Monthly Archives: December 2008

Z feels warm and affectionate

A short post, because I’m thinking ahead and have done with this year already.

I have used the last of the Christmas joint, with a shepherd’s pie (I suppose it should be lamb, but this is a beef shepherd’s pie) and a casserole, and there is a panful of lovely beef stock from the bones in the fridge which must be used for something really delicious. I don’t know what yet.

I laboured heavily into town – the coming of winter has made me realise I’m actually no fitter for a year’s cycling and I was unable to get up the little (but awkward) hill to the post office, but had to get off and walk for the first time in many months. Although I’ve been home for two hours, I still haven’t taken off my scarf and I feel like Rupert Bear, but without the checked trousers. Tilly is stretched out contentedly in front of the fire, which needs more coal put on soon. It will disturb her so I’ll leave it for a few more minutes.

I am honing and polishing (that is, vaguely starting to contemplate) New Year Resolutions. I never had them before having a blog, but I do now. They will be small and achievable, but definite extras. I will be inspired by last autumn’s learning of countries and their capitals. It gives me pleasure and satisfaction, when an African (for instance) country is mentioned, to place it, with its capital city, on a mental map, with the countries that surround it. I am vastly pleased to have learned the US state capitals, which I had thought was impossible.

I hope you have a wonderful evening, whether you see in the New Year (and remember the Leap Second) or are long asleep and I hope that 2009 will bring you everything you wish for. And thank you.

Z stops thinking about one year and anticipates the next

Today is one deadline, tomorrow is another. So I’m doing all the paperwork today. Is that not impressive? Are you not, even now, thinking, ‘ooh, that Z, never leaving it all until the last minute. How impressive is that’?

No, it’s not truly splendid, is it.

The year always tails off somewhat for me. The couple of days when Christmas feels well over is a bit dull, when there’s no excuse not to get on and tidy everything up and start getting back to the usual sort of routine, but I’m still a bit tired and lacking in verve. I always get up late, which means I have to go to bed late, and i waste a lot of time.

Tomorrow night will be spent with Al and Dilly. Her parents are coming over too, but I’m not sure how long they’re staying. On Thursday, we’ll go to friends for a walk and a party. We will be given a map and told that soup and cheese will await us on our return. There’s usually a choice of two or three routes of varying lengths between two or three miles and ten or so. Until last year, I always did the longest walk but I’ve admitted defeat now and will do the shortest one, which is 2.8 miles this time. Several people make different soups, which are all fabulous. I think they spend the year trying out new recipes.

I must get back to work. I have to email out all the papers while it’s still Tuesday.

Z snuggles up with Tilly on the sofa

It’s very quiet around here, as Wink has gone back home to Wiltshire and Weeza and Phil are visiting his parents in the Midlands. I thought you might like to see Zerlina enjoying her Christmas dinner.

I went over to buy the dishwasher and it’ll be delivered on Friday afternoon (that was a non sequitur, by the way).

I shall be very busy next week when Al and family are on holiday, so I’ll do as little as possible before then. Yes, I know it would be sensible to do lots of housework and cooking in advance. Not quite ‘me’ though, is it? – sensible, that is. I do have some things to do first, but they can wait until this evening at least.

That’s about it. The Sage has just brought me a cup of tea. I shall cuddle my dog and read for an hour or so.

Z thanks her Dishwasher

I’ve been trying to work out how long I’ve had this dishwasher. I assumed it must have been the third one in 22 1/2 years, but I’ve found a guarantee going back to the 90s and have worked out that it’s only the second.

When we moved here, I bought a Hotpoint. It cost in the region of £250 and I paid for a 5 year guarantee. In that time, it had repairs which would have cost about £280. It lurched on for another year or two before it packed in completely (one time, it broke down, full, on Christmas Day) but it was certainly enough to put me off that brand for life.

That means that the current Bosch dishwasher has lasted me, with very little problem at all, for about 16 years. It’s only in the last few days that I’ve had to rinse cups etc before putting them in, normally it is fine, though recently not quite as good as it was. I remember buying it on the recommendation of friends who had been bemused to see how little I could put in the old one without washing quality going way down. I use it pretty well every day, sometimes twice.

So this one owes me nothing at all, and I’d be perfectly happy to buy one again, but Blue Witch, who does her research SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO (thanks ever so, BW, xxx) says that Bosch and Siemens are owned by the same company but the latter is now better made.

I have been looking, so far, at models at the price I’m willing to pay (the JL website is useful for that because it gives a lot of information) and there seems to be little if anything to choose between them for energy and water consumption, noise and the various features.

If you’ve come here doing your own research, don’t rely on me, I know nothin’ about nothin’ (it works better in a Norfolk accent). Go to one of the websites that does this sort of thing properly. Except, that I’ve been looking myself and what they don’t mention, because they’re reviewing current models, is longevity and that matters quite a lot to me.

Z is Going Shopping

Today is the obligatory quiet day when all the clearing up gets done. I said, more than a year ago, that I needed to buy a new dishwasher and intended to do so before Christmas. I didn’t and it has kept going valiantly. Now, however – that is, over the last week – it is washing markedly less well, and everything has to be rinsed before going in. It’s done very well but the time has come and the Sage and I will troop into Norwich tomorrow and inspect new dishwashers.

I’m doing a bit of online research beforehand. Some people enjoy this. I don’t. I find it extremely boring. Like buying a car, there are certain features I want and some I don’t, but otherwise I don’t much care. I am inclined towards Siemens (which I think Blue Witch recommended) or Bosch (which I have). My present one has done well mechanically, but the interior fittings have not done so well and I’d want to be sure that they’re durable now. However, they seem to have good reports for reliability. Looking at the descriptions, there seems to be little to differentiate between them, whatever the price. I assume that the cheaper ones are noisier and are not built to last so well.

Then there’s the matter of whether to buy from a shop or online? I want to see the interior fittings before I choose, so I need to visit a shop, and it’s morally unsound to use a shop and then not buy there. But there is a financial point at which one can feel ripped off, which can send one towards the internet. But then, what if there’s something the matter with it? One knows one can trust John Lewis to put it right quickly.

Any recommendations gratefully received. I’m happy to balance service given against money spent; I don’t want to be responsible for more shops going to the wall. But if I’m to deal with them, they have to be worth saving. Likewise the manufacturers.

Which reminds me, if the government has been trying to force us to buy smaller and more economical cars, why are they now contemplating financially baling out Jaguars and Range Rovers?

Oh yes, they are

Still on the Lord of the Rings, we played LOTR Trivial Pursuit this evening. Ro’s had it for several years – he and his housemates got it when they were at university and he was the one who ended up with it. One really has to be quite au fait with the films, and most of us aren’t. Most amusing.

There were 12 of us for lunch as Susie joined us. Haven’t seen her since Weeza and Phil’s wedding, so it was excellent. Our families have known each other forever – my father was best man at her grandfather’s wedding. She was telling us that recently she and the girl she shares a house with came out of their house to find a dead man on the doorstep – literally. She said that they nearly slammed the door shut and pretended it hadn’t happened. Then, he was right against her car door so she had to climb in through the passenger side. I said “But didn’t you call an ambulance or anything?” I’d come in on the conversation part way through. It transpired that the paramedics were already there. It was a gruesome tale, and really, it’s just the sort of thing that would happen to Susie and practically no one else. She said that it wasn’t in the paper and she didn’t know what had happened, whether it was a heart attack, overdose, mugging – they hadn’t heard anything.

Zerlina was trying some baby rice and enjoying the experience. She sat happily in her high chair, while the other two were at the other end of the table, in dining chairs with arms, on two cushions. I hadn’t got more vegetables in than I’d planned for when I thought there would be 4 adults and a baby rather than 9 adults, 2 toddlers and a baby, except for doing a whole lot more roast potatoes and so there were not loads of leftovers. I was glad of the little table-top cooker I usually only use during the summer when the Aga’s off, as it was such a huge piece of beef that it took up the whole height of the oven and there was no room for the spuds. I’d have had to juggle between top and bottom ovens (top is hot, bottom is warm), but as it was, the joint rested while I cooked the Yorkshire pudding and all was fine.

Tomorrow, one of Al’s customers is throwing her big annual Christmas/birthday/teddy bear’s party. She and the bear will be 92 years old. Usually it’s on a Saturday and Al can’t go, but this time he’s able to, so I’ve said I’ll stay home and look after the children. Although we’d all be welcome, and the Sage, Dilly and Ro will go, it’ll be simpler for the children to stay at home and they haven’t had much time to play with their presents yet. Later, they are going to the pantomime in Norwich.

Z is Sixteen, but not at all Sweet

I didn’t get anything done this morning, and then Wink arrived so I didn’t even start on the paperwork. Pfft. It’ll be done. But I’m sorry if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t replied yet. I haven’t replied to anyone, but not because I don’t appreciate the letters, and thank you.

What I have done is prepare vegetables for tomorrow’s lunch. I’d meant to lay the table, but the last light bulb blew, and the ones in that room are the screw-in sort which we never remember to buy more of. So the Sage will be despatched into town tomorrow to get some. Our dining room is on the north end of the house and the windows face west, so it’s a bit subdued-lightingish in there. We had dinner in the kitchen tonight. As we did last week when the lovely Dave came for lunch, as the dining room fire decided not to draw properly and it was too damn cold. He had to gaze upon my untidy shelves and piles of cookbooks, but was far too polite to notice.

Ah yes, Wink said something earlier and I said “I’ll blog that!” and then I forgot, but luckily Ro didn’t – and filled with the Christmas (and whisky) spirit, he kindly reminded me when I asked.

We were talking about films and books and stuff, and she reminded me of her affection for Harry Potter films. I confessed that I’ve never stayed awake through the Christmas showing of one and that they are not my cup of tea. She said that she likes the Lord of the Rings films too. I agreed there, but I’ve always liked the books. She said she hadn’t got further than the first 20 pages. We debated this generally for a bit, and she said that she’s not very grown-up. Reminding her of my taste in humour (such as Harry Hill’s TV Burp, far too unsophisticated for her) and music, I puzzled our relative childishnesses.

“The difference is,” she said, “my mind is about 12, while yours has stuck at the age of 16.”

Z only drank three glasses of wine all day

I got up a bit late this morning, feeling very relaxed as there was no cooking to be done. Actually, there was in the end as I decided to make a Proper Pudding (not the Christmas one as we’ll have it on Saturday)., but the rest was just assembling. I strolled downstairs sometime around 9 o’clock, and then remembered the church service at 10, for which I planned to do the setting up. I worked extremely fast for a bit, bossing the poor Sage around ruthlessly – it’s not often that I properly get my arse in gear, but I can be very efficient – and I left him still wrapping the last of the presents which I hadn’t done last night. Or rather, this morning. I’ve found as I get old and frivolous that I need time to wind down in the evening and I can’t go straight to bed when I get home late any more, so it was 2 o’clock when I finally shambled bathwards.

All was under control by the time Zerlina and family arrived – Phil was well enough to come and improved during the day, though still somewhat snuffly. Zerlina had a great time, sitting in her high chair at lunch time, playing with her new toys and enjoying her baby bouncer for the first time. Weeza was thrilled to read Miff Heehog to her, as well as put her in the baby bouncer. There is a hook in the beam in the drawing room ceiling and has been for 34 years, when she was a baby herself and had a similar bouncer, which she loved.

Squiffany and Pugsley and their parents came in for an hour or so, before going off for lunch with Dilly’s parents, so there was a big present-opening session. They are staying in Norwich overnight with Al’s in-laws, so they’ll have time to look at them all and play with them. Then they’re going over to Weeza’s house and they’ll all spend the day together. Wink has spent Christmas with the Bod and his mum and she’ll arrive some time tomorrow.

I’ve got a lot of emails to reply to tomorrow, and some paperwork to start on – it’s got to be done by Tuesday but I want a free weekend. If I have the sense to get on with it promptly, two good sessions will see it through. More likely, I’ll faff around a bit at a time for days.