Monthly Archives: March 2016

Midnight in …

I had a clarinet lesson this evening. Cheryll sprung this on me – she had given me the music a few weeks ago but I’d laughed and put it aside. I don’t do demisemiquavers*. But she issued a challenge.

I’m working on it.

  • let alone hemidemisemiquavers.

Random snippets from Z’s day

Today, we’ve mostly been virtuously using up leftovers.  Not that raw vegetables are left over, exactly, but we had bought rather too much for the weekend.  And there were actual leftovers too.  So we had cheese, ham and sausage for lunch and shepherd’s pie for dinner.  We also made leek and potato soup and carrot, leek and I’m not sure what else soup, both with ham stock.  The fridge would be almost empty, if it weren’t for all that soup.

I’m still turning out my study, which is taking many hours of work.  Paperwork going back to 2004 clearly doesn’t need to be kept.  I found £3 in an envelope, which was the best bit.

The youngest pullets keep getting out of the run.  They don’t go far, but hover around waiting to be let in.  I’m pretty sure they can only get out because they’re still quite small – there’s a gap high up, if they can get up there, or there’s a gap through to the barn which the cats use, I don’t know which, if either, is the one they can squeeze through.  I’m not going to fuss too much about it, as long as they always go back at night.  I suppose they’ll grow too large after a while.

I phoned a friend this evening and she’d invited us to a party (which wasn’t what I’d rung for, as a matter of fact), which is jolly nice.  It’s not until the end of July, but that just makes it all the more to look forward to.

As promised …

… Photos.

Cake. Some more was eaten after lunch today, but there was still a third of it to go home with them this evening.

IMG_4381 IMG_4380

A Pink Ginless – which is not what I’m about to drink tonight. Alcohol is certainly happening this evening.

Eloise cat settled down for a peaceful nap. In LT’s usual place on the sofa, unsurprisingly, but he good-naturedly sat in an armchair instead.


For no particular reason, except that the site is loading pictures beautifully this evening, here are two nice little sparrowbeak jugs that will be in my auction this October. DSCF8179

Today, news. Tomorrow, photos.

Sunday lunch went very well, though our numbers were depleted considerably.  First Al and co had to cry off as I’ve said, because of flu, then Dora wasn’t well so Ro came over on his own.  So there were eight of us instead of fourteen.  But we had a good day and Zerlina and Gus are still here, because I like to have them over for a few days in the holidays if possible.

Little z was a bit upset last night, missing her parents, and I cuddled down with her in bed for a while – once she’d gone to sleep all was well, and there was no repeat of the situation tonight because we’d had a lovely day.  I’m going to have to stop calling her little z before long, I’ve a feeling she’ll be taller than I am within a couple of years.  We’ve got a wall against which all the family has been measured over the years and the children love to compare their height *now* with a few months ago.  In z and Gus’s case, they are growing like the lankiest sort of weeds, especially Zerlina.  She is still only seven years old and won’t be eight until mid-August, but she is already 139 cm tall.  She’s about three inches shorter than her aunt Rouk and I’m only five foot two, she’ll catch up with both of us in no time. I last measured her six weeks ago and she’s grown appreciably since then.  She’s thin as a stick, which isn’t surprising.

While the children were polishing off sausages and mash this evening, we were talking about family birthdays and ages, and I wrote a list – we all were born between 20th March and 30th September (not in the same year, clearly) and, once I’d written them all in birthday order, I numbered them in order of age too.  LT came first and Ro and Dora’s unborn baby came fifteenth, of course (and could only have an expected month).  Zerlina and Gus really liked it.

Very strong winds today but only a few branches down, nothing awful.  We spent most of the day indoors, but will probably be out and about tomorrow.  Wink left for home a bit later than she’d originally planned as the weather was improving as the morning continued.  We’re sure that we’ll see each other a lot more this year than last, she was away a lot so didn’t come here much, and I visited Ziggi as much as possible, which pretty well wiped out everything else, and I’m so glad I made her my priority.

I kept the chickens indoors again today, it was far too windy to let them out.  Except I did, accidentally, one of the young ones, as Roses found when she went to fetch more hay for her chooks’ bedding.  So we cornered her and I swep’ her up in the net and put her back, and then I noticed three eggs laid in the outside run, so went and fetched them.  Then I thought I’d better put straw in there – I should explain.  The chickens’ favourite nesting place, which has three divisions but is big enough for at least five, is presently occupied by three chickens who keep stealing their china eggs from each other.  There are three other nest boxes, but the girls want to lay in the other place, but its occupants won’t let them, so eggs tend to be laid on the ground.  Anyway, I put in an armful of straw and one chicken immediately sat on it – I went back for more and they all had come rushing in by then and were scratching around joyfully.  I chucked in some food, to give them a reward for their searching, but I feel rather mean that I’m keeping them in most days.  It’s a big run, they’ve got ample room, and I’m working on a solution – but no more chicks.

Anyway, we used half a dozen eggs to make cake.  Tomorrow, I will put up pictures of this splendid concoction.  Right now, I’m going to finish reading the papers – not that I read the news nowadays, if I can possibly avoid it.

The very slow great escape

Calling it the result of climate change might be a bit OTT, but the fact is, British Bank Holidays are normally wet and unseasonably cold.  And yesterday, Good Friday, was relatively warm and very sunny.  So I put the tortoises in their outside run for a bask and scamper in the sunshine.  All three set off enthusiastically, so I left them to it for a few hours, then went to fetch them in again.

Anastasia likes to nestle down by a large stone under the hebe.  Natasha prefers to go behind a large lump of chalk in the cold frame.  Last time I put them out on a sunny day, Edweena snuggled into a large clay pot – but I had put that in their indoor run, since she liked it so much, and forgotten to replace it.  Edweena was nowhere to be found.

So I spent quite some time cautiously digging anywhere that looked as if it might have been disturbed.  I knew the sides of the enclosure were too high for her to climb out.  But eventually, I twigged that the pile of bricks that used to have a window pane lodged on it, for an alternative basking area, was climbable and, maybe, Edweena had escaped.  But hey, she was surely still in the kitchen garden.  Because it’s pretty large – around 60 feet by 90 feet, at a guess – and, though it was possible that one of the two gates might have been ajar, what were the odds that she’d found it?  So I reckoned that she’d turn up in a day or two.

By this time, LT had come to find me, because I’d been gone an unexpectedly long time and he wondered if I’d fallen over or something.  I explained, rather more briefly than I have here, and said I was going to feed the chickens and outdoor cats, and I set off to the Ups and Downs.  A minute later, he called me.  “Before you go, just come and see this…”  And there was something to see on the lawn.  Sodding Edweena had, indeed, found the slightly opened gate, having walked some 15 yards to do so, gone down the path, over the drive, through the shrubbery and onto the lawn, where she looked very happy indeed.  LT said that Eloise had spotted her first and pointed her out.  I picked up the tortoise, who was too relaxed even to kick as she usually does, and returned her to her indoor run.

In other news … I’ve continued the turning-out of my study.  And I found a missing Victorian corkscrew and the address book.  I haven’t found Ben-dog’s vaccination record yet, but I still have hope.

The whole family was due for lunch tomorrow, but Alex and co are ill with flu.  Weeza, whose family has already had it, says that a friend was tested and it’s actually swine flu and quite nasty.    The rest of us will be here – Wink has gone to stay with Weeza and co tonight, so LT and I are Derby-and-Joaning.

LT pitches in

The Rector chose a hymn that wasn’t in the book.  It was on t’Internets, obvs, but it’s still in copyright.  I meekly paid for the download.  It was easier than asking round for someone who had a copy of the sheet music – and, after all, the writer of the “worship song” (sigh) is worthy of his hire.

We also went to buy flowers.  It was more convenient to get them at the Co-op than the florist but blimey, some of the colours were garish.  Flowers had clearly been dyed, in some cases – I think it’s done by adding dye to the water, which turns the petals a bright and unconvincing blue.  Anyway, I managed to get some roses, lilies and tulips that hadn’t been genetically modified, so I’m in business, once I pick some greenery.  I seem to have risen from the ranks to those who Decorate The Easter Altar.  Which just means the real flower arrangers weren’t available.  I know nothing, but fake confidence with aplomb,

This afternoon, we lit the bonfire.  LT is really taking to this country life and entered into the spirit of the thing with considerable gusto, wielding a pitchfork with nonchalant ease and an air of having the hell of an idea what he was doing.  I left it to him in the end and went to feed chickens.

I realised that we hadn’t seen Eloise for a few hours, so we called and searched a bit and then I went to ask Roses if she’d been there, which she hadn’t since the morning, so LT went upstairs to look again; and then I remembered the last time she’d sneaked into the car.  And she’d done it again and had been in there for six hours.  She was quite calm about it, but followed me about for a while once I’d let her out and I was sorry to have to leave her to go and play for the Maundy Thursday service (for which I’d needed the downloaded sheet music).  She made an exaggerated fuss of LT when I got back, to punish me, but eventually agreed to share my dinner – which was rather nice, actually, chicken breast baked with fennel with a fennel and cream sauce.  It was adapted from a Sophie Grigson recipe.

We’ve eaten particularly well today, in fact.  I had a perfectly ripe avocado and happened to have some smoked salmon in the fridge.  We’d been to the market and bought lots of stuff for an absurdly low price, including fresh dates (half a pound for £1) and raspberries (2 sizeable punnets for £2) and 6 red, orange or yellow peppers for £1.  I don’t know how they do it.  Anyway, the avocado and salmon for lunch, followed by dates, chocolate digestives for tea (I know, darlings, but once the packet is opened, one has to eat them or they’ll go stale and be wasted on chickens) and then the aforementioned chicken dish, followed by raspberries, grapes and more dates for dinner.  Simple, unexpectedly cheap, but nice.

Oh, and I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned Tim’s Ginless Wonder?  Which is juniper berries, crushed, infused in tonic water, drained, then added to tonic and the usual G&T ingredients except the gin.  This evening, as I was going to hammer the ivories for a bit (one can hardly be said to tinkle at a church organ), I felt that gin in advance wasn’t the best idea.  So I had a Pink Ginless, which is a combination of Ginless Wonder and pink gin; i.e. juniper tonic and angostura bitters.  It’s actually rather good and a decent substitute for alcohol.  Yes, I know the angostura contains alcohol, but a shake only counts if you are a dedicated teetotaller, which I clearly am not.  And it was garnished with raspberries, at the suggestion of Tim’s niece, whom I haven’t yet met, but is clearly a girl to cherish.


Tim Hen Man

LT has become a chicken wrangler – or a chick wrangler at any rate which, come to look at it, seems to mean a quite different thing, so I’d better explain.

Yesterday, I managed to separate the three pullets from the two young cocks.  I let all the bantams out, which doesn’t happen often these days and, when they went to the hen house to roost in the evening, the three young girls joined them, as I’d hoped.  They are nice-natured chickens, who don’t tend to pick on individuals or newcomers.

This meant that the big coop was free and I could put the 8 week old (nearly) chicks in it from their little triangular pen.  But first we had to catch them and it wasn’t very easy, because Wince had made it, most kindly, but didn’t realise that the side needed to be openable in order to reach any part of the coop.  It took about half an hour and Tim, all unaided, caught several of the chickens for me, one with his bare hands!  The alternative was a net, I should add.

Anyway, the upshot was that they have all been caught and transferred, with their mother – I”d have put her back with her siblings/cousins, but she made it clear that she wanted to be with her babies.  The three pullets were a bit uncertain tonight, once they realised that their former home had been taken over, but they scuttled into the run when I threw food down.

I have four broody bantams.  They are all in a three-seater nest box, sitting on six china eggs.  It’s all very soothing in there.




Tim’s back, and so things are good again in this neck of the woods, with due respect and loving thoughts for Brussels and the latest appalling atrocity.

I’ve been putting off the time when I would phone my friend to come and deal with the surplus cockerels, but it had to be done sometime, so I gave him a ring yesterday.  And this morning, I managed to catch them separately and have put them in their own coop.  I feel quite dreadful about it, but there’s nothing else to be done.  He’ll come later this week.

The sun shone and it felt springlike, so I put the tortoises out in their run this morning.  They were very excited and scurried round at breakneck speed.  Later, when I went out again, they were all napping, so (after a search for Natasha, who had hidden) I brought them back again.  Early May is probably soon enough for them to stay out for the summer.

I washed the drawing room windows, which I’ve been meaning to do as soon as we had a mild day.  Looking at them, there’s a smear, though, so I’ll have to check whether it’s indoors or out.  I think I’ve done quite enough for one day, however, so if it’s on the outside it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.  I mean, sheesh.  That was six panes, both sides, it took great effort.  I’d meant to wash the porch windows too, but it was sunny in there so I sat and relaxed and didn’t listen to the news, not yet.

This afternoon, I’m going to sit next to Tim and hug him.


Happy birthday, Squiffany!

Squiffany, my eldest grandchild, is 11 today.  Imagine all the platitudes, so that I can resist the temptation to say them.  I called over this morning to give her her present – I don’t usually drop in unannounced but I took the precaution, in case they were out, of taking a bin liner and a ball of string, so that I could lower the parcel over their back garden gate and put a note through the door.

It was quite a large parcel and my birthday wrapping paper roll turned out to be not up to it.  So I used Christmas paper instead.

They were in, so I stayed for a chat.  Squiffany had had her birthday party yesterday and it sounded brilliant.  Al and Dilly are very imaginative and they’d gone to a load of trouble.  It had a Hunger Games theme (all the girls love the books and films) and they’d had them make shelters (foil survival blankets are two for £1 at Poundland and canes are £1 for a bundle), had little bottles of various ointments and medicines, had pictures of food to shoot (this was not animals and they used darts; it entitled them to their tea) and had a treasure hunt and various ‘ordeals’ and competitions.  The children had a great time and so, I suspect, did Al and Dilly; as much in the planning as at the party.

This afternoon, I helped with the children’s crafts at the Palm Sunday bash at the church – an hour of making things, then a service, then sausages and cake for tea.  There were two donkeys, which gave children rides outside first, then carried a girl who played Jesus into the church.  The donkeys had already been to St Paul’s and Southend today, which puzzled me slightly, I’m not sure why Norfolk donkeys were booked to go that far, but never mind.  One of the ‘crafts’, organised by the Rector’s wife, was making “donkey droppings” (i.e. chocolate truffles).

Tomorrow, a governors’ meeting.  After that, there are only two to go – a number of committee meetings in addition, I haven’t counted them up – but I’ll count them down.

Loneliness of the long-distance lover

It feels remarkable to me that, six months ago, I was comfortable with my single life and wished it to remain that way.  And then it all changed, over a few weeks and now, when we are necessarily apart, it feels quite wrenching.  But there we are, each of us can cope quite well and get on with things, sometimes things that are not so likely to happen when we’re together.

In my case, it was spending several hours ironing and watching House of Cards – which LT hasn’t seen from the beginning, so wouldn’t want to start from Series 4.  He has been turning out Stuff, I’m not too sure what.

Weeza has been very busy, largely helping friends.  There’s a close-knit group of four women (the couples are all friends but it’s the women in particular who are close) and the other three all had problems crop up, which involved Weeza’s time and emotional energy, if you’ll excuse the jargon.  So, since I was free today, I offered to go and help – not that I helped a lot, just took Zerlina to her riding lesson, waited and brought her home again, but it saved Phil an hour and a half, so he could go and fetch wood.

LT and I feel no obligation to speak or communicate daily, but we usually do.  The title of the post is misleading and exaggerated of course, though not hugely.  My friend Sheila, whose mother was my ma-in-law’s cousin, married an American and moved to Atlanta, has asked how we met.  She’s in her eighties and doesn’t use the internet, so I’m not sure if “through blogging” will mean much to her.  But I’ve met so many good friends through blogging – I haven’t met all of you yet and I don’t necessarily know who all of you are – and it’s been a revelation over the past ten years, what genuine friendships can evolve over the internet.  Tim and I – this wasn’t planned or expected, but evolved from really liking each other.  And we feel lucky.

Less than three days now (not fewer, because it’s more than two.