Monthly Archives: June 2020

Z the newbie

Back to the past, darlings.

My mother and I were invited by Gill to join the WI in the next village. Unlike many, it has its meetings in the evenings, so that all ages could come and members ranged in ages from their twenties to their eighties. I gathered that it had been in the doldrums and several young mums decided to support and literally rejuvenate it.

There was a speaker every month, of course, and we all sat around the room in a horseshoe rather than in rows. Being very poor with names but anxious to improve, I used to sit there trying to put names to faces every month. I had always been absolutely dreadful with both names and faces but I have worked very hard, over the past 30+ years, at improving and I can tell you that it is possible. I finally pinned down that I can manage the first name much better than both, so that’s what I focus on.

I used to be permanently worried as a child, in case I got a name wrong or hadn’t taken on board that Sue had decided to be called Susie or Liz was now Betty. I was frightened of giving offence or being ridiculed, so avoided using names altogether. I don’t know when I turned that around, but I completely have – if there’s anything I’ve ever achieved, squashing that demon comes high. A couple of weeks ago, in the dress shop, when I greeted a friend from way back by name and asked after her children BY NAME – I was actually genuinely proud of myself, which no one will comprehend unless they’ve been equally incompetent as I used to be.

After a while, i joined the committee and then it was only a matter of time before I became secretary, which really helped with names as I had them all written down.

Food was a big thing at the WI. We’d all eaten before we came out, so didn’t want to eat biscuits with our end-of-evening tea or coffee, but appreciated some nice little snacks to finish the day. There was a rota you signed up for, with a couple of other people, and you set up everything and served it. The big urn in which the water was boiled didn’t have a cut-off so, when the water boiled, the kitchen filled with steam. One tried to remember to pop through and turn it down before that but, invariably, it was forgotten and when the hostess opened the kitchen door, a cloud wafted through and it never failed to amuse.

Mood swings

I seem to have been up and down several times today. Perhaps I’m missing Wink. So I’ll pull myself up with the good old five positive things.

  1. I’ve got quite a lot done outside. I’ve been strimming the rough grass just outside the house, an area I’m very fond of. It’s not a big patch but there are bluebells, crocuses and various other flowers until midsummer, lots of different grasses and then it usually gets cut back by Wince. However, he hasn’t done it yet, first because I left it for Eloise and then because he wasn’t able to work last week. So I’ve cut it longer than he does and I prefer it. It’s about six inches long, still green and still appealing to wildlife and Eloise.
  2. I’ve also caught up with the washing. This does not sound remarkable and it isn’t, but I have changed Wink’s bedclothes and, while I was about it, done our bed too, and washed the sheets and also the tablecloths. I have booked a session of ironing with my cleaners – they’re not coming back for more than three weeks (I have two ladies for two hours once a month, more than which makes me too lazy) but, while they’ve been out of action, I’ve asked them to do the ironing instead; at any rate the biggest items plus Tim’s shirts.
  3. Eloise cat is over halfway through her cage incarceration. It’s not an easy time for any of us, she isn’t happy. But her leg is doing really well and she hardly limps at all.
  4. Tim cooked dinner tonight and it was delicious. He made rissoles from the leftover lamb and they were so good that I’ve asked him to use the other half of the leftovers to make the same thing tomorrow, to be frozen for another day.
  5. Wink is safely home in Wiltshire and Weeza and her business partner are coming on Wednesday to start redecorating the cottage. Initially just one room is to be done, but most of the other rooms will be repainted in a while. It was going to happen next month, but W and M have an unexpected delay next week, so can spare a day to get started.

There we go. I feel better. Not fabulous, but certainly better than when I started.

Chicks better scurry

It’s been such a lovely week, but tomorrow is Wink’s last day here for now. She has numerous lists of things to do and things to bring next time and people to contact and so on. She’s far more organised than I am, especially nowadays, so I know it’ll all happen.

This evening, I went to the chickens’ greenhouse to give them a handful of mealworms. Scrabble turned up, which was a bit alarming as she was supposed to be in the big coop with her chicks. It was my fault, I hadn’t wedged the door shut enough and they’d all got out. No harm done luckily and I put food down which they clustered around to eat, but that just gave me time to ponder what to do. If I’d been able to put them with the others, it might have been an option, if not a very good one, but herding chicks is not at all easy. I have a net, but one only has one chance to use it. After that, they’re afraid and scatter.

In the end, I raised a corner of the run onto concrete slabs and waited patiently until they returned. Wink stood the other side from me so that they wouldn’t go the wrong way. All six followed each other like the good little chicks that they are. Scrabble was undecided, so I simply picked her up, to her indignant squawks, and popped her back. I removed the wedges and blocked any way out and all is well.

I do need to work out a way forward, though. I know what would work, but it depends on Scrabble and the chicks doing what I want them to. So I may funk it altogether.

It’s hot here, darlings. I like it hot but I glow like a shiny thing and my hair is lank. The hairdresser hasn’t phoned yet, so there must be an awfully long list as my appointment should have been on 9th April.

It’s just occurred to me that I missed the longest day and we’re past midsummer. I didn’t notice. Still, apart from missing friends, all is well at the Zedery. I hope it is with you too.

Z and Worzel Gummidge have a lot in common

Wince the gardener was around early, to explain that he couldn’t come today as there was an emergency. His girlfriend, whom he doesn’t live with so couldn’t help at the time, had fallen and hurt her hip, was taken to hospital last night and he was visiting her this morning. So the grass will continue to look as shaggy as my hair does, and that’s completely unimportant under the circumstances.

My hairdresser put a post up on Facebook to explain that the staff are phoning all the customers to book appointments, in order of those that have been cancelled, followed by those who’ve contacted them since. My haircut was at the end of February and the next was booked for early April. So others will come first and that’s fine. I really don’t mind at all. I’ll go full Woodstock (peace, man, make love not war) if need be, I’m enjoying having hair that’s officially long enough for a ponytail.

Rose had a vacuum cleaner especially for the woodburner. It clears out the ashes and has a filter that’s so efficient that it sucks up dust and lets none out. She doesn’t need it in her present house, so left it for us. I used it today and it is brilliant. A revelation. That is, after I’d got over having put the pipe in the wrong place, so that it blew instead of sucked. That did actually suck, paradoxically, and it was just as well that I’d started on a bit of dust at the corner rather than actually in the grate.

After that, I dusted and hoovered and shifted furniture like a mad thing, with the result that my back has ached for the rest of the day. I’m being careful now so it’ll be fine.

Tomorrow, I’ve no idea what we will do. It’s been a busy week and I think we should be a bit jolly.

Z chops weeds

I’ll come back to my anecdotage soon, but keeping up to date with what’s going on for now.

As it’s so hot, I’ve got up early for the last couple of days and done some weeding and so on. I’ve got so much that needs to be done in the garden, as well as looking after the chicks, the regular watering and stuff around the house, yet I’m happily taking time out as much as I can while Wink is here. And while it’s so hot, of course. I am usually awake very early – about 3 am – and nod off for a bit at the time I’m thinking of getting up. If I get up, I’m ready for a nap by 9.30 and have to resist temptation, which always goes against the grain. But I thought that 6 or 7 am is manageable and, if I need a siesta, that’s perfectly reasonable.

My realisation of the day is that I can use the strimmer between the sweetcorn plants, to keep the weeds down. It stops evaporation from the bare earth, too. I have to be very careful not to hit the corn plants, of course, but I am normally careful. Sad to say, I don’t think I’d trust anyone else. Not that I necessarily trust me, but it’s my responsibility and so, if I swipe a plant, I’ll just have to take it on the chin. Anyway, said realisation is a game changer. We all hate weeding and I have plenty of space. So, in the future, rather than planting close together to try to squeeze out weeds, which doesn’t work; if I plant further apart, I can strim in between rows.

We have a huge television that we never watch.The only time I might watch it is when Tim is away and then, more often than not, I catch up with things rather than watch scheduled programmes, which I can do on the computer. So, as Wink doesn’t have internet at present here, we offered our TV to her. Slight problem when we discovered that the aerial cable hadn’t been left -Rose didn’t need one as she only watched online stuff, not on iPlayer or live, so it’s been a long time since one was needed – and I ordered one for tomorrow’s delivery. All the same, Wink can watch a DVD and she vanished with some alacrity after dinner. Since I also lent her the table it sat on, there is now a big space in the room. The first thing to do is to clean the whole room, obviously, because the TV is something that doesn’t get moved very often, then I can move furniture. I love moving furniture, which is something that Tim doesn’t yet much know about me. It used to be that the family would leave home in the morning and hardly recognise the place when they returned, but I’ve mellowed. Or rather, I’ve not got the muscles that I used to have. Though, having moved that immense television, we’ve built up a fair bit of muscle today.

Z the matriarch

It has been such a lovely day. With some of the family here, it feels as if we’re getting back to normal. Of course, we’re only too aware of risks that haven’t gone away, but we manage those sensibly, I hope.

Really hot weather. Luckily, none of us minds that. I got up early this morning and spent an hour weeding – a lot still to do, though – and then cuddled Eloise cat for an hour before breakfast. When I’m busy, it feels as if time spent with her on my lap is time wasted. But it isn’t, of course. It’s just that there’s a lot to do. Later, I took her out on the lawn and she had a peaceful time wandering round and resting. Wink held her lead while I moved the garden furniture, because it had to be put somewhere out of direct sunlight.

It’s now nearly 11 o\clock and I’m very tired. Busy since 6 this morning , it’s hardly surprising, but it hits me suddenly nowadays. Goodnight, darlings.

Wink comes home

Yesterday was a red letter day, because Wink arrived to take possession of the annexe. She’s going to take a few months to move in completely because she’s lived in her present house for over thirty years and there’s a lot to sort out, but it’s her place now.

Although there isn’t much furniture in there, it looks very nice and it’s comfortable. There’s an absence of cooking utensils but that doesn’t matter as, at present, she’s eating with us. After the anxiety and misery of the last few months; not that this is over and done with yet; it’s a joyous new start.

But for now, she’s making lists.

Out in the garden, there are the three mother hens. I’m not a great namer of hens but, if I do, I go by personality. I decided that Polly Garter was not the hen previously known as Slapper, but that Slapper was her whiter sister, so the two names stand for the two hens. If anyone is British and the same age as I am, they might well remember the Blackberry Farm books for small children. There were various animal characters, such as Walter the Duck, who always wore a scarf round his neck, and there was Mother Hen and Mary, her only chick. So any female lone chick has to be Mary.

A couple of days ago, i decided to let them out of their coop. Polly Garter had started to lay again, which is a sign that she’s had about enough of devoted motherhood. She and Mary poked about in the flowerbeds at the edge of the kitchen garden all day, to be joined by Little guy, the small and annoying cockerel, who is chased irritably by all the hens and snapped at by Jenga his father. Polly Garter was friendly to him though, so he adores her and is proudly protective.

I’d been worried about what would happen overnight, but it was fine. I went to water the greenhouse and PG and Mary were in there. So I quietly left and shut the door, reckoning to water in the morning. Next day, however, when I opened up, PG trotted out and Mary was too nervous to follow. I couldn’t persuade her out. I left it a bit but, in the end, I managed to cajole PG back into the greenhouse and, an hour or two later, the two of them left together. All has been fine ever since. The other chickens have accepted the two of them and, though they spend much of the day by themselves, they come to be fed and roost in the henhouse.

Tomorrow, Wink will meet baby Perdita for the first time. We are really looking forward to a family get-together in the garden.

Z catches a rabbit

I didn’t say anything about it to the family, but I was quite apprehensive about moving here. I loved my previous home and I loved living by the sea. I’d always lived in Edwardian houses with big windows and high ceilings and I was moving to a Tudor house with the opposite. I’d made my decision for good reasons and would brave it out if necessary – but it wasn’t. I loved it here from the start. In addition, having – really quite bravely for the shy person I was then – decided to make every effort to make all the new friends that I could, I found myself with a lovely social network that, with a few gaps when I couldn’t manage anything outside the home, continues still.

Mums and Tods met at the village hall and, I realised later, turned unintentionally into a closed shop. We were welcoming to others, but we were all aged about thirty, most of us of a similar ‘type’ and younger mums (dads would have been welcome too, but the situation didn’t arise) probably felt shy of us, which is a great pity. We had quite a lot of equipment and the children had fun while we chatted and played with them. In the summer, we saved the fee by meeting in each other’s houses and gardens. One time, we were at Adèle’s house when one of the children let a rabbit out and it darted into the bushes. I launched myself at the unfortunate creature, caught it – and it crapped on my teeshirt. I never did get the stain out, but my reputation for derring-do continues to this day*.

My mother and stepfather were due to move to our annexe, but then my lovely stepfather died of a heart attack, so my mum moved alone, nearly a year and a half after we arrived here. Of course, I introduced her to my friends and, as a result, Gill suggested we both join the WI. There was a village WI but it was rather in the doldrums, no one had joined for years and everyone was over 70. The Dnton WI, in contrast, had members from every age group from the 20s upwards. It was genuinely inclusive and met in the evenings, to accommodate those who were at work in the day.

*Exaggeration alert

Local shops, local Z

Just catching up with present day stuff as this is a journal of sorts. Back to the past next time.

All the carpets in the annexe were cleaned yesterday, and I’ve moved a few bits of furniture in there today. There was already a bed and wardrobe and I’ve added a couple of armchairs and a dining table and chairs, a toaster and kettle, mugs and glasses and I’ve made the bed. I thought I’d buy a small table-top fridge – not the tiny one that just holds a few tins of beer, but the next size up. Tim pointed out that we have two fridges and surely we could manage with just one for a bit? That seemed logical, so we moved everything into one fridge.

We came to our senses. I’ve bought a table-top fridge.

Tomorrow, I’ll take through a few kitchen utensils and some crockery, though really she’s only using the place to sleep at present. As time goes by, she will bring up more of her own stuff until the final move, whenever that is.

Having been to the florist, I’ve now visited the nice little clothes shop. The woman who owns it hasn’t shut the changing rooms. She’s using the two alternately, cleaning each one before another person uses it. She feels that makes more sense than letting people take clothes home, not knowing what their own conditions are or how many people will try them on. I bought my entire summer wardrobe, not that I really need anything as I’m not going anywhere much. Still, I brought a smile to her face and that’s a good thing in itself. Lovely that shops are opening up again – though, as I have said before, I have no real wish to go anywhere other than Yagnub.

Z remembers the ’80s

Reminiscing is good, I think, though I’m not so sure about nostalgia. I’m wary about suggesting that the ‘old days’ were better, because it’s easy to forget what wasn’t. But anyway, I’m thinking about Mums and Tods. I did make friends there and so did my children. I’ve got a momentary thought about Ronan coming with me to a get-together at Gill’s house, and Adèle’s son Robin was there. Their faces lit up and they darted forward to shake hands. My heart melted, in a figurative way. I suspect now that – well, not now, we don’t touch any more, so a year ago – there would have been a manly hug, but a decade ago it was an equally manly handshake.

We used to meet at the village hall most of the year. The people who were always there were Penny, with Emma and John. I haven’t seen Emma for many years; she’s the same age as Ronan and we bonded. I loved her like a daughter. Sue had James and Sarah, who was the epitome of the adorable Limb of Satan. You couldn’t take your eyes off her. All the children were happily blowing bubbles and Sarah was drinking the washing-up liquid. Chris’s daughter was Kelly, who was just a delightful little girl. Jane had Nicholas and Alex. Nicholas’s quirk was discovered in the summer.

When the weather was hoped to be fine, we saved a few pounds by not booking the village hall but meeting in our own houses or, hopefully, gardens. Nicholas had to mark his first visit to an unfamiliar house by visiting the loo for a poo (as it’s now universally known). I remember everyone being here and – Emma being the only girl of that age, the other three-year-olds were all boys – the lads were all naked except Ronan. He firmly kept his pants on. We had a fabulous wooden roller coaster. It would be unusable now – I’ve still got the components somewhere, but I wouldn’t dare use it – there was a little cart that went on rails, the child climbed in and you gave a shove and they shot down, up and down, finally landing up on the lawn. Putting a hand out would have meant instant amputation, but no one was daft enough. No one ever got in the way or did anything silly in the least. It was hazardous enough to make everyone, even a toddler, mind their fingers.