Monthly Archives: October 2023


The river rose further overnight. When I went to feed the cats yesterday afternoon, the beck was high but contained, but it had flooded by the morning. The bridge hasn’t quite gone floatsies (as my mile and a half away neighbour Louis de Bernieres puts it) but Christophe, who slipped from it a week ago, would certainly have been well wetted today.

I’d arranged to go and see my friend Jan, who lives in Mendham (Alfred Munnings country) this morning but I wasn’t sure if I’d get through. I turned back on the first road I tried – I wasn’t sure how deep the water was, but I wasn’t going to risk it, especially in the electric car. The BMW wouldn’t have been better, it rides very low. The high road was okay though. The Waveney couldn’t be distinguished from the surrounding fields, there was a great big lake, but the road rose above it. Jan was in a nursing home for a long time, having just gone for respite care and now she has a live-in carer as she can’t walk any more. She’s 91, her mind is absolutely sharp and agile, but her body is failing her.

I’m turning out my study, which is not well timed, but necessary. I feel harassed, but it’ll all get done. My poor cleaners will be asked to blitz it and the further dining room, tomorrow. I’d rather have those two rooms really well cleaned than anything else – they tend to give a quick whizz through the whole house, but in-depth cleaning is absolutely needed. I’d like to wash the carpet, but that will have to wait.


Here’s my website – the auction is this coming Wednesday –

And here is my lovely dog. And here. Christophe is taking part in an exhibition in early November, which is the reason he doesn’t have much for sale on his website. I hope to go, once I’ve got the sale over, I can think about when I’ll be free. It’ll be at the Morley Gallery on Westminster Bridge Road from 1st to 11th November – their website only gives past exhibitions, not future ones, which is a nuisance. But I should be able to fit it in with a visit to the National Gallery.

Here, for the last couple of days, it’s been all about flooding. Inside the house as well as out – I have that sort of house, but nothing that a couple of towels couldn’t deal with. Not immediately round the village, but not far away, roads have been impassable and, apparently, it’s got worse today as water has rushed down the river from upstream. Yesterday, Al and Dilly had to pick the boys up from school as the bus couldn’t get through. Al has a sturdy pick-up truck but kept having to turn back and it took a long time and several detours before they arrived at the school. Neither of them could check emails while at work, so they didn’t know early enough for a relatively safe passage. But they arrived home safely in the end.

Meanwhile, I was at the local theatre, to see this trio, who were fabulous. There were spaces in the theatre, I know more tickets were sold because I’d booked fairly late and was the last person on my row, but there were four seats unoccupied. As i said, a lot of roads were blocked by flood water, so it was understandable and we all just clapped louder.

Links are not doing well, so two clicks may be needed. But I expect you’ll manage, if you want to.

The chimney decided to smoke tonight, which drove me out to the kitchen. It seems to be all right now, but it’s annoying. The room still smells faintly of soot.

Wild dog

The words “free time” should have been taken with a pinch of salt, or possibly a hollow laugh. It’s not that I have had no spare time, just not enough to focus on one thing for a few hours. I really must try to do better, but things crop up.

I rubbed down a garden bench and repainted it with wood preservative, intending to have it in the porch with overwintering plants on top, planning two or possibly three tiers of plants (the staging I used to have finally rotted away, a few years ago). But it’s too big to leave comfortable room for everything else in there – that is, it fits where I’d planned for it, it just looks too big. Unfortunately, the small conservatory that doubled as a back porch was removed and incorporated into a new room when we moved here and the other porch – it’s a fair sized room, in fact – is used as the general entrance (not many people come to the front door and fewer to the back door) as well as my bike store, where I keep one of the chest freezers, a small table where I often have lunch in summer, another garden bench and a couple of chairs. And a few tools and other things, including a log basket – it’s a Victorian mahogany object, my mother used to keep magazines and so on in it, it’s the size of a baby’s cradle, but I’m fairly sure that wasn’t its original purpose as I think it would have rockers, if so. Anyway, it’s useful to have logs in, to save me opening the front door when it’s cold or wet (we stack logs in the open porch) – and scuttles of coal. I’m aware that I have far more space here than I actually need, it’s just that the space I have isn’t the specific space that I sometimes want. But there. I have, at least, brought in the houseplants that have summered outside, as it’s due to be cold this weekend.

I decided to let my heart rule my head yesterday and bought myself a present. It’s being posted to me and the craftsperson is away from his studio this weekend, so it won’t arrive for another week. I’ll post a photo when it arrives.

I finally drafted a press release and sent it to the local paper, so hope it’ll be taken up. I’m rubbish at publicity, I find it harder than anything else.

Z’s weekend

I was out on Friday morning, but supposed to watch the fourth lot of lectures in the afternoon and catch up with the morning ones over the weekend. i’ve been too busy. Things just cropped up that were more important – I should have some time free on Tuesday, I hope. Not much, as I’m taking a friend to hospital for a fairly minor operation – that is, she won’t have to undress and she’ll be out same day, but she has to be there at 7am and I’ll be aiming to leave here about 5.30. I’m usually awake then, but not without hope of a nap before getting-up time. Then back here for a haircut and off to Norwich again to pick her up. I’ll have to remember to charge up the car tomorrow night, having been to Norwich today.

One of the things that cropped up was a text from Weeza, who wanted a chat – just general chat, because we haven’t spoken for a few weeks. We’ve got a family WhatsApp group so that we can all keep in touch, but actual conversations don’t happen all that often. I suppose I’ll know I’m really decrepit when a family member phones every evening, to make sure I’m still alive and conscious. Anyway, the result was that we realised we are busy for weekends for the next month, so I took everyone out for lunch today, which was lovely.

I’m not sure why I bother to have my hair cut at all, it gets longer and I’m fine with that. Half an inch off, every couple of months, I’m completely unbothered that shorter hair framing my face is more flattering, at my age. I like my hair and I don’t care what I look like, which is either a measure of confidence or of giving up and it doesn’t really matter which.

I have so much to do over the next week that I’d panic if I dwelt on it. As it is, I assume I’ll just pull my finger out and JFDI. Preferably tomorrow.

Wink has left Sri Lanka and arrived with our friends in Chennai for the rest of her holiday.

Today, I’ve watched Zoom

Nadfas, as it used to be known, gives the accredited lecturers a change to give a presentation every year – or rather, they used to give some of them the opportunity, because time constraints didn’t allow all of them to be involved every year. Since meetings etc had to be held online, it’s been realised that it saved a huge amount of money and now they give the Directory Meetings, as they’re known, online too. It was an all-day thing, back in the Spring and they’re doing a bigger event this week. Two full days, with a couple of hundred lecturers giving two minute online presentations,

I watched over 120 of them today. It was too much. I couldn’t really concentrate this afternoon. I’ll be out in the morning, so will watch the afternoon ones and catch up on the morning talks over the weekend.

There are ten lectures over the year and the season runs from September to June. Next year, I’m all set apart from September and, the year after, I have March booked. So I need something really enticing to start the season well. October is Van Gogh, I’m thinking maybe a city as a subject would be good.

Yesterday’s lecture was on Raoul Dufy and it was brilliant. He’s well known in France, Japan, the US but, puzzlingly, not here. I recognised his art, once I saw it, but didn’t know who the painter was. Just that it was quintessentially French. He sounds like a really lovely man, too. He died the year I was born.

I haven’t done much else. I scurried into Yagnub first thing, as Pete, the fabulous baker was on the market, I needed petrol for the lawnmower and I was almost out of fruit and veg. I had to be back in time to put away the shopping and be at my computer for 10 o’clock. I told Wince about the deadline and he advised me to get going. “I will, I’d just been waiting for you,” I said, unintentionally worrying him. He looked at his watch, thinking he was late. I had to reassure him, it was just that I’d waited for 9 o’clock. Anyway, I did it, was back with a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit, nuts, seeds and yoghurt for breakfast, on the dot of 10.

1973 was a good year

The party was terrific. I’d only met L&L’s younger son and daughter before and the daughter was then 5 years old – it was the year that L&L were married, he for the first time and she for the third. She had three children and, at the age of 23, he became stepfather to 2 teenagers too. He was a grandfather at 28. And it has worked, resoundingly.

Mrs L is 83 now and has Alzheimer’s, but she coped very well. Younger son is a singer and actor and he sang after dinner, his mother joining in. She knew every word and was note perfect. Mr L is absolutely admirable. He is endlessly patient and never gives a hint that his wife is anything but in command of her situation, whilst carrying being the fabulous raconteur that he’s always been and tactfully making sure she’s safe and happy. There were 25 or 30 of us altogether, old friends and family and we all stayed overnight. L, L and their younger daughter J, along with Wink and I, stayed a second night, which was great as it gave us more time to catch up. We went to Tetbury for lunch and it was all really good. There’s so much to do in the area, I’m thinking I may stay there for a night or two on my way to Pembrokeshire at some time. L insisted on paying our bill and everyone else’s, which was immensely kind. I’ve known him pretty well all my life, his parents were best friends with mine and L is 3 years older than me. Almost brother and sister.

On the way home, I dropped Wink off at Heathrow and she’s arrived safely in Sri Lanka. I’m planning to get on with some household things while she’s away. I felt a bit lost this evening and considered lighting the Aga, having an early glass of wine, lighting the fire – in the end, I did none of those things because I cooked a very nice dinner instead … with wine to accompany, of course, but at a respectable time in the evening.

The job I mentioned the other day, when the website was down, has been completed. I remembered on Saturday morning and it was all fine. What I haven’t been able to do is reset my Dartford Tunnel account. I had an email some time ago, telling me that I hadn’t used it for a year – here’s the relevant bit:-

Our records show that you have not used the Dartford Crossing in a vehicle linked to your Dart Charge account for over 12 months.If we do not hear from you, and you do not make any more crossings we will close your account on 24/10/2023. To keep your account open you can go to the account management section of our website, select, ‘Inactive account options’ and then ‘Keep my account open’. Alternatively, your account will reactivate if you make a crossing with a registered vehicle.

So, I signed in and went to account management and there was no option to keep my account open. I could close it but not keep it open. The website is in Beta, so they asked for feedback and I gave it. Since, I’ve emailed twice and filled in a complaint form. I got an acknowledgement for that, but that’s all. I can phone, but I guess there will be a long wait. So I expect I’ll end up closing the account, getting my £18 back and then having to open a new one. You’d think they’d like to keep my money. I’d like them to keep my money. I’ve looked again today – I remembered that I put a friend’s car on and she just sold it, so I needed to take it off. Even that has not reactivated the account. Oh well.