Monthly Archives: April 2016

One room takes weeks to clear

I’m still plugging away at the study.  Yesterday, I emptied the cupboard and both bookcases, cleared my desk and decided to shift furniture about a bit.  I didn’t like the first efforts, though, and finally decided to swap the cupboard and the bigger bookcase.  The cupboard took some moving – I had to get behind it and use the wall to shove against.  It’s solid oak, taller than I am and about 3 foot 6 inches wide.  The bookcase is not as wide nor as deep, but is taller.  The other bookcase and desk, having been tried in various places, have been returned to their original homes.  At least I was able to hoover where they’d been.

The rest of the day was spent going through everything I’d taken out.  I’ve filled three binbags, plus a boxful of paper, and most of the rest has gone on one shelf or another.  The end is in sight, albeit on the horizon.

Last night, I retreated to bed fairly early with the papers.  Tonight, I’ll do the same – that’s two lots of newspapers to read, then.  I’ve read in bed all my life until the last couple of years, but now I’ve lost the knack and have a worrying tendency to fall asleep instead.  I think I mentioned, while I was staying with LT, that I’d written to a friend but then discovered I didn’t have his address.  I’ve received a long, hand-written letter in return.  I’ll have to write to him too, a real letter this time.  He said he’d accidentally deleted my letter before he had a chance to read it, and I have the distinct feeling that this would happen to any email, were I not to take the hint.  So I will.  I like him too much not to do what he prefers.

It’s been a fine, sunny day, most unexpectedly.  Wince, my gardener, has been constructing a walkway for the chickens.  LT and I will put netting over the many missing panes in the big greenhouse, which will hugely increase the area they have to frolic in.  I can’t let them range free any more, sadly.  I can’t bear it any more, much as I like to see them wandering round the garden and field. If they didn’t lay away, it would be a different matter, but I can’t have it any more.

Move ’em on, head ’em up, head ’em up, move ’em on…

LT and I talked about the loose wire in the fence to the bullocks’ field.  But it was only one strand of five and I thought it’d be all right for the time being.  The weather was horrid and I was going to get it done soon – anyway, I was quite wrong.  There was a knock at the door this afternoon and it was the postman.  He gave me my letters and told me there was a cow in the drive.

A bullock on the grass, but near enough.  I went to work out how I could drive it back without it going on the road or the other six escape, but I saw sense, for once, and went to bother Roses and her Man.  They came out straight away and we managed to get the lad back in.  With wire and bailer twine, we patched up the fence and I said I’d get it mended asap.

Ten minutes later, the amused bullock had flicked up the wire and twine and was out again.  This time, he was much harder to drive back and I phoned Jonny the farmer.  He asked if it could wait until the morning?  No, not really.  So he promised someone would come as soon as possible.  In the meantime, Roses positioned herself by the fence, ready to drive back the little guy whenever he put a foot through the fence.

They’re nowhere near as big as cows but they’re very inquisitive and friendly and as mischievous as you’d expect young animals to be.  They aren’t in the least afraid and try to munch on your clothes when you stroke them.  And, when you stop stroking, they push their head under your hand to ask you to start again.

The farmer duly arrived, drank the cup of tea I’d just made for Roses and mended the fence – so tightly that the gate catch was pulled over so that it didn’t latch.  So some more running repairs were required.  I noticed that the water butt was overflowing again – they’d knocked off the lid of the header tank and were able to unscrew the ballcock; we’ve been searching for the lid for a fortnight and not found it and all the temporary repairs were treated as amusements by the young’uns.  He found that they’d knocked the lid in the main tank (I hadn’t fished in very enthusiastically because the water was damn cold and I’d had a look and thought it wasn’t there), so got it out and wired it in place.  LT had taken measurements to make a wooden replacement, but luckily hadn’t started that yet.

It’s fun, living here.  There’s always something a bit unusual happening.  Lovers of routine might find it unsettling, but everyone else loves it.

Z stacks the dishwasher

I had some leftover mashed potato.  Not enough for two, but too much to throw away.  So, as the fishmonger would be calling in the morning – i.e. today – I said I’d make fishcakes.

It’s not that making fishcakes is a vast amount of work, but they do engender an awful lot of washing up, for such a simple meal.

First, I cooked the fish.  1 pan

Then I put the potato in a bowl with some tarragon and lemon zest.  1 bowl, 1 grater, 1 brush, 1 pair of scissors.

I mixed them.  1 spoon.

I made them into fishcakes and put them on a floured plate.  1 plate.

I cracked a couple of eggs, beat them and put them on a plate.  1 bowl, 1 fork, 1 plate.

I cut a couple of chunks of bread and whizzed them in the food processor. I put them on a plate. 1 knife, 1 bowl and chopper. 1 plate.

I dipped the floured fishcakes into the egg, then the breadcrumbs, and put them on another plate.  1 plate – the fourth.

I chilled them for half an hour or so, then fried them and drained them on kitchen paper.  1 pan, 1 plate for draining and 1 serving dish.

I also made fennel sauce, which involved a saucepan for the béchamel, another for the fennel, a pan to finish it in butter and the food processor to whizz it all.  With it, we had asparagus.  Another saucepan.

The dishwasher was full by this time and LT had washed most of the pans at least once.  Still, there are a couple of fishcakes over, so I know what I’ll be having for dinner tomorrow.  And there’s rather a lot of fennel sauce, which I think I can make into a soufflé.  Because Tim is going back to his other home tomorrow for a few days, so I’ll be alone and having to comfort-eat.  But not comfort-washing-up, because that’s a bit absurd.

What is also absurd is that we had not enough potato or fish for two portions but, mixed, there was too much.  I don’t quite get it.

Z has spent time with Rog, and it shows…

We went to stay with Weeza and the children last night – Phil was away visiting a friend and then his parents.  It was lovely and the children were adorable.  Since Weeza and Phil are still having work done in the house, they’re without a spare bedroom at present so Zerlina shared with her brother and we took her room – they both have beds that can be converted to doubles or twins.

Unrecognised bon mot of the day – we were making a beef casserole and it was to include mushrooms.  We decided not to put them in at the start, but add them an hour or so later.  “We mustn’t forget,” observed LT.  “You mushroomember this,” I warbled in return – and he blanked it entirely, darlings.  He claimed afterwards that he hadn’t heard me.  Hmmm.

Z is frustrated

I’ve spent a rather frustrating half hour editing the video of Eloise cat and her ball – frustrating because iVideo is a really annoying programme and it took me ages to get anywhere, and then it was still too big a clip.  Pity, it was an amusing little piece.

Anyway.  back to today…

It was warm and sunny yesterday, so I put the tortoises in their run.  One of the Tots was nowhere to be found when I went to fetch them back.  Natasha had a chilly night out, but I unearthed her this morning.  I’m patient with most things unless they are computer-related, but she tested me.  It wasn’t warm enough for them today so I kept them in.  They’ll go out on nice days and full time from May.

I was tested again, rather more, this afternoon.  I’ve been getting a lot of cold calls on my phone, to my fury.  Yet, I have been pretty polite, but I get rid of the caller and block the number.  I’ve been increasingly assertive however – but this afternoon’s call, to try to get me ‘compensation’ for having been mis-sold a fee-paying bank account, was the worst yet.  Now actually, I’ve never had a fee-paying bank account (nor have I ever been sold payment protection, come to that) but I didn’t say that.  I asked bluntly why I was being cold-called, said that the call was unwelcome and requested to be removed from their list.  The man kept telling me about the *problem.*  I told him again, explaining that it wasn’t his business whether or not I’d been sold this product, I was not interested in his service.  He started his spiel again.  This went on for two full minutes, with him not replying when I told him I wanted to be removed, but rather telling me about the ruddy *service* he was offering.  I asked if the call was being recorded and he said it was – I repeated that I did not intend to talk to him and I trusted that my complaint would be logged.  In the end, I had no option but to interrupt, saying I’d cancel the call and block the number, and so I have.  It was from Manchester, 0161 741 4000.  An hour and a half earlier, I’d had a cold call from London, 020 3137 6110.  I’ve had several others this week, both on land line and mobile – the telephone preference service is useless and I hope that the government just bans the bastards, I’m more than fed up.

In every other way, things are lovely, of course.  LT and I are scheming a way to give the bantams more space without letting them out.  We’re ventilating the big greenhouse by either removing panes of glass or not replacing broken ones, and netting the gaps (using a staple gun and … um … netting) but we’re still scheming the tunnel between the chicken house and the greenhouse.  We need help with a heavy mallet and I’ll have to phone a friend.

LT is adorable.  I can’t think why he puts up with me, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

Z and LT are invited for lunch

Today was a very special occasion, as we had been invited to lunch by Rog and Mrs Rine.  First, I had to go and be a governor, and a stern one at that, and then we drove over to Norwich to pick up my clarinet.  It cost nearly £40 to replace the key on my clarinet, which was mostly for the work involved – I don’t begrudge it, it’s skilled work and must have taken quite some time – and then headed off – entirely fortuitously, because I’d had to wait behind another customer, who was hiring an oboe for a grandchild, the timing worked out just right.  Rog and Paff live conveniently next to the village church, so their house is easy to find and we were fashionably prompt.  The weather was gorgeous, we sat drinking prosecco in the garden before going in for lunch, which was delicious, and then sat out in the garden again.  I’m sure we stayed longer than is remotely polite for a lunch date, but we were having such a good time.  Rog and LT had met at one blog party, but that was four years ago, so some catching up was in order.

Many thanks to you, Paff and Rog, for your warm hospitality.


I may have mentioned perfect meals before.  Indeed, you might have noticed that I’m rather obsessed with food – fortunately, LT is too, we seem to spend much of our time discussing the next meal.  We went to Simon the greengrocer today and bought the first Norfolk asparagus of the year.  I have to say, he might have had it for a few days but we haven’t been shopping.

He didn’t have British new potatoes though, surprisingly, so we left that and went to the Co-op and were quite impressed that they had proper, dirty Jersey Royals.  And yesterday, Paul the Fish had lovely fresh sea trout.  So that was dinner.  The sea trout baked en papillote, with just a splash of wine, a squeeze of lemon juice, a couple of springs of parsley and a pinch of salt.  The potatoes and asparagus, with a generous smear of butter.  That was it.  I might have whimpered with pleasure a bit, which we invented a word for, though I wouldn’t care to mention it here.

I don’t rule out a helping of Soan Papdi in a little while, though.

And we’re promised an Interim Dividend!

I went to the AGM of the Common Owners tonight, which felt quite exciting as it was the first time ever.  Not that the meeting was exciting, you understand, though it was interesting.  I said to LT on my return, I seem to understand quite a lot about the maintenance of agricultural land upkeep from an ecologically sound point of view (basically, if you care for it and don’t exploit it, there’s a good chance you’ll get an EU grant in recognition of your reduced yield), though I don’t flatter myself that it makes me a more interesting person.

I also received the programme for Snape Proms in the post, which is one of the little highlights of my year.  In the days when I couldn’t get away on holiday, concerts at Snape were my holiday.  More recently, I haven’t gone to as many, but I still love it there.  LT is thumbing through the programme now, in fact.  I suggested he mark anything he likes the look of and then I’ll do the same and then we’ll talk about it… though we have other plans for August too, so we’ll have to see how the timing goes.  Not that I’m big on looking ahead, on the whole.  Impulsive and mercurial, is how I like to portray myself.

That’s nonsense, of course.  But it’s how I like to portray myself.


Z has a hammer. And we hammered in the morning.

I’ve had a bit of a problem with the youngest, smallest bantams getting out and I knew there were some gaps between the chicken run and the barn it leant on.  So we went out with hammer, nails and staples and a length of chicken wire, and we plugged the gaps.  I’ve still not found the missing pot eggs though – clearly, a rat came in to explore, thought he was on to a winner and carried away china eggs.  Three of them.  I’ve only got three left and Roses has two, of the eight originals.  Those barn cats are not doing their duty, it seems.  That is, I can’t think of any other explanation.

After we’d done this work, LT and I thought we deserved a drink, so took ourselves off to the village pub for a pint (each, natch).  And I introduced him around and we were clearly eyed up and the situation was approved.  And then we went home, I picking tortoise weeds on the way, and I cooked ham and eggs for lunch and then we went out to the greenhouse to pot up tomato seedlings.  We had intended to plant out broad beans, but it seemed like a bit more effort than was warranted for a Sunday afternoon.  Maybe tomorrow.  It’s not the planting out, it’s also the netting against chickens and pigeons that’s a bother.

I spent some of the time in the greenhouse rescuing bees, of both the honey and bumble sort.  They always do it, fly into the greenhouse because it’s the direction they want to go, and then can’t work out how to exit.  They’re very single minded.  Later, LT pointed out that a butterfly was trapped.  It was a cabbage white, so I left it to its own devices.

My clarinet is in for repair, because a key broke, as I mentioned a week or so ago.  I hope that it can be mended – it’s either going to be a simple job or a massive one, there’s nothing in between.  It’s possible I may need another clarinet, at any rate in the interim.  I’m quite anxious, really.  As it’s my grandfather’s instrument and all I have of his, it means a lot to me.  I should know by next Thursday.  Fingers crossed.  Not that one can play the clarinet with fingers crossed.


He’s my nicotine bor….

Two early starts, so I sloped off to bed in good time in readiness, which meant no blogging.  I can see why people fall by the blogside in such numbers, but that truly is not what I wish to happen.

I did some Governor training this morning – Named Safeguarding Governor training, to be accurate – and it was done excellently.  I have done a lot of governor training over the past twenty-seven and a half years and it’s been of immensely variable quality, but this was among the best. And the flapjacks were nice too.  Those who’d booked had cancelled in droves over the last few days, so there were only seven of us there and we were all experienced governors who clearly knew quite a lot, so any questions were pertinent and thought through, and the trainer whipped through the whole thing in two and a half hours instead of three and a half (the format allowed for two coffee breaks, which we clearly didn’t need).  We got coffee and yummies and scooted straight back, to finish asap.  I am going to get a sustificate and everything, as long as I remember my log-in to governor training.

This afternoon, I did a bit more office sorting-out.  This is taking weeks and I will – I jolly well will – end up with a tidy study at the end of it.  I was putting CDs on a shelf today.  LT watched me.  Apparently, we’ve a fair bit of music in common, though he’s got a lot more than I have, and more of mine is classical.  He hasn’t got a Singing Postman  CD, though.