Monthly Archives: January 2018

Show, shower … what’s the superlative?

We’ve caught up with all the work and we’re feeling pretty good about it.  LT bought a new light box and it’s made things a lot quicker and easier.  So encouraged was I that I’ve cropped all the photos, so that’s a job done, and we’re ready to start on the catalogue when I get back.

I’ve just realised that I meant to wash my hair earlier on and I forgot, so it’ll have to be a shower tomorrow at Dee’s instead.  I just don’t like showers, even the nicest of them.  Okay in a very hot country but otherwise they’re just so intrusive, rather than relaxing, as a bath is.  And the worst bit is the sudden cold shock of getting out.  It’s not the same with a bath, as your shoulders are out anyway and your whole body is bath heat, so you’re cushioned for the few seconds it takes to get a towel round.  But a shower, you’re instantly into the shock of the cold.  Even if it’s not very cold at all out there.  Anyway.  It’s only half past nine but hair that’s washed at this time of the evening goes all bedhairish, however carefully you dry it.  *I* dry it, that is.

I’m quite sure that the world is divided into shower lovers and bath lovers, but I don’t know what it says about us, specifically, and there’s no doubt that we can live together amicably, whether on the same side or the other.  There’s also the soft versus the hard towel brigade.  I’m sure you know which side I’m on, but I wonder if you can work out LT’s angle on the matter.

I must pack my bag and write emails now, darlings.  Have a lovely week and, unless there’s unexpected 4G all the way, see you at the weekend.


Z’s Canterbury Tale

I’ve got a couple of bonus days.  I was due to go and stay with my friend Dee in Kent, who had a new hip last Monday and I thought I was taking over from Bee this afternoon.  But it turns out that Bee has taken a couple of days holiday from work and is staying until Tuesday morning.  Willing as I was to travel today, not needing to do so feels like a holiday plus an extra working day.  Tomorrow, we hope to get ahead of ourselves with some photography and so ease pressure on next month.

I’m feeling all up together and positive right now (I know this won’t last, so I’ll make the most of it) because I sent in an advertisement, deadline Monday afternoon, on Friday morning.  I cannot find words to describe the satisfaction, but smug would certainly come into it if I did.

In fact, being sorted out and organised goes further.  LT asked what I’d like Wince to do on Thursday.  Now, there are jobs, particularly replacing the broken panes in the greenhouse, but that relies on us having measured and bought new glass, so that ain’t happening this week.  I was scouting about otherwise, there are a few little jobs but not anything that’s urgent.  So I’ve asked Rose if she’d like him to work for her for the day, and that suits her very well.  I never thought there would be a single day when the garden is under control, even in late January.

What with the indoor lights being sorted out or on track to be so, you can appreciate how gung-ho I feel.  In a very modest way, of course.  We did lots of cooking yesterday too, some for LT here, some for me to take (it’s always a bit of a lottery, the first time you cook on someone else’s stove) and some stock for the freezer, which increases my sense of …okay, I’m quitting while I’m ahead.  I’m coping and that’s quite enough.

Once I am with Dee, it’s fairly unlikely that I’ll be able to blog at all.  Her house was, last time I was there a couple of years ago, what I understand is called a not-spot and she isn’t on the internet herself.  Walking 200 yards down the road is enough to give a good signal, but I’m not going to wander up and down the street blogging, much as I love you and will miss you all.  

LT will be in charge from Tuesday, so refer to him if there are any queries.  Though I’ll probably be back, over-managing, tomorrow night.  Then offline.  All week.



Mad social whirl – not Z’s obvs

Well darlings, I’ve had little success in finding a date for the blog party that will suit everyone.  Sunday 15th July is still a possibility as there is only one couple who certainly can’t come, but how about the weekend after?  We’re free then.  Saturday 21st or Sunday 22nd, that is.

It’s not exactly busy here, but there’s been quite a lot happening.  Here, it’s mostly been finally getting the electrician in.  Lights have been failing, one after another, and I kept forgetting to ring him.  But at last I did and he came and tonight we didn’t have to rely on a table lamp and candles to see what we were eating.  Even more remarkably, we’ve been and bought the other light fittings we need (all in one fell swoop, as Shakespeare put in in a rather different, tragic context), and he’ll come back as soon as I ask him to (we just want to unpack one of them in the morning to be sure it’s suitable) and then it’ll be a Lo! Let there be light!! thingy.

Wince the gardener turned up with his chainsaw this morning.  I remarked on this and he told me that one of the Scotch pines had fallen over in the gale last week.  I hadn’t noticed, which he found surprising, but I’d only looked for any to have fallen onto the road.  It went the other way and I simply didn’t see it.  I’m the least observant person I know, though LT is only a few places behind me: he didn’t see it either, but then it wouldn’t have occurred to him to look.  It’s cut up, branches heaped for burning and logs stacked for drying.

Rose and Lawrence took us out for dinner last night, which was fabulous and I realise I should have taken a picture of the menu, if only to remind myself of the wines.  But I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.  It deserves a post of its own, or mostly so, because I might waffle as Z does.

My well-documented Z resilience has taken a few hits of late and I’ve actually been quite low.  But I seem to be surfacing again, or I hope I am.  Hope is a vulnerable word and I am wary of using it, but I think I should, once in a while.  I still have a lot of blessings to count.  One of them is darling Eloise cat, who is so very loving nowadays.  I never thought I’d love a cat so much and I’m thankful that she never goes out onto the road.  Love feels like a vulnerable word too, but it’s such a necessary one.

Little people something something something steeple.

LT and I were reminiscing after dinner, as we often do, about our earlier days long before we knew each other.  It takes a few jumps to this but I’ll start from the beginning, about how I joined the Brownies.

I think that there are more specific age groups nowadays and I’d have joined the Rainbows and Brownies have a Panda instead of Brown Owl, but my own children didn’t get involved in any of this sort of worthy and enjoyable sort of thing because I’d hated it so much.

So much, in fact, that I blocked the memory of how I came to join for at least two decades.  And then I mentioned to my mum something disparaging about Brownies and she reminded me that I’d insisted on joining.  And I remembered that she was absolutely right.  One day, looking out of our kitchen window, we’d seen a group of little girls go past, all in brown uniforms, and I asked her who they were.  And they were Brownies and they were out on a nature walk.  The thought of a nature walk was Very Heaven to me and I forced my bewildered mama – because I never wanted to do anything much that didn’t involve a book – to go out and accost Brown Owl there and then, to enrol me so that I’d go along the very next week.

I hated it.  I went weekly for several years and I hated it.  There were several little groups – gnomes, elves, Little People and so on and they each had a red-and-white dotted artificial toadstool to dance around and sing their little song and then we did god knows what, but it had no attraction to a shy and introverted child who didn’t really *do* little girls of her own age.  Brown Owl was a worthy woman, I’m sure, but she had a way of boomingly asking if I was “still shy?” which is a surefire way of rendering any child silent and tongue-tied.  I gather there were badges to be earned but I was never offered a way to any of them and wouldn’t have cared anyway; I had no competitive edge and was dismissive of trivialities.  I wasn’t easy, I realise.

When I was 11, I was finally too old for Brownies and ascended to the Girl Guides.  I didn’t understand that any the better, but my ordeal was nearly at an end.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a new programme and it was shown on – I think – a Thursday evening.  And that was the same night as Guides.  No contest and my parents were reasonable people who quite appreciated priorities.

More than fifty years on, I still am furious that we never went on a nature walk.  It had apparently been a one-off.  It was the only reason I joined and we never did it.  I don’t usually hold grudges, but this is the one.

I wasn’t one of the Little People, I think I was a Gnome.  But what our ditty was has vanished from my memory.

Fifty years ago…

LT wrote a blog post about one of his schoolmasters, whom he remembered as a decent man, but recently a different side was shown on a website about the school, where another ‘old boy’ recalled him as having a heavily disciplinary side, which Tim didn’t know of at all.

I went to an all girls’ school, where it was different, of course.  No one ever laid a finger on us, it just wouldn’t happen, though caning and so on was still a feature in many schools, I was given to understand.  Were girls ever hit in any school?  I don’t know.  It’s just so wrong now that it can hardly be imagined.  I do remember thinking about the subject once – there must have been some trigger for the thought – and I knew that, if ever there were any physical discipline perpetrated on me, I would never return to the school.  My parents would have backed me up, too.

What I did remember though was the one time that I was given “lines” to write.  It was a gentle school. I don’t remember any punishment ever, except for one teacher’s rather nasty verbal sarcasm.  One girl, a year older than I, was expelled for smoking on the premises, but that was another matter.  And, I acknowledge, I was a good little girl.  I kept my head down, didn’t join in, didn’t argue, didn’t misbehave – and I wasn’t the easiest pupil because I was so disengaged from anything that didn’t enthuse me.  But for some reason – probably extreme untidiness and not having done anything but the sketchiest homework – an exasperated teacher gave me 100 lines.  So unpractised at doing so was she that she didn’t say what I was to write or when I was to give them in.

That night, deeply irritated, I sat down at my desk at home – a rather nice little mahogany folding writing desk which is now in my sister’s house – and contemplated a piece of paper.  I started to write something.  By the third repetition I was bored.  By the seventh, it being on unlined paper, my writing had started to slope down.  I wrote the first half of the next line and it sort of joined up with the second half of the line above.

Very soon afterwards, I stopped bothering and threw the paper away.  I never mentioned it to the teacher and she tactfully didn’t mention it to me.  I didn’t change my behaviour or attitude – actually, it was History, which I liked and was good at – and that was that.

I do have another memory, which demonstrates the kindness of the school.  It was a convent and, one day, I was going downstairs for assembly and there was an elderly nun in front of me.  I was in a hurry and she wasn’t and I accidentally trod on her habit and brought her to a snap halt.  Of course, I immediately said “I’m sorry, Sister,” and she turned and gave me the sweetest smile.  And then, of course, we walked slowly down together.  I actually never saw any of the nuns being unkind or losing their temper, they were genuinely good people.  Though, as we girls all agreed, weird.

Cat, a list

Something has happened in the world of the garden cats, though I don’t know what.  It seems there has been some sort of change in the pecking order.

Three ‘kittens’ (they’re coming up to three years old now) still come daily to be fed and often their father comes too.  Zain cat, the tabby, who is a lovely cat, hasn’t been for a few weeks.  When Chip came to live here, Rummy was unhappy and took it out on them.  Zain wasn’t intimidated; though he isn’t aggressive at all he will not run away, but just stands calmly, protecting his siblings.  But I suspect he’s quietly taken himself off to a new territory, although I hope he’ll look in sometimes, because I am very fond of him.  I doubt he’s been run over, I never see those cats on the road and there are many other places for them to go, I’m not worried about him though I miss him.

Of the three remaining, the two black boys, Fred and Barney, are nervous of Rummy, especially Barney, who is the most timid of them all.  When Rummy was in a mood, I had to feed them further away as they wouldn’t come to the normal spot.  Recently, he’s been much better and has not taken much notice of them, though I had to feed the boys down in the other place yesterday afternoon.  This morning, I gave Fred, Barney and their sister Betty their breakfast and then gave Rummy his – and then Betty jumped up near him.  He looked shifty and uncertain.  I put another plate of food down for her and she started to eat, a couple of yards from Rummy and he looked around, to find Fred staring at him from another four or five yards away and he didn’t stare back, but looked away.  Then they all started eating and I left.

This afternoon, Fred stood in front of Rummy and neither let him past nor ran away.  There was no aggression, just a firm attitude.  And later when they were all eating, Betty appeared near Rummy and he jumped and moved away for a minute.  Rose says that Rummy stayed out all night and it seems that there was some discussion between cats.  I haven’t seen father RasPutin, but he doesn’t come every day.  I fed him yesterday and saw him again later in the garden.

I give them dry cat food and also tinned and usually buy the latter at the Co op.  They won’t touch their own brand dry food, but they would eat the tinned.  A few weeks ago, it must have been changed because they no longer liked the Co op tinned cat food in gravy.  It was clearly poorer quality, as the price changed.  The sort in jelly became more expensive than that in gravy.  So I bought the one in jelly – but recently, they’ve been leaving that too.  These aren’t fussy cats, they’re feral ones that are normally grateful for any sort of food, so it must be poor indeed.  LT has come back with Waitrose cat food and Rose has bought some from Tesco.  I’d been having to buy the expensive branded stuff.  Because I obviously can’t possibly tell them to like it or lump it, can I?

Z’s just blown in from the windy village

I’ve put the possible party dates on the header now, not that there’s any hurry to fix a date.  I’ll see if any of my family can be there – I think that Ro and Dora have been to every one and the others come when they can.  The year before last, little Rufus was only a few weeks old and this time it’ll be days or weeks after his second birthday.

LT is back here again, having spent much of his time at his own place installing a new front door lock.  We’ve spoken on the phone each day and there’s been some Facebook communication too, as well as blogging.  I’ve been rather more remiss in that respect though – I meant to blog last night but the internet speed was even more dismal than usual.  I thought of watching some television and that never means tv any more: it’s not that there’s *nothing* on, but that there’s never anything at the particular time that I feel like watching it.  So I tried iPlayer and Netflix but nothing would load.  So I gave up and went to bed and read.

I suspect the reason for the extreme work-to-rule slowness of it was the weather.  Unusually, Norfolk and Suffolk seem to have had the worst of it this time.  LT said that it was extremely windy in Reading (though there is debate over whether the escaped wolf got out because its fence blew open or whether someone opened the gate: all the same, it strolled through a field of sheep and left them unscathed, so it is rather the lupine equivalent of Ferdinand the Bull, it seems) but here, a lot of roads were closed because of fallen trees.  Yagnub wasn’t actually cut off, but you couldn’t get to Norwich nor various other towns without going a very circuitous route.  Trains didn’t run and electricity was off.  Here was rather less dramatic, it just kept me awake.  Yesterday morning, I discovered that several panes of glass had blown out (one of them in) of the greenhouse and the wild plum tree by the lawn had some cracked branches, one having fallen on another and a domino effect having happened.  Little enough damage and nothing to fuss about.  Fortunately, Wince the gardener was due that day and, as I had a haircut appointment at 9.15, he did the clearing up and cut back the damaged branches.  I have a boxful of glass in the greenhouse.  I should take it to the tip but that’s a 20 minute drive away, in a direction I never go ordinarily.  They closed the local free tip a few years ago.

At least it’s too early to have wanted to sow seeds.  I have plenty of greenhouse glass, but it’s the size for the other greenhouse and I doubt I have enough for the damaged one.  Cutting old glass is possible but not easy, it becomes more brittle with age.  We’ll measure up and see what we have. but we may well have to go and buy what we need.  At least the chickens’ greenhouse was unscathed.

Invitation to the blog party, plus Z’s day


Update on blog party date options – please let me know if there’s any date you cannot do:

Sunday 10th June

Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th June

Saturday 23rd or Sunday 24th June

Saturday 30th June or Sunday 1st July (preferably not)

Saturday 7th or Sunday 8th July (preferably not)

Saturday 14th or Sunday 15th July

LT is away at his place for a few days, so our hearts are growing fonder.  This evening, I went to Gardening Club.  I’m drawing a veil over the talk, there have been better … nice speaker, though her talk would have been better aimed at beginner gardeners.   And the good news is, I picked up our seed order for the year.  Yay and huzzah etc.

I had only a few minutes to cook and eat before I went, so had an egg on a crumpet, which held the fort quite well but, I discovered, was not going to stem the pangs until the morning.  I went shopping earlier and had a great need for cheese.  I bought gorgonzola and mozzarella (both Italian rather than fake and the descriptions read well and I thought the Co op deserved the custom for trying) and some goat cheese and some Boursin.  I had half the mozzarella at lunchtime and the rest, in its tub, went into the fridge for tomorrow.

Reaching for the gorgonzola, I knocked over the mozzarella in its liquid.  I was a bit cross with myself but mopped it up and hope I got it all out from under the fridge.  Then I wiped the bottom of the mozzarella tub, put it back in the fridge and the sodding thing, clearly not balanced at all, tipped again and the remaining liquid landed on the floor.  At this point I lost my cool and swore mightily, wiped it all up again and poured a glass of whisky.  And then I discovered that, at 9.30 pm, a helping of gorgonzola isn’t quite enough and nor was a tot of whisky, not if it was of modest proportions, so I was totally, totally obliged to go and replenish both.  I’ll probably gibber of cheese – toasted, mostly – all night.

While I was at the Co op, I thought I might buy myself some flowers because I was feeling a bit sad and missing LT.  They had Norfolk-grown tulips, which I thought was rather impressive in January, so I bought a bunch.  They were in bud but they’re already opening out.

In other news, I had my tax demand and I’ve paid it at once because, let’s face it, the country needs the money pdq as it’s all so mightily awry that every pound helps.  Or do I mean every billion?  Can’t help there, but they’ve had a modest couple of thousand: I overpaid last year because that’s how self employment tax works – you overpay every other year.  And the programme arrived for the Aldeburgh Festival.  As it’s Leonard Bernstein’s centenary and, as Britten lived in America for a while and knew both him and Copland, there’s a fair bit of their work in this year’s festival.  Which seems okay to me.  When LT comes back home – both homes plus the caravan are home – we’ll look and choose.  He’ll have to rein me in, I’d go to every concert I like the look of but he’s a bit more sensible.  Not totally sensible, of course.


Blog party 2018!!(!)

LT and I have looked through the diary – we each have our own diary, of course, but they only vary in minor details, so just one was enough.  And we’re reckoning on a date in June or July.  These are the most likely ones for us –

Saturday 2nd or Sunday 3rd June (this is the end of half term week)

Next two weekends aren’t out of the question but aren’t ideal

Saturday 23rd or Sunday 24th June

Saturday 30th June or Sunday 1st July

Saturday 7th or Sunday 8th July

Saturday 14th or Sunday 15th July

After that, the school holidays start and so, whilst we’re free the next weekend, I know there are others who aren’t.

If you’d like to come, you are most welcome.  If you’d like to stay, we’ve got two double, one twin and one single spare room and there is capacity for family roomness, as well as space for dossing down or pitching a tent; not that this has ever happened so far, but meals can certainly be provided with cheer and enthusiasm for any and all guests.  You’re welcome, truly, whether or not you’ve yet met me or Tim – in fact, if you haven’t then it’s about time you did. If there’s a preference for any dates, or a date you can’t come, let us know – last year, it worked out that there was only one Saturday possible and, as it so happened, the weather was lovely and, for the first time ever, we had lunch outdoors.  But I learned from the first blog party not to rely on the weather and to assume nothing at all.


Z pots sixteen jars and what does she get?

It’s been a reasonably productive week and I’m glad of that.  It’s too easy to drift and not that straightforward to get the balance between having too many responsibilities and not achieving much at all.  My sister Wink gave up full-time work when she was 64, was offered another job a year later and has just retired again, another four years on from that.  She found retirement both boring and demanding, as she was instantly claimed to be treasurer of this and secretary of that local good cause, on the justification that she had time, now.  She managed to give them up again when she no longer had time.

I did the voluntary stuff for many years, both where I used to live and, especially, here.  I’ve finally managed to drop nearly all of those things and refuse to do them again – there’s a fair bit of pressure for one job but I’m not going to give way – but I can see that it might be easy to slip out of the habit of being busy.  I have no idea of the balance.  I used to be too busy and now I’m nowhere near as efficient because I don’t need to be, yet we don’t seem to have that much free time.  Relearning to relax must be a good thing, though.

Yesterday, LT and I were talking about a blog party again.  We’re willing if you are.  Shall we look at dates, or have you all had enough, at last?