Monthly Archives: June 2015

Going through the legal bits

I’m not sure if I said that I finally had the grant of probate come through last week.  Yesterday, I had an appointment with my solicitor to discuss all the things that need to be done now.  She’s a new (to me) solicitor, Will having gone to work for another firm a couple of months ago, though he completed the probate application for me first.

In the morning, however, I had a lot of paperwork to do and it took several hours.  Emails and phone calls kept pinging in, with matters that needed dealing with and some were more immediate than the thing I was working on.  I can work on undistracted, but sometimes it can be better to deal with a situation straight away, and that was the case here.  One distraction was an hour-long phone call, from someone I couldn’t hurry.  Another was a cold caller who was spoken to firmly.

The new solicitor is lovely, I got on very well with her and we agreed on the straightforward jobs I’d do and the more complicated ones that she or another solicitor would deal with.  I have no sensible alternative than to lay out some money in getting things in order, there are a few things that Russell really should have got on top of a few years ago.  On the way home, I felt tired and in need of some serious snacking, so went to the greengrocer for asparagus, kohl rabi, tiny new-season carrots, strawberries, raspberries and nectarines.  I’m a sensible binge eater and wouldn’t want to hate myself in the morning.

During the morning, one of the emails that pinged in was to Russell’s account, which I’ve now put in my name, from an insurance comparison company, cheerily wishing him a happy birthday.  I must remember to put that one in the junk folder in future.  I don’t like anniversaries, I mistrust them and would ignore my birthday altogether were it not for small grandchildren wanting to blow out candles on a cake.  I’d succeeded in not noticing the date until then.

Today has been a rush.  Wince arrived at 9 and I proudly showed him the cleared and swept workshop.  He was deeply impressed.  Then I showed him the latest toy I’d bought, which is a strimmer that you don’t have to carry, it’s a cross between a mower and a strimmer and it’s brilliant.  Even I can manage it.  It’s not for trimming edges of course, nor for slopes, but for anything else it’s so much less effort and vibration than a non-electric strimmer.  I’d also got a new blade for the electric mower and the part for the big mower, so he had his choice of power tools.

I had all of eight minutes to show him this before rushing off for a meeting, then had to hurry back to meet a friend here, before dashing to pick up friends to take them to Norwich for lunch.  I have to find a way of managing my time better – but today, I realised that I’ve triple booked on the third Thursday of next month and I might have to drop the thing I want to do in favour of obligations.  I’m not thrilled about this, but it’s my own fault.

I also realised that I hadn’t written to some people, as I said I’d do last month.  I confessed of course, no point in bluffing (though I’d have got away with it if I had).  Then I remembered I hadn’t arranged to pick up some things I’m borrowing from the school for our fete on Saturday, so that meant another apologetic email.  It’s all right, I am going in to fetch them tomorrow morning and I have set an alarm on my phone.  I have to set reminders for a lot of things nowadays.  I don’t trust my brain any more.  That is, I remember things a bit late for comfort.  I don’t drop the plates but they are barely on the posts before I spin them again.  Still better to be busy, though.



Last Friday, I think it was, the weather was very hot and the baby tortoises, Anastasia and Natasha, were scrabbling around in their pen looking dissatisfied.  It’s not small – they’re only a couple of inches long and weigh a couple of ounces, so a run that’s the size of four full-sized seed trays side by side is quite large enough – but they wanted out.  So I put them out to have a run round in Edweena’s pen, which is about ten feet square.  And they were very happy and set out to explore.  Later, I could only find Natasha and later again, neither of them. But a pot of lamb’s lettuce had been knocked over and the ground around it disturbed, so I reckoned that they’d buried themselves.

I was going to leave it at that, but a Facebook friend and fellow tortoise owner mentioned that rain was due overnight, so I went out to put a shelter over that area.  In doing so, I found Natasha hunkered down, safely under shelter, so I rigged up some Perspex and left Anastasia to it.

Days went by and I didn’t see her.  Today, I thought I’d better have a look and I carefully dug in that area, with no luck.  I rootled around a bit – Edweena and Natasha were basking in the sun, but I couldn’t find Anastasia for some time, until I looked under the hebe bush and there she was, trying to dig under a large stone.

I’ve lifted their original run onto four bricks, so that they can get under and inside it if they want to, but Edweena can’t.  And I’m letting them roam free, or as free as I feel I can, in Edweena’s run.

I’m not really a tortoise person at heart, actually.  But what’s a woman to do?

Z gets dusty

Still more turning out another workshop has been emptied and swept out.  Not a pleasant job, but I had got face masks for us both to protect us from breathing in the dust.  This is the building that I’m going to store firewood in.

The cat is now cadging food from both Roses and me, but I don’t think she takes her kittens round to Roses’ house.  When I went to let the bantams in this evening, she was waiting there for me and ran forward to greet me.  The kittens were waiting too, a bit further back but in sight for the first time.  I seem to be winning them round.  If it were not for the imperative of getting them all neutered, I could let them come to me in their own time.

After Stevo’s and my hard work, I was tired out.  We went over to the recycling centre, some 20 minutes away and afterwards, I dropped him off at his aunt’s house and then went to the Co-op.  My main purpose in going there was to buy cat food *sigh* but I wasn’t in a mood to cook and so, very rarely for me, bought a ready meal, a chicken curry.  And some Magnum ice creams.  And a bottle of chilled Prosecco.

It was a good thing I heated and ate my Chicken Jalfrezi as soon as I’d got home and fed the animals, because I had a succession of visitors.  First, James and Duncan turned up, then one of the Grahams (I know three Grahams, this was the one who keeps sheep on my meadow by the river) and then Jamie and David arrived.  I trotted round dealing with all the things they had come for, though my hip had given way by this time and I was limping, to general hilarity.

I’ve done nothing more this evening than read papers for tomorrow’s finance meeting, where we are to agree the budget for the school next year, some £6,000,000-worth.  This isn’t as daunting as it sounds, because most of it goes on staff costs and nearly all the rest is used in heating and maintaining the buildings.  We also will decide which catering firm will get our business.  I’m pretty sure we will all agree on that and I think it’ll be a great success.  I’m sure the takings will go up considerably – we will be going cashless, so parents can top up their children’s card online rather than giving dinner money to them.  I’m afraid the little shop down the road will lose custom, but they sell cheap pies and energy drinks, the school food will be delicious and healthy.  I also think that a lot of staff will be tempted to eat at the school hall rather than bring in packed lunches.

Bed now, I’m very tired and I’ve got a lot on tomorrow.  At least my monthly cleaners are coming in, so I don’t have to bother to get the hoover out myself this week.

Clearing spaces

Yesterday, young Stevo came over with a new tyre for my wheelbarrow and he kindly fitted it for me (I did pay him for his time, but he is a kind boy).  And then he agreed to work for me for the rest of the morning, so we turned out my potting shed.  And that’s a misnomer – it was put up for that purpose and I forbade Russell putting anything else in there, but of course he ignored me.  And before long, it was so full that you couldn’t get in the door and you couldn’t find anything.

So Stevo and I took out everything.  A lot was rubbish – Russell could not be bothered to walk ten yards to a bin to throw a bit of rubbish away, but stored it instead – and some was stuff I’d been looking for, such as my pruning saw.  I bought another one a few months ago, I thought I’d never see it again.  Last time I did see it, it was where it belonged in the porch, so why it went down there is anyone’s guess.  Anyway, we emptied it out and barrowed away the burnable rubbish and the bin rubbish and I swept it out and put the tools back.  Then Stevo went off to have lunch and sit his final GCSE exam in Physics.

A couple of hours later, he was back and we turned out the coalshed, which contained three sacks of coal, several of coal dust, a couple more sacks of coal I didn’t know were there, some scuttles, a couple of barrels of logs, two lawnmowers, an Allen scythe and something else that I think is a biggish stationary engine.  We got the lot out and put back the coal.  The rest has gone in new designated places  – I don’t need any of the machines and will, I hope, sell them.  Now, Roses and I can buy coal for the winter and have room to put it.  We also put lawnmowers in the empty garage and I went online to buy a new blade for the electric one – I used it in long grass and gave it a really hard time, it’s surprising that it’s only the blade that packed in.

That was fun, I went on eBay first and looked, and put a bid in on one, then checked it out elsewhere and found that the maximum price I’d put in was only 50p less than the cheapest elsewhere.  But my bid at that time was £1.50 less – it so happened that I came in for lunch when there were only a few minutes left to go, so I sat and watched.  An auction is always fun, even when the result doesn’t matter much … anyway, I wasn’t outbid and got it for £14.50.

Those cats.  Hm.  When I went to put the chickens to bed, the mother was sitting near the hen run and she hissed at me, but I felt sorry for her.  Why was she there?  It seemed a cry for help.  I went into the kitchen and found a tin of cod roe that had been there for years, and took it out and put it for her.  She came within a minute and started wolfing down the fish.  After a while, the two black kittens came to join her and one ate but the other seemed to be too cowed.

Darlings, there was no help for it.  Today, I bought a couple of tins of catfood and, this afternoon, I went out between rain showers and she was there again.  So I fetched the food and started forking it out.  She came at once, she was too hungry for fear.  She snatched it from the fork and I ventured to stroke her.  She didn’t mind, she seemed to like it.  I left her, she having eaten three-quarters of the meat, to fetch in the last of the chickens and, when I came back, two kittens were there with her.  They ran away.  I went and got a jar of meat paste (Russell was very limited in what he could swallow last summer and fingers of bread with paste on was something he could manage).  I forked that out too and she started on it at once.  I went and fetched a scoop of dry catfood and put that out too and watched from the henhouse as all three kittens came with their mother to feed.  At last, they were all satisfied and left the final few bits.  They must have been near starvation to eat so much, especially with me watching.  I can’t let them die – actually, what really prompted me was that I hadn’t seen the black tabby kitten for a few days and I thought it might have starved.  After the weekend, if I haven’t heard from the cat place, I’ll look up a smaller, local society and talk to them.


z ran late

I’ve phoned the Cats’ Protection League to ask for help and someone should contact me in the next couple of days. And a friend’s grandson is a gamekeeper and can lend me a live trap if necessary.  Roses gets on rather better with the mother cat than I do – that is, she came into the kitchen and polished off Roses’ cat’s food, so she must think Roses is okay.  She used to be quite all right with me, just in the last few days she’s been spitting at me (cat, that is) and I’ve done nothing to provoke it.

I lost track of time this afternoon and didn’t notice until a good half hour late that I should have set off for dinner with some friends.  I looked up the phone number of the hotel to say I was on my way – or I tried to.  I looked it up on and was just directed to advertising and booking sites.  Frustrating, since I was already late – in the end, I looked up the hotel’s own website … Then in my anxiety, I misdialled.  I explained in the end and arrived hot, bothered and apologetic.

The man who has paid me for clearing out my workshop (who’d have thought it?) came and did a lot of work this afternoon.  He’d got another man with a removal van, who asked if I remembered him?  I knew his face but couldn’t place him – he used to work for the antique dealer who bought our last house, but that was a couple of decades ago.  Nice man who now mostly does furniture restoration. I’ve got a few little jobs that need doing, so I took him in the house and showed him.  We discussed what was and wasn’t possible and feasible and he complimented me on my understanding – that is, when he explained why he couldn’t do a perfect job on an item, I could see why and wasn’t surprised.  Apparently, a lot of people expect the impossible at a knock-down price.  I said, I’d been married to a furniture and antiques expert for over forty years, I should have some knowledge of the subject.

I went into town this morning as it was market day and I wanted to tell Matt the Fish how well the salmon had been received. I bought a crab for lunch.  I also bought an absurd amount of fruit and veg, three carrier bags full.  Far too much for someone who lives alone, grows vegetables and was going out to dinner that night.  Still, I’ll eat it all.  A bunch of lovely little local carrots, for instance, who could resist?

Z has a day in the city. Norwich, that means to the Nor folk.

Weeza and I arranged to meet at the Chapelfield shopping mall – she would drive there after dropping Zerlina at school and I sent her a text at five to nine to say I was leaving home.  I parked, carefully noted where I was (there are four ‘out’ doors from the ‘down’ escalator, so you have to know which one you went in by) and headed for the escalator – and Weeza and Gus were just getting on it.  So I speeded up and followed them.  Gus turned round as they neared the top – “Hello, Granny,” and his face lit up.

It was one of those good shopping days.  Weeza took four dresses into the fitting room, they all fitted well and one of them was liked best by both of us.  She thought it was almost too lucky, so we started looking again, then she decided that she really liked it and that was the one to buy.  We went into three shoe shops in all, but the pair she tried on in shop number two was the one she liked best and so we went back for it.  And we went into another shop for some bits and pieces for Zerlina.  After that, we went to John Lewis to investigate ovens and so on, as they’re planning to have a new kitchen in the autumn.

Gus was delightful throughout, quite happy to potter about between the rows, never too far away and we were all able to keep an eye on each other.  Weeza needed to pay a cheque in at the bank, then I wanted fruit and veg from the market and bought some for them too.  I have cherries, flat peaches, strawberries, asparagus, mushrooms and peas.  I have just been podding the peas (and eating a number of them, of course) and am very happy at the thought of the lovely food I’ll eat tonight.  I also have some samphire, so no artichoke tonight.

Gus was also delightful at the Italian restaurant where Weeza treated me to lunch.  As we neared the end of our meal, the woman sitting with her husband at the next table complimented her on Gus’s behaviour.  “He’s a credit to you,” she said.  They have four children, so she reckoned she knew what she was talking about.  They were celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary.

Other than the fruit and veg, and elevenses, I didn’t buy anything, though I popped into the Apple store to look at computers.  This one is coming up to seven years old and I fancy an update.

When I arrived home, I found a letter from my solicitor.  Probate has been granted on Russell’s estate, which means that I can transfer property, shares etc into my name.  I signed the papers back in mid-April and have tried to put it out of my mind.  It’s a good thing, of course, there are various things that are in limbo and can soon be dealt with.  Russell and I mostly kept ownership of things separate, largely to simplify our tax affairs, so it’s going to feel quite strange.

Now getting on for 7 o’clock, dinner is cooking, or some of it, as I write. Just the stuff I bought – I’m cooking the mushrooms in wine and cream and I’ve grated some parmesan to go on the asparagus, but otherwise it’s simply fruit and vegetables.  Unless I decide to have an egg.

That reminds me – I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times that a she-cat is living in the field and has had at least two litters of kittens.  There is also a tabby tom that is presumably the father, he’s beat up Roses’ Rummy, a neutered tom, several times.  It’s the black with white paws female who killed the grass snake the other day.  She used to be very wary and I rarely caught more than a glimpse of her, then she started to lose her fear of me and we just looked at each other.  Now, she bares her teeth and spits.  When I was putting the chickens away this evening, she came back to snarl at me several times and I waved my stick (the chicken-herding crook) at her and, in the end, shouted.  Bloody animal. She’s on borrowed time if this carries on.  The tom was there too, the last time I shooed her away.  A lot of feral cats around is not going to happen.  As you all know, I’m sweet and totes adorbs (ahem) nearly all the time, but I’m quite forthright when I’ve had enough, and then I sort things out.

Z eats a lot out of duty. Duty, I tell you!

Today has been very interesting.  I’ll say this – being a school governor can be very stressful, a big commitment, a huge responsibility.  I sincerely hate Blair for his ‘bog standard comprehensives’ remark and Gove for his ‘local worthies’ sneer.  I’ve other reasons to hate them both of course, I’m a reasonable woman.  And, also as I’m a reasonable woman I also recognise that they’re not all bad.  Also, I don’t do politics and am even-handed on this blog.

Back to today – for several reasons, we decided to leave the local authority school meals service some years ago and take it in-house and that has worked very well.  However, also for several reasons, we have decided that we want a specialist company to take it on again and, as it’s a big contract, we had to go out to tender, and the bidders came to give their presentations today.

Steve, who manages the project, apparently warned that not enough time had been allowed – I didn’t know that in advance – anyway, we were an hour behind almost immediately, that increased and then we had a discussion, so we didn’t leave until after 3 o’clock .  The food that some companies brought was spectacular!  I skipped breakfast in preparation, but I still had to pace myself strictly.  All were good, there were two clear leaders that we all agreed about.  I suspect that it will come down to value for money in the long run and greater clarification is needed for that.

I have come home with a bag of leftovers for the chickens and a fabulous chicken salad for my supper.  It’s the first time in 27 years as a governor that I have profited, I think – and it was in return for over 6 hours of my time.  So chuck-out food and a £1.60 salad that would have joined the chuck-outs isn’t that much.  Still…hey…result!

I’d left Jasper all morning and he was lonely and hungry by the time I got back.  I fed him and changed his litter tray and he came for a big cuddle for an hour or more.  Fortunately, a fly buzzed and he went to investigate, so I was able to go and feed the bantams and cover over the Tots’ run.  They will soon be 2 years old, having been hatched sometime in June.  I don’t know the date, so have assigned the 17th, which was Russell’s birthday.  I think that it will then be time to call them toddlers instead of babies.  So they will be the Tods next week.

I’m so dutiful.  I’ve been asked out to lunch next week, but I’ve a finance meeting and it matters.  So, as ever, what I want to do will be overruled by what I should do.  Damn.

Still, tomorrow I’m going shopping with darling daughter Weeza.  She needs a dress for a particularly fine wedding.  And she thinks I’m the woman to go with her. What a sweetie!

Z starts to reap what she has sown. Tasty.

I had a treat today, though not for good reason, because Squiffany wasn’t well and so spent the day with me instead of going to school.  She’d been sick at the weekend and felt queasy this morning, so better a day off school than passing on whatever bug she’d got.  I’ll be fine, I’m sure, I didn’t catch her brother’s bug.

She perked up during the day and was much better by mid-afternoon, so I expect she’ll be back to school tomorrow.  It was lovely, we don’t often have a chance for a get-together and, at ten, she’s quite old enough for interesting conversation.

Graham and James have done yet more clearing out and my gratitude is deeper than words can say.  I didn’t take ‘before’ pictures and no one would really understand the magnitude of the task that they undertook.  Not that it was at its worst, Weeza dealt with that.  Every kindness – with due acknowledgement that I’m clearly becoming soppy in my old age – is a hugely appreciated act of love and sheer altruism.

I’ve dealt with various bits and pieces today and am now out of debt, hooray – house insurance due at the end of the week and car’s road tax due at the end of the month, and they’re both paid.  No reason to wait and to have to remember.  I woke up the other night, worrying about my tax return, which is a bit odd – I remembered in due course that I’ve plenty of time in hand and what I was worrying about is the current year anyway and I don’t have to think about that yet.

I had the first swiss chard from the garden today, with broad bean tops and an artichoke, plus a lettuce with lunch.  I’m not growing much this year, but it’s a pleasure to have something home grown.  I should mostly keep myself in vegetables for a few weeks, anyway.  Maybe I’ll do better next year.  Though I’m well aware that, if and when I put the house up for sale, I might not reap all I have sown.  Last time I moved house, it was in July and I left a gardenful of lovely vegetables for the new owners.

z takes to the water again

I became exhausted by 8 o’clock yesterday evening and went to bed.  Sadly, I woke at 2.15 and didn’t sleep again.  I woke briefly around midnight and Jasper was on the bed.  When he realised I was awake, he came up to the pillow and cuddled me for a few minutes, which was so sweet.  Later, around 4, I went and fetched my breakfast.  He was very energetic, dashing around and I remembered that Ronan had said that was a sign of hunger, so I fed him.  Today, he’s been much hungrier than the past few days, so has evidently settled in.

i may have mentioned a feral or semi-feral female cat that lives in the garden and had kittens last winter in the big barn.  She has had another litter of three, outside in a wood pile this time.  This afternoon, I put the chickens away and three were missing,  one has been away for a few days and is either dead or (I think more likely, but then I’m an optimist) is sitting on eggs and will appear in a couple more weeks, family in tow.  Anyway, I went in search of the other two.  I found one of them by the compost heap and chivvied her back. On the way, I spotted the feral cat with a mouse in her jaws.  Then I went to look for the last one and found her because she was being noisy. As I shepherded her back, I heard a loud rustling from the shed near the greenhouse, where Al keeps his beekeeping equipment.  As I looked, the cat appeared looking wide-eyed.  I put the hen away and turned again, just in time to see her hauling a snake out from behind the hedge.  She started to crunch it, though the tail hadn’t finished moving.  I peered more closely, to be sure it was a grass snake and not an adder, and it was, about 2 feet long.  I was very sorry for it, but it was beyond help and I left the cat to it.

id been pleased, earlier, to find a lizard in the greenhouse.  I have newts in the pond too, this gives me satisfaction.

at about 5 o’clock, I had a text from Hannah, inviting me on the river this evening.  She and Sam fancied a trip out.  I scuttled about getting ready and got to Oulton Broad by 7.  It was a lovely evening to be out in a boat and I enjoyed it very much – though disaster struck as Hannah climbed on the boat and her phone fell out of her pocket.  It was in not much more than a foot of muddy water but we couldn’t tell where and there was no hope of finding it.  If you don’t have a smartphone, then you don’t want one and won’t understand.  The rest of us do.

i showed the, the house where I grew up – or rather, there are now six houses, four built in the garden and the original house divided in two and added to.  One of them is for sale.  Of course, I won’t even try to resist looking it up.


Z’s lazy Saturday

I say it cautiously, because I know better than to think that it indicates anything, but things seem quite all right today.  I slept wonderfully well, and Jasper slept much of the night on my bed, except when he was wandering round the house as cats do, and as he’s very welcome to do.  He was very interested in a bookcase at one point, and I had suspected a mouse of living behind it, back in the winter, though traps didn’t catch anything.

I slept right through to quarter past seven, which was such a blessing.  I’ve become used to poor sleep over the past few years – many years, in fact, though I had a welcome respite for a while after I had my new hip – and it doesn’t seem to affect me any more, but it must, really.  Sleep heals in many ways.

Anyway, Saturday is, whenever possible, my day off.  So, having fed and let out the bantams and fed Jasper, I made a pot of Lapsang and some breakfast and took them into the porch – it’s not really a porch, nor a conservatory; my mother-in-law called it the sun lounge but I don’t care for that term, my mother called it the loggia and I don’t like that either, but it hardly matters anyway.  I sat having breakfast and reading the paper until 11 o’clock, when I made coffee and read the other paper.  And I ate some Twiglets.  In fact, I skipped lunch because I ate enough Twiglets to qualify.

It was good, giving myself time.  I read a couple of articles that may make themselves into blog posts one day – at one time, they certainly would have, but I’m lazy now – and read about a holiday down the Colorado River that I’m seriously tempted by, and I played with the kitten and Rummy called by,  but Jasper was so enjoying the game that he didn’t notice, so Rummy wandered off.  I’m sure I’ll get them together, but I don’t read Cat fluently and so am not entirely confident that it is a good idea.  I’d know, were they dogs.  I must ask Roses.

I’d been looking at the porch windows all week, seeing their grubbiness and I finally got around to cleaning them.  Rather, I cleaned the front-facing ones.  I haven’t done the ones I don’t look at.  Nor have I cleaned the outside.  I please myself.  I don’t have to do it if I don’t want to.  Late in life, I’m coming to know that it’s okay to do what I want.  Ithat is.  I’m so conditioned that it isn’t easy to write that.

I’m not so fond of cleaning windows, actually, but I do like to be able to see out and so, if anyone has done it, it’s always been me.  Russell would never have a window cleaner because he … well, how the hell should I know?  He said he didn’t want anyone looking through the windows, but actually I think he rather liked grime.  Not having a window cleaner didn’t suggest to him that he might ever clean the windows.

After that, I went and dug the noxious weeds out of Edweena’s pen.  Docks, nettles and groundsel, mostly, none of which she eats.  She was very happy and scooted round afterwards, finding dandelions and plantain that she does like and accepting roses and mallows too.  I weeded the greenhouse where I’m going to plant cucumbers and Rose will plant melons.  I picked another artichoke, a lettuce and more broad bean tops.  I think I’ve eliminated the blackfly and still have a couple of helpings of tops.  I planted the squashes.

Not huge strides, but they don’t have to be.  Tonight, I shall have an artichoke and Caesar salad and I still seem to have some syllabubs.  They have to be eaten, they’re too good to waste, yet I sort of need a break from syllabub.  Have I got two left or three?  Not long to go.

I hear Jasper scrabbling in his litter tray.  I need to go in there with a scoop in a few minutes.  Not his fault, I’m not letting him out, so he has no other option, apart from using my carpets and I’m very glad he doesn’t do that.