Monthly Archives: June 2012

Greased lightning

Like many of you, I’ve been receiving a lot of spam in the past few weeks.  It doesn’t get published but, if you’ve subscribed to comments, it’s turning up in your inboxes as well as in mine.  I’ve changed the settings so that any comments on posts over two days old go to moderation and (though it doesn’t lessen the notification emails to me) I hope that it means you don’t receive them.  If it’s just too annoying, I’ll have to turn on word verification again but that’s so hard to read that I’d rather put up with the spam for now.

Today it’s the Sage’s birthday, so the family came to lunch, plus Phil’s parents who are staying with him and Weeza for the weekend.  Phil himself had visited friends overnight, so didn’t turn up until 2 o’clock, having cycled 17 miles from Diss station (later he cycled 25 miles home again) and I reheated his meal for him.  I had to work fast this morning, not having got up early though having woken before 7 as I was too tired, and spent a swift 2 1/2 hours cleaning downstairs (I didn’t expect the Sage to have done any housework), preparing the meal, laying the table and so on.  There’s always a job that can be left if push comes to shove, this time it was washing the kitchen floor (though it did need doing, I suspect the Sage spent the week spilling drinks and not mopping them up as it was quite sticky) and I did do it and used the water to wash the porch floor too – and I still made it to church on time.  We had a lovely time, I do enjoy feeding lots of people and love the preparation.

Some more photos darling, if you will indulge me.  We drove down to the south of the island and up to a little village for a drink.  Lemonade, since you ask.  The lady in the café, who knows Pam and Peter, brought cake too as well as a 2 litre bottle of her red wine, which Peter and I drank over the next few days and was very good.  I went for a quick walk around the village afterwards, which was delightful, and took pictures of the swallows’ nests and the houses as well as the views.  Just before reaching the village, Peter had stopped for a ‘photo opportunity’ and you could see the sea both west and eastwards.

Plane View

Well, here I am looking horribly pleased with myself.  There are 258 photos but very few with me in, you’ll be reassured to know and yes, I am due a haircut and had to postpone it from last week until next Friday.

Same scene, same evening, sunset.  I’m not sure if those are the same people.

The next evening, we went to Mouse Island to watch the planes land.  Not that this gives the flavour of the occasion.  It’s brilliant, not to be missed.  It’s just beyond the airport.

First, we went for a drink at the nice little bar you can see in the background in the first photo.  Then we walked along the causeway, moving aside every so often to avoid the motorbikes being driven at speed and with remarkable confidence considering the ruts in the concrete and the narrowness of the path.  Then we waited.

You feel as though you can reach up and touch the plane as it flies directly over you, it’s marvellous.  Then you see the cloud of dust as it touches down on the runway.

It’s also good to watch them getting ready for take-off.

Z is back home and it was 11º in Norwich

Well, Corfu is beautiful.  Far more unspoiled than I had expected, I didn’t think that so much of the island was not built on or still had villages that had not been added to and have little or no tourist input. It was hotter than is usual at this time of the year, 36º at highest, which Pam found a bit too much.  Since she lives more than half of the year out of England it is surprising that I didn’t find it too hot whereas she did, but I’m fine with whatever happens as long as I can find some shade.

I’ve got a lot of photos and I’ll download them and not inflict too many of them on you.  Just a couple of striking memories … swallows.  Loads of them, it was lovely.  I’ve got a few photos of their nests, they swooped across one’s path and it was a delight.  The gorgeous scenery.  A farmer friend, describing his stay there said “all right if you like olive trees,” apparently – well, I do.  So many trees, not just olives but cypress, palms, holm oaks and many others.  Delightful butterflies, I must look them up.  Quite tricky to photograph, by the time I’d fished my camera out the butterfly had moved on and then, of course, when they alight on a flower they close their wings so you can’t see the pattern.  I saw my first fireflies which was exciting (I’m quite keen on insects and suchlike).

More tomorrow, darlings.  The Sage, who almost has had his sagacious status removed as a result of almighty cockuping today, kept me waiting an hour and a half after a splendid homeward journey and that’s the main reason I’m so tired.  But I’m home and that’s the main thing.

I trust you have had Chris on your mind this evening, because his marvellous Trio has had its first performance tonight – it’s probably halfway through the final movement right now, in fact.  Must have been exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure.  Awrabest, Chris, as my one-time Glaswegian friend Brian used to write.

Z shadebathes

I never lie about in the sun, of course.

I’m ever more relaxed. Having abandoned makeup, today I didn’t bother with a contact lens. Worse, or possibly better, I ventured into the sea (which is markedly warmer than it was last Friday) and afterwards dispensed with a bra. More relaxed than that doesn’t really come, darlings, not at my age.

There’s a good deal of anxiety here about the future. Most people want to stay with the euro because they’re worried about massive devaluation if the drachma is reintroduced, but they are preparing themselves for what might come. Hotel prices are being reduced, though a lack of holidaymakers isn’t a problem at present – however, they have less to spend and that is.

I hadn’t realised quite how much beautiful countryside there is in Corfu. I have the advantage that my friends know the island very well and are taking me to the loveliest places, but they certainly aren’t hard to find. Peter is an ex-professional photographer so my casual snaps risk making him wince – I’ve promised to send them to him – but I can’t go that far wrong, surely.

It’s very hot, too hot for Pam though not for me, oddly enough. Just as long as there’s some shade, I don’t mind how hot it is.

Toodle-pip, darlings. Hope you’re all having fun.

Zoë xx

Sent from my iPhone

Z is on holiday

And avoiding the Internet. Except, of course, that I miss you most terribly darlings, I have no idea what’s going on with you all, but I hope it’s all good.

I am having the most brilliant time as you (and I) knew I would and Pam and Peter are lovely hosts. Peter has just gone slightly off me, sadly, as after lunch there was a small piece of smoked salmon left. “can’t put that back in the fridge,” said Pam, “eat it with that piece of melon.” Ever obedient I did, of course, only to find that Peter had been saving it as a post-prandial little something. He’s taken it very well, brave and stalwart fellow.

No wifi so I’m using data roaming and just check emails every evening. I’m emailing and phoning the Sage of course. I see he’s bidding on eBay again. I pay for his eBay purchases as he doesn’t know how.

Mostly, I’m eating, drinking, seeing lovely places and being happy. Well, the happy is constant.

Today, I’m not even wearing makeup. Yes darlings, that relaxed.


Zoë x

Sent from my iPhone

Z twiddles her thumbs

Even the prospect of going away on holiday seems to have cheered me considerably.  I called on a friend this morning who remarked on how much better I look now than I did the other day.  And I slept for five straight hours last night.

I’ve packed.  My bag is far smaller than the carry-on dimensions permit, and I’ve packed two skirts, four tops* and a dress and I’m wearing trousers, teeshirt and cardigan.  I’m wearing one pair of sandals and taking another. And a swimsuit.  And a hat.  Underwear and toothbrush, obv.  My control freak tendency is dealt with by taking pounds, euros, dollars and a credit card.  I’ve loaded books onto my iPad and have just sternly removed the back-up book I could not resist packing.  Pam says she has loads of books out there anyway. I’m taking disposable contact lenses so that I don’t have to bother with sterilising solution.

I’ve changed all the towels, changed the bed and washed the sheets, planted the butternut squash plants, noticed that a lily has come up uncomfortably close to a later-planted lavender and moved the latter, watered the tomatoes and done some weeding.  I’ve checked the weather in Corfu, which is in the mid-twenties and set to go a bit higher.

I’ve accidentally used nearly all my data allowance for the month (didn’t notice I’d got stuff downloading on Spotify every time I turned it on) so have been eking out the final 20% for the last three weeks (my month starts on the 10th) and it should just last me for any more emails I need to write tonight.  I might check emails a couple of times while I’m away, but odds are I’ll be offline nearly all the time.  I am hoping for a change as well as a rest.

Honestly, I do take life too seriously, don’t I?  I even plan minutely when I intend to wind down.

But now, that’s about it except for loading the washing machine every so often this afternoon.  I think I might go and have a glass of wine, a couple of olives and a piece of cheese.  I haven’t finished the leftover cheese from the party yet.

Toodle-pip, darlings.  Take great care of yourselves while I’m gone or else I’ll worry about you.

*not ‘The’ Four Tops, that would be silly.  And they wouldn’t fit. 

Z is hastily washing and ironing clothes

When I went through my diary, there were two week-long chinks, one in the second half of July and one next week.  So, going by the maxim that a treat postponed will probably never happen, I booked my ticket there and then (the Ryanair website is a pain and it turned out to be impossible to cancel £7-something’s worth of unwanted insurance) and will spend Wednesday night with Pam and Peter and leave with them for Stansted on Thursday.  They’re staying for a couple of months, but I’m coming back to Norwich airport on Friday week.  What good friends they are and how well-timed this is for me.

I need to make a few phone calls today, because there are some engagements that I need to cancel – a haircut, the regular dinner with friends, Year 9 Music, ask the Sage to do my Meals on Wheels, give apologies for a meeting.  And I should tell my children and sister too, shouldn’t I.  Oh, and I’m due to be sidesman at the early service on Sunday, I need a stand-in for that too.

I’m travelling light.  I probably won’t blog, if you don’t mind.  I want to switch off for a few days and steady myself, I’m quite jagged again at present.  Don’t ask, loves, I’m not able to say anything and it’s better to focus on the good whenever possible.

And it may be a little hazy, but the sun is shining today.

Z downsizes

By the way, I wasn’t giving an opinion on the monarchy as such yesterday, simply on the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.  You can be as anti-monarchist as you want and still rather marvel at and enjoy the celebrations that people have laid on and attended, just because they want to.  It’s not like the Olympics, so expensive that it’s all being given over to big business to try to recoup some of the money.  There’s a blogger/twitterer whom I hold in high regard, but she’s done nothing but tweet over the past few days about how anti the occasion she is, and honestly she comes over as such a dreary killjoy when she’s actually nothing of the sort.  Just let people have fun and show affection, hey?  And anything that brings people together has to be good, we don’t spend half enough time getting together and being neighbourly.

Okay, back to the sensible Z some of you know and love.

Pam and Peter are coming for supper tonight as I said, and I’m keeping it simple.  Caesar salad, chicken in a nice sauce, meringues, strawberries and cream.  Not made into Eton Mess, I haven’t made a trayful of carefully-shaped meringues just to break them up and put them into more cream than I want to eat.  I don’t really want to eat any cream myself, being bent on major weight loss.

My forties were not good years.  I can only be blunt about that.  They started with my mother’s hip replacement and ended with her death.  In between – well, it took me a long time to get over it all and I’ve never felt able to blog about it.  And during the course of them, I put on two and a half stone in weight.  I lost one and a half of them when I was trying to stave off deterioration of my hip, put half of that back on afterwards, dammit, have lost that again and now I’m going for the rest.  Maybe not quite all of it, you can be too thin (and my mother was) and probably too rich as well, though I don’t suppose many of us have the latter problem, but I’m going to be the size I want to be and I’ll stay there.

And now I’ve told you, I’ve got to do it.

Z waves a flag and sings the National Anthem

I hope no one is being cynical about the Jubilee (though ignore it, do, if you’re not interested).  The celebrations are so innocently affectionate and kindly meant and spring from affection and respect.  I know a number of people who have taken themselves off to London, most of them going by coach, to watch the pageant on the Thames and I think that’s lovely.  I think it’s lovely to have put bunting up and hold parties and make paper crowns and write letters to the Queen.  No one would do it to a President, that’s for sure.  And there’s Her Majesty, she must be jolly chilly but she’s smiling and enjoying the occasion for what it signifies.

Before the ‘reformation’ of the House of Lords, there weren’t financial scandals there like there are now.  And the actions of MPs make the occasional, rare dubious dealings of minor members of the royal family look very mild.  You wouldn’t set up a hereditary monarchy in this country nowadays, but no one has come up with an idea for anything better.

If I’m being sentimental, I’m not apologising, either.  You’re just going to have to be kind and indulge me.

Pinning hopes on Z

The priest came up the aisle.  “Anyone got a safety pin?” he asked hopefully.  Everyone shook their head.  I hastily turned off Angry Birds and said what a pity I’d changed my handbag (from the one capacious enough to take my iPad, which I didn’t think I’d want today).  Then I thought again and looked in my little red purse (coin purse, that is).  It has two zipped compartments and I keep my phone earpieces in the small one so they don’t get tangled up.  I also keep two pink Migraleve, but I gave them to Mike yesterday and they’re my last so I must restock.  And … yes, a safety pin.  I followed the priest into the kitchen and proffered it.  “It’s not for me,” he said and took me back down the aisle and outside to where a smartly-dressed small pageboy was holding up his trousers.  His mother was very grateful.

It was a delightful wedding – the full Monty, mind you, a whole Mass as well as the marriage service.  I enjoyed it so much that I even sang the hymns out loud.  I have little confidence in my voice and generally sing very quietly so that it’s not noticeable when I leave out the high notes.  I don’t have much range either, especially since a throat operation in 1985.   Claire and Gerrit looked so happy and full of love.  And the Bob Dylan CD played during the signing of the register was a pleasure too.  There was a general hum of conversation in the church during that time, but I didn’t say a word.  I can’t help listening to music if I like it.

The reception was good fun too and everyone was very willing to chat.  I met a pianist-turned-conductor who is coming to Lowestoft next year for a concert commemorating Britten’s 100th anniversary – of his birthday, that is.  He was very pleased to have stayed previously in young Ben’s family home, now a guesthouse.  I have heard that it’s a very good one.  I told him (the conductor, that is, whose name is Nick) that my father was a patient of BB’s dentist father.

Brilliant run back, took less than 3 hours.  We arrived at exactly the time predicted by the satnav when we started off.