Monthly Archives: August 2022

One eye open

Are any of you old enough to remember a programme called “Not so much a programme”? From the 1960s, I think David Frost was the presenter and Lynda Baron sang the theme song, it followed on from TW3 – That was the week that was. I’ve been singing it, imperfectly, tonight. It’s a tricky tune, when you haven’t heard it for well over 50 years and you were a child then. The reason was one line – “one eye open wide, one eye closed” which is how a chicken sleeps.

Wink went out to put the chickens to bed and feed the cats and she accidentally let one of the bantams out. It’s easy for it to happen, I’ve done so myself, though not for some time. Her eyesight isn’t as good as it might be and she isn’t that agile either, and even after nearly two years, she doesn’t yet think like a chicken. I’ve had eight years to practise that. I know how their tiny brains work. Anyway, we tried to get her back and couldn’t manage it, so I sneaked back at dusk and found her – I think it’s Polly Garter. But, as I was getting ready to grab, she fluttered away. So I left it another hour or so, the same thing happened and I couldn’t find her after that. I hope she’ll survive the night and not be foxed.

I’ve spent the weekend and the early part of the week getting ready to compile the auction catalogue. I’ve got everything described, the condition report done, the photos taken, brightened and cropped, I’ve taken a photo for the advertisement and I’ve put the numbers on the china. That’s as much as I can do so far. Next it’ll be the catalogue itself, but I’m taking a few days’ break first.


Eloise cat, also known as eCat, shares her favours between Wink and me. I used to look for her when I wanted to go to bed, to be sure she was indoors, but now I just assume she’ll be next door. She usually turns up sometime in the night with each of us, but she’s just being a cat. It’s good to be self-reliant.

The outdoor cats are more demanding. Not that all of them come to be fed every day, it’s we who have to be reliable. They wait in the morning, carefully choreographed for maximum curtain-up effect and move forward when one of us opens a door. If Freddie is there, he yowls with his pink mouth wide open – the most timid cat, yet the most demanding. His brothers and mother come to be stroked, but Betty Kitten is a bit more shy. Mother Mehitabel is always the last to arrive at the breakfast table, she strolls along to make her entrance late, like a diva. But she’s also the sweetest and I love her very much. I think she might be quite old and I wish I could look after her more, but eCat won’t hear of it. It’s not that she sulks, she attacks.

The wet weather that much of the country received didn’t reach here. A few minutes of rain and a bit more drizzle, everything is very dry. I fill pans and bowls with water for the wildlife, from bees to hedgehogs – and the cats too.

Deadlines. Dead lines.

I finished typing, apart from a few books and I’ve finished the condition report. Next, I will print out the labels and proof read, then it’ll be time to take photos and prepare an advertisement, then add the labels. Then everything can wait for a week while I go to Wales for a break. In theory, it’s all sorted. I have two clients to email, though one can wait until I get back, because he’s thinking about the reserve on his china. I have time, I’m pacing myself.

People react differently to deadlines, of course. Some are wonderfully organised and crack on straight away, others leave it until the last minute and I’m in between. It’s possible to leave it too late. Weeza had that happen once, when she was working in London. A colleague didn’t get started on a project until it was too late and she finally had to own up. I don’t know what happened to her, but the whole office rallied round, with two days notice. They worked until late, both nights, the boss sent out for pizza and they were taken home by taxi. The deadline was met, the client didn’t know, it was done well. At least the person who should have done it did own up, but it was only by goodwill and professionalism that a damaging situation was averted.

Last year, Tim was going to do the photographs and then crack on with the catalogue, starting on the Tuesday. He died on Sunday. I had to travel down to Reading and deal with immediate matters, then come back and do it myself, though darling, kind Indigo Roth came to visit me and, when I asked for advice on focussing the camera, he took over and did all the photography for me. The catalogue was a steep learning curve, but I did it.

I’ll be in Pembrokeshire alone, the anniversary of that Sunday. I am finding things very difficult at present and I can’t help that. I found myself wishing I could find it easier, this evening and heard a voice asking if I wanted to forget Tim? No, of course not, so I just have to bear it somehow. I feel wretched, though there’s no benefit in dwelling on that.

Z buys a shiny new toy

I’ve finally succumbed to the lure of the laptop and bought a MacBook Air and very lovely it is. I’ve never been very keen on them, but this is a pleasure to work on. I’m still working out what to transfer over from the computer – I have far too much stuff on there and am too lazy to go through it and delete files, but I really must. But I don’t want to have a lot of things I don’t need.

I chose a 13″ so that it would be light and easily portable. If, when my iMac finally becomes too ancient to use, I find the screen too small, I’ll simply buy another one. I still prefer to type sitting upright rather than bending over a laptop, but it’s fine unless I’ve got a lot of work to do.

I also have been looking at wallpapers for the bathroom (the walls are too uneven to be tiled and I’ve always had paper there) and have got a choice of two, so I’ll receive samples in the post soon. I’m not in a hurry, this will be a winter job. I want to do it myself, because I want it to be perfect. On the whole, I do things as well as they need to be done, which may mean taking a lot of care or it may be fairly casual, but there are a few matters where perfection rules and a room where the walls are as crooked as these ones need to be exactly right. Both papers are expensive and the one I like best is extremely expensive. I may opt for the other, though because it has a big drop and it may be just too wasteful. Careful measurement will help me decide. It’s so expensive that I think I’m going to have to practise, it’s been a long time since I’ve done any papering. I’ve got the odd roll of wallpaper knocking about, I’ll find a wall I can use it on. I think I’ll enjoy it, once I get going.

A jolly at the Zedery

It all went really well. A relaxed and happy meal, casual and friendly, it was lovely to renew an old friendship – I don’t think that my children had seen G & S since they moved to New Zealand 20 years ago. The weather was perfect for an outdoor meal; warm but not too sunny.

Now, at nearly 8 o’clock, I’m wondering how long I can wait before going to bed. I’m really sleepy and the soles of my feet hurt. Wink pointed out that I’ve been standing or walking most of the time for the last four days. She’s right and I’m getting too old for this sort of thing, which won’t stop me doing it again. I love getting people together and making food for them.

Z goes out

I went with Ronan and the children to the Dinosaur Park just to the west of Norwich. I’ve never been before, though it’s been there for about 20 years – the sort of place you go with children and mine were too old by the time it opened. It was very good and the children were fabulous. We talked about other children, Ro knows that not all are as well behaved as his are, though Perdita has her moments. But even when she has a meltdown, it’s for a reason and she can usually be talked out of it, because she listens and wants to co-operate.

I’m pretty well ready for the party of 16 tomorrow. I hope we can eat outside, but a quick table-moving job can be done if that won’t work. But cloudy conditions, 23-24º seems okay, as long as it’s not too humid or windy.

Augustus is 11 today.

Z lists china

On Monday, I’ll start putting the catalogue together for the next auction as I’ve got all the china together now. I’ve listed everything but not put it in sale order yet. There’s a lot of work. First, to decide what order to put everything in, then to carefully examine each piece for damage or restoration, then to photograph it and make detailed descriptions. Then the photos must be cropped, the lot numbers put on the china and then I can start on the catalogue itself.

I find it quite soothing to handle the china and the work needs care and concentration, but not actual brainpower, so it’s not too arduous. Last year was awful of course, as Tim was going to do the photography and compile the catalogue and he died the weekend before he was intending to start, on 5th September. So I was doing the work myself – darling Indigo Roth did the photos for me, because he’s a true friend in need – at the same time as arranging Tim’s death certificate and preparing for his funeral.

It’s going to be a painful few weeks, emotionally. I’ll keep busy.

But today, it’s Zerlina’s 14th birthday and Eloise cat’s 8th. So we celebrate.

Z is awake

it’s not that I don’t have the wish to blog, but that I’m tired out by the time I come to the computer and I go to bed instead. Even now, I keep mistyping and have to correct myself, and normally I’m an accurate touch-typist. Which was one of the more useful – obviously useful, that is – things I learned at school. I’m sure I’ve blogged before that I got bored with French and gave it up, they didn’t know what to do with me instead (because they were very nice and just accommodated us, unless you smoked when you were instantly expelled) so sent me to the B Stream’s Business School lessons. I changed my mind later and took French again, to A Level, but I’d learnt touch-typing in the meantime as a useful extra. Anyway. When I’m tired, I am erratic.

I think it’s mostly the heat that’s tired me, but I’m also going to up the protein in my diet, in case that’s lacking. Whilst I think I eat healthily, I suppose it’s largely vegetables and fruit, because it’s too hot to cook much.

However, Wink and I have been getting things done. I’ve brought most of Tim’s things up from the barn, there are just a few pieces of furniture, a rug and some books, lamps and kitchen stuff. I’ve shampooed the rugs I have brought and put them here and there in the house. It brings him here to me and makes me miss him more acutely, but I want to hold on to him as far as I can. We’ve been sorting out papers and so on, which I can only cope with for an hour or so, but we’re making progress and I’m very grateful to her.

We met Weeza and co for lunch yesterday and the whole family is coming over next Sunday, along with our old friend Graham and his wife Sandra, who moved to New Zealand about 20 years ago. It was Graham who helped me so much with sorting out, the year after Russell died. i’ll always be so grateful to him for that, it was so kind. But we like them anyway – as soon as I told everyone, they all wanted to come over and see them. So a big family lunch it is, there will be 16 of us.

Summer hols

Asked what was his favourite thing, Rufus said “the tunnels!” Everyone loves the tunnels. Three of them, linking the village to Saundersfoot, the coast path is about a mile long, so it was a bit of a stretch for two small children to do the return journey. Perdita was carried some of the way. The second time we visited Saundersfoot, I drove there, so that the children and Ro could just walk the return journey. I spent the spare time having coffee at a new little café, which was so nice that I suggested we have lunch there the next day, which was our last full day. It’s just a little converted horse box with a small, but really nice menu and the staff are all delightful. Other than that, we never left the village (apart from my daily visit to the Co op in Kilgetty, five minutes’ drive away, for the newspaper and food). Beach every day and, once the baby was in bed, board games in the evening. Very peaceful and relaxed. Rufus was the only one of us who never took a daytime nap.

Tim’s Rock