Monthly Archives: July 2009

Bringing on the wall, Day 17 – nearly 3 weeks later

It’s been a long gap since we last did any bricklaying and we have acknowledged how quickly the summer is passing. We still hope to get the long part of the wall finished this year, but much depends on the weather. You don’t get a lot done in 2 1/2 hours, which is about our working time of a morning. However, if we get some dry weather in August there’s a good chance of cracking on and getting a good stretch done in the next few weeks.

Dave fitted another ornamental brick, whilst I started at the bottom of the next section. Next time, Dave may begin the next pillar so that I’ve got that to work to – he has to be careful of his back so is better with the higher sections, which I’m too short to complete. I suppose I should do the lower part of the pillar actually.

It was sunny all morning and very hot some of the time – lovely after all the rain we’ve had recently.

Yes, the summer house does need work done on it. That is not scheduled for this year, unfortunately. There’s not time.

During the morning, I phoned friends to confirm that I’d pick them up to take them to our lunch engagement. The phone was answered by one of the sisters, sounding woeful. They aren’t feeling too well and it may be flu – just in case, they’ve cancelled lunch. I’m very sorry for them, but also relieved that the symptoms showed now rather than after I spend an hour and a half in the car with them. At least it means that, not having to pick them up, I can look after Zerlina in the morning while Weeza goes for a haircut. Being used to a London hairdresser, she’s a bit apprehensive at the prospect of sampling the local salon – she still has her London Ways at heart. Though she doesn’t miss the Tube or the crowds.

Bringing on the … oh, it’s raining

Indeed, I dressed to bricklay this morning, but then the rain started. So we’ll give it another go tomorrow. The forecast had been dry in the morning and rain by 4 pm, which is no doubt the reason it’s now the best it’s been all day. Rather worryingly, because I value my idle nature, I felt obliged to cycle in to town a couple of hours ago even though it wasn’t quite dry, because I was almost out of fruit and plain yoghurt. Virtuous isn’t a word adequate to describe me. Hard to think of one that is, actually.

I was ordering some office supplies for the Sage the other day and needed to spend a few more pounds for free postage, so I bought myself a foot rest – an adjustable sloping plastic job. I’ve been trying to work out how to manage this unobtrusively for a while – with my little short stubby legs, the chairs provided at meetings are always a bit high for me to be comfortable, especially if I have to have papers on my lap, so I tend to cross my legs which isn’t a good idea. Legs uncrossed, the papers (and occasionally the coffee cup) fall all over the floor and my toes only just reach the ground. Now I’ve decided to be quite upfront about it and take my foot rest about with me. It’s a bit bigger than I expected, measuring about 14″x18″, but one gets away with things if one displays aplomb. Or maybe I mean panache. Should that have a circumflex accent somewhere? Hm. Maybe it’s all right in English.

Now wash your hands

I woke up this morning to hear a chap disputing that the moon landing 40 years ago happened – missed some of his arguments, but it seemed that he was arguing that the photos had to be fake because of radiation and no condensation. Or something. Gosh, don’t we all feel gullible now?

And then a health expert and a government spokesman were tying themselves in verbal knots regarding advice to pregnant women and flu (I really want to write ‘flu. but that seems just too pedantic; actually my fingers type ful, because that’s more naturally instinctive if you touch-type, but that’s another matter). First the expert said keep out of crowded places, then when pressed, backtracked completely. No, he didn’t advocate not going to work in a busy environment, nor not going to work on the Tube. Just wash your hands a lot. “So, the advice to pregnant women is the same as to anyone else?” “er, yes”.

Thing is, if they start saying don’t go to crowded places, then tourist spots and busy shops will suffer, and they’ll get wrong, as we say in Norfolk, for having panic-mongered.

Then I looked at my watch. It had stopped, several minutes before. Just about when the conspiracy-theorists had been talking about the faked moon landing. I checked that the little winder wasn’t pulled out, which it wasn’t, pulled it out, corrected the time and pushed it back, and it started again. Spooky.

After a couple of weeks off, we’re due to start bricklaying again tomorrow. “Sunshine and showers” said the weather forecast, unhelpfully. Right now, we’ve got the sunshine. Later, the Sage is going off to fetch china for the next sale in October, to be photographed before it’s put into storage.

The Lost Teabowl. Not that it actually was.

Yes, the sale. There have, over the past 25 years, been remarkably few problems. Once, a good friend helped the Sage unpack the china – a piece was missing. In something of a panic, the Sage drove home – rather more than an hour later, he arrived back again, without it. It was a tiny miniature coffee pot, very rare and valuable, about 2 inches tall. It was found – he’d packed it in tissue paper inside a teapot (full sized) and the friend hadn’t realised it was there and had put the paper aside. Nowadays, I’d have told the Sage that he’d never make the mistake of leaving a piece behind and searched first, but we were young and impulsive in those days and we did panic. I’ve never taken part in the packing or unpacking – it’s asking for trouble when two people are involved and neither knows exactly what the other has done.

Another time, someone put a teabowl down too hard and broke it. Poor chap, he’d just got his first pair of bifocals and had misjudged the distance to the table. He was awfully embarrassed, but the matter was discussed amicably and he paid for the piece, had it repaired and sold it for just as much – it was already cracked and a good repair didn’t reduce its value. It’s the only time an item has ever been damaged at a sale.

On Friday, the viewing had been going on for more than an hour when someone asked if there was a mistake in the catalogue? Lot 43 was listed as a teabowl and saucer, but there was only a saucer on view, although the condition report said that the bowl was slightly stained. Careful searching of the boxes found nothing. Was it a mistake in cataloguing? I was going to go in search of the internet, when Weeza reminded me that she could look it up on her phone. We have pay-as-you-go phones, so such splendidness is beyond our ken – and indeed, the picture showed the teabowl. The Sage said he’d withdraw the piece, apologise to the owner and sell it with no vendor’s commission next time (it was no big deal, only worth £150) but we were both upset. Then I decided to check everything carefully – remembering that the Sage is not careless, so more likely that the piece hadn’t been carelessly left out when he packed up several weeks ago.

When we arrived, the tables and chairs were all set out, but not quite as we wanted them, so we spent half an hour getting it all right, so we were only just ready when the first people arrived to view. And – this was the real problem as it turned out – someone came to ask the Sage’s advice on a couple of pieces of china. If not for that, I’d have got him to check carefully the layout against the catalogue. As it was, we were too busy. Now, the first 8 lots each had between 2 and 8 items in them, of damaged china. When I got to Lot 4, I could see at once the missing teabowl. The Sage had run out of numbers and put on a separate 4 and 3, and the 3 had fallen off. So it was unsurprising that he hadn’t realised. And neither of us had checked china against catalogue. Which we normally always do.

I felt a bit jagged after that and had a cup of strong black coffee. Which was awfully good of me, as I went into the unstaffed bar (with permission) to make it. I could have had anything. Anything. Gosh, I’m professional. Anyway, no harm done and we didn’t fuss and it’s taught us yet another lesson. Although I was a bit shook up. Nevertheless, when adding up totals at the end, I was no end pleased that the books balanced, to the penny. This doesn’t always happen, especially when I have to count money and give change. I’m not good with big notes, I lose track sometimes. And I can only add up by hand, I get awfully confused with a calculator.

Thank you so much for looking up hip resurfacing for me, I really appreciate it. You are so kind. I met a woman, who came along with a friend of ours (the Sage and I have both known him far longer than we’ve known each other!) who remembered me and my sister from school, which was a bit embarrassing as I didn’t remember her – neither did Wink, when I spoke to her later, which probably means she’s in between our ages … anyway, let’s face it, we lived in the nicest house in the village by far and everyone must have known of our family, although Wink and I were quite unaware of that. Towards the end of the viewing, I was walking limpily and she recognised the symptom of dodgy hip – so she told me of a friend who’d had his hip resurfaced some 4 years ago, by the chap I mentioned in yesterday’s comments, and it’s been a resounding success. I’ve heard of the operation, but I understood that the long-term results are as yet unknown as it’s only been done for about the last decade, and the technique is still improving. For this reason, it’s not likely to be available on the NHS.

I have no problem with that – after all, how much do people spend on a luxury cruise, on cosmetic surgery, on a new kitchen or a car? Or perhaps on a painting or piece of china, come to that. I told the Sage, after I’d looked it up. “You can’t put a price on health” he said with the light of hope in his eyes. He’s so protective, you see, he hates it that he hasn’t been able to do anything to make me better. I’m not inclined to bother my doctor right now – I think the local surgery is probably quite busy enough with people asking about flu symptoms, but I will toddle along sometime in the next few months. It may not be suitable and it may be better done in a year or two, but I’m reasonably hopeful.

Do Z and the Sage feel lucky? Well, do we?

All went well thank you – although there was something of a hiccup at one stage when we thought we’d lost a piece. I may tell you about it, too tired now, I don’t want to relive anything worrying.

What’s really lovely is that all our family help out. Weeza and Zerlina came over in the early afternoon and Phil drove up from Ipswich where he works (he usually goes to work by bike and train, but took the car for once) and took z home for bed so that Weeza would be free for the sale itself. Ro came by train from Norwich after work to do the bidder registration and accounts, and Al drove over, also after work, to ‘show’ the lots during the sale – that is, to hold each item up for potential bidders to see during the sale. Afterwards, he left to finish clearing up the shop and get ready for the morning and to put in his orders – he arrived home after 11pm, having started work at 8am. Dilly had her own children to care for, but let Tilly out a few times during the day and fed her. We’re so lucky to have such a family.

We’re also lucky to have such obliging bantams. The Sage took a tray of eggs to the shop for sale this morning, so when I suggested bacon and eggs for lunch there was only one in the rack in the kitchen. He went out to see if there were any more laid. He was several minutes. Then he returned and gave me two eggs. One was still warm. “She laid it for me while I waited,” he explained, grinning.

There was just one glassful of wine left in the bottle. We shared it, but funnily enough both our glasses were rather more than half full.

Going, going

It’s been pouring. Fortunately, we packed the car before it rained. The Sage is just sweeping the water out of the porch (this has never happened before the last few days) and then we’re off.

He’s ready – we’re gone.

Last day

For Squiffany that is, at her nursery school. She had made cards and keyrings for all the staff and strode in ahead of me to put her bag on its peg and rummage around for them. She took each to its recipient and told them it was a little present because it was leaving. I felt all poignantly emotional, which was quite absurd – after all, Pugsley will be starting there in September … I suppose it’s because she seems so little to be starting school in a few weeks. Only half days to begin with, but then she will be only four and a half.

She’s really grown up in the past couple of months though and it’s been interesting to see. She had been, for a few weeks, tearful (though uncomplaining) when left there, and anxiously asked to be handed over to a teacher rather than left to play or start one of the activities. Then, at a trip to the dentist, she was told that she should stop sucking her thumb (which she didn’t do a lot, mostly to get to sleep) as her teeth were starting to push forward. She and her parents talked it over and they bought some of the bitter liquid for discouraging nail biting, and also did a star chart. But it was neither of those things that stopped her, she just decided to and did it. She forgot a couple of times the first day, and then just didn’t put her thumb in her mouth again. So the star chart was used for not crying at nursery – and with that little bit of encouragement, she decided not to cry. Being a practical little girl, she chose to start playing with another child whom she liked and she’s not looked back. On Thursday, she was so busy playing that she forgot to say goodbye to me and I was left waving to the back of her head.

Tilly is lying on the sofa, wagging her tail at me. She’s exerting Power of Tilly, because she wants me to tickle her tummy. Now she’s rubbing her head with her paws. She knows I can’t resist. The tail is wagging again – I’ll have to go.

Problem dealt with

Update on the eBay business – having sent a very stern letter (though still polite and factually precise of course) and quoting Rog’s views on the subject (thanks again, Rog), at the end of which I said this was my final word on the subject; that the sale was off, I received a phone call from the gentleman himself this morning. And by then, having thoroughly researched the subject by looking through a lot of sales catalogues, he agreed that I was right and that I was entitled to back out.

Of course, my next step would have been to complain formally to eBay – but as it is, all is fine and we had a friendly conversation with mutual assurances that we now agree that each feel that honour is satisfied.

Tonight, our friend Daphne, who I went to visit a few weekends ago in Kent, is here for a couple of nights. She used to live near here when she was a little girl and her parents and the Sage’s parents were friends, so the link between the families goes back over 55 years. The people who now live in her childhood home have built a chapel in the grounds – they are Russian Orthodox – and the official opening is tomorrow morning – it’s complete coincidence that she’s here at the same time, but they have invited her to the ceremonious service. It’ll take a couple of hours and there are few seats, so she’s going to arrive early in the hope of claiming one of the few.

Tomorrow, Al and Dilly are leaving early (5.30 and 6.45 respectively) so I need to babysit at an absurd hour of the morning. So I’m going to bed.

Z is a bit of a wuss and is unrepentant about it

I thought we were having a Dave moment when I went out into the porch and found the Sage valiantly sweeping out the flood waters with a broom. The garden wasn’t flooded, it was only that the downpour was more than could drain away at the time. With my priorities intact, I hastened back in for my camera – I thought I’d got it set to ‘movie’ so that you could see the Sage in action, but I hadn’t. But here’s what it looked like.

Yes, the porch has hideous metal-framed doors and windows and we long to replace them – you’d never be allowed to put them on a listed building now – but we are too frugal to take them down while they are still serviceable. However, we neglect them as much as possible and the inside metalwork has never been painted in the 23 years we’ve lived here.

It was a hot and sunny morning, so I hadn’t expected it to start raining when I was shopping in Yagnub. I gave up as it became heavier and ducked into the Post Office doorway to phone the Sage and ask him for a lift. I was wearing a longish, full skirt which isn’t that easy to manage on a bike at the best and I really didn’t fancy the final mile over open country. I thanked him a lot of times. I had two heavily full panniers on the bike and wasn’t wearing a jacket, just a tee shirt (and the aforementioned skirt of course) It was after I arrived home that the deluge started.

Dilly isn’t having the best of weeks – Pugsley is poorly (not with flu, we think it’s one of those nameless viruses), Squiffany had her first ever dose of nits and Dilly can’t wait for the end of term. She only has Thursday to go and then she can start to relax. She’s making plans for her time off over the next year – one thing she wants to do is to learn to cook. I mean, she can cook but she wants to gain confidence and knowledge. I can see some happy hours ahead browsing in cookery books for her to see what takes her fancy, then cooking sessions together. It’ll be fun. The children are old enough to join in too.

I haven’t heard back from my auction vendor. If he doesn’t answer by tomorrow morning, I’ll have to bite the bullet and phone him to confirm he’s accepting the situation. Though mind you, I think silence speaks for itself; nevertheless, wuss though I may be I’m a dutiful one.

After my nearly sleepless night, I’d meant to have a nap this afternoon, but I didn’t get around to it.