about spring and I’ve ended up with a wintry tale. So let’s get back to some good cheer.

Tim (unimaginatively named) the hedgehog, that I rescued and took to the hedgehog sanctuary a few weeks ago, is doing very well. He’s put on a lot of weight and he’ll come back here in a few weeks. There are new leaf buds on the roses and lots of spring flowers in the garden. The daffodils down the drive are in bud. We’ve finally got around to buying new wardrobes and they’re being delivered on Friday. Oxtail stew and roast parsnips are in the oven for dinner. I’ve done all the ironing.

Z digresses

Of course I do, because that is what Z does. I was reminded by a comment on yesterday’s post about a trip to London when Al was five or six years old.

It was a birthday treat, and we’d suggested that he might like to bring a friend, as well as Weeza of course. He chose James, who lived in the next road. James’ mother was a sweet woman, a year or two younger than I was and we often walked home from school together and chatted. She went everywhere by bike, with James’ younger brother on the child seat at the back. When she had James with her too, she walked and pushed the bike. As often or not, James himself had a ride on the saddle.

We often had visits to London, but James never had been there and was a bit nervous. We went to the Natural History Museum, showed him Buckingham Palace, rode on the Tube and a red bus and visited Hamley’s, the famous toy shop in Regents Street, where the children had ice cream sundaes in the basement café.

We must have had an evening meal too, though I can’t remember where. Probably steak and chips or something. We caught a latish train, for young children. The Lowestoft to London line had recently been much diminished, from Ipswich onwards. It had been relegated to a single track and only elderly carriages, three of them at most, chugged along the last leg of the journey, stopping at all the country stations. Rumour had it that the only reason the line hadn’t been closed altogether was that our local MP used one of those little stations and had the ear of the Prime Minister, and it was probably true. The journey took the best part of three hours, not including stopover time in Ipswich, considerably longer than similar distances from more favoured places.

So it was around half past nine when we were on the final leg and the conductor came to chat to the boys. He was a delight, with a dry humour, quite a tease. Alex summed him up at once and played along with the jokes, whilst James took him seriously and was wide-eyed.

There’s no point to this story. Just a memory to make me smile. I met James’ mother some years after we’d moved out of Lowestoft and she was happy to tell me that both her boys had gone to university and owned their own houses – the first in the family to do either.

Catching up

I’ll add some of the posts from the Blogger blog, which I’ve used for the last nearly three weeks while this one was down. It’s just to have it all in one place, so please excuse me if you’ve already seen these in The Other Place.

From 26th January

I went to London yesterday to meet my builder at the flat and, afterwards, a friend for lunch.  He was slightly disconcerted by the restaurant I’d chosen – simply because it’s next door to the flat – but spicy Louisiana food was a bit outside his comfort zone, I think.  I hope he did enjoy it though.

I’ve just been on the Greater Anglia train website, to send feedback about the return journey.  I got to the station in good time – I’d had a really easy time of it all day, journey-wise – and the announcer said that my train was delayed.  An incoming passenger had been taken ill and was being helped – I think they used a different train in the end – anyway, it was actually only delayed by about 15 minutes, but the guard explained that, as we’d missed our time slot, there would be a further delay as we went along.  It ended up as about 18 minutes.

After that, the driver really put his foot down, though the train didn’t feel rocky in the least.  By the time we got to Ipswich, the guard was able to announce that ongoing connections could be caught after all, if people would go promptly to the platforms, which he told them.

I’d been amused for a while by the woman and her son in the seats behind us.  He was a textbook petulant teenager.  At one point he was whingeing about his phone – it was useless, it was reeealy old and embarrassing and she didn’t care at all… – and she answered with slightly amused patience.  Then she told him they’d have to be ready to leave quickly, so he needed to get ready – “Whyyyy???” – and she told him about the connection that had been announced, if he hadn’t been so busy complaining.  I noted him as they left – about 14, neat school blazer, I’m sure he’s a nice boy really!

The guard had said we’d be at Diss at 17.58 but we were actually there at 17.48, which was pretty impressive.  The driver was trying to get to Norwich on time for passengers to make their connection to Great Yarmouth – don’t know if he did so.  The guard quipped “Please close the doors behind you so that we can get going as quickly as possible – those doors don’t close themselves” and “We’ve just crossed the border from Suffolk to Norfolk.  If you’re leaving the train at Diss, please have your passport ready.”  No one had been cross about the late departure of course, it was no one’s fault, but the odd chuckle never does any harm.

So the feedback I sent was appreciative, and I’ve sent my thanks.  I hope that the message is passed on.

Hooray!

IT support has managed to find out the problem – it wasn’t that I’d run out of capacity but … well, I didn’t understand it, but they had to disable something that was blocking the blog from loading. I have, however, been able to transfer to a new package that gives me a lot more for less money.

In the meantime, I’ve been posting on the old Blogger blog. If there was anything of any interest at all, I’ll post it here too.

Good thing I’m a belt, braces and bailer twine woman, or I’d have been stymied.

Frinking statues

A friend is a guide at the Sainsbury Centre, which is the very highly-regarded art gallery on the campus at the university in Norwich. At present, there’s an Elisabeth Frink exhibition of sculptures and drawings, so she arranged for a local Nadfas visit, and we booked in. And very interesting it was and most impressive … and we’re quite Frinked out for a bit. She was seriously good, and quite challenging to spend an hour with.

We went in LT’s car – he isn’t driving at present but I boldly suggested taking it anyway. It’s a good idea to recharge the battery once in a while, whether in a car or, more figuratively, as a person, and it is the first time for a few weeks that we’ve gone more than a very local distance. All went well, though six forward gears are still a bit puzzling. How to know whether you’re in third or fifth, or fourth or sixth, or which of any two even or odd numbers requires a bit of intuition that I mostly possess but which occasionally catches me out. Still, the car is a joy to drive and the acceleration is marvellous. The chap who dawdled along at 58 on the dual carriageway, to pass someone else at 55 and then, when he’d finally done so and moved over and then speeded up when I attempted to pass – HAH. I shot past with the merest touch on the accelerator and then dawdled right in front of him again, just for the sake of it. Because, why would he have done that? Really? Isn’t consideration for others a fundamental?

Anyhoo. Young Gus has got chickenpox. His mother is keeping him off school, of course, and from the spotty photo she sent, he’s not ill but he is blotchy. I’ve sent love and presents, for him and his sister, who has had chickenpox already so has no excuse to stay home from school. I shall phone Weeza tomorrow, as now she normally works full time in termtime and is fully occupied otherwise, we don’t often chat.

Termtime auto-corrected to termite. What? I’ve turned off autocorrect in Word and everywhere possible, but I can’t here. *sigh*

The tiggywinkle

I went out to feed the barn cats and put the chickens to bed just before 4.30 yesterday afternoon. On my way back to the house, I saw a hedgehog on the drive, looking sorry for itself. I went over to it and it just sat there, so I fetched a towel and a cardboard box, picked it up and put it in, and fetched a plate and some cat food.

About three months ago, there was an appeal on the local email group for some newspapers to tear up for hedgehog bedding. We take two papers a day, so always have plenty, and I phoned to offer them, and have taken more since. So I knew who the most local hedgehog rescue people were and rang them up. Tessa said she’d get a cage ready straight away and I said I’d be ten minutes. It was a bit longer in fact, as the temperature had already dropped to freezing and I couldn’t see through the windscreen until I cleared it.

It didn’t seem a very big hedgehog to me, but its underparts are going gingerish, which is a sign of age and, though it’s a bit thin, it weighed 557 grams, which isn’t a bad weight. All the same, out in the open, it would have died overnight and I’m so glad I saw it. On the way in the car, it warmed up enough to eat the cat food with a very keen enjoyment, so that was a good sign. Tessa removed a tick and sprayed it with flea killer – in the next ten minutes, a couple of hundred, I should think, fleas fell off as I watched in fascinated horror. I’m not especially squeamish, but all the same, ewww. Tessa didn’t examine it as it had curled up, but she wanted me to give it a name. I don’t really name non-domestic animals – I don’t even give the chickens names – but it’s Tim if a boy (sorry LT, I haven’t mentioned this) or Tilly if a girl. If it survives (being a bit old) then it’ll be returned here in the spring and we’ll put out food and water. This is a very good site for hedgehogs, so Tessa can put other homeless ones here too, if she likes.

Everyone loves hedgehogs, who could fail to? Their numbers are diminishing sadly, as is the case with a lot of wildlife. We don’t have the birds, the insects or anything else that we used to. Pigeons and rooks, but not the songbirds, nor what they eat. Foxes and muntjac but even the grey squirrels that are a nuisance have not been seen for a year or two. Just one hedgehog. I hope I’ve saved it, by delivering it into the care of Tessa and Keith.

Chooks at Dawn

I went out to feed the chooks at dawn this morning, and a bright and pink-skied dawn it was. Frosty too, so I sprayed defroster on the car on the way down and, since it hadn’t even touched the frost on the windscreen, I put the engine on as I returned for breakfast. So, ten minutes later, I was able to set off on my journey to my 9 am meeting an hour away. Srsly, darlings, I thought I was way past that sort of thing.

It was fine, I left at 7.47 and arrived at 8.49, not having hurried. And the meeting was interesting, which isn’t in inverted commas, and I was home by 2 o’clock. Someone asked at one point, we are the Members of the academy trust with overall responsibility and we appoint the Trustees, who will be the over-arching governors of all the schools in the jurisdiction of the multi-academy trust ….. who appointed us?

We reasoned it out. The governing bodies of the three schools involved so far have set up working parties and they’ve come together, and it’s in the remit of those groups to progress to appointing Members who have the authority to appoint Trustees: but this is provisional. To be ratified, the governors of each school have to approve that and tell their Trust Members, who then agree to offer, subject to Department for Education approval, to disband their individual academy trusts and approve the new Members of the new Multi-Academy Trust.

Yeah. Glad we got this far. This has been announced and I’m not breaking any confidence – as if I would. I’m as sure as I can be that we have integrity – which means, to me, that we put the education and well being of our pupils first and that we are altruistic.

Lovely, loveliest Tim has cooked dinner this evening and been totes adorbs and, after my early start, I had a stupidly long afternoon nap. Ten minutes to half an hour is fine, after that I zonk out and take a while to recover; and that’s what happened this afternoon. What that says for my quality of sleep tonight is debatable. I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Z is relatively young

I’ve belonged to a lunch club in Norwich for the best part of thirty years and I’m still the youngest person there. We’ve all got old together. I’ve never taken age as any factor in friendship; though I first started going to keep my mother company on the way.

Two friends live in the next town, some nine miles away. Sisters, both in their nineties, they gave up driving many years ago when they moved into a town house together after their husbands died, and used to get to the society by bus – two buses, in fact. But I’ve been driving over to them and picking them up for quite a long time. They haven’t been able to come for a while – Jo, the elder sister, broke her femur back in the autumn. They wanted to join us but, when I went to fetch them, they were clearly a bit anxious and Jo suggested crying off at the last. Fortunately, Lilian was firm with her and the day was a success. They feel some ice has been broken, as it were, and now their social life can start again. They had a rather dismal Christmas as their oven went wrong on Christmas Day and they had to have cold ham out of a packet, and they hadn’t got any presents to give each other as they hadn’t been able to go shopping. Of course, someone would have shopped for them but for some reason (probably that they hadn’t asked and no one realised) it hadn’t happened. So I’ve said I’ll pick them up one day, whenever they choose, and drive them into Norwich and carry their parcels and they can shop until we all drop, to make up for lost time. It’ll be fun.

We were also remembering our friend Marian, who started up the club and who died four years ago, at the age of 96. She bought herself an iPad and learned how to use it in her 90s, which I cite as an example to anyone in, let’s say, their 70s, who says they’re too old to learn. It’s about time I learned something new, now I think about it. It’s been a while since I took up a new interest – apart from LT, of course, hem hem.