Monthly Archives: December 2012

Z draws up a plan

Right, here’s a rough floor plan of the bungalow.  Not at all to scale, the drawing room isn’t as huge as that so the proportions are out somewhere, but it should give you an idea.  Ah, I’ve just noticed – the laundry room, dressing room, cloakroom, hall and drawing room outer walls should all be one line and the porch be an addition.

Originally, the sitting room was two bedrooms and the bungalow ended after that.  The cupboards plus cloakroom were where the bathroom was.  Where the bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and laundry room are now used to be my in-laws’ little extension which housed Hilda’s bathroom, the boiler room and the warm room which was used to dry clothes etc and had cupboards to store bedlinen and towels. The lobby is a little hallway which the other rooms lead off from.

We paid for the alterations of course, the house belongs to the Sage so we had the structural work done.  My mother spent almost as much (some £17,000) on decorations and furnishing.  It was ludicrous really, on a new house, but we went along with it.  My stepfather had died, you see, in January 1997.  She never did have the new conservatory, which should have been along the right hand, as you see it, drawing room wall, because she’d wanted it for him, but the rest was all done.  The council, having tried hard to make us restrict the size of the extension to 800 square feet (we argued it up because Ma had lived in a large house and her furniture was in proportion), passed the alterations and extension without comment.

The building of the bungalow

I have written about the time we moved here before, but I don’t think I’ve said much about the following year or so.  Just to set the scene for those of you who don’t know our background in this house, we live in the house where the Sage was born and where his parents spent nearly all their married life.  They married in 1927, bought it in 1928 – at the time, it had been divided into cottages, so they spent some months returning it to one house and making various alterations to make it more convenient for family life.

Their first babies were twin boys, but they did not survive.  What a shock and a tragedy – they didn’t know that there were two babies, let alone that there was a problem.  But it meant that when their first surviving child was born, the Sage’s elder brother, they had already moved in here, and their other two children were born here too.

It’s not at all surprising that the Sage was thrilled when I offered to come and live here after his father’s death, when his mother decided that the place was too big for her and that she would have to move out.    She looked for a house in the village but there was nothing suitable, so she asked if we minded if she built in the garden.  We had great difficulty in getting planning permission but it was eventually granted, with the conditions that the two houses must adjoin and have a connecting door, and that only members of our family could live there.

Ma moved in once the bungalow was built, but she didn’t have long to live and died suddenly in October 1985.  We were having some renovations done and hadn’t moved ourselves yet.  It wasn’t until the next summer that we moved in.  Ro was just two then, Al was ten and Weeza was twelve.

I have written before about my determination to be outgoing and make new friends (I’d been quite the opposite before, I waited for people to come to me, being quite shy and uncertain), because the people I knew were left back in Lowestoft.  Having a toddler helped of course, because there were other young mums with babies the same age who wanted friends for themselves and their children.  In those days, it was still usual for most mums to take a few years out from paid work until their children started school.

I’ve also mentioned that I settled in unexpectedly quickly.  I really enjoyed living here, rather to my surprise.  I loved my old house, an Edwardian former Rectory, and it had taken me years to overcome a feeling of claustrophobia in this Tudor house with its low ceilings. Also, I’d never lived so far from the sea and I thought I’d miss it.  Maybe I would, if I hadn’t liked it here so much.

My stepfather had a heart attack at the end of 1985 and his doctor recommended that he avoid stairs as much as possible and spare himself over-exertion.  And so, it was proposed that they sell their house and come to live in the bungalow.  Newly built and hardly lived it, you’d have thought it wouldn’t have needed much doing to it, but actually my mother wanted everything changed.  For a start, her four-poster bed didn’t fit in either of the bedrooms.  She didn’t like the kitchen, the bathroom (she was right there, Ma had chosen a hideous deep pink suite in a small and darkish room), the carpets, curtains or colour scheme.  And she needed a dressing room, of course.  And a porch and conservatory.

So plans were drawn up.  Between the old house and the bungalow was a flat-roofed extension, which housed the larder, the boiler room, the airing room and Hilda’s bathroom.  Hilda had come to the family as a nursemaid when the Sage (then known as Sprig) was a baby and she had never left.  It was decided that if most of it was knocked down, a new bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and laundry room could be built, leaving our larder and a lobby big enough to house our chest freezer and provide a new back door, as we’d done away with our old one when we built the room that is now my study.

I’m digressing again here.  I was going to talk about me.  Oh well, another day. 

Z gets to grips

Okay, I’ve made a start and turned out the laundry room and started on the lobby.  The lobby is where the freezer is going to go again, having been moved out to the porch several years ago to make room for shelving to put the things I couldn’t throw away when my mother died – I told you it would become boring.  I’ve been throwing things away.  I don’t want to talk about it.

It’ll be excellent when it’s done, though, and worth it.  Close the door, don’t look back – I’ve always been good at moving on, though if ones life flashes before the eyes just before one (*one* is a wretched word when used as an impersonal whassisface, innit?) pegs out, it’ll be a symphony of repressed memories.  I’m not traumatised, that would be silly.  Just that my childhood was – well, rather lovely, actually, and I don’t like to let it go.

The Sage, Elle and I are all at our respective computers.  Modern living, hey.

Elle is off to London tomorrow, to see a friend who’s staying in Bristol – it’s a good halfway spot.  She’s returning on the train that gets in at 11.10 pm, so I’ll drive over to Diss to fetch her.  She acknowledged last night that she’s quite nervous of the dark.  Of course, when I was growing up street lights went off at midnight but, though I lived in towns until I was over thirty, I mostly had very large gardens and I adjusted to village-in-the-country living very quickly.  It isn’t for everyone though.

When we moved here, which was at the end of July, many years ago, the rain set in in September and hardly seemed to stop for the next eighteen months.  It may not have been a record-breaking year as this has been but, since I don’t remember flooding in the West Country, maybe East Angular was wetter than other places for once.  Ro, who was a toddler at the time, became known in the village for being always in wellies.  However, I loved it from the start.  I’ve known other people who have moved here and whose first question has been “Where’s Tesco?” (or Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, depending on, um, personal preference).  But, not only did I love it, but I had thought it through – because that’s what I do, loves, I act on instinct but there are surprisingly sound reasons when I think about it – and I didn’t overdo the discomfort, whilst embracing the good parts of living here.

Ooh, as so often, I sat down not knowing what I was going to write and now I have something for tomorrow too.  Splendid.  A bit of my past that I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about before.

Toodle-pip, dear hearts.  Until tomorrow – don’t get your hopes up, mind you.  Nothing especially revealing, unless you’re interested in the minutiae of Zhistory.

If Z relaxes any more, I’ll slide under the table dribbling gently

Back to the cinema this evening, this time to see Life of Pi.  I enjoyed it very much and it’s made me want to reread the book, which isn’t always the case.  The sight of Indian food made Elle and I want to eat some, so I quickly phoned Ro to find out a nearby restaurant he could recommend, and the Sage to let him know we’d be an hour late.

The least likely film for me to watch is the one about the family caught up in the tsunami, who survived.  It’s all far too fresh in the memory, even the trailer was too upsetting to watch.  Elle and I both turned away.

The week has been slipping away and I haven’t started on any of the things I meant to do.  But I’ve been watching DVDs, reading, cooking – all very pleasant but I’d saved a few days specially.  I’m so foolish, darlings.

Anyway, the consequence is that I haven’t done anything much to tell you about.  Though I wouldn’t have anyway.  Turning out the larder and laundry room …… hm, doesn’t quite thrill, does it?

Still, my total inaction reminds me of a day of interviews I did last year.  It was for a temporary internal promotion at school but was likely, if successfully completed, to lead to a different permanent promotion.  The person we ended up appointing already led a major academic department.  Near the end of the interview, we asked her about her capacity for taking on extra responsibilities, quite time-consuming ones, when she was already so busy.  She looked surprised that we needed to ask.  “Well, the more there is to do, the more efficient you become, don’t you?”  She was right, of course.  And so, pleasant as it is to have a break, it’s a good job it’s a short one.  I need deadlines and obligations or I get bored.  And a bored Z is a boring Z.  

Z lives for the present

We had to go to Lowestoft today and picked up Elle from her friend’s house, where she’d spent Christmas, on the way back.  I asked about the planned party for New Year’s Eve.  It was still on, but they hadn’t found a venue yet.  There was one possibility, but it was quite a way for most of the guests to go.  I thought for a couple of minutes before speaking, for once (my sister calls our usual leaping-in “mouth overtaking brain”), so I can only blame myself if anything goes awry (Elle didn’t ask, or even hint), and offered the use of the bungalow.

So there will be quite a number of teenagers around here on Monday night.  We’ll stay out of the way unless things seem to be going awry, but I don’t expect them to.  They’re all a good bunch of kids and Elle has been to a couple of parties already, with no ill effects to the venue.  A number of them will sleep over, I daresay, there’s one double bed that Al and Dilly left behind but otherwise they will doss down on the floor.

Elle’s mum (who is French, though she lives in Germany), sent a parcel of some splendid French delicacies for Christmas for us, which is so kind.  I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that she, with Elle’s father and brother, will be coming here for a few days in February before Elle returns home again.  This has not gone at all as planned, I thought we’d just be providing the introduction to the school and a host family would be found and we’d just meet her a couple of times, but how glad I am that this wasn’t what happened.  She has been to several friends already and stayed a while with each, so she hasn’t been stuck with us the whole time – and we’ve had time to recover from the effects of having a teenager in the house again – but while she is here, she’s really part of the family.  It’s a preview of having teenage grandchildren – I love them being the age they are, but I’m going to enjoy their growing up too.  I’ve always thought how lovely it will be, to have an open house where my grandchildren can stay, invite their friends, feel that they can relax and have a (mutual) parent/offspring break and, whether this happens or not, depending on geography, health, closeness and so on, it’s a foretaste of a dream come true.  I sometimes feel that, at my age, I’ve not a lot to hope for (this isn’t meant to sound depressed but we’ve had a few foretastes of old age recently) but, though I’ve blogged a lot about the past recently, this doesn’t mean I’m going to hanker after it.  I’m going to take what now has to offer, and offer what I can as well.

Z feels fat and sleepy

We did have a good time yesterday and ate far too much.  I rarely overeat nowadays, but restraint went out of the window, largely because we were in no hurry at all to finish the meal and had long gaps between courses, so regained appetite.  Even later in the evening after Ro and Dora had gone, the Sage managed some smoked salmon and I ate Stilton.

I didn’t feel over-full when I went to bed, but we were too warm.  Not realising the mildness of the night, we’d put on the electric blanket for a few minutes and we both lay there whinging gently about the heat.  The Sage went to sleep in the end but I didn’t, and after a few hours I gave up, went downstairs and cleaned and tidied the kitchen.  Then I went and watched a DVD, then tidied the dining room before shambling back up to bed at nearly 6 o’clock.  I still didn’t sleep for another hour though before falling into a brief doze before the radio woke me again.  And if this has been long and dull to read (I know, there’s no ‘if’ about it) then I hope you’ve skipped most of it.

But at least the housework had been done, so mustn’t grumble, hey.  And we spent today with Al and co at their new house, where they are settling in happily.

happy Christmas

The joy that is Z for you : – D

Travels next year are likely to be confined to this country however so, much as I’d like to visit far-flung friends (I won’t be able to say that three times after I’ve drunk the champagne we’re about to open), that will be a treat for the future.

Love from all at the Zedary

Z nearly ran out of puff

Darlings, I’m not going to get around to wish each of you a wonderful Christmas, so please accept my apologies, lots of love and very best wishes.

This evening, the Carol Service was held in the church and it was a bit – well, we made the best of things.  I arrived and had a quick run through the carols I was playing on the organ – “Ah,” said Andy, “Could you play O Come All Ye Faithful in a different key?  Um, A flat?”  That’s four flats.  I’d expected to play it in G.  One sharp.   The arrangement was quite different, to boot.  I – oh, I winged it.  I mean, JFDI, OK?  But worse was to come, dear hearts.  There should have been a bit of nifty switching around of instruments and the electronic organ, the proper organ, the guitar and the clarinet come together in various duetty combinations, but none of them was quite in tune with each other and in the event we did nearly everything as solos, one or the other of us.  I was left with the more swingy numbers, plus Away in a Manger.  Candles were lit whilst that was being sung and the next carol, which was Andy’s, was sung by candlelight – or, since I’d missed out on the candles, by the light of an iPhone candle app.

We spent last night with Weeza and family, which was absolutely lovely and a great treat.  I couldn’t say anything about it last night of course, because the house was going to be empty, though a friend called in a few times, to feed and shut up the chickens and let them out again this morning.  And talking about this morning, I was woken rather early, about 4 o’clock, by the rain and couldn’t sleep again.  We’ve not had that much in comparison to the rest of the country so no grumbles at all.

The word ‘merry’ is such a splendid one, isn’t it? A pity it’s rarely used except in one particular context.

Merry Christmas, lovely internet friends.  Thank you for another year and if you do, please carry on blogging.  If you will, I will.  

The Sage is impossible to please

In truth, I’m a lot easier to buy presents for than the Sage.  There are plenty of safe options if inspiration doesn’t strike – I’m quite feminine enough to like jewellery, perfume and really nice toiletries, I always wear attractive underwear and the size is easy enough to check, I’d be quite open to being taken shopping for shoes and clothes and anyone who has known me for over forty years should know that I love books, music and films and might be able to guess what I’d like. I also love tools and don’t think it’s at all peculiar to be given them, and I love pens and stationery in general.  So it shows a distinct lack of imagination that the Sage has, more often than not, been completely clueless about a possible present and has, several times, effectively given me nothing at all.

Mind you, he’s just at bad at receiving presents.  It is not unusual for him not to bother to open them at all, if he thinks he knows what they are, or just to tear the paper enough to look.  Several weeks later, there will still be a small stack by his chair until I lay the law down and make him move them.  And I think there are few things more boring than a wife who is houseproud and nags a husband about his stuff, which he has every right to leave just where he wants because it’s his house too.  I don’t want to be pushed into it, but honestly his stuff stays where he dumps it until the cobwebs grow dusty, he’d literally never bother to put it away.  I’ve tried leaving things and always am the first to crack, though sometimes it’s taken a couple of years.

But even if a lot of thought has been given into a present, it’ll probably not be appreciated.  For example, a couple of years ago I thought I’d had a brainwave.  We had a very dear friend, Norman, who was a professional musician, a pianist.  He played regularly in the restaurant at the Ritz, in nightclubs and variety shows, in orchestras in the theatre and on television, that sort of thing.  And once he was on the Morecambe and Wise Show.  He played for them regularly, but didn’t appear on stage except that once, when he was mentioned on the credits.  And I was thinking of him (he died several years ago) and looked him up on IMDB and found the episode, tracked it down on Amazon and bought the series for the Sage.  It took quite a bit of time to do.  I’d already got the Sage’s present, a peculiarly unattractive antique mug that he wanted, so gave it to Ro to give his father.

It seemed to tick all the boxes.  The only visual record of one of the Sage’s oldest and most-loved friends, the Sage loves nostalgia and, though he’s not that interested in television, even he enjoyed Morecambe and Wise and might reasonably be expected to watch the whole DVD, not just the bit with Norman in it.  I thought it was a brilliant idea.

But. He’s never bothered to watch it.  I reminded him after a few weeks and again after a few months, when I asked if he maybe didn’t care to watch a video of someone who had died, which he said wasn’t the case.  I watched it myself in the end and it was lovely to see darling Norman again.  But the Sage has never seen it.  So, pfft.  I won’t be imaginative again.

It’s only fair to redress the balance a bit and I’ll write about some of the excellent presents he’s given me.    But it’s proved to be safer by far to lower my expectations way down.  I don’t care for disappointment.


Those bottles are far too handsome to hide away in the fridge, so I’ve bought some extra.  Here are a couple of them.

Oh.  The photo gizmo isn’t working.  I’ll put the picture in later.

I’ve got to email round the family and find out what we’re doing about presents.  We’re seeing Weeza and co tomorrow, Ro and Dora on Tuesday, Al and family on Wednesday, and the next Tuesday everyone is coming here for lunch.  So are we keeping the family ones until we’re all together, opening them when we’re with each of them or just handing them out for everyone to open on the Day?  I don’t mind, but we’d better agree.  Actually, I’ll do that now.  Back in a minute.

I made a big pot of minestrone this afternoon.  I like making soup when the weather is gloomy.  Cheers me up.  We had some of it (oh yes, it’ll last a couple of times more) with some cheese scones this evening.

It seems that most wives buy their own presents and hand them over to their husbands.  I think it’s a poor do, frankly, bearing in mind that most of us also buy everyone else’s and wrap them too.  You’d think that they’d at least be on the alert for the hint sophisticated, clear enough to tip the wink yet subtle enough to make them feel clever about it.  But no.  Although I suppose a man who gets it horribly wrong is worse.  Difficult, isn’t it?

Here is the picture, above.  When it finally decided to work, it inserted itself randomly.  Sugar in one, coffee beans in the other.  Others contain raisins and beans and so on. The bottles are a nice useful size with a wide top and comfortable to hold and pour from, I like them very much.  I forgive them for not being pint size because they’re more useful this way.