Wednesday 30 June 2010

The Sage is outbid

He did bid for the flask, and was prepared to splurge - but it went way outside our price range, selling for £24,000 (hammer price, it pushes £30,000 with premium and VAT) , which has to be a record price.  I'm just glad to have had the chance to hold and admire it.  Remarkably, it was bought by a London dealer.

The Sage did buy one item, which went within its estimate.  A lot of pieces went way above.  Way.

I've had a really busy day, looking after Zerlina all morning and then meetings in overwarm room in the afternoon and evening, and now I can hardly get my sboes on.  I'm off for a cool bath and an early night - sorry darlings, I'm short-changing you.  And the Sage is tired too, as the train was delayed by a signal failure.  We've had to put off Dave, with apologies, from bricklaying tomorrow.


Tuesday 29 June 2010

The Sage is happy

It's been a medical day today.  I went for my routine mammogram and the Sage went for his routine discussion with our doctor, having had the 24-hour blood pressure monitor last week.  I assume all's well with me - nothing on the photo made us go 'eek' but I'll hear in a couple of weeks, and all is well with the Sage.  I have not raised his blood pressure to eruption point yet.

I fetched Pugsley and Squiffany and brought them home.  Pugsley had a haircut the other day, having robustly refused one before - his mother was reduced to snipping off bits and he always looked a bit homespun.  However, he has reached the age of reason and visited the hairdresser at last.  As a result, he isn't always uncomfortably hot, so he was cheerful and calm, even when his ice lolly dripped.

The Sage was gone for ages.  A couple of hours.  He looked ever so cheerful when he got home and kissed me.  Yes, darlings, I know.  Then he produced from his pocket ... his diary.  A nice person, probably a cleaner, had handed it in and he received a phone call to say so, and had hot-wheeled it over to Norwich station.

After a brief and gentle shower, it's been another very hot day.  I do not complain.  I like it, and even those who long for shade would, most of them, grumble more if the weather was chilly.  One has to remember that 'not too hot' means 'too cold' or 'too wet and windy' or something equally undesirable.  I think this weather is delightful, because it's so rare for more than the odd day.

I took photos of vegetables - that is, botanically fruit but that's being a bit silly.  Peppers, courgettes, swiss chard and peas.  We ate some of the courgettes this evening.
Oh - and, as last year, the outdoor tomatoes are going to be ready earlier than the greenhouse ones. Next year, I must try more bush varieties.

The funny thing is that I didn't actually grow any yellow courgettes this year.  I grew Defender and Romanesco, both green.  Yet I have a plant with yellow fruit.  I don't mind at all, but odd it is.

Z enthuses

Right, this is the sale we went to view yesterday.  Although we looked at everything, our interest is mainly Lowestoft and so those pieces, from 118 to 151, were the ones we handled.

One of the great things about an auction view is that you can ask to see and handle anything.  I don't know if it's so free and easy when delicate objects are worth hundreds of thousands, but at the less rarefied range of prices, you'll either be handed the pieces individually or a cabinet will be unlocked and, though porters are keeping an eye open, you'll be left to get on with it.  At our sales, the people viewing sit down at tables, but here there were upright cabinets and you stand and hold the piece, which is a bit nerve-wracking.

Anyway, if this doesn't interest you, just skip the whole post as I'm afraid it means opening the link in another window and looking at the pieces concerned and you may have neither time nor inclination - on the other hand, you may so I'll go ahead.

 The piece that I really couldn't put down was no. 139, which is wonderful.  Beautifully painted by someone who knew his subject - he'd spent a lot of time in a shipyard or at sea, because you can see that the rigging is right.  If I thought it would go for its estimate, I'd buy it (20% premium plus VAT on the premium is a bit of a pill) but it'll go for more.  We discussed the possible price - our friend thought 13, the Sage thinks 15, but I think it could go for a bid or two more.  But at £16 thousand bid, it's nearly 20 out of the saleroom, which ... well, it makes my hip look jolly cheap.  On the other hand, when you consider the vast sums paid for some items, old and new - well, who's to say?  I'd not pay £20,000 for a car, but plenty would.  And a million pounds seems to go nowhere in some circles.

Anyway, my second favourite is 124, which is beautifully painted.  For something so small, there's an awful lot on it.  It's also incredibly rare - there is supposed to be another one, in polychrome, but no one knows where it is (except its owner, of course) and no other blue and white one is recorded.

Then there was a fabulous pair of tea canisters at 132.  I love to think that they have been treasured together for 250 years, because they are certainly a matching pair.

We're not thinking of bidding for either of those lots either, by the way.

I love the early pieces - 1757 to the early 1760s.  There's a quality to the glaze and a care, but also a freedom, in the painting before the patterns became more standardised, that I really enjoy.  And there were many pieces in that category.  With such treasures to enjoy, one look wasn't enough and nor was the second.  So the Sage and I didn't go to the V&A after all.  We left after a first look, for lunch, then went back, left again for tea and then went back to the invited view, finally scuttling off to catch our train home soon after 7 o'clock.

Monday 28 June 2010

Z and the Sage go to a Private View

We've had a very jolly day in London, except that disaster struck for the Sage when he left his diary on the train. He put it in his pocket but it must have dropped out. We'll ask at Lost Property of course but hopes are not high.
Otherwise (in an "apart from that, Mrs Lincoln..." way), the day has been splendid. When I'm home, I'll put up a link to the sale and tell you the pieces I covet most - some of the most expensive, of course.

We viewed the sale and then beetled off for a while for startlingly expensive drinks and then returned for the invitees-only view, where I was plied with much wine and delicious canapés and chatted to charming people. The Sage will return on Wednesday for the sale.

You may receive more information when I arrive home, but doing the watering and stuff may take too much time.

Sadly, I ordered the last two hot bacon rolls on the train, leaving none for the tanked-up chap on his way home from Monaco. He told me the chocolate muffin wasn't all that. Actually, it was quite toothsome.

Laters, darlings. Possibly.

Sunday 27 June 2010

Z notices the time

Oh dear, it's nearly Monday already.  The Sage and I are going to London, as I think I said - we'll be viewing the sale at Bonhams and, as we unexpectedly have time in hand, he wants to go to the V&A as well.  That sounds all right to me, and we can have a jolly day together.

That's quite unusual in fact - not that we're jolly or together, but both at the same time, and on an outing to boot.

We had another outing today, as it happens - we visited friends near London for lunch.  The other side of London - it was a 240 mile round trip, which seems a long way for lunch, but we had a splendid time.  Our friends were on great form - they're in their 80s, although you'd never think it to see or listen to them.

I've only just finished work and there are more things to do, but I've run out of time.  I need sleep.

Saturday 26 June 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 41 - the beginning of the end

It was a momentous day.  Dave started on the final pillar and I filled up the gap - so at last we've laid bricks the entire length of the wall.  It was another beautifully hot and sunny day - just the weather we had hoped for last year and didn't get but, although we're out in full sun for two or three hours, we haven't had any problem with headaches or sunburn.  Of course we slap on the sun cream and drink plenty of water.

We had cleared away all the pots and weeds and general *stuff* from both sides yesterday, so we had a clear run.  We both worked kneeling down, so there were some twinges of pain, especially for Dave, whose back doesn't really like to be bent over, but at least it gets better as you build up.

Dave had dropped casually approving mention of toasted cheese the other day, so that's what we had for lunch, with bacon.  The bantams loved it.  Dave gave away his bacon rind and the lucky recipient grabbed it and ran, followed by two other hens.  A couple of minutes later she reappeared, bacon still hanging from her beak, with one bird still chasing her, but she successfully outran her and disappeared into the bushes to eat her trophy.

This afternoon, I'm putting my feet up for a bit with the papers.  I've a stern letter to write later, but suspect I'll write the vitriolic version first and then calm it down to a more measured one.  More effective, usually, even if it doesn't quite relieve the feelings so much.

Friday 25 June 2010

Does Z feel lucky?

It seems to be a good year for partridges, I never remember seeing so many.  As I've mentioned, we had a nestful in the kitchen garden this year and I've frequently seen the parents - well, we may have more than one pair in the garden - anyway, I saw the male bird again yesterday.  I was going to pick Pugsley up from nursery and, just after turning onto the A143, I saw a female partridge with chicks, trying to cross the road. A car was coming the other way and she hesitated in front of me, so I stopped and checked the mirror.  A car was about 500 yards away, so I put on my hazard warning lights and got out.  She had time to cross if she hurried, but she was anxious, and then I saw several more chicks emerge from the grass.  Fortunately, she turned back and they all disappeared into the grass.  Ten minutes later, having picked up Pugsley, another hen bird was ambling along the side of the B road.

I still haven't had to cut the lawn this year, as the bantams and rabbits are keeping the grass low.  It's a bit weedy and I need to do some cutting back at the edges, and there are hollows where the chickens dust-bathe.  'Patch of unkempt grass' suits it rather better than 'lawn', if I'm honest.

I arrived at school this morning and the music teacher greeted me.  "I passed you on the hill", she said.  "You looked exhausted."  It's true, I can't do hills at all.  It's only laziness that stops me getting off and pushing.  She brings her children to the village school on a Friday and would give me a lift, but then I'd have to walk home and that is more effort than the bike, especially as then I'd have to carry my shopping.  Anyway, as I explained, I'm supposed to take plenty of exercise (I think that cycling a couple of miles is 'plenty') and the only way that it'll happen is by going places on my bike.  It's hard to find time for it though, I could have done with the extra quarter of an hour this morning.  I certainly wouldn't do anything just for the exercise - finding time to go to the gym or the swimming pool for example, and I'm not the sportiest of people.  I don't mind watching other people play though.

The latest sale catalogue is online, by the way - link on the side.  The mug, Lot 77, is fabulous, cracked and chipped as it is.  But it's a one-off, the painting is delicate and beautiful and I don't mind the damage at all.

Oh, by the way, when moving stuff in the kitchen garden this afternoon, we uncovered a toad.  He was beautiful.  I picked him up so that the brown bantam, who had just made short work of three large slugs, would not bother him, and gave him a new home among the artichokes.  One artichoke is ready to cut, by the way - but only one.  I wonder who will be the lucky person who eats it?  Hmm.

Thursday 24 June 2010

Wild Front Ear

Today has been unexpectedly enjoyable. I'm still plugging away, slowly tidying up the grungy bits of the vegetable garden - I should mention that no other part of the garden has been touched. I've done some hedge cutting, but that's all and the weeds are flowering nicely at the front of the house. This morning, another cow was brought, two of the four having been taken back to the farm last week, as their calves are due before long. The farmer used to take them a few days before their due dates, but he takes them earlier now as the upheaval of a move can start them into labour if it's done late. The Sage went out to lend a hand, as some pruned branches from a pine tree were in front of the gate. The phone rang and I went to check if he could take the call. I saw the men with a friskily dancing cow and told the caller that he'd phone back.

"She'll soon settle down," he assured me, when he returned. "Just pleased to be here. She's number 99 and her name is Davy Crockett."

Later, he called to me to come and see this.

When the truck came for the cows last week, the sit-on mower that the Sage had parked in front of the gate (I know, he does rather block gates) was in the way so they moved it, and the chicken hastily moved too.  She was sitting on three old eggs - the Sage always leaves at least one egg where hens are laying as then they go back there - if you remove them all, they find another place to lay and it then has to be searched for.  He marks these eggs with a black cross so that they aren't accidentally brought into the kitchen for use.

So, Johnny was careful not to drive over the eggs and the mower was then put back in place, and the Sage thought no more about it.  But then he found her a few yards away, under a tree - sitting on those same marked eggs.  She must have carefully rolled them into a new and safer place.  I took one out to photograph - a couple of seconds after I took the picture, she nudged it back under her.

The next thing I had to do was deliver Meals on Wheels.  I'd been sent some questionnaires for the old people to fill in, so I took them round and explained and offered to come back to help.  One couple took me up on the offer, so I returned later and sat down in the kitchen with the wife.  She said that, though she can see well enough to get about, she can't read any more.  It turned out to be unexpectedly heart-warming.  She is completely happy with her life.  She is 88, her husband is 92, their daughter lives opposite and spends half a day every week thoroughly cleaning the bungalow and doing any ironing or anything, and she does all the shopping.  A grandson visits from Norwich every week and her sister phones every morning, and she phones back every evening.  She can manage all the cooking and general tidying, she loves her garden - there is no improvement she can think of to want, and nothing she would change.  Her pretty face beamed as she described it all to me.  The meals we deliver are just what she likes and the quantity and price are right too.

And this evening, I went to the school to look at the exhibition of A Level art and technology.  It was superb.  I was genuinely impressed - I'm very unartistic, but I am reasonably knowledgeable and interested, and there was some really good work there.  Furthermore, there was an air of confidence and enthusiasm about the work that was lovely to feel.  The department staff were there, offering drinks, canapés and a greeting and were obviously proud of their students.

Call me a sentimental old bat and I won't argue, but it's been a good day,

Z has a system, it's just that no one else understands it

It's not that it's particularly interesting, and of course my shadow is in the way, but here it is anyway.

There are several advantages in Blogger Beta - particularly regarding photos, as you can upload as many as you like at one time, instead of being restricted to five, and you can then place them in the order and where you wish, instead of them all being put at the top together in random order, whence you have to cut'n'paste where you want them. However, you can't type while you wait for them to upload and, it seems, you can no longer post a video.

Today, I woke up with the vague realisation that I had received an appointment several weeks ago which I hadn't written down, and I had a feeling it was for today. So I went and looked for the letter - which, since it was for "received, not dealt with, leave it where it will not get forgotten" should have been on my desk. It wasn't. So I looked on the printer "received, in hand, not fully dealt with" and on the table "information to be acted upon but with no particular urgency. I peered into the box of files, which includes "received, dealt with, to be filed for future reference" as well as "filed for future referemce".

Finally, I found it. "On the floor where Zerlina had knocked it off the desk yesterday."

Anyway, it turned out that the appointment is not for today, but for next Monday, so I was in time to phone and change it, because next Monday, the Sage and I will be in London ( I know, darlings, a Rare Outing Together). So it's now rebooked for Tuesday - which means that I won't be able to *forget* it and not bother to go, because it's one of those boring and mildly painful routine health exams that one expects to show nothing at all: in short, a mammogram. I had one a few years ago and was greeted with enthusiasm, slightly startlingly so until I realised that I was the only person in the quarter hour or so that I was there, who had actually shown up.

It's a funny thing, isn't it? How many countries would people be thrilled at the thought of free* health exams, and we take them so much for granted that we don't either bother to go or cancel appointments sent to us. The Sage, in fact, is wearing a blood pressure monitor today - once a year, he has it for a day and quite tedious it is, too, whirring and buzzing every few minutes as it does its check. But again, one has to assume that it's worth it, for the possibility for showing up a potential problem.

*at the point of use

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 40 - some like it hot

It was, at last, exactly the weather we hoped for when we started this whole malarkey.  Sunny, hot, but not unbearable heat as there was enough freshness in the air to make it a pleasure to be outside.  I'd gone out early in fact as I'm still not sleeping much - most annoying to wake, seemingly refreshed, before 5 am when I have only been asleep since 12.30 or so.  Anyway, I'd done some more planting and was doing the watering when Dave arrived.

We're not rabbit-proof yet, but may be after Saturday.  Dave is carrying on with the central pillar and I'm working on the bottom courses.  Weeza and Zerlina arrived during the morning, so I finished early, but Dave did a lot of work.

Ignore the weeds, I do.

The brown hen came in the garden, having been invited in, and followed me around, looking for small creatures to eat.

I did a short movie of her, but I can't find out how to post it.  Blogger Beta doesn't seem to give an option for it - unless anyone can tell me different, of course.  In 'help' it says there is, but although it was there in the original Blogger options, which I can't remember how to return to, it isn't now.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Life in the kitchen garden

I spent much of yesterday afternoon and evening sorting out the greenhouse.  There were various plants that had neither been sold nor planted and needed to be put on the compost heap or planted out, there were other plants that had to be put in their final pots and there were a lot of weeds.  It was too warm to work in there continuously and, when I came out for a breather, I surprised a very small bunny frolicking among the artichokes.  It scampered away and vanished over the wall - no, don't be like that, not the fully-built part but the bit where there are only the foundations.  We put some wire the other side but a small rabbit could get underneath that.

The Sage was out, so I left it, because it wasn't a one-person job to block the way, and when he did return, we found that the rabbit was back.  It was a dear little bunny and we really didn't want to shoot it, our fortitude in that direction has been tested to its limits this year.  So we separated and drove it gradually in the direction we wanted it to go.  There are various bricks and suchlike around and, looking at the bunny, I didn't look where I was going, so I've now got rather a lot of bruises and grazes.  We did the job however, the rabbit left the garden and we've thoroughly blocked the way it came in.  It won't be a problem in another week or two when the wall has been built up a few more courses.

Today, we spent some time clearing a badly overgrown bed that used to be my herb garden.  It's choked with tansy and nettles, mostly.  It had also, being thoroughly out of hand, been used to dump canes and pots and things...the worst of the clearance has been done, but I have to take everything down from stumps to ground level and then cover it with old carpet and leave it for a couple of years to kill the weeds.  But we did find, under a winter savoury bush, a partridge nest, with eight hatched and two addled eggs.  There had been a pair of French partridges in the garden and Dilly saw the mother with newly-hatched chicks a few weeks ago.

When I went for a rake to clear the cut weeds, I found the friendly brown bantam in the new bed by the wall, keenly scratching for insects.  The entrance, while awaiting its gate, is normally blocked off but I've been using it so had left it open and she didn't need a formal invitation.  I left her, she was doing no harm - later, she moved round near where I was raking, so I dug up a patch of ground for her to rootle in.  She was asked to leave for her supper later on, which she did reluctantly.  She was a perfect guest and will be invited in future.

I haven't finished planting out the bed, but a couple more goes should do it.  I might get out early tomorrow morning.  The greenhouse is looking good though.  The front field was cut yesterday and baled at once - it wasn't a very good crop but not as bad as we'd expected - anyway, it was very dry so whether it'll end up as hay or haylage, I don't know.  I'm going to go along and glean the bits left to use as mulch in the greenhouse.

Which reminds me, I took a picture of the first cucumber in full flower yesterday.  Here it is - as ever, you are first in my thoughts so I'm sharing it with you.
I'll share the cucumber too, if you happen to be here when it is cut.

Yes indeed, it is small.  But it will grow quickly.  As you see, the present mulch is newspaper, which is working fine.  But dried grass will be more attractive and smell nice and, like the paper, it will soak up water and let it out again, thus keeping up humidity levels.

Yes, I know that tomatoes are happy with a drier atmosphere.  But, for this year at least, I can only cope with one greenhouse at a time.  So the tomatoes will have to compromise.

Interestingly, there is a shade of colour on some of the outside tomatoes, the bush variety named Maskotka.  I kept them indoors until June and then put them out in pots - last year they cropped before any of the greenhouse varieties, too.  Maybe I should try keeping a plant or two indoors for a really early crop.  I sowed all the seeds of my nine varieties in March.

Monday 21 June 2010

Longest day

Sorry about yesterday, I didn't remember to post until I was nearly asleep.  But I had to tell you about the honey.  And here are a couple of pictures.
As you see, Al is starting off in the simplest way, cutting the honeycomb into a bowl, melting it over warm water, letting the wax rise and then lifting it off and then rewarming and filtering the honey.  There's all sorts of equipment he can buy, a centrifuge and so on, but this will do him for now.  He says that this amount at a time is very simple and manageable and a lot less messy than he expected.

Nothing else to write about now, apart from biking into town to go to the bank and get some vegetables, nothing's happened here.

Oh, by the way, today is the last day of the English asparagus picking season, so if you want some, hot-foot it to the shops to get it, right now.

A long day

Particularly as I didn't make use of any part of the night for sleeping. And now it'll hardly be dark at all, I wonder if I'll sleep tonight either. Anyway, I didn't waste the time, I spent several hours writing a complicated letter, which saved time today. Or, actually, yesterday, now I notice the time. Anyway, I'm in bed.

The Sage was particularly pleased with his Father's Day present from Al: the very first jar of honey from his bees. He was awfully touched that Al gave it to him. All this swarming that went on earlier in the summer has turned out to be a bonus, for there is quite a demand for queen bees with a starter colony of workers and they are quite valuable. Al has had several enquiries and has sold two. At this rate, it'll only be another five years or so before he recoups his outlay on hives and equipment.

Saturday 19 June 2010

I'm all right now, thank you, though

I've had a lazy day imposed on me by a bad headache, so nothing much has happened.  I went back to bed after half an hour up this morning, slept the morning away and then came back down again, feeling a bit better, because I'd promised to look after the children for Dilly.  However, I couldn't do anything much, so fetched them some food and reclined on the sofa with them watching television.  I know,  terrible granny.  We watched Horrid Henry, Ooglies, Shaun the Sheep and Scooby Doo.   I remember vastly preferring cartoons to educational children's programmes such as Blue Peter when I was a child, so I have no bad conscience about it at all.  That is, it didn't stop me reading or playing outside or doing other things, and I mostly avoided having friends anyway and lived nearly a mile from any children I did know, so wouldn't have seen them anyway.

Dilly was going with her sister Dala (I'm going to forget what I've called her sisters; let it suffice that Dilly is the oldest of three and they all have the same initials) to order Dala's wedding cake.  She entered a competition in the local newspaper and won £300-worth of cake.  So she booked an appointment and asked Dilly to go along as a back-up.  She wasn't at all sure that it wasn't one of these things where you get a voucher that commits you to a big additional payout.

They found that this lady does the cakes from her home, which is full of accessories and decorations in every drawer and cupboard.  She was delightful and enthusiastic and showed them everything, and then they started to design this cake on the computer.  It became beautiful and elaborate and lots of things were discussed, but price was never mentioned.  In the end, D & D just relaxed and went along with it and had fun.  Finally, they agreed on a three-tier cake and then she checked the price.  "Oh dear," she said. "It comes to £311.  Oh well, never mind, we'll call it £300."  Delivery is included, a distance of more than 20 miles.

So, not everything is a scam and some offers aren't too good to be true.

Anyway, about Dilly and her sisters - it so happened that their parents have the same initial letters, so they thought it would be rather jolly to use them for their children too.  Of course, this meant that all three daughters' correspondence arrived addressed to 'Miss D L Surname'.  "Wasn't this a nuisance?" I asked Dilly once. "You never knew who should open the letters."  "Not to me," she replied. "I was the eldest, so I assumed that all letters were addressed to me."

Friday 18 June 2010

Z embraces the vuvuzela

Yes, really.  I've come to get the fact that those who are moaning are, let's face it, grumpy old darlings and so I've gone the other way.  I don't mind in the least being old and I love being part of the grey community (though I'm only a little bit grey, and only on my head at that) but I'm not going to be grumpy or complain about the "youth of today" or anything like that.  So, I've listened to vuvuzelas until they embody the spirit of jollity.  Wonderfully, with my change in attitude, they don't even give me a headache any longer.  So I've switched on tonight's match.  I wish they had had the Algerian team introduce themselves as the English did though - I am completely non-partisan in these matters and appreciative of Good Play.

A terrific music lesson this morning.  I had to leave a bit early in fact, as I had a meeting with the Head, but the first part of the lesson was playing djembe drums and the class ended up playing two different tricky rhythms (one in 3/4 and one in 4/4) simultaneously, really well.  And then they added the agogo bells and it sounded wonderful.  They really concentrated - at this stage, three bars in one rhythm and the fourth in another - and no one made any mistakes or played up and I, not playing at this time (sometimes I do join in but it seemed mean to take away a drum!), applauded enthusiastically at the end.

Anyway, darlings, I'd hate to take you away from the football, so I'll let you go.  Have a lovely evening, and please do something entirely frivolous.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 39 - Pillar of Dave

Dave brought along his camera, with its wide-angled lens, to take a picture of the whole length of the completed wall.

Today, I didn't add much to the next section.  I was putting in some plants, a mixture of flowers and veggies.  A work in progress, as you see - and, although some of them are perennials, they will be taken out in the autumn, even those that are to be put back in the same place, because the whole bed needs to be thoroughly manured and, so far, I'm just putting in a few spadesful under each plant.

I've just realised that the pic is on the huh.  My photos are always on the huh, I don't do straight.  It's not the wall, which is totally upright.

These are the few bricks that I did lay, and you'll see that (it being a joining-up section) even if I can't do upright, I can do level.
Dave, of course, is both upright and on the level.  He laid a few more bricks, but I was slaving in the kitchen by then and, as I went out after lunch, I didn't take a picture of the finished section.  I'll do it in the next few days, before our next work morning.

This afternoon, I went with Weeza, Al, Squiffany and Pugsley to the theatre, to a production of Snow White on ice.  A mixture of ballet, skating and acrobatics, it was both remarkable and very enjoyable.  Dilly was working today so couldn't come (not to waste the ticket, Al shut up shop early and joined us) and so she is going tomorrow with her sister Deepa.

Afterwards, we scooped up Ro and all went out for a meal.  So the Sage had a double treat - a peaceful afternoon and dinner out.  He thanks you for your birthday wishes.  Now, I shall join him in bed for a cuddle before sleep.

All them phootoos is on the huh*, I've just noticed.  Heh.

*As we say in Norfolk

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Second Post

That's what happens, you see, when I write early.  Vote early, vote often, as the saying goes.

Actually, "as the saying goes" (pronounced 'goos' or even 'goo') is, itself, a saying around here; amongst the older residents, that is.  Usually attached to something that isn't a saying at all.

Anyway, what I have returned to say is that I've just got back from a parents' evening at the school and my lovely Sage has cooked me my dinner.  I feel most awfully cherished.

It was the parents of the new pupils for September, and I spent an hour and a half bobbing up to strangers and engaging them in conversation.  A couple of other governors were there too, doing the same thing and at one point we all chatted together for a few minutes.  One of them said that she was never quite sure about volunteering to come in for things, she didn't want to be intrusive.  I said I knew how she feels - "I don't come over as diffident, but I have to make an effort not to be," I said.  She told me that I don't come over as diffident at all.

I know I don't.  I don't here, do I?  I'm confident and can talk a bit too much and have social skills and am not at all reticent.  Well, I'm not saying it's put on, and I'm not saying that I'm shy, because actually, people who are really pretty brash and then say, coyly, "of course, underneath it all, I'm terribly shy" really quite piss me off, because I've been shy and I couldn't possibly have done it then - and I like being outgoing better than I liked my many introverted years, and I don't mind that I'm laying myself open to judgement because it's a sign that I'm not afraid to be humble (a lot of shyness is actually pride, or at least it was with me) - however, it does mean that I have to be sure and do it constantly, or else it looks as if I don't care or am uninterested.  When, in fact, I'm not quite confident that it's appropriate for me to leap in and ask.

I'm getting better at it.  I really do try very hard.

Anyway, tomorrow is the Sage's birthday, and he will be 74.  He doesn't think of himself as ageing at all, and nor do I - that is, I know he is but he isn't to me.  He's just the same as ever, and I love him as much as ever.  His kindness and care when I was getting over my operation was, yet again, a revelation to me - after all these years, he can still surprise me.  And, after all these years, one can still be surprised to fall in love all over again, with the same person - even if you've loved him all along.  Which is rather more convenient than falling for someone else, of course.

Z is a bit frustrated

So many websites are designed the wrong way round - that is, not from the point of view of the user.  In my case, I don't want to have to click through a lot of pages of things I don't want, I want to put in what I do want and have only things that apply come up.

So, the first things they ask are, contract or pay as you go.  That's fine, and so is maximum and minimum price.  But then, what matters to me is what I get, not what make of phone or network - that is, there may be some I don't want, but I don't want to be restricted to being shown only one.  But I'm not offered that, it's one or all.   And I'd like to say from the outset whether calls, text or internet are most important, so that then I can be shown a range of options, starting with the ones that are most likely to interest me.  Instead, I get lots of pictures of phones and then have to look at any one I like to find out what tariffs are associated with it, then save it for comparison.  If, instead, I could just cross off the ones that aren't suitable, it would be much simpler.

The Sage is far more dextrous than I am, far better at fiddly jobs, except when it comes to phones or computers, when they have to be idiot-proof.  So he'll have to be able to have a go and see if he can use it, so we'll have to go shopping together.  I can't see that happening today.  Or tomorrow.  I was free this morning when he wasn't and I'm not free this afternoon.  And tomorrow's not possible at all.

I suppose I should have started all this earlier.

By the way, how come no one has disagreed with the odd expression that *we* are all "addicted to oil".  Surely we're simply dependent on it?

I thought I might try to get involved with the football.  Not that I mind in the least who wins the World Cup - I'm not being snooty about it, but I find it more interesting to see who plays well and has the most appealing players, rather than what country they come from.  But it's giving me a headache.  I haven't managed to sit through a match yet.  I suppose I should be glad to have more time to research phones.  I understand that the television networks are looking into an option to block the sound of the vuvuzelas, which would mean I have no excuse to ignore the coverage any more.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Hawk from a Harnser

I'm not sure if I've mentioned yet that it's the Sage's birthday this week.  No, of course I haven't bought him a present yet, what do you take me for?  One of those sorted people or something?  I'm going to get him a new mobile phone.  I know, a bit dull - but honestly, he's not easy to buy for.  I struck lucky last year, when I had the genius idea of a little collector's cabinet for his vestas (matchboxes, not scooters or anything Roman or waspish) and was able to buy a dear little one on eBay.  He really likes my phone but - and I'm not being rude or anything, honestly - it would be wasted on him.  I mean, the purpose of an iPhone is only slightly to make phone calls.  And that's all he wants to do, he doesn't even want to take photos or send texts, on a phone that's simple enough even for him or me to use.

Anyway, his birthday - it's not a particularly milestone sort of age, except that, at last, the Sage will have been married for half his life; in terms of years, that is.  And in September, I'll have been married for two-thirds of mine.

App of the day - Speed Anatomy, which is highly entertaining, especially when you find how little you know.  Rather splendidly, it's just a quiz, which doesn't give you the opportunity to actually bone up on the answers first, so you have to try to remember the bits you're clueless about next time.  There's a lite version to try first.  I like it so much that, having mostly mastered it (v hazy on the brain, which won't surprise you) I've just bought the Speed Bones too, though I can't yet get through the parts of the vertebrae.  In fact, I'm not sure how I'll ever learn them.  It was hard enough learning to tell an axis from an atlas (in bone terms, darlings) without the Transverse Foramen from the Anterior Arch.  But I daresay I'll have a lot of fun trying.

Monday 14 June 2010

Roll your sleeves up and participate

I know you're all pacing the floor, unable to relax until you know that the Sage is safely home with me - well, he is, so you can.  I cut the lilac hedge, it having finished flowering (isn't that just begging to be translated into Latin?) and mused that I might finally be starting to grow up, because I gathered up all the cuttings into the big green wheelbarrow instead of leaving them to the fairies.  Having done that, I swept the part of the drive where the cutting had been done, which was even more remarkable.  Truth to tell, I only did that to check whether the Sage would notice the job had been done, because he had been going to ask Friend with a Chainsaw.  He did notice, of course.  He's so observant.  It might not seem remarkable to you, that a hedge cut back by 12 or 18 inches is noticed, but I'd not see it, possibly not for a week or two.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a lecture about Stanley Spencer - in preparation for this (I know, darlings, you think that I'm ever spontaneous, but you may be surprised) I visited Cookham last week to see his paintings in his home town.  And, indeed, the home town too.  I have to remember to get there early as the AGM comes first.  I shall be happy to sit, mostly anonymously, in the audience and not on the stage giving a proper actual-factual written speech, which I'd done for four years.  Not a continual four year span, you understand, but ten minutes at a time, four times, annually.  I have agreed to propose a proposal, but it only involves raising my hand at the appropriate time.

Afterwards, Weeza has promised to help friends with the organisation of their house-move, so she's leaving Zerlina with us again for the afternoon.  Tilly will be very happy.   What's nice is that the happiness lasts, she has been very cheerful and affectionate all day today.  Her sight and hearing are so much poorer in the last few months that she can tend to withdraw into herself.

The title of the post has nothing to do with the post, except that I've just read it on Roses' blog.  And it encapsulates the art of life.  That's what life is for, darlings.  As Weeza, with her London Ways, would say, JFDI.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Happy families

The Sage and I spent some time missing each other's phone calls last night, and I found another slightly edgily affectionate message again this afternoon.  I phoned his mobile, which wasn't answered, and then tried Wink's number and, sure enough, the Sage picked up.  So we billed and cooed for a while, I explained why I hadn't been about when he rang and he explained that he hadn't meant to leave his phone in his Gladstone bag where he couldn't hear it, and we agreed that we miss each other awfully.

Actually, mostly, we talked about the bantams - fortunately, he approved of how I've been looking after them.  And I have, I've taken ever so much trouble, giving them soaked bread in the morning, corn at lunchtime and leftovers of more bread, salad and pasta from last night, with a bit more corn, this evening.  They have looked very well, though the old black hen was very noisy yesterday and the only way to stop her was to feed her - she's greedy and chases away any other girl who comes to eat, even though there's plenty for everyone.

We went and had lunch with Al and Dilly and afterwards Weeza and I came back here to put Zerlina down for her nap.  The phone rang and it was the son of our friend Daphne, who is staying with his girlfriend in Southwold for a long weekend and wondered if it would be convenient to call in during the afternoon.  Indeed it was, we haven't seen him for years.  He's a couple of years, nearly, younger than Al, and we all have spent a lot of time together, on and off.  His father died when he was in his mid teens, he referred to him several times - not in a particularly reverent way but it showed the influence still there, half a lifetime later.

This evening, I looked at the random collection of food I'd got - a cauliflower, a few new potatoes, some tomatoes, onions, shallots and garlic, a red and a green chilli, a few slightly wizened young carrots and some broad beans, and two large open-cup mushrooms.  I put away the cauli and potatoes until tomorrow, and the green chilli and cooked the rest with an assortment of spices.  It was fine.  Slightly unusual.  You'd not call it a recipe, mostly a matter of getting out everything beginning with c, plus some mustard seed.

Don't you love the way mustard seeds pop when you fry them?

Anyway, I thought you might like a couple of happy family photos.  The first is of Squiffany and Zerlina doing some drawing together and the second of Zerlina and Tilly having a cuddle.  Tilly has had such a happy time this weekend, she loves the children.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Z is left to look after the bantams

Dilly and Al had a party today.  They relied rather on fine weather because they planned a barbecue, with more guests than indoor chairs, but the Luck of the Sage held, even though the man himself wasn't there and the sun shone reasonably hot, which was more than it looked as if it was going to do.  All week, rain has been forecast which hasn't fallen, but the dry day that was predicted looked quite unlikely for a while.  Almost the whole family came, Dilly's parents and one of her sisters, with her family, Ro and his girlfriend Dora came and so did Weeza and Zerlina, though not Phil because he's visiting other friends this weekend. Various other families came too and the children all played cheerily together, without bothering us at all.  

The Sage has gone away for a couple of days.  Today, there was an Old Boys' Reunion at his school.  I find these things a bit bemusing, but then, as you know, I'm a bit of an old misery at heart and, if I hadn't kept in touch with people from several decades ago, I'd think it a bit odd to catch up with them once in a while just because we shared the same Latin classes.  Actually, I'd not recognise people either, by name or face.  I'm hopeless.  Anyway, I digress: the Sage was thoroughly looking forward to it, because various people who were in the school shooting team with him were going to be there.  They are older than he: he was a crack shot from an early age.  This is target shooting, of course, he has never been a hunter.

He is staying there tonight and tomorrow has some business to transact on the other side of the country, so will go from Derbyshire to Wiltshire and then home again on Monday by way of Towcester (which is, rather fabulously, pronounced Toaster, for those of you who do not herald from these shores).

So I'd be all alone tonight, were it not that Weeza is staying over.  Zerlina is staying with her cousins next door, so Weeza can relax.

And I've got to get up early tomorrow, to set up everything for the 8 o'clock service, so now I'm going to let Tilly out and in again, and go to bed.

Friday 11 June 2010

Belle of the Ball

At the school this morning, it just so happened that I bumped into all the people I wanted to see - one to commiserate on the death of her mother, one to congratulate on being elected staff governor, one to thank (I have already, but now he's officially finished) for having been a governor, one to thank for holding the fort during a recent gap in staffing, one to wish good luck in a job interview for a big promotion.  She's relocating anyway, so we'll say goodbye to her anyway.

I had no idea that so much PR was involved in this job - last time I was chairman of governors, it was in a school with ten staff, rather than well over a hundred.

Today was a particularly important day, as I was meeting someone for lunch.  Roses and I have been really looking forward to meeting each other, and she finally discovered that I really do talk as much in real life as I appear to here.  As one does with a blogfriend, we dispensed with the cautious preliminaries of conversation and dived straight in to talk about Dave talk about ourselves.  We were just having coffee when I saw Dilly and Pugsley outside the window, so waved them in where they settled down for apple juice and chocolate cake.  Then the Sage strolled by and came in - I'd told the family how lovely Roses is, so they all wanted to meet her.  She, with considerable social skill, dealt with it all with aplomb.

Later, I showed her the wall, pointing out every small waver in the brickwork (if we'd tried just that bit harder, we'd have had a crinkle-crankle wall) which entertained her.  She met the bantams, the cows, the vegetables, the cock pheasant and several rabbits, but Tilly was asleep on the sofa so didn't come to greet us, and Roses then had to get home, as she is going to a ball this evening.

Independently, Dilly and I had the same reaction.  "Do you have a ballgown?"  Our wardrobes are decidedly underdressed, as we don't.  Roses does, so can dance the night away with no inconvenience of glass (or fur) slippers or a frock that vanishes at midnight.

Thanks, darling - it was lovely to meet you and I look forward to seeing you again xx.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 38 - Dave is cornered

This has been a red-letter day. The whole of one side of the wall is finally complete.
The Sage brought Dave a celebratory cup of tea in an 18th Century mug. Dave quite unreasonably refused to drink it, on the grounds that the mug was both chipped and cracked.
The finishing touches.
The finished wall

The first section, which was completed last summer

We weren't idle the rest of the day, either. All ready for planting.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 37 - and a bantam moves in

I left the gentlemen to it today, just providing tea, the occasional encouragement and lunch at the end.  Yay, sausages.  Aren't sausages the finest of foods?  (For vegetarians, read Glamorgan sausages or tofu sausages or whatever Linda Mac provided as a meat substitute).

Knowing that Dave doesn't really do green, I served tomatoes and carrots (no chips, sadly) but he ignored the latter.  Emboldened by this, so did the Sage.  Wonderful as he was during my convalescence, I did yearn for more vegetables.  He actually likes veg, but I suspect he doesn't think they are quite manly.

Anyway, nothing spectacular is happening to the wall at present, but excellent progress is being made all the same, because it's the finishing-off stage.
Pugsley laid a tile (the behatted Sage is just behind it).
This section of the wall is now complete.  Tomorrow, we hope that the wall will be finished up to the corner.
This afternoon, as it was warm - it was supposed to rain this afternoon, but I was not surprised when it didn't - I left the door open.  I heard an amount of banging about in the porch and, suspecting bantam activity, picked up my camera and went to look.  There was our oldest girl, having decided she'd gone far enough, about to leave.
Later, I heard sounds in the passageway.  She had clucked* up more courage and come indoors and was checking out the kitchen.  She strolled out eventually.  I'd taken the precaution of shutting the drawing room door, Tilly would have been affronted.  She wouldn't have done anything, but she would have been very put out.

*see what I did there?
By the way, for those of you who think we've been mean, shooting a rabbit, a picture of a flageolet bean that it didn't eat, and one of two that it did.

Today's app (these are not necessarily only just downloaded, just things I use/play regularly) is Bottle Hunt.  Keep on the sound effects, the sound of breaking glass adds to the pleasure - it's not a game to take seriously, just to enjoy for a few minutes at a time, and you may want to turn up the brightness.   I've cleared the scores several times and am working on full marks (breaking every bottle) on every round. And it's another free one.  I actually spend very little on apps, and always try free versions of games if they're available - and if they're not, I generally don't bother.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Z looks forward to turning the corner

Plans are well in hand for the Village Festival.  We've had our final meeting, reckoning that the remaining details can be sorted out by email and face-to-face - we do talk to each other once in a while - which reminds me, after the interviews at the school a couple of weeks ago and before we discussed the appointment, two members of the panel popped out of the room and the Head and I took the quiet opportunity to check our emails.  His PA came in with some tea and laughed at us.  There we both were, tapping away at our iPhones, looking as if we were carrying on a silent conversation.

I am as besotted as ever with the phone, I'm afraid, and spend a happy few minutes, two or three times a week, checking out apps.  Rog thinks that four or five pages are normal; I'm afraid I have eight and a half.  I do like to have a couple of games on the go, as well as lots of information, some of it in game form (I'm not half bad on the Highway Code now, nor on anatomy: I finally know my arse from my elbow).  then there are books, audio books, newspapers, the radio (which is a bit rubbish in this poor-digital-reception area) and Spotify, never mind the things that come as standard anyway.  And I still sleep with the phone under my pillow.  It's not the last thing I cuddle at night, but it's generally the first that I handle in the morning.

These dull, mild days are wonderful for the greenhouse plants, and the rain - not that we've had whole lots here - is splendid for the veggies.  I haven't had to water outside since Saturday, which is a bonus at this time of year.  Of course, I don't water flowers or lawn.  I have plants that are suitable for sandy, gravelly soil in a sunny spot, instead.

Weather permitting, Dave is coming over tomorrow and we hope to complete the longest section of wall this week.  Then I can weed and dig and plant out the bed beneath and after that we can start on the final stretch.  It's something like 35 feet long and 5 feet tall, so it's more work than I'm making it sound, but the end will be in sight.

Today's app - iAssociate 2.  Which is free.  I'm enjoying it so much that I've paid for the original iAssociate as well.

Monday 7 June 2010

Z gets some work done but is anxious about it for a while

I can't deny that I got a bit frustrated.  I remembered that I'd promised to do a write-up for the newsletter about the Scottish visit and that I'd said I'd have it to the editor by Tuesday morning.  So I started on that this morning, though I'd intended to do it at the weekend but forgot.  I was getting on quite well and said to the Sage, who was hopefully talking about starting on the photos for the catalogue and website, that I'd be about 15 minutes more.

Then the phone rang.  Doesn't it always? - it was something I had to talk about, to do with Meals on Wheels, and it took nearly the whole of that 15 minutes and then I'd lost the thread, so it was a further half-hour, with tweaking and correcting, before I sent it off.  And then I had an email that had to be dealt with - it was so much slower and yet so much easier in the days when you weren't obtainable so easily.  Still, at least it wasn't another phone call.

After that, I went and talked to the plants in  the greenhouse for a bit, in a friendly way, told them how well they're doing and how much I care for them, and tied up the new growth in the tomatoes and cucumbers and all that sort of thing.  It's perfect growing weather in there, warm and humid with no sun to scorch or wilt anything.  I've been watering thoroughly so didn't today, not to bring down the temperature.

The forecast was rain, but we've only had a couple of light showers, hardly enough to wet the ground.

Anyway, it was after lunch when we got going.  And it just wasn't going to work.  The light-box and the lights weren't right (we used to take photos outside but decided to be a bit more professional) - and I got a bit agitated.  As you can see, I don't do things early as Dave does, but I don't take them to the wire either.  I leave time in hand for those sorts of problems.  The Sage doesn't, but is lucky.

In this case, he was lucky to have me on hand to say "It Won't Do" rather than let him get away with poor pictures and finally to suggest taking them outside after all.  For the last catalogue pictures, I hadn't long had my operation and couldn't help except by making encouraging sounds and tea (and they ended up a bit dark, in fact).   Fortunately (today and outside), the breeze had dropped, it was still cloudy and, although there was a short shower through which I resolutely kept snapping (no water on lens, camera in light box as was china) we got it done.  I've sent everything off for the catalogue to Weeza, who has already started work on it.

I realised afterwards I'd missed a meeting, but it didn't really matter.  I was quite glad to have genuinely not noticed the time, as I didn't feel I had a lot to contribute but it might have been thought I did, and someone who was much better went anyway and has already emailed a report.  Gosh.  I emailed back to apologise, of course.

Now, I've got to get on with that work for the Meals on Wheels lady.  I explained that I was too busy today but I'd do it this evening.

Ooh, Weeza is good.  She emailed to say how she's getting on with the catalogue (up to lot 34 which is more than a third of the way) and mentioned it was raining.  So I asked her to direct the rain this way and here it is.  Splendid!

Sunday 6 June 2010

Gloat. Of course.

Ooh dear, this is turning into a habit.  I wake too early, the Sage wakes because I do, snuggles up and goes to sleep, and I lie there until it's getting-up time and then have a nice little nap anyway, putting me behindhand for the rest of the day.

It'll have to stop now though, I've got a busy week on.

Today, we went over to see Weeza.  Well, first, I'd played the music in church.  I received the hymns after I'd been down to the church yesterday to do the flowers, so couldn't be arsed to go back and practise - I mean, darlings, one can lose freshness so easily by over-practising, don't you think?  The fact that I didn't actually know two of the hymns is neither here nor there.  I bluff, I bluff, hear me.

*now trying to remember what the original was.  I know what it's from, of course, but what the second (and fourth, in repeat) word is, I can't think.  If I can by the time I finish, I shall mention it of course.  As ever, CBATG.

Apart from repeatedly playing C sharp in one place in each verse, when the key was G, it was fine.  I nearly had a small hiccup when, finishing the final verse of the final hymn with a flourish, I suddenly noticed another 'final final' verse on the next page.  I noticed it in time not to miss it, fortunately.

Phil was doing a hundred mile bike ride today, the Norwich 100, which starts from the Cathedral, goes up through mid-Norfolk to Sheringham (buggering up the traffic in Cromer en route) and then returning by the coast road.  He did it in just over 7 hours, about 6 1/2 without the compulsory lunchtime stop.  Good job it wasn't yesterday, when it was boiling hot.  He phoned from the Cathedral when he got back (only another 4 miles uphill to go, to be home) to suggest meeting at the pub for a Broadside.  I took photos.

Yay, photos.  Obviously, not all of them are here.  Most had faces in.
Afterwards, they walked home and we left to drive home.  Phil said that there had been torrential rain for a while - he didn't have time to get on a coat and overshoes and, while waiting to be checked in at the Cathedral, he'd taken off his shoes and wrung rainwater out of his socks!  Mind you, he was quite sweaty too, as I found when I kissed him hello.  It didn't seem quite polite to wipe my face, so I just had to be careful not to lick my lips - it's not within the bounds of propriety to taste a son-in-law's sweat.

The good thing for me was that I was very comfortable walking a quarter of a mile or so in 3 inch *approx - the height of the length of my middle finger) heels. I'm so sorry, darlings, if I'd known I was going to take my photo I'd have had a pedicure first.

Saturday 5 June 2010

yet more pictures of Zegetables

"Um", I said, with a rare burst of lucidity, "have you got a gate for the wall?"  The Sage said he had, and where it is, leaning against the barn.  I had observed it.  "Is it the right width?"  "Should be, I've measured it."  We went over to it and looked silently for a minute.  "Um," said the Sage, who talks much as I do, "it's not rabbit-proof, is it?"  It's a very attractive wrought-iron gate, but a slender rabbit would have no difficulty getting through.  "We'll have to put wire against it," he resolved.

Rather dismayed as I was by this, I let it pass.  "It'll need cleaning and painting, anyway."  "There's no rust," he said over-optimistically.  "Um," I replied - there's a wealth of meaning in these two-lettered words, isn't there? - and pointed out where there was, distinctly, rust.  It hasn't eaten into the metal and it's a very sturdy gate which will, with its weight, be the first test of the strength of the wall, but it would be silly to paint over it.

I can see I have a horrible job in front of me.  Wire-brushing and scrubbing an intricately-patterned gate, sealing it against rust and painting it.  I'll have to do it.  Left to the Sage, he'll cheerily put it in place, promising to do the job properly soon and it still won't be done in five years' time.

Still, I'm going to measure it first, to be sure it fits.

Last night I went to bed with a headache and woke with the same one.  I had meant to get up early and garden but, as I lay there feeling bleary, the Sage half-woke, put an arm round me and fell asleep again.  So I got up rather late and didn't do the gardening until later in the day when it wasn't so hot.

I've put some of the pots out, in the bit of bed that I've dug.  This is not how they will stay - it won't be long before there's more room when the next couple of sections have been completed, and I'll give these a bit more space, put out peppers and some flowers and aim to make it a bit more attractive - though I probably will stick to the flexibility of keeping things in pots this year - and more weeding has been done in the rest of the veg garden.  This has knocked the artichokes about a bit, but they seem all right.
The plants all suffered somewhat from having been kept in pots for too long, but the hardy things had to wait until the fencing went up and the rest was delayed by the cold weather.  It'll all recover and it can't be helped anyway.  The headache went too, by the way.  I sensibly lounged about drinking water for a bit, as I think I've been overdoing things in the heat of the day.