Monthly Archives: September 2015

Fingers crossed

My lovely friend from Northumberland, David, called this morning with his son, Keith.  They visit the area two or three times a year and always call in.  David asked if other Lowestoft collectors keep in touch – well, apart from the one who’s helping me with the auction, just one. The catalogue is up on the website now, by the way.  If anyone is in L’toft on the day, do call in and say hello.  I’ve no idea how it will go but I’m giving it a try.

I discovered today that Cat isn’t as powerful as she’d like to be – while she was eating, Zain the tabby came up and put his face to the food.  She cuffed him but he took no notice and it was she who retreated.  So maybe that’s part of the reason she’s trying to get in the house.  When I went into the porch to fetch something at about 8 o’clock this evening, she was waiting in the dark outside the door and I felt pretty sorry for her.  i went and fetched her a dish of food.  I can’t have her in the house, it’s no good.  They will have to sort themselves out.

There was an open evening at the school today, so I went along to see and be seen.  Each department puts on various educational entertainments and it all seemed to go down well.  There was also a talk in the hall, with music from students in various styles from classical to rock.

Tomorrow is the first governors’ meeting of the school year and, after the first few minutes, I will not be chairman any longer.  A few minutes later, I’ll be a vice-chairman, though – assuming everyone is elected as planned.  The latter eventuality hadn’t been planned until fairly recently, but the incoming chairman had a major operation today, so will have to deal with things by email for some weeks as he won’t be out and about.  I’m doing all I can to find new governors, good ones so that I can stand down altogether at the end of the school year.  Fingers crossed.

Z’s day

The day started very well – Eloise spent most of the night on my bed, which I like very much – at around 3 o’clock, she came to pat my face, wanting a cuddle, after which I slept again until 7.30.  And I read the news on the phone and listened to the radio and stroked the cat and so on, for half an hour or so.

I headed out to feed the animals around half past eight and my phone rang.  It was the Head, with a tricky situation to talk through.  I didn’t have time to devote, so talked and listened while distributing food to cats, bantams and chicks.

And then the coal turned up.  It was supposed to arrive after 10.30.  Still, while still talking to Angelo, I directed the nice young coalman to the shed, discussed whether or not to tip out the sacks, received the invoice and paid him – I had the cash, but no tenners, so that was his tip – more than I’d perhaps usually give – “Are you sure?” he asked? – but then, what would the tip be in a restaurant on a £500 bill?  I don’t suppose his wages are great and he was very obliging.

It all took a while, but I managed to be only two minutes late for my haircut, which Nikki assured me was nothing at all.  Then I went to sign cheques and speak to various people.  Because of the coal already having been delivered, I nearly went on to fill the car and buy cat food, but it was just as well I went home, because David was waiting for me, with the catalogues.  I’d quite forgotten.  Not about the catalogues, but that we’d agreed he was coming this morning – I hadn’t bothered putting it in my diary, because I knew I’d be here for the coal.  He was very nice about it.

I went to bed this afternoon.  I was so tired – I read for a while, then slept and, when I woke, I was quite confused and thought it was morning and my watch had stopped.  Only for a minute, of course – anyway, off to the supermarket, then back to the animals, then I went to label the china, having finally found the tie-on labels for the items with handles.

Then a friend arrived, so I made coffee and chatted, and he stayed until nearly 8 o’clock.  Ronan had phoned during the afternoon, after I woke up, to suggest taking me out to lunch on Friday.  I had, when I wasn’t so busy, pencilled in going to London on Friday, so said I’d ring back – while dinner was cooking, I phone Weeza to see if she still had time to come with me, but her day had filled up too. I so wanted to go to the Goldsmiths’ Exhibition, but it’s no good.  Something always has to give and it’s usually that – it comes at a busy time of year.  So then I ate dinner – cod, with corn and beans from the garden and finally phoned back Ronan to accept his invitation.

Then answering emails, starting with the school ones.  And that took me up to about 11.30.  Was it a busy day?  It depends on your idea of busy.  An hour or more out of the day to spend sleeping can hardly make it so, I guess.

I also phoned my eldest grandson, Pugsley, to wish him a happy 9th birthday.  And today is my adorable Dora’s birthday.  September is a good month – on Sunday, our dear friend Dodo, our mother’s best friend for many years, was 103 years old.  Wink went to spend the afternoon with her.

Home again

Zig looked tired on Sunday morning, so I suggested I cook lunch rather than we go to the pub.  There was half a cooked chicken in the fridge, so I took the dogs for a walk and then went to the local farm shop/deli, which is fabulous (and expensive, but fabulous generally wins).  I bought tiny home-made meringues and a few other bits and pieces for lunch, plus some olives and oil to bring home and chocolates for Tim.

Zig has to be careful with what she eats and I’m adept at catering for no-eats, as my mother had a lot of dietary requirements – Zig’s are a minor matter.  So I made a simple chicken casserole, boiling the carcase to make the stock.  It turned out better than I’d expected – I did take a lot of care, since I couldn’t gussy it up with extra ingredients.  Then we had the meringues with clotted cream and lovely Norfolk jam that Roses had sent.  Zig said she hadn’t enjoyed a meal so much since her operation in the summer, the one that prevented her from spending it with me.

We hope she can still come here, more chemo is likely first but if that goes well then she could regain strength.  She’s not ready to give up and neither am I.  We’re not deluded, but she’s facing forward.

Darling Indi, her spaniel, had seen my suitcase and knew what it meant, so she cuddled up to me, hoping that I might stay after all.  When I return, she won’t speak to me for hours.  She loves me and I hurt her by leaving.  But I had to go and Tim was expecting me.

Twiglets were not forthcoming after all.  He’d searched every grocery store in Reading, but it’s clearly not a Berkshire thing.  He wondered if they are actually still made?  Yes, I’ve been eating them this evening and I bought them last week.  Anyway, he dipped little sticks in Marmite instead, it was fine.  And dinner was delicious – a smoked salmon and lumpfish caviare starter, followed by braised lamb shanks.  And the promised Rioja, which was excellent too.  His spare bedroom was all that had been promised – actually, that was an en suite bathroom, come to think of it – anyway, it had a comfortable bed too and a very handsome wardrobe.  I didn’t use the latter, of course.

He had offered me a spare log basket, which turned out to be full of logs, which he gave me too.  I’m burning some of them this evening.  Thank you, Tim, for your delightful hospitality.

Eloise cat was very pleased to see me and has hardly left my side all day.  Roses had had some cow-related drama while I was away and had coped magnificently – she may well blog it, in which case I’ll put up a link.  It involves a healthy calf but a sick cow, so it was a worrying time.

I haven’t done much this afternoon or evening.  I have a haircut first thing tomorrow, then some cheques to sign, then back here for my coal delivery.  Lovely Des is letting me have it at summer prices.  And some repairs were done to the annexe’s gable end while I was away, so things have gone well, apart from the milk-fevered cow.  We hope she’ll pull through.

The search for Darwin

If you keep tortoises, you spend a fair bit of time hunting for them.  Actually, ideally you have a single tortoise. They are not particularly sociable and, if you’re lucky, they will get on quite well but if you’re not, then you may have to separate them.  My three are all right together at present, but I’m not hugely confident that this will continue.

Zig has a small, enclosed lawn: on two sides by garden fences, at the back there is a step up to the next bit of the garden and in front she has put a low, decorative wire fence so that her tortoise, Darwin, can roam free on the grass.  He also has a cold frame that he can retreat to if he wants extra warmth.  I’d put him on the lawn this morning and when I went to fetch him in, I couldn’t find him.  This is not a big area to search, though there are plants and pots and so on, but I peered everywhere, went on my hands and knees, searched shrubs and behind the raised pond and eventually called Zig to help.  She searched everywhere I had, I looked again and checked for anywhere he might have burrowed.  We suggested to the dogs that they might sniff him out.  Maybe it would have worked if we’d had a beagle.

Half an hour later, of course, I found him under a hydrangea, where we’d both looked several times already.

In the summer, I sometimes didn’t see my trio for days.  I was so busy looking after chicks, hens and cats that I just peered in – I could usually spot Edweena – and put in some food, though there were also weeds in their enclosure for them to forage.  It’s a lot simpler now they’re indoors.

I took the dogs for a long walk this morning – that is, they ran a long way, I suppose I only walked a couple of miles at most.  It was a beautiful day, I’d taken a light jacket and was rather too warm.  There’s a track between two fields that is a public footpath and it’s rather attractive scenery.  Winter wheat was already coming up in one field and others were ploughed.  After harvest, it’s a tranquil time of year.

Tomorrow, a friend of Zig’s is coming for lunch and, if Zig feels well enough, we will go to the village pub, which is nearly opposite her house.  How convenient.  It’s an attractive pub, but a bit basic and old-fashioned in a chips with everything way.  Still, you can’t go wrong with Sunday lunch.  In the afternoon, I’ll head off homewards, stopping on the way with Tim, who has spent the week browsing recipe books as he decides what to feed me.

Parked in Wiltshire

It’s been an excellent day. Zig’s friend Kay was due for coffee, but she didn’t feel up to driving (horribly, soon after I was last here in June – I think – she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since had an op and is halfway through chemotherapy).  She suggested we went to her house, but we were expecting the BT engineer, so I went to fetch her instead.  She brought home-made scones and clotted cream and we provided Norfolk jam, sent by Roses.  Having had croissants for breakfast, we had the scones for lunch.  Because we can if we want to.

Mr BT, whose name is Kevin, took the banter (perfectly respectful, we weren’t misbehaving) of three women of uncertain age in his stride and sorted out the problems toot sweet.  Then we went off to see the ponies in their new field where they are very happy and well. I greeted them as horses do, face to face and they remembered me, there was no hesitation.  But that isn’t the important thing, which is that Zig drove because she felt well enough.  And she did a splendid parallel park on our return, too.

Raining cats and dogs, most of them on Z’s lap

I was reading in bed this morning, quite early, when there was a loud sound outside.  I glanced out and it looked very windy and it wasn’t until I looked again a couple of minutes later that I realised it was torrential rain.  The gutters, which have been cleared, were overflowing.  Quite odd, it was over in a few minutes.

i packed and sorted various things out and was a few minutes earlier than I’d expected to leave.  Just the cat to call, to be sure I hadn’t locked her out.  She’s normally very good about coming when called, but no luck this morning.  I went upstairs, outdoors, checked the beds and the study – then the postman arrived and there was something to be dealt with immediately, so it was just as well, perhaps.  And then I remembered going into the big dining room and shutting the door when I came out, and there she was, waiting at the door.

it was lovely to see Mig and Barney again. I had an easy run, it was just three hours door to door.  We chatted and lunch and drank tea and I drove the next hour down to Zig, who had a couple of friends round, one of whom had her very elegant little whippet with her.  Baby Doc was also there, but her sister had already left for the airport.

Zig is feeling much better and, though thinner, looks wonderfully well.  She’s so glad to be out of hospital and up and about again.  I told her of the lots of people who’ve sent their love and good wishes.  We ate delicious apple doughnuts and drank more tea, then Baby Doc’s boyfriend arrived to drive her off for the weekend.  I hadn’t met him before, he’s absolutely lovely.  It’s his graduation ceremony this weekend – he’s also a doctor.


Z pays the bills

Today, I’ve signed documents and paid bills.  I’ve bought extra catfood and am taking action about a possible new governor – it’s a long shot, but someone is about to retire and she’d be great and is delightful to boot – M, who stood down in July, is delightful in the same way, so needs to be replaced by someone equally lovely.

When I stand down, that’s another matter.  No idea how they’ll do that.  Heh.

I’ve bought and posted a birthday present, organised another and ordered a third.  September is certainly a busy birthday month in this family – though the posted present is for my friend Lynn, whom I’ve known since early schooldays.  She is an artist, poet (ex-poet, in fact, she had a horrible experience with a publisher and it’s killed her creative muse) and great expert on the history of picture frames.  Very clever and absolutely lovely.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned the father of the barn kittens.  I call him Boss Hogg, Roses calls him the Lynx, he’s a big, handsome tabby who is a total pain in the butt.  He is a pet, I suppose, but clearly his owners are totally irresponsible, because he should have been neutered as a kitten.  His offspring are fond of him, but Cat is a bit afraid of him and he’s fought with Roses’ Rummy and won.  Sometimes, he turns up when I’m feeding the cats and then I have to stand there while they eat, because he’d take over.  Today, I was sitting typing when I heard yowling and a kerfuffle – he’d come in the house, to the horror and distress of Eloise.  It was a lovely sunny afternoon and I like to leave the door open while I can.  I searched the house for Eloise, who hid for a while, though she was all right later. It is very annoying.  I’ve heard that he terrorises other cats in the village – he’s wary of me, with good reason.

I’ve set up arrangements for the house and the animals to be looked after while I’m away, so that’s okay.  And I’ve been invited to visit bloggers on the way there and back, so that’s lovely.  Zig’s latest scan was good enough that she’ll be home from hospital – I think she’s there now, in fact.  Prognosis isn’t great but we take each good day for what it is and appreciate the good things.

Z ticks off jobs

I went to a really pointless training session for governors yesterday – an hour and a half driving and an hour and a half there and I could have learned as much from a short letter.  At the end, I said politely that it would have been more useful to combine the governor and the headteacher sessions, as I think we could have learned more.

The catalogue for the next sale has been sent to the printers.  I’ve set up a Facebook page and have to deal with Twitter next – I’m not great at self-publicity, but will play it like a blog and hope that gets me through.  It’s under Lowestoft Porcelain Auctions on Facebook or there’s a link on my page there.

I dealt with a number of governor things today that, throwing modesty to the winds, wouldn’t have happened without me doing them.  I’m good on the legalities and being proper – not that others aren’t, but I know what to do and they’d have to work it out.  I must write up some lists before I leave.

I have also texted the bloke who bought the stuff out of my barn, again.  I was polite but terse. Politeness will last but he’s getting close to an ultimatum.  The entire workshop was supposed to have been cleared by the end of June and even the stuff that should have gone earlier is still there.  Then there’s the wood in the Dutch barn – if I need the space, it’ll get put outside.  He has no call on my storage space and has never asked me for an extension to our agreement, just fobbed me off.  I won’t lose my temper, that’s rare, but I am losing patience.

Still, the good news is that I’ve got someone to replace the soffit boards that were damaged by a falling tree some years ago.  It would have been an insurance job originally, but the builders kept fobbing us off and it got left – I’m so pleased that it will finally be done.  Then it’ll have to be painted – at this time of year, odds are that it’ll be primed, undercoat if we’re lucky, and finished next spring.

I’m going to have an early night.  Didn’t really sleep last night.  i spent a couple of hours proof-reading the catalogue and I can’t read close print in evening light any more.  I’ve a feeling I’m going to have to buy some glaring lamps.  Anyway, all that concentrating scuppered my winding-down for the night and I dozed a couple of times, but was mainly awake, until after 5am.

Cats and churches


I really should take photos in better light.  Still, you get Eloise sitting on the tortoise run, looking out at my new garden furniture in the bright sunshine.

Mike left a comment about a comment I’d left on his blog, which reminded me of one of my favourite websites.  Simon Knott, quite some years ago, started a website about Suffolk churches.  It’s entertainingly written, but there’s real research and knowledge there too.  Some years ago, he visited my village church and left a comment in the visitors’ book, thanking us for leaving the church open.  I was churchwarden at the time and excitedly left an appreciative comment on his website.  He usually arrived, in those early days anyway, on his bike and wearing casual clothes, with the result that some clergymen were a bit sniffy about him, which he also referred to entertainingly.  As the years have gone by, he’s extended his visits to Norfolk and Essex.  To give you a flavour, here is his entry on my village church.

I’ve finally admitted that I’ve given the kittens names.  I’ve stopped referring to the mother as a feral cat for a while, because I don’t believe that she started that way.  I haven’t really named her, though – that is, I call her Cat after the cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, though Roses calls her Mama Cass.  Because I call them barn cats, I named the two black cats Barney.  I can’t tell them apart, so there isn’t much point in giving them each a name.  In the same theme, I’ve called their sister Betty, because she’s dark haired and pretty.  The tabby cat has been called Zain, because I’d promised Ro’s friend (and Best Man) that, if I ever had a cat, I’d call it after him.  Eloise arrived already named, but the tabby is charming and friendly, so he’s worth the name.

The sun was shining brightly and they were in the shadow of the Dutch barn where I feed them, so I had to tweak the contrast quite a lot to have them show at all.  Cat was not there at the time, she arrived a minute later.  I’ll show you a picture of her another time.  She’s very like her daughter, except that she has green eyes.