Author Archives: Z

Springtime, and Z is happy

Big news of the day is that the big brown hen has started to lay again. I found two of her distinctive khaki eggs in the nest box this evening, so I must have missed it yesterday. They haven’t been off lay for very long, really, but I have had to buy eggs, which goes rather against the grain. I expect we’ll have poached egg tomorrow, either for breakfast or lunch.

The other sign of spring in the kitchen garden is rhubarb, which I’ve picked once so far. In the hedgerows, the blackthorn is in flower and there are lots of spring flowers, and blossom on the trees. Over the next few weeks, I’ll keenly notice each tree and shrub that shows its leaves or flowers. I love this time of year. I enjoy the small excitements.

It’s also birthday time between late March and the middle of April. Squiffany comes first, then Al and Weeza, then Wink. Then there’s a leisurely summer, with one birthday a month until mid-August, when eight birthdays and all the wedding anniversaries happen over six weeks. I mentioned Alex’s age to him, the other day, and he was surprised. He thought he was a year older than that.

Ro usually has to ask how old each grandchild is. I have a formula and explain it to him, whilst recognising that it’s not really a simplification at all. I tend to do that with any long numbers I have to remember as well – for example, my mobile phone number ends 3795, which I remember as 2×19-1 followed by 5×19. This evening at dinner, we were discussing the rules of precedence in mathematics, whereby you multiply/divide before you add/subtract. Tim was taught always to use brackets to avoid doubt and I think I was too, but that doesn’t always happen. I think it’s clear enough as I’ve written it, though.

The outer Z

I moved the rest of my clothes out of the wardrobes in the bedroom and into the new ones in the dressing room. As I went, I put aside those I’d never wear again, for whatever reason – or most of them, anyway. I’ve allowed myself some sentiment, because why not? I’ve kept my first wedding dress – the little yellow mini i bought for £5; the black and white checked dress I wore for my wedding reception and the – very much prettier and more flamboyant – pink and white dress that my mother wore, as well as the black velvet dress I wore to have my portrait painted as my wedding present to Russell. I have also kept four splendid dresses from the early 1970s that belonged to my mother – one Susan Small dress, marvellously fringed in the flapper style, one from Fortnum and Mason and one, predominantly orange, with a swirling psychedelic pattern that typified the late hippy time; plus a very pretty deep pinky-red dress, just because it’s pretty.

Lots of my clothes are really old. I’ve only thrown out the ones that are much too young for me, or are too tired to be fit to wear again. I had a pang at discarding a few garments that I was fond of, but they might be worn again, having been taken to the charity shop. The rest will go for recycling. It’s the first proper turn-out I’ve had for over three years and was well overdue. I realise that I don’t, now, have a single suit and only a few things that would be appropriate for a business meeting. Nor do I have much that I could wear for a party. I’ve hardly any long dresses or skirts – they must have gone the last time round. It’s all quite all right, this reflects the sort of thing I do wear and what I need, but also shows how one’s situation changes. Additionally, I have so few pairs of shoes, now that I go straight from winter boots to summer sandals. If I were suddenly invited to lots of jollifications, I’d have some shopping to do – not that this is particularly likely. I’d be fine for a wedding, actually, I’ve got two wedding outfits Right There, from Ronan’s and from mine and Tim’s. Actually, I’d rather like to wear them again and don’t get many chances. Anyone getting married or having a big bash and would like me to come along? Tim scrubs up pretty well too, when the occasion demands…

Z wallows in domesticity

Storms Freya, Gareth and Hannah seem to merge into one another. \We used to be quite happy to call it a gale. Perhaps we could just call all the winds Gale and have done with it? “Gale’s feeling a bit fresh tonight” or “Gale’s blowing a right hoolie!” It’s put me off gardening, anyway, even in the greenhouse. There are just the broad beans, coriander, parsley and sweet peas that i sowed a month ago. I used to be so excited to sow seeds and watch them come up, to prick out the seedlings and grow them on, but I might buy in the tender plants as I did last year. Those for the greenhouse, that is.

I’m feeling more dully ancient than ever, having just bought a new ironing board cover. The foamy underlay of the old one had worn so thin that the diamond pattern on the board itself was showing through, and the cover was somewhat stained. I have, at any rate, caught up on the ironing – though I washed two tablecloths today, so I’ll have to start again tomorrow. I’m so enjoying using the lovely old tablecloths all the time that I don’t actually mind the ironing in the least. I have also – I think I’m certainly in domestic goddess territory here as I can hardly imagine many men, let alone gods, caring about this – bought drying racks to put onto the Aga. I’ve never really had any convenient option but to use a tumble dryer in the winter, as I have nowhere to dry clothes indoors, but this is splendid. It’s two racks, which fit one over the other, and I fold and lay the laundry on top, and there’s also an extra rail for the front (giving two rails) to hang more stuff over. It all dries surprisingly quickly. And, of course, in the summer when the Aga is off, I’d be using the washing line anyway. The racks are very sturdy, enamelled steel and expensive to boot, but I haven’t needed to use the dryer since buying them.

We went out for lunch today, as we aim to do once a week or so, and had fish and chips, with the result that we don’t feel about to eat much tonight. So we’ll have the terrine and salad that we would have had for lunch tomorrow. If the chickens were laying, we might have eggs but, having been good, dutiful girls for nearly a year, they’ve gone off lay. Rose is quite sure her chickens are laying away somewhere, but we can’t find the eggs. She’s suggested that her bantams might be roommates with my hens while she’s making frequent trips down South with Lawrence for his cancer treatment, which will work well as they all get on happily together. It’s not as if she can’t come and give them treats whenever she likes. Boy and I look after them anyway when she’s away, of course.

The rain it rainiest on the … not Z

Wink went home yesterday, on a very windy day – she has a small car and wasn’t greatly looking forward to driving on the motorways. There’s not too much of that, though – from here, one drives to Bury St Edmunds, then down towards the M11 is the obvious route, but we all prefer the quieter A505 road. It’s a few less miles (you can argue for few fewer, but that’s too clumsy) but nominally slower; however there is less scope for hold-ups. Anyway, she was planning to stop for lunch with a friend in Hemel Hempstead, wherever that is – Tim knows, I don’t – and then head for home.

I’ve not done a great deal today apart from my blood donor thing, which was fine. I’m not supposed to drink alcohol for a couple of days afterwards, but it’s not clear why. It’d be more to the point if I were not supposed to drink beforehand, but there’s no such requirement. Anyway, all is well. As I got out of the car, I hesitated, looking at the grey sky, and put an umbrella in my bag. Once I was sitting sipping my pint of water and reading the blurb that we dutifully read each time, I was passed by several people who were, literally, dripping wet. Apparently, there was a cloudburst in the minute and a half between leaving their cars and getting indoors. `it was just plain raining when I left, not tipping it down.

One of the people there mentioned that she’d been turned down a few times – she’s AB+ which is a fairly rare group and, if there are adequate stocks, they nowadays cancel your appointment. I’m O+ which is as universal as Rhesus Positive gets, so I suppose I’m more useful – at any rate, I’ve not had an appointment cancelled. It’s all very automated, which is not at all bad, though I still find the online booking thing doesn’t always work as well as it should. It has this evening though and I’m booked in for July, so I’ve nothing to grumble about any more. Nothing at all – gosh!

Another free meal, we said gleefully again this evening. I bought lamb leg steaks the other day, but they were more than we could eat. I’d braised them in onion, red pepper and mushroom. We cut them in half, so I gave a helping to Wink to take home and we finished the rest tonight. Tomorrow, I’ll get to grips with the ham stock and chicken bones that are left over from the weekend. And I’ll make yoghurt and a loaf of bread. Such a domestic god is your Z.

Z and the blustery day

Having enquired, I was sent the invoice for the membership of the wine club, which wasn’t actually due until next month. However, I’ve paid it, as it’ll do more good in their cashflow than my bank’s.

It’s been a blustery day. On the other side of the road from us, there is now a building site. It’s a triangular field, about a couple of acres or so, and 16 bungalows are destined to be built on it. As equipment and materials have been brought in, a metal fence has been erected. I popped into town to buy lunch stuff from the deli and, returning ten minutes later, the fence had blown over and was leaning exuberantly over the road. Not surprising really, but I’m glad it didn’t happen when I was driving by.

Later, we went over to Southwold to meet Alex and co for afternoon tea. We hadn’t quite appreciated how substantial that would be and didn’t actually need dinner tonight. It was jolly good, a real treat – starting with sandwiches, sausage rolls, scotch egg etc and going on to scones and cake, and we’ve brought back a doggy bag with what we couldn’t manage. The rest of the family is coming over for lunch tomorrow, as Wink is here.

It’s Squiffany’s fourteenth birthday the week after next. When she was born, I hadn’t started blogging, though I did blog her first birthday party. I asked her, today, if there was anything in particular she would like for her birthday present or, frankly, would she prefer money? She admitted that she couldn’t think of anything. So I’ll take that hint. I’ll be fine with giving cash from now on, which I think is very acceptable for teenagers and from then on. One can’t have too much of it, after all, at that age.

Mulled whines

I have just ordered a case of our local wine, with great hopefulness. I’m sure I’ve told you before about the village vineyard – it’s a great story, so I’ll check back that I have – and that they have a club. You pay a subscription, which is a couple of hundred pounds or so, and get a dozen bottles, tours of the vineyard whenever you want, plus 10% off whatever extra you buy. Lovely Hannah and Ben are winning awards all over the place, their wines are sold by Berry Bros & Rudd, served at Fortnum & Mason, and they’re well worth the £15 or so price tag. If you want to know more, google Flint Vineyard.

Wink is here for the extended weekend and we went out to lunch today, to a pub about 20 minutes drive away that we haven’t been to for a while. It had served very good food, but had changed hands a while ago and we hadn’t been back since. We were impressed – chose two sharing platters and ate rather too much, actually, though I don’t find that too hard.

Having been away for a few days, we half expected Eloise cat to cold-shoulder us for a day or two. However, she has been particularly loving. I’ve noticed a change in her over the past few months. She’s always been a sweet-natured little cat, never known to lash out or be suddenly temperamental, but she has always had a take-it-or-leave-it air and might be very affectionate, or hardly be seen for a day or two. Now, she spends a lot of her time sitting on my lap or Tim’s, and is very affectionate. She’s not in the room right now, as it happens, but I’m pretty sure she’s having a nap on the dressing room bed, ready to prowl around later tonight.

Rose has been away for a few days as Lawrence has been receiving treatment at the Royal Marsden. Rummy, lovingly, caught a big female rat to welcome them home and left it on their lawn. What a sweetheart he is. We haven’t seen RasPutin for a couple of weeks, which is nothing to be alarmed about – it simply means that he is catching plenty of food for himself. He was sleekly well fed, last time I saw him.

The title of the post is stolen shamelessly, it being the best name for a blog ever.

Fat Tuesday

We arrived back here from Reading this afternoon, having popped down for a couple of days to check on things – and all is well there. I mentioned, a few months ago, that Tim was off the road for a while, so I’m in the driving seat for a few weeks yet. Since he’s had the medical all clear, he hopes to be able to reclaim his car soon, though. I’ll be driving it next time though, heh heh. I’d never driven a car that is quite so zingy as that before.

We had pancakes for dinner, it being Shrove Tuesday. Tim wondered, why pancakes? We know all about Lent and having to use all the good things up beforehand, but pancakes aren’t really such rich food, so we’re not sure why they’ve become so traditional. I suggested that we have savoury pancake to start with, followed by one with sugar and lemon juice. I topped the savoury one with onion, tomato and cheese, in the Dutch style. It was good, the only downside being that I cooked each one separately, so Tim had to start without me. As I was cooking his second pancake, I asked if he wanted to toss it. I’d be afraid to, he said, even my dad didn’t do that.

His father, he said, was the pancake cooker in his family. He didn’t do any other cooking, so isn’t sure how that tradition came about, though his elder sister might know. I said, we had a pancake tradition in my childhood family too. They were ignored. I never had a pancake in my life, I don’t think, until after I was married. If I did, neither of my parents made them. I didn’t feel it as an awful loss, though, I don’t think.

The conversation moved on, as these things do, from the New to the Old Testament, and then on to Greek and Roman myths and histories, and thence to Latin O Levels and then to our education generally. Now it’s nearly ten o’clock and we’ve only just left the dining table. And it won’t be too long before I’m in bed, I daresay.


Gosh, it’s March already and I’ve been AWOL. Mostly, we’ve been building those five wardrobes, but they’re done now and I’m transferring clothes into them. Tim was offered one but has decided to take over the wardrobes in our bedroom instead, on the grounds that that’s the room where he gets dressed. I usually get dressed in the bathroom, as it happens.

Otherwise, not a great deal has been happening here. I have sweet peas and broad beans coming up in trays in the greenhouse, and have resisted the considerable temptation to sow tomatoes etc, as we’re going to be in Reading for a couple of days and monitoring the propagator is a lot to ask. I’m not sure, as yet, if we’re going in Tim’s car or mine, we’ll have to decide in the morning.

Until last month, I’d have had a church service to play for before we left, but not now. The congregation is so small, and has been for several years, that it’s been decided that there will just be one service a month, plus the café church in the village school on the fourth Sunday. Sadly, the last Rector – not the present one – drove so many people away that it has never recovered. I’m trying and failing not to apply this to our political party leaders…

But this isn’t a blog that does politics, which is why it’s a cheery place. So five happy things to end with.

Lovely Tim cooked dinner tonight and it was delicious.

I made yoghurt, which reminds me to cancel the milk for Monday. Tim and Eloise cat eat the yoghurt, which they say is better than shop-bought.

Eloise cat is increasingly cuddly. She follows us around and jumps on one of our laps as soon as we sit down. It’s adorable.

My friend Graham has found someone who wants to use the field by the river to graze his sheep. This is very good news. I don’t need to be paid, just to have the land cared for.

My sister Wink is coming to stay next week.

Saving the date…

The party will be on the weekend of the 18th/19th May. As ever, you are most welcome to come and stay and you are all truly welcome to come. If no preference is said, it’ll be Saturday 18th lunchtime, but it makes no nevermind, as Trinidadian Rose would say, to us if it’s on the Sunday, so we’ll fit in with the first person to have a preference. So far there are ten of us – which does include Tim and me – but I’ve never been taken aback by too many guests yet. If we were to go over 50, I might have to hire a marquee, mind you.

Good news is that my friend Graham has found me a man with some sheep, to graze a field that sorely needs it. Graham himself used to have some sheep and kept them on it, but he’s had enough of the work of them and I hadn’t found anyone else to use it. It suits sheep best, for various reasons, and these ones are Romneys, which are ideally suited to this particular field.

Other good news is that my monthly cleaning ladies came today, so we might not be tidy but we are clean. As soon as the rails go up in the wardrobes, there will be an attempt at some sort of order, but *tidy* is way beyond me. I have, at least, caught up on the washing today. I bought drying racks to stack on the Aga a few weeks ago – wildly expensive, it must be said, but at any rate, I haven’t needed to use the tumble drier since. With low ceilings and a very small utility room, there’s little chance of drying stuff except on a washing line or the tumble dryer. Which I see I’ve spelt in two different ways and I’m not sure which is correct. Anyway. I must go and take off the things that have dried, so I can put a bathrobe and a duvet cover to dry overnight. Toodle-pip, darlings.

Z makes plans

The wardrobe thing is going well. All four carcasses put together in the dressing room – I was going to tackle the other but other things cropped up. Now, rails, doors and handles to go. We had lunch out, to celebrate. Not that we need much excuse.

It seems that May is the best month for the blog party. We’re free every weekend but my first blog party was the May Day bank holiday and it was cold and windy, so I’m superstitiously wary of that. Not Sunday 12th either, as that’s Yagnub’s spring street market and we want to go. So Saturday 11th, 18th/19th or the second bank holiday weekend, 25th/26th/27th. Holidays don’t suit those who are grandchildren sitting, of course.

If you have a preference, or would like to come but can’t make one or more of the days, just say. We’ll please as many of the people as we can.

In other news, I’ve a plum tree in blossom, which makes me happy. Just a self-seeded wild plum, but in just the right place. Lucky Z.