Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Sage is outbid

He did bid for the flask, and was prepared to splurge – but it went way outside our price range, selling for £24,000 (hammer price, it pushes £30,000 with premium and VAT) , which has to be a record price.  I’m just glad to have had the chance to hold and admire it.  Remarkably, it was bought by a London dealer.

The Sage did buy one item, which went within its estimate.  A lot of pieces went way above.  Way.

I’ve had a really busy day, looking after Zerlina all morning and then meetings in overwarm room in the afternoon and evening, and now I can hardly get my sboes on.  I’m off for a cool bath and an early night – sorry darlings, I’m short-changing you.  And the Sage is tired too, as the train was delayed by a signal failure.  We’ve had to put off Dave, with apologies, from bricklaying tomorrow.


The Sage is happy

It’s been a medical day today.  I went for my routine mammogram and the Sage went for his routine discussion with our doctor, having had the 24-hour blood pressure monitor last week.  I assume all’s well with me – nothing on the photo made us go ‘eek’ but I’ll hear in a couple of weeks, and all is well with the Sage.  I have not raised his blood pressure to eruption point yet.

I fetched Pugsley and Squiffany and brought them home.  Pugsley had a haircut the other day, having robustly refused one before – his mother was reduced to snipping off bits and he always looked a bit homespun.  However, he has reached the age of reason and visited the hairdresser at last.  As a result, he isn’t always uncomfortably hot, so he was cheerful and calm, even when his ice lolly dripped.

The Sage was gone for ages.  A couple of hours.  He looked ever so cheerful when he got home and kissed me.  Yes, darlings, I know.  Then he produced from his pocket … his diary.  A nice person, probably a cleaner, had handed it in and he received a phone call to say so, and had hot-wheeled it over to Norwich station.

After a brief and gentle shower, it’s been another very hot day.  I do not complain.  I like it, and even those who long for shade would, most of them, grumble more if the weather was chilly.  One has to remember that ‘not too hot’ means ‘too cold’ or ‘too wet and windy’ or something equally undesirable.  I think this weather is delightful, because it’s so rare for more than the odd day.

I took photos of vegetables – that is, botanically fruit but that’s being a bit silly.  Peppers, courgettes, swiss chard and peas.  We ate some of the courgettes this evening.

Oh – and, as last year, the outdoor tomatoes are going to be ready earlier than the greenhouse ones. Next year, I must try more bush varieties.

The funny thing is that I didn’t actually grow any yellow courgettes this year.  I grew Defender and Romanesco, both green.  Yet I have a plant with yellow fruit.  I don’t mind at all, but odd it is.

Z enthuses

Right, this is the sale we went to view yesterday.  Although we looked at everything, our interest is mainly Lowestoft and so those pieces, from 118 to 151, were the ones we handled.

One of the great things about an auction view is that you can ask to see and handle anything.  I don’t know if it’s so free and easy when delicate objects are worth hundreds of thousands, but at the less rarefied range of prices, you’ll either be handed the pieces individually or a cabinet will be unlocked and, though porters are keeping an eye open, you’ll be left to get on with it.  At our sales, the people viewing sit down at tables, but here there were upright cabinets and you stand and hold the piece, which is a bit nerve-wracking.

Anyway, if this doesn’t interest you, just skip the whole post as I’m afraid it means opening the link in another window and looking at the pieces concerned and you may have neither time nor inclination – on the other hand, you may so I’ll go ahead.

 The piece that I really couldn’t put down was no. 139, which is wonderful.  Beautifully painted by someone who knew his subject – he’d spent a lot of time in a shipyard or at sea, because you can see that the rigging is right.  If I thought it would go for its estimate, I’d buy it (20% premium plus VAT on the premium is a bit of a pill) but it’ll go for more.  We discussed the possible price – our friend thought 13, the Sage thinks 15, but I think it could go for a bid or two more.  But at £16 thousand bid, it’s nearly 20 out of the saleroom, which … well, it makes my hip look jolly cheap.  On the other hand, when you consider the vast sums paid for some items, old and new – well, who’s to say?  I’d not pay £20,000 for a car, but plenty would.  And a million pounds seems to go nowhere in some circles.

Anyway, my second favourite is 124, which is beautifully painted.  For something so small, there’s an awful lot on it.  It’s also incredibly rare – there is supposed to be another one, in polychrome, but no one knows where it is (except its owner, of course) and no other blue and white one is recorded.

Then there was a fabulous pair of tea canisters at 132.  I love to think that they have been treasured together for 250 years, because they are certainly a matching pair.

We’re not thinking of bidding for either of those lots either, by the way.

I love the early pieces – 1757 to the early 1760s.  There’s a quality to the glaze and a care, but also a freedom, in the painting before the patterns became more standardised, that I really enjoy.  And there were many pieces in that category.  With such treasures to enjoy, one look wasn’t enough and nor was the second.  So the Sage and I didn’t go to the V&A after all.  We left after a first look, for lunch, then went back, left again for tea and then went back to the invited view, finally scuttling off to catch our train home soon after 7 o’clock.

Z and the Sage go to a Private View

We’ve had a very jolly day in London, except that disaster struck for the Sage when he left his diary on the train. He put it in his pocket but it must have dropped out. We’ll ask at Lost Property of course but hopes are not high.
Otherwise (in an “apart from that, Mrs Lincoln…” way), the day has been splendid. When I’m home, I’ll put up a link to the sale and tell you the pieces I covet most – some of the most expensive, of course.

We viewed the sale and then beetled off for a while for startlingly expensive drinks and then returned for the invitees-only view, where I was plied with much wine and delicious canapés and chatted to charming people. The Sage will return on Wednesday for the sale.

You may receive more information when I arrive home, but doing the watering and stuff may take too much time.

Sadly, I ordered the last two hot bacon rolls on the train, leaving none for the tanked-up chap on his way home from Monaco. He told me the chocolate muffin wasn’t all that. Actually, it was quite toothsome.

Laters, darlings. Possibly.

Z notices the time

Oh dear, it’s nearly Monday already.  The Sage and I are going to London, as I think I said – we’ll be viewing the sale at Bonhams and, as we unexpectedly have time in hand, he wants to go to the V&A as well.  That sounds all right to me, and we can have a jolly day together.

That’s quite unusual in fact – not that we’re jolly or together, but both at the same time, and on an outing to boot.

We had another outing today, as it happens – we visited friends near London for lunch.  The other side of London – it was a 240 mile round trip, which seems a long way for lunch, but we had a splendid time.  Our friends were on great form – they’re in their 80s, although you’d never think it to see or listen to them.

I’ve only just finished work and there are more things to do, but I’ve run out of time.  I need sleep.

Bringing on the wall, Day 41 – the beginning of the end

It was a momentous day.  Dave started on the final pillar and I filled up the gap – so at last we’ve laid bricks the entire length of the wall.  It was another beautifully hot and sunny day – just the weather we had hoped for last year and didn’t get but, although we’re out in full sun for two or three hours, we haven’t had any problem with headaches or sunburn.  Of course we slap on the sun cream and drink plenty of water.

We had cleared away all the pots and weeds and general *stuff* from both sides yesterday, so we had a clear run.  We both worked kneeling down, so there were some twinges of pain, especially for Dave, whose back doesn’t really like to be bent over, but at least it gets better as you build up.

Dave had dropped casually approving mention of toasted cheese the other day, so that’s what we had for lunch, with bacon.  The bantams loved it.  Dave gave away his bacon rind and the lucky recipient grabbed it and ran, followed by two other hens.  A couple of minutes later she reappeared, bacon still hanging from her beak, with one bird still chasing her, but she successfully outran her and disappeared into the bushes to eat her trophy.

This afternoon, I’m putting my feet up for a bit with the papers.  I’ve a stern letter to write later, but suspect I’ll write the vitriolic version first and then calm it down to a more measured one.  More effective, usually, even if it doesn’t quite relieve the feelings so much.

Does Z feel lucky?

It seems to be a good year for partridges, I never remember seeing so many.  As I’ve mentioned, we had a nestful in the kitchen garden this year and I’ve frequently seen the parents – well, we may have more than one pair in the garden – anyway, I saw the male bird again yesterday.  I was going to pick Pugsley up from nursery and, just after turning onto the A143, I saw a female partridge with chicks, trying to cross the road. A car was coming the other way and she hesitated in front of me, so I stopped and checked the mirror.  A car was about 500 yards away, so I put on my hazard warning lights and got out.  She had time to cross if she hurried, but she was anxious, and then I saw several more chicks emerge from the grass.  Fortunately, she turned back and they all disappeared into the grass.  Ten minutes later, having picked up Pugsley, another hen bird was ambling along the side of the B road.

I still haven’t had to cut the lawn this year, as the bantams and rabbits are keeping the grass low.  It’s a bit weedy and I need to do some cutting back at the edges, and there are hollows where the chickens dust-bathe.  ‘Patch of unkempt grass’ suits it rather better than ‘lawn’, if I’m honest.

I arrived at school this morning and the music teacher greeted me.  “I passed you on the hill”, she said.  “You looked exhausted.”  It’s true, I can’t do hills at all.  It’s only laziness that stops me getting off and pushing.  She brings her children to the village school on a Friday and would give me a lift, but then I’d have to walk home and that is more effort than the bike, especially as then I’d have to carry my shopping.  Anyway, as I explained, I’m supposed to take plenty of exercise (I think that cycling a couple of miles is ‘plenty’) and the only way that it’ll happen is by going places on my bike.  It’s hard to find time for it though, I could have done with the extra quarter of an hour this morning.  I certainly wouldn’t do anything just for the exercise – finding time to go to the gym or the swimming pool for example, and I’m not the sportiest of people.  I don’t mind watching other people play though.

The latest sale catalogue is online, by the way – link on the side.  The mug, Lot 77, is fabulous, cracked and chipped as it is.  But it’s a one-off, the painting is delicate and beautiful and I don’t mind the damage at all.

Oh, by the way, when moving stuff in the kitchen garden this afternoon, we uncovered a toad.  He was beautiful.  I picked him up so that the brown bantam, who had just made short work of three large slugs, would not bother him, and gave him a new home among the artichokes.  One artichoke is ready to cut, by the way – but only one.  I wonder who will be the lucky person who eats it?  Hmm.

Wild Front Ear

Today has been unexpectedly enjoyable. I’m still plugging away, slowly tidying up the grungy bits of the vegetable garden – I should mention that no other part of the garden has been touched. I’ve done some hedge cutting, but that’s all and the weeds are flowering nicely at the front of the house. This morning, another cow was brought, two of the four having been taken back to the farm last week, as their calves are due before long. The farmer used to take them a few days before their due dates, but he takes them earlier now as the upheaval of a move can start them into labour if it’s done late. The Sage went out to lend a hand, as some pruned branches from a pine tree were in front of the gate. The phone rang and I went to check if he could take the call. I saw the men with a friskily dancing cow and told the caller that he’d phone back.

“She’ll soon settle down,” he assured me, when he returned. “Just pleased to be here. She’s number 99 and her name is Davy Crockett.”

Later, he called to me to come and see this.

When the truck came for the cows last week, the sit-on mower that the Sage had parked in front of the gate (I know, he does rather block gates) was in the way so they moved it, and the chicken hastily moved too.  She was sitting on three old eggs – the Sage always leaves at least one egg where hens are laying as then they go back there – if you remove them all, they find another place to lay and it then has to be searched for.  He marks these eggs with a black cross so that they aren’t accidentally brought into the kitchen for use.

So, Johnny was careful not to drive over the eggs and the mower was then put back in place, and the Sage thought no more about it.  But then he found her a few yards away, under a tree – sitting on those same marked eggs.  She must have carefully rolled them into a new and safer place.  I took one out to photograph – a couple of seconds after I took the picture, she nudged it back under her.

The next thing I had to do was deliver Meals on Wheels.  I’d been sent some questionnaires for the old people to fill in, so I took them round and explained and offered to come back to help.  One couple took me up on the offer, so I returned later and sat down in the kitchen with the wife.  She said that, though she can see well enough to get about, she can’t read any more.  It turned out to be unexpectedly heart-warming.  She is completely happy with her life.  She is 88, her husband is 92, their daughter lives opposite and spends half a day every week thoroughly cleaning the bungalow and doing any ironing or anything, and she does all the shopping.  A grandson visits from Norwich every week and her sister phones every morning, and she phones back every evening.  She can manage all the cooking and general tidying, she loves her garden – there is no improvement she can think of to want, and nothing she would change.  Her pretty face beamed as she described it all to me.  The meals we deliver are just what she likes and the quantity and price are right too.

And this evening, I went to the school to look at the exhibition of A Level art and technology.  It was superb.  I was genuinely impressed – I’m very unartistic, but I am reasonably knowledgeable and interested, and there was some really good work there.  Furthermore, there was an air of confidence and enthusiasm about the work that was lovely to feel.  The department staff were there, offering drinks, canapés and a greeting and were obviously proud of their students.

Call me a sentimental old bat and I won’t argue, but it’s been a good day,

Z has a system, it’s just that no one else understands it

It’s not that it’s particularly interesting, and of course my shadow is in the way, but here it is anyway.

There are several advantages in Blogger Beta – particularly regarding photos, as you can upload as many as you like at one time, instead of being restricted to five, and you can then place them in the order and where you wish, instead of them all being put at the top together in random order, whence you have to cut’n’paste where you want them. However, you can’t type while you wait for them to upload and, it seems, you can no longer post a video.

Today, I woke up with the vague realisation that I had received an appointment several weeks ago which I hadn’t written down, and I had a feeling it was for today. So I went and looked for the letter – which, since it was for “received, not dealt with, leave it where it will not get forgotten” should have been on my desk. It wasn’t. So I looked on the printer “received, in hand, not fully dealt with” and on the table “information to be acted upon but with no particular urgency. I peered into the box of files, which includes “received, dealt with, to be filed for future reference” as well as “filed for future referemce”.

Finally, I found it. “On the floor where Zerlina had knocked it off the desk yesterday.”

Anyway, it turned out that the appointment is not for today, but for next Monday, so I was in time to phone and change it, because next Monday, the Sage and I will be in London ( I know, darlings, a Rare Outing Together). So it’s now rebooked for Tuesday – which means that I won’t be able to *forget* it and not bother to go, because it’s one of those boring and mildly painful routine health exams that one expects to show nothing at all: in short, a mammogram. I had one a few years ago and was greeted with enthusiasm, slightly startlingly so until I realised that I was the only person in the quarter hour or so that I was there, who had actually shown up.

It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? How many countries would people be thrilled at the thought of free* health exams, and we take them so much for granted that we don’t either bother to go or cancel appointments sent to us. The Sage, in fact, is wearing a blood pressure monitor today – once a year, he has it for a day and quite tedious it is, too, whirring and buzzing every few minutes as it does its check. But again, one has to assume that it’s worth it, for the possibility for showing up a potential problem.

*at the point of use

Bringing on the wall, Day 40 – some like it hot

It was, at last, exactly the weather we hoped for when we started this whole malarkey.  Sunny, hot, but not unbearable heat as there was enough freshness in the air to make it a pleasure to be outside.  I’d gone out early in fact as I’m still not sleeping much – most annoying to wake, seemingly refreshed, before 5 am when I have only been asleep since 12.30 or so.  Anyway, I’d done some more planting and was doing the watering when Dave arrived.

We’re not rabbit-proof yet, but may be after Saturday.  Dave is carrying on with the central pillar and I’m working on the bottom courses.  Weeza and Zerlina arrived during the morning, so I finished early, but Dave did a lot of work.

Ignore the weeds, I do.

The brown hen came in the garden, having been invited in, and followed me around, looking for small creatures to eat.

I did a short movie of her, but I can’t find out how to post it.  Blogger Beta doesn’t seem to give an option for it – unless anyone can tell me different, of course.  In ‘help’ it says there is, but although it was there in the original Blogger options, which I can’t remember how to return to, it isn’t now.