Monthly Archives: October 2014

5 positives

1  Favourite tweet of the day, from a chap called Matthew Corroza – ‘no pain au chocolat, no gain au chocolat.’

2 Wink has arrived for the weekend.  Weeza and co are coming over tomorrow and staying the night and Al and co are calling in for tea on Sunday.

3 Finally sent an obituary notice to the local paper.  Here.  Eloise wrote it for me.

4 I’d had three out of four nights wonderful, restful sleep.  That’s now three nights out of five – still, I have a comfortable bed and it’s peaceful and quiet here.  No mouse sounds since I put the traps down.

5 The wood I’m burning at present is very dry, so I have a blazing fire in minutes.  I have to be quite careful in fact, mustn’t set the chimney on fire!

Z goes to Town

It was such a joy to see Lena again, she’s a lovely girl and I miss her.  For those of you who don’t know, she is a German/French girl who lives in Berlin and she lived with us for several months, a couple of years ago, while studying at the local high school.  She’s now in her last year at school and her English class is over in London this week, so I went up to Town to meet her.

I haven’t been to London for some months, not since meeting Wink at the Matisse cut-out exhibition back in the spring and then I just walked through the City to Tate Modern to meet her, I haven’t been in the West End for a year, I suppose.  I love London, I feel so at home there.  I’d never live in a place where it would be too inconvenient to go there for the day – a couple of hours away is about right for me.  It’s tiring, mind you.  I remember, when Weeza had been living in Islington for about a year, I asked her about the theatres and exhibitions she’d visited.  She said that, with a full-time job, just living was enough for her.  She adjusted in time, of course, and took full benefit of her years there.

Lena last visited us a year ago and gave a warm invitation to visit her and I promised I would, but I haven’t done so yet.  First, there was Wink’s operation and I went to stay with her for a total of three weeks and then I was looking after Russell.  But I really will soon, it’s all right to get away for a few days.  I don’t feel that I can have a longer holiday while I still live here, but the time will come when I will be free to travel.  Russell didn’t want to, which I regretted immensely, I really wish he had.  We were both busy here with various things, mostly separately, and holidays together would have been lovely.  He wouldn’t go, and that was that.

So, in future, I shall go alone or with my sister or with friends, I’ll see how it goes.  I have offers already, which is great.  There are so many places I’ve never been – in this country, I can take Ben with me, if I can find places to accept him, and I will get to the Continent from Norwich airport via Schiphol.  Lena always enthuses about her family’s holiday home in the south of France, I’ve never been to Rome, nor to Germany, I’ve visited Poland once and loved it – there is vast choice and I would like to take the opportunities that come my way.  I am looking forward to feeling able to look forward again – I won’t be there for a while yet, but I’ve been anxious for such a long time.  I don’t mind if I’m not happy, but I would love to be tranquil.

Black Sheep Z

I’m trying to find some music that I can bear to listen to.  It seems odd that I haven’t been able to do so yet, because I know it would be good for me.  Nothing has hit the spot yet and too much is impossible to cope with.

Back when I was very low, recovering from my mother’s long decline and eventual death here, I listened over and over to the same music, nearly always Bix Beiderbecke and Prokofiev – in particular the Lieutenant Kijé suite, don’t ask me why.  But I can’t listen to cymbals, nor to jolly 20s jazz.  At the moment, I’m trying Tom Waits’ Alice, but I don’t think that’ll be it.

No, it isn’t.  Now I’m trying Black Sheep Boy, the Okkervil River version, and it seems to be okay so far.  I’m supposed to be working really, I’ve had various friends call in, so have not done those things I ought to have done.

It didn’t help that I spent some time reading Articles of Association looking for some information I needed about an AGM, becoming increasingly puzzled because it wasn’t as I remembered it.  Finally, I looked again at the front page and found it was the Articles of another company.  Honestly, darlings, the sooner I retire the better.

Anyway, at least I’ve got music now.  I’m thinking of trying some Mozart next.

Z has square feet. A lot of them

It seems that the floor area of this house, including its annexe, is about 575 square metres, 6,200 square feet.  About three-quarters of that is the house itself.  With an acre of garden and the fields, that’s much of the reason I don’t want to stay here – were I to do so, it would only put off the decision to move by a few years and I’d rather start afresh sooner rather than when it’s forced upon me.

In the same post as the probate valuation was a letter to say that a couple of weeks’ pension had been paid before it was known that Russell had died, so will I pay it back, please?  That’s no problem of course, it happens to be in an account that I haven’t had frozen yet, so I hadn’t realised.  He only used it for his pension and cashed it in every couple of weeks, so there’s not much in it. I also have a sizeable form to fill in, to claim widow’s bereavement benefits and what a dispiriting term that is. And Russell has had another Premium Bond win.  Just £25 again, but the size of the winnings hardly matters, compared to the  pleasure he’d have had in receiving it.  Maybe he’s putting in a good word somewhere?  They’ll have to be cashed in of course, but one is allowed to keep them for a year and I think I will, if they’re going to do that well.  Nice to think that he’s looking after me, however fanciful the thought is.

I’ve finally passed on some papers that were quite beyond me to cope with (I love some mangled grammar once in a while) and, although it’s perilously close to the deadline, we can just manage it.  I’m immensely grateful and have apologised heartily for not dealing with it sooner.  That it seems trivial to me doesn’t mean it actually is trivial – though it’s a matter of paperwork only, it does have to be done by the end of this month.

Darlings, I’m rambling.  It’s actually been a good day overall, though the various things in the post took my a bit unawares – not the pension overpayment but the rest.  And gosh, isn’t it expensive when one pays for everything?  The dentist, the garage and the skip hire were the things that took the credit card bill sky high.  Still, I’ve always been self-reliant by nature and, if it’s taken me sixty years to put that into practice, I shall do it with resolution.  As you’d expect.*

*Another grammar fail.  Heh.



Z burns and crashes in the bath

If any of you ever forgets your password or log-in, do email me (address on the sidebar) because i can reset it and you’ll be sent a link.  Having not had any trouble for ages, I was all ready to turn off the need to log in, but in the last week or so I’ve had a huge spate of spam log-ins – they don’t get further than that and attempt to comment or leave a link, so there’s no point to it, but it puts me off lowering my guard.  I’m very sorry though, I know it’s a nuisance.

We’re still turning out, day 2 on the big workshop.  The second skip is now full and I must phone in the morning to have it taken away.  We’ve also had a big bonfire going all day.

The other big event has been that Dave the Wall has been busy again, this time mending the wall at the end of the drive that was damaged by an oil tanker some years ago.  This place is looking better than it has for years, it’s such a sad irony that I’m getting it all in good shape so that I can sell it.

Ro and Dora came to stay last night, which is why I didn’t write.  After a day’s hard manual work followed by paperwork, I’m tired out and can hardly wait to go to bed.  I went for a long soak in the bath earlier and actually fell asleep.  Unhappy as I am to admit it, I woke myself after a few minutes by snoring.  As far as I know, I don’t normally do that, but how would I know?

With clogs on

There’s no point in fussing about it, it’s just the way it is.  This is an old house and it’s impossible to seal off every part of it, and we get mice.  There are fields all around and there are mice and at this time of the year they start to look for somewhere warm and dry.

I woke up around 3 o’clock this morning and thought I might go back to sleep, but within minutes I felt quite distressed and it was better to sit up, put the light on and the kettle on and make tea and pull myself together.  Quite some time later, I thought I might manage to sleep again, but then I heard a mouse nibbling somewhere in the room.  I got out of bed and went where I thought I heard it, but then it seemed to be in another corner – when I went there it sounded as if it was somewhere else.  Very odd, I couldn’t work it out and, in the end, I put a programme on the radio to stop me listening for the mouse and I finally slept.

While I was still awake, I realised that I didn’t know where Russell stored the mousetraps.   I knew where a couple of old-fashioned ‘Little Nipper’ traps were, but I hate setting those.  So this morning, I took myself off to the ironmonger’s and bought six of my preferred traps, which are easy to set and empty.  I’ve distributed them around four bedrooms, baited with Nutella.  We shall see.

I put out the black bins, which was a bit knackering, lugging them down the drive, I made phone calls (don’t underestimate this, I used to have a sadly embarrassing phobia about the telephone), I spent most of the day on interviews and Roses and I had a Chinese takeaway together this evening.  Tomorrow evening, Ro and Dora are coming over and staying the night.  I must haul out that to-do list and see what I can tick off this week.

Z rambles, conversationally speaking (that’s sort of tautology, innit?)

I did indeed order the gas, though I was unable to find how to read the gauge on the tank.  I’d asked Al and he said it was on the top, so I got a ladder and climbed up, but I still couldn’t find it.  I feel stupid and will be more so when I’m shown somewhere absolutely obvious.  Still, the person who is afraid to look a fool never does anything worthwhile (though this isn’t one of the more valuable manifestations of the maxim).

I’m glad the Tube strike for next week has been called off, I was expecting to have to walk all over London.  Not that I mind walking, I like walking in cities but I am catching a 9 o’clock train back and I’ll be a weary little Z by then.

I’ve had an email for Russell and a phone message too, so that’s two people who don’t know and whom I’ve got to tell.  I suppose there will be more in the future too, I’ll have to change my habit of the past few years and send Christmas cards (sorry for mentioning the word, I assure you I won’t make a habit of it).  I went out for supper with friends, a regular monthly thing and they’d brought me lovely flowers.  I was quite undone for a few moments, it was so unexpected.  One of our number has not been there for several months – her beloved daughter in law died of ovarian cancer after a decade or more of doing really well and she can’t cope with social events yet, she’s afraid she’ll cry.  I hope she does come soon, it’s better to cry with friends than alone, sometimes.

Not that I’m big on crying if I can help it, I’ve done too much of that in the past four or so years and I think it’s overrated as a stress-relieving exercise.  I end up just as miserable but with a headache and red eyes.  Blogging is far better and much more cheerful.

Tomorrow, I’m mostly interviewing.  For a job, that is.  I must remember to put the black bins out first.  I’ll write it down now.

Z the domestic goddess

I’m not sure if I’ve done things on my to-do list, but I’ve got a good many little jobs done today, which eases my mind.  I’ve written minutes, checked other minutes, contacted several people, booked annual gas tests for my flats, changed landline provider.  If I can check the gas in the tank tomorrow and, I expect, order more, then I’ll be doing well (and ready to start on the list itself).

When I was with Irene last month, she wanted a new diary which I bought for her as a present. I bought one for myself too, not for appointments (I use my phone, so that it can be backed up on my computer as I’m a self-control freak) but for regular payments and so on – MOTs, insurances, gas top-ups etc and to note when I pay bills and how much they are, and when I receive my income and how quickly I spend it.  Although I paid a lot of the bills – my share, that is, because I tended to pay the big annual ones and Russell dealt with the weekly and monthly ones – he never let on how our income equated with our expenditure.  We seemed to rub along, was the best I could ever come up with.  I actually have little idea which side of the Micawber line I’m likely to fall.

I will be bucking the system, however, in that I shall receive a pension several years earlier than I expected.  I’m scheduled to get my old age pension at 64 years, 5 months and 20-something days, but now I’ll get a widow’s pension straight away.  This thought gives me no pleasure, but at least a glimmer of satisfaction.  No idea what it’ll be, though.

I’ve had little Rupert spaniel to stay the last couple of days, but he’s gone home now.  At least Ben’s neck has completely healed so he can wear his collar and be taken for walks again.  He’s very pleased about that.  Next week, I must get a friend to let him out during the day when I go to London – my young friend Lena (previously known as Elle, but it seems unnecessary to carry that on) who stayed with us a couple of years ago will be in London with her school and I’m going to meet up with her.  I’m so looking forward to seeing her again.  I’d meant to go and visit her in Berlin earlier this year, but it wasn’t possible because I went to look after Wink when she had her hip op, so it’s a year since Lena and I saw each other.

The Z in the willows

I should start by saying that I’m really just thinking aloud – if that is an expression one might use about blogging – and thoughts and hopes I mention here might not be what I opt to do in the long run.  I’m not usually one for the pipe dream, being rather more grounded in reality, but it makes me feel better, to think that I might come to a future that I choose, since my present situation is obviously not one that I want at all.

Tim’s observation that one should move ‘to’ rather than ‘from’ is absolutely valid, yet doesn’t tell all the story.  There are many reasons for moving from a place or a situation and it might not even be dissatisfaction with the status quo.  For example, I know a number of people who are stuck in houses that are far too big for them, too expensive to run and they realise that they should have downsized years before, when it was a practicable option.  That is at least part of my reason not to wish to stay here.  Thinking five years ahead and assuming good health, I would still be able to manage but the place would dominate my life.  It’s a fair bit of work and I don’t have the strength for all of it, so have to employ people to do the heavy work. I don’t feel able to just shut up and go away, I have to have a house-sitter.  Much as l like to be surrounded by fields, I’m a fairly long way away from any neighbours and there’s no one to notice if I don’t draw the curtains back or take the milk in (there is at present with Roses next door, of course).  This is fine now, but the time will come when it won’t be.  If I leave it another ten years, I might well be struggling to manage and I’ll wish I’d left when I could have done it more easily.   In twenty years’ time, if I’m still alive – oh dear, what a worry it would be to my family, having me live in this big house on my own.

I’ve been thinking about my options – the wider the choice, the harder it can be to decide – and my inclination is firmly to stay in Norfolk.  I like it here and all my children live here.  I love Norwich and would like to live closer – however, I’ve also got to know the Broadland area and it’s lovely.  So I felt that my choice was likely to be in a village just on the outskirts of the city, on the south side, or else north east of the city, a bit further out, possibly in a village but nowhere off the beaten track.  Then I saw that lovely house that Weeza’s friends have moved to and it made me think again and I realised how much I always loved living near water.

It was something I thought I would miss when I moved here, 28 years ago.  I lived by the seaside then and had grown up by the river.  I never lived more than a quarter mile from a body of water.  This place had many compensations and I didn’t miss the seaside as much as I expected because I loved it here – but now my options are open again.  One of the things I’m taking into consideration is how much my grandchildren would love it too.  I’m no swimmer or sailor, all I really enjoy is simply messing around in boats – and out of them.   I like lakes and rivers more than the sea and I like backwaters most of all.

I mentioned this to Roses and she said darkly – “three words – risk of flooding,” which was rather less constructive than I’d expected.  Actually, most of this village (though not this house) is reckoned to be at risk of flooding, not that it ever has.  Our further field has flooded twice in forty years, but it’s part of the Waveney Valley flood plain, lots of land alongside the river is covered in water for part of every year.  Clearly, I’d not choose a house that was at risk, but actually a house by the river is not necessarily more so than another, further away but low-lying – or  lower lying than its neighbours, anyway.

This might not happen anyway and it’s a while away, but it’s not impractical and it is something lovely to sustain me for now, which is what I can really do with.  I feel lost, when I stop and think about it, which is a good reason not to do so.  And I should say that my daughter and sister, both of whom I’ve mentioned it to, think that it’s a jolly good idea.

Bedding down

The chimney has been swept, I have a stack of wood, I’ve stocked up on wine.  I feel as if I’ve been very sensible and got ready for the winter.

Edweena has been doing that too for the past few weeks.  I brought all three tortoises indoors about four weeks ago but, whilst the Tots have been out and about constantly, Edweena stopped eating after a while and has been snuggled down under a big piece of bark.  Tortoises have to fast for several weeks before hibernating, to ensure their gut is empty.  Yesterday, I heard her thumping against the side of the run and found that she was trying to make a burrow.  I took her out and gave her a bath, which encourages the emptying process – but afterwards, she basked under the heat lamp and ate all the food I’d put out for the babies.  So she has decided to wake up again for a while.  This is fine by me, I’d rather she didn’t start to settle down for another month or so.

I decided to take charge of my sleeplessness last week and have taken a kettle, tea and oatcakes upstairs.  Now, when I wake up and can’t sleep again, I sit up and have something to eat and drink.  Coming down to make tea wouldn’t be a big deal now, but it rather wakes me up and, in a few weeks, it’ll be a chilly journey.  Besides, it’ll wake the dog.  Some nights, I don’t want it but it does seem to be helping, especially the oatcakes.  A full tum seems to settle me down again and I go back to sleep.  Mind you, having breakfast, especially a very plain and modest one, at three or four in the morning doesn’t set me up for the day quite like bacon and eggs at eight o’clock would.  However, I’ve been sleeping much better for the past few nights, so am very grateful for that.