Monthly Archives: September 2013

Not asleep yet

Having been put inside a shoebox inside a wooden box, then into the coldest bedroom, Edweena found it was a lot warmer than outside, so was awake when I went to check on her.  I have no idea if I’m right to be so anxious about this – I gave her a bath (you’re supposed to, I’m not going soft in the head) and we’ve put her in a plastic crate lined with paper (newspaper topped with shredded paper) in the porch, on top of the freezer so that Ben can’t snuffle at her, and she can potter around during the day if she wants to.  I’ve left instructions with Russell about monitoring her Edweeing habits, to be sure her gut is empty before she goes to sleep at last.  Though how to make her is another matter – she isn’t eating, in preparation for hibernation, but it’s nowhere near cold enough unless I leave her out of doors, and then it’ll become too cold.  I know, I’m making too much fuss.  But that’s just the way it is, I’m too maternal for my own good and I over-think things.

It’s Dora’s birthday today, the last of the five family birthdays in September.  Ro took her away for the weekend to a spa hotel and she’s been thoroughly pampered. according to her Facebook status.

Charlotte is staying with us tonight, because she’s kindly driving me to the airport tomorrow.  I’ve just taken her to her room, where I apologised for the clothes I left there.  I turned out my wardrobe a few weeks ago, and they are all too big for me, but I haven’t quite brought myself to dispose of them yet.  She happens to be a size bigger than I am, and dearly loves a rummage in old clothes, so her face lit up when I said she’d be welcome to any she likes.  I think she might have a trying-on session before she goes to sleep.


I’m not sure why, but it’s much easier to add photos from my iPad than from the computer.  I’d ask Ronan, but he’d probably blame the iMac.  No matter, if necessary I’ll just transfer pictures from computer to pad and go from there, as I just did with my new ‘unobservant eye’ photo.  Which I also worked out how to put on to the sidebar – ok, that wasn’t so difficult.

Anyway, today was rather more eventful than we had expected.  Al & co were off to the Sea Life Centre in Yarmouth as Pugsley’s chosen birthday treat, so they called in here on their way.  When he’d unwrapped his saw, hammer and so on, I explained the carpentry story (that sounds a bit New Testament, but you know what I mean – or if you don’t, you didn’t read yesterday’s post) and everyone looked pleased.  Except Hay, because it went rather over his head, but it was all right because he liked the carved stone elephants I’d brought back from Turkey (why elephants?  Because they were there.  Does it matter?) so he had that to be pleased about.  Pugsley liked them too.  Very cleverly, the Sage* had found up the original set of soldiers that Al had made for Ro, so they were displayed too.

After they left, we got ready to leave for Old Buckenham airfield, where they were holding a tribute day to Ken Wallis, who died recently at the age of 97.  I’ve written about him before: he is best known as the inventor of the autogyro, most famously used in You Only Live Twice, the James Bond film.  Ken himself was the stunt pilot in the Little Nellie scenes.  Little Nellie was named after him of course – Nellie Wallace, the music hall star.

We were over half way there when Miriam sent me a text and, paused at a junction, I read it – fortunately.  The cows were out.  Oh bum.  I replied that we’d get back asap and turned round and drove back.  Big Pinkie looked smug.  The other two looked sedately excited – if you think that’s an oxymoron, that’s the only sort of excitement I do myself at my age.  They all strolled peacefully on to the Ups and Downs, I gave Miriam my keys because she wanted to take Ben for a run later, and we set off again.

Darlings, it was a brilliant day.  We never considered calling it off after our unscheduled return, but I’m so glad of that.  There were lots of vintage and classic cars and motorbikes on show, particularly English ones.  One easily forgets how many fine English vehicle manufacturers there used to be.  There were autogyros on display too, very splendid ones, aeronautical (and aerobatic) displays and Little Nellie herself was there.


Apparently, they had expected a mere 500 people, but there were a lot more than that there and it was a happy tribute to a brilliant, enthusiastic man.
Later, at home, I was busy in the kitchen when Russell appeared looking anxious.  Edweena the tortoise was nowhere to be found.  She is feeling the cold and caused minor alarm a few days ago, when she burrowed out of sight.  Since then, she had gone deeper, but was still visible.  R had scrabbled about, but couldn’t find her.  He was afraid she had been stolen.  Well, I said, it wasn’t impossible, but it was pretty unlikely.  Hardly anyone knows where she is, she isn’t visible anyway.  We explored with a trowel.  Then I started digging with a fork, starting some way from where she could possibly have dug to.  And suddenly, there she was, dug up like a large stone.
She is now in a shoebox inside a large crate inside the coolest bedroom.  I’m rather concerned, however, because it’s a bit early for her to hibernate – that is, it’s a long time before spring.  I’ve issued advice for while I’m away – even in Ronan’s bedroom, it’s warmer than outside, she may be wakeful for a bit longer.  And I don’t think she should sleep long past the New Year, we need to get a heat lamp and keep her inside, I think, until we really know what we’re doing.  I like animals with facial expressions, that follow you about and make it clear what there requirements are.  I’m not really suited to be a tortoise mummy.


*You may have noticed, my husband is usually called Russell nowadays. His sagacity has lapsed severely of late, but credit where it’s due.

Seven years on

When Ronan was a little boy, he got on very well with his much older brother and sister.  When Alex was about ten and Ro was about two, we gave Al a book on making wooden toys and some tools, and the first thing he made was a set of ninepins in the shape of soldiers, with a plywood cannon as a chute for the balls.  It was especially delightful that he drew humorous expressions on the soldiers’ faces – happy, tearful, determined – Al has always had a light and skilful touch as a cartoonist.

Tomorrow, Pugsley will be seven and it occurred to me that he might like to do a similar thing for his little brother.  So I fished out the same book, and have bought tools, dowelling, glue and a measuring tape for him to try his hand at some carpentry.  Under adult supervision, of course.  The man at B&Q was delightful, very helpful and wants him to come along to the woodwork club they hold at the weekends – I think it’s too far for them to go, since they also have Squiffany’s gymnastics lessons in the other direction, but we can see if he likes it.

We met Weeza and co at B&Q because they are looking at wooden flooring for their big living room.  We have a substantial quantity of oak planks, but when we checked there’s only enough for about half the room and, having taken advice, it’s quite chancy with their underfloor heating.  Some wooden flooring is suitable, though, and we had a look.  We found two that might suit and are going to consult the chap who’ll lay it.

The house is looking good so far, though the only rooms habitable are two bedrooms and the kitchen – which is more than the previous owner achieved in seven years.  A sofa they can all sit on, their dining table and chairs, the television and all the kitchen units and equipment still leave them plenty of room, it brings home how small the rooms are in a modern house.  They will certainly need more furniture once the sitting room, some 10 metres by 9 metres (two and a half times the size of our drawing room, I’m desperately jealous), is in use.

While driving to their house, I had my second migraine in four days.  They’re the first this year, I’d hoped I wasn’t going to have them any more.  I ignored it, as I did the last.  Fortunately, I don’t have the dreadfully debilitating, three day sort that cannot be ignored and I’ve trained myself over the years to keep going, as that’s the quickest answer.  I’ll have an early night though.  Probably.

Z hasn’t stopped blogging

I am still alive, if you were wondering.  It’s rare that I’m too busy to blog for more than a day or two, but this week has been that sort of exception.  However, I’m almost up there now, as long as I do the washing ready to be off again next week.  Back to back holidays aren’t an unmixed blessing.

It seems so long ago already, yet on Monday afternoon I was lying reading, rather greasy after an aromatherapy massage, two thousand miles away.  It was a lovely place and a week was not long enough, though I think we made the most of our holiday, including time spent simply relaxing.  On the last morning, I went and bought various herbs and spices to bring home. The woman from whom I bought walnuts, dried figs and garlic evidently did well out of me, because Wink and I received kisses when we said goodbye.  But it was a lot cheaper than here, I don’t mind in the least if she made a good profit.  It’s when you are a bit off the tourist trail and talk to the people who have grown the food you’re buying that you feel a connection with a place and those who live there.

I’m still a bit wiped out, it’s been quite a week. It’s fine though, all in hand (this is sheer bravado and said with fingers crossed, or they will be as soon as I’ve finished typing).  I’ve got a plate wobbling, but it’s not up to me whether or not it drops.  I’ve given all the others a good spin and they should last, as long as I check them.

I’m not a bit ready to go to Holland, except for changing Euros.  Well, I’m a bit ready.  I’ve got my ticket, money, passport, books.  All I need is toothbrush and clothes, really.  Oh, and I’ve got a lift to the airport, which will be early morning.  Holland.  Salty liquorice, gingerbread and chocolate are the presents my family can expect from me.

Z doesn’t help Weeza

Weeza’s family moved house this weekend. It seems to have gone pretty well, though they still have some stuff to clear from the old house, which they will let out in future. I’ve said I will go and look after the children for a couple of days once I’m home, to give Weeza a clear run. We will also, apparently, be looking after Rupert the spaniel, so I may take him with me.  It seems that it won’t take long for me to get back into the swing of things once I’m back. Not that I’m quite ready to let go of my holiday yet. It was quite difficult to start to unwind, with all the anxiety about Russell’s accident, but I managed it at last, though I sleep little better than I do at home.

One mystery has been solved, though. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d been sent a present and the package had a Sheffield postcode on it. I had an email today from someone I haven’t seen for several years – he’s only a couple of weeks younger than I am, I think his birthday is tomorrow, and he remember mine and sent me something. Wasn’t that sweet of him? I had been going to write and say thank you, addressing the letter from the postcode, which I’d looked up online, though I’d run out of time to do it before I left. My friend used to live in Yagnub, I don’t know if he’s moved away – well, I assume he has: that is, I didn’t know he had.  I’ve emailed back, of course.

Bedtime, I think. Goodnight, darlings.

Z feels an affinity with Lady Macbeth…

…having washed my hands, used anti-bacterial stuff on them three times and still felt I wasn’t clean.

It was the mud bath, you see. Supposed to be rejuvenating and healthy – yeah, right. I was just about good-humoured enough to go along with it to start with, and could even take the smell of sulphur, and mud itself doesn’t worry me, nor dirt – give me a fork, a muck heap and a vegetable patch, and I’ll beaver away for hours – but the thing of reaching down into the water to bring up handfuls of the stuff to plaster over myself was dispiriting and the realisation that it was the warmish water that many people had stood in, doing just that, sent me scrambling to the bank.  And I disliked the shower too, which was so powerful that it wasn’t easy to keep the water off my face and who knew its state of hygiene?

I dealt with the loo more easily, funnily enough, though it was the squatting kind, and at least there was soap at the washbasin. I had a long and thorough shower when I arrived back at the hotel, though.

still, the rest of the day was enjoyable, and I’ll see about adding some pictures in due course.

Z memorises a 9 digit number

We went on a boat trip round the islands today, which was relaxing and quite lovely. Wink’s eye looked rather worse this morning and she felt quite self-conscious – at least she can wear sunglasses to hide the bruise and the swelling had diminished by this evening and we hope it’ll be a lot better by the time she’s back at work.

Apart from my underwater venture, I have learned something else this trip, and that’s my passport number. The wifi password is our room number plus passport number and you have to re-enter it after leaving the site, and it because simpler to learn it than to keep having to look it up.

i have also, rather startlingly, gained a suntan. That is pretty well unheard of for me. I don’t sunbathe, ever, or rather I didn’t. I seem to be managing all the new experiences I can at present. I’m afraid it won’t end well, my nose is so brown that it’s bound to peel. There are good reasons why I don’t sunbathe.

A good many English ex-pats live in the area – we were chatting to someone who has lived and worked here some years. She said they are divided into two sorts of people – the ones who work and integrate with Turkish people, and the ones who retire here, to spend a lot of time drinking and lying in the sun, complaining about the Turkish government and way of life.  I suppose that tends to be the way, though – it’s not that easy to make friends if you’re not fluent in a language and, however lovely a place is, it’s hard to keep a sense of purpose in everyday life if you haven’t a lot to do.

the comment box didn’t appear yesterday. I’m sorry, I don’t know why. If it doesn’t again, I’ll have a look, give up and ask Ronan for help.



Ooh! And Arrrgh, Z’s hearties (part Two)

How appropriate that today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Because we had all the ingredients but the wooden leg yesterday, and Wink (who is waiting for a hip operation) limps, so we weren’t too far off that in spirit.

It was very clear under the water and there were lots of fish of various colours and forms. They must be quite used to the diving parties coming, because bags of bread are taken so that you can feed them. Having swum about for a bit, we stood, each holding a handful of bread and they come and nibble it from your hands. Then we swam around some more.  I found it quite tricky, controlling where I was going, though was glad not to have to use my arms. Co-ordinating all four limbs at the same time is a challenge at best and one reason (among many) why I’m not a very good organist. If I use the foot pedals, I’ll soon forget to play using my left hand.  I I suppose not swimming with your arms is one of the trickier things for a proficient swimmer, though.   Anyway, it was all right, I managed it, though was glad of a hand back to the boat afterwards.

We lay about in the sunshine while lunch was cooked and returned to the lower deck to eat it, then went back up to relax a bit longer.  I was nearly asleep when Wink went down again, and a couple of minutes later, one of the crew came to tell me there had been an accident.  She had slipped on the narrow step and fallen, her sunglasses had broken and given her a nasty cut, right by her eye. They were applying various dressings by the time I got there and there was quite a lot of blood-soaked cottonwool. It was decreed that she would have to go to hospital.  Wink was quite embarrassed by all the attention, but they were adamant that she’d need stitches.

The trickiest bit was to come. They took the boat to another cove and moored, with some difficulty, to rocks and put down the gangplank. We had to edge along it (it was narrow and none too steady) and scramble on to the rocks and then along a rough path of rather crumbly sandstone, up and down to where a car was waiting. After that, you might say it was plain sailing. We went to hospital, where we had quick and excellent service, a plastic surgeon came and inserted several stitches and asked us to return the next day. We were returned to the hotel and I was able to alter our booking for a boat trip, which should have been today, to tomorrow.

Today, poor Wink has quite a black eye so it’s a good thing she has been able to buy new sunglasses so she can hide it. People have been immensely kind and she has borne all the pirate jokes with humour. Which reminds me, I put a photo of the water on Facebook and Rog accurately observed that the colour was Turk-woise.

Which features a parrot*, an eyepatch, walking the plank and getting into deep water. Part One

* A very small one

I wrote, a few weeks ago, of the complete impossibility that I can ever let go of the side, when in a swimming pool, unless both feet are planted firmly on the ground. As you can imagine, this gets trickier still in the sea, because there’s nothing to hang on to. There’s more than one way of dealing with a problem: gradually coping bit by bit is one way, jumping in at the deep end is another. Depending on whether or not this is  literally what you do rather governs the good sense of the latter. It is, however, my firm belief that one should try very hard not be be ruled by fear or habit, and there are some problems which are better dealt with head on. Or feet first in this case, because I signed up for a day’s scuba diving.

it has been several decades since I have been able to bob around merrily, out of my depth, but I reckoned that the whole thing would be such a challenge that not having a leg to stand on would be only a part of it.

This is a beautiful area on the south western coast of Turkey. It has been quite sensitively developed, because there were few tourists here until two or three decades ago and environmental and  aesthetic concerns were considered when the hotels were built. None of the hotels by the shore may be more than two storeys in height, for example. Where we are staying was built 20 years ago and is still run by the family that had it built. It’s by a pine forest on the way up a mountain, so there are lovely views and it isn’t oppressively hot, but it’s not far down to the beach and harbour. The guest accommodation is a series of two-storey villas and, even when the hotel is full (as it is now), there is not impression of crowdedness.

Wink and I had a quiet day yesterday, spending most of the afternoon reading by one of the pools. Today, we were up early and on the boat by 9. It was a lovely trip out, the sea is clear and blue and we moored in a small cove.

Yup, I let go of the boat.  And I dived and swam and fed the fishes (not in the seasick sense) and the technical necessities of managing the equipment made the fact that I was in five metres of water (not deep, you see) less of an issue for me than it might have been, especially considering I had an air supply. I did consider the horridness of losing my mouthpiece and having to be towed to the surface, but fortunately it didn’t happen.

We went back to the boat for lunch and a rest and one of the instructors, still on the tiny beach, found a yellow budgerigar, or parakeet if you prefer (to us, a parakeet is much bigger than a budgie) which was quite tame and he caught it and brought it back to the boat – it was obviously an escaped pet.

it was so calm and warm and relaxing that I almost fell asleep. And Wink had gone down below to the lower deck for a few minutes.  And that is when things went awry.

Z has wifi

The holiday isn’t going to be that much of a release from stress, I’m afraid, because I’m going to find it hard not to spend the week worrying about Russell, who had a bit of a run-in with a couple of parked cars on his way home from Norwich yesterday. He’s fine, Al and Dilly will sort things out, but you can understand that I’m quite anxious.

All is fine otherwise – well, we’re here and the hotel seems very good, though it was dark by the time we arrived so we haven’t seen much and, as soon as we had dinner (which we had to do in the half hour before the restaurant closed) I skyped Russell. Charlotte and Miriam (it’s M who’s staying in the annexe, C is her mother) were there too, having been out to dinner with him.

Wink bought a new suitcase for this trip, a friend having broken hers by picking it up by the extending handle. Very sensibly, she doesn’t buy black ones like most people do, and this time she chose purple. Quite distinctive. May I warn you, however, that if you are planning to buy a suitcase, this year’s colour is purple. There were at least half a dozen on the carousel and all their owners were quite disappointed to find it wasn’t an unusual colour any more. My grey and orange case was unique, however, which made life easy for me at any rate. And we finished The Times crossword on the plane.