Author Archives: Z

Polly. And Rook

There are still two of Rose’s bantams left and a cockerel, all seven years old now. So lucky that she had them, because when the fox killed all but one of my flock, I was able to start again with the lovely chickens that have lived here for over 30 years.

Polly doesn’t walk too well now but she still eats a lot and is quite happy. Rose helped me cut her claws a few weeks ago, but it hasn’t made a lot of difference. She potters out to the run, but usually comes to roost quite early in the afternoon. Not today, however. I went out fairly early, probably around 5 o’clock and all the chickens came running in for their mealworm treats. I fed them, closed up the feeder and gave them fresh water, then went to close the hatch to the run. Polly was outside and had no intention of moving.

The run is 3 feet high, so awkward to climb into (I have one corner with a removable cover) and worse to climb out of. So I fetched things to stand on, in and out, and awkwardly clambered in. Of course, it’s far too low to walk, even bent, so I crawled over and picked her up and took her back to the tunnel. My idea was that I’d get out again and close up, but she started to move outwards again. Luckily, I was just able to reach the door that slots down and I firmly shut it with her indoors. Then, on the way back, I discovered a nest of three eggs that some of them have started today. Little rotters. My knees still sting from the nettles.

I’ve written to everyone who was left a legacy in Tim’s will and also to Reading friends to invite them to dinner while I’m there next month. We have to finish with a party, after all, for Tim.

I discovered a relaxed live version of one of my favourite albums this evening. Here it is.

Good things

Wince came today and asked me if I’d got more cord for the wheeled strimmer? Er, sorry, no I hadn’t. But I went down to the local shop and they hadn’t got it and then I went to the garden centre and they’d not got 4mm, which is very heavy duty. So I asked if anywhere in Yagnub might have it, and the only possible place would be the tool hire place. Which is owned by my cousin by marriage, as it happens. That is, the cousin’s son now, who’s the same age as Al, since his dad retired. So I went there and we eyed each other, not sure enough to greet by name. But then I introduced myself, so that was all right.

Anyway, he didn’t have it in stock but has ordered it, and Wince managed with what he still had. So that’s a good thing.

I’d meant to gesso some paper and get all ready for whatever tomorrow’s painting assignment will be, but I genuinely ran out of time. But hey. No matter. Time is on my side.

Best news of the day was a big surprise, because Tim’s probate has come through. I had very mixed feelings, it made me cry. But it is good. I can get ready to finish the dull and boring financial stuff, prepare myself for the ordeal of letting his house go – though it must be done, good to swiftly pull off the sticking plaster – and then I can just cherish his memory, however encouraging and painful that will be. I must let go. I still have Tim in my heart and I have many of his belongings, the house must go and I know it.

I’ve written a list of things to do and will work through it, having done the first things already.

I also found a vital document that I’d not put away properly.

Wince and I moved the chicken run. I was shocked at my feebleness. I must put in some bodybuilding stuff, I’ve really gone downhill in the past year. At one time, albeit with difficulty, I could move it myself. I couldn’t even shift a corner. This is dreadful, I absolutely must put myself in order.

When Rose and I were out yesterday, I was unable to resist the fabulous butchery counter in the farm shop. Their speciality, reared on the farm, is Jersey beef as well as Large Black pork. I bought rib eye steaks, local red deer venison and their own bacon. Wink and I have just eaten most of the steaks. They leave the calves with their mothers, it is a high-welfare farm. They sell the Jersey milk but only milk once a day because the calves suckle for as long as they need to.

I’m melancholy tonight, but it’s all right to be. There’s one thing that’s not unfinished, at least.

New key (not the place in Cornwall, that’s spelt different)

The side door key has been sticky, despite applications of WD40. So Alex kindly bought and fitted a new lock. Totes amazing speed, I’d assumed *any time this year* but he was back next day. And he’s getting new keys cut for me and will bring them tomorrow. So no need to worry about a sticky key in future, which I’m very grateful for.

I had lunch with Rose at the local farm shop + cafe, which was excellent. I’d used the last of the ketchup last night, so visited the deli this morning – a sure-fire way of spending £50 that is – and then the greengrocer for asparagus, which didn’t stop me buying ludicrous quantities of veg. Then I visited the meat counter at the farm shop. It’s been an expensive day.

I feel reasonably okay today, though. Spending silly amounts of money on food doesn’t count as overspending and it was lovely to chat to Rose and Al. I’m holding on to what’s good. Tomorrow, I might list those good things, but I want a bath and bed now.

Z’s inner toddler

I’ve duly done the first two painting assignments and posted the results on the group facebook page, because I don’t mind in the least that I’m truly inept. I’m not trying to be good, whatever that means. What I want to do is harness my inner toddler, if you like. Fresh piece of paper, make marks on it. See what happens. Spread it with my fingers or a brush or anything else to hand. Don’t think about planning a result. I’ve no idea if I’ll take to this, but it doesn’t matter if not.

I had plans for a few useful jobs, but not much got done. It had all been all right, though I was melancholy because it’s my 49th wedding anniversary and I try very hard to blank feelings as much as I can, but there are times when they break through. But, just after 1.30, I had an email from my solicitors with various queries from the buyers’ solicitors, most of which I’d already answered. That was okay, one just harnesses one’s inner leech gatherer (Wordsworth, darlings) and repeats it all. But then they said they’d been told I’d got Probate. I only told them yesterday that I have not got Probate and I have no idea how long it will take. Yesterday. And they were pressuring me and I rather lost it and shouted at my poor sister (not *at* her, just ranted and made quite sure she knew I wasn’t aiming at her) and she was kind and patient. Then I had an email from my letting agents wanting the gas safety certificates for the flats, which i can’t lay my hands on – definitely done, I’m all legal – and then something else I can’t remember at present and then a stream of WhatsApps from my downstairs tenant, who is a lovely woman but a bit needy and there’s a language barrier. I didn’t feel up to reading it and still haven’t. I will in a few minutes. Instant tinnitus (I always know when my blood pressure has gone up) and I really wanted to cry.

But luckily, yesterday Wink and I talked about dates when we both were going to be away – each, I should say – and when I found a weekend to be in Reading will fit in nicely, so I’m going to book a van to clear the rest of the stuff I’m bringing here from Tim’s. It so happens that his sister-in-law and husband will be there at the same time, so they can take what else they want. Once probate is through and the contract is signed, I’ll get the house clearance people in. I’ve also found a few days when I can go to Pembrokeshire again, because I’d like to get the caravan completely ready before I’m there with Ro and co. So that was about as much as I could deal with today. I had a long soak in the bath, ate some Twiglets and am wondering what to have for dinner. I think I’ll have to raid the freezer, which is a nuisance as all my painting stuff is on top of it. If I carry on with this, I’ll have to decide where to do it. The porch is good because it doesn’t matter if I’m a bit messy and I’d like to be messy. I don’t let myself be, on the whole, though I encouraged my children in the mud and paint direction and never minded how chaotic food preparation got with them. I remember toddler Al cracking an egg and it sort of exploded upwards and landed on his head, or maybe on his sister’s head. How we laughed… But anyway, the porch also has the freezer for a big, flat surface, but it’ll be too hot in the summer (north light really doesn’t matter, this isn’t Art) and everywhere else has carpet or a good floor. The big dining table, perhaps. Or the workshop. I could really make a mess in there.

I’m feeling very unhappy tonight and I still want to cry. But that won’t buy the baby a new frock, as Kenny used to say. So, thinking about messy…

Tim would have said, if pressed, that I was untidier than him (in some respects, but we never criticised each other about that sort of triviality). But not at the table. A tablecloth lasted weeks with me and about two days with him, because he splashed food everywhere. It was hilarious. Anything with a tomato sauce or a nice rich gravy, or even a bottle of red wine – why does one never drop the pale stuff, unless it’s really greasy? I didn’t care, of course, and he laughed at himself. When we ate out, I carefully picked up any crumb I’d dropped and wiped the least spillage, because I couldn’t bear to leave a mess for the wait staff (look, I’ve adopted American speech, innit) and the area around his plate was a riot. Russell must have been tidy because I can’t remember noticing. I’ll think of them both with a smile, because there’s nothing else to do but remember warmly. It’s all about self control, you see, which is why I think that painting without boundaries might be good for me.

Z makes an effort

I’ve signed up for a painting course. It’s free and online, but it’s a start. I don’t really have capacity at present, but I’ve nothing to lose (except the £37 for the equipment on Amazon, and that’s just the basics) and will be interested to see if I’m totally put off or feel some engagement. i’ve an open mind and would be glad to feel the latter.

I’ve accepted an invitation to next-village’s 100th anniversary WI celebration. I saw it on the local googlegroup and thought I’d not go, I haven’t managed any of the village things so far, it’s a step beyond what I’ve been able to cope with. But the president emailed me and that’s tipped the balance.

I’m considering a hog roast next month, a charity thing for Ukraine. Little as I want to start putting myself out there, staying home where I’m comfortable is no way to spend the rest of my life. Dammit. If I don’t do it, no one will do it for me. Sadly, I don’t get that many invitations (which is why I’ve accepted Doris’s) so I have to be the one to make the effort.

I went to Nadfas today and a woman opposite and a little in front of me looked just like a friend, but three-quarters-back view and with a mask on, I wasn’t sure. Then a friend of hers brought her coffee, she took her mask off to drink it and then turned towards me, and it wasn’t Jill after all. But her back view and her profile were identical. I’m surprisingly good at recognising people with a mask, that I wasn’t entirely confident was unusual enough to give me pause and stopped me going over to say hello. Even after I knew it wasn’t her, I couldn’t stop glancing towards her. Her hair, stance, mannerisms, even her clothes were so like my friend (who moved here from Surrey, no likelihood that they’re related) that I could hardly believe it. Thinking about it, this lady is at least 10 years younger, that was why I was uncertain. I suppose we all have our doubles. I remember blogging that, some years ago, I came home from London and a woman diagonally in front of me on the train was the image of my mother, to the extent that the beret she was wearing was just the same as one of hers. Really makes one pause and think.

Z goes and comes back again

I’ve been to Tim’s house in Reading over the past few days. I needed to have the gas boiler and burglar alarm’s annual services and I aim to spend a few days there every month anyway, just to pick up the post, check meters and make sure everything is okay. Which it was this time, fortunately, though that didn’t stop me rather dreading it. I’ve been moving Tim’s stuff out over the past few months and took away anything that would clutter up photos, for when it was being marketed, but that really just removed his presence without removing the hardship of being there without him. It’s more of an ordeal every time, but I still need to keep doing it.

In the end, there were positives, though, including an unexpected one. I took 3 dozen eggs with me and emailed around local friends to offer them. So I spread bantam goodwill and largesse around Reading, which was nice. I had tea with two of the friends and that was good too. I got some more low-key sorting out done, but it was a bit frustrating that I couldn’t fit a small piece of furniture into Tim’s car. It’s not its purpose, but it was so near.

The unexpected pleasure was the really nice woman, Alison, who did the boiler/gas check. We chatted, I explained I wanted a full check because the house was being sold and we talked about that too. I said I didn’t have room for much of Tim’s stuff and some of his books would have to go to a charity shop, especially as we’d got a lot of overlap. She said she’d noticed all the books, and her enthusiasm led me to invite her to help herself. And she recognised that I meant it, so after she’d finished work she took me at my word and took quite a lot. I was so pleased, she was happy and we liked each other. A brief encounter, i don’t suppose we’ll meet again, but we were, briefly, friends.

I looked at one of Tim’s bookcases, because his copies of the Patrick O’Brien’s books are a nicer edition than mine, so I wanted to take them and I’ll give mine away. I’d noticed that the bookcase had mostly children’s books otherwise, there were also poetry and plays. Checking a few of them, my thought that they’d been his late wife Viv’s was correct, her name was in some of them. She and her little sister Linda had written extensively in Heidi, I suspect that they were away from home and that Viv, a born teacher, needed paper to give Linda lessons in sums and drawing, so they’d used any blank space in this book. I’ve emailed Linda to invite her to check out the books, she might like to have them and I’m sure she’d like Heidi. I read it that evening, I hadn’t done so for several decades and it was charming, though taking a surprisingly strong religious bent from halfway through.

So a visit I’d dreaded turned out okay. It’s all very hard, though and I’m not pretending it isn’t. I’ve had enough of pretending to myself, it all has to be faced at some time.

The journey back was not too bad, though there were holdups on my preferred route, so I thought I’d go on the M11 and then there’d been an accident there, so I kept on the M25 to the A12, my least favourite road. But no problems there, so it’ll go up a notch. I arrived home for a late lunch and was greeted by Wink and Eloise cat.

Norwich tomorrow and Thursday, then Kent on Friday, so i need to up my organising game..

Eating out

It was a good thing that I’d allowed time in hand to get to the dentist, because a road was closed without a notice until it was too late to turn back, and I had to drive on and do a detour. But all is fine. Tooth refilled and no charge to pay. I went on to call on Ronan, who’d had a sleepless night at Amsterdam airport. It isn’t just here that doesn’t have enough staff, it took three hours to get through security because of massive queues, by which time he and many others had missed their flights. It was a business trip, so he just caught up with today’s work on his laptop – which wasn’t expected of him, but it needed to be done at some time, so he just did it. He managed to find a machine with food, startlingly expensive – 5 euros for a can of Coke, 7 euros for a sandwich – but as an alternative to dinner, at midnight, he was glad of it. Luckily, he was able to get a lift back to where he’d parked his car, rather than complicated train journeys, when he finally got back to Luton this morning (he’d flown from Stansted). I’d like to think he had a rest this afternoon, but it’s not my business, he’s a grown man and I won’t ask!

A friend called round this evening and I was able to unload a dozen and a half eggs, all laid within the last couple of days. I’m going to go round the village putting them on doorsteps and also take some to friends in Reading. The chickens aren’t laying as many as last year – young hens lay more eggs – but there are still far more than we can deal with.

Tomorrow, Wink and I are trying lunch at a pub, ten minutes down the road. Tim and I ate there about five years ago, it was perfectly nice but somehow not quite as good as our favourites, so we didn’t go back. Time to give them another chance, I think. She and I are continuing the policy that LT and I followed, of eating out every week. We feel we should support local businesses and, other than food shopping locally, there’s not much more we can do on a daily basis.

Uneasy lies the head, even without the crown

Rose called in today, to help me trim Polly Bantam’s claws. it’s a funny thing, she’s the only one who has ever needed to have her toenails cut. She’s getting an old girl now – Polly, darlings, do keep up. Rose is young and lovely – and hobbles a bit. But she still gets by and quietly enjoys her life. She’s over 7 years old now, as are Scrabble, Jenga and Jabber the Cluck, but she has slowed down the most. Scrabble is sitting hopefully, though I remove the eggs every day because more chicks aren’t going to happen.

I seem to have turned into Russell. The chickens are very tame and come to me, most of them will eat out of my hand and let me pick them up. Thank goodness I rehomed the tortoises, I can do without them as another obligation. I’ve rather turned into Tim too, and wonder what happened to me. I make no complaint, anything that brings me closer to them and does no harm shouldn’t be complained about.

Not a lot happened otherwise, I mostly caught up with laundry. Three loads, which is quite a lot from someone who lives alone. All line-dried by this evening and I’d baked a loaf of bread as well. Yesterday, as well as making the dough to prove overnight, I made a lot of tiny meringues, at Veronica’s request. I think they’d keep fine in tins, but I’ve frozen them to be on the safe side. I’ve promised to make sausage rolls and bread as well, but they’re jobs for next week. Tomorrow, i’ve a visit to the dentist. I had a check-up a couple of weeks ago and he said he didn’t need to see me for a year … two days later, a filling fell out, because OF COURSE IT DID AFTER THE VISIT, NOT BEFORE. It’s right at the back, no hurry for an emergency appointment. I’ll potter in and see if he can fill it or if he’ll shake a heavy head and say I need a crown.

Blog party 2022 take 2, change of date!

Sorry darlings, someone can’t make the 23rd but can come the next week and everyone else who’s replied so far can manage the other date. So it is, I hope, fixed now for Saturday, 30th July. As ever, let me know if you are coming and, if you don’t already know, I’ll send you directions. You’re welcome to stay and all dietary needs are catered for – I avoid obvious allergens and allow for vegetarians and vegans as a matter of course, but the more I know, the more choice of food you’ll have.

Blog party 2022

I came up with a date for the blog party: 23rd July. And all the people who usually come said that suits them. But it doesn’t suit a couple of other people – I’m not sure that they could come the next week either. But I’m putting the two dates forward as options. 23rd or 30th July, you’d be most welcome and you’re also welcome to stay over for as long as you like.