We’ve had another visit to Reading, where we got everything done that we’d planned, including a trip to London to meet a builder at the flat where I’ve still got an ongoing problem. He, being a bricklayer himself, observed what none of the others had – that the new work on the pub next door is, in parts, of such poor quality that water is able to get in between the adjoining walls. So when I get his report, I’ll have to take it up with the owner. The chap reckons that, whatever I have done, it won’t cure the problem unless it’s rectified next door too. But that’s a problem for another day and I’m going to talk to my insurance broker again – it’s not actually his job, of course, but he will advise me again, I know.
The retail clothes market is, indeed, in a parlous state. While Tim went to get his hair cut, I wandered into Hobbs, where the sale had just had an extra 10% knocked off. I’ve been looking for a new coat for a year now and haven’t found anything I like and nor did I now. But I did try on some clothes and there were a couple of skirts I liked but were too big for me. ‘We can order them,” said the saleswoman hopefully. I explained that I didn’t live locally, but she said that they could be posted to me at no extra charge. These skirts were well under their original price of course. I asked if they had something in a similar style in the size I wanted, to be sure they’d fit, and they did (I liked the navy one, but it wasn’t in the sale and was nearly £100 for a simple skirt, so wasn’t too tempted) and I ordered them both, and they arrived yesterday. It all took ages as the shop had suddenly filled up and, though there were two assistants, there was only one till and the lady in front of me was doing a similar thing – ordering in goods – and tapping all her details out on a tablet was a lot slower than writing it down by hand. Still, Tim was patient and eventually we left. We went along to Smelly Alley, where the excellent fish stall is, but that also seemed a lot less busy than it used to be, mainly I suspect because the greengrocery next door and the butcher opposite have gone. Town centres are really struggling. I have to acknowledge that I don’t shop in Norwich as I used to and so am part of the problem. But, as I said, I’ve been looking for a coat for ages and can’t find what I want, especially in the large shops where every make has its own area and it’s just so damn boring to search every part of the huge store. My three year old coat is still good and next winter I’ll probably haul out the one that my mother bought and only wore a couple of times, which I’ve been wearing, with breaks of a couple of years here and there, ever since. It’ll be 17 years old by then … my green credentials are better than my retail support ones.
We cleared out the greenhouse yesterday and pruned the grape vine. In theory, I could set up the propagator and get started with sowing seeds soon and there was a time when I might have done. I used to be keen enough to start vegetable plants off really early. Not now though – I may get some of the early outdoor ones going in a few weeks, but I’ve had enough of worrying about early morning sun after a frosty night, on plants that have outgrown the propagator by the beginning of March.