Monthly Archives: September 2014

Double deckers!

I was very impressed to discover that the train was a double decker. I’ve never seen such a thing before, but then I lead a sheltered life. The woman at the ticket office gave me a ticket that was valid for a choice of two trains and recommended the second, because the station I’d change trains at would not be busy. She said that Utrecht would be very crowded. However, that train would arrive half an hour later and I was conscious that Irene and her sister would be having a rather late meal if they waited for me, so I decided to risk the rush hour.

The nice young woman has evidently never seen London in the rush hour. I’ve seen busier crowds on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich on a Friday night. There were ample seats, even at 5 o’clock – apart from being told that I had free wifi working, only it wasn’t, everything was perfect.

Irene recognised me straight away (I recognised her too, but I’d been looking in the wrong direction) and we wrapped our arms round each other. As you know, blog friends don’t need time to get to know each other. She fed me and Erica a delicious meal and we’ve been chatting ever since, until we felt the need to get back online. I managed to leave my European plug behind, I’m not quite sure how, so I won’t be able to recharge my phone until I buy another one (I will be able to use her charger for my iPad, if I ask her).

A couple of emails to send and then I’m going to bed. I hope I can wind down a bit over the next three days, it’s all been rather overwhelming recently. Not that one should wind down too far. It’s too hard to get going again. Just an easing of the tension.

Im hoping that I can get on to scrabble, too.



Z checks in

It’s all very calm and peaceful at Norwich airport. I like it here. And there’s free wifi, so I can type on the iPad rather than have to tap away on the phone.

I’m going to Maastricht to visit my friend Irene for a few days. Extra help is in place at home so that all jobs are covered, so I can relax and not worry about things.

Charlotte, who grew up in the Netherlands, was helping me last night, when I was trying to find out the name of the delicious, chewy spiced gingerbreadish food that I remember from my childhood. It seems most likely to be TaaiTaai, which translates as tough-tough because of its chewiness, but there is a possibility it’s Speculatius. Charlotte doesn’t think so, because that’s German in origin. The other thing she and I both love –  and so do Ronan and Eloise – is salty liquorice. I have to say, I’m travelling very light, with a small piece of hand luggage, so there’s a limit on how much I can buy. I think I’ll be ok with a carrier bag in addition, though, or else I’ll just wear all my clothes in layers.  The forecast is 25° then 17° so I can’t just have the clothes I’m wearing.

Anyway, while I’m away I hope to have a bit of free time, morning and evening, as Irene needs to rest a lot. I have assured her that I am very good at entertaining myself, going out and exploring or sitting with my iPad at home. So it’s my hope that I can, at last, start to catch up on other blogs.


Z’s bats

That is, my bats. I’m not bats, though I might be before the night is finished.

I’m really tired and went up to bed early. I had a bath and was just cleaning my teeth when the burglar alarm went off. I trotted downstairs and turned it off and went to investigate, unalarmed myself because Ben was lounging, undisturbed on his bed.

A bat was flying about the further dining room (yes, this is a big house and there are two dining rooms). Over the last half hour I’ve tried having the lights on or off, swishing around a badminton bat – not to try to hit it, but to give the impression of a barrier – and been out to the next door shed to find a net. When I got back and went in the room again, I discovered that I had two bats*, a second one having flown in the open window. I’ve no idea how the first one got in, no windows or doors have been left open since evening fell.

I’ve left them for the moment. I don’t know what to do now. I’m so sorry for them, because they’re so panic-stricken that they are using all their energy in  swooshing round the room. One can’t corner a bat in the way one might a bird and they fly so fast that I can hardly keep track, yet they never hit a wall, which might stun them so that they can be picked up. I’ll go back in a few minutes and hope they might have found their way out, but if not I shall have to shut the window and leave them there. I can’t have it open overnight.

*Of course, I had three bats, but one was a racquet.


Ro’s wife

I always felt it was a lot to ask of Ro’s partner, to become part of our family.  All five of them got on so well, both with each other and with us, that it could have been quite a challenge.  It would take a big-hearted woman, to feel part of the family and not want to take Ronan out of it at all.  That Dora has fitted in completely is just part of the reason she is clearly the right woman to be Ro’s wife.

They planned the wedding wonderfully – so meticulously done that it seemed effortless, completely unfussy yet not casual at all, absolutely delicious food (which always goes down extremely well with me, as you can imagine).  I think it’s the best food I’ve ever eaten at a wedding, in fact.

All that was asked of me was to choose a reading – in fact, I came up with a choice for them.  From the first three, they chose one for the registrar to read, explaining that it was a bit short for me (I know, darlings, I’m a bit short myself).  So I came up with another four, and the one I posted yesterday was the one they decided on.

I’d learned it, of course, it is only twenty lines, but I did take a copy with me and I’m a bit cross with myself for having glanced two or three times at it, just for security.  But maybe that’s Sinful Pride.  Anyway, it was a joyful day and I ate too much and danced until my feet were tired, sat down and chatted for a while and then danced some more.  Then Zain and I found each other at the cheese board and we – well, we were a bit disgraceful, I suppose.  We sampled all the cheeses and compared notes, then filled our plates with our favourites and went and scoffed them.  Then ate wedding cake.  I know, I know.  I can only hope that all that dancing will have made up for the amount I ate.

The next day, everyone congregated here – all my children except Phil (because Weeza stayed overnight, as she is borrowing the Sage’s van until Phil can ride a bike again), Al and Dilly’s three children and Dora’s sister, with her husband and little girl, as well as Winkie, Charlotte, Zain and Daphne.  Ro and Dora are away just for the weekend now, their honeymoon being booked for December, but they came to open presents and talk about the day.

Dora comes from quite a big family, so there are a lot of us when we are all together.  When Weeza and Phil threw an engagement party for them last January, there were 25 of us, with two absentees – and that’s not including Dilly’s and Phil’s relations.  Gosh.  I must count up.  Before I married the Sage, it was just my mother, Wink and me.  How we have come on!

Z has six children

Bride, groom and mums

Bride, groom and mums

Invitation to Love
    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

The bride

The bride

The mother-in-law

The mother-in-law

The night before….

Wink and I went to Norwich today and did some shopping and had lunch, in full girly manner. And then I went and picked the Sage’s van up from the garage, where it had been serviced, because Weeza is using it for the next week or two, so that Phil can drive to work in their car. And Daphne arrived this evening and we all ate lamb chops and ate chocolate except Wink, who doesn’t indulge.

By this time tomorrow we will be back here again after the wedding and the reception and the party. I’ve learned my poem and got all my clothes ready. It’ll be lovely.

Another year older

Yup, it’s that time of the year again.  Weeza, Phil and Gus came over this morning bearing various lunchtime goodies and I was taken out for dinner by Al, Dilly, Squiffany, Pugsley and Hay, with Wink joining us – she arrived this evening ready for Ro and Dora’s wedding on Friday – and it’s not often that I manage to namecheck nearly all the family in one sentence.

There will be a houseful on Friday night, because Wink, Daphne, Charlotte and Zain will all be staying overnight.  There’s nothing I enjoy more than having the whole house full, every bed taken and it doesn’t happen too often nowadays.  All the beds are made and I’m all ready.  And little Rupert spaniel is coming for the day tomorrow.  So that’s good too.

All present and correct

Well, I was wrong about the bantam being broody.  I let them out this morning, but later Bex texted to say that the fox was sunbathing outside the annexe kitchen window, so I went to chivvy them all in again – and in they all went, 29 of them.  But there were only five eggs this evening, so there’s certainly at least one nest somewhere.  I don’t know the way round this, they love an outing but when I find their eggs and don’t know how old they are, I can’t give them away.

What a lovely day it was, after a foggy start.  So hot and sunny.  Friend Mike came for lunch and I made a casserole, but it turned out to be a bit unseasonal.  It was a sociable day in fact, as another friend called in for coffee during the morning.  I showed him the tortoises – indeed, what can I say?  I’m turning into Groby Lington.  And if you don’t know Saki by heart, I can only sympathise.

Z picks up bits of backbone and pieces them together

One of the bantams is missing.  I’m not sure which (there are too many similar ones to be sure of knowing each) but I suspect it’s the mostly white one that I removed from a clutch of eggs  in the long grass outside the hen run the other day.  The next day I didn’t let them out and had twelve eggs, the day after I did let them go and found none – though I had taken the opportunity to clear out the run thoroughly, dust for mites and put in fresh bedding.  It probably put them off and they all laid away. On Friday, they had a day out again, I did have eight eggs in the nest boxes but only twenty-five chickens, including the cock, returned.  Two came back later, but the last one is still out.  So I suspect that several laid their eggs in the same place and she is sitting on them.  There might be some chicks this year after all.

I’m not particularly cheered at the thought, as I’d rather not build up their numbers any more – the Sage has never been able to resist having a clutch or two of baby chicks every year, but I’m having to give away eggs by the dozen already – but the new Rector did mention to me that he and his family had kept bantams before, so maybe they might like some young ones.  Of course, there’s the problem of small children naming their pets and then some of them possibly turning out to be cocks, so it would have to be handled carefully.

Today, I’m hitting a wall – in a mental block way, that is.  I’ve got so much paperwork to do and deadlines are looming, but I’m not sure that I’m capable of any of it at present.  Some things are quite easy – a letter to be written and emailed, along with a document I’ve already scanned in to the computer, two more that simply have to be signed and posted – others are much more complicated or time consuming, but that’s not it.  I just don’t want to do it today.  Yet I must.

Yes, I must.  Whinging about it has sorted me out.  JFDI, hey – or, as one of my Facebook friends (whom I haven’t met, as it happens, he’s a friend of a friend) says, ‘Up and Atom.’

I’m a Tot, je suis un Tot…

Blogging may still be spasmodic for a while, I’m afraid.  I’m doing my best to keep up but I’m so busy all day and tired in the evening – I suspect that I’m finally finding out what is normal to most people.  As I write, it’s only half past seven and I’m wondering how soon I can decently go to bed.

I’ve been very pleased, however, with how well the introduction between the big and little tortoises has gone.  Edweena eyed the Tots with a jaded glare at first and, though she doesn’t do anything to injure them, she barges close to them and makes them scuttle.  However, she’s just asserting herself and it’s fair enough, she doesn’t hurt them and they seem to get on perfectly well.  This is what I found this morning, an hour or so after I’d put their heat lamp on.

Isn’t that adorable?  I weighed one of the Tots later, she was 55 grams.  I’ve mislaid the sheet of their progress this summer, but I think that in about April, they were 32 g.  One has to be careful not to overfeed, but their shells have grown too and they are clearly very healthy.

By the way, if you wonder about the flower, it is indeed a rosebud.  Rose petals are one of their favourite foods.  They like a range of flowers, including violas, honeysuckle and mallow, as well as the leaves of those and many other plants.

They love burrowing into hay, but I’ve just (while looking for their weigh-in sheets) found an information list – it seems that hay and straw shouldn’t be used for bedding.  Oh.  I’ll have to ask at Tortoise Club.

Among the many things I haven’t mentioned recently is the fact that our phones and printer both stopped working about three weeks ago.  We have only used our landline for 0800 and similar numbers for ages, because mobile calls cost nothing extra on our contracts, so we didn’t realise for a few days, until we were told that people had left answerphone messages.  I’m still not sure whether the printer was a software or a hardware problem – but I’ve been waiting for it to pack in, it was years old and I really wanted a wireless printer.  And it’s lovely, o quick and quiet.  This afternoon, I needed to use the scanner – same thing.  Really happy with it.  My first printer, which lasted for years and had been expensive, was very quiet but its replacement wasn’t – however, it was a fraction of the price, so I assumed that was the downside.  This one was also *surprisingly affordable* but seems much better.  Likewise, the phones, though replacing ones that are only a couple of years old, are much cheaper and I like them better.