Monday 30 April 2007

Cornwall photos - 5 - still in St Ives

At lunch, we chatted to a couple who live in Penzance. He was American, she English and they were in their seventies, I should think. We sat outside in the sun, becoming just a little pink.

Afterwards, we went to the Barbara Hepworth gallery and garden. This is wonderful, do go if you're in St Ives. I remember when she died, it was as a result of a fire in her studio. I love to see sculptures in a garden or house setting, rather than in a formal art gallery. Last year, in the rain, I went to the Henry Moore garden, which many statues are displayed and where his studios have been kept as he left them. They were fabulous.

But back to Barbara Hepworth

Some of the trees are pretty large now

As Martin says, you can't have too many sea pictures

Cornwall photos - 4 - not flagging yet are you?

The next day, we visited St Ives. It's on the North coast, but only a few miles.

I was fretting a bit as we'd invited friends in for dinner and I hadn't got food yet. We'd bumped into our landlady, who was invited, and asked her where she did her shopping "The Co-op, Lidl, Morrison!" she answered cheerfully. I wanted to ask where she bought fresh local food, but didn't like to seem a bit, well, snarky, since that's the word that's been used about me recently (pshaw!) so I didn't.

On the approach to St Ives, we saw a farm shop and went in. The first thing I saw was aubergines (not grown in England in April!). But they had local asparagus and new potatoes and lettuce and various suitable-for-present goodies, so we shopped there.

We parked near the Tate and my eye was caught by this. Fabulous, isn't it. I like the anatomy of a house.

The Tate building is very fine. Having been to a lecture about 20th Century St Ives artists - not as well known as the Newlyn group, but excellent and underrated, I had expected a wider range of paintings than there were. I dabble in the periphery of modern art, with little knowledge but some appreciation and I found some things to like, but not to rave over.

Nice views, though

I realise you're getting an awful lot of sea/beach photos. Sorry about that, but I lived by the sea for 60% of my life and I miss it.

Sunday 29 April 2007

Cornwall photos - 3

On Sunday, we went to Falmouth (found a splendid bookshop there) and the Lizard peninsula. On Monday, we had coffee and then lunch in Mousehole. The café cat liked my sister's mackerel. He was thirsty, but fizzy water made him sneeze (which made us laugh)

Afterwards, we turned left out of Mousehole and went on down towards Lands End.
We stopped to greet the Merry Maidens.

Then, as ever, looked the other way.

We went to the cliff-top (part of the cliff, in fact) theatre at Minack and looked, marvelling, at the view. Can you imagine this, the sea off England, in April. Wow.

A bit more wowing. You may not be sufficiently awestruck yet.

We bypassed Lands End itself, which is a bit downmarketed and crappy, and carried on up the north coast, but within a few minutes the sea mist started roll in, visibly, like smoke, so we bought sausages, tomatoes and Cornish new potatoes for supper and headed home to Mousehole. As we approached, the sun came out and all was bright. Later, we were told that the weather on the north and south coasts, even if only a few miles apart, can be quite different.

Before supper, we went to the local pub. Nice beer, from St Austell. I can't remember what it was called, but it may come back to me.

Not for ease

A pleasant, if busy day. But a catch in my throat just now. The Sage phoned Maureen - Peter is still keeping going (I referred to them here). The Sage, who is a good friend to have, went to see them the other day, and - this is amazing to me - Peter, in the last week or two of his life, wants to buy one of the limited edition plaques I referred to here. Sorry to send you hither and yon, don't blame you if you can't be arsed.

His whole family visited this weekend - for whom are these valedictory visits hardest? For Maureen, probably. Darlings (even if you haven't visited before, or never commented or become, yet, a friend, you are included - and if you are in any of these categories, you know you are already) if we have anyone we care about, we may come to this situation. Let us be brave.*

I'm only momentarily melancholy, and brave come to that, so while I am I'll tell you one of my funeral hymns, for I chose it and another a few years ago. Here it is. Again, don't click unless you want but, actually, this hymn sums up my subtext, so read it and you'll know me better (but for 'smith' read 'smite'. Doesn't anyone check for typos nowadays?) Not for the religious aspect but for the facing up to things and coping bit. Mind you, it seems a bit gloomy for a wedding hymn, which it's apparently recommended for.

For the other people mentioned, Tim is alive in a hospice, my friend, his brother, has had his operation, which was successful but, so understandably, he feels a bit low. Also, please, think for me about Rosemary and Chris but also, more happily, about Reg and Rosemary, who looks great. Thanks to the British NHS, which can do marvels and is rightly criticised but, also rightly, respected and admired.

I'll be back, cheerfully, later, with Holiday Snaps**

*As ever, can't resist a subjunctive. May I be recalled***, blogwise, for ellipses...and for subjunctives.
**Readers leave in droves
***Not that I'm going anywhere

Saturday 28 April 2007

Surely not?

You Are a Snarky Blogger!

You've got a razor sharp wit that bloggers are secretly scared of.
And that's why they read your posts as often as they can!

Thanks to Alan for this. I'm completely surprised by the result though, I'd expected the answer he got (a couple of weeks ago, I don't think I'll ever catch up with blogs after 10 days away).

I'm the victim of life's razor, not its brandisher.

Aren't I/am I not/amn't I/innit?

What brought that on, then?

I say "sorry" to the Sage.

Seconds later, I say "sorry" again.

Not long after "Sorry. I hate bloody hiccoughs."

"Oh damn. Sorry."


(goes to fetch water. Drinks from the wrong side of glass.)

"*hic* Damn, now I need to go to the loo."

Return. Fetch more water. Drink from the wrong side of glass. Drink deeply, so that I'm almost upside-down.


Presence, and Presents

What a charming week it's been. I received a CD in the post from Stegbeetle - thank you so much Steg, a couple of albums at least will certainly be bought, following my introduction to some of your favourite bands. I'll write and tell you what I think, once I've listened enough to let them embed in my mind, but I have certainly fallen for Evanescence (though slightly doubtful if I've spelled it right).

And today, I spent the morning in the shop. It was busy, too. Al spends at least an hour on his outside display, but when he'd finished he came and helped Sarah and me deal with all the customers. I was keeping an eye on the door, as I was expecting a Special Customer, but it wasn't until lunchtime that the great Badgerdaddy walked in.

Such a pleasure to see him and he looked great. He's always got a laid-back air, but you can see how happy he is with life nowadays. And, bless the dear man, he'd brought me CDs too. Wasn't that lovely? Poor bugger had to stand patiently and be kissed, which he could probably have done without but which he took, manfully, on the chin (not literally, it was the left cheek. I mean in the boxing - I suppose - term sense).

I abandoned Al - who had greeted BD too, of course, as they knew each other before BD and I met through our blogs - and we went outside to chat. Gorgeous day, by the way, breezy but very sunny and warm.

Later, I went to the butchers. Mark served me. "Ooh, I've just seen young *Badgerdaddy*, I said. "You know, the chap who lived above the toyshop, you knew each other from the pub." Yes, he remembered him. Later, when he was cutting me some cheese, he gave me a look. When I asked, he pretended to be flirting with me, but I wonder if he knows about the blog - BD's former one, which caused a little local rumpus. You don't read this one, do you Mark? Nah, you'd have said.

Thanks for calling, BD, it was lovely to see you. I'm glad things are going well and have a really good time in the pub tonight. Just make sure your back is always to the wall...

Friday 27 April 2007

Cornwall photos - 2

Falmouth harbour

I turned round

The Lizard

I'm not that good about looking over cliffs, and I found the sight of those crosses worrying.

So, of course, I went right to the edge and leaned over, for what's the use of fear?

Wild garlic and thrift, very pretty

More flowers and seaside tomorrow. Today, I have delighted you long enough

Cornwall photos - 1 - at last

I discovered, when I uploaded them, that there were about 130 photos. Of course, I won't inflict them all on you, even though they are all delightful, but just a few.

These are all Mousehole.

1- The sound of seagulls was constant. At this time of the year, they are fairly aggressive to other males and pretty randy with the females. I had to avert my tender gaze a couple of times.

2- The view from the window

3- Can you see the pink house, just right of centre? Look past the two houses to its right, and there's a car. That is parked down a little alley between the houses - our cottage was through the alley into a courtyard - it had originally been a netstore. It was delightful, and well converted, with the bedrooms and bathroom downstairs and the big living room/kitchen (well equipped) upstairs. Our landlords lived opposite, in a slightly bigger house.

4- Neap tides, the week we were there, so there was always some beach for the children to play on. The spring tide came in the night before we left.

5- Another aspect of the cottages round the harbout

Would you believe it?

I put my left eye* in back to front again.

Again, I was completely unaware of it, until, well into the School Governors' meeting, we had occasion to read a whiteboard. Then I became aware of a slight fuzziness. Once I knew, of course, I could think of nothing else, but I'd worn the lens the wrong way round for six hours quite happily until then.

At a suitable gap in the meeting (the Headteacher went to open a few skylights) I asked to be excused, explaining why. Reactions went from 'ooh, that happens to me' to 'ew, don't talk about it'. And, when I returned, caring "Are you all right?"s.

Anyway, I said we've got an Ofsted next week. We will also, as God made little green apples**, have another in September. The reasons for this have to do with finance - there is some that is due to us, but has to be okayed by Ofsted and it will run out in September, so logic states that the inspection has to come in September.

But, you mention, surely this Ofsted, if successful, counts? Sadly, no, for it is a mini-Ofsted.

Anyway, I am feeling pretty good, for not only do I have a cast-iron reason not to lunch with the inspector on Tuesday, I have also reminded the governors that I said, last September, that this was the last time I'd stand as Vice-Chairman. I didn't mention that I also said I'd like to stand down as Special Educational Needs governor, but sufficient unto the day...(staking my elliptical claim)

If I can find the lead, I will put up Pictures, later. Mind you, they are mostly of little Cornish harbours and little Cornish flowers. I photograph what appeals to me, and forget the wider audience. Sorry.

*Contact lens, of course, but anything to sound interesting...
**Frankly, I'd expect the Master of the Cosmos to delegate, but I only argue if I Bloody Well Know I"m Right...***
***Hey, if JonnyB has the rights to three exclamation marks (I hesitate to put them, as I am slightly in awe of him****, surely I could claim the right to the ellipsis, couldn't I?
****What am I saying? Totally in awe.*****
*****Mind you, I've got a job and he hasn't. But no, if you've got it...(see what I mean? Ellipses everywhere)

Update Ooh, bum, I've just realised my cast-iron excuse is for the next Tuesday, not this one.


Thursday 26 April 2007

Left eye, right eye, and a cuckoo

I've just, this moment, heard the first cuckoo!

Well, my first cuckoo. If you don't live in England, you may not know that Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring is one of our little obsessions and there is always an excited letter in the paper saying "I heard it first."

I've been to the opticians for an eye test. I came out happier than I went in.

For the last three years, I've been wearing multi-focal contact lenses, as I am slightly short-sighted. This has been fine until recently, and still is most of the time, but I've realised in the last few months that my right eye has been a little more near-sighted than my left, and since I'm quite decidedly right-eyed, this is inconvenient. I explained this. She checked my right eye. Then she asked me to read the chart with my left.

"It all looks out of focus!" I said, startled. I closed my eye and tried again, she checked to see if there was anything in my eye, and then she took the lens out. "Er, you had it in back to front," she said. It was a new (monthly) lens yesterday, I must have been wearing it the wrong way round for two days.

At the end of the examination, she agreed that my right eye wasn't so good, but she thought it might be a bit of eye strain, from reading small print. I told her that, if I know I'm going to have to read a lot of small print, I only put in one contact lens (the right one), as I know it can be a bit difficult to see. "If I give you a stronger lens, you might be back in six months saying it's got worse again," she said. I felt worried. She pondered.

Then, she suggested giving me a weaker lens for my left eye. This will make it easier to read small print and, since I was unaware that I had blurred vision all day, I probably won't be aware of it. It will give my right eye a chance to recover and take over as the stronger eye again. She's ordered two lenses, -1 and -1.5 (I normally wear -2 in both eyes) so that I can see which is better.

I think this is a marvellous idea. I hope it does the trick.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

No time for photos yet

Oh damn. I'd been planning to skip the school governors' meeting this week, as I'm really pushed for time, but now I actually get around to reading the agenda, I see we're having an OFSTED inspection next week, so I don't suppose I can.

OFSTED stands for something like the OFfice of STandards in EDucation and is the government department that inspects schools. REcently (sorry, that's getting to be a habit), they changed from a week-long inspection with several weeks notice to a snap one or two days, with very little warning. There is a lot more self-evaluating in the meantime. I'm fine with self-evaluating, so it's all right by me. Even better, I will not have to be involved next week. The last inspection, I was interviewed by two daunting inspectors. I'm quite good at sounding self-critical while putting across the message I want to (as you know. Even here, you see, I could be disingenuous) and it went well and so did the whole inspection, so no reason for it not to this time.

I've also got the Annual General Meeting of the Parochial Church Council tonight. I am writing the churchwardens' annual report, and have to check that all the paperwork that should have been done while I was away actually was. I have also been asked to chair the meeting. *Sigh*. This is better than last year, actually, as I was asked to start the meeting off (at the last moment) and the chairman couldn't get away from his concurrent meeting and never arrived and I had to bluff rather a lot.

The most awkward thing, at present, is that one of us has to be at home all the time, as we're getting a lot of phone calls about the sale next week. The Sage and I are used to being Wild And Free, so it's a bit restricting. Oh, the catalogue is up. Here. Before you look, however, be warned that the first thing you see is the Sage's actual name, so if you prefer a mystery, don't go there.

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Even after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue, marriage has its moments

Penny asked me to say more about my answer to 'Things I can do' in this meme - that is, that being a wife is the most worthwhile thing I've ever done.

Once your children have grown up, there is a feeling of a 'job done'. The next stage of one's marriage is an opportunity to make of it what you want, if you choose to take it. I remember, when our youngest reached 18, thinking that we'd finally done it - brought them all up to adulthood and now our responsibility was of a different, voluntary kind. 8 months later, when my mother died, it was a completion of another responsibility. A couple of months later, we celebrated (quietly) our 30th wedding anniversary. At last, I felt that we could say that we had a long and (goodness, this feels like tempting fate, but I'll say it) successful marriage.

At the time, actually, I felt pretty low. It had been a difficult few years and my resilience had been strained. Part of my 'job doneness' was just relief that it was over and I had no more obligations - this sounds a bit awful and I'm reluctant to write it down, but I think that some of you will know what I mean, so I'll say it - I could, if it came to it, die with a clear conscience that I had not left a job uncompleted. I had a bit of a death-wish at the time. I was tired and drained and a bit depressed. I'm over it now.

A bonus of this time is the Sage's and my appreciation of each other. It's rather lovely. And, in conversations with other long-together couples, I can see it in them too. You'd think that, after all these years, a partnership (for not all my friends are married, nor all couples of different sex) wouldn't need to grow any more, but it can, if you want it to. There are a lot of us about, you know, more than you might think. We asked friends in Mousehole round for dinner one night last week* and it came up that one couple is about to celebrate their 40th anniversary. The others are about 18 months behind. We went to a wedding on Saturday - the bride's and groom's parents were there, looking happy and united, and the next day we had lunch with other friends - I've known L. all our lives, as his parents were best friends with mine. He and his wife got married the same year as we did, when he was 22 and she was 32. In all these couples, the deep unity is palpable and heart-warming.

Funnily enough, at the wedding breakfast (do you call it that in other countries? It is 'breaking the fast' following the wedding, so can take place at any time of day), I sat next to a schoolfriend of my sister's and of the bride's mother. She is a nun and has lived in Rwanda for most of the past 40 years. At one point, she asked me, and this could have been disconcerting, what is the most important, to me, thing I have done, and what ambition do I still have. It was not disconcerting at all, of course, because I had my answer ready, and she was quite impressed by it. She told me, when we said our goodbyes, that I must tell the Sage what I had said. Heh heh. I might. If I feel smoochy enough one day.

Over 30 years, we've gone through periods of taking each other for granted, but I don't think that's a bad thing in itself, if it indicates trust and comfort rather than indifference and complacency. We have been, more recently, very appreciative of each other. We have time to think about each other now that we don't have to worry about children or careers or, now the offspring are independent, money.

Is this an achievement, luck, hard work, complacency? Luck, for sure, and I don't underestimate that at all and am deeply grateful for it. For a start, we're both alive, and I'm not being facetious. Too many of my friends and family have not been so blessed. I guess I could sound complacent - but that's why we (all we long-married couples) don't talk about it, you see. We don't want to sound as if we've done better than others, that we've 'succeeded' and some have 'failed', because that's not what we think. We all know all the downsides as well as the ups of life and sometimes the smallest factor can make the difference between staying or leaving.

I've always said I'm the luckiest person I know, and if it were to end tomorrow, that wouldn't change. And I am not being complacent in saying that it's the care that the Sage and I have put in to our marriage that makes it a good one. I've not put as much effort into anything else - bringing up my children, yes, and they are our dearest treasures, but they are a credit to themselves more than to us.

Dammit, I'm stopping now. I said this wouldn't be too long. I wouldn't want to start getting sentimental or anything.
Glad you asked, Penny? ;-D

*Cornish asparagus risotto followed by gurnard flavoured with chilli, ginger and spring onions (okay, scallions), baked whole en papilotte with white wine, with Cornish new potatoes and salad, then cheese - Cornish Yarg, of course.

Monday 23 April 2007

The flesh is weakening

I do have time to write, but I'm flagging a bit. The Sage hopes his meeting will be over about 8.30, so I'm planning dinner for 8.40. Very simple: grilled fish, new Cornish potatoes (from Al, not brought home by me) and spring cabbage, then raspberries, strawberries and blueberries (all Spanish, of course) with clotted cream, which I did bring home. Astonishing that I remembered, as it has been kept in three different fridges on successive nights, and remembered each morning.

I don't usually buy strawberries out of season, but just for once...

I spent some of the afternoon in the greenhouse, potting up aubergines. I have 27 plants, which is more than I'll need, so Al can sell some. He's sold all the spare tomatoes, and has potted up side shoots, which are rooting. Most things are fine, except that the flat french beans (variety Hunter) didn't germinate very well. I am sure that is because it was too hot. French beans are quite temperamental, regarding temperature. I'll see if I can get some more

The farmer has brought a couple more cows - there were 4 originally, 2 of them heifers (cows which haven't yet calved, although these are - hopefully - in calf). One of the new ones isn't very well with a lung infection. She has been treated with antibiotics, but still has a bad cough. She came here last year and calved successfully, but hasn't done well over the winter. The farmer is giving her a last chance, by sending her on holiday to our tranquil fields, but he is concerned that she will not make it. We'll cosset her. The weather is mild and the land free-draining, so this is a good place for her.

Squiffany was happy to see me. I brought her books, a shell from a beach and a small bag of chocolates ... she didn't really know about chocolate until this Easter, when she suddenly developed a taste for it. Dilly has rationed them out, at one per day, but now she thinks that every day is chocolate day. However, generously, she gave one to her mother and one to me, which I shared with Grandpa, not to take too many of them. She asked, most charmingly, for a second one for herself - "Ask Mummy" I said cravenly. Mummy agreed that a second chocolate was permissible for a special occasion. They had brought me flowers, isn't it lovely to be welcomed home?

Time to scrub those potatoes. The next post - whether today or tomorrow - will be on the Value of My Marriage, which Penny asked me to write several weeks ago. I've had time to think while I was away which, you'll be happy to know, will shorten the earlier-written draft considerably. Because it's simple, really.

Z's back! ...

... which I intended to link to this, but seeing the picture again, I find I'd have to call it 'Z's side!' which would be meaningless, so I won't do it.

I've had a perfectly lovely holiday, thank you, and will force you to look at pictures over the next day or two. I spent the whole of both solitary journeys listening to albums you lovely people have recommended to me. I left my car at my sister's in Wiltshire and we drove the rest of the way in her little car. Thank goodness we did, West Cornwall is no place for my estate car. I'm not sure I could have made the turn into the car park in Mousehole.

While I was away, the lilac, the bluebells and the may came out and Al is keenly planting out tomato plants in the greenhouse. I was earlier than the Sage expected (no traffic hold-ups at all) so he was out when I arrived, but he said "I've missed you*" when he did arrive, so that was all right. He has hoovered, cleaned the kitchen sink and worktops and washed the kitchen floor, and didn't even mention it (there's modesty for you). I did, however, appreciatively, so I'm sure he will be keen to do it again soon, maybe even when I'm home...

... Al just went past carrying a tankful of tadpoles, on his way to the pond to change the water. I followed him and we found a dove in the pond, under the heron-deterring netting. I'm not sure how the poor bird got under the net, but it's lucky we found him when we did. He was able to crouch partly above the water line, but couldn't get out. I picked him up, disentangled him and put him on the ground. He waddled away, looking totally shocked.

I'll be back later (I'll have time as the Sage has a meeting this evening), but the garden is calling me.

*Well, so I should hope!

Friday 13 April 2007

'My bag is packed and I'm (almost) ready to go'

I spent three hours in the greenhouse this morning and that's fit to be left for ten days as long as it's watered, the heating is put on and off night and morning, and observation is carried out for the possibility of frost, so that extra-propagator plants can be covered if necessary. I have planted out lettuces, cabbages, broad beans, potatoes, spinach and swiss chard and netted the first two against pigeons and doves, giving advice that the spinach should be observed so that it can also be covered at first sign of attack. I have made polite suggestions as to what preparations in the veg garden and the other greenhouse would absolutely thrill me, if done by my return, so that I can plant out more stuff. I have sorted out the tomatoes, lettuces etc that are surplus to requirements for Al to sell.

The house is a bit of a tip. It will be more so by the time I return. I meant to change the bedlinen yesterday and wash it, but ran out of time. I have turned the duvet and pillows upside-down. Hey, we both bath every night, the Sage won't even notice. No danger that he will change the sheets.

I meant to leave at 1, but I've still got wet hair, a bare face and I'm eating brie and cucumber. I'll leave at 1.30.

I have packed, including 8 books, 2 back editions of Tough Puzzles and a bit of paperwork that has to be done and posted by tomorrow. However, all sale-related stuff is completed.

You know, for years I didn't bother going on holiday as it was too much work to get ready before and catch up afterwards. Now, I've much less to do but it still seems an awful lot.

Take great care of yourselves whilst I'm not here to look after you. I will, of course, think of you in a protectively talismanic sort of way, and miss you most dreadfully.

Lots of love,


Wednesday 11 April 2007

You're somehow going to have to manage without me

for ten whole days after tomorrow, so I'm writing you a few extra posts now. This, I got from Imperatrix

Well, yes.

I'm 1969 really, but Cary Grant may have held me back

You Belong in 1968

If you scored...

1950 - 1959: You're fun loving, romantic, and more than a little innocent. See you at the drive in!

1960 - 1969: You are a free spirit with a huge heart. Love, peace, and happiness rule - oh, and drugs too.

1970 - 1979: Bold and brash, you take life by the horns. Whether you're partying or protesting, you give it your all!

1980 - 1989: Wild, over the top, and just a little bit cheesy. You're colourful at night - and successful during the day.

1990 - 1999: With you anything goes! You're grunge one day, ghetto fabulous the next. It's all good!

Second only to 1968/1969, I am, of course, a girl of this very moment.

Thanks to Rob.

Z is a bad bitch-mother, but she celebrates

Heh heh, that'll mislead the unwary googler.

Tilly suggested politely that it was time for her dinner. I went to the kitchen and, on my way to the fridge for her food, remembered that we'd drunk all the chilled champagne and other effervescent delights. I fetched another bottle, put it in and ... went back to my desk.

Some fifteen minutes later, after having waited with the trust of Patient Griselda by her bowl, she came to me and wagged her tail. Truly, she is the most polite dog you could imagine.

Anyway, we need champagne tonight. I have completed the china condition report and sent it off and I've sent the photos too. By the end of the weekend (Lynn took time off to go to Venice for Easter - what? when there was Z's work to be done?) the catalogue will, I hope, be on our website and I'll put up a link.

The condition report took me four hours, and my eyes hurt by the end. I was asked what is involved - simply, it's a careful inspection of each piece in a good light, noting down any damage or repair. One has to be particularly careful to notice good restoration - there's one saucer that I felt must have been repaired, but I can't see it. I just know it's there. In fact, some people bring torches and repairs and cracks show up under UV light, but I don't do that. I put in a disclaimer, to say that I've looked carefully but don't give a guarantee. Caveat emptor* is the watchword of the bidder at an auction, although misdescribed lots should be refunded. There is a good deal of trust in the honesty of an auctioneer.

Not only have I finally finished the catalogue work, but tonight we are having the first home-grown asparagus of the season. So you see, champagne is a must. I have also picked spinach to go with our salmon.

I am supposed to be going to a concert in Yagnub tonight, and I would like to, but I've decided to give it a miss. I haven't watered the greenhouse yet, nor started to cook dinner. And I'm out to dinner tomorrow night with some girlfriends and off on my hols the day after, so I should spend an evening with my sweetie.

Oh yes, another reason for the champagne - my latest Amazon order arrived, which is very quick and I commend them. I've bought Ian McEwan's latest book, Chesil Beach. Mixed reviews I've read - I always find that he is a very good writer but there is a clunking plot flaw in every book that really annoys me. I also bought The Tenderness of Wolves - reservations again there - I've a feeling I'll find it overhyped. Then I bought Scarlet and Other Stories from All About Eve, because Stegbeetle likes it. In the same post, from, came 'Layer Cake' which I haven't seen before and I have another CD to come from them, which I think is Gershwin. So I'll have stuff to listen to during my trip on Friday.

Time to put the greenhouse to bed before opening that bottle.

*Any excuse to put in a subjunctive, you see

Charging trains

Hm. I've just been checking out the price of the train fare to go to my sister and the cheapest return fare is £45. That will be more than the cost of the petrol, and in addition my husband will have to drive me 15 miles to and from the station and my sister will have to drive 9 miles each way, and there will be the fare across London too. And it will take at least an hour longer.

There seems to be no incentive at all to use public transport rather than the car, does there? I know there's the wear on the car tyres, but I'm not sure that this is enough to sway me.

And if going by train is not the most economical option for one person, how on earth would a couple or a group of friends justify it?

I think that every MP should resolve, for a year, to use public transport, the Health Service and state education and, in the case of the transport, should pay for it out of their own pockets. And I mean public transport, not taxis, unless there is simply no other way, such as transport to or from a station to somewhere not within a mile of a bus route. Furthermore, they should have a child in a pushchair with them on at least one journey in ten, and be confined to a wheelchair for a similar proportion of trips. They should receive no special treatment or queue-jump, nor go First Class. Those who live in a city should exchange places with country dwellers for half the year.

This is not suggested as a punishment, just so that they understand what it's like for the rest of us. I think things would improve very quickly.

Tuesday 10 April 2007

What do you do when the computer takes ages? Blog, of course

I'm sending photos to Sally, of her and Helen giving the Special Plaque to the Princess Royal. Since Hotmail doesn't really want to work with Safari any more (yes indeed, I may yet abandon Hotmail, but in my experience, when you tell someone you use a different email address they are still sometimes using the old one two years later), I'm using Firefox at present, but blimey, it's slow. You attach a picture and, like a child with a new coloured pencil and its tongue sticking out, it continues to say, earnestly "scanning and uploading" for several minutes. And you can't have several pictures in a queue of course. One at a time, or it cries for its mummy. And it only seems to take two pictures before it is full up and belches quietly and you have to send them before loading in another. I am almost catatonic with boredom. I just had to check the 'sent messages' box to see where I'm up to. Thank goodness I only took eight photos, or this would take all night.

Maybe it's time to revert to the simplest, non-upgraded (upgraded, my arse) version. I mean, if I, the sweetest natured person since the dinosaurs stalked the earth, am a little irritated, how bad must it be?

Z is lazy, even by her standards, but becomes alert upon the arrival of the postman

I started well this morning, too. I tidied the kitchen and the drawing room by 10 o'clock. Friends called and stayed for an hour. I was, after that, going to take the last few photos, but it had become a bit too windy - I take them outside by natural light. I need to label the photos I have taken, which is a tedious job, so I started by reading the paper and a couple of blogs. I've not done a stroke of work since.

The Sage has just brought in today's post. Two envelopes from the Inland Revenue, to remind me that my tax return is due in by the end of January 2008. Yes, give me six months and I'll take the info to my accountant. Bit of a uselessly early reminder. A letter to say that Tough Puzzles will no longer be published. This is deeply depressing. It started in September 1983 and I have subscribed ever since. A card from El, with a packet of seeds I'd asked her to buy in Venice - bless her and Phil, they were only there for 3 days last week and she took the time and trouble. A dividend cheque for £87.85. That's more like it. Our polling cards for the May elections.

Now, this will be fun. It's the election for the District Council, but what is more interesting is that it's time for the Parish Council to be re-elected and, this year, there are more candidates than places. Last time, there were too few and so no election was held and someone was co-opted afterwards. Now, I understand, one person is standing down but three more have put their names forward. We have had a Parish Council election only twice in the 21 years I've lived here - 20 years ago and 12 years ago (sadly, this is the sort of thing I actually remember, I know I should be ashamed of myself for being quite so specifically brainally retentive) - so I wonder if there will actually be people keen enough to canvass and lobby for my vote. I feel quite democratically powerful. After all, in a little village of 722 eligible voters, many of whom will not bother to turn out, each vote really matters.

I must give the placement of my votes some considerable thought.

Monday 9 April 2007

Z moves chickens and calms down

I have reformatted the camera and it seems fine again, and Ro tells me that I can put the pictures back from the computer to the camera.

I have ironed a huge number of garments, some of which I'd forgotten I owned. I still have some heavy woollen jumpers which will wait for a bit (possibly until the autumn), several of the Sage's shirts and some more of my own clothes as well as the inevitable garment that hasn't been washed quite clean and will have to be done again.

More interestingly, tonight the Sage and I moved all 29 bantams to their summer quarters. They were a little anxious but quite calm. I put four at a time into a box and covered it with my coat, the Sage carried another one (he needed a free hand, but he did take the biggest) and we carried them the 50 yards or so to the new run. He put them, one at a time, on the perch and they soon settled down again. They will be excited tomorrow when they realise they have a lovely new stretch of grass, full of insects and interesting wriggling things. They are laying lots of eggs already - lucky we can sell the surplus in the shop. Al's customers are very happy.

Z is a Swear Queen

I'm feeling a little tense. I have been taking photographs of the china for our website this afternoon and the camera keeps telling me that the card is full. I've had to put photos onto the computer and delete them from the camera with increasing frequency and this has been annoying.

Last week I took the photos for the camera. The photographic shop chappy, the nice man who set them up ready to print in the evening to give us the quickest possible service, asked me to switch my camera on to the highest possible resolution, which I did, although it was a high resolution already. When, the next day, I went in to get some other photos developed, the camera chappie (different shop, so different spelling - well, it makes sense to me) remarked that I'd got 175 pics on the camera. Funny that, only a few days later, it would only take 13. It doesn't seem to acknowledge that I've deleted them. Indeed, in the end it would only take one. The battery was low, so it's recharging at present. Bloody thing. I'll have to reformat it. I've already deleted everything (including pictures of the children that I'd meant to show people and now I'll have to print them instead) and that didn't help.

Never mind. Nothing that a nice glass of wine and some really foul language won't help.

It's been a dutiful sort of day. I had huge quantities of washing to do, including a great pile of hand-washing. The ironing basket was already full, and once I bring everything in off the line, a second one will be too. Think of me this evening, a proper little Mrs Tiggywinkle. Oh hell.

Sunday 8 April 2007

The Sage is sweet

I'm sitting here and he just got up from his chair to give me a hug. "All right?" he said. "Fine," I replied, and turned, put my arms round him and kissed him.

Afterwards, he said "thank you."

What's that for? He's not exactly starved of affection!

It's been a busier day than I would have liked, but not as busy as I'd planned. So pretty well okay, really, except that I'll have to catch up tomorrow. That'll be okay.

We spent quite a long time sitting in Al and Dilly's garden, first chatting with her mum and dad and later, after they'd left, drinking wine. Far better than working, although I got a lot done in an extremely warm greenhouse in the time in between.

Roast pork tonight. The Sage put it in the oven for me and sliced an onion for it to rest on. He also scrubbed some new potatoes. He will be quite sure that he has cooked dinner tonight all by himself.

Husbands. What's not to love?

Easter Sunday

Happy Easter, darlings. Have a lovely day.

Saturday 7 April 2007

Shame about the boat race (Z didn't see it)

I had said I'd work in the shop today, but I'd expected to leave at 1 pm. In the event, Al was getting on very well with Squiffany's climbing frame and I decided to stay on, so that he, the Sage and Jamie could get it finished. Al's in-laws are coming for lunch tomorrow so, naturally, he wants it finished for them to see.

As it's a holiday weekend and surely people would be all planned and prepared for Easter Sunday lunch, he had been going to shut up shop at 3, but I was busy sorting things out and it was an hour later when I finally started to bring everything in. Of course, that was the signal for customers to scurry apologetically around the corner "Am I too late?" "Of course not, if there's anything you can't get at, ask and I'll move things."

Only another 3 customers, but I took a good £15, which was fair enough and, more importantly, they weren't disappointed - no, really, I am that caring and lovely a person (hmm).

But, by the time I waddled back to my car - my joints have not worked right for the last 6 months since Squiffany inveigled me into her play tunnel and I crawled through it 3 times - and came home and went to admire the climbing frame and went to get my camera and spent a long time unsuccessfully searching for it (later, it turned out that the Sage had put it in the dining room) and played with Pugsley while Dilly cooked tea for him and his sister, it was after 5.30 and I still had flowers to arrange in the church.

And by the time I had done that, it was nearly 7 o'clock and I still had dinner to cook (the Sage was still busy with bantams, weight-pulling was not an issue at all) and so I needed a little something. With rare prescience, I'd put a bottle of pink Cava in the fridge at 5 o'clock.

I should have made it two bottles really.

Friday 6 April 2007

But the carnival isn't over

You Are a Seeker Soul

You are on a quest for knowledge and life challenges.
You love to be curious and ask a ton of questions.
Since you know so much, you make for an interesting conversationalist.
Mentally alert, you can outwit almost anyone (and have fun doing it!).

Very introspective, you can be silently critical of others.
And your quiet nature makes it difficult for people to get to know you.
You see yourself as a philosopher, and you take everything philosophically.
Your main talent is expressing and communicating ideas.

Souls you are most compatible with: Hunter Soul and Visionary Soul

I'n not at all sure how I gave that impression.

Z, it seems, is good for something

You're an Expert Kisser

You're a kissing pro, but it's all about quality and not quantity
You've perfected your kissing technique and can knock anyone's socks off
And you're adaptable, giving each partner what they crave
When it comes down to it, your kisses are truly unforgettable

Er, each partner? Pfft, whatever...

Thursday 5 April 2007

Z goes to L0westoft

We walked over the bridge. Time was, there would have been rows of trawlers moored in the dock over on the left.

We went in these gates, for we are members.

Inside, the Pr1ncess R0yal was paying a visit.

She was given a piece of new L0westoft P0rcelain, made here - -* and decorated by Helen, the blonde girl on the left. Sally is in the middle.

Pr1ncess Anne was very charming, chatting to Helen and Sally for several minutes when two would have sufficed for the strictest politeness.

Dilly had brought the children, though they stayed outside. Someone gave them flags. Squiffany was impressed. "Hello Pr1ncess!" she called, several times. The sun was shining on the children playing in the new fountain. You can see police vehicles in the background, but security was extremely low-key and there was a cheerily relaxed atmosphere.

Neptune looked on benignly. Or Poseidon, if you prefer.

As we walked back, I snapped the Sage's former workplace, where he used to be a partner. It was an auction house for many years, but has for some time been a night club.

After that, we went to visit one of the people I like best in the world. I hardly know him in fact, he was briefly my Latin teacher, but that does not deter my affection at all. I took Latin at O Level (as we oldies call it) and whimsically decided, after two years in the 6th Form, to take a couple of extra A Levels; Latin and French. My school could not accommodate me, so I spent a year at the recently-comprehensived former Grammar School. A couple of years afterwards he left teaching to become an antiquarian book dealer. Now well into his 80s, he is still as lovely a man as he ever was. I asked if he still had the incunabula he showed me a few years. He had not, but he had a page of one, from 1480. These are the first printed books and magical to hold. In their way, almost more wonderful than hand-written books, for each individual letter was hand-set in the printing press - it must have been more work than writing. I will, one day, own one. If it uses all the money I have.

I remember things that Mr Lamb said, 35 years ago. Once, he said of the Roman writer Horace "I've always liked Horace. People say you have to be middle-aged to appreciate him, but then I think I was born middle-aged." Now, imagine an 18-year-old who had always felt slightly out of kilter with her contemporaries, and then imagine her sudden realisation that she would, one day, grow into her true self and the sense of relieved 'at-homeness' that this gave her.

Once, there was nowhere for us to have a lesson. After trying a couple of classrooms and the library, he asked if anyone had a car. I had, so we piled into his and mine and drove off to his house. His sitting-room was gorgeous. Lined with bookshelves stuffed with leather-bound books, with a shabby old leather chesterfield. I adored it. Today, I reminisced about that day and he remembered it.

*Excuse me not making the link for you, but I don't want them to see me. They did, regrettably, spell the Sage's name wrong.

Wednesday 4 April 2007


We've had a convivial evening, the Sage and I, putting catalogues together, next door with Dilly and Al.

Now you will probably think that we are provincial and not a little amateurish, but we think that the end result is what matters, the china, the service and, er, the low cost. We charge a very low rate of commission for what we do. Our catalogues are illustrated, but colour printing is too expensive for a free catalogue when we need to keep the total cost, including postage, down to £1 each (an arrangement is come to with a friend who owns a stationary company and we get cheap envelopes). So we have 400 catalogues printed plus 400 copies of each photograph and we stick them on. Three photos, of fifteen lots, and each to be stuck on.

The four of us made a production line. I took through the half of a bottle of red that I hadn't yet drunk, though Al was already on red and Dilly on pink. In an hour and a half, we'd completed 125 and done two thirds of another hundred. We've called it a day. Tomorrow, I'll print the address labels, we'll stick them on the envelopes, stick on the stamps, stuff the envelopes and then we can breathe a sigh of relief.

Oh, I've also got to send the catalogue to go on the website, take photos of each piece, send them, examine each item very very carefully, write a condition report for each piece and post that on the website.

It will be done by the end of the weekend. Easter will be celebrated, but not by stopping work. However, I don't grumble about it. We only have two sales a year after all. We don't exactly work full-time at it. I've had enough for tonight though. I'm listening to B-daddy's Pearl Jam and I'm going to make coffee and then have an early night.

I must take more notice of the phases of the moon. I always used to be aware of this, when I had several dogs to walk each night. Now I only have one she gets let out in the garden and I don't notice. But sometimes I sleep badly and am awake for hours each night. Maybe I am a lunatic after all?


I've impulsively booked to go to a concert at Snape on Friday night. I had an email to say there are still tickets for some of their Easter concerts - I hadn't booked anything as we often have family things on over the holiday.

You can book online, so I had a look, but backed away hastily when I discovered there was a £1.75 booking fee. Since all I wanted was a single £10 ticket, it seemed a bit steep. Just as well, for when I mentioned it to Ro, he said he'd come too. I rang for the tickets this morning.

A pleasant programme of Prokofiev and Stravinsky, including Lieutenant Kije. I have an affection for that piece. When I was under a period of great stress, I couldn't listen to much music; I couldn't cope with it. I played Bix Beiderbecke, Hoagy Carmichael and Kije, over and again. They were enjoyable and comforting in a way I still don't understand - not that they were, but that others weren't. Later, I was able to listen to Mozart's Requiem. Now, anything, I'm glad to say, and I like to be surprised.

I'll be in the shop this afternoon, so I've had an early lunch. A delicious undyed Lowestoft kipper. Maybe it's because I'm a Lowestoft girl that I love smoky tastes. Lapsang Souchong tea, kippers and bloaters, Islay whisky. And the smell of a wood fire, of course.

Tuesday 3 April 2007

The family story – part 15 – the hotel Part 1 - the downside

My parents didn't enjoy being hoteliers. The 1940s were not exactly the best time to be in the hospitality business in England. In 1947 people were starting to go on holiday again, but it was a time of austerity and restaurants were limited in the amount they were allowed to charge. I'm not sure how the rationing regulations affected hotels - yet another thing I didn't ask my mother - but the restrictions certainly made life difficult.

The situation of the hotel is rather lovely. It's on the clifftop by B0wleaze C0ve, sideways on to the cliff edge, a long, curved building on two floors with a tall square tower in the centre. If you've seen any of the Hercule Poirot programmes with David Suchet, the Art Deco houses, contemporary with the books, that are featured in them remind me of the hotel. It has always been painted white. There were 98 bedrooms, a pretty large establishment. The ballroom held, at the time of its construction, some sort of record for (I think) the largest room made of concrete with its ceilings unsupported by pillars (I have no idea what I'm talking about here, just reporting, laugh among yourselves as required).

My father had grown up in a fairly sophisticated, if provincial, society and had high expectations of the kitchen - and he'd been out of the country all during the war and hadn't lived through rationing. Army privations were one thing, but he'd not experienced everyday life in that time. Both he and Jane were keenly interested in food and when Elizabeth David published her first book on French cooking, they started to follow her recipes and research the cuisines of other countries too, including English food of course. They built up a large collection of cookery books. They did special dinners - my mother remembered one Chinese meal when Malcolm had the bright idea of making 100 silk napkins, each with the Mandarin equivalent of bon appetit in the corner. He had just bought her the latest model of electric sewing machine and was keen to try out all its features.

They might have enjoyed running a restaurant, but a large family hotel too was exhausting. They made money in the summer months, but lost it in the winter, when they had to keep on key staff with little money coming in. Many of the children were badly behaved. I suppose parents wanted to make up for the privations of wartime and spoiled the kids. My parents learned to dread the arrival of middle-aged parents with one adored, late-born child. Those were the worst behaved of all and the parents never reprimanded them, but watched them rampage round the dining room with a fond smile. One such child stripped the newly-wallpapered bedroom one evening while its parents dined - no offer of recompense.

Another time, a charity rented the whole hotel (at a knock-down price, as it was for charity) to give a holiday for East End slum children. Unfortunately, a bedroom was, afterwards, found to be infested with bedbugs. It had to have the paper stripped from the walls, the skirting board and picture rail removed, the flooring taken up, literally anywhere where the bugs or their eggs could be hiding.

On another occasion, a film company rented the hotel for the whole cast of a film. My parents were thrilled - they paid a good price, out of season. Unfortunately, they had negotiated a fixed price and hadn't bargained for the whole cast to go on strike. The instigator of the strike was, apparently, B1ll 0wen, of L@st of the Summer W1ne fame, who was, presumably, blissfully unaware that he was causing the hotel more losses than the film company.

Once, a small group of waiting staff threatened to walk out if they were not given more money. My father pointed out that, because of the situation of the hotel, down a long track a couple of miles out of town, they were already paid more than comparable posts and several of the female staff were taken home in taxis at the end of the evening too. He accepted their resignation, much to their surprise. A couple of weeks later, they returned, asking for their old jobs back ... and were sent away disappointed.

My mother always said that she had done every job in the hotel at one time or another except barmaid, and Daddy had done everything except chambermaid - er - chamberboy?. She also said that by the end of August she had to retire to her bed for a couple of weeks, totally exhausted.

Z gets carte blanche

Time to show my real colours. The pity is that no one will like me any more.

A committee meeting this morning which, as usual, overran rather badly. This is my fault as I'm chairman. However, it won't happen again. Someone asked (completely irrelevantly) which day of the week the meetings will be on from September. She would prefer another day than Tuesday. I said that we'll decide on dates at our June meeting, but in the meantime, please could people consider if Wednesday will suit. "Wednesday morning's fine," said someone, "but could I leave at 12.30 as I'm busy on Wednesday afternoons?" "Would you like to finish by 12.30?" I asked. Everyone nodded. "Then we will."

They think I'm pretending to be tough. You know I'm tough though darlings, don't you?

The thing is, other committees I've chaired have been more formal and business-like and this one needs scope for discussion. I know, I'm sounding fluffy and unable to keep things focused, but it's not a business meeting, it's a group of voluntary committee members running a society for the study of fine arts. We each have a specific job, but we all have input and take an interest in each aspect. In addition, I'm the youngest there by at least ten years and so don't gain any gravitas by my white hairs and eleven wobbling chins. In short, I haven't, up to now, done very well (except when I give the vote of thanks at the monthly lectures where, unexpectedly, the members enjoy me).

But now I've received the okay, I'll demonstrate just how stern and focused I can be. And you know how scary I am when I do that.

Monday 2 April 2007

Mood swings

I feel a little rattled. Not that the day has gone badly; the opposite, indeed, but I find the need for perfection a little stressful. I typed up the list of lots for the catalogue this morning - the Sage kindly brought through trays of china for me to write down their description. I used to write it all on a notepad, but it's too easy to make mistakes - much more reliable to type it straight away. All this took nearly four hours, by which time I felt edgy and irritable, and realised that, apart from half a small melon, I hadn't eaten anything. So I suggested an early lunch and put a frozen pizza in the oven.

After that, came the laying out of the catalogue which would be no trouble if it were not for my deep and abiding hatred (unreasoning of course) of M1cr0s0ft Bl00dy W0rd. I shouted and swore at the computer, as is usual on these occasions but it was finally done and went off to the printers.

Then the photographs for the catalogue. This went very smoothly. I like taking pictures of things that don't move. I'm rubbish at animate objects. Unfortunately, soon after I'd put them on the computer, it crashed. Now, this doesn't happen often, but when it does it can take hours to get it going again. I don't, of course, mean hours of continuous trying, but if it won't restart in a couple of goes, it's best to just leave it unplugged for a while and then go back and spend the next half hour cajoling it.

So, down to the greenhouse, sowed more seeds, watered, thought anxiously about all I've got to do in the garden in the next ten days before I go away, and back to the house, where Al and family were arriving to be friendly and sociable. For today is Al's birthday. My little boy is 31. My little girl's birthday is on Wednesday, by which date she will be in Venice, for her beloved is whisking her off for a mid-week break.

Off went the Sage to the photographer to get the pictures done (what a nice bloke, he's quite happy to receive them after hours to make a start tonight, as he is taking his family for a day out in Cambridge tomorrow and we want them back by Thursday, before the Bank Holiday), I cooked dinner and then I started to sweet-talk the computer. After a while the Sage came and politely enquired about an item finishing this evening on eBay. What on earth does a one-computer family do on these occasions. In this case, "Ro, can you help your father please?..." He was just in time to bid, but didn't win the piece. An auctioneer takes such defeat with good grace "At least I've run it up a bit, the buyer didn't get a bargain."

I've spent the last hour getting things ready for a meeting tomorrow morning, though I haven't finished yet because I needed - NEEDED, I tell'ee - to stop for coffee and whisky. There was only a half-inch left in the bottle. I poured out half of that and would like the rest, but I've had enough this evening and should demonstrate self-restraint. For the same reason, I am ignoring the bar of excellent chocolate which is shimmying provocatively within easy reach of my right hand.

You might think I'm being surprisingly improvident, letting the whisky bottle run almost dry, but I did buy a new one last week. However, last night, Ro realised he hadn't bought his brother a birthday present....Al was very pleased. "At last, someone who knows what present-buying is all about," he said provocatively.

I feel better. Candlelight, whisky, coffee and a rather lovely CD, which was given to me by a particularly delightful gentleman friend, of Sviatoslav Richter and Benjamin Britten playing Schubert piano duets, have soothed me and I shall finish my work, read a cheerful book and go to bed. Unless my rising spirits persuade me into a few more hours of frivolity of course, which is never impossible.

It's a full moon, isn't it? Maybe that's why I feel mercurial. Oh, no that must have something to do with Mercury. Why I feel lunatic? Hm.

Sunday 1 April 2007

Z puts her foot down

It's a warm and comfortable place to be, under my toe. I told the Sage he has worked hard enough today, poured him a drink, given him a kiss and a dish of cheesy biscuits and assured him that we'll get the catalogue ready to be printed by lunchtime tomorrow.

I've got to type up three pages of catalogue tonight and the rest in the morning, when he will be sufficiently rested to describe the china.

Is a couple of glasses of wine the best preparation for accurate typing? Of course it is. I might even add a few cheery asides (no I won't, professionalism will come to the fore, as you might expect, knowing, for you know me very well, that I only pretend to be fluffy).

I can hear you (or is it just the Voices??) asking what the Sage has done, to be so tired? He and Al have been working on Squiffany's climbing frame. Today, they put in the steps. They had already done the first floor, so Squiffany was invited to climb them. I didn't see it, I was working in the greenhouse, but she was thrilled and excited. Lucky little girl that she is, to have her daddy and grandad take so much time and trouble for her. I think she will appreciate it more, seeing it go up bit by bit.

Anyway, I'm roasting a freerange chicken with potatoes, parsnips, sausages and cauliflower. All of them local. I'm a lucky girl too. Hah!

Oh, by the way, does a double-yolked egg, if left to hatch, produce two chicks or one confused one? I've never heard of twin chicks and Ro thinks that the production method of eggs doesn't allow for two embryos to be implanted, even if there are two yolks. I ask because we had one this morning, the first I remember from any of our bantams, from one of the black pedigree girlies. It was a huge egg. The Sage says that she doesn't lay all that often. If I were her, I'd resolve never to lay again. She's just two years old, which is a few months older than commercial freerange egg producers keep them to.

Anyway, I'm off to flirt with the Sage. He deserves it.


I don't know if this is the sort of thing that of course everyone knows already and I'm just easily impressed, but this entertained me mightily.