Monthly Archives: August 2012

The doghouse – Neffi and Cleo

Nefertiti was medium sized, with short hair, mostly black but with tan markings.  She had a stocky build without being at all fat – solidly muscular, rather.  She was a cheerful, friendly dog, very affectionate and she loved to play.  Her favourite game was a mock fight, when she’d dive in head-first for a tussle.  No growling, absolutely no aggression, just a friendly test of strength.  We called her Joe Frazier because he had the same head-first, get stuck in attitude in his fights.

Her sister Cleopatra was much the same size but she had quite a different physique.  She had long, black, silky hair and a soft and gentle body, she wasn’t muscular at all.  She loved to sit on your lap.  Well, not your lap, my lap or anyone’s lap.

Seven dogs does sound a lot and there certainly were people who thought there were too many, when they all ran out barking to check out a caller.  But they were actually quite an orderly bunch, kept well under the control of Simon, who was a strong but completely benevolent pack leader.  They were never in the least aggressive, any of them, apart from that one incident when Muldoon turned briefly on Kipper, there was no fighting and they were very friendly to people and welcomed visitors.

Muldoon had one foible, however, he was intrigued by people wearing shorts.  Shorts were worn quite, erm, short at that time, and he couldn’t resist, but had to give a little nip.  Not to hurt, he didn’t break the skin or even leave a mark – it seemed to be the equivalent of pinching the bottom and he didn’t mind whether it was a man or a woman.

This time was probably the last when I was quite carefree.  Our family circumstances had changed somewhat, financially in particular, because of the very heavy taxation on investment income in the mid and late 1960s.  And prices had started to rise so, whilst our gross income was much the same, we had much less after tax and it didn’t go so far.  It didn’t matter to me, I have never been too interested in possessions or clothes, but it was difficult for my mother to accept.

I didn’t join in the last ever family holiday, sadly.  It was my sister’s 21st birthday and, asked what she’d like as a present, she asked for a holiday in Scotland.  This was in the April just before I took my O Levels, when I was 15.  I said that I couldn’t go, I had too much work to do.  I’d stay at home and look after the dogs.

It was arranged that a neighbour would come in each night and sleep in the house with me, not that I would have minded being alone, and otherwise I looked after things.  My mother stocked the fridge, but after they left it occurred to them that I’d been left no money at all.  And so I received the only letter I ever had from my father.  I can quote it in full, although I haven’t seen it for years (I have it somewhere, not sure where).  Dear Zoë, it said, Herewith cheque for £5 which you can ask Jean Barnitt to cash for you.  And he’d signed it with his full name including his middle initial!  I didn’t need money however, so I never did bother to ask Jean Barnitt (who was another neighbour, not the one staying with me) to cash it.

Everything went fine, I enjoyed myself.  I prepared the dogs’ food, which was freshly cooked every couple of days, I cooked robust meals for myself, including plenty of vegetables and I walked the dogs.  I did spend much of the days revising, it was good to have no one there to distract me.  I don’t remember being invited out to friends’ houses or having anyone round, in fact I’m quite sure I wasn’t/didn’t, which seems a bit odd as I had several good friends who lived nearby.  Maybe they were away too, or maybe they were revising – Valerie would also have been taking O levels and her brother Johnny and friends John and Jim were a couple of years older, taking A levels.   We didn’t go to the same schools, Johnny and Valerie went to neighbouring schools in or near Edinburgh, John went to Oundle and Jim to Cheltenham College.  Their fathers worked for Shell and they’d spent much of the time working abroad, usually in the Middle East, so the offspring all went to boarding school.  Wink and I didn’t because our mother wanted hers to be the strongest influence on our lives.  Unfortunately, it involved us going to a rubbish school, where I was happy enough but Wink certainly wasn’t.  

The doghouse – an aside

There was a dog whose name I couldn’t remember, and I’ve been puzzling over it for several days.  And then, thanks to Rog (a bit obliquely) I had the clue.  Songs.  Musing this evening, the words “lost and gone forever” came into my mind, because I sometimes have felt warm nostalgia from the posts of the last few weeks but sometimes rather bleak regret … anyway, that led me to Clementine, and I thought that was the dog’s name for a minute, and then I knew it wasn’t, and then I remembered the reason for his name, which was a heart-shaped white patch on his head.


Okay, Nefertiti next, Valentine later.  But the memories are all there, just a bit deeply buried sometimes.

The doghouse – Muldoon

Susie had eight puppies and for some reason I can’t quite remember we kept three of them, Muldoon, Cleopatra and Nefertiti.  They were born on the 24th January, though I’m not quite sure of the year it was probably 1968.

I can’t find any photos of Muldoon, but he was a handsome blond dog with some white spots on his face (hence his name – there’s a song called Spotty Muldoon) and he adored my mother.

Susie was an excellent mother and kept her puppies under tight control.  Even when they were grown up, she was still the matriarch.  If Muldoon (it was always Muldoon) misbehaved, she’d take his head in her mouth, not to hurt but to assert her authority and he meekly gave in.

However, he was quite possessive and, sadly, this led to ructions.  As I’ve said before, Kipper adored my mother too and spent a lot of his time at our house, but Muldoon became jealous and one day he rounded on Kipper and growled at him.  Kipper was terribly upset and never came to the house again.  If my mother called at his house he was as affectionate as ever, but the close family bond was broken.

Muldoon was very handsome and very charming.  “If only they made men like Muldoon…” we used to muse.  At this time we had seven dogs, Simon, Huckleberry, Jessica Gee, Susie, Muldoon, Cleo and Neffi.  When I took them for walks every day there were too many to manage on a lead so I took four and let the other three loose.  They were quite sensible and didn’t run into the road (though not chasing cats wasn’t guaranteed).  It was always me that walked the dogs, I’m not sure why that was.  I suppose everyone else was too busy, and Wink lived in London by that time anyway.  In the summer of 1969, I was taking my O Levels.

On the 18th of January 1970, everything changed abruptly and forever.  We’d all been very ill with the ‘flu epidemic that spread through the country.  Christmas was miserable.  I can’t think why we bothered, but we cooked the usual turkey and ham, although no one could face food.  It stayed in the fridge until it went off, and a couple of weeks later, embarrassed to put it in the dustbin, I staggered down the garden and dumped the food in the Broad.

We recovered in the end, though still didn’t feel very well.  On the 17th, my father went to a Town Council committee meeting, though he wasn’t really well enough to go out.  In the early hours of the next morning he had a heart attack and later, in hospital, he died.

My mother stopped eating.  She lost over 2 stone in weight in the next few weeks and later she said that it was only Muldoon’s anxious love that kept her from deliberately starving herself to death.  She was very strong-willed, quite capable of it.  I have never quite come to terms with the fact that she chose to live for a dog and not for her fatherless teenage daughter, but there we go, that’s what she said.  She never did put the weight on again, she chose to be thin – rather too thin, to tell the truth, and it did no good for her health in the long run.

I remember Muldoon as one of the most loving and faithful dogs I’ve ever known.  Things changed in the next few years, but Muldoon was the constant, always at our side when things were hard.

To lighten this gloomy post, an anecdote of Muldoon’s puppyhood.  I was sitting in my parents’ bedroom reading, leaning on one of the posts of their four-poster bed, sitting on the floor (I’ve already said that we mostly sat on the floor because chairs were primarily for dogs) when suddenly Muldoon got up and ran for the door.  As he scuttled over my legs I felt a warm, wet sensation.  Sadly, he’d been caught short.  Well brought up by Susie, he knew that puddles in the house were not allowed, but he couldn’t wait, and there was a zig-zag of pee sprinkled across the carpet as he made a bolt for the door.  Across the carpet and my legs, of course.

Back to the … present

Just briefly – gosh, isn’t it hot?  29º in the shade, 34º in not quite full sun an hour ago, so that’s just hot for England, it’s barely a mild day for some of you, of course.  I have to say, I love it.  I’m far too hot, but what a pleasure.  If you’re struggling, please be patient.  It won’t last and we can all go back to complaining about rain in the summer again.

I’ve recently discovered that my transformation is complete – that is, to someone who thinks better at a computer than with a pen in hand.  It’s been the case when writing letters for some years – isn’t it still a pleasure to receive a hand-written chatty letter in the post?  But I find them hard to write now.  Emailing is more natural to me.  When writing a document that really matters, I still print it out for the final proof-read because errors that I overlooked on the screen jump out at me on paper, but I can’t write it on paper any more.

Anyway, the completion – I sometimes, when I get around to it, do The Times crossword.  I don’t often finish it, sometimes I just get a couple of clues, sometimes most of the way.  It’s a red letter day when I fill in the final clue.  But for the last couple of days I’ve been doing it on the iPad.  And I’ve always needed to hold a pen and the newspaper to be able to think my way into a cryptic crossword.  No more.  I whizzed through three-quarters of yesterday’s … that’s it, I couldn’t finish it, I still haven’t even though I wrote down the answers I’d got in the paper to see if that helped.  But, although I did jot down letters to think my way through an anagram, I actually found it easier on the screen than I normally do in the paper.

I still prefer a real book to those I read in the Kindle app, but I have to admit that I’ve bought at least three times as many downloaded books this year as paper ones.  And I like to hold a proper newspaper.    Well, and read it.  Not hold it with the furled umbrella and the bowler hat.

Oh, and I turned of WV again, because it’s so damn annoying.  I can’t read it when I try to comment on blogs and have, in the past couple of days, had to have up to three goes before getting it right.  But I’ve already had a couple of spam comments – which don’t find their way into the comment column, they’re filtered out.  So why do the wretched spammers bother?

Plus ça change – well no, it isn’t a bit the same

As Tim says, everything was delivered, or at any rate, it could be.  If my mother decided I needed a new dress, for example, we might go to the shop or she might phone and ask for a selection of dresses in my size to be sent ‘on approval.’  They would duly turn up, I’d try them on and one would be chosen and the rest sent back.  Come to that, if my mother wanted to buy something for herself, she wouldn’t try it on in the shop unless she really did need to buy there and then.  She’d pick out things she liked the look of, take them away on approval and try them on at home.  Very civilised.

Oh, moving on a decade or two, do you remember the ghastly time when shops did away with individual cubicles and had communal changing rooms?  What on earth was that about?  It only lasted a few years, I should think clothes sales plummeted in that time.  Even if you were reasonably confident about your body and few enough women are, stripping off and trying on clothes among strangers is just awful.

You never picked up things in shops and took them to a till, an assistant came to help you.

What was sold back in the 50s and 60s that isn’t available now?  I can think of soda syphons – you sent them back to the shop to be refilled, or maybe there was a deposit on them – which came to the same thing, you always needed soda water on hand, even if only to add to whisky.  Lemonade came in glass bottles with a deposit on them – they were still around in the late 1970s, I remember buying fizzy ‘nade for my older children.

Smiths Crisps (did it have an apostrophe?  I can’t remember) with its little twist of salt that you unwrapped and sprinkled into the packet of crisps, then held the top of the bag and shook to distribute.  Years later they tried reintroducing it, but it was in little sealed squares and it wasn’t the same at all.

Sweetshops, with their glass jars of sweets – they’re still about, though there aren’t too many of them, but the jars are plastic now.  Why did some sweets vanish while others are still made?  Spangles, for example.  Other sweets that we ate then are still about, though you do need a proper sweetshop to find them, such as sherbet fountains (though the tube of liquorice is hygienically wrapped nowadays which does rather spoil things), aniseed balls with the little seed at their centre (aniseed balls rarely have that nowadays, which is a bit of a cheat).  Walnut whips can be bought now, but they cheesepared many years ago by removing the walnut half from the inside – it used to be embedded in the base of the chocolate – and only leaving the one on top.  And surely they’re smaller than they used to be, or is it just that I’m bigger.  Do Wagon Wheels still exist?  They got smaller, for sure.

If you would like to add your own recollections, let me have the email you use for your Blogger account (I don’t know if it would work for other blogs, though we could give it a go) and I’ll add you to the list of people who can post on this blog (I think this is awfully brave of me)- you can add to this one or write a post of your own.  If there is any enthusiasm for the idea, Tim suggests we could start a blog on the subject  – it might be fun to share memories.  I expect it would flare brightly as we remember things and then we’d all snap back to the present, but that doesn’t matter. 

The doghouse – eating and drinking

Two more posts about childhood memories, then back to the dogs.

Many of us have supermarket deliveries now (I don’t, but I might if my local Co-op did it, I try to spend my housekeeping money in the town where I live) but, whilst that’s quite a recent thing, doorstep deliveries were the norm before the days of supermarkets.

Milk was delivered daily, of course.  Initially as I’ve said, the milkman came round with his horse and cart (and if a pile of dung was left outside your gate this was a bonus and you nipped out with bucket and shovel before your neighbour did), but electric milk floats gradually superseded the single horse-powered vehicle.  We still have milk delivered twice a week, in returnable bottles, though I suspect the latter isn’t the norm now.  Incidentally, Adnams brewery in Southwold kept its horse-drawn drays for many years for local deliveries, it’s within the last ten years I should think (yes, I could google it) that the heavy horses were finally pensioned off.  Most people buy milk from the supermarket, I rarely do.  We continue to buy from the milkman and the rest of our milk comes straight from the farm and Jonny’s Girls.  Jonny is planning to extend into cheese production soon, as you’ll see if you follow the link and scroll down.

The baker’s van called round twice a week, I think.  Good fresh loaves, though the cakes and biscuits were all packaged.  In those days my mother never baked cakes and we rarely bought them either, but if we did they would have been not very interesting ones from there.

The fishmonger phoned from Beccles once a week and took our order – he’d reel (geddit?) off what was fresh in that day and deliver the order later.  I don’t remember whether there was a fishmonger in Oulton Broad, surely there was?  It seems odd now, to live in a fishing port and buy from several miles away, because the fish was certainly taken from Lowestoft to Beccles and brought back again to us, but it must have been a particularly good fishmonger.  There were several smokehouses in Lowestoft for delicious kippers and bloaters.  Kippers were always bought in pairs in those days, but I couldn’t eat a pair of kippers now, they’re very filling.  Of course, the fishing industry has been almost wiped out now.  In the 1970s there was a lot of concern about the Russian factory fishing fleet that trawled up pretty well everything, it was said then that they overfished the North Sea and so they did.  Now, we still have doorstep deliveries of fish – Paul comes on a Monday with his refrigerated van and we buy from him – but the fish is nearly all landed in Grimsby I believe.

Meat was bought from Mr Marjoram in Oulton Broad.  The shop is still there, I don’t know if it’s still family-owned but I expect so.  Again, whilst we could of course go in and shop, my mother normally phoned through her order and it was delivered.  Now, we’re well served for butchers, with three excellent ones in the town.  I don’t buy meat from supermarkets, it’s expensive and/or not very good.  That is, I might buy some chicken portions or something once in a while (only British meat – apart from things such as salami and Parma ham and so on, I never buy imported meat) but rarely and not as my first choice.

We bought our groceries from Waller’s in Oulton Broad.  You would go in and ask for each item individually from the assistant behind the counter.  Mr Waller or Mr Fenn were most likely to serve us.  Alternatively, we could drop in a written order to be made up, or telephone and in either event the groceries would be delivered later.  In the late ’60s the first supermarket opened in Oulton Broad.  Privately owned and run by Mr Faulkner, it was very good and it was so much quicker to go round and pick up your own groceries that many people started to shop there.  Later, Mr Faulkner sold that business and started up a health food shop next door.  In addition to local shopping, my parents had an account with Fortnum and Mason for items they couldn’t buy in Lowestoft – ridiculously enough, Gold Blend instant coffee was first obtained from London – and we particularly enjoyed choosing the Christmas order.  I remember the sweets best, Griottes en Cognac – Morello cherries in brandy encased in dark chocolate – and Amandines, which can’t be their full name and I’ve never been able to track them down again.  They were a torpedo-shaped butterscotch rolled in flaked almonds and wrapped in silver paper and were delicious.  If anyone can identify them and tell me where to buy them, I’d be immensely grateful.  I’ve tried in Fortnum’s a few times over the years and they couldn’t help me.  Some 20 years ago, my mother said to me, wistfully, that our order from Fortnum and Mason cost about £25, what did I think would be the equivalent now?  I suggested, with inflation, at least £500.  We both sighed.  It would probably be double that now.  I occasionally buy something there still for old time’s sake.

We rarely needed to buy vegetables as we grew everything, but we bought fruit and imported stuff.  I don’t have clear memories of a greengrocer though, so it probably came from Waller’s.  My parents were always on the look-out for something unusual and avocados, aubergines, okra, Chinese gooseberries (now called Kiwi fruit) and so on were sent for from London in the first instance.  Later in the ’60s you could buy most of them locally of course.

The wine merchant was in Lowestoft.  Peter Dominic’s – though the name changed a few times over the years that was it for most of the time.  I suppose they delivered too, I don’t remember, though I do remember calling in with one of my parents regularly.  Wine was on the table at every meal – every dinner anyway, maybe not lunch.  It was usual to have a glass of sherry or gin and tonic or whatever – my father had a fondness for Pernod – and wine with the meal.  If there were guests, port or liqueurs were passed round afterwards.  It’s my lingering belief that a decanter of port should always be passed to the left, because of the superstition that if the port is passed the wrong way, a sailor dies at sea.  Fortunately, it doesn’t count if the port is in the bottle.  Now there are two wine merchants in Bungay, I also sometimes buy online in which case it’s delivered or I go to the supermarket.

My parents had accounts at all the shops of course, and so didn’t need to carry much money.  It was all done on trust, “put it on the bill” and, although it turned up fully itemised it was paid without question and promptly.  My father despised the practice of keeping traders waiting for their money – a young friend who worked for Peter Dominic said that it was surprising how many well-respected people didn’t pay their drinks bill for many months, but our attitude was that if you can’t afford it, you don’t buy it.  And (with due respect and sympathy for those who can’t make their money stretch to basics, I’m not meaning them) that has always been my rather simplistic attitude to my household accounts.

Our Mutual Friends

The Sage and I were going to a funeral today, so contacted Mike and Ann to see if they would be in if we called in afterwards as they live in the same town.  It transpired that they were going there too and invited us to park at their house and go back with them afterwards for tea.

The funeral was a warm and affectionate send-off to a dear man, whom I didn’t know well (the Sage knew him and his wife much better) but I liked very much.  He used to come to our auction viewings and, whilst his wife looked at the china, he drew sketches of people, to their amusement and pleasure.  We will miss him.

And so, I have seen Mike’s shed, complete with forge and anvil.  And his cellar!  I’m really jealous of his cellar.  Thank you so much, Mike and Ann, for your hospitality and I hope we can return it soon.

The Sage and I had intended to go out for dinner last night, but it didn’t quite happen so we went tonight instead. This is a very rare occurrence.  We went to a local pub – not the one in the village, they don’t do evening meals, but in the next village across the marshes (not that we went that way, we drove instead).  

Only problem is, I’m always the designated driver nowadays.  Hmm.  I’m having my glass of wine now instead.

The doghouse – erm, the horsehouse – Tommy

Until the late 1950s, our milk was delivered by Mr Jones by horse and cart.  One day, he proudly told my mother that he was buying an electric milk float for his deliveries.  “What about Tommy?” she asked keenly.  Tommy, 24 years old (oh darlings, he was the horse), was going to the knacker’s yard.  Well, you can imagine.  Mummy gave an impassioned speech about the years of service, the awfulness of the end, the duty to a faithful servant.  And indeed, by the end of it we had acquired an elderly horse.

So, some outbuildings were converted to a stable and annex for feedbins and so on.  And a saddle and bridle were bought, but it turned out that Tommy wasn’t prepared to be ridden.  When introduced to me, he tried to eat my hair, which was sort of hay-coloured, admittedly.  So he was just a pet.

When he’d eaten all the grass in the paddock, he was walked a mile to friends’ paddock – oh, they were the parents of Peter, with whom I went to Corfu recently (with his wife, don’t get excited, lovely man but no).  One day, he (Tommy, not Peter, do keep up) trod on Mummy’s foot.  Her toe never really quite recovered and nor did her nearly new Italian shoe.

A friend, known to me as Uncle Cyril (I’ll add the only other anecdote I remember about Uncle Cyril in a minute), once fed Tommy a very large carrot, one of those rejected by Mr Weavers as not to be put in the horticultural show, but pretty damn impressive anyway.  It was too much for him and gave him colic.  He had to be walked and walked, because if he’d been allowed to lie down he’d have rolled, and a twisted gut would have been the end of him.

He lived to be 30, old Tommy. I don’t remember that much about him, but I do remember that he enjoyed his pint of Guinness on a Sunday morning.  It had been his treat on his day off, and we kept it up.  I’ve got some Guinness in the fridge.  Next time I pour a glass, I’ll raise it to good old Tommy.

Uncle Cyril and his wife whose name I can’t recall at present lived in Gorleston.  One day, he took me and Wink and quite possibly a few friends to the cinema to see an Elvis Presley film.  This was in the ’60s and it was faintly embarrassing as the Beatles had already rather superseded Elvis in popularity – but balding, middle-aged Uncle Cyril sang along.  Poor man, he was certainly a lot younger than I am now and I granny-dance, let’s face it – but we cringed.  I hope he didn’t realise.  Children can be so cruel.

The doghouse – the garden

The kitchen garden was quite big enough to grow enough vegetables and fruit for the house all year round.  Gooseberry and currant bushes down near the bottom, then several beds with various veg in, then the topmost bed had the raspberry canes and strawberries.  In later years, when my father had died and we didn’t have a gardener any more, my mother and I did the vegetable gardening.  She sold off the end with the hothouses in and a house was built there.  The well with its pumphouse was also in the kitchen garden. This came on with a timer twice a day.  If ever, for any reason, something went awry there we got an airlock and this was a real pain.  The pump had to be primed and the air had to be released from the pipes in the house.  This meant turning on the tap in the cloakroom and waiting for the most awful belches and bursts of air and water.

There was a terrace around the house – the drive and the house itself were at a higher level than the lawn.  It was on the terrace steps that the photo of us and the dogs were taken.  Below the terrace there were big flowerbeds, the width of the house.  When we first moved in, the lawn was broken up by flowerbeds too – two big squares, each with a circular bed at its centre surrounded by four small ones, like squares with a bite taken out.  These were filled with bedding plants.  They were removed pretty soon, the arrangement was quite old-fashioned, it was a vast amount of work and it meant that the usable area of lawn was very small.  Beyond the lawn were rosebeds containing 250 pink Queen Elizabeth roses – they were lovely but unscented, sadly.  Then there were the herbaceous borders.  They attracted loads of butterflies and bees every year.  Next was a patch of rough grass where wild flowers grew, and lots of bulbs came up in the spring, and then another area of lawn before we got to the river bank, or rather the quay heading.  We had riparian ownership for some feet into the Broad – 15 feet?  I don’t know – and there were tall wooden pilings that boats could be moored to.  On the right hand side as you looked from the house there was a slipway and a side channel for mooring boats.

I spent a lot of my childhood simply messing about in boats.  We didn’t sail – it didn’t interest my father who loved speedboats and raced before the War, and my mother was afraid of the water.  But I splashed around in the water and we rowed in the dinghy and I enjoyed nothing better than a clear, calm evening out on the water in one of the side channels where it was quiet and I could look for wildlife.

I also messed around in the water in the ponds in the rock garden.  This was no ordinary rockery, it was huge.  During the recession of the 1920s, my grandfather was instrumental in having Kensington Gardens in Lowestoft constructed – a public garden laid out quite elaborately with lots of stone boulders surrounding small flower beds, all interconnected with concrete paths.  We have the original gold key from the opening ceremony, which he performed.  It was very labour intensive to build and provided jobs for many men.  Being a man to put his money where his mouth was, he had a similar sort of thing done at his own house.  The focus was on ponds, eight of them.  The topmost one had a waterfall built up of Westmorland stone.  The water was pumped up, fell into the first pond, which overflowed into concrete channels and then went on to each pond in turn, ending up at a large round formal pond surrounded by a brick wall, which sprayed the water into a fountain.  The small beds tended to be infested with marestail, which is a bugger to eliminate.  They dried out in summer too, but I remember lots of flowers in spring.  The scent of lupins takes me back there.  Also the flowering currant because there was a large bush by the waterfall.  My favourite pond was the one with newts in and I spent hours there.

An unusual feature of the garden was a big mound of earth covered in trees and shrubs called, erm, The Mound.  I don’t know if it was there all along, it was certainly man-made, or if it was built during the War to house the air-raid shelter.  We were forbidden to enter this because it was supposed to be unsafe, and I was ever obedient so, whilst I peered in, I didn’t set foot in.  We could scramble over the Mound though.  I remember tamarisk and rather a lot of brambles – there were various shrubs but I can’t quite place them now.  The Mound was on the left of the house as you look at the photo, you can’t quite see it.  On the right hand side, also out of picture, were cordon apple trees and, beyond that, two quince trees and a huge bay tree.  Well, I don’t suppose bay is a tree, a shrub rather, but it was certainly very large.  The quinces were marvellous, I still love the scent of quince.

I played fairly aimlessly in the garden, mostly on my own apart from the dogs.  I ran about a lot, mostly being a horse.  When other people were there we played tennis, using the cordon apples as a net – which I suppose did them little good – and I suppose organised hide and seek, chasing games and so on.  But I was often alone and I don’t remember minding that.  I played with Wink sometimes, but she is older than I am and we liked different things as a consequence.

There was a little summer house down by the river, I almost forgot.  My parents didn’t use it, but we did.  And my father had another one built up between the Mound and the next-door hedge, near the waterfall.  It was known as Jane’s Gazebo.

I wonder at the point of memory, when it matters to no one and it’s all gone now anyway.  Ah well.  It’s imprinted, I couldn’t lose it if I tried.

The Zed Shed!!!*

A break from nostalgia, darlings.  I’ve been wallowing too deeply and I need to wade out and dry off a bit.  Although I realised I was too much in the habit of telling you my daily round and I resist habit, so a different style of content is a good thing.

What I want to tell you about is my shed.  Yes, my very own shed!  The Sage, Al and Mike put it up today while I was in Norwich.  It’s quite small, about 6′ by 8′, but it’s my very own and when there’s a lock on the door I’m jolly well holding on to the key.  It’s mine!  The Sage may borrow tools from it, but only if he brings them back.  If not, it’ll be the last time, I’m quite determined.  Actually, I stood in there (it’s quite empty at present) and shut the door and felt … what does this say about me? … I felt safe and happy.  Not that I’m unsafe nor even unhappy, or vice versa, when out of the shed, but it must have something to do with the confined space.

I was in Norwich to buy presents for Zerlina’s and Augustus’s birthdays this weekend.  And their parents’ wedding anniversary – 7 years – is the day in between.  Wink is coming up for the triple celebration.  Well, it’ll be a single party on Sunday.  But anyway, she’s coming and I’m so looking forward to seeing her.  And maybe she’ll put me right on a few details about the Doghouse.  I’m putting off the next dog blog, I have to admit, because it leads to a dark period and, as you know, I keep it light.

I also met Ro for lunch, which was lovely.  I’ve not seen him for several weeks and had birthday presents to give him.  Sadly, his birthday was three weeks ago.  Indeed, bad mother.

*Hah, Jonny B, hah.  I have claimed the !!! as my own.