Monthly Archives: March 2019

Summer time

The good news is that, a day after the flat being advertised, there were two people keen to have it as soon as possible. Furthermore, the agents will sort out the cleaning and the disposal of the bed that, with permission, the previous people left behind. I have had a tenant ask me to provide a bed, so it wasn’t unlikely to happen again – I suggested the British Heart Foundation but I suspect it’ll be sold. Makes no difference to me, I’m glad not to have to go to London again next week to dismantle it.

I’m getting to grips with vegetable planting rather late, but the reason is the chickens. Our lot live in the big greenhouse adjoining the kitchen garden but, now they roam free during the day, they wreck it. rather. The bantams aren’t nearly so pecky. I’ve covered all last year’s swiss chard with fleece in the hope that it’ll grow again, but I’ve had to let the spinach go. It’s down to the skeletons. There was no point in planting out anything, or putting in seeds, until I’d covered over the beds. Purpose-made covers are absurdly expensive compared to a bit of DIY, so the latter has been resorted to and two beds are now covered and one sowed/planted.

I don’t have the same enthusiasm for growing vegetables that I used to have, I’m sad to say. I think it was too much work for too long. I love the freshly picked veg but I can hardly be bothered any more with everything else, which I used to enjoy for its own sake. This means I’ve got a lot of unsown seeds, because I’m going to buy aubergine, tomato and pepper plants for the greenhouse, as I haven’t done anything about them. Maybe another year. It used to be such a pleasure, I haven’t given up hope of regaining that. The sight of seedlings poking up through the soil is still as cheering as ever, anyway.

Anyway, local asparagus and strawberries are in the greengrocer’s already, as well as tiny baby carrots, lettuce, spinach and radishes. I buy and scoff them with happy greed. And the chickens are laying – four hens give us two to four eggs a day, at present, which is rather more than we can conveniently eat: not that we complain. We thank them daily.

Z copes

The London trip went very well, once I’d got onto the station platform. Humph. I’ll tell you all about it, though it’s not that interesting, I must admit.

I arrived at the station in good time and parked, well away from the entrance, because the car park was nearly full, but quite near a ticket machine. As I approached said machine, I observed that there was a bag over it and a notice on it. Out of order, I presumed, and trotted towards the next one. Same thing. I might have muttered grrr or some such – but I aimed at the next damn machine, where I finally read the notice. It said that there were new ticket machines by the station entrance and that all others were redundant. I wish they’d put a sign up at the entrance to the car park to explain. Anyway, once I’d found the machines it was okay, except that the one I used wouldn’t accept my card, so it was just as well that I had £4.50 in cash.

After that, it was plain sailing. I did all I meant to and, though I’d been prepared to miss a 4 o’clock train and have to do other things until 7 pm (an off-peak ticket costs a little over £50, but an any time ticket is eye-watering), I actually caught the 3.30. I have asked Lovely Tim to insist I do what needs to be done tomorrow, rather than hide in a corner for a few weeks before just coping.

Many years ago, when I was being put under pressure for something I couldn’t control, by a family member, I had to say “I’m sorry darling, you just have to cope.” The person concerned told me, later, that it was really unsatisfactory but it was also true. Sometimes, you just have to cope.

Z’s ivories are tickled

I needed to print something, which worked, and then needed to scan something a few minutes later. Although the pages I’d printed didn’t use colour, the yellow toner had run out. Scanning to the computer didn’t involve printing anything of course but, all the same, the scanner wouldn’t work until I’d replaced the toner cartridge. Fortunately, I had one. Honestly, it’s no wonder I drink.

My piano was tuned this afternoon. The tuner and I have been friends for a long time and we chatted about people we both know and exchanged a few anecdotes of a musical nature – mostly, that is. One involved winter underpants and another involved bread and jam, but neither is for general distribution. It turned out that he first came to tune my mother’s pianola (the same one he was working on today) in 1973. I’ve known him all his working life, she must have been one of his first customers. We know that because he remembers me getting married, and that was the year.

I’m off to London again tomorrow. My meeting is at 2.30 in Islington, so I will probably get the 4 o’clock train home again, because I don’t expect it’ll take more than half an hour. If it overruns and I don’t make it, my off-peak ticket won’t be valid until 7 o’clock, so I’ll have to amuse myself for a few hours. But that’s never difficult to do in London. I can’t make plans with friends though, in case I do make the earlier train. But we’d probably only prop up a bar somewhere, so it’s just as well.

Z ponders

A few odd things have happened that have kept me quiet for a few days while I’ve thought about them. One is the potential sale of some land, through which I have a right of way. Upon checking, I’ve been told that the owner has no documentation about it – he doesn’t say that he doesn’t know about it, but I’m surprised it’s not on his deeds because it is on mine. A solicitor’s letter has been sent. I think it’s short-sighted of him to try to pass it off, as any buyer would have a case against him, surely.

The second is the information that I have, apparently, been defrauded of some money by a professional who was, until a couple of years ago, entrusted with regular work. I knew about the situation but had thought Russell and I were used to defraud his employers, allegedly (it hasn’t come to court yet). I can’t actually work out how I’ve lost the money rather than the employers, though I know that a fraud was done but, no doubt, the allegations will be explained to me in due course. You can see that it’s upsetting – not the money so much as the theft by someone who was a friend, albeit in a professional capacity. I gave a statement to the police last year and hope I won’t be called as a witness.

There are various other things that I won’t bore you with, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed in recent weeks. None of it is personal, family or friend related, that’s all fine and lovely. But my ability to handle extra worry has diminished a lot over the years. I had a straightforward email to send that involved an hour’s work and some coherent explanation, and I put it off for nearly a month while I panicked every time I sat at the computer to deal with it. Yet I knew that I was the only one suffering, personally and financially, by my delay, and that I’d feel better once I’d done it. I finally did, since when I’ve been able to acknowledge all this, other than to myself.

How I cope with things is by thinking them through, analysing and rationalising them and forcing them into perspective, but one can’t lessen their impact at times. But I’m dealing with most things at present. And it’s spring and the chickens have started laying again, and Tim and I have fun together. So there are always blessings.

Z thinks about planting

I finally opened all the post that I hadn’t bothered with for a week. I’d opened obvious bills, but that was all. The post so rarely brings a pleasant surprise – all the same, I have been told how much pension I’ll get for the next year. State pension, that is, which is still something of an excitement for me, after a year.

I enjoyed the visit to garden club this evening. The speaker was an engaging, entertaining chap from a garden centre some 30 minutes away. He’s a Californian who moved here some years ago, with a burning ambition to open his own nursery, growing plants himself, and he bought a 10 acre site on heavy clay that had been neglected for quite some time, though it had been a nursery in the past. Many garden centres buy everything in nowadays, it’s good to know he grows from seeds and cuttings, though I daresay he buys plants in too – it’s just not economically viable nowadays, on a smallish scale.

One chicken laid two eggs at the weekend and, since then, nothing. I don’t think they’re laying away, because I kept them in the greenhouse when it was so windy last week and there were no eggs. We had poached new-laid eggs for breakfast yesterday, but that’s a treat that won’t be repeated for a few days, at least. I like my home-made bread so much that I sometimes just eat dry toast for breakfast, it doesn’t really need anything added. With home-made yoghurt, rhubarb from the garden and our own marmalade, it’s only the butter and Marmite that are bought in. And oranges for the juice. Which adds to the food miles somewhat, so perhaps I should stop boasting.

Springtime, and Z is happy

Big news of the day is that the big brown hen has started to lay again. I found two of her distinctive khaki eggs in the nest box this evening, so I must have missed it yesterday. They haven’t been off lay for very long, really, but I have had to buy eggs, which goes rather against the grain. I expect we’ll have poached egg tomorrow, either for breakfast or lunch.

The other sign of spring in the kitchen garden is rhubarb, which I’ve picked once so far. In the hedgerows, the blackthorn is in flower and there are lots of spring flowers, and blossom on the trees. Over the next few weeks, I’ll keenly notice each tree and shrub that shows its leaves or flowers. I love this time of year. I enjoy the small excitements.

It’s also birthday time between late March and the middle of April. Squiffany comes first, then Al and Weeza, then Wink. Then there’s a leisurely summer, with one birthday a month until mid-August, when eight birthdays and all the wedding anniversaries happen over six weeks. I mentioned Alex’s age to him, the other day, and he was surprised. He thought he was a year older than that.

Ro usually has to ask how old each grandchild is. I have a formula and explain it to him, whilst recognising that it’s not really a simplification at all. I tend to do that with any long numbers I have to remember as well – for example, my mobile phone number ends 3795, which I remember as 2×19-1 followed by 5×19. This evening at dinner, we were discussing the rules of precedence in mathematics, whereby you multiply/divide before you add/subtract. Tim was taught always to use brackets to avoid doubt and I think I was too, but that doesn’t always happen. I think it’s clear enough as I’ve written it, though.

The outer Z

I moved the rest of my clothes out of the wardrobes in the bedroom and into the new ones in the dressing room. As I went, I put aside those I’d never wear again, for whatever reason – or most of them, anyway. I’ve allowed myself some sentiment, because why not? I’ve kept my first wedding dress – the little yellow mini i bought for £5; the black and white checked dress I wore for my wedding reception and the – very much prettier and more flamboyant – pink and white dress that my mother wore, as well as the black velvet dress I wore to have my portrait painted as my wedding present to Russell. I have also kept four splendid dresses from the early 1970s that belonged to my mother – one Susan Small dress, marvellously fringed in the flapper style, one from Fortnum and Mason and one, predominantly orange, with a swirling psychedelic pattern that typified the late hippy time; plus a very pretty deep pinky-red dress, just because it’s pretty.

Lots of my clothes are really old. I’ve only thrown out the ones that are much too young for me, or are too tired to be fit to wear again. I had a pang at discarding a few garments that I was fond of, but they might be worn again, having been taken to the charity shop. The rest will go for recycling. It’s the first proper turn-out I’ve had for over three years and was well overdue. I realise that I don’t, now, have a single suit and only a few things that would be appropriate for a business meeting. Nor do I have much that I could wear for a party. I’ve hardly any long dresses or skirts – they must have gone the last time round. It’s all quite all right, this reflects the sort of thing I do wear and what I need, but also shows how one’s situation changes. Additionally, I have so few pairs of shoes, now that I go straight from winter boots to summer sandals. If I were suddenly invited to lots of jollifications, I’d have some shopping to do – not that this is particularly likely. I’d be fine for a wedding, actually, I’ve got two wedding outfits Right There, from Ronan’s and from mine and Tim’s. Actually, I’d rather like to wear them again and don’t get many chances. Anyone getting married or having a big bash and would like me to come along? Tim scrubs up pretty well too, when the occasion demands…

Z wallows in domesticity

Storms Freya, Gareth and Hannah seem to merge into one another. \We used to be quite happy to call it a gale. Perhaps we could just call all the winds Gale and have done with it? “Gale’s feeling a bit fresh tonight” or “Gale’s blowing a right hoolie!” It’s put me off gardening, anyway, even in the greenhouse. There are just the broad beans, coriander, parsley and sweet peas that i sowed a month ago. I used to be so excited to sow seeds and watch them come up, to prick out the seedlings and grow them on, but I might buy in the tender plants as I did last year. Those for the greenhouse, that is.

I’m feeling more dully ancient than ever, having just bought a new ironing board cover. The foamy underlay of the old one had worn so thin that the diamond pattern on the board itself was showing through, and the cover was somewhat stained. I have, at any rate, caught up on the ironing – though I washed two tablecloths today, so I’ll have to start again tomorrow. I’m so enjoying using the lovely old tablecloths all the time that I don’t actually mind the ironing in the least. I have also – I think I’m certainly in domestic goddess territory here as I can hardly imagine many men, let alone gods, caring about this – bought drying racks to put onto the Aga. I’ve never really had any convenient option but to use a tumble dryer in the winter, as I have nowhere to dry clothes indoors, but this is splendid. It’s two racks, which fit one over the other, and I fold and lay the laundry on top, and there’s also an extra rail for the front (giving two rails) to hang more stuff over. It all dries surprisingly quickly. And, of course, in the summer when the Aga is off, I’d be using the washing line anyway. The racks are very sturdy, enamelled steel and expensive to boot, but I haven’t needed to use the dryer since buying them.

We went out for lunch today, as we aim to do once a week or so, and had fish and chips, with the result that we don’t feel about to eat much tonight. So we’ll have the terrine and salad that we would have had for lunch tomorrow. If the chickens were laying, we might have eggs but, having been good, dutiful girls for nearly a year, they’ve gone off lay. Rose is quite sure her chickens are laying away somewhere, but we can’t find the eggs. She’s suggested that her bantams might be roommates with my hens while she’s making frequent trips down South with Lawrence for his cancer treatment, which will work well as they all get on happily together. It’s not as if she can’t come and give them treats whenever she likes. Boy and I look after them anyway when she’s away, of course.

The rain it rainiest on the … not Z

Wink went home yesterday, on a very windy day – she has a small car and wasn’t greatly looking forward to driving on the motorways. There’s not too much of that, though – from here, one drives to Bury St Edmunds, then down towards the M11 is the obvious route, but we all prefer the quieter A505 road. It’s a few less miles (you can argue for few fewer, but that’s too clumsy) but nominally slower; however there is less scope for hold-ups. Anyway, she was planning to stop for lunch with a friend in Hemel Hempstead, wherever that is – Tim knows, I don’t – and then head for home.

I’ve not done a great deal today apart from my blood donor thing, which was fine. I’m not supposed to drink alcohol for a couple of days afterwards, but it’s not clear why. It’d be more to the point if I were not supposed to drink beforehand, but there’s no such requirement. Anyway, all is well. As I got out of the car, I hesitated, looking at the grey sky, and put an umbrella in my bag. Once I was sitting sipping my pint of water and reading the blurb that we dutifully read each time, I was passed by several people who were, literally, dripping wet. Apparently, there was a cloudburst in the minute and a half between leaving their cars and getting indoors. `it was just plain raining when I left, not tipping it down.

One of the people there mentioned that she’d been turned down a few times – she’s AB+ which is a fairly rare group and, if there are adequate stocks, they nowadays cancel your appointment. I’m O+ which is as universal as Rhesus Positive gets, so I suppose I’m more useful – at any rate, I’ve not had an appointment cancelled. It’s all very automated, which is not at all bad, though I still find the online booking thing doesn’t always work as well as it should. It has this evening though and I’m booked in for July, so I’ve nothing to grumble about any more. Nothing at all – gosh!

Another free meal, we said gleefully again this evening. I bought lamb leg steaks the other day, but they were more than we could eat. I’d braised them in onion, red pepper and mushroom. We cut them in half, so I gave a helping to Wink to take home and we finished the rest tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll get to grips with the ham stock and chicken bones that are left over from the weekend. And I’ll make yoghurt and a loaf of bread. Such a domestic god is your Z.

Z and the blustery day

Having enquired, I was sent the invoice for the membership of the wine club, which wasn’t actually due until next month. However, I’ve paid it, as it’ll do more good in their cashflow than my bank’s.

It’s been a blustery day. On the other side of the road from us, there is now a building site. It’s a triangular field, about a couple of acres or so, and 16 bungalows are destined to be built on it. As equipment and materials have been brought in, a metal fence has been erected. I popped into town to buy lunch stuff from the deli and, returning ten minutes later, the fence had blown over and was leaning exuberantly over the road. Not surprising really, but I’m glad it didn’t happen when I was driving by.

Later, we went over to Southwold to meet Alex and co for afternoon tea. We hadn’t quite appreciated how substantial that would be and didn’t actually need dinner tonight. It was jolly good, a real treat – starting with sandwiches, sausage rolls, scotch egg etc and going on to scones and cake, and we’ve brought back a doggy bag with what we couldn’t manage. The rest of the family is coming over for lunch tomorrow, as Wink is here.

It’s Squiffany’s fourteenth birthday the week after next. When she was born, I hadn’t started blogging, though I did blog her first birthday party. I asked her, today, if there was anything in particular she would like for her birthday present or, frankly, would she prefer money? She admitted that she couldn’t think of anything. So I’ll take that hint. I’ll be fine with giving cash from now on, which I think is very acceptable for teenagers and from then on. One can’t have too much of it, after all, at that age.