Monthly Archives: September 2020

Thickula

Tim has gone to his house for a couple of days, because there are things he needs to do there. I always think that I’ll do a lot while he’s away but it doesn’t necessarily happen. I did clean out the henhouse though, so that was quite enough to satisfy my casual, self-indulgent work ethic.

Putting the chooks to bed was a palaver, though. I went out early, which was a mistake. I nearly fell asleep about 4.30 and rain was forecast, so going out to chivvy them in early seemed a good idea.

They all ran after me happily, I thought it would be fine. But half the chickens waited outside. I threw handfuls of mealworms and got most of them inside, but there was still a posse hanging about. So I half-closed the greenhouse door and went to feed the cats, because they were bothering me. Honestly, I can be so stupid.

I fed the cats, then put some dry and tinned food on a plate for the hedgehog. Then I put tinned food on two more plates, one for the coop and one by the garage, for the other hedgehogs. I did all this, went back and found several chickens eating the hedgehog food. So I chased them and most of them went into the chicken greenhouse. I grumpily went indoors. Then I came out and got two more into the greenhouse. One had hysterics and ran under the gate into the field and under the next gate into the drive and through the next gate back into the kitchen garden and, when I chivvied her, repeated the process. So I swore at her, named her Thickula and stalked off – to observe Eloise sneaking into the coop and eating the hedgehog food there. We eyeballed each other and I went away.

Next outing, some of the chickens thought they might come out again. So I shut the greenhouse door. Ten minutes later, I checked again and Thickula was glumly waiting outside. I opened the door. She ran away, shrieking. While she was being a fool, I refilled the hedgehog plates and propped open the chicken greenhouse by a few inches, shouting at Jabba the Cluck, who thought she might come out again.

Finally, Thickula went in. And now it’s raining but at least it didn’t rain on me. I trust the hedgehogs are all right, because they’re the only animals who have not been any sort of a nuisance today.

I have remembered to take the bins down the drive, put out a coolbox for the milkman tomorrow and lock the door. Tim would be impressed. Well, he is because I’ve told him to be, hem hem.

I have more chickens than I need and I hate the thought of giving them away. Except Thickula. She’s going to a good home as soon as I can catch the little bugger.

Z looks back and forward and sits here in between

By tomorrow, I hope that the auction catalogue will have gone to be printed and I can start to relax. I’ve got a to-do list that isn’t written down – I only do that when I’m at risk of forgetting things – that really needs to be tackled in the next week or so.

The first things are birthday presents for eldest grandson and my daughter-in-law. They’re the last birthdays of the year now. My mother’s birthday was in November, which was always a bit of a worry. Presents held a lot of significance for her and, the older she got, the harder it was to get it right. She never criticised a present but one could tell that one had fallen short again. In fact, after she died, we found quite a number of things that had never been taken out of their wrappings, though Wink and I had gone to a lot of thought and tried hard to get things she would like. I still don’t know how we could have done better and perhaps it was not possible.

I’m not especially imaginative in that line, I wish I were. I have managed a few successes with Tim, fortunately – it’s sometimes the unexpected ones that work surprisingly well, such as the ice maker of a few years ago. He’s really good at presents, in contrast to me, quite exceptionally so.

All the same, neither of us is too bothered by anniversaries. It’s our fourth wedding anniversary on Thursday, but I doubt we’ll mark it. At least I remember the date – it took years for Russell and me to get it right, we had to look it up every time.

I have promised to take Tim out to lunch one day this week, though. We missed last week, I’m not sure how. Rare for us to let an opportunity for fun to pass us by and we will make up for it.

The angel is in the detail…

As I construct a catalogue, I examine each piece of china carefully and, sometimes, this means that I notice something that isn’t obvious at first glance. That is the great attraction and, whatever your own enthusiasm, you probably know what I mean. It’s the subtleties that appeal.

A few photos to show you what I mean. Here is a small vase, quite an early one. Sadly, it’s been spoiled in the past, because the rim got chipped or cracked or broken and some joker thought it was a good idea to grind the entire rim down. But the lovely early flower is on the front and that’s very attractive. Look at the back, though. Isn’t that a fabulous strutting bird?

The next two pictures are of a coffee can. Mandarin figures – Chinese characters in a garden, most often – were popular because Oriental china was very fashionable in the 18th century. But look at this woman and surely you’ll admire the artistry of the decorator. The cup itself is three inches tall and the face is about 1 centimetre across (I use imperial and metric measurements according to what fits) but what an expression. Tim thinks that she’s wondering when her cup of wine will be filled? I think she’s more quizzical altogether – what are you giving me? But just a few brushstrokes give such an enjoyable scene.

This spoon is absolutely copied from the far east. As unEnglish as you can get. I remember an auction, years ago, when a health club/spa folded and the contents were sold off and there were two Lowestoft spoons. Russell and I really wanted one of them, but we were outbid. This one is a bit damaged but still delightful.

Last of the summer lunch

I’ve just written and deleted a blog post that was so appallingly boring that I couldn’t inflict it on you.

The last few days of late summer are here and we had lunch outside. I rolled a table – how sensible to have a circular table outside – to the paving, because it’s a bit more sheltered than the lawn, which caught the chilly breeze, and several chickens joined us in the hope of receiving treats.

One of my jobs for next week is arranging to give chickens away. Mary is about six months old and there are seven more girls, her cousins, which are at least five too many. My friend Lynn will take some and I’ll email her to ask how many she’d like. There will be more, I don’t want all the chicks either. It’s not so much the feeding of them or the eggs, but the babies that would turn up next year.

A new small supermarket opened a few months ago, but I only visited it a couple of days ago. It’s run by a Polish woman and specialises in Eastern European food and it’s very good. I don’t want to remove custom from the excellent deli but there’s not too much overlap, so I don’t feel disloyal. I bought various spices, some polenta, some salami, gherkins and sesame grissini – she didn’t have poppy seeds but hopes to have them this week, so I’ll go back. I visited three shops on Friday and chatted happily in each one – I do miss my friends but, day to day, I am not hugely sociable and a friendly chat in a shop seems to be quite enough. The family came over three weeks ago and it was agreed that caution would prevail until we knew the effect of a return to school, so I haven’t seen any of them since. Ugh. This whole thing is so depressing, but I know from experience that one should not give in to depressing thoughts, but make every effort to be cheerful and positive. Dammit. Happy thoughts, darlings. Tomorrow, I will enthuse about Lowestoft china, because preparing the auction catalogue reminds me how much I like it.

Z and LT share a minor celebration

Tim has completed the first draft of the catalogue, not counting the front and back covers, so we celebrated that with prosecco. I need to proofread, but not after prosecco, hem hem. Tomorrow will be soon enough.

I had a horrid discovery yesterday, when I found that one person’s china’s reserve prices had skipped a line – not the descriptions, only the prices in a spreadsheet. Not having realised, I then put everything into lot number order, so quite a lot of pieces’ values were wrong. Fortunately, I’d saved separately at every stage, so it was quite quickly put right, though checking everything just in case took rather longer. I’ll turn on tracking changes from the start in future, assuming there is one. I don’t mean that I expect Armageddon, just that I have to evaluate whether strict distancing rules will be in place by late next year. I can’t do it, if so. It’ll be time to retire. My lovely auctioneer has been very helpful but I’ll break even at best, with no profit (ie my time paid for at a very low rate) this year and I’m not doing it again.

I probably should have already, in truth. I’m not all that good at letting go. I don’t mean in a controlling way, because I don’t think I do that, but sometimes when friendships or situations have run their natural course, I don’t recognise that – or don’t want to – and keep trying for longer than I should. Although I’m getting better at that, in that I recognise the situation, at least, there is still scope for improvement.

Years ago, probably nearly 20 years ago, I had a 5 year plan for coming off all committees. The thing is, if you say you want to leave next month no one believes you. You have to give a timescale and plan for retirement. Ideally, you set that up in advance – that is, you suggest a period that it’s reasonable to serve a term. Three or four or six years is reasonable, depending on the job. If you do something for two or three decades, no one will take it on because they see it as a life sentence.

My five year plan turned out to be a rolling one. I even added to it – as I relinquished one role, I took on another. But finally, I was pretty successful A couple of trusteeships is all I have now and that’s quite enough. I’m ready to give them up, in truth, as soon as it’s feasible. But, on the other hand, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to giving up everything and moving to a more sensible house with a garden rather than land. I’d be bored, I know I would. I can’t find the balance between sometimes having too much to do, or sitting around wondering what to do.

Anyway, Sunday will be spent proofreading, taking photos and writing an introduction to the catalogue. As long as nothing else crops up, that is.

Z rushes in, hot and bothered

It’s been a fortnight, I’m so sorry. Time ran away with me and I never remember that I need to write during the day because I don’t (apart from now) use the computer after dinner nowadays.

Wink and Veronica came to stay and the family came over the weekend before last. There is plenty of room in the garden (we have been lucky with the weather on every family occasion this year) for as much distancing as anyone wants to have. And we’d already agreed on caution, once schools restarted, until we knew how much infections would rise. Dilly, who’s a high school teacher, said that she, Al and the three children are in 9 bubbles between them. There’s no social distancing in high schools, in practice, she says.

We are, at present, putting together the catalogue for the next auction. It can’t take place at its usual venue, but my lovely auctioneer has agreed to host it at her salerooms in Diss. I am basically doing it for my vendors, I’ll hope to break even on the event, but never mind. As for next year, it’s far too early to say. If there are likely to be restrictions, I’ll just call it a day and retire. If not, I’m finding it harder to do all the work but I still love the china and the event, so I will probably carry on for a bit longer.

All the chicks are fine. I count them all and none of the mummies, even the hapless Slapper, has lost one of them yet. They are dear little things and I have my favourite colours – so hoping that the little dark one is a girl. My friend who kindly gave me some pullets after the fox got my chickens would like some of the surplus girls, which is good as I just can’t deal with all the chickens I’ve got any more. I’m sure some are laying, but I don’t know where, so I’m having to buy eggs.

I’m also feeding a fair few (as we say in Norfolk) hedgehogs. I’ve seen more of them this year than I have for a while, so I hope this suggests an increase in numbers. One evening, I fed four of them, though I only saw the newest two on that occasion. I put out three dishes of food normally, in various locations, and I’m going through a lot of cat food.

Since LT is working hard on the catalogue and most of my work in that regard is done, I have no excuse not to post. So I’ll hold myself to that resolve.

Z counts chickens

Things have gone a bit awry at the Zedery. My young bantams are constantly broody and I gave them some old eggs to sit on. This ploy has not let me down before, but this last week has been spectacular. First Polly Garter turned up with 10 chicks and I didn’t realise she’d been missing, because I thought I knew where she was sitting on old and unhatchable eggs. But it was her sister Slapper – who hatched five of those old eggs. And yesterday, the ones in the nest boxes managed to hatch five more eggs. So now I’ve got three sisters co-mothering a single chick and two bantams with two chicks each. I’ve given up and left them to it. I haven’t got enough coops and the thought of putting three adults and a baby together in a confined space is too much.

There we are. I hope against hope that’ll be it for the year. Pollywollydoodlealltheday is moulting, the big black hens never are interested in sitting and Gladys G has been gone for several weeks. If she doesn’t turn up soon, she’s not going to.

I’m running behind on events, but I really need to start writing during the day rather than waiting until evening, when I’m getting tired. I’ve told Tim – or rather, I suggested to him, because we don’t give instructions to each other – that I’ll take him out to lunch tomorrow because the weekend is starting now. Just as soon as I’ve had a nap.

What did Della wear?

I’ve got a post to write but I have to share this first. Tim and I chatted over dinner, which is still a joy after all these years (fourth anniversary less than four weeks, darlings) and the subject of Perry Como came up, because he is my first and most enduring heartthrob, from Catch A Falling Star when I was two years old. Tim tried to remember the song about the US states and I didn’t know it, so googled it.

Darlings, it is fabulous. Clever and witty and Perry Como is singing which is … yeah, I’m still in love with Perry Como.

Sorry about the advert at the start, but the song is worth it.