Monthly Archives: December 2015

Eloise makes a clean protest

It’s been a busy ten days, not only for me but for Eloise cat too.  First there was that prolonged  journey to LT in Reading, then the tricky drive down to Wink.  Next came the trip to Poole for Zig’s funeral, which are two words that just don’t go together, and I can’t believe at all that I’m not going to see her again.  However, with blinkers attached as usual, I bounced right back for Christmas.  And LT came to join Wink and me, and we had a wonderful celebration.  Then, it was lovely to see darling Dodo – she’s 103 and very frail, but she’s still the same person, at heart, whom I’ve known all my life.

After that, I travelled to Kent to see Daphne.  I have to admit, Eloise’s patience was being tried by then.  She clearly thought we were going home and she went on a clean protest.  You remember the dirty protest by IRA prisoners, some years ago?  Hers was the opposite.  She dried up.  Her litter tray was unsullied.  She ate and drank and nothing happened as a result.  I became quietly frantic.

Daphne’s son and family came to lunch yesterday and it was delightful to see their little girl OG, who is nearly two.  And Eloise finally abandoned her protest to a minor extent, so that was a relief in every way as well.  I left Kent this morning, did some shopping in Yagnub on the way home and LT arrived less than five minutes after me.  Roses had looked after everything while I was away, so there was nothing to catch up on.  This evening, LT and I are eating a leisurely meal, one course every hour accompanied by a bottle of wine, until midnight, when we will probably just fall over.

I may make some attempt at a review and a look forward tomorrow.  But now, I’m just appreciative.  And I’m hopeful.  My wish is that you are too.  Happy new year, dear friends.

Seeing Dodo

Today, we went to visit Dodo, who was our mother’s oldest friend, is Wink’s godmother and who is now 103 years old.  She still lives in her little cottage, now with a carer and has finally conceded that life is easier with a stairlift.  She’d made a mistake and double-booked friends visiting; fortunately Angela, her Moldovian carer, twigged and put things right, putting me first as I’m leaving tomorrow.  Dodo apologised.  “I got muddled,” she said, though it was a small and understandable mistake.  “There’s nothing thing good about being 103.”  We could only say that we were glad she’s still with us.  And, I reflected, she’s old enough to be our grandmother.

Its been a lovely Christmas and restful, on the whole, in a good way.  Tomorrow, I’m going to visit  Daphne, near Canterbury, for a couple more nights, then home again.  Lovely Tim will come and join me there.

Once I’m home, I’ll blog again properly.  I can type easily enough on an iPad or phone, but I can’t think so well when I can’t see the whole page.  I hope all is well with you.

A full moon

I find myself with little to say.  Zig’s funeral was as moving, sad and joyous as these occasions can be and I can only hope that I meet some of her lovely family and friends again, because she was the connection between me and them.  There is, at least, Facebook.  No one who knew her will stop missing her and we won’t forget her spirit, warm kindness and wisdom.  The word that everyone used about her at some time was ‘fierce,’ which was entirely complimentary and I recognise that in her, though I have never described her as such myself.   She was, and is, loved.

And she loved Christmas and celebrations and she always looked forward.  So will I. I hope you all have a happy Christmas and, even when things go awry, embrace every opportunity for laughter and love.  Re-reading this, it sounds awfully mawkish, but I’ll let it stand.  Just put me down as a sentimental old bat and I’ll wrong-foot you another time by coming out with something so desperately inappropriate and tasteless that we will all hear Ziggi cheering me on.

Love to you all, Zxx



Eloise is a Mere-cat*

We went out this morning to buy a harness and lead for Eloise.  She clearly longed to go outside but I couldn’t possibly risk it.  And I bought them and attempted to put the harness, which had no illustration and the briefest instructions, on Eloise, who was very unhappy.  I wasn’t pleased either, it didn’t fit and I could see it would come off easily.  It took LT** to work out that I was doing it wrong.  Still took a while to fit it comfortably, but it was secure and Eloise was less upset.  And she was pleased to go outside and didn’t mind the lead, so she will get some fresh air in the next week.

When it was time to leave, LT found out one of the downsides of being with me.  My coat wasn’t hanging in the cupboard.  We both searched the house – twice each, even in rooms I hadn’t been in.  Finally, I deduced that the one place that hadn’t been triple-checked was the cupboard itself, put my torch on and …. yes, of course, it had simply fallen on the floor.  The poor man will get used to it, I’m sure he will.

it was a frightful drive with heavy traffic and torrential rain.  But we arrived at Wink’s house in the end, Eloise and I.  “She’s a Mere-cat now!” said Wink (er, for those of you who do not know the area, Mere is the name of her village).  And she settled in patiently again, and has finally used her litter tray, having bottled things up for about 40 hours.

I’m in bed, darlings. I trust I will sleep soundly.  I am extremely tired and have another longish drive tomorrow.  At least Eloise can stay behind this time.





*This isn’t misspelt

**Lovely Tim

Z leaves home

I’m a last-minute woman when it comes to Christmas, normally. I always think it’ll be more fun that way. Sometimes, I’m even right. But I have to acknowledge that it puts me under more pressure than taking a more sensible approach.

This year has been rather different, because I had to be ready early. Even so, it was a rush this morning and I was slightly late leaving – not that it mattered, except for later traffic.

Things went agley on the M11 because, I found out, there had been a five car pile up, one having overturned. When that happens, you mostly have to be sorry for those involved and grateful you weren’t. But it really scuppered my plans, I just sat there with Eloise yowling plaintively in her cat carrier. Later, I thought I’d arrive an hour and a half later than planned, but hadn’t taken into account Reading’s evening traffic. It took 55 minutes to travel 3.2 miles.

Eloise came out of her carrier and started to explore. She’s checked out Tim’s entire house, eaten a lot of food, asked to go out (no, sunshine, in your dreams) and is perfectly relaxed. So no problems there. And I’ve been delightfully wined and dined by LT, as his blog name seems likely to be, and life is looking pretty good.

Zho, ho ho. Z is Farmer Christmas*

If anyone knows who sent me this brilliant mug, please let me know so that I can say thank you. It’s not anyone in my family.  As Sir Bruin wonderfully said, I now need some Lionel Rich Tea biscuits to go with it…









I finished wrapping children’s and grandchildren’s presents today and have delivered them, with a cheery ho ho ho, as is required by law.    I’ve got a lot of wrapping paper and various other stuff in front of me as I write, I have to deal with it all tonight, because I’m off in the morning.  First I go to Lovely Tim, then on to Wink before going to Poole on Wednesday, for Zig’s funeral.  All in the same neck of the woods, more or less – I hope Eloise cat will not find it all too difficult, but I think she will be okay.

Roses, her Boy and her Lawrence will be holding the fort here.  Although this place is pretty safe, it’s never left empty.

*as the very young Ro used to call him


The barn kittens are turning into rather handsome little cats now.  Probably slightly overfed, they certainly aren’t skinny and they have splendidly thick coats, ready for the winter.  When I think of the mother cat back in the summer, when I reluctantly started to feed her; her coat was a bit sparse and constantly moulting and she was thin, but now all five of them are happy and healthy.

I still can’t really tell the two black kittens apart, except by their behaviour.  Fred is the bolder and he comes up to me with Zain, the friendly tabby, and lets me stroke him as long as I don’t make sudden movements.  His brother Barney is more wary, but he likes to make eye contact and stares at me with interest, not dropping his gaze when I catch his eye.  Their sister Betty is shy, coming closer than Barney but neither watching me nor letting me touch her.  I don’t try, I’m not bothered about it.

Mother cat loves to be petted and would rather be stroked than be fed – but I suspect that the youngsters are nowhere near as good as she is at hunting: they’ve never needed to be.  Eloise still really hates her and will attack at the least provocation – Cat runs, startled, then stops and turns and there is then deadlock. Cat never attacks back, but stands her ground.  I go away, so that neither has to lose face in front of me.  Roses’ cat Rummy won’t accept Cat either – there’s plenty of room for everyone, but Cat craves affection and I’m sorry for her.  Nothing I can do, though.

There are various places that they can get in and out of the barns, so they are well sheltered.  In addition, I’ve stacked seven bales of straw – three sides are two bales high, the fourth one bale high, with a cover over them and a layer of hay inside, under the Dutch barn, so they can be snug there too.  I’ve occasionally had cause to pick up Cat and Zain, who are startled but polite – none of them has ever shown teeth nor claws.  They wind themselves round my feet as I go to feed them which, with my dodgy hip, is a nuisance, but I know they’re just treating me as another cat and so I put up with it.

Eloise continues to become more affectionate and secure here.  She is a home loving little cat and never wanders far, but likes to climb on roofs and up trees.  Having installed a cat flap which reads microchips, there is no longer the problem of RasPutin, the huge male tabby, father of the barn cats, coming in, though Rummy can.  He and Eloise are good friends, though he is conscious that, when here, he’s on her and my territory and he’s a little cautious.

Never having lived with a cat before, I find it interesting to observe their ways.  I have no inclination to compare Eloise with a dog, I’ve recognised that there is no direct comparison, right from the start.  I’m going to take her with me to Wink’s next week – I think she’d rather be with me than on her own, even with the travelling.  I hope so, anyway.  If she’s too unsettled, it’ll have to be a one-off, but I hope not.  I love her very much and can’t bear to leave her here at Christmas without me, even though she can go through to Roses whenever she wants.

Z doesn’t RTFM

I’ve been playing with the controls of the car today.  Not the driving controls, they’re pretty clear, but every set-up seems to be a bit different when it comes to highly important matters like tuning in the radio, putting the clock right and working out why, when I plugged my phone in to charge, it not only automatically switched from the radio to iTunes, but played on shuffle too.

Now, that was quite annoying.  I can’t bear shuffle.  It’s all just too bitty.  First, it played something by Hoagy Carmichael – that was all right – but then it switched to Mozart, one of his Divertimenti, I can’t remember which but it’s one I never learned to play – that might have been all right too, but it was just one movement and the transition was too abrupt from Hoagy.  Next, it went on to John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine, which didn’t seem entirely appropriate when I was tootling along at a sedate 30mph.

I know now, of course, to choose my playlist/album or turn off the music before I get to the end of the drive, so that I’m not driving along being indignant, a bit.  And I worked out how to do various other things, including linking the phone to the car, so now it tells me how long it’ll take me to get home.

I could, of course, just read the manual, but that hardly exercises the little grey cells, innit?

The tea Advent calendar that I’ve replaced as my header picture has, you can see, just a few numbers, but they’re in the ‘right’ order.  I don’t open the little boxes, each with one teabag, in order – I mean, darlings, am I likely to?  Moi?  I usually open the *right* box on the numbered day, but otherwise open them randomly, because that’s what Advent calendars have normally, the numbers dotted about so the eager little child has to search for the right one to open.  Tim thinks this is a bit odd of me, which is true, I suppose.  I asked Ro what he does with his and he said that ‘of course’ he opens his in order too.  I clearly didn’t raise him right, but it’s no wonder he and Tim get on.  Ro said that I have to check whether a box has been opened or not, but that’s part of the amusement, surely?

On the other hand, iTunes shuffle is a randomness too far.  I don’t even play shuffle on a single album, let alone the entire repertoire.  Makes me twitchy.

This evening, I discovered that the balance owed on a piece of china I sold after the auction to someone in Taiwan had been paid.  I’d taken £100 deposit and paid out the full amount to the vendor, knowing that I’d not lose anything if the chap didn’t pay up – very glad he has, though, we’ve become quite friendly by email.  So I’ve got it all packed up and ready to go tomorrow.

Z potters around the house

A bit of a portmanteau post yesterday and thank you for your lovely comments and good wishes.

Today, I should be cleaning the house a bit – the drawing room has several boxes of presents in it, which I’ll be delivering to my children … um, once the rest of the things I’ve ordered have arrived.  Yes, cutting it slightly fine as I am going away, but it’ll be okay.  If anything doesn’t get here in time, I’ll give it after Christmas.  I never worried much and now I don’t worry at all about that sort of thing.

I’ve even made dinner tonight as easy as possible, having bought smoked salmon, a brace of pheasants, and some white chocolate cheesecake from the excellent baker at the market.  I’ve bought kumquats too, which I’ll poach in syrup (actually, I will poach them first and then add sugar, as I’m not confident that the skins won’t toughen otherwise), which I think will go nicely.  And we’ll eat in the kitchen so that I don’t have to bother with the dining room fire.  How lazy I am, darlings, I’ve always said so but I’m usually too busy to succumb to it.

I’m looking forward very much to going down to Wink’s for Christmas.  I’ve been out for the day often enough, but the only downside there is that you come home and it’s a bit flat and there are no leftovers to eat the next day (a considerable upside is that there are no leftovers to deal with, of course).  Staying away is another matter and I haven’t seen as much of Wink as usual recently, though we’ve been to London a couple of times this autumn.

Tim and I were looking for each other’s first comments on our blogs (I know, darlings, what can I say?) and I found that my blog used to be more entertaining than it is now.  Sorry about that.  I clearly need to lighten up a bit.  Tim did find my comment, by the way and it was in response to a post about music (and, by great good fortune, he mentioned Tom Lehrer) – and his on my blog was about food.  Remarkable – which is the reason I’ve remarked on it, of course.

I keep trying to read in bed and falling asleep too quickly instead, so have only just finished Tim’s book.  It’s really very good.

Maiden eggs, coming out and Zig

The bantams that were born in June – the 26th, I think, but can’t quite be bothered to check – have started laying.  They should have gone to their new home by now, but it hasn’t quite worked out and if I don’t hear back in the next few days, I might as well keep them.  It’s just four more chooks and I’ve had four eggs this week so far, which is one more than I’ve had from the other sixteen.  I don’t count the mother of the five youngsters who are still in a separate coop.  I ate the first three eggs this evening in a masala omelette (half a red onion and a green chilli cooked in butter, then the lightly beaten eggs, salted, added and omeletised.

I started to wrap presents this morning – usually I don’t start doing this until I’ve bought everything for everyone (except things to be posted, of course), which is generally on Christmas Eve.  But I won’t be here on Christmas Eve and I decided that, as long as I made lists (I already had one list but have made another, with sub-headings), I could risk the panic of being unsure whether I’d treated all my children alike, unpacking everything and starting again.  I was interrupted, after a while, by a phone call from my friend P who, with her husband P, gave me such a lovely holiday on Corfu a while ago.  A good half hour later, having exchanged a few snippets of news, I’d invited them to dinner tomorrow, so we could have a proper chat.  And she has invited me to go with them to Corfu again next year, with Tim.  Ahem.  Yes, hints I’ve been dropping are not without foundation.  He’s not only Lovely Tim, he’s Tim that I love.  He’s no longer house hunting, he’s found what he wants – or who, at any rate.

Moving swiftly on before I start to feel self-conscious, here’s a completely different subject.

I’ve received more info from Zig’s daughters about her funeral and it occurs to me that a few of you might want to make a donation in her memory to the hospice where she was so tenderly cared for; not just at the end of her life but on a number of occasions over the past few years.   Donations go via the funeral directors and the website is  Click on funeral details, then her surname (Ray Brown) and first name (Linda) in the box, click on the details and then there is another heading for donation to charity (Dorothy House).  The funeral directors pick up the credit card commission cost, I see, which is a nice gesture.  Please don’t feel obligated, darlings, but if you wished to know and had no other means of finding out, it’s a good cause in loving memory of a splendid woman and a great friend.