Monthly Archives: September 2015

Z does the day job

The catalogue for my auction is nearly ready.  Weeza is putting it together – as we always used to when Russell was the auctioneer, I’ve written the descriptions and taken the photos, she has examined them closely for the condition report and assembled the catalogue.  Ro is putting it on the website.  We have a guest auctioneer, of course, it’s no job for an amateur.

Russell used to prepare his own auction book, of course, and he hand-wrote it all, which I won’t be doing.  It’s taking quite some time, though.  I worked until 4 o’clock and then realised that the sun was shining and I hadn’t had any lunch, though breakfast was a newly-laid egg, poached on sourdough bread, so it was sustaining.  I seem to need protein for breakfast nowadays – usually, I normally used to have just toast but now that’s an occasional thing.

I went out to the chicks and found one had got out – I’d moved the run and hadn’t realised that this small one could squeeze through a dip in the grass.  I decided to let the mother hen out too, with one other, reckoning that she would chase away any kittens that thought they might investigate.  But, when the cats came along, they ignored them, so I let all that brood out for a while.  Once they’d gone back in, I thought I’d let the other young ones out.  I discovered that one of them has a bad leg too, like the little one that died, only not so bad because she can walk, with a bit of a hobble.  She was quite happy, scratching around, but couldn’t keep up with the others.  I’ll have to keep an eye on her.

The oldest octet were so agitated, seeing the others out, that I took pity on them, which was a mistake.  A few of them were quite pushy towards the half-grown chicks.  The cock birds are so handsome that I’d been talking Roses into having one of them to keep, but I’ve changed my mind.  They’d be fighting cocks, given half a chance, and they’re too aggressive.  I stayed with them all for quite some time, until I felt the chicks had had a good scratch around, and then persuaded them back into their coop.  I had to leave the older ones until Roses came home later.

I’m afraid this is turning into an animal blog, which isn’t at all my intention.  It’s just a matter of what I’m doing on any given day, and looking after those damn animals takes more time than I really want it to.

I bought a new garden table and chairs yesterday, they are teak and rather fine.  And a bench, to match the curved one that some of you have seen.  Cushions and a parasol are to come.  Clearly, I am expecting a fine summer next year.  I might even throw a blog party.

Tea and cake, with added raindrops

I went over to have tea with our friend Dave East today.  He had saved birthday cake for me, which was very good.  The friend who had made it (possibly, technically, a friend of a friend, but I think anyone who makes me cake is a sure-fire friend) filled it with home-made jam and butter icing, which was very tasty.  I stayed longer than either of us anticipated, because it poured with rain for ages.  But it was good to have a chat.  I drove home on the back roads, following his directions (and some judiciously placed signposts, fortunately) to avoid the main road traffic and I drove through a number of floods.

When I got near home, it all dried up to small puddles.  Clearly, we did not have that much rain here.

One of my bantams has been missing for days, she may be sitting on eggs, stupid little thing.  I have no reason to think anything has caught her.  Or it may be that a different bantam is staying out each night, I can’t be sure.

Al and Dora sent me some freesias and they are still perfect, more than a week later.  As are the lovely flowers that Roses and Lawrence sent.

Eloise cat lay on her back, inviting me to stroke her tummy.  She looked so chilled that I did it – usually, she wraps her paws round my hand and chuckles evilly, because I’ve fallen into her trap.  But this evening, she really was that chilled and just lay there while I stroked her.  She’s being very affectionate tonight.

Still not opening the post. But certainly tomorrow.

Roses kindly went out to feed the animals, which was great.  It’s not the amount of bother, which is not huge, but I sometimes get a bit fed up with the responsibility of 50+ animals.  She has now taken the smallest coop, with two chicks, into her garden so that they will work their way over her beds.

Meetings at school that I didn’t go to, I hope all is ok now.  I’ve received and printed off spreadsheets, but I’m not looking at them tonight.

Roses and I have sunk rather more than a bottle and eaten nice bits and pieces in the smoked salmon and raw ham sort of way.  We might not have finished that bottle, except that I had a text from Zig and it made me rather inclined to talk  and Roses was kind enough to listen.  Zig isn’t in great shape and it’s not very likely she will be well enough to visit.  I’m going down to see her next week.  All the love in the world to our friend, darlings.

I finally managed a front cover picture for the catalogue that I was reasonably happy with, which I’ve sent off to Weeza and Ro.  Tomorrow, I will finalise that, we need to crack on.

I must order envelopes, choose final pictures, complete school papers and write a foreword – or afterword – for the catalogue.

Oh, I’ve bought a new table and chairs for outdoors, and a second curved bench.  Plenty of seating now for the next party.  We must be merry, who knows what the future may bring.  No one ever thought ‘I should have been more solemn and had less fun.’


I’d asked some friends round for coffee and the occasion turned into a spontaneous lecture on Lowestoft china, I’m afraid.  I did get out some nice pieces to show them.  Not everyone was able to come, I had an apologetic phone call at 8 o’clock this morning, and Lucie was keen for me to arrange another date – nice to have people wanting to be my friend (and have a look round my house!), so I’ll send off an email when I’m done here.

I’m sorry to have to say that the injured chick died in the night.  I didn’t honestly have much hope for her, she’d made little improvement but there was no sign of injury, so i was afraid it was internal, maybe spinal.  She was quite lively yesterday, so I don’t know what caused her to die.  And one of the bantams stayed out tonight and I frankly can’t worry about it.

My guest auctioneer came round today to talk about arrangements for the sale – she made the very good suggestion that I open a Facebook and Twitter page in its name.  I will do that in the next day or two.  The catalogue is nearly ready to go for printing – it just has to be proof-read, which is always a tedious thing, but highly necessary and it just needs to be got on with.

Then someone called round for me to sign his application for a shotgun licence.  Then I went to feed the animals.

This afternoon, I had an email saying that a paper needed signing, on a matter I was very pleased to have settled, so I whipped straight into school.  it took me nearly an hour … and a couple more hours of work this evening.  On a quite different matter, I’ve sent off an email to two people concerned, who were not in agreement about the presentation of some figures, and I have given my opinion, with my reasons, suggested a way forward, which a third person won’t like, and done my best to smooth things over, but by solving a tricky problem rather than dismissing it.  I don’t know what the reactions will be, but I know that I am trusted and will be listened to.

Because of all this, I was later than I meant to be in heading off to see Al and co.  I sent a text to say I was on my way – a mile down the road, I realised that I’d got wine and soft drinks and the remains of this morning’s chocolate biscuits, but not Dilly’s birthday present, which was already a fortnight late.  I had it at the right time, but we haven’t managed to get together.  So I went back for them.  The rain was bucketing down, my coat was already sodden from when I’d been feeding the cats and chooks and it hadn’t been raining nearly so hard then.  Al was glad I’d texted as he’d been worried.  It was lovely to see them, all is well and Pugsley is planning his birthday party at the end of this month.

I lit the fire when I got home, though it was already after 8, but if I was going to spend a long time on this matter for concern, I didn’t want to be cold too.  I’m going to have a hot bath and read the papers in bed now.  With tea.

Oh, I’ll send that email to my coffee guests first.  Nearly forgot.  Goodnight, darlings.

Z looks at pictures

I went to a very good lecture about the Mauritshauis Museum in The Hague, today.  When I visited Holland a couple of years ago, the gallery was shut, though some of the pictures were on temporary display elsewhere.  The lecture started with a film about the opening, which was brilliant

Afterwards, I went back to school for lunch, to sustain me for the three meetings that followed.  Truly, I shall be glad not to have all this – yet there’s so much I shall miss … anyway, no matter.

A governor has resigned today.  Reluctantly, as she has taken a full-time job that won’t give her time off for governor duties, and she has three pretty important roles.  I’ve filled one of them, but am still pondering the other two.

The little mother barn cat is determined to be accepted into the house, to Eloise’s annoyance.  I went out to the car for something at ten pm and she was waiting outside the door in the drizzle.  I felt so sorry for her.  I went and fetched her a pouch of Eloise’s food and she’d eaten it and gone, half an hour later.  She’s in the door every time I leave it open.

Z lights the fire and closes the Doors

Going through papers, I found an envelope from my electricity company.  Whoops.  I pay by direct debit, because Russell and I shared bills between us – he paid for some things, I paid for others.  In general, I paid annual things like council tax and insurance, he paid for regular utilities, whoever got there first paid the credit card bill – we were relaxed about it.  We never thought of money as belonging to one or other of us and we never criticised each other for being extravagant, because we had much the same attitude to money – don’t spend what you don’t have, in short.  Anyway, now I have to remember everything myself, I pay more bills by direct debit because I’m worried I might miss something.

This wasn’t a bill, however, it was telling me how much electricity I’d used over the past year and how it compared to the year before.  It was a lot less last year.  Less than two thirds.  I’m not at all sure why, because I certainly kept myself warm in the winter.  I tended to light fires rather than switch heating on, mind you, and warmed the bits of the house that I wanted to.

I can’t pretend I have drawn up a budget, though.  I tend to be fairly frugal and then be pleasantly surprised by how much less it costs to live than I expected – which is just as well, because it’s expensive, being a widow.  There’s no such thing as a widow’s pension nowadays and they’ve raised the pension age so I won’t get mine for well over two more years.  On the other hand, i only have one person’s tax free allowance.  So, although my income is thousands of pounds less, I’ll pay more tax.  Probably.

Years ago, I did work out a household budget.  That is, I did it in my head and, to my impressed surprise, it balance nicely, with incomings matching outgoings – until I realised that, though i’d allowed for buying books, I hadn’t bargained on any of us needing clothes.  It was fine, though. I clothed the children, relied on my mother’s and sister’s cast-offs (it was before the era of charity shops, though I’ve never found anything to wear in a charity shop anyway) and Russell wore suits for work, in those days, and dressed like a tramp at weekends.

Once he gave up the day job, he just dressed as a tramp all the time.

Five and a bonus

At a meeting in the village pub last week, I found myself inviting everyone round for coffee on Wednesday.  I must have been out of my mind.  That means I’ll have to get the hoover out and tidy up.  It’ll have to be tomorrow, I’ve got things on on Tuesday.

I’ve got a letter from my solicitor that I haven’t opened yet (it arrived on Friday – yes, I know, and I’m not making any excuse).  Once I do, I’ll have to get on with the paperwork I promised to do a month ago.  I’m not actually coping as well as I look as if I am.  I can only cope if I don’t deal with the stuff that panics me – oddly, this includes paying cheques into the bank.  I’ve got a small stack of the things.  However, living expenses have diminished (I know some things Russell spent money on, but he clearly had more secrets than I realised) and I’m still solvent.

Today – five positives.

1 I wore my new dress.

2 Playing the organ and piano regularly is paying off.  I am never going to be a good organist (or pianoist*) but at least I play with a  certain panache.

3 When I went out in the rain to get the chickens in, the sensible 11 week old chicks had gone inside their run already.  I gave them lots of food.  The daft adult bantams hadn’t, only two of them were indoors and I had to chase the rest in.  Two stayed out, one returned later but the other daft bugger is still out and she will have to spend the night outside.

4 I bathed the tortoises and they enjoyed it.  Bathing tortoises is very good for them.  They ate lots afterwards, which is also good, as I want them to eat for the next month, before fasting as a preparation for hibernation.

5 Because it was chilly and raining, I lit the fire this afternoon.  Then I read the paper until I felt sleepy and then had a nap.  This is a good thing.  I love an afternoon nap, but rarely have one.  I was awake for four hours in the night, so it was good to catch up a bit.

6 – ooh, a bonus!  I prepared some pre-dinner nibbles to such good effect that I kept on with them and didn’t bother with dinner.  I may have post-pre-dinner nibbles again later, though.


*Yes, I know

Clothes shopping fail

This  is what we were up to a year ago.  Happy first anniversary to my youngest children, Ro and Dora.

Although it was such a happy day and I was determined that no sad thoughts would mar it, the fact is that it was only just over three weeks since Russell had died and a week after his funeral.  I hadn’t told you that he’d died then, not here – I had written to a number of you individually, but I wasn’t ready to let go of this as my happy place.  It couldn’t go on, of course, impossible to pretend for long.

Today, I had very mixed feelings and I didn’t want to stay here alone, so I decided to go shopping.  First, I went to Yagnub, bought a chocolate fudge cake at the deli (and cheese, a tart and some patum peperium), then I bought a card, filled the car with diesel, beastly stuff (always get it on my hands, even when i wear disposable gloves) and drove over to their house, to give them the card and cake.

After I left them, I went into Norwich.  Well.  Not a lot of nice clothes, I have to say.  It was all so dull.  I had money burning a hole in my pocket, as they say, and would have bought whole lots, from a coat to underwear, with everything in between, if I’d liked it – but I didn’t even try anything on.  So I went off to Chapelfield Gardens to see Roses and Lawrence, who were running a coffee stall at the food festival.  I had a crispy duck wrap for lunch and then hit the food tent.  Half an hour later, i staggered out with several bags of goodies, including half a dozen bottles of Norfolk wines – not absolutely sure about the pinot noir, but I’ll give it a fair crack.

This evening, I’ve eaten the tart (Roquefort, pine nuts and spinach) and a slice of lovely, chewy sourdough bread, and about a pound of nuts – that is, i haven’t eaten a pound of nuts, I’ve discarded the shells, but I simply cannot resist fresh cobnuts or walnuts and I’ve pigged out.

I’m not easily discouraged and I wanted to buy clothes, so i called in at the little dress shop in Yagnub on the way home and I’ve bought a dress, a pair of jeans and a stripy, long sleeved, teeshirt.  I really do still need a new coat, though.  And underwear.  I haven’t bought a single garment, except shoes, for fourteen months, and then that was my wedding outfit – which used a normal year’s budget in one go, frankly.

Early night, darlings.  I’ve been awake since 5.  I’ll let Eloise out, feed Roses’ cat Rummy, make a cup of tea and head for bed with the papers.  I chuck ’em on the floor when I’ve read them and clear up every couple of days.  Good job I sleep alone, I have a pile of books and papers next to me on the bed, and a pile of discarded ones on the floor.  I don’t care.

Z faces the music*

I finally finished getting the photographs ready for the auction catalogue, uploaded them to Google Drive and sent them off to Weeza, who was very pleased that I’d done it well enough that she was able to just paste them straight into their places.  I’ve had several failed attempts at the front catalogue – a teapot, a vase, a ram and a coffee cup are what I’d like to go on there, but I haven’t got the composition right and I’m not sure that they will all work together.  I’m going to leave it for another day.

I’ve got yet another letter to write to governors, following a meeting this morning, and I’ve got the agenda for the next meeting to work on.  The man who’s taking over from me as Chairman has to have an operation, which will take a while to get over, so I’m not stepping quite as far down as I’d planned.  There will be two Vice-chairs and I’ll be one of them.  That will be fine, the three of us will share out jobs between us and I’m sure it’ll all run well.  There’s an awful lot to do, but I still should be able to leave at the end of July, I think.  I’d meant to just fade away so that my absence would not really be noticed at all, but that’s to be tweaked – but only to be supportive and make sure that everything will be covered once I’ve left.  I’m pretty good at letting go, I will feel able to move on and not miss it too much.

My piano tuner came yet again today – the pianola has been re-strung and re-felted and completely overhauled, and it’s taking a long time to really settle down.  While it’s in tune, I play it happily, if not very well (I’ll never be a good pianist again, I’m afraid) but, as soon as its tuning starts to slip, I don’t want to play it, yet that’s what it needs.  I must persevere.  I must also get my clarinet tuned, which i’ve been saying for ages – it’s really a priority now.  There’s nowhere near enough music in my life and I have no one to blame but myself for that.  I haven’t had time for a holiday since my week on the boat at the end of April and, though I managed to get down to Zig for a few days to fetch Eloise and to Mike and Ann for a lovely overnight break, I haven’t been able to spare time for more than the odd night visiting Weeza and co.  Last year, I hardly went to any Nadfas lectures, I only went to one concert in the winter and none since, I haven’t been to the cinema and only to the theatre once, though I’ve got another visit coming up next month and I’ve only visited one museum once.  None of this is good at all – I can’t consider a real holiday for quite some time yet, I’m far too busy, but I must start putting enjoyment much higher on my priority list.  As I said the other day, I hope to start with this.

*Moonlight is a possibility, but none of the other things.

Happy birthday to Z


I’ve been sociable today, visiting my friend Mary in the morning, having tea with Roses and then going out with friends for dinner.  Not got a lot of work done, I’m afraid.  But Roses is kindly feeding the animals tomorrow morning so that I can get on indoors.