Monthly Archives: October 2017

Z changes the time on the car clock, only three days late!

I started the day with a number of intentions and they’d all been done by lunchtime (actually, one of them was to make soup for lunch).  So I suggested we go to Norwich and look at potential furniture – sofas and/or chairs.  We looked at a lot of furniture and sat on a lot of furniture and debated and then went to look at fabrics and mused a bit, and then I pulled out a material and LT said, that was just the one I was looking at too.

Yes, a spooky moment for Hallowe’en.

We’ll get the carpet down first and think about the rest afterwards.  We’ve got time.

Tomorrow, bacon will be started.  I note that, a year ago today, we ate our first home-cured bacon, so we’ll be at least a week behind that this year.  Maybe the nights were colder then – we do need a cold enough attic – or maybe we’re just slow off the mark.

I still have a lengthy to-do list, but it’s all in hand so far.  Except the planting of the bulbs, which should have been done before November.

There’s no accounting – except this week

The only reason I didn’t write a post yesterday was because Eloise cat was asleep on the chair by my computer.  I was brought up to know that dogs mattered rather more than I did, so obviously a cat does too.

I’ve spent the day on accounts and will write fifteen cheques tomorrow and post them – that is, I’ll post some of them on Wednesday because some of the cheques I paid in will clear on Thursday and others on Friday (the rest will be next Thursday, but I can cover those) and, though some people keep a cheque for a remarkably long time, I obviously must be sure I have available funds in case they all pay ’em in straight away.  And tomorrow, I’ll post out the china to commission bidders.  I aim to get all the paperwork done in a week.

I noticed this morning that today, a year ago, we tried our first home-cured bacon, which is a reminder to buy a piece of pork and make some again.  It really is fabulous stuff, far better than the watery apology for bacon that almost every butcher and supermarket sell.

The way to Z’s heart

Autumn is certainly here and, therefore, the time for hearty stews has arrived.  So I bought oxtail at the butcher’s and cooked it for several hours (do not believe a recipe that suggests two or three hours will do for an oxtail, it needs five), with carrot, onion, swede, red wine, orange peel, rosemary, bay leaf and thyme, and it was excellent.

We talked about offal, which I suppose is oxtail’s category though it isn’t innards, and how you never see it at supermarkets nowadays and rarely even at the butcher’s unless you order it.  If one doesn’t eat meat at all, that’s one thing but, if one does, then I think that one should tackle all edible parts.  Though I’ve never tried tripe, which LT, who has, says is disgusting.

I’ve only eaten heart twice and one of those times, I cooked it myself.  The first was the more memorable.  i was invited to stay with a schoolfriend and asked to arrive about 3 in the afternoon.  So we ate lunch at 1 o’clock and I arrived … in time for lunch, which they ate late in the holidays.  Who knew?  And it was heart, stuffed, in gravy; one each.  i was probably about 13 and had never seen such a thing.  And I wasn’t hungry – but I was polite and it was, indeed, absolutely delicious.  My friend’s mother was an excellent cook and managed superb meals on a fairly small budget.  I ate the heart.

As we chatted, it was apparent how many times I may have forgotten most things about an occasion, but I often remember the food.  It’s a wonder I’m not even bigger than I am, actually.

Time to write again

The sale was two nights ago, and our friend Daphne, who stayed with us for the week, has gone home, so I’ve got time to catch up with you again – I’m going to read some blogs after this, though I may not comment for a few days, it all takes so much time.

The sale was good in parts and I’ve learned from it.  I was happy with the prices and the atmosphere was lovely, but there was more than usual unsold and some of it shouldn’t really have been accepted at the reserves set.  And the lovely stuff was in a group at the end, the very best, and I think some people were waiting for it.  So, though I have been doing the sales for years, it had been the Sage who dealt with vendors (and now it’s my colleague, and he didn’t know) and I had reservations and didn’t act on them.  But the pieces on the header picture – that sparrowbeak jug is only two inches high.  They are miniature pieces.  The sparrowbeak made £1,150, the sucrier (sugar dish and cover) made £1610 and the teapot made £1495.  Those three little items, the size a child might play with, fetched £4255 and that seems absurd in some ways – but not if you are an antiques collector.  Think of it another way, that they’re 250 years old and they’ve been treasured by their various owners in all that time and it takes on a different colour.  In its small way, it is history.

Talking of history and thinking of social history, I’m really pleased to find that Liza Picard has written another book.  I love her books – she was a solicitor and, when she retired, she started writing social histories of London.  I borrowed one from the library, years ago, and liked it so much that I bought her other books as they came out.  When she wrote Victorian London, which was published in 2006, she said that she had now reached the age of 80 and it was time to retire – but evidently she didn’t quite succeed in doing that, and Chaucer’s People has just been published.

I’ve a lot of paperwork to get on with in the next few days and it remains to be seen whether that means I don’t have time to blog or whether it’ll be some light relief.  It’s good to be back, anyway.

Z thinks ahead. Thinking may be as far as it gets…

We’re getting ready for the auction on Wednesday.  I’m nearly there, I’ve printed out most of the paperwork and just have the bidders’ numbers to go – they have to go on card rather than paper and I haven’t fished it out yet and put it in the printer.  I also have to cut sheets of A4 in half, for the sale invoices.

Weeza and the children are coming over on Tuesday to see Daphne, so I’ve got to be all set by tomorrow afternoon at latest.  I haven’t seen them for ages, probably a couple of months.  Not sure where the time has gone.

We had a bit of business to do in London today, so drove down, as we can park on a Sunday.  As we passed the turn-off to Ely, I remembered that I have promised LT that I’ll take him there one day – but two summers have passed and we haven’t got around to it.  We did make it up to North Norfolk once, mostly because we had a day in hand when we were looking after Zerlina and Gus, but clearly we potter around far too much and don’t actually do enough.  We still haven’t managed a honeymoon yet.  Next year.  As we said about this time a year ago…

Cats, mostly

One of Eloise cat’s favourite places to sit is on the arm of the sofa, between LT and his laptop.

Another, at present, is on the carpet samples. Even better than a box, it seems.

But there’s a new member of the family, a cat called Chip.

Some of you know that Rose’s other half, known in Bloggery as Lawrence, is receiving medical treatment in London.  He and Rose are dividing their time between his house, Rose’s house (i.e. my annexe), his sister’s house and the occasional hotel overnighter, when the timing doesn’t work any other way.  And his cat is finding it a strain.  He doesn’t mind going into a cattery, but you can’t keep doing that – anyway, the decision was made that he should come and live here for the time being.  But then Rose and Lawrence were going back to London and Boy wasn’t going to be here last night, so I went and sat with Chip for an hour or so.  And a charming cat he is.  He’s a big cat with large, very hairy ears and a long tail, quite fluffy.  Rummy wasn’t vastly impressed, but he didn’t seem to mind dreadfully, though Eloise cat was quite horrified and made her indignation very clear.

I was in bed and nearly asleep when I heard her complaining bitterly, and deduced that Chip had come through the cat flaps (we have three cat flaps altogether) and upstairs and she wasn’t happy.  I reckoned they could sort themselves out and went to sleep.  This morning, there was no sign of Chip.  So I’ve kept an eye out all day, and saw him coming out of the field behind the annexe into the garden at lunchtime, so wasn’t too worried, except that I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and was, in spite of my attempts at being rational, a bit fussed all day.

They’ve had a tedious journey back, having spent a long time stuck on the M25 – I’d lit the fire for them to welcome them and, gazing anxiously outside yet again, saw Chip in the garden.  He wouldn’t come near me, but at least Rummy came indoors (as he had earlier, to eat).  But as soon as Rose and Lawrence arrived, of course Chip strolled towards them and then straight into the house.

So now I know he clearly is not going to get lost and he can look after himself, I needn’t spend a day worrying again, innit.

Z is still floored

Tim is away again for a couple of days and so I decided on an early night.  I’d been watching a film on Netflix and I planned to finish it on my iPad, in bed.  I rarely do this, but I was quite tired and didn’t want to risk falling asleep in front of the television, which I really try to avoid.  So, I was bathed and in bed by soon after 10 – but a while later, the phone rang.  Too late for even the most persistent cold caller, and there’s a friend whose calls are nearly always fairly late in the evening, so I answered it and, indeed, it was Daphne.  We had a lovely chat and she’s coming to stay next week.

However, of course it scuppered my winding-down process and I wasn’t able to sleep for a long time and I’ve felt a bit peculiar all day.  Not unwell, just funny.  The chap came to measure the room for the new carpet – still haven’t decided, but at least we know a bit more about the situation.  Because of the size of the room, we are fairly limited in our options.  A John Lewis one we quite liked won’t do, for instance, because it only comes in 4 or 5 metre widths.  Nor will made to measure, as we don’t want completely plain.  We’re left with a range of Ulster carpets, which are almost plain but have a slight two-toneness about them, or the plaid one we liked in the first place.  Although it’s 12 feet wide, it would actually be possible to cut a second width in two and butt them together – I asked the fitter, who is very capable and I’ve heard excellent reports of him, and he says it is possible.  He also said he recently fitted the same carpet in a farmhouse and it’s very attractive.  So we may be back to that after all.  Whatever we decide, the next thing will be to repaint the room.

But that won’t be next week, because that’s my Lowestoft auction week and we’ll be busy.

Z gets down and dirty. Very dirty.

About a year and a half ago, we had a fair bit of a problem with the septic tanks and I had new soakaways for both of them.  But it had become clear over the past week or two that there was a bit of a blockage in the annexe’s pipes and, having checked the tank, it didn’t need emptying – and having it emptied wouldn’t solve the problem.  The pipe needed rodding out.  And, though I keep a few drain rods outside the back door because the kitchen pipework clogs up every few months (clearing it is a simple job), the large bundle that used to be in one of the lean-to sheds simply vanished a year or two ago.  I don’t suggest it was taken but that it was used, not put back and lord knows what happened to it, or the chimney brush that was with it.  The rods are dual-purpose, you put a brush on and sweep the chimney, or a rubber disc or a screwy thing and rod the drains.

The obvious thing to do was to buy more and so I did.  And, on Saturday after lunch, I made a batch of cakes, meaning to decorate them and give them to Dave, and trotted out purposefully to clear the blockage. which would only take an hour or so.

In the days when my friend Jamie used to lend a hand with such things, he very sensibly used to lay out the rods first to see how many would be needed, but i didn’t remember that until later.  It is really difficult to get the rod into the narrow pipe in a modern system – it’s so much easier with the old ones which give more space, and I’m going to draw a veil over the process as it was dismal and rather unpleasant.  And I didn’t have enough rods, not even when I added the three from the back door.  I needed one more.

My second phone call found a friend who had some to lend me but he was out and he suggested I drive to his farm, phone back and he’d tell me how to find them.  By this time my arms were almost useless with fatigue and I couldn’t unlock the awkward door with the too-high handle.  And lovely friend phoned one of his farmhands, who happened to be on his way home and it was convenient for him to come and help.  And he loaded the bag of rods into the car and we had a chat – he’s a young man from the village whom I’ve known all his life.

I drove home, fetched a wheelbarrow and LT lifted the bag into it.  And out jumped a very large mouse.  Rummy was walking past.  “Look Rummy, mouse!” we cried.  Rummy was oblivious and kept strolling on.  Stoopid cat.  I was just relieved that the mouse hadn’t jumped out while it was in my car.

Briefly, I spent another half hour failing to get the rod into the drain and I gave up.  And Dave had finished the pillar and I hadn’t iced the cakes and was not in a state to touch food or anything else.  Frankly, when I’d driven up to the pig farm, the pigs themselves had recoiled from me.  So Dave took the cakes as they were and said he’d add jam.  And Rob picked up his cement mixer, which he’d lent us, and apologised that he couldn’t help as he was on his way somewhere, and they both drove swiftly away.

I went indoors, took all my clothes off and put them straight in the washing machine, scuttled up the back stairs and had a long, hot shower.  First I washed with soap and shampooed my hair, then I washed all over with Hibiscrub.  Then I got out and dried myself and put the towels to wash, sniffed my fingers and washed twice more with Hibiscrub.  Then I got dressed, came downstairs and washed my hands twice more, using a nail brush.

Later, I had a bath and went to bed feeling clean.

The next day, things went much better.  I made better preparations and had a sheet of plastic to kneel on and proper rubber gloves instead of disposable ones.  I wasn’t tired out any more and, with more control over my muscles, I was able to get the rods in.  Thirteen hadn’t done it, but fourteen did and the blockage was clear.  I was triumphant.  Too soon, as it turned out, as there was also a blockage further up.  But this was a much easier job as there was a proper manhole cover and easier-to-get-at pipes, and the job was done in a few minutes.

Beer was drunk and Twiglets were eaten before lunch.  And more beer with lunch, as a matter of fact.  But we shared that bottle.

I felt that I’d achieved something worth celebrating.  I’ve come to the realisation that I prefer getting things done myself, if it’s possible, than asking someone else to do it.

Photos of pillars!!(!)

Events overcame me yesterday, and I spent a considerable time rodding out the drains to Rose’s septic tank.  It was necessary to finish the job today – this may make another blog post, largely because of the mouse….anyway, the pillars.

Here was the first day’s work.  The bricks and sand were nearby, LT and I barrowed over the rest of the materials (Dave having lifted the cement bag into the barrow) and the mixer and we brought him regular cups of tea and cakes.  It was a long day’s work and the first pillar was done by the end of it, except for two bricks where he’d run out of mortar.

I’d expected a phone call to say the capping bricks had arrived at the builder’s merchant, so phoned to ask, in the afternoon.  There was some doubt as to whether they’d been ordered after all.  So I re-ordered them and here’s hoping.

Dave came back the next day and built the other wall.  I shifted the bricks – 84 of them, though I added a couple more in case of breakages – for him and then went to make more cakes.  But I was distracted by drains and didn’t get around to icing them and so, at the end of the day, he had to take away undecorated cakes.  I couldn’t possibly touch any food – or anything, in fact – before I had a shower and a major scrub down.

But the pillars are built and they look fabulous and we’re very grateful to friend Dave – actually, were it not for his partnership in the building of the Wall seven and eight years ago, I’d never have met a number of you.  Indeed, I might never have met Tim.

Bringing on the wall – er, pillar…

It’s been like old times.  Dave came over and has spent the day bricklaying.  We’ve only got a couple of pillars to build this time and he’s doing all the construction himself – hardly enough work for two, though LT and I did some fetching of bricks and so on, to help out.

I have pictures and they’ll go up tomorrow.  My phone, where they are, is charging in another room and I’m too lazy to go and get it.