Friday 30 April 2010

A balanced diet

I have eaten little today except cake.  This is obviously Not Good Enough, so I shall eat some chocolate before going to bed.

Mmm, bed.  Sorry, darlings, it calls.  And I seem to remember that I kindly offered to go and help in the shop tomorrow, it being a Bank Holiday weekend and all.

It's a funny thing, shops - well, chains, that is - are all open over holiday weekends, but people still shop as if there will be a shortage of all fresh food for a week, just because of a bank holiday Monday.  Still, Al won't complain if he can sell out of greens on Saturday.

Oh, and Weeza has a job.  Interviewed yesterday, she's starting on Monday...

Thursday 29 April 2010

Zedverley Hilbillies

It's all going steadily downhill around here - although, it being Norfolk, the gradient is so gradual as to be almost imperceptible.

One of the bantams has decided that the house looks very inviting. Twice already, we've found Tilly standing resolutely in front of an open door, not confronting the chook, for this is not allowed, but obviously quite indignant at the thought of sharing her home with a chicken. But it's only a matter of time before a chicken is found living on the sofa. Tilly can't be on duty all the time.

This afternoon, we were digging over the Jerusalem artichoke bed. Yes darlings, I got going with a garden fork, the first time in at least two years. The cock blackbird was very pleased - he was thrown so many worms that he fed all his fledgelings and himself and then left, satisfied. And one of the bantams came and boldly ate as we dug.

It turned out very difficult to hand-feed her a worm while taking a photo with the other hand. I had several failed attempts. The vid is the best of them, but the other photos show her beauty better.
I have more bantam pics in fact, but they're on my camera rather than my phone and I can't quite bother to look for the lead tonight.

And it appears that there is nothing in Blogger Beta that allows for the uploading of a video from my desktop either.  How odd.  Anyone got the answer?  Otherwise, as I'll be too busy tomorrow, it'll have to wait until Saturday for me to show a movie of me not quite catching the chicken from taking a worm from my hand, and you hearing me speak in an extraordinarily low voice.  Christopher once said that he was looking for a mezzo soprano.  He might offer me something in the baritone range once he's heard it. If I can work out how to post it, that is.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Z is in Nephelococcygia and the Sage breaks an Egg

Sad to say, I'm slightly worse the wear - for drink, that is. It all started at 5.45 when I opened a bottle, not realising the sun was not quite over the 6 o'clock yardarm. When I found out, it was too late - one can't go back to tea from wine.

It's not been the easiest day, in one way or another. Nothing personal, and I'll lose no sleep - but there's one difficult letter that I haven't yet had the fortitude to start on. I'm actually quite inclined to cut my losses and do it tomorrow.

Anyway, let's look, as usual, to the positive - because that's always the best view.

I've moved more stuff to the big greenhouse which is brilliant, because I can use the sprinkler for watering rather than having to use watering cans. The Sage and I have had to move things about first though to make room, but he was most kind and uncomplaining about it, getting up and coming with me as soon as I asked. He is, as usual, lovely.

I've potted up a lot of herbs and some peas for Al to sell.

Now that I've moved so much, I've been able to clear a greenhouse completely (and temporarily) which will ease the watering some more.

The Sage and I have cleared a whole lot of nettles and other stuff from outside the further end of the big greenhouse (the greenery in front of the door was nettles from outside) and we're planning to concrete it over, ready to build a potting shed.

Yay! A potting shed!

Actually, I really want a combined tool shed and potting shed, with a connecting and securely lockable door, so that I can use the present tool shed for other stuff.

It's been a tricky day, in non-domestic terms, which is the reason I've kept pouring all evening. However, there have been two lighter moments. One was when the Sage came in disconsolate. "I picked up an old egg and it exploded all over my trousers" I laughed, darlings, like a drain. Then I read JonnyB. I missed yesterday's post, but it so happened that today's photo didn't load fast enough for the impatient Z, so I read yesterday's first anyway, and then scrolled up. I have been laughing ever since - and the Sage has not asked why - which makes me laugh all the more.

Well, you've got to, haven't you?

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Z pots

The tomatoes have grown visibly in the last couple of days, since I put them in the Dutch light greenhouse (though it's probably not noticeable in the picture), so I've taken a chance on the weather and put most of the other tender stuff in there too. If it's frosty, I'll just cover everything over with polythene or newspaper - that is, the latter if there's a frost forecast at night, but if it turns really cold, I'll have to put a clear plastic over them. I've done a lot of potting on today - in fact, I worked on it all for a good five hours. I was doing a lot of bending and lifting (nothing too heavy, apart from a bag of compost) and I ache, rather. I've still as much to do again, but everything is coming on well, apart from the courgettes that caught the frost, which are still looking a bit sad.

Al brought home a lot of strawberry plants, well-rooted runners that a customer had brought in for him to sell. They had been put in bundles of 10, wrapped in newspaper and secured with a rubber band, but not many had sold like that - so Al wondered if I might feel like potting them up? "Only if you'd enjoy it," he said hopefully. Fortunately, there was nothing I'd like more to do, so I potted all 88 of them - there were actually 90, but a couple of roots hadn't quite been in the water and looked a little sad, so I put each of them in with a stronger plant. The customer must have a lovely old garden - he brings in bunches of grapes, figs and peaches too, in a good summer and they are delicious. The peaches are the rarer white-fleshed variety. Fruit is evidently his 'thing'.

It's been the warmest day of the year so far, I should think. Far too hot to stay and work in the greenhouse, so I set up a makeshift bench and potted outside. A pair of blackbirds has a newly-fledged clutch of youngsters and they are still providing food for them. At one point, I found a worm in the compost and threw it onto a newly-watered patch of earth, meaning it to burrow down, but the male bird appeared from nowhere and snatched it up. I was rather sorry. You won't be surprised (bearing in mind that I'm the woman who kisses frogs) that I'm fond of worms. But I'm fond of birds too. The Sage is the one with a particular affinity for birds, though. He said that the other day he picked up one of the baby blackbirds to show the children. They don't mind him and nor do their parents. He often helps adult birds feed their babies by finding small insects - if I tried that, they'd abandon the nest, but they seem to appreciate the Sage as a friend. He's a crack shot and used to compete at Bisley, but he only likes target shooting (1,000 yards is his favourite distance. I'm not sure that I can see 1.000 yards, unless I'm outside and looking straight up), or clay pigeon. He used to be invited to a local shoot by its owner on Boxing Day, but he didn't care for it. He doesn't have the same objection to disposing of squirrels, however, on the rare occasions when it occurs to one to try setting up home here. Nothing is allowed that might raid nests and hurt his beloved birds.

Z has nothing to say, but says it at length

A funeral today, of a man of 93. I didn't know him, but I sat on the organ stool feeling most awfully sorry for his poor widow, left alone after 60 years of marriage. Their daughters flanked her in the pew. I couldn't see one of them as the pulpit was in the way, but the other one was in tears for most of the service. It made me cry too - I'm getting too much of a wimp to play for funerals. I admit that it pays well though - Weeza was here when I got back and she was impressed.

Everything is either confidential or dull. Not private, you understand - I'd probably tell you all about it if it were merely private - but it leaves me with little to write about, concerning what's going on now, at any rate.

We've got a social event on at the church at the end of next week - I'm doing the cooking - and four of us decided that we'd better meet to make final arrangements. There was a slight hesitation when I asked where the meeting was to be, so I suggested we might meet here. "I love coming to your house, it's so welcoming. And comfortable" said one. I was a little surprised. Scruffy and chaotic, I'd say. I suppose not many people would like to live here, but maybe it is quite relaxing, knowing that I really wouldn't mind if you came in with mud on your shoes or put your feet up on the sofa. Tilly might give you a look as it's her sofa, of course.

Al says that one of the beehives is nearly ready to swarm. He's got a third beehive ready and will split the colony soon - last year, he lost half his bees when his single hive swarmed. He was able to rescue the situation by dividing the remainder, and they both survived the winter. In fact, it was a blessing in disguise, as his original queen was decidedly edgy and the colony was quite aggressive. These two are sweet-natured and don't mind people at all. The bees don't make so much honey though, he says. There's a cherry tree near the house and they have been enjoying the nectar for the past week or so. Lots of trees are in bloom at this time of year, so there's plenty for the bees to harvest. Apple blossom next. There's hardly anything prettier.

Sunday 25 April 2010

Z Pants

I just came into the room - some time ago, I left the Sage watching snooker, and I expect he couldn't find the remote control (it was so simple when you just used the buttons on the tv) and so left it - and the report of the London marathon is on. I left it and sat down with a glass of wine, but now, ten minutes later, my hip is actually aching. Since it doesn't normally (this is my own hip, not the one that the Sage paid for), I can only assume that hips have ears.

My main other feeling is relief that I shall never go for a run. Sorry, I do appreciate the pleasure and satisfaction that people get from running, but I've never felt it and I'm not unhappy that now I never can.

Another christening this morning, at our informal monthly service, which starts off with bacon sandwiches and newspapers and ends up with me and Andy playing, respectively, clarinet and keyboard. He set a rattling pace and I was breathless by the end. Shine Jesus Shine, indeed. And Pant Z Pant. Five sharps, 'n'all. One of the lads in one of the music classes I go to was in the congregation. We succeeded in not catching eyes.

Later, I labelled and moved the rest of the tomatoes, and here they are. They don't really look like three hundred and something, but they're all here, except the unidentified one. Actually, it looks like a Gardener's Delight, but we'll see. I'll give it a good home, anyway.
I'm anxious to start planting things out, and the Sage has promised that he'll finish the netting soon. I'm busy all day tomorrow (meeting, organist at funeral, working lunch, meeting), but I've still got potting up to do. It will be done in the evening, I hope. Weeza and Zerlina are coming over, but I won't see them much. I even had to ask Dilly to do lunch for them as Mary and I keep on meeting and getting sociable and not getting our work done - we must catch up. I wouldn't normally put anything before family, but Mary's under a whole lot more pressure than I am, and I will spend time with Weeza and make up for it another day. Anyway, Zerlina and Pugsley will enjoy some time together - Squiffany and z are so close that Pugsley can be sidelined. Likewise, Weeza and Dilly are great friends and I must be glad they can spend time together and not mind that I can't join in.

In case any of you notice the time on this post, I started writing it and then went to cook dinner before finishing. So the marathon was on television ages ago. At least an hour.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Zedcounter

I spent quite some time this afternoon moving plants around. Mostly, tomato plants from one greenhouse to the other. As a result, I can report that I have grown 39 Maskotka, 55 Red Cherry, 34 Black Russian, 22 Green Zebra, 40 Cuor di Bue, 37 Principe Borghese, 27 Gardeners Delight, 38 San Marzano and 42 Tigerella and an unidentified tomato without a label that became separated from its colleagues.

I thought I'd got over my habit of counting everything, but it seems that it's still lurking somewhere in the warm dark recesses of my comfort zone.

Funny, isn't it, the things you do as a child as a more-or-less compulsive habit? Like stepping on the lines in the pavement, or not, depending. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to share, actually. It's not that I did anything particularly weird, but I don't know if they were the sort of thing that anyone might have done or if they were peculiar to me. And I'd not care for you to think I'm odd.

The sight of Gordon Brown busy pressing the flesh while being serenaded by an Elvis must be one of the more bemusing events of this election campaign. I went out for dinner with some elderly friends two days into the campaign and we all gloomily agreed that we were already sick of it. It's not the election or even the politicians - repellent though so many of them are, at least their jobs are on the line. It's the ghastly journalists, who yabber on endlessly, speculating and hypothesising.

Friday 23 April 2010

Cows in the meadow

Jonathan brought four cows over this morning - one of them, Benson (no. 191) has visited us before. The other three are 64, 65 and 196. I am particularly pleased that there are two square numbers, but I shall aim to name them too, just as soon as I can reliably recognise them. I have had a lifetime of finding it really hard to put names to faces, because I'm really bad at face recognition - I've put a lot of effort into improving this over the years, but it's still something I have to give conscious thought to. And I haven't mastered it with cows.

It's odd, really. Black and white cows have vast differences in pattern of their coats, but I don't remember them apart from each other. Yet dogs, I recognise with no difficulty, usually even within the same breed. With people, the fact that I can do it if I try hard enough shows that it's more a matter of lack of actual observation than lack of ability to observe. I'm surprisingly good at telling identical twins apart, for example. However, a few weeks ago when my friend Mary and I went to the school performance of Little Shop of Horrors and, both being governors, went backstage at the end, I found it quite hard to pick out the faces of the performers (unless I'd recognised them already because I knew them) whilst she had no difficulty.

On the other hand, because I do meet a lot of people and I do try really hard, I've actually got a reputation for recognising people very well. It's helped by my being good at remembering facts about someone - so, even if there's an initial hesitation, once I've placed someone I will remind them of what we talked about at our last meeting (possibly years ago) - which comes so easily to me that it always slightly surprises me that the person is startled and flattered by it.

Another thing I can't recognise is birdsong. It's all pleasant twittering to me*. I could learn it, but I'd have to do so bird by bird, specifically. I think that the difficulty there is my short sight and poor bird-spotting ability. So, when young, I never put a song to a particular bird and even now, though I think I know a blackbird, for instance, when I hear it, unless I see the blackbird sing, how do I know if I'm right?

*There are obvious exceptions to this - owl, cuckoo, pheasant, chicken, pigeon etc.

We've had six members of staff caught abroad when the planes stopped flying - five teachers and a member of the office staff. The reaction has been typical of the school - everyone immediately offered to help and to be as flexible in the classroom arrangements as possible. The Head and Deputy Head cancelled meetings so that they could teach; two science teachers were away, so the Head taught non-exam year classes so that science specialists could transfer to Years 11, 12 and 13. Meanwhile the stranded teachers were doing all that they could by email to share lesson plans etc. One teacher flew back yesterday and is back in class today, and another landed in the early hours, left Heathrow at 5.30 and was in school at 8.30 this morning, ready to teach. The others are coming back over the weekend and will be back at work on Monday. We were lucky only to have a few people absent, but I think it was a brilliant reaction all round. Thank goodness it only affected one week, however - especially with exams coming up. I'm not sure how many pupils were away.

It's a fabulous sunny day and here I am in a room that's colder than outside. I think I shall take the papers out and sit for a while in the sunshine. I'll forget about work and do it tonight instead.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Frostbite

There has been a frost for the last few nights, but the mornings have started out cloudy, so no harm has been done. However, this morning it was bright and sunny early, with the result that several of the courgette plants in pots in the greenhouse have been damaged. Just a couple of leaves, but it'll weaken the plants and hold them back. It's a nuisance. In fact, the cold wind is a bother as well, as the bright sunlight makes the greenhouse too hot, but having the windows open lets in a cold draught.

This afternoon, I was potting up some more seedlings (I've been a bit busy so I'm a bit behind), one of the bantams looked in, with an inquisitive expression on her face. When she saw me, she moved on. Just as well that we're spending this week putting up netting, to keep the girls and the bunnies out. I've got various things ready to plant out and don't want them all eaten straight away. Mind you, I'll still have to net everything against birds (songbirds and pigeons) which love freshly-planted or sprouted seedlings.

Having said this, it's been lovely weather to go out and about, as long as you keep moving. I went into town first thing to have my hair cut and then went and bought fish at the market. Cheerful because of the sunlight, I bought asparagus from Al - it's still very expensive but it is local (Norfolk, that is) - I don't buy it out of season. This is the second week he's had it in. In view of the frosts, I think it must have some protection from the weather. When my asparagus bed was younger, it usually started in April but was easily damaged by frost. Now, like me, it stays in bed a little later until the year warms up.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Z is superseded

Hello Osci. I thought you should have the last word (see comments on previous post).

Last Post sort of gives the wrong message, don't you think?

I was disarmed yet again to receive Presents on leaving the PCC and the churchwardenship. I had to come home and send a rather gushing text to a friend - which means it's done now, so I don't need to gush at you. I did notes today for the new churchwarden - I"m afraid it ran to three pages. She was a bit shell-shocked - but I explained that if she wrote down everything she takes for granted in running her home, it would be pages long too. I also said I wished I'd had such a thing done for me, as I spent the first year getting nasty shocks (Find someone to read the Roll of Honour at the Remembrance Sunday service. Decorate the Advent Ring. Procure a Christmas tree. Who knew?)

Anyway, all done now - and I found myself chairing the meeting as well as taking the minutes and giving my report. When it came to the election of officers, I suggested that I just put down names for proposers and seconders, as we were all in complete agreement anyway - and this went down very well and saved a good ten minutes. Job well done I think, don't you?

Oh, and then I was asked to play for a funeral on Monday, Getting a verger and organist slipped through the organisational net a bit, but fortunately we're both free. Only just, I'd quietly checked my emails during a dull bit of the meeting (not the bit I chaired which was as sparky as you might expect, hem hem) and someone wants to meet up with me before the afternoon meeting. There's still time, but now it'll be a specific time instead of "I've got all morning, darling."

Tomorrow, up at larkfart because I've got a hair appointment, early.

I think I deserve a glass of wine and a cup of tea, don't you?

That's twice. Never suggest that I don't consult. Well, unless you think I'm talking nonsense, of course.

Later - it was very funny. I fancied a spot of music, so went to iTunes, where I was halfway through listening to Tom Waits' Alice. I clicked play and got, instead of We're All Mad Here, exuberant banjo music - I have no idea how, but instead of iTunes, Spotify played Mule Skinner Blues by the Blackwater Boys (Best of Bluegrass). It was so incongruous I nearly fell over laughing. Well, I leaned on the arm of the chair and chuckled.

Actually, I'm not typing very well. I've been celebrating. I'm a bit wary of trying italics in case I'm leaning over already.

Actually, I've just remembered. I wasn't aiming at iTunes at all. I was intending to reply to that email about Monday's meeting. D'oh, darlings. I'm such a fool.

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Z's ready to switch off. Nearly.

It's slightly depressing that, after 10 o'clock at night, not only am I still working, but I've just had emails from the Headmaster and the clerk to the governors - she having just had an email from the chairman of a committee. We should all have switched off by now - although I did take the afternoon off, or a couple of hours of it anyway, to look after Pugsley, which is always a pleasure. He is a dear little boy. He was tired after a full day at nursery school, so we didn't do much - he watched a Spiderman DVD and played with Lego and we read several books. I read a book of my own while he was watching the DVD.

I went to a lecture this morning on the history of the London underground, which was brilliant. Much of it was about its design, under the management of Frank Pick, in the years between the two World Wars. Terribly interesting. Afterwards, in the car park, I didn't recognise my car for a minute - if I hadn't remembered where it was parked I'd have been in trouble - because it was all so gleaming from its wash the other day. There is a fine layer of slightly grey dust on top, but the sides are very clean. It's dark blue, so this is noticeable, and rather different from its usual grubbiness.

I've nearly finished the church annual report. Dave would have done it on January 1st, but I'm quite satisfied at having it done the night before the AGM. At least I've remembered it this year - it's been a last-minute scramble a couple of times. It's terribly boring, and mainly done so formally for the record - everyone at the meeting will know what its content is. The best thing is that this is the last AGM at which I'll have a formal duty. At least two, actually. I'm bowing out as churchwarden and also taking the minutes. Oh, and I'm doing the refreshments, which means I'm going to go and buy cheese and biscuits and wine tomorrow, pick up glasses and set them all out. I will get help with that though - it's simpler to do all the buying myself and then I'll know what's what, they would have helped there too if I'd asked.

I'm sorry, yet again I'm falling behind in my blog-reading. I should catch up by the end of the week, but it may mean that I won't leave many comments. I do still love you all. Even if I take you for granted.

I'm just like one of the family really, aren't I? The one who occasionally rushes in and tires you all out before dashing off again.

Monday 19 April 2010

Z feels a fool (no, not the Sage, whatever are you thinking? Stop it!)

I do feel a fool. I wrote two long paragraphs, and then noticed that my internet connection was down. It wouldn't come back, so I restarted the home hub and booster, and then, as that didn't work, I saved what I'd written (how sensible, how provident) and restarted the computer.

That worked. Pity that I just saved and didn't copy onto a Word or similar document.

It's gone forever, can't be arsed to write it twice. One more reason (apart from no talent and nothing to say) why I'll never write a book. I would never bother with the honing and fine-tuning, let alone the proof reading.

Anyway, Tilly enjoyed her roast lamb today. I couldn't manage all my dinner, so I suggested to the Sage that she might like salmon tomorrow. He quietly polished it off for me. There's still some lamb, though. He did wonder, this morning, if we should buy chickens and cook them specially for her? I explained that I can cook for ourselves and save her bits, and also reassured him that I'll leave enough for her next month when I'm away for a week.

Don't worry, darlings, I'll take my phone and blog from Scotland.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Z didn't take photos

Sorry - I was too busy this morning and differently busy this afternoon and now I've stopped for a break, I'm having a break instead.

There was a truly adorable baby being christened this morning. She looked with great interest and enjoyment and gave every impression of cheerful concentration when anyone was talking about her. She did take the opportunity for some bottled refreshment at the preparations for Communion, which was a good idea as the rest of us all intended to have a swig of port ourselves and meant that she would be all ready to smile again happily during the lunch that her grandparents were to host afterwards. The family party all were stunningly good-looking and very generous, as we found when we came to count the collection afterwards, hem hem. One of the godparents is stuck in Berlin as the planes aren't flying. At least one of our High School teachers is stranded somewhere in America and having an enforced extra week of holiday. Many of the people at the Annual Convention that the Sage went to on Friday in London are from the US as well, and may be spending longer here than they'd expected.

I've said to Al that he can take a dozen trays of broad (fava) bean plants to sell if he wants to. They are very healthy and well grown without being pot bound. We need to get on and fence in the unwalled side of the kitchen garden, as I've got beans and peas to put in, and will soon have other things too.

Tilly is quite over her upset stomach and is very pleased with the eventual outcome of the episode. We've decided that she's a bit old and delicate for tinned dog food and, since dry food alone is a bit disappointing, that she'd better share our food. She's been having chicken casserole (not our bantams, which live a natural lifespan and are not eaten) and very much enjoying it. In addition, we've stopped feeding her hide chews (the strips were banned a while ago, but now the chopped and reconstituted sticks are a bit much too) and are giving her, as little treats, Allsorts - not the liquorice sort - if you can be bothered to click on the link, hold your mouse over the bottom left picture and it'll leap out at you, it's the middle one. Anyway, she thinks that they are totally delicious and does her "time for a little something?" routine to me several times a day.

Saturday 17 April 2010

This is the life - live blogging

At present, I'm sitting on Phil and Weeza's front lawn relaxing while they clean my car. It's scorching hot in the sunshine here and I'm very comfortable.

I've not been entirely idle. I potted on some basil seedlings and sowed some more, but now my job is done.

What happened, we noticed how dusty the car has suddenly become, as have others, and I said that I wonder if that's dust/ash from the Icelandic volcano. I added that it needs a wash anyway as there are cat pawmarks all over the bonnet and roof from being parked in their drive for the last couple of weeks. And Weeza said their car is dusty too and maybe Phil would wash them both while she hoovered them.

And then, noticing me tapping away on the phone, she said to Phil, "I think we're being live-blogged."

Well, they weren't, until then. They are now.

It is a beautiful day though. And the hedgerows and trees in blossom are beautiful. The countryside is at it's very prettiest at this time of the year, I think. I love it when the blackthorn and then the hawthorn are in flower and the fresh, pale green leaves are new.

Friday 16 April 2010

Z finds people Lovely

I spent the morning thinking how jolly lovely people are.  Because I cheerily said to someone whose granddaughter is getting christened here on Sunday that we'd decorate the church, that meant I landed four other people with the job of doing nine flower arrangements.  And they are all really busy but no one complained a bit.

And then afterwards, I helped carry out three dozen cups and saucers and a hot-water urn to one of their cars so that she could take it to someone else's house (she came and did her flower arrangement this afternoon) as I'd offered them for her coffee morning tomorrow, which I said I'd go to before I realised it clashed with something else.

And after that, I walked home, and there was the dustcart and the dustmen just emptying the wheely bins into it.  The chap didn't see me coming, but I saw him, bending to pick up a few bits that had fallen on the ground and tossing them in the dustcart.  Then he carefully and neatly lined the bins against the wall.  "I'm just in time to take them home, thank you," I said jovially.  "And, thank you for picking up the odds and ends," I added.  It's not what dustmen are reputed to do - but actually, there's never anything left lying around.  And the bins were rather overfull as we forgot them last time, but they didn't mind.

Later, I went to have lunch with a friend and we chatted so much that I rather overstayed and had to phone Al to ask him to let Tilly out.  When I got home, I had a lot to do in the three-quarters of an hour before I was going out again, so I slammed a chicken leg into the oven, did Tilly's dinner, chopped an onion and put it in a pan with some stock, let it cook for a bit, added some some vegetable soup I'd made a couple of days ago and a couple of tomatoes from a tin, put some new potatoes and a carrot on to cook separately (real cheat's cookery here), belted down to the greenhouse to put the heater on and do the watering and close up - there was an air frost last night - took Tilly for a walk, came back and put the nearly-cooked chicken and the carrot in the sauce and back in the oven, phoned the Sage to check he had caught the train back from London, got a slice of bread and a chunk of cheese, ate some of them, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, put the potatoes in the casserole, prepared sprouting broccoli, ate the rest of the bread and cheese, put on lipstick, took the casserole out of the oven, put a plate to warm and wrote a couple of emails.

Then it was time to leave.  On time.

The Sage had a lovely time in London.  But he'd accidentally locked his phone and didn't realise it, so didn't know how to ring me.  Isn't he sweet?  Lucky I checked, I was going to go to the Vodaphone place in Norwich tomorrow and say it didn't work.  I'd have felt such a fool.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Holiday over

I've been resolutely ignoring emails about school until yesterday, but then I really had to get going and do things.  And then I noticed that I was supposed to phone someone last Friday, so I procrastinated - with literal intention, of course.  So I've done that, and received two more long calls - I don't really talk on the phone much, usually.  I was quite glad of a glass of wine by the time all was done, and then I turned round to find that the Sage had finished the cooking of the dinner.

I have my car back for a few days - that is, the likelihood is that Weeza and Phil will get their own back within a few days, but if not I'll keep mine over the weekend, as I need it tomorrow, Saturday and Tuesday.  So do they, so if the need arises I'll go over there on Monday night and Weeza and I can share it on Tuesday.  She and I went to a wool shop, because she wants to knit her grandma-in-law a shawl for her 90th birthday - she and Phil's parents are planning to go on a cruise in celebration and Weeza thought that a light and elegant shawl for the evenings might be rather well received.  Grandma used to do a lot of knitting and sewing and will appreciate the effort.  She really doesn't want to be given stuff that she'll have to find somewhere to put.  It was a lovely shop, and the lady in charge knew what she was talking about.  There were also bags of washed fleece to buy if you wanted to do your own spinning, which vastly appealed to me.  Not that there's any real likelihood of my taking up spinning as a hobby.  With all the brambles around here, the place is enough like Sleeping Beauty's palace already.  If the palace was a 16th century cottage, that is.

Zerlina was very good.  There were all these open compartments with different wools and she just wandered around looking at them - I kept an eye on her in case she started pulling them on the floor, but she does know it's not allowed.  I never removed things from shelves when my children were small either - I expected them not to wreck the house, although I was pretty relaxed about untidiness.  When I did housework, I used to clean a part of the room and then dump the babies there with toys and they could mess it up again, except cleanly, leaving me to finish the rest of the room.

The Sage is going to London tomorrow on an early train.  I've set the alarm for 5.30.  I've got to be out by half past 8 myself.  Several of us are going to the church, to spend the morning arranging flowers.  I expect to do very little of that, but to do more menial tasks.  I'm glad to say that the others involved are all much better at flower arranging than I am - I mean, I'll always have a go, but that doesn't mean I know what I'm doing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Still sliding, but remaining uncut for now

It was cold this morning.  I took the optimistic route, with lightweight trousers and sandals and went out to try the air.  When the Sage came in, merrily saying that he'd already put my bike in his van (two hours early, anyone would think he was looking forward to seeing me leave), I said that I wasn't sure, it was jolly chilly for a nearly six-mile bike ride in quite such a fresh wind.  He said, with carefully disguised reluctance, that he'd run the quirks of driving his van past me and I could borrow it.

Later, I felt guilty about my laziness, so I went and changed into warmer trousers and boots, and fished out a woolly hat, scarf and gloves, and said that I'd bike after all.  Just then, the sun came out (honestly, I'm not making this up).

Of course, downhill all the way turned out to be anything but - for a flat-loving person, Suffolk undulates more than it needs to, but it's notably easier for me to manage now that I've got some strength on my right side.  It was quite pleasant in fact, if you like cycling.  The road was very quiet - I only saw half a dozen cars and a tractor in four miles.  It was still windy, but the sun was warm enough to disregard that.

I stopped at a few shops in town for this and that.  After waiting to be served, I then found that, walking out of the shop, my left leg had a tendency to give way.  I've had that happen before, whenever I take much exercise, either cycling or walking, I'm fine as long as I keep going or if I sit down, but I can't stand still for long.  I can stand, if I haven't been taking exercise, and then walk with no problem.  I don't know why this happens.  It's the very top of my leg, not the knee or the hip.  I assume it'll get better.  The operated side is absolutely fine.  It soon goes and isn't worth fussing about, just noting.

My friend, whom I had lunch with, had her operation a month after mine - her second hip.  She's also doing very well, though still using a stick because her surgeon advises it, but is hoping to be allowed to discard it after tomorrow, when she's got her follow-up appointment.  Tomorrow,  I've got lunch in Norwich.  It's all such a mad social whirl around here, darlings.

It's also Wink's birthday.  Happy birthday, sis!

Tuesday 13 April 2010

The Z garden

Today, mostly gardening, all of us.  The ground in the further greenhouse has been getting too built up with the annual addition of ferrrrrtiliser, so when it's watered the water runs off onto and under the paths, so we've taken a few inches off the top.  I'm going to go back to growing tomatoes etc in bottomless pots, so as to channel the watering better again and see how that goes.  The cucumbers will still be planted in heaps of cow manure as the roots need plenty of room to spread out.  Back in the days when I had limited greenhouse space, I used to use growbags, and it was not hugely successful.  The plants would grow apace and need loads of watering, and then one day they would suddenly stop and sulk, and I'd not notice and within a couple more days they would fall over because the roots had got waterlogged.  I didn't ever get to the bottom of it, but I never had more than a month or so of cucumbers before the plants collapsed.  Now, they go on the whole summer.  Though I only sowed the seeds last week, they're only just showing their first leaves.

Some of the removed topsoil has been put on the lawn to replace what's been scratched out by the chickens.  It's still a disaster zone, but at least we're starting to do something about it.  The Sage is enclosing a fresh piece of grass for them to go on while other things recover - it won't be enough for them for long, but they're so ... well, I don't want to say "destructive" as it's so negative, but it's hard to find a better word, frankly.  If only they'd concentrate on the front field for a while it'd be all right - there's nearly 4 bloomin' acres there - 1 1/2 hectares, if that's the way you think - to keep them happy, but they like the garden and the other field.  Still, if push comes to shove I'd rather have happy bantams than a lawn.  I suppose.

Tonight, the Festival Committee, of whose doings I am the scribe, had the splendid idea of holding a meeting at the village pub.  Dilly and I trotted merrily home afterwards, although she'd been on the wagon. She is far more grown-up, in a good way, than I am.

Monday 12 April 2010

Z's thoughts have legs

You know how it is when you spend ages writing a post and then decide it isn't right and delete it, and then have nothing to write?  Yup.  Me too.  That is, I just have.  I'm still lazing about not doing much - pottering in the greenhouse, doing a bit of cooking, reading, letting the work build up - actually, can't do that much longer.  I'll be sorry if I do.  I've promised two things in the last two days and haven't started on either of them yet, let alone anything else.

Weeza still has my car, as the part that's needed for her car is expensive, and the excellent garage chappie suggests getting one from a breaker's yard instead - which makes sense as her car is as old as mine is.  But it takes longer.  A week or two back, I made an arrangement to visit a friend as I'm taking over from her on a committee and she wants to do a hand-over, and invited me to lunch at the same time.  I gave her a list of dates, and she suggested this Wednesday.  Having accepted, I've belatedly realised that I don't have any way of getting there - it's only 5 or 6 miles away, but there's a hill I'm not prepared to cycle up.  I'll have to borrow the Sage's van after all if Weeza doesn't bring my car back in time.

On the other hand, he could give me and the bike a lift and I could cycle back.  That's a thought, actually.  It might have legs, as they say.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Z is having an Early Night

I haven't managed to identify my handsome spider yet - the one it looked most like in one picture was the false widow, but when I went to the description it said it had cream markings, which this didn't, being smooth and brown all over with a rounded body and red-brown legs.  And it was completely unaggressive, so if it is a false widow, it's probably a male one, females being the stroppy ones who might nip.  British spiders are not dangerous and should never be killed under any circumstances, as it upsets me.  A spider bite doesn't hurt, I've had lots - it's the hunting spiders that might nip and they live outdoors, an indoor spider isn't like that at all and knows its manners.

The first stage of my being defrocked as churchwarden has taken place, with the vestry meeting - the nominated churchwardens have been voted for by the (tiny) congregation.  I put up two hands.  Oh, and I chose the hymns today so I made sure they were very cheery ones with good tunes, one of which was Hyfrydol, which I mention only because it is also a good name.

I am struck, yet again, by how kind people are.  I cheerfully committed us to having lots of flowers in the church next Sunday for a christening, and then had to ask those who actually can arrange flowers to help with them - actually, to do nearly everything.  They are all far busier than I am, but instantly agreed and are really putting themselves out to help.  I'm terribly grateful, and also secretly quite gratified that I have, at last, learned to ask for help, accept offers of help and not feel guilty about receiving kindness that I don't deserve.  If they hadn't been able to, I'd have done it myself of course - but I'm very relieved that it will be done better than I could.  Because the family concerned are lovely - it's the baby's mother's parents who live here, in the nicest house in the village - well, the most beautiful in the loveliest setting.

I've been lazy about cycling - largely because I still don't enjoy it one bit.  But I do need the exercise, largely because I'm getting most awfully chubby.  I really had to be quite resolute in fastening my newly-washed jeans the other day, which was quite dismaying.  Back to the dry toast and plain yoghurt regime.  I made lots of vegetable soup tonight too, which I will eat with an air of complete virtue.   I have glumly cycled into town every day since, as well.  The wind is surprisingly chill when you're out in the open going across the dam (a dam, around here, is a road built across marshland or water meadow) even when the sun is shining.

And now I'm off to bed.  Must be all this fresh air, but I'm frightfully sleepy.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Z doesn't see any spiders, all day, and posts no pictures

Ro called in today, which was a good surprise - that is, he did text first to be sure we were in.  He stayed for dinner; I having luckily bought a pound of mince, which stretched to lasagne for all of us plus a portion for him to take home.  Not that he doesn't cook for himself, and does it very well at that.

He is thinking of buying a smartphone - not an iPhone, probably, although he did rather like mine.  At one point, he was checking out a website that he uses and started to type in its name  - "you're not on the internet, you know" - "eh?" - "go on to Safari first" - "Oh, what was I doing?" - I'm afraid I did a little air-punch and a yes! for a moment there, as it's the first time ever that I've corrected him with anything technology-minded for years.  Twenty years, probably.

"Tell me that you don't want an iPad", he begged.  I admitted that I want one, most passionately.  But, I added, not until it's some use - that is, the second or third issue.  I confessed to being a complete convert to all things trendy, even faux-trendy, since buying my phone.  I have gone over to the dark side.  Worse, I don't care.  Worst, I enjoy it.

I went down to the church to check the flowers.  They are all fine, even the daffodils.  I was watering them when a friend and her daughter arrived.  Daughter is getting married here, where she grew up, in the summer.  We chatted and, when saying goodbye, she mentioned a run her husband is doing tomorrow, which reminded me - "I was excited to hear that one of Rosie Swale-Pope's marathons will be here" - I bought her book telling of her "little" run around the world, last year - it was when I was in Glastonbury, where there was a lovely independent bookshop so I bought a couple of books there.  One, I have already mentioned over at ILTV's place - it's Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which I was hooked by, and Rosie's was a complete winner too - as is she - in a different way.  Anyway, apparently she will be staying in her camper van overnight at the Staithe* and will be running the Yagnub marathon route - it's half-marathon distance so she will, like those who will be running it the previous weekend, be doing it twice.  I won't join her, but I hope to cheer her on at some point.

*These details for Badgerdaddy, as she is one of his heroes.

Friday 9 April 2010

Family ties

Thanks for all your help yesterday - you are kind, and far cleverer than I am.

It's been lovely today, Weeza and co came over in the morning and Phil set of on a 50+ cycle ride home (yes, I know, he did it entirely for fun by a circuitous route) and Weeza and Zerlina stayed.  Phil has had a week off work, so little z has turned entirely into Daddy's Girl and, when invited to kiss Granny hello, said "No!" with a dismissive wave of her hand.  "She's doing it to me too, this week," said Weeza with resigned consolation.  z did kiss me later, when I'd curried favour with a Mini Egg.

In the afternoon, Squiffany and Pugsley came here too, as their mother had an appointment with the hairdresser, so everyone had a lovely time.  I'd bought some coloured pencils and writing pads and Squiffany drew lovely pictures for Zerlina and wrote affectionate messages underneath.  Her writing and spelling are very good - she spells things out phonetically, but also understands that not all words are written phonetically, so says "l - o -v - e 'love'" and "y - o - u 'you'" and has very clear handwriting too.  Pugsley is better with numbers than letters so far, and has never been interested in drawing or painting.  Squiff likes numbers too - having a linguist father and mathematician/scientist mother is showing itself.

The death watch beetle is clicking away in a companionable manner.  It's not a big problem, but we do squirt some Rentokill into the walls where we hear noises.  The house has been here more than 450 years, it'll see us out *shrugs*.

I've been happily watching Fred and Ginger on BBC4.  They sang the song that I associate with the Sage - not that he knows that, of course.  We're far too buttoned-up to mention that sort of sloppy nonsense, my word we are (caught him using the 'a' word not so long ago, however - hah!).  Anyway, given that it's not "A Fine Romance", if anyone can work it out, a small prize will wing their way.

Ooh, the other thing I was going to tell you is how lovely it is to sleep for hours and hours until I wake up naturally.  I had no idea how many times I woke up, but now I don't, and if I do I just read on the iPhone and that makes me sleepy again in no time.  I do get backache, as my left-right balance still has not adjusted - I still don't know if my legs aren't quite the same length or if my pelvis hasn't quite straightened yet, but I'm quite prepared to give it six months to right itself - but I wore heels last night and I had no pain or awkwardness at all.  I really wondered if I'd be confined to ground level for the future, but it seems not.

The benefit of being a close family showed itself last night.  I was due to go out to dinner - not only do I belong to a lunch club, but a dining club too - I know, darlings, I am all you think of me! - but Weeza and co still have my car.  So I just asked Dilly if I could borrow hers, as the Sage was going to one of his clubs too and besides, I've never tackled his clapped-out old van.  It's even older than my elderly and rheumatic Mercedes.

I found a spider of a sort I've never seen before in the greenhouse this afternoon.  A big fat brown body, it had, like a well-filled tick, only brown.  I had it amble all over my hand while I took its photo, but some of you are sensitive, so I won't put the pictures up here.  I'll get a spider book from the library to find out its name.  I saw a black and white wolf spider, but this one isn't the same type - it spins webs.

Thursday 8 April 2010

A chance to prove you're cleverer than Z

You're all inventive and intelligent types out there in Blogland.  Can you please put your ingenuity to work for a few minutes to help me?

I grow a lot of vegetable plants, both for Al to sell and for us to grow.  Apart from trays of beans etc, most of them end up in individual pots and, in some cases, there are several varieties that can't reliably be told apart until they fruit.  So I have hundreds of pots to mark.  I can either buy the labels or cut up yoghurt pots, that's not a problem - but it's awfully tedious to write down each variety numerous times.  We all know how lazy I am and, besides, it's the repetitivenous that really gets to me, as I've a short attention span to boot.  I don't mind how many hours I work potting things up, as that's a pleasure, and I don't get bored doing nothing as that is too - it's a boring repetitive task that I can't stand.

The printer ink isn't waterproof, so it's no good typing onto sticky labels.  I have, by the way, written on sticky labels and cut them up to stick straight onto the pots, covering with sticky tape and this did work to a point, but the tape tended to peel off and let water in, so wasn't entirely reliable.  Last year, I tried typing the labels, laminating the sheets and then cutting them up (this is much cheaper than buying plastic labels as you get dozens per sheet), but the moisture in the compost seeped into the paper and washed off the writing.  Cutting up the sheets first and putting them in between the plastic  sheets and then laminating them really isn't an option - impossible to keep them in place and far too fiddly to attempt.

So far, I've still got pots in trays and can just mark one or a few per tray.  But I have to mark them individually before the end of this month.  Buying T-shaped labels and putting the printed label on them isn't an option - for one thing, the ink would still wash off when watered and for another, the labels are too expensive.

Later - Some extra clarification - each pot has to be marked with the name of the variety, or the customers don't like it.  That's fair enough, actually nor would I - if I went and bought some plants, I wouldn't think "but I couldn't be bothered to write labels individually" was an excuse not to have them marked.  I know this, because I tried marking the pots with the initials of the varieties and printing out information sheets, and they liked the sheets but wanted the full variety name written too.

Ro has a laser printer with waterproof ink but he won't waste it on this use.  I'm not buying a printer just for this.   That would be silly.

I have 9 varieties of tomato and 5 varieties of pepper (sweet or chilli) and 3 of courgettes.  I also have different squashes, but I can deal with them, as I plant nearly all that I grow and Al sells the crop later.  So I can keep the varieties apart - but it doesn't actually matter if they do get mixed up.

*Waits hopefully*

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Bedblogging

I only remembered that I hadn't written anything as I climbed out of the bath, and now I can't recall the awfully interesting thing that I had, earlier, meant to tell you. What a pity.

Looking at the state of the lawn today rather dismayed me. The chickens have scratched up most of the grass, managing to leave only moss behind. It has acquired humps and dips, I'm not quite sure how. It really needs a lot of work to be done on it, and frankly imnot I'm not the woman to do it. In any case, there's no point while the chooks are roaming free to scratch it up again. I'm trying quite hard to put their interests first - after all, it's only a patch of grass and it doesn't matter that much. And at least there won't be any need to get the mower out.

They are certainly earning their keep at present, anyway. The Sage is very adept at watching them to find out the latest hiding places for eggs. When he spots a hen sneaking off after breakfast, he watches to see where she goes, and later checks out the place. He always leaves a marked egg so that she doesn't become suspicious. Surpluss surplus eggs are sold in the shop - there are tight controls on selling eggs not stamped now, but you're still allowed to sell your owneggs own eggs, as it were. They are very popular at 80p per half dozen.

Excuse poor typing. Can't be bothered to go back and change all mistakes. I'll do it in the morning. Goodnight, darlings.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Flown with indolence and wine

Obviously time I read Paradise Lost again.  Milton taught me more about English than anyone but my Latin teacher.  But I did enjoy the conversation of the fallen angels on the burning lake, especially Belial.  When I do reread it, I will, no doubt, remember why.

I spent most of the day outside, because of the gorgeous weather.  Still breezy, but warmly sunny.  I say outside, but I'm including the greenhouse in that.  I've still got a lot of potting on to do, but I thought I'd let the newly-potted tomatoes have another night in the propagator first and I have run out of room.  I do have another potential propagator, but setting it up just for a couple of weeks would be a nuisance - if there's frost forecast for a few nights I can cope, but another prolonged cold spell will mean some faffing about.  Still, it'll keep me out of the mischief for which I'm normally renowned.

Anyway, as a result of all that sunshine and awfully hard work (all the beds in the veggie garden are now dug [actually, I should admit that I didn't do the actual digging (I'm not allowed to dig yet)]), I'm terribly sleepy now.  I'm being entertained by a programme about Louis Armstrong on BBC4, which includes Hoagy Carmichael, Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and various other delights, and not planning to do much else this evening.

Tomorrow, I'm looking after Squiffany and Pugsley for the day, so that should be fun.  The playground if it's fine, cooking and/or painting if not.  Dave says it's going to rain, and he's so rarely wrong that I disregard the possibility.

Monday 5 April 2010

Z is Useless

Well certainly, if we were fortunate enough to have a lovely day, I'd be out in the garden.  And if the sun shone a bit, I might spend a couple of hours in the greenhouse.  There's a lot of potting up to do and I will have to do it tomorrow.  I might even be all hearty and energetic and go for a bike ride, if it were not for a chilly wind.  As it is, however, I'm taking the opportunity to do pretty well nothing.  I'm lounging about eating chocolate, listening to Jimi Hendrix and reading.  It's an ideal opportunity, being a Bank Holiday and I haven't the least anxiety that I ought to be doing something useful.

At least I'm awake, which can't be said for the Sage.

I suppose I'm easily entertained.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Weirdos

The day would have been perfect if Weeza's car hadn't broken down.  It all worked out all right - she's vastly appreciative of the RAC breakdown man who came out on Easter Sunday and took it to the garage, and of Ro and his friend who, having just arrived here from Norwich, turned round and went back again to fetch her and Zerlina.

I knew nothing of this until I arrived home from church.  Phil had cycled over so wasn't involved it the kerfuffle.  It didn't actually delay lunch at all, as I'd planned it for 1.30 and they all were aiming to arrive early, so we carried on with the birthday celebrations as soon as everyone turned up.

I forgot to take a picture of the birthday fairy cakes, but they had either chocolate or strawberry icing (some of each, that is, it's not that I've forgotten) and the candles were in the shape of letters, so spelled out "birthday" and the last one said "girl".

Afterwards, most of us went on a health-giving walk over the Three Bridges and across the marsh as far as the weir.  Here is a picture of the weir.  There are pictures of the weirdos, but I suspect permission would not be given to publish them, so sorry.

I checked my diary and I don't need my car for the next few days - actually, as long as I can borrow someone else's in the family on Thursday evening, I don't need it for ten days - so I've lent it to Weeza and Phil.  He had to leave his bike behind, but if he wants it they can always come over and he can cycle back again.  He's got this week off, so he doesn't need it to get to the station.

Hope you're having a lovely Easter, darlings.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Whether the weather

I spent half an hour or so this morning standing still in the cold, talking to someone out in the garden, which wasn't a good idea.  I hobbled back to the house, limping on my *good* leg.  Then I had breakfast, then picked daffodils on the way to the church with the flowers I'd bought, and spent some time doing a flower arrangement and dragging tables around.  I felt a bit fragile by the time Wink and I set off for Norwich.

However, things went swimmingly after that - we fetched Weeza and all went out for lunch, and then shopped for birthday presents.  I'd already got Weeza's present, but it's a bit sensible, though something she wanted, and in the end she plumped for some cosmetics - but she particularly wanted the sort of deal whereby, when you buy two items, you get a nice freebie.  Bonds didn't have anything on offer.  Nor did Debenhams.  However, Jarrolds came up trumps with LancĂ´me, and in the end I bought lipsticks too, so that I could get my own freebie, because we were all having a jolly time.  I also bought Wink's present, and some of Weeza's favourite chocolate which I could have got locally but forgot on the way to Norwich so had to pay Norwich prices for (ouch) and so I was all shopped out.

By the time we arrived home, I was just in time to get the chicken into the oven for dinner.  I'd planned to make fairy cakes for church tomorrow, but will have to do that in the morning as I didn't care for the thought of cake and chicken cooking in the same oven at the same time - so I've got all the vegetables ready instead.  Most of them, that is, now I think about it.  Champagne and other wine in the fridge, but the table isn't laid.  Oh well.  It'll all happen, and the worst that can happen is that everyone grabs a handful of cutlery on the way to the table.

Sunshine this morning, then clouds, followed by rain, sleet, sunshine again, then a chilly wind before evening mildness.  April weather is entirely dependable.

Friday 2 April 2010

Typical

So in addition to those sort of evaluations of people's 'types' (that I daresay all you on Facebook do already), like being a Horse, a Bird or a Cow, or the physical ones like Ectomorph, Endomorph or Mesomorph, or else Apple, Pear, Banana or Hourglass for a woman, or else your learning type, known for short as VAK, which is effectively seeing, hearing or doing - Christopher now tells me that the length of your arms relative to your height decides whether you are a square, a rectangle or a gorilla.

It's like that bit in Pretty Woman where it said that your forearm is the same length as your foot, and every woman in the cinema instantly checked it out.  That is - really? oh! who knew?

Anyway, I knew I had short arms because I've never bought a garment with full-length sleeves where the sleeves were not too long.

I shall leave you pondering these matters while I cook Wink's lunch - she's just arrived for the weekend.

Thursday 1 April 2010

Zwinds down for the holiday

Well, the good thing is that Weeza's present, which I only got around to ordering on Monday night, has arrived.  The firm didn't email me to say that they'd despatched it, and since I wasn't here when it arrived, the even better thing is that Dilly happened to be at home to receive the parcel, as otherwise I'd have to go to Norwich to fetch it.

A long morning at school and then over to the crematorium, half an hour's drive away, for the funeral of a lady I never met but whose daughter I've known slightly for many years.  No time in between for shopping for dinner, so we've had fish and chips, which were excellent.  We've got good chippies here anyway, but they got it just right this time and there were only a few pieces left for Tilly.

The sun came out and warmed the greenhouse sufficiently to do the watering.  I also potted up a couple of dozen courgette seedlings.  Next week, all the tomatoes will have to be done.  I hope the weather is better by then, or else I'll have to sort out another propagator.  This can be done and will only take half an hour, but will only be needed for a couple of weeks and hardly seems worth it.

The Head is seeing a new side of me since I took on an extra responsibility and started to not disengage.  He looked slightly hmm when I told him that I'm not taking it at all personally.  I explained how I know - that is, I haven't lost a minute's sleep, unlike when there were the problems at my last school.  But I was a bit on edge at that time, what with one thing and another, and I'm blissfully relaxed now.

Encouraged by Ziggi's example, I bent (straight-legged, of course, or that would be cheating) and touched my toes.  It wasn't easy, I can tell you, which startled me a bit.  Even with a very dodgy hip, I could still touch my toes.  Of course, I haven't been allowed to do so since my operation - I couldn't even put my right sock on for more than six weeks - but I thought it wouldn't be a problem.  I got within about 3 inches and thought that was it, but gravity managed to take over, like coming downhill from the moon (hmm)  and I did the deed.  I haven't demonstrated this ability to the Sage, as I thought that once was enough for today.

Oh, and I've just got my hands on Al's Christmas present - a blow torch for his beehives.  I shall give it to him for his birthday tomorrow and a contribution to his new beehive (a small piece of wax, perhaps?) as a bonus.  He's not very easy to buy presents for, as he already has everything in life that he could wish for (Dilly).