Today, I’ve watched Zoom

Nadfas, as it used to be known, gives the accredited lecturers a change to give a presentation every year – or rather, they used to give some of them the opportunity, because time constraints didn’t allow all of them to be involved every year. Since meetings etc had to be held online, it’s been realised that it saved a huge amount of money and now they give the Directory Meetings, as they’re known, online too. It was an all-day thing, back in the Spring and they’re doing a bigger event this week. Two full days, with a couple of hundred lecturers giving two minute online presentations,

I watched over 120 of them today. It was too much. I couldn’t really concentrate this afternoon. I’ll be out in the morning, so will watch the afternoon ones and catch up on the morning talks over the weekend.

There are ten lectures over the year and the season runs from September to June. Next year, I’m all set apart from September and, the year after, I have March booked. So I need something really enticing to start the season well. October is Van Gogh, I’m thinking maybe a city as a subject would be good.

Yesterday’s lecture was on Raoul Dufy and it was brilliant. He’s well known in France, Japan, the US but, puzzlingly, not here. I recognised his art, once I saw it, but didn’t know who the painter was. Just that it was quintessentially French. He sounds like a really lovely man, too. He died the year I was born.

I haven’t done much else. I scurried into Yagnub first thing, as Pete, the fabulous baker was on the market, I needed petrol for the lawnmower and I was almost out of fruit and veg. I had to be back in time to put away the shopping and be at my computer for 10 o’clock. I told Wince about the deadline and he advised me to get going. “I will, I’d just been waiting for you,” I said, unintentionally worrying him. He looked at his watch, thinking he was late. I had to reassure him, it was just that I’d waited for 9 o’clock. Anyway, I did it, was back with a cup of tea and a bowl of fruit, nuts, seeds and yoghurt for breakfast, on the dot of 10.

1973 was a good year

The party was terrific. I’d only met L&L’s younger son and daughter before and the daughter was then 5 years old – it was the year that L&L were married, he for the first time and she for the third. She had three children and, at the age of 23, he became stepfather to 2 teenagers too. He was a grandfather at 28. And it has worked, resoundingly.

Mrs L is 83 now and has Alzheimer’s, but she coped very well. Younger son is a singer and actor and he sang after dinner, his mother joining in. She knew every word and was note perfect. Mr L is absolutely admirable. He is endlessly patient and never gives a hint that his wife is anything but in command of her situation, whilst carrying being the fabulous raconteur that he’s always been and tactfully making sure she’s safe and happy. There were 25 or 30 of us altogether, old friends and family and we all stayed overnight. L, L and their younger daughter J, along with Wink and I, stayed a second night, which was great as it gave us more time to catch up. We went to Tetbury for lunch and it was all really good. There’s so much to do in the area, I’m thinking I may stay there for a night or two on my way to Pembrokeshire at some time. L insisted on paying our bill and everyone else’s, which was immensely kind. I’ve known him pretty well all my life, his parents were best friends with mine and L is 3 years older than me. Almost brother and sister.

On the way home, I dropped Wink off at Heathrow and she’s arrived safely in Sri Lanka. I’m planning to get on with some household things while she’s away. I felt a bit lost this evening and considered lighting the Aga, having an early glass of wine, lighting the fire – in the end, I did none of those things because I cooked a very nice dinner instead … with wine to accompany, of course, but at a respectable time in the evening.

The job I mentioned the other day, when the website was down, has been completed. I remembered on Saturday morning and it was all fine. What I haven’t been able to do is reset my Dartford Tunnel account. I had an email some time ago, telling me that I hadn’t used it for a year – here’s the relevant bit:-

Our records show that you have not used the Dartford Crossing in a vehicle linked to your Dart Charge account for over 12 months.If we do not hear from you, and you do not make any more crossings we will close your account on 24/10/2023. To keep your account open you can go to the account management section of our website, select, ‘Inactive account options’ and then ‘Keep my account open’. Alternatively, your account will reactivate if you make a crossing with a registered vehicle.

So, I signed in and went to account management and there was no option to keep my account open. I could close it but not keep it open. The website is in Beta, so they asked for feedback and I gave it. Since, I’ve emailed twice and filled in a complaint form. I got an acknowledgement for that, but that’s all. I can phone, but I guess there will be a long wait. So I expect I’ll end up closing the account, getting my £18 back and then having to open a new one. You’d think they’d like to keep my money. I’d like them to keep my money. I’ve looked again today – I remembered that I put a friend’s car on and she just sold it, so I needed to take it off. Even that has not reactivated the account. Oh well.

Z gets jobs done

Elder son Al called in today, to chat to elderly Muz. He’s just started a new job and it’s going well, he’s enthused by it. Even better, there’s no weekend work and longer holidays. Eldest grandchild, Squiffany, who was a baby when I started blogging, has had her first week at university and she’s happy too, so matriarch Z is content.

I cleared the chair, where there had been a stack of papers. I’ve signed my tax return and sent it back to the accountant (and also paid their bill, which arrived today) and made a note on the calendar to pay what I’ll owe in January. I don’t resent paying tax. I have friends whose income isn’t enough to pay tax, so I’m lucky there.

I just have one more job, of those I meant to do today, and I did try to do it but the website was down. When I finally got around to doing something that’s been waiting for a fortnight, the damn website is down. Ugh. Luckily, there isn’t a deadline on it, but I’ll let it slide if it isn’t done this week, I know myself.

Wink and I are away this weekend, to our good friends’ Golden Wedding party. Rose is moving in and the cat is going to be very happy. She adores Rose. When Rose moved out, some three years ago, she spent a week looking for her. Rummy, her cat, is going to come along too – Rummy is the only cat that eCat has ever tolerated, because he lived here first. I think she’ll be pleased, but if it goes poorly then he’ll be taken home, more for his benefit than for hers. He’s a gentle old boy with a blind eye now, when he used to rule the roost.

The barn cats are very pushy nowadays, though they’re still afraid of eCat. I was amused, when I went to feed them at 8.30 this morning, to find all five of them waiting. They don’t group together, they have several clear yards between each other. Barny was on the bench outside the door and miaowed loudly, with wide open red mouth, as I opened the door. He’s the shyest in person, he’s the only one who never has the courage to come up to me. His sister Betty is almost as shy, though Freddie has become tamer over the years. Zain and mother Mehitabel are always loving and friendly. I still wish Mehitabel could be allowed to come in the house, she’s getting old and needs a proper home. But eCat says no.

It’s really turned autumnal at the Zedery

I think this is the last difficult anniversary of the year. In November, it’s the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth, but we’re likely to have a family party with fireworks, as it’s close to Bonfire Night.

I cheerily emailed a speaker for the local Arts Society (formerly Nadfas) to confirm arrangements for the next lecture, having completely failed to notice that there’s a rail strike on that day. She has engagements every day that week and, try as we did – including my offering to have her to stay on the nights before and after – it wasn’t going to work. I had to do some quick work to find a replacement and then to rebook her for next year. And it’s done, it’s worked out beautifully. I’ve got someone I know, who lives half an hour away so can drive here and all is fine. I’d also emailed another speaker, who’s due next year, to find out if a swap were possible – it isn’t, but we’ve had a good email conversation and he has some good suggestions for any future emergency.

A few things to learn, most of all that my usual practice of getting in touch 3-4 weeks ahead is a good one. I’d let it slide, as I had been away the week before last. She had realised and had emailed the previous programme secretary, but somehow that hadn’t been picked up. I won’t make that mistake again. There are only two more speakers before the end of the year, but I’ll certainly make contact with both of them in very good time. I’ll keep a local/emergency speaker list to hand and be ready to email it out to other committee members, in case I’m ever away when something crops up. The good thing, from my personal point of view, is that I just got on with it and didn’t panic or worry. I spent an hour on a plan and a backup plan and then kept everyone informed as I got more information. A year ago, it would have been a struggle. It was quite straightforward, given that everyone concerned was really helpful and replied promptly, but a nuisance to have to do. And the speaker who’s been postponed for nearly a year will be a few hundred pounds down on her earnings, which is another unintended consequence of a strike that will have no effect on the bosses of the companies concerned.

Z muses

Years ago, I found that I lost my blogging voice if I left it for a week or more, so decided to post every day, as a self-discipline thing. It got a bit out of hand, to be frank. I remember, a couple of times, getting into bed and realising I hadn’t written anything, so tapping out something (probably incoherent) on my phone, to get a post done before midnight. So eventually, I decided that the self-discipline should revert to not writing every day. And now it’s so random that the blog isn’t my little island of stability any more. So maybe I need another phase.

I’ve got a small pile of post to deal with, that’s randomly on the armchair that I sit on least. I’m really not being my best Z at present. But getting to grips with that is on the schedule for Sunday. I have opened the post from my accountant, because I could see from the bulk that it’s my tax returns. There is absolutely zero likelihood that I will ever fill in my own tax returns. I probably could, but I see no need to.

It’s been an expensive week, because I paid the insurance on Tim’s caravan and also the deposit for next year’s rent payment, which has gone up rather startlingly. I don’t want to give up the caravan as yet, so I’ve just paid it. I like it there. I’m always sad because I miss Tim so much, the place feels full of him, yet there’s a degree of comfort in that too. I don’t need to explain it to myself.

I caught up with an old friend today, when I was invited to his birthday party. He’s a fortnight younger than I am, so I pull rank relentlessly. He says he still follows this blog, so *waves to Shawn* and I hope it won’t be another 7 or 8 years before we catch up again. Frankly, darling, we’ll be so bloody old by then that we will hardly recognise each other.

Tomorrow, whatever else I do, I’ll catch up on your blogs.

Splat of purest green

Dinner tonight was very green. I had bought some sea trout from Paul the Fi sh this morning, along with some samphire. The season for English samphire must be over, I think, I’m not sure where this was from. But I bought it without thinking of its provenance. I’ve not felt like taking trouble over meals for the past few weeks, for various reasons – mostly because I’ve been so busy with the catalogue for the auction in October, but also because I struggle during the summer. Even when I’m not thinking of Russell and Tim, their illness and deaths cloud that time of the year. I’ve been feeling impatient with myself because I haven’t been the Z that I’m comfortable with. But tonight, I thought I’d make some pesto to spread on the fish and then bake – I had parsley and pistachios as well as the usual garlic, parmesan and olive oil and, it turned out, they suited very well together. I’d also got some young sprouting broccoli – or probably calabrese – and so the plateful was very green and I enjoyed it.

I walked a lot last week, which was also good for me – exercise has been limited with my surgical boot on and there’s no doubt that activity makes me feel brighter. The night before last, I went to bed early because I was exhausted (wish I could get over that, it’s so tedious) and I slept, with brief wakings-up, for hours and hours. Paid for it last night, when i was still awake at 5.30 am. I always seem to run on a sleep deficit, which is frankly a pain in the arse. It’s been the case pretty well all my life.

There was torrential rain and a thunderstorm in the night. I came downstairs to make sure water wasn’t getting in anywhere. Someone in Yagnub posted, on the local Facebook page, an amazing photo of a bolt of lightning that sparked along three street lamps simultaneously, though without doing any damage, remarkably.


We arrived home yesterday, it’s been a really good week. But first, the wedding last Saturday.

Zain and H had a traditional Muslim wedding and then we, along with 30 or so others, joined them at the registry office for the legal bit. Zain has a well-earned reputation for doing everything at the last minute, but also for having ambitious plans, so it could have gone awry – but it didn’t. Supremely well organised and everything went well. The evening reception was held at Duxford air museum and we dined under the wing of Concorde. It was all fabulous and happy, as a wedding should be. I was mildly embarrassed by my sensible sandals, but was glad to see that quite a number of people wear shoes you can walk in, nowadays. My broken foot healed just in time.

I felt soppily sentimental at the wedding itself, which isn’t like my normal self. But there, what can I do about it?

Z surfaces after a month of cataloguing

“Nearly finished” was optimistic. It took a few more days to get the catalogue done, but it’s completed and printed now. Tim was such a help and support – not that it’s the reason I miss him, it’s just Tim, the person, the lovely man whom I loved, that leaves me so bereft. Two years have now passed and nothing has started to ease. But that’s a simple fact, not a complaint or a cry for help.

I behave positively, however I feel. But it’s all a bit of a challenge, practically. Even the fact that my computer mouse is getting glitchy, after 8 years, is a minor bother. I’ve got a trackpad too and that’s fine, so I’m using that when the mouse plays up, but it does feel like doing a job with one hand tied behind my back. It’s simply not as good. Likewise, the MacBook isn’t as good as the desktop iMac. I must talk to Ronan and find out whether the answer is to get a screen or to bite the bullet and buy another computer, in the next year or so.

Tomorrow, I’m going to the wedding of Ro’s lovely friend from university days, Zain. He was best man at Ro’s wedding. We’ve always got on well, I’m my son’s plus one but also Z’s genuine friend. I named a cat after him, the nicest barn kitten, you can’t get a much higher compliment.

When I don’t blog, it’s because I’ve been so tired that I go to bed very early. Of course, that usually means an hour or two’s sound sleep and then, awake before midnight, I spend most of the rest of the night awake. This happened last night and I didn’t sleep at all after about 5am. Inevitably, I fell asleep in the afternoon. I looked at my watch, thought I must go and buy some cat food and then woke up some time later, completely confused because I thought I’d slept for hours. It was nearly 5 and I actually thought I’d slept through the night and never made it to bed. Reality didn’t strike for a minute or two. How daft.

All sorts of things have arrived for my birthday on Sunday. It’s so kind and heartwarming. Though I’m pretty well ignoring every birthday now, that doesn’t take anything away from the love I feel. “Significant’ birthdays haven’t been kind to me and are safer not celebrated. On the other hand, I need no excuse for a party.

I’ve got a lot to do in the morning, I hope I remember it all.

Z looks forward

Finally, the auction catalogue is nearly finished. I didn’t like some of the layout of the first draft, so spent a lot of time redoing it today, which was pretty silly of me. No one but me would have cared. But, if I’m going to go to a lot of trouble, I might as well like the end product. I’ve got a few measurements to add, I’ve sent it to Wink and D for checking and I’ll go through all the spacings and so on, but hope to get it finished tomorrow. I’ve also got to do the advertisement for the antiques magazine – which reminds me, I had the bill for that a day or two ago and I haven’t paid it yet. Another job for tomorrow.

More interestingly, all 14 of the family are meeting for lunch at a local restaurant. It’s fairly central for all of us, on the Ipswich road out of Norwich. We’ve got a lot of family birthdays and anniversaries in late August and through September, so I thought a whole family celebration would be good. I’m not doing anything for my own birthday, it doesn’t interest me. I’d ignore my birthdays altogether if I could, but in fact I’m going to a wedding the day before and going on a short holiday the day after, so options would be limited anyway.

September is busy with other celebrations though. A 70th birthday party and a golden wedding anniversary, as well as the wedding next week and my holiday. It’s only to Kent, actually, but I haven’t had a ‘real’ holiday this year, just a couple of overnight visits to London and three to the caravan in Pembrokeshire. I really must get my passport renewed, it runs out in December and I’d like to have something to look forward to next year.

Being sensible sometimes helps

I’m usually enthusiastic about cooking, eating, vegetables, looking after myself, often all that and usually most of them. For the last week or so, I haven’t been. It hasn’t turned me to junk food because I’m not an idiot, nor to sugar nor the ultra processed evils, most of which combine, but I’ve thrown together random meals, using food that I’ve bought because not wanting veggies hasn’t stopped me buying or picking them, like being too hungry means that your brain doesn’t recognise fullness until 20 minutes after you start eating. And sometimes I’ve eaten the meal because I know I’ll regret it later if I don’t. Z doesn’t like to be unfed for too long. To me, intermittent fasting means don’t snack in the evening, not skip meals.

Tonight, it seems to be on its way out, this really annoying disinclination to eat properly at a time when it would do me most good. Just as, when low or depressed, a small setback or unkind word can plunge into the depths, a cheering ingredient can have the opposite effect.

I went to one of the vegetable stalls on Norwich market yesterday. There are only two now, they used to be the majority of stalls. But anyway, I was tempted by the array of “wild” mushrooms. It’s a misleading name, they’re all cultivated now, but there isn’t really another description, any more than there is for “wild boar.” I couldn’t be bothered to cook them yesterday but I had to cook something to go with the bass fillet, so I started chopping. I started with olive oil (the fad for EVOO as an acronym for the only olive oil I ever use really irritates me, but I mask it everywhere but here) shallots and garlic, added the mushrooms, added vermouth because I didn’t want to open a bottle of white wine … and I started to feel my mood lift. I cooked the fish and some runner beans, added some cream, because I had it, to the mushrooms and now I’m waiting for a feeling of wellbeing to kick in.

Waiting. Bound to happen. I enjoyed cooking and eating a meal. Waiting…

Some time later … it seems the 20 minute rule applies to mood too. Huzzah.