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Green jumper day

Today is better, thankfully. I really wasn’t up to much yesterday. Lovely Indigo came for coffee and lunch and we took him to Old Hall Farm, where we all enjoyed our meal and shared a bottle of OHF wine. I’m sure they’re buying in the grapes so far, vines take four years to mature enough to start using the grapes for wine, but that’s entirely legit.

Amusingly, I looked on the ‘memories’ section of Facebook, where it has what you posted in previous years on this day. There’s a picture from 2015 of Indigo hugging Rose and me, outside my house. He’s 6 foot 7 inches and we’re not, we look tiny. I reposted it two years later, observing that I’m wearing the same green cashmere jumper. It so happens that I’m wearing that very jumper again. It’s my 16th October woolly, it seems.

Meh

Things went rather awry last night. I was suddenly exhausted and went for an early bath. The phone rang and I hurried out of the bath to answer it. I missed it. Dialing back, it was the RNIB, no doubt wanting to sell me raffle tickets. I put the phone back down. I give them money every month anyway, I don’t mind buying a few raffle tickets but even 8.30 in the evening is a bit late for a charity call.

I went to bed and slept, briefly, then was awake when Indigo phoned. Lovely, kind Indigo Roth, one of my dearest blog friends. He’s visiting tomorrow, kind as he is. He took the photos for the catalogue for me and they were all perfect. I slept and woke fitfully all night, with a headache that lingered all day. I think it’s the cumulative effect of not having enough sleep and far too much stress and grief for weeks on end. I’ve napped again today several times and the headache is still here, though I’ve had two doses of paracetamol, something I rarely touch. I hope I’ll be over it by tomorrow, I have too much to do and need to be able to concentrate. It’s not that I want to, but I must. Lots of paperwork, plus personal letters and emails that I have to reply to. Overwhelming.

I must find something good to say. Um. The sun shone, it was a lovely day. I made a brown sourdough loaf and it’s good, I won’t go back to the white ones regularly as I like the multi-grain seeded loaves. Using yeast is quicker but this one tastes lovely. I added the seeds earlier, as I was putting in the last of the water, so that they mixed fully. I’m cautiously putting in more white flour than usual, but I’ll up the amount of wholewheat and rye flours until I get the right balance.

Auction time

The annual Lowestoft auction is next Wednesday, with viewing in the afternoon and the sale itself in the evening. The website is lowestoftchina.co.uk for the whole catalogue, here are some pictures.

The cover of the catalogue, with some of the rarest pieces. The one on the right is designed to hold salad dressing.
This is part of a rare, bespoke tea/coffee service. It was actually made in the 1790s, though the date is 20 years earlier. it’s assumed it was ordered to commemorate a 20th wedding anniversary. It’s very pretty and there isn’t another Lowestoft pattern very like it.
Saucers always show up well. This pattern is known as ‘boy on a bridge.’ WYSIWYG.
Another handsome saucer. Drawn in ‘pencil & gilt,’ these pieces are usually popular.
This is another ‘say what you see.’ A printed pattern, it’s known as woman and squirrel. Big squirrel, mind you.

Synchronicity

The day filled up. I went to Norwich and got the copying and signing done at the bank, then I went along to the lovely little tea and coffee shop – they sell the actual tealeaves and coffee beans, you don’t have a cuppa there – and stocked up.

I love Norwich so much. I went the long way through the lanes, just for the pleasure of it. The main streets are full of the usual chain stores, no one else can afford the rents any more, but there are a lot of little independent shops within a couple of minutes’ walk. There are lovely old buildings, lots of mediaeval churches, it’s worth taking your time. No doolaliness about going the wrong way this time, though roadworks meant a diversion, so I went a long way round towards Ronan’s house. I’d bought him some teas too, particularly Earl Grey fumĂ©, which is a delicious cross between EG and Lapsang Souchong.

On the way home, I stopped in Yagnub to get a new watch battery from Andrew at the little shop that sells everything. It’s called the Chocolate Box and does sell sweets, but also stationery and all sorts of things. He and Angela are always so cheerful, it’s a pleasure to go there. Andrew found that the watch wasn’t willing to keep going, it took him ages to persuade it, but it worked in the end and I asked him to fit a new strap as well. And bought a quarter of aniseed balls, which I hope are in my bag, because I only just remembered them.

I went to the greengrocer, bought some tomatoes for Jan and various fruits and vegges for me – melon followed by corn on the cob for dinner; I’ve been cracking walnuts as an aperitif. Then I scurried home for lunch and, having a couple of minutes spare, replied to the text I’d had from the GP surgery asking me to book a flu vaccination (I have a rooted objection to the word ‘jab’ which, surely, deters some waverers). “We’ve got a space at 15.21,” said the receptionist, so I took it.

All worked out well. I spent an hour or so with Jan, had my flu preventative (it’s not a vaccination I’m convinced about, but I’m not going to be associated with the more extreme anti-vaxxers) and came home. The cat sat on me for over an hour and a half. She had no intention of letting me go.

I’ve got a load more mail about Tim’s affairs and it has to be dealt with. But I really think I have to prioritise the auction for the next few days, so anything else will just get fitted in or left for a week or so.

An hour after Andrew put in the new battery, the watch stopped working again. I fiddled with it for ages and decided I’d wear Tim’s watch, which is far too big for my little wrist. So I put mine on to help keep Tim’s in place. Half an hour later, I looked at them both and found that mine has started and is keeping time with his. I’m charmed. I love it when inanimate objects appear to respond. Tim bought me my watch for Christmas six years ago and I bought his for his birthday the year afterwards. I do actually like wearing his watch, but I don’t want to stop wearing mine. Two on one wrist seems a bit much. One on each wrist looks just plain anxious.

Z needs strong teeth

It took me most of the morning to do anything useful, but I picked up a bit towards lunchtime. I set up the new card reader – we’ve only taken cheques or cash up to now, but that just isn’t tenable any more. I felt surprisingly stressed afterwards, I’d obviously been worrying more than I’d known.

Later, I made a couple of phone calls and, in each case, got someone very helpful and friendly. The first was Tim’s house’s BT account, the direct debit hadn’t gone through and I had to do it again. Maureen from Ireland was lovely. I don’t know the name of the RBS Investment service Probate department woman, but she couldn’t have been nicer. She agreed that it was not great for me to send off all the documents – my passport, Tim’s will, my marriage certificate – and asked if there was a bank branch near me? I think she realised it was a silly question as soon as she’d asked it, because RBS has closed nearly all its branches and the nearest is Colchester. But then I asked if Nat West would do and it will. So it will mean a trip to Norwich in the morning, but never mind. And then after that, I’ll call on my friend Jan, who would like to see some of the china. Next, I’ll try to get my head round the bumf that the solicitor sent me, but that might wait another day. All the same, the auction has to take priority from tomorrow onwards. As I said to Jan, it’s a pleasure to handle the china, so it will sooth me.

The main reason the day didn’t start well was because I stubbed my toe. It’s quite peculiar. I’d left a pair of little boots – that is, short, in very soft leather – on the landing. By the wall, not lying in my way, but I still managed to kick one of them, very painfully. I looked down to see if I’d broken my toe.

I never walk around barefoot in the house. Even if it’s just socks or tights, I always wear something on my feet because I’ve several friends who do love to get their toes out, who’ve broken one. It’s very easy to do. But this was just from the bedroom to the bathroom with no furniture or anything in the way. I looked at my toe later, it’s swollen and bruised and more comfortable with a sock and that same bootee on. I hope the nail doesn’t go black, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, it put me off things a bit.

I started a batch of sourdough bread last night. My starter is equal quantities of rye and white wheat flours and then I usually use white flour for the bread. But I’d like to make bread that’s at least half wholemeal flour. So I made my usual white wheat, whole wheat and whole rye mix, then added various seeds – everything as usual except with sourdough starter instead of dried yeast.

I’ve learned a few things. I normally knead the dough in the food mixer and add the seeds in the last few minutes. But it gets kneaded twice, which I don’t do with sourdough. So the seeds weren’t fully mixed through and were quite difficult to incorporate later. The dough didn’t have the usual lovely stretchiness, but perhaps I should have kneaded it a bit longer. I left it overnight, out in the kitchen rather than in the fridge as usual, because I thought it needed all the help it could get.

What I mostly learned was that it’s no good telling yourself to set a timer if you don’t actually do it. The bread has not burned but it has a mighty thick crust. It actually tastes very good, I’ve tried a piece, but it’s hard to get the knife through the crust. I have to eat it anyway, I’ve run out of bread from the freezer.

Tim’s car

I made the decision, yesterday evening, not to sell Tim’s car. It’s a lovely car, a BMW coupĂ©, that he bought nearly 14 years ago, soon after Viv died. He’s had a few bumps and scratches in it, not since I’ve been with him and I never asked the circumstances. I expect he was a bit careless for a while. He never had an accident, as such and he was a very good driver on the open road. He’d have agreed with me that I was rather better in town and at parking.

He loved the car, it was the nicest he’d ever had. Because of its bodywork – there really is nothing major, just surface scratches – it isn’t going to be worth all that much. When it broke down a few months ago, he had it thoroughly checked and the clutch replaced. I can’t remember why I started to think about it, though it was only a few hours ago, but I felt better for making the decision. I’d already transferred the insurance and now I’ve transferred ownership and paid the tax. I’ve also booked the MOT for the end of the month. Wink will drive me to Reading, I’ll take it to the garage and then I’ll drive it back here. I don’t need to make long term plans as yet, but I’ll probably exchange my own car for a smaller one, for cheap local driving and just use the BMW for longer distances.

Doing all that and a few other bits of admin has given me enough to cope with for the morning. I’ve started to sort out papers into things that are fully dealt with and things that aren’t, but I’ve called a halt for a while. I must do more of something later though, I’ve got a lot to deal with before the auction on Wednesday week.

When people tell me I’m using too much self-control and I should let it go, they don’t realise how draining that would be. I have a lot to do that can’t be delegated. I would if I could. Being told my behaviour isn’t in my best interests, without taking any burden away isn’t exactly helpful. Taking positive action and sorting something out does help. Only for a short time, but I’ll still take that over feeling wretched all the time or falling apart and having to put myself back together again.

Z really must spend a couple of hours winding down

I think my gate latch theory is correct. The bullocks are tranquil in their field, anyway.

Today has been long and it’s not 7 in the evening yet. I woke before 3 this morning, which is not unusual and, about an hour later, had to jump out of bed with agonising cramp, the sort that leaves your calf muscle feeling bruised for hours. There’d been no likelihood of sleep anyway, not for a few hours – and when I felt I might doze for an hour or so, Eloise decided she’d like an early breakfast. She wouldn’t be deterred, so I finally went down and got breakfast for both of us. I ate mine in bed. I’d said to the Rector that I’d try to make it to church, for the first time this year (of course, there were only online services for a long time) and he’d changed the service from 9.30 to 9, which isn’t the best time. But I was there and it was nice to see the few people who were there too, except that when someone kind asks how I am, I cry.

I got home to find a phone message from a friend, asking me to ring back but she might be out – as she was, when I tried. I made coffee and contemplated clearing up the disaster area I call the kitchen, when a lovely friend, a different one, called round. So I made more coffee and we chatted. Then Wink called in with a bag of kindling, so I introduced them, and then the phone rang, twice, the second time being the friend who’d phoned before. While I was talking to her, having left Wink and Mimi, my mobile rang. I had to ignore it and phone Indigo Roth back when everyone had left. By this time, it was 1 o’clock and Ronan and family were due soon. I softened some Baron Bigod cheese in the microwave for ten seconds and spread it on bread, apart from Eloise cat’s share.

Busy afternoon with the family, we made and ate scones, fed the chickens, all the usual family stuff, then I scrambled eggs for their tea. And now I’ve fed the cats and I’m tired out. I seem to have spent a lot of time running. I do hope I sleep tonight because I need to crack on with the to-do list tomorrow or else I’ll regret it.

Remembered a couple of bills that I needed to pay and also paid a subscription that technically isn’t due for a few weeks. Must pick up a couple more things of Tim’s that I don’t want to run out. There’s a level of stress that energises you, but this isn’t it.

I was going to bake a potato for my supper, but I don’t think I could eat it. There’s one egg left, laid today, so perfect for poaching. Either I’ll eat it tonight or have it for breakfast tomorrow. The fishmonger will call in the morning and I’ve asked Wink in for supper. I have spinach and that is perfect with fish. I also have a squash, so that’s also good. I will think of a lovely fish dish. I also must make bread in the next few days. I now have three jars of sourdough starter in the fridge and half a dozen slices of bread. I’ve never tried my multi-grain, multi-seed bread with that, but I think I’ll give it a go. It may be heavy, but if it’s a failure the chickens will love it and if not, I will. I’ll probably eat it anyway, I don’t mind bread that’s a bit solid as long as it tastes good.

Actually, I think poached egg with spinach will be perfect tonight. I’ll have a glass of wine first and then cook it. The thought of a lovely, light meal has cheered me. I’m still ruled by food, which is an entirely good thing, because it’s good food that I love.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

it’s been rather a day, actually, but all seems to have come good. I have done no admin, but it’s the weekend and I’m off duty until Sunday evening.

I ambled downstairs, having pottered around a bit, soon after 8 o’clock and pottered more in the kitchen, then went outside to feed the cats and let the chickens out. I dropped most of the cat food in seconds, when I found the garden was full of bullocks.

First rule of dealing with animals is, don’t panic. That is, they mustn’t think that you’re panicking. So I fetched a stick for guidance purposes and strolled past them to open the field gate. Then went behind them and suggested they might want to go home. Amazingly five out of the eight thought that was a fair suggestion and went in. I phoned Wink for help and she hurried out. They are calm cattle and, between us (with just one minor hoohah), two more went in: one in one gate, one in the other. The final beast might have posed a problem but Wink is a fast learner and headed him off adeptly, so all were safely gathered in.

But how had they got out? I did a quick search and nothing was an obvious gap. So I phoned the farmer, explained the situation and assured him that I’d get to the root of the escape after breakfast. New-laid egg, poached on toast.

I was a bit anxious and breathless, but went round the 8 acres, bailer twine in my pocket for remedial purposes. I did find a strand of wire that had come adrift, but that wasn’t where they got out. I mended that and kept going. The 13 cattle were calm and friendly, thank goodness – noted that not all of them had got out, so no major breach.

There’s a small gate from Humpy’s Meadow, over a railway sleeper bridge to the garden. The latch of the gate wouldn’t catch. It opened inwards to the field but it was conceivably possible that it could be pulled open. There is no other explanation – also, all the cattle were grouped round the gate when I went to look, so they were probably checking the weak spot. I’ve ordered some bungee cords and have tied the gate up in the meantime. I have said to the Rector that I’ll be in church tomorrow unless I’m chasing cattle again.

Which brings me to the other news of the day. Tim’s memorial service will be in our local church on Saturday, 6th November. More to follow on that but, in short, I’m planning a buffet lunch beforehand, the service in the early afternoon and then back here for tea. At least a couple of spare bedrooms if people would like to stay. Light, warm, celebratory, because my grandchildren will be there and we will ease them through it.

Z rants and poor Wink listens

It’s been a difficult day today. First, there was the fridge. We’d been grumbling for a few weeks that the door was reluctant to stay shut, though it did if we insisted. Yesterday, it really wouldn’t. I investigated and found a huge lump of ice, which had grown around two jars that had been touching the back of the fridge.

Yes indeed, I prefer a self-defrosting fridge, but the exact configuration of mostly fridge but a decent freezer compartment was only available in this model. And it’s usually fine but one does have to be careful not to leave something touching the back. Anyway, I simply took out the shelf and piled everything up, or put it in the other fridge overnight. This morning, I took some things through to Wink, put everything from the freezer part into the chest freezer and switched it off.

Though a nuisance, it explained a problem and I just left it while I opened the post. That raised my blood pressure and excited my ire. But the most annoying thing was the bank statement from Tim’s bank. I’d managed, not without difficulty, to get the phone number for the ‘bereavement team.’ I’d explained that I’d been told on the phone that the statement of what was in his accounts on the day of his death would also include his bank statements. It didn’t. Please could I have them for the past year, so I could make sure essential payments were covered?

Asked what dates, I went for 1st August 2020 to 24th September 2021, the latter being the date the account was frozen. I also asked for the same dates for his (same bank) credit card. The fucking moron, sorry, put in the wrong year. I got a bank statement for August and September 2021 and nothing about the credit card. I exploded. Not literally. Poor Wink had come through for coffee and she kindly listened to me rant. Then I went on to the helpline on the website – not expecting to need the phone number again, I hadn’t saved it in my contact list – and got a very unhelpful robot. I wasn’t patient. Eventually, on the third time of ticking the ‘no, this hasn’t helped’ box, I got a real person. So I was polite but explained I had specifically asked for a year and hadn’t got it and hadn’t got the credit card info either and she apologised; not that it was her fault.

Rose called in for lunch. I can’t cope with shops where the assistants know me, as yet, so I went to Jonny’s farm kiosk and bought cheese and bread. Baron Bigod, obvs. After lunch, I had a phone call from one of my lovely clients. Sadly, her husband died in March – it wasn’t unexpected and he was 93, but we had a long and sympathetic chat. She did ask how I was at one point and I told her about Tim – there was a silence and then she sort of blanked it. I didn’t mind. I gave her my best time. But I was tired afterwards and Rose was too and left soon afterwards.

I’ve got stuff from the solicitor to sort out. The easy part is my new will. it’s fine, apart from one name spelt incorrectly. But there was a load of stuff along with the probate stuff – sorry, can’t come up with actual vocabulary – that I’m going to have to get my head around. The Politically Exposed Persons check. What? I’m not sure if being a Member of a Multi-academy Trust counts. And the STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) stuff was beyond me today. This either relates to me making a simple will leaving everything to my children or their heirs, or to me being the executor of my husband’s will, which is entirely straightforward. There’s no scope for being politically exposed or needing to relate to a Trust. But I have to read it all and understand it and that’s for another day.

I’ve also got another letter relating to Tim’s investment portfolio, which wants original documents. Everyone else has accepted scanned ones. i’ll write and ask. I’ve only got one copy of his will and our marriage certificate and I’d rather keep them about my person.

Anyway, the fridge didn’t take long, only an hour or so and the lump of ice simply slid off. Then I scooped out the ice from the freezer compartment and wiped the whole thing clean and dry. In the next few days, I’ll clean out the other (larder, frost-free) fridge and all will be lovely. There were no unpleasant, furry surprises because I’ve kept tabs on leftovers for a long time now. If sufficient, they are eaten. If there’s enough for one, it gets frozen for when Tim is away (this should be in the past tense, of course). If it’s not enough for that, it either gets composted or given to the chickens. If leftover vegetables, it gets made into stock or soup. There has been nearly zero food waste at the Zedery for years.

Z is touched

I was a bit odd today. Not at the start, though I overslept, which was unusual. After my usual wakeful time in the night, I slept and woke and looked at my watch. 6 o’clock, I thought it said, but it didn’t feel like 6 so I checked my phone. I’d misread; it was 9 in the morning. But it didn’t matter, I was planning to leave the house at about 11.

I went to the dentist in Norwich, which was fine except for a previously chipped back tooth, which this time he decided he wanted to fill, though it isn’t giving trouble. Still, I can see that it’s not very stable, so I’ve made another appointment. I drove into the city centre. The St Giles roundabout is having a massive makeover, I’m not sure what’s intended. I drove to the car park under the shopping mall and that was where I first felt odd. I wasn’t sure I was in the right lane to go through, all the road signs seemed contradictory. And when I finally moved on – actually, it wasn’t more than 10 seconds’ indecision – the lights must have changed since I’d gone through, because I was hooted at.

There are two parking levels underground and I found a space in the first. I successfully reverse-parked and noted the number of the aisle. I went to the Apple Store and discussed what model I might want with the assistant, but they have no stock of it at present, so we agreed I needed to order it online. I went to Boots and bought some hair accessories (all this masses of hair, sometimes I’ll need to tie it up), socks and tights, plus a sandwich for lunch. I successfully negotiated the self-checkout and returned to the car park.

I was bewildered that the numbers were not as I remembered them. Surely it was 8, not 18? Finally, I realised I must have gone down an extra escalator and went up a level. Yup. They now have ticketless car parking, if you want to use it. Touch your bank card on the pad as you enter and again as you leave. It took me a minute to discover that, on leaving, you touch it to find what you owe and again to actually pay, but I managed better than the driver of the car in the other lane. The attendant was coming out to help as I left.

I decided to go home on the back lanes and turned right at the traffic lights. Then I followed the car in front, almost into Sainsbury’s car park. By this time, I was so unnerved by my doolaliness that I stopped to do all the checks that I hadn’t had a stroke. I hadn’t. I counted backwards from 100 in 7s successfully, so I can’t put it down to incipient dementia. I guess it is a mixture of rarely coming into the city and stress making me slow and confused. I’ve been all right since I arrived home.

I’ve ordered my new phone and a case for it, though the case will arrive tomorrow and the phone will take a month, so sought-after is the iPhone 13 Pro. Yeah, I’ve indulged myself, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t. My first iPhone was bought to console myself for needing a replacement hip at a relatively young age. My present phone is 5 years old and still very good, but the battery is failing at last and I’d rather give myself a lovely present than dully replace the battery.

Many thanks to lovely blog friends who’ve been so thoughtful. You made me cry, in a good way. Our community is still there, if numbers are depleted nowadays.