Monthly Archives: February 2019

Saving the date…

The party will be on the weekend of the 18th/19th May. As ever, you are most welcome to come and stay and you are all truly welcome to come. If no preference is said, it’ll be Saturday 18th lunchtime, but it makes no nevermind, as Trinidadian Rose would say, to us if it’s on the Sunday, so we’ll fit in with the first person to have a preference. So far there are ten of us – which does include Tim and me – but I’ve never been taken aback by too many guests yet. If we were to go over 50, I might have to hire a marquee, mind you.

Good news is that my friend Graham has found me a man with some sheep, to graze a field that sorely needs it. Graham himself used to have some sheep and kept them on it, but he’s had enough of the work of them and I hadn’t found anyone else to use it. It suits sheep best, for various reasons, and these ones are Romneys, which are ideally suited to this particular field.

Other good news is that my monthly cleaning ladies came today, so we might not be tidy but we are clean. As soon as the rails go up in the wardrobes, there will be an attempt at some sort of order, but *tidy* is way beyond me. I have, at least, caught up on the washing today. I bought drying racks to stack on the Aga a few weeks ago – wildly expensive, it must be said, but at any rate, I haven’t needed to use the tumble drier since. With low ceilings and a very small utility room, there’s little chance of drying stuff except on a washing line or the tumble dryer. Which I see I’ve spelt in two different ways and I’m not sure which is correct. Anyway. I must go and take off the things that have dried, so I can put a bathrobe and a duvet cover to dry overnight. Toodle-pip, darlings.

Z makes plans

The wardrobe thing is going well. All four carcasses put together in the dressing room – I was going to tackle the other but other things cropped up. Now, rails, doors and handles to go. We had lunch out, to celebrate. Not that we need much excuse.

It seems that May is the best month for the blog party. We’re free every weekend but my first blog party was the May Day bank holiday and it was cold and windy, so I’m superstitiously wary of that. Not Sunday 12th either, as that’s Yagnub’s spring street market and we want to go. So Saturday 11th, 18th/19th or the second bank holiday weekend, 25th/26th/27th. Holidays don’t suit those who are grandchildren sitting, of course.

If you have a preference, or would like to come but can’t make one or more of the days, just say. We’ll please as many of the people as we can.

In other news, I’ve a plum tree in blossom, which makes me happy. Just a self-seeded wild plum, but in just the right place. Lucky Z.

What Z wants. Or doesn’t want

What I’ve learnt about myself over the years is, I’m not at all unusual. What I do or think is what a lot of other people do too. So I suspect others do the same as me in regard to footwear too.

The thing is, I have pretty well given up wearing *proper* shoes. By this, I mean fairly smart shoes with heels, not necessarily high, maybe a couple of inches or so; court shoes or fashion shoes or whatever – I just don’t do it any more. For the last few years, I’ve spent the winter in boots and gone straight to the summer in open sandals.

The last pair of shoes I remember buying was the very nice and rather expensive ones I bought for Ronan and Dora’s wedding, back in August 2014. I wore them for my own wedding to Tim. I’ve worn them on a few other occasions and I’ve worn my other shoes too, once in a while, but I don’t think I’ve bought any. I’ve looked, but not found anything I even wanted to try on. I have bought several pairs of boots and sandals and walking shoes; this isn’t a moneysaving thing but I’ve simply given up.

Part of it was that my bad hip meant that I couldn’t manage heels any longer, over an inch or so (nor could I have very flat shoes, in fact). But even there, I wore the shoes I bought last time I was in the same situation because I couldn’t find what I wanted. I’ve got limited time and patience and, if I can’t find what I want pretty damn quick, I give up and manage with what I’ve got. It’s the same with clothes. I’ve been looking for short coats/jackets/coats for two years now and found nothing. I did buy myself a new coat two and a half years ago, and would quite like something else as an alternative, but no joy. And as for jackets, I’m really prepared to be easy-going, but the garments just aren’t out there. I don’t think it’s me, I’m not even hard to please.

In regard to the shoes though, it’s really economical. Easy on the stockings, wearing boots. They’re more comfortable, too. Maybe it’s just age – but I have been taking notice, walking along the streets, and hardly anyone wears smart shoes any more. If they do, it’s people who’ve popped out of their office at lunch time.

Shops are in a parlous state, quite a number have closed and others are struggling. But are they selling what we want to buy? I don’t find that they are. But I’m old and unfashionable anyway, so perhaps my judgement isn’t fair. I do buy what I want to buy, though, they just have to offer what I want.

Bedroom and board

Tim is working hard on the new wardrobes. The main carcase is fine, but the doors are not at all easy. We’ve got four double wardrobes to go in the newly-styled dressing room, plus one, a different style, for a spare bedroom. Since Tim is getting to grips so effectively with the four (two down and two to go), I thought I’d have a go at the odd one. But then Ronan rang and I gained an hour with my lovely son, so I’ve done nothing except stack up an awful lot of cardboard.

Tim worked so hard this morning that I felt that Cheddar and biscuits didn’t quite cut the mustard, so popped out for some lunch. I ended up buying some Co-op crab pâté and smoked salmon – I’ve found in the past that Co-op own brand food can be very good quality. I checked the ingredients list – 50% crab, then soft cheese, cream, crème fraîche, lemon juice etc – mostly, what I’d have put in myself if I were making it from scratch.

Tomorrow, we’ll mostly be making more wardrobes. This will run and run.

Let us know about the blog party. At present, the only preference given is for sometime in May, which is fine with us.

While Z is on the subject of jollity, blog party anyone?

Today, we’ve mostly been building a wardrobe. Tim has, anyway – my role was mostly admiring his handiwork, though I was useful a couple of times. In an awfully stereotypical way, while he was wielding screwdriver and hammer, I was making bread and yoghurt.

We went to the panto in the next village last night – it always takes place in the February half term. They’ve long since worked their way through all the traditional pantomime stories, so this one was a story, written by one of the clever villagers, taken from the Guy de Maupassant story that Britten’s Albert Herring was based on, set in the village itself with the local Cyder Club at its heart. A jolly night out, for once – usually we stay here and make our own jollity. As we did this evening, which culminated in a rendition of the drinking song from The Student Prince. I know, darlings, it’s no wonder people look at us with wonder in their eyes.

I can’t promise you any such exhibitionism this summer, but if you’re up for another blog party, you would, as always, be most welcome. We’re pretty free at present between, say, mid May and late July – if you would like another get-together, do say any preferred dates or those to avoid, and we’ll start to work on it. I’ll mention it on Facebook too and come back in a few days with possible dates.

Z cleans carpets

It’s alarming, when you wash a carpet, quite how much dirt comes out, innit. There were a few marks on it but it looked okay overall before I started, but evidently it was filthier than I realised. There was some soapy water left in the tank at the end, so I gave a quick going-over to the small landing carpet – and that looks rather a different colour, I have to confess.

Last night, we went to Gardening Club where the talk was on garden beasties – insects and so on – which was interesting and the chap, a specialist entomologist, was excellent. He told us about a Spanish slug that is rather alarming – we don’t have them here in this garden, but they’re encroaching on Norwich, at any rate, and they are quite a nuisance. Basically, if you just have the odd big slug, you probably don’t have the Spanish ones but if they swarm all over anything they can treat as food, then they are and you need to put them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. They can eat an awful lot of slug pellets before there’s any ill effects.

We went to a lecture on Gustav Klimt today, which was excellent. I’ve heard that speaker before a few times, so was pretty confident it would be. We were only just in time as there were roadworks on the way, which held us up for ten minutes – that particular village has roadworks for months on end, and has done for years. They must have renewed all the utilities by now, yet it keeps on going. Heaven knows what it is this time.

I found a place for two bookcases and a desk. Just another few hundred books to go…

Z goes shopping

I might have mentioned that, when we were last in Reading, about six weeks ago, we went to Ikea in search of wardrobes. I’ve been looking for a while and not found anything suitable, so this seemed a possible option. And, indeed, we found what would do quite nicely. But we couldn’t face the hoo-hah of actually ordering it at the time (we had to take advice from another customer about getting out of the damn place), so I thought I’d do so online once we got home. Yeah. Bewildering, especially as half the pictures didn’t show up, and the app on my phone is useless (and has had a 1* rating in the App Store).

So yesterday, we toddled off to the branch in Norwich. You can’t buy anything there, only order it from the showroom, which is okay to an extent, because you do need to have a fair idea of what you want: but we did and the chap who helped us was very good and talked us through it quite reassuringly.

The room where it’s all going had to be cleared. It’s the smallest bedroom, which will become the dressing room, though it’ll still have a single bed in it. Basically, two big wardrobes, two bookcases, a chest of drawers, a bed, an ironing board and a clothes rail if there’s room. Until today, there were several more bookcases and a desk, as well as a lot of Stuff. We’ve cleared it. LT was mildly concerned that we’d get the new wardrobes and not have the room ready, but pfft, clearing out is what I’m good at. He is too, in fact, we’ve done a sterling job. Tomorrow, I’ll wash the carpet and then *all* we’ll have to do is assemble the wardrobes once they’ve arrived on Friday.

*All* isn’t quite it, of course, because one of the other bedrooms is full of everything we’re removed from the potential dressing room. All those books are in boxes, for instance. It’ll be fine. We’re on the case. Ho ho. Wish us luck….

Z’s ups and downs – and ups again

We’ve had some lovely sunshine in the last few days. I sowed some seeds in the greenhouse, strolled round the garden and, on Friday when I was in London, spent an hour or so relaxing on a bench in a little Islington public garden, basking in 15º of warm sunshine and enjoying the feeling of being slightly too warm.

Worryingly, one thing that gave me pleasure was walking through a cloud of gnats – midgets, as they’re known in Norfolk, because we can’t quite cope with midges. I rarely destroy an insect nowadays, they have become too rare. I’ll swat a mosquito if it’s in the bedroom at night, I’ll kill a flea or a tick, if I found I’d got headlice they’d be combed out and destroyed but, for the most part, insects are welcome, even the plant-eating ones. Aphids are left on the roses or the beans, because they’re food for birds and ladybirds and they, along with butterflies, moths, pretty well everything except for the parasites, are diminishing so shockingly.

The crash seems to have happened in the last few years and it’s accelerating. There are now articles in the papers about it, but it’s been apparent for a while. I don’t quite understand why here, because the garden is surrounded by unsprayed fields, this should be a haven, but actually numbers are so low that they don’t seem to find their way here.

There are still ants. And fleas etc. In terms of birds, there are plenty of pigeons, gulls, rooks and magpies. I’m sure there aren’t as many bats as there used to be, nor are there hedgehogs. Rats seem to be doing okay, if my henhouse is anything to go by. I see rabbits when I drive at night, but I haven’t seen them in the garden recently, though I guess the barn cats deal with as many young ones as turn up.

Sorry darlings, I started by thinking about spring and I’ve ended up with a wintry tale. So let’s get back to some good cheer.

Tim (unimaginatively named) the hedgehog, that I rescued and took to the hedgehog sanctuary a few weeks ago, is doing very well. He’s put on a lot of weight and he’ll come back here in a few weeks. There are new leaf buds on the roses and lots of spring flowers in the garden. The daffodils down the drive are in bud. We’ve finally got around to buying new wardrobes and they’re being delivered on Friday. Oxtail stew and roast parsnips are in the oven for dinner. I’ve done all the ironing.

Z digresses

Of course I do, because that is what Z does. I was reminded by a comment on yesterday’s post about a trip to London when Al was five or six years old.

It was a birthday treat, and we’d suggested that he might like to bring a friend, as well as Weeza of course. He chose James, who lived in the next road. James’ mother was a sweet woman, a year or two younger than I was and we often walked home from school together and chatted. She went everywhere by bike, with James’ younger brother on the child seat at the back. When she had James with her too, she walked and pushed the bike. As often or not, James himself had a ride on the saddle.

We often had visits to London, but James never had been there and was a bit nervous. We went to the Natural History Museum, showed him Buckingham Palace, rode on the Tube and a red bus and visited Hamley’s, the famous toy shop in Regents Street, where the children had ice cream sundaes in the basement café.

We must have had an evening meal too, though I can’t remember where. Probably steak and chips or something. We caught a latish train, for young children. The Lowestoft to London line had recently been much diminished, from Ipswich onwards. It had been relegated to a single track and only elderly carriages, three of them at most, chugged along the last leg of the journey, stopping at all the country stations. Rumour had it that the only reason the line hadn’t been closed altogether was that our local MP used one of those little stations and had the ear of the Prime Minister, and it was probably true. The journey took the best part of three hours, not including stopover time in Ipswich, considerably longer than similar distances from more favoured places.

So it was around half past nine when we were on the final leg and the conductor came to chat to the boys. He was a delight, with a dry humour, quite a tease. Alex summed him up at once and played along with the jokes, whilst James took him seriously and was wide-eyed.

There’s no point to this story. Just a memory to make me smile. I met James’ mother some years after we’d moved out of Lowestoft and she was happy to tell me that both her boys had gone to university and owned their own houses – the first in the family to do either.

Catching up

I’ll add some of the posts from the Blogger blog, which I’ve used for the last nearly three weeks while this one was down. It’s just to have it all in one place, so please excuse me if you’ve already seen these in The Other Place.

From 26th January

I went to London yesterday to meet my builder at the flat and, afterwards, a friend for lunch.  He was slightly disconcerted by the restaurant I’d chosen – simply because it’s next door to the flat – but spicy Louisiana food was a bit outside his comfort zone, I think.  I hope he did enjoy it though.

I’ve just been on the Greater Anglia train website, to send feedback about the return journey.  I got to the station in good time – I’d had a really easy time of it all day, journey-wise – and the announcer said that my train was delayed.  An incoming passenger had been taken ill and was being helped – I think they used a different train in the end – anyway, it was actually only delayed by about 15 minutes, but the guard explained that, as we’d missed our time slot, there would be a further delay as we went along.  It ended up as about 18 minutes.

After that, the driver really put his foot down, though the train didn’t feel rocky in the least.  By the time we got to Ipswich, the guard was able to announce that ongoing connections could be caught after all, if people would go promptly to the platforms, which he told them.

I’d been amused for a while by the woman and her son in the seats behind us.  He was a textbook petulant teenager.  At one point he was whingeing about his phone – it was useless, it was reeealy old and embarrassing and she didn’t care at all… – and she answered with slightly amused patience.  Then she told him they’d have to be ready to leave quickly, so he needed to get ready – “Whyyyy???” – and she told him about the connection that had been announced, if he hadn’t been so busy complaining.  I noted him as they left – about 14, neat school blazer, I’m sure he’s a nice boy really!

The guard had said we’d be at Diss at 17.58 but we were actually there at 17.48, which was pretty impressive.  The driver was trying to get to Norwich on time for passengers to make their connection to Great Yarmouth – don’t know if he did so.  The guard quipped “Please close the doors behind you so that we can get going as quickly as possible – those doors don’t close themselves” and “We’ve just crossed the border from Suffolk to Norfolk.  If you’re leaving the train at Diss, please have your passport ready.”  No one had been cross about the late departure of course, it was no one’s fault, but the odd chuckle never does any harm.

So the feedback I sent was appreciative, and I’ve sent my thanks.  I hope that the message is passed on.