Monthly Archives: January 2016

Z goes paperless

I’ve been turning out my study.  And I’ve thrown away all the papers from many years back, from all my voluntary jobs.  All except those that must be kept, and those are in a couple of boxes, waiting to go back to the village church and the high school.  A boxful to one and a folderful to the other.  I’ve burned a lot, including some papers, dating from 14 years ago, that I had not expected to get rid of.  I can’t tell you what it’s about, I actually signed a legally-binding affirmation of confidentiality and I have no idea of the penalty for breaching it and don’t intend to find out.  There were other papers there which are as confidential without the legal bit added and they’ve gone too.  So it’s all a true secret because I’m not telling anyone and no one else knows the full story.

It’s a release, I realised, once I’d done it.  And it’s so long ago that I can’t be blamed for not keeping it.  So hah.

Having said that, I’m only halfway through the work in that room, because it had become the repository for everything I didn’t know what else to do with.  But I’ll finish the job and it’ll be jolly good to have done it.

Boring, though.  And I smell of smoke, rather.  I hope to finish tomorrow.

Yesterday’ s photo holds a caption competition.  I still think Tim’s (the title) is rather good, but if there are more then he will, being no end polite and charming, back down and award the title to one of you.  So do have a go and you’ll get a prize at the blog party – whether this year or a future one is up to you!

Pushing the boat out*


When I was a child, we lived at Oulton Broad and our house had a big river frontage. My grandfather had bought the land when it wasn’t much valued and he’d been lucky.  It was the first house in the road to be built and the building materials were brought along the river by barge.

We had, as well as the frontage, mooring spaces – to the side, there was a cut where I should think you’d have got four medium-sized boats and there was also a slipway, which you see here.  There was nothing I liked better than messing about in the water.  Going without a lifejacket, even in the shallows, was forbidden.  My mother was protective to a fault.

The boys were John and Pearson – both about my age (I was probably ten, possibly nine in this picture) – Pearson was my mother’s godson and spent summer holidays with us for several years, it being more to his taste than Basingstoke where he lived, and John was a London boy from Stratford who, with his younger brother George, stayed with us for a couple of summers – it was a charitable thing, arranged through the WRVS.  I’ve no idea how much of a kindness it was, a very different lifestyle was physically healthy, I’m sure, but the double adjustment must have been difficult.  Anyway, we all got on pretty well and they shared my enthusiasm for getting wet and muddy.

*Thank you, Tim.

Parp parp

It was maybe not saying I was going to do it that made me do it.  I’ve been meaning to take up clarinet lessons again for years and I’ve always chickened out.  But finally, I got on and JFDI.  I did get the clarinet tuned and overhauled first, but I didn’t practise much, my friend and tutor got me warts and all.

I’m a determined little thing – I put things off for ages, but once I get on with them, I work hard and I’m pretty tenacious.  So it’ll be an hour of work every day from now on, whenever possible. Just a little while at a time to start off with, my lip will get sore and my lip muscles will flag after a few minutes.  But it will improve.

I’ve also started turning out my study.  The dog got shut in there quite some time ago and knocked a lot of stuff on the floor, and since then I’ve shoved papers and so on in there out of the way.  It’s unbelievably chaotic.  But again, now I’ve started, I’ll finish the job.  It’s quite remarkably boring and uninteresting, but at least most of the papers can be thrown away – or rather, they can be burnt, as they’re often more or less confidential.  Too windy for a bonfire today, so I’ve been burning them in the grate.  After a while, the fire nearly goes out.  Paper isn’t as burnable as you’d think.

And now I’m going to lounge around, read the paper, read a book and not much else.

Connections and love

Thank you for your messages.  I don’t get many comments these days but I know I still have a lot of readers and you’re all such friends, whether I’ve met you or not.

I was talking things through with LT yesterday – it’s Dodo’s funeral next week and it’s on the one free day I have, 250 miles away.  I’d have to drive down in the morning, drive back to Tim and stay overnight, then come back first thing…and I can’t quite bring myself to do it.  But I nearly did, I felt guilty.  Because Wink can’t go as she’s on holiday and it’s all booked, and because Dodo was our mother’s oldest friend, Wink’s godmother and we all dearly loved her.  However, I went to see her at Christmastime and that matters more.  So I’ll write to her nephew and arrange to meet him for lunch in the Spring, so that we retain a connection, because he is almost family, really.

Tim asked, the other day, if I were familiar with Archy and Mehitabel, by Don Marquis – yes, I am, though I haven’t read the book (books?  I only read one) for quite a few years.  Archy was a cockroach, who couldn’t manage the Caps key, so all that he wrote was in lower case, and Mehitabel was an alley cat.  And I mention it because Dodo, who was a keen reader, had – to the end of her days – a copy of the book by her sofa.

It’s not that I’m fragile these days, I am not and that’s because of friends and family and Tim, who comes in both categories and one of his own, and because I’m a tough old broad, as my dear Dutch friend Irene used to say.  But I’m a bit sensitive.  So if that makes me sentimental, I’m not usually and you’re just going to have to forgive me.  Sorry…ish.  I’d like to be at Dodo’s funeral but – it seems – not quite enough to make my life difficult.  I don’t know what to make of this, but I’ll just say it.  All the same, I visited her last month and Wink went to see her after that, and I’m still pretty sure that’s what matters.


I mean, decade.  Yes, dearest friends, my first blog post was written ten years ago today.  And you know what I wrote about?

C’mon, I’m English.  Guess.

That’s right, the weather.  And reading, as it happens.  Anyway, ten years ago, the winter was as mild and snowless as this one is.

Happy, happy blog anniversary to me.  It’s one of the very best things I’ve done in my life.  It’s still fun.  And I’ve made friends, real ones, including those of you whom I haven’t yet met.

Enough sentiment.  Keep on keeping on.

Z finally does it

Dear lord, I got quite anxious a little while ago.  I wanted to pay my tax bill.  *Wanted* is pushing it, actually, but I thought I might as well do it now as at the end of the week.  So I had checked with my accountant what my reference was, logged on to my bank account, transferred the money from the savings account and set up a new payee.  And that was all fine until I put in my reference number, which should have been followed by the letter  K.

There was no option of switching to the alphabet, nor putting in a letter, though letters were put under the numbers, as in the dear old Nokias we used before smartphones.  But I couldn’t find out how to get hold of one.

I have accounts at two banks, darlings, because I don’t trust anyone fully, least of all those who have my money.  So instead, I transferred the money to my other bank and then went through the rigmarole again.  And this time it was fine, except it didn’t give me a choice of several HMRC references (PAYE, Self Assessment and half a dozen others) but just one.  So pfft.  It was sure to be fine, I said anxiously.  And typed my reference in twice, numbers and letter because I was given the option that time, and then noticed they didn’t match, so had to check where I’d made a mistake.

And then I was asked for my password.  I blanked.  I had no idea and stared at it for at least a minute.  I’d already logged on, so it couldn’t be that … it didn’t take too long, I remembered it and put it in and it’s all gone through, I trust.  Well, trust is a strong word, innit?  I almost cried on LT’s shoulder, but just leaned on it for a bit instead.  Sheer anxiety made me lose my marbles for a minute.  Dear oh dear.

Anyway, let’s go on to much more interesting news.  I have finally got my clarinet tuned and serviced and it’s amazingly easy to play, now that it’s been repaired.  I feel quite excited and will certainly take the lessons I’ve been saying I will for ages and ages.  In fact, I’ll email about them Right Now.

Herding chickens

I think herding cats would have been easier.  It is with my Barn Cats, anyway.  I’ve still got a mother and five few-month-old chicks, which have been in the greenhouse in a coop for several weeks, but which they were outgrowing.  I wanted to move them into the bigger enclosed run and had just been waiting for milder weather.

Back in the summer, when I had all that complete misjudgement of bantam-monitoring, resulting in the hatching of more than two and a half dozen chicks, I ran out of coops and my gardener, Wince, made me a couple more.  But the traditional triangular one (it’s in 3D, what do you call that?  A cylinder, were it round, but it’s triangular, like a Toblerone without the segments) only had one point of entry, so if the chickens were at the other end, they were out of reach.  LT came with me, to chivvy them – but they are too tame to be frightened, not tame enough to come to me.  So it was a bit tricky and I got a bit hot and bothered.  I managed it in the end, though, let the mother out with the other bantams and penned up the young’uns.

After that, I wanted a mug of strong black coffee and a sit-down.

This evening, the mother went back in the big run with the others, so that’s all right.

The five Barneys are still doing very well, by the way and are actually looking rather fat.  It may just be that they have thick coats of glossy fur, of course.  Betty is the latest to befriend me and now weaves round my feet with her brothers Zain and Fred.  Barney is still cautious, but I catch him starring at me with his amber eyes.  He nearly trusts me.

Z giggles

Tim and I both enjoy crosswords.  Quite often, we each start doing the crossword in our respective newspapers and ask for help when needed – funny how you can think of an answer for someone else when you’re stuck yourself.  Or sometimes, we work on one together and then, usually, one of us answers a clue and the other one works out why it fits the question.  I’m frequently the guesser and Tim is the one who works out why, or completely debunks it.  “AT isn’t a usual abbreviation for account?” he pointed out gently this evening.  I giggled.  It was true but at least I was trying (the first person who says “very trying” will be stared at pointedly).

We should have gone to lunch with Al and co tomorrow, but young Hadrian has a stomach bug, so it’s been put off.  So we’re going to Roses and her Lawrence instead, which is very good and sociable.  Next week, we’re planning to meet Tim’s sister for lunch.  She lives in Norfolk, not too far away and we’re Facebook friends, but we haven’t met yet.  It’s high time, clearly.

Weeza and co came over today, for Phil to cut up more logs for me and to be sociable.  It’s all very friendly around here suddenly.  I’m dropping my morose and sullen air as if it had never existed.  Which maybe it hadn’t.

Hippy anniversary

As I said, it’s a week of anniversaries.  Six years ago today, my leg was cut off and put back on again with a new ball and socket hammered in.

What I most remember (though I blogged the experience, including the experience of feeling like a post being banged into the ground) is the middle of the night, gritting my teeth because the analgesics had worn off but not asking for more because the post-operative pain wasn’t worse than arthritis.  I was a twit for not having the operation sooner.

Next one coming up, don’t know if it’ll be months or a year or two,  but it’ll be fine, darlings.  I’ll just keep setting off the alarms at airports.


It was my blogfriend Steg who got me started.  I’ve just looked it up, December 2007.  I promised him I’d become a blood donor and I have a tendency to keep promises; I’ve just completed the 20th donation.

The plumber, V, who is also a friend, was due to call in and see Roses – we’ve a number of jobs to be done in both houses.  Roses sent me a text to say he wasn’t going to make it and will come tomorrow instead.  I know why he couldn’t run late – as I was leaving, he was waiting to go in, sipping his pint of water.

I have the urge to move furniture – I have warned LT, who is due to arrive tomorrow.  Of course, I may decide to move it all back again, if I feel mercurial or in need of the exercise.  I love moving stuff about, I’m both very patient and easily bored.