Monthly Archives: June 2015

Z will have four fewer beaks to feed (which is good news)

The gravel has become very weedy.  There’s not enough depth of gravel to make clearing it by hand possible without making quite a mess, apart from the work involved, so there wasn’t much option but to use weedkiller.  There is a pump-action 20-litre spray.  Unfortunately, once it was full, it was found that there were little cracks in the pumping mechanism and it was a bit leaky.  So we loaded it onto a trolley and Stevo pulled it around as he sprayed.

I biked 250 yards down the road to the convenient store (this is not a convenience store, it’s just nearby) and found that they had a replacement, at a truly shocking price, some £93-something.  I declined and went into the town instead.  Although there were ones at half that price or less, they were smaller and, though good quality, were really more than I wanted to pay.  So I bought a new watering can for £5.99 instead and Stevo has used that.  The tennis court is also alarmingly weedy – even when we’ve kept the gravel under control, that has to have weedkiller put on it.

I kept the chickens in, of course, but one was running around looking anxious.  She was the one who didn’t come home last night and she was hungry.  So I let her in – but later, Stevo said that he’d come across another one and let her in too.  There was only one other, so I went to check the eggs (the nest in the compost heap where I’d left her four eggs) and she’d abandoned them.  There were nine in the nest, so I picked them up.  I’ll throw the four away.  At least, now, I don’t have to make a new coop, though I’ll still need something for the chicks to go in when they’re a bit bigger, they’ll be a bit short of space where they are.

My friend Mary came over for coffee – or rather for tea, which we drank under the shade of the plum trees on the lawn, where it was nicely airy.  She’s just home from a visit to her parents – her unmarried younger sister lives with them and all three are in denial about mother’s Alzheimer’s.  In excellent physical health, she hasn’t been to the doctor in years and she, while getting increasingly muddled, tries to keep going as she always has.  It’s very sad.  However, Mary and I had a good chat, as we always do, and afterwards I took her for a quick lunch at the excellent local café.  I had a carrot and caraway pâté, which was tasty and unusual and she had a sandwich with hummous and sunblush tomatoes, which she said was really delicious.  I thought it was great to have imaginative food for vegetarians – vegans, indeed – as well as all their other stuff.

I’ve ordered a new sprayer, the watering can isn’t ideal, though it dealt with the matter for now, I hope.  I bought various other bits and pieces while I was about it – I’m not really that great at shopping and rarely do it, in shops or online.

Tomorrow, it’s the last governors’ meeting of the school year and also my final one as chairman, after six years.  They’re laying on lunch beforehand – you can see how my reputation spreads, when they want to thank me, they naturally think of food.


mad catwoman Z

I’ve suddenly become exhausted and will have to go to bed -all the same, this is a day that should be recorded, because I will surely want to check back at some time.

Cat has become very friendly and loves to be stroked and caressed.  I finally ventured to pick her up, and got away with it; she sat on my lap for quite two seconds and didn’t show her claws.  Tabby kitten let me stroke it – I think this is pretty good, she is a feral kitten and it’s more than I expected.  Even better, black kitten with white paws fed in front of me this morning and, tonight, one of the all-blacks came and ate while I squatted by them all too.  Patience, kindness and plenty of food (especially that) are finally paying off.

Bed now, while I can still walk upstairs.

Z discovers a lack of muscles

I have nothing interesting to say, which won’t in the least stop me.  After church, the monthly café service (where my clarinet playing went really rather well, considering I haven’t picked up the instrument since last month) and then Stevo and I got to work again.  We shifted another pile of wood and (as there was a rain shower) he chopped a lot of kindling.  Later, we spent a few hours moving wooden pallets from the other side of the front field to the wood pile.

Afterwards, we were exhausted.  He’s planning to come over again tomorrow and keep going, but I’m going to have to take a day off.  I’ve got an 8 o’clock meeting in the morning and then I have a lot of paperwork I just must get going with.

I cooked sausages for our lunch, but tonight I was too tired to cook or eat and I’ve just had Twiglets this evening (this is clearly not enough and I’m due to suffer from night starvation).  Having unwisely had a half hour nap yesterday (much needed, all the same), I didn’t sleep much last night.  A couple of five-minute dozes and I finally fell asleep for three hours, sometime after 4.  I want to go and have a long, relaxing bath but I must prepare for my meeting and reply to more emails.  I’m not sure if I can do the latter, they may have to wait, though.  I used to be able to work all evening, old age is a disconcerting thing to creep up on a woman.

Clearing up

More clearing.  If you’ve visited me here, you’ll know that on the field to the left of the drive, looking from the house, by the big barn, there was a lot of stuff – wood, metal water tanks, objects covered with tarpaulins and so on.  There has been a lot of sorting out done and, this afternoon, Stevo and I spent a couple of hours finishing the job.  That is, there are still some concrete kerbstones and some very large logs, but they are too big to move ourselves.  The junk has been shifted.

Most of it never needed to be there in the first place, but Russell could never resist making anywhere look like a scrap yard.  He’d be the first to say it looks so much better now, though it wouldn’t stop him cluttering it up again.  As well as I knew him, I can’t say I ever understood him – that is, I knew what he would do, but never what drove him to do it.  It makes me sad to think about the barrier he kept up for his entire life and I only realised in the last few years that it was completely impregnable.

I made a list of jobs to be done outside, the other day, and there are now two items ticked off.  There are thirty-two still to go, unfortunately.  They don’t include routine work, such as weeding, mowing, watering and so on and are, in the main, too much for me to do alone.  I will talk to Stevo’s dad, who might have some advice, he knows everyone.

I managed to stroke the tabby kitten today, the least shy of the four.  The black with white paws is also fairly outgoing and the two black ones are very cautious and also lowest in the pecking order.  I can’t tell those two apart, but one of them can only feed when there’s plenty for everyone.

The chicks are very lively and they and their mother are eating heartily.  I moved their coop to a clean patch of grass, which proved awkward as it’s heavy.  In the end, I picked them up and put them in a bucket, to be sure I didn’t catch any of them as I dragged it, to the fury of their mother.  She isn’t a particularly friendly hen, considering I’ve been caring for them all for the past year or more.  Stevo and I discovered that the other coop is past repair, so I have to do some carpentry in the next couple of weeks, before the next lot hatch out.

I picked the first broad beans tonight – I’ve been eating the tops, pinched out against blackfly, but now there are a lot of pods ready to pick, though the beans are still very young and tender.  For supper, I had simply vegetables – the beans, a whole bunch of tiny local carrots and some leftover new potatoes, quartered and fried with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, a crumbled dried chilli pepper, salt and garam masala.

Tomorrow, Stevo is coming over again and we’ll get some more work done.  Daunting as it all is, we will plug on and never give up.

Z learns her fate

Well, things seem to be working out splendidly.  I’ve given a dozen fresh eggs to Roses, for her to take to her cousins, and that leaves me with only about three dozen to gaze at helplessly.  I’m going to make, and freeze, shedloads of cake tomorrow.  But mentioning the subject has led to a plan for Tim and me to meet next week, and we haven’t seen each other for at least two years, so that is marvellous.

Young Stevo called round this afternoon with a present for me – okay, it was from Poundland as he cheerily acknowledged, but it was a bolt for my shed door, which I needed.  After a bit of trouble finding the right drill bit, we put it on – and he wouldn’t charge me for his time.  We’d had a cup of tea and chatted and he’d been here quite some time, and I gave him extra the other day because he’d worked so hard in hot weather, but cockles of dry old heart were warmed and expanded a bit.

The cat is becoming adorable.  I’m not at all pleased about this, even as I stroke and caress her.  She purred tonight, dammit.  And I’m learning Cat – I know Dog and Horse reasonably well, and enough Tortoise to get by, but Cat has always been a foreign language to me.  I will indeed end up a mad cat woman.


I knew it would happen.  So this morning, I got a coop ready.  This afternoon, Wince came to collect his wages and, after a few minutes’ conversation, casually mentioned the mother hen and chicks on the lawn.  I jumped up to look at once, of course, but they’d vanished.  Wince, Stevo and I hunted for quite some time and, in the end, we came to our senses and realised they couldn’t have gone far.  We’d all looked under the summerhouse, but Stevo looked again and finally spotted her.  So I reached underneath, at arm’s length, and managed to catch them, one at a time.  The last was newly hatched and still quite bedraggled.  I put them on the lawn, some of them (the little one was kept warm inside my teeshirt) in the hope that their cheeping would entice Mummy out, but no luck.  So Wince took my walking stick (it’s a chicken herding tool, not a walking aid) and managed to move her a few inches until I could grab her and bring her out.

All eight babies and their mother are in the coop with food and water – I went to the pet shop for chick crumbs.  Although very pleased that she is alive, I’m a bit daunted by the thought of bringing up babies, at my time of life.  I seem not to be able to make my own choices and I’m finding it oppressive.  On the other hand, chicks are cute.  Here is one of them.



The others are tucked under Mum.



I’ve made a list of outside jobs to be done this summer.

Z is not good at being ruthless

First it was the cats, now it’s a chicken.

Roses told me yesterday that Jamie, who was kindly replacing a couple of panes in the doors of the greenhouse, had found two clutches of eggs in the compost heap.  Today, I had young Hadrian with me, so we went in search of them.  I’d marked a few elderly eggs that I’d forgotten about, to use as pot eggs (chooks aren’t that bright, as long as eggs, real or china, are in the nest, they keep on laying there) and that was fine in the first nest.  But a hen was sitting on the others.

I hoped she was just contemplating laying and would leave, cackling triumphantly, but she didn’t.  She is still sitting tight.  I do not want baby chicks and have removed eggs from under broody hens … but I’m getting too soft and I couldn’t put her back in the run with the others.

I wasn’t entirely sure if she was the hen that has been sitting (I hope, because the alternative is that she is dead) for nearly three weeks, so I went in and got a pan of warm water and bobbed the eggs in it – they all sank, whereas an about-to-hatch egg would float and move about as the chick inside moved.  Fumbling underneath her, to her indignation, I discovered that some of the eggs were cold, there were too many for her to sit on.  It turned out there were 16 in all.

I’ve left her four.  I just hadn’t the heart.  However, it means that I’ve brought in a clutch of 12, a clutch of 8 and 8 more from the nest box today, and I already have a big build-up of eggs.  I don’t know what on earth to do with them all.  I think I’m going to have to look up a recipe for pickled eggs.

Letting go

I’ve been feeling melancholy and, I realise now, I’ve pushed myself a bit much.  It’s all right, I’ve got over it but I did lean on a friend for a few minutes this afternoon and was glad to.  I’ll email him later and be cheerful.  I didn’t cry, anyway.  Though it would have been all right if I had, he’s a good enough friend.

There are always books left over from a stall of course, and I took them along to the local second-hand bookshop yesterday.  Letting go was necessary but quite hard.  I then decided to have lunch at a local restaurant, which was nice but a bit lonely as I was the only person sitting alone.  I bought myself a nice glass jug at Crocks.

I didn’t really sleep on Sunday night, but made up for it last night, it was lovely.  My friend, who I leant on, compared notes on the subject.  He tends to be awake for a while every night and was dismayed, a year or two ago, when I told him it was a classic sign of stress.  Today, I told him the theory that it can be a natural pattern, to have two periods of sleep rather than one – but it is stress, with him, I know.  Too many people take their work home with them, emotionally as well as physically.

Z looks at the Bure

It was the village fete yesterday.  I slipped up and found myself having agreed to run a stall.  It was the book stall and I removed several hundred books that I can do without from my shelves, loaded up the car and headed off. I hadn’t quite thought through the fact that a fair foo, as we say in Norfolk, would be unsold and I’d have to bring them back – some of them aren’t even mine.  There’s a second hand bookshop in Yagnub, I’ll see if they will take them.

I was in bed when I got an email from Weeza.  Her friend M is a painter and decorator and general DIY queen and the people she’s currently working for will probably be selling up sometime next year.  The location ticks my boxes and Weeza wonders whether M should ask about us getting in touch?  I said a cautious yes.  Today, still feeling cautious but determined, I headed off that way to check the place out.

I couldn’t get right to the house, but saw where it is, and its location is certainly great.  It’s widened my potential area a bit, actually – I’m a bit hazy about the geography of mid Norfolk, but it’s a lovely part of the River Bure and this house has river frontage – not sure if it has a mooring.  Food for thought anyway and it should keep me focussed.  Weeza is very keen for me to leave here, she feels I need a new start and she is probably right.

Afterwards, I started to drive home and then changed my mind and went to Wroxhamam Baarns, to practise doing the retired old lady thing.  Indeed, I shopped.  There are various little shops there of the more-or-less craft sort, and I went into the little jeweller.  I had a few things in mind: I’m on the lookout for a ring (but I think I’ll get that at the Goldsmiths’ Fair in London in the autumn), I want something to go with my emerald ring (I know, darlings) and I have a fake pearl necklace that is so heavy it keeps dropping off, it having a magnetic catch.  I also have a real pearl necklace that has needed restringing for so long that I doubt I’ll ever get it done.  So today, I bought a freshwater pearl necklace – is wearing pearls a sign of age?  Does it matter?  Do I care?  Did I buy it because it was less than £40, it cheered a nice woman who mostly has people go in, look around and go out again, and I liked it?  Add yes and no at your leisure, darlings.

Afterwards, I bought an ice cream – sitting with a solitary pot of tea and cake was just a bit grown up for purposeful Z – and then browsed the little plant centre.  I bought two thymes and a French tarragon plant.  I’d bought some plants at the festival yesterday and I’ve put them all to soak, ready to plant out tomorrow.

I’m not at all ready to have time on my hands, but I need to work on this.  I had a nice time but have felt unsettled ever since.  It’s not a matter of guilt – I certainly don’t believe I should always be working – but maybe letting go has something to do with it.

When I got home and had watered the greenhouse and the new plants, I shut the bantams up and fed the cat.  I’d had an early lunch – brunch, you could say, bacon and eggs at about 11.30 and just the ice cream since, so I cooked the last duck breast with a red pepper and a bunch of spring onions, the duck slashed and spread with wholegrain mustard and Blue Witch’s honey (her bees’, technically).  Eating early makes for a long evening, but it’s supposed to be good for the digestion.  I dunno.  Nothing wrong with my digestion anyway.

Time for some coffee now, I think.  8 o’clock and I should stay awake for a while.

Booking out

I absolutely forced Roses to have dinner with me tonight.  She protested, but I wouldn’t let her go and plied her with much wine, then roast duck breast.

I spent an hour or so this afternoon taking books off shelves, to put on the book stall I’m running tomorrow.  The boot and back seat of the car are full, and this evening I’ve unloaded, from the shelves in the kitchen, nearly fifty of my cookery books.  I’ve had to put up a mental barrier, but it needed to be done.  Some of them need a wipe, actually, I must remember to take a damp cloth with me in the morning.

Stevo emptied another shed – we’re getting on very well.

I didn’t sleep until after 3 this morning, for no reason that I can see.  So I’m having an early night now.