Monthly Archives: March 2014

Read Z’s lips

Now that all electrical appliances have to be sold complete with fitted plugs, I’ve rather left the knack of doing it myself behind me.  However, I stumbled over the lead of my hair drier and trod on the plug and broke it.  So I went to the drawer and fished out a plug – oh yes I did, I knew exactly where to find it and I’m sure you’re mightily impressed, or you would be if you’ve ever looked in my drawers.  I also got out a screwdriver and some wire cutters, right there in the same drawer.

Do you remember, how bemusingly infuriating it was to buy an appliance, be it ever so expensive, and have to buy a plug in addition and fit the damn thing?  I don’t suppose young people even know how to.  I cut off the old plug, stripped the wires, took out the fuse, opened up the new plug, put in the fuse, intoned “George Brown is a live wire (another indication of my great age) and … well, that was the easy bit.

It’s not that it’s hard, fitting a plug, but it’s quite fiddly, isn’t it?  I kept dropping the screws.  And once I’d tightened them, there were little plastic gizmos to keep the lead secure inside the plug.  Well, it took me a good five minutes to work that out.  Each could go in either way up or facing either way, and it turned out that they didn’t go in straight at that but had to be angled to hold the wires in place.  Finally, I put the top back on, took it off again to fit the wires a bit snugger and finally put in the screw to fix it together.

“Well done,” said Russell mildly and amicably, but I have to give the man credit for not coming and trying to help.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what to do, but it wasn’t one of my defter ten minutes.  I’m not sure that I could have resisted, in his place.

Hair dried, I put on my face.  I’ve been wearing minimal make-up of late, really almost nothing, but I don’t quite have the effrontery to go bare-faced.  I was a bit startled when I looked in the mirror though, and discovered that I was sporting a mighty trout pout.

I’ve no idea what has happened, but I realised two or three days ago that I seemed to have burnt my mouth and couldn’t remember how.  The tip of my tongue was sore and so were my lips.  It’s got worse and eating Twiglets yesterday was quite painful, not that it stopped me.  But my lips hadn’t been swollen before.  I suppose it’s an allergic reaction, but I can’t think to what. Lipstick seems obvious but, though I did wear the same lipstick a couple of times this week, I have used it before frequently with no ill effect.  I can’t think of anything unusual I’ve eaten and I don’t usually react to anything adversely.

I stared at myself, at my mighty pouting mouth, deciding that I had no option but to rock the Diana Dors look.  So I slapped on an extra layer of eyeshadow and out I went.

Let chickens eat cake

Well, it hasn’t taken long to kick the cake habit.  I don’t even want any today.  Pity really – still, Russell and the chickens can finish off the rest.

The chickens have finally started laying reliably again, having all taken a protracted break during an extremely mild winter – but most of them are very old, I suppose it’s fair enough.  The youngsters have started laying now though – we’ve had several tiny eggs; the smallest are just for practice and, when cracked, prove to be filled with albumen with no yolk.  Even the full-sized ones are quite small and it took six to match the half-pound of butter etc for Monday’s cakes (one might have expected four standard eggs).   When you find a dozen or more eggs a day in the henhouse, it’s just as well that they’re small.  One of them is enough for me for breakfast – unless one scrambles it of course.  However large the (chicken’s) egg, one is never enough, scrambled.  How is that?  It’s a similar thing with mashed potatoes.  You always have to cook far more when you’re going to mash them.

It’s Squiffany’s birthday tomorrow and I won’t have a present for her, not unless I can find something as a token – which I will, there’s sure to be something nice in the gift shop in town.  I had a phone call from the company I ordered her case from – such a nice woman with a pretty Welsh-accented voice rang, to apologise that the case won’t be in stock until Monday.  I looked again at the website, but I still liked the purple one best, so said I’d wait.  She promised to send it next-day delivery – I’ll still have the case 8 days after ordering it and within their promised delivery period and I’m happy with the service.  She was really lovely and I’ll write to tell them so.

A terribly dull post today, darlings and I apologise.  I’m taking long evenings off to wind down, because I must.  Indeed, I was in bed by 9 o’clock last night.  Can’t talk about current events so will probably dive back into the past again, or else take a break for a few days.

Hic haec hoc

First and most important, John G has got a new blog.  He changed his email address and couldn’t access the blog any more, or something – anyway, here it is

As for me – well, it’s been busy.  Finance this morning, a depressingly long meeting this afternoon, with a good few hours’ follow-up to come and that’s all best put right out of my mind, because I am spending my evenings winding down from now on.

I have renewed my annual travel insurance, so Europe is my oyster, though I’ve nothing booked for several months, I’m covered now in case I have an accident that might stop me going to Vienna, and I’m free in case I’m invited somewhere – you think it’s unlikely?  Well, probably, but my friends Pam and Peter asked me to go to Corfu with them at two days’ notice, it’s not impossible.

I did have a chat with Al this evening, and suggested that he learn from my mistakes.  I wish we had had more holidays when my children were young.  Later, it became too difficult, but it would have been good.  None of his children has a passport yet and I’ve said I’ll pay for them.  Now matters, darlings, it really does.  The future may not happen.

We had hake for supper.  I run through the title, extended, every time we have hake.  It’s just one example of my foolishness.

Just for you, darlings, the knees of the elderly Z.  Though it’s been cooler today, I seem to have turned a corner and can’t wear winter tights any more.  Thank goodness I’m too old to be shoved into unseasonable bare legs.




Z takes a day to breathe

I love having Hay here while his mother is at work.  It’s just one morning a week, which is enough to enjoy without it restricting me at all, and he’s so well-behaved that any vital work can be fitted around him.

As we strolled down the road after lunch, I thought about the pace of life when you have a toddler.  I’m not saying we’re *too* fast, only that we often whizz around and don’t have time to look at things.  Today, I finally found some plantain growing, which tortoises like to eat but which apparently doesn’t overwinter above ground, I finally – being deeply unobservant – discovered what a blue tit sounds like – I’ve seen the birds and heard the sound all my life but never put them together and I don’t mind at all if you’re shocked.  I’m too old to be shamed and also have too often discovered myself having admitted something that others are then encouraged to come clean about too – I don’t suppose they will be about the blue tits, but it hardly matters.  I may have spent nearly half my life in the country, but I lived in town until I was 32.

That may indicate, of course, why I feel equally at home in either.  I’m lucky in that regard.  One of my facebook friends is shortly to visit London for the first time, yet she’s in her mid-forties.  I do hope she has a good time and isn’t overwhelmed.

It was good to have some toddler-necessitated quiet today.  We fed and admired the tortoises, walked the dog, fed the chickens, baked cakes, read books, ate cakes, ate lunch, went to visit the pet shop (where the animals are superbly cared for, I’d not hesitate to buy from there … if I wanted to), watered plants, ate more cakes, picked flowers for Mummy and then, as a bonus, I ordered at least part of Squiffany’s birthday present.  She has school trips and holidays coming up, so I’ve bought her a suitcase, a jolly purple-spotted one.  I’ll buy her things to go in it too, but thought she might enjoy the fun of choosing those herself.

I must buy cards tomorrow to send to friends – two little girls have been born in the past week. Claire and Gerrit’s daughter is called Olivia Grace, but Jonathan and Dulcie hadn’t named their daughter, the last I heard.  Happy families, bless them.

Spring came early

We wouldn’t have expected to have such a warm day this early in the year, I actually bared flesh outside – I know, darlings, that’s a bit risky at any time.  Anyway, I looked at my weather app and we were warmer than nearly all the places in Europe I’ve got marked and just one degree cooler than Corfu, whilst London was apparently a degree warmer.  Glorious as it was, it means nothing for next week of course, when it might do anything.  That is, however infuriating it can be, what I like about English weather, its unpredictability.  I love to avoid the routine.

I took the opportunity to lounge around doing nothing I didn’t want to do.  I sowed more seeds and took and planted some cuttings, I scrubbed the outdoor table and chairs, I sat on the grass, I basked in the sun, I read the papers and a book.  I poached a new-laid egg for breakfast and ate the ham sandwich that Russell made me for lunch.  I’ve prepared a pot roast for dinner, which still has a couple of hours left to cook and I’ve resisted the temptation to eat cake.  Last week was Cake Week, it’s interesting to note that I rather crave sugar at present, which obviously makes it something to avoid for a couple of days, until I don’t any more.

Tomorrow, it will be eleven years since my mother died and that thought just sits there, with nowhere in particular to go.  If her health had been better, she’d have been happier in her last few years perhaps, and so would we have been.  In fact, although terminally ill, she was surprisingly well for her final six months until the last couple of days and she regained her enjoyment of life and hoped it would last longer – what she called her “death sentence” appealed to her sense of the dramatic, but she wanted the doctors to be wrong about it, as they had been for several years when they erroneously assured her there was nothing wrong with her apart from an over-active imagination.   Bitter?  No, I don’t think I am, but there’s a lot I still can’t think about and doubt I ever will.

And now it’s quarter past six and time for a glass of wine and more reading before dinner.  Then I’ll watch Sir B’s DVD and read some more, while I listen to music, unless there’s anything I want to watch on television, which is unlikely.  If we didn’t get a free tv licence because Russell is over 75, we’d have given it up by now, I think.


Z feels cheerful

Well, this has been a good day.  And I will tell you why.

First, I’ve sowed quite a number of seeds in the greenhouse, which is always a time of great pleasure for me.  I’ve got a few still to do, but have sown three varieties of tomato, five of pepper, both sweet and hot, spinach, Swiss chard, broad beans, sweet peas, a mixture of seeds (clover, plantain and vetch) for the tots and lamb’s lettuce for them too – oh, and something else, but I can’t remember at the moment.  Since it’s so warm, I haven’t used the soil-warming cable but have brought the peppers and tomatoes into the house to germinate.

The post came, bringing a couple of books I’d ordered.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that Sir Bruin and I talked about The Hunger Games on Facebook.  He offered to lend me the film and Caitlin (in Australia) suggested reading the books first, so I ordered the first, along with one of Donna Leon’s Brunetti books.  They arrived today.  After lunch, I settled down and read the first 50 pages of THG, by which time Sir B himself, along with the lovely Small Bear had arrived in our very driveway!  They are having a weekend away in their new Hodmedod (otherwise knows as a caravan) and decided to spend it in Yagnub its very self.

After hot liquid refreshments, we toddled upstairs to inspect Edweena and the Tots and they were duly admired and held.  As we chatted afterwards, Edweena was making her usual valiant efforts to scale her run and escape.  “Does she ever fall over backwards,?” enquired Sir B.  I said that I’d not known it happen yet.  And then it did, of course,  Ed almost got her claw over the top and fell over on her back.  I should have left her to see if she could right herself, I suppose, but I couldn’t help but rescue her and turn her the right way up.  She wandered off, looking a bit shocked.

A while later, the Bears left to explore the fleshpots of Yagnub and I saw a splendid dandelion flower in the grass.  I thought it was just the thing to cheer up poor Edweena and picked it.  Well, was I right?  That’s a statement, darlings, not really a question, meaning I was indeed right.  And here’s the proof.  Videos have been put on Facebook, but I haven’t quite mastered doing that here – it’s simple in theory, but they use too much memory and I need to consult Ronan.

IMG_2799 IMG_2804 IMG_2807

IMG_2812It turned out that the Bears were staying at a caravan site belonging to a friend of ours, so they said they’d mention the connection before they left. And once they left here, I started reading again. I was already gripped with the first 50 pages and whipped through the remaining (nearly) 400 pages by 8.30 this evening, with time out for cooking and eating dinner. I’ve ordered the rest in the trilogy. I’ve not read the post-apocalyptic sci-fi sort of thing for years but it just hit the spot today. Apologies to those of you who, quite rightly, think I should have gone to a proper book shop, but there isn’t one locally any more and I won’t get to Norwich for a while. I should go on Tuesday, when there’s a Nadfas lecture, but there’s also a Finance committee meeting and that will have to take priority.  So t’internets it is.

Z is puffed out

You know how it is, if you’re a wind instrument player, when your lip muscles have given out and you’re having to use your cheek muscles to play, the next stage being to blow out your cheeks, which is not good?  Or, when carrying things, when your arms have lost their strength so you’re having to put your back into it, which puts you in danger of putting your back out once your muscles go?

Yeah, it’s like that today.  Three of us just exchanging emails, wishing each other a quiet weekend.  But tomorrow morning, I’m meeting the churchwardens at the church to discuss the break-in – several churches have been targeted in the last few nights, looking for money or easily stolen stuff.  In our case, they found a bottle of Communion wine, or rather port.  I reckon that’s okay, better nick a tenner’s worth of wine, which I give anyway, than do any damage out of spite because there’s nothing else to steal.

I thought I’d spend the afternoon in the greenhouse, but that was a forlorn hope.  The first break from work was at 4.30 and I didn’t actually finish until 20 minutes ago.  Since then, I’ve phoned a friend to rejoice with her about the birth of her first grandchild, a little girl called Olivia Grace.  Other friends have had a baby daughter this week too, so much happiness and relief that all has gone well.

Not that other things have, with the dreadful news of the helicopter crash near here yesterday evening.  I don’t know if the fog last night played a part, there’s plenty of speculation over the cause and I’m not joining it.  Ro and Dora are due home from Morocco this weekend and all my thoughts are for their safe return.

Tomorrow, definitely the greenhouse, with what’s left of the seeds I’ve bought.  When I arrived home this afternoon, I found a scattering of seeds on the drawing room carpet.  I recognised them as either spinach or Swiss chard and, checking the remaining packets, they’re the latter.  I gathered them up into an envelope, not being able to find even the chewed remnants of the pack.  I should just be grateful that Ben only half-inched one lot of seeds and that they’re large and easy to gather up.

I have eaten cake every day this week.  It’s quite deliberate, it’s been my way of caring for myself.  I’ve had enough now though, I think.  I’ll find another indulgence for next week.

Z relaxes in the sun

What a beautiful spring day it has been.  It’s one of my favourite times of the year (no, can’t choose just one), when the blackthorn is in flower, soon to be followed by other trees blossoming and coming into leaf.  That it’s been so warm and sunny was a bonus.  The inevitable consequence was fog this evening though, and my journey home at half past nine was slow and careful.  Russell had been supposed to be out this evening too, but decided to stay home by the fire.

I must sow vegetable seeds soon, but I’ve lost the ones I’ve got.  I can’t remember at all what I’ve done with them.  I was too late last year and the weather was cold for so long that I bought plants, but the seeds I’d bought and those I saved are somewhere.  I gave up and went to buy more.  That’ll bring ’em out from their hiding place.

It’s what I love in particular, growing plants from seed.  I’m not the destructive type and don’t enjoy cutting things back or weeding, but nurturing seedlings and coaxing cuttings is another matter.  An hour a day in the greenhouse is more calming than almost anything else I can do.

But I’m waffling and must go to bed.  I only slept for a couple of hours last night and that’s silly.  I’m tired and anxious this week (nothing personal, all school stuff and too much to do) and looking after myself most carefully.  Mostly, that means eating cake.  I think that’s a very caring thing to do.

Time to Z’self

I’m feeling absurdly reassured by having done a timed agenda for the next governors’ meeting.  There was absolutely no point with the previous Headteacher – wonderful man, fine Head,  but there was no point in trying to restrict his verbal flow.  But on this occasion, there’s a disconcerting amount of stuff to get through and it mustn’t overrun because we’ll lose concentration and be tired out.  So I added timings to the agenda and have sent it out, with Helpful Pointers to speed up meetings (the last one didn’t go well, frankly, with several unexpected items being raised that, had they been brought up by phone or email sooner, could have been covered much more simply and effectively.  It’s much of the reason I was highly frazzled for several weeks afterwards).

Today, I went to a Nadfas study day, which was excellent, and at lunch I sat next to my friend Angy, with whom (ooh, grammar) I’ll be sharing a room on our group visit to Vienna later in the year.  It was not until after we’d agreed this, a few weeks ago, that she reminded me that she snores heavily.  But she has very fine earplugs for me, she said reassuringly.  Oh well.  I’m not brilliant with earplugs as I like to sleep on my side and anything in the underneath ear feels very uncomfortable, in my experience.  But no matter, I can put up with most things for a few nights.  In my turn, I explained that I listen to the radio, wearing earphones, when I can’t sleep, so there may be the dim glow of my iPhone during the night – though I’m happy to huddle under the bedclothes and will try not to disturb her.   The single room supplement is around £250, an absurd price which both of us are unwilling to pay, so it’s worth a bit of forbearance.

I haven’t been to Vienna for many years, not since I was a child.  My parents visited it last in 1960 and they had a wonderful time (without Wink and me, that is…).  However, not remembering it at all myself, what I do remember is my mother saying how shocked she was that so little had been repaired after the war – fifteen years on, that is.  There were still bullet holes in buildings, for example.

I’ve never seen anything like that in English cities, though I do remember derelict areas in London, undoubtedly caused by bomb damage.  These have been built on long since, of course, and what I mostly remember is the rosebay willowherb growing on the rubble.  As poppies grow on newly turned earth, rosebay willowherb grows on a bomb site.  I haven’t seen it for years.

Slow learners

I have to admit, I’d not really been won over by Edweena up to now.  She was not the friendliest of tortoises and widdled and pooped over my friends and my carpets.  But Russell has worked magic on her in the last fortnight and she is delightful now.  She’s full of energy, doesn’t pull her head in to her shell when I touch her nor even when I pick her up, and trundled happily over the back bedroom, to the delight of Al, Dilly, Pugsley and Hay.

The baby tots have grown, I’m sure and are also very good natured and a pleasure to be with.  Pugsley held one of them for a long time and clearly was quite smitten.  The other tot, having been put back after a cuddle with Hay – well, let’s say that he was better behaved than Edweena last year, because he did wait until he’d (or she’d, I don’t know) been put back before the evacuation of the bowels.  I had paper towel for that very purpose and had already cleared up after Edweena (in her run, not the carpet).  It was dark green (not the carpet, though that is green, as it happens).  “I wonder if it smells?” asked someone.  Hay declared himself up for a sniff (the lad has every excuse, he’s not three years old yet.  The rest of us should have known better).  “Poo!” he said.  I had a sniff.  “Poo!” I said.  Dilly had to see if we were right.  Yes, “Poo!”  And so did Pugsley – of course, “Poo!”  Only Al had more sense.  “Um, you learn something new every day, don’t you?” said Dilly.

Hay and I are looking forward to our next morning together, on Monday.  We’re planning to sow seeds in the greenhouse and bake cakes.  And possibly play with tortoises.