Monthly Archives: May 2023

That was the day that was

I’ve been too busy to blog, I’m sorry to say. I still am. My American not-cousins are staying and we are out and about every day. Yesterday, for example, we went out for lunch, then met Dilly’s parents in Norwich for a guided walk – Peter has lived in the city all his life and knows a lot about it, no one better to show people around – and then to the local theatre for a live-stream of Sleeping Beauty from the Royal Opera House in the evening.

Today, we went to Cromer and then on around the North Norfolk coast road as far as Wells, where I remembered that the artist Alfred Cohen’s house and gallery was nearby. Wink and I went to an illustrated talk about him and his work, some six weeks ago, given by his stepson and I loved his paintings. We found the gallery and met his widow, who was charming and enthusiastic. I was very tempted to buy a painting but just managed to restrain myself and bought a book about him instead, promising to come to an exhibition of his and others’ work in July. After that, we went on to Weeza and spent the evening there. Now 11pm, we’re home again and everyone else has gone to bed.

It’s good to be busy. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Russell’s and my marriage and it wasn’t easy. But no one would have known how I felt and I was cheerful. I’d mentioned it to Rhonda and Victoria but to no one else and, as we never made much of our anniversary, the family didn’t think of it. It’s over; let it go.

I expect we’ll have a fairly quiet day tomorrow, but maybe dinner out.

Saving the birds

I went to a very interesting talk today about the founders of the RSPB – Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, that is. The speaker had become interested when someone told her that women had started it, though the website only mentioned men. Apparently, most of the archives had been destroyed when a bomb hit the headquarters during the War but, once her interest was apparent, the RSPB board closed ranks and refused further access to the information they did have. She had to do her research elsewhere, which she achieved through some years of rigorous research. She’s written a book on one of the main protagonists – Etta did not start the society herself, but was a driving force and was instrumental in linking several different groups to force through the banning of the use of birds and their feathers in ladies’ hats. Really, really interesting and I’m sure these women brought several species back from the verge of extinction. 130 years ago, egret feathers (which are very light, even for birds) were worth double the price, ounce for ounce, of gold.

Here’s a link

Once the book was published, she sent a copy to RSPB headquarters, someone read it and finally realised that Tessa had done important research and suddenly she was their best friend again. She’s crowdfunding for a statue to commemorate the work of Emily Williamson, the actual founder of the society. The weirdest thing was that women’s hats had actual dead birds on them, sometimes. Not just feathers, which one could assume had been shed and picked up, but the birds themselves. Often, they were shot during the nesting season, which meant the fledglings died too, of starvation.

Z goes to market

Yagnub had its street market today – one of them, anyway. It started with the Christmas one, some 40 years ago, which we used to come over to, though we still lived in Lowestoft then. It was an evening do for the first few years, but then it was decided to make it a whole-day Sunday market and to add other events too. So a May plant market and a July antiques fair were added and, last October, a food fair too, which I’m sure I wrote about and it was brilliant. I’m more a spectator at the antiques and Christmas bashes, though I have shopped on occasion.

Today started out dull and mild, which was a lot better than the wet chill of the past few days, but the sun came out later and it was lovely. I hope all the stallholders did well. I bought from several of them – at least 6 – and made 4 trips back to the car with all I could carry. Wink and I also had lunch, some spring rolls for her and a very good beef curry for me, with mulled cider.

Unfortunately, one of the cockerels became poorly a few days ago. It came out of nowhere – he’d been the boss at the beginning of last week, I watched them all. Stringfellow was hopefully picking up food and dropping it to attract hens, but he didn’t dare do the encouraging chirps because Jenga Junior was close by, not taking any notice of Stringy but clearly in command. Jenson was in the henhouse. Only the next evening, JJ was looking a bit sorry for himself and not up on the perch, and the next night I fed him by hand and made him comfortable for the night. Yesterday morning, I put him in a coop on his own, but I wasn’t optimistic. His eyes were getting dull and he’d lost his appetite. I felt him and his breast bone was sharp but his abdomen seemed very round and I wondered if he had a tumour. He died in the night. I won’t know why, I’m not attempting to find out. All the others are fine, so it’s nothing infectious. Jenson and Stringfellow seemed amicable, so I hope I won’t have a problem with them quarrelling.

Wink is in Norwich tonight, as Ro is taking her out to dinner and the cinema for her belated birthday treat. I had half an avocado and scrambled eggs for dinner and I seem to have run out of things to do. I have a whole lot of online Safeguarding training to do, but that will have to wait. Absurdly, each organisation that wants you to do it has its own system, so the higher-level training I have to do for the school doesn’t count at all for the church, which wants me to do 3 modules, each taking an hour and a half. I’m a bit pissed off, frankly. I don’t mind doing it, but there should be standard training and the certification should be okay for any organisation. It’s not something I want to tackle on a Sunday night, anyway.

Z is eaten by a ladybird

Shutting the bantams up at night has become a matter of sneaky timing. I go into their house and throw down a handful of mealworms, chucking a few, temptingly, through the hatch to attract any stragglers. Then i go round the back of the house and closed run, so that they don’t see me because, if they do, they follow me and go back into the open run. Tonight, a couple of them dashed after me and I only just slammed the door in time.

The alternative, of course, is simply to wait until they’ve gone to roost, but that’s getting later every day and it’s not halfway through May yet. i can see I’ll have to set an alarm to remind me, as the summer goes on, because I’ll forget. It doesn’t really matter if the run is open, as long as it doesn’t happen too often and attract the fox. It would take some effort for Reynard to dig his way in, though.

I managed to get some work done in the garden between a couple of heavy showers. Sadly, I have no enthusiasm for gardening any more, though I hope that will change in time. There are so many things that I want to want to do – perhaps I’ll start to feel like the old Z, one of these days. I sat down in the sunshine for a few minutes and felt a sharp prickle on my hand. It was a ladybird, biting me. I watched. It was deliberate. It moved a little and bit again. I ended up with an oval patch of half a dozen bites, one of which had definitely broken the skin. I looked for a rose with aphids on, to shake it on to, but no aphids to be found and I supposed it must be very hungry, to attack me. After it finished, it wandered across my arm and I moved it onto a plant.

I also rescued three honey bees, two of them trapped in the porch and one, too weak to fly, that was ambling across the carpet. It walked onto a piece of card and I took it out and leaned the card on a self-sown clump of snapdragons. i went back for some sugar, as it seemed so feeble but, when I came back, it was busy nuzzling into one of the flowers, so evidently was finding its own food. Poor thing must have got trapped in the house yesterday and 24 hours without food, at this time of year, was almost too much for it.

I was upset to read of Dooce’s death. She was one of the original bloggers and was very successful for years. A very frank writer with a brilliant way with words and a tendency to over-share – she clearly had a lot of personal problems and, more recently, acknowledged alcoholism and depression. Suicide, when she so adored her teenage daughters, is a shocking end to her life.

It’s being so cheerful as keeps Z going…

Wink, who is so stalwart and I really appreciate her – it’s really going well, living next door to each other, where we each have our space but do lots together – helped me sort things out. I now only have two rooms in complete chaos. Other cupboards, but that’s okay. Being relatively uncluttered gives me as much tranquillity as I’m likely to get.

It’s been warm and sunny today. In fact, having biked into Yagnub for my shopping and come home again, then moved the chicken coop (Hop and Polly aren’t really fit to go in with all the others and I’m not sure what to do for the best) and scuttled around a bit, I was so hot and bothered that I needed a little sit-down. Later, I walked down to the churchyard, because a friend had texted me to ask for advice – her husband died young, 25 years ago and someone has just told her that his gravestone had tipped. i knew which firm would have put it in place, but they no longer have a branch in Yagnub, so I sent her contact details and those of another local firm too, because choice is always useful.

I think, sometimes, about how to word a gravestone for Tim and what will happen when I die – not being morbid, just practical. I mentioned to the Rector, earlier this year, that I feel about ready to have Tim’s ashes buried, though I haven’t followed up on that yet. I’ve got a double grave paid for with Russell – it’s all slightly complicated by the graveyard being almost full (there is space, but it’s counted as an archaeological site and would need a lot of digs to be paid for, before permission is given for anything more) so … oh, enough. I’ve over-explained already. I mused, do I put just a basic plaque, as it’s just the site of a small casket, or do I do the full Monty and a proper stone? Then, do I mention Viv, whom he was married to for 19 years – but then he was married, not very happily, to Violetta for about the same time and this is getting ridiculous.

I ambled down, stopped at the site of my friend Linda’s grave (also a double one, with her late first husband) and took a picture of Alan’s to send to Sophie. Talked to Russell a bit, then walked home in tears. Not surprising, I suppose, but it wasn’t the first time I’d done a wobbly today. I really don’t cope very well. But you have to press on, there’s nothing else to do.

Anyway, a clean and tidy (most of) house is enough to celebrate for today. I’m going to have a Lovely Bath and retire to bed, to read until I am ready to sleep.

Z watches tv

An eventful week it’s been. I wasn’t born in time for the last coronation, so I was looking forward to this one and I took the very sensible opportunity to catch up on the ironing. Six king size duvets, seven large tablecloths, numerous napkins and pillowcases and a few clothes took just about as long as the ceremony and procession did. I loved it – not the ironing, satisfying though that was, once it was done – but the coronation itself.

The decorator is amazingly quick. He (and his mate Trevor) had finished by lunchtime on Friday. We’ve been putting stuff back, or sometimes not. I’m afraid the study is a dumping ground for everything that has to be sorted out and decided upon, but the newly painted rooms will not be so cluttered again.

I was advised by two people – three, in fact, but two were a married couple – not to downsize and we all know how good I am at taking advice. They were all clients, bringing china over for the next auction and they’ve made sensible moves that turned out not to be as happy as they should have been. Unless there’s a pressing reason for it, they recommended not moving unless I really wanted to.

That’s what I think too. Moving to is a different mindset to moving from. Unless something goes awry with my longterm health, that won’t shorten my life but will impact on my ability to cope, I’m staying put for a few more years yet. I’d like to see out 100 years since my in-laws bought this house in August 1928. It doesn’t matter, it’s an arbitrary anniversary, but it has the great advantage of letting me put off a decision.

Interesting people

I met the daughter of this brilliant woman today –

Monica was giving a lecture about Marc Chagall, which was really interesting.

On Saturday, I think it was, I texted the painter and decorator, to let him know that I’d be busy for the second half of this month, and please let me have a bit of notice when he wanted to come and do the dining room, hall and landing, but don’t interrupt his bank holiday weekend to reply until Tuesday.

He texted straight back that he could start at 8 am on Wednesday. Panic stations, darlings. Thanks to Wink, I was ready. She worked really hard. We had to empty all the cupboards and shelves, move all the small furniture and ornaments and get everything ready, and we got it done. Of course, knowing I had to be up and ready before 8, I was awake by 5.30 or so this morning, so I’m about ready to drop now at 9pm.

It’s been quite a busy week, apart from the sorting out, so I feel that things have been accomplished this week. Not necessarily the most urgent things, which i shelve as often as I can get away with, but the rest of the plates keep on spinning and nothing has dropped yet.