Monthly Archives: April 2010

A balanced diet

I have eaten little today except cake.  This is obviously Not Good Enough, so I shall eat some chocolate before going to bed.

Mmm, bed.  Sorry, darlings, it calls.  And I seem to remember that I kindly offered to go and help in the shop tomorrow, it being a Bank Holiday weekend and all.

It’s a funny thing, shops – well, chains, that is – are all open over holiday weekends, but people still shop as if there will be a shortage of all fresh food for a week, just because of a bank holiday Monday.  Still, Al won’t complain if he can sell out of greens on Saturday.

Oh, and Weeza has a job.  Interviewed yesterday, she’s starting on Monday…

Zedverley Hilbillies

It’s all going steadily downhill around here – although, it being Norfolk, the gradient is so gradual as to be almost imperceptible.

One of the bantams has decided that the house looks very inviting. Twice already, we’ve found Tilly standing resolutely in front of an open door, not confronting the chook, for this is not allowed, but obviously quite indignant at the thought of sharing her home with a chicken. But it’s only a matter of time before a chicken is found living on the sofa. Tilly can’t be on duty all the time.

This afternoon, we were digging over the Jerusalem artichoke bed. Yes darlings, I got going with a garden fork, the first time in at least two years. The cock blackbird was very pleased – he was thrown so many worms that he fed all his fledgelings and himself and then left, satisfied. And one of the bantams came and boldly ate as we dug.

It turned out very difficult to hand-feed her a worm while taking a photo with the other hand. I had several failed attempts. The vid is the best of them, but the other photos show her beauty better.

I have more bantam pics in fact, but they’re on my camera rather than my phone and I can’t quite bother to look for the lead tonight.

And it appears that there is nothing in Blogger Beta that allows for the uploading of a video from my desktop either.  How odd.  Anyone got the answer?  Otherwise, as I’ll be too busy tomorrow, it’ll have to wait until Saturday for me to show a movie of me not quite catching the chicken from taking a worm from my hand, and you hearing me speak in an extraordinarily low voice.  Christopher once said that he was looking for a mezzo soprano.  He might offer me something in the baritone range once he’s heard it. If I can work out how to post it, that is.

Z is in Nephelococcygia and the Sage breaks an Egg

Sad to say, I’m slightly worse the wear – for drink, that is. It all started at 5.45 when I opened a bottle, not realising the sun was not quite over the 6 o’clock yardarm. When I found out, it was too late – one can’t go back to tea from wine.

It’s not been the easiest day, in one way or another. Nothing personal, and I’ll lose no sleep – but there’s one difficult letter that I haven’t yet had the fortitude to start on. I’m actually quite inclined to cut my losses and do it tomorrow.

Anyway, let’s look, as usual, to the positive – because that’s always the best view.

I’ve moved more stuff to the big greenhouse which is brilliant, because I can use the sprinkler for watering rather than having to use watering cans. The Sage and I have had to move things about first though to make room, but he was most kind and uncomplaining about it, getting up and coming with me as soon as I asked. He is, as usual, lovely.

I’ve potted up a lot of herbs and some peas for Al to sell.

Now that I’ve moved so much, I’ve been able to clear a greenhouse completely (and temporarily) which will ease the watering some more.

The Sage and I have cleared a whole lot of nettles and other stuff from outside the further end of the big greenhouse (the greenery in front of the door was nettles from outside) and we’re planning to concrete it over, ready to build a potting shed.

Yay! A potting shed!

Actually, I really want a combined tool shed and potting shed, with a connecting and securely lockable door, so that I can use the present tool shed for other stuff.

It’s been a tricky day, in non-domestic terms, which is the reason I’ve kept pouring all evening. However, there have been two lighter moments. One was when the Sage came in disconsolate. “I picked up an old egg and it exploded all over my trousers” I laughed, darlings, like a drain. Then I read JonnyB. I missed yesterday’s post, but it so happened that today’s photo didn’t load fast enough for the impatient Z, so I read yesterday’s first anyway, and then scrolled up. I have been laughing ever since – and the Sage has not asked why – which makes me laugh all the more.

Well, you’ve got to, haven’t you?

Z pots

The tomatoes have grown visibly in the last couple of days, since I put them in the Dutch light greenhouse (though it’s probably not noticeable in the picture), so I’ve taken a chance on the weather and put most of the other tender stuff in there too. If it’s frosty, I’ll just cover everything over with polythene or newspaper – that is, the latter if there’s a frost forecast at night, but if it turns really cold, I’ll have to put a clear plastic over them. I’ve done a lot of potting on today – in fact, I worked on it all for a good five hours. I was doing a lot of bending and lifting (nothing too heavy, apart from a bag of compost) and I ache, rather. I’ve still as much to do again, but everything is coming on well, apart from the courgettes that caught the frost, which are still looking a bit sad.

Al brought home a lot of strawberry plants, well-rooted runners that a customer had brought in for him to sell. They had been put in bundles of 10, wrapped in newspaper and secured with a rubber band, but not many had sold like that – so Al wondered if I might feel like potting them up? “Only if you’d enjoy it,” he said hopefully. Fortunately, there was nothing I’d like more to do, so I potted all 88 of them – there were actually 90, but a couple of roots hadn’t quite been in the water and looked a little sad, so I put each of them in with a stronger plant. The customer must have a lovely old garden – he brings in bunches of grapes, figs and peaches too, in a good summer and they are delicious. The peaches are the rarer white-fleshed variety. Fruit is evidently his ‘thing’.

It’s been the warmest day of the year so far, I should think. Far too hot to stay and work in the greenhouse, so I set up a makeshift bench and potted outside. A pair of blackbirds has a newly-fledged clutch of youngsters and they are still providing food for them. At one point, I found a worm in the compost and threw it onto a newly-watered patch of earth, meaning it to burrow down, but the male bird appeared from nowhere and snatched it up. I was rather sorry. You won’t be surprised (bearing in mind that I’m the woman who kisses frogs) that I’m fond of worms. But I’m fond of birds too. The Sage is the one with a particular affinity for birds, though. He said that the other day he picked up one of the baby blackbirds to show the children. They don’t mind him and nor do their parents. He often helps adult birds feed their babies by finding small insects – if I tried that, they’d abandon the nest, but they seem to appreciate the Sage as a friend. He’s a crack shot and used to compete at Bisley, but he only likes target shooting (1,000 yards is his favourite distance. I’m not sure that I can see 1.000 yards, unless I’m outside and looking straight up), or clay pigeon. He used to be invited to a local shoot by its owner on Boxing Day, but he didn’t care for it. He doesn’t have the same objection to disposing of squirrels, however, on the rare occasions when it occurs to one to try setting up home here. Nothing is allowed that might raid nests and hurt his beloved birds.

Z has nothing to say, but says it at length

A funeral today, of a man of 93. I didn’t know him, but I sat on the organ stool feeling most awfully sorry for his poor widow, left alone after 60 years of marriage. Their daughters flanked her in the pew. I couldn’t see one of them as the pulpit was in the way, but the other one was in tears for most of the service. It made me cry too – I’m getting too much of a wimp to play for funerals. I admit that it pays well though – Weeza was here when I got back and she was impressed.

Everything is either confidential or dull. Not private, you understand – I’d probably tell you all about it if it were merely private – but it leaves me with little to write about, concerning what’s going on now, at any rate.

We’ve got a social event on at the church at the end of next week – I’m doing the cooking – and four of us decided that we’d better meet to make final arrangements. There was a slight hesitation when I asked where the meeting was to be, so I suggested we might meet here. “I love coming to your house, it’s so welcoming. And comfortable” said one. I was a little surprised. Scruffy and chaotic, I’d say. I suppose not many people would like to live here, but maybe it is quite relaxing, knowing that I really wouldn’t mind if you came in with mud on your shoes or put your feet up on the sofa. Tilly might give you a look as it’s her sofa, of course.

Al says that one of the beehives is nearly ready to swarm. He’s got a third beehive ready and will split the colony soon – last year, he lost half his bees when his single hive swarmed. He was able to rescue the situation by dividing the remainder, and they both survived the winter. In fact, it was a blessing in disguise, as his original queen was decidedly edgy and the colony was quite aggressive. These two are sweet-natured and don’t mind people at all. The bees don’t make so much honey though, he says. There’s a cherry tree near the house and they have been enjoying the nectar for the past week or so. Lots of trees are in bloom at this time of year, so there’s plenty for the bees to harvest. Apple blossom next. There’s hardly anything prettier.

Z Pants

I just came into the room – some time ago, I left the Sage watching snooker, and I expect he couldn’t find the remote control (it was so simple when you just used the buttons on the tv) and so left it – and the report of the London marathon is on. I left it and sat down with a glass of wine, but now, ten minutes later, my hip is actually aching. Since it doesn’t normally (this is my own hip, not the one that the Sage paid for), I can only assume that hips have ears.

My main other feeling is relief that I shall never go for a run. Sorry, I do appreciate the pleasure and satisfaction that people get from running, but I’ve never felt it and I’m not unhappy that now I never can.

Another christening this morning, at our informal monthly service, which starts off with bacon sandwiches and newspapers and ends up with me and Andy playing, respectively, clarinet and keyboard. He set a rattling pace and I was breathless by the end. Shine Jesus Shine, indeed. And Pant Z Pant. Five sharps, ‘n’all. One of the lads in one of the music classes I go to was in the congregation. We succeeded in not catching eyes.

Later, I labelled and moved the rest of the tomatoes, and here they are. They don’t really look like three hundred and something, but they’re all here, except the unidentified one. Actually, it looks like a Gardener’s Delight, but we’ll see. I’ll give it a good home, anyway.

I’m anxious to start planting things out, and the Sage has promised that he’ll finish the netting soon. I’m busy all day tomorrow (meeting, organist at funeral, working lunch, meeting), but I’ve still got potting up to do. It will be done in the evening, I hope. Weeza and Zerlina are coming over, but I won’t see them much. I even had to ask Dilly to do lunch for them as Mary and I keep on meeting and getting sociable and not getting our work done – we must catch up. I wouldn’t normally put anything before family, but Mary’s under a whole lot more pressure than I am, and I will spend time with Weeza and make up for it another day. Anyway, Zerlina and Pugsley will enjoy some time together – Squiffany and z are so close that Pugsley can be sidelined. Likewise, Weeza and Dilly are great friends and I must be glad they can spend time together and not mind that I can’t join in.

In case any of you notice the time on this post, I started writing it and then went to cook dinner before finishing. So the marathon was on television ages ago. At least an hour.


I spent quite some time this afternoon moving plants around. Mostly, tomato plants from one greenhouse to the other. As a result, I can report that I have grown 39 Maskotka, 55 Red Cherry, 34 Black Russian, 22 Green Zebra, 40 Cuor di Bue, 37 Principe Borghese, 27 Gardeners Delight, 38 San Marzano and 42 Tigerella and an unidentified tomato without a label that became separated from its colleagues.

I thought I’d got over my habit of counting everything, but it seems that it’s still lurking somewhere in the warm dark recesses of my comfort zone.

Funny, isn’t it, the things you do as a child as a more-or-less compulsive habit? Like stepping on the lines in the pavement, or not, depending. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to share, actually. It’s not that I did anything particularly weird, but I don’t know if they were the sort of thing that anyone might have done or if they were peculiar to me. And I’d not care for you to think I’m odd.

The sight of Gordon Brown busy pressing the flesh while being serenaded by an Elvis must be one of the more bemusing events of this election campaign. I went out for dinner with some elderly friends two days into the campaign and we all gloomily agreed that we were already sick of it. It’s not the election or even the politicians – repellent though so many of them are, at least their jobs are on the line. It’s the ghastly journalists, who yabber on endlessly, speculating and hypothesising.

Cows in the meadow

Jonathan brought four cows over this morning – one of them, Benson (no. 191) has visited us before. The other three are 64, 65 and 196. I am particularly pleased that there are two square numbers, but I shall aim to name them too, just as soon as I can reliably recognise them. I have had a lifetime of finding it really hard to put names to faces, because I’m really bad at face recognition – I’ve put a lot of effort into improving this over the years, but it’s still something I have to give conscious thought to. And I haven’t mastered it with cows.

It’s odd, really. Black and white cows have vast differences in pattern of their coats, but I don’t remember them apart from each other. Yet dogs, I recognise with no difficulty, usually even within the same breed. With people, the fact that I can do it if I try hard enough shows that it’s more a matter of lack of actual observation than lack of ability to observe. I’m surprisingly good at telling identical twins apart, for example. However, a few weeks ago when my friend Mary and I went to the school performance of Little Shop of Horrors and, both being governors, went backstage at the end, I found it quite hard to pick out the faces of the performers (unless I’d recognised them already because I knew them) whilst she had no difficulty.

On the other hand, because I do meet a lot of people and I do try really hard, I’ve actually got a reputation for recognising people very well. It’s helped by my being good at remembering facts about someone – so, even if there’s an initial hesitation, once I’ve placed someone I will remind them of what we talked about at our last meeting (possibly years ago) – which comes so easily to me that it always slightly surprises me that the person is startled and flattered by it.

Another thing I can’t recognise is birdsong. It’s all pleasant twittering to me*. I could learn it, but I’d have to do so bird by bird, specifically. I think that the difficulty there is my short sight and poor bird-spotting ability. So, when young, I never put a song to a particular bird and even now, though I think I know a blackbird, for instance, when I hear it, unless I see the blackbird sing, how do I know if I’m right?

*There are obvious exceptions to this – owl, cuckoo, pheasant, chicken, pigeon etc.

We’ve had six members of staff caught abroad when the planes stopped flying – five teachers and a member of the office staff. The reaction has been typical of the school – everyone immediately offered to help and to be as flexible in the classroom arrangements as possible. The Head and Deputy Head cancelled meetings so that they could teach; two science teachers were away, so the Head taught non-exam year classes so that science specialists could transfer to Years 11, 12 and 13. Meanwhile the stranded teachers were doing all that they could by email to share lesson plans etc. One teacher flew back yesterday and is back in class today, and another landed in the early hours, left Heathrow at 5.30 and was in school at 8.30 this morning, ready to teach. The others are coming back over the weekend and will be back at work on Monday. We were lucky only to have a few people absent, but I think it was a brilliant reaction all round. Thank goodness it only affected one week, however – especially with exams coming up. I’m not sure how many pupils were away.

It’s a fabulous sunny day and here I am in a room that’s colder than outside. I think I shall take the papers out and sit for a while in the sunshine. I’ll forget about work and do it tonight instead.


There has been a frost for the last few nights, but the mornings have started out cloudy, so no harm has been done. However, this morning it was bright and sunny early, with the result that several of the courgette plants in pots in the greenhouse have been damaged. Just a couple of leaves, but it’ll weaken the plants and hold them back. It’s a nuisance. In fact, the cold wind is a bother as well, as the bright sunlight makes the greenhouse too hot, but having the windows open lets in a cold draught.

This afternoon, I was potting up some more seedlings (I’ve been a bit busy so I’m a bit behind), one of the bantams looked in, with an inquisitive expression on her face. When she saw me, she moved on. Just as well that we’re spending this week putting up netting, to keep the girls and the bunnies out. I’ve got various things ready to plant out and don’t want them all eaten straight away. Mind you, I’ll still have to net everything against birds (songbirds and pigeons) which love freshly-planted or sprouted seedlings.

Having said this, it’s been lovely weather to go out and about, as long as you keep moving. I went into town first thing to have my hair cut and then went and bought fish at the market. Cheerful because of the sunlight, I bought asparagus from Al – it’s still very expensive but it is local (Norfolk, that is) – I don’t buy it out of season. This is the second week he’s had it in. In view of the frosts, I think it must have some protection from the weather. When my asparagus bed was younger, it usually started in April but was easily damaged by frost. Now, like me, it stays in bed a little later until the year warms up.

Z is superseded

Hello Osci. I thought you should have the last word (see comments on previous post).

Last Post sort of gives the wrong message, don’t you think?

I was disarmed yet again to receive Presents on leaving the PCC and the churchwardenship. I had to come home and send a rather gushing text to a friend – which means it’s done now, so I don’t need to gush at you. I did notes today for the new churchwarden – I”m afraid it ran to three pages. She was a bit shell-shocked – but I explained that if she wrote down everything she takes for granted in running her home, it would be pages long too. I also said I wished I’d had such a thing done for me, as I spent the first year getting nasty shocks (Find someone to read the Roll of Honour at the Remembrance Sunday service. Decorate the Advent Ring. Procure a Christmas tree. Who knew?)

Anyway, all done now – and I found myself chairing the meeting as well as taking the minutes and giving my report. When it came to the election of officers, I suggested that I just put down names for proposers and seconders, as we were all in complete agreement anyway – and this went down very well and saved a good ten minutes. Job well done I think, don’t you?

Oh, and then I was asked to play for a funeral on Monday, Getting a verger and organist slipped through the organisational net a bit, but fortunately we’re both free. Only just, I’d quietly checked my emails during a dull bit of the meeting (not the bit I chaired which was as sparky as you might expect, hem hem) and someone wants to meet up with me before the afternoon meeting. There’s still time, but now it’ll be a specific time instead of “I’ve got all morning, darling.”

Tomorrow, up at larkfart because I’ve got a hair appointment, early.

I think I deserve a glass of wine and a cup of tea, don’t you?

That’s twice. Never suggest that I don’t consult. Well, unless you think I’m talking nonsense, of course.

Later – it was very funny. I fancied a spot of music, so went to iTunes, where I was halfway through listening to Tom Waits’ Alice. I clicked play and got, instead of We’re All Mad Here, exuberant banjo music – I have no idea how, but instead of iTunes, Spotify played Mule Skinner Blues by the Blackwater Boys (Best of Bluegrass). It was so incongruous I nearly fell over laughing. Well, I leaned on the arm of the chair and chuckled.

Actually, I’m not typing very well. I’ve been celebrating. I’m a bit wary of trying italics in case I’m leaning over already.

Actually, I’ve just remembered. I wasn’t aiming at iTunes at all. I was intending to reply to that email about Monday’s meeting. D’oh, darlings. I’m such a fool.