Saturday 31 July 2010

Z counts

I was thinking whom I've met amongst you bloggers and blog-readers. First was Blue Witch (and Mr BW, who isn't a blogger, as far as I know) - well that was the first arranged blogmeet. I already had met Badgerdaddy, who read this blog and left a comment, then I read his and realised I'd met him. Since, I've met Boy On Top, whose blog is still there but not updated, Dandelion, Martin and Wendy, Dave - of course, since he now is a fellow wall-builder, Rog and Roses. Al has his bee blog of course, but I don't really think knowing your own son counts as a blog-meet. I've nearly got as far as meeting a few others, but it hasn't happened yet. And I'm meeting Ziggi on Tuesday.

I've missed someone out, haven't I?

Friday 30 July 2010

Z is here

"Hi hoh ngy heef" said Percy. It took Wink a moment to translate, than she promised to drop in on her way home from work.

Later,the phone rang again. "It's all right, we've found them. They were in the pocket of my pyjamas." Percy is a dear old friend to Wink, but he's a bit vague.

We've arrived safely and I'm feeling really stupid that I didn't note Zig's email to see if she has time to meet up. It's too awkward toxtrawl through for on the phone so I'll look at the library tomorrow. Don't suppose anyone else is in the Wiltshire/Somerset/Dorset border area? Because I am for the next few days, though engaged this weekend.

Horrible journey, which took 6 hours instead of 4 1/2 because of hold-ups on the M25 and the A303. Wretched roads. Down to me we were late leaving because my meeting overran, but beastly useless roads anyway.

Still, we're here. Woo-hoo, darlings. I never thought I'd get the Sage to go away with me. So it's all good. Dawgs. As the Badgerdaddy would say.

Thursday 29 July 2010

Z goes shopping and to the iDoctor

I was down to only two summer skirts, one of those is button-through which is always a slight worry, and the other is over 20 years old - I still like it, but it's not quite a must-wear any more.  So I went shopping.  There's a nice clothes shop in the town that I usually use and I ventured in, to be greeted by the proprietor who was quite glad to see me.  A very well-known and liked member of the community died recently and it was his funeral today, and almost everyone was there.  I knew him, but not well and didn't feel I needed to go.

I explained about the skirtlessness - last summer I wore trousers so I could wear my comfy walking shoes without drawing attention to them - and she told me that everything in the shop was reduced in price.  I took almost everything she had in a 10 and went to try them on ... of course, within minutes two customers came in, and the shop has only one changing room.

Anyway, in the end I bought seven skirts and three jackets.  Most at 30% discount and a couple at 60%.  I won't need any more for years, and some of those can go on to the autumn too.  It's quite an incentive not to get any fatter, and I rather need one.  I bit the bullet and weighed myself this morning - I was quite relieved only to have put on 3 pounds since my operation, I did think it was more, but it'll spur me on, I trust, to lose it and more.

I had an appointment at the Apple shop, so arranged to meet the Sage an hour after that at another phone shop.  I explained to the chap what the problem is and he was a bit bemused - the ringtone of the phone didn't work but the alarms and alerts did, the vibrate worked but the text alert didn't and the sound on the apps didn't work but iTunes and Spotify and audio-books worked fine.  Oh, and since Monday email notification didn't work, even when I tried manually, but the internet connection was quite okay and I could get emails that way.  He said it sounded like a range of software problems that you'd expect to find if the phone had been dropped in water, but it hadn't, as I assured him.  I said I'd restored it - twice - and done the other obvious things, so he suggested doing a total restoration - not that he said such a thing, but I sort of took it as the difference between taking a laxative and going for colonic irrigation ... I've never done either myself, but can imagine.  "It'll wipe everything, have you got it backed up?" he asked.  I said I have.  "When was the last time you backed it up?" - evidently taking me for a bit of a blonde.  "Last night, I back it up every day," I said meekly.

Afterwards, I sent an email to myself to make sure that worked, and then we wanted to check the phone. "There's too much metal here, there's no signal," he said.  "I could go outside and you phone me," I suggested.  "I don't have a signal either."  "Er, no, I did mean from a landline" I replied, wondering how blonde I looked today.  Maybe I just looked very old and a bit dim.

Well, in the event, it all worked.  The phone is fine again.  And the whole thing only took half an hour - it is true, by the way, that if they can't fix it at once, they give you a new one.  And they're really helpful - if you ever need to avail yourself of an appointment (which may be simply to learn how to get the best from your phone), book it online and then nobble a staff member to get signed in when you arrive.  Then have a little wander round all the pretty things until it's your turn.  I was approached, unpushily and helpfully, by four members of staff as I probably looked a bit lost; I wasn't, but I know it's my manner.

After that, I went off to meet the Sage.  I'd investigated a bit beforehand, and knew that there was a choice of two mobile companies that have the best signal here, it turned out that one is more expensive so that was good, because the decision was made.  I said we wanted a touchscreen and what I was willing to pay - and we decided - er, the Sage agreed with me - absurdly, if we'd moved from Vodaphone to another company he'd have been able to keep his number but going from pay-as-you-go to a contract with them, he couldn't.  But he was given a choice so he chose a nice number, which pleased me as there were mathematical reasons for doing so.

Oh, and we got talking about apps - it turned out that both the assistants at Crphn Wrhs have iPhones, too.  Which surprised me a bit, as there are some really good other phones out there now and they'll have had a chance to try them all.

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Z's sharp tongue is left dangling

I'm not sure what's the right time to write a post.  If I write it in the morning, I have the feeling later that I have things unsaid, but if I leave it until the evening, I am almost too tired.

Anyway, all I'm back to say is that English cherries are in your local English greengrocery and they are totally delicious this year.  I think that they have the best flavour - well, since Al had the shop anyway. so that's seven cherry seasons ago.  Nearly eight years, goodness.

Red ones of course, one doesn't often get the lovely white cherries nowadays.  It's not surprising, they are very delicate and bruise easily, which shows up as brown marks even before you can taste anything wrong.  Were I to grow cherries commercially, I'd not risk them.

Also, the first English plums are in and they are excellent - Early River, I think the variety is.  More flavour and less sharpness than I expected.  Certainly can be eaten raw without a wince.  Though I don't mind the wince, I have a sharp tongue more than a sweet tooth.

The Sage turned on his computer and nothing happened.  I mean, nothing happened!!(!)  "It was working earlier," he said dismally.  "Is it plugged in?" I asked sensibly.  He said it was.  I went to check.  It wasn't.  I explained how the first thing to do is always the most basic, because that's usually the solution.

Talking of solutions, I've a problem with my phone.  Yes, darlings, I know, it's scary.  But I have an appointment at the Mac store tomorrow and I'm given to understand that they'll cure it on the spot or give me a new one.  It works all right, but there are sound problems, that is, there aren't enough of them.

Amazing, grace*

Isn't it odd, the way that memory works, or sometimes doesn't work?  My contact lens is supposed to be changed monthly - that is, I take it out every night and put it in again in the morning, but it's meant to be thrown away and replaced once a month.  I'm not sure why this arbitrary timespan was chosen, probably because it's easy to remember but, over the years, this has stretched somewhat as, once in a while, an accident can befall a nearly-new one and it can become a bit expensive.

I had a new pack of six lenses which I'd carefully put in the work box.  I was sure of it. I also had one other, having ordered a new box when I first used the last-but-one.  All this tedious detail is just to explain why it happened quite some time ago and why I had time to doubt my memory.

When I went off to Scotland a couple of months ago, I wanted to take a new lens.  I went confidently to the work box, which is a mahogany Victorian one, with a lift-up lid and two false and one real drawer opening in the front.  I keep important papers, such as birth certificates in it, and needles and thread in the drawer, and my printer is on top of it.  So, I lifted the lid and discovered that the blue and white box of my memory was actually a box that held an elasticated knee bandage that I tried using as a support when my leg hurt a lot - it didn't help, so I soon stopped.  So, I searched other places, to no avail, and have done so a few times since - I knew it would be in here or the dining room and that it was certainly not upstairs, but I just couldn't find the box.

Today, I suddenly thought that perhaps it was in the work box after all, underneath the other knee-bandage box.  So I shifted the printer, lifted the lid, searched, didn't find it - and remembered that it was in the drawer instead.  But I couldn't remember until then, I needed a trigger.  It's like having to go back to where you had a thought to be able to remember what that thought was.

Anyway, now I can wear a new lens tomorrow.  I think it's high time, after three months.  Doesn't seem to have done any harm though.

Anyway, I have pictures for you, of Al's honey.  As you see, he has the pictures marked - he found that people were pinching his photos for beekeeping information websites, which was a bit naughty.  He thought he'd got them so they couldn't be taken, until I did.  Heh.  So the reason for the 'watermark'.
He took the photos for the labels - you have to be careful when putting up flower photos not to make them too clearly identifiable, because if there's a clear picture of lavender, for example, the honey must be mostly lavender honey.  However, we rather like the variation of labels - if he ordered them, the minimum quantity is several years-worth at the rate he's likely to produce it, so he doesn't want to be stuck with one sort.

*A vague thought of the line about once being lost and now I'm found.  I know.  A bit rubbish.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Z plans to be tactful

The Sage announced this morning that the Aga was going to be serviced, so he'd turned it off.  This was a Good Thing as it enabled me to give it a thorough clean.  I also turned out the fridge and scrubbed it out - all a rare dabble in domesticity.  Anyone looking in the fridge now would receive a quite erroneous impression of my priorities, as there's very little food and a lot of drink.  Some fish, plain yoghurt, cottage cheese and milk, half a jar of mayonnaise and some jam, plus a lot of booze and a few cans of *Dave's Tipple* and lemonade.  The freezer compartment contains ice.  Cubes, that is, it's not iced up.  The fridge will have some soup in it soon, as the rest of what I made for dinner is cooling down now.  That reminds e, there's also half a waternelon.

Enough of the voyage round my kitchen.  It rained this afternoon.  The thunder sent me nicely to sleep, so I'm not sure how much rain we had, but at least it will have helped Dave's garden.  He is hoping for enough rain to fill his water butts and save him from having to carry his bath water down the stairs - a recipe for disaster, I think, but then I'm quite clumsy.  I would have to stand at the window and chuck buckets in the general direction of the garden.  Bucketfuls of water, I should say.  Not much point in an empty bucket being thrown.

I am wondering whether to mention the gate to the Sage, the wrought iron one that is to fit into the wall.  I have already, a couple of times in the past few weeks, the last time being to suggest that a break in bricklaying would be a good opportunity to get it sandblasted and to paint and fit it, and he agreed with me.  So, will he do it next week while I'm away without me reminding him?  I would prefer not to in case he's planning to get it done and surprise happy me with it on my return.  But he might not think of it at all, in which case I'd have to pretend not to be disappointed.  And I really do want it up, it's a nuisance having to keep moving barriers, and when it's windy they shift enough to allow a small bunny in.

Maybe I'll mention it to Al or Dilly instead and they can raise the subject.  That would be more tactful.

Monday 26 July 2010

There are fairies at the - ah - they've all gone

This morning, we mostly made cakes.  Fairy cakes, that is, iced with pale pink icing (as I didn't have any green food colouring) and decorated with sugar sprinkles, as I have to learn to call them, silver balls, glace cherries and white chocolate drops.  This afternoon, we mostly ate them.

I was thinking about my stepfather just now.  He was a ship designer, a very fine one.  He and my mother married six years after my father died and he died just shy of their tenth wedding anniversary.  My mother never got over the unluckiness of being widowed twice, she couldn't bear it when a woman didn't appreciate the good qualities of her husband or carped about him, when she was lucky enough to still have one alive.  Good friends of hers couldn't steel themselves, out of love, to tell her of their divorce, not for a couple of years, and they and their sons played happy families for her benefit when they visited until the family home was sold and there was no option.

Anyway, Wilf's company in Oulton Broad used to pitch for contracts all over the world.  And, the design having been completed, he used to go off to put forward his case.  It was not unusual for a client to change his mind after the design was completed, once he could see the plans.  I remember a particular occasion, when word came through that the length of the ship had to be extended by x feet.  Of course, you can't just do that.  Everything has to be checked because the proportions have changed.  So, everyone flew back home and returned to their design team for a redesign.

Except Wilf.  He stayed in his hotel room and set to work to redesign the whole ship himself.  Because he'd started from the bottom and worked up, in a way that simply isn't done now.  Once as a young man, he was caught smoking where he shouldn't and was sent to work in the foundry as a punishment.  So he understood the casting of propellors and was able to redesign those too.

His company won that particular contract, not surprisingly.  He didn't get a bonus or anything though.  It was normal, back in those days, and considered part of your job to do the best you could.  Once he retired, he was replaced by several other people.

Sunday 25 July 2010

Z rests

Dilly is tutoring all morning tomorrow, so I'll look after the children from 8.30.  I think that'll be the last session for now - she wants a summer holiday as much as the students she teaches do.  However, it's quite useful as she normally teaches immediately after school or later, no more than one session per day (not every day) so at least she's using her time efficiently.

I'm not intending to use my time efficiently at all.  I've pretty well switched off for the holidays.  I've a meeting on the 13th which I have to arrange, but that shouldn't be a problem, and I've got to get some things organised in the house and garden before going away on Friday.  The Sage is already backtracking on his agreement to come with me, and has decided to return on Sunday rather than Monday.  Dilly and Al will move in here, because the house is never left - nor is Tilly, come to that.  Dilly asked what time Tilly needs to go out in the morning.  I said, as soon as possible.  She'll know if she comes down too late...

Actually, Tilly has been a bit better recently.  Usually, she's too polite to bother us if she wants to go out during the night, and just uses the floor, but the other night she woke the Sage at 2 am to go out.  I don't think she knows what she did right when he told me in the morning, but she didn't object to the praise she received.

I downloaded a new level for iAssociate 2 a day or two back.  I'm embarrassingly pleased to have completed it and submitted my score, to be told I'm in the top 100 of finishers - 23 out of 87 in that particular round, to be exact.  I really don't have enough to do with my time.  Which is rather the way I like it, just now.

Saturday 24 July 2010

Happy Birthday, Ro

It's Ro's birthday.  And yesterday was the 24th anniversary of us moving to this house - or, as the Sage puts it, moving back to this house, for this is where he was born.

Everyone is coming over tomorrow - originally it was to have been for lunch, but then Dilly remembered that they are out in the morning visiting her auntie and won't be back until about 3, so we'll eat in the middle of the afternoon sometime.  Weeza will want to leave around 6 for Zerlina's bedtime.  She keeps to a reasonably careful routine as that seems best for z's sleep pattern, and I certainly can't disagree with it, because it works really well.

If the weather's good enough, we'll have a barbecue; I've bought steak, sausages and chicken fillets, which last are presently marinading in my favourite gloop.  It's a mixture of various spices, mostly starting with C, such as coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and cayenne, plus oil and vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger and tomato paste.  And salt.  I think that's about it.  All liquidised and the diced chicken chucked in and left for some hours.  I've probably given the recipe before - I couldn't find the book, but remembered it had been typed up so did a Jimmy-look-see on the computer for the proportions.

Anyway, the other item to report is that, finally, I think my resistance has collapsed and I must steel myself to join Facebook after all.  Yes, darlings, I have succumbed.  Simply because one of my dearest friends, who only lives 20 minutes drive away but whom I rarely see to talk to - that is, I see her about twice a month but when we're busy or having lunch among a big group, so it's not always possible to chat - has started an account and sent me an invitation.  You see, darlings, close to irresistible as you are, and out of the loop as I sometimes feel, it's an invitation from Bette that has tipped the balance.

Just to be awkward, I don't think I'll actually use my actual name though.  I'm only too Googleable as it is.  It'll probably be Zed and my surname, which won't be exactly difficult to find but not there for the casual looker.  I haven't done it yet, don't all rush straight there.

Al's new honey extractor arrived yesterday and they have bottled up 70-something jars of honey.  It looks lovely, darker than the first lot and, he says, is tastier - just the different flowers the bees have been to.  He's got it on sale at the shop and has sold several jars today.  They've got about as much to do again.

Friday 23 July 2010

Z goes to the playground

Weeza emailed me first thing this morning to tell me that she'd lost her voice and suggest coming over to be entertained by sister-in-law and mother.  So that's what happened.  The voice gradually returned during the day, going from Harpo Marx to Marge Simpson to almost normal Weeza by the time she went home.

After lunch, she and Dilly went off to the end-of-year assembly of the village school while I looked after Pugsley and the Sage minded Zerlina who was having her nap.  Later, we went off to the playing field to visit the playground equipment.  I enjoyed myself on the swing.  I do like swinging.  On a swing.

So, here are some pictures, though not of me swinging on a swing.  I am in one of them, almost hidden behind Squiffany.  Pugsley is on her bike - she pushed Zerlina's pushchair instead.  It was big for him, but he managed the pedalling very well.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Hiplog, 6 months on

It's 6 months today since my operation and quite some time - about 3 months, I think - since I specifically wrote about it.

It continued to improve, and I rarely think about it, except to marvel thankfully about the difference it's made to me.  There is still a small difference in leg length, just one or two millimetres I would say and I'm barely conscious of it.  I'm only mentioning it at all for the sake of a detached evaluation.  I read that one should give it several months for adjustment - settling in, correcting a pelvic tilt, and so on.

Looking back, I can quite see that someone with severe arthritis in one hip and less severe in the other hip or knee would have the deterioration of the second joint accelerated by the first operation.  I had a degree of discomfort in my left hip on occasion and it hadn't shown any sign of arthritis in the x-ray I had last September.

Once I was back to normal movement, driving and everything, I found that standing still after exercise gave me some problems and made me limp, but that was temporary and doesn't happen at all any more.  I can now wear any shoes I like - 3 inch wedge heels today, and I've stood and walked quite a lot.  I can also wear completely flat shoes.  I had reached the stage of only wearing heels of 1" to 1 1/2" as that was the only comfortable height.

I am occasionally aware of the implant - well, not the implant as such, but the join.  I can feel a sensation that one could almost call discomfort.  Hard to put into words ... if you have a bruise that's nearly healed, but when you press it there is a slight reminder of it.  Like that.  I'm aware of it now in fact.  It doesn't ache or hurt, it's just that I can feel where the top of my femur was cut off.  Never the pelvis, I've never felt that, although it's titanium and has a screw in it.  It seems remarkable to me that there has been so little pain, considering all that was done.

The scar is very neat and just a pale line.  If rubbed, it still feels a mixture of tingling and numb.  It's not swollen at all any more.

As for movement, I can do anything I want to, pretty well.  I haven't tried kicking the light on, but can comfortably put my foot - either foot - on the kitchen counter.  I have short legs so this isn't bad at all.  Before the operation, it was my left leg that could hardly lift at all, which seems odd as it was my right hip that was bad.  I can run and jump, but don't much, as that sort of jarring isn't good for it long-term.  If I'd wanted that, I could have had a different implant.

When I was waiting for the operation, I considered what I'd take as a success - the bottom line, that is.  I decided that the criterion for success would be to walk without being aware of every step.  Taking being able to walk without discomfort or pain for granted, to the extent of forgetting about it.  I was aware that it was a slightly pathetic want, as it's something that one does normally take completely for granted, but I find it kinder to myself to not hope for too much - that is, not be disappointed if there were any residual problems as long as there was an acceptable improvement.   Since I'm way better than that, I reckon it to be close to a total success.

If you've read this far, here's your reward - Zerlina in cool sunglasses.

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Z is switched off

I biked merrily into town this lunchtime, observing how speedily I was bowling along.  It was only when I went over some bumps in the road and felt them quite joltily that I remembered that Phil pumped up my tyres recently - it really makes a difference.

I went in for the sports awards - quite a thing is made of it and it was very jolly.  I won't quite say inspiring, as I'm not sure that there's any sporting occasion that actually could inspire me, but of course I wouldn't ever say so except in the privacy of a blog.

As I mentioned in a comment this morning, I had an almost sleepless night.  Finally dropped off sometime after midnight and was awake a couple of minutes after 1 am, and that was it.  I finally got up around 2.30 and read for some time before starting to deal with emails and stuff.  It was as well that I got on with it early, as our electricity was being turned off all day.  Back in the winter storms, a tree came down onto power lines over the marsh and the repair made was temporary.  They've done a full job over several days, since April and this is the final one.  Really nice men and they always call round in person to remind us, which I think is exceptionally considerate.  I am always full of admiration for the men - surely nearly all of them are men? - who are out in dreadful weather, repairing electricity and telephone cables, dealing with floods and storm damage.  Many of them must have equal problems at home, but do their job to get things mended as soon as possible.  I sometimes grumble when the phone line information isn't helpful, but never at the people at the sharp end.

Anyway, I'd done a morning's paperwork by 8.40 so settled down for a half-hour nap, which seems to have kept me going the rest of the day.

After the awards, I came back to babysit as Dilly was going to a tutor training session put on by Norfolk Council.  Later, we'd just finished dinner when Al came through to say that her car had a puncture and could I go and babysit while he went to help - it was about 20 minutes drive away.  The children couldn't sleep, so I went and spoke sympathetically to them, but told them to rest quietly, even if it's too warm for sleep.  They were very good and didn't bother me at all.

The chaps weren't gone all that long, no more than an hour - the tyre had had a blow-out and so they'd put on the spare.  Dilly wasn't all that complimentary about the session - it was one of those where the documents just went up on the screen and the expert read them out.  Dilly said that she might just as well have been sent it all, and gained very little from turning up.  She said that she had been the only one there with experience of one-to-one tutoring on the (previous) government's scheme so had various practical questions and points to raise - sounds as if she made herself awkward!  And so she should, I do often find at governor training sessions that the advisors, experienced as I know they are, are completely surprised by any question that can't be reassuringly answered with a platitude.  I sometimes ask the awkward questions too.

For example a few years ago, we had several pupils sent to us who had been permanently excluded from other schools, sometimes for very bad behaviour.  It got to the stage that the then Head had brought the matter to the governors, who said that they were not willing to accept the latest pupil.  As there were spaces, the Local Authority overrode our decision.  So, the question I asked at the next relevant training sessions was "If governors know that a pupil has been excluded for violent behaviour, and accept that young person as a pupil and he or she then attacks another student or a teacher, could the person attacked sue the governors, on the grounds that they had knowingly admitted someone who had already been expelled for physical violence?"

In fact, I asked the same question of two different officers at different training sessions.  I didn't receive an answer - not a coherent one, anyway.  I gave them my own - that if the governors  say they are unwilling to accept that pupil, then presumably the onus is on the Local Education Authority for making the school accept him or her.

That wasn't all that well received, actually.  But it could hardly be denied.

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Ztreaking

I'm afraid so.  I bathed last night, got ready for bed, read until it was time for the light to go out (ie when the Sage had similarly bathed and come to bed) and then remembered that I'd left the sprinkler on in the greenhouse.  It had been very hot all day and the air was getting dry, so I'd put it on for a little while - rather longer than I'd meant.

I couldn't leave it, so I hopped out, shoved on shoes and trotted out to the garden.  I didn't feel the need to put on a dressing gown, fortunately we're not overlooked by any other houses.  Except Dilly and Al, of course, but lights were out there so I assumed I wouldn't traumatise my poor children.

I apologised to the Sage when I returned - it's not easy, being married to me, poor chap.  As I said to him, I know that everyone else envies him no end, but he and I know the truth of it.

I'm having quite a lazy week.  Whenever I don't actually have anything specific to do, I'm lounging around.  There seems to have been quite a lot on, and I'm not getting much sleep, what with warm nights, apologising to the Sage and trotting out to the garden at midnight, only to wake up again at dawn, so I've been a bit knackered.

I made crab cakes for dinner tonight, using chillies out of the garden for the first time.  Often, the first chillies aren't that hot so I picked three, from three different plants.  The tiny yellowish one was not that hot and nor was the slightly larger purple one, but the greenery-yallery one was satisfyingly hot.  I used the two hot so hot ones and half the other, but didn't want to test the Sage's tolerance, so sliced the rest of it thinly and, later, sprinkled it on my share.  Very good, but I've been sneezing since.  Evidently, I haven't been eating enough chilli recently.

The coriander is going to seed and, in view of the heat, I haven't bothered to sow any more.  I'll let it self-seed.  As I was picking off the remaining leaves, I tried munching a seed head.  Very nice, I picked a few and chucked them in with the leaves.  A bit spicier than dried coriander seed, but with that lemony flavour.

I had an appointment in Bury today.  The traffic was slow and it was lucky that I'd allowed plenty of time.  The person I was meeting was there before me, but I was still a few minutes early so it was all right.  I'm not sure why we met, actually, a ten-minute phone conversation would probably have done.  Still, good coffee.  And pleasant company.

Monday 19 July 2010

Z goes to a tea party

There was cake and there were meringues and strawberries dipped in chocolate and everything.  I manfully resisted the lot, mainly for fear that I'd drip it down my front.

Did I mention the time, during the interval at the Aldeburgh Festival, I was innocently clutching my glass of red wine when ... oh blimey, this is going to turn into one long question if I don't stop now.

Right.

Some years ago,  during the interval of a concert at the Aldeburgh Festival, I was innocently clutching my glass of red wine when an elderly lady passed me.  She was accompanied by a middle-aged man and woman.  On her way towards the door, she started to put on her jacket, which she was quite competent to do, but the younger woman lunged over-helpfully towards her and grabbed it to shove her arm into the sleeve.  She shoved me too, and my glass lurched so that I got red wine all over my cream silk top.  The interfering bat didn't even notice and I was too startled to yelp, though I received speakingly sympathetic looks from other people.  Anyway, not to be overly discomfited, I repaired to the cloakroom, dabbed water over my top and got the marks out, and then swivelled it back to front so that, at least, the wetness didn't show face to face.

So, the tea party - it was a celebration of jolly good effort from Years 9 and 10, and their parents came along and afterwards we repaired to the hall where they were all given sustificates.  They get gift vouchers and suchlike too, from helpful local sponsors.  It's a jolly occasion and I sat in the back row while another governor gave a short speech and presented the certificates.

I haven't mentioned Al's bees recently.  I told you about the honey he extracted a month or so ago - Blue Witch wondered why he blithely destroyed the comb.  I asked (he wasn't at all surprised, having read the post and the comment) and explained that they actually wanted some beeswax for candles and suchlike.  Anyway, since then the bees have been manufacturing huge amounts of honey, so he had to order a *machine for extracting lots of honey without destroying all the honeycomb*. I don't know anything about it, but no doubt I'll find out when it arrives.

He had a bit of a worry recently.  He's got his three hives, which he intends to keep, and had three more spare, two of which he sold and the third he promised to someone else.  He'd checked that there was a newly-hatched queen, so gave it time for her maiden flight and to start laying, and then checked again.  He was alarmed to find very few eggs, which weren't in the right place in the cells.  He reckoned that a worker had started to lay unfertilised eggs - this occasionally happens and, when it does, the worker kills a newly-emerging queen and this will lead to the demise of the hive, as the eggs all hatch into drones - idle males, darlings, so unlike real life.

It was late in the season to try to save it, but he thought he'd give it a go - the theory is that the laying worker is a house bee, not a forager, so she's never learned her way back to the hive.  So, you put a sheet down a good way from the hive, then take the bees over there, shake them all off the frames and most of them will fly right back.  But not the laying worker.

A queen is still needed, so he put a frame of eggs from another strong hive, so that one would be raised as a new queen.

The theory was all there, but in fact it turned out that it wasn't necessary.  He always says that he's a complete novice (general opinion is that it takes at least five years to not be completely clueless) - anyway, next time he checked he found that there was loads of healthy brood.  He's checked up, and apparently the first few eggs a new queen lays are not quite up to scratch.  You know, like the first pancake that gets given to the dog.  Fortunately, she was such a new queen that she was able to fly back home.

So, yesterday the nuc was taken to its new home.  It's not really far enough away to be sure that they won't return, so he checked last night.  There were seven bees!  Probably quite old ones (foraging bees only last a few weeks) whose instincts had been too strong when they crossed a former flight path.  He sprayed them with sugar water and introduced them into one of the other hives, to give them a chance.  Sentimental?  Well, why not?  Anyway, he'll keep an eye open and hope that the others will settle down.

By the way, a friend called in to say that he has seen a large fox in the next field, where it's living in the maize.  I thought I hadn't seen so many rabbits recently.  They are still easy pickings, but I'm afraid that when the maize is cut, the fox will look further afield.  Unless he's stopped first.  I'm afraid his days are numbered.  Sorry.

There has been an annoying mosquito whining around me, which I hadn't managed to slap.  Then the sound stopped, and I saw it had landed on my arm.  I smacked it dead, and found a smear of my blood on my hand.  Honestly, it can't have been there for more than a second.  I've smeared my arm with anti-histamine cream and am very glad that I spotted it.  Horrid thing.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Second coming, as it were

As usual, the internets is awful.  It's taken me a good ten minutes to fetch up a picture in an auction that the Sage wanted to see - very nice, but we won't be bidding as a friend wants it.  Well, probably not anyway, even if he didn't.  Not without seeing it, and it isn't local.

It was such a warm afternoon that I took the papers out to read on the lawn. Lying on a blanket, I shared the space with the bantams, of course



and so have a bird's eye view of them clustering round, hoping for a little something.  They received it of course, but not from me.  I didn't want to encourage them to join me on my blanket.

Ro phoned and mentioned that he and Dora have both bought new phones.  Ro recently negotiated a salary upgrade so felt he could justify a smartphone and Dora was thinking along the same lines - they have both bought the same one.  I asked if he remembers Howard and Hilda ... it wasn't meant to be a dig, and he didn't take it as such.

Anyway, I must take the Sage along and buy him his birthday present, which is only a month late.  We really need to do it in the next ten days, because then, as I've mentioned, we're off to visit Wink.

I've just read that link and it isn't the best explanation - the point is that Howard and Hilda were really happy together and they always dressed the same.  So we (the family, that is) use Howard and Hilda as a verbal shorthand for couples who are happy to be like each other.

I'm also reminded that I think that Peter Egan (who played neither Howard nor Hilda) is delightful.

Z loses a day

Whoops, sorry about that.  I thought I'd written in the morning so didn't look again but, of course, it was Friday morning.  I'm not sure how I can have possibly managed without blogging for two whole days.

Anyway, the sale is all over and done with again.  It shows my age now, I find it very tiring.  We added an extra hour to the viewing time a few years ago, which has eased busyness, but made it a longer day.  We leave home about 12 noon and get back about 10pm, but it's a fairly busy morning too, so it does take it out of us a bit.  I try to do most of the work to save the Sage's energy for the sale itself, no good if he flags by the time it starts at 7 o'clock.

Sad to say, the mug didn't meet its reserve in the sale, so is presently unsold.  There are a couple of people interested and it will probably be sold within a day or so, however.  It is badly damaged - this wouldn't put me off, were I in the market to buy, as it is truly wonderful painting, and it used not to matter in the least with Lowestoft, but times change and people are more concerned about condition than they used to be.

The same day, Friday, that the Sage's picture was in the Low. Journal, Zerlina's was in the BBJ (our local paper), at the village festival.  Here she is.  Ice-cream eating is a matter for due concentration.

I will probably be back later.  I feel very conscious that I have short-changed you in the blogging department.  Toodly-pip, darlings.

Friday 16 July 2010

Morning Post

I was interested to notice that, whilst most people's lawns are still quite brown, the very little rain we have had has restored some greenness to ours.  I then observed that the Ups and Downs, the field grazed by cows (and rabbits and bantams) has a haze of green, the Front Field, which was cut for hay, has not.

I suppose it's in the cutting or, in this case, the lack of it.  I still do not need to mow my lawn.  In fact, I thought I was going to have to cut off the heads of the grass as they came into seed, but the chooks have been eating them too.  Very nutritious, grass seed.

I was unhappy yesterday to discover a whole artichoke plant has been blown over.  The roots are still in the ground, but I don't know if it will survive.  I couldn't do anything then, it was far too windy, and I have no time today and I'm out tomorrow morning.  I suppose that, by then, its survival or not will be clear.  It's not that the wind is anywhere near a gale, but with all plants in full leaf and growth, they really are caught by it.  A friend with whom I dined last night said that she was very anxious that she would lose branches from her ash tree.  However, when we left the restaurant the wind had dropped right down and she cheered up.  It's breezy again now though.

Another friend said that, the other day - think it must have been Monday - she was caught in a real downpour - that is, she was in a supermarket and hung about at the exit with lots of others for a good ten minutes before deciding to make a dash for it.  She rolled her trousers to her knees as the drains were overflowing, but discovered how deep the water was as she waded, and (I assume she was carrying bags, I hardly think she could have pushed a trolley) they still got wet.  Didn't make a lot of difference as she was soaked to the skin by the rain.  A mother and child were approaching the supermarket and the child cheerily hopped over the puddle (as it thought).  Landed up to its middle to consternation of child and parent.

"We only had a shower," I said, and the others out of Norwich agreed.  Rain can be very localised around here, it seems to follow and be contained by the many waterways.

As I indicated, I was out to dinner last night so the Sage fended for himself.  I've just put the grillpan in the dishwasher and thrown away a wrapper from the bakery labelled "Strawberry Pie", so I think he indulged himself.  And indeed, why not?  I had a very delicious meal, if not quite so high in saturated fats as his probably was.  And he did eat cucumber at some point, as I found peelings in a tea mug in the drawing room this morning.

Thursday 15 July 2010

A Sage and his sagacity are soon parted

It became very windy during the night.  Both bedroom windows were open, and we were woken by one banging back and forth.  The Sage got up, so I went back to sleep.  The sound woke me again several times during the night, but it wasn't until 5 o'clock that I could be bothered to get up and deal with it.  I closed the offending window, checked the other one was on it's keep-thing (must have a proper word, the sticky-up bit that the hole in the bar fits on to) and went back to bed.  Of course, I read and played games until it was nearly time to get up, and then went back to sleep.

Later, I suggested to the Sage that it would be a good idea always to make sure that the bedroom window was secure.  "I got up," he said.  "It was secure, but it was so windy that it was banging anyway."

I pondered this for a moment.  "Which window?" I asked.  "The one above the side door," he said.

"Um.  That wasn't the banging one.  You didn't check the window on the other side of the room, then."

It appeared not.  There didn't seem any point in asking why, in any case, he hadn't shut the window he thought was banging.  One doesn't necessarily think quite straight at 2am.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Z and the Sage meet a Celeb

Today was a terribly important day, because I was to meet a VVIP.  Yes, darlings, I am here to say that Dave really does have an actual, factual mother, and I have met her.

He mentioned in passing the other day that she was mistaken for his wife and I can understand - not that she looks as young as he, of course - that she was assumed to be way younger than she is.  She is youthful and pretty and looks way younger than her years - as does Dave, of course.  Pretty in a rugged and manly way, in his case, natch.

I was quite nervous.  I got out cups and saucers and polished the teaspoons and the milk jug.  She dealt with the chickens with aplomb.  She was probably horrified. She did give her views on the wall, which were that the half-way stage is good for leaning your elbow upon.  Indeed, I don't think a rabbit could jump that high, so it's probably adequate for its purpose.

I remembered to call Dave David, throughout, by the way. I did blot the old copybook, by having forgotten to pick up Dave's photos, so rang to check their custodians were in and then whizzed over - turned out that Robert had misheard my hame as "Kelly" so he was quite surprised to see me, not that he knows anyone called Kelly.  I'd wondered why he was quite formal on the phone and didn't even call me darling.  Anyway, I fetched the photos and gave them back.  I promised to get his folder back too, but I forgot at the meeting tonight.  I'll ask.  It'll be there.

Anyway, I don't know if I'll merit a mention on her blog - doubt it, she's very busy - but I have met Dave's mama, and she's charming.

Z enjoys dinner, but has another wakeful night

I've just been reading how huge our debts are. I know, I've known for years how, even in the times when we weren't at war and everything was apparently rosy, that the previous government deliberately disguised the amount of the national debt.

A number of schools were invited to apply to be part of a rebuilding project under a PFI - Private Finance Initiative - project. Never mind for now about all of the details, my present point is that, having applied and been accepted for a new build on a new site of our village school, we governors had to learn a great deal about the subject.

I could understand the figures but not make sense of them. So finally I asked the coordinator how it all added up. He explained that the company putting up the money for the building would spend out huge sums, but would heavily overcharge for management services provided. This would service their debt and repay themselves. It would be a 25 year project. Somewhere halfway, they would break even by paying off the original loan. After that, they would make a massive profit. So, I asked, why - since this was a government initiative, though being run by the county council - why didn't the government put up the money and save all those charges? This way, I was told with simple truth, the expense doesn't show up in public sector borrowing.

PFI schemes alone have put us in debt to the tune of an extra 200 billion pounds more than even that lying regime ever told us. It was about 8 years ago I found this out and I never trusted them one inch since.

Anyway. A delightful, if somewhat unusual, combination of food for dinner. Artichokes to start with. No careful cutting beforehand to serve just the hearts. Part of the pleasure to me is the slow pulling off of the individual leaves, the dipping in butter and the scraping of the artichoke flesh against my teeth. Then the careful removal of the choke, the immature flower, to reveal the heart as the final treat, worth all the effort.

After that, we had the first home grown runner beans. We could have had them a few days earlier if I'd noticed, for they were big enough. I love runner beans, picked young and tenderly unstringy. I like them best sliced long and fairly thick. Little chippy bits are easily overcooked, but broken into chunks doesn't expose enough of the tender inside. With it, we had some young broad beans, some small new potatoes - these, I didn't grow - and kippers. I've said before how fond I am of kippers and of anything smoked.

The Sage picked all the broad beans that were ready, too many for us, so I put a boxful in Al's van, together with a couple more cucumbers. I had cucumber sandwiches for lunch, but can't keep up with the crop.

The first aubergine and a pepper are ready to pick. That is, they will grow more yet if I leave them, but the plants crop heavier if the fruits are removed regularly.

Monday 12 July 2010

Nothing has happened, but there's always something to blog about here

It's been a quiet day.  The most exciting thing that happened was that I picked six cucumbers, having picked five on Friday.  I gave most of them to Al to sell, of course.  Fond as I am of cucumber, I don't want to eat two a day for the next couple of months.

I've only just discovered that I can put iPhone apps into folders.  I found it out by accident, and now I'm reducing my ten pages of downloads to about three.  I haven't finished yet.  I do a few at a time because I have a short attention span.

The Sage has agreed to come on holiday with me - only for a few days, but it's something of an Event.  Usually, we don't go away together because of the chickens and Tilly, and the greenhouse too, in the spring and summer.  But there are people he'd like to see and I'm going anyway - so we're going together to visit Wink at the end of the month.  He's only going for a couple of nights and Dilly or Al will sleep here, or maybe both of them with the children, unless Ro or Weeza would like to - the Sage is very protective of his beloved house, which doesn't like to be left alone.  It's old and it gets lonely.   So does Tilly.  She couldn't be left.  The Sage suggests taking her, but I must say, I don't think that's a good idea at all.  She'd want us to stop the car every few minutes and it would take forever.  And he'll be driving back without me, as I'm staying longer than he is - the only thing worse than a 230 mile journey with us and Tilly would be the same journey with just her and one of us.

My mother used to insist on taking her big labrador, which would have been all right except she was convinced he'd be nervous, so got him tranquilisers from the vet.  These made him woozy and difficult for him to climb in and out of the car.  He weighed as much as she did (she was thin) and it was quite an effort.  One year, she took the boys too for a holiday.  I"ve no idea how they all fitted in as Bruce took up all the back seat and his and her luggage took up all the boot.  At one point, she braked sharply and Bruce dozily shot off the back seat into the footwell, upside down.  It was not at all easy to haul the poor dog out.  Al regaled us all with the tale when they got home - Ro had been rather out of it by that time, as the combination of a panting 8-stone dog and my mother's driving (she braked every time she saw a bird, which was how Bruce ended up on the floor) gave him an acute migraine.

It was Ro who put a halt to me taking dogs for a ride in the car.  They all loved it, but Chester the Irish setter (crossed with a bearded collie, I have never had a pedigree dog) always got into the front seat when I parked the car, and Ro didn't care for long red hairs on his black school uniform.  I never minded being covered with dog hairs.  In fact, during the four years that we didn't have a dog, I used to encourage friends' dogs to put muddy feet on me, so that I felt at home with myself.  However, so obedient am I that, even when Ro went off to university, dogs weren't allowed in the car again and a journey is a rarity for Tilly.

It did rain today.  I woke up at 6.30 and could hear it, so got out of bed to look.  Later, the newspapers were delivered and Tilly barked, so I went downstairs to let her out and came back up with the papers and tea for the Sage and me.  I put his mug on his bedside table and sat in bed reading.  Eventually, as he was still asleep, I went round and fetched his mug and drank the tea myself.  He finally woke up about half past eight, by which time I'd finished the papers.  I could, by that time, start to see the bones in my feet but they got big again once I was up.  It's getting better now though, I spent an hour with my feet up on the arm of the sofa this afternoon.

I had a phone call asking for the Sage to write a letter saying how long, to his knowledge, a club he's a member of has used its present site.  Turns out that he joined it in 1954, when he was an apprentice engineer in Beccles.  By coincidence, he called on one of his former colleagues, a lovely man who is now 96 years old.  He was still busy every day in his workshop until a couple of years ago, when the standing got too much for him.  There is no engineering job that he couldn't do - he completely rebuilt the engine of the Sage's car 40 years ago when the big end went.  We haven't had the old car out this year yet - it's been a bit hot for the old chap.


Sunday 11 July 2010

Z looks forward to regaining some control

I gather that rain is forecast.  Well, not on my parade it didn't - it can do what it likes from now on, as far as I'm concerned.  We had the sunny weather we needed for the weekend.

I expect the village pub's profits to have taken a marked upswing, having had four visits from me in the past week, which is about as many as I'd previously had all year.  Actually, I'm about beered up for the moment.  I had a nice elderflower-flavoured beer this evening, but I came home to drink a glass of wine.  And I may drink water before the end of the evening.

I have the rare luxury, tomorrow, of a day with a clear diary.  I shall feel justified in not hurrying to get up, having been early every day for ages, and must then do the watering, which has been skimped recently, in the greenhouse.  The forecast is rain, but if it doesn't happen then I shall have to water the outside pots, at least.  After that, I shall catch up with paperwork for the governors' meeting on Tuesday.  It will be splendid if I manage to do that with half a day to spare.

And, once that is behind me, I can get ready for the auction on Friday.

Z winds down

I've been babysitting again so unable to write until now.  It's been a successful festival - that is, a very jolly fĂȘte and a splendid beer festival - four of the guest beers were excellent, I can't speak for the rest but those drinking them seemed to be happy.

It's not often that the whole family are together nowadays, so it was a treat, although all 11 of us didn't spend time together, we milled around in various groups.  Dilly and Al didn't join us for dinner and it was too late for any of the children, but the rest of us ate together and then D&A went to the village hall and then the pub for music and another drink.

As I said in the comments earlier, the Sage isn't in the local paper yet, so I'll let you know when.  The photo of the mug (my photo, I'm pleased to say) is in the Mail, or rather was on the 7th, with a rather inaccurate article.  I haven't had time to show the website to the Sage yet.  He'll be disconcerted at what was quoted.  However, all publicity...

Can't remember if I've mentioned that, with all the hoo and the hah at present about schools, we've had more interest from potential governors than for several years.  Proves the same point.

Very warm tonight.  Our bedroom faces both east and west, so we get morning and evening sun and, with the low ceiling, it heats up.  I'll go and have a cool bath before bed.  Last night, I was too tired even to take off my make-up.  I did get a good eight hours sleep, although woke up several times - at 1.30 I was glad that I was already awake when the burglar alarm went off.  The Sage went down and surprised a bat.  The bat didn't greatly surprise the Sage, who knew it was likely to be a mouse, whether of the flitter kind or not.

I'm a bit cheesed off that I have to be up early tomorrow, when it was promised that I wouldn't have to be sidesman, but the person who'd promised to do it for me has gone on holiday.  I haven't yet decided whether to mention it.

Yesterday, I made out a cheque to renew a subscription, filled in the form and questionnaire, addressed and stamped the envelope and, today, looked for it to post.  The Sage and I have searched for ages.  It was not for some time that I remembered posting a letter, and then I wasn't sure if that was the one or whether it was earlier in the week.  I still couldn't remember why I'd gone out, because if I could, that would remind me which day.

Finally, I managed to recall that, when I'd taken the envelope out of my bag, the flap had been sticking up a bit, so I pressed it down and then firmed down the stamp too.  And that made me 'see' the writing on it, so I knew I had posted it.  And now, writing about it, I've remembered where I was going, and why I'd gone out on Friday evening.  It was all a blank for a while.  I really was tired on Friday night, it seems.

Friday 9 July 2010

Free post

Or post free.

I have been babysitting this evening.  I fell asleep.  Now, I'm too tired to think and I'm off to bed.  Sorry, darlings, no post tonight.

I know, standards are slipping.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 43 - Part Ridged

Again, a bit of a red-letter day.  It was dull and there was a misty drizzle when we started work, but not so much as to stop us.  It wasn't cold, either, though we didn't bother with the sun cream.

We accomplished what we'd hoped to, which was to finish the lower half of the side to the right of the pillar, and level off the other side.  Next, Dave will be inserting the ornamental bricks and we'll have to decide the final height of the last section - the ground drops away, so if we make it level with the rest, it will, effectively be higher on the outside.  So we may do a step down.  We don't have to decide immediately, but we will have to soon.

We may manage another day's work next week, but that's up to the Sage.  It's the auction on Friday and he has to be well rested, and he'll have a busy week, so it'll be one day at most.   Here are today's wall photos.

This is the section that Dave filled in.
And this is the bit that I did, except that Dave did the last three bricks plus a bit more pillar when I had to hurry off to do Meals on Wheels.
The wall from the kitchen garden side.

During the morning, the Sage heard a partridge cheeping to its young, and found that the mother bird who had raised a brood in my overgrown herb garden in the spring was tenderly caring for another batch of chicks.  I took a couple of photos, but they aren't clear at all, as the birds are so well camouflaged and it's really not worth showing them to you.  However, later on he surprised them just by the wall - the mother hurried into the kitchen garden and called to them to follow her.  The wall was in the way, so several were at a disadvantage.
This little one, if you can spot it, found the shortest way to mum.


This one took the scenic route.  It was listening all the time to the sweet cheeping of its mother.  I thought I'd taken a video of the final dash across the kitchen garden, but in my haste I'd not put the camera on the right setting.  The whole family was reunited in the end, and now they're shut in the veg garden - there's plenty of cover and food for them so they'll be safe there.  I do love to have all our wildlife around, including the snakes and frogs and other creatures I rarely see.  

By the way, if you live around here, the Sage and the mug in the sale
which is this wonderful little darling (sorry, it's the pre-cropped version, so the edge is in there) will be in the E@stern D@1ly Press, the excellent Norfolk and North Suffolk daily paper, tomorrow.  Unless something exciting happens, when it'll be another day.  I assured the photographer that we'd see it whenever, as we take it every day anyway, and he thanked me which was rather sweet.  Amy came to interview him, but I was out then.

I know the mug is cracked and chipped, but it doesn't matter.  So am I, and I'm not 240 years old.  It is delightful and beautifully painted, and there is none other like it.  It's a one-off, specially commissioned.

I spent the later part of the afternoon and the evening baking for the weekend's festival.  I unwisely wore high heels while standing for several hours and now I just want to sit.  However, I'll have to get up early tomorrow to do the icing.  And then there will be scones to make - you have to give something for people with diabetes to eat, so I'll do cheese scones as well as those to eat with jam.  I cater for everyone, as there were a lot of foods my mother was, in her last years, unable to eat.  It made me aware of allergies, intolerances and preferences and I think it's all part of caring for people, that they shouldn't have to feel different just because of something they can't help.

Dave had sausages and pizza for lunch today, by the way.  I am looking after him, you see.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Z phones Dave. Then, Z phones Dave.

It's true, darlings.  So good I phoned him twice.

It happened like this... I'd been out all day and, when I arrived home, the Sage came to the door looking nervous.  "The EDP rang" he said, nervously.  "They want to photograph me with the mug, tomorrow morning."  The Sage is not so averse to free publicity, so I didn't get why he was nervous.  I said encouraging things, and then he mentioned putting Dave off - of course, I was very nice about it.  Let's face it, I always am.  Aren't I?

Oh.

Anyway, I suggested that we might rearrange for the afternoon and so phoned Dave to ask him.  Dave, being a sweetly good-natured and accommodating sort of chap, agreed at once, mentioning also that showers are predicted for the morning.

A few minutes after putting the phone down, it rang again.  The girl from the EDP said that the photographer couldn't make it in the morning after all, how about 1.30?  But they could come here rather than meet in Lowestoft.  The Sage agreed and I phoned Dave back.  Honestly a most patient and adaptable fellow he is, he agreed again to come in the morning after all.

We've had several other publicity requests, all this is a bit odd.  We've always been very low-key.  I have to keep checking the business emails and sending off more photos, one from 2002 when we had a startlingly good sale, which I had forgotten was quite so impressive.

Right, I must go to bed.  I have to be up early in the morning to go and buy Dave's lunch.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Bringing on the wall, Day 42 - Disappointed rabbits

I think that few rabbits would be able to jump the wall now.  So at last, my french beans may be able to start growing.

We didn't do any bricklaying at all last week.  We were all very busy and all spent a lot of time in the sun, and extra mornings with the sun beating down on us were not going to do us any good.  This is still meant to be fun, not a chore.

Today, however, not only did I build the final section up to beyond-rabbit height, but Dave built some of the section next to it to just below the ornamental brick height.
Here's wot I done.
And this is what Dave did.

I seem to remember promising a picture of Dave in his shorts, but I forgot when he was working, so here are the Lovely Legs of Dave, snapped unbeknownst to him, after lunch.
The other picture I took this morning is a pupating ladybird in the greenhouse.  Did you know they are buttercup yellow and spotless when they first emerge?  There were a lot of little pollen beetles in the garden today - Dave got out a ball of yellow string and they landed on it, hoping for food.  They were also all over the pumpkin flowers.  We all put on sun cream with insect repellent, so that we wouldn't be bothered by them ourselves, which mostly seemed to work.

Dave said "surprise me with a fry-up" when I asked him what he'd like for lunch.  So, we had bacon, scrambled eggs, chips, toast, home-grown tomatoes (the eggs were home-grown too, of course) and, as the surprise, fish fingers.  I offered ketchup, but Dave said that his mum didn't let him eat ketchup.

I expect that Dave has noticed that he's getting slightly more interesting lunches this year.  Last summer, it was nearly always bread and cheese.  It's still simple food now, but at least there's a bit more thought going into it.  It is only now that I realise how, for the last year or two, everything was such an effort and now I'm more mobile and out of pain, I've got a lot more energy and enthusiasm.

The comment problem seems to be widespread, but Blogger still haven't referred to it in their 'known issues' page.  There are plenty of complaints in the problem forum, however.  Someone has set up a spreadsheet to gather together details and forward them on.  I'm posting now, just in case there is an outage while the problem is dealt with.  I suspect that Blogger don't know how to put it right at present, as it seems that it has been going on for some time but they're not reacting to complaints.

I am at least receiving comments in my emails - obviously, I don't know if I'm getting all of them - so thank you and I'll post them when I can, if they don't appear automatically (which they have - so I deleted the post of your comments).

whoops

There are lots of complaints/queries on the Blogger forum about comments not appearing - I wouldn't be surprised if Blogger has to go down to rectify this - so if you can't get on to blogs, it's not your computer and it's not censorship, don't worry.

Monday 5 July 2010

Z receives a query

A good friend has sent me an email, wondering why her recent comments haven't been published.  I've written back apologising, and saying that, simply, I don't know.  I'll make it clear - I have never barred anyone (I don't know how and I don't need to know how) and I've never deleted any comment unless it's clearly spam.  Indeed, I've even left the odd spam if it's amused me.

Sometimes, spam is posted repeatedly on old posts, which is a nuisance for people who've left comments and receive updates, as well as for me, so I do have comment moderation on for posts over 20 days old, and I check it every so often, but not necessarily weekly.  But it's not deleted until I know that it's not from a friend, and I give the benefit of the doubt if there is any.

Indeed, darlings, you can be as rude as you like to me, and I'll take it on the chin and won't be offended.  Like punching jelly it is, insulting me.  For a start, you're probably right, and anyway, it's a free country (ish) and your opinion is as valid as mine.  I'm not so keen when my friends disagree - I mean, disagreement is fine as long as it doesn't get personal, but if you've ever noticed my anxious attempts at peacemaking between friends who are having a spat, you've probably been amused.  I'd aim to peacemake, but I'd still only delete a comment if it were really offensive, and then I'd tell you and explain why.  Swearing is fine, by the way.  Preferably not at someone, however.  That isn't really on, is it?

Anyhoo, back to the Life of Z.  BTW, do you love Life of Pi or wonder why anyone likes it? - such a wonder is only valid if you read it all, I will add.  I lolled.  Okay l(ed)ol, when the boat touched land and it explained everything.

We drove to Kent for lunch a week ago - it was a long and hot drive for lunch, but we had a good time with old friends.  The Sage expansively invited them back when they're in this direction for our sale in -eeek!  - eleven days time.  Should that have an apostrophe?  Probably.  Pfft.

Anyway, the thing is, the room our china, small collection as it is compared to theirs, is in is a room that he has taken over with Stuff.  Honestly, I never go in there.  There's (this is embarrassing) a double bed that was used once, for guests at Weeza's wedding, which was five years ago.  It is now, as I found a while ago, used as a table.  Honestly, my lovely Sage is even more untidy than I am, by a long, long way.

So, I tackled him this evening, asking in the politest way possible how he's getting round this situation.  Truly, no one is going in this room.  Barely me.  So, we have negotiated a solution.  I was so polite and tentative, you wouldn't recognise me.  "I'm not nagging, really".  "No, I know" - I'm so entitled to nag.  But, you know, he's sort of perfect in my eyes.  That is, who wants anyone who's better than they are?

This reminds me of someone - well, sometwo.  A young Indian couple I used to know.  Both lovely.  He was especially delightful and everyone loved him.  I did, everyone did, young and old.  He was totally, genuinely, lovely.  He desperately wanted to marry her - but she held back.  She was besotted too, but she had a practical bent.  "Thing is," she said, "he's perfect.  If we have a row, everyone will side with him.  I can't match up.  He's completely genuine, but he's perfect and I'm not."  It was true.

I knew her family and not his, so I haven't kept in touch.  She married someone else in the end, I do hope he's found someone who adores him as he deserves - which is no criticism of his former girlfriend.  Perfection is hard to live up to.  So, I make sure that the Sage doesn't have to.  Heh. But nor do I.  Which is fine.

If your comments haven't been published, do let me know.  I'm so sorry - it isn't me.  I don't actually know what the problem is, but I'll ask Blogger.

Sunday 4 July 2010

The trouble with writing a post in the morning is, everything happens later in the day

The house and slide combo is no end of a success.  Zerlina is thrilled and spent a long time playing on it.  They all came over here this morning and Phil and the Sage set off to a village near Stansted airport, so a good long way.  Al and family had gone off to a car boot early - probably saw Rog but they don't know each other to say hello.  They got home in good time, because Al had promised to show a friend how to put together his first beehive - he's letting him have his spare colony, too.

Dilly gave us lunch and then Al asked cryptic questions about what I'd read in yesterday's Times.  I'd only read the main part of the paper and I couldn't find what he meant.  He had to show me in the end - if you have it, it's inside the Weekend section, the pull-out called Weekend Food.  There's a section on 70 top local food shops, and Al's is in there - page 13, the first one under Suffolk.  The shops featured are offering £5 off £20 spent with 3 Times vouchers.  This will actually sort of wipe out Al's profit on anyone who does it, but on the other hand the publicity is free.  I suppose the vouchers will be there every day until 16th July.

Weeza and Phil were planning a barbecue for this evening, so suggested that the Sage and I joined them - I had some steak in the fridge for tonight's dinner, so their sausages for two and our steak for two made enough for all.  I picked salad and took a bottle of wine from the fridge too.  As I said, Zerlina was extremely happy with her little house, and played in it while Phil and the Sage put together the rest, then they put the house on the platform, added the stairs and slide and she spent the next couple of hours going up the steps, in and out of the house and down the slide, a big smile on her face.

Weeza just phoned to say that z went straight to sleep and it looks as if Phil is ready for bed too.  I suspect that the Sage won't be far behind.  I've just woken him up - going to sleep at 9.30 at night in your armchair means you'll be awake at 2am.

I spent most of the afternoon proof-reading a 48-page document for the Head.  Actually, I haven't quite finished.  But I'm stopping now anyway because I can't concentrate any longer.

Write early, write often

The decapitation took four hours, yesterday.  Although when it came to it, a lot more brambles lost their heads than thistles.  Yes I know, they were nicely in bud and would have been full of blackberries in a couple of months, but it was starting to become hazardous to come through the gate in the dark.

Weeza and Zerlina are going to spend the morning here, while Phil and the Sage go off to deepest Essex to pick up an edifice - with a platform, with steps up and a slide down, and a playhouse -  which has been bought on eBay for z's birthday.  The Sage and Al built a similar construction a couple of years ago for Squiffany and Pugsley; although the Sage already had the wood for it, some of it was soft wood and he reckons that buying enough hardwood for it would cost at least £200 and the slide was £80 - the equivalent now, new, costs £400 and they got it for less than half that, so it looks good value.  As long as it can be deconstructed, brought back and put together again.  It isn't Zerlina's birthday for another six weeks, but I don't expect they'll wait that long - the summer will be nearly over by then.

Next weekend is the village festival, complete with fĂȘte and beer tent.  Well, strictly speaking, beer village hall.  In the church, there will be a photographic competition - actually, Dave should enter that.  There are decent cash prizes.

Saturday 3 July 2010

Z receives an email!!!

Under the circumstances, I do hope that JonnyB (this newfangled "Alex Marsh" nonsense is quite beyond me) will excuse the triple exclamation marks that are his by right of conquest, but if you haven't yet ordered  his book, you don't have to pre-order it any more, because Amazon are posting it Right Now, as I write.

I am going to cut the heads off thistles to celebrate.  With apologies to any goldfinches that are looking forward to eating the seeds.

Friday 2 July 2010

Z attends a Sports Day

It makes  me realise how much of this job is just turning up and smiling and being interested.  I arrived at school as usual on a Friday, but only three pupils turned up for music, one of whom didn't belong there anyway as the others were all involved in the sports.  So I thought, rather than just slope off home, I'd go and show an interest.  And do you know, five teachers all came up separately to shake my hand and thank me for coming.

It was hot and sunny, but the breeze was refreshing this morning, which one couldn't say this afternoon when the wind turned warm and humid.  This evening, I picked broad beans, courgette and swiss chard and then went to cook dinner - with both Aga lids up and several pans simmering, the kitchen was dreadfully hot and I felt extremely hot and bothered by the time dinner was ready.  Afterwards, Dilly and I walked round the village to put up posters for the festival next Saturday - it was still too warm to refresh but I did cool down to an extent.

We had our first tomato from the garden yesterday, by the way - most of it, at any rate.  A blackbird (I suspect) had sampled it first.  I picked it to eat anyway - I'm not concerned about germs from a tomato shared with a bird.  I've caught a lot more diseases from people than I'm ever likely to get from any other animal.

Thursday 1 July 2010

Pots

Mago is absolutely right - it's so often the earliest examples that show the most care and are particularly beautiful.  Sometimes they are technically excellent too, sometimes not, but that isn't always what matters.

If I were to start again with more knowledge and a better eye, I'd buy early printed books and early Chinese porcelain.  If I were starting again with English china, I'd still go for the 18th century softpaste (or 'artificial') porcelain, but from more than one factory, so as to broaden my knowledge - though not from every factory by any means, because some of them don't do a thing for me.  Mind you, I'm not a collector by nature.  I don't have the need to buy or collect a lot of examples of something.  And, like Mago, I don't take the view that something old and precious is owned - one is simply the custodian for a while.

I've mentioned that I particularly love the earliest Lowestoft.  This doesn't mean that I don't love individual pieces from later in the factory's life (it was a going concern for a little over forty years, which doesn't sound long, but it outlasted many of the early porcelain factories in England), but that there's something about the care and time put into the earliest pieces - it wouldn't have been economically possible to take so long over every piece in the long run.  And the early glaze has a warmth that is very appealing - you might not notice it unless you saw it against a later piece, when it would really stand out.

Something that most collectors of Lowestoft would mention is its charm.  It's a provincial factory and doesn't pretend to be grand, like Chelsea.  The specially commissioned pieces, like the flask that we would have loved to buy which has a scene of shipbuilding painted on it, may be unique or restricted to a single tea service.  The amazing little mug that the Sage will auction in a couple of weeks is a pastoral farming scene (the catalogue can be found by clicking on the 'day job' link to the right).  Lowestoft was a comfortable, assured town with a boatbuilding and a fishing industry, surrounded by farms.  The river gave access to wherries to transport goods and it must have been quite a prosperous place in those days, and the comfortable middle classes bought fashionable china, locally made, much of it in the Chinese style but sometimes with typically English scenes, and often specially commissioned to one's own requirement.

Part of its charm is in the imperfections.  A saucer may well be slightly out of round.  An inscription (I think more Lowestoft was inscribed than any other factory, often with a name, sometimes a date too, sometimes the name of a place ("A Trifle from Lowestoft" - or another nearby town - showed a burgeoning tourist trade) might be inside a cartouche that wasn't quite big enough, so the last two or three letters are squashed together.  We've even got a mug with a large semicircular chunk out of part of the handly, glazed over in the factory and sold anyway - "that still work, dunt it?" and "thass all right" - you can still imagine that being said in Lowestoft.  Damage is less regarded as a handicap to value in Lowestoft than in any other factory (not English Delft [tin-glazed earthenware], however, where the glaze almost always chips round the edge - what do you expect in something more than 200 years old?  It wasn't necessarily perfect to start with.  If it's appealing, then the odd chip or crack only adds to its individuality.

Anyway, it's promising that the Sage likes this sort of china.  It means that, the older and more cracked I become, the more he likes me.