Monthly Archives: June 2024

Z fought the vote and the vote won

I opted for a postal vote a few years ago, when I would be away during an election and I’ve left it. So my lack of enthusiasm for voting had to be addressed relatively early. I considered not voting at all, because there’s no party I have wanted to vote for, not for years and i’ve voted three different ways in the last three general elections. But not voting just feels wrong too. Anyway, I finally chose and voted and posted it, so if I wanted to change my mind, it’s too late. I am very aware that I don’t matter, anyway.

Wink is away for the weekend and it’s no more quiet here than usual, yet it feels quieter. Ecat has been obliged to make a fuss of me, because she has no one else. I had to get up at 7.15 to give her breakfast, which would have been fine if I’d not spent most of the night awake – as it was, I went back to bed and to sleep and finally got up after 9 o’clock, to the indignation of the outdoor cats. Barney had a lot to say about it.

The bantams are being so good. I count them all back every evening and they are all present and correct. Two are broody and stay indoors, the others love their freedom. Not having a cockerel makes it easy, as I know I won’t have a clutch of chicks to deal with. However, I don’t necessarily rule out bringing in another boy in the future. I don’t feel any need to decide, for the time being. My daughter instructed me, a couple of months ago, not to have another cockerel. I was a bit upset, in fact. I realise I’ve reached the age where my children think it’s okay to tell me what to do and not what to do – only the older two have done that so far – but I’m not so old that it feels acceptable. I do have a long term plan in mind, but it may never happen and I haven’t mentioned it to anyone.

I’m blathering, because I’ve got a lot of plates spinning and can’t talk about them. But it would be wrong to complain. My long-term blog friend Ally, of Ducking for Apples, who had to stop blogging for extended family reasons a long time ago, lost her daughter – not unexpectedly, it had been on the cards for a decade and the likelihood crept nearer as years went by – and her funeral was today. Nenna was only 15. Their dignity – the whole family’s – and grief are immense. I watched the funeral online and it was very moving. The vicar was lovely. Where to go from here, I can’t imagine it. For several days, they have had a funeral to arrange, which has taken much less time than day-to-day care for a child who needed frequent nappy changes, showers, tube feeding, endless entertaining, lots of love, but now there’s nothing except the regular, ordinary stuff that hardly matters at all. But caring for yourself, your partner, your older child, your parent and your pets takes some of the time. The first part – caring for yourself – is probably the hardest, but no less necessary.

I’m taking swimming lessons. I have had two swimming positions, floating and drowning. To avoid either of them, I’ve held on or kept a foot on the bottom, for years. This is silly. I now can move from floating to standing. I haven’t yet cracked not drowning if I don’t have a foot on the bottom (unless I’m floating), but I will have by the end of Wednesday, because this is ridiculous. If not duffers won’t drown.

Z is granny for the day

I just tried to remember what I did on Saturday. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that it is Saturday. Ronan and the children came over, which usually would happen on a Sunday and – well these things happen.

The youngest in the family, Perdita, has just inherited her brother’s bike and she cycled up and down the drive several times. With stabilisers, but I don’t think it’ll be long before she jettisons them. She’s small but strong and has good control of steering and managed the upward slope on the way to the road. One doesn’t really notice the slight slope – nowhere near a hill – until using a bike.

We had various meats, fish and cheese with salads for lunch. The children are used to lots of different foods but they felt a bit adventurous in trying smoked prawns, mostly because of the shells. Their father shelled them for him and gave them a quick rinse in a finger bowl so that there wouldn’t be any bits of shell or feet left. I hadn’t, admittedly, provided the finger bowls and felt quite upstaged. Anyway, the prawns were gorgeous. I encouraged everyone to finish them as a pack is too many for me to manage and I’ll be out all day tomorrow.

Schools don’t really appreciate that parents have work to get to, even though it’s been over three decades since mothers went back to work when their children were small. There’s a ‘taster’ session at Perdita’s school before the end of term, just an hour for the child and parent to see the school and take part in various activities. But an hour at school means at least half a day off work. It’s Ronan’s week, so he’ll probably juggle his time – his employers are understanding about his childcare responsibilities and he catches up in the evenings when he needs to – but it means a day off nursery, so he’ll try to get an alternative day rather than waste the money. It’s like walking to school – Ronan can as he works from home, but when Dilly had a child to get to school, another to nursery and then work by 9 o’clock, there was no alternative but to drive, even to the village school 500 yards away. It’s no wonder that parents feel such pressure – and that more people decide against having children at all.

But anyway, I’ve offered to help if needed – Perdita and I can have a jolly in Norwich after her school hour, or go to the park if the weather is good.

Tomorrow, as I said, I’ll be out all day. We’re going to London, to the Queens’ Club tennis finals, Wink is keen on sport, mostly tennis and rugby, with a nod to cricket too, so I’m happy to go along (mostly to the tennis). I’ve been letting the chickens out recently, having rather lost my fortitude for a while as I didn’t want any more chicks. Now, we don’t have any cockerels, so no risk of that, even if they do lay away. But so far, I’m counting 18 out and 18 back again. Tomorrow, they won’t be pleased with me as I’ll keep them in their (very big) run. At least they enjoyed the prawn heads and shells this evening.

Juggling antique china…

I used to blog daily and it became ridiculous. I was, occasionally, obliged to post at just before midnight, on my phone, nearly asleep, so that I didn’t miss a day. It’s slipped so badly that it isn’t part of my life any longer and I really miss that. I’d like to resolve to blog daily, mostly, but I’m not entirely confident that I’ll keep it up. It has to be a way of life or it doesn’t really work – not necessarily daily, but regularly.

I’m struggling quite a lot, but you wouldn’t know it to talk to me. I seem relaxed and cheerful and that’s the best way for me to manage. I’ll acknowledge when I find things hard but I still put on a brave face. Anyway, more about that would be really boring, so let’s move on.

I’m getting overwhelmed by china at present. I’m helpful, that’s my problem. But it’s not as simple as that. Someone gets in touch in November and I pick up their china, which is not very valuable. Ditto in January. I start contacting people who might have better stuff and it gets some results. Then, come April, people want to enter better pieces in the sale and, by June, I’m getting too much. But the later things are better than the earlier things, so I start juggling. Not literally, obvs. This is how I am now. My colleague D is coming over on Tuesday and we’ll sort things out. Although on Wednesday I’m meeting a friend and collector, who wants to enter some pieces…..

Spinning plates, constantly re-evaluating, trying to help everybody without over-stressing myself, this is what I do. I have to own it. Denying the person I am won’t be much use to me and it’s just a matter of recognising when it’s getting too much.

It was too much last week – and the week before, in fact. I didn’t open a letter from my solicitor, not because I thought it had any bad news but because I felt overwhelmed and opening it would mean I had to deal with it. Then I got a second letter. So yesterday I finally opened both of them, emailed a response, phoned a neighbour because signatures needed to be witnessed and – just like that – it was all sorted. It would have been no more stress or effort to have done it ten days earlier, but I didn’t, even though I knew it was better dealt with than worried about.

I get tired of all this. Most of the things that worry me are imposed, not instigated by me, but I don’t have anyone to deal with them for me. Too many plates spinning and some of them just won’t be settled and stabilised.

Today, however, I helped someone. Her dad died earlier this year and he was a collector, a compulsive one and she was shocked to find the condition of her parents’ house. She took a sabbatical from her job, moved in with her mum and is sorting things out, but she’s overwhelmed and I understand that, so D and I are putting ourselves out to help her. To everyone who’s helped me, thank you and I’m paying it forward.

Wink and I have booked a visit to London next month to see exhibitions at the Tate and we’ve booked trips to the theatre too. What I’m doing is not giving up good stuff for obligations. It’s just making me overly busy but, if anything gives, it’ll be the boring bits. If I’m not at a meeting, it doesn’t matter.

Z’s been busy…

The old faithfuls came to the party, no newcomers this time and a few apologies (and one forgot, but I’d only half expected Charlotte!).

Blue Witch wondered how everyone is getting on these days. Well, Sir Bruin, aka Steve, retired early from his Very Important Job, a few years ago and has been far too busy enjoying life since to miss it. He and the Small Bear Liz go away in the Hodmedod (caravan) regularly and are really very sociable, considering that Sir B pretends not to be. Liz was about to give up her part time job and pause to think what to do next – she’s far too young to retire, but is not sure that’ll stop her.

Sir B, who is a kind and thoughtful type, which he tries very hard to hide, gave me a present of a soprano ukulele – he’s determined to get me back to playing musical instruments. I have been playing it, also the clarinet, but I’m dismally inadequate nowadays and it’ll take a lot of work to get even a bit better.

Indigo Roth and the Lady Lisa are both enjoying married life. They’ve been an official item for 9 years now and got married about a year and a half ago, having bought a house in a lovely village in Cambridgeshire. Indigo is about the kindest man I know and was wonderful after Russell and then Tim died. So much above and beyond the usual warmth of friendship and Lisa is his equal.

Zoe and Mike – she blogged from Brussels, a long time ago and Mike wore Da Hat, but this was long before they met – came from near Peterborough. Zoe, who can’t drive, hasn’t found it easy to get employment but now works as a teaching assistant, which she very much enjoys. Mike still mends electrical goods and takes fine photos as his second job. They come with Scout, the border collie, who is getting stiff nowadays because of hip dysplasia, which has given him arthritis. I can sympathise as that’s what I had. But it’s easier to pop in a replacement joint with people. Mike and Scout stayed the first weekend. Zoe was able to stay the whole week as it was half term and then the guys came again on Saturday for another night.

Rose had to cry off because of hay fever season. She really struggles every year and nothing seems to put her right. Wink also has bad hay fever and takes medication all year round – her asthma is also a problem for her now, but she doesn’t suffer from pollen as much as poor Rose does. Ronan had picked up some bug from his children, who were with their mother for the weekend, so he couldn’t make it either.

While Zoe was here, Nandini also arrived from Chennai. She came over last year too, with husband and son, but it was a working visit this time – she’s a photographer. She took a lot of pictures of my house, especially pleased because it was untidy. It has taken all my willpower not to mind that. Clutter looks worse in photos and I’m not sure what her project is about, but it can only embarrass me. However, I can only choose not to be embarrassed by it. Because I don’t actually care that my house is cluttered and was, I can’t deny, even more untidy than usual. It’s been very difficult because of the repeated floods inside the house. Bloody mice eating pipes. I ran out of time to clear up, though I’ve done it now. Mostly.

Since, I’ve been catching up with stuff and spent this weekend typing up 70+ pieces of china and some books, some of which will go into the next auction. Tomorrow, I will go to the funeral of a very old friend – in both senses of the word, as I’ve known her over 40 years and she was in her 90s. She and her late husband were great collectors, particularly of Lowestoft china but of many other antiques too. My colleague David and I are rather apprehensive about the future of our auctions, as when her china is sold, it’ll rather spoil the market for a few years to come – unless it enthuses a new generation, perhaps.