Tuesday 30 November 2010


I'm not breaking any rules of confidentiality by saying that the high schools in Lowestoft aren't some of the most successful in the county.  As a result, we have a busful of pupils coming over to our school every day, whose parents have opted out of their local school.  These students are very motivated to do well and the ones I've met are delightful.

And a group of girls today, in conversation, discovered that I and Weeza share names with two of them.  "Where does your daughter go to school?" another girl asked, which was so charming.  I explained that my daughter is old enough to be her mother.  "My mother's 32, she said" (she's 13).  "Ah" I said, feeling very old.  "My mother's 52" said another girl of 13.  Then someone asked my age.  I hesitated for a minute.  It's not a usual thing to ask - but they weren't being rude, they were being friendly, I'm not a teacher (that would have been inappropriate) and so I told them, 57.  They were so sweet, they assured me they would have thought anything down to 40.  "I didn't think you were that old" said Ellie, knowing it was a two-edged remark, and laughingly friendly.

There's no doubt about it.  Different generations should mix together.  It does us all good.

Monday 29 November 2010

Z still enjoys the snow

We're finally back on our internet booster, wirelessly.  The router doesn't quite have the gumption to get to both our drawing room and Al and Dilly's house without it so, whilst we were able to use that, we had to be in the kitchen.  The options on the booster website were beyond my comprehension, but I hadn't felt able to bother Ro last week as he was really busy at work, and Dora was leaving for Thailand to visit her brother on Sunday, so I didn't want to interrupt his weekend either.

Today, however, we helped each other out.  I was going to Norwich to pick up Zerlina's present, and offered him a lift home afterwards, to save a long walk with shopping.  I had a bit of a decision-wobble in the afternoon because of the weather, but the snow stopped by the time I was at my destination and hasn't started again yet here, although apparently it has in Norwich.

However, let's start at the beginning.  As so often, I was awake early and up late, and found there was a pleasing amount of snow - not enough for us to be snowed in (this often has happened in the past) but a decent couple of inches.  So, later, when the sun began to shine through, I trotted out to build another snowman.

Al and Pugsley had already been busy.  The little chap who'd been built at the weekend was decently dressed, and he had a companion.

It was a lovely day, and the snow was starting to drip from the tree branches, so I spent the next happy hour making my snowman in case it melted further.
 Al had been asked to mind the shop for a couple of hours, so he left Pugsley with me.  He was quite happy roaming around in the snow while I worked, but he didn't think much of my attempt to sculpt arms.  He thought I should have used sticks.  It was snowing quite hard by the time I finished though, so I hastily gave him a face, took his picture and went indoors.
This evening, Ro was talking me through the procedure when we got cut off - the landline phone rang a minute later so I thought it was him, but it was Weeza.  Then Ro rang back on my mobile.  I promised to phone Weeza back, got the internet working, phoned Al to ask him to check, phoned Weeza, then Al rang back - I needed extra ears and was about to run out of telephones.  Still, all is jolly good and we are hoping to get together at the weekend.

Snow permitting, of course.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Under the influence

So, today - I was up first.  Actually, I didn't get up until 8 o'clock, though I'd been awake for a couple of hours reading.  I have half a dozen books on the go on my phone, and today's choice was Tom Sawyer.  I've read it several times already, of course, but not for a few years and I'd rather forgotten how frightening a character Injun Joe was.  There's a Facebook meme been going around of which authors have influenced you in some way, and several of us have chosen Mark Twain amongst others (one of mine was Saki, of course).

When I went out, about 9 o'clock, the wise Sage was still in bed.  As I left the house I heard bantams chatting to each other about the breakfast they expected any minute.  I didn't have time to soak their bread in hot water, their usual breakfast, but I went back to get a dish of corn for them.  They are all clustering together at this time of year rather than going off alone - warmth and safety, I guess.  They all hurried to greet me, anyway.

We hadn't expected many people to brave church, but were surprised.  On the fourth Sunday, it's a café-style do, with Communion first for the few who prefer the Book of Common Prayer, then coffee and bacon sandwiches, and later a very informal family service.  You'd hardly say service really.  The children were decorating Christmas baubles and doing various puzzles and painting and that sort of thing.  Cake and grape juice were served.  I played the clarinet - not in a soloish way, but to lead the singing.  Several friends of about my age turned up sans any children, and the youngsters ranged from babies to teenagers.  All very sociable and seemed to be enjoyed,  I played the last verse very fast (this was appropriate, it was that sort of song) and was applauded good-naturedly.  We were in the church rooms, but we'll be in the church next week so I turned up and on the heating, to check it was effective, and set the timer for the Christingle service and for next Sunday.  Neither of the churchwardens have mastered the timer yet, so I'm still doing it,

This afternoon, I was playing Scrabble on my phone (the phone was the opponent) and went into the kitchen to think what to cook for dinner.  When I looked at my phone, it had turned itself off - which is normal, it does so if not used for a few minutes.  However, it didn't come back on when I pressed the button.  Deeply alarmed, I pressed the main button - nothing.  I was sure there was juice in the battery, but put it into the computer to recharge and it didn't show up on iTunes.  I was shocked and appalled.

At this point, Weeza happened to ring up.  I made polite conversation for all of two minutes before telling her my woes, and logged on to the Apple website while still talking to her to make an appointment to get it sorted out.  However, first, I looked at the troubleshooting advice, which was just as well, because it soothingly explained what to do.  And now all seems fine.  So, a ten-minute storm in a teacup, but it made me quite anxious at the time.

It was very cold overnight, but no more snow yet.  I might go over to Norwich tomorrow, to buy Zerlina's Christmas present.  Most other things will be bought online or in Yagnub or Selcceb.  Possibly Notselrah, but that's harder to pronounce.

Saturday 27 November 2010

Snowy Z (as Chris would say)

Well, there was enough snow for me to build a snowman.  A little one, admittedly, because I didn't get around to it until the afternoon, by which time the sun had been shining and some of it had thawed.  If we get more snow, I'll build a bigger one.

Al and the children built one too - Al being the smart one of the family, he managed to get arms to stay on. In fact, it was good building snow, sticking together well and not too powdery.

I'd quite forgotten, by the way, that I never wrote final "bringing on the wall" posts - if you read Dave's blog, you'll know that he and the Sage put in a couple of final sessions at the start of this month to finish it off.  They finished exactly four weeks ago and ended with a celebratory bonfire and fireworks, it also being Bonfire Night weekend.

My friend is still seriously ill and they hope to fly him back to hospital in this country in the next day or two.  He is in intensive care, but they have not been able to diagnose what the cause of the problem is yet.  Very worrying and we feel for his wife too, living in a hotel so far from home.  His daughters have flown out to be with them; one of them has a paraplegic husband and a young baby, but the husband has to have full-time carers so it's not as difficult as leaving an invalid usually would be, in practical terms anyway.

You'll want snowman photos, of course.  Here you are - it was a brighter afternoon than these show, but I took them on my phone, which is always a bit dark.  There are a couple of pictures of the wall too.  As you see, not much snow was left by 2 o'clock this afternoon.  But we can still hope!

Oh, and congratulations to Simon (Eddie 2-Sox)'s son, Sam, on his success in the kuk sool won UK championships in Liverpool today.

Friday 26 November 2010

Cl@r10r Ust@ R0g0

I'm still doing the rota.  It's a bit difficult, because the person who's ill - he's my fellow organist, and his wife also reads lessons, makes coffee and will be sidesman if necessary - I've eased their burden for the next few months, but I don't want to leave them off altogether in case it makes them feel sidelined.  But if he's fine and wants to do more, he can always take some of the jobs I've put myself down for in their place.

Today was Founder's Day.  The school was founded in 1565 which is rather splendid, because they've celebrated Founder's Day ever since.  Whole lots of Old Boys turn up, though not as many as usual because of the snowy weather and several cried off.  I don't know at what point you're invited, most of them are knocking on a bit.  They included a previous Head, Deputy Head, two other teachers and someone whom I really tried to persuade to be a governor but haven't managed yet.  He's so excellent that he's in demand elsewhere, I do understand - what a handicap being nice is.

Anyway, I was clearing snow off the windscreen at 8.30 this morning to go to the special assembly, and returned for lunch with the Old Boys (and girls).  I was meeting the Head later, so browsed in the library for a while and made notes of a book I'd like to give someone.  He came for me while I was jotting the name on my phone and was amused.  He and I think the same way about a lot of things, professionally - we do chat about the odd family matter, but tend to keep to school matters most of the time - it is such a pleasure to work with someone where there's mutual respect and liking.

I think that confidence has a lot to do with it.  If you are secure in your self-awareness, you will not feel threatened by someone who is good and ambitious, but encourage them.  If you have any insecurity yourself, you might not give credit where it's due or try to squash initiative.  I find this sort of thing very hard to work with, and there is no question of it here.  Very much the opposite, which means there is a strong and ambitious team who aren't afraid to come up with ideas and who will be given resources to carry them out if they put up a convincing case.

The school motto, by the way, is so hard to translate that an explanation has to be given with it.  Excuse the disguise, but I am easy enough to identify without giving the game away to the idle googler.

I've been working on the rota in between writing.  It's so dull that I have to give myself little treats every so often.  But it's done now.  I'll email it out and watch a DVD before bed.

Thursday 25 November 2010

It's déjà vu all over again

I had finally, after six years, got rid of the church rota.  But now the chap who has taken over the job is ill, and in hospital on holiday, which is worse, so I've said I'll do the next one.  And of course I couldn't possibly mind, he and his wife are kind and helpful and completely took over all my duties while I was out of action last winter.


The photos didn't get taken today.  The IT boys couldn't get the camera to work.  Heh.  No, we were all really nice about it.

Snow fell in Norwich and on Dave early in the morning, and on Somerleyton and maybe other places around here, but didn't arrive in these parts until late morning, briefly, and then the sun shone.  Snow returned later, however.  It was quite thick on the car when I left the meeting just before 5.  I had to go to the supermarket, then for petrol, and every time I opened the car door more snow fell on me from the roof.  I was ever so glad I hadn't gone on my bike (because I needed petrol) because it was slushy and slippery on the way home and I would have been afraid to bike it, with a porcelain hip.  It's true, I'm more nervous of falling heavily than I ever was.  I could shatter.

The Sage took my and his tax stuff to the accountant this morning.  Dave will say this is months late, but it's in plenty of time.  This evening, I asked if he'd said how much I was likely to owe (I paid tax for the first time evah last year).  The Sage said not, he'll write.  "There's plenty of money in the TSB" he said reassuringly.  "It's all right, I've been saving up" I said, not without a hint of resourceful pride.  "So have I" he said, evidently not having had a lot of reliance on my forethought.

He just came in the room.  "What do you want for Christmas?" I asked.  "Ooh, what gadget do I want?" he said.  And then decided he was fairly gadgetted up for now.  He's thinking about it.  He didn't return the question, which might mean he's already decided or, more likely, that he won't think about it until he panics in four weeks' time.  Actually, both of us are a bit too independent, if we really want something we buy it rather than mark it to be asked for.  Since we're both pretty frugal, day to day, this rarely happens though, the shopping, I mean.  Though I couldn't be doing with a husband who looked askance when I did buy something.  If I come home with something new, he's really pleased.  We encourage each other to be frivolous.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Z nearly outstays the daylight, but just keeps within her welcome

I'll write early so that I won't spend most of the evening in the kitchen.  Last night, I remembered a whole lot more work to do and was here until 11.30.

Friends of ours moved house back in the summer - he is a good friend of mine in particular, and had asked me to drop in any time I was passing.  Well, I'm not very good at dropping in so had been diffident about it, and a few weeks ago he reminded me.  Then, last month, I finally had a week with some spare time, and then I got a cold, then it was our auction, then I was on holiday, then I had a lot to catch up on - anyway, the upshot was that I finally called in today.  We'd exchanged emails the other day - he's the one thinking about buying an iPad - and I suggested today could be The Day.

I stayed for lunch and nearly for tea, I finally rolled home at 4 o'clock.  The Sage had been out and phoned to find out where I was and to say he was going out again - I haven't seen him since he kindly brought me a cup of tea in bed this morning (you see, Roses, it does sometimes happen).  It's a lovely house, though quite awkward, having a lot of steps between rooms, for someone who has rheumatoid arthritis and walks with a stick, but I can quite see why they loved it.  It is situated on the edge of the town, so it's got the river running by the garden, you can see the road from the front but people can't look in and no one can see into the delightful garden at all.  The lovely deli and wholefood shop, and the post office, are within 20 yards but you don't feel you're in the town at all.  In addition, it's Georgian and very attractive.  Not entirely practical, but I see no reason to be overly sensible either.

So, that's about all I've done today.  It was only 4 when I got home, as I said, but the evening had already started because it was starting to drizzle and the light was failing.  Can't wait for the government to drop GMT.  I will feel as though I've gained an hour in every winter day.

This evening, Dilly is tutoring and Al has a governors' meeting, so one of us will babysit.  I probably will make soup for supper, I've some lovely stock in the fridge and plenty of vegetables.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Z prepares a half smile

Got a bit of a problem with the wifi.  That is, it suddenly locked us out.  Since the Sage and Al need the internet constantly for eBay (well, I exaggerate, but the Sage isn't quite happy unless he has his evening fix, and Al had stuff he was selling that finished last night) they weren't pleased.  Since, among us, my poor knowledge is the best going, it turned into my responsibility.  I've fixed it up to an extent, but will need more advice from Ro before we're going properly.  As it is, we are all using our computers in the kitchen.

The complexity of school governor stuff is increasing.  And likely to increase more.  Ho hum.  Still, I daresay it'll be interesting.  A governors' meeting on Thursday and we're having our photos taken.  Such is the paranoia about safeguarding that now everyone has to have photo id. Pity.  I'm rather attached to my present name badge, which has a little Happy Face sticker on it, courtesy of my friend Caroline who is a teaching assistant there.  Still, I'll bear the experience with good nature, if not good cheer.  I'm not too fond of having a photo taken of me.

Why is it, by the way, that 'official' photos, for passports and suchlike, are always so dreadful?  In my passport, I look terrified.  On the Sage's driving licence, he looks frightening.  I've never seen a good one yet.  The really depressing thing is that they are actually accepted as a likeness.

Monday 22 November 2010

The Sage is home

I overslept. I switched the light off around 1, woke around 7, slept again and was woken up by the phone ringing at 9.30. So it's fair to say I caught up on some sleep. It left me in a hurry to get going, but I arrived at the funeral in Oulton Broad with more than half an hour in hand. All the same, I was too late to sit in the church and had to go into the connecting hall, where there was a video link. It was standing room in there by the time the service started, there must have been 400 or 500 people there altogether. It seems so sad that it's a mark of how much people think of you, that they can only show it at the last by coming to your funeral.

The Sage got back after a successful trip this afternoon. So things are right around here again. I shall go and cuddle him appreciatively when I've written this.

A friend is considering buying an iPad. He has suggested I go with him to try one out. What a good idea. I don't know quite what he wants out of it, but that's up to those nice people at the Apple store to discuss with him. I'm quite happy just to have fun. As usual.

Sunday 21 November 2010


I was writing to a friend and didn't notice the time.  It's nearly midnight.  I'll have to adjust the time to make this Sunday's post.

Last night, I didn't sleep.  I whinged gently on Facebook every hour or so, and eventually got up to make tea and fetch my phone recharger, because I'd been using it for so long I'd run the battery down.  Usually, reading on the phone sends me off to sleep quite quickly, but not this time.  Eventually at about 4.30, I put some music on and managed to drift off for 3 hours.  So I confidently expect a sound night's sleep tonight.  I went up to put the electric blanket on an hour ago so I won't have cold feet to keep me awake.

All quiet here, not a lot to say.  The chickens all came running when I took their breakfast out and again for lunch (bread and maize respectively - they also have a feeder filled with wheat grains in their run).  This afternoon, I went out to shut up the henhouse when it was getting to dusk - a fox has been seen on the field so we're being careful.  Most of the chickens roost in trees, we think they are safer that way so don't clip their wings, but a few like to sleep in the henhouse.  I came back in and there seemed no good reason not to just lock the door and settle down for the evening.  No dog to let out or take for a walk last thing.  When I went out at 8, several bantams were strolling about on the drive so I knew all was well there.

Not too busy a week coming up.  A funeral in Lowesoft tomorrow, then nothing in the diary until Thursday and Friday, both school things.  I wonder if I'll manage to get something productive done instead of just faffing about. I usually faff, to be honest.

I've just realised there are a couple more emails I meant to write - Weeza, the Sage and Wink have all been on the phone chatting to me this evening, I haven't got everything done.  Tomorrow morning will be good enough though.  Really is time for bed now.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Plenty of Zedrest

We both slept really well last night.  When I previously changed the bedclothes I was busy, so simply changed the bottom sheet and swapped duvet and pillows with the spare room bed, all being the same size and all.  I swapped again this time (having made the bed up in the meantime, obviously) and, evidently, that duvet is just a little bit thicker - so we were really warm and comfortable.  So this is the one to stay with for the winter.

The Sage went the Southern side of the M25 this trip - the problem can be the Dartford crossing, but he was okay today, and the south side of London turned out to be much less busy with fewer roadworks.  It was 3 miles longer (238 rather than 235) but took half an hour less.

Al and Dilly invited me in to dinner, I took a started and an unstarted bottle of wine, so we made merry.  I lit the fire before I went so there was a cheerful blaze to return to.  I've lit candles too, so as not to feel lonely.  When I've finished this, I'll start on the DVDs - the too-loud music (not very loud actually, I care for my ears!) is on now.  The Hold Steady and J Roddy Walston.  Oh yes, Julie formerly from Athens leads me astray.  BTW, Julie, Ro has a ticket for Hold Steady in February when they'll be in Norwich (thanks to me, I told him they were coming) - I asked him how long he's been listening to them and it's been longer than I have, and you put me on to them; evidently you and he would get on well musically.

So, today - no, not a lot to report.  I went supermarket shopping because I had a voucher (£7 off £60) so bought some wine as I didn't need that much in groceries. Misty and dull, but mild.  Squiffany and Pugsley are staying with Dilly's parents and were going to see the Christmas lights in Norwich this evening, they were very excited at the treat.  Squiff and Nanny were going to watch Strictly this evening.  I've never seen it.  More likely to watch I'm a Celebrity, actually.  Not that I am.  It's still swearing and violence for me.  I mean, you only have to look at me.  It's obvious.

Friday 19 November 2010

Balancing act

So, either I waffle on generally about my fairly uneventful day, or I reminisce or I go off on one, in the more vulgar parlance (how is it that parlance always follows vulgar?) - which last I did this evening, only to find it was the dullest option of all.  Because, who cares, hey?

No darlings, it's still quiet.  But it seems to be a week of sadness.  My friend Val's sister has died, and so has my friend George's brother.  The first expected, the second a sudden shock.  Val's latest granddaughter is being christened tomorrow - Russian Orthodox - so it's a strange set of emotions for her.

I bought myself aniseed balls.  Well, you have to do something, don't you?  And I like old-fashioned sweets, liquorice, aniseed, sherbet and so on.  And I cooked a particularly nice dinner - albeit with leftovers.  We're still eating last Sunday's chicken.  I think I'll be eating it all weekend, as the Sage is off again.  He's going on a china picking-up trip and will be away from tomorrow (Saturday) to Monday.  I shall play loud music and watch too many DVDs and go to sleep cuddling a pillow.

Ooh, talking about sleep, we were a bit fitful last night.  By the time we were ready, it was about 1 am and I couldn't, so played Scrabble on the phone, which isn't a brilliant idea at that time as you forget your two-letter words.  We both kept waking each other up and I was awake from 4 anyway, and when I was ready to get up a couple of hours later, the Sage put his comforting arm around me, so of course we both fell asleep.  Then I woke again so played poker, and finally he woke up, looked at the clock, said "9.15 - heh!" and went straight back to sleep.  I exhaust him, darlings, I can't deny it.  But it's absolutely worth it.  I mean, you only have to look at him.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Maybe I do

I was playing the organ for a funeral this afternoon and ran through the hymns, which was fine, and then started to practise the voluntaries, and found that one of the keys was sticking, an E.  Which was a bit of a nuisance.  I had to keep flipping it up with a spare finger.  If that occasionally happens at our own church, I can, as a last resort, work out which pipe it is and disconnect it, but these were boxed in.  Fortunately, it's a two-manual organ, so I played the other one.  It was all right for the hymns as, by chance, neither of them used that note.  The final voluntary was in E flat so that was all right too.

The lady who had died was 85 years old and had lived in the village nearly all her life, until she moved into a retirement bungalow after her husband died, two years ago.  She'd married a local man, and some of their friends had known them since schooldays.  I don't think that would be the case with many people now.

One of the things that other smartphones are, apparently, better at than iPhones are notifications.  It's set up for one email address but, like many people, I have several.  The other day, I read about an app that does it all for you, so I downloaded it, and started to set it up - Facebook messages came through quickly (I have Facebook on the phone too, but it doesn't notify me that regularly) but when I put on an email account, the promised email to confirm didn't arrive.  Eventually, I discovered (ahem) that I'd mistyped the address.  I'd put (actually, this is a bit embarrassing) gmali.  And there didn't seem to be any way to change it.  I even went on the website and it seems that no one else has done this silly a thing - though mind you, lots of people change their emails, so there should be provision.

I've sorted it out, I deleted the app, reinstalled it and set the whole thing up again, correctly.  So now it works nicely and will save me checking several little-used emails every day.  I have to say, having this phone really keeps me away from the computer, it's brilliant.  I used to check things and, having sat down, stayed there for a while.  Now, I leave it alone unless I've got work to do.  It's the reason posts are written late at night, mostly.  And occasionally from my bed, when I realise at the last that I've forgotten about it.  Not that I feel I *have* to write something every day of course, you understand.  Or maybe I do.  Hm.

Wednesday 17 November 2010


Doesn't the year seem to be galloping on?  Now we're on the final slope towards its end, time has speeded up with a worrying momentum.  I don't think that going away for the first week in November helped, I left in early autumn and returned to near-winter and long to-do lists.

Having said that, I'm feeling quite good at the prospect of December, largely because I won''t have to make holly wreaths this year.  You may remember how much I dislike this job, yet I felt obliged to do it because they were worth so much to Al.  He bought the wire frame and we mostly cadged fir and holly to make the body of the wreath - that part was the Sage's job.  Al made several pounds profit on each, if you didn't count anything for my time, which I didn't.  I sat down two or three evenings a week with an old sheet spread over the floor and worked away for two or three hours getting thoroughly prickled hands - anyway, that's it, I don't have to now.  So I can - um - well, I can lounge around in the evenings not doing much instead, now I come to think of it.

In fact, I'm rather cheerful.  I've been thinking back a year for one thing, because it was during November last year that my hip became so much worse suddenly, and I can't help contrasting then with now.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Z the Dragon

I spent all day at the school, and sat reading for half an hour while munching toast and Marmite on my return home.  Gosh.  How do people manage doing it full-time?  Though I suppose I did for thirteen years. I was young then, of course.

Anyway, I was accosted by one of the staff, who wants me to be a Dragon.  I agreed, of course, though secretly a bit daunted.  I'll rise to the occasion though, I'm sure.  The Business and Enterprise (or whatever, I can never remember the names of everything) group are putting together business plans as a project.  Our business manager will also be on the panel.  Should be fun.

In music this morning, one of the four groups didn't have anyone willing to sing - which meant that it wasn't going as well as it might.  So I became their vocalist.  I know, it was absurd.  Singing I Predict A Riot accompanied by five teenagers young enough to be my granddaughters.  Still, I took the view that I can't expect them to overcome inhibitions unless I'm going to do it too.

I didn't know until recently that the popular shortening of Juliet is now Jelly.  There are two in one year at the high school.  I rather like it, I must say.  In this afternoon's class, there's a Z and a Weeza, which is a first - though she prefers Ellie, inexplicably.  I think Weeza (her actual name, that is) is lovely and she likes it too, although I do sometimes call her Ella, or Weeza of course.  Although Dilly, Dora and Phil are noms de blog, my own three children are called by short versions of their actual names here.

That reminds me, what is blog in other languages?  Or is it a weblog in every country?

Monday 15 November 2010

Z is pleased with her efficiency (don't laugh)

I make every effort, as a rule, not to say the same thing here as I've already said on Facebook.  Most of my FB friends are people who read this blog, so it would be a bit dull for them - however, this is the exception, sorry.

I was so pleased with myself this afternoon, that's the thing.  I so rarely get it completely right first off.  Al and Pugsley appeared at the door after lunch; it seems that Dilly had some friends over and Al felt that the atmosphere was entirely too girly and that he and his son were, as he put it, personae non gratae.  I know, darlings, I didn't understand it either.  Anyway, they came and joined me for a considerably less girly atmosphere.  Al read several books to Pugsley and then P wanted to watch television (he loves tv here, as I allow CITV, which has advertisements), so Al felt able to turn his attention to his laptop.

I may have mentioned that Al is a governor at the village school, the same one I was governor at for 18 years and which Ro attended for 5 years.  They found it hard to get rid of me, darlings.  Actually, when I became chairman of governors (because the CoG died suddenly, it was awful), they were going through a difficult time - anyway, a few months later, we appointed a new headteacher.  The choice wasn't a unanimous decision, and she knows that so I can say it, but I will also say that it was a superb decision and I was instrumental in it happening.  A cautious person by inclination, I'm not afraid to follow my instincts when it's time to be bold.  This was 8 years ago and she has been brilliant in sometimes difficult circumstances (coincidental serious staff illnesses, that was awful too, because not all of them survived).  Now she's moving to a different part of the country and a new job.

So, various governors have been asked to write each part of the information pack to applicants, and Al was asked to write the part about the locality.  He agreed and came promptly to me for advice, wise boy.  I ('scuse the caps) WENT STRAIGHT INTO THE STUDY, TOOK DOWN A FILE AND FOUND THE INFO FROM 8 YEARS AGO.  Just like that.  I haven't been a governor there for 4 1/2 years, I've destroyed nearly everything, but I still had this and I knew where to look.  Remarkable, hey?  Anyway, some of it is out of date, but at least it gives Al something to base his piece on.

The second thing I've already mentioned on Facebook is the phone call I had this morning from someone called Kate who wanted the Sage to ring her back, from the Viron Licencing Dept.  I asked her to repeat it twice, I didn't understand, and I could only write it down phonetically.  The Sage was puzzled for a minute.  Then his face cleared.  "Firearm", he said.  "It's about my firearm certificate."  Oh.

Tonight, I had governors training on Safeguarding Children, which is a main OFSTED focus this year.  Next September, it'll be dead in the water but right now if you haven't ticked all the boxes you'll fail.  Actually, we do tick nearly all the boxes and have an action plan (sorry) for the rest but I need to keep up to date on things and haven't been trained for about 4 years.  I wisely prepared a delicious fish pie before I went out.  I was glad of nice food when I slunk back at 9.45.  And a couple of glasses of wine.

There was an air frost by 6.30 this evening, by the way.  I had to clear the windscreen before I left.

Sunday 14 November 2010


Ro and Dora came over for dinner today.  She and her sister are going to Thailand in a fortnight, to visit their brother and his other half, who are expecting a baby in the New Year.  She confidently expects Ro to miss her horribly, and I'm sure he will, except for the weekend when he's visiting Zain in London.  I promised to lend him my Oyster card and then we forgot.  D'oh.  I'll put it in the post, if we won't be meeting before then.

I had an unscheduled stint at the early service this morning.  The person who was down to be sidesman has a frozen shoulder; he had to help shift a dead body the other day and was obliged to take the weight on his wrists as he couldn't use the strength of his upper arms and, yesterday, found that his hands swelled up.  He and his wife were due to go on holiday tonight, so yesterday were trying to get a doctor's advice on whether it was okay to go.  I hope so, the profession of undertaker is a demanding one and they need a break.  Anyway, I was searching for my key at 7.30 this morning.  I had last seen it, that I remembered, before I went away when I was sorting out my handbag.  Having looked in all the likely places, I decided it might be in another bag, which I couldn't find.  In the end, just as I thought I was going to have to give up and call on someone else with a key (who would be up, I'm not that inconsiderate), I found the bag and therefore the key.  I also found £100 which I had squirrelled away and forgotten where.  It wasn't lost, you understand, I just hadn't found it again yet.

I had another visit to church later of course, for the Remembrance Sunday service.  I shall never not be struck by the recital of the names of 25 men from this little village who lost their lives in the Great War.  It still shocks.  And another of our three linked villages lost 4 from the same family.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Flatter than Norfolk

I had several vivid dreams last night - or, at any rate, I remembered them, which is rarely the case.  Don't worry, I won't tell you all about them, just one thing.  At one point I was brought a cup of coffee and didn't drink it for a while. When I took a sip, it was stone cold.  I remember being surprised that it was completely cold already, not just lukewarm, and I could clearly taste the coffee, which I also could see was black - but black as a specific shade, not black and white.  So I dream in colour, taste and temperature.  Which maybe I've always known and had forgotten.

There was something I was going to tell you, but which I can't think of at present.  I daresay it will come back to me.  In the meantime, a few other random snaps of Malta.

I rather loved the Savoyard helmets in the Armoury.  Sorry about the reflection, I couldn't do anything about it.

There is a lizard here somewhere, but I can't see it now.

As I said before, I loved Mdina and its winding lanes.  They are all this size, it isn't a side alley.

Mdina is in the middle of the island.  But you can still see the sea.

Friday 12 November 2010

Zerlina is affectionate

I bought some Montezuma giant chocolate buttons.  Zerlina was most impressed.  She came and stood beside me several times, being very affectionate in a hopeful sort of way and kissing me lovingly before asking if there was any chance I might be considering opening Granny's tin.  It got me every time.  I'm afraid my reputation as a soft touch will take a while to live down.

She also hoped I'd notice and remark upon her appearance. She touched her fringe faux-casually and tossed her pigtails, and glanced down at her striped wool dress.  Each time I complimented her, her face lit up happily.

She still has an afternoon nap, something which her mother strenuously encourages.  She loves her nap and now has graduated to a full-sized single bed in our smallest bedroom.  When she woke, I went to fetch her. "Look, I'm in a big girl's bed" were her first words.  We walked downstairs, holding hands, and she showed me the cars decorating her socks (not actual cars, darlings, they were part of the pattern).

I finally got around to downloading the photos I took on holiday.  Here is one of a resident of Sliema.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Z stays in

I woke to the sound of rain and wind against the window, and was in no hurry to get up.  I thought of Al, who normally would be getting the shop ready at that time.  I've done it myself in the winter, they used to go on holiday the first week in January when things were quiet and I took over.  I remember one week when, every day, I had to weigh down the display as I put it out because the wind was so strong and even so, I had to hurry down the road after various baskets and cloths that had blown away.  I also remember cycling against a wind so strong that, in quite a slight upward incline, I had to get off and walk.  I didn't go out all day except to pick Pugsley up from nursery school.  Jo brought him to the gate for me.  "Tell Granny what you have done this afternoon" she prompted.  "I've made cake!" he announced.  "Carrot cake.  I love carrot cake!"  I was slightly surprised as well as pleased, because he isn't all that keen on vegetables usually and so I'd have thought he'd have a prejudice against cake containing them.

We were lucky with the weather, the sun came out ten minutes before I left and then the rain started again on the way home.  It rained hard and turned to sleet.  We sat in the car and waited for it to ease, while I showed him an app I'd downloaded for him, and then, as it dried up, hopped indoors.  Minutes later, it was bucketing down again.

I've not really got myself sorted out this week.  I meant to go shopping today but changed my mind, and so actually emptied the fridge.  We finished leftovers from the past couple of days for lunch, and then there was nothing left.  Some milk and cheese, butter and champagne, the tail end of a jar of pesto, a tube of the children's cheese spread and some orange and apple juice and half a jar of mayonnaise.  That was it.  Not a lot to base dinner on. Fortunately, I had vegetables so improvised.  You can make a delicate soufflé from cooked squash mixed with cheese and a couple of egg yolks with the whisked whites folded in.  No flour or anything else.  I seasoned it with cumin and piled it back into the squash shell - it was a largish Festival squash, that is, some 5 or so inches in diameter, plenty for two - topped it with flaked almonds and baked it again.

Ro phoned to say that he and Dora will come over on Sunday, so I've said I'll do dinner a bit early, and Weeza and Zerlina are coming over tomorrow.  It was a fortnight ago I saw them, at the auction, and we were busy then, so that will be good.  I haven't set foot in the dining room since I got back, I bet it's cold in there.  There's no point in lighting the fire for two of us to have dinner at an 8 foot long table so we don't use it much in the winter.

Phil had a job interview last week and has been successful.  He likes his present job, but it's a long way to travel every day and takes him ages.  He'll be working in Great Yarmouth, so he'll still be cycling and then travelling by rail, but the train journey is much shorter.  The road from Acle to Yarmouth is far too dangerous to cycle.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Z doesn't go shopping

It's nearly a year and a half since Ro moved out and the Sage and I have been living by ourselves. You might say that it was about time and you wouldn't be wrong - of course, we had been alone before while he was at university, but that didn't seem to count.  This isn't a large house, though it does sprawl rather - it's a rambling cottage really, but it does seem rather big for the two of us.  I mentioned the room I never go in - actually, there are several that I don't go in much, particularly in the winter.

A few weeks ago, when the family came to stay, the whole place was in use again, of course.  I can't see us ever downsizing - for a start, Al and family live here too, in the annexe.  And one of the reasons I ever suggested moving here was that I couldn't see the Sage clearing out the outbuildings.  Well, since then, he's built more and filled them too, and an extension to the house.

I sometimes wonder, if I started again, what I'd have for my own choice.  I don't believe that I'm that bothered about having stuff, but I could be deluding myself.  Certainly, I'm rarely tempted to buy anything. The last item of furniture I bought, a couple of years ago, was a cabinet for the Sage to keep one of his collections in.  That was an old one, bought from eBay.  We've hardly got any new items of furniture.  The bed was bought new of course.  We had the dining table made and the Sage made the kitchen table.  Otherwise, apart from armchairs and the sofa, it's all recycled.

If it were up to us, a lot of shops would go out of business.  Oh dear.  Could we be responsible for the recession?

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Z looks on

Very uninterestingly, today's journey to London went smoothly.  The train wasn't very busy so no one sat next to me, any audible chat was not intrusive, the trains were on time and I arrived at my destination, at both ends of the underground journey, unexpectedly promptly.  The meeting was fine and I put in a fair contribution of my own ideas and gained benefit from that of others and, although it rained, it didn't while I was outside.  The most notable event of the whole day was when I was standing on the Tube, a seat became empty and a young woman offered it to me rather than sitting down herself.  Which was vastly kind, if a bit lowering, that I bring out the lovely in people, meaning I evidently look old and/or infirm.  Anyway, I smiled and thanked her and sat down.

Dave, this morning, said in his post that he empathises with fictional characters on film or in books to the extent that he identifies with them, even imagining himself as them, whether they are heroic or even deeply unpleasant.  I don't suppose he identifies with all of them, but it made me question my own reaction to people in books - and I don't think I ever have done that.  I might be very engaged with a story, deeply moved or interested by a character or situation, but it's as an onlooker, not as a participant.

In fact, thinking about it, I seem to be becoming more dispassionate if anything.  I judge a book more rapidly than I used to - it doesn't have to be badly written now, as once it did, for me to decide that I don't care enough to finish it.  I still don't know why this is, maybe I've just read most of my lifetime quota of books and very few excite me any more.  I seem to notice the writing more than I used to - for example, in any book set in the late 19th century which involves a family, I look for the baby boy born for the sole purpose of being poignantly killed off in the first world war.  Even very good writers do it - they're manipulating my feelings, so I won't play along.  A book has to be either light enough for me not to mind or good enough for me to either overlook the devices or else become so genuinely engaged that I don't notice them.  Like in an action film where you know that several characters are going to be killed off and you entertain yourself by deciding the most likely ones.  Indeed, with a lot of more 'serious' actors, I often observe their acting more than the characters they portray.

I'm sorry about this, I don't know what it says about me or the fiction concerned and I'm not drawing any conclusions.  It's just how it is.

Monday 8 November 2010

Z calms down

The Sage has been looking after me very well, starting with tea in bed and going on to cooking my lunch for me, having lit the fire and all.  We had the children in the afternoon, as Dilly and Al had an appointment in Norwich.  At seven o'clock, I took them back home to get ready for bed, only to find that the key didn't work - Al lost his door key a couple of months ago, changed the lock and then found it (it had fallen from his keyring, but turned up in his van) and thought he'd given us a new key.  Anyway, I read to them their bedtime stories until their parents arrived home.

I'll do final Wall posts as soon as I can - if you read Dave's blog then you'll have seen them there already.  He sent me one photo of the finished structure, but it's late now and I have to get going early tomorrow again.  The Sage's business email has been down this evening, which is a pain as I've a quite urgent letter to get off, and I haven't got the chap's address except in the Sage's account.  I'll try again first thing tomorrow, but I've got to leave here by 7.30.  It was nearly 5 o'clock when I finally got home yesterday, having reached Liverpool Street at 12.00.  I should have been back here two hours later, or three allowing for the notified Sunday service.  This is a scheduled programme of work on the line, it's quite remarkable that the alternative arrangements always come over as so scrappily put together.

Anyway, having been unexpectedly busy with children when I'd expected to work, and then had a long chat to Ro this evening, and not having got very much going at all this morning, I've not got a lot of work done.  I haven't worked out my route for tomorrow yet, I'll have to look up buses on the phone when I'm on the train.

Horrible weather, at least I didn't have rain to cope with yesterday.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Z isn't quite home, but is in England

Okay, let's start with a couple of good points. There are very helpful staff to give information and they are being unfailingly patient and polite which can't be easy when you're being asked the same questions over and again. And I remembered a two-bar Kitkat I'd got in my bag, so I have had some lunch.

Otherwise, there is nothing good to report about British public transport.

I didn't sleep last night, a brief nap around midnight and then I lay there waiting for 5 o'clock. We arrived at Gatwick at 10.30 and were on the train platform within half an hour. So far so good. I noticed that the expensive Gatwick Express is less than 5 minutes quicker than the regular train, don't waste your money.

I knew I'd have to take a bus for part of my route, because that's always the way on this line on Sundays (remember, the Bod didn't consult me before he booked the holiday, I'd not have chosen to travel today). But I expected the bus either to start at Liverpool Street Station or to take a train some way and then be bussed. So I got off the Tube train, carried my suitcase up the steps (there are very few stations that are entirely served by escalators) and looked for the platform. No trains to Norwich. I found a notice board that said I'd have to get on the tube again, but it wasn't clear and I had to ask. So I ended up on the same platform I'd left ten minutes previously and got the next tube train.

I arrived at Newbury Park and lots of us hung around for a bus. It's about 12 or 15 miles to Ingatestone, but the traffic was heavy. I arrived find I had Neely an hour to wait. Helpfully, it was suggested that I take the train in half an hour (five minutes from now) to Ipswich, where at least there's a coffee shop and I can pick up the train to Norwich half an hour after that.

I'll let you know when I get home. Sorry for mistakes, you can't see what you're writing when it's a long post from the phone.

Saturday 6 November 2010


I was awake early this morning, too early for Wink, so caught up with some blog-reading, and found that Boy On Top had updated after two years of silence. I meant to write a post a couple of weeks ago on those whose blogs I used to read and who don't update any longer (and then something more topical came up to write about) and he was one of my favourites, so I was glad to hear from him again.
We had a splendid last day, with a thoroughly touristy boat trip round the harbours and then we went off to Naxxar to the palazzo there and had lunch. Afterwards, feeling cheerful, I looked around and bought myself a necklace - I'm afraid I can't load a photo from my phone (or at least, I don't know how) but you may have seen it on Facebook. To put things into perspective, it cost less than three of their cakes of soap. But I did just spend €82 on myself on a whim. Still.

I hear that Dave was persuaded to stay for fireworks and supper this evening, which is jolly good. Any party would be enhanced by Dave's company. Zerlina has gone to bed in a full-sized single bed and is very pleased with herself.

I have set my alarm for 5 o'clock tomorrow morning. Our flight is at 8.30.

Friday 5 November 2010


Saturday is our last day here. We're leaving the hotel early on Sunday morning, as our flight is about 8.30. I've been phoning the Sage every evening, and things seem to be fine at home. He and Dave have nearly finished the wall, there are pictures at Dave's place today and it looks wonderful. They're planning another session tomorrow, weather permitting.

Bod's mum is getting on well, although progress is slow. She is 89, in good health until she fell and broke bones a month ago, which is the reason the Bod isn't with us. There's no actual reason why she can't be left, as he will be needed much more when she leaves hospital, but she asked him not to go and so of course he didn't.

We have very much enjoyed our week here. It's good to spend time together, of course, for one thing and this is a lovely place. We have got about on foot or by bus and I've thought many times how lucky I am to have my new hip working so well. A lady in her seventies struggled to get on the bus today, it was an old one with a high step. A kind young man supported her and helped her up. I realised that, a year ago, I could not have managed that step. There would have been no point in even trying.

Thursday 4 November 2010

Z is moved

We've been in Valletta today doing the history thing. The war museum is very good actually, with a well-written narrative on the 20th century history of Malta and particular focus on the last war. It was very moving in fact, particularly a video of street scenes taken by a gunner, whose name was Stan Fraser I think (should have written it down)which showed the devastation caused by the bombing and the fortitude of the Maltese more eloquently than any words. The George Cross given to all the islanders in 1942 is on display there.

We walked round the Grand Harbour - the Sage has a painting of a storm scene in Valletta Harbour, painted by Beechey in 1865 or thereabouts and he wanted me to identify where it was painted. Not very easy, especially as I haven't looked at the painting for several years. It's too large to hang in any of our rooms, used to be on the stairs but when it was taken down for some reason we couldn't hang it again without help. It's been in the room I never go in ever since. I'd like to go in there, but the Sage has filled it. It's unusable. It was last used more than five years ago.

Anyway, I found the most likely place and took photos, but it could be the harbour the other side of Valletta. I'll have a look there on Saturday.

Tomorrow, we're planning to head south and see if we can find the restaurant recommended by Sarah.

Wednesday 3 November 2010


Today we went to Mdina, which was absolutely delightful. I can imagine living there. Actually, now I come to think of it, I like walled towns. I'm trying to think of one in Spain that I liked very much - one of you will tell me, I visited it on the same day I went to Segovia ... which I also loved, I'd have liked to spend more time there.

Gratifyingly, the Sage says he's missing me. He even used the L word yesterday. So I should think.

Last night I slept well, at last, after three nights of very little sleep at all. Thank goodness for that - I was starting to think that I'd arrive home more tired that I left and in need of another holiday.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll have a little mid-afternoon nap. Don't work too hard, will you, darlings. It would be such a pity if you started to make me feel guilty.

Excuse me being less than reliable about replying to comments. It's all just a bit more fiddly on this little screen. I'm reading them of course, and thank you.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Relaxing in the sunshine

Having a lovely time, wish you were here...

I've been to the Armoury, Mike and Ann. And I've written you a postcard, Dave. Haven't actually posted it but the thought was there.

Hope you're all being very good without me to keep an eye on you.