Monthly Archives: May 2016

Tim is lovely and he writes a good book – and plays a mean guitar

When Lovely Tim finally arrived yesterday, and after he’d received tea and sympathy (too late for lunch by then) he showed me an email he had received from a chap in California.


Just wanted to let you know that I bought a copy of your book (after seeing it reviewed in UGLY THINGS), and I wanted to tell you that I think you did a great job! I’m really pleased that you wrote this book, and happy to have it. 

As a thank you, I thought I’d pass along something I spotted on the web that you MAY not have seen, from an interview with Jeremy Spencer:

“What was the first gig you ever went to & what were the first songs you learned?”

“The first gig of real note for me was seeing Dave Anthony’s Moods in Birmingham, 1966. I enjoyed the guitar player.”

To set the context – the journalist who’d reviewed the book sent his review to Tim before Christmas, to be checked for accuracy and, after making one factual correction, he sent it back again.

To continue setting the context, Jeremy Spencer was one of the original guitar players with Fleetwood Mac.  And Tim was the guitar player with the Moods.  Here  and here, for example.

He was pleased.  And I’m mighty proud.  He won’t blog about it, he’s too modest.  I’m not.

The book is here.

Z plays the clarinet

I’ve made progress of a different sort, too.  Yesterday’s clarinet lesson was a bit of a breakthrough.  I have just started learning Brahms’ clarinet sonata No. 1 and finding it quite tricky – but really enjoying the challenge, and that’s the new thing.  Until now, I’ve mostly been regretting that I can’t play anywhere near as well as I used to (and I still can’t) but I’m starting to get the feel for it again.  I think that maybe I’ll start to improve, if I try hard enough, which I’ve doubted up to now.*

If you follow the link, by the way, he plays the whole thing and I’ve only got as far as one and a half pages out of eleven, it takes nearly half an hour, and he’s playing at full speed, which I probably never will.

LT is on his way here, but he phoned an hour or so ago to let me know that the M11 was closed and he was in a massive tailback.  I’ve looked it up online since and it’s a vehicle fire and the road was blocked.  Yet this was first reported just before 10.30 am and he phoned me around 11.45.  So why hadn’t they diverted traffic?  We’ve been using motorways quite a lot since October, visiting each other (or going from home to home, as we describe it) and the ‘smart’ motorway signs are anything but.  Very often, there will be a temporary speed limit which goes on for several miles with no sign of a reason for the delay – this is not to regulate traffic flow, signs say there’s an incident or animals on the highway or a blockage or whatever, but there actually rarely is.  And then suddenly the speed restriction is lifted and no one has a clue why.  But when it’s actually a major problem, completely closing the road, it seems that nothing is done in time for it to be any use.  A month or two ago, we were on our way here and, again, there was an accident on the M11, going the other way this time.  The stationary traffic stretched for more than ten miles, nearly to the junction with the A11.  You’d think they’d stop traffic joining the road there – it’s not a ‘smart’ motorway so physical signs would be needed – but no – we saw cars with carefree drivers who had no idea that, within half a mile, they’d be stuck solid, possibly for another hour or two.  As we’d driven past the accident ten minutes earlier, recovery vehicles were just arriving.

Anyway, he’s now, at 1.15, an hour later than he’d hoped to arrive and I don’t know how much longer he’ll be.  I’ve made asparagus soup for lunch.  With croutons.

Update at 1.45 – traffic still hasn’t moved and no sign of it.  Poor Tim!


*This is more hopeful and enthusiastic than it sounds, I’m being realistic.


Progress is made at the Zeddary!

It’s a few days since I’ve blogged and I apologise – it’s because I’ve moved the computer back into the study.  I can blog on the iPad or the phone, but I am less likely to.  And LT and I spend the evening cooking, eating, talking – we never watch television either.

But he’s away for a couple of nights and, even if he were here, I’d have written because I wouldn’t let the blog slide for too long.

The scrap metal pile has been gradually removed over the last week or so and it’s finally gone.  This is wonderful.  There’s still a certain amount of clearing to do, mostly firewood that needs to be chopped or sawn, but there’s a huge difference and I’m very pleased.

The chickens love their new greenhouse extension and have become used to going back and forth.  When I opened the tunnel for the first time, it took seconds for the boldest hen to check it out, but they’re also quite biddable about going home again.  Although, the second day, a pair of partridges managed to find a weak spot, high up in the netting, and get into the greenhouse. Of course, they couldn’t get out again and, when I strolled out to check all was well, I found that they were panicking and dashing themselves against the glass.  I chivvied the chickens into the tunnel, opened the door and the partridge tried to fly through it, missed and broke a pane of glass instead.  I was able to catch it and let it go and it ran away luckily, and then LT and I double-meshed the gap again.  But I still had to corner and catch the other partridge.  They’re sweet but a bit dim.

Yesterday, I’m afraid I had to dispose of three cockerels.  I feel dreadful about this, it’s happened too many times in the last few months.  There is not an alternative, I’m sorry to say and it isn’t going to happen again because I won’t have a cock bird again.   If we still want chickens in the long term, we’ll buy some or engage the services of a friend’s cockerel for a few days.  It’s all been too distressing.  The two chicks whose colouring I liked best turned out to be cocks, sadly.  I didn’t do the deed myself, a kind and understanding friend did it.

In fact, he and his wife invited us round for the evening on Saturday, which was absolutely lovely.  There were four other people, two of whom I’d met several times over the years and another couple, I knew her slightly and him not at all.  Tim was sociable and lovely as always, so it went very well.

After Tim left this morning, I felt flat and lonely so I went and did some shopping. Food, mostly.

Z goes clubbing

We went over to my colleague’s house to pick up china for the auction and then I took LT for lunch at the Yacht Club.  I’ve been a member there for my whole life, pretty well, first as a Junior Member and later joined officially, as it were, at whatever age was considered adult then, 18 or 21.  My parents and grandparents were very involved with things in a way I haven’t been for years.  Actually, now I think of it, some five years after my father died, my mother and stepfather met there.  And my wedding celebration was held there.  I’ve hardly visited at all in the last few years, but it is dear to me in a way I can hardly analyse.

Anyway, I had fruit juice and LT had Adnam’s and we shared a charcuterie platter and then went to look at the South Beach, which used to be a lovely sandy one until they built a new inner harbour at Great Yarmouth, up the coast, and an unintended consequence was that all the sand washed away.  They’ve recently constructed banks of huge stones to break the waves and retain the sand and it’s looking a lot better.

It was my 21st blood donor session, I was told this afternoon.  I seem to have managed quite well without those armfuls, so hope it’s been of use to less fortunate people.  LT is kindly cooking dinner so that I can rest.  Omnomnomelettes, tomato salad and chips.  “Shall I get the chips out of the freezer, darling?” I offered.  “That would be very kind, darling,” he replied.  “It’s a pleasure.” We’re very polite.

It runs in the family, actually.  Weeza was telling us that Zerlina is very much liked by the mothers of her friends because she has picked up our family’s way of speaking.  “Would you be kind enough to get me a glass of water, please?” for example.  “May you give me some fruit?” That ‘may you’ isn’t exactly perfect English doesn’t seem to matter at all, it’s all the more charming.  It all reflects wonderfully well on her parents of course, too.

Z and LT cast a net

I said,a couple of weeks ago, that I was planning to net the greenhouse and use it as a hen run extension – we’re well on the way to having that completed.  Wince, my gardener, has made the connecting tunnel between the run and the greenhouse, I’ve bought the netting and, today, LT and I started attaching it.  Though we first had to scrub the damn greenhouse.  And then I put coolglass on the south side.

It went rather better than we expected, actually, the netting having proved quite biddable, and we’ve done the necessary part of one side, which is about a third of the job.  Tim is pretty saintly, it has to be said.  Even when I accidentally sprayed him a little bit with the hose, he took it with complete good nature.

I’m taking him out to lunch tomorrow.  To my club.

Sense and sentimentality

There is always so much stuff that one doesn’t know what to do with, yet does not feel able to get rid of.  I’ve got a couple of boxes full and I’ll have to go through them again and make some sort of a storage or filing system.  An affectionate anniversary card from my mother, for instance.  Old school reports of the children and letters from when they were abroad.  An invitation to an Indian wedding, various photos, receipts, valuations – all to be sorted out in future.  At least, nearly everything has been put somewhere, though one final armchair is still a dumping ground.  I’ve let go of so much sentiment but I can’t see any reason to throw it all away, it would feel like a rejection of so much of the past and I don’t want to do that.  I’ve been pleased to find things again that had been stored away for years, in some cases and that seemed enough reason to keep some of them.

Someone I know is doing up an old building and he wanted to buy some oak I’ve got in an outhouse – just a few pieces, so it hasn’t actually cleared a space.  He also rescued an old tin bath from the scrap heap, that I’d thrown away because it had rusted through at the base in several places, but which he wants to use as a planter.  Just as well he came today as my friend who’s clearing it for me came this evening to fill his van with the first lot.  Also just as well, I noticed several angle irons on there and rescued them myself, as they’re useful.  It was raining when he came, so I didn’t go out.  It’s been a cloudy day, mostly, so the tortoises stayed under cover, which does them no harm at all – if they don’t move, they don’t use much energy so don’t really need to eat.

More paperwork tomorrow, but this’ll be current stuff.  I’ll give it two hours and hope to get some useful work done.

Z makes progress and Eloise cat approves

I have, at least, got as far as moving the computer back into the study.  It used to live here all the time, but then it occurred to me that it was so much warmer in the room where there’s a fire in the winter, that I might as well have it there and move back here in summer.  Then, two or three years ago, the room became so cluttered that it was a dumping ground and – well, it’s on the way to being cleared.  I’ve decided to get new curtains, though.  So it’s all still a work in progress.  Although I intend to finish tomorrow, apart from curtains, I suspect I’ll miss the deadline.

Last night, I went to stay at Ro and Dora’s house, because they were at a friend’s wedding and it was too long to leave their cat, Jasper.  I fed Eloise, then spent the evening and night at their house and came back about 8.30 this morning, to feed animals here before church.  There weren’t many of us in church and I couldn’t really hear the singing, which is a disadvantage.  For one thing, hearing the words helps me to keep track of how many verses I’ve played, which can be tricky.

Eloise heartily approves of my bringing the computer here, by the way.  She rubs herself on it and purrs and walks over the desk and purrs and stands on the keyboard and purrs.  She can also sit on the windowsill behind the desk, and ask to be let in and out of the window.

The tortoises are also pleased to be outside in their run now.  When the weather has been fine and I’ve taken them out, I’ve also brought them back in overnight.  But the forecast is mild tonight and, unless there’s a really cold snap, I’ll leave them out there for the next four months.  They prefer it and I do too.  I have been raising weeds out there for them.

Because I’m in the study, typing, I haven’t lit the fire and, though it’s been a glorious spring day, it’s getting chilly now.  So I might retreat to bed with my iPad and the papers.