Monday 31 August 2009

Bringing on the wall, Day 26 - Wink Joins In

Dave was late!!(!)* This is pretty well unheard of, but I supposed that perhaps he had spent some extra minutes preparing his mother's breakfast and that he'd been running around like a busy person to catch up ever since. When he arrived, only ten minutes later than usual, it transpired that there was another explanation, but you must go to him to find it.

I made tea (two Earl Greys without milk, one Earl Grey with milk, one Indian tea with milk) and we got started. The first bucketful of mortar was a bit wet, so I ladled it on to a run of bricks so that they would absorb some moisture by the time I wanted to lay the next course of bricks. This proved to be splendidly quick and effective and I got on well. Dave concentrated on the corner, which is a bit complicated to do. Wink had not, after all, brought bricklaying trousers, so I lent her a spare pair of mine (generously, the summer-weight ones, while I wore the thick jeans with the knee out), but she decided to do some shopping first, so disappeared for a while.

All went swimmingly, and later she returned and laid several bricks herself. This is today's effort

And the corner from the other side.

Also, with Dave's permission, here are the wide-lens photos he took last week. Still couldn't get quite all of it in because of a tree in the way
If you compare my first photo with his second one from the session before, you can see how much we added today. These pictures, taken from his blog, don't enlarge and they do look good embiggened (as Pat puts it) so here's a link to the original where they do.

Later, we ate bacon sandwiches on the lawn, which have been requested by Dave for some time (he also asks for cake during afternoon sessions, but he hasn't been lucky yet). The Sage was accompanied on one side by Tilly and on the other by his favourite bantam. He fed them both bits of toast. Then I fed them bits of toast. Dave left to go and tell his mother something she wouldn't want to hear. We sat in the sun on the lawn and drank another glass or two of wine. Later, Wink had a little nap (she's on holiday) and I went and filled the car against the fuel increase tonight and then came home and prepared dinner. We'd invited Al and family round for a barbecue.

While the food was cooking we ate smoked salmon pâté on oat cakes, artichoke hearts in olive oil, black olives and breadsticks. Squiffany hadn't eaten artichoke hearts before and gave it a try "I don't like it - wait - I do like it!" She accepted another, bigger piece. The meal went very well, everyone enjoyed all the food and it was a jolly, convivial evening in the last of the sunshine. We were joined by chickens again and gave them pieces of oatcake. Only one will take food from your hand, and she lets the Sage pick her up too. He gave her to me to cuddle and she let me, though she was being polite rather than enthusiastic so I didn't test her patience for too long.

Then several of us went to Fairyland by train, and then the rest of us went to London - Squiffany being the train driver in each case. Eventually, as it was becoming dark, they went home to bed (well, the children went to bed, I daresay Dilly and Al didn't) and we came in for coffee.

*If anyone wonders why the brackets, it's because the divinely splendid JonnyB claims full rights to three unadorned exclamation marks and I am a respectful blogger.

Z is amused

So, it's a sunny Bank Holiday and you've spent several hours frolicking in the sea or relaxing in the garden or steaming in a queue of cars or stomping round the shops. You want a spot of light relaxation, right?

Look no further. Z spends hours in relaxation, every single day. And this is the sort of thing I do when I'm not reading your blog. Each of your blogs, that is.

I like this photo. Interesting.

Thanks to Non-working Monkey for this one

Only one of many awkward family photos

An old one, but if you haven't come across it before, one can while away a good many horrified, yet entertained, minutes Weeza put me on to this website years ago, long before I was a blogger.

Today's real post to follow. I've got to start preparing dinner.

Oh Dave, would it be all right for me to publish your wide-lens photos of the wall please? Acknowledged, of course.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Z huffs and puffs

I'd been disinclined to go to church. There wouldn't be a service at our church, only one at a village nearly 4 miles away - but they usually have a very small congregation, sometimes not even a single handful of people, and yet it's a lovely place and I have friends there - so I decided I would. I'd drive though, it's uphill and I'm nervous of one bend (on a hill with a nasty camber so that lorries tend to take up the whole road, invisibly until the last moment) even in a car, so cycling was out of the question.

Unfortunately, I have a strong feeling of obligation. I asked the Sage what he thought. "The wind has dropped" he replied unhelpfully. "I don't mean the weather, I mean the road. It's not a nice road and I don't do hills" I said. "Oh" he said, "I don't know how to advise you". I knew what he meant. I sighed, went and ate a piece of toast and got the bike out.

No, I didn't enjoy it at all. And what I didn't realise, even on the way, was that quite a lot of it was very slightly downhill, so that on the way home I didn't have the easy run I expected. However, there was a very good turn-out, with over 70 adults and a dozen or so children. I didn't agree with what the Rector said in her sermon and drifted off for a while, thinking how I'd put it instead. Not that I'd want to. I never want to deliver another sermon, once was fine but I've done it - it was never an ambition, but at the time it was appropriate - but it won't be again. Likewise for cycling that road. I hate hills and so does my bike.

I met Wink and the Sage at the pub, had a quick drink and came home and cooked omelettes. We had chicken for dinner, which was quite neat.

Weeza sent through the first draft of the catalogue. All is going well there.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Z is still scoffing fruit and cobnuts

Yes, I did go to the doctor and he immediately agreed to refer me to a consultant - he said a couple of years ago that he would, as soon as I asked, so it's the result I expected, but only the first step. If I haven't heard from the hospital in two weeks, I'm to contact him again, but I daresay I will have.

Bit of a change in the weather - a sudden downpour yesterday afternoon, the first rain here for at least a couple of weeks, and it's markedly colder. Not cold - I'm still wearing a teeshirt - but when I go out tonight I'll take some warm clothes for later.

This evening, Wink is due to arrive - I was quite gratified this morning when I went into the spare bedroom to find that I had remade the bed after the last guest left. Yes, I washed the sheets first. I always used to do that - when someone had been to stay, launder the bedlinen and remake the bed by close of play next day at the latest, but of late I have slipped somewhat, so I must have done it on autopilot.

Then we're going out to the annual Cyder fest at the next village. The Sage is a member of the Cyder Club and they have a splendid hog roast each year. Great fun, but I've always prudently limited myself to a single glass of the home-made cider, as I think overindulgence would be a bad, bad mistake. Indeed, I've been known to add a dash of lemonade to help it down, and I'm not a shandy lover. The company and food are superb, however.

I went into town and stocked up on the sort of food one eats on a relaxed weekend - delicious nibbles from the deli and wholefood shops. Simon in the wholefood shop had a horrible journey back from Scotland yesterday. I knew the M5 had been closed for hours while the police tried to talk a man out of jumping from a bridge - unsuccessfully, ultimately - but apparently the M6 and a lot of other roads had a whole lot of delays because of accidents. Probably caused, some of them, by the bad driving of people who had been stuck in traffic for hours on the M5. I do, honestly and genuinely, have great sympathy for a man who was so unhappy he was driven to suicide, but surely there's an etiquette here? If you have had police officers trying desperately to comfort you, to talk through your problems, begging you to accept help, for hours on end, you really should not jump after all at the end of it.

I grew up in a holiday resort, so it's always been natural to me to batten down the hatches and just stay home on a Bank Holiday. Being a sulky and unfriendly sort of person, it seems more of a treat not to have to go anywhere.

Lunch today has been delicious bread from Simon's shop, although I accidentally picked up a multi-grain loaf with sunflower seeds when I'd rather meant to get walnut bread; still, I'd have ate the whole loaf in one go if I had, so no matter. Since, I've been eating more Victoria plums and greengages (both locally grown) and nuts from Kent. Al said that sprouts and sprouting broccoli are on the wholesaler's list. Hmmmm. Much as I like both vegetables, not in August. Wisely, Al is still sticking to real seasonal vegetables in the shop.

Friday 28 August 2009

Z plans her day

The Sage will be out all afternoon. First he had to go to a funeral (having been asked to speak at it, an obligation was involved) and then, with Weeza and z, he will go this afternoon to visit his sister, whose birthday it is. I cycled into town, and very windy it is. On the way home, with the west wind in my face, I pedalled hard to little effect - at one point I was going at 5.5 mph. If I could run, I could run faster.

So now, the most pressing question is what to have for lunch. I've started with two figs - we've had a few from our own tree, but Al had some lovely local ones at the shop - someone with a large tree sells them to him every year. I forgot to have breakfast so I'm really quite hungry. Al had lots of lovely fruit - Worcester Pearmains (those are apples), Victoria plums, greengages, Kent cobnuts, as well as the figs, and I'm quite drawn to gorging on those, but on the other hand I could cook something with lots of garlic and chilli, more than the Sage quite enjoys. Or I could remove a bantam from a nest and take a couple of new-laid eggs (the Sage shut up the early layer last night so I wasn't woken at 6 o'clock. Or there's always risotto, which comforts and cheers even when I wasn't in need of consolation to begin with. I will stand in the kitchen and see where I'm drawn.

After that, I'll do the labelling of photos for the catalogue; or rather for the website catalogue. I'll double check everything against the description; it'll take a couple of hours I suppose. Then, having been to the library this morning, I might just settle down with a book and a dog and read and cuddle for the rest of the afternoon.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Z becomes over-confident

... and is inevitably caught out.

The last couple of days have gone really well. We were pleased with the work we did on the wall yesterday, and then in the afternoon all the china was put in order and the descriptions were written. Weeza started on the catalogue that evening and emailed the draft, and then arrived first thing this morning to start work again.

Actually, I didn't have the best start to the day. A bantam has been laying eggs outside the side door, cackling her achievement around midday each morning, but yesterday and this morning, I've been woken by a triumphant boast from a different hen, which has gone on for quite 20 minutes, at 6 o'clock. By the time she stopped, there was no hope of sleep. I told the Sage about it and he looked on the other side of the house (our bedroom in this narrow cottage has a window to east and west) and found 14 eggs in a nest. Hmm.

Dilly looked after Zerlina while we got on with the business. We were, simultaneously, photographing each lot, proofreading and doing the condition report. The photos are taken out of doors, which is also a good place to see any damage or restoration. We worked on, restored by cups of Earl or Lady Grey and Lapsang Souchong, and did well until it was time for lunch. Zerlina went for a nap and we cracked on - but the sun came out. We built up a supply of checked china until a cloud came over, started photographing again, the sun came out ... eventually it turned into a hot and sunny day and we enjoyed it for a bit before admitting retreat and going indoors for more tea and freezer defrosting.

Our fridge isn't that old, but the seal on the freezer doesn't fit too well any more, so it has to be defrosted regularly. Weeza decided we might as well do it now; basically because she thought that the odds were it wouldn't be done for a couple of weeks otherwise. She's right, of course. So that was done in between other jobs. We all agree that we really could do with a new fridge and would like it in a different place, but of course that means another turn-out...job for another day, let's not think about that right now.

The sun still blazed, but lower in the sky, so we moved the set-up into the shade and finished the job by 4.30. I rapidly downloaded the photos, put them on a disc (I've no idea where I left my memory stick lying around, and that goes for my brain as well as my *whatever the correct name is for a memory stick, can't remember - hah!* and Weeza and Zerlina left for home, with the happy knowledge that we've loads of time to finish the catalogue before it goes to the printers.

I started cooking dinner, did this'n'that, poured a glass of wine, did a bit more to dinner, poured more wine, noticed the time - squealed alarmingly - "what's the matter?" asked the startled Sage. "I'm late, I'm meeting, er, you know - oh, no time to explain" and off I shot on my bike for the appointment I was 20 minutes late for. Bless her, the lovely person was still hanging about hopefully and was entirely gracious as I apologised.

When I got home, the house was empty. Johnny had phoned to say he wanted to cut the field for hay (an aftermath) so could we unlock the gate please? When the Sage returned, he left at once again to take Johnny a glass of cider, which went down well, apparently. No 169 is to leave soon to have her calf, but another cow will come to keep Big Pinkie company.

This evening, I should be numbering the photos for Ro to put on the website. But there's no hurry. I think it'll keep.

I have made that doctor's appointment, for those of you who have encouraged me to Just Get On With It.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Bringing on the wall, Day 25 - we go Round the Bend

An event of some significance this afternoon - we reached the corner and Dave exuberantly went right round the bend. Actually, we had rather doubted that we'd get any building done at all today, when we'd looked at the BBC local weather forecast but, bearing in mind its usual level of accuracy, we decided to go for it. Indeed, the BBC still shows light rain right now, although there's been none all day.

Dave worked particularly hard, first laying one of the ornamental bricks and filling in all around it for stability as the mortar sets, and then moving down to the corner to start on the pillar so that I'd have something to build to. Afterwards, he took photos with his super-duper wide-angled-lensed camera, though he couldn't get far enough away with nothing in between to get the whole length of the wall either. He'll put up his pictures at his place - I may pinch a couple of photos and put here, as they will undoubtedly be better than mine.

Here are today's photos - I built from the hammer towards the corner, Dave did from the pillar on the left to beyond the ornamental brick, then the corner footings and the start of the pillar.

Dave being a man of charm and total good-nature, offered to come along on Bank Holiday Monday for a final go before he leaves for his holiday. I'm not sure how to tell Wink that some of her precious long weekend here will be spent bricklaying - wait, she reads this blog every day, so I already have. Wink, this will give you an opportunity to lay a few bricks yourself, and it'll only be until noon and then we'll stop for bacon sandwiches. Bring old clothes.

Of course, August Bank Holiday usually brings rain, so we're prepared for disappointment, but that doesn't stop us looking forward to Day 26.

Tuesday 25 August 2009

Darling children

Weeza and Zerlina came over today. Little z has started walking on her own, as long as she doesn't realise it, since the day after her first birthday. Just a couple of steps at a time - mostly she crawls, though as likely as not on her hands and feet rather than knees. Recent photo I hear some of you request - okay, here you are.

Squiffany is also pleased with herself because she can now swim, with armbands, without wanting her mother to hold her. Pugsley doesn't try, but he will jump in, then plod round to the steps and come back to jump in again. The three children and their mothers are talking of going swimming tomorrow afternoon, while the Sage and I (and Dave) are bricklaying. I had an earnest talk with the Sage this morning - no, we don't generally row. As Dave discovered, to his startlement one morning, my explosions are usually brief and while the Sage isn't there, so I can be pleasant when he is. And I certainly appreciate how busy he has been; nevertheless I was able to cite similar projects where he has got to and beyond the point of no return and them left the job to finish at some time in the future. He took my point. Indeed, he's very fair in these matters, once faced with irrefutable logic and no chance of turning the conversation to a sideline. I don't underestimate that quality.

We'll be seeing a lot of Weeza and z this week - they're coming over in the morning and again on Thursday, and then the Sage is going over to her house on Friday and they're going to call on the Sage's sister as it's her birthday. She lives up in Cromer. My children are very fond of her - her own children are a lot older than they are, being 47 and 45, and she enjoyed having small children to do things with; and then hand back, I daresay. She'll be 77 on Friday. She really doesn't seem to have changed much in decades, still as much fun as ever.

I didn't say yesterday - I forgot to mention, that is - that it was Al and Dilly's wedding anniversary, five day's after Weeza and Phil's (though a year apart). Darling children.

Monday 24 August 2009

Back to 'normal'

I'm home again - nothing much seems to have happened here, which is why half the plants in tubs and a lot of the jerusalem artichokes are wilted. Also, through no fault of Dave, no bricklaying has happened all week. Maybe later this week, the Sage is non-committal.

One evening, when we were having dinner with friends of Wink's in a pub, another woman, Pip, came to join us for a drink and a chat and Wink mentioned my hip and the conversation turned to hip resurfacing. Another couple were leaving and came and joined in, to tell me that their daughter had her hip done a couple of years ago when she was 32 and it was a great success. Having such a problem at her young age was far worse for her than my old-woman osteoarthritis, and it's transformed her life. Pip knows quite a lot about it too, and she gave very encouraging reports and likely prognosis - it seems that it could take over from hip replacements in relatively young people who have strong enough bones and last a very long time. I've said I'll definitely go to the doctor and talk to him very soon. Maybe this week if I'm not too busy. Not tomorrow, certainly - Weeza is coming over to start preparations for the next sale catalogue and, as well, I've got the children in the morning. All three of them it'll be, which will be amusing.

I had an email today which, after dealing with the matter we'd emailed each other about, welcomed me home. "It's not the same without you", it ended. I'm not at all sure how to take that. If it was a veiled dig, I'm actually rather impressed.

Friday 21 August 2009

Z is back in the library

I don't normally blog when I'm away because I find other computers too distracting to use, particularly as they're usually slow and awkward - not necessarily awkward in themselves, but fingers are accustomed to a particular keyboard and another one may have slightly different spacing between the keys. This one does, in fact, and my fingers feel quite cramped in comparison to using my usual spacious keyboard. However, they are lovely new machines and so reasonably unfrustrating to use.

I had a lovely time with my friends and their daughter, who is home at present for her teaching job in Uganda. Later they were going to a funeral so, with a few hours to kill, I went to Glastonbury and had a peaceful wander round the Abbey ruins and then bought two of the few non-mystic or new-agey books in the bookshop opposite.

This morning we popped over to see Bod (Wink's fella) and his mum and I met Bod's brother and sister-in-law who were visiting on their way to stay with friends. Wink and the Bod are talking about visiting Portugal in November and wondered if I'd like to come too? - I was happy to look into the idea and later on browsed through the brochure. I said what the two likely options for leaving dates - "the second date would suit me" said Wink. She rang Bod. Unfortunately, the earlier week would suit him as he's go a lunch booked. So, which will prevail, his lunch or her concert? I didn't particularly agree when she grumbled about his intransigence as I'd cheerily said I'd cancel my trip to the opera in her week and didn't even mention, untl then, the two other social engagements I'd got, nor the one in the previous week.

Anyway, tomorrow will see a visit to Salisbury, so the old limerick will go relentlessly through my mind the entire day, and on Sunday Wink has invited friends to lunch. Afterwards, Bod may come round for a stroll round Stourhead, although Wink, who has had a very busy week, may want to put her feet up.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Z's on holiday

Just popped in to Wink's local library to check emails - not that I can't live without emails or blogging or anything like that, hem hem, but because I bought something on the Sage's behalf a couple of days ago on eBay and I wanted to pay. I spent some patient minutes talking the Sage through reading emails last night but we didn't quite get there - nevertheless, he was really trying (no, I only mean he tried hard) which is a first. It's only taken twenty years. I'm slightly anxious that he might actually persevere, however, and take over the computer. I said as much to Wink and she agreed - 'a computer is personal, you can't share' she said.

Anyway, all's going well here and I'm having a most jolly time. Just off now to see friends in Somerset. Toodle-pip!

Monday 17 August 2009

Z has no time

Sorry, I must go in five minutes. I'm just finishing off half a melon - I know that the Sage will eat the other half, but if I leave the whole thing he won't even see it - and going to put washing on the line - again, he can be relied on to bring it in but not to empty the washing machine. I've recorded anything I might want to see on television in the next week - actually, that means the last of the 4th series of The Wire. I haven't seen any of it yet; that is, of that series. I think it's fabulous and wish that I still had a DVD recorder (that records onto discs, that is) so that I hadn't had to delete them. I think I'll buy the set, in fact - Ro will certainly be pleased if I do.

So, have a fabulous time while I'm away and don't feel that you have to be good. If I have a chance I'll drop in during the week but probably to leave a comment rather than a post as it always feels odd to blog away from home. See you next Monday.

Sunday 16 August 2009

Z has a long day

Okay, right, I couldn't not say what my concerns were, in the end. I pulled my punches, but I still raised the issues I felt should be raised, and ended by saying I'd endorse the decision if *this* and *that* had been considered and judged okay. But I did it in a friendly way and explained the reason for being relatively formal about it...that is, it's an area I've had a lot of involvement in, and I sort of can't help myself. Oh damn. Still, I will quit next year.

Anyhoo. Today started with birds yawning and wondering why I thought it was a good idea to wake them up so early. By 8 o'clock this morning, I was almost ready for lunch. Which I didn't have until after 2 pm because Dilly and Al didn't arrive home until 1.15 when we'd sort of expected them soon after noon. Still, didn't matter, and we had the jolly opportunity to give Zerlina her birthday presents two days early - the Sage will see her on Tuesday but I'll be several counties away by then. She was very pleased with her toddler Lego (does anyone actually call it Duplo?) and other toy and her parents enjoyed playing with it too.

Off to Snape again tonight for another concert, and it was a cracker. Really good. Oh, don't we love links. Here we go.. You may remember that I decided to get to grips with a composer I didn't know a lot about (new year's resolution, I think) and chose two - Mahler and Shostakovich. Mahler proved to be a bit hard to love. This concert contained music by both of them, so seemed ideal. Well, Mahler is The Man. Fabulous songs, sung by a wonderful singer to brilliant accompaniment. The whole evening was a great pleasure and I loved every minute. Well, that is, of the concert itself.

Supper was a different story. It's not as easy as one might think, providing food for people who are going to turn up - or not - and want hot or cold food depending on the weather, and whose, um, demographic profile will vary from night to night and influence what and whether they'll buy your food. Tonight, being a weekend and reasonably upmarket classical music, people were prepared to come and eat out. Sadly, the caterers had had to throw some food away during last week, so cut down on what they provided tonight (I discussed the matter with a member of staff). Frankly, I was disappointed.

I read the blackboard and was quite encouraged. Now, first mistake - if it's sold out, wipe it off the board. When I got to the food, I was instantly let down. Several mixed vegetable salads of various types with gloopy dressings. I made that mistake a fortnight ago - a Russian (or would it be Greek, pfft, who cares?) salad that was mostly cold potato, so ignored them. There was shredded cold pork with more potato salad, which didn't appeal. There were beef salad baguettes that looked a bit more than I wanted, and smoked salmon sandwiches which, in retrospect, I wish I'd had. I went for the prawn salad. £5.50 for a sundae glass containing some salad leaves - not easy to get out and eat tidily with a fork, some shredded raw onion, two thick slices of cucumber - not easy, as mentioned already - one eighth of an excellent tomato, not run of the mill tomato at all, one sixteenth, I should think, of a lemon, which was awkward to squeeze and not very juicy either, some prawns and a big prawn in its shell. I sort of bought it for this big and juicy-looking prawn. It had, however, been frozen, cooked. Well you know, you can tell - it had that wet and flabby feel and it was shedding bits over the rest of the prawns, which I fussily picked out. There was a Marie Rose sauce I could have helped myself to, but with that silly glass I could only have dolloped it on top, so if it had been merely jarred mayo plus ketchup, or worse a catering-size jar of pink mayo, I'd have been stuck with it, and my general principle is don't go there. I mean, it tasted okay but it was hardly eating-out food. If I'd taken a guest, I'd have been deeply embarrassed. I don't think the new caterers are going to cut the mustard, at this rate. It was a dispiriting experience. A good job that the music was so good.

If I have time, I'll write a short post tomorrow, just to bid you all a loving au revoir.

Saturday 15 August 2009

The unspeakable in pursuit of, apparently, the edible

Al has had almost as many cabbage white butterflies fluttering around the shop as he's had wasps. The butterflies happily settle on the cabbages and cauliflowers, though I'm not sure if it's a bit late in the season for them to be laying eggs. Yesterday, Al saw one of them struggling on the ground and, looking closely, saw that it had been caught by a wasp. Later, he looked again and its body had been eaten. An unexpected use for wasps - did any of you know that they could catch cabbage white butterflies? I trust they don't go for Red Admirals.

Tilly chased a rabbit today. It was in no danger, but she hasn't bothered recently so I cheered her on. She returned a few minutes later with something of a swagger in her gait. At least the Frontline seems to have dealt with most of the fleas.

You know how it is when, for instance, someone asks what you think of their new hairstyle or whatever and you really don't think it suits them, but you can hardly say so because it's too late? I've just been asked for my opinion about something that is obviously going to happen, but about which I've considerable reservations. It's obvious that my endorsement is being asked for and I'm not actually being consulted, and that it's going ahead anyway, and I'd really rather not have been asked at all. I suppose I'll think of something carefully disengaged to reply by tomorrow.

Tomorrow Al and Dilly are going out early to a car boot sale - as sellers this week, Dilly's been having a clear-out. They've asked me to mind the children. At 6.30. Hm. All well and good for Dave, but if I'm awake at that hour of the morning I lie there thinking how nice it is that I don't have to get up yet. I'll have to get the Sage to take over from me later, I've got several things to do before going out, as we're going over to lunch with Weeza and family. It's Zerlina's birthday on Tuesday, when I'll be away, and Weeza and Phil's 4th wedding anniversary the day after.

In fact, we've got 6 weeks of birthdays and anniversaries. Later this month will be Al and Dilly's anniversary and in September Dilly, Phil, I and Pugsley all celebrate getting another year older. I think it's Dilly's mum and dad's anniversary too, and possibly her dad's birthday - I'll have to check with her. A few happy Christmases over the years it seems.... (this doesn't count as a use of the C word, btw, as I'm not referring to the forthcoming one that it's far too early to mention).

The Sage is in bed. Time to take Tilly out and then join him.

Friday 14 August 2009

Z is an Observer

The day started well when the post arrived, including as it did a second postcard from ILTV - hang on, you need a link there, well, a few of you do -- - here it is - LINK! and my new Nadfas programme for the next season, which gives anticipation of jolliness. Later, Simon - oh gosh, another link made me scurry upstairs for the Observers books I still have, many of them from my own childhood, in their original little bookcase. Birds is a replacement (can you assume italics or quotation marks please, can't be doing with them) but Wild Flowers, Wild Animals, Garden Flowers, Architecture, Mosses and Liverworts, Painting and Graphic Art, Music, Larger British Moths, British Insect, Dogs (2 copies of that) and Cats are all old. Fossils is a later addition.

Much of my childhood was spent reading. I was never discouraged - being equally obsessed with books themselves, my parents saw nothing odd about preferring to read than do almost anything else and there was no criticism for "always having your nose in a book". I liked the Observer's Book of Dogs best and knew every breed of dog in it. The one on cats was far less interesting, even if some of the pictures were in colour. There were fewer breeds and most of them looked much the same as each other - they had to be in colour or you couldn't have differentiated between Long-haired White With Orange Eyes, Long-haired Blue, L-h Cream, L-h Smoke, and they had to put in pictures of kittens to make up the illustrations. Rather charmingly however, many of the pictures named the owners. In Birds, I learned, though have now forgotten, to tell the difference between kittiwakes and herring gulls and I stared with a complete lack of interest at mosses and liverworts, something I now find far more interesting than then. It dates from 1955 but still has its original dust jacket, a mark of how little it was read.

This afternoon, we were meant to bricklay, but it had to be cancelled as the Sage was busy helping Ben at the shop. Al has splendid new cast-iron guttering, which cost many pounds, and it was fixed with brackets which the Sage was drilling holes in for attaching to the building. It was fair enough as the work needed to be done - after all, the wall is a hobby - though it is a disappointment that yet another week has slipped away. Earlier in the summer I was busy, now the Sage is.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Bringing on the wall, Day 24

I know these photos get a bit samey after a while - sorry. At least today I took a couple more photos of one of the more oddly shaped bricks for your amusement, and again to point out that when bits of wall look wonky it's the bricks at fault just as much as Dave or I. Anyway, you'll be glad to know, as I was to find out, that my back hardly twinged at all. In fact, it's hurting more now I'm sitting down.
So, a brick - side view
Top view, including Z's thumb, month-old burn scar from frying pan handle that had been in the Aga and toes -
The bit I did -
The bit Dave did, some of it on tippy-toes -
The Sage is going to put up scaffolding for the top bit next week

Progress so far -
A tilted photo comes naturally to me. The wall is not actually falling onto Dave and the Sage.

I'm going out for dinner tonight, so the Sage will be joining the ranks of Norfolkmen who are cooking for themselves. He's having sausages and bacon and whatever vegetables he picks from the garden. He will spend half the evening on the phone and be completely content. He won't miss me in the least.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Z knows how squirrels feel

That is, if there's any truth in the fact that they forget where they've buried nuts for the winter, so that when they find some they must be awfully pleased. The more superstitious among them may even think that a little miracle has happened every time a cache of nuts turns up when they really feel like a nibble.

In this case, I've spent a monumentally dull afternoon doing the next 3-monthly rota for the church readings, coffee making etc. It's early, but I'm going away on Monday for a week - have I mentioned this? I won't be able to blog, darlings, I'm so sorry. Well, probably not. Where my sister lives, she can't get broadband and dial-up is awfully slow and she spends much of her working day at the computer so she rarely bothers in the evening. So, I got the rota out early, and a depressing thing it was to do. Helpers have been diminishing in number for one reason and another, and I've had to put my own name down 24 times for the 12 weeks, as a reader, sidesman, coffee maker, musician or flower arranger.

Anyway, as I was nearing the end and just writing an email to go with it, I realised that it was coming up to 6 o'clock: ie time for a drink. I also realised that wine would not suffice. I wanted gin. I remembered using the last of the ice. Yes, I buy ice. Slap my wrist and call me extravagant and I will not care (unless the slap is very hard, in which case I will remove myself; I will not retaliate).

At about this time, Dave emailed me, so I remarked on just this sad situation. He wondered why I don't keep gin in the freezer (for a non-drinker, he's very astute and will make a good woman very happy one day). No, I hardly ever drink it, so it's not chilled. I mentioned, however, that the Sage has, sagaciously, bought steak. Pity I don't have any chips, I remarked.

Reader, I married him.

Ah no, forget that, that's a line from a book.

No, I was driven on a whim ('twas a whim that made us build a wall) to look in the other freezer. The big chest one in the porch. And there was a half-used bag of ice that I'd forgotten I had. It smelled ever so slightly fishy, but nothing that gin wouldn't cure. I went and put a good slug of it in a glass, added lots of ice and topped up with grapefruit juice, took a swig, and then decided to try my luck. I went back to the freezer, moved a box of big raw prawns and there was a bag of oven chips.

The superstitious might think that I was rewarded for being good and dutiful this afternoon, and doing the rota a fortnight early. I simply credit my bad memory but good instinct. I'd like it to be a little miracle, however, because it would indicate that Jesus approves of gin. I knew about the wine, but Mother's Ruin would be no end of a bonus.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Is it just me, or is it really warm tonight?

And today I've actually handed over the chairman's stuff - not much actually, I was given a load of out-of-date papers 4 years ago, so I binned them, and most of the newer stuff was on the computer, so I put them all on a disc, as I mentioned yesterday.

What I didn't mention was that the box of redundant papers was behind a chair which I could only push aside *so far* so I had to pick it up at arms' length and with my body twisted. I did it reluctantly, knowing it was bad for my back, but I seemed to get away with it and was still fine last night. When I got up this morning I had bad twinges for a bit, but I'd forgotten about it by the time I went to gather up everything remaining back into the box. I had to move the waste paper basket full of paper. Ow. And ouch. It got better - not well, but better - but I'll be careful for a few days.

I looked after Pugsley and Squiffany for an hour until their father got home from the shop, having left it in the capable hands of Eileen, and then left, with 45 minutes (plus a polite 5 to allow my hostess to be quite ready) to drive 35 miles, 10 of them on dual carriageway. This should have been fine, but a mile from home 3 huge bulk carriers, a lorry and a tractor towing a Land Rover pulled out in front of me. I was pretty indignant that they should use an unsuitable back road, for which they were far too big, but when we reached the main road I discovered that they were too wide for that too. All the oncoming traffic had to pull over on to the verge and a big queue built up behind me. It took nearly half an hour to go the first 6 miles. I'm not too bothered about farm traffic usually, but this was not acceptable, and should have had an escort. We'd all have been stuffed if an equally big vehicle had come the other way. I almost wished it would, for the entertainment value.

The Sage has gone out and I'm listening to the charming Hoagy Carmichael. A-Huggin' And A-Chalkin' made me chortle as ever. I looked for it on You Tube, but no joy - well, some grandad singing it in a home video, but that's all. It's the happy story of the chap whose lovely girlfriend was so big and fat that he got lost while hugging and kissing her, so took a piece of chalk and marked his way. Until he was A-Huggin' And A-Chalkin' and he met another fellow with some chalk in his hand coming around the other side. Hoagy, of course, was the pianist (he sang Hong Kong Blues) in To Have and Have Not, which is one of my favourite films, not least for the pleasure of watching the divine Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall falling in love. If you've never read the Hemingway story it's based (loosely) on, don't. It'll only depress you.

Later - Ooh! - I've found it -

Monday 10 August 2009

Z intends to resign to spend more time with her family

Mm, sorry about yesterday. Having nothing to say normally doesn't deter me in the least, but after two attempts to write posts that bored even me quite witless, I thought that nothing was better than either of those.

The expected building didn't happen today; the Sage spent most of the morning running errands for a rather demanding old lady (not me, no) and ended up with a headache and a complete disinclination to spend the afternoon mixing mortar. Which was fair enough. So I went to visit Weeza and Zerlina instead.

Otherwise, I sorted out papers. And files on the computer. In doing which, I discovered that there are over 10,000 images stored on it, a great many of which are photos, some of them duplicates - well, lots of them I should think. I think I should sort out rather more. In fact, such is my control freakery that I have made copies of things I'm to hand over to the new chairman so that, if the disc gets lost, I'll still have the information. Just in case, several years from now, anything is needed. This may seem extreme caution on my part, but I've been asked three times recently - each from a different organisation - for information that I was the only person to have retained. One of the items in question dated from 2001. I'm not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing about me - though I think Dave will approve, or at least understand.

Nevertheless, I have decided to give up another committee next year. When I toyed with the idea last week, even the thought of it lifted a load from my mind. I'm afraid some people I like very much will be unhappy about it but, you know, I think I want to put myself and my family first.

Saturday 8 August 2009

Z has a good day

Indeed I did - I went into the dress shop I usually go into in town when I do go into a dress shop, which isn't all that often (second time this year, I think) and found the teenage daughter of a friend was working there for the summer holidays. As a result of our conversation, I'm quite hopeful that her mother might join the school governors - she's already a governor and I've worked with her, and she'd be absolutely ideal, quite apart from being lovely too.

And I found some clothes I liked - in the sale, furthermore - and bought them.

And then I went to a concert at Snape tonight, which was splendid although the chap talked too much. I've seen them before, several years ago, the last time they were there and, sad to say, him talking too much rather spoiled the show. It's not that he doesn't talk well but that the music is so good that chatter wastes good listening time. He talked about half as much this time, and when he cuts the chat by another half to two-thirds, he'll have it about right. Anyway, I did buy their CD.

I had a most delicious ice cream at the interval. Hang on, I'll google the company and see if I can give you a link. Here we go. I'd been pondering hopefully (not having known about this new supplier) and hoping there might be lemon or something refreshing - well, the choice was elderflower and gooseberry, blackcurrant or strawberry. I had the first of those, and it was absolutely yummy. I'll go back to the website tomorrow and see if there's a supplier near here. One small pot was really not enough. I mean, it was for tonight but not... oh, you get the picture.

I actually did some housework today and majorly cleared up cobwebs. Only in one room, but at least I moved all the furniture and cleaned behind the pictures and all that malarkey. It took a good couple of hours, which is a lot for me and housework. It isn't possible to clean this house all in one day, not to do it properly, that is. Even if it were tidy it wouldn't be*, and it certainly is anything but that**. It never will be while the Sage and I live here. We'd not like it.

Oh, and I found a library book that I've had to renew twice as I had lost it. Mislaid, that is, I knew it was downstairs somewhere. And, while looking for that, the Sage found two organ music books that I'd also mislaid. I even knew the room they were in. Yes, I know. Fortunately, you don't have to live with me (though you'd enjoy it really).


Friday 7 August 2009

Bringing on the wall, Day 23 - Z finds herself in the beer garden

We were unsure of the weather so Dave came in the afternoon instead of the morning - by which time it was pretty hot again. Not so humid so we had more energy. I went over to fetch Weeza (my daughter) and Zerlina because they were carless, Phil having taken the car because of the train strike. So the chaps were already working when we arrived home. Little z was ready for a nap, so Weeza joined in bricklaying.

Tilly (the dog) came past, limping heavily. I went to look at her leg, but couldn't find anything wrong - she was all right later so I think she'd just twisted it. She lay in the shade for a while. Later, Weeza found fleas on Tilly's tummy. I'd had a look earlier and she was all right, so she must have picked them up lying in the garden. The Sage sprayed her with stuff. I'll go back to the pet shop tomorrow and discuss the matter with Val.

Later, Weeza, z and I went for a walk round the village. As we rounded the corner towards the pub, Weeza wondered if it was open? "Not at 4 o'clock," I doubted. However, it was and its siren call was not to be resisted. z has a liking for blackcurrant juice and fizzy water, and we had John's home-brew. We didn't tell anyone - it was our girly secret, Tee Hee.

I had a little discussion with Weeza and Asked Her Advice - well, I knew what her advice would be but I wanted to run some thoughts past her. Anyway, she was very helpful.

I cooked dinner for everyone tonight, so that Dilly wouldn't have to bother as she was out all day and then tutoring - you'd think the children would be allowed their summer holidays but no, their parents make them keep up the maths throughout August. So she didn't have time to join us, but at least Al got a meal. Now, they've gone off to Norwich, she to see a friend and he to finish last night's work. The Sage is minding the children right now and I'll take over in a few minutes. I'm talking to Ro on MSN at the same time as writing. There is a highly annoying mosquito dive-bombing me as well.

Anyway, the wall. Here we go, progress to date -

Nearly Zerlina's first birthday, you know. Gosh.

Bringing on the wall, Day 22

I'm late, I've been babysitting again. I hadn't expected Al and Dilly home at any given hour, but by 11.30 I was rather anxious as I'd certainly expected them back before then - as I said before they were working, not having an evening out. I sent an enquiring text in the end, and received a phone call back to say they were on their way home and would be back by midnight. The job was a lot more tricky than they had anticipated. So I'm late writing and am a day out.

It was very hot and humid today and both Dave and I found it a bit of an effort to work for too long, so we made a fairly short morning of it. I tried to find the weather forecast this morning and looked on the BBC website, which is rubbish - at least, the weather forecast part of it is. The day's overall prediction for the Norwich area was "light rain" but when I looked at the more detailed 3-hourly forecast, it was dry with either sunny or white cloud all day. The line above which changed from local to national to world weather said that there'd be rain but not until the evening and overnight. And then the weather warning said there would be torrential rain overnight. Tonight's 10.30 TV forecast said it would rain overnight, as it does in the weather warning, but the 3-hourly forecast doesn't show rain until 7 am. I don't mind it being inaccurate so much as it contradicting itself on a single website. Bet-hedging incompetents, one suspects. If any part of it is right it should be cooler, whether dry or not, tomorrow - I think if it's as hot and humid as today we might be put off.
Anyway, we made progress, though not as much as usual. Here are the areas we worked on - I took the low road and Dave took the decorative one.

I went to sleep for a bit this afternoon.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Train of thought

The poor Sage was late home last night. I'd been wondering if he was back and hadn't come through to say hello, but when Al and Dilly came in at quarter past 10, they said his van wasn't there. I was just going to phone him when he arrived, three-quarters of an hour late. A train had broken down in the depths of Essex and so the 7.30 from Liverpool had been cancelled and everyone had to crowd on the 8 o'clock. He had actually left a message on the answer phone, but he'd had to borrow a stranger's phone to do so (so I suppose didn't like to ask to make a second call when I wasn't there) as his phone was out of credit. I apologised for not realising - dealing with that is my job and I didn't realise that he had used the thing much as he had several pounds on it when I checked last. Once, it went unused for so long that the SIM card was deactivated and I had to buy a new one. I've put £20, which should last months, even now he does quite like making calls on it.

Today, I went to visit a friend and seemed to stay most of the day. She works far too hard and needs to relax more, so I choose to believe that me enjoying myself so much that I hopelessly outstayed the most hospitable of welcomes was a Good Thing. I told her all about this blog, including its name - which I do still like, but which sounds so stupid when said out loud. If ever I changed it, or moved blogs I'm not sure I'd feel quite the same way about it. I say "all about", I didn't say that much about it - when she asked what I write about I said I just waffled and that I write it much as I speak. The subject arose when I told her how I met Dave - "an internet friend" is my usual vague description of each of you dear and lovely people, but I was inveigled into explaining further.

Al and Dilly were out again this evening - work, not play, unfortunately. Their children are remarkably good about bedtime. They get undressed and washed, have milk, choose books to be read to them, make a final visit to the loo and kiss me goodnight with no pleas for a final book, a drink of water, five more minutes play or anything else. It's remarkably relaxing and pleasant.

The weather forecast was rain, but we've had none although it has been very humid all day. Supposed to be dry tomorrow and I hope that will be more accurate, for we expect the reliable Dave at 9.30 for a constructive morning.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Z takes photo of dinner

Sorry it's not cake, Dandelion.

Z plans dinner

It's going to be an Indian meal, with prawns cooked with courgettes (yes, in India it would be squash), green lentils with garlic and onion, spiced Basmati rice and yoghurt with cucumber and mint. I've got some carrots and turnips too, and I haven't quite decided how I'm going to cook them.

What? Yes, this is all for me.

Z gets up early and wonders why

I have to say, I think this whole early rising thing is overrated. Dawn is one thing, but after a few minutes admiring the sky you have hours to wait until the papers are delivered. And if you wake up any later than that, it's just dreary hanging about until anything interesting happens. No nice birdsong at this time of the year - the only noise outside comes from rooks - the sun isn't shining so I have to have the light on and, having already eaten breakfast the hours until lunch will yawn ahead hungrily by mid-morning.

Those who get up early tell me how much they get done. Well, that rather proves what I say. The only point of getting up early is to do the housework and other chores, therefore releasing the more interesting parts of the day for more interesting things. I'll agree that in spring and early summer it's delightful outside, if it isn't raining, but the rest of the year it's much more pleasant to stay in bed, thus being able to stay up later at night when there are people to talk to, online or in person. There's nothing to say at this time of day because nothing's happened, even if there was anyone about.

Of course, in very hot weather it can be useful to do physical work before the heat of the day, but that applies for a couple of weeks if we're lucky in this country, and how devoted does one have to be to physical work? After all, if you do it for a living you'll have to work in the heat of the day anyway, and for the rest of us, it's perfectly acceptable to say "what a lovely day, stuff mowing the lawn, I'm going to lie under a tree with a book and a cold drink." Mowing the lawn can't be done, of course, at an unsociable hour so is not possible before 9 am.

I'm going to twiddle my thumbs for the next hour or two until the day is worth starting.

Monday 3 August 2009

Blame Dandelion - and the Sage, but that's a different story

Dandelion made a cake, you see, and decorated it and it looked so delicious that I, babysitting Squiffany and Pugsley for the day, suggested making one too. Or rather, a tray of cakes., because small children can get so involved, not only with the mixing but also of the putting of buncases in trays and spooning of cake mix in cases, and then of individual decoration.

Actually, the decoration was limited to green butter icing because that was the only colouring I had. Pugsley would have liked to make a gingerbread man too, but I discovered the golden syrup had an inch of dark goo in the bottom of the tin and it didn't meet even my casual attitude (today I fed my grandchildren yoghurt with a use-by date of 7th July; it was fine, I ate one myself a couple of days ago) to food longevity. I've promised to buy more tomorrow and, furthermore, to buy decorations- possibly of the sort described by those who know as "sprinkles" for future baking. I am, I admitted, a Bad Granny, but have vowed to reform my ways.

Just watching University Challenge, by the way, and am stunned to discover that Girton admits men nowadays. Where does that leave Girton calves, I wonder? Of no interest to me, sadly, as I'm nearly old enough to be an undergraduate's grandmother.

I was most upset to find that the Sage has been using one of Ro's bowls for chicken food. This has been a bone of much contention for years; that he uses various dishes from the cupboard for feeding his beloved bantams. I know how it happens; he uses a dish for leftovers, leaves it for them to polish off and, by the next time he visits a couple of hours later, it looks part of the furniture and he fills it with grain. In this way I've lost nearly all my ramekins and other small pots. But Ro, before he went to university, went shopping for essentials and among his purchases were two bowls, one green and one blue, which he's been very fond of and which he's used frequently. They disappeared from the cupboard so I assumed he'd taken them with him to Norwich, so I was rather stern when I found that one was filled with chick crumbs for the phantam. "How did that get there?" wondered the Sage - which rather irritated me I confess, as no one but he has fed the chickens. I also noticed another two dishes of mine. I examined Ro's bowl - it has three cracks and numerous chips round the outside edge. He vowed that a chicken couldn't do that damage to porcelain. I pointed out that it was pottery (no member of the Sage's family will confuse earthenware and bone china) so he said that a chicken's beak still couldn't damage glaze. "It was pristine the last time I saw it" I said richly, "so please explain the chips and cracks." He dropped the subject, but I found that the other earthenware dish also had cracks and a chip, although the porcelain one didn't. "When have I ever used one of your dishes before?" he asked dramatically. Oh bless him, that was a mistake - I would never have mentioned previous occasions again, but he did ask...and there were many of them.

I'm not sure if I said this - one of the bantams cackled triumphantly for a very long time after laying her egg last Friday. I grumbled for a while, but in the end even Dave was irritated. "Is this what men hear when their wives speak?" I enquired. Dave refused to answer, which was quite reply enough. Since I have been asking the Sage politely not to keep using my china for chicken's food bowls for years and he apparently is unaware of this, my voice is evidently a meaningless cackle. I have used the fact that this is Ro's bowl to sternly forbid* the Sage ever to it again.

I reminded the Sage of the congestion charge, and that spending Tuesday and Wednesday in London will mean two day's charges. "Will you sort it for me?" he asked, so I looked up how to pay. "What time are you leaving, by the way?" "About 3 o'clock" - "oh okay, you do realise that you're paying £8 for about half an hour in central London?" Once he'd considered the matter, he decided to go by train after all. I've had to pay £37 for a return ticket (off peak). It would probably have been much cheaper if he'd Thought it Through and discussed it with me earlier. Perversely, I'm mildly disappointed at losing a day of solitude. However, when the time comes (about 10 o'clock tomorrow night), I'll be awfully glad to see him home. Nevertheless, I'm planning a delicious meal for tomorrow night involving stuff he won't want to eat.

Ah, an update - I''ll be babysitting, so I'll have to prepare early and take the food through next door. Actually, now I'm babysitting, so I'll have to prepare early and take the food through next door. Is it worth it? I don't know. It may be that I'll prepare something we both like for Wednesday instead, on the grounds that the Sage being home is an unexpected treat. Champagne, do you think?

*a split infinitive indeed. So?

Sunday 2 August 2009

Dilly is cheeky

The family came over for that barbecue and the weather obligingly followed the forecast and was warm and dry. Zerlina was sporting a black eye. "What happened" "She was rattling the stair gate as usual and then there was a thud" said her mother gloomily. Little z seemed quite unbothered by it, anyway. I'd asked Weeza to pick up some lager on the way over - the 15 large cans cost a fiver. "They were on offer, £5 if you spent £35" she explained. "Supermarkets doing their bit to curb the sale of cheap alcohol," observed Ro drily.

I don't think I mentioned, Zerlina stayed overnight with Dilly and family on Thursday. Weeza had an appointment near here and they were going to babysit, and then they suggested keeping her for the night. Weeza was dubious, and finally decided to stay with us so that she'd be on hand if z woke up very early and was upset. In addition, it saved driving home and back here the next day. Everyone had a wonderful time. Zerlina adores her cousins and Weeza was able to relax and chat and enjoy being cooked for. She said it felt like a holiday, especially since z was so happy and entertained. The Sage didn't have any cousins and nor did I, not that I saw anyway, and my children's cousins are quite a bit older than they are, so we've never known much of the enjoyment for children of an extended family.

Dilly's dad's put his back out and was hobbling painfully along using a walking pole when they came over here yesterday. He's very uncomfortable and can't sit or lie down without a good deal of pain. I remember dishing my back some years ago - I had to sleep on the floor for two nights as even a firmish bed wasn't flat enough for me. It was very tiring as I couldn't rest or relax and only standing up straight was relatively pain-free, and I was so tired that was the last thing I wanted; so I can sympathise with him. Dilly went to a car boot sale today and came home with various goodies. "I nearly bought a zimmer frame for you or dad to use when you're here" she said pertly. "It was quite a bargain price." Little rascal.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Z's Saturday

I keep forgetting that I'm going out tonight. I remembered yesterday and put my ticket in my bag, but it was only half an hour ago when I was planning dinner, having invited the family round for a barbecue tomorrow (hope over experience, indeed) which will use all the food I'd bought for the weekend, that I remembered, with a little jolt (slight overreaction there, but I plead involuntariness), tonight's concert. So I've asked the Sage if he wouldn't mind cooking his own dinner and I'll eat out.

Some years I book for many of the Snape Prom concerts but this year only four. It used to be that they were my annual holiday - I couldn't really get away overnight without a great deal of preparation - but now that isn't the case. I booked rather late and so some concerts were sold out, but I've chosen a variety of jazz and a classical concert. I don't quite know what to expect tonight but that's what's interesting. I'm going on my own so have no one to please but myself.

I don't think I've mentioned that Al is having some major necessary work done on the shop. The upstairs sash window needed to be replaced and he was having some rotten wood cut out of the door frame at the same time, as well as some minor work done on the brickwork and the outside repainted. As so often happens when you start work on an old building, rather more rot was discovered than had been apparent and, as usual, most of it had been caused by bodged work many years ago, in this case when the shop front and door was being put in some 60 years ago. It meant that his iron-framed canopy was resting on the door frame which had been inserted in front of the original and has rot in, and not on any structurally solid part of the building at all. This is going to be an expensive operation - but there we go, he's not had to spend anything much there in the nearly 7 years he's had the shop.

Life is endlessly entertaining there, right in the middle of town by the market square. Because Ben the Builder had a ladder up against the side of the shop in the road, he'd put traffic cones against the pavement the other side to stop people parking (there are double yellow lines there anyway which are generally ignored). Yesterday, a woman came in the shop "the silver Audi isn't yours, is it?" Al and I both confirmed it wasn't. The owner had parked it a foot from the kerb (nicely away from the cones) and she couldn't get past. She sighed and went and got in her car again and started to reverse. Al and I heard a shout from Ben. She had reversed into his ladder, which was clearly visible and which she had presumably meant to miss. Fortunately, it didn't tip over. As she and Ben were discussing the matter, a woman scuttled along, head down, got into the Audi and hastily drove away. Could have been very nasty, but fortunately was quite amusing instead.

I just had another phone call about Ro's car. The Sage advertised it for sale and it went the same evening. Pretty old, no road tax but a full MOT, diesel, reliable, so not surprising. I suppose we'll be fending off phone calls for a while to come. I'm not sure why the Sage put the ad in for 2 weeks - a car always goes at once if you've priced it to sell. Anyway, Ro is now carless and dropped in to the conversation the other day that now he's 25 (and past the dangerous young driver age) I might put him on my insurance. Cheeky child - he's the one who chose to be carless.