Monthly Archives: March 2017

Z mostly eats eggs

The bantams are laying enthusiastically, usually four or five eggs a day and we’re getting a build-up.  LT took half a dozen with him yesterday and I hard-boiled another half dozen, because then there were fewer to reproach me with on the kitchen table.  I ate a couple for lunch with our delicious chilli relish and another two for dinner with some of the leftover curry from the night before.  And I’ll finish the last two tonight and had a poached egg for breakfast.  Which is all very eggy but only keeping pace with them.  Still, I can hardly complain, having done so vociferously when they didn’t lay at all for a month or so.

Muntjak deer have been nibbling the tulip leaves, unfortunately.  I suspect I’ll have to dig the bulbs up, when they’ve finished flowering (though I also suspect the deer will eat the flowers) and replant them in the autumn, in pots by the house.  As Wince and I were standing by the bed looking at them, two deer were popping back and forth through the hedge the other side of the tennis court just a few yards away.  They looked at us quite casually, not wary at all.  Bloody things.  I’d be thrilled if I had fallow or roe deer and wouldn’t care about the damage, but these are a nuisance: neither use nor ornament, as they say.

The insurers not having phoned back yesterday, I rang them this morning and got a woman called Rachel, who was very helpful.  Later, the assessor phoned me and a few minutes later, Rachel rang me back to check that this had happened, which I appreciate very much.  And now I can go and visit my friend Jan, who is still in a nursing home, nearly six months after breaking her upper arm, but still hoping to go home before long.

Today’s post

Peeved as I am, because the insurance company was supposed to phone this morning between 9 and 12 noon and the buggers didn’t ring at all – I wasn’t out of sound of the phone all day and even took it with me when I watered the greenhouse, fed the animals and went to the loo (TMI, but true) – it’s a very first world problem when news comes through of the atrocity in Westminster this afternoon.

I don’t tend to do current affairs on this blog and I’m not going to start.  But I will mention the wonderful people whose instinct was to help.  Mine would probably have been to run, unless – maybe – I saw I could help and was the best person to do so at the moment.  But love and appreciation for the helpers, for whom loving kindness overcame fear.

And to come back to the Zeddary, young Stevo is still plugging away at smartening the place up. He nearly cleared the bed by the Wall this afternoon and promises to finish the job tomorrow.  We will get there.  Although we have no plans to leave here at present, I do browse RightMove every so often, and I finally found a house I rather like.  Fortunately, it isn’t perfect, as it doesn’t have a dining room – the “kitchen/breakfast room” seems to be it, which doesn’t seem adequate for a six bedroom house with a big sitting room, a study and a “snug” – maybe that’s why it’s reduced in price.  Anyway.  Probably wouldn’t like it if I saw it.

Z is a bit tired tonight

It’s been a tricky day, one way and another.  I’ve discovered my accountant has left the firm, having been with it a good twenty years – I’m dismayed at the prospect of explaining everything to someone else, the thought makes me tired.  I’d forgotten that the lecture we’d expected to hear this morning wasn’t being given because the lecturer has been taken seriously ill – the replacement was very good in fact, but it’s all making me edgy.  The auction was good and interesting but the auctioneers were really rather slow – or rather, the bidders were.  Just bid, dammit, if you’re going to, and don’t come in at the very last moment when the hammer is about to fall.  Then, on the way back, we were diverted because of roadworks several times, then had a great deal of difficulty finding the place we wanted – which was the accountant’s, in fact, as i need to check out what he was in the middle of to find out how far he’d got – there are new buildings under construction which makes the area look so different that I missed the turning altogether.

And there’s a lot of dealing with insurance, tenants, workmen, going on.  I rather want to stop the week and start again, although it wouldn’t make any difference.

Onwards, upwards, etc.  At least the Thai-ish sauce I made tonight has so much left that, tomorrow, I can hard-boil some eggs and add them for a simple meal tomorrow night.  I wondered why the large quantity of coriander I’d added hadn’t added a lot to the taste, until I ate a leaf.  Parsley.  Sigh, darlings, sigh.  I chucked in the coriander too, of course.  It’s all greens, innit?

Thank goodness for insurance

Since Mago was interested in the local vineyard, here’s a link to its website in case he or anyone else would like to look it up.

We went to view an auction today – one of those ones where, on asking to see the china, they unlock the cabinet and let you poke around by yourself.  I’m immensely careful of course and know how to handle it, but when there are a lot of pieces on each shelf in several rows and the top shelf is higher than my head, it’s all a bit dicy.  Still, no problems of course, and we’re going to go back to the sale itself tomorrow.  I’ve registered as a bidder, but whether I actually do bid or – not especially likely – buy anything remains to be seen.  There will be lots of people I know there, certainly.

When we got home, I found I’d had an email from one of my London tenants.  There’s a leak somewhere and clearly water has been getting in for a while, but recently it’s been getting considerably worse.  Thank goodness for insurance, it’ll all be very expensive to put right.  Of course, hours have already been spent on the phone and it can only get more involved – but we won’t, as the advertisement used to say, make a drama out of a crisis.  No one is injured, after all.

It’s our darling Squiffany’s twelfth birthday today.  I bought her a camera and accessories, she phoned me a while ago to thank me and is very pleased.  Dilly told me that she wanted it so much that she was prepared to use some of her savings a month or two ago, but they persuaded her to hang on, knowing fond grandparents would be looking for present ideas.  I went to her ballet school’s performance on Saturday, she looked so beautiful and graceful – both her mother and I felt very emotional.  Silly old woman that I am, of course.

Z will tak the low road

I’ve made the ice cream, only substituting pecan nuts for hazelnuts because I happened to have them, though I realised as I put them in that they were likely to sink in ice cream that doesn’t have to be churned,  Still, no matter.  It’ll be a bit layered, that’s all.  And it took a whole six eggs, which has to be a good thing.

Advice is that the lean-to part of the barn can wait for now, which is good.  Simon was able to fix the broken tile – there are a few, in fact, but there was just one that was causing a problem in the coal shed – so that the immediate problem was solved and he’s putting us on his list for the future.  Being an honest young man, he assessed the main part of the roof and even a bit of the lean-to as being not in need of redoing.

I’ve known him slightly since he was a child, in fact, as his parents – and mother, after his dad’s early, tragic death in an accident – always lived in the lovely next-door village.  As we were chatting, I remembered a talk he’d given a decade ago.  “Am I right in thinking you cycled across America some time ago? ”  Yes, it was him.  Three and a half thousand miles, with a friend – I hoped I’d blogged about it but I can’t find it (though I spent some time reading back and enjoying the time when this blog was good and when there was a blogging community: hardly any of those who commented are still blogging, though I’m friends with a number of them on Facebook).  I was reminded by his mentioning that he’s going to be away in May – seemed unlikely that he’d take a whole month off for a holiday and I had a sudden zing of memory.  In May, he’s planning to run from Land’s End to John o”Groats.  Yes,  my mind is boggling too.  On his own, without back-up or company – though it’s not as if, for most of the journey, he’ll be out of contact with people if he wants or needs it.  He’s aiming for 40 miles a day.  He’s not entirely sure if he’ll make it – but hey, if you don’t try you’re not going to find out.  It’s 838 miles by road, apparently, though perhaps he’ll find some short cuts on foot.  All the same…

More tidiness at the Zeddery

The old summerhouse has finally gone.  It was dismantled the summer before last but the sections were then leant against Kenny’s shed and, somehow, nothing else happened.  I couldn’t possibly manage to move them by myself and I didn’t have anyone to help.  But we have done it now.  The mechanism by which it was turned has been kept – I just couldn’t dispose of that as scrap – but the rest has been burnt on the bonfire.  And young Stevo has replaced a few rotten boards in the roof and put on new felt and he’s mended a few places on the sides and painted with wood preservative.  It’s a very old shed – Russell said it was already there when his parents bought this property in 1928, though I don’t know if that was correct or if an old one was replaced when he was a child, but it’s certainly better than anything you’d buy now.  Anyway, it’s looking good and some things we now keep in the porch can go in there, and that’s good too.  We sat in the porch this morning to drink our coffee on a lovely warm, sunny spring day and all was well at the Zedary.

It was a jolly good bonfire too.  Very dry wood – I frugally removed several brass bolts to be reused: that is, one has been used on another shed immediately (thank you, Tim) – but the hinges had all been painted over and, unless they can be saved from the ashes, they are lost – the flames caught quickly and burnt hot.  Some branches that Wince pruned a few weeks ago have finally been reduced to a few ashes.  As I watched the timber catch fire, I noticed a panicking spider running this way and that, so put my hand towards it, flicked upwards and out and saw it fly towards the grass.  I didn’t see it land but was glad that it was safe.

We strolled round the garden and stood by the pond, discussing what plants needed to go in.  I saw a movement – it wasn’t a frog or a fish, it had to be a newt, surely?  We watched as it came up for a breath and dived again – certainly a newt.  Dearly as I love frogs and toads, newts are closest to my heart and seeing them in the pond makes me very happy.

There is presently a build-up of two dozen eggs and I’m looking up recipes.  I’ve found a nice one for toffee ice cream that takes several eggs, I think a bit more cooking is due.


Pottable and potable

I’ve been potting up seedlings over the last few days.  I’m doing it quite gradually because I like potting up seedlings and I haven’t really got all that many.  I used to grow lots of plants – twenty, twenty-five years ago, I grew them for Ro’s school fete, where I always ran the plant stall.  Other people brought along plants too, of course, but at least three-quarters of them were provided by me.  I didn’t just grow from seed, I also bought seedlings from seed companies and potted them up, which was an economical way of having several hundred flower plants to sell on.  I reckoned the cost of the seeds and seedlings, plus the pots and compost, were my donation and the profit to the school was a bonus.  Check out the parable of the talents…

After that, I grew them for Al’s shop, but he sold that business four and a half – I think – years ago.  And now I am trying to restrain myself and plant what we actually need.  I like growing a lot of variety though and it’s not that easy.  I’m restricting myself to three seeds of each tomato variety, for instance, when I really want fifty plants to care for.

The piano tuner says that the reason the piano goes out of tune quite badly is because there are various things that need tightening up – you may remember that it was pretty well totally rebuilt, at considerable cost, and everything replaceable was replaced.  But since then, things have dried out and shrunk somewhat and so there’s wiggle room.  At least it’s playable now, but he’s going to come and spend a day on it; for which he isn’t going to charge as he reckons it’s part of the renovation job.

Also due to be renovated is the roof at the back of the garage/workshop buildings.  Someone is coming to look and advise on Friday – he can’t do the work for another year, but I’m sure he’ll help out with the running repairs – at present, there’s water in the coal shed.

In addition, I’ve taken on membership of our local and very young vineyard.  I hope it will become a going concern, it’s a young couple who have invested all their time and money into it and they’re getting a good deal of support.  English wine can be lovely, the first bottles of this one are due to be ready later this year and we’ll be among the first drinkers.  This club membership is a present for LT really, though I’ve put it in our joint names, because after all, we’ll both be visiting the vineyard and drinking the wines.

I have a lot of books waiting to be read.  I’m reading more and buying more but I’m buying quicker than reading.  So nose down for an early night.

Z can never deny being obsessed with food. Which isn’t necessarily the same as being greedy….or am I?

We don’t generally go out for dinner in the evening, but we regularly eat lunch out.  There are a few reasons for this – the first is that there are several nice coffee/lunch/tea places around here that simply aren’t open in the evening.  The second is that we rather like cooking and take quite a lot of care over our meals.  We don’t take it in turns to cook but sometimes Tim does, sometimes I do and sometimes it’s a joint effort.  I’d have to think quite hard which of these happens most often.  A third reason is, of course, that it’s nice to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and one of us would have to forego the pleasure because of driving home.  Yet another is that eating out in the evening seems to be an occasion that requires more food than we really want to eat – one course is fine at lunchtime but it doesn’t quite do ‘an occasion’ justice, or so it seems to me.  But today’s reason was slightly different, because the Aga had been turned off last night, preparing for its annual service today and it wasn’t even warm enough to heat up the rest of yesterday’s celery soup.

As I said, there are a number of good places to eat lunch – coffee shops plus food, restaurants and pubs – within a few miles, but we like to try out a new place when we hear about it: and I had.  It’s not a new pub by any means, but the landlordship had changed not long ago and I’d heard good things from a few people who had tried it.  And it was a pleasure.  But our fish and chips and my cheesecake and LT’s ice cream filled us up for the rest of the day and neither of us really wanted dinner, even several hours later.  Such lightweights we are, darlings.  And I simply poached some new-laid eggs and served them on toast.

Over dinner, we discussed the cooking of simple egg dishes – that is, poached, boiled, scrambled, fried and as omelettes.  We agreed that how they’re cooked dictates the minimum number of eggs involved.  So a single boiled or poached egg makes a perfectly good breakfast or light lunch, but a single scrambled egg is a dismal mouthful; a mere sample. One fried egg is fine but it really needs something else with it – mushrooms, bacon, tomato, whatever you like – we’re being fairly moderate here, not aiming for the Full English.  A boiled egg is allowed soldiers of course and poached and scrambled may have toast, but an omelette doesn’t need toast and a one-egg omelette is pretty well impossible to cook.  I suggested that it could be done as a soufflé omelette – that is, separate the yolk from the white, whisk the white separately and then cook it in butter.  You couldn’t do toast with it but a spoonful of jam or a grating of cheese would fill the bill.  Otherwise, two or three eggs are absolutely necessary.

But in truth, the perfect breakfast, for me, is one newly-laid egg, poached and served on a small slice of buttered toast, with tea or coffee and the juice of a freshly-squeezed orange.  It cannot be beaten and I don’t want to eat anything more all morning.  It absolutely must be a fresh egg though, anything more than three days – which is pushing it – and it’s better cooked another way.

Z is on the High Cs. Sort of.

I was sound asleep at 5 o’clock this morning, but LT wasn’t and nor was Eloise cat, and she was the culprit.  She was chasing a mouse – I don’t know whether this was a very stupid house mouse or one that she had caught outside, brought in and dropped, but she managed to dispose of it, after some excited running around.  So Tim got up to put it in the bin.  I reluctantly and slowly became aware of him leaving the room, returning, leaving again and then coming back to bed.

That was the end of the night’s sound sleep, we dozed on and off after that.  And Eloise cat came back to greet us about 8 o’clock, when we were contemplating getting up, walked across Tim and onto the table to drink from her glass of water.  A few minutes later, I heard a tumbling, flapping sound.

“I think a bird has fallen down the chimney.” Tim thought it might have been Eloise, who was jumping on and off the chaise longue and the chest  of drawers but, a few minutes later when she’d gone downstairs with him, I heard more flapping.

The chimney pot is very tall, about six foot and it’s tempting for birds to sit on.  But birds are not always as gracefully agile as they give the impression of being and it’s not that unusual for one to lose its footing and tumble.  Once in the very wide chimney, they can’t manage to fly up the chimney pot and get out.  There’s a board in front of the fireplace, as it would be extremely draughty otherwise (a working fireplace in the bedroom is absolutely lovely, but impractical even from my romantic viewpoint) and a chest of drawers in front of that.

We were lucky though.  After breakfast, we went up and shifted the chest of drawers, pulled away the board and, rather than the pigeon I expected to see, there was a rook.  It could have been a crow but it looked like a rook to me.  We’d drawn all but one curtain and opened a window.  It swooped around the room a few times, having a false start by thinking the cheval mirror was open space, and then flew away.

The rest of the morning was less eventful.  Stevo has finished roofing the shed and made a start on replacing missing boards from the sides.  We had the celery soup I made yesterday for lunch and then met Roses and Lawrence in Norwich to hear a concert.  The star turn was Emma Johnson, playing the world premiere of a concerto by Patrick Hawes, which was very fine and whose showiness I can never aspire to play.  It ended on the top note that can be played on the clarinet, the highest C, which I used to know how was played, but I’m not sure if I ever hit it myself.  The composer was in the audience and took a bow, of course – I’ve been to at least three premieres with the composer present, I always think how absolutely magical it must feel to have your composition performed in public for the first time.

So a day that started somewhat jaggedly is ending well.  A gin and tonic is in front of me, as well as some rather nice Spicy Peas from the Exotic Supermarket.  Duck breast with sprouting broccoli and mushrooms for dinner, and the Aga is having its annual service tomorrow.  So the ducks seem to be lining up nicely at the Zedary.

Z nearly went round the bendy

I paid three insurance policies today – nearly £1200 that I hope is money down the drain, i.e. that I won’t have to call on them.  It was a frustrating and long drawn out experience that I won’t bore you with and I had a headache by the end.  So the day had to get better and it did.

  • I hardboiled some eggs and LT made a lovely salad for lunch.
  • I made celery soup.
  • The peas, broad beans and radishes are all up.
  • We planted early potatoes – outside, that is.  I planted them in bags in the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago.
  • The bantams were more cheerful today than they’ve been for ages.  They must finally be over the shock of the dog attack and they’re ready for spring.  They’re laying three or four eggs a day, which is quite a lot to keep up with, though at least they’re small eggs.  I’d whizzed up some heels of cheese with bread in the food processor for them and they were very pleased.
  • The outdoor cats are catching their own food and I rarely see them except for Freddie, who comes to be friendly.  But this evening, Barney and Betty were there too, so I was pleased.

Now I only take one newspaper a day – sadly, the local daily, which has always been excellent, isn’t any longer.  I tried for several weeks after its revamp, but it’s unreadable.  I still take the very local weekly, which has adopted the same editorial policy,  and I will give you an example of a headline on page 3 – Campaign for 30mph speed limit on bendy stretch of road through centre of village.  There was a sub-heading – Villagers are campaigning for speed reductions on a bendy stretch of a Suffolk Road.  The article itself repeated the same information, just adding the village’s name and a few quotes.  It’s bemusingly badly written, it must be driving the good journalists to distraction, assuming there are still some of them there.