Monthly Archives: December 2011

Z looks forward

The Sage phoned this morning when he’d caught his train – he was driving down to Manningtree, because he’s planning to call on friends on the way home.  He said he’d call again during the day, but he hasn’t – at least, there’s no message.  I was out for a while.  Two whiles, in fact.  This morning, I went to practise the carols with Andy for Christmas Eve.  The instruments are a shade off key with each other.  Just the least little bit, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  You have to have a fairly good ear to be aware of it, I think, and with a churchful of people singing, I don’t think it’ll be noticed, so we’ve agreed that he’ll do all the intros and I’ll come in with the singers.

In the afternoon, I went shopping in Beccles, and have got everything for the children.  Not much more to do now.  I suppose I’d better buy some food sooner or later.  Still, we’re out for lunch on Sunday, and it’s not as if we want to eat more than usual, hey?

It’s turned very mild again.  I was outside when the chickens started to go to roost.  When it was so cold at the weekend, they were all piling into the hen house, but now they’re roosting in the trees instead.  Only the old black granny (who has a deformed foot so can’t jump) is in the hut and she clucked at me when I shone a torch to check before closing the door.

I’m really pleased that my party invitation has received an enthusiastic response.  Not from anyone who came last year, as yet, but there we go, maybe one can have too much of a good Z.  Or maybe they are a bit too busy to read blogs at the moment.  That’s got to be the answer, hasn’t it?

At the moment, a barbed wire fence is being put around the front field.  For some years, it has been used to grow hay.  Before that, our friend Sally used it to graze her sheep, when she used an electric fence.  There are so many rabbits around that the hay crop isn’t that good, they clear a couple of largish areas in the field (which is almost 4 acres, 1 1/2 hectares if you prefer), so the Sage has decided it might as well be grazed.  Pinkie and Whisper can go on for the time being, but I think it will be good if sheep go on it again.  Sheep are very good for the land.  Sally doesn’t have hers any more because she has a full-time job in Norwich, but another friend has a couple of dozen and they could winter here next year.  We do like having animals around.

Which reminds me, I hope we are getting a couple of bantam cocks tomorrow.  Johnny the farmer’s brother has them, and is looking for a good home.  Of course, they may fight, in which case we’ll end up with one cock, but there’s enough space and enough girls for each to have their own little flock and keep their distance.  So I hope, all being well, that we will have some chicks next year.

Right of passage

I went to Norwich, but didn’t have too much luck with shopping. I did get things for Ro, so at least, if he doesn’t have time to choose a coat until after Christmas, at least I’ll have something to give him. I’ll go into Yagnub tomorrow for the rest, and failing success there, to Beccles. The Sage is off to London for the day. I’m going to write out all my music for the carol service on Christmas Eve and go and have a practice with Andy. He’s playing the electronic organ, which he finds easier, with his vasculitis, and I’ll play the clarinet, except for one hymn where we both plan to play the organ. Only problem is, they are half a tone out from each other, so we need to try it out, him playing in E and me in F, to make sure we are okay together. If not, I’m back on the clarinet. We’ve had the gates sandblasted and repainted and they will be fetched back on Thursday, though I don’t suppose they will be put back in situ until after Christmas. Honestly, darlings, those of you who have been here before would hardly know the place. Come to the next blog party to be impressed and astonished. And those of you who haven’t visited, of course, because the Sage and I are quite astonishing in our own right. Or should that be rite?

Little z zzzs again

Weeza doesn’t know quite how I manage it.  Zerlina always sleeps for a long time here.  Laast night, having gone to bed at 6, she woke briefly for a drink and a visit to the bathroom about 9.30 and then slept right through until after 8 this morning.  I’d been awake for hours as usual and too lazy and tired to get up, which isn’t unusual, so I called to say hello and then we both stayed put for a while longer.

We decorated tge the tree later.  I wrapped presents last night.  This had sunk me into a state of mild gloom.  I don’t like doing that until I’m ready – ie, until I’ve bought all the presents.  I nearly have, but there’s a notable Gus-shaped exception and I also haven’t bought anything much for Ro.  He and Dora live in a tiny place and he hasn’t room fr anything more.  Once they move to a house, he says dreamily, he’ll need lots of things, and for the garden too…I’ve a feeling he’s building up to buy, don’t you think?  Anyway, a few other gaps under the tree, so I’m going to have a final visit to Norwich tomorrow.  A first and last visit, that is, Norwich shops can’t depend on me to stay in business, sad to say.

I did feel oddly jagged, though, earlier in the day.  Hard to think of a reason, decorating a small Christmas tree can’t have done it really, whatever I said in the last paragraph.  In fact, my lack of enthusiasm was probably as a result of my mood rather than the cause of it.  The local theatre’s pantomime has brought me out of it, however.  Sitting in the back row and no one in front of me, there was nowhere to hide and we joined in with enthusiasm, once Zerlina had stopped being frightened of Abanazar.   I’ve just had a text from Dilly saying her two had enjoyed it so much they want to go again.  Anyway, I’ve sung, clapped, shouted ‘it’s behind you” and so on, and am now gently dribbling ginger tea down my front – which was a bit of an accident, it was hotter than I thought it was going to be. Still, better than over the keyboard.

A friend of ours who works in Aberdeen sends pictures of the scenery once in a while.  This is today’s – what he saw when out walking yesterday.  Almost makes up for living in Aberdeen, I suppose – not that I’ve ever visited the place, but he misses East Angular.  I’ve added it to the desktop photo folder, which puts up one of around 250 every 15 minutes.  I have a low boredom threshold and don’t care to look at the same picture for long.  Well, not unless it’s someone really appealing, obv.

(It occurred to me that I hadn’t asked him, so have taken the picture down.  Sorry)

Coincidentally, this one just popped up on the desktop, taken by me on Dartmoor a few years ago.  The car behind me stopped too (not as a result of my abrupt halt, darlings, I did pull properly off the road), but only I had a camera to hand and was able to snap them before they disappeared.  No merit to the photo, and I suppose if you live in the area you see them constantly, but we rarely see any wild mammal bigger than a hedgehog here, so it pleased me.

Family Z

Gus in his pleather jacket looks as cool in real life as in the photo.  It is too brilliant for words.  All babies should have one.  He loves to try and stand, which becomes quite tiring, holding him, after a while.  He also enjoyed my singing “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” to him, and when I stopped jigging him about at the end he did a huge double-take when the room stopped spinning round, which was very entertaining to watch.

The lunch went very well, and quite effortlessly for me.  All I had to do was whip the cream for the trifle and lay the table, and Phil helped with that.  Dilly said that lasagne is her favourite food, Hay ate it, carrots and broccoli with his fingers (they’re bypassing much of the puréed food stage and just giving him bits of what they’re eating) and everyone had second helpings, Squiffany thirds.  A few minor mishaps, when no fewer than four people managed to spill drinks on the table, one of which overflowed into the Sage’s shoe (luckily, Weeza was only drinking fizzy water).  I was drinking wine and there was no slip between glass and lip.

Zerlina asked to go to bed at five o’clock, but I gave her some tea – she ate ham, olives, buttered water biscuits and leftover cold carrots, and a garlic clove and then a satsuma, and she was asleep by six fifteen. She just woke a few minutes ago, I gave her a drink, took her to the bathroom and straight back to bed.

Tomorrow, the panto.  Oh yes it … oh, I’ve already said that, a couple of days ago.  Anyway, the Sage suddenly decided he’d like to come too.  I was able to tell him that I knew there was one seat left in our row and it wasn’t likely to have been sold – who goes to the panto on their own? – and he has secured it.

Look loves, don’t think I’m behaving totally out of character, but now I’m going to go and wrap a few presents, and it isn’t even Christmas Eve.  Thing is, the children roam all over the house and I don’t trust them not to find what’s hidden in boxes.  If those things are wrapped and put under the tree (which I’m going to get them to decorate in the morning), they can shake and feel but not look inside the packages.


Tim in the shop (as far as I am concerned, there is only one shop in Yagnub and it sells fruit’n’veg) told me this afternoon that Angela has died today. She was the town Mayor, in apparently robust health in May when she was elected, but ill – though still fighting – since the summer. We had all gathered, however, that it was only a matter of time. A lovely woman, anyone who met her both loved and respected her, she will be so greatly missed and the Sage and I, with her other friends, will miss her.

A family lunch tomorrow. The Sage was intending to go target shooting with Ro in the morning and then on to an appointment in Ipswich. Then Ro cried off because he has a bad cold (or man flu, how can one tell?) and now the Sage has cried off the appointment too. So, having planned lunch on the basis of no one being available to put things in the oven at specified times, it’s too late to change and I’m all ready anyway. Lasagne and trifle, darlings. Sounds good to me.


Sent from my iPhone

Z is given flowers

The Head has asked if I’d be able to go into staff briefing this morning and I said I would, but I was running slightly late – and I do get to appointments on time, so I did indeed run from the car park and just made it.  The Head was waiting for me, didn’t let me sign in but whisked me straight through to the staff room.

Okay, so now I know how he feels when he gets praised.  I stared at my feet for a bit and, when everyone clapped, said “thank you – thank you – no, do stop!  It’s a pleasure.”

And yes, it has been quite a year at the school and it would all have happened just as well if not for me.  I didn’t make the difference, but I have given all the support I can and I’ve done pretty well.  The flowers are not undeserved, but they are unnecessary.

Although the weather has become mild and wet – apparently much of the country has snow – there’s nothing like end of term to make the holiday spirit kick in.  I’m having lunch with two other governors at a nice pub in the next village where they have good food and a log fire, and then we’re going along to the informal pop concert at the school in the afternoon.  Great fun, staff and students join in, governors don’t, fortunately.

Oh, and  Lovejoy lives!  Well, that doesn’t surprise me at all.  Have you actually met Rog?

Typographical Frivolity

I’ve realused I had completely forgotten two people I’ll be buying presents for.  I knew about the other three I have yet to shop for.  On hear.  (oh dear, that should have been).  I have, however, biught tickets for the local pantomime for next Monday, which is part of my present to the children and Dilly.  And also to Weeza, I should say, because I have not bought a ticket for her.  The matter of wthether going to the panto is a treat…

Leave space for cries of “oh yes it is” and “oh no it isn’t.”

I just used Siri to set a reminder.  I said please and thank you, of course, wouldn’t you?  I was a bit creeped out by his reply though.  “Your satisfaction is all the thanks I need.”  Look, Siri, that smacks of sarcasm.  
At Tim’s behest, typos will no longer be corrected on this blog, not until the end of the year.  Or possibly just until Christmas because we may all be heartily tired of mt peculiar version of touch-typing by then.

I did learn to touch-type though, at school.  It was one of the most useful things I did learn (I was largely self-taught, it wasn’t the most academically-minded school).  I decided I couldn’t be bothered with French any longer, and declared I was giving it up.  Now, what I will say about that school was that they were helpful.  So they okayed my decision, but said I had to do something else instead, and was sent to the Business School over the road every week to learn to type.  I came to my senses a couple of years later, took O and A Level in French, win/win there.  Years later, I said to the Head at the village school that it would be very useful for the children to learn typing, as computer skills were just coming in.  ‘Oh, but it’ll all be voice recognition in a few years, they don’t need it.”  I didn’t agree, but even the chairman of governors doesn’t rule in the classroom, so I didn’t pursue it.  But in an office, everyone talking to their computer?  Hardly.  Even if it were not for the problem of programming it to recognise your voice.  Siri is pretty good, actually, but even so, he put down ‘firk’ (firk?) for church the other night.  I am told that some people flirt with Siri or try to carry on conversations.  Er, no.  I’m not that sort of a Z.

I think that I managed that whole paragraph without a mistake.  Not bad, for me.

I hauled several pieces of beef out of the freezer this morning.  Just slices, of braising and stewing steak.  Al and Dilly buy from local farmers, but soon over-fill their own freezer and rely on ours.  Only trouble is, after a few weeks, they forget about the meat.  So it’s there for a long time.  I’ll buy them some fresh to replace it.  I diced and fried it from half-frozen because I was going out, and I suppose that had some effect, because the sauce had become thicker than I expected.  It was just a basic beef casserole, onion, carrot, garlic, red wine, a tin of tomatoes and an Oxo cube (I don’t qutie trust hte flaviur of frozen meat).  But it was gorgeous.  And there’s loads, I’ll probably freeze some.  It’ll be useful when Wink is staying oer Christmas.

Not correcting typos is good for me.  Thank you Tim.  Thank you very bloody much.  Dear heart.

Another photo

I received a present from Texas.  Thank you very much, LX.  I shall enjoy getting to grips with cup and spoon measurements instead of ounces or grammes, and think of you every time I bake.

It has been a full day if not a busy one.  My friend from childhood, Charlotte, visited us – she last stayed back in February, but has been ill most of the year so, although we’ve spoken on the phone, I haven’t seen her.  She has moved here from Holland and now lives in the next town, a few miles away.

The new boiler was installed yesterday, I paid the bill straight into Mourad’s account this morning.  He and James, my tenant, are both happy.  My bank account is straitened but not quite empty.  I can still afford Christmas, especially as I just had a credit card bill today for only £14.13.  I am quite a frugal Z, on the whole, which is a rather dismal thing to be, I think.  I’m sure you all have a mental picture of me merrily shopping my way out of the recession.

Those of you who visited us in May (or at any other time) would not believe the loveliness out in the drive.  No weeds in the gravel, a good layer of new gravel and plenty of space to park any number of cars.  It’s so spruce and tidy that it makes me slightly uncomfortable.  Too perfect, you know?  I don’t really feel quite at ease* with perfection and prefer slight shabbiness and a few randomly scattered items that shouldn’t be there.  Still, it’s only a matter of time and I will have my wish.  I have every confidence.

Darlings, it’s only half past ten but I didn’t get all the sleep I’d have liked.  I’m going to bed soon.  Sweet dreams.

*Thank you, Tim

The Sage doesn’t understand punctuation

The Sage would bankrupt himself within days if not for me.  Fortunately – well, I suppose – the eBay account is in my name and goes through my email, because that was how I discovered that he’d accidentally left a bid of £67,999 rather than £67.99 because he doesn’t know the difference between a full stop and a comma.

Yes, it has been fully and frankly discussed.  Yes, thank you eBay, I have been able to retract the bid (which had gone up to nearly £200 by then, so I might feel morally obliged to not disappoint the vendors by putting in another bid to bring it up to that…but not tonight, I’m too cross) and the Sage has promised to be more careful in future, and get me to do his bidding.  Which I get so bored with, mind you.  No, things are not totally harmonious in the Zedary.  It’ll blow over, of course, it was a mistake and anyone can make mistakes, hey?

Sixty-eight thousand pounds for a wrap-around vesta though.  Bli me.  Though £200 is beyond common sense too.

The day had been spent charmingly, with Dilly and Hay, and then at the church watching the Nativity play.  Anyone who can resist the Christmas story has to be tired of life.  You don’t have to believe it’s more than an allegory* to be touched and moved by it, especially when enacted by children.  Two girls sang a duet at the Annunciation, while two other girls played the acting parts of Mary and the angel Gabriel.  Their voices were beautiful, they are ten years old at most but sang clear and true.

The final part of the drive is under way at last.  The area outside Al and Dilly’s gate has been scraped down to leave room for gravel, which was then applied and there really is not much more to do,  Another few loads of gravel, once other areas have been scraped free of weeds and levelled, and we’ll finally be done.  And then we can move on to the next job.  I’d say it’s like the Firth of Forth bridge, but they completed the painting of that.  We will never finish here.

*I have no wish to involve religious, political or other views here, darlings

Unaccustomed as Z is…

The prizegiving went very well.  I’ve probably said before, the school now goes with inviting ex-pupils who have achieved success in a particular field – it’s all about the encouragement of aspiration (which is the good face of ambition).  Lorna is a delightful girl and is doing impressively well in her field of media and marketing, and spoke well and entertainingly.

I was competent.  That’s what I’m there for, I’m not the main event but have to do a recap from the governors’ point of view and be appreciative.  A few encouraging words are fine, but I need not to draw attention to myself, whilst not actually sending people to sleep.  There’s been a lot happening this past year and I couldn’t seem to get my speech under 925 words, which I timed at 5 minutes, 15 seconds.  When it came to it, we were in the Sports Hall and the acoustics aren’t marvellous, so I had to wait a bit for the sound to catch up, so it may well have taken nearer 6 minutes.  Longer than I’d wish, but no great problem.  No, I wasn’t nervous, I had a bit of a flutter about an hour before, but that’s not out of the ordinary, and I actually don’t mind speaking to a few hundred people.  Being short-sighted is an advantage there, I think.

I’ve been looking through the list of former guest speakers.  Back in 1974, we had John Ebdon.  My favourite broadcaster ever, hooray.  The next year was Margaret Thatcher.  Let’s not get into politics please, I bet she was inspirational.  Hammond Innes, Sue Ryder, Viscount Tonypandy – someone had some influence, to get that calibre of speaker.  I remember Martin Bell, he was excellent, in his white suit. Louis de B. didn’t give a speech but read a short story, which was entertaining.

I have just remembered that photo of Gus as The Fonz.  Heeeyyyyy.

Cool, no?

And if you have been, thanks for listening.