Monthly Archives: October 2010

Time to spare

There’s always time for blogging after all, isn’t there? Especially where there is free wifi.

It’s all been remarkably easy this morning. We strolled across from the hotel around 8.30 and were the first to check in (Air Malta don’t do online check-in). The security people were friendly and chatty – my hip set off the alarm so I was well patted by the lady, while the man sang to me. We were greeted by various other staff in the friendliest way and our charming waiter, Jacek, who is Polish, chatted too. I’m assuming that the staff here like Sundays.

The Bod hasn’t come with us in the end. His mum is still in Bath hospital, waiting for a bed to be available in Warminster, which is where they live. I think that if she had moved already she would have been okay, but as it is, she was quite scared of being left. He’s right to put her first, of course, and he will get his money back through his insurance, but is very disappointed, of course. As are we. But we will have a good jolly, no doubt.

If I don’t find there is free wifi at the hotel, it may take a while for me to check in with you all again. Take great care of yourselves while I’m away and not keeping my eye on you.

Z is too organised

I seem to have got everything done, which is quite disconcerting.  I even have turfed everything out of the fridge that I think the Sage might not use up.  I’ve emailed people about sales results and got someone to attend a meeting for me next week and done all my Nadfas stuff, including retyping the reports (no I can’t scan them) that people unhelpfully gave me instead of emailing.  I finally booked holiday insurance, I’ve remembered to pack everything, I think, and I’ve checked the website for the stops.  Weeza will give me a lift to the station so I’ll have to get an additional ticket from Norwich to Diss, but it’ll save the Sage from giving me a lift.

I’m actually sitting around waiting to leave.  This is very surprising.  Evidently, if I need to get myself organised, I can.

Don’t think I’ll make a habit of it, however.  It’s less exciting.

All’s good, darlings

The cygnet has gone to a good home, and I’ll miss it very much.  I’m suddenly very tired.  It made £11,760, which was a good price.

A few little dramas, but all went well in the end, although it was a bit stressful for Ro when the damn printer jammed.  Still, no matter.

I had a little moment of good behaviour, when I was greeted by someone whom I’d met briefly in London back in June and whose name I’d taken to send a catalogue, and first I said “it’s Steven, isn’t it?” and then added his surname.  He was pleased to be remembered and complimented my memory.  I was able to reply that he’d evidently made an impression on me – so returning the compliment.  I’ve found always that nothing is so delightful as being remembered.  Recalling someone’s name does not come naturally to me, I do have to work at it, but it’s worth the effort.

Someone else came to the view – actually the Sage got things wrong there, because he got her name right but thought she was the daughter rather than the wife of someone … ouch.  Worse, her husband had died.   He didn’t get my *look* and in the end I had to say it, wife not daughter.  Anyway, I was really sorry to hear the sad news.  Mr Lamb had been my Latin teacher for only one year, in which I decided to change schools and take two extra A levels, one year after taking O level (the precursor of GCSE) – in Latin and French.  He was lovely.  A clever and erudite man and with an immense quiet charm.  I learned a lot from him, and not just Latin, he was wise and someone to look up to.  His first wife was in a mental institution, suffering from a degenerative condition (I don’t know what, but I’m guessing it was something like Huntingdon’s disease because his daughter died relatively young too).  He remarried after her death, a much younger woman and they had a son, who went to the same prep school as El and Al.

Anyway, I had a chat with her and said how sorry I was and – because I stick my neck out and if that puts my foot in my mouth, it’s not meant to – I said that I knew he was a lot older than her and that I suppose she knew that she was likely to lose him, but that didn’t make it easier to bear and that I thought the world of him.  I did, he became an antiquarian book dealer after taking early retirement from teaching, and so we kept in touch.

It was Mr Lamb who taught me to understand myself.  Once, when talking about Horace, he said “‘ve always liked Horace.  They say you have to be middle-aged to appreciate Horace, but I think I was born middle-aged”.  This was a bit of a revelation.  I suddenly understood why I didn’t feel quite right among my own age group.  I hadn’t yet reached the age I was comfortable with.  In fact, I started to feel at home when I got to 30.

Anyway, there we go.  Another sale over.  I’m going to bed.

Zpacking is done

I haven’t got a lot left to do, remarkably enough.  A whole big lot of stuff to email out, much of which needs typing up first, which is a pity.  I should have done that this evening, but I didn’t.  I took some time off instead.  If I have any sense, I’ll get up and do it in the morning.  I think we all know that I’m going to be working on it at midnight instead.

I was quite pleased with myself that it occurred to me, when setting the timer for the church heating, that the clocks change this weekend, so I have changed that one already.  There was a programme on the radio this afternoon, apparently it is quite likely that it will be agreed to stick with Summer Time next autumn.  They’re still intending to change the clocks and have double summer time the next year – I don’t see the point of that, particularly, I’d rather just choose a time and stick to it.

Thank you for your advice, I feel very looked after.  I’ve packed and am all ready, which is quite unnerving.  I spoke to Bod this evening, his mum is much better but still in Bath hospital and hasn’t yet moved to the cottage hospital near where they live.  He hasn’t ruled out coming on the holiday but I don’t think it’s all that likely.  At least his insurance will pay out.  If he does, he’s packed already.  He always does it a week or more in advance, he says.  My word.  How impressive.

Dilly went in to her bank yesterday, having had a letter about, it said, beneficial changes to her account.  She spoke to a helpful assistant.  “It says the terms of my account are better for me from January.”  The assistant agreed.  “Lower interest rate on an overdraft and lower interest rates if I borrow money.”  That was agreed too. “I’ve never had an overdraft in my life, nor a bank loan since I got my first job after university.”  The assistant was looking at her details. “That’s true, you manage your money very well.”  “So, is there any benefit for me?”  “Um, no.”  “But, according to this, if I don’t have £500 paid into my account every month, I get charged?  Whatever balance I have in there?”  This was also agreed to be true.  So if, for some reason, Dilly has a month of low earnings, she will get several pounds deducted from her account, on which she receives no interest and for which she gets no benefit.  “You can change to another account without the charge,” said the helpful assistant.  So, Dilly has to go to the bother of changing from an account which has been altered without her say-so or control to another one, and if she hadn’t read the letter carefully she wouldn’t even have realised it was necessary.  One really does wish one could do without banks at all, doesn’t one?

Anyway,  I might write a post tomorrow, but it depends on how late we get back from the sale and how much I then have left to do.  I should drop in on Saturday though.

Strawberry grapes

It seems awfully early to think about it, but I am going to get my euros tomorrow.  As well as pay the car tax.  And I’ve drunk – well, we’ve drunk – all the wine again.

Last week when I went into the shop, Tim gave me some grapes from a bunch that he’d been given from a neighbour (of the shop’s) vine.  Very unusual, quite pale pinky red with a distinct flavour of wild strawberries with possibly a hint of guava.  And grape.  This week, Tim has his daughters to stay, so Al is standing in for a couple of days or maybe three, and while I was dropping off something to him, Julian came in again so I praised his grapes – no, darlings, that’s just rude.  Wash your dirty minds.  I did praise his actual fruity grapes, and he straightaway went home and picked some for me.  Isn’t that kind?  I asked for the variety and he didn’t know the name but did know where the vine had come from, which is Read’s specialist fruit nursery at Hales Hall near Loddon and I have the catalogue.  It is actually called “Strawberry”.

While we were alone, Al was telling me an anecdote about a customer who is really quite outspoken, and she asked how Al is keeping himself financially now that he hasn’t got the shop.  So Al said he’s all right thank you, this and that, and she said “but how, specifically?” which he thought was a bit off.  So he answered. well we’ve got the income from two rental properties and would you like the full details of our other earnings?, so she backed off rather smartly, as well she might.  But then in came a lovely lady who had a chat, and then Julian and then another customer friend, so it made me very aware of how much we’ve always enjoyed it there.  I’m so glad that Tim, who is such a friend, has it now.  It’s still sort of in the family.

Z thinks of spring

I’ve been browsing a seed catalogue this evening.  For several years, I’ve been growing a limited range of stuff as I’ve been supplying the shop to an extent, and growing a lot of young vegetable plants for Al to sell.  But there’s no need for that any more – that is, if Tim wants me to grow anything I will, but I’m not planning to unless he asks.  I’ll grow enough for us.  A wider range of vegetables, but in smaller amounts. And I can grow flowers too, if I want.

One of the pleasures of this time of the year is looking through seed and plant catalogues, isn’t it.  I’m not trying to wish the autumn and winter away, I take the seasons as they come and like them all,  but it’s an enjoyable daydream, thinking of the fun part of gardening.  The weeding is the least fun part as far as I’m concerned – I know there are those who enjoy it but the weeds grow back too fast for me to find it anything but a real irritation.  It’s worse than housework.

I did find a forgotten bar of chocolate (sorry to those who’ve read this already) – Montezuma’s dark chocolate with orange and geranium, which is absolutely gorgeous.  I thought I must have given it to Weeza as she likes it as much as I do.  I also found peppermints, which I’ve eaten.  Yes, I pigged the lot.I can eat one square from a bar of chocolate, but not half of something, and one or two peppermints from a paper bag but tend to work my way through a tubeful.  Given a box of chocolates, I never eat more than two at a sitting and usually one.  I eat more if it’s milk chocolate, though I prefer plain.

I must think about what I need to do before going away.  I really could do without leaving immediately after our sale as there is a lot to do the next day anyway, and that means I have to get ready by Thursday really, which isn’t very me.  I must haul out summer clothes again, I suppose – I don’t know what the weather is likely to be like.  I’m really not very good at the holiday thing.

Z considers offering guest posting

I’ve finally sent off the minutes of last Friday week’s meeting to the committee to be okayed.  Shockingly late, I agree.  I took the precaution of sending them to the whole committee, as the last ones I sent just to the chairman, he never replied to and I was left waiting, not knowing if it was all right to send them out.

The Sage swept the chimney, so we’ve a fire tonight.  I’ve still got the computer in the kitchen at present though – as I was in the middle of a job with all the papers around me, I didn’t want to have to move everything.  The Sage couldn’t get the rods all the way up, there was some sort of barrier.  He has a horrible notion that the stainless steel lining has become damaged and the brush has gone between it and the brickwork.  If that’s so, it’ll be a big job to have it repaired, I don’t know how they’ll ever get it out again.

My car is being MOTd this week – a small job to be done on it first.  I looked up the mileage from last year and I’ve driven about 5,500 miles since then. That’s the least driving I’ve done in a year ever (since I left school, anyway) and it did include a visit to Wink, 230 miles away.  I don’t think I’ll be able to bring it down much more unless I really curtail my activities – I hardly go to Norwich any more as it is, unfortunately.  When my mother was in good health, we used to go out together regularly but she was always a more enthusiastic shopper than I am.  I may have to entrust the Sage with the job of getting my new car tax disc, though I’ll try to find time to go to the Post Office.  I’ve got to go and buy euros anyway, I could do it all at the same time.  There will be an awful queue on Monday, it being the start of a new month means everyone will have the same job in mind.  Of course, I can renew it online but, apart from the problem I had a couple of years ago when it took three attempts for a disc to arrive (special delivery, in the end), I’d rather the PO had the commission.

We’re not going to have an opportunity to do any more bricklaying this week.  If Dave is doing it on his own (with the Sage as labourer) it will take two more sessions.  I hardly think the weather will be suitable when I get back, so if there’s a chance to go ahead they might as well.  Otherwise it will wait until next year.  If there is a possibility, I’d better give Dave posting rights so that he can take photos and write it up.  I won’t expect him to call you all ‘darling’ and say ‘actually’ all the time.  Although he’s welcome to if he likes.

Z is warm

I have moved my computer into the kitchen.  I will move it back into the drawing room when I feel able to sit there with my coat off.

Actually, it’s very nice in here.  The only trouble is that I’m sitting on a stool at the counter and it’s evidently not at quite the right height for typing; although I’m deliberately sitting upright, my back aches.  I stood to type for a while.  However, I’m well up with the minutes that I would have written a week ago if I hadn’t had that cold and felt quite unwell for a couple of days.  And, although I haven’t finished them, I’ve done other follow-up work connected with the meeting, so I feel okay about it.  I’ll do the rest tomorrow.

I’m in Ro’s good books, because I have been able to tell him that the Hold Steady will be in Norwich next February.  I was put on to them by Hey Bartender but saw from his Spotify list that he listens to them too, and he’s gratified by my alertness and plans to book a ticket.  His email actually started “You are good”.

Heh – I’ve been drinking some of the Seville orange vodka that I made back in February and offered some to the Sage. I warned him it was strong – he doesn’t really drink spirits.  He liked it but it made him cough, bless him.  I persuaded him to have another sip, promising a kiss.  He fell for it.  It, and the lemon vodka, are very good but sweet – the lemon is a stronger version of limoncello.  Another time, I’ll try it with less sugar.

Hard to believe that in a week’s time I’ll be in Malta.  There’s some doubt whether the Bod will come, now.  I think I mentioned that his mum has had a fall and broken bones.  He won’t come if he’s not confident she’s on the mend.  She’s 89 and in excellent health normally, but this has shaken her a lot, of course.  She’ll still be in hospital in any case, and his brother will be on hand for the week, but Bod is right to put her first, naturally.

Still loving iassociate.  Sad to say, I’ve completed 3 of the 4 levels that came out on Friday night.  The fourth is on tv reality shows, which is not my speciality, especially not American ones.  Still, it keeps me distracted from bad behaviour.  Not that I’d necessarily call that a good thing.

Speaking of which, time for bed.  Goodnight, darlings.

Z prepares to repeat herself. I said, Z prepares … oh, never mind

It was Dilly’s sister and new brother-in-law’s wedding reception yesterday – they’d got married abroad – so Al and Dilly were out until late, and then I stayed chatting for a while.  That has to be my excuse for how late I got up – I woke at 7.30, it was dim and wet out, so I went back to sleep, for a very long time.  And even when I woke, I spent quite some time solving iassociate clues until my phone battery was about to run down – which I take as God’s way of telling me that it’s time to get up.

The weather did improve, so I cycled in to town to do the weekend shopping.  £40 and three shops, all around the Buttercross, and I was sorted with the necessities.

I’ve got a situation I’ve got to try to get sorted within the next few days…

When I agreed to become chairman of governors, I did a quick self-evaluation to the Head, because I thought it would be useful for him to know where he was.  I did a run-down of what I could do well, reasonably and what I skim over, and what not to expect of me, and explained where I really don’t do well. And the thing I really hate is, when I talk through a problem with someone, agree on a way forward, and then the other person doesn’t do it.  I’m then at a loss.

In this case, it’s a specific thing; either it has been done or it hasn’t, and it hasn’t, so at least I can say so, but sometimes it’s something less tangible.  And then, I find it hard to sort out.  Because I genuinely hate to keep on and on.  I explain, I will say what’s wrong, ask for the other view, try to sort things out, make concessions and come to an agreement and keep my part of it.  But sometimes that’s it, the other person either doesn’t really get it or has just fobbed me off, with no intention of doing anything at all. And I haven’t got a happily relaxed husband of 37 years standing (well, I do encourage him to lie down too) by nagging him, and I don’t want to do it to anyone else.  But what can one do?

One little for instance of a tangible thing, which I can deal with.  We were having some building work done years ago, and an end wall was going to be plastered over.  But I loved those Tudor bricks, so I suggested they be left exposed.  The builder didn’t care for the idea.  So we discussed and negotiated, and agreed that the ones hidden by a cupboard should be covered and the ones in a passageway should be left.  The Sage and I went out and, after the builder had left, came back to discover he’d plastered the entire wall.  Furious, I insisted that all the plasterboard would come down and I’d have it as I had wanted it in the first place.  We became good friends later, and I explained that I’d compromised, but he’d only said he would – so the compromise was off and I’d have it as I’d wanted in the first place.  And he took my point, though why he couldn’t have done so in the first place is something I didn’t ask.

Behaviour is a different and less easy to quantify matter.  And I hope you know the sort of thing I mean, because it’ll be difficult to be too specific.  But let’s say you’ve got a level of hierarchy – me on top (ahem) with A next, over B, C and D.  B, C and D, all reasonable and hard-working people, come to me and say that they are finding A very difficult to work with.  So, as they ask me to, I discuss the matter tactfully with A and A agrees that changes will be made in managerial approach, and then I have a meeting with A, B, C and D to discuss and confirm it all.  But things carry on just as before … that’s when I find it hard – actually, now I’d put in success criteria, which might be a bit jargonesque but at least give you something to evaluate and give the other person something to have to justify.

Anyway, that’s all going back a few years, and the situation now is much more clear-cut.  But it still involves me repeating myself and I’ve explained the state of affairs in full already.  So it’s a bit of a nuisance.

Bringing on the wall, Day 52 – the beginning of the end

There was excitement as I was nearing the last brick, and Weeza got out her camera and the Sage hopped up on the scaffolding next to me.  I was agitated.  I wanted to concentrate on getting it right, and it wasn’t right.  In every section, we’ve worked on the pillars first and then joined up in between and it’s worked out fine, with level brickwork, but this time it wasn’t.  The Sage took the spirit level from me and held it – “no, it’s okay, look.”  I pointed out that he was holding the right end of the spirit level above the height of the bricks.  It wouldn’t do.

I consulted Dave, who agreed, and I asked him to knock out three bricks so that I could put it right.

So, a few minutes later, I was all ready to smile as I laid the last brick.  Weeza took photos – these were the first ones I’d been in, as I’d always been the one with the camera until then.  I finished the pointing and then went and made a cake.  I felt that the occasion deserved some recognition.

Dave, in the meantime, was carrying on with the tiles.  There had been some debate about the relative merits of finishing one side completely or doing some tiles all the way along, and in the end it was decided to do the latter, as that would be more weatherproof if the weather turns against us and this is as far as we get until the spring.

Lunch was toasted cheese, bacon and cake.

And here are photos.  Including of Z and the Sage, rarely seen together.  Blogger seems to have messed up photo loading again, having been briefly useful, and it’s all taking so long that I can’t face reordering them, but I daresay you’ll work out the correct order quite quickly.  Zerlina is seen holding the section of mortar that Dave knocked out – it was only laid yesterday, so wasn’t hard to remove. Although in any case it is, correctly, less hard than the bricks.

Finally (I hope) there is a picture of the unused bricks.  There’s about 100 of them.  I don’t think there’s quite enough to do another course of bricks which is just as well, because Dave would insist on taking off the capping and adding another row underneath.  Instead, we’re thinking that our potting shed could be half-bricked.  After all, we’ll all be at a loose end next year.