Monthly Archives: August 2013

Z doesn’t eat lunch

Wink has left for home, calling on friends for lunch on the way.  We finished the last of the bacon yesterday and I didn’t go food shopping, so it was scrambled eggs for breakfast today.

Yesterday, we had intended to have lunch somewhere in the Beccles area, at a pub with a garden where we could take Ben.  I suggested a place – we didn’t know what type of food they served but it didn’t really matter, you can’t go far wrong with a sandwich, salad, fish and chips or whatever.  We went in separate cars as Wink had decided not to go to the dog party.  I was at the petrol station filling my car when she and Russell phoned to say that the pub was closed for refurbishment.  So I went to meet them and suggested another place on the Beccles to Lowestoft road which had always been popular and used to serve traditional pub fare.  So off we headed.  There was a board outside advertising for new tenants, which didn’t look promising, nor did the overgrown garden.  Lights were on, however, so we tried the door but it was locked.

By this time, I wasn’t going to have time for lunch as I had some things to buy and we’d spent half of the time we’d expected to have to eat, just looking for somewhere.  We drove through another village which always had had a pub, but there’s no sign of it now and I suspect it has been pulled down and the land built on.  So we ended up in Beccles, Wink and R went into what used to be a nice hotel in the town centre that only a big pub chain had been able to afford the renovations on, I left all the car windows quarter open and did my shopping, and then went and stole a few chips off their plates.  There are good places to eat in Beccles of course, but time was vanishing by then.

It was quite dismaying that, in the middle of the holiday season and within a couple of miles of an attractive riverside town with lots of visitors, pubs were shut.  And yet all the eating places round here seem pretty busy every day.  Maybe they rely more on locals, I don’t know.  Certainly, the place we went to eat last night was busy, it was as well that we’d booked because, by the time we left at around 8.30, some tables were on their second sittings.

Happy Birthday Augustus

Gus is two years old and they celebrated, having had parties at the weekend, with a day on the beach and dinner out with us.

Gus and his sister shared dessert.

Zerlina enjoyed riding her new scooter
It was our second birthday party of the day.  It is Rupert the spaniel’s first birthday tomorrow and Hannah and Sam held a dogs’ party in their friend’s garden.  Apart from the two-legged hangers on, there were six party-goers.  I never did manage to get a photo of them all at the same time.  Rupert is the golden cocker spaniel, Ben and Teddy are golden retrievers, Mr Bingley is a black labrador, Monty is a black labradoodle and Blade is a border collie.

IMG_1974 IMG_1977 IMG_1986 IMG_1987
Actually, now I look again, all the dogs are in the last picture. Ben was the first to dive into the fishpond. One might have expected it.

Life should return to *normal* tomorrow, with Wink leaving for Wiltshire and birthdays over for this month.  However, it won’t be the last celebration this week – it having been Weeza and Phil’s eighth wedding anniversary yesterday, it will be Dilly and Al’s ninth on Saturday.

I haven’t had time to read blogs for a few days, I’ve hardly had time for Scrabble (but I catch up in the middle of the night, if need be).  Best score of the day was KENOTIC on a triple (and KIF) for 93 points.  I’ll be about tomorrow, though.

Z invites friends for dinner

The only trouble with a convivial evening is that everyone seems to take charge of a wine bottle and glasses are charged indiscriminately. I prefer to finish a glass before it’s refilled – on the other hand, I’ve typed this far without a correction, so I can’t be entirely smashed.

Now to attermpt (heh, let it stand) Scrabble and see if I can win games while the teensiest bit drunk.

Tomorrow, darlings.

Happy Birthday, little yellow honey-bee

Zerlina is five today, and the family (the local ones plus Wink, that is) all went to her house for a birthday barbecue, fourteen of us. Apart from the slight mishap of leaving her birthday present behind, it was a lovely occasion. It’ll be her brother’s birthday on Tuesday, so we will take both presents when we meet then.

Here starts the birthday and anniversary season – between now and the end of September there are seven family birthdays and two wedding anniversaries. Life will be just one long party.

Going away, Part 1

John in Wales is going away for the weekend and wrote about the number of friends who are stepping in to look after things. It struck a chord with several of his readers as the comments show and it certainly did here too. Here is the link.

My mother lived next door in the annexe for fifteen years. For a number of those years, and on and off for some of the rest, she looked after herself, but she never liked being on her own overnight – not that she minded being alone in the bungalow, but she didn’t like the feeling that the big house next door was unoccupied. In addition, Russell didn’t really like being away from his beloved home and, at the least, wanted to know it wasn’t empty. And then there were the dogs. So we needed a house/Grandma/dog sitter.

At this time of the year, the greenhouses needed daily watering, the veg garden needed some watering and vegetables needed picking every day. This took at least an hour a day. So a garden-sitter was required.

Then there were the bantams that are fed three times a day and let out and shut up morning and evening. Chicken-sitter. Try saying it quickly several times.

Fortunately, though the dogs loved a walk, it wasn’t really necessary as there’s plenty of room for them and they never bothered a stray bantam, unlike Ben now, so at least we didn’t have to consider a dog walker.

The last family holiday we had was a visit to Brittany twenty years ago. Ronan had just finished at the village school and was going on to the middle school in September. He’d just had chickenpox and his hair was wildly curly and in need of a wash – but that’s another story.

After that, we had a few shortish trips away in this country, with or without the children (Weeza and Al were grown up by then, of course), but it all seemed too much effort to plan and book a proper holiday. I wanted one to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and said to my husband that it was all I wanted – no need for presents or a party – he could hardly say no and put a brave face on it, so I renewed his passport. But then my mother’s terminal cancer was diagnosed, so we abandoned that idea entirely, and in fact she died just about the time I’d planned that we’d be away.

Z hangs on wistfully to the summer

It was damp and cheerless enough this morning for me to turn on the Aga, a day before I had intended to.  I don’t like being without it, I admit – all these years of going straight to the cooker and having all the heat I need, instantly, means that I find it quite hard to plan time to put the oven on and wait.  And there’s so much room for everything and my back-up is a very small oven and two electric rings, awkwardly high.  However, my kitchen ceiling is low and the heat becomes unbearable in the middle of summer.  Sadly, summer is receding quickly, wished away by people in a way I don’t really comprehend.

Summer didn’t start until the end of June.  It was the day after the blog party, so the last day in June, when heat blazed out suddenly.  Since then, some places that are not in South Norfolk have had thunderstorms and even flash floods, but most of the country has had hot weather and here, it’s been both warm and dry.  I’ve appreciated every minute of it, after the long cold winter and the spring that seemed nothing but a continuation of winter.  I can quite see how it’s been a bit much for some, especially if they work in the city and have a long commute – but it’s a matter of opinion, not fact.

It reminds me of one of the differences between my mother and me.  She was very black-and-white.  If she liked something, it was great and there was no room for dissent, but nor was there when she took against a thing.  She hated hot weather, so hot weather was a Bad Thing.  I should add that cold weather was also a Bad Thing – she didn’t really like weather at all.  A few spring days, when it was warm enough not to wear a coat but you still needed a jacket suited her.  I never said so, fortunately, but her complaints did spoil the pleasure of a lovely summer’s day.

In a few weeks’ time, I daresay I’ll start to look forward to the season of bonfires and warm jumpers, but it’s still August and I’m nowhere near wanting to relinquish the summer yet.  A couple more months at least, and I’ll still hanker for the warmth of the sun, even when I’m enjoying a brisk walk in crisp morning air.

Most of those who are grumbling about the warmth that seems to have abruptly ended today are young, and that’s another thing.  Wanting to move on to the next season is too much like wishing life away, and that’s something that a person in the first half of their life is more casual about than one in the second half – the final quarter, very likely, I don’t come from a long-lived family.

I believed for many years that I was indecisive, but now I’m not…no, I’ll resist the old joke.  Actually, I’m not indecisive at all.  If I can’t make up my mind, neither option is the right one for me and if I don’t much care, then either will do.  Growing up with someone who always knew her own mind made me assume I didn’t.  In addition, I was too shy to be decisive, I was afraid of my choice being ridiculed – not that it ever was, but a shy person isn’t necessarily that rational.  In fact, my instincts weren’t entirely wrong there, as I discovered when I was older and less afraid to speak out, much to the annoyance of my mother if my tastes happened to differ from hers.

Z muses in the small hours

Sleep eludes me tonight, I can’t think why. Two hours asleep, but that seems to be it. I’ve tried everything except going to make tea, so that will be my last resort.

A Level results day yesterday, and congratulations to those such as Roses’ Boy, who gained the grades needed for their next step along life’s road. At my school, half a dozen got a string of straight As/A*s, but I think the most impressive is a boy with a progressive eye disease who is working as hard as he can while he does have his sight. He has been taking exams early and has passed Maths with an A* and Further Maths AS Level with an A. He is still only fifteen. He has visited university already to get his bearings, again whilst he can still see.

Wink will be coming to stay at the weekend for a few days. Both Zerlina and Gus are celebrating their birthdays soon so we are going over for a family jolly on Sunday. And Weeza and Phil will have been married eight years on Monday, Al and Dilly nine years the next Saturday. Gosh.

Five questions

  1. What’s with the calls for rain and cold weather?  Have people forgotten that the whole of the first half of this year was cold and miserable?  We were still lighting fires in June, after all. In the fireplace, that is
  2. Is it an indication of how sad and shallow I am, that one of the things that has given me most pleasure this year is the discovery that I’ve lost an inch from my waist measurement since February?
  3. Ditto, that I’ve lost half a stone in a year without even trying?
  4. How does one equate a wish to drive economically with the news that this is bad for cars using diesel? Apparently, they need a heavier right foot than we are accustomed to using nowadays. Though I have to say, I hate filling the car and use the plastic gloves they provide at filling stations. The smell lingers worse than petrol. Next car will be petrol, I think.
  5. Never mind the fifth question, I’ve just seen the ewe anther forecast And must get in the washing. Oh, hang on, back to the fifth question. What’s with the odd auto-correct when blogging on the iPad? I typed tweak her correctly. I mean weather. Third time, it let it go without comment. Pfft.

Z has a blogroll

Yes, it’s taken more than seven and a half years, but there it is.  It comprises people who have commented or registered here since the new blog has been up, who currently blog.  I hope I haven’t missed anyone out, please let me know if I have.

Other than that, today I’m mostly gardening, cutting back tired herbaceous plants in the hope of perking them up and getting some new growth, with the aid of some watering.  Russell is working in the garden too.  If you’ve been here, you’ll know that the gate to the field by the drive is falling apart after many decades of stalwart service – the post, which is about 9 inches square and once was solid oak, has disintegrated below the ground, and that is being replaced first.  It’s hard work and, I’m afraid, well beyond my girly muscles.  Rather beyond his, to be honest, but he’s making a start.

This is a dry garden, the rainfall here is pretty low to start with and the soil is sand on gravel.  I’ve never lived anywhere with heavy soil and I’m used to the conditions, so have adjusted my gardening accordingly over the years.  I water vegetables and pots of course, but rarely water flowers or shrubs unless it’s been exceptionally dry, not after the first year, because it just doesn’t work in the long term.  I’ve been given plants that I’ve tried very hard to care for but which have never thrived.

I have for you what is possibly the cutest cat photo in the history of kitteh pics.  Meet Wilson.2013 - 1

He is, apparently, as sweet as he looks, but quite boisterous – which I can hardly believe, bless his innocent little face.


If you don’t log out and have ticked the ‘remember me’ box, you shouldn’t have any difficulty with commenting.  If you do get signed out, however, I suggest you change your password to one of your choice.  For this, you’ll need the site admin, either under the ‘Razor-blade of Life’ in the bar at the top left next to the W or else the Meta widget low down on the right-hand sidebar.  Both will take you to a page offering you the option of changing your password.  Something easy to remember, but with a symbol or two (&£@($* sort of thing) to make it impossible to be discovered.

I’ve been updating all my passwords as I’ve needed to use them recently, to add symbols.  I heard a very depressing piece on the radio the other week, saying how computer programmes can go through all combinations of letters plus numbers (if the length of the password is known, I suppose) and, although I already used the capital, lowercase and number combination, I have complicated them a little bit more.

Anyway, I do apologise for the trouble some of you have had and we’ll get it ironed out.  I’ve had a few attempts at posting spam already, but still have my nose in front so far.

We have just got back from Norwich, where we’ve been babysitting for Weeza and Phil, who had an appointment with their architect about the new house.  They were very cheered by his suggestions for upstairs, where the layout is fine as far as it goes, but wastes a lot of space with a very large landing, giving them only three bedrooms.  They had been thinking of juggling in more rooms, but he’s suggested a different layout altogether, which will be much better.

In the meantime, we were enjoying ourselves too.  I read to Zerlina, a book I passed on a few weeks ago called Harvey’s Hideout, by Russell Hoban, which used to be Ro’s when he was a child and which Zerlina likes as much as he did.  After she was in bed, I came down to cook our dinner but then heard Gus call out, so went to comfort him.  He seemed okay and we were just eating when he appeared downstairs – which doesn’t normally happen, they’re both very good about staying in bed … but rules vary a bit when parents are safely out of the way.  So I sat him on my knee and offered him pizza and salad, to his great pleasure.  And then we talked about his birthday next week and I played the iBirthday app for him.  In bed, I sang Happy Birthday and he had a big grin on his face.

Later, we were nearly home on a short cut along a country road when a Landrover came towards us flashing its lights.  So I slowed down and saw two people with torches ahead.  It was right by a dairy farm and we knew at once what must have happened: cows out on the road.  I drove very slowly, caught up with them and asked if I should turn round – they said there was no need but I might find myself among ten or so cows.  Not wanting to risk driving them towards the main road, I stopped the car and waited and five minutes later they came back of their own accord.  I turned off the engine and they decided we were no threat and shambled past, some on each side of the car.  We felt very sympathetic towards the farmer, if a few cows lean hard enough, it’s very possible to find the weak spots in a fence and there’s not a lot of fresh grass on most of the fields with the dry weather we’ve had.