Author Archives: Z

Z dreams of cheese, mostly

Lovely Tim cooked the meal, though I jointed the chicken, prepared the rice and made salad and dressing – but he did the skilled part and dished up and lit the fire and pretty well everything.  I don’t think this site does emojis, apart from a smiley one, but if it did, there would be *heart* several times.

It all went very well, it was a good evening.  I buy local cheeses more often than not – that is, Norfolk and Suffolk; but this time I was rather more cosmopolitan.  First, I did have the very local Baron Bigod, I added some Black Bomber, which is Welsh ‘cheddar’, some ‘Old Amsterdam,’ which is mature Gouda from the Netherlands, some French Roquefort and Italian Taleggio.  I also had  a vegan soy based herb and garlic “cream cheese” for the friend who’s desperately trying to find if there’s a food that provokes her debilitating migraines.  She gave up food with gluten and that made no difference and she’s persevering with dairy-free, though that hasn’t helped a lot either.  She gave up alcohol, chocolate and all the obvious triggers, a long time ago.

Eloise cat went reluctantly to the vet for her annual booster injection – feline leukaemia and cat flu.  She’s got perfect teeth but has put on half a kilo.  Oh dear.  Not very easy to diet a cat.

We finished the chicken for dinner tonight, apart from one piece.  i didn’t think it was worth keeping, it not even being a helping for one person, but Tim suggested adding it to the proposed risotto tomorrow night, which I was planning to cook with the stock I’d made yesterday.  I do appreciate being out-frugaled.

Z needs a deadline

I’ve got my book group friends coming round tomorrow evening.  I’ve decided to serve one of Tim’s speciality dishes for dinner, which means he’ll either have to cook it or teach me how to….

We don’t usually bother with a dessert, just serving cheese after the main course.  Actually, if the host doesn’t have time to cook, just cheese and fruit would be fine.  The point is not to feel we must go to a lot of effort or expense, just to be welcoming.  Although it hasn’t ever happened, no one would mind in the least if we arrived to be put to work in the kitchen before anything reached the table at all.

I was fairly busy this morning and read the book for the book group this afternoon, but I haven’t done anything on the must-do list.  I’m evidently not worried enough about it yet.  I need an urgent deadline to get me going.

I did, however, pick up a blunder that I made last week.  i paid out most of my clients who’d entered china into the auction and carefully checked that I’d used the right cheque book.  Except, when I looked at my bank accounts and found that my everyday one had a lot less money in than I’d expected, I discovered that I was wrong.  I don’t know how I made the mistake, since I had checked, but I’ve paid everyone from my personal account rather than the one I use for business.  No problem, the one cheque paid in was covered and I have transferred enough money over to cover all the rest.  But thank goodness for internet banking.  Time was, I rarely checked my account because I knew what I expected to be there, and once several people had taken out their money, the account would have been overdrawn.

It isn’t that surprising that people take ages to get to the bank and pay in cheques, though the revelation that those under £500 can be scanned in was a marvel to me.  All the same, I’d willingly just pay what I owe straight over and it surprises me that so few people take me up on the offer.  It just costs me a stamp and I’m not bothered, but it’s often a month or more before all the money goes through.  I’d rather not, I feel as if I’m in debt until everyone has claimed what they’re owed.

Zoë is a bit inarticulate

I still haven’t done most of the things on the list, not the ones that matter.  However, I’ve had the car serviced for the winter and I’ve paid my car tax – that’s not due until 1st December, but I daresay the DVLA can make better use of the money than the bank – and I’ve booked in Eloise cat for her booster vaccinations.  I’ve told her that she’s going to the vet on Friday, but I don’t think she believed me.  Otherwise, I’m floundering a bit, but I’ll catch up with it all by the end of the week.

Pause for hollow laugh.  I’ll do what I can, anyway.

In other positive news – I probably mentioned that one of the pillars that Dave built a year ago collapsed, partly by having had too tightly tensed wire pulling on it; the clincher being bullocks leaning on the wire.  The pillar has now been put upright – originally, we were going to take it apart and start again, but it was actually very well built and that would be a difficult task.  So we’re having a sort of steel flying buttress added to give it strength.  Which doesn’t describe it very well at all, now I think about it, so I’ll take a photo when it’s done, because it’s half past nine and my powers of description are fading by this time in the evening.

To think that I used to be at my best at this time.  Oh dear!  It can only be downhill from now on.  I’ll have to blog before teatime, to have any hope of making sense.

Best laid plans, etc…..

It’s been a few days – I haven’t been to the computer.  Whatever people say about smartphones, I used to spend a lot of time at the computer and now it’s spent using the phone instead.  That’s more convenient really, except for blogging, where I prefer to see the whole page of whatever I’m writing.

I did write on the phone though, in a spare few minutes on Thursday, and this is what I wrote.

The day was planned neatly enough. I had to go to my upstairs London flat to confirm I was happy to release the outgoing tenants’ deposit. I didn’t expect a problem but the formalities have to be gone through. I’d been in no great hurry so booked the 10.47 train to arrive at 12.20. Rose said she’d give me a lift, because I am not going back to Norfolk tonight. I’m meeting Tim, then we’re going to catch up with friends for supper, return to Reading and go back tomorrow. 

I was also able, fortunately, to arrange to meet a guy sent by my insurance company to find out how to solve the ongoing situation that’s caused so much anxiety. Sometime between 2 and 2.30, which was fortunate, as things turned out.  Expecting to have an hour or more free, I thought I’d have a nice light lunch at the restaurant next door. 

The guard sounded quite cheerful when he apologised that the train had slowed down. We were running a bit early, the train ahead was a bit late and we were catching up. So we’d have an unscheduled stop at Shenfield, but please don’t get out as it would delay us. A few minutes later, we were told there was a signal problem and a delay. I texted Scott, the chap I was meeting, as I didn’t have a good feeling about this. And I was right, it was a big enough breakdown that all trains on the line were cancelled. 

So I took a taxi to Upminster, a train to Limehouse and a train to Bank, then the Tube to Angel. And I arrived at the flat at 2 o’clock instead of 12.45. 

There we are, all done and I have had helpful advice from Scott, who found a possible cause of the problem (we’ve been there before a few times) and the good news that there isn’t damp in the walls and no sign of rot. 

As I write, though I’ll add to this and post it later, I’m sitting in the dining room at the National Gallery drinking my way through a pot of tea and there’s no internet connection . Tim is on his way and we’ll have an hour to potter round before meeting A & L. 

The transport for London route finder is extremely useful. I’d have been stuck without it – I’d have got advice at the station otherwise, of course, but it would have delayed me even more. This has all been a bit knackering, though. And, of course, I wouldn’t have managed without my smartphone, either. 

Yeah.  It was all simple, if inconvenient, so far, and meeting Tim and then our friends was still straightforward, but later complications led to us staying in London overnight, at a very expensive yet indifferent hotel, and therefore an extra night in Reading.  As a result, I’m all behind like the proverbial cow’s tail.

And I still have to claim my train fare back, which is an added bit of tediousness that I can do without.  That is, I don’t *have* to but I can, so I probably will.

Good things, because good things are cheering –

Pretty well everyone is lovely and helpful and I appreciate that very much

Rose cooked us a delicious sauce to go with pasta for our return, which lasted for a second night when we added a few prawns

Tim spent much of yesterday reinforcing the chicken shed because bloody rats give no respite, and he’s adorable

All barn cats now let me stroke them, even the very timid boy, and RasPutin is in fine fettle for the winter



Z was deceived by Eloise cat

For several weeks, Eloise cat has asked to come in by the side door – there are front and back doors, but the side door to the porch is the one we always use.  We knew she went out sometimes by her cat flap in the back door, but were not sure that she could come in that way.  There wasn’t really any evidence.

When I first invited her to live with me, I had an ordinary cat flap.  But RasPutin, the feral tom, started to use it and that was out of the question.  So I bought a new one, at over £90, which could read a cat’s chip and refuse entry to any other.  This worked will – Eloise, Rummy and Chip were recognised and have used it ever since, as far as we knew, until recently, when I knew Rummy was using it but wasn’t sure about either other cat.  Any cat can go out, it’s the ingress that is down to the microchip.

This morning, I heard a bang on the cat flap and then Eloise’s plaintive mew.  So i went and let her in, dried her – it’s rained all day – and fed her.  Which was big of me, as she’s pretty well ignored me ever since Tim left.  Later, she went outside when the plumber left (another story darlings, but plumbing stories aren’t the most fascinating on the whole) and then whined to come in again.  By now, I was convinced that the flap didn’t work for her.  I had no idea how to put it right though.  I would, I suppose, have had to deactivate all the cats’ chips, assuming that’s possible, and then reinstall each one.  But I thought it would be more useful to dither for a few days, because that solves a surprisingly lot of problems.  As it did today…

This afternoon, I was peaceably cuddling the Aga and reading the paper when I heard a bang from the cat flap.  I went through to check and couldn’t see a cat for a moment, until I realised that a wet Eloise was sitting on the freezer, mightily pissed off that I’d caught her out.  I dried and cuddled her, which has had no effect as I haven’t seen her for hours again, but she’s been rumbled.  The cat flap still works, as well it might, at that price.

The fridge thermometer is another matter entirely.  I don’t believe a word it says, within a couple of degrees.

Z is purposeful

I had a noticeable shift of mood yesterday evening.  I was unhappy and tired and just wanted to go to bed, but I thought I’d have a bath first and see how I felt.  And I lay stretched out in the bath for a long time and listened to the radio and just relaxed in the warmth, and when I finally got out and came downstairs again, I felt quite different.  I lit the fire, poached eggs for supper, watched tv (for the first time since the royal wedding before last) and was cheerful all evening.

It’s occurred to me, what if those of us who aren’t clinically or long-term depressed, but sometimes feel really low, just had lovely long, comforting baths.  How about it?  On a chilly autumn evening, it was just what I needed, yet showers seem to have overtaken baths in the last decade.  Not that I’m knocking showers, but surely they wake you up in the morning rather than relax and comfort you in the evening.  I doubt that baths waste that much water – it depends.  A traditional shower may not be wasteful, but a power shower uses a lot of water and is enjoyable enough to want to stay in it for some minutes.  Russell and I always shared bath water – not the bath, obvs – so I suspect we used no more water than two good showers.  Anyway, whether or not my theory has legs, it was just what I needed and the effect has lasted.

The lovely electrician came round first thing this morning, when I texted him, and spent much of the morning re-routing a cable.  it’s all down to the new fuse board, which tripped out when it detected the screw through the cable leading to the storage heater.  In 32 years, the old board hadn’t, but then it never has done any harm.

I didn’t get my accounts done, but I did rod the drains (the annexe’s, which are puzzlingly prone to blockage in a way they never used to be) and sorted out the squashes and I even hoovered.  So did the electrician, which was appreciated.  And I had a helpful and constructive conversation with an insurance company, which is a pretty damn good thing, and a really kind email from my broker.  So overall, it’s been a good day, notwithstanding the drain rodding.

Tomorrow, I’ll try again to get in touch with the plumber.  The place is cracking up,

Zoë spends LT’s money, as every wife kno

The auction went well, though prices aren’t what they used to be.  The recession going on and on, the government and the opposition both being wildly divided, no one having a clue what’ll happen in the next few months – or longer – has an effect on confidence in spending available money.  Assuming anyone still has any.  But it was a cheerful affair and, though we were jolly tired by the end, we were pretty satisfied.  LT made the minor mistake of asking me to bid for something on his behalf – he gave me a price but I was sure he really wanted it so put in an extra bid – it was the right thing to do, obviously.  I wouldn’t have done it otherwise, hem hem.  He took it very well

He’s gorn and left me again, back down to his place.  I drooped around like a wet Sunday most of the day – which it was, on and off – but recovered after a long and deep bath this evening.  I’d seriously considered going to bed as soon as I’d had dinner, but have rallied and lit the fire after all.

I’d just got two pieces of china to post and one to deliver, and the cheque for the second piece arrived on Saturday morning, before I’d been to the post office, so I was able to wrap it up and do all three in the space of an hour.  So that’s quite satisfying and I just have to wait for a couple more days for cheques to clear, and then I can pay everyone.  I like to do all the paperwork within a week – I’m the best and quickest payer in the business.  The funny thing is that nearly everyone prefers to receive a cheque, but they sometimes take weeks to pay it in.  If they sent me their bank details – which are on every cheque anyway, they’re hardly secret – they they’d get their money instantly.  Still, not my problem, though it costs me a few pounds extra in postage.

It was chilly yesterday and we decided to put on a couple of storage heaters so the house wouldn’t be so cold first thing in the morning.  But it was.  I checked the fuse box and half the heaters were off – I’ve flipped the switch, and will see what happens overnight.  I know the new fuse board has rather a hair trigger, but I don’t see why it went awry and have fingers crossed.  The electrician lives in the village and is prompt when called, so he’ll sort it out if necessary.  At least we have the Aga…and can always encourage the cat on to the bed if we need a little extra night time warmth.

Z talks of many things, distractedly

We went over to see Weeza & co today, as her mother-in-law and her new beau are staying – as with LT and me, it’s lovely to know that there’s love after being widowed and I know that, if I’d died, I’d have been very glad for Russell to have found happiness again.

I’m sure Zerlina has grown again.  We don’t see them so often now, so it’s even more apparent when she’s crept up on me.  They’ve been looking at high schools – really, it was a choice of two and they’ve put them in order of preference, so hope now for the one they want, ready for next September.  It was young Gus who really enjoyed the visit to the preferred school, especially the science labs – he loves anything science or engineering based.

Tomorrow, we have the Lowestoft auction and the china and everything else are all packed up – I have to go through the checklist in the morning, but we’re very nearly there.  I had a near-meltdown moment this afternoon though.  I’d bought the new toner for the printer, and the old one ran out halfway through a job.  I took it out and couldn’t work out what to do next, and started to talk to the printer in a rather unfriendly way.  Tim – probably very amused, though he was kind and tactful enough to hide it – came and took over, though he had a moment of not knowing which way up something went, as well.

We’d had a substantial lunch so just had omelettes for dinner.  Apparently, there are only three slices of bread left and we’ll eat two for breakfast.  So we’ll buy a loaf.  This is quite radical for us, nowadays, bakers that we are.  Well, that I am, in practice.

We took two squashes for Weeza, out of our plentiful store.  Got to get it to manageable quantities somehow.

Cat napping

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned RasPutin, the feral tomcat, for a while – you may remember that, back in the summer, he disappeared for a while and came back thin, with a very thin coat.  He didn’t pick up very soon and I was worried,  However, he has now and is actually quite fat, as a result of all the extra food I’ve been giving him.  This afternoon, he came up to the side door to remind me to feed him, which I ignored completely.  Poor Eloise cat was affronted enough already.

I didn’t sleep last night and Eloise was thrilled.  She came and lay next to me with her face against mine, stroking me.  She evidently thinks I’m turning into a cat and that this is a jolly good thing.  She is a very happy little cat and gives us both a lot of joy, though neither of us had ever thought of ourselves as cat lovers in the past.

Actually, Z really needs a holiday

I’m struggling with a feeling of melancholy – I don’t like to use the word depression unless in a medical sense here, which it isn’t – which is nothing to do with the onset of winter, but is caused by a situation I thought I’d dealt with, after much anxiety and cost, but has cropped up again, more worryingly.  And I want to shelve it but I mustn’t and I’m close to panic attacks every time I think about it.

What helps, of course, is JFDI and I’ll start with an email tonight and, once I have a reply, I do have a plan – which means bringing in professionals and throwing money at them – but it’s still up to me to implement it.

What keeps me from despair is that no one is ill, no one is dead, it’s just stuff.  But, my word, it’s no wonder that I don’t listen to the news any more.  I turned on the radio at lunchtime, a couple of weeks ago.  I was shouting at it within a minute and had to turn it right off again.  I don’t need to add fury to anxiety.

However, it’s been another lovely sunny day.  I harvested most of the last of the outdoor tomatoes – there are still some volunteer plants with cherry tomatoes on, but I’m a bit lazy about picking them all – and we had some for lunch in a salad, with some of the last of the basil and various other things.  Last night, Tim cooked his Basque Chicken recipe, which is always delicious but actually was exceptionally so; and there’s plenty left over for tonight, so excellence guaranteed and no work.  I’m actually, in my own life, deeply content, but that doesn’t stop me feeling almost too stressed to cope.

I don’t appreciate that my affairs are quite complicated until I look at other people’s, and then I realise that even everyday life can quickly become so.  I’ve cut down on a huge amount, so it seems straightforward – I remember saying to my solicitor after Russell died that it was all quite straightforward and she said, um, actually no, it really isn’t.  And indeed, there’s an awful lot of stuff that still isn’t dealt with and even this house isn’t yet in my name.  The paradox is that I have rather a dread of the boring.  If I cut it all right down, just lived in a nice little house on a sensible, fixed income, knew what I’d be likely to do day after day: now that would really be depressing.  I’d do wild things just to spark an interest and, no doubt, regret them instantly.  But the medium that can be called happy?  Yes, we can do that, I’m still working on it, and I do have joy in my life, with Lovely Tim, my darling family and my friends.

Darlings, sorry to whinge.  I’ve given myself a brief stiffening of backbone, just by complaining.  I’ll write that email now, while Tim reheats the rest of last night’s delicious dinner.