Monthly Archives: July 2015

Z is back to normal

I ate a piece of toast and took a banana upstairs with me to ward off night hunger pangs, but I was so tired that I slept straight through.  I put the radio on – Diamonds are Forever on Radio 4Extra but I missed a fair bit of it as I slept, then woke, then slept again.  This morning, it transpired that Eloise-cat had been investigating the banana in the night – it looked a bit bruise, but I had it for breakfast and didn’t mind the odd cat tooth mark.

The chicks in the scrap metal pile had started to hatch, so Roses helped me remove the mother, babies and remaining eggs, four of which were already cracking and the chicks inside were cheeping.  I tucked one of those eggs under the hen with only one chick – I don’t think her other eggs will hatch.  I’ll go out and check on them all soon.

Tonight, I’m off to visit our friends Mike and Ann and we are all due for breakfast in the company of Sir Bruin and the Small Bear.  I’m very excited and looking forward to it immensely.  Thank goodness I’m over my absurd tiredness and will be on enthusiastic form, as normal.

Anyone who wishes to challenge the word normal will be disregarded. I’m entirely normal … for Norfolk, anyway.

The gnat I thought I was brushing from my shoulder a while ago turned out to be a wasp and it didn’t receive the attention well.  Nor did I come to that – but, whilst I’ve been stung, it’s dead, so I’ve come off better there, on the whole.  At least I won’t be in a position to cold-shoulder anyone for some time, it’s hot and red instead.  I scuttled off to the kitchen muttering “vinegar for vasps” and anointed it while I found up the Anthisan cream.

At least it’s sunny and warm again today.  There has to be something good, if you look for it.







Good news and bad

After a chat with the vet receptionist, I contacted the Cat Protection woman again, with the result that I am borrowing a multi-cat trap and they are all booked in for neutering on Tuesday.  It has to be a bit provisional, of course, as I’m relying on catching them all, but we’ll see how it goes.  My friend who’s lending the single trap is bringing that at the weekend too and I’ll leave that arrangement, it might be useful.

I am much happier about this, I’d been worrying about the odds of catching them all, one at a time.  I lay awake for several hours worrying, in fact.

I was terribly tired today, more so than I’d have expected from a single disturbed night.  I felt sick with exhaustion and had to have a nap this afternoon.  The children were very good, left to their own devices for half an hour – and then another half hour.  And then I went for an early bath and slept on the sofa for another hour.  I couldn’t face cooking or eating dinner, so made some toast – but I haven’t eaten much of that.  I’m going to bed soon.  This seems to be a recipe for wakefulness in the small hours, but I can’t help that.  This is an odd thing to happen, but evidently exhaustion has built up over a while.

I was feeling much more hopeful about the cat situation but then I had an email from a friend and colleague, with the news that he has been diagnosed with cancer in his jaw.  His wife has been treated for ovarian cancer for the past four years – as everyone knows, unless this cancer is caught very early (which it rarely is), the prognosis is dismal.  My friend’s oncologists believe his is treatable, but will need radiotherapy, surgery and reconstruction after that. It sounds horrifying, though his email is calm – which is typical of him, he gets on and deals with things and doesn’t show his feelings.

I’m going to bed now, I’m still ludicrously tired.  Goodnight, loves.

Tubing isn’t the shape you’d think

I stayed overnight with Weeza and co, dropped Gus at his childminder’s and was back home with Zerlina by 10 o’clock.  Roses had kindly done some animal feeding and been nice to Eloise cat, who was pleased to see us this morning.  I can’t remember if I told you about the newest chick?

A couple of nights ago, it poured with rain – that’s nothing unusual, it has been very showery recently, with bright sunshine interspersed with sharp showers or drizzle or just dullness.  Anyway, the hen by the fence had chosen an exposed spot, so I’d rigged up a shelter for her, which mostly worked, but she looked a bit damp on one side – sadly, one chick had not survived, having got chilled and never dried out.  However, there was one little black chick looking chirpy.  So I gathered mother, baby and the remaining eggs and put them all into a coop.   Two days later, no other eggs have hatched, so it may be a Mother Hen and Mary situation.

The eggs under the scrap metal pile are likely to start hatching tomorrow.  I think I’ll move her as soon as one hatches, they will be very difficult to catch otherwise.  The remaining hen is in the greenhouse, I’m not sure when she started sitting.

Zerlina went tubing this afternoon, which looked great fun.  It’s sitting in a big inner tube and whizzing down a ski slope, spinning as you go.  Then you plod round to the moving elevator to go up and do it again.  She was with her friends Lizzy and Reuben and I, with Gus, sat with their parents and chatted for an hour.

I ran out of time today to call on the vet or even phone, so that’s a job for tomorrow.  Things are stacking up again, I’ve got a lot of admin to deal with.  I’ve been doing extra jobs and i can’t fit it all in.  And what I don’t fit in tends to be the jobs I don’t want to do, but they’re becoming imperative.  I’ll do at least one of them tomorrow.

Z forgets what she was going to say

I spent the morning sorting things out, or attempting to, anyway, as everything ended with a phone call that put the….. What?

i wrote that, except the final word, last night, but now don’t remember at all what that phone call was about.  I’m not giving much of a clue, I have to admit.

last night, I was so tired that I went to have a bath with the idea that I’d write a blog post in bed,  half a sentence was quite enough before I went to sleep.  Oh well.

yesterdays achievement, in practical terms, was clearing out the broom cupboard.  I’ve discovered I have a whole lot more dustpans and brushes that I ever expected, and also several bottles of silver polish.  Today, Stevo and I made inroads into the disaster area of my study.  It isn’t finished, as I was too bored for words, but it’s half there.  And I’m not letting it get so cluttered ever again.

i have contacted Cats Protection and they are funding the neutering of all the cats.  I *just* have to catch them and take them to the vet.  I shall go in and talk to them tomorrow about it.

I’m really struggling at present, for a number of reasons, overridden by the memory of all the events of a year ago.  I dislike anniversaries and try to disregard them, but it’s not possible at present.  Three weeks tomorrow is the anniversary of Russell’s death, but the anxiety of the weeks leading up to it is very painful.  I’m doing my best to rise above it, it’ll get better as time goes on because it must.

I’m staying with Weeza and family tonight, because the children will be with me tomorrow – that is, Gus will be with his childminder in the morning, then Zerlina is going tubing in the afternoon and then both of them are coming home with me.  The tubing takes place at the local dry ski slope and Z is looking forward to it extremely.  Things are so much more fun than when I was a child.

Z is chilly

Some summers, for one reason or another, I don’t turn the Aga off at all, or only for a short time, but it still is quite unusual to be so cold that I was tempted to switch it on today.  I might yet, it’s just that it uses quite a lot of gas and it seems such an extravagance, just for me, as August approaches.  Still, it’s no great problem to turn it off again when the weather improves. I have switched on an electric fire this afternoon.

I’m a bit taken aback at the nuisance and cost of feeding one small cat.  Zig simply gave all hers the best dried food – the sort you get from the vet, that doesn’t have cereal in (though she buys it online, as it’s way cheaper) but, as I was quite concerned about Eloise’s lack of bladder and bowel activity, I bought her some sachets (‘pouches’ as they seem to be called) of cat food and now, of course, she only eats the dried food if she must.  She should do as it’s better for her teeth.  But these pouches – Roses gives her cat up to five of them a day and Eloise eats three and this is both expensive and very wasteful of materials – cans are recyclable, after all.  But I haven’t read the small print on the cans yet and I’m not confident of their quality.  I’m considering buying fresh meat for her instead – anyone got any advice on the subject?  I know that dogs need more than just meat but that cats are more carnivorous and also shouldn’t have much fat.  I’ll have a scout around on the internet, but experienced advice would be welcome.  Weeza has asked a vet friend about catching the feral cats – they’re so sweet, I hate the thought of upsetting them – and there’s a helpful cat sanctuary that she recommends I contact.

I’ve had a deliberately quiet day today.  I played the clarinet in church, which wasn’t so quiet – played the second song at a cracking pace and was out of puff by the end – but put my feet up and read after that.  I had salami, Parma ham and so on, plus strawberries and cherries, for lunch – the English cherries have been fantastic this year, really wonderful – for lunch, nice food for picking at and, having fed the chickens and kits, went for an early bath.  Of course, someone called round to see me and had to leave a message with Roses, but he’s phoned since and is dropping in tomorrow morning.  I hope that the big machinery will be leaving my barn this week but have been asked to organise a tractor or similar to get it all out.

School’s out

The summer holidays are here – school holidays, that is.  I’ve always loved them.  Unlike some of my friends, I looked forward to having my children home every day and planned lots of things to do with them.  We were lucky, of course, to have a big house and garden – our last place was big too, probably larger than this house, though it didn’t have the fields around.

I’m not really into nostalgia at present, so I won’t describe too much, but I was very inventive when it came to games and activities, and we went to the beach – 100 yards, when we lived in Lowestoft, half an hour’s drive once we’d moved here – played games in the garden, did lots of cooking and painting and various crafts.

This year, I’m going to have Weeza’s two quite a bit.  Dilly, of course, is a teacher, so she doesn’t need childcare.  I’ll usually look after Zerlina on a Wednesday and both she and her brother Gus on a Thursday.  It’ll be fun.

I met them in Norwich yesterday, as their parents had an appointment, so I mooched around with them for an hour.  Previous to that, they’d been at a place where they did climbing – it’s a warehouse, kitted out with climbing walls and they’d been booked in for an hour with a couple of friends.  It was their first time, but the second for another little girl, who shinned the 20 feet or more up to the roof with great confidence.  It took Zerlina a bit more effort to get the knack of managing hand and footholds, but she managed it too and none of them seemed afraid of the height.  Gus took a while to get going and wanted his mother to stay with him – he’s barely within the age requirement – but he loved it too, after a while.  It’s a good set-up with trainers who are clearly expert climbers and take it as a teaching thing, not casually at all, with safety and confidence both to the fore.

It rained in the afternoon and all night, and it was still raining when I went out to feed the animals.  I left the chickens in – I’ve got more sitting hens than I know what to do with and I’m not at all happy about it.  I’d put the feral cats’ food on a plate in the kitchen, rather than faff about outside in the rain, and put it up on a pile of wood for them.  The mother didn’t see that and rubbed against my legs as usual, so I picked her up and put her next to the food.  And it was fine – not at all startled, no claws out, she was perfectly relaxed.  I’m really rather proud to have tamed her so effectively.

Only a few minutes later, though, Eloise came looking for me and she and Cat confronted each other.  Neither was especially happy.  They must have known about each other, but Eloise hadn’t been into Cat’s territory before.  I told Eloise to go home and she did and was waiting for me when I left the field.  Then she skittered off into the house, tail held high.  I’m not going to worry, they’ll all find their level.

These are a few of my favourite


First of all, I must thank you lovely friends for your brilliant comments.  Blogging and commenting are rather diminishing at present, which is such a pity – though I’m not complaining because I neither comment nor blog as much as I used to.  However, I’ve met some of my best friends here – whether or not we’ve met in real life – so even if I, tenacious and loving as I am, eventually admit defeat, I will always appreciate the era of the blog.

In no particular order, and often because they remind me of someone, here are some words I like.










One or two might come into an indication into the nature of you, me or any of us – there’s no judgement or specific value to amy of them and I haven’t given much thought to it – could add a lot more, if I did.

These are words, not descriptions, so whether they’re nouns, adjectives or anything else doesn’t matter at all.

Proper post tomorrow.  Probably.

You notice, by the way, that not one single alcoholic beverage made it on the list – because it’s the wine (or whatever) rather than the word that counts.  All the same, might add to the list tomorrow.  I’ve been up since 4 am and I’m having an early night.


Old china

IMG_4003This plate belonged to Mrs Nichols. It was part of her wedding present service – she was born in about 1884 and married at about 20. We bought the service from her when she was 100 and had to give up her house and move into a nursing home.

Yesterday, I put it in the dishwasher. I’ve just cooked a rasher of bacon on it in the microwave. Neither of these was invented when it was made.

Just a passing observation. I like to use those plates. A tiny, trivial bit of social history.

It’s not often that I mix the various social media, but this is what I put on Facebook today.  I added that the apparent staining is actually bacon fat, the plate is just out of the microwave. I turned the Aga off on the 1st July and am aiming for the end of August before I put it on again, though I really don’t like cooking on my table top cooker plus microwave.

When I took the photo, I couldn’t remember the lady’s name and, for a few minutes, thought it was gone forever.  Russell would have known, he had a fantastic memory.  But it came back to me.  Russell did a lot for her when her house was cleared and I helped too, now I think of it, and we wouldn’t take any payment.  She insisted on giving us something, however, and we finally agreed that she could give the children Premium Bonds.  She left Weeza and Alex £200 each in her will, but then Ro was born and she didn’t want to change it, so gave him the same amount directly.  By the time he was about eight years old, he’d won £250, not a bad return.  Weeza had one win of £100, I think, which she invested, mostly, in a piece of Nanking China – we didn’t buy at the auction, but from a dealer, who had bought a large quantity for his gallery.  As I remember, she paid about £80 for a small teabowl and saucer.  She was twelve at the time – yes, it was an unusual choice for a child, but it was her own decision.  We’re like that.

It was the last day of term today, so I went into school to give hugs to teachers who are leaving and generally to spread goodwill and bonhomie.  Within minutes, I’d been nobbled to judge a cake baking competition.  Well, I was in my element!  I grabbed a friend, who’d called for the same purpose and we ate twelve cakes – a mouthful or so of each.

They weren’t all perfect.  A few were a bit dry, having been overcooked – none was burned, mind you.  A couple had broken as they came out of the tin and some creative icing was needed.  Two were nearly all icing.  Most were delicious, all were good.  We agreed on the winners, however, and gave first prize to a lovely, light sponge filled with strawberries and cream, and prettily decorated.  All entrants were girls, now I think about it.  They’d made onion focaccia bread (is adding ‘bread’ tautology?) in the morning, which also went down well.


Z prepares to swear

Eloise cat coped really well with Benj’s presence, really, but there is no doubt that she is much happier now that he has gone home.  He is coming to stay again, later in the summer, but it won’t be so new to her then, so I trust she will be less edgy.

When I went to the chickens this morning, the four kittens ran to meet me and milled around my feet.  It’s the most trusting they’ve been yet – mother joined them, evidently hunting didn’t go well last night.  I gave them a tin of meat and they all dived in to eat it at once, I gave them another a couple of hours later, then a third this evening.  I’m not saying this is sensible, but it is my only chance of catching them, in due course, and getting them neutered.

Dear friends, Ziggi is in hospital at present and not in a good way.  Of the two possible options (she’s had a scan today but I don’t yet know the outcome), one is bad but bearable and the other is much worse.  None of this is mine to tell, but please give her all your most loving thoughts.  I feel so helpless, much as I try to help.

I’m turning my attention to a necessity to appear in court.  It’s not for more than two weeks and it’s not on my account but on Russell’s, and he is in the right, completely – in short, it’s a judgement in the small claims court that we took out, quite a while ago.  The other party is saying that the whole thing is not true, but we’ve got a stack of emails – darling Weeza is coming to support me, I’m unhappy at the need to go to court, but completely resolute.  It’s so wrong that someone is trying to wriggle out of money he owes – I don’t care about the money but about the lies.

Russell was the old-fashioned sort, as anyone who met him can understand.  He never had a credit card and only in the last year or two of his life would he use a debit card.  He said that his cheque would be honoured and he expected it to be accepted … I went with him when it wasn’t going to be, and handed over my credit card. Having said that, my income goes so much further now than I’d expected, he’d evidently spent a great deal of money he never told me about.

I loved having Benj here and it’ll be quiet tonight.  I have a lot on tomorrow and will have an early night.  I owe emails, but can’t do them now.  Goodnight, darlings.

Unexpected item in the gardening area

Saki.  My enduringly favourite writer, maybe because there’s so much truth, life and wit in the stories, however fantastical.  Take this evening, for instance.

We had decided to have our evening meal in the garden and Zerlina had asked for cheese soufflé.  I prepared some raw vegetables and cheese for them to eat while it was cooking, as they were very hungry, and told them that, as soon as the soufflé was cooked, we had to rush it outside as it would collapse within minutes.  And so we sat and ate it in due course, and then I fetched ice cream and the cakes we’d made earlier in the afternoon and we chatted and enjoyed the evening sunshine.

And then the bullock arrived.  A young male calf, quite small, rather anxious.  When he saw us, he turned to go back down the drive.  So I told the chidren to stay put, grabbed a walking stick – I must tell you about that walking stick one day – and legged it down the other side of the drive, to cut him off before he could go back to the road.  I also took the precaution of shutting the house door and not asking for help, which were the mistakes Adela made in The Stalled Ox.  He turned, I opened the gate, followed him – it didn’t take long to stop him, turn him again and he was glad to go into the safety of the meadow.

He’s not Johnny’s calf, he belongs to the farmer who owns the field across the river.  The cattle drink from the river and, when the water is low, it isn’t unknown for a few to get lost and come up the other side of the bank.  He must have walked about 500 yards along the lane and the road, it was so lucky he’d come down my drive.

I couldn’t find the farmer’s number, so phoned ‘my’ farmer and let them know, then rang another friend who, I know, is a good pal of the owner of the calf, and he promised to get in touch.  And then it was time to take the children in for a bath and put them to bed.

I don’t know, it’s hard to be sure what I want from life.  I mean, I just dealt with it and it was quite fun, not alarming – though it would have been worrying if the little guy had gone on the road – Roses is away for the weekend and my grandchildren are too small to be expected to be of practical help … but still, I didn’t need help.  I coped and actually I took it in my stride.  And do I actually want routine? The Mappined Life, you might say?

A woman I knew once told me complacently that she had an idyllic life, but it sounded pretty dull to me.  No obligations or responsibilities, ample money, no work and few interests, lots of acquaintances but social friends rather than real ones, it all sounded rather bleak – but I recognise that my life is odd and wouldn’t suit many people.