Monthly Archives: July 2014

Thursday at the Zeddary

Indi isn’t daft – she was waiting for me when I went to feed the bantams this evening, having learned that I’ll tempt her along with morsels until I get to the door of the chicken run.  Then she will scoot in, to have her share of the food I scatter.  I put their corn in feeders now, but give them other stuff night and morning, because they enjoy it so much.  We’ve been back up to four eggs for the last couple of days, and the Sage ate three of them for his lunch.  I had the fourth.

After lunch, we went over to Lowestoft to buy him some new trousers.  Honestly, his clothes have been hanging off him.  It wasn’t the easiest of journeys, because the traffic was awful, and it wasn’t until I was looking for the shop in the High Street that he mentioned that the shop he used to buy clothes from shut a couple of years ago, and I should have been a mile down the road.  Had I realised, I’d have gone a different way from the outset.  Ho hum.  Anyway, we got there in the end and he was duly measured, tried on trousers with a 32 inch waist (i think he used to be 36″) and he bought two pairs.  So he looks a lot smarter and is much more comfortable.  Mind you, the amount he’s been able to eat today, he’ll grow out of them within a few weeks at this rate – which would be great, of course.  I’ve got clothes in sizes 8, 10 and 12 (I did ditch the 14s) so I don’t see why he shouldn’t have the equivalent.

We’ve got little Rupert the spaniel staying for a night or two, and then he’s returning next week for a fortnight.  Ben is in heaven – he adores Butch, the little boy next door and his small brother and he loves having Rupert to play with too.  I was chatting to Butch and Rico’s mother today and she said they aren’t yet sure when their house will be ready.  I’ve assured them it doesn’t matter at all.  We have no plans to use the annexe ourselves at present and, though we will have guests to stay in a few weeks’ time, we have enough spare rooms in the house for all.  It’s lovely to have them there.

Weeza is coming over tomorrow with the children and we’re both looking forward to that.

Z has paid her tax bill, too

Our accountant is such a decent chap.  I thought I’d have a list of stuff to collect (I have two returns to file, the Sage has one) but he was able to extract all the information from us – though my personal affairs were sorted and printed out, darlings.  Except for one bit, which I was able to look up in a moment, as I was R’s query.

Next year, it will all be in order from the start.  It’s the first of my resolutions.  I have no need to wait until the new year, I make any resolutions when they crop up.

The bantams are adorable and have finally accepted me and trust me.  When the Sage is strong enough to look after them again, I won’t leave it all to him, but we will look after them together.  I let them all out yesterday and thought that they’d all returned, but evidently I’d counted wrong (unless we’ve acquired an extra) because the black hen with a ginger-flecked neck was clucking on the lawn this afternoon.  So I – look, darlings, I spoil those hens.  I have no problem with this, it’s not as if they are going to take over the sofa and make us sit on the floor – opened a tin of tuna, mixed it with oats and bread and used fragments to entice Indi back to the run.  She happily followed and went in of her own accord.  I hand-fed BBB (big brown bantam) because she always asks me and threw the rest for the rest to forage for.

The chickens are moulting and have gone off-lay,  From 10-18 eggs daily a couple of weeks ago, we went to 6, then 5, then 3 and, yesterday, just 1 egg.  But today there were 4.  It’s quite enough and a relief not to have dozens to dispose of.

You’ll notice that Russell is The Sage again.  His recent illness has encouraged us to put all problems behind us and let idiocies go.  Any mistakes were due to illness, all will be well.

The Birthday Bash

Rain was forecast for Sunday, but that would not have been at all convenient, so it didn’t happen.  There were fourteen of us for Ro’s birthday bash – the immediate family (minus Wink and R’s sister June) plus our friend Daphne, who has known Russell for over 60 years and is Ro’s godmother.  She has also become a grandmother a few months ago, so it was lovely to see the photos of the baby.

Russell now has some kick-ass supplements and so is getting a lot more nutrition into him, which is really helping – though he was able to tuck into fillet steak and sausage at the birthday barbecue, as well as Dilly’s trifle and the Birthday Cake, which I made in the morning and the children decorated when they arrived.  Smothered in sweets and candles, it was way over the top.  There seems a good chance that much of R’s problem is ulcers, so he hopes to be much better soon and regaining his lost weight.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned that we have friends staying in the annexe at present.  They are having an extension built on their house, which includes the kitchen being completely remodelled, so it’s not ideal for them to live there with their two young sons, Butch and Rico.  They are very welcome to be our guests, we don’t want to let it but enjoy having it available for friends, once in a while.  They love dogs and Butch, who is nine, has become firm friends with Ben.  I let Ben into the garden in the morning and he goes and barks hopefully, in case someone will come and play with him.  They are taking him for a long walk in the evenings too, they’ve taken him to the beach, he’s having a great time and will be very sorry when they leave.    Good that it’s the summer holiday anyway, so there’s plenty of time to play.

Ro and Dora asked me for a reading at their wedding – I think I’ve mentioned this before – and they’ve chosen one from those I suggested.  Next thing, other than learning it (it’s only twenty lines), is to buy my dress.

But first, I’ve been sensible and paid my tax bill.  And the accountant is visiting tomorrow (I know, darlings, what service! – I know, it’ll come at a price) to get the info to do the returns for next time.  How relentlessly sensible I am.

The Cake

The Cake





28 years ago part 2

Gosh, I really was tired last night.  That last couple of sentences were nonsense, I didn’t know what I was writing.  I’ve altered them, they make a bit more sense now.

So, the completion date was either the 31st July or 1st August, can’t now remember which, and we’d offered to move out a week earlier, because moving all in one day is so stressful and we knew that the deal would go ahead – there was no question of a problem at the last minute.  We agreed to leave some carpets (no fitted carpets downstairs) and curtains behind, because that would give them time to have ones of their choice, whilst having something there for the time being.  In the meantime, we were bringing boxes over here, clearing room by room.  We decided to buy ourselves a new bed and also one for Ro, moving him out of a cot.  We also bought a new sofa and chairs – we’d been married for 13 years by this time, we’d hardly ever had anything new as we couldn’t afford it – moving into a large house was an expensive operation.  This time round, we had more to spare as we’d got a very good price for the house.

The builders had been told of the moving date and reminded of it when timings started to slip – they clearly didn’t believe us and thought we could postpone moving in for a few more days.  However, the 24th was Ro’s second birthday, and we really wanted to be in for that, and we had promised our buyers a clear week’s grace.

The builders did their best, once they accepted we were going to be there, come what may.  They rigged up an electricity line from the bungalow, and we had the Aga anyway, so I was able to cook.  The new beds hadn’t arrived, so we took our old bed and the children slept on the floor.

On the day of the move, I stayed back in Lowestoft, packing last-minute items and supervising the loading up – we didn’t get in a removal firm because R had plenty of contacts in the furniture shifting world, as an auctioneer.  R was in charge of unloading and placement at the other end.  At the end of the day, I went over, expecting to find chaos.  But the house was strangely empty.  No, really empty.  Almost everything that had been delivered had been put into outbuildings.  “I didn’t want to risk putting it in the wrong rooms,” he explained.  I suggested that a dining table and chairs going into the dining room wasn’t entirely unexpected, nor was a chest of drawers full of clothes going upstairs.  But there was hardly any point in being upset, so I didn’t get cross.  It was just the way he was.  And is.  It’s no wonder that I take most things as they come, I’ve had a life of surprises.

And you may have noticed that today must be Ronan’s 30th birthday.  Happy birthday, Ro!

What Z did 28 years ago…

I’m not the best at anniversaries, I usually forget them or ignore them, pretty well – however, I do remember the 23rd July, 1986, because it was the day we moved into this house.

I loved the house where we used to live and it was a wrench to leave, yet it was at my suggestion we moved here.  I put others first, dammit.  And there was a fair bit of work to do, my in-laws having taken the perfectly sensible route that it would all see them out.  So we had the house rewired, a new roof, new kitchen and so on.  Fortunately, we were able to stay in our old house while this was being done.

We had sold it to someone we knew, a local antique dealer.  He and his wife had a little girl of about Ro’s age and they used to play together sometimes.  When they heard that we were selling, they asked to come and look, they liked the house, we agreed a price and shook hands – and that was that.  The months went by and Russell and I were a little concerned.  As far as we were concerned, a handshake was a binding commitment, but we’d have thought they’d be in touch.  However, finally they phoned, and it turned out that a handshake was as binding a deal for them as it was for us.

Back here, however things were less committed.  We had agreed to move out a week early, to enable them to start their move and any redecorating etc they wanted to do. And here I have to stop, because I’m so tired that I can’t type.

Z catches up

If any of you remember the blogger Boy On Top, this cartoon will show why I’m reminded of him.  He lives near Guildford and blogged pretty well daily for a long time, but eventually his posting rate dropped off severely.  He explained and apologised – he used the commute to work (Holborn, at that time) to catch up on emails and to blog, but of late he hadn’t been able to get a seat and use the laptop.  “You’ll have to fork out for a First Class season ticket!” I said, jovially.  “I already do,” he replied, effectively silencing me.

No change here, can’t remember what I last told you. *saves as draft* Oh yes – we’d seen the psychiatric nurse and she doesn’t reckon R is depressed and not do I.  The consultant had said he’d arrange a gastroscopy and I had a phone call yesterday morning, offering him an appointment at 9 am on Sunday,  I accepted, but half an hour later, I had another call – ‘how would 9 am on Wednesday suit, we’ve had a cancellation?’  I’m putting a lot of hope on this procedure giving us an answer, but there are still a few more strings to our bow, if it doesn’t.

We went to have lunch with Weeza on Sunday.  There was some thunder rolling around when we left, but no rain until we got to Wroxham, then it cleared up again.  A couple of miles from home, there were massive puddles in the road.  Thank goodness i’d left trays out in case of rain, because four of them, plus a rug and two towels, were severely doused.  It was all right, no mopping up to do, though a fair bit of emptying,

It’s the last week of term and very busy.  I’m too busy to blog, really.  Then I have various prizes to present.  I lent my car to Dilly for a couple of nights, while hers was in the garage.  Lovely Graham from the local garage came straight out to help her when her car broke down. She hadn’t driven my car before, nor an automatic ever, and she likes both.  I don’t mind whether I drive a car with a clutch or not (I used R’s van while Dilly had my car) but I do like my present car, a simple Ford Focus.  I’m good with simple.

Z received a letter – in 1969

What I said yesterday has come back to bite me, so I must accept my own conclusion and not draw judgements.  Russell has hardly eaten today, he hasn’t been hungry at all.  I cooked a particularly nice soufflé tonight, but he couldn’t manage much.

However, Al and Dilly and the children dropped in after lunch and stayed most of the afternoon, and that was lovely.  So we take what good we can from the day.  They took a dozen eggs with them and I used several more in the soufflé, so that’s under control, especially as we only had half a dozen eggs today.  I’ll take what I have to Weeza tomorrow, then we will start the next week afresh.

Much of my home life is quite dull, to be honest.  I feed the dog, feed the chickens, feed the tortoises, I do some housework and the simplest of cooking.  I enjoyed making the soufflé, at least it involved a number of ingredients and actions, rather more fun than making scrambled eggs or grilling a steak.  Which reminds me – between us, we’re eating about as much as one normal person packs away in a day, yet the dishwasher has just gone on for the second time today and it normally is filled once daily, as it was when five of us lived here.  I’m not sure I understand that.  There were a number of extra mugs and glasses, but that wasn’t enough to account for it.

I remember when I was fifteen and about to take my O Levels.  Wink had her 21st birthday, and a party, but instead of a present she asked for a holiday in Scotland over the Easter holidays.  I had my exams coming up, but that wasn’t all – we had seven dogs at the time and I knew that this posed a potential problem that I could solve.  So I said that I couldn’t possibly go, I had to revise and I would stay home.  I didn’t drop any hint of martyrdom, which would immediately have made my mother insist on my going with them and I didn’t really feel it – yes, I’d have liked a holiday but solving a problem was my priority.

So that was what happened.  Slightly to my dismay, my mother arranged for a neighbour to come in and sleep in the house with me (it was fine, she turned up sometime after dinner, we had coffee and a chat and then she went to bed) and I enjoyed my independence for a week.  On the first day away, my parents realised that, though they’d left me food in the fridge, I had no money at all.  So I received the only letter I ever had from my father.  I don’t have it to hand – it’s somewhere about, I’m not sure where, but I know what it said.

“Dear Zoë,

Herewith cheque for £5 which you can ask Jean Barnitt to cash for you.


Malcolm E. Humphery”

I didn’t happen to see Jean that week so I didn’t cash the cheque – which was ample, by the way. Probably equivalent to at least £100 now – but I just gave it back, I didn’t need it so didn’t use it.

The reason I’m reminded of that week was the washing up,  We did have a dishwasher, but there really wasn’t any point in putting it on, just for myself.  I minimised the washing up, however, and so I chose my hot drinks carefully.  I had tea for breakfast, coffee mid-morning and hot chocolate in the evening.  Thus, I could use the same mug and only had to wash it once.  I was efficient, even in those days – and lazy, obviously.

A better day

I’m keeping quiet about my enjoyment of the heat.  So many are grumbling about it – thunderstorms due over the weekend, so at least there will be something new to grumble about.  It’s why the English love our weather.

My last weekly Friday meeting with the Acting Head.  I hugged and thanked her at the end – it’s been pretty tricky, with various events beyond anyone’s control (such as the flooding in last week’s rainstorm – the good news there is that we’ve got the grant for a new roof and the builder can do it over the summer) but she’s done superbly well and we have also got to know each other better and that has been a pleasure too.

I had to be back by 11 for our appointment with the psychiatric nurse – in fact, I was back by ten to, and drove in our drive behind her.  She was lovely, we both liked her.  And, having talked for quite a long time to both of us, she concluded that, in her opinion, R’s illness is not caused by mental problems, depression or a breakdown.  I have thought about it a lot myself, doing my best to take a mental step back and consider it dispassionately, and I had reached that conclusion too – with evidence, obviously, because I’ve done a lot of evaluating over the years and am quite good at it.  He is pretty low now, of course, but that’s the effect of the weight loss, not the cause of it, we believe.

Not that this takes us any further, and we still have no diagnosis.  But R was able to eat a few chocolate digestives this afternoon and ate a pretty good dinner, with the result that I felt able to eat as well.

So things are pretty good at the Zeddery this evening – not that there’s any more nor less reason to be optimistic, but I take a good day and appreciate it, without expectations one way or the other.

When my mother was very up and down in health, she went from optimism to gloom, because she never learned to be realistic.  On a good day, she would hope that everything would go swimmingly from then on, on a bad one she would despair.  I asked her to try not to project forward, but to accept each day, knowing that a bad day wouldn’t last forever and a good one should be enjoyed for itself, but she was almost wilfully against that.  She equated realism with pessimism, but it isn’t really.  She’d have called herself an optimist, but she was so hopelessly unrealistic that she was constantly being disappointed.   I’m better being calm and cheerful whenever possible – and, when it isn’t, I try to be patient.

And isn’t that all easy to say?  Hah.  Have a good weekend, darlings.

A few photos to finish with –


Selfie with new summer dress.  Yes, it is unsuitably short.  I don’t care.  60 is the new 80 as far as I’m concerned.

I’m doing my best with the artichokes, but some of them are flowering before I can eat them.  However, the flowers are spectacular and bumble bees and butterflies love them.

The bed in front of the wall is in its third year and it’s been lovely.  It still looks pretty good.
We’re not quite keeping pace with the chickens.  This is this week’s surplus – not quite true, R had three eggs for supper and I had two; all the same, we have at least six surplus eggs a day.  I shall have to give some away over the weekend.

Z’s day

I had a post all planned in my mind.  Haven’t the foggiest what it was about.

A very long meeting at school this morning, of a length which shouldn’t really have been necessary.  Two people who are supposed to have fortnightly meetings haven’t been, for quite understandable reasons, but it meant that they had to discuss matters that should have already been sorted out.  I mentioned gently that it might be something to take on board for next term and it’s been noted as a priority.

So that was the morning.  At lunchtime, the piano tuner came to – well, the clues are there.  It having been restrung and refelted and pretty well rebuilt, it has to settle down and it goes out of tune within weeks.  The pianola mechanism needs some attention too, so he is coming back in about three weeks, once he’s back from holiday.

He was still there when we had to leave for a doctor’s appointment, so I told him where to put the keys* if he finished before we got back.  But the doctor was running early for once, so we didn’t have long to wait (I got the time wrong, we were twenty minutes early but only waited for ten) and he was just finishing.

And young Stevo came to help in the garden, so we spent quite some time shovelling muck.  If you came to the blog party, you probably remember it, a great heap by the gate to the field – well, it’s a very small heap now and it will all have been shifted soon.  I’ll make another flower bed there.  I’ve finally got to grips with the garden this year and it’s in better nick than it has been for a very long time.

I’d come in to make us all a cup of tea when friends dropped in to see Russell, which was lovely.  He isn’t able to get out much at present and it’s boring for him.  He keenly got out Al Capone, as the 1935 car is known, and took them for a spin.  After they’d left, I started to get on with supper, as it was after 7 o’clock, when he suddenly decided he wanted to go to the car club meeting, at Jonny’s farm.  I was rather dismayed, I have to say, because I was tired and hungry and didn’t want to go out, and I thought it was rather too much for him because he hadn’t eaten for hours either, but I don’t like to discourage him, so off we went.  We didn’t stay for the whole tour of the farm though, because he did get tired after a while.

And then, when I was still podding broad beans, a friend rang to ask after R, and we chatted for a while and then, just as I was finishing our conversation, we had another caller.  I might have mentioned that we had offered the annexe to friends, while their house extension is being done – Dave dropped in to say they were just moving in (I should say that we knew it was to be this week).  Fortunately, I took the dining chairs back only today, having brought them through for the blog party a month ago (I know, darlings!) and being too lazy to put them back straight away.  It’ll be nice having them there – I say friends, but they’re really friends of Al and Dilly, because their son is the same age as Squiffany and they were at school together.  I really like them, though.  I’m not sure how long they will be there, but it’ll be a pleasure – we don’t want to let the bungalow, but being able to let friends use it as our guests for a while is a good way to use it.

And so we finally had dinner at about 9 o’clock.  Sea bass, with spinach and broad beans from the garden and an artichoke for me.  I was beyond hungry by then and couldn’t manage all the fish.  But I revived enough for some ice cream later.  And then Weeza phoned to invite us over at the weekend and tell us that we’re giving a family party for Ro the weekend after, for his birthday.  Apparently, it’s all settled and everyone but us knew.  Which is fine, we can entertain a dozen people at an hour’s notice, never mind ten days, especially as it seems that they are bringing most of the food.

*Not the piano keys, darlings.

A link to a great post

I’ve read Shauna’s blog for years and I loved this post, about the next-door cat.  Actually, her blog used to be called ‘What’s New, Pussycat?’

Russell is going to have another round of tests, including a gastroscopy and they should happen in the next few weeks.  The doctor is also concerned that he must be quite despondent about the situation, so he’s having an assessment by a psychiatric nurse too.  We will also see a dietician, I’m not quite sure why that is.  We are getting superb service and one can see why the NHS costs so much.  In the meantime, R will be prescribed calorie-rich liquid supplements, to try to stop him losing more weight.

I had a long phone call with Weeza last night and went to be very late as a result, around 2 am, so I’m going to have an early night now (that is, it’s nearly 11, so earlyish for me).  I’ve an early start in the morning.  Goodnight, darlings.