I had some china to deliver today, some of it near Norwich and some on the north coast. So we* set off after a rather frantic typing session on my part – I had to draw up an invoice for some post-sale sold items – and some cat-chasing (Rummy decided to pay a visit and proved difficult to uninvite when the time came) and – well, skip forward a couple of hours and we found ourselves in Cromer, searching for crab salad for lunch.
Darlings, we found ourselves possibly the best crab salad in Norfolk. We spent the whole lunchtime talking about the food we were eating. It’s a restaurant overlooking the pier, downstairs is simply fish and chips, there’s a takeaway section and upstairs is a restaurant, and we went and checked they had crab available today.
The fish was absolutely simply presented, just a dressed crab in its shell. The lemon had been seared almost to blackness and there was a little pot of home-made coleslaw and some cooked, then sautéed new potatoes on the plate. The salad came separately, little gem lettuce, rocket, pea shoots, quartered radishes and halved cherry tomatoes, blanched french beans, thin slices of red onion and slivers of spring onion, all in a delicious dressing. But that was not all. There were three further pots – a nice, chunky guacamole, pickled cucumber, thinly sliced and quartered and another pickle that we decided had to be mooli (winter radish) and they were all delicious. We spent a lot of time eating.
Tim doesn’t think he wants to live in North Norfolk, though he really likes the scenery, as well as the food in Cromer. But he likes the area – Norfolk itself, that is. Any suggestions, darlings?
*Tim is back again, darlings. He is village-hunting in earnest.
There was an unexpected amount of cash. It had diminished over the past few years in favour of cheques, but cash came way back and I was daunted, frankly. I don’t count money, if I can help it. I’ve been known to panic and not know the difference between a fiver and a twenty. Also, I was a bit worried about taking it home and being responsible for it.
It was all right, of course, I put it in the safe and went to bed and slept for a few hours – I have to admit, I was too excited. I still am, actually, I’m just thrilled. But it’s in the bank now, all £13,000 of it, as well as the cheques. And I’ve spoken to a lot of people on the phone and emailed others and negotiated regarding unsold (but subsequently sold) lots and I am aiming to get all the paperwork done in the next week or so.
One nice couple were surprised when I told them what they owed. Was it not what they expected? No, they hadn’t bought Lot 16. I let it go, I’d known them for many years and wasn’t going to argue. But yesterday, he phoned – his wife had been bidding and they’d put a cheque in the post.
Another nice – very nice – couple were surprised too. I hadn’t charged them enough. Um, that was Ronan’s mistake. He’d left a nought off…… ……. Yes, the difference between £2,100 and £210. O Kay. No matter, it’s been sorted.
I’ll come down off this high in a while, darlings and get back to my usual laid-back self. But I’m starting to dare to feel that it’s the beginning of something. Better than it has been for a while. I bought flowers yesterday and put them on Russell’s grave and I didn’t say anything, but I told him. I daresay he knew.
Today was my L’toft china auction – formerly Russell’s, of course. He was the expert and the auctioneer, I knew what I was talking about and did the admin – and rather more, such as the photography – but it was absolutely his professional thing, not mine. So to organise an auction was quite a lot to take on – and I employed a professional to conduct the sale, obviously – and I’m glad I went ahead. It went well, many people were so pleased that it was starting up again and I’ve had so many kind comments. It will not have made me vast amounts of money, but enough to be worth doing, and I have the satisfaction of having earned it too. Russell never paid me – he didn’t need to, we shared what we had, of course – and I worked for his benefit… that is, he always said that he couldn’t have managed the sales without me, but I was clearly and (of course) willingly promoting him, I didn’t want to make much of myself and was just a worker.
Adrenalin was working well, evidently, because I remembered everyone’s name – all except one, whose I might have known, but clients love it when you remember them, they feel like more than just customers. When I wrote a name down to register them, I saw them notice it and relax their shoulders, or smile when I greeted them by name.
The auctioneer is lovely, really good at her job, with a good line in humour – she’s a regular on BBC antique programmes that end in an auction, such as Flog It – and I’m immensely grateful to her for helping me – she’s a partner in her own auction firm, so it’s much appreciated.
I must rapidly get my act together in the morning, to let people know what has sold and what they have bought – there were a number of commission bids – and I may get a phone call from my nice reporter, so I must think what I’ll say. So now I will go and have a lovely long bath and hope to sleep.
Tim, having been to visit me last week and heard probably more than he really wanted to about the auction, kindly phoned tonight to wish me well and I remarked that his post about the more-or-less abandoned car in his road reminded me of a boat called Yellowtail and that I should blog about it.
Now I come to think about it, there really isn’t much to say. It just passed for entertainment in Oulton Broad in the early 1970s. Possibly the late ’70s too, come to that, it was certainly there for a few years.
It was a nice yacht with a cabin, as I remember – or it had been nice, but it looked a little shabby. It was moored on the other side of the bridge from Mutford Lock, in Lake Lothing, and one night, in a storm, it sank. Not far, it was in shallow water, it just keeled over lightly and settled in the mud, and there it stayed. People remarked on it every time they went past, it was a local landmark, I don’t know if mooring fees were paid but I suppose it wasn’t insured, because months and a few years went by and it just sat there, looking more decrepit.
But then things changed. It was floated and mended and painted – not all in a few days, this took months, but finally Yellowtails started to look as if she would sail again and we were quite excited.
Then there was another storm. Yellowtail sank again. I don’t remember what happened after that. I suppose she was finally scrapped.
As I said, there really wasn’t much to say.
Another page in the newspaper today – so kind of them to give me all this free publicity. I went to have dinner with Ronan and Dora – Ro did the cooking, he’d promised me lentil and feta bake. It was very good, and I asked what spices were in it. Cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, chilli – he couldn’t remember if there were more. He’d based it on a recipe that his former landladies had brought home from Lesbos and so, of course, named Lesbian Cheese. Ro has adapted it somewhat…
Roses is away today – she may be back by now, in fact, I haven’t looked – and this afternoon, her cat Rummy decided to pay a visit. That was quite all right, Eloise thinks she has every right to treat his home as her own and he puts up with it, not that he likes it much. I stroked him and he ate some of her food and retreated under the kitchen table. I asked if he’d like to go out – he growled at me and retreated upstairs. i was a little nonplussed. I clearly have more to learn about cats. Eloise went upstairs a few minutes later, not knowing he was there, and there was some exchange of words, whereupon he came down again, with her in pursuit. I think I might as well leave them to it.
We did indeed go to the National Portrait Gallery – I’m very fond of it. It’s the Nat. Gallery’s poor cousin and there are never lots of people there, but I like it and especially appreciate the contemporary portraits, some of which are impressive. We didn’t go into the Giacometti exhibition – I tend to think, though I’m probably a complete Philistine, that once you’ve seen one Giacometti (do hope I’m spelling that right) you’ve seen ’em all. He was very much the stylist. I’m displaying ignorance, I’m sure. But anyway, I’ve been to a G… exhibition and I did appreciate it but I didn’t feel inclined to go again. And, after an hour or so of attentiveness, both Wink and I found ourselves skimming through a gallery, saying ‘yeah, yeah’, so it was clearly time to sit down and eat and drink a little something.
I slept very little last night, so will go to bed early – body clock completely confused by idiotic time change, of course. I’ve had a couple more commission bids for the sale, which is immensely reassuring. I can only hope it will go well and I’m due a blind panic tomorrow. I need time to get over that, so i can not worry on the day.
It’s only three more days! Blind panic starting right now, I think.
A couple of hours ago, I composed an entire post, in my head of course, but I went to sleep instead and now that awfully interesting, hem hem, subject has gone from my flaky little head. Instead, I’m coughing. One of those intensely tickly little coughs that gets in your throat and is very hard to resist – impossible, in fact. I reached for my bag and got a blackcurrant lozenge, which I’d bought to take to the theatre, but that didn’t do the trick so I slipped a menthol and euthalyptus sweet in my mouth too, have drunk water, nothing is working and I woke my sister. She is so polite and good-natured about it. I hope I will stop soon.
We are in London for my birthday treat: she took me to the theatre as my birthday treat. It was very good, a Rattigan revival by Kenneth Branagh’s theatre company, with himself in the lead rôle and Zoë Wanamaker in the cast too. I’ve seen them both before, not for many years – she was in a production of The Importance of Being Earnest, with Judi Dench as Lady Bracknell – it was a splendid cast, in fact, though very many years ago and probably not worth telling you all about. Branagh was in two Shakespeare plays – Henry V and Midsummer Night’s Dream, I think, or was it King Lear? Or all three? I distinctly remember Richard Briars as Fluellen. If that’s the character’s name, the old drinking partner of Prince Hal who’s caught stealing and is hanged.
clearly, I shouldn’t ramble on at this hour of the night. Half-remembered nonsense gets churned out. I daren’t lie down though, in case my precariously recovered throat starts spasming into coughs again. Wink has gone back to sleep, fortunately.
We have returned to the depressing Greenwich Mean Time, which will plunge this evening into premature darkness and gives me an extra hour of wakefulness now. I shall probably log on to the Sunday newspaper and read, in a few minutes.
Having made it to the EDP on Wednesday, I had a page in the L’toft Journal today. And the nice reporter has promised more in the EDP and a follow-up after the sale. I’m charmed and gratified. My photos – well, I guess they look like me, which is all that I can say.
The china is packed away and locked in Fort Knox, or the nearest equivalent I can find, I have done much of the paperwork and just have the very dullest bits to finish and I have still to get to grips with the new laser printer, and how hard can that be?
Tim has gone home, having been very good company and good-natured about my slightly odd lifestyle, with me switching from reluctant animal lover to artlessly friendly interviewee to artfully friendly hostess when people came round to look at china. I took him round various places that I thought he might like, not quite fulfilling the brief, which was Norfolk, whereas we mostly went to Suffolk. Friends I called on to show the Lowestoft ram in the sale were quite keen he should move to Beccles, they clearly thought he’d be an asset to the town.
But tonight, I’m back to being quiet and just me. I cooked lots of vegetables for dinner and have been filling in the auctioneer’s book with the bids i’ve received already – this is most pleasing, as it means that some items will be sold, at least. Tomorrow, I’m going to London to see Wink. I must check my Oyster card is in my bag – it so often isn’t and I keep buying another.
It was a really good lecture and I spent the first half of it wondering what on earth I was going to say? Because there wasn’t a lot to pin a vote of thanks on. I found more, of course – it’s always good if i can talk about an individual picture, but it wasn’t so easy in this case – anyway, I started by saying that he’d exposed my ignorance … no, that’s not quite the case, I don’t know what had happened to the lead of the microphone, but I had to start by apologising to him, that I was standing a foot from him because I couldn’t move further, but I was speaking to him but facing the audience…anyway, I talked about why I had liked the lecture so much and mentioned a few items that had grabbed me (I don’t think I had used that innuendo-laden word, obvs) and finished by promising to look more closely at plasterwork in the meantime.
In the meantime, the chap who has bought the contents of my wood shed has removed more of it at last. He has promised to remove everything he’s bought by the end of the month and I’m frankly doubtful, but I hope that I am wrong.
It’s all right, darlings, no need to get excited – it’s Tim. You know he said a few weeks ago that he’s thinking about moving from where he lives now and one of his preferred options is East Angular? Well, he really is interested in moving in this direction, so I offered him here as a base from which to do a spot of research. And he’s a very good guest too and Eloise cat likes him, so all is fine.
In other news, I have been interviewed by the local rag. I have also had my picture took, looking fixedly at various pieces of Lowestoft china, which was frankly quite embarrassing and I have no idea what sort of idiot I’ll look like, assuming any of the pictures make it to print, in this Friday’s Lowestoft Journal.
Tomorrow, I’m due to give the vote of thanks after the Nadfas lecture, which is on a subject I know almost nothing about and will not research. Some kind people call me spontaneous, I say it’s woefully unprepared – but there we go. I will be genuinely appreciative (if it’s deserved, otherwise I’ll just be kind) and I hope that the speaker will go away thinking that I have listened, learned and enjoyed.
That’s mostly what I want from life, actually, darlings, don’t you agree?