Monthly Archives: May 2014

Z thinks about confidence

It’s been interesting – for one thing, the incoming Headteacher came to lunch yesterday.  Just sandwiches, a working lunch.  He’d got a list of things to discuss and so had I, and there was a lot of overlap.  We got on really well – I’ve seen him a couple of times since the interviews back in the autumn, and further conversations have only reinforced my confidence that we’ve done the right thing in appointing him.  Which is no end of a relief – though I was absolutely sure from the start, or I wouldn’t have agreed.  If you’ve ever made a seriously wrong decision, which I have, you jolly well learn from it.

Today, we had someone look over the house with a view to installing a new heating system.  If anyone knows anything about an air to air source heat pump, I’d be glad of an opinion.  Please don’t confuse it with an air source heat pump, they are not the same thing, but there seems to be a lot more on the internet about that.  I’ve put my engineer son-in-law on the case.

I’ve downloaded a motorcycle theory test app – I’m not sure how much one is tested on for the basic training, but it’s always good to brush up in any case.  I’m reasonably sound on the Highway Code, but there are always a few gaps.  Less than a fortnight to go before my CBT – ooh.  Quite scary.  In an ‘I really want to do it, but it’s quite scary’ way.  I’m not sure whether to start looking at bikes and clothes and helmet and so on, or whether to wait until I’ve passed – I might not succeed.  If I prove to be hopeless at it and decide not to persevere … am I being negative or sensible here?  In any case, I’m going to lean heavily on Sir Bruin for help.  He’s a good bear.

Feed Z now…

As I’ve said before, I read quite a lot of blogs, and mostly rely on a feedreader to know when they’ve been updated.  The one I used to use folded, so I rather reluctantly moved over to Google Reader, and when that packed in too, I shifted to Feedly.  But I don’t much like it, having given myself plenty of time to get used to it.  It could be that I am not using it particularly effectively, I’m not saying it isn’t a perfectly good bit of kit, just that it doesn’t suit me.

I do get email notifications of some blogs, but I prefer a feedreader because I get too many emails already, and I prefer to have all updates in one place.  And I have culled a few, but actually I don’t want to get rid of all the blogs I’ve previously enjoyed, even if they are dormant. A number of people have come back to their blogs after a long time and, if that happens, I’ll leave a comment to let them know I’m still reading.  I tried deleting those whose writers neither acknowledged my comments on their blog nor commented here in return, but soon came up against those I enjoyed and it seemed a bit petty to take that attitude.

If anyone has come across a feedreader they really like, would you let me know, please?  Not that I know yet how to export links out of Feedly, that’s an effort to come.


Weaving not drowning

There is an exhibition of weaving and knitting at Norwich cathedral and today there was a special day for children to find out about the subject and have a go at weaving.  Zerlina was very keen to try.  But first, we met Ro for lunch – which went very well, we went to an Italian restaurant and the children were beautifully behaved and we all enjoyed our meal.

First, Zerlina tried some hand weaving, with wool on card, and was very pleased with the results – I didn’t take a picture.  Then after looking at the exhibition, where she accurately identified whether each piece of work was woven, knitted or crocheted, we found the looms.  She stood for ages watching a little girl called Naomi, who very charmingly explained what to do (though it was her first time too) and then Zerlina had a go.  She loved it and talked about it all the way home.  The looms are a bit expensive for Weeza for now – they’ve got the builders in at their house and that’s where all their cash is going at present – but it might be one for the future.IMG_3024
In other news, Zerlina is very pleased that she can now swim without armbands.


Today, it mostly rained.  Not very hard, but fairly consistently.  So I thought it was a good opportunity to work in the greenhouse.  I needed more compost, so suggested to Russell that we should have lunch at the nice little café at the local garden centre – we had bacon sandwiches, he had soup too, I had coffee.

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I spent a couple of hours potting up plants – four cucumbers, eleven tomatoes, two aubergines, six peppers, three chilli peppers, plus various plants for Ronan and Weeza – I’ve already given some to Al and Dilly.  I’ve a couple more courgette plants than I want, and am going to be trying to give the buggers away all summer.  Yet it’s impossible to destroy a healthy non-weed plant.

I’m going to meet Weeza and the children and Ro for lunch in Norwich tomorrow.  An unexpected meeting is to happen in the morning at the school first.  Too much to think about, only bloody-mindedness keeps me going.  There’s a fair bit of that in reserve, fortunately.


So, I’ll take you through the life cycle of the ladybird, because that’s the sort of thing that enthuses me, as well as a number of other things.

When Dilly and I went into the garden with the children, we showed Squiffany and Pugsley the ladybird larvae and pupae on the nettles and other weeds that I really wanted to have cut down by now, but can’t until they’ve all finished their metamorphoses (plural, darlings).

I took some photos of them in their adult, larval and pupal forms, also some of the greenfly that they feed on.

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But later, when I was in the greenhouse helping to mend the windows, I spotted (hello, darlings, do notice the pun) a newly-hatched ladybird.

Though the thing is – and this is the sort of matter I find terribly interesting, though I may well be in a minority here  – a newly hatched ladybird has no spots and is yellow rather than red.  I realised that years ago, but the ones I noticed then were vivid buttercup yellow and later formed many spots, whereas the one I saw the other day was paler.  But here are the photos, darling.

All the same wee creature, pictured over two or three hours.  When I went out to look again later, the chrysalis had dropped off and the ladybird had moved away and had flown off by the next morning.  I’m sure it was bright red by then.  This all made me tremendously happy.

Boys’ Toys?

Mike knows how enthused I was when he showed me items from his collection and I was surprisingly excited by the old tractors, some of them 90 or so years old, that we saw the other evening.  When I was a child, I’d have loved to have toy cars and trains but no one ever knew – one was not brought up, in those days, to be demanding and I never mentioned  it.  So I’m not sure that old cars and weapons are boys’ toys really.

R has only two vintage cars, both of them Rovers – some of you have been introduced to this one and I’ve put up photos of it.  It dates from 1928 and was R’s first car, which he bought before he learned to drive.

Yesterday’s photo was of a more recent acquisition, though he’s had it for quite a few years – it’s only been on the road since last June, though.  There are also two Morris Minors, one of them belonging to Al and a 1961 Mini which is Ro’s.  We haven’t driven the Morrises for a long time, but the Mini had its first spin a few weeks ago – I expect I mentioned it at the time.  Here it is.


Today, I’ve mostly been mending the greenhouse, or rather replacing broken glass, and watching a newly-hatched ladybird.  It’ll take ages for those photos to upload, so that will be a post for another day.


Z is taken for a ride

It’s been an unexpectedly delightful day today, because Al and co have been here most of the day. I knew they were dropping in, but expected a more fleeting visit.

My personal thermostat has gone haywire again.  I woke at 4 am, awfully hot.  I couldn’t sleep, even with the bedclothes thrown off, so listened to the radio (Mansfield Park, Second Holmes, two Inspector Resnick episodes) and dozed a bit, until I was so cold I had to turn on the electric blanket.  I also listened to the rain.  When I woke for good, about 7.30, I stayed put and read the paper, when R kindly brought it, and didn’t get up until – ahem – nearly ten o’clock.  No, I know no shame, darlings.  Saturday is my day off.  And I did then cook us both poached eggs for breakfast.

It’s Hadrian’s 3rd birthday on Monday and we won’t see him then, so we gave him his present today – toys for a sandpit and the sand for it, and a blow-up paddling pool.  It seems to have gone down well.  We also inspected the tortoises, went to the local shop to look at small animals and fish and the children found out that ladybird larvae and pupae look quite peculiar but are highly valued and not to be disturbed, even if there’s an area of the garden that Z really wants to cut down.  It has to wait.

I’ve just had an email from Dilly, telling me that Hay has been pouring lentils through his water/sand wheel and then took it to his bath.  So that seems to be a success.

After they’d gone, R got out one of his old cars, the one that he calls Al Capone and I call Bugsy Malone – it’s not old enough for either but the point is the ‘suicide doors’ that open the wrong way.  He’s had it on the road since last July, but has never taken me out in it before.  Today, we went to the supermarket.


Z falls off the fence (though not for long)

There seems to have been more in the local paper about the Norwich election than the EU parliament one – though I haven’t yet read today’s local paper, it’ll wait until I get it soggy in the bath.  We had leaflets delivered (by post, not volunteers) from the Conservatives, the Greens and the Labour party, so I was quite surprised when I looked at my voting slip and found a long list of parties, several of which I’d never heard about and most of those apparently being simply anti-EU.  UKIP was at the bottom of the paper, another similar-sounding party was at the top – I don’t know how the order is selected, but it seemed confusing to me.

I’ve always been quite EU-sceptic, and I acknowledge that much of that is because I didn’t rate Ted Heath highly and he was the Prime Minister who took us into the Common Market, declaring at the time that it was simply a trading agreement, but years later acknowledging that it was obviously much more and anyone who didn’t know that was naïve.  I feel very European and I just dislike the extra layers of bureaucracy.  However, I’m coming briefly off the non-political fence to say that UKIP has influenced me quite strongly.  It’s turned me from Euro-sceptic to Europhile.

I’m not sure that the pundits, who say that the Conservatives are losing votes to UKIP are entirely correct, however, or at any rate, they only have part of the story.  I listen a lot more than I say in political matters, and most of the people I know who say “He has a point, you know” are people who have normally voted Labour in the past, but are in low-paid jobs and are afraid of losing them.  I can hardly feel that any success the party has is anything but protest voting, mind you – i think most people vote realistically at a General Election, for a government rather than on a whim.

In other news, today I’ve mostly been scrubbing the big greenhouse.  I feel very dirty.  Well, I am very dirty.  I’m off to have a bath Right Now.

Z’s Fourth Annual Blog Party

This year’s Blog Party will be on Saturday, 14th June from 12.30 and you are all warmly invited.  If you have not been here before, drop me an email and I’ll give you directions.  In fact, please email me anyway if you’re coming, so that I know numbers (if you haven’t confirmed already).  We can provide beds for several guests, and you’re very welcome to stay over.

I’m not sure that I’ve gained many new blog friends over the past year, but a quick explanation, just in case – you do not have to be a blogger to come to my blog party, please don’t worry if you’ve not met me yet, as most of the guests met me for the first time at one of the previous lunches.  Everyone is really lovely and a number of lasting friendships have formed, which makes me very happy.  We’re on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, just off the A143 and if anyone comes by train, I’m sure we can arrange a pick-up from Norwich or Diss.

Last year’s cold spread did make life easier so, especially as it will be the middle of June, I think I’ll go down a similar route again.  If anyone would like to bring a dish, that would be lovely, but please don’t feel obliged.  I’ve already had a Summer Pudding promised, and will return the donor’s jug from last year.  If there are any particular food requirements, do let me know – it’s so dispiriting to have to turn down something tempting, just because there’s some wheat or nut oil in it, and I try to bear in mind the more likely allergies.  

We are looking forward to seeing you.

Z has an empty arm

I had several things running through my mind that I might have written about, but that’s just my problem.  I can only blog spontaneously and, if I plan it in advance, I either forget about it or am bored with the thought of writing it down, having written the post in my head already.  So I’ve got to give myself time to forget the fascinating posts I might have written, so that they might burst upon me at another time.

I’ve found it almost impossible to get back to work.  I needed a couple of days off, then met a couple of deadlines and have done nothing since.  I won’t make excuses for myself because there are none to make – as I’ve often said, I’m very lazy and I have to keep myself up to the mark or I’ll slip so badly astern that I might never make up the headway.  I’ve not quite let that happen yet, and I don’t suppose it will, but I’m not far off it sometimes.

This afternoon, I had an appointment to give blood, which went fine – I like the triannual check that I’m not anaemic, truth be told.  Having once fainted afterwards (because I cycled afterwards and not even straight home, but faffed about a bit on the way), I always drink loads, and sank about 3 pints of water in all, not my usual thing at all.  The startlement to my kidneys was almost palpable.

I fed a couple of new things to Edweena – three, actually, now I think of it.  Nasturtium leaf (just the one, the plants are small yet), wild rocket and marigold leaf.  I’m sure they will love the flowers too.   She scoffed the lot, especially the rocket.  I was going to offer her some honeysuckle, but there was a slight shower of rain late this afternoon and the temperature dropped, and she went into her nice nest of dry grass and I didn’t think it was worth calling her out.  I’ll try her on that tomorrow.  And some rose leaves, I’ve only given her flowers up to now.

I’m so terribly unobservant, but you’d think I’d have spotted earlier that the flowering cherry tree right outside the house has died.  It was fine last year, but it’s not got a leaf on it and the sucker, nearly as big, next to it, is nearly dead too.  The creeper on that side of the house died unexpectedly some years ago and so did a couple of other shrubs, and their roots had a wet white rot on them, so perhaps that’s what’s got the cherries.  Even the bigger tree was a sucker in fact, the original parent having been blown down in the hurricane (which wasn’t really, but it felt like it) of 1987.  We’re sorry that it’s gone, even if we didn’t notice its passing.  We’ll get them both dug out, but I must rescue some cyclamen bulbs first.  Russell bought an old lamp a while ago, so that will go in their place – no point in planting another tree, if there’s rot in the ground.  It’ll be like Narnia out there.