Z’s blessings counted again

The family came over for the day and Wink is here for a few days too.  Rose and co came in too, so there were 16 altogether.  I’d made it a really easy meal though, LT made his famous quiche and I served cold meats, salad and cheese.  People arrived at different times, so it wasn’t going to be very sensible to wait until everyone was here before eating.

Weeza and family arrived first and, as soon as Ro, Dora and young Rufus arrived, Gus – now six and a half – was out of the door looking for his little cousin.  He and Rufus adore each other.  He had to wait though, because the baby – well, the toddler, he’ll be two in June – was asleep in the car.  When he woke up, the two of them were off together, very happy.  And when Dilly got here with her three (Al was at work, so arrived last), all six children vanished.  I haven’t been into the furthest bedroom which is their chosen playroom, so I don’t know what they’ve been doing.  They came and went, occasionally grabbing some food and sitting at one of the tables with it, but we didn’t have much of their company; though we did see Zerlina and Dora together and have a feeling that nine-year-old z is taller than her aunt now.  Poor Dora, not much less than five foot and she’s probably destined to be shorter than anyone.

My dear friend Lynn lost her daughter last May in a silly, stupid, random event that made the death of a healthy 28-year-old even more tragic.  Lynn has written a book of poetry about Sophie – Lynn is an artist and a poet, a very fine one, this isn’t some amateur effort.  She is selling them for £10 with all proceeds going to St Martin in the Fields church’s Vicar’s Fund for the Homeless (it’s the London church in Trafalgar Square, where Lynn was married and Sophie – I’m her godmother – was baptised).  I don’t suppose anyone would like a copy and don’t feel any sort of obligation but if you would, let me know and I’ll send you details.

Home from home from home

It was a short break but it was lovely.  I like LT’s house very much and feel at home there and we didn’t have much that we had to do, so treated it as a holiday.  I did need to buy a new kettle and we wanted a few other bits and pieces in the town centre, so spent an hour or two there, and the next day LT took me out for a particularly excellent lunch, and I spent one afternoon reading an entire book – this used to be a regular thing but hasn’t been for the last few years.  Perhaps it was the stabilising effect of that which enabled me to sleep well every night.

LT had intended to do some work on the catalogue but he didn’t get around to it, which I was glad about.  It was supposed to be a break – if he’d really wanted to do it then that would have been one thing, but I didn’t want him to feel obliged.  It’s a bleak, wet night now – I was just able to feed the animals in the dry at 4.30 – and we’re sitting with a lovely log fire, having eaten shepherd’s pie for dinner.  With ketchup.  LT was gratified when he found that we both feel that tomato ketchup is indispensable with shepherd’s pie.  Eloise cat was equally gratified to have us home and has sat on both our laps – LT was thoroughly, though tranquilly, kneaded – and to be given her own share of the leftover meat before I mucked it about with onion and so on.

Rounding the buoy at full throttle in a cloud of spray

Off again for a couple of days and, though I’ll take my iPad, I don’t know if I’ll write anything.  So I’ll just leave you with a picture of my father*.

The hilarity caused by the idea of going round a corner “at full throttle” must have been the talk of the motor boat club at the time.

When I’m back, I’ll write more.

*photo copyright Daily Mirror.

Suffolk and what???

I finished the condition report, have labelled all the china and it’s gone into safe storage, so I don’t have to think about that any more for a while.  LT does as he’s valiantly offered to write the catalogue this time – since he’s never used Publisher before, this is brave but he’s good at that.

In the expectation of being finished by 12.30 or so, I said I’d take him out for lunch and we went to one of our favourite places in Yagnub, where we hadn’t yet visited this year as it was closed for a couple of weeks for repainting.  While we were eating, we heard the proprietor’s end of a phone call, with someone who wanted to book a table for Valentine’s Day dinner.  It was explained that the dining room was fully booked but the adjoining bar area (which is a comfortable room with a log fire) would be set out with tables just the same, and the customer decided to book…a table for three.

At the end of the meal, he came over to clear the table and we chatted a bit, he knows us as we”re regulars and we had our pre-wedding dinner party there.  And, as a result, I was emboldened to admit that I’d overheard his end of the conversation  and couldn’t help wondering about the circumstances of booking a table for three for Valentine’s Day.  He said he was surprised too but he couldn’t very well ask…  Later, a friend on Facebook suggested that it was parents who couldn’t find a babysitter, but it’s a set menu and isn’t really going to be suitable for a younger than teenage child, and a teenager could surely spend the evening with a friend.  Anyway, it’s much more fun to speculate.  Another friend commented that this sort of thing happens in Norfolk.  But it wasn’t Norfolk.  That’s where we live, but the restaurant is 100 yards over the border.

I ate a substantial portion of mussels and chips and rather needed a nap by about half past three.  We were still too full for the kedgeree we’d planned for dinner, so LT made up a nice fish salad instead.  And he remembered to put aside Eloise cat’s helping of trout before adding the dressing.  He’s good, you know.

Z is mellow

I spent much of the day with antique china.  I had to do the condition report – that is, note any damage or repair, and amend any details I might have missed for the catalogue too.  Then, I stuck the lot number onto each piece, wrapped it up, put it in a box and wrote down which box I’d put it into.

It was soothing.  I wasn’t in need of being calmed when I started, but I felt quite comforted by the job.  I started with the radio on, a download of Round Britain Quiz, but I concentrated on my task so completely that I kept realising I’d missed a bit of the broadcast and had to go back.  After twenty minutes or so, I gave up and turned it off, which was the right thing to do.

It was cold, though.  Sunny when I started, the porch was lovely and warm but then the sun went in and then, in any case, moved round the side of the house and I didn’t notice until I realised I was shivering.  I’d done enough for the morning by then, so went and made some lemon and ginger tea and we ate some delicious pâté for lunch, which Eloise cat loved too, and then I took a heater out while I did another hour or so’s work.  I’ve still got about a third of the lots to go, but it’s nice to be unhurried and I don’t mind at all.

I’ve been out tonight, for the book group dinner, which was good too.  I’ve eaten rather a lot, it was so very good and the company was a pleasure.  As I’d been so chilled, I went for a bath after tea but fortunately it didn’t send me to sleep.  I’m rather ready for bed now, though.

Z stays in bed

We’ve finally had a fairly moderate snowfall – a few flakes so far this winter, but nothing to linger more than an hour or two.  But there’s more forecast overnight and the temperature below freezing, so perhaps, for an hour or two, it’ll look white out there.  I have little hope that I’ll be able to build a snowman though.  And it doesn’t matter I suppose, though it’s one of those little things that means we’ve had a proper winter and then I can look forward to spring.

I woke with a migraine today, which doesn’t happen often.  That is, migraines don’t, nowadays,and waking with one hasn’t happened for several years.  But I had one in the middle of the day, a week or so ago and so I was sufficiently cast down today that I gave in and stayed in bed.  LT, to whom I sent a text explaining, kindly went to feed the animals and later went shopping.  And by that time, I was ready to get up and be moderately myself.  And we had breakfast for dinner – that is, eggs, bacon, fried onion, fried bread and tomatoes – which has finished the wellbeing process.

Does Z feel lucky?

It was snowing when we woke up this morning, but it was a tentative, amateur sort of snow and it slunk away during the morning.  No more is forecast here, so it seems that I won’t build my snowman this year.  I don’t mind too much, I’m getting ready, in my mind, for spring.  We really should get our act together and have a winter holiday next year, but we’re not too good at proper, staying in a hotel, going away holidays.  Life is just one big holiday for the LTZs.

It was cold though, and I used that, and not having slept last night, as an excuse for not getting much done.  I should be busier than I am, and I could be, but I’ve had enough of daily juggling of my time and prioritising, and reprioritising daily, the list of things to do.  I want to relax more whilst not being totally lazy, which isn’t too easy at this time of the year.

Wink and Dee phoned this morning.  I’m so pleased – Wink has to go home tomorrow and we were both a bit anxious about Dee managing on her own, though she has got someone there in the evening and overnight.  But Wink has invited Dee back with her.  We thought it couldn’t be managed because Dee has a physiotherapy appointment on Thursday, but she’s been able to put it back a week and there is nothing else to stop her.  The extra few days will make all the difference, and Wink’s house is easier to get about than Dee’s is.  It’ll be perfect, especially as a very old friend – in both senses – of Dee’s lives in Shaftesbury and she can visit her on her 90th birthday this week.

Next week – the day hasn’t been arranged yet – Wink is coming here and then the whole family will visit on Saturday week.  As you know, there’s nothing I love more than having a full house and lots of people to feed and it’s also a great pleasure that all my children and grandchildren enjoy getting together.

This punk does, indeed, feel lucky.

Z’s arms are around the cat and typing is being done with difficulty

I’m home and all has gone well.  Dee is feeling so much better than before the operation and is a lot more mobile, though it’s going to take a while for her to be fully active again.  Wink came along yesterday to take over from me.

All has gone well while I’ve been away, too.  I’ve only been missed for my sparkling personality and cheering presence, not because things fall apart when I’m not here – as I expected. And LT cooked a delicious lamb rogan josh and Gujarati-style green beans for dinner, with some of the naan bread I made and froze a week or two ago.

Which reminds me (because one of the reasons I made the bread was to use up surplus milk) that, the last time I made yoghurt, there was no surplus whey.  Usually, I boil the milk, cool it to the right temperature, add a spoonful of yoghurt and put it in a thermos flask for a few hours, where it sets.  Then I tip it into a sieve and the whey drips through, leaving the yoghurt, which would otherwise be quite watery, which I put into a jar and into the fridge.  I don’t know what was different this time because it didn’t separate and was not as runny as usual.  I used a pint of whole milk and about a half pint from another bottle – the top half, so it included the cream (this is just pasteurised, not homogenised and I never buy skimmed) and perhaps that was the reason.  I’m wondering whether to buy a pint of creamy Jersey milk next time.  I usually waste about 20% of the quantity – though I can soak bread or oats in it and give it to the chickens – and if it meant it was naturally thicker then it would be worthwhile – though the principle of using surplus milk would be lessened.  I have two pints a week delivered, but we hardly use any, some weeks.  Anyone got any views on the subject?

When I got home, I found the tickets for three concerts waiting for me, which is very cheering.  Having also got my seed order from gardening club, I feel that spring is on the way.  Though I’ve got to deal with the panes missing in the greenhouse before any seeds can be sown, of course.

And tonight, I’ll spend an hour or two catching up on your blogs.

Show, shower … what’s the superlative?

We’ve caught up with all the work and we’re feeling pretty good about it.  LT bought a new light box and it’s made things a lot quicker and easier.  So encouraged was I that I’ve cropped all the photos, so that’s a job done, and we’re ready to start on the catalogue when I get back.

I’ve just realised that I meant to wash my hair earlier on and I forgot, so it’ll have to be a shower tomorrow at Dee’s instead.  I just don’t like showers, even the nicest of them.  Okay in a very hot country but otherwise they’re just so intrusive, rather than relaxing, as a bath is.  And the worst bit is the sudden cold shock of getting out.  It’s not the same with a bath, as your shoulders are out anyway and your whole body is bath heat, so you’re cushioned for the few seconds it takes to get a towel round.  But a shower, you’re instantly into the shock of the cold.  Even if it’s not very cold at all out there.  Anyway.  It’s only half past nine but hair that’s washed at this time of the evening goes all bedhairish, however carefully you dry it.  *I* dry it, that is.

I’m quite sure that the world is divided into shower lovers and bath lovers, but I don’t know what it says about us, specifically, and there’s no doubt that we can live together amicably, whether on the same side or the other.  There’s also the soft versus the hard towel brigade.  I’m sure you know which side I’m on, but I wonder if you can work out LT’s angle on the matter.

I must pack my bag and write emails now, darlings.  Have a lovely week and, unless there’s unexpected 4G all the way, see you at the weekend.


Z’s Canterbury Tale

I’ve got a couple of bonus days.  I was due to go and stay with my friend Dee in Kent, who had a new hip last Monday and I thought I was taking over from Bee this afternoon.  But it turns out that Bee has taken a couple of days holiday from work and is staying until Tuesday morning.  Willing as I was to travel today, not needing to do so feels like a holiday plus an extra working day.  Tomorrow, we hope to get ahead of ourselves with some photography and so ease pressure on next month.

I’m feeling all up together and positive right now (I know this won’t last, so I’ll make the most of it) because I sent in an advertisement, deadline Monday afternoon, on Friday morning.  I cannot find words to describe the satisfaction, but smug would certainly come into it if I did.

In fact, being sorted out and organised goes further.  LT asked what I’d like Wince to do on Thursday.  Now, there are jobs, particularly replacing the broken panes in the greenhouse, but that relies on us having measured and bought new glass, so that ain’t happening this week.  I was scouting about otherwise, there are a few little jobs but not anything that’s urgent.  So I’ve asked Rose if she’d like him to work for her for the day, and that suits her very well.  I never thought there would be a single day when the garden is under control, even in late January.

What with the indoor lights being sorted out or on track to be so, you can appreciate how gung-ho I feel.  In a very modest way, of course.  We did lots of cooking yesterday too, some for LT here, some for me to take (it’s always a bit of a lottery, the first time you cook on someone else’s stove) and some stock for the freezer, which increases my sense of …okay, I’m quitting while I’m ahead.  I’m coping and that’s quite enough.

Once I am with Dee, it’s fairly unlikely that I’ll be able to blog at all.  Her house was, last time I was there a couple of years ago, what I understand is called a not-spot and she isn’t on the internet herself.  Walking 200 yards down the road is enough to give a good signal, but I’m not going to wander up and down the street blogging, much as I love you and will miss you all.  

LT will be in charge from Tuesday, so refer to him if there are any queries.  Though I’ll probably be back, over-managing, tomorrow night.  Then offline.  All week.