Monthly Archives: May 2013

Another day, another lawn

I got the day wrong, it’s tomorrow I’m in school.  So there was no reason not to get out with that sodding mower, was there?  Although, sorry mower, it’s not you, it’s the vast amount of grass here that’s the problem.  The mower is splendid and tackles knee-high undergrowth bravely.

But first I got out the hoover.  The swathes of dog hair were starting to band together and make the carpet look like shag pile.  Crikey, that looks a bit rude, shag pile.  For those of you too young to remember, it was – er – shaggy deep-piled carpet, popular in the 60s, I suppose.  I don’t think I knew anyone who had any.  Anyhoo, fortunately the dog is the colour of the carpet, so I’d got away with it surprisingly long, but the time had to come.

So another area is cleared for the moment.  A bit of strimming right against the tennis court netting, but the rest is done.  The Sage had gone with his sit-on mower two or three times down the middle of the area, but had left a yard or so each side.  Though I must give him credit, he emptied the wheelbarrow for me twice before going out.  And now it’s raining, within five minutes of coming indoors.  So stopping mowing and starting to clear up at 3.45 instead of 4 o’clock was wisdom, darlings, not laziness.

Ben is whining gently and showing every indication of wanting a cuddle.  That’s what I’d like too.

Z is eating ice cream. Strawberry.

I’m too tired to think straight, darlings, but I’ll try.  It’ll certainly save time to direct you to the lecturer’s website – which was given out at the lecture, I’m not sneaking around.  It was excellent, amusing, with a good balance between images, music and speech.  He kept to the time (as in period, not musically speaking) of Shakespeare and explained at the start that he’d start with music at court and among the nobility, come down the social strata to the lowest, then slide to dance and go up again.  And he finished with some Shakespeare.

It was interesting to be told about the various musical instruments – I knew something about it already, but a good lecturer will find another angle.  He focussed on professional and amateur musicians – in those days, of course, to be a professional meant that you relied on the higher ranks to pay you, so it was further up the social scale to be a proficient amateur.  And the instruments you played, too – in short, the louder the instrument, the lower-ranked you were because you played out of doors and/or to a lot of people.  If you played virginals, recorder and so on, you were posh.  If it was the shawm, the sackbut, the fiddle, you were lower in rank.  The viol seemed to be played by everyone.  Oh, and there was the tabor and pipe, which was jolly.  One piece was played which was the only known Morris dance from that period, but it seemed rather too stately for today’s Morrismen.

Actually, loves, I really am too tired to tell you, that was quite incoherent, I’ll try to tell you more tomorrow.  I came back and worked in the garden for several more hours and I’m about ready to flop.  Still, we’ve got a lot done and I’m ready to make a new list, not that the first one is quite completed yet.

Young Hadrian Swallow’s birthday is coming up.  Dilly suggested a few things for presents, and I looked one Early Learning Centre item up on Amazon.  And, as I was going in to Norwich, thought I’d trot along to the shop and buy it there.  Darlings, it was double the price.  It referred to the ELC on the website, so they sanctioned it all right, but it was £45 in the shop and I’m afraid I came back and bought it online.  And if there’s a problem with Amazon not paying Corporation Tax, that’s easy –  bring down the level of Corporation Tax and encourage businesses to take the easy way out and pay it here.  Of course they’ll go to the cheapest country if it’s legal.  Wouldn’t you?  I just did.  Saving £22 seems to have been worth my while.

A differently busy day tomorrow, I’ll be in school.  For a rest.  Don’t think I’m complaining though, it’s all going really well, as long as I don’t remember that it’ll all have grown back again within a fortnight.


It’s been a very good day, we got a lot done.  Or I did, anyway – the Sage was out and about most of the day, though he was turning out a workshop and putting a few final things on the skip later in the afternoon.  They were going to pick it up, but haven’t yet, I expect they’ll arrive in the morning.

Anyway, I mowed both lawns and weeded the bed alongside the Wall.  I planted some of the things I bought at the market yesterday, but ran out of steam in the end.  I don’t have a headache, but the rest of me is a bit tender.  Mowing grass doesn’t sound that much, but I’ve been taking in parts of the rough grass too, that would be done by strimmer if I had one.  Actually, friend Jamie has a mate with one he thinks might suit me, so he’s going to borrow it to let me have a go and, if I can manage the weight, I’ll buy my own.  If I can’t, I’ll have to go for an electric one and rely on shears and the scythe when it’s too far from the house.

I thought it was going to rain, but it cleared and the sun came out so I put the washing out.  It turned out to be quite windy at that point, so it was a bit of a battle with the laundry – but I overcame it, darlings.  It all was successfully pegged out, though a bathmat made a break for freedom and some firm handling was required.

This evening, we went to the theatre/cinema – the showing of the live National Theatre play, This House, which is a dramatisation, from the point of view of the Whips’ Offices, of the hung Labour government of the mid- to late-seventies.  It was very good and I recommend it, either at the theatre or as we saw it.  It took a few minutes to adjust to the slight oddness of the artificial overplaying of live theatre, but on a cinema screen, but the play was good enough to become engrossing, though I thought the second half could maybe have been cut a bit – the uncertainty of each vote became a bit less interesting every time and if it had been speeded up a bit, the loss of the vote of confidence would have been more of a shock and less of an inevitability (though if you remember that dreadful limping government that got sod all done because it had to bargain with all the minority parties all the time, it was certainly inevitable when you lived through it).  Still, that’s a quibble, and it’s certainly a link with the present situation, particularly when it came to the period of the Lib/Lab pact.

Tomorrow, off to Nadfas in Norwich.  Can’t remember the subject of the lecture.  Shall I look or shall I be surprised? – oh, go on, I’ll have a squint at the website.  Music and Cultural Life in Shakespeare’s England.  I’m happy with that.

Time to walk my dog, dear hearts.  Goodnight.

Big Ben (and a lot of brackets)

I had an email from Gill yesterday, who was quite distressed.  The people whom they’d hoped would take Ben couldn’t, so she and Andy were prepared to contact the dog rescue people and set the rehoming search in motion.  Of course, the Sage and I had already talked about it, so I confirmed with him and then wrote, asking to be allowed to keep him.  And then we heard nothing.

This morning, I went to church and Andy apologised (it wasn’t necessary, of course) because Gill had been so upset (she wasn’t there, the family was coming for a lunchtime barbecue) and – they hadn’t checked emails.  So I repeated our offer and it was accepted.  Later, I dropped the church collection off to her (she’s church treasurer) and she accepted too and we hugged.

I know, it was on the cards from the start and I’m not surprised, but I was never going to count chickens  and I’ve not thought of him as mine until the last few days, when I started to be unable to help it (and it was going to be incredibly hard to let him go as a result).

You know, I’ve said it all along, that my dog would find me, and I was right.  If ever you are tempted to argue – well, do, dear hearts, that’s fine.  But if I argue back, which I usually won’t, then you might as well concede at once, because I will be right.  No, I should clarify that.  If you’ve tried very hard to convince me and not succeeded, then there will be a good reason for it.  I’m both logical and instinctive, a combination that’s hard to beat, because if one doesn’t get you, the other will.  Fortunately, I’m also easy-going, so I rarely do argue … which brings me back to it being for a reason if I do.

Anyway, I digress.  It’s not the only jolly good thing that’s happened today, although surely the most momentous.  I cycled on into town after church, the Sage having gone ahead in the car, because the street was closed for one of the three annual markets, the garden one.  The antiques market is held in July, the Christmas one in December.  And we were so lucky with the weather!  It was lovely – a light, pleasant breeze, warm air and sunshine.  An unexpectedly perfect spring day.  Accordingly, everyone was there, it was really crowded and I had to be patient, getting through the throng with my bike.  The Sage bought me a roast pork roll from John’s hog roast and I started buying. Not having grown anything at all from seed this year, only the second year in about the last 38, I seem to be seedling-starved.  I bought lettuce, peas, courgettes, runner beans, butternut squash, spinach, more lettuce, tomatoes, chillies, sweet peas, morning glory, verbena – oh, various flowers, but it’s veggies that are close to my heart (in the sense that my stomach is…).  And I bought a lemon sponge cake, some pelargoniums and, with the last of my money, an ice cream cone.  The Sage had taken the first batch of  plants home in the car, but my panniers and handlebars were laden again, so I strolled for half a mile, eating icecream and pushing the bike, until my hands were free and I carefully rode the rest of the way.

It has always been my intention to let Ben run free so, having checked that no chickens had flown the coop, I let him out.  I followed him around the fields for a slightly anxious half hour until he decided to come back again, and then he ran round the garden happily while Al and Dilly helped fill the skip.  There were a couple of big pieces that I had left room for yesterday, then we in-filled.  And then I weeded the little beds, hardly 4 feet square, that I was going to plant with vegetables and then we had tea and cake.  And then I spent an hour potting up plants, forty of them.  So I feel that I’m getting back to my normal way of life.

By the time I’d finished, it was 6 o’clock, so I opened a bottle of Prosecco that happened to be in the fridge and we drank that and munched Twiglets.  Ben likes Twiglets.

I think I’ll sleep well tonight, but who’s to say?  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  But I’m quite cheery tonight, and so is the Sage.

Oh, and he had bought himself a ticket to the theatre – well, it’s a film of a theatre performance – tomorrow, to my puzzlement because he doesn’t like that sort of thing, and he asked if I’d like to go too.  So I said yes, because I do and, while we were buying my ticket, I asked if the Othello ones were on sale yet.  And they were – the Othello that’s on in London at present, getting such fantastic reviews and is pretty well sold out, is having a film made of a live performance and it’s on here in September.  And the tickets weren’t available last week, and now they are.  So I’ve got mine.  The Sage doesn’t want to come, he isn’t keen on Shakespeare (I married this man?  I never thought to ask, darlings, it never occurred to me), but I’m very happy.

The Sage lights a fire

Well, we’ve been beaten.  But at least we’re warm tonight.  The may is out, but I’m adding clouts, not casting them.

The Sage was in London today.  I had a long discussion with the Head this morning.  Several matters to consider.  I’ve spent most of the rest of the day doing not much as a consequence, letting things settle.  And this is quite a good sign, that I was able to relax and let my thoughts flow without conscious intervention.  Not that I did so at once, it took a spell of sitting by the Aga munching Twiglets – I should add that I ate pineapple later, to perfect the meal – to get things straight – I’m sorry to be cryptic, but there are several irons going into fires and some may be quietly removed, but others probably won’t be.  All good in the long run, but I’ve unanswered questions at present.

Still, better than not having enough to do, innit?  Seriously, I’d hate to do nothing but think of the housework, the next supper party or dabbling in watercolours, and I used to know a number of women bored out of their skulls doing just that, in the days when many of them didn’t go out to work and use their brains – fine for me in twenty years’ time, but not yet.  Not that you have to go *out* to work, but you have to be challenged and feel a sense of achievement.

Mentioning twenty years’ time is a moment of rare optimism, I note.  I don’t care to look forward very far, usually.

Anyway, after my Twiglet/pineapple lunch, I took Ben out for a good run and enjoyed the quiet.  Just birdsong, for the most part.  I said to the Sage on Monday, when we were on our way back from Lowestoft, how I love this time of year, when the leaves are still young and fresh and you really notice the different shades of green.  And there’s birdsong all day long, and parent birds taking beakfuls of grubs back to the nest.  It’s a joyous time, apart from it being bloody cold this year.

Trout and asparagus for supper.  It’ll be a short asparagus season this year, the growers stop cutting on the longest day, because they need to give time for the crowns to build up strength.  So, if it’s expensive, bear in mind that they only have a few weeks to make money when the plants are in the ground all year, and that it’s cut by hand, painstakingly.  If we aren’t willing to pay, they’ll grub it up and grow sugarbeet instead.  If you’d buy a magazine or a cup of coffee, invest the money in asparagus for the next five weeks.

Very nearly an armful

Yes, it’s that time again.  I wondered if I’d have to cancel at the last minute, but I felt fine this morning, albeit a little hoarse (insert joke of your own choosing), which is probably the effect of oilseed rape fumes.  I’ve been in Music all day, then off to the blood donor clinic.

Most amusing moment of the day was when a fanfare was played and correctly identified as such and the children suggested when it might be used. “When *the headmaster* comes in,” said young Charlotte.  

There was much jollity at the clinic, mind you, where we had to wait for a while.  “They always overbook,” Kevin explained, “but sometimes everyone turns up.”  And they’ve got new couches, very comfortable but they take more room overall than the old flat beds so they can only fit in six instead of nine.  One young man was donating for the first time and was very nervous and his girlfriend and a friend had come to give support.  Doing something you’re afraid to do makes you very brave, well done to him.

Tonight, I’m guaranteed a meal, because I’m going out to supper.  And tomorrow, the Sage will be in London – actually, we haven’t seen a lot of each other this week, so at least we’ll have plenty to talk about on Friday evening.  

After you, Claude…

This is where I’ve been today, and very splendid it was.  Cold, though.  I dutifully spent quite a long time in the garden and rather wished that, as well as two jumpers and two jackets, I’d worn gloves.

I’m still tired, hoarse voice, tickly cough.  It’s either a cold or a reaction to all the fields of oilseed rape that are now in flower.  I had a little nap on the way home and, I’m afraid, an early night is indicated at the moment.  I hate early nights.  I’ve nothing against getting up early, but evening time is when I perk up and feel most cheery.  But the Sage is out and may need a lift home, so I’ll have to stay alert for now.

I had just cooked myself scrambled eggs, put them on half a slice of toast, Marmited the other half and started eating, when someone called round to see the Sage.  Of course, he’s out, but when I came back having explained that, I found the dog had eaten my eggs.  I’m really not very lucky with evening meals at the moment.  I’ve eaten some cucumber.  I can’t have a glass of wine in case I’m driving and, actually, I don’t really want one.

H’m.  I must be under the weather.

Nothing but praise for BT, really.  The young (he looked about 14, but I’m sure he wasn’t) man spent a couple of hours tracking down the fault and putting it right, I’ve just had a call back to make sure we’re satisfied and they’ll keep the case open for another five days so that we get a prompt follow-up if necessary.  Calls to help centres, which are free, were answered by people who, whether in this country or in India, were not talking from checklists.  And there are lots of places to get free wifi on my phone, which is useful now I’ve got limited data included in my mobile package.

I’m so tired today, not sure why.  I slept unusually well for a couple of nights and then was back to normal for the next two, so maybe that’s the reason, or maybe it’s the return of cold, wet weather.  It started as a dull day in any case, we stayed in all morning because of the BT lad, then I had to drive the Sage over to Lowestoft and it was only after we arrived home that things perked up, because Al and co arrived and I cooked their tea.  Pugsley is a slightly fussy eater, though much better than he was at one time, but I hit the spot.  With little time in hand, I made chicken nuggets (made, not bought, obv, darlings) and served them with sausages, cucumber and, ahem, mini Cheddars.  Look, they’re not junk food, they contain real cheese.  And they had ketchup too, which is full of goodness.  Full.  Besides, then they had strawberries (local strawbs, of course) and raspberry ripple ice cream with real raspberry: that is, excellent quality with no additives.  Not that I’m being defensive or anything.  And dinner was on the table 20 minutes from starting work.

It was a bit early for me, mind you, and I thought I’d tuck into the leftovers, which were chicken and strawberries.  But just before going to his meeting, the Sage polished off the chicken.  And there was nothing else I fancied.  I couldn’t be bothered to cook, I was going to make a little salad and some tartare sauce because I wanted crunchy and piquant and no work to speak of.

I’ve eaten another packet of mini Cheddars (I KNOW, you don’t have to look at me like that), the rest of the strawberries and some toast and Marmite.  No, it’s no way to feed myself.  But I seem to be out of anything I want to eat.  I have kippers, yoghurt, stuff in the freezer, three-quarters of a cooked baked potato because I can’t eat a whole one.  I’ve got loads of eggs, some bacon, some Parmesan but no other cheese. I’ve got plenty of vegetables: asparagus, cauliflower, courgettes, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, sweet potato.  But no garlic, no chilli.  Capers, but you can’t eat more than a few capers.  Olives, but they’re not exactly it.

I could consider just getting over myself?  Do you know, that’s the best suggestion of the day.  I’ve got some lovely Montezuma chocolate, I’ll cuddle the dog, I’ll drink coffee and maybe a dram, though I’m out of Laphroaig.

Still no broadband

1 I have sent in my passport renewal application at last. Yes, I’ve had the form for a while, but in fact I’m not going abroad until September and it runs out in December, so I’m in good time.

2 BT is coming to sort out the Internet connection tomorrow morning. I had things that needed doing, so spent half an hour on the library computer this morning.

3 The skip has arrived. The Sage and I will devote tomorrow morning to feeding it.

4 Local rhubarb in a crumble on Sunday, our first asparagus from the garden last night (though we gave the very first to Weeza the other day). And the lilac is nearly out. The weather isn’t springlike, but the feel is.

5 Governors’ meeting today. And oh look. It’s nearly time to open a bottle. Here’s mud in your eye, dear hearts.

Sent from my iPhone

Z is offline

That is, following a brief power cut this morning, the broadband connection wouldn’t restart. I phoned, the helpful chap at the other end of the line (wazzup with BT? I’ve had nothing but good service from them recently) tried to put it right, but it was at the exchange – anyway, he reported it and I daresay it’ll be put right sooner or later.

Martina was asking about the name given to a house’s living room in this country. Potential for disagreement there, what do you call it? Living room, sitting room, parlour, drawing room, front room, lounge? And does it matter to you?

An evening of reading and DVDs awaits, darlings. Sorry if you’re waiting for me to play my turn at Scrabble etc, I’ll return when the internets do.

Love, Z

Sent from my iPhone