Monthly Archives: April 2010

Z’s ready to switch off. Nearly.

It’s slightly depressing that, after 10 o’clock at night, not only am I still working, but I’ve just had emails from the Headmaster and the clerk to the governors – she having just had an email from the chairman of a committee. We should all have switched off by now – although I did take the afternoon off, or a couple of hours of it anyway, to look after Pugsley, which is always a pleasure. He is a dear little boy. He was tired after a full day at nursery school, so we didn’t do much – he watched a Spiderman DVD and played with Lego and we read several books. I read a book of my own while he was watching the DVD.

I went to a lecture this morning on the history of the London underground, which was brilliant. Much of it was about its design, under the management of Frank Pick, in the years between the two World Wars. Terribly interesting. Afterwards, in the car park, I didn’t recognise my car for a minute – if I hadn’t remembered where it was parked I’d have been in trouble – because it was all so gleaming from its wash the other day. There is a fine layer of slightly grey dust on top, but the sides are very clean. It’s dark blue, so this is noticeable, and rather different from its usual grubbiness.

I’ve nearly finished the church annual report. Dave would have done it on January 1st, but I’m quite satisfied at having it done the night before the AGM. At least I’ve remembered it this year – it’s been a last-minute scramble a couple of times. It’s terribly boring, and mainly done so formally for the record – everyone at the meeting will know what its content is. The best thing is that this is the last AGM at which I’ll have a formal duty. At least two, actually. I’m bowing out as churchwarden and also taking the minutes. Oh, and I’m doing the refreshments, which means I’m going to go and buy cheese and biscuits and wine tomorrow, pick up glasses and set them all out. I will get help with that though – it’s simpler to do all the buying myself and then I’ll know what’s what, they would have helped there too if I’d asked.

I’m sorry, yet again I’m falling behind in my blog-reading. I should catch up by the end of the week, but it may mean that I won’t leave many comments. I do still love you all. Even if I take you for granted.

I’m just like one of the family really, aren’t I? The one who occasionally rushes in and tires you all out before dashing off again.

Z feels a fool (no, not the Sage, whatever are you thinking? Stop it!)

I do feel a fool. I wrote two long paragraphs, and then noticed that my internet connection was down. It wouldn’t come back, so I restarted the home hub and booster, and then, as that didn’t work, I saved what I’d written (how sensible, how provident) and restarted the computer.

That worked. Pity that I just saved and didn’t copy onto a Word or similar document.

It’s gone forever, can’t be arsed to write it twice. One more reason (apart from no talent and nothing to say) why I’ll never write a book. I would never bother with the honing and fine-tuning, let alone the proof reading.

Anyway, Tilly enjoyed her roast lamb today. I couldn’t manage all my dinner, so I suggested to the Sage that she might like salmon tomorrow. He quietly polished it off for me. There’s still some lamb, though. He did wonder, this morning, if we should buy chickens and cook them specially for her? I explained that I can cook for ourselves and save her bits, and also reassured him that I’ll leave enough for her next month when I’m away for a week.

Don’t worry, darlings, I’ll take my phone and blog from Scotland.

Z didn’t take photos

Sorry – I was too busy this morning and differently busy this afternoon and now I’ve stopped for a break, I’m having a break instead.

There was a truly adorable baby being christened this morning. She looked with great interest and enjoyment and gave every impression of cheerful concentration when anyone was talking about her. She did take the opportunity for some bottled refreshment at the preparations for Communion, which was a good idea as the rest of us all intended to have a swig of port ourselves and meant that she would be all ready to smile again happily during the lunch that her grandparents were to host afterwards. The family party all were stunningly good-looking and very generous, as we found when we came to count the collection afterwards, hem hem. One of the godparents is stuck in Berlin as the planes aren’t flying. At least one of our High School teachers is stranded somewhere in America and having an enforced extra week of holiday. Many of the people at the Annual Convention that the Sage went to on Friday in London are from the US as well, and may be spending longer here than they’d expected.

I’ve said to Al that he can take a dozen trays of broad (fava) bean plants to sell if he wants to. They are very healthy and well grown without being pot bound. We need to get on and fence in the unwalled side of the kitchen garden, as I’ve got beans and peas to put in, and will soon have other things too.

Tilly is quite over her upset stomach and is very pleased with the eventual outcome of the episode. We’ve decided that she’s a bit old and delicate for tinned dog food and, since dry food alone is a bit disappointing, that she’d better share our food. She’s been having chicken casserole (not our bantams, which live a natural lifespan and are not eaten) and very much enjoying it. In addition, we’ve stopped feeding her hide chews (the strips were banned a while ago, but now the chopped and reconstituted sticks are a bit much too) and are giving her, as little treats, Allsorts – not the liquorice sort – if you can be bothered to click on the link, hold your mouse over the bottom left picture and it’ll leap out at you, it’s the middle one. Anyway, she thinks that they are totally delicious and does her “time for a little something?” routine to me several times a day.

This is the life – live blogging

At present, I’m sitting on Phil and Weeza’s front lawn relaxing while they clean my car. It’s scorching hot in the sunshine here and I’m very comfortable.

I’ve not been entirely idle. I potted on some basil seedlings and sowed some more, but now my job is done.

What happened, we noticed how dusty the car has suddenly become, as have others, and I said that I wonder if that’s dust/ash from the Icelandic volcano. I added that it needs a wash anyway as there are cat pawmarks all over the bonnet and roof from being parked in their drive for the last couple of weeks. And Weeza said their car is dusty too and maybe Phil would wash them both while she hoovered them.

And then, noticing me tapping away on the phone, she said to Phil, “I think we’re being live-blogged.”

Well, they weren’t, until then. They are now.

It is a beautiful day though. And the hedgerows and trees in blossom are beautiful. The countryside is at it’s very prettiest at this time of the year, I think. I love it when the blackthorn and then the hawthorn are in flower and the fresh, pale green leaves are new.

Z finds people Lovely

I spent the morning thinking how jolly lovely people are.  Because I cheerily said to someone whose granddaughter is getting christened here on Sunday that we’d decorate the church, that meant I landed four other people with the job of doing nine flower arrangements.  And they are all really busy but no one complained a bit.

And then afterwards, I helped carry out three dozen cups and saucers and a hot-water urn to one of their cars so that she could take it to someone else’s house (she came and did her flower arrangement this afternoon) as I’d offered them for her coffee morning tomorrow, which I said I’d go to before I realised it clashed with something else.

And after that, I walked home, and there was the dustcart and the dustmen just emptying the wheely bins into it.  The chap didn’t see me coming, but I saw him, bending to pick up a few bits that had fallen on the ground and tossing them in the dustcart.  Then he carefully and neatly lined the bins against the wall.  “I’m just in time to take them home, thank you,” I said jovially.  “And, thank you for picking up the odds and ends,” I added.  It’s not what dustmen are reputed to do – but actually, there’s never anything left lying around.  And the bins were rather overfull as we forgot them last time, but they didn’t mind.

Later, I went to have lunch with a friend and we chatted so much that I rather overstayed and had to phone Al to ask him to let Tilly out.  When I got home, I had a lot to do in the three-quarters of an hour before I was going out again, so I slammed a chicken leg into the oven, did Tilly’s dinner, chopped an onion and put it in a pan with some stock, let it cook for a bit, added some some vegetable soup I’d made a couple of days ago and a couple of tomatoes from a tin, put some new potatoes and a carrot on to cook separately (real cheat’s cookery here), belted down to the greenhouse to put the heater on and do the watering and close up – there was an air frost last night – took Tilly for a walk, came back and put the nearly-cooked chicken and the carrot in the sauce and back in the oven, phoned the Sage to check he had caught the train back from London, got a slice of bread and a chunk of cheese, ate some of them, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, put the potatoes in the casserole, prepared sprouting broccoli, ate the rest of the bread and cheese, put on lipstick, took the casserole out of the oven, put a plate to warm and wrote a couple of emails.

Then it was time to leave.  On time.

The Sage had a lovely time in London.  But he’d accidentally locked his phone and didn’t realise it, so didn’t know how to ring me.  Isn’t he sweet?  Lucky I checked, I was going to go to the Vodaphone place in Norwich tomorrow and say it didn’t work.  I’d have felt such a fool.

Holiday over

I’ve been resolutely ignoring emails about school until yesterday, but then I really had to get going and do things.  And then I noticed that I was supposed to phone someone last Friday, so I procrastinated – with literal intention, of course.  So I’ve done that, and received two more long calls – I don’t really talk on the phone much, usually.  I was quite glad of a glass of wine by the time all was done, and then I turned round to find that the Sage had finished the cooking of the dinner.

I have my car back for a few days – that is, the likelihood is that Weeza and Phil will get their own back within a few days, but if not I’ll keep mine over the weekend, as I need it tomorrow, Saturday and Tuesday.  So do they, so if the need arises I’ll go over there on Monday night and Weeza and I can share it on Tuesday.  She and I went to a wool shop, because she wants to knit her grandma-in-law a shawl for her 90th birthday – she and Phil’s parents are planning to go on a cruise in celebration and Weeza thought that a light and elegant shawl for the evenings might be rather well received.  Grandma used to do a lot of knitting and sewing and will appreciate the effort.  She really doesn’t want to be given stuff that she’ll have to find somewhere to put.  It was a lovely shop, and the lady in charge knew what she was talking about.  There were also bags of washed fleece to buy if you wanted to do your own spinning, which vastly appealed to me.  Not that there’s any real likelihood of my taking up spinning as a hobby.  With all the brambles around here, the place is enough like Sleeping Beauty’s palace already.  If the palace was a 16th century cottage, that is.

Zerlina was very good.  There were all these open compartments with different wools and she just wandered around looking at them – I kept an eye on her in case she started pulling them on the floor, but she does know it’s not allowed.  I never removed things from shelves when my children were small either – I expected them not to wreck the house, although I was pretty relaxed about untidiness.  When I did housework, I used to clean a part of the room and then dump the babies there with toys and they could mess it up again, except cleanly, leaving me to finish the rest of the room.

The Sage is going to London tomorrow on an early train.  I’ve set the alarm for 5.30.  I’ve got to be out by half past 8 myself.  Several of us are going to the church, to spend the morning arranging flowers.  I expect to do very little of that, but to do more menial tasks.  I’m glad to say that the others involved are all much better at flower arranging than I am – I mean, I’ll always have a go, but that doesn’t mean I know what I’m doing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Still sliding, but remaining uncut for now

It was cold this morning.  I took the optimistic route, with lightweight trousers and sandals and went out to try the air.  When the Sage came in, merrily saying that he’d already put my bike in his van (two hours early, anyone would think he was looking forward to seeing me leave), I said that I wasn’t sure, it was jolly chilly for a nearly six-mile bike ride in quite such a fresh wind.  He said, with carefully disguised reluctance, that he’d run the quirks of driving his van past me and I could borrow it.

Later, I felt guilty about my laziness, so I went and changed into warmer trousers and boots, and fished out a woolly hat, scarf and gloves, and said that I’d bike after all.  Just then, the sun came out (honestly, I’m not making this up).

Of course, downhill all the way turned out to be anything but – for a flat-loving person, Suffolk undulates more than it needs to, but it’s notably easier for me to manage now that I’ve got some strength on my right side.  It was quite pleasant in fact, if you like cycling.  The road was very quiet – I only saw half a dozen cars and a tractor in four miles.  It was still windy, but the sun was warm enough to disregard that.

I stopped at a few shops in town for this and that.  After waiting to be served, I then found that, walking out of the shop, my left leg had a tendency to give way.  I’ve had that happen before, whenever I take much exercise, either cycling or walking, I’m fine as long as I keep going or if I sit down, but I can’t stand still for long.  I can stand, if I haven’t been taking exercise, and then walk with no problem.  I don’t know why this happens.  It’s the very top of my leg, not the knee or the hip.  I assume it’ll get better.  The operated side is absolutely fine.  It soon goes and isn’t worth fussing about, just noting.

My friend, whom I had lunch with, had her operation a month after mine – her second hip.  She’s also doing very well, though still using a stick because her surgeon advises it, but is hoping to be allowed to discard it after tomorrow, when she’s got her follow-up appointment.  Tomorrow,  I’ve got lunch in Norwich.  It’s all such a mad social whirl around here, darlings.

It’s also Wink’s birthday.  Happy birthday, sis!

The Z garden

Today, mostly gardening, all of us.  The ground in the further greenhouse has been getting too built up with the annual addition of ferrrrrtiliser, so when it’s watered the water runs off onto and under the paths, so we’ve taken a few inches off the top.  I’m going to go back to growing tomatoes etc in bottomless pots, so as to channel the watering better again and see how that goes.  The cucumbers will still be planted in heaps of cow manure as the roots need plenty of room to spread out.  Back in the days when I had limited greenhouse space, I used to use growbags, and it was not hugely successful.  The plants would grow apace and need loads of watering, and then one day they would suddenly stop and sulk, and I’d not notice and within a couple more days they would fall over because the roots had got waterlogged.  I didn’t ever get to the bottom of it, but I never had more than a month or so of cucumbers before the plants collapsed.  Now, they go on the whole summer.  Though I only sowed the seeds last week, they’re only just showing their first leaves.

Some of the removed topsoil has been put on the lawn to replace what’s been scratched out by the chickens.  It’s still a disaster zone, but at least we’re starting to do something about it.  The Sage is enclosing a fresh piece of grass for them to go on while other things recover – it won’t be enough for them for long, but they’re so … well, I don’t want to say “destructive” as it’s so negative, but it’s hard to find a better word, frankly.  If only they’d concentrate on the front field for a while it’d be all right – there’s nearly 4 bloomin’ acres there – 1 1/2 hectares, if that’s the way you think – to keep them happy, but they like the garden and the other field.  Still, if push comes to shove I’d rather have happy bantams than a lawn.  I suppose.

Tonight, the Festival Committee, of whose doings I am the scribe, had the splendid idea of holding a meeting at the village pub.  Dilly and I trotted merrily home afterwards, although she’d been on the wagon. She is far more grown-up, in a good way, than I am.

Z’s thoughts have legs

You know how it is when you spend ages writing a post and then decide it isn’t right and delete it, and then have nothing to write?  Yup.  Me too.  That is, I just have.  I’m still lazing about not doing much – pottering in the greenhouse, doing a bit of cooking, reading, letting the work build up – actually, can’t do that much longer.  I’ll be sorry if I do.  I’ve promised two things in the last two days and haven’t started on either of them yet, let alone anything else.

Weeza still has my car, as the part that’s needed for her car is expensive, and the excellent garage chappie suggests getting one from a breaker’s yard instead – which makes sense as her car is as old as mine is.  But it takes longer.  A week or two back, I made an arrangement to visit a friend as I’m taking over from her on a committee and she wants to do a hand-over, and invited me to lunch at the same time.  I gave her a list of dates, and she suggested this Wednesday.  Having accepted, I’ve belatedly realised that I don’t have any way of getting there – it’s only 5 or 6 miles away, but there’s a hill I’m not prepared to cycle up.  I’ll have to borrow the Sage’s van after all if Weeza doesn’t bring my car back in time.

On the other hand, he could give me and the bike a lift and I could cycle back.  That’s a thought, actually.  It might have legs, as they say.

Z is having an Early Night

I haven’t managed to identify my handsome spider yet – the one it looked most like in one picture was the false widow, but when I went to the description it said it had cream markings, which this didn’t, being smooth and brown all over with a rounded body and red-brown legs.  And it was completely unaggressive, so if it is a false widow, it’s probably a male one, females being the stroppy ones who might nip.  British spiders are not dangerous and should never be killed under any circumstances, as it upsets me.  A spider bite doesn’t hurt, I’ve had lots – it’s the hunting spiders that might nip and they live outdoors, an indoor spider isn’t like that at all and knows its manners.

The first stage of my being defrocked as churchwarden has taken place, with the vestry meeting – the nominated churchwardens have been voted for by the (tiny) congregation.  I put up two hands.  Oh, and I chose the hymns today so I made sure they were very cheery ones with good tunes, one of which was Hyfrydol, which I mention only because it is also a good name.

I am struck, yet again, by how kind people are.  I cheerfully committed us to having lots of flowers in the church next Sunday for a christening, and then had to ask those who actually can arrange flowers to help with them – actually, to do nearly everything.  They are all far busier than I am, but instantly agreed and are really putting themselves out to help.  I’m terribly grateful, and also secretly quite gratified that I have, at last, learned to ask for help, accept offers of help and not feel guilty about receiving kindness that I don’t deserve.  If they hadn’t been able to, I’d have done it myself of course – but I’m very relieved that it will be done better than I could.  Because the family concerned are lovely – it’s the baby’s mother’s parents who live here, in the nicest house in the village – well, the most beautiful in the loveliest setting.

I’ve been lazy about cycling – largely because I still don’t enjoy it one bit.  But I do need the exercise, largely because I’m getting most awfully chubby.  I really had to be quite resolute in fastening my newly-washed jeans the other day, which was quite dismaying.  Back to the dry toast and plain yoghurt regime.  I made lots of vegetable soup tonight too, which I will eat with an air of complete virtue.   I have glumly cycled into town every day since, as well.  The wind is surprisingly chill when you’re out in the open going across the dam (a dam, around here, is a road built across marshland or water meadow) even when the sun is shining.

And now I’m off to bed.  Must be all this fresh air, but I’m frightfully sleepy.