Thursday, 31 May 2012

It's raining

I suspect there are a lot of people anxiously looking at the weather forecast this week.  There are so many events planned over the long Jubilee weekend.  The powers that be did their best to fox the weather elves, it not being the 60th anniversary week either of the Queen's accession nor of her coronation, but miserable weather is traditional for a Bank Holiday, after all.

I looked at two weather apps on my phone just now.  One promises 17º and some sunshine on Saturday, when we're going to be at a wedding.  That looks okay, if not quite summery.  But then I looked at what it says today's temperature is.  18º.  Um, no.  The Met. Office (I'm sorry, I used to be able to spell meteorological but now it just looks wrong whatever I put - all those o's? - typing for years has ruined my spelling) app says it's 17º now and feels like 16º.  I just don't think I'd have gone upstairs and put on a wool jumper if it felt like 16º.  For Saturday, 14º and feels like 12º.  I'm going to have to rethink my wardrobe.  I can't wear a woolly jumper at a wedding, especially in June.

The village is planning a picnic on the green on Sunday.  And the pub is doing a barbecue.  Fingers crossed.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

This is a blog

I finally finished clearing away after the party this morning.  I put the garden table back in the garden, put the napkins in the washing machine, took half a dozen borrowed chairs back to Al and Dilly, put several dozen glasses back in their boxes and polished the dining tables.  Then I took my lunch of cheese and biscuits out to the garden and sat at the table - that was the main reason for clearing up, of course, that I'd wanted to do that as it had turned out unexpectedly warm and sunny.  Friend Mike (not blogger Mike and Ann, other Mike and Ann) arrived just as I was starting, so I fetched another plate, knife and glass and he joined me.  He asked about the party, the Sage having told him it was a blog party - do you know, he had never heard of a blog? - so I sent him a link.

Hello Mike, darling, if the link works ... this is my blog.  I write about me, mostly.

This afternoon proved distracting.  I'm supposed to have checked and completed the minutes of the last governors' meeting, but it's slow going.  I'd better get on, if you'll excuse me.  

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cor - phew

An odd thing happened, but we're not sure when. It must have been on Sunday evening or early Monday, because the Sage found it out on Monday morning.


We have no idea what cracked the window.  There has been a hole in it for many years, undoubtedly caused by a bullet (someone potting rabbits or pigeons on the field without permission) and that happened in the Sage's parents' time, before we lived here.  That is visible in the middle picture.  But there's no reason for it to have spontaneously cracked so badly as a result of that.

I couldn't sleep at all last night, far too close and muggy.  Mind you, the Sage usually opens the bedroom windows and he didn't, and I only realised it and opened them myself at 1.45 and I did at least catnap after that.  I went to sleep when I arrived home after lunch and napped for a good hour.

I'm keeping up the social whirl, having gone out for lunch again with a friend today.  And soon after I woke, friends called round.  They spend much of their time abroad since their retirement, having holiday homes in Portugal and Corfu, and have invited me to visit them in Corfu several times although I've never been able to make it at a time to suit them.  Now, I'm really going to try.  They're coming for supper on Monday and I'll have looked through my diary by then and will see if I've got a free week.  Put it another way ... this time, I'm jolly well going.  I'd love to.

Monday, 28 May 2012

It's quiet at the Zeddery. Too quiet.

Before
After
There was hardly enough left for Chris, although packaged up and sent by special delivery (as suggested by Blue Witch), I'm sure he'd have been grateful even for small crumbs.  

He was not the only absentee in fact, because the Gardner family should have been with us too.  They had been obliged to cancel a couple of days previously because their kitten-sitting arrangements fell through.  In fact, it was a good thing as first Amelie and then Lisa came down with a horrid sickness bug, Lisa in particular was very ill and they would never have made it here (and if they had, we'd all be in quarantine right now).  Since Lisa is very pregnant, it was quite worrying and Phil has had quite a busy and stressful weekend.  Good news on his blog is that she's on the mend now, though.  I should say, by the way, that I'd planned two extra puddings that were cancelled when I discovered that he wasn't coming.  They'll come along and stay with us once Junior is born and we'll show them the heady sights of Norfolk and North Suffolk ... or maybe take the baby for long walks so they can catch up on some sleep.

Wink took Dilly and me, with Hadrian, out for lunch today.  A slight setback when the pub I suggested turned out to be closed on a Monday, but we probably did rather better with my second suggestion as the garden was lovely.  We sat under the shade of a huge parasol and enjoyed looking at the flowers and eating substantial sandwiches - goat's cheese and bacon for me, sausage and onion for Dilly, prawn for Wink.  Then Wink set out on the long drive home (some 230 miles) and Dilly drove me home, and then I went to sleep.  

And so to bed, darlings.  Back to the real world tomorrow with Year 9 music and composing in 5/4 time.  It'll be fun.






Sunday, 27 May 2012

Just desserts

Just to make Chris feel thoroughly regretful at his absence from the party, I took a photo of the puddings.  It's a bit on the huh, taken in haste on my phone.

The gorgeous Bakewell pudding on the left and the delicious pineapple fruit cake in front of it were made, respectively, by Ann and Madeleine - I ate a slice of each.

Today, we went to visit Weeza and co.  Phil was taking part in the Norfolk 100 cycle ride from Norwich to the north Norfolk coast and back - he was more than an hour slower than last year's time because he was cycling leisurely with a friend and they took a whole 5 hours and 10 minutes to cycle their 100 miles.  After that he biked home (another 5 miles, uphill) and we went to the village pub for lunch.

Tomorrow, Wink will leave too.  It'll be so dull and quiet, just the Sage and me.

Which reminds me, the Sage has been brilliant.  He doesn't read any blogs at all, not even mine, but he takes both my blogging and my internet friendships in his stride, welcomes my friends and takes them as his own too, and has been such a help in getting ready for the party.  I appreciate it so much.

Just to finish with, a big smile from Augustus, who has four arms, one tooth, unruly hair and ears that need some growing in to.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Party!

Thank you so much for coming to our party.  A party is like a blog, in that it doesn't matter how much effort you put in to it, it's the ones who come along, join in with the spirit of the occasion and engage with each other that determines whether it goes well or not.  I had a lovely time and I hope you did.

I'm starting to plan next year's already.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Friends

Wink and Mig are here and Tim is staying down the road.  Looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow, when I'll think of absent friends too.

I had an unexpected letter from a friend today, who I used to see often in Norwich when we were on the same committee.  I recognised his writing at once on the envelope (yes, darlings, a real hand-written letter!) and it was such a pleasure.  It's horribly easy to lose touch a bit and blogging is the only way I communicate regularly with most people, though I am reasonably good at emailing friends once in a while.  Twice, even, if they're very good friends.

I'm so looking forward to tomorrow...oh, I said that.  Well, so I am.  I've had a very relaxed day today, I'd done most of the preparatory work I could and spent quite some time sitting outside in the sun reading the papers.  Never let it be said that I miss an opportunity to relax.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lunch

I do enjoy the Thursday Music class.  I know these pupils better as I sometimes can't get to the Tuesday one, but I like them too.  There are some lively characters, but when their interest is engaged they work hard.  One boy, who did very well indeed with Unsquare Dance last time, asked me for help with Tubular Bells (indeed, I can't get the bloody thing out of my head).  I spent ten minutes coaching and encouraging him, then he declared he'd got it.  All he needed was to practise he said, waving me away.  Then he realised and apologised for being dismissive.  I assured him that I hadn't taken offence - and it was only because he was so intent on his work.

I was busy this morning, so it was just as well I have an alert come up on my phone ten minutes before I'm due to leave for Meals on Wheels.  One lady is in hospital so her meals have been cancelled - except that the Sage promised to tell the cafe (without the é is correct, it's a caff and a very good one) and he forgot, so I had a meal over.  So I paid for it and ate it.  Very nice too, turkey with carrot, cabbage and potatoes and then rhubarb crumble and custard.  The Sage was out for lunch, having a guided tour round Adnams, one of the perks of being a shareholder.  He wanted me to come, but I had to say that I didn't have time.  If he'd given me more warning than two days then I could possibly have made it, but he always thinks a surprise is a good idea.  He's always wrong in that regard, I don't really like surprises - that is, tell me there's a surprise in the offing and I'll be very happy.  It's a surprise I'm not prepared for that I don't have much time for, often literally.

24th May was a Thursday in 1973, too.

Swings but not roundabouts

I stayed with Weeza and family last night, we took Zerlina to nursery school this morning, dropped W's car for its service and then I took W and Hay home because he needed a sleep.  So then I went off to the supermarket for the rest of the food and other essentials ... or maybe simply desirables, but they're the fun bit, after all.

When we were going to fetch Zerlina, I suggested that I might take them out to lunch and we decided on Wroxhamam BARNS, as z always calls it.  She loves it there and there's lots for young children to do.  And for grannies. After lunch, we went to the Junior Farm and I fed the goats, who took the feed pellets delicately, nibbling gently from my hand, and I cuddled a guinea pig, stroked lambs and talked to a splendid ginger Tamworth pig.  Then we went to the playground and I went on a swing.  I do love swings, though sometimes get dizzy on roundabouts.  Then I had an ice cream, a Mr Whippy-type cone with a chocolate flake in.  We had a brilliant time, the children were tired out by the end and fell asleep on the way home.




Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Saucy libertine

The funniest moment of the day came early, when I was reading the local paper over breakfast.  Carol Pearson, who is married to ex-MP Charles Clarke, writes a weekly article, usually with a rather carping semi-political tone to it - I might well often agree with her, but somehow the tone rather needles me.  On this occasion, she was criticising Michael Gove.  An easy target he certainly is, I know very few people who do not criticise Michael Gove in stern and sometimes exasperated terms, and I'm certainly not one of the few.  I couldn't quite go along with Carol's view however, which seemed to decry all academic subjects in favour of very basic life skills.  And then she said this about her cookery lessons.

"Thus I left school with a handful of O- levels (sic) and a handy acquaintanceship with chopping, whisking, rubbing-in and how to make a roué sauce." She was so pleased with the roué sauce that she repeated it at the end.

I almost fell off my chair with laughter.  Roué and sauce seem to form a natural partnership it's true, but I can't think what the ingredients might be.

(For anyone with no knowledge of cookery terms, a roux is an amalgam of melted butter and flour which is cooked gently before liquid is added - with milk, it's the basis of a white sauce, for instance.  It isn't a sauce in its own right, and its pronunciation is indistinguishable from roue, but not from roué.  I assume you know what a roué is.)

Monday, 21 May 2012

Z is getting excited

I woke early the other morning, lay reading for a couple of hours and then got up at 5.  As a consequence, I was tired the next evening and went to bed early, so woke early .... you get the picture.  This early rising is very virtuous I suppose - though I'm not sure why it's cracked up to be so, but it's also quite boring.  Night time is so much more fun, at least I'm more fun in the evenings.

I remember a few years ago when we were asked round for dinner with friends.  I was a bit tired, looking forward to a delicious meal - she was a professional cook before her retirement, has written books and everything - and rather wanting to be entertained, not particularly sparkly.  When we arrived, we found that a couple who had recently moved to the village were there, looking a bit shy.  We had met before, didn't know each other very well, our friends were being kind and helping them spread their social wings.

After greetings, our hostess vanished to the kitchen and soon a silence fell.  Then I became aware that several hopeful pairs of eyes were upon me.  Evidently, Z was expected to perform - not literally, dear hearts, I don't, but to start a conversation at the least.  So I took a swig of gin, put on my brightest smile and launched into animated evening mode, and it all went swimmingly, they just wanted a start.  But I realised afterwards that they had probably assumed that it had been the alcohol.  I don't need alcohol to have fun, though.  It all depends on the company.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

RiZotto

I ducked out of church, darlings.  Andy emailed me first thing, offering to play the organ, and once I thought of the two hours I'd have in hand, I was jolly pleased.  So now the house is officially cleaned.  Unofficially, that doesn't actually mean clean because there are still a few hell-holes I'm keeping quiet about, and the whole place needs to be dusted and hoovered all over again.  Blimey, this housework lark is a total bummer and I'm not going to do it regularly, I assure you.

I didn't get around to buying actual food, but fortunately I had some asparagus stock in the fridge and a butternut squash and some shallots in the veg rack, so risotto it was - although Al and co called in so I drank more wine than expected.  Swings, dear hearts, and roundabouts.  I have a weekly quota.

Ro and Dilly are seriously house-hunting.  They know the village south of Norwich they like and they know how much they are willing to spend (and it's a realistic amount).  Fingers crossed.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Z goes to a party

We drove 150 miles for lunch today.  And great fun it was too.  Ro came over first thing and we all set off together, meringues and mousse in the car.  We made very good time, less than three hours each way, though I was tired by the time I arrived home, having done all the driving (neither the Sage nor Ro is insured to drive my car).

Ro hadn't been to Daphne's house for some years and I sent him to look for himself among the photos in the downstairs loo.  It took him a while to identify himself - he's the little blond on the left.  Al is standing next, then G (Daphne's son, who is getting married in a fortnight), then G's brother J, and the Sage is almost hidden in the foliage.  It was evidently taken the last time the summerhouse was dismantled, something that is due to happen again.

When we got home, Ro went for a bath (the boiler has packed in at his house and a new one will be fitted next week).  I had supper ready when he came down and then the Sage took him to admire the four youngest chicks, who are living with their mother in a coop in the biggest greenhouse.
Immediately after this picture was taken, one of the chicks crapped spectacularly into his hand.  Ro squealed a bit but didn't drop a bird of course, and I removed them from his grasp to put them back under the mother hen's wing.  He had a messy puddle in his hand, which was most amusing.  

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Curate's egg

I didn't fill in the feedback form after the meeting - for one thing, I had to run to catch my train.  For another, I didn't quite know what to say.  Good in parts, perhaps?  Not quite excellent, even so.

I had about 500 yards to scurry to get back to Russell Square, then into the lift, then onto the platform.  The train was just coming in - one stop to Holborn.  Several corridors to hurry down, then three minutes to wait, anxiously.  I'm not good at cutting it fine.  Four stops and then four minutes to four, I excused myself past people and rushed on to the concourse at two minutes to.  I got on the train on the first carriage as I couldn't run any more.  Through three First Class carriages and past the buffet and then joined a queue.  The man in front of me made a humorous comment, can't remember what, when he heard me pant.  He grinned, I replied amicably.  Standing room only, but I was able to lean against a luggage rack and I read my downloaded book until Colchester and then sat down.

It wasn't that interesting a meeting it seems, if I've a lot more to say about catching a train than about the previous five hours.

Tomorrow, I'll mostly be making meringues.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ro the songwriter

When Ro was a very little boy, he was given to moments of lyricism.  He was not quite three when he came up with this

People in the clouds, people in the clouds
Because they are smoking a cigarette 
In my eye
But mummy got it out with a needle
And now it's better again


No one in the family or our circle of friends smoked, so I'm not sure where he got that idea from.

A couple of months later, he sang this to us

My little tree, my little tree
We are happy, we are fat
We are like a walnut cat
We are happy, we are fat
We are like a walnut cat
My little tree, my little tree


video

And here is the tune.

He's written neither poem nor music ever since, as far as I know.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

!!!

Okay darlings, I've finally got the invitation header up.  I'm a bit slow, I'm afraid.  I'm really quite busy.

And I lost three hours this afternoon, but all in a good cause.  I had a phone call from my friend yesterday, who had a problem understanding what to do with her iPad, so I went over to visit her.  It was quite straightforward in fact, though quite understandable that she was bewildered, being 94 and never having used any sort of a computer before.  We spent an hour emailing each other, so now I hope she knows how to open received mails and write new ones, and I've set up her contact list and signature.  She's having a lesson on Thursday and I've said I'll be at the end of the phone or pop over any time she wants.  After all that, we had tea.  She insisted that I ate two biscuits.

Today, it hailed.  Fortunately, I was in the car at the time, on my way to fetch Meals on Wheels, and it had stopped by the time I arrived at the caff.  I'm really none too thrilled at this and nor is anyone else.  It's all very well blaming it on the hosepipe ban, but the weather nymphs have had their little joke, surely.  Couldn't they have saved this for the Olympics?  After all, everyone expects it to rain then.

Last night I finally removed the nail varnish that was put on my toenails in India.  I suppose that's the last vestige of my holiday.  Booooo.

Actually, it's just occurred to me.  Now that JonnyB has given up blogging, I can lay claim to three exclamation marks!!!  No more !!(!) for me!!!

Ahem.  Overkill already.  They'll be used sparingly, I promise.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Z would rather be old than not

In some ways, you know, I might not mind being old and decrepit.  When I was first married, the Sage took me to visit elderly friends of his who lived in a beautiful flat in Norwich, on the first floor.  Mrs G always let me ride upstairs on her chair lift (and she fed me Elizabeth Shaw mints and always pressed the rest of the packet into my hand to bring home).  And when darling Kenny bought an electric buggy some years ago, I was quite excited.  So he let me have a ride in it and I went off down to the church gates (about 150 yards or so from the house).  They go at quite a speed you know, it was great fun.  It was better fun when the then Rector, Ian (whose daughter's wedding reception will be on our field in July) drove past.  The expression on his face when he saw me in, he thought, a wheelchair, was very entertaining.  Later, he phoned me in some alarm to find out what the matter was.

Most of the older people I know are desperately anxious not to be seen in a wheelchair, however frail they are.  I'm not too sure why, if it made the difference between getting out and about or being housebound, or being exhausted by walking a few yards instead of sailing along in comfort and earning my keep by having all the shopping bags hung about me rather than the person with me having to carry them as well as care for me, I really think I'd be quite up for it.  Maybe that's easy to say now, when I'm not quite old yet, although I have been in the position of using a walking stick and being grateful for help - and sometimes finding myself in tears because of the unexpected kindness of strangers.

Unexpected, but also quite predictable, I found.  So many occasions - I never had to carry my heavy suitcase, nor stand on a London bus.  My face is quite anxious in repose, I am told, and I suppose I show tiredness quickly (that I am in the way of grinning scarily most of the time is because I've been asked so often why I'm worried, when I was just not smiling), so maybe I worried people ... anyway, I was humbled but never humiliated by being helped and looking vulnerable.


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Ida ho ho ho

Ida lives in the local residential home and is often brought to church by one of the staff in her wheelchair. She has a habit of commenting at various points in the sermon and would quite like to enter into discussion with whomever is leading the service - which I'm sure they quite appreciate as it proves that at least one member of the congregation is awake and listening.  She speaks out at other moments too, on occasion.  Today, for instance - "When I was a child, I used to pray to God very strongly" ("Good for you," interjected Anthony) ... "that the psalm would be a short one."  The whole congregation guffawed.

It seems to be quite well received now that I usually play the clarinet instead of the organ.  In the winter, we use the meeting room adjoining the church to save heating the whole building and, when it's Andy's turn to play, he uses an electronic keyboard.  I'm not at all fond of playing that so bring the clarinet instead.  We moved back to the church last month, but the first time I played there was a modern hymn that really was not suited to the organ so I kept to the other instrument.  And since then, I've been playing it by request.  I'm aware of course that this says as much about my organ playing as my clarinetting, but the other advantage is that it's pitched slightly lower and is easier to sing to - and in fact, the rich tone is a pleasure to sing to in any case, or so I'm told.

It's not impossible that this might be the first day for five or six weeks when there will not be any rain.  Very good timing if so, because it's the day of the town's street market.  I should have gone really, the Sage did, but I wanted to do some gardening.  He had lunch while he was there.  I had a slice of dry bread and a glass of wine.  I'm not sure that's really quite the thing for Sunday lunch though.  I wanted cheese, but someone seems to have eaten it all.   Maybe I'll go and cook something, I won't last until dinnertime.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Milk tooth and egg tooth

The main news from yesterday was that Augustus finally has a tooth.  This tooth has had a remarkably long journey through his gum - he's now 9 1/2 months old, all other babies in the household had teeth before they were 5 months.  I haven't seen this proud eruption yet, I will go and inspect some time next week.  I'll have to check with Weeza when they'll be there though, because this will be the week when she returns to work.  Just two days to begin with, then three which was what she worked from when Zerlina was 18 months old to when she started her maternity leave.

z goes to a childminder called Linda, where she is very happy.  Gus visited for a day last week and had a brilliant time.  Another little boy has already turned into a hero and z was very attentive to her little bro too.  They were both tired out when they arrived home, had tea and went straight to bed.  So Weeza is confident that things should go well and she's looking forward to getting back to the office.

Back here, the Sage has been acting midwife again.  The eggs have such hard shells that the chicks simply can't break out of them, and he has had to help.  We had several wriggling their way out of their shells, lying on a towel on top of the Aga, this morning.  He chips gently at the end of the shell where the air-sac (I should have spelt that 'sack', to give Chris something to correct) is, and when he has broken through then he leaves it to the chick to make its way out.  It's such a pity when the chick can't break through, wears away its egg-tooth and dies of exhaustion, so he does what he can to help.  We have six chicks now, it'll be lovely to see them scuttling about.  We have to keep them under cover while they are little though, there are too many predators about, such as magpies.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Wrinkles

The iPad is useful to download attachments, I bought Pages and Numbers and download documents to one, spreadsheets to the other and PDFs go onto iBooks.  Then I don't have to print documents and they're always to hand.  Of course, it would be just the same for a laptop, netbook or whatever - but when you buy your iPad and are told it isn't a storage device, it can be.  And there are apps such as Noteshelf where you can write with your finger or a stylus which is convenient - untidy, has to be said, but useful for quick notes.

Anyhoo, enough of that.  Um.  Sorry darlings, nothing interesting has happened today.  I went to get my hair cut, came home and continued to sort out my wardrobe.  The good thing is that the ironing basket has been cut down to - well, to a single basket.  It contains a whole lot of dinner napkins and three of the Sage's shirts and some handkerchiefs.  I've got a lot of napkins.  I've told my children that they can each expect a good four dozen as their inheritance when I die.  They all wished me long life and good health.  The less good news is that I've now got an awful lot of unironed clothes hanging in my wardrobe.  Every time I dress I shall have to switch on the iron first - and, more to the point, use it.

I weighed myself this morning.  Joy, darlings, total joy.  Not only have I lost the pound I gained in India, but a couple more besides.  I celebrated by cutting off the buttons on my jeans and sewing them on again half an inch in.  Yes, I was wearing the jeans at the time.  But at least I threaded the needle first time, which I thought wasn't bad really, as my sight isn't what it was, now I have slight astigmatism.  I never thought my short sight would let me down and am reluctant to admit it.

I had my hair cut slightly shorter before I went to India to be easier to look after and I will keep it that way, at least for the summer.  It's not a lot of difference, not an inch in it, but I think it's okay.  I've kept the fringe at the same length.  Anything to hide the wrinkles, darling.  Or some of them, at any rate.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ageless

Today's Year 9 music lesson was fun.  They are being taught about irregular time signatures, and first the teacher played recordings of Take Five and Mars from Holst's Planet Suite, both being in 5/4 time, of course.  Then she wanted them to learn to play Dave Brubeck's Unsquare Dance
 F
Two to each keyboard, she gave each pair a sheet of music and let them work out the base* line, then the chords (clapping in the recording) and when they'd mastered those, the melody.  Only a couple of them managed to play the base* line with the melody, it was quite tricky for them.  They did enjoy it though and I helped several with the notes and the rhythm.  There are some quite exuberant lads in that class, which I always enjoy (don't you find the rascals are much more fun?) and they worked hard and really concentrated and were pleased to play to the rest of the class at the end and be applauded.

I've been out to dinner tonight with a group of friends - it's a small dining club, women only, that I started going to to keep my mother company, the best part of 20 years ago.  I was the youngest there then and I still am.  The founder, who is now 94 and no longer a member, comes along once in a while and tonight she was telling us all about her new iPad.  She's never had a computer before, is enjoying getting to grips with it and her first emailing lesson is tomorrow.  She's very excited.  I think it's brilliant and certainly proves that you're never too old to try something new.

*Bass.  Ahem.  Sorry.  

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Z the incurable optimist

"Do you fancy a wee, wee snifter?" asked the Sage just now.  "Jolly good idea," said I.

A partridge is laying eggs in our chicken run.  A broody hen is sitting on some eggs, but evidently a bit intermittently because whenever she wanders off for a while, the partridge nips in to the nest.  The Sage thinks we might as well eat them.  It seems a bit mean, but ... well, if I hardboil them and serve them with celery salt #memo to self, must buy celery salt - then I could pretend they're quail's eggs.

I was trying to fill in a claim form today for an agricultural grant for our fields.  I thought I'd done it right, but then it said I hadn't completed something that I couldn't understand at all, and nor could I understand the document that was supposed to help me.  So I rang the helpline.  It took some time, very nice young (I'm sure she was) woman was very helpful as well she might be, and in the end it turned out, I don't understand why, that our claim would have been rejected anyway, though we've always received it in the past.  Oh well, easy come easy go, and I was quite relieved to click on 'abandon claim' after wasting a mere hour and a half on it.

This afternoon, I tackled my wardrobe.  And my floordrobe and my chaise longuedrobe (I know, darlings, some people have a chair in their bedroom but I need more space for my stuff).  I filled four binbags with discarded clothes and have taken them to the Scope receptacle in the village recycling centre (it's the bottlebank otherwise in fact),  I was quite ruthless, for me.  Mind you, I had offered a third of my wardrobe space to the Sage and I find that I might not be able to keep my promise, once everything's hung up, so we may have to think again.  Thing is, I've thrown away all the clothes that are currently too big for me.  So I cannot put on any weight or I'd have to buy new clothes, and that would be such a cop-out.

I finally threw away the last 60s dress that I still have, a sleeveless pink shift.  I wouldn't have if it hadn't got several moth holes in.  I also threw away a cream linen kaftan from 1970 and a jacket, part of a suit that the Sage's tailor made for me in 1973.  Truly ruthless you see, and I feel a pang as I type - but last week I threw away my first AppleMac, so that's proof, if needed, that I'm determined.  There was one garment I didn't throw away, from nostalgia.  On the wardrobe floor (not at all the same thing as a floordrobe) was a pair of jeans.  I looked at the label ... age 13 it said, and I remembered one time putting on a pair of jeans from the pile of clean washing, doing them up, finding the legs were a bit tighter than I remembered and realising that I'd put on Al's trousers.  He was a very thin lad (and still is, 20-odd years on) and it was the first time I realised that maybe I wasn't as fat as I thought I was.  I put them on today - I could do up the button but not the zip, so now I have something to work towards.  Is it a bit unrealistic, for mildly porky Z to think she might get into the jeans of her onetime 13-year-old son?  Yes, frankly, but that won't stop me from keeping them and trying.  And I didn't throw out any other clothes that are too small either.  Boundless optimism at the Zedery as always.

I loved that Mac.  I may not have used it for 15 years, but I still loved it.

I still haven't written out directions to here.  I will darlings, I will.  Trust me.  I've promised them to Tim, anyone else who'd like them please email.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Silly cow

We decided to have an early night last night, and I was in bed by 11 with the Sage not long behind me.  I'd just turned off the light, finished replying to an email and we were just snuggling up to go to sleep when the phone rang.  "That'll be Daphne," I said, as she usually phones around 11 pm.  In fact, it was the police - or one of them, anyway, a female police officer.  A cow had been reported out in the lane.

The Sage's first reaction was polite lack of interest, but we supposed we'd better do something about it.  So I fished my underwear out of the linen basket, put my jeans and jumper back on and we stomped down and into the car.  The cow was out, rather wishing she knew how to get back in with her friends (Big Pinkie and another cow, we haven't named them this year yet) and wasn't entirely pleased when I clapped my hands to get her to move to where the Sage had released a section of wire.  I clapped her on the rump, she started to move and then wheeled round resentfully.  I stepped back a bit.

Once she got going, it wasn't easy to stop her and she vanished over the bridge down the lane - away from the road, fortunately.  I moved the car to help persuade her not to go past it, and it didn't take long for the Sage and me to drive her back into the field.  We were back in bed by midnight.  All the same, knackered, darlings, we were.

It's all been a bit busy today and I haven't got around to writing down directions to get here, so if you're waiting I apologise and will email you tomorrow.  

Monday, 7 May 2012

'Welcome' can hardly be overused, can it?


I've already invited you, and several of you lovely people have already accepted the invitation (and one backed out last week, hem hem) but the invitation is still open to this party and you're all welcome.  Well that is, I'm rather assuming not all of you can come (there are a fair few readers) but I'd borrow extra plates and fit you all in if intercontinental guests want to pop along.  

It's lovely that so many of you who came last year can come again, and also that there are several who weren't able to, or whom I didn't know then, who are joining us this time.

To recap - 
 Saturday, 26th May, from 12.30 pm
Lunch at the home of Z and the Sage
Overnight visitors welcome
Dogs welcome (as long as they don't chase chickens)
Motorbikes welcome
Children of all ages welcome
All food requirements catered for, just let me know, especially about allergies 

The guest list so far includes Roses and Lawrence, Mike and Ann, Tim, Blue Witch and Mr BW, Sir Bruin and Liz the Small Bear, Rog and Mrs Rine with the Lilster, Phil and Lisa and Amelie (with A's baby brother), Mig, Pixie Mum and Ian, Wink, Weeza, Phil, Zerlina and Augustus, Ro and Dora, and a few more have not yet confirmed either way (or if you have and are not down, I'm terribly sorry but have the worst memory, just give me a poke and say what the hell).  I'm sorry to say that Christopher, who had hoped to come, now has another engagement on the Monday at home and even I, demanding hostess as I am, can hardly expect him to come all the way from the south of France just for lunch.  

I'm expecting Wink, Mig, and Phil, Lisa and Amelie to stay overnight and still have a bedroom in hand as long as Amelie doesn't mind sharing with her mum and dad, and after that it'll be an airbed wherever there's room.  You're welcome to stay Friday and Saturday nights, and if you're staying elsewhere you're welcome for supper/breakfast too.

If you are staying, for heaven's sake don't consider bringing a sleeping bag or towels or basic toiletries, I've got loads.  Most of the bedding has feathers in, so if you're allergic please let me know, I do have alternatives.

If you need the address, just ask me for directions, my email is on my profile.  

You don't have to be a blogger, you don't have to have met anyone, few of us had met each other last year and it all seemed to work.  I'm really looking forward to seeing you, and will cook all the food before you arrive this time so I actually have time to join in and don't spend the entire lunchtime cooking.  

You can meet Bobby the leopard, inspect the Wall, admire the newly-resurfaced drive and see how three weeks tidying up still leaves my house at the stage where most people start cleaning.  On the other hand, there will be plenty of food and innumerable books to read, and I've already laid in an indecent stock of wine.  Actually, that's all I've bought as yet.  

I'm really looking forward to seeing you and so is the Sage.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Under the hammer. In the auctioneering sense, obv.

The sale went very well, but it was unpredictable.  Some items went for a lot of money, others didn't attract a bid.  The *star lot* was estimated at £8,000-£10,000 and went for £11,000 hammer price, £12,650 out of the saleroom, so that was very good.  A couple of things that didn't meet their reserve have been sold afterwards for slightly less and some more will probably go in the next few days.

I'd been feeling quite down and dispirited for the previous couple of days and was struggling to build up any enthusiasm.  However, a necessity to look cheerful, be friendly, have a smile on your face and take an interest in what's being said to you is a very good way of raising the spirits.  Behave as though you're happy and you become much more happy, and so I did.  And in fact I quite enjoyed it.  What's special about us is the personal touch - so, much of the time, I saw someone coming in and sitting down at the table (darlings, I've just remembered that I took pictures! - before viewing started, but it'll show you what I mean), wrote their name on the registration list and took them a bidder number without asking them to sign in.  Not many salerooms where you get that level of personal touch.  In fact, people ring to apologise if they're not going to make it, as if it's a private party!

I had a list of people to phone and also some commission bids - usually the Sage puts those in his book, but if there's something complicated, such as someone wanting to spend no more than a given amount altogether, or alternative bids (that is, if they aren't successful in the first lot they bid for then they'll bid for another, but only want one piece) then I take it on.  It went fine, I didn't miss anyone and several of my customers were successful, but I managed to forget to hold up the bidder number every single time and Weeza had to ask.  D'oh, darlings, d'oh.  It must be extreme old age and decrepitude.

Anyway, here are pictures of the china.  Books were on a separate table.  84 lots of china.  I took three pictures so you're getting three views, wicked waste makes woeful want, as they say.


People sit on the chairs and we bring any pieces of china they would like to see.  They can handle anything they want to, but we pick it up from the central table and take it to them for safety, rather than let people mill around helping themselves.

The jug was put the wrong way round so that the inscription doesn't show, so here's a close-up.  £12,650, remember - very good condition, best part of 250 years old, but it's the inscription that gives it its value.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Mama Weeza rules!

I feel as though I'm way behind on my work, but I don't think I am really.  It's just that today was quite unproductive.  It started with a meeting at school - the wretched local authority really makes things unnecessarily (I always spell that word wrong first time and have to delete the redundant 'c', dammit) difficult and we thought they'd be less ghastly when we became an academy.  We still have to fight the battles, but at least now we win them mostly, but it's such a waste of time and energy.  Anyway, that took two hours, then I had to go supermarket shopping for essentials for tomorrow and then a friend called round, by arrangement, after lunch and he stayed rather longer than I'd thought he would.  After that, we went over to Weeza's to leave my car there for her to use - Phil, extremely kindly and helpfully, has taken a day of precious holiday tomorrow so that he can look after the children and Weeza come and help us.  After years of looking after children, it's a bit thought-provoking when they start to look after you.  But appreciation and humility are good habits to get into.

So I'm mostly ready for the sale, and so is the Sage.  He was ready days ago, in fact.  Today, I've printed off the bidder numbers, the registration list, the list of things we need, got plenty of A5 paper, written down whom I'm bidding for and whom I'm telephoning ... and so on.  I'm terribly tired and will go to bed soon.

But we have to have some good news, it's the rule.  Today, Augustus said mama for the first time.  He was sitting on the floor, she was leaving the room for a minute and he looked at her and called her back.  He was quite ill for several days, poor mite, D&V as it's known (he's skinny enough at the best of times, he's visibly lost weight) and has become a bit clingy.  But he's all smiles again now, as long as he feels secure, and eating well and on the mend.  Phil is quite jealous and has been coaching him to say dada.  But mama rules at present.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Clowning

Those of you who come via a feedreader will see that I deleted a post earlier on today - it was just that a blogfriend was unable to get a photo not to print sideways, so I tweaked it for him, posted it to make sure, deleted the post and emailed the picture to him.  Because I'm helpful like that.

I went to a brilliant lecture today - not at all a fine art lecture although it was NADFAS, it was about clowns and by a clown - this one.  He started by telling us of his early life, building up to his first venture onto the stage as a 15-year-old schoolboy at a school entertainment, and then on to his National Service, entertaining troops and his first professional engagements.  Then he showed slides of early circus shows from the 19th Century, bringing it more up to date with clowns he had worked with, and he spent the last 15 minutes on several  brief acts wearing hat, wig and false nose as disguise.  He is a brilliant mime artist, it was hilarious and the lecture was very interesting.  He's still working, although he'll be 80 in September (I'm so glad the Sage wasn't with me, he never intends to retire, though I wish he would, and it would just spur him on).

I did cycle in to town, for the first time in weeks ... mind you, I was away for a fortnight and it's rained every day since ... my bike tyres need pumping up.  I didn't have time to stop and take a picture, but there was an odd sight on the bridge over Earsham Dam, a row of baby clothes spread over the railings.  I don't know if someone had washed them in the river - it's normally shallow there and cattle use it for watering, though the depth of water builds up in times of flood of course.  It's called the Roaring Arches bridge, which is a bit of an exaggeration really.  Anyway, they were gone by the time I came home.

I had various plans for this afternoon, but annoying bits of life intervened and I hardly got anything done. I think I'll have an early night and give it another go tomorrow.  It's the Sage's sale on Friday and I haven't got my papers ready yet - not that I have a lot, he does most of the bookwork as you'd expect at this stage.  I don't exactly dread it, but I don't enjoy the sales any longer.  And we've got three this year.

By the way, the Sage will be on Radio Suffolk on Friday lunchtime - I think it's 1.40 pm, for about 10 minutes.  It's been recorded, but I don't know what he said as I was out at the time.  I'll listen to the website on Saturday - we don't receive Radio Suffolk here very well anyway, so I'd be listening online in any case.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bobby

Here we are, darlings, my childhood companion, Bobby.

Not a mark on him, he was throttled rather than shot.  If you haven't read yesterday's post, please do and follow the link before being horrified at my posting pictures of a stuffed leopard.

He's been in a garage (not always the same garage) for over 30 years, but before that he held pride (I don't know what the term is for a leopard*, I trust he'll forgive comparison with a lion) of place on the landing in my childhood home.  I don't know if he'd picked up any creepy-crawlies, Al and I discussed the possibility of putting him in the freezer to kill anything unwanted, but leopard and case are jolly heavy - they'd fit in my freezer if I cleared it out first, but we'd never be able to lift it out again.  And I wouldn't care to take him out of the case where he's resided for the past century.  It would need specialist assistance.

Not that it isn't available, they did just that at Norwich Castle Museum a while ago.  There was a problem with their extensive collection of stuffed animals, I think that woolly bear got in (that's the larva of the carpet beetle) and everything was put in freezers to kill the bugs.  I gather that, ironically enough, it was the polar bear that posed most problems in terms of freezer space.

He's at the end of the landing and there isn't much natural light there.  Having lights on or doors open to let the light in from the windows just made reflection and glare, so these pictures were taken using flash, something I normally avoid with my camera as it's better without.  But there we go - come to the blog party on 26th May and you can see Bobby for yourself.  And see me too, of course.  And each other.

*I've looked it up, it's a leap or lepe of leopards.  Bobby hasn't done much leaping of late, I have to say.