Author Archives: Z

Z’s mojo goes awol

It’s been a quiet day at the Zedary.  While we were drinking coffee this morning, LT mentioned that coal buckets needed filling, so he’d do it and … I don’t know, various other weekendish household things, and I thought yes, I’ll come and help and nothing quite happened, on my part.  But a while later, I gathered a few resources of enthusiasm together and suggested we go and do it Right Now – he already had.  We debated what we needed in the way of food for the weekend and, since I went out and bought whole lots of vegetables the other day, when I was full of get-up-and-go, we decided we didn’t really need anything but butter (and that was only because I’d made cake), and he set out on a butter-buying expedition.

I scrubbed two of the chickens’ drinkers and I emptied the bins.  I made soup for lunch.  I turned out my bag, looking for my bank card, which I finally found on the floor (I hadn’t panicked, I was sure I hadn’t lost it) and, if I’ve done anything else useful today, I’m not sure what …. I dug up two leeks as my part in the preparation of tonight’s minestrone soup.  LT did all the rest, I just ate it in all its deliciousness.  Tomorrow, soufflé (which autocorrected as shuffle) and more soup.  And more vegetables, come to that.

Might have a smidgen more verve then too, I’ve just been so lazy.  Not that I have any problem with that, obvs.

Good heavens, it’s nearly ten o’clock.  Time I was getting some totally unearned rest, innit.

Z is convivial

It’s a bit unnerving, that I’m so up together for the time of the year.  Last year, when all the shopping had to be done in the space of a week has evidently taught a lesson – it wasn’t quite that this year but, apart from a flurry of activity at the end of November, I kept mostly to my good practice of not dealing with anything Christmassy until the beginning of December and am still sorted out.  I miss the last-minute wrapping and flurry around the last posting date (that’s still going to happen when people unexpectedly give me cards), but usually I haven’t started by now.  It’s a sign of age. The excitement of winging it until the last moment doesn’t cut it so well any more.

But it’s all fine.  We went out to lunch this week and had a very good meal at the local café, Tim having a crayfish pâté with – I’m not sure what the extra flavours were – and I had a swede and carrot tart with sage and walnuts, with seasonal salads.  There was a Puy lentil, beetroot, mandarin segments and a few sultanas, a couscous and chickpea salad with a lemon dressing and salad leaves, which were not from a supermarket.  I couldn’t actually identify all of them, they were good.  All delicious.  We are so well provided with lunchtime places in Yagnub.

I had supper with friends last night; basically a thoroughly retro, delicious cheese fondue.  I took cake, other people took other things, it was a long and convivial evening.  And tonight we took ourselves down to the very local little brewery, run by the son of friends, and had a very enjoyable hour or so again there too.

We’ll probably be wiped out by 10 o’clock, old dears that we are.

The Zatriarch

I emailed a very good friend, some time ago, and he replied to say that he’d accidentally deleted the email. I took the hint and hand-wrote a letter.  I’d hand-written in the first place in fact, but I was away from home at the time and didn’t realise I hadn’t got his address with me, so emailed instead. He wrote back today, after many months, which pleased me considerably and prompted me to write Christmas cards.  Hardly any, I must say.  I stopped writing cards some years ago and I can’t possibly go back to several evenings of rote-writing, but a few, just a few people whom I rarely see but with whom I keep in touch, are now possible to write to.  For a couple of years, not even that.  I can only recognise how overwrought I’ve been by looking back, I couldn’t necessarily see it at the time.

So I’ve written two longish letters, bought presents to be posted and posted them and am back under control, more or less.  In earlier days, when I had children at home, I needed to-do lists, which were timed, more or less … or rather, day by day.  The point was, I was finished by 23rd December.  This had two purposes.  One was to relax and be lovely and cheerful with my family and the other, admittedly, was to have a day in hand for failures.  That is, to catch up so they weren’t failures, by noon on Christmas Eve (except for wrapping stuff and cake icing, which were permissible after midnight).  Although, even from the start, I recognised that there is a deadline here and what you have not done doesn’t get done.  Just make sure there’s something under the tree and in the oven and, frankly, no one much cares what.  They wanted me to be cheerful.

I think, after all these years, I can finally sum up what my family wanted from me.  Cheerful, not panicking. If appropriate, reassuring.  It’ll be all right, don’t worry, I’ll help.  I’ll make sure it’s all right.  If I couldn’t say that, or was clearly not coping, there was a distinct likelihood that they’d fall apart too.   There is still an element of this, though it’s lessening as they start to look after me – which I appreciate and enjoy – it’s still there, but there’s more of a perspective.  Which is good.

Pecking disorder

I’ve been watching the chickens feed more closely, since I first wrote about the rat problem (I’m giving them, and me, a rest for a few days but will reset the traps soon) and, Blue Witch having helpfully told me about a feed-on-demand waterproof feeder which is rat proof, I don’t think I can use it after all, which is a pity.  The biggest hen, who was an absolute wuss when she first came here at a few months old, has turned into rather a bully, as far as my little Serama girl is concerned.  She always chases her away from food.  This isn’t a matter of pecking order but is quite deliberate.  I’ll give the big hen food and, once she’s pecking, throw some for the little one – and the big hen goes after it.  Even if it’s behind her back or in a less desirable place.  So I think that if there were just one feeding point and it needs a tall enough hen to get the food, the little girl will go hungry.

I’m putting down plenty of food in the morning and then a few handfuls of corn as a pre-roosting treat, then removing the layers’ pellets so that rats can’t get them overnight.  This will have to do for now.

It was a good job I went out to clear the car in plenty of time this morning, because it took me and LT ages.  But the roads were pretty clear and it was only just freezing on my return.  And it has since warmed a little and will, apparently, rain rather than snow tomorrow.  We get it easy in this part of the country.

You hear it here first….

Very happy weekend.  We visited Al and co on Saturday and the rest of the family came here on Sunday and all went well.  For the Sunday, we decided to make it easy.  Last time everyone came, we did roast beef etc and it all was fine, but a lot of work on the morning and I had to bring through the secondary cooker, to fit everything in.  So we decided on lasagne and I made the béchamel sauce and LT made the ragù while he was away and we assembled it on the morning and put it in the oven as the first of the family arrived.  And I bought desserts.

Wink left this morning and she’ll be off to India next week.  She’s very excited about it, of course.  She doesn’t quite know what to expect from an Indian Hindu Christmas,  but multiculturalism in action is going to be a lot of fun.  I spent the afternoon wrapping presents, rather slowly because it’s not the most enjoyable job, though it should be.  There are just so many of them, though and I evaluate them all for quality and quantity, which has been my habit since I had a second child.  In fact, I realised I have been solely responsible for buying all Christmas presents, and wrapping them, for 45 years.  I said to Weeza, a couple of years back, that I’d always counted all the presents for her and Al – and later, for Ro as well – and checked that they were all pretty well equivalent.  Someone might have a large thing that wasn’t very expensive and a small thing that was, or vice versa, but they all equalled out.  They’d never seemed aware of this, I mentioned.  Oh yes they were, she told me.  They checked afterwards.  Clearly, since I’d never got it wrong, they’d never said anything!

Ro and Phil got those heavy slabs out and they’ve been put on the pillars to protect them from rain and frost over the winter.  Though I had to clear snow off first.  We’ve been having the first really cold snap, though the snow didn’t lay for long.  Some parts of the country were much more affected.

Tomorrow, I’m off to pick up a whole lot of china.  You’re hearing it here first, though it’ll go up on my business facebook page soon and also on the website: I’m having an extra auction next year.  One person wants to sell a whole collection and I’ve had the first offer.  It’ll be 25th April.

Z and Wink in the Wilds of Norfolk

The morning was a bit complicated, I must say.  Last night, upon realising I hadn’t got a single present for my youngest grandson, I checked the suggestions his mother had made and found that they were all special offers from Argos.  I don’t object to a special offer, especially when I’ve checked them against other shops and found they were genuine,, so bought them online – but (why?  I dunno) they were only obtainable in a shop deep in north Norfolk.  But it was only an hour or so away, so Wink and I decided to go for it.

The satnav took me all around the houses, literally.  Instead of straight into North Walsham and towards Sainsbury’s, I went through several residential roads before arriving there.  I’d paid online so just had to pick them up and I had a texted receipt.  It couldn’t have been more straightforward.  Though one of the gifts is surprisingly big and I’d assumed it would have been disassembled, not moulded in one piece … but we squeezed it onto the back seat of the car.

It had occurred to me that I could do a second job, while I was about it.  You’d remember, no doubt (heh) that our old friend (of long duration, that is, as he’s younger than I am and I’m only a little bit old) Dave had built me a couple of pillars a few weeks ago, back in October.  I’d ordered the capping stones too but they had, accidentally, not been ordered and it turned out to be quite a business to get hold of them.  But finally I’d paid over the phone and it was agreed that they’d be delivered to Wroxham, where I asked Weeza/Phil to pick them up on Saturday.

This is the short version of a long drawn out process, I promise.  But anyway, we were literally driving past the industrial estate, so I thought we might go in and fetch the stones.  It took a while to sort out but we had them loaded into the car.  When we got back, I stopped on the drive, thinking I might lift them out and leave them, ready to put on the pillars.  Hoho.  I couldn’t shift them.  They are on the back seat of the car, waiting for someone considerably stronger than I am.

But we bought stuff for lunch and ate Twiglets until LT arrived back, and the rest of the day has been jolly in a tranquil sort of way.  Cold, though.  Brass monkeys and all that.

Oh.  In other news, the fitting of the new carpet has been put back because either Axminster or the haulier, I’m not sure which, can’t deliver it in time.  But we’ve rebooked for the 22nd.  Yeah.  Cutting it fine, innit.  Though it doesn’t really matter, I’m quite relaxed about it and just heaving the odd sigh.

I’ve been listening to Rogue Male on the radio – I download everything and catch up when I can’t sleep. which I couldn’t last night.  It’s a book I’ve read a few times and it finally occurred to me that it’s really quite dark.  Evidently, I am myself, because I’d not realised that before.  Anyhoo.  Now listening to Regeneration, which is also a bit dark.  Dear oh dear.  Clearly, it’s being so cheerful that keeps me going.

Oh, I’ve remembered to tell Weeza and Phil that they don’t need to pick up the capping stones.  I’ll have to ask him to remove them from the car on Sunday, though.  I truly cannot move them.

Late rundown of Z’s day

Sister Wink is here and Rose came in for dinner.  Eloise cat’s wound is healing nicely and all is well.  The weather was pretty rough this morning but, with a rare attack of good sense, I went shopping early, so missed the rain and was tucked up at home by the time it struck.

The remarkable thing was, when I went to feed the cats this morning, the only girl, Betty, was tucking in to her breakfast, brothers and father nowhere in sight, when Rummy came to join her and they fed amicably together.  This has never happened before.  I put food down for the boys elsewhere, because they certainly wouldn’t have been comfortable coming near Rummy, who is aggressive with the young boys and has an armed truce with RasPutin – though Rose said she saw them hanging out together earlier on today.  So maybe all will yet be tranquil in Cat World.  I haven’t seen Zain for a fortnight though and I miss him.  I hope he will return, but I think he has found another territory.  And feral cats owe us nothing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care about them.

LT will be home tomorrow, in time for a late lunch DV.

Z considers making some sort of play on the words abscess and absence, but thinks better of it

Last night, I found a lump on Eloise cat’s side.  I was alarmed, of course, tried to look but she wriggled away.  This morning I was able to check and found that it had been an abscess and had already burst, leaving a sizeable hole.  I phoned the vet for an appointment and we’ve just got back, she having been given an antibiotic injection.  The vet cleaned it with a cotton bud, which Eloise bore patiently, though it clearly hurt, but she’ll keep it clean herself and it should heal up soon.  The swelling has already gone right down.  No idea how she got it, but Rose says that cats do get abscesses and the smaller ones need no treatment.   She came home and wanted to be fed, so I presume she’s feeling all right.

The next couple of weeks have become rather busy, and not in a pre-Christmas way, though there are some sociable things included.  One of them is to itemise, wrap up and pack about 150 pieces of china, which will take a bit of doing.  And we’re having the new carpet laid – LT will be in charge of overseeing that  sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee while the fitters are working, as I’ll be out much of the day.  The piano tuner is also coming that day – the pianola mechanism has been taking up several feet of the dining room floor for the last few months, it will be good to have that tidied up and I hope it will keep in tune from now on.  And I’ve got another visit booked from my accountant – I’m not sure why he wants to see me rather than just send the papers to be signed, but no doubt I’ll find out.

Eloise cat has gone to keep LT’s place on the sofa warm.  She probably hopes he’s coming back this evening.  She loves him very much.  And me.

It’s quiet at The Close tonight

There’s just Eloise cat and me here tonight and tomorrow, LT has gone back to his house for a few days.  My sister Wink is coming to stay on Thursday and LT will return home on Friday – he’s at home now, of course, too.

For any of you who are bloggers from long ago, one of our number has just had a baby – if you remember Katy Newton, of Everything is Electric?  Her mum also used to blog and still is one of my dear bloggy friends, though we haven’t met in person yet.  I say “our number,” but Katy was certainly one of the elite, far above me in the blogosphere, in those days.  Many congratulations to her and to Ros.  When my first grandbaby was born, I was a bit surprised to be congratulated, but I soon realised that this is absolutely appropriate and, ever since, I’ve totally owned (as the young people used to say) those congratulations.

I had a business appointment a good hour away, at 1.30 today, which meant I didn’t have lunch before I went and, as I didn’t get home until around 4.30, it was too late to eat then.  By the time I’d fed animals and so on, I was suddenly tired.  So I brought forward the drink-time snacks and had carrot sticks, cheese and olives.  And, an hour later, I’m still hungry.  So the cold beef and pickles I’d been going to eat will be saved for lunch tomorrow and I’m going to cook pasta, because nothing but solid hot food will do.

I’ll bring a piece of beef for Eloise cat, though.  She won’t eat pasta and pesto, though she does like Parmesan.

Dumb as an Oyster

The Oyster card was a fabulous innovation, in its day.  For anyone who might not be aware of it, it’s a pre-paid card for use on London tube trains or buses, you don’t need a ticket but just touch it on the screen and it opens the barrier and deducts the cost of the fare.  You are charged less than the standard ticket rate and, if you reach the cost of a daily pass, it stops charging you.  Splendid.  When introduced, you paid a deposit of £3, which I think is now £5.

I bought two of them years ago, when they were first introduced, registered them on the London transport website and registered a credit card for automatic top-ups – this was mainly for Russell’s benefit as he would have been puzzled to manage that at a station if he ran out of credit.  But I mislaid both those cards a few years ago, replaced them – but one can also use a contactless debit card, so it doesn’t much matter if you don’t have it with you.

Last week, I found an old wallet with various cards in and there were both my original Oyster cards, so I logged on to my account and found that one had about £25 on it and the other had about £17.  So I thought I’d cancel the automatic top-up and use up the money – to do so, you had to use it.  It said, touch onto a yellow reader by 1st December, three days hence and it would be cancelled.  So we did, LT with one card and me with the other, when we went to London the next day.  But they didn’t cancel, I had an email to say I owed £20 (that is there was £25.20 on my card but it hadn’t been able to take payment because my credit card was out of date) and if I didn’t pay it, the card would be cancelled.  Pay or phone.  So I phoned.

Helpful chap with a Scottish accent, said neither card details had gone through as having top-ups cancelled.  And he couldn’t prevent the card itself being cancelled if I didn’t pay.  I explained that, as the same fault had occurred on two cards being used at different stations by two people, it indicated a problem in the system and asked him to report it.  I also said I didn’t want that money outstanding any more.  Could I apply for a refund?  Yes I could.  So I have.

So, instead of them holding on to my £5.20 plus original £3 deposit, because they took another £20 that I instructed them to cancel, I’ve taken the whole lot back again – assuming the refund goes through.  Christmas is paid for, darlings, clearly.  I’m £8.20 in profit here – indeed, you can point out that it was my money all along and I would have to agree, but it was paid so long ago that it counts as new money, innit?  And, as LT points out, that £8.20 will buy his Christmas present, for sure.