Monthly Archives: April 2023

Another good day

Always celebrate the good, darlings and let the bad go. Acknowledge with self-respect, but it shouldn’t fester (sometimes easier said than done)

Today was one of the good ones. My American cousins are in Europe! – Cyprus at present, where they will be for a fortnight, then on to Paris, then by Eurostar to London. On the 20th May, they’ll catch a train to here, or as near as can be. So I’ve been planning a few things for them to do, bearing in mind that chilling out time and good eating time and chatting and healing time are needed too.

Dilly’s dad is a Norwich boy and there’s not much he doesn’t know (I found something to inform him about though, not in a know-it-all way, I promise) and he’s planned a walk round the city. Dilly and family and parents met and we did a trial run – Parents had already done so and are refining it, because they are truly lovely – and like walking.

To digress, I love city walking. Not that I don’t enjoy a country walk, but a grassy path is like another grassy path and a city is endless novelty. I think I’m still a town girl at heart, just not one who wants to live there.

I learned a lot and just enjoyed the day and, as we walked past St Andrew Church (check it out on Norfolk, without the gap), opposite St Andrew’s Hall, I asked casually if this was the church with the skeleton and skull carvings? They didn’t know – sadly, though not officially redundant, it’s rarely open, but I’d been there some years earlier.

I gave them eggs, they gave me cake, jam and tomato plants and so much of their time and kindness. It’s been a good day.

I was busy in the morning too, but I’ll talk about that another time.

Getting with the programme

I did go to bed early last night. Too tired to stay up – I just collapse when I’ve had enough, nowadays, though I feel fine the rest of the time. It’s very annoying and I’ll be glad when I get back my late night enthusiasm. Never mind, I’m boring myself, so worse for you.

I’ve been spending quite a lot of time planning the programme for next year for the local arts society – Nadfas, as it was called when they were distinctive (everyone now thinks we’re amateur painters in the village hall) and I’ve got to the stage of needing to email lecturers. Another committee member came over the other day and we thrashed out the final shortlist, with a couple more people in reserve. And I’ve finally filled in the evaluation form for the last speaker, who was terrific. The audience loved her, she was entertaining and hugely informative – I’ve given her the highest score.

It’s a more straightforward job than when I used to do it, briefly, about 20 years ago because it’s all done online now. The directory of lecturers with all the information is on the main website and all forms except the booking form are filled in online. It’s just the job of choosing, which could be overwhelming, but I’ve enjoyed it. Month to month, once all the contracts are signed, it’s just a matter of contacting the lecturer a few weeks in advance to confirm arrangements – usually, people come by train and I pick them up, then someone takes them back after lunch. I introduce the speaker to the chairman and treasurer (so they can hand over their bill) and then to the technician and then I hover around to make sure all is well. After that, we have lunch at the local restaurant and off they go. After that, I email round for an evaluation and then fill in the form. So it’s a fairly straightforward job – unless something goes awry, such as a speaker becoming ill at the last minute. One has to scramble round for someone fairly local who can step in at short notice, in that event, but it doesn’t happen often.

I hope to get everyone booked until next June, at least, within a month. Perhaps up to December. Then I can relax.

Z has a day out

I went to Sudbury today, to see Gainsborough’s house and art gallery. It was a very good day, we all enjoyed it. I am absolutely tired out now though and I want to go to bed – it’s not even 7.30, so I’ll regret it if I do – which may not stop me. I really can hardly stay upright.

Tim and I had a few days in Lavenham, a month or so after we got married. We didn’t have time for a honeymoon until then, so this had to suffice – the Great House was absolutely lovely and we’d meant to go back, but lockdown intervened and so on… We drove to Sudbury one day and wanted to park and go to the house, but it was hopeless. I couldn’t walk far as I was in need of a hip replacement (I phoned to arrange it as soon as I got back) and we followed the signs for the town car park, until there wasn’t a sign and there wasn’t a car park. We did several sweeps of the town and went over a lot of speed bumps and never did find a car park, so we gave up and went to Long Melford instead.

Everything I do reminds me of Tim or of Russell and, I tell you, it gets no easier. However much I put my best foot forward, it still sucks.

Things that go in threes…

The other day, Badgerdaddy, my ex-blogger friend who used to live in Yagnub, got in touch for a chat. He’s in Wales now, not too far from Ludlow (where I visited him ten or so years ago) so it might not come off, but he did talk about the possibility of coming to the blog party. And then today, Rhonda, my not-a-cousin but we’re family, whom I stayed with near Atlanta last year, video-called. Just now – as in half an hour ago – John, formerly of Publog, phoned. So I’ve been chatty and everything, darlings.

Rhonda and her daughter Tori will be flying to Cyprus on Friday for a fortnight, where they’ve got friends, then to Paris and next, on Eurostar, to London, so they are visiting the Zedery for a week or so in about a month’s time. We’re all really looking forward to it. And I’ve promised to call on John next time I go to the caravan – it wasn’t possible when I went there at Easter.

If anyone I haven’t seen for a year or more phones me later this week, it’ll negate the rule of three. Unless it starts another three, of course, which will just double the fun.

Z makes plans

As I said a few weeks ago, I intend to go out as much as I can. I have no plans to go abroad this year – my passport runs out in September, but it’s already out of date as far as the EU is concerned, now that we’re a 3rd country without any member privileges. But Wink and I are having a night in London in June, going to the theatre on the Saturday evening and tennis at Queens Club on the Sunday (Wink is keen on tennis) and then to Wimbledon a couple of weeks later. I’ve also got various local theatre and other trips booked. I’ve got visits to Pembrokeshire planned in the early summer and then in August with Ro and the children and I’ll manage another trip, probably, at the end of October and Wink and I are having a week in Kent in September. I think I’ll find it hard to fit in another holiday unless it’s in the winter, as I’m busy most of the time – that is, not necessarily every day, but a few times every week. I will cancel things that are only done for duty though, I’m just not getting stuck with giving up social and pleasure occasions any more.

Nicest of all, I’ve been invited to a wedding reception in September with Ro – Zain and he have been friends since university days which, now I think of it, means 20 years or more. And he and I have always got on well too, which is lovely. I think it’s a pity when you only have friends of your own age, though I suppose that Zain is one of my youngest friends now.

It’s a funny thing that I’m often so tired in the evenings that I have to go to bed early – I mean drop-down exhausted, not sleepy – but I’m all right when I’m out. Much as I like being alone, I suppose I’m stimulated by company and forget to be tired.

Z goes on a verbal ramble

The meetings went well and were less stuffy than the last one of that ilk that I’d been to, many years ago, which I credit to our rector and his wife. And I’m a churchwarden again, *sigh* which I’d never intended to be, but we’ve been lacking one (out of two) for several years and my conscience overcame me, not in a religious sense but because I’m very fond of Brenda, who’s been holding the fort for a very long time. And everyone liked all the food and the chickens enjoyed the leftovers today.

The chickens are very happy. Not only did they get tasty snacks but they had been allowed out onto fresh grass. Poultry lockdown came early last winter, but restrictions have been lifted earlier too, which maybe was a sensible thing. I’m sorry to say that avian flu is now widespread among wild birds and I think we’ll have to live with it. My girls are pretty safe anyway, as I don’t let them out into the garden any more – I’m very sad about this as I loved to see them scratching about in the flower beds and to be greeted by hopeful treat-seekers every time I went to the door, but I couldn’t cope with all the chicks that the stop-outs brought back after a three-week absence. In another couple of years, I’ll have to make a decision whether to rear some more chicks (or rather, allow their mothers to hatch and rear them) or to let the Churchyard Chickens live their lifespan and then stop. It could be, of course, that a friend will take on a broody hen and carry on that way. But that’s in the future and now is now.

I went to a lecture today about Alfred Cohen. I had no idea how much I would love his paintings. I didn’t even know, until I read the programme, that he was American. I’m embarrassed. Since he lived in North Norfolk, I assumed he was British, to the extent I’d thought about it. I didn’t know that he’d rethought his style of painting several times, I was ignorant – and still am, of course, but at least I know that my ignorance is my loss, now. If I could paint, his manner of figurative abstraction would be my ambition – though with landscape rather than his use of water (not always water, but those were the ones I liked very much) because water would always be way above my pay grade. Though painting anything to give me pleasure is, frankly, so we’re talking pie in the sky here.

Then we went to lunch. We’d hoped to meet up with Rose and her chap, but it didn’t work out and I suggested a local place that does salads and so on, and Wink suggested another, rather more gourmet. She was treating, so hey… We both had the smoked mackerel starter, with grilled smoked mackerel, smoked mackerel pâté, pickled cucumber and wild garlic sauce, then she had chicken – I don’t know how that was cooked, though there was chorizo and some cabbage – and I had mushroom and wild garlic risotto, which was divine. Wild garlic has a very short season and I eat it at all opportunities.

Z draws the line at vegetarian ‘sausage’ rolls

I’m finally catching up with emails from Friday – that is, sending them and not necessarily replying to them. I seem to have become busy and I don’t quite have the stamina that I used to have. Last night, for instance, after a busy day, I suddenly became very tired about 7 pm. My sister plied me with wine, which helped for a while and then I just dropped an hour later.

I suspect I’m not eating enough protein. I seem to have less meat and fish than I used to and veggies don’t do it for me, though I eat them in great quantities.

Anyway. I’m awake and upright now. So I’ll catch up a bit.

I spent Easter at the caravan in Pembrokeshire, which went very well. I called on Compostwoman (Sarah, along with her husband Ian) on the way in Herefordshire, which was really nice. I’d met her before, not him. Every year, they hope to make it to the blog party – it’s a long way and they have to organise chicken and cat sitters, as I do. In P’shire, I spent some time with Tim’s sister- and brother-in-law, who are lovely and always very hospitable. A few glitches at the caravan when I arrived at 8.30 pm, having been on the road, more or less, for 10 hours, but at least I had a bottle of water and cold food and the electricity was on, so I could turn on the blanket and have a warm bed. The next morning, all got sorted out. I read a lot while I was there – I say 5 books but it wasn’t really, because I decided one wasn’t for me, after 100 pages or so and another was too depressing to finish. So 3 and two halves, more or less.

The chickens are allowed out from tomorrow. Since their run is covered, I let them have a couple of hours yesterday, which was just as well, because they quickly dug an escape tunnel and five got out. They’re very good and tame and it wasn’t hard to get them back in, though I was glad of Wink’s help. I found the gap and have blocked it, so they should be okay.

I seem to have taken a lot of things on recently, though at least they’re often pleasure and not duty. I am so anxious not to let the balance shift the wrong way in future. Though it’s the annual church meeting tomorrow and it’s our village’s turn to do refreshments. Another parish is doing wine. The person organising it suggested – via someone else – that I might make vegetarian sausage rolls.

Of all things I don’t want to cook, they come quite high up the list. I’ve never made a vegetarian sausage roll and don’t know how and pastry has to be very good if it isn’t to be stodge. I’m also aware that someone is making actual sausage rolls and someone else cheese scones, and what about those people who can’t eat wheat flour? So I’ve hard-boiled a couple of dozen eggs to stuff and I’ll do slices of cucumber with vegetable-based toppings. I’ll probably add something with smoked salmon because most people like that and, if they have to sit through two inordinately dull meetings, they will need something to cheer them a bit. Not a lump of stodge.

Z goes out

Weeza was very sympathetic but took my fall without drama, so that’s okay. We had a lovely visit and she cooked a chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curry for lunch, which was excellent. I took Easter eggs for the children (also dropped some off for Rufus and Perdita on the way) with a cake and the first of the rhubarb.

We were talking about the theatre in Norwich and I said I’m a Friend, so do let me know if there’s anything for which you need early booking. I also get a bit off the ticket price and 2 for 1 on the first night of dramas … actually, that wasn’t how it started. We were talking about birthday presents and I said I was taking Wink to Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre in London for her birthday (a couple of months late, but that’s okay) and then we talked about musicals, which Weeza rarely likes. But Zerlina does and she said that, of the two she was interested in this spring, one has already sold out. And, being a good mum and granny, I relieved Weeza of any pressure to take z to the other by going online and booking tickets to it for the two of us. It’s Heathers – I’ve heard of the film but never seen it and I didn’t know they’d made a musical of it. So I am sure it’ll be brilliant fun and I’m looking forward to an evening out with Zerlina.

I’ve sat in silence, alone in the evenings, so much for the past year that I’m pulling myself together. I rarely bother to put the tv on (I only watch on the computer, I’ve given my tv to Wink, though I do have Tim’s in the study) and I sometimes listen to music or the radio, but often don’t bother. I’m not lonely by myself, only lonely for whom I’ve lost, but this is no way to behave for the rest of my life. I’m going out as much as I can.

Wink will be away that week, so I’ve suggested to z that she comes back here for the night, because it’s too long to leave eCat if I stay at her house. And she assures me that she won’t be embarrassed to be taken out by her old granny. So that’s all good.