Monthly Archives: March 2015

Z has a problem with a ballcock

All those bills, it was alarming.  There were car and house insurances, R’s income tax, council tax, Calor Gas, credit cards, water rates, consultant and hospital bills – the list went on and then more arrived in the next couple of days.  Some £5,000-worth altogether and I hadn’t really seen it coming, apart from the gas and the monthly stuff.  I’ve paid ’em all, including the ones that could have waited another week.  JFDI, as always.

A lovely day out yesterday, I’ll write about that tomorrow.  Today, I woke up at 6.30 which was a bit unnecessary.  I didn’t get up, I listened to stuff on the radio on iPlayer.

Water poured out of an overflow pipe this morning, right up in an attic.  I have five attics, not counting the two in the annexe.  Five attics.  Oh dear.  I had a false start because I thought you could get to one from another and we moved furniture and everything.  I haven’t moved it back, it’s a piece of furniture I’ve always hated and it’ll go down to an outbuilding.  Although lovely wood, it’s worth little, I’m afraid, because it’s too damn big.  Anyway, good friend Jamie came to help me out and shinned up through the trapdoor, with Roses and Lawrence providing support beneath – and Roses herself went up to help after a while – “not with your hip,’ she said.  I was the oldest person there by some years, always a bit startling to remember when I’m the old dear that people are taking care of.

We couldn’t work it out, we’d assumed it was ballcock problems and so it must be, but we couldn’t find out where the problem was.  One tank appears only to serve the upstairs lavatory cistern, but that wasn’t it anyway, it was another overflow pipe.  Another tank didn’t seem to do anything much.  So I’ll just have to see where it is if it happens again.

Jamie wouldn’t let me give him anything for coming to help.  “Friend in need,” he said.  Such kindness.

I was going to spend the afternoon in the greenhouse but I’m tired and not in the mood.  I have work to do, have lit the fire and it’s far too tempting to sit by it for the rest of the day.  So I won’t.  I’m going to Norwich.  I hope to spend more money.  Because nothing I’ve paid, apart from modest credit card bills, is for anything I can actually see.  Car insurance, council tax, nothing tangible.  I’m going shopping.

Z eats fish and chips

I went into school early to meet the eight interviewees for the post.  I had a chance to chat to all of them for a few minutes.  I noted a few of them in particular, it’ll be interesting to find which one of them gets the job and whether it was one of those – though first impressions aren’t always the ones that count finally.

I felt a bit odd later, as if jetlagged – I suppose it’s that I’ve been busy on such a range of different things in the last few days.  I went to the supermarket, largely because I wanted to shop enough to get a money-off voucher for filling up the car.  Then I talked to my gardener about what needed doing, fed the tortoises and chickens, cleaned the kitchen, went to the cashpoint, drove to Beccles, shopped for presents for grandchildren. picked up friends, drove to Norwich, had lunch, drove them back, went to pick up my boots from the cobbler, did more shopping for more presents and drove home, stopping at the churchyard to take flowers to Russell’s grave, then fed chickens and tortoises again.  I felt confused, yet it was a quite ordinary day.  Maybe it was because it was so unexpectedly cold.

This evening, I took the presents over to Al & co’s house.  It’s Squiffany’s tenth birthday tomorrow but I’d wrapped presents for the other two as well, just small things.  I was invited to stay, they have fish and chips on a Thursday, picked up on the way home from Pugsley’s Cubs meeting.  They said I should have let them know I was going to the station in the morning, I could have stayed over – and I should really, I’d be leaving the house about the time they do.  Never mind.  It’ll be an early start, I’m catching the 8.17 train.  I suppose it was cheaper than the next one, it’s earlier than I need.  But no matter.  I’ll catch a bus to Trafalgar Square and wander around a bit until it’s time to meet Eddie Two-Sox.

I’ve made up for my disgraceful behaviour in drinking a bottle of wine in an evening by having two dry days. How sensible.  Hmm.

z opened one eye at a time

Rupert the spaniel arrived at 8 o’clock this morning to spend the day with me.  I had woken half an hour earlier, remarkably enough, so had time to consider the need to get up.  If I’d been able to avoid it, I probably would have. But meetings started at 8.30, unfortunately.

I had time to feed the chickens or myself, so chose the chooks, of course. Just as well I did, they had run out of water completely, both drinkers. I had a drink of water myself before going out, I wasn’t hungover but I felt my age a bit.  There are interviews at school tomorrow, I’m going in early to meet the candidates but I’m not able to stay for the interviews.  I’m not too sorry about that, it’ll be two tiring days. Simon, who’s going to take over from me as chairman, will be there and so will the other vice-chairman.

I’m starting to think about food for the blog party. I do like planning food.  And cooking and eating it, obvs.  I can mull for a while longer though, there’s still ten weeks to go.

Have I mentioned I’m going to London on Friday?  I haven’t been for ages, I’m looking forward to it. I’m meeting a blog friend and we’re going to the National Gallery.

Z and the bills

I arrived home to bills, mostly, which was more depressing than surprising.  I’ve got enough in the bank to cover them.

On a brighter note, Rupert the spaniel is coming to spend the day with me.

On the other hand, I’ve a meeting that will take up much of the morning.

In other news, I drank a whole bottle of red wine.  It’s Roses’ fault: I asked her to remove it from my grasp.

I’m going to bed now.

Tomorrow, I will pay the bills.

In other news, the grass has been cut.

Oh, and with the bills was news of a savings account that Weeza didn’t know she had.  Yay!!

Z reads and writes and talks and hugs

Zig’s younger daughter, Baby Doc, has been here for the weekend and the day started with lots of present giving because it’s Mothering Sunday, which has been adopted as Mothers’ Day in Britain. Zig’s other daughter phoned and later Weeza and Ro phoned me.  Al texted, being a bit occupied by chickenpox in the family.  This is the youngest, Hadrian, sounds as if he’s keeping the whole family busy.

I’ve been reading a lot while I’ve been here, three books in three days, though I didn’t read a fourth today, but read the paper instead.  I’ll go to bed early and download another book to read.  I ordered two more, which should have arrived by the time I get home.  My inability to listen to a range of music was dealt with by going to a couple of concerts of unfamiliar, new stuff and I’m finally tackling the book problem head-on too, by just Doing It.  Problems don’t always solve themselves and one has to pick one’s time to deal with them.

its been useful to have Russell’s iPad as well as my own, it’s made some of the work I’ve had to do much easier – such as writing a document with another one there for reference, for example.  Quite often, I’ve needed the phone too.  This is no hardship, keeping up with paperwork, it’s enabled me to get away for a week and not have it waiting when I get back home, and so I’ve been able to relax.  The cliché that smartphones etc have taken over our lives and stopped us connecting with the people we are with is just not the case, as far as I can see.  It makes me more efficient and gives me more time, and I do talk to people in real life – as those of you who have met me know only too well.

z has spent the day reading, mostly

Zig is asleep, having spent the day being poisoned, voluntarily, for her own eventual benefit. I feel drained myself, but please don’t think that I’m complaining in the least. If anything, I’m humbled by the cheerfulness of the people who were in hospital receiving chemotherapy and the nurses taking care of them. Zig has bravely completed five out of six sessions and we’ve been through the long list of drugs that she has to take daily and that I’ll be giving her for the next few days.  It’s a responsibility I’m anxious about, but I’ve written everything down and will make sure I get it right.

I expect I will take this post down in the next few days, it’s not for me to write about, as a short-term observer of people with cancer.  They were all so damn patient and cheerful and matter of fact, it really does make one aware of the small things one grumbles about, sometimes.  Actually, I find I can’t write about it anyway.

ive been writing about myself today.  Where’s the difference? I hear you ask? It’s been factual, darlings, not me wittering on. Governors now have to write about themselves, and publish it. On the school website is fine – anyway, it seems to have been agreed that I’ll do me and that’ll give the idea to the others what to put.  I went down the factual route: my positions on the governing body, my ‘interest’ in a commercial/political/family sense (Dilly teaches at the school), the committees I’m on, that sort of thing, plus a brief personal statement, which I’ll probably tweak before sending it in.  Since I’ll be starting up in business again, in a small way, I probably should consider what, if anything, I’m going to say about it.

z is dogged

We went to the hospital today for Zig’s appointment with her specialist and are returning tomorrow for her next treatment.  Lots of friends call in or phone to see how she is – she is such a dear person, everyone cares deeply for her and wants to help. The dogs have gone to stay with one friend for a couple of days.

I’ve spent much of my spare time on school stuff which can’t wait until I get home.  It’s a disconcertingly large amount of work.  The latest Governor’s Handbook, which I mentioned the other day, now has a recommendation that governors should serve no more than two terms of office in one school, then take their expertise on to another.  I can hardly describe how annoyed that makes me.  I’m involved with the school in my home town because I care about it specifically, as I did (and do) about the village school where I used to be a governor.  Why on earth would I choose to get involved anywhere else? It’s often frustrating and exhausting, which is not the school’s fault but that of successive governments and the local authority.  If it were not that I’m taking an active part in my community, I would have more time for enjoyment of things I want to do.   Once I finish my work at this school, I will be only too ready to put it all behind me – but I still have a job to do and I’m not quitting until I’ve done it.  I planned my leaving the village school for two years, with the intention that I would not be missed.  I’m well on the way to it again, having got an excellent successor lined up as the next chairman, with an equally fine vice chairman.  Then, one more year and I should be able to go.  It will depend on when I sell my house and leave, probably.

Of course, this is not to say that it’s a good thing for people to just stay in one post for the sake of continuity. It’s the balance that matters.  I remember, years ago, when I was the only person at my last school who had been there over five years and most were quite new, and it was not very easy.  We’ve had three new people join us in the last six months, out of eighteen altogether, and that’s fine, but if the proportion were the other way round, that would be little help to the school.  We all take our responsibilities seriously, but we are all volunteers, after all, and it’s not up to the government to dictate to us where we are to do that.


Z misses her turn

I’m back with Zig and co, at present in bed with Indi, Bertie and Eva, with Arthur (I think, I always have to look twice to check Arthur or Gary) on the window seat.  I suppose Eloise is gracing Zig with her company.

It was an uneventful trip down, though I absent-mindedly missed the turnoff to the M4 and had to go the few extra miles via the M3. This didn’t matter, it wasn’t far, but they’re upgrading the M3 to a smart motorway (I’ve no idea, I’ll google it when I’ve got time on my hands) and so they’d narrowed the lanes while they’re doing the work and put a 50 mph speed limit for ten miles or so.

I listened to a radio programme at the start of the journey about the concern regarding the number of accidents that young, newly qualified drivers have. At one point they compared the rules in this country – in short, once you’ve passed your test, that’s it and you’re good to go – with other countries that have a more gradual introduction to driving, such as restrictions to speed or passengers or a need to pass another test after gaining more experience.

I always wish they’d go the extra mile (see what I did there?) and give a better comparison in these instances. For example, they said the percentage of accidents that involve very young drivers, but they disn’t give a similar figure for the other countries. At one point, something was said about a 35% (I think) reduction in accidents in another country, possibly Australia – but 35% of what was not mentioned. And one suggestion, of a curfew, wasn’t thought through at all. Not driving after dark is all very well, but dark varies according to the time of year. And the driver could be caught out some way from home, how to get back if the journey takes longer than expected?

I was struck by how well people were driving, in fact. Nothing to fault really, I thought. Except me missing my turning and driving too far along the M25, of course.

Z’s weekend

Back home again – the little ones stayed here with me on Friday and Saturday and I drove them home on Sunday, gave them their tea and put them to bed, then had dinner ready for Phil and Weeza when they arrived back shortly afterwards, in time to kiss the children goodnight.

Ronan and Dora came over on Saturday with their little niece, whose mum was in London for the weekend too.  We all went down to the village playground, it was a warm and sunny day.  There was a football match on.  Not in the playground itself, obvs.

Ro and I had a really good chat, it was lovely.  I told him I’m going to London next week, to the Impressionist exhibition at the National Gallery.  I’m meeting a blog friend there and then we’re having lunch together.  Ro was interested and we talked about art and stuff, he asked if I’d ever been to Sir John Soane’s house, which I have, so we enthused in a splendidly bonding mother and son way.  He’d been as pleased with the sarcophagus in the basement as I was, and as thrilled by all the Hogarths upstairs.

Zerlina had asked for steak for Saturday night because, as she said, she’d never had steak and wondered if she’d like it.  In the end, she changed her mind because we’d eaten quite a lot during the day and we just had pasta and pesto.  The pesto was home made, I’d taken it out of the freezer a couple of days earlier and then not eaten it, so it wanted using.  So the next night, I cooked steak and lamb chops for everyone.  Z and Gus shared a steak and had a chop each, with fried potatoes.  It’s amazing, how much food two small children can pack away.  They had yoghurt afterwards.  And fruit.

Home from home

I’m at Weeza’s house today because Zerlina is at school. Gus and I will pick her up soon and then head for home.

They’ve lived in their present house for about a year and a half now and it’s looking lovely, though not finished yet. Russell’s and my housewarming present to them was a beautiful oak floor for the living room. It’s a huge room, some 27 feet by 32 feet. They project films onto one end wall for a fabulous home cinema.  There were three bedrooms upstairs with en suite bathrooms – that is, two of them are small shower rooms – and they’ve added two more bedrooms, a big family bathroom, an airing cupboard and landing.  They had to add Velux windows into the sloping roof as it wasn’t practicable to put in new windows into the walls. The previous owner had done no decorating nor laid floors, though he had owned the place for eight years and it was pretty messy.  They hastily painted two bedrooms and put rugs down when they moved in and did the downstairs work first, then the new rooms, so the original bedrooms need to be decorated properly and carpeted next.  They’re doing a lot of the work themselves – not the structural work but the finishing – and have become pretty good at tiling.

I can’t help wondering where I will live in the long term. I keep sneaking looks at estate agents online, though it would be unfortunate if I found my dream house in the ideal location, because I’m nowhere near moving yet.  I felt very unsettled to start with but, not surprisingly, I’m more relaxed now, especially because managing my present home is rather easier than I expected. There’s a lot to think about but the winter was fine and, although I’m very busy and have been away rather a lot, I’ve still got extra work done.  In truth, it’s tempting to keep putting off plans to move, but I know I’ll regret it in a few years’ time if I do that. There’s a time to stay still and consider options and a time to take the plunge and I don’t want to look back in another ten or fifteen years and wish I’d made a different decision.  By then, either I’d feel I’d left it too late and could not cope with a new start or else have a hasty move forced on me if I couldn’t cope with the place.

I thought I’d published that several hours ago, but it’s still in the draft folder so I’ll add to it,

When we arrived at school, Zerlina told me that we were taking home the school hamster. “Did you tell her that mummy and daddy are away this weekend?” It seems that she did…anyway, the very nice teacher came to ask me if it was all right and it was.  So we loaded Mr Munchkin in his cage into the car and headed for home.

My grandchildren run rings around me, and that’s quite all right.  It’s what I’m there for in a sense, though I’m quite firm when I feel the need. And I would never go against my children’s wishes, because my mother did and it was very frustrating.  They’re in charge, not me.

Yet I am putty in their hands really, which is why we ended up in Macdonalds this evening.  They mostly eat very healthily and well and they enjoy good food.  So I’m fine about indulgence once in a while.  It seems that MacD gives children a bag of fruit on a Friday now – and they both tucked into their apple and grapes with gusto after they’d packed away their Happy Meals.

There’s a lot on and I expect I’ll be able to tell you most of it in due course.  For now, things look better for friends than they did a couple of days ago and that’s good enough news for now.