Monthly Archives: February 2017

Z is ready to snuggle

We’re still clearing.  The skip is now full and will be picked up tomorrow.  Finally, the remains of the old summerhouse have been removed and the wood burnt – I’ve kept the mechanism but I don’t suppose it’ll ever be used again.  The roofing felt has been taken off Kenny’s shed and some repairs are needed before it’s re-felted.  The outside of Roses’ garden fence has been painted with wood preservative, inside to be done still.  After that, it’ll be back to creosoting barns.  It’s creosote substitute of course, nowadays.

Various seedlings are up in the greenhouse – lettuce, various herbs, swiss chard and spinach and tomatoes are starting to sprout.  And the first daffodils are out on the grass by the drive.  In February, just.

We didn’t have pancakes tonight as we had pie for dinner and it would have been a bit much.  Maybe tomorrow.  I suspect I’m fonder of them than LT anyway, because I make them quite often for Zerlina and Gus and, as often as not, he doesn’t have one, whereas I usually do – though when you’ve cooked half a dozen, it’s enough to make you rather want one, to be fair.

I’ve been looking at some very nice china this afternoon while LT was being brave at the dentist.  And now, though it is quite early, I think it might soon be time for bed.  I’m ready for Summer Time when the clocks change, I’m no good with winter hours at my time of life.

Tip top tapping

We have a new kitchen tap as the old one was leaking. It wasn’t a matter of a new washer, it was leaking where it met the sink and water was trickling down into the cupboard beneath, as we discovered when we found a puddle on the floor.  Over the weekend, we’ve had a small heap of towels ready and replaced each in the cupboard as it became wet, drying them on the Aga rail in readiness for the next time.  Today, my plumber friend came round to check out the situation, asked what we wanted – simply a mixer tap with levers to switch on and off, not one you have to turn – and he said he’d try to get one today but it would be more likely tomorrow morning.  And he was back soon after two o’clock and fitted it for us, which was very good of him.  There are a couple of other little jobs to be done that are not urgent and he’ll come in the next week or so.

I had a post operation self-assessment to fill in online from the hospital and was able to report complete success in terms of movement, lack of pain and everything else.  Entirely positive except minor difficulty still in putting on socks – I know I’m bending that far, that is.  And if I put my foot up on a chair to tie a shoelace, it’s a bit of an effort with my left foot, no problem with my right.  I’ll be asked again in a few months, apparently.  There can’t be much more to say though – no pain, no limp, almost complete mobility.

After yesterday’s relatively strenuous work, I slept very well and didn’t wake until sometime after 7 o’clock.  Must work harder, clearly.  LT says I was talking in my sleep though.  I could only apologise, I remembered waking up to sneeze several times and then going straight back to sleep, but that wasn’t it.  He couldn’t make out what I was saying but I was talking in sentences.  Well, I can.  Sometimes.  Proper ones.

I managed to drop a spice jar onto a couple of eggs in a bowl yesterday and one of them cracked, so I put the contents into the fridge and the other egg in an egg box. But this morning, i discovered that the other one was cracked.  More mysteriously, one of the bantam eggs was broken too and it had been nowhere near the jar I’d dropped.  But I had to do something with all these eggs and so made some chocolate brownies.  Unfortunately, though my cold has receded, I can’t really taste anything so I don’t know how good the two I scoffed actually are.  I made them in the microwave.  I don’t cook much from scratch in there, but I always use it for brownies.  And sponge puddings.  I don’t think I’ve made one of those for LT yet.  We don’t normally eat puddings but once in a while, even when I was on my own, the wish for a proper pudding struck and I quickly made one in a few minutes, making custard while the microwave cooked the sponge.  Tonight, LT is cooking dinner – sea bass with green beans and mushrooms.

Life in Z yet

Now my hip is better and I’ve got young Stevo to help with odd jobs for a bit, we’re getting on with the clearing out again.  As I said, we’ve just about filled the skip – more went in today and there’s very little room left now.  Today, Phil came over and cut up more logs with his chain saw for LT to split – there’s still a lot to do but we’re plugging away.

In the meantime, I wanted to get a big, flat cart out that I’d accidentally blocked in the Dutch barn with pallets of tiles.  The only relatively easy way to do it was to dismantle the outdoor cats’ straw shelter and drag it round, moving various other things as we went.  It was quite hard work and we were glad to have Stevo’s help.  I put the straw bales back but I didn’t see the cats when I put their food down today.  They’ll be back tomorrow, I expect.

I also got out my pruning saw and cut down a few saplings that had self-seeded in inconvenient places.  One thing we had to move was a table tennis table that Russell had acquired a few years ago – not sure where he intended to put it but it’s now in the big workshop.  It can’t be used until the logs are cut up and stacked elsewhere, though.

I’d made leek and potato soup and bought chicken pie from the butcher for lunch, to make things easy.  And this evening, we’re finishing the salad and then last night’s curried beef.  It was really good to be able to get stuck in and work hard but I’m quite tired and achy now.  A pleasure to be able to do it though.

The chickens are finally laying again.  They aren’t a commercial breed, a mixture of common or garden bantams and old breeds of bantam, which are very seasonal layers.  I hadn’t had any eggs for well over a month.  But, from the 14 I have left (I thought it was 12 but I can’t count), we’ve had a dozen eggs since last Tuesday.  Before long, I expect we’ll be inundated.

Just got back from the windy … village

I went to stay with Weeza and family for a couple of days.  She had an operation on the cartilage of her left knee a week ago and wasn’t going to be able to drive for a few days.  Phil had taken the children to school and back on Monday and Tuesday, so I took over from Wednesday afternoon.

So that meant LT was ready to cope when the gale, Doris, blew.  I read on the news and Facebook that various trees had fallen and blocked roads in and around Yagnub, but we got away lightly here – just a couple of small panes broken in the roof of the chickens’ greenhouse and some minor branches and debris about.  No question of filling the skip that day though, but Wince has put in quite a lot of stuff today – it’s already about two thirds full.  Fingers crossed that everything will go in.  We’ve got a lot of green mesh from a polytunnel, so that has been used to cover the damaged bit of greenhouse – the panes could be replaced from the inside but it’s an awkward job and this will do just as well.

Weeza and I were at home when things were a bit hairy her way but she had phone calls from work – she works for a local landowner – mostly telling her about power cuts – apparently, a cable had been brought down by a fallen tree.  Knowing the roads had been affected, i wondered if we’d have any trouble getting to the school but she was confident locals would already be out with chainsaws and tractors, and so they were.  Most of the damage had already been cleared away by the time we needed to go out again.

Zerlina had a swimming lesson after school at the local high school so we went along to watch.  The tutor is a splendid woman, very authoritative but a good teacher.  Apparently, she’s eighty years old though you’d never know it.  I’m not great with water, having completely lost my nerve some years ago and I’m unable to go out of my depth without having something to hang on to.  I’m not afraid of water as such, I can put my head under and went scuba diving a few years ago, which was fine.  I just sink.  So I’d drown.  So I can’t let go, it’s beyond courage or willpower, simply impossible.  I also realised, watching them do the breast stroke, how poor my coordination is, that would be beyond me too – one can only laugh at me, quite rightly.

LT came over for lunch and we came home together.  I’ve finally got my first cold of the winter – not ill, just sneezy.  We had a Thai takeaway from Weeza’s very good local shop and the chilli helped. but I’m a bit snuffly again.  I look forward to spicy food and drinks for the next few days.    The chickens have finally started laying again, so I may need a masala omelette with extra onion and chilli for lunch tomorrow.


Z appears to have been a snowflake for a long time

Whiling away the wakeful early hours this morning in casual thought, I found myself remembering an awkward situation I found myself in some years ago.  Having worked out that it must have happened within the last ten years, I looked it up here and, of course, I’d written about it at the time.  But the chances of many of you remembering, even if we were friends then, are not high and I’ll tell you again with the benefit of hindsight added.

It was when I was chairman of a society and we held a coffee morning for new members.  The committee members went around chatting, introducing themselves and being generally friendly, and Alan, one of our number, called me over to meet a woman whom he’d been talking to about the Latin language.  You’re interested in Latin, he said.  I agreed that I was but it wasn’t until we’d been chatting for a couple of minutes that I discovered that she was wanting to set up some Latin classes and needed to find others to join her.  I was rather alarmed when I realised that she thought I was keen.  What day would suit me?

I back-pedalled at once, I hadn’t honestly got time or inclination to take part in any such thing and I said, truthfully, that there was no day of the week that I could guarantee to be free and several when I certainly wouldn’t be, and not to count me in.  I hoped that was the end of it but, a few months later, she sent me an application form to join her group.  I didn’t think much of the attempt to railroad me and I didn’t care for her plan anyway – she said she wasn’t interested in literature, only grammar and I couldn’t see any fun in that.

So I wrote back to extricate myself and got a distinctly unpleasant reply.  I’ve looked it up –

Thankyou, but I don’t know if the class will run now. I had been counting on a minimum of four. I had not expected that anuone, having given their word, would make alternative committments.
I am sure you would not expect your members of NADFAS to do that,since they would perhaps find this unethical. 
Typos and spelling mistake hers, not mine.

So I wrote again, explaining that an interest shown in her plans (I was really surprisingly polite, considering she’d absolutely buttonholed me) in a casual conversation isn’t actually giving my word and I had told her so at the time.  I listed my regular commitments (not all of them, only those that actually involve work) and explained that the extra ones that have come up have to take precedence over things I do simply for my own amusement.

Her reply said that I’d dealt her a sledge-hammer blow.  She hoped I felt thoroughly uncomfortable.

I didn’t, I don’t, I was extremely relieved not to have got more involved with such a peculiar and frankly unpleasant person.  Her final word on the subject was “Beatae sunt quae ab ipsis occultare sapiunt”.  (They are happy who know how to conceal (or cover) themselves).

People aren’t very often unpleasant to me and when they are, I take it to heart.  And I really had not given her any encouragement, from the moment I found out what she was talking about.  I thought I’d forgotten the whole matter but it evidently had been in my mind somewhere – I had to look up the details of course, but the basis of it was as upsetting as it felt at the time.  Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that I don’t sleep much, if I’m as easily upset as that.  Clearly, Z is a snowflake after all, which is pretty silly of me.

Z’s day in a nutshell

  • Nadfas lecture today on Art Nouveau and Art Deco in Paris.  I’d agreed to give the vote of thanks.  She was a really good speaker, very knowledgeable and enthusiastic but she had, if anything, tried to fit too much in and tying it all up in a minute’s thanks was not the easiest task.
  • Then we went to the lovely tea shop and bought nice teas.
  • LT prepared dinner.  It was splendid.
  • I had an early bath.
  • Now I’m winding down for an earlyish night.

Z bites the bullet –

… which always sounds quite painful on the teeth.  Anyway, I’ve ordered a skip for Thursday and it will be very good to get rid of the rest of the rubbish.

When you say you’ve got a skip, people always assume that you’re going to dump in it things that are actually potentially wonderful and worth having and they want to rummage through it.  This isn’t the case with me.  That is, I do have some washbasins that we had removed from various places in the house back in 1985 and I assumed had been removed from the premises at the time – they are still intact washbasins, in pink and green and yellow, but we’ve not used them in 30 years and I doubt anyone wants them now.  If you do, please let me know by Thursday morning and pick them up by Saturday, because I will have pleasure in getting them out of the barn, one way or another.

Young Zain cat was nowhere to be seen over the weekend, or not by me.  I wasn’t bothered on Saturday but, by Sunday evening, I was a bit concerned.  It wasn’t like him to miss four meals.  Any of them might not turn up to be fed, but he’s normally the friendliest and the most present.  So at breakfast, we were planning to open up every barn and garage in case he’d got locked in – of course, there he was when I went out.  I’m such a sucker.  Roses says that he’s been frolicking on the field behind her house all weekend, he wasn’t absent in the least and had clearly been feeding himself.

The other thing we have done is set up the propagator in the greenhouse and started sowing seeds there.  It’s always a sign of hope, don’t you think?

Z is not a nurse

I’d been prepared to go and nurse Weeza if necessary, but her knee is doing well and she can get about quite steadily.  The dressing has to stay on for 72 hours, which takes us up to Monday afternoon and then she’ll see how comfortable she is.  I’ve promised to lend her my car, which is an automatic, until she feels ready to drive their manual transmission car again, so will take it over when she wants it and LT can bring me home again.  The knee makes disconcerting swooshing, gurgly sounds on occasion, which she wasn’t warned about at the hospital but she’s googled it and it is quite normal.

Young Rufus is nearly eight and a half months old now.  He isn’t starting to crawl yet but stands up quite steadily against a chair or table, supporting his legs against it but not needing to hang on.  He waves and claps his hands in response and is starting to make pre-speech sounds.  He sat on his father’s lap at lunch time today and ate bits of food he was given and – this was a first, they said – he drank from a sippy cup and swallowed the water rather than storing it up in his mouth and dribbling it out again.  He has very cute dimples when he smiles.  Young Gus talks proudly about “my cousin” – he’s very conscious of family relationships.  I didn’t really have cousins – my father had a half brother and we saw his family once in a while, but I never really got to know his son and daughter and, after my father died, we lost touch.  My mother was an only child, her mother having died young, and I only had one surviving grandparent when I was a child, so it’s marvellous to see all my children and their families getting on well.

And we’re back home again now and Eloise cat is sitting on LT’s lap, which makes me feel slightly jealous.  But at least it means I can type.

I’m very pleased with my new phone, which I’ve had for a few weeks now, and also with the fact that Yagnub and surrounding areas get a better internet and phone signal since the recent upgrade.  Indeed, Norfolk seems to have entered a new era – I was able to get a signal in previous blackspots today, even in Weeza and Phil’s village.  I’ve always had to use their wifi and an app to make phone calls up to now.  A few years ago, who would have believed that many of us would carry around pocket-sized computers which, as a bonus, even make phone calls?  Remarkable.


Who is being trained?

I bought 200 metres of horticultural fleece.  I wanted to warm up the soil and also to prevent pigeons eating my seedlings.  So today, we sowed pea seeds – I suppose I could say, we sowed peas – and broad beans and covered them over.  I also sowed some radishes and we’ve covered the spinach and swiss chard that have overwintered – they shoot again in the spring and, by the time they’ve gone to seed, the new crop will be almost ready to be picked over.

And then, because this is a day off, I took LT out for lunch at one of our favourite places in the town.  Quite possibly our actual favourite, in fact, the place where we took guests who were already in town to to our wedding-eve dinner.  After that, I bought a very good walnut and coffee cake from the deli and we visited our friends Mary and Peter.  Mary broke her pelvis skiing a couple of weeks ago and is still on crutches.  I know it was a good cake because Peter made tea and we ate some.  Clearly, I’m the type of person who takes someone grapes in hospital and then helps myself.

We are gradually training Eloise cat.  Obviously, the way to do that is by making her think that she is training us and rewards are involved.  But she jumps up onto her chair at the dining table when it is patted and waits for her share.  Tonight, we’re having smoked haddock, so I’m not sure if she will like it.  I have stopped putting down a water bowl for her in the kitchen as she never drank from it, preferring her glass on LT’s bedside table.  There happened to be a jar of water on the coffee table in the drawing room, which I’d given Zerlina for some art work she was doing – it was clean water, not painty.  And Eloise clearly thought I’d put it there for her, so I filled it.  Now, she drinks from it and approves.  This makes all three of us perfectly happy.




Weeza’s op

I couldn’t help but be anxious, though I didn’t admit it.  Weeza was having an operation on her knee today, having torn the meniscus – she didn’t know how but was having quite a lot of pain.  She was very impressed by the speed and efficiency of the treatment – however much the NHS may be struggling, it still performs very well in many areas, as proved by my hip operation and her arthroscopy being done promptly, safely and well.

I met her at the hospital this morning and picked up the children, came back for the day and delivered them back there this evening where Phil, having come by train from the town where he works and then cycled the five or six miles to said hospital, was going to drive them all home.  I knew I was tense from the ease with which z and Gus manipulated me into buying all the foods they liked for a treat, for their ‘picky’ dinner.  On the way home from the hospital, we’d stopped at the nursery and bought primroses and planted up several potsful to cheer Mummy up as she recovers.

This afternoon, Stevo and Noah tackled the big barn.  There’s no help for it, we’re going to have to get a skip – actually, this is a great relief as, until now, I’d been contemplating several trips to the tip and not relishing the thought at all. But there’s now simply too much stuff.  It’ll be worth the 150 or whatever quid to get it all dealt with and taken away.

Tomorrow will, quite possibly, be a day off.  Though we might sow some vegetable seeds, if we feel like it.