Monthly Archives: February 2018

Snowday part 1

There was a lot more snow overnight and Eloise cat was not at all pleased.  She kept asking to go out (she’s reluctant to use the cat flap nowadays, we think because she doesn’t want to run into Chip, the second next-door cat) and then hovering on the threshold and coming back in again.  Eventually, I showed her the litter tray and she showed an interest; later she went back to it and I heard her rustling around and she used it, to extremely smelly effect.  I have no evidence that she’s had a wee all day, though – but cats can last ages when they want to and I know she’s been drinking, so I’m not concerned.

The wind hadn’t blown the snow into drifts, luckily, but there wasn’t a place in the Dutch barn where the cats could feed in the dry.  They came to be fed in the morning and were glad of food, and I put a bowl of water for them too, but they were nowhere to be seen this afternoon.  I suspect they’re holed up in the big barn, where it’ll be dry and where the mice will be sheltering too.  Most of the hen run also had a generous sprinkling where snow had blown in, even in some of the back half where the sides are covered over; it’s usually dry in there as the tin roof comes well over at the edges.  I’ve been out several times with fresh water, it’s frozen within a couple of hours.  The chooks have sat on their perches when they haven’t been feeding, except for the good girl who laid me an egg.  I’ve taken out a couple of old sheets and arranged them as a windbreak, it felt a lot better in there afterwards: strong winds are forecast for the next couple of days and they’ll need a bit more shelter.  It’s -5º now and isn’t set to go above freezing for a while.

I accidentally got into a discussion yesterday on Facebook with a couple of chaps who had the usual line about people being wimps and wusses nowadays, and children should have to go to school every day, regardless of the weather because back in the winter of 1963 all schools kept going throughout the awful winter.  All I’d done was explain, as a point of information, that sometimes the reason a school closes is because the bus companies phone the Head to say they won’t run a service that day because of the weather, or will come early to pick the children up.  It was the usual tedious thing from people who think they’re proving something by clogging up the roads when the police ask that unnecessary journeys aren’t taken, and that children having a snow day is a waste of taxpayer’s money – a specific point made.  The happiness I’ve seen from pictures of families, out sledging and building snowmen, and staying safe off the roads (the other pictures on social media are mostly of stuck vehicles, even on main roads), is far more worthwhile than a day at school, I’m quite convinced.  It’s not that we have this weather very often.  Of course, sometimes schools are shut when the forecast bad weather doesn’t happen, and some Headteachers are so risk-adverse it’s absurd, like the one who’s forbidden all his pupils to touch snow at all in case they’re tempted to have fun in it, hurt someone and he’s the one sued (he was more concerned about the latter point than the non-existent injury), but it’s certainly not reasonable travelling weather today.  Son-in-law Phil set off on his bike as usual, had to come back because it wasn’t possible to bike and took the car, as Weeza was looking after the children – Sledging! Snowmen! Brilliant, happy family fun! – took as long to get there in the car as it would have on his bike … and the boss shut the office two hours later as the weather was so bad.  But he kept his machismo and Good Employee brownie points and got some work done.

What I meant to write about was a similar sort of snowfall, when Weeza and Al were little and we lived in Lo’toft, a few years before Ro was born.  But I’ve rather run out of the self-allocated space I’m inclined to use for a blog post.  It changed the Sage’s attitude to his job, and thereby rather changed our lives.  Tomorrow, darlings.


It’s a bit boring at the Zedary

When we’d all assumed that snow had passed us by again this winter, the weather changed for the colder.  Here, we’ve got a few inches, nothing spectacular, but there are lots of reports of accidents on the roads.  I suppose that people just aren’t used to driving in bad weather any more.

LT is away this week, but he kindly got in plenty of wood and coal for me, because I went down with one of those vague winter bugs last week that is taking a while to get over and I haven’t a lot of energy.  I slept a lot and ate very little, that’s about all there is to be said about it.  Eloise cat and I are having a few quiet days now, which is actually rather boring.  I’ve watched daytime TV two days running – I’m going to start enjoying it if I don’t watch out.  LT may return to a different sort of wife, who sits with the remote to hand and insists on having the television on at all times.

Those outdoor cats are becoming fussy, or else the quality of cat food is going down badly.  Either Rose or I buy supermarket own-brand for them – I get Co op, she gets Tesco or Sainsbury’s.  A few months ago, I had a feeling that the Co op recipe had changed, it looked more sloppy and less meaty – and the cats didn’t like it.  They tolerated the sort in jelly for a while, but then didn’t want to eat that either.  They liked Whiskas though, as well they might.  LT bought some Waitrose brand but they turned their noses up at that.  Now, they aren’t eating Tesco either.

They can forget it, I’m not buying Whiskas for them.  Eloise cat rather likes the Tesco and I’m not giving them her usual expensive brand either.  They can just have dried food and I’m not being bullied.  Though I shouldn’t forget that I’d said I wasn’t ever going to feed them at all, and gave way on that within days.  At least one of the chickens has started laying again – the big black one is laying an egg most days, which is rather useful because the two things I’m best at eating at present are poached eggs and Lionel RichTea biscuits.  I’m such an egg snob, I only eat them poached if they’re freshly laid by our own chickens.

Z’s blessings counted again

The family came over for the day and Wink is here for a few days too.  Rose and co came in too, so there were 16 altogether.  I’d made it a really easy meal though, LT made his famous quiche and I served cold meats, salad and cheese.  People arrived at different times, so it wasn’t going to be very sensible to wait until everyone was here before eating.

Weeza and family arrived first and, as soon as Ro, Dora and young Rufus arrived, Gus – now six and a half – was out of the door looking for his little cousin.  He and Rufus adore each other.  He had to wait though, because the baby – well, the toddler, he’ll be two in June – was asleep in the car.  When he woke up, the two of them were off together, very happy.  And when Dilly got here with her three (Al was at work, so arrived last), all six children vanished.  I haven’t been into the furthest bedroom which is their chosen playroom, so I don’t know what they’ve been doing.  They came and went, occasionally grabbing some food and sitting at one of the tables with it, but we didn’t have much of their company; though we did see Zerlina and Dora together and have a feeling that nine-year-old z is taller than her aunt now.  Poor Dora, not much less than five foot and she’s probably destined to be shorter than anyone.

My dear friend Lynn lost her daughter last May in a silly, stupid, random event that made the death of a healthy 28-year-old even more tragic.  Lynn has written a book of poetry about Sophie – Lynn is an artist and a poet, a very fine one, this isn’t some amateur effort.  She is selling them for £10 with all proceeds going to St Martin in the Fields church’s Vicar’s Fund for the Homeless (it’s the London church in Trafalgar Square, where Lynn was married and Sophie – I’m her godmother – was baptised).  I don’t suppose anyone would like a copy and don’t feel any sort of obligation but if you would, let me know and I’ll send you details.

Home from home from home

It was a short break but it was lovely.  I like LT’s house very much and feel at home there and we didn’t have much that we had to do, so treated it as a holiday.  I did need to buy a new kettle and we wanted a few other bits and pieces in the town centre, so spent an hour or two there, and the next day LT took me out for a particularly excellent lunch, and I spent one afternoon reading an entire book – this used to be a regular thing but hasn’t been for the last few years.  Perhaps it was the stabilising effect of that which enabled me to sleep well every night.

LT had intended to do some work on the catalogue but he didn’t get around to it, which I was glad about.  It was supposed to be a break – if he’d really wanted to do it then that would have been one thing, but I didn’t want him to feel obliged.  It’s a bleak, wet night now – I was just able to feed the animals in the dry at 4.30 – and we’re sitting with a lovely log fire, having eaten shepherd’s pie for dinner.  With ketchup.  LT was gratified when he found that we both feel that tomato ketchup is indispensable with shepherd’s pie.  Eloise cat was equally gratified to have us home and has sat on both our laps – LT was thoroughly, though tranquilly, kneaded – and to be given her own share of the leftover meat before I mucked it about with onion and so on.

Rounding the buoy at full throttle in a cloud of spray

Off again for a couple of days and, though I’ll take my iPad, I don’t know if I’ll write anything.  So I’ll just leave you with a picture of my father*.

The hilarity caused by the idea of going round a corner “at full throttle” must have been the talk of the motor boat club at the time.

When I’m back, I’ll write more.

*photo copyright Daily Mirror.

Suffolk and what???

I finished the condition report, have labelled all the china and it’s gone into safe storage, so I don’t have to think about that any more for a while.  LT does as he’s valiantly offered to write the catalogue this time – since he’s never used Publisher before, this is brave but he’s good at that.

In the expectation of being finished by 12.30 or so, I said I’d take him out for lunch and we went to one of our favourite places in Yagnub, where we hadn’t yet visited this year as it was closed for a couple of weeks for repainting.  While we were eating, we heard the proprietor’s end of a phone call, with someone who wanted to book a table for Valentine’s Day dinner.  It was explained that the dining room was fully booked but the adjoining bar area (which is a comfortable room with a log fire) would be set out with tables just the same, and the customer decided to book…a table for three.

At the end of the meal, he came over to clear the table and we chatted a bit, he knows us as we”re regulars and we had our pre-wedding dinner party there.  And, as a result, I was emboldened to admit that I’d overheard his end of the conversation  and couldn’t help wondering about the circumstances of booking a table for three for Valentine’s Day.  He said he was surprised too but he couldn’t very well ask…  Later, a friend on Facebook suggested that it was parents who couldn’t find a babysitter, but it’s a set menu and isn’t really going to be suitable for a younger than teenage child, and a teenager could surely spend the evening with a friend.  Anyway, it’s much more fun to speculate.  Another friend commented that this sort of thing happens in Norfolk.  But it wasn’t Norfolk.  That’s where we live, but the restaurant is 100 yards over the border.

I ate a substantial portion of mussels and chips and rather needed a nap by about half past three.  We were still too full for the kedgeree we’d planned for dinner, so LT made up a nice fish salad instead.  And he remembered to put aside Eloise cat’s helping of trout before adding the dressing.  He’s good, you know.

Z is mellow

I spent much of the day with antique china.  I had to do the condition report – that is, note any damage or repair, and amend any details I might have missed for the catalogue too.  Then, I stuck the lot number onto each piece, wrapped it up, put it in a box and wrote down which box I’d put it into.

It was soothing.  I wasn’t in need of being calmed when I started, but I felt quite comforted by the job.  I started with the radio on, a download of Round Britain Quiz, but I concentrated on my task so completely that I kept realising I’d missed a bit of the broadcast and had to go back.  After twenty minutes or so, I gave up and turned it off, which was the right thing to do.

It was cold, though.  Sunny when I started, the porch was lovely and warm but then the sun went in and then, in any case, moved round the side of the house and I didn’t notice until I realised I was shivering.  I’d done enough for the morning by then, so went and made some lemon and ginger tea and we ate some delicious pâté for lunch, which Eloise cat loved too, and then I took a heater out while I did another hour or so’s work.  I’ve still got about a third of the lots to go, but it’s nice to be unhurried and I don’t mind at all.

I’ve been out tonight, for the book group dinner, which was good too.  I’ve eaten rather a lot, it was so very good and the company was a pleasure.  As I’d been so chilled, I went for a bath after tea but fortunately it didn’t send me to sleep.  I’m rather ready for bed now, though.

Z stays in bed

We’ve finally had a fairly moderate snowfall – a few flakes so far this winter, but nothing to linger more than an hour or two.  But there’s more forecast overnight and the temperature below freezing, so perhaps, for an hour or two, it’ll look white out there.  I have little hope that I’ll be able to build a snowman though.  And it doesn’t matter I suppose, though it’s one of those little things that means we’ve had a proper winter and then I can look forward to spring.

I woke with a migraine today, which doesn’t happen often.  That is, migraines don’t, nowadays,and waking with one hasn’t happened for several years.  But I had one in the middle of the day, a week or so ago and so I was sufficiently cast down today that I gave in and stayed in bed.  LT, to whom I sent a text explaining, kindly went to feed the animals and later went shopping.  And by that time, I was ready to get up and be moderately myself.  And we had breakfast for dinner – that is, eggs, bacon, fried onion, fried bread and tomatoes – which has finished the wellbeing process.

Does Z feel lucky?

It was snowing when we woke up this morning, but it was a tentative, amateur sort of snow and it slunk away during the morning.  No more is forecast here, so it seems that I won’t build my snowman this year.  I don’t mind too much, I’m getting ready, in my mind, for spring.  We really should get our act together and have a winter holiday next year, but we’re not too good at proper, staying in a hotel, going away holidays.  Life is just one big holiday for the LTZs.

It was cold though, and I used that, and not having slept last night, as an excuse for not getting much done.  I should be busier than I am, and I could be, but I’ve had enough of daily juggling of my time and prioritising, and reprioritising daily, the list of things to do.  I want to relax more whilst not being totally lazy, which isn’t too easy at this time of the year.

Wink and Dee phoned this morning.  I’m so pleased – Wink has to go home tomorrow and we were both a bit anxious about Dee managing on her own, though she has got someone there in the evening and overnight.  But Wink has invited Dee back with her.  We thought it couldn’t be managed because Dee has a physiotherapy appointment on Thursday, but she’s been able to put it back a week and there is nothing else to stop her.  The extra few days will make all the difference, and Wink’s house is easier to get about than Dee’s is.  It’ll be perfect, especially as a very old friend – in both senses – of Dee’s lives in Shaftesbury and she can visit her on her 90th birthday this week.

Next week – the day hasn’t been arranged yet – Wink is coming here and then the whole family will visit on Saturday week.  As you know, there’s nothing I love more than having a full house and lots of people to feed and it’s also a great pleasure that all my children and grandchildren enjoy getting together.

This punk does, indeed, feel lucky.

Z’s arms are around the cat and typing is being done with difficulty

I’m home and all has gone well.  Dee is feeling so much better than before the operation and is a lot more mobile, though it’s going to take a while for her to be fully active again.  Wink came along yesterday to take over from me.

All has gone well while I’ve been away, too.  I’ve only been missed for my sparkling personality and cheering presence, not because things fall apart when I’m not here – as I expected. And LT cooked a delicious lamb rogan josh and Gujarati-style green beans for dinner, with some of the naan bread I made and froze a week or two ago.

Which reminds me (because one of the reasons I made the bread was to use up surplus milk) that, the last time I made yoghurt, there was no surplus whey.  Usually, I boil the milk, cool it to the right temperature, add a spoonful of yoghurt and put it in a thermos flask for a few hours, where it sets.  Then I tip it into a sieve and the whey drips through, leaving the yoghurt, which would otherwise be quite watery, which I put into a jar and into the fridge.  I don’t know what was different this time because it didn’t separate and was not as runny as usual.  I used a pint of whole milk and about a half pint from another bottle – the top half, so it included the cream (this is just pasteurised, not homogenised and I never buy skimmed) and perhaps that was the reason.  I’m wondering whether to buy a pint of creamy Jersey milk next time.  I usually waste about 20% of the quantity – though I can soak bread or oats in it and give it to the chickens – and if it meant it was naturally thicker then it would be worthwhile – though the principle of using surplus milk would be lessened.  I have two pints a week delivered, but we hardly use any, some weeks.  Anyone got any views on the subject?

When I got home, I found the tickets for three concerts waiting for me, which is very cheering.  Having also got my seed order from gardening club, I feel that spring is on the way.  Though I’ve got to deal with the panes missing in the greenhouse before any seeds can be sown, of course.

And tonight, I’ll spend an hour or two catching up on your blogs.