Monthly Archives: November 2018

The heart of Thursday lunchtime

We went out to lunch yesterday at one of our favourite local hostelries – there are two in Yagnub, plus a café, that get our regular business – and we shared a platter of fish, meat, cheese and salad, plus chutney, olives, hummus and so on.  There was actually rather a lot of food, but we demolished most of it, whilst protesting that we couldn’t possibly.

There was music being played in the background, quite softly, which wouldn’t normally have been a problem.  LT and I are similar, in that we both listen to music rather than have it as a background sound, but usually we can tune it out.  However, this wasn’t so easy.  A woman was singing – she had quite a nice voice but she’d chosen to mangle every good tune she could find. The tune was unrecognisable, the metre was mangled, the piano accompaniment bore no resemblance either to the original song or what she did with it, and only the words gave the clue to the song itself; with the result that I spent much of the time listening intently, to try and wok out what the hell she was wrecking this time.

That I didn’t let it bother me was down to the good food and the excellent company.  I should have asked what the CD was, though, if only to avoid ever hearing it again.

Z is enthused

I seem to have agreed – not just that, but been willing – to become involved with another school thing.  I stood down as a school governor a year and a half ago, but carried on as a member of the academy trust.  That successful schools should be stand-alone academies was a ‘thing’ a few years ago and local authorities were out of favour, so that only the small but successful  schools found it best to stick with them.  Then there were free schools, an increase in commercial academy trusts etc – all rather unfocussed.  In the last few years, it’s also been all about Multi-Academy Trusts, where successful schools would band together and take on responsibility for managing other schools, spreading expertise and sharing administrative costs, so that there would be overall improvement.

I say all this with a poker face.  There have been enough initiatives in the last 30 years, since I first became a school governor, and I’ve worked with all of them and tried to get the best out of them.  Some were plain daft, others weren’t.  But anyway, the school I still think of as “mine” is still a stand-alone, independent, state funded academy, but the way capital funding, as distinct from pupil allowance, is meted out makes it more sensible now to band together.  The school has been in no hurry, but finally has agreed to apply, with a couple of other schools, to become a multi-academy trust.  This was in the papers a few weeks ago and consultation has taken place and so on – it needs a board of directors.  Unexpectedly, I was asked to be one and, just as unexpectedly, I felt enthused.

I went to the AGM of the existing trust a couple of weeks ago, had quite a few questions to ask and came away feeling that I’d put my mind to work, in a way that was interesting rather than worrying, and that I hadn’t felt for quite some time.  I still didn’t expect anything more than signing off papers, some time next year.  But here I am, back to meetings and paperwork and negotiations and planning, and feeling interested rather than pressured about it.  The thing is, it’s all about the planning and detail, and maybe interviewing and evaluation, and that’s what I’m good at.  I used also to be good at the joining in, hands on part, but I don’t want to do that any more.

Tim was very lovely about it and said he could see that I wanted to do it.  I’ve entered into things before, that I later felt would have been better avoided, but I’m fairly sure that this won’t be one of those things.  It’ll be a fair bit of commitment for the next few months, maybe up to a year, but after that it’ll be very little work and just as much interest as I want it to be.  It’s not a sure thing yet, of course, there is still a lot of planning and then an application for the project to go through.  And the matter of the best way to run schools is another matter.  Whatever current brainchild of the government is what goes, and all we can do is make the best of it.

Z steps back

I’ve passed a job over to Tim. This sort of thing doesn’t come easily to me, I feel that I have to be self-reliant and not duck out on responsibilities.  But he said he would help and so I’ve asked him to, and am immensely grateful.

I’ve always felt I have to carry on and not ask for help, though I’ve always been willing to give it, and I’ve known for a long time that this can be somewhat off-putting.  So, for the last couple of decades, I’ve made conscious efforts to change.  But this is something that was really up to me to sort out, and letting go of it is such a relief to me, though probably not the big deal to Tim than it feels to me – I’m going to get lost in grammar any moment, so I’ll just say that I feel much better and, again, he merits the description of Lovely.

It’s mild and damp at present.  I see from Facebook that today, 8 years ago, I made a sizeable snowman.  I’m rather glad it’s just wet, I don’t really quite feel like having a snowfall this week.

I’m planning to move furniture around.  LT thinks it’s a good idea, but the first thing to do is buy wardrobes, because we’re quite 4 of ’em down, at present.  We may go on an expedition tomorrow or Friday, if I get the rest of the stuff hanging over me done.  Because, while LT was taking on half my tasks, i wasn’t doing the rest of them at all.  I did make bread, however, if that goes a small way towards making up for it.

Z rolls her eyes at slogans again

We’ve had another brisk trip to Reading, where we found a letter with a hospital appointment for LT, so will have to go back there in a few days’ time.  At least it’s not the week before Christmas, we aren’t going to grumble about it.

On the way home, we passed a Mitsubishi garage.  “Drive your ambition,” was writ large on the poster.  Now, as a life challenge, it does have some meaning, in a buzzwordish sort of way, but as a strapline for a middle-of-the-range car manufacturer (darlings, I trust you noted with appreciation that I didn’t say middle-of-the-road), I’m not very impressed.  I’ve nothing against that make of cars and they may well be splendid – I don’t know as I’ve never been in one – but it’s not my absolute ambition to drive one.

Morrison’s, the supermarket, exhorted me to “shop online now.”  Not now – or rather, not at the time I read the slogan on the van – because I’m driving.  I feel that “shop online today” actually has more punch.

Thinking about these things reminded me of what could well be the worst of the lot.  It’s Rightmove.  “Find your happy.”  Seriously, if I were the sort of Z who does that, I’d want to punch someone.

There seems to be a lot about punching in this post.  Can’t think why.

One has to laugh

I needed a few things at Boots today, so went into Yagnub on my own and pottered around.  I’ve so got out of the habit of doing that, it doesn’t come naturally any more.  But I had a £25 voucher and I stocked up on various odds and ends, bought some glasses in a charity shop, considered going to the dress shop but didn’t, and went home again.  As I said yesterday, we’ve relaxed for the weekend and that’s that – though I’ve got a 3 hour drive tomorrow, so I do need to be on the ball for that.

For the last few years, I’ve been using the iPlayer radio app to listen to BBC radio, and it’s pretty good.  I can mark programmes I want to listen to or download, and they come to the top of the list when there’s a new episode, so I can check through the list and see what I want to download.  It’s not perfect – I’d like not to have to ferret through, to see things I might be interested in, and I’d like new episodes to download automatically.  But it’s pretty good.  A week or two ago, I was notified that there was a new app called BBC Sounds, so I downloaded it.  It’s clearly aimed at younger people listening mostly to music, but that isn’t the problem.  What is, is that every single thing I’ve bookmarked is listed in random order, with no indication of whether there’s anything new since I last listened, nor whether the programme can still be listened to – a lot of them vanish after a month.  I keep the bookmarks – let’s say that there’s a programme which has a new series every year.  I get the notification that the new one has started, as long as I haven’t removed the bookmark.  But this new app is not in chronological order at all.  Apparently, it will suggest new programmes based on what you’ve listened to before, which is just what I want.  But I can’t do the massive amount of work involved in setting the whole thing up.  It seems that they’re going to withdraw iPlayer, on the grounds that not enough young people listen through it, and they’re interested in the under 35 audience, and are willing to spend 10 million pounds promoting it.  No idea if that’ll work, but it seems that they don’t care about losing me.  Audiobooks, here I come.

I’m listening to Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley at present, in some haste as it only has a couple of days to go.  I evidently haven’t read it, which surprises me, but I didn’t know the plot at all.  It’s done very well and I’ll miss the BBC.  But they have to get the app right before junking the old one, if they want to keep their old listeners as well as possibly gaining new ones.  I don’t think they should worry about it, myself.  Just be good and people will follow you.

I’m going off to laugh or cry now.

Z lines up ducks and watches them bob

Tim is perfectly lovely, as I have said already.  I’ll say it again, many times.  He makes me glad.

Enough of this girly soppiness.  I finally got on with Stuff that has been hanging over me for three weeks, because I was too distraught after LT’s sudden, though soon over, illness.  And I made phone calls and put things in motion, and LT has kindly said he’ll take over the next bit, which will happen next week, because it’s all got a bit much.

But it’s not too much now.  We’ve relaxed for the weekend, and that’s all good. Another trip to Tim’s place is in the pipeline, but we’ve got everything planned.  Including some unexpected extra involvement in something for me, but it’s all fitting in and I’m not stressed at all, not at all, not even the tiniest bit because I’m … actually, that’s true.  I feel better than I have for a while.  Thanks, Tim.  Chalking that up to you 😀

Beautiful soup, as the Mock Turtle put it

At this time of year, my culinary thoughts always turn to soup, probably because slaving over a hot stove is unappealing in the summer but highly thought of now.  And buying lots of lovely root vegetables is fine, but I get carried away and have a lot of food that needs using up.

I wasn’t the one who over-catered for Sunday though, and we had twice as much calabrese as we needed.  So Tuesday’s soup was stilton and broccoli.  Today’s was fridge soup, basically – all the odds and ends that needed using up, including the stalk of the final head of calabrese and three of the final tomatoes from the garden.  I think butternut squash will come next, and LT is yearning for minestrone.  We could last for weeks without shopping, really – though it might get a bit dull if I relied on just vegetables out of the garden.

The chickens are still laying remarkably well – actual laying hens certainly are far more productive than bantams; the big black hens still laid eggs throughout their moulting and none of them has gone broody at all.  It’s amusing to watch them intimidating the barn cats – I have to shut them up before feeding the cats if it’s not to happen.  I had to pick up a chicken and take her inside the greenhouse the other day, as she’d chased away the cats and was tucking into their food.  They get a handful of mealworms, which is an indulgence that Rose introduced them to, and don’t need chasing into the shed very often.  Usually, i can just pick up the eggs, chuck in the mealworms and then leave them to go to bed while I secure the *not rat-proof* “rat-proof” feeder for the night.

Having had one lovely bloggie get-together with Indigo and Lisa, we’ve now planned another with Mike and Ann, which we’re looking forward to.  We tend to waft along in our own little world, but it’s so much pleasure when we are actually sociable.


We’re promised another new restaurant in Yagnub.  It’s a Mediterranean pomegranate restaurant, it seems, which gives rise to several questions and, since the post on Facebook that I saw had no punctuation and indifferent grammar, I’m not sure how soon any of them will be answered.  All the same, we may well give them a go.  It’s a big thing, to open a new enterprise and they can’t afford for us all to wait and see.

I filled in my seed order this evening.  The local gardening club has an arrangement with a seed company for a 50% price reduction if they get enough orders, so I’m doing my bit towards the total.  I like looking through a seed catalogue – it’s a ray of hope against the prospect of a dark winter.  Not that winter is bad, just rather deadish – still, buying seeds looks forward to spring and new life and growth and so on.

Not a lot to tell you about.  The ironing is spectacularly successful, though I’m not entirely convinced about the design of the new iron.  If you want continuous steam, which you need for a dry linen tablecloth, you have to hold down a button, which is awkward and my hand was painful for some time afterwards.  A simple switch to keep it on would have solved that, or else a bigger button that would have adapted to one’s hand.  But hey.  All the tablecloths and napkins were ironed within an hour, which was remarkable.





Z de-creases

Tim will be off-road for the next few months, having had a medical incident that means the DVLA has had to be told about it, and 6 months’ wait is standard.  As he’d gone down to Reading in his own car three weeks ago, and was advised not to drive back – though it wasn’t actually illegal to do so – he had to put me on his insurance and the first time I drove the small but nippy 3 litre jalopy was through Reading and on the motorways.  And that was okay but I’ve driven automatics for a number of years now and so a clutch and 6 gears was something to reckon with.

All is fine, Tim is fine and it’s all precautionary.  We’re going to be together all the time from now on – we’d efficiently spread ourselves for the last year or so, but one always looks for the best in any situation and we intend to do nice things when we visit Reading together.

The *nice thing* we did today, however, was try out the new iron.  I decided against a steam press in the end.  I wasn’t convinced it would be the best way of dealing with the tablecloths.  I have, however, bought one of those irons with a separate reservoir and we used it for the first time.  It certainly cuts through the shirt ironing and also steams out creases on a hanging-up jacket.  I’m building myself up to try the tablecloth – I’m sure that, at the least, it’ll be much better than my previous iron.

The good news from next door is that Rose’s Lawrence has finished his course of chemotherapy.  Now he has to recover from that, of course, but he’s coped very well and she’s been a real brick.

I’ve also bought a carpet shampooer.  I’m clearly turning into a domestic goddess.  Not before time.

Yagnub library

Yesterday, I went to the local library, for the first time in at least five years.  I used to go there regularly – I borrowed ten books at a time, which I had for up to three weeks.  I might renew a few or I might go more often, but I used and appreciated it.  And then, as things got more worrying at home, I couldn’t read books any more and I stopped borrowing them – I didn’t stop buying them and had an awful lot of unread books, most of which I’ve caught with by now, but that’s another matter.

In the intervening years, local governments charged with saving money have had their eyes on libraries.  Some have had their hours cut, some have been closed, but public opinion has kept most of them open.  I happened to have ten minutes in hand and was right by the library, so went in.  Taking out the books is self-service now, but I knew my card must be out of date, so went to the desk and it was duly renewed, and I went to look at books.  I was rather shocked.  There are well under half the books that there used to be.  In the case of non-fiction, however, I’d say it’s down to a fifth.  Several double-backed shelves have been removed and the remaining ones are barely half full.  In fiction, about a quarter of the space is taken with crime novels and the large print books are now on a shelf or two instead of a whole bookcase.  The children’s section is also much smaller than it used to be.

I’ve taken out four books and will visit weekly from now on.  I’m sorry I haven’t been more supportive.