Monthly Archives: August 2021

Z visits That London

We’re in Reading, heading to Pembrokeshire in the morning. I had my first train journey in nearly two years today. A double journey, of course, that is. The timing was governed by that London trip because I couldn’t face it from Norfolk. The times I’ve been delayed, for whatever reason, have made me want never to do it again, though I suppose I’ll get over it.

A Lowestoft china client had a picture exhibition and he’d invited me to the private opening. Having accepted, I was almost too tired to go, but I didn’t want to let him down, I like his work and Peter Egan was the guest opening the exhibition. Which was the clincher. I went. Tim was quite tired after a long day yesterday, so I went on my own. I’m glad I haven’t lost my London mojo. It was good to just walk around, appreciating it.

I bought a picture. I don’t yet know where we will hang it, nor even in which house. I like it, that’s enough.

Hatch, match and despatch

This is always an emotional week for me. From the 18th to the 24th, there are anniversaries within the family of two births (plus Eloise the cat), two weddings and Russell’s death. Emotional rollercoaster is an overworked term, but it’s not an unreasonable one.

I’ve come to the conclusion, over the years, that one (or maybe I) never ‘get over’ anything, it just gets put in a virtual box and is shut away. The more boxes one has and the older one gets, the harder it is to keep them all safely secured.

Today, Weeza and co went to Banham Zoo to celebrate Gus’s birthday, which was yesterday. When asked what he wanted to do, he wanted to go to the zoo with Rufus, the cousin he adores. So Tim and I went during the afternoon to walk Izzy the dog, who was left on her own all day if not. I suggested going out for lunch, which turned out to be a mistake. We wanted to go to a nice restaurant in Cromer – probably would be wise to book but we decided to wing it. They have an upstairs smart restaurant, where there was a good chance of a lunchtime table, a downstairs fish restaurant where there would probably be a queue and a takeaway chippie. Surely we’d be lucky with one of them?

I daresay we would have been. However, Cromer was stacked with cars. We tried three car parks and couldn’t get in to any of them. Nor was there space on any of the roadsides. We searched for half an hour and gave up. We hoped to find a roadside pub or café – but no. So we thought we’d call in at a supermarket in North Walsham – there’s a Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose, apparently – well, we drove past the Waitrose with too many cars behind to stop suddenly, as it wasn’t visible until we were right there, and we couldn’t find the other two, not even with the satnav. Finally, we went back to Weeza’s and raided her supplies of cheese, biscuits and pickles. And Phil’s beer, which he thought he’d squirrelled away but we have a nose for that sort of thing.

Izzy was very happy to see us; no guard dog is she and I took her for walks. She didn’t want to go far, so I didn’t take the wild flower photos I’d wanted. It was starting to rain by 4 o’clock, so her final walk was a short one – her decision, not mine.

Weeza and co are coming over tomorrow, we’ll have seen each other as much this week as we have all year.

Z dogsits

I spent yesterday with Augustus, whose tenth birthday is tomorrow, and with Izzy the pup. It was Zerlina’s 13th birthday and she was going to Go Ape in Thetford Forest with friends. Gus is too young. We had a very good day. Didn’t do a lot, took Izzy for several walks, watched a film, played on the X-Box.

The verges and hedgerows around their way are really lovely. There are quite a number of flowers that we don’t have growing wild here. I wish I’d taken photos, I’ll have to check a wildflower book. Certainly honeysuckle, scabious, a vetch that is darker and prettier than the (pretty but rampant weed) one I have in my garden, old man’s beard, broom and – I’m going back on Saturday and I will take photos.

Gus wanted to take me to a wood, where there’s a big oak tree he’s climbed in the past. We were very startled to find it had completely collapsed. Sort of exploded in three directions. We wondered if it had been struck by lighting but have concluded that the stress of one huge bough falling had been too much for the rest of the tree and it had split completely. The two other main branches had not parted from the root and leaves are still growing, but the third had fallen off and died, in full leaf. So now it’s a balancing beam rather than a climbing tree.

I took a panoramic shot.

Izzy, who can’t help looking cute.

The wood is a delight. It’s privately owned but clearly not used for any commercial coppicing or felling. Space has been cleared around some big oak trees but, otherwise, it seems to be left to itself. There were several shades of heather and a wide range of other wild flowers, leaf mould left to nurture the soil and a few oak and holly saplings left to grow. Seeing the destroyed tree made me thankful that I’d had the old oak tree by the drive carefully pruned last year. One big bough had fallen ten years or so ago and we’d meant to have it attended to by a tree surgeon, but Russell was not in the best of health by then and things became so worrying that I forgot all about it. I’m just glad to have got to it in time. The tree surgeon thanked me for having it attended to while it was healthy, he said I’d saved it. It had huge branches growing out horizontally, which place a great strain on the core of the tree and this one was the same. Tom just took out some of the weight and reduced the stress, very carefully so that you couldn’t really see what had been done. He suggested that checking and possibly pruning it every five years or so would be a good idea.

While I was over there yesterday, Tim had an appointment at the eye clinic at the hospital near Gt Yarmouth, so Wink took him. They had a long wait. Three quarters of an hour before seeing the first person, then there were two others, with lengthy spells sitting glumly in between. In contrast, his appointment (for another purpose) at the Norwich hospital today was much more efficiently done. Just as well because it’s been a busy day. First fetched Wink back from the garage, where she’d delivered her car for its MOT, then over to Norwich, then home, then went back to Norwich with Wink for another engagement, then back to fetch her car. Tomorrow, Squiffany is coming over to help turn out the study and then we’re dog sitting again on Saturday, then Weeza and co here on Sunday. I’m not used to this and being busy is tiring, nowadays. Still, more fun than faffing around, innit.

Z is ready for bed

I noted the other day that Thursday morning would be free. It isn’t now. This week will be the busiest in more than two years, I think. In fact, I’m double-booked on Wednesday, so Wink is kindly stepping in to help.

I don’t yet know whether this is stimulating or simply exhausting, so will have to judge in retrospect. I do know that I was so tired last night that I was in bed by 10 o’clock, whereupon sleepiness left me and I was still awake at 1 am.

Lovely Mike and Zoe were great company as always. They live an hour and three quarters away, which is a disadvantage, especially as the journey time can be doubled by bad traffic, as it was on Friday. I really do not miss travel. I like to be in other places, but the getting there has been dire for decades. I’m due to be in London one evening, the week after next, but simply can’t face the London to Liverpool Street line. We will go to Reading and I’ll travel from there. I probably should not have accepted the invitation (private view of an art exhibition) but I like the artist and admire his work and it seemed a good idea at the time. Anyway. Hope I’ll get there. And hope that we’ll then get over to Pembrokeshire.

Mike’s border collie, Scout, is a lovely dog. Very beautiful as that breed always is, he’s also intelligent, supremely well-behaved and loves to play. Sadly, Eloise cat is not impressed. She hates and is afraid of dogs. Linda would be puzzled, because she was her hostess (I am not sure anyone ‘owns’ a cat) until she was ten months old and Linda had two dogs as well as four other cats. Eloise relishes being an only cat now and guards her home against other felines and hides from visiting dogs. After Mike, Zoe and Scout had left, I went to search for Eloise. She wasn’t outside or with Wink, nor in the study, nor in any of the bedrooms. I called. Eloise miaowed. I looked round and finally spotted her, sitting on the leopard’s cage. Safety with a big cat. She has been very loving ever since and quite hungry, as her meals were hurried and nervous.

The escaped cockerel is still out. He wants to rejoin the flock but is too nervous to enter through a wide-open door. i’ve named him Pillock. I put food out for him and otherwise ignore him. Poor Mehitabel, mother cat, is afraid of him, though he is unaggressive and she was also nervous of Scout, so I didn’t see her for a couple of days. I was glad when she returned tonight and made a big fuss of her. I love that little cat and hope she doesn’t vanish for years again – though she is a feral cat and will do whatever she chooses.

A glut of vegetables, though I’m hardly growing any. I made ratatouille tonight.

Life is the rose’s hope while yet unblown

There’s a local guy who has started up a meal delivery service. As I mentioned the other day, it’s Indian food, just on Friday and Saturday. He uses local ingredients and it’s been recommended by friends. We tried it a couple of weeks ago and it was very good, home cooked food (rather than Indian restaurant/takeaway food). He’s really nice to talk to, as well. The delivery time is given as 4.30 – 7.30pm and today, he just squeaked in at 7.25. It didn’t matter at all; as it happens I’d ordered a day early but we eat later anyway.

Rose and I caught up with each other’s (should that be others’? Tell me, grammar people) news yesterday. She is joining my lunch club for, quirkily, afternoon tea next week. It really is a pleasure to be gently sociable again, though I haven’t honestly missed much. Except friendship. It’s been less easy to be relaxedly friendly for the last year and – what, four months? It really is the small things. Also with masks, the shared smile with a stranger has vanished. We try to smile with our eyes but we don’t know if it’s gone through. Rather like P*nk T*ff*n’s meal this evening, we weren’t entirely sure, at 7.24, if it was going to turn up.

Really looking forward to seeing Mike and Zoë tomorrow. They should been our first overnight guests but, as it is, they come second to Rufus. I’ll take any vaccination they offer me, I just want to be gently (second use of the word) normal without worrying that I’ll infect and possibly kill anyone. I’m less bothered about myself, for whatever reason.

I went into town this afternoon. Last time I drove, I’d been listening to downloaded programmes on my phone, but I hadn’t plugged it in this time and the default (largely because it was what I found that was acceptable – I do not like my present car phone set-up) is ClassicFM. It was playing Mozart clarinet quintet. I used to play that. I used to play it all through and I wasn’t bad. I grieve that I let my ability go and I don’t know if I’ll ever play that well again. I’ll try but I’m over twenty years older and I don’t know if I can pull myself up again. I realise that I hope for some sort of a breakthrough, simply by virtue of buying a better clarinet and I also know that I’m deluding myself. But hope is a start. If I can hold on to that, the work may feel worthwhile.

Z runs about

It has been a very busy week, mostly because of grandchildren stuff, which is absolutely lovely but exhausting nowadays. I’m out of practice.

Young Rufus came to stay on Saturday night and it became apparent that he fully intended to stay at least an extra night. He simply loves this house. I said to Tim, I think he’d move in and hoof us out, given half a chance. Tim squared his shoulders and said there’s no chance of that. Rufus is a great little boy and we had a lot of fun, but I was tired out by the time I took him home. No time for tiredness, however, as I’d promised to take Zerlina to Norwich, to go shopping for her 13th birthday next week.

Zerlina is a charming, gorgeous, tall, confident young woman. She and her friends are very interested in fashion and she knows what she likes. She is a delight and, to my great joy, she treats me as a person, not an elderly granny. Gazing in my wardrobe on Monday morning, I wondered what to wear, for going out with this fashionable girl – and then realised it didn’t matter in the least. All I had to do was not be embarrassing. I chose a longish, navy linen dress and reckoned I’d blend in. We had a lovely time, though I had a few minutes in the shopping mall when I had to remove my face mask and pant a bit, because her long legs cover a lot more ground than my short ones and I was feeling a bit dizzy because I’d hurried more than was sensible.

The next day, Squiffany came to help Wink hang pictures. She’s also lovely and immensely kind. I adore all my grandchildren, I feel so lucky. They are all very different, it must be said.

Anyway, to come up to date – I’m meeting Rose for lunch tomorrow, which we’re looking forward to. Tim, indulgently, said that we probably want a girly chat, so he’ll look after himself. We couldn’t quite be bothered to go shopping today, so he’s going to have to rummage around for food – there’s some leftover mackerel and a bit of cheese, plenty of eggs, he’ll be fine.

Zoe and Mike are coming to stay for the weekend. They should have stayed after the blog party, but Mike had left vital medication at home, so they had to scoot back that evening. I said we’d ask them back soon and so we have. They can stay two nights, so that’ll be a good chance to relax and chat. I’ve ordered in Indian food for Saturday night and Wink has invited us for Sunday lunch, so it’ll be easygoing. Tim has also taken the precaution of ordering some wine.

I have work to do – just one email, but it’s a business one and it can’t wait – so I may not visit many of you tonight. I will catch up on blogs in the next few days, though.

All at the Zedery look forward

Wink is, I think, on the verge of getting a social life that doesn’t involve us. That is a very good thing. She’s happy to be introduced as my sister but she doesn’t need to be prejudged that way.

Someone she knew was going to stay with a relation in Yagnub and, since it fitted in with her plans, she gave him a lift from Wiltshire to here. Then she kindly drove him to the station to catch his train home. She’d befriended the relation he stayed with and invited her to lunch today. She’s great company and has lots of friends, so will introduce Wink to people I don’t know. I’ve never been part of Yagnub society particularly, which is a pity – I tended to gravitate towards the nearest village as well as here, then to Norwich. So I may expand in her wake – she’s far more outgoing than I am and is good at making friends. I’m a bit more introverted, though not less friendly.

A busy few days coming up, starting with an appointment near Norwich at 9.30 am tomorrow. Eek. I’ve set my alarm for 7.30 and will scuttle around a bit. Family stuff after that. I so appreciate being a bit busy.

This evening, I’ve been playing the clarinet, with a bit of an effort as my embouchure is shot to pieces after a long hiatus. Tim has been playing the guitar, inspired by me. We are determined to play more. We both love it, if we play well. But it takes a lot of work to get up to the standard that pleases us (pleases the player, that is; the listener is more indulgent).

450 years old, still lovely

Another satisfying day, though in a different way. I went to mid-Suffolk to do a probate valuation, for an old friend. That is, the old friend has died and I didn’t know his wife so well. She is also lovely and we talked a bit, without sentiment but with feeling, about losing our husbands. A delightful collection of Lowestoft and it was a pleasure to see and handle it. I need to type up the valuation tomorrow.

Home for a very late lunch, but local St Jude cheese is worth waiting for. I also had the indulgence of a mid-week glass of white wine at lunchtime because, frankly, I felt I deserved it. Later, I rodded out the kitchen drain. When the new outside tap was fitted yesterday, I noticed that the water from the kitchen sink (and, more significantly, the dishwasher) was draining slowly, so I lifted the cover and it didn’t take long to deal with, luckily. I have an alert on my phone calendar to check all the drains every three months, but I usually go ‘eh’ and ignore it. I also checked Wink’s drains, which are clear. They were fine until Rose’s son’s girlfriend moved in and somehow they kept blocking after that. No idea, genuinely.

I’ve bought, or at least ordered, a new clarinet. It’s a Yamaha. They make very good traditional instruments, who knew? It’s a YCL-650S, quite expensive enough to force me to practice very hard for the rest of my life. And then one of my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will have to learn to play it, to justify my purchase.

I wheelbarrowed three sacks of chicken feed down to their greenhouse this morning. It probably wasn’t wise to take the short route through an unused veg bed, because the soil is a bit lower than the path and I couldn’t manage to push it up to the path at the end. I had to pull the barrow back until I could persuade it on the path and then go ahead. Then I had to feed the chickens mealworms to keep them away from the door (most of them were outside until I appeared, then they ran in, hoping for treats. I got the barrow in without letting any chickens out and managed to lift one 20 kilo sack into the feeder. That was it, my shoulders had no more to give. I was obliged to leave the other two sacks until this evening. I noted then that their water container was little more than a muddy puddle, so fetched a can of water, washed out the drinker and refilled it. The chickens were thrilled with the dirty water I’d emptied out and drank that instead of the clean stuff. Coming in to the greenhouse, Hen Rietta wouldn’t get out of my way, so I had to shove her a bit. On the way out, two more chickens were in the way. One hen, one of the stupid ones, had laid an egg right in front of the door. Of course, as I couldn’t see it, I opened the door onto the egg, which broke. Chickens happily eat eggs, including the shells. As I was struggling with the bag of corn this morning, one of the cockerels jumped up beside me and crowed in my ear. He nearly met his Maker. I swore, he did it again, I swiped. Wretch.

Anyway, all is tranquil tonight. It’s nearly ten o’clock and I might go to bed within the next half hour. A clear day to catch up on paperwork tomorrow, then busy for the rest of the week which, as I said yesterday, is a Good Thing.

Z’s busy day

Today was a lovely day. Weeza and the children came over – Phil started a new job today and set off looking very smart. Weeza said. His new job is a promotion on his last and he clearly wants to set a standard. Zerlina had braces fitted to her teeth the other day and was dismayed at the difficulty she had in eating. I pondered what to cook for lunch and suggested cheese soufflé, which was enthusiastically accepted. We started with watermelon and ended with ginger cake and chocolate brownies, all brace-friendly.

They brought Izzy the dog, who is adorable. She’s small, though not as small as you’d think for a chihuahua/poodle cross and she has the loveliest nature. Gus had been doubtful about getting a dog, but he’s smitten and took her for at least half a dozen walks while they were here. The children came with me to pick cucumbers and, after lunch, we took leftovers for the chickens and he enjoyed feeding them. He was pleased when Mother cat approached and wanted to be stroked, rubbing her face against him. We fetched eggs and did all the relaxed grannyish things.

Zerlina is not yet 13 and is 5 foot 5 inches tall and stick thin. She has become very interested in clothes, fashion and makeup – Alt fashion is her thing, which is not the same as Goth or Indi although, to a laygranny, it’s hard to tell the difference. She was wearing 5″ platform boots, leggings that started with velvet shorts, had sort of mesh criss-crossed with ribbon or tape at the thigh, then returned to velvet at the knee. She had eyeliner ‘wings’ and it was amazing. “She’s living her dream,” said her mother relaxedly. I’ve promised to take her shopping next week, for her birthday later this month.

It’ll also be Gus’s 10th birthday. He can’t think of anything he wants at present and, when offered money, explained that he has plenty of it, £70 he’s saved from pocket money and Christmas. I trust he’ll think of something. His parents aren’t finding it easy to buy his presents either, though they’ve got a duvet cover printed with pictures of Izzy. I’ll look after the two of them on z’s birthday, when she’s out with friends for her birthday treat.

z has already chosen her GCSE options. Her school takes three years over the syllabus – can see pros and cons there, but it’s nothing to do with me. One of them is Food Tech and I talked through the making of the soufflé – why you’re so careful not to get any egg yolk in with the white, for example.

The next week has filled up. Things on every day but Wednesday. We might try again with a visit to the caravan, depending on the weather. Life’s so much more fun when I’m busy.

Gang oft a-gley

Someone suggested we go to a concert in a park in Ipswich today – he was playing the cornet there – and we might have gone, but I went to feed the cats this morning and found a bit of a mess.

Some 30 years ago, Russell and Jamie constructed a Dutch barn – that is, covered but with open sides – for R to store wood, for the most part. The roof was (as we say in Norfolk) sheets of galvanised. Metal, corrugated. Some of them bolted to the wooden beams that were attached to the uprights, but it wasn’t necessary for all of them to be (I’m sure there’s something wrong in the grammar there, but it makes sense). Over the years, sometimes the roof was at risk of taking off, so extra weight was added at vulnerable points on top, which wasn’t very sensible as it added a lot of burden to the posts. I took no notice of any of this, it was R’s business and we supported but didn’t interfere with each other. After he died and it was my responsibility, I realised that some of the beams weren’t very strong any more, so shored them up and said to Wince that we needed to do something. That was scheduled for last summer, but then lockdown… it didn’t happen.

A corner had collapsed but, luckily, I’d moved the shed with Al’s beekeeping gear under the barn and a beam had come to rest on that. All the same, it scuppered the chance of taking a day off – I’d been in two minds anyway, because I didn’t want to get pinged, having a busy week coming up.

Anyway, that’s been a fair bit of the day. I had a clear picture in my mind of what was needed, so Tim kindly stood on the ladder while I was up it, and helped with moving pieces of wood and metal to ground level. I’ve knocked, with a mallet, another piece of wood to shore it up while Tim valiantly raised the roof and I’ve shifted the cats’ food under cover again.

Today had been the day I’d decided to worm the outside cats. I’m not sure how successful that has been. They were suspicious of the tin of tuna I shared between five plates, a pill crushed into each. I realise that it would have been better to use a couple of pouches of Eloise cat’s Gourmet Perle, because they all think that’s a treat.

The cockerel is still out. He comes to the door but won’t quite enter, though he wants to. I can’t quite grab him. I’m putting out food for him and I can’t quite care what he does. Poor little chap, he’s not wanted but I can’t tell him that.

I sold the wood in the barn, by the way, several years ago. Now, it has various bits of machinery, house tiles and bricks, rolls of wire and that sort of thing. Other than the useful spare tiles, nothing that matters very much. I need someone to help, because Tim and I don’t have the strength any more, but my thought is to reduce its size and just make it weatherproof.