Monthly Archives: March 2008

Z packs her iPod

So, tomorrow we’re off to London to have a preview of a sale coming up in a few weeks – hang on, link alert… … … here. Start at Lot 210, because we will, although if you could do with some porcelain asparagus servers, check out the earlier lots as there are some splendid examples there. We are taking a friend and whizzing up there and back, spending a mere 4 hours in the Metropolis. Were it all down to me, I’d make a leisurely day of it and visit art galleries and meet chums, but the Sage and our friend are purposeful and so I obey, with good cheer and a willing heart, as ever.

What a lovely day today. I biked into town wearing, on top of normal attire of course, a light jacket and no gloves at all, for the first time since I started this exercise and healthy living nonsense (no, I’m no better for it: a little fitter and thinner, but still the same Z, you will be relieved to know).

I seem to have committed myself to go to a meeting in Liverpool in May. I should have booked a hotel room several months ago, like everyone else. I’ll end up in some dive in a back street. Is Liverpool safe for a small and unfeisty (that’s how I look, honestly) woman like me?

Springing, a leek.

A week ago, we were in winter. Today, it was a warm and sunny spring day. Whatever one thinks about English weather, it is always interesting.

Of course, today the clocks changed to British Summer Time – an hour lost, but in all other respects, all to the good. If I support the cause of Scottish Independence, which I do (only I call it English Independence), then one of the reasons is that then each country would be able to make a decision regarding the bi-annual changing of the clocks according to its own interests.

Gardened in the afternoon, and am paying for it with a very uncomfortable hip this evening, and then cooked. The Sage dug up some leeks, which are still lovely, although they will all need to be eaten before they become woody in the centre, and we had some this evening with the roast chicken (freerange, from Sutton Hoo), roast potatoes and cauliflower (which, like the potatoes, was grown 6 miles away). I have made soup with the rest of the leeks, and a Bolognese sauce with the beef I bought on Saturday. Since I’m expecting a busy week, I am feeling awfully smug at the thought of all the meals I’ve prepared ahead. Though tomorrow, the meat will be stripped from the chicken and the bones will make stock for more soup. A frugal soul I am, and we eat the better for it.

Having said that, the garden is getting away from me badly. I just can’t do the digging any more, nor can I even carry anything heavy – fine if it’s bags by my side, but I can’t carry anything much ahead of me in my arms. Most frustrating, as I am perfectly well and strong. We know how we’d like to solve the garden problem, but it’s a pipe dream at present and not to be resolved yet. I’ll just have to teach Squiffany and Pugsley how to garden. Pugsley is good at filling seed trays with compost, and Squiffany is reasonably adept at sowing seeds in them, but I think they need a rake, a hoe and lessons in telling weeds from vegetable seedlings.

Shame about the Boat Race? – not at all…

The Sage was in London today so I had to amuse myself. Happily, he arrived home before 5 and has amused me ever since.

I watched the Boat Race. The Sage supports Cambridge and I support Oxford. We are both highly partisan, but extremely polite and so have to pretend not to be interested at all. Cambridge were on the side of the river that should have ensured they won, but they didn’t. I casually told the Sage, giving The Other Place (my father would actually not mention its name and I never visited Cambridge in his lifetime) full credit for a valiant attempt. When I was a child, a bottle of champagne was placed in the fridge on Boat Race day and fetched out in time for the race – but if Cambridge won, it was silently put away again. Since Oxford rarely won in the ’60s, the champagne mostly lived to sparkle another day.

Look at ME, Granny…

Dilly was out today, so I looked after the children, who behaved impeccably. We played in their house and mine, they bounced on my bed, played hide and seek with two duck-shaped pencil sharpeners and a small wooden Indian elephant, had lunch and, in Pugsley’s case, a nap and played with Playdough for an hour until Dilly came home. Then she and I wanted to talk, so Squiffany became noisy and boisterous, as she was no longer centre of attention. It wasn’t that she was receiving none at all – we were talking to her too and joining in their games, but our minds were drifting away from babyness and she didn’t appreciate it.

The catalogue of an auction in London arrived today, so the Sage has been engrossed in it most of the day. We’re going to have a look at the china next week – not the official viewing days for a few more weeks, but if you ask nicely, they’ll put it on show for you. Three of us are going together, so it’ll be worth their effort – it’s certainly something we do for clients.

Not much else – horrible weather and I stayed home. I haven’t sown any seeds in the garden yet – vegetables will be late this year. No point in doing so when the weather is so cold and I am not too bothered about it. Now that August is a fairly exciting month in this family (two weddings in three years and, this year, a baby to come), I have more to do than water greenhouses and pick the crops and I’ll do what I can and not worry about the rest. The kitchen garden is designed to be neglected once in a while without becoming unmanageable.

Just call me Lucky…when you consider the alternative

Friends of ours called in this evening to look at the china for the next auction. She has severe rheumatoid arthritis and can’t get about easily, although she is younger than me, so it is helpful for her not to have to rely on being well enough to come to the sale. The first time they came, they had never handled a piece of L’stoft before, so I sat them down and took them everything, a piece or two at a time. The best way to learn about china is to handle it and look at it, and now they know a great deal.

“The Sage says that you had a bad fall?” I said sympathetically. She started to tell me about it “…of course, this was while we were still living away as our house was being repaired…” “whoa, I don’t know about this,” I interrupted.

Now, if you or I ever complain about a run of bad luck, compare with this before feeling hard-done-by.

In November, cracks appeared in the walls – in one bedroom, the ceiling and the wall parted company, so that the roof was not really being held up by anything at all. Subsidence was blamed and the insurance company sent the builders in. Our friends thought the large willow tree on the other side of the road, on council-owned land, might be to blame, but the insurance company reckoned it was the shrubs, dwarf conifers and escallonia, euonymous and that sort of thing, none above 8′ high, in the garden and required them all to be removed.

While the work was being done and pile-drivers were being used, the vibrations made a ceiling fall down. At the time that the house was built, Artex ceilings contained asbestos, so they were told they would have to vacate the property until the work was finished. They had to have their furniture put in store and move out. A water pipe was also cracked by the vibration, so the parquet floor was also damaged.

They moved into a house by the river near Norwich. They have stayed there before, the Christmas before last, and like it very much and were able to book it for three months. Unfortunately, within a few days A, the husband, slipped as he came out of the door. One leg shot sideways and the other forward and he landed heavily on his knee. He hadn’t broken anything but it was severely strained and (he is a teacher) he had to have the last fortnight of term off.

In January, D, the wife, came out of the house to drive to her appointment with her rheumatologist, and slipped on a piece of wood that keeps the door from opening too wide. Just like A, her fall was broken by railings, but unfortunately it was her face that met them. She severely bruised her cheek and broke three front teeth, as well as badly bruising her legs.

When they went back to their own house, they found that the storage company, chosen by the insurance company, had damaged most of the furntiture, with lost bits of veneer, scratches and the like. It’s all antique and can’t simply be replaced.

His knee is better, but still not right.

She still has a strapped right wrist, a bruised and painful right cheekbone and her teeth are loose. If she needs dental surgery, it will cost several thousand pounds and she will have to sue the owners of the holiday house – they’re insured, but it’s embarrassing.

This week, their vacuum cleaner broke down, so their cleaner offered to bring in her Dyson. Within moments, it had torn a banana-shaped and sized piece out of the carpet. Dyson is quibbling and is sending someone round to check the machine, interrogate the cleaner, look at the contents of the Dyson and see if there’s any possible way of blaming anyone or anything but the machine (I’ve nothing against Dyson, I’m just reporting).

A and D are remarkably cheerful under the circumstances.

Power of Tilly

She really can make me do anything, can my little dog. She decided it was dinner time, some three hours early. She doesn’t bother me, she never whines nor paws me. She looks at me and wags her tail, and if I tell her to go away, she goes. On this occasion, I held out for half an hour.

I obeyed in the end, though.

Maybe, later, she’ll let me come on the sofa with her for a cuddle.

Sooty and Sweep

I know that there’s not a blogger in the world who doesn’t, or at any rate hasn’t read Dooce. And I wonder all the more why Tilly wore a hole in the carpet in one corner a couple of years ago, when there really was nothing there. When she stared at a cupboard, we cleared it out until a mouse ran out, which Tilly managed to miss. No, I don’t know where it went. But the innocent corner? … anyway, we don’t ignore our dog when she’s trying to tell us something, but it’s never likely to be a raccoon living in our chimney.

Squeezing the poor until the pips squeak*

The church treasurer has been round with forms for me to sign, to change standing orders to pay the church administrator and cleaner. Both of them, part-time workers (one with another part-time job too) will receive less money in future, although they received a cost-of-living wage increase in January.

You remember last year’s Budget, the last that Mr Brown prepared? At the end, he announced that the base rate of tax would go down from 22% to 20%, quite wrong-footing the Leader of the Opposition who had to give an instant critical reply – and wrong-footing the Leader of the Opposition is an absolutely appropriate thing for the Chancellor to do. But not, I think, by leaving out an important fact, which I read about in the paper the next day. The 10% tax rate for lower-paid workers was being eliminated and, as soon as they had enough to pay tax at all, they would pay 20% like the rest of those of us who are on basic rate.

This means that, from this April, people earning enough to pay tax but less than £15,000 per annum will pay more. Helping people out of the poverty trap? I don’t think so.

*Denis Healey denies, by the way, saying “Squeezing the rich until the pips squeak”, but says that Lloyd George said it back in the 1920s. However, I suspect it will remain indelibly associated with him.

Ooh, photos!!(!)

It was a beautiful sunny morning but there had been, unexpectedly, a snowfall in the night. I trotted out soon after 8 o’clock to take a picture, and it was already starting to drip from the trees. A few minutes later, Al’s front door opened and he came out with the children and they started to build a snowman together. Dilly had gone to spend the night with her sister as they had something on this morning and she didn’t want to make an early start in the frost.

There are better photos, but they show the children’s faces, and Al’s, and I don’t think he would like me to post them. I am tantalising you with a glimpse of the mysterious and wonderful Sage.

My sister and I were grumbling about increased costs this morning and agreeing that we were both thinking before we spent money. A couple of years ago, for instance, when I first bought my present car, it cost £40 to fill it. Last autumn, it crept above £50. Now, it costs £60. Then I read this in the paper. And we shut up and wiped our eyes.

She’s at work tomorrow, so she left for Wiltshire after breakfast. It’s been duller without her…

Easter Sunday

It’s snowing!!(!)

It missed us all winter, but now Spring is here, it’s snowing.

Build a lovely snowman, darlings, and I hope you have a very happy Easter.

love from Z