Monthly Archives: August 2017

That work, dun’t it

Huzzah!  LT finally persuaded everything to work on the new computer, though some of the downloads took much of the day – which may well be down to our slow internet.  Yes, I pay for fibre.  Hmmm.

I’ve been taking it easy for the last couple of days.  Except for a brief spell this morning, when Rose sent a text to say that there was a wire down on the fence on the Ups and Downs.  Fortunately, the cattle hadn’t noticed, so we were able to go down and fix it, temporarily at least, and I’ve let the farmer know in case it needs a stronger repair job.  It’s the fence that’s due to be replaced in the winter.

It’s rained, on and off, most of the day.  Proper Bank Holiday weather – but it missed the Bank Holiday and now the Weather Pixies are probably going to sulk for weeks.  We don’t care, we enjoyed the sunshine.  In fact, most of tomorrow is, apparently, going to be dry at least, which is good because it’s the day that Wince the Gardener comes.  He taps on the door at 9 am and asks if I have a Plan for the day.  Actually, I have.

But for now, I’m tired from having done … um … well, Dave came over this morning and I made tomato relish and tomato curry this evening and … I guess it’s all this clean, healthy living I do.

Apparently, a lot of email addresses have been hacked, or potentially so, and I’ve checked all mine; and two were compromised.  I’ve changed the passwords, so it should be okay now.  I’ve read that really long passwords are better, or at least as good, as complicated ones with numbers and characters and random capitals, so I’ve just rambled on conversationally for quite some time.  And now will have to change everything, on phone, iPads (I still can’t remember where I put one of the iPads), while I still remember it.

Z and the bloggers

My sister Wink came up for the weekend and stayed one night with Weeza and one night here.  So she invited the whole family over, which turned out to be on the bank holiday Monday, and expanded somewhat as Roses and co came too, so did blogfriends Mike and Zoe, and so did Dora’s sister Roo, as both her daughter and her partner were away for the day.  So there were 21 of us all told, including the baby, and it was just as well that I’d planned a really straightforward lunch.  The forecast was good so I decided on a barbecue and even that was easy – drumsticks marinated and cooked in the Aga to be finished on the bbq and good old sausages and burgers, and a bit of salad but majoring on home-made pickles, and all was followed by some token fruit, plus ice creams, mostly Magnums.  Mainly because lovely son and son in law did the cooking, I was able to sit back and relax.  And some fairies did most of the washing up, so I had an easy time afterwards too.

Tonight, we had bloaters for dinner.  For the uninitiated, they are smoked herrings.  Kippers are too, but they’re split and gutted and smoked flat, but bloaters are smoked whole.  I’m quite sure that, when I was a child, my mother used to cook them whole and we dealt with the innards at the table, but I’ve never had the nerve and sort them out before cooking.  LT hadn’t eaten bloater before, they’re an east coast thing and he’s a southerner, a Dorset coast boy.

LT has bought a new laptop and it proved difficult to set up.  Every time he tried, it crashed or possibly froze, which is the same thing, in effect.  But after his bloater, he had another go and it finally set itself up.  Now he’s going to attempt to load all his files.  My computer was so easy.  Maybe it’s a Mac thing…

Tomorrow, our old blog friend and fellow Wall builder Dave is calling in for elevenses.  A thoroughly bloggy few days, which is all to the good.

Progress at the Zedary

I’ve finished my part of the catalogue – that is, I’ve gone through the lot descriptions and cross-checked the owners against the lots, and cropped the photos and it’s all been uploaded so that Weeza and Ro can do their part.  Then there’s proofreading and then my colleague D will kindly do the envelope stuffing and posting.  It’s a great relief to have the main work done, though.

When the field was re-fenced back in the early spring, all the overgrown wood was cut down.  Mostly, it was overhanging or dead branches, or thorn hedges that had got seriously overgrown.  The hawthorn was all so straggly that no birds could nest and there were a number of trees and bushes that needed to be pollarded.  All the good wood was piled in front of the barn and two massive bonfires were made as well.  Today, the wood man came back to cut up all those branches and logs.  He’s got a very impressive mobile (pulled by a tractor) circular saw and it goes through them in no time.  And we had a barn with double doors that was clear, mostly, so he was able to dump a trailer-load at a time and five of them, he says, come to about seven and a half tons.  Or tonnes I suppose, which is slightly less.  There’s still a pile but much reduced and he’ll do that next week.  We certainly have plenty of wood for now.He is also cutting back some willow for me – I’ll have a ton or two of that too; it’s softwood which is useful for starting a fire and, though willow spits, it doesn’t matter in a woodburner.

The family is all coming for lunch on Monday because Wink is up for the weekend – that is, she’s not here yet, she’s at Weeza’s house, and will arrive here tomorrow.  Arrangements were made and altered and I only found some of them at the last – just as well I did, because we were expecting her here first and would have been worried when she didn’t show up – but I think I know what’s happening now.  And blog friends Zoe and Mike are coming tomorrow evening too, because Roses has paintings in an exhibition in Norwich and they want to see it, which is splendid.

My new tenants have moved in to the London flat and we’ve exchanged emails, they seem really nice.  I think a friendly relationship between landlord and tenant is very good – I pride myself on being a good landlord and hope not to be disappointed in my turn.  Building up a relationship of trust and goodwill goes a long way, I think.

As for the other field, the one by the drive, there are brick pillars with wire in between, but that is going to be replaced next spring, after more than forty years.  But the final pillar is just concrete and then it goes the rest of the way to the gate post, and it’s all not good enough, so we’ve decided to put in a couple of extra brick pillars.  Friend Dave, who built The Wall with us, is willing to put them up, but would like the footings in first.  And young Stevo was going to do that, but he hasn’t got around to it and now has another job.  Anyway, I was talking to Rob the tree guy about it and he’s willing to do them, which is great.  All I have to do now is match the bricks to the existing ones.  And I have a cousin who’s a builder, so hope he can tell me what they are.

I’ve also pickled onions, red cabbage and more cucumber.  And the tomato pickle we made the other week is lovely.  It’ll be delicious with barbecue stuff.

Z looks for entertainment

I spent much of the day working on the auction catalogue, having an early dinner so that I had time to upload the photos, so that Weeza and Ro will be able to access them in due course, and still have time to wind down afterwards.  I can’t work up until bedtime any more or I can’t relax enough to sleep.  Nor can I go straight to bed if I’ve been out or if people have been here.  This doesn’t matter of course, better to listen to music or write a blog post or read a book than wriggle around wishing I could sleep.

Since LT is away, I’ll soon amble upstairs – trying to remember to lock the doors first, which is something I used to be poor at when I lived alone – with a cup of tea and I’ll listen to the radio, first in the bath and then in bed.  I’ve got Little Dorrit downloaded (when I say I’ll listen to the radio, what I mean is that I’ll use the iPlayer app on my phone because I hardly ever listen to anything live any more) and I was planning to listen to that, but it may take too much concentration for night time.  I’ve also got Bulldog Drummond and various other things that might be lighter.

I did mean to watch television, but I forgot.  IPlayer, Netflix and so on have put paid to television as it’s broadcast too, but they’re not the cause of me giving up in the first place; it’s the huge number of channels.  Perhaps I give up too easily, but if I look through the listings and can’t see anything I’m really keen to watch right away, I don’t bother at all and, possibly, miss something later I’d have liked.  I can’t quite work out the reason why, when there were four channels, I was likely to pick the best of the bunch but, when there are dozens, I am much more picky.  It surely should be the other way round.

Is Z normal?

Tim cooked dinner again tonight, chicken risotto.  And very delicious it was, as ever.  He’s off down to Reading tomorrow for a couple of days – I haven’t really got time to go with him this time, I must get the auction catalogue finished.  I don’t know why it is that there always seems so much to do – we keep saying we’ll have a holiday but it never seems to be the right time to book it.  Yet I am less busy than I used to be.  This week, for instance, the only thing in the diary is the burglar alarm service on Thursday, but I have a long list of things to do.

Not that it matters, it’s good to be busy or else my natural propensity for total indolence would have no check at all.

But … I’ve been saying for years that I’m lazy and I have to have a lot of obligations and deadlines, or nothing would get done at all – but I wonder now if that’s true at all.  I still believe it is, but I also suspect that I might possibly be wrong.  My mother was so very industrious that I think I might have been comparing myself with her, in her younger days, all along.  I don’t think I can have a true perspective on “normal.”

Some years ago, a young friend of mine became painfully thin.  She had became vegetarian, then vegan, which was actually a form of anorexia in her case (I am making no statement in that regard about vegetarianism or veganism: it became, in this respect, her way of avoiding food because she had an eating disorder) and it came to a crisis when she was abroad on business and felt unable to eat at all until she collapsed.  She was brought home and received specialist care in hospital and, as she started to recover, it became apparent that she didn’t know what normal eating was.  She thought she was eating normally.  So – she is a very sensible and rational scientist who wanted to recover – she asked friends to keep food diaries and send them to her weekly, so that she could compare her normal food intake to that of others.  This worked, I’m happy to say, she realised that she simply wasn’t eating enough and made valiant efforts to eat a healthy quantity, and made a complete recovery.

But that’s what I mean.  How do we know what normal is?

Oh and, by the way, writing down every single thing you eat and then sending it to someone else is a very good way of eating less.  It gets a bit embarrassing otherwise.



We did all that – we’d hope that the bed wouldn’t have to be dismantled completely, because it would be simpler both for us and for the end recipient but, though we managed to get it – minus the head and foot board – down the first flight of stairs, there’s an awkward turn to the stairs down to the hall, so we just took it apart to its basics.

In the morning, I suddenly suggested taking a set of Allen keys as well as the various screwdrivers, and both LT and I felt I was being a bit OTT, but I took them anyway.  And HAH.  They were just what we needed.  And there were actually two sets in the bag, so we were both able to work at the numerous attachments.  It was all quite a lot of work and we were both tired by the end of the day, with one thing and another.  But it’s done and I drove there and he drove back and it couldn’t have been achieved by one person, certainly not by me – it’s a height thing as much as strength.

Today, I had an email to say that the new tenants have passed the reference and other hurdles and they’ve signed the contract too.  So I’m jolly relieved and all’s set.  I left them a nice note, welcoming them, giving them the meter readings and so on.  Every time I visit the flat, i think how lovely it is there.  It’s spacious for its size, even I could live there … if I didn’t actually have any stuff.  Which isn’t going to happen, but if it did.

I’ve dealt with all the photos, which takes quite a long time.  And now I’ve just got to finish the catalogue descriptions, ready for Weeza to design the catalogue itself.  And then the boring bit will be out of the way.  Hoorah.

Z snaps shots

We’ve finished the photography, though I’ve got to edit the pictures – just crop them, I don’t enhance them, of course.  And then write the catalogue.  I’ve also arranged for the British Heart Foundation to pick up the unwanted furniture – my previous tenant asked me to provide a bed and sofa, but the new ones already have furniture.  So LT and I are driving down tomorrow to put up the smoke alarms and dismantle the bed and do a final check.  And then we’ll be ready.  And by the end of the month, so will the catalogue, I hope.

But all that photography gave me a headache, so I’ve taken most of the afternoon off.  I’m not fond of photography, on the whole.  The placement of the pieces for the group photos on the front and back of the catalogue take the most time – how they look in the photo isn’t necessarily the same as you see them in front of you, of course.  So I set them out, take pictures, adjusting distances and angles, and then put them on the computer and see how it could be improved and go back – at least I’d chosen fairly well this time, some years the pieces that really must go on the front cover just don’t go well together without judicious placing.  Last year, for example, it was the addition of a Mandarin pattern saucer dish (a shallow saucer about the size of a dinner plate) that just tied in all the rest.  Weeza asked, the other day, what I really enjoy about the auctions enough to carry on with them and my first answer was the sale itself.  I do love an auction, especially ours where we see so many people who’ve become friends over the years.  And I don’t really want to let drop the knowledge that I’ve built up over the years.

Though a piece that I’d been sent by post for the sale puzzled me the other day.  When I opened it, I thought how nice it was and quite early and unusual, but then I looked again and wasn’t sure.  The shape of the saucer looked right and the china itself, the border and the footring ticked the right boxes, but it was a pattern I’ve never seen.  And that wasn’t impossible, but the glaze was just so good that it didn’t seem right.  I couldn’t think what other factory it would be, though – it was certainly 18th Century English soft-paste porcelain.  When my colleague David came, I showed it to him and asked what he thought and we went through all the pros and cons again and were still not sure.  Since, I’ve taken it to show to a friend who is a great expert and even she is having to think about it.  She apologised for not giving an instant answer, but I said it actually made me feel happier about not knowing myself.  I’ve left it with her and she’ll examine it again.

Birthday weekend coming up

LT has been away for a couple of days, though he’ll be back by lunchtime tomorrow, and I’ve been over to visit Weeza and co today.  It’ll be Zerlina’s ninth birthday tomorrow and Gus’s sixth on Sunday.  Their other grandmother is also visiting and staying for a week.

I woke early this morning and went to make myself breakfast sometime after five.  When Eloise cat came in a bit later, wet from the rain, she was very pleased to discover I’d remembered her butter and Marmite.  I can’t deny that she’s pampered.  And I’ll have to get her something nice for her Sunday dinner, as it’ll be her third birthday.

I’ve taken the easy way out with all my children’s birthdays this year, by saying that we’ll babysit the children and pay for an evening out for each of them – though none of them has actually taken me up on it yet, they’re all pleased at the prospect.  Next month, all three children-in-law have birthdays too and I will have to think of actual tangible presents – and I’d better get my skates on as two of them are in the first week of September.  Birthdays at the start of the month have a tendency to catch me out.

I’m very pleased that the letting agent has found me new tenants for my London flat, which is quite a relief as it has been empty for several months while work was being done there.  I’ve signed my part of the tenancy agreement tonight and they’re due to move in tomorrow week – I’ve still got a couple of things to do there, one of which is put up new smoke alarms, so it’ll mean another visit early in the week.  And I’ve got to fit in the writing of the catalogue and the photography, so I’ll have to be a little less lazy than usual.

Heart grows fonder

The china has been put in order and the condition report has been done.  Photos have been taken but I’m not happy with them – my own fault, I did the set-up too quickly and it’s just wrong.  So we’ll do them again, but not in a hurry.

LT is away for a couple of days, and it’s very quiet.  Not that he’s noisy, but there’s a vast empty space here.  He’s not vast either (I’ll stop digging, by and by) but it’s his absence that leaves a black hole.  I’ve been looking for positives – I can stretch out on the sofa with my feet up.  That’s it.  Everything else is negative*.  He’ll be back on Friday, though.

Roses is also away this week and so I’m keeping an eye on her cat and chickens.  When I went through to make sure he’d got food in his bowl, I surprised Eloise cat, who was napping on her sofa.  She went outside after that and I haven’t seen her since.  Rummy cat came to join me for dinner though, and ate the chicken I’d saved (sauceless) for her, in great chunks with an expression of great joy on his face.  I fetched more and then more, but by then I’d finished my own dinner so he’s had to stop eating.  He usually lets me stroke him nowadays but he wasn’t in the mood this evening: however he kept his claws sheathed when he batted me firmly away, so I count that as friendly.  I’ve learned how cats react, I’m no longer wary of them, though I don’t intrude.  Obviously.

I don’t think LT took any of the figs with him!  How awful – I’m not sure if they’ll keep until he gets back and I might be obliged to eat them myself.  Oh dear.  How frightful.


*Um,  Check out the last paragraph.  Heh.

Downs and ups

Today began extremely badly, but ended very well.  More on both of those another time.  I have to speak to someone about one and have another confirmed before I talk about them here.

Weeza and the children came over and the condition report is done, which was a marathon.  LT brought a trayful of china, I photographed each piece, Weeza examined it very carefully and noted any damage or restoration and then it was removed again.  The whole thing took about three and a half hours, plus time for lunch.  The children were angelic, both in keeping out of the way a majority of the time and in showing interest and helping – Zerlina has a keen eye for restoration and will be wanted next year, for sure.  They are counted as sale labour and have been paid.

We harvested our single productive eating apple tree – I can’t remember the variety but it’s an early one – we also have a couple of young trees and one of those has a few fruits, plus a Bramley which has a goodly crop but isn’t ready to pick yet.  Anyway, these are very good apples but they aren’t keepers, so we must eat, give away or freeze them soon.

We tried the tomato pickle that we made the other day – a chutney needs to be kept for several weeks, but a pickle doesn’t, and this turns out to be jolly good.  If the weather is good next week, a barbecue is called for: as Weeza pointed out, it would be brilliant with a good home-made burger.

We also picked quite a number of figs.  More had ripened while we were away, chiz chiz, but never mind.  We fortuitously had some Parma ham, so dinner tonight was a relaxed and ‘picky’ affair.  Though the bean salad, with a surprisingly zingy jalapeño pepper in it, was more pokey than picky, to be frank.

LT must have been prescient, because he put the champagne in the fridge before the good news came in.  It’s a most sensible policy, never to lose an opportunity to celebrate.