Monthly Archives: August 2010

Season of Cobnuts. And mellow fruitfulness, of course.

The Sage didn’t start the day well.  That is, he didn’t end yesterday well, as I discovered at 5.30 when the window kept banging because when he opened it he didn’t use the thingy that only Dave knows the name of – the sticky-up thing that keeps it where you want it.  I didn’t go to sleep again, which was a pity.

It was all much fun this morning, because there were lots of people here; Dilly came in with Pugsley, Squiffany and the Sage and then Sandra called.  She and Graham are great friends who mostly live in New Zealand now, so it’s a pleasure when they visit.  Our oldest hen, who is a pedigree bantam, came to us as a chick, years ago – we can’t remember, but it must be 8 or 10 years – she’s the one who, earlier in the year, came in the house whenever I left the door open.  She started spending most of her time in the hen house when the weather got hotter and she doesn’t get out much now, but the Sage went and fetched her for Sandra to stroke – reluctantly, she likes dogs better than chickens.  We showed her Black Hen’s daughter and granddaughter, too.

Quite quiet, after that.  This afternoon, I cycled in to town to buy more food for Tilly.  She’s enjoying her expensive Senior Dog food, which is costing about £2 a day, plus her Scooby Snacks, which she eats a couple of packets of each week. However, she’s a healthy little dog who hasn’t been to the vet in years, so I can’t begrudge it.

I saw a friend walking home, so I got off my bike and walked with him.  He’s got two young daughters  – 13 and 11 – and he asked if I use Facebook.  I admitted that I’ve just opened an account, under a false name (oh gosh, I’ll probably be drummed out now), but that I’ve blogged for years.  We talked about security, particularly when you’ve got young and impetuous daughters – not that he’s got anything to worry about, except that he hopes they will take care.  When my children were young, which was pre-internet days, of course, the concerns were more about the time spent on games.  I didn’t mind, especially as I liked games myself, but I kept the computer in the living room.  They were welcome to use it, but not to be shut away.  Weeza wasn’t allowed a television in her room until she was 16.  Al never wanted one.  Ro, several years on, just bought one.  Times change.  Later, he bought a computer.  However, we don’t really heat upstairs in our house, so use in the winter was governed by how long he could cope with the risk of frostbite.

Anyway, back to today – we were just finishing our chat at the end of my drive when a friend stopped to say she’d just been in the church and found that the wonderful flower arrangements put there for last Saturday’s wedding had fallen down – the oasis had dried out and they were top-heavy.  She had to go and fetch her new computer, so I said I’d go to start sorting them out.  It started to rain, so Pete came in too, to help.  Poor chap, he was stuck for about 20 minutes until the rain eased off.

He asked what I blog about.  I reminded him that I have no difficulty talking for a long time about very little.

Oh, the other news of the day is that Kent Cobnuts are in season.  Yum.  On the other hand, that means autumn is round the next corner.  Hm.


I went to bed late.  It’s unsettling, being Sageless.  Then I couldn’t sleep because I was too warm, and just dozed, on and off, half the night, before being finally woken soon before 6 o’clock by heavy rain.  I shut the windows, but couldn’t sleep, and before long, Squiffany called through politely, asking if it was time to get up yet?  I invited her through, she unwrapped the pound that the tooth fairy had exchanged for her tooth – this has been a subject for excitement all day.  She took it to the party and told all her young friends about the experience of having a loose tooth, because she’s the first of her circle of friends to have this happen.

After I left her at the party, I went on to Flixton Air Museum, for the  Open Day, which was a special one because of the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Britain.  It was, of course, the more special because of the blog-meet between me and Eddie 2-Sox, with his son Sam.   It took us a while to find each other – not that it’s a very large place, but we were both looking in the wrong places.  I recognised them at once – or at least, I hoped so.  I mean, it’s a bit awkward to greet people with confidence when you’ve only seen photos before.  Anyway, he recognised me right back, so that was fine and we had a chat, not as long as I’d have liked though, as I had to go and fetch Squiffany from her party at 1 o’clock.  We did a bit of shopping and came home to find Dave was fretting, bless him, because he thought I was ignoring him*.

The Sage arrived home from his visit to Gloucestershire and Wiltshire soon afterwards, so that was all right, and Weeza emailed to say they were on the way home from their visit to Phil’s parents, and that Zerlina is getting over her chickenpox.  Al and family are due home later.  A mother hen likes to know all her chicks are safe.

All in all, a splendid day.  And the special topping, with sparkly frosting, was that the new levels on iAssociate 2 came out today, which I discovered around 7am.  Sad to say, I was unable to resist plugging away at the first of these until it was completed.  I wasn’t alone, and am only just in the first 100 to finish.  55 out of 42,389 overall, however.  I will resist being competitive though, what’s the point in finishing quickly?  Actually, they are getting easier.  It used to be that I didn’t know a lot of the answers and had to look them up, but I haven’t needed to do that for quite a few levels.  They need to get a few really tough challenges out to keep everyone interested for longer.

Tomorrow, Squiffany is going with the birthday girl to her second treat, to Pleasurewood Hills in Lowestoft.  Dilly is planning to go too, I think, in which case I’ll look after Pugsley.  I need to check that Zerlina is sufficiently recovered to go to the childminder, or else I’ll be looking after her too.  So I had better make sure I get more sleep tonight than I did last night.

I absolutely assure you that I won’t give up blogging for Facebook.  I can’t think why I would, they have a different feel.

*I know you were joking, Dave, it’s all right.**

**Or were you?  Hmm.

Look what happens when Z is left alone

I’m not entirely alone, in truth.  Squiffany is, I hope, asleep upstairs.  That is, she’s certainly in bed upstairs, all has been quiet since I kissed her and put her light out, so I hope she’s asleep.  This is an important night for young Squiff, because her first tooth has come out and she’s wondering if the tooth fairy will call.  The fairies have been pretty busy in the garden in the last few days and spent their nights (according to Dave) getting drunkenly stoned, but a Saturday night is a good one for getting back to business.

I haven’t had dinner yet, either.  I can’t decide what to have.  There’s not a lot to choose from – all sorts in the freezer (not the liquorice sort, don’t be like that – though actually, the thought made me remember the proper hard chewy liquorice sticks that are in a box that I’ve been slowly going through for the last year, with Ro’s help, so I’ve just been to fetch one) and I’ll probably end up eating an egg or two.  Bantam eggs aren’t very large.

That reminds me, I’m often woken by the sound of clucking in the morning – by the chickens, darlings, whatever mental image do you have of my husband? – but all was silent today.  I went outside and didn’t see any chooks, either.  So, I fetched their breakfast and went out nervously, a bit worried about what I might find.  One bantam came to greet me on the lawn, so I threw her some soaked bread and went, even more anxiously, to their run – which they can easily get out of.  I didn’t shut them up last night, either – some of them roost in the trees and, as it’s all so open, they’re actually safer, many of them, left to their own devices.  The Sage can persuade them all inside, but I can’t.  Anyway, although there were only a few there, they were alive and well, so I went back to the lawn and started calling, and within a few minutes fifteen of them were hurrying for their breakfast.  So that was all right.  However, they were noticeably quiet all day, and I can only think that the reason was the strong southerly wind (might be south-south-west) which was unusually warm and might have unsettled them out of their usual habits.  About twenty came for lunch and fifteen for tea (more probably arrived after I’d gone) so all is well.

I spent some time this afternoon with my pruning saw, which was hard work in this heat.  I was quite hot, although fairly unbothered, when I came back indoors.  I’m afraid I’ve left all the wood for the aforementioned fairies to clear up, but I assured them that it can wait a couple of days, I know they have other things to do over the weekend.

Anyway, what I’m coming to is that I’ve finally signed up for Facebook.  Absurdly, I’m so reluctant to do so that I’ve felt unable to use my actual name, so I didn’t approach anyone, as they wouldn’t recognise me.  However, I’ll tell you, darlings (if you would like to work out why I’m quite happy to put all sorts of stuff here when I’m not via Facebook, I’d be interested to know.  Needless to say, I didn’t put down my actual birthdate either).  I was going to put my initial plus my surname until I found that searches are done, rather as you’d expect, by surname.  So I’ve gone for one I’ve always rather hankered after after seeing it on the credits of a TV programme some 30 years ago.  It starts and ends with Z and has un in the middle.  I suspect there is only one of them (haven’t looked), with three zeds, and it is I.

You are most welcome to come along, darlings, though I’ll quite understand if you think I’m too odd for words.  I now have only to work out how to explain to my face-to-face friends (won’t say real life, this is as real life as I get) who have sent me invitations why I am not who they expect me to be.

I don’t enter into the spirit of things at all, do I?  Truth is, I’m not actually a joiner.  I’m a solitary, miserable fool by inclination.  Except as far as you’re concerned, where I’m friendly and stuff.

It’s very quiet around here

The Sage has gone off again on his journeyings – earlier in the week he was leaving on Saturday and returning on Sunday, but he seems to have managed to bag an extra day’s leave of absence.  He’s left me a couple of loaves for the chickens’ breakfasts, some grapes and a melon, as well as a bag of corn, for their lunch, and some extra little treats for their tea.  In addition, he’s filled their feeder with wheat and their bowl with water.

He’s been and bought extra supplies of food for Tilly and made up some new frames for Al’s bees.

I’ve checked his phone – he said he didn’t know how to answer calls, it seems he didn’t notice the two words in big print, one saying ‘answer’ and the other ‘decline’.  He hadn’t mentioned that the phone was on ‘silent’, however, which seems a more fundamental problem.  At least I know now why he never answered his phone.  I’ve also booked an advertisement in our favoured antiques magazine for the next sale.

He has kindly said I may use his laptop, as I’ve got to use a program that I’ve only got for a pc.  I hope it works all right, I’ve got to send a document to 25 people and the deadline is today, and I’ve not started work yet.  I’m slightly reluctant to get to grips with it, so am pretending it isn’t there.   I will get it done, of course.  Al and Dilly have kindly invited me in for a meal, which we’re having early with the children, so I’ll have the whole evening to work on it.  I shall also play very loud music (well, louder than I play when the Sage is here.  He never says anything, but I’m sure he hates some of the music I listen to).

Bringing on the wall, Day 45 – Dave gets high

This morning, Dave reached the top course of bricks – only five of them, but it feels like another achievement.  He’s also put in the first of the ornamental bricks on this section of the wall.

The ground sloped down on the drive side of the wall, and the footings are stepped down halfway because of it, by three bricks.  You can’t see in the picture because there’s some sheets of corrugated, as we say in these parts (it would be equally correct to refer to a sheet of galvanised), in front of it, but you can see that the grey bricks in the foreground are higher than the ones at the other end.  We hadn’t taken into account those three extra rows in our calculations, so were prepared to have a step down in the height of the wall if we didn’t have enough bricks – we need to do a count of the last palletful, in case there are many breakages, but we think we’ve got enough to take it to the same level all the way.  If we do so, I’ll have to put in two more rows of bricks the other side of the pillar before the ornamental ones go in, so we need to be sure.

So, here are the pictures.

Turning the corner

Levelling off the end section.

Dave put in the ornamental brick and then we both built around it.

Dave said this went in very easily this time, they have been quite tricky up to now.

In the afternoon, we did more work on the fallen tree – not Dave, he went home after his sausages and chips.  I separated the logs cut on Sunday from the ivy cut off on Sunday and piled the latter, ready for a bonfire.  Then I went round to the root end and cut away rotten wood and cleared stones and earth, so that our friend had a clear area to cut with the chainsaw.  It was really hard work and is taking a long time.  I was pretty tired after a couple of hours, and covered with scratches and prickled by thorns.  I went in for a shower.  I’m not fond of showers, but needs must.  I was going out to dinner and I was filthy and dusted with sawdust.

There’s still a lot to do.  The Sage reckons the whole tree probably weighs nearer two tons than one, and the more we clear away, the more apparent its size is.  At least we’ll have enough firewood for a good long time.  Once all the logs have been split and stored, of course.


Most surprisingly, I’m planning to join a bike ride – an organised one – for the end of the month.  If the weather looks okay, of course,  The local Rotary Club is setting one up to go round the Saints – here we are, darlings, I’ve done you a link (links are so easy now, aren’t they?  One used to have to do carefully-learnt HTML).  Assuming you can’t be bothered to click it, the Saints are several villages, a few miles from here, which are notoriously hard to find your way around.  There is going to be a race and a more relaxed excursion – not surprisingly, the latter is the one I’m interested in and Phil and Weeza are willing to come along too, though Phil would have to start by cycling here, 25 miles on the back roads, because two bikes won’t go in the car.  We’re going to check the weather forecast first, though.  Zerlina will be in her trailer and none of us would enjoy it in the rain.

It seems that the whole family will be away this weekend, apart from me and Squiffany.  Al, Dilly and Pugsley are going to London on Sunday and the Sage is likely to be in Gloucestershire.  Squiffany is going to a party on Sunday, so will miss the visit, but it’s to see a friend of Dilly’s who’s over from Australia, so not geared to children’s events.  I’m hoping for a blogmeet, with Eddie 2-Sox and his son, Sam 2-Sox.

All being well, we’re hoping to get in a morning’s bricklaying tomorrow.  We’ve marked the places where the ornamental bricks are to go, so that’s what we’ll start on.  Well, Dave will, I’ve got some other bricks to lay.

I’m not sure that I ever told you the end of the story about the fire in Yagnub – it turned out that it wasn’t a grudge against the landlord after all, and that the flat was empty but was not unoccupied.  Apparently, a young woman lives there, she had a disagreement with her boyfriend just before going on holiday.  So, in spite, he broke in and set fire to all her stuff.  He was arrested the next day.  I should add, of course, because the case hasn’t come to court yet, “allegedly”.  The butchery was shut for a week but is open again now and there’s scaffolding up, I saw the builder and the landlord there on Saturday.  The landlord looked harassed, poor chap.

English cherries now finished, but the first apples are in, and there are plenty of plums.  We had some gorgeous local raspberries this evening.

We seem to have some fairly hefty fairies in the garden, who have arranged some of the logs into a ring to dance in.  Or whatever fairies do in rings.

Z and T

I went to visit a friend today, who was holding a tea party.  Of the eight of us, our hostess is in her nineties, one of the guests will be ninety next April, one is about sixty and the rest, except me, are in their seventies and eighties.  It was lovely.  They are all dear friends and I’ve never cared about age, I’d have been just as comfortable if they’d been young enough to be my children, rather than a generation above.

I was thinking about our friends Len and Laura.  Wink invited them to Sunday lunch … they left after breakfast on Monday!  His 60th birthday is the day before my 57th, she has just had her 70th.  They married the same year as the Sage and I did – he was still 22 and she was 33 with three children from two marriages*.  They came, with his parents, to a dinner party my mother held, and someone asked her how old her daughter was – “thirteen” said Laura brightly, not mentioning her older son, or her younger daughter.  The expression on the face of the asker was priceless.  Laura looked quite ten years younger than she was and the answer was completely unexpected.

At the end of the evening, as they were all saying their goodbyes, I heard my mother saying quietly to Len “She’s lovely, don’t let her go.  You’re perfect together.”

My mother, bless her, was the very opposite of ageist and so, as a result, am I.  And, to do her total credit, Len’s mother, who was a lot more conventional, welcomed Laura into the family too (his father, *Uncle* Bob, was totally easy-going and would have anyway).  Their son is 30 this year and they run a business with their elder daughter – they both look years younger than they are and are obviously still completely united and happy together.

All of which has little to do with anything, except to say that I don’t care what age my friends are.

When I arrived home, Friend With Chainsaw was relaxing on the tree, having cut off some more bits, and cleared away the rest of the ivy, which brought home just how massive that trunk is.  If it were anywhere but right next to our drive, I’d say leave it to be climbed on, but as it is, we’ve somehow got to shift it.  It rather depends on whether or not the main trunk is hollow or not.  It could be a total bugger to move.

Pictures.  Here we go.  Taken on the iPhone.  As you know, iPhone cameras aren’t really the point of it.  But it gives the general idea.

*I know it isn’t correct to mix numerical words with numbers, but the sense still comes through, just bear with my bad use of language, hey darlings?

A family tradition

Zerlina has kept up a family tradition.  Weeza, Al, Ro and Squiffany all developed chickenpox over their birthdays (Pugsley caught it at the same time as Squiffany, so is the exception) and, soon after we all left yesterday, it was discovered that little z had spots.  Poxy spots.  She’s feeling quite all right, there are several in her hair and a few on her body but she’s not ill.  Phil has the week off, and today, when Zerlina was due to be at the childminder’s, was to have been His Day, a precious day all to himself, but as it was, he had to look after his little daughter while Weeza was at work.

We’ve marked out the placings for the ornamental bricks and, if it doesn’t rain, Dave will come over for a bricklaying session on Wednesday.  We’re also moving the regular bricks, with a mind to starting to clear the place where they are – also, we want to know just how many we’ve got left.  We’ve shifted 155 so far and have another whole pallet to go.  At the start, we had seven palletsful of bricks, so it seems we have done eleven fourteenths of the project.  More or less.


“Here comes the Sage” observes someone, as we were just preparing to leave the church.  “He’ll be coming to check I’m on my way,” I said confidently.  “We’re due to leave for Zerlina’s birthday party in half an hour.”  I was wrong.  He was coming to tell me something rather more surprising.

He’d gone off in his van to fetch the Sunday paper from the shop a couple of kilometres away (neater than a mile and a quarter, don’t you think?) and on his return, less than ten minutes later, he found his way blocked.

He has a way of telling things that always confuses me, so I got the wrong end of a very big stick at first, and thought that he was telling me that the big oak tree had fallen down.

The tree that has fallen died back badly about twenty years ago, so we had all the main branches removed, in the hope that pollarding it would stimulate it into growth again.  It didn’t work, the tree did die after a few years and we’d just left it ever since.  It would have been a pretty large undertaking to remove it.  Today, it was not that windy – a gusty breeze, but the Sage said that some of the gusts were quite strong.  
As you can see, it was completely over the drive and had also brought down the fence to the Ups and Downs, as you can see here.

It was fairly evident that we were going to be late to the party.  The Sage had already phoned our lovely friend, who has a chainsaw and is quite kind and helpful enough to turn out on a Sunday lunchtime to use it – he was out, but expected home soon and his wife, who is as helpful as he is, cheerily said that lunch would be postponed while he helped us out.  Of course, Al and family were as stuck as we were, and we were also going to pick up Ro and Dora – in fact, a couple of other families were going to the party, which was mainly a barbecue,  and playing in the garden for the children as they are all very young.
Good Friend with Chainsaw arrived soon afterwards to inspect the situation, then went home for said saw and got back at 2 o’clock, by which time I’d cut off a lot of the ivy.  All the greenery you see is ivy, the tree is completely dead.  In fact, here is the root end.  It had powdered away.
The four of us – Good Friend, the Sage, Al and I – worked for three-quarters of an hour and cleared enough space to get a car through.  He’ll come back another day and cut the rest up.

It made quite a hole when it landed.  Fortunate that it was on the grass, not the drive, and even more fortunate that none of us was in the way.
Parts of the trunk were hollow – it looked as if hornets or something had built a nest here at some time

So, an hour and a half late for the barbecue, but it didn’t matter – Weeza’s childminder had lent her her bouncy castle for the weekend and there were various other garden amusements, and after we’d eaten, the children played ‘Pass the Parcel”and it was all very jolly.

One could say that we were lucky that no one was hurt, but really it would have been very unlucky if anyone had happened to be in the way at the time.  But it was quite enough drama for one day.
Not sure if there will be any usable timber – probably not, as it had to be cut up into liftable chunks.  But we’ll have plenty of firewood for the winter.

Give and take

Today, there was a day of yard/garden/garage/table-top sales around the village.  One paid £5 to take part and buyers could buy a map of participants for £1 (I can’t see why anyone would though, actually) and this money will go towards the fund to improve the village playground.

Dilly had a stall at the bottom of our drive, using a couple of tables from the church.  She mostly sold outgrown toys for 50p – £1, plus a few larger things such as a tricycle and took over £50.  Amazing.  The money raised has been promised to the children for new toys…

There was also a ‘give and take’, I think they called it, morning in the town, where that literally happened – you could take anything you didn’t want to the hall and take whatever you wanted without charge.  The Sage took a few things, but mercifully didn’t bring anything home with him.

I looked after the children for Dilly, which was a pleasure as usual.  Now that they are not at school for the summer, they are getting on extremely well with each other and are cheerful and well-behaved with us – it’s not that I think that school is such a bad influence, but they get tired and therefore sometimes fractious.  We played some games and went into Yagnub to buy things for Zerlina’s birthday party tomorrow – we’ve already given her her main present (we went halves with her parents for the play house/slide combo) but I wanted something to give her on the day.  We also visited the sweet shop and the bakery and I left them with their father while I walked round to the butcher.  As ever, I had a little moment of gratitude, because a year ago I wouldn’t have chosen to walk that far, though it’s only 500 yards or so.

Tilly was very pleased to have the children here and walked all over their board game and Lego, which they didn’t seem to mind at all.  I’m trying to remember to feed her more often – she can’t eat much at a time any more, and can’t deal with biscuit at all so I’m feeding her food that’s formulated for elderly dogs (lamb, rice and vegetables), which she loves.  However, she’s been losing some weight and her backbone is starting to show.  So I’m gradually upping the amount of food, but cautiously, not wanting to overload her system for obvious reasons.  She’s happy and gently active and enjoys the fuss being made of her.

Zerlina’s birthday isn’t until Wednesday, but the party is tomorrow – just the family.  The children she meets at the childminder’s aren’t that local (she goes to someone near where Weeza works, a few miles from their home) and she doesn’t go to a playgroup or nursery school yet, so doesn’t have particular friends of her own age as yet.  And she’s too little to want a children’s party.  It’ll come, soon enough.