Friday 30 September 2011

Mortar do

A spot of bricklaying today.  I haven't done it myself in fact, though I have been doing the pointing and tidying up afterwards, because I've had too much else on.  Those of you who have visited us may remember, opposite the wall that Dave, the Sage and I built, we have widened the drive a little, taking in a bit of the lawn and, because the level drops, a low retaining wall is needed to keep the lawn where it is.  Just four courses of bricks, and after that is completed, a little compacting of rubble and some weedkiller along the drive and then we can finally get the whole job completed.  Which will be a great relief, let's hope for dry weather in the next week or two.

The children came in again today so that their mother could pack up the car, ready for their holiday tomorrow.  Part of our present to Pugsley was an elaborate Lego Toy Story kit, and we were building that.  It took a long time.  It is marked Age 7 - 12, so he needed a bit of help (our family has always been ambitious, age-wise, with Lego) but it was all good fun.  We completed three sections of the five, and they could be played with individually or together.

Most of the family will be on holiday soon.  Ro and Dora are off to Egypt tomorrow, Al and co off to Dorset and Wink is going to Spain next week.  Weeza and I have just been commiserating with each other, we're the only ones without a holiday to look back on or forward to.  She and the children are coming over tomorrow, Phil is visiting friends near Cambridge.  He plans to cycle there.  I think he'll have a warm journey.  What gorgeous weather we're having, such a treat at this time of year.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Happy Birthday, Pugsley

Just back from delivering Meals on Wheels.  The husband of one of our customers died recently, and the poor lady is struggling.  They were married for 70 years, she appreciates their good fortune in having each other so long, but it's not much consolation now that she's left alone.  She looks terrible, great dark shadows all around her eyes, although she's putting on a brave face.  The only consolation I know to offer is to say what a happy life she gave him and how well she looked after him.

My mother used to get cross about couples who niggled and carped at each other.  Having been twice widowed herself, she thought that they should appreciate each other and overlook minor annoyances.  She was not talking about unhappy couples of course, but those who forgot how lucky they were.

Off to Year 9 music this afternoon.  And then Pugsley and family are coming round for birthday cake.  

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Gung Zo

So, it seems that I courted controversy after all, with my casually cheery approval of Al and co's term-time holiday.  If it helps, Dilly had already said that she felt quite guilty about it.  I encouraged her, however (so, not so helpful, loves) - yes, I do know the problems it causes teachers when there are a few pupils off every week and it's necessary for them to catch up later, but the benefit to Al and co as a family will outweigh that, I'm quite sure.

Today has been quite busy, with back-to-back meetings and no time for meals.  First, a meeting with my vice-chairman (have I ever mentioned that she's quite brilliant and I'm astonishingly lucky to have someone who is a lovely friend as well as a totally reliable back-up?), then a brief meeting with the Head before a Steering group meeting, then three-quarters of an hour at one committee meeting (I'm not on that committee, though I normally go to its meetings because I'm the supportive type, honestly I don't interfere) before it was time to go to the meeting where I am a member.  I got home, had a couple of slices of bread and Marmite and a half-glass of wine, wrote the AGM agenda, answered some phoned queries, before shooting off to another meeting with the Sage.  We picked up fish and chips on the way home and I'm well down a bottle of wine now.

Mary is brilliant and kind in how she backs me up.  She's so much more conscientious than I am.  Occasionally, it gets to be a tiny bit pernickety, how detailed her care is, but she's right actually - that I'm more inclined to wing it once in a while is something we can get away with, but I enjoy the risk and can cope with the frantic flurry when I need to catch up.  She isn't the least bit plodding, just reliable.  I love her dearly and the only thing is, when we get together we really want to chat and find it hard to keep to work matters.  She used to be chairman, and then her mother-in-law had a serious accident, and Mary looked after her for months, so I had to take over day-to-day, and that's rather how I became chairman - so we have supported each other in our time.  She, I and the Head make a good team, and he has a good team at school too.  And yes, I have got an exit strategy, I'm not planning to be doing this in five years' time.  I put a lot of work in to something, and then I let go.  I will miss it, but I will leave it and not look back.

The volunteer thing, it's remarkable, really.  It's good, that there are so many people who are still motivated to help for no intrinsic reward.  We've got a couple of vacancies on the governing body, but we intend to hang on to them - in a year's time, the middle schools will close and some good, experienced governors will be available, and we'll have some of them.  I've already secured a couple (I'm good at recruitment - well, darlings, could you imagine that they could resist an enthusiastic Z?) and I want them to know that their expertise will be valued.  Middle schools may be on the scrap heap, but good teachers and governors are not.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Z is not controversial

Today, there were a couple of things that came up that made me almost choose to write something political.  Not party political, of course, I don't do that - but anyway, I'm not going to.  This isn't that sort of blog, and I don't intend it to be.  I don't want to annoy or be annoyed.  All peace and happiness around here ... most of the time.

I had quite a lot of work to do today, and then Dilly asked if I was busy - so, of course, I wasn't, because family comes first.  They're completely revamping their sitting room, new sofas, carpet, colour scheme, curtains, the lot.  So it isn't really usable, so Hay was bored.  They came through for coffee (milk) and stayed for lunch (milk) and a nap (Hay).  It was much better than governor stuff, but that is still to be done.

I was quite annoyed that the chickens had pulled up some hardy cyclamen that I planted more than a week ago,  They had left the white ones and gone for the mauve.  I've replanted, watered and covered them, but they may not survive.  They're not edible, the chooks were just being naughty.  I can't be too cross, they wouldn't understand and would not even, as a dog would, be (look) sad that I'm cross.

It's Pugsley's birthday on Thursday, darling boy.  He is enjoying school, although pretty exhausted.  Dilly says that he cries quite a lot at present, and he doesn't normally, he's just overtired, although he gets enough sleep.  They are going on holiday next week, I think that's a very good thing.  He will have fun, get a rest and then it won't be long before half term.  After that, he'll be sufficiently in the swing of things to cope (we hope) for the rest of the term.  It's difficult for schools, if they offer half days for the first term then it's impossible for working mothers, if not it's too tiring for younger children - Pugsley, at nearly five, finds it tiring, but an August-born child is hardly four at the start of the school year.  One does one's best and it all works out eventually.  Being happy at home and school is what counts for most, after all.

It'll just be a family tea on Thursday, because of the upheaval it wasn't possible to have a party this year, and they had an outing at the weekend, as well as the holiday to look forward to.  They'll come through here, where there's no smell of paint.

Darlings, I must go.  I still have all that work to do that I didn't do earlier.  And it has to be done on the Sage's computer, chiz, chiz.  Why isn't everything compatible with a Mac with Office 2004?

Monday 26 September 2011



Sunday 25 September 2011


I haven't tried to whittle this down to individual tracks, and if I did, some of these might not make the cut as each song is too much part of the album.  But here are the albums I've listened to most recently - that is, yesterday and today - in no particular order.  This would certainly not be *my list* though, as it does not contain Eleven More Months And Ten More Days, Tom Lehrer or Mozart.

Alice - Tom Waits
Black Sheep Boy - Okkervil River
Schubert piano duets - played by Sviatoslav Richter & Benjamin Britten (this is not the disc I have, but the most similar one on Spotify)
Rook - Shearwater
The Sunset Tree - The Mountain Goats
Mahler: Lieder - sung by Christian Gerhaher
J Roddy Walston & The Business - J Roddy Walston & The Business
The Chairman DancesTromba Lontana and Short Ride in a Fast Machine by John Adams.  I also played  Harmonielehre, Parts 1, 2 and 3, which are on Spotify but would add another 40 minutes to your listening and you might not quite have time for that this afternoon.  My recording is played by the CBSO, conducted by Simon Rattle.

Oh, and a late addition - many of you will have seen Google's tribute on Jim Henson's birthday.  Thanks to Jonco for directing me to this.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Note well

We're getting towards the final stages of the drive.  I must go out and take a few more pictures.  I haven't been putting them up here, because actually they're not that interesting, but now I've got into the way of keeping a record of things that happen here, I'll keep it going.  Blue Witch and I were agreeing the other day that, when we wonder how long ago something happened, we go straight to our blogs - although hers goes back a lot longer than this one, of course.  Never having kept a personal (rather than appointments) diary, I can see how useful it would have been to have done so - although a blog is better because I can do a keyword search and not have to guess an approximate date.

Anyway, where roots had cracked the tarmac, they have been dug up and removed, all the kerbs are in place and there's just a few loose bits to remove and refill with rubble and tamp down.  And the low brick retaining wall to build on one side of the lawn.  Three engineering bricks high, plus a capping brick.  We'll get that done in a day, and then Alan can come along, probably next week, and complete the job.  He has to leave timings flexible until the last, it depends on the weather and how other jobs go.  He's another really good friend, and one you can call on in a time of trouble - when my mother's donkey died, it was he who dug his grave (not by hand, with his digger).  There was snow on the ground, and over the next few nights, there were such hard frosts that it wouldn't have been possible.

You know how some people see numbers, days of the week and so on, in colours?  I don't have that sort of brain at all.  I think of people in terms of music, but not in an imaginative way at all.  I'm terribly prosaic and it's more likely to be a simple association, such as hearing a piece of music in someone's company or hearing them sing it.  And, since blogging, having music recommended or referred to (there have been cases where a simple mention triggers an association, it isn't to say this defines anyone's musical taste in any way, this is more about me than you, darlings).  Having, over the last four or so years, decided to expand my musical tastes to include pretty well any genre, this gives quite some scope for me to think of my blogfriends in terms of music.  So, this isn't in any way complete - because I'm not thinking this through, you understand, I'm just rabbiting on as usual, and the prompt is that I'm presently listening to Okkervil River's Black Sheep Boy, which Julie introduced me to, although that isn't what I've picked for her.

So, here are some examples - either albums, single tracks or bands that remind me of a blogger.

Julie, no longer in Athens Georgia - Old 97's - Designs on You  (because she and the BH had it played at their wedding)
Liz - Slash's Snakepit - Neither Can I
Tim - Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues - Layla
Badgerdaddy - Pearl Jam - pretty well anything, whenever I hear Pearl Jam I think of the Badge
Rog - They Might Be Giants - Birdhouse in your Soul (Rog probably doesn't even remember that he quoted a line once)
Jonny B - Arizona Smoke Revue - Reuben's Train - (because of the banjo)

There are more of course, these are examples (and apologies if you're startled to find your name there).  But I have delighted you long enough for a Saturday morning.  Although, if anyone can tell me how to link to Spotify, I will.  (ps, I hope I have worked that out for myself.  If it doesn't work, do tell me)

Friday 23 September 2011

They don't all riot

I'm supposed to be getting ready for a meeting at 11.30.  So, as that's a bit dull, I'll wing it then and blog now.

I was going to tell you about my bus ride from Liverpool Street to Islington the other day.  Downstairs was full so I went up and sat at the back.  The seats in front of me were taken up by four or five young men chatting to each other, all in the style that makes Ali G sound less like pastiche and more like direct and faithful observation.  After a few minutes, I tuned in to their conversation, and it turned out they were all talking about school.  Evidently studying for A levels, and quite earnestly discussing them.  One is taking Philosophy.  "Most of them are retaking, man, because it's suppose to be like pretty tough, but I reckon I'm like wiring it, you know, man."  Which sounded good.

After a while, the subject turned to marriage.  It seems that the parents of a couple of them were already at the negotiating stage of their futures.  Whilst feeling a little unprepared as yet, they were all entirely receptive to agreeing to whatever is decided for them and obviously had a lot of respect and affection for their parents and weren't embarrassed to have it known.  It was all rather heartening and made me feel quite cheered.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Ups and Downs

Which is the name of our field, but not the reason for the name of this post.

The day had a lot more ups than downs, in fact, although things looked a bit disastrous at one point.  The arranged washing machine delivery happened just after lunch, but I had a disconsolate phone call from the delivery men.  They had discovered that the old machine was wired into the wall, rather than plugged into a socket.  What sort of idiot builder would do such a stupid thing?  Obviously, they couldn't take it out or plumb in the new one.  However, they were able to get it down the stairs and leave it in the kitchen, and they confirmed that, as I'd paid £9 to have the old one removed, that would still be done if I'd arrange for another appointment in due course (I'll have the fitting fee reimbursed, apparently).

I looked up the electrician who checked the system a couple of years ago, and phoned him.  He would be able to go and do the job today.  We agreed a price.  I gave him my address and he will send the bill.  I would have been perfectly happy to pay by card over the phone, this is remarkable service.

James phoned in due course to say that all is done, except that there is a socking great washing machine in Andrew's kitchen.  However, the new machine is plumbed in, so he will be tolerant I'm sure.

The most enjoyable event of the day was a visit by a VIW; a Blue Witch, no less.  It was a delight to see her again, I really wish she lived closer so that we could see each other often.  So. overall, I vote Up.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Facilis descensus Bricklano

It's been a really good day and I hope I haven't forgotten anything vital. I can hardly think so. Lynn and I have hardly seen each other for years and there was a lot to catch up on in not much more than an hour, but we fall back into the easy relationship that we have had for decades. We can't think why we haven't met in London before when it would be so straightforward, but we have only done so for a special occasion and never have much time to talk then.

I passed on Chris's message and she was very pleased and says thank you.

All went very smoothly, although the traffic was bad this morning and the bus took ages to get out of the City. Actually, I'd nearly made a cock-up before that. The road where the bus stop used to be is now closed, so I went two roads away to the bus stop and waited for the 205. If the bus, which I could see, had not been delayed for several minutes, I'd have got on it, but after a while, it occurred to me that there was something amiss and, rather abashed and hoping no one was noticing me, I went to the lights, crossed the road and waited at the bus stop on the other side. Ahem. Wouldn't be the first time I'd accidentally ended up in Brick Lane. 

Oh, and that reminds me.  This daft thing about east and west on the Circle line, when it's on a north/south section.  Why don't they say clockwise/anti-clockwise?

Still, Wink and I had a good lunch, the boilers were duly serviced, I left the keys on James's table with a note, and I toddled off to the Tube again and went to Bond Street station and found the place I was meeting Lynn.  Did I mention? - she's got a badly broken wrist, which she got cleaning the bathroom tiles - seems she was balancing on the edge of the bath and slipped.  Housework and sport cause more injuries...

The Tube was extremely crowded on the way back to the station.  I mused that one good thing about modern life, no one has BO any more.  Some years ago, being among a lot of people strap-hanging at the end of the day in a warm Underground train would have risked a niffy experience.  Now, everyone is sweet-smelling and clean.  And all very polite.  Lynn said that too, with her arm in a sling, people are holding doors, giving her their seat, being as kind as I found them when I used to walk with a stick.  I arrived back at Liverpool Street with more than ten minutes to spare, but then couldn't find my train ticket.  Nowadays, of course, you need the ticket to get on the platform - time was, I'd have been able to get on the train and then search my bag - but I had to spend several minutes fumbling through compartments ... I knew it was in one, not in the general bagginess, but I hadn't done what I normally do, put it in with my Oyster card.  It was all right, I found it without actually panicking and I was in plenty of time.  The train was ten minutes late arriving, but I expected that.  I can't remember the last time I returned from London and the train wasn't delayed on the line.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

All is going remarkably smoothly .. so far

Brilliant lecture on Whistler today, and all went well afterwards too.  Gus is a month old today, he dozed in my arms much of the afternoon while Weeza did her cooking, then I went to meet Ro.  Very good film, Tinker, Tailor... - afterwards, Ro asked if I'd found it hard to follow too.  I had expected to, remembering the TV series of about 30 years ago, when no one understood what was going on until the last episode.  I clarified a couple of points for him - bit of an innocent it seems, my R ...

I think I'm all ready for tomorrow, got the flat keys in my bag, Wink's electric toothbrush that she left behind here, also in my bag, but I've got to buy Lynn's birthday present first thing tomorrow.  Also got tips for the delivery men in an envelope.  Noted my ticket reference number, and have the correct credit card (having missed cocking that up by a whisker last time, I was very careful this time round) and I've confirmed meeting times and places with Wink and Lynn.  This is all very good and sensible.  Usually, I arrange one thing and then go to an exhibition or do something on a whim.  No time tomorrow, as there are firm arrangements at 12.30, 3.00 and 6.00 pm, plus my train home at 8 in the evening.  I have warned the Sage that he has to prepare his own dinner.

Dave was talking, this morning, about the contrast in his nature between making careful plans, and being quickly bored.  I do plan, although nowhere near as carefully as he does, but rather like winging it to an extent.  It's the back-up, so that something going wrong doesn't mean disaster, that I'm a bit excessive about.  I worry in advance, which helps me think of pitfalls, so that I can think of get-outs, and then I can relax and not fuss when the time comes.  What I tend not to do, when going somewhere new, is read up about it in advance.  Maybe a little, so that I know places I want to go, but I prefer to learn while I'm there, not to read all the guidebooks and have formed a viewpoint in advance.  But that, I suspect, is because I'm disorganised rather than having an explorer's curiosity.

Monday 19 September 2011

Z is feeling extremely cheerful, as well she might

People are lovely, so much of the time, don't you think?  It's all gone so helpfully today, when it could have been really awkward.  My upstairs tenant emailed to say that, if the gas checks could be done on Thursday, he'd be home that day - I've already made arrangements to go so I didn't need to take him up on his offer, but then I had an email from my downstairs tenant to say that he hadn't been able to arrange for the new washing machine to be delivered before he went on holiday, and now he has a new job so can't take time off for a bit, so could I deal with it please.  So I rang John Lewis at Brent Cross, where the telephone staff are, without exception as far as I'm concerned, absolutely brilliant, bought the machine and it was agreed that I'd be phoned to book a delivery.  As, in due course, I was - and Thursday was offered, but it would have to be in the morning and (because it needs a three-man crew) they couldn't specify a time, it might be any time from 7 am.  I can't possibly get to London by then of course - but I knew that James upstairs would be home.

So, it's all sorted.  I'll leave a key when I go on Wednesday, I'll give John Lewis instructions to phone him to let him know to come and open the flat, and then Andrew downstairs will return my key to me.  Everyone happy, all because James was so helpful.  I tell you, I'm never putting his rent up.

And the other delightful thing that happened, I had an email from Ro, asking if I'd like to go to the cinema with him tomorrow after work.  It so happens that I'll be in Norwich all day, at a Nadfas lecture about James Whistler in the morning and then on to Weeza, to help her with looking after the baby while she cooks various dishes for the freezer.  So it will work perfectly.  I accepted with such alacrity that I forgot I'd accepted an invitation to supper with Weeza, but I've phoned to explain and she doesn't mind at all.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Z should be writing

I've just been ordering a new toner cartridge for the printer, which cost rather more than the printer did.  Oh well.  I've got to have it, can't take the inkjet printer along to our auction and wait ten minutes for the invoices to print out.  If you want any printing done, I'm your woman, I stocked up on cartridges for that too, recently, as the online firm I buy from did a super duper offer if you bought two of everything, with an extra lot of black ink thrown in (not loose, don't worry) and 10% off for returning customers (and they are good quality cartridges, I too have fallen for cheapies and regretted it).

Otherwise, I've been skulking about avoiding answering emails.  I still haven't quite got into the swing of September - that is, into any sort of working efficiency.  I'm still hankering after the lost days of leisurely summer.  I used to find it difficult to relax, I didn't dare to because the plunge back to immersed busyness was too painful.  Now I have fewer home commitments, I've finally learned to switch off.  In fact, for a few brief days, I quite looked forward to getting back to business.  Silly Z.

Hm.  It transpires that I haven't anything to say this evening after all.  I might as well just have left you with those incredible bubble photos.  Thanks to Ro for drawing them to my attention on Google+.


I'll probably be back later with a written post, but these bubble photos speak for themselves.

Richard Heeks took them, his wife popped the bubbles.  Thanks, Richard.

Saturday 17 September 2011

When a man marries his daughter...

Today got a bit - how to describe it? - not entirely unstressful, but in a good-humoured way ... oh, I'll tell you and you can see what I mean.

I didn't mention it yesterday, but the night before I had the oddest dream and woke from it (just before the burglar alarm went off, chiz chiz) and eventually, more than an hour later, went back to sleep and carried on with the dream, and kept waking and sleeping and every time I slept, the damn dream continued.  I won't bore you with it, except to say that my head was cut off quite early on.

So last night, I really did want a good night's sleep and didn't get up until 9 o'clock.  And that was quite nice.  I hadn't been asleep all that time, I played games on my phone for a while.  The Sage had an appointment in Felixtowe so it was nicely quiet around the house.  Squiffany phoned during the morning to ask if I had any spare eggs because they wanted to make cakes, so I took some through, and then I cleaned the kitchen.  That was about it, Saturday is my day off.  I managed to spend quite half an hour labelling tins and jars to put different teas and coffees in.

Later, Al phoned and invited me and the Sage through to eat cakes.  I wrote a note for the Sage and trotted out, to be confronted by a thunderclap and torrential rain.  I hopped anxiously about in the porch, unwilling to go out in the downpour but wanting those cakes.  I wasn't ackshully hungry, but CAKES!

In due course, I sat drinking green tea and eating cakes*, I had to have two because both Squiffany and Pugsley had made a batch.  Hadrian sat and watched them from the high chair, apparently, he won't willingly lie in his cot during the day any more but wants to be part of the action.  He does sleep of course, he's only 16 weeks old.  In due course, the Sage joined us, and later we left, the Sage to do sagacious things and I to plant bulbs.

Quite some time later, it occurred to me that it was quiet.  Too quiet.  I went inside, checked the time and woke the Sage.  He had ten minutes to go before leaving in his old car to take a bride to church.  Of course he made it, but the car was reluctant to start, so I had to phone to say he'd be five minutes - we still had time in hand, it was all right - but the old girl was being temperamental, the Sage got to the house all right and then coughed and spluttered all the way to the church and in the end I towed her the last couple of hundred yards.

The next half hour was really quite difficult, while the Sage drove about trying to get the car happy again, I towed it, the damn rope broke, we retied it, the Sage tinkered with the car and pronounced it fine.  In due course, he drove the couple to the reception, drove home, clutching some canap├ęs for me, and he happily relaxed with a glass of fizz (I opened the bottle of Prosecco in the fridge, in honour of the bride and groom, we've finished the champagne) while I cooked dinner.  I did plant more bulbs while he was out, but there are still some more to do.  I've chucked the packs where they are to go, and each bagful I planted, I put the bag, weighed down by a stone, where I planted the bulbs so that I don't forget until all is done.  It's the area that we cleared a couple of months ago, it's meant to be roughish grass, but there are already snowdrops and aconites there and, later, bluebells and I want some early flowers there, so I've put in species tulips, narcissi and so on, because the leaves will die down early and I can mow, if I can be bothered.

The wedding, it was rather nice that the bride's stepfather played the father's part, while her father and stepmother, both being ordained ministers, conducted the wedding ceremony.


Friday 16 September 2011

Slipping and sliding

I'm feeling quite remarkably chipper, for no especial reason, particularly considering how little sleep I had last night.  I woke at around 3, after a couple of hours' sleep, and it was just as well because the burglar alarm went off a few minutes later.  I didn't bother with my usual scan from the window because I'd heard nothing, but stomped down to turn it off.  When I got back, the Sage said he'd caught a mouse a couple of nights ago and set the trap again.  It's autumn, evidently.

This is quite a house for wildlife.  We have to set traps, there is only the occasional pair of mice but you can't leave them or soon you'd have an infestation, and they return if you use a live trap.  And some of the spiders are whoppers.  Fortunately, I don't mind them at all.

It reminds me, the other day Dilly was telling me that they were down by the river in Yagnub and saw a snake swimming in the water.  I know that grass snakes are good swimmers, but I've never seen one doing so, I was quite envious.

Pugsley has completed his first week at school.  It has gone well.  He was hugely looking forward to it, and arrives in his parents' bedroom at 6 o'clock each morning, asking if he can put on his uniform yet.  Dilly is usually awake then feeding Hadrian and Al has already left for work, so this isn't as poorly received as it would be in this house.  He is also eating all the fruit that Dilly puts in his lunch box.  Pugsley isn't fond of fruit, so this shows quite some level of enthusiasm for doing the right thing.  His big sister loves school, of course, and it is a delightful school.  I have known it for 23 years and was a governor there for 18 of them, so it is dear to me.

I'm looking forward to next week, I've got a few good things on, including a visit to London on Wednesday.  I'm not doing anything interesting in itself, just going to meet the gas engineer for the annual checks and boiler service, but Wink is coming up to meet me for lunch (isn't that lovely of her?) and then I'm meeting my friend Lynn after she finishes work and we'll have an early dinner together.  She has broken her wrist, having slipped in the bathroom while balanced on the bath cleaning tiles.  Housepride, like sport, is really quite dangerous and I'm glad I don't suffer from enthusiasm for either indulgence.

PS - Had to share this - the eyes do have it, don't they?  Thanks, Jonco.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Not also but only

I normally fetch two friends from Beccles to take to Norwich for our monthly lunch.  They are sisters, now in their eighties, and they gave up their car some years ago when they moved from country to town.  I phoned last week to confirm I could fetch them, apologised that I wouldn't be able to take them home but offered to take them to Norwich bus station at least.  So I arrived at 11.15 - and Jo opened the door looking puzzled.  "It's Thursday,"I said brightly.  "I thought the lunch was next week," she said.

There are two monthly events, you see, on the third Tuesday and the third Thursday, which normally happen on the same week - but this month, the first was a Thursday so the lunch was the earlier event, and they hadn't realised.  They have been very busy, they are moving house next month, there's every excuse.  Jo's sister was going to Norwich as it happens, but she had various things to do, Jo herself was looking after a neighbour's dog - I drove Lilian to John Lewis and went and gave their apologies for the lunch.

Afterwards, I did some grocery shopping and so on, I was wearing a pair of court shoes, only 2 inch heels but my feet felt quite constricted by the time I arrived home and, this evening, my left hip is hurting.  Pah.  It's not the prospect of another operation that dismays me, it's the limitations I'll be under beforehand.  Every incentive to keep cycling and stay as fit as possible.  Which isn't very fit, frankly, but better than total inactivity.

Ro stayed for dinner, and the Sage has gone off now to drop him off at Dora's brother's house, because they are going out for a drink together.  Ro and Dora's bro, that is, not the Sage.  He's going to call on Mike and Ann.  Not blogger Mike and Ann, that is, old car expert Mike.

All in all, it has been an excellent day.  I'm going now to watch the final episode of The Killing, which Ro says is double length, so I'll never get around to watching it online.  I should be working, but I'll have to do that later.  Now, I'll watch television and read the paper, because I can never *just* watch television.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Z's heart leaps up

I said, yesterday, that I was due for an anti-tetanus booster, and Blue Witch kindly commented that, as far as she knew, one only needs two adult boosters on top of the childhood vaccinations to have protection for life.  So I rang to confirm that and it is indeed true.  Further vaccinations will do no harm but are not necessary.

Tetanus is such a strong infection that contracting it does not give you immunity, but the vaccine, after five doses, does, for life.  So next time I get a splinter from elderly dead wood or rub earth in a wound, that's one thing less to worry about.

Thanks, BW - and in return, I've been doing some experimentation on touchscreens.  It's not the coldness of one's fingers that is the problem, it's dryness.  Cold and dry often go together, of course, but using moisturiser or simply slightly wetting a fingertip solves the problem.

Several times, recently, the Sage has come to me, anxiously asking for help with his laptop.  In each case, it's actually been a flat battery.  Today, it wouldn't come on, again.  It was plugged in and all the connections seemed okay - but I was cooking dinner, so I didn't have time to do anything then.  Later, when he was busy with a long phone call, I took the computer, plugged it in again and wiggled the lead - and it started to charge.  If only all problems could be solved that easily, but he does now think I'm a whizz at problem solving.  It is a faulty lead though, he'll probably have to get a new one at some time.

Photos now - yesterday, or possibly the day before, there was a fine rainbow, which I could see from my desk here.

The first photo was my view from here, but when I went outside, it had become a double rainbow.  Not good photos because I couldn't get far enough back to see the whole arc, but a rainbow is always a pleasure, isn't it?

And today, I visited Weeza, Zerlina and Augustus.
Who are all very well.  I'm going to go over on Tuesday next week so that Weeza can do some cooking to fill the freezer.  They've nearly finished the dishes that she froze while she was pregnant, and it does help, not to have to cook from scratch every day.  They have finally chosen a middle name for Gus.  Very charmingly, they are calling him after my stepfather.  "One of the family has finally chosen a family name - and he isn't even a blood relation!" said Weeza.  I said that he and Grandma would have been thrilled, and I am too.  He was a dear man and loved being my children's grandfather.

Next Wednesday, I'm going to London for an appointment at the Islington flats.  Wink may be able to come up to meet me for lunch, and I've also emailed my friend Lynn (the poet, whose book launch I wrote about a few months ago) to see if she's free when she's finished work.  

Tuesday 13 September 2011


I was just sitting down with a glass of wine at quarter past six, trying to find a decent score from an unpromising array of Scrabble tiles, when there was a knock on the door.  It was a couple I know mainly from our auctions, although they have been to the house before.  I greeted them cheerfully, but evidently didn't quite disguise my surprise enough, because Jan said "did you know we were coming this evening?" I admitted that I didn't, welcome though they were, and I'd better give the Sage a ring because it might have slipped his mind.  Fortunately, he'd told me where he would be and had used my phone to ring and agree a convenient time, so I was able to phone him there.  "Did you forget you had invited Tony and Jan," I said, perfectly amicably but bluntly, really not worth starting with small talk.

He had, was very apologetic and hastened back, arriving really not very much more than half an hour later.  It can happen to anyone.  We had sat chatting in the meantime, they drinking tea and I drinking my wine (I had offered them some, but they were going out for a meal afterwards) and no one took it amiss.

If you take either the Ant1ques C0llect0r Club magazine or the Ant1ques Tr@de G@zette, the Sage has a full page advertisement for his next sale.  The ATG is out today, it's page 25 and the ACC is out shortly.  The 17th, I think.  Both available only by subscription, I believe.  The catalogue will be out on the website too, soon.

Tomorrow, I might go and see Weeza if she's free, or else I'll call in for a short time on Thursday.  I'm going to Norwich for lunch on Thursday, and bringing Ro back for an appointment at the doctor's surgery.  There's a good drop-in centre in the city centre that he uses if he needs to, so he hasn't bothered to register with a surgery local to his home, but he needs a vaccination for his holiday in October and they won't do that on the NHS.  Since I'm going in anyway, I offered to give him a lift.  It reminds me, I must go and get a tetanus booster - or rather, an anti-tetanus booster.  I remember that I last had one before the first time I went to India, which will be ten years in February.  I'm not sure how to remember for the next ten years, unless I use Augustus's tenth birthday as a jolt to the memory.

Monday 12 September 2011


There's a fine full moon right in front of my window.  Yesterday, in the early evening, there was a double rainbow.  This is a good place to sit, in front of the window, although I have to draw the curtain in the morning to mask the sun, as I sit facing East.  Not in a Dave sense, although I think Macy will be doing just that tomorrow.

I went to a funeral today, which I and all the congregation found very moving.  Dick had a long life, he was over 90 and his family loved him dearly, he was still at the heart of things.  His wife died last year, today would have been their 69th wedding anniversary.  There was a photograph of him at the age of 19 on the front of the service sheet, and his daughter's smile is just like his.  How lucky he was, to be married at 22 and have nearly 68 years together.  The tide has turned against early and long-lasting marriages; several of my friends have been married as long, or nearly, as long as I and the Sage have, but it will be a rarity for the next few decades.  There is the feeling that a first love can't last, that one changes too much, that early parenthood destroys careers - I don't know, as many later marriages fail as early ones and it's never easy to pick on the right moment to have a baby, when there are so many pressures and obligations.   I don't believe in right answers, just that we mostly muddle through somehow.

If there was one word to sum up that funeral and that life today, though, it would be Love.  Which is all that is left, at the end, that matters.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Over the hump it's downhill all the way

I woke this morning to hear it raining steadily.  A little later, it poured harder and I went downstairs to check none was coming in at the vulnerable window.  The work that the Sage and Jamie did a few weeks ago has cured the problem, none was coming in and the paving outside the side door, which Jamie took great care over, had no sign of a puddle.  One cannot see a slope, but it does drain slightly, to the side away from the house.

By the time I left the house at 7.30, it had stopped and soon the sun was shining, which was jolly good as it was Zerlina's birthday party today.  Since her actual birthday was so close to Gus's due birth date, it had been decided just to have the family over then and save a get-together with her friends until later.  We didn't go, but Squiffany and co did, it was held here (there is music on the linked site, in case you're at work!), Weeza works for the owner, who has children around Zerlina's age (which was how she came upon her job, she met their mother at toddler get-togethers) and it was a lovely day for it.  It was going to be in the morning, but of course the guests would have all-day passes, so once the party itself was finished, anyone could spend the day there if they wanted to.

The Sage had a business appointment in Ipswich; we had intended to go out together but plans were scuppered by that.  Just as well someone was about as Big Pinkie got out yet again - I don't know where, I couldn't find anywhere obvious, and it wasn't easy to open a gap in the wire to let her home again.  She was waiting by the field, wanting to get back in to be with her two companions, that wasn't the difficulty.  Managed it in the end and tempted her with a couple of apples, then I went over onto the field on the house side on the beck and called her over with the aid of a couple more.  The Sage and I went over and mended where I'd let her in, later.  She's a rascal, but very sweet-natured.

I mentioned numbers yesterday.  I am not very good at remembering numbers, so I have to work out arithmetical links.  My friend John told me, years ago, that he was taught at some time to have a picture association with each digit - the example he used was, if a bed is 1 and a swan is 2 (because a swan on the water with its curved neck looks a bit like a 2), 21 could bring a mental image of a swan sitting on a bed.  I wasn't sure it would work for me, I don't have much imagination and wouldn't be able to think of or remember the images (he's an accomplished artist so his brain is wired differently from mine).  And how would I know whether it was 21 or 12?  No, what I do is multiply or think up simple number links.  Which seem to some people to be quite relatively complicated.

For example, my old mobile phone number.  07884002278.  They all start with 0, so that was no problem, and then I had to remember 7, but then added one and it was a double number so that was easy, then I halved it and there was another double which made it 400, then the 4 was halved again and that was a double number again, and it finished as it started, except for the 0.  And I thought, 07 double 8, 4 hundred, double 2, 78.

Weeza's phone number in London was 020 72787397. The recurring 7 was the key there.  I had to say, 0207 (which I knew because it was a central London number - I know the 7 comes at the start of the second batch, but I couldn't remember it without the correct intonation) 27 (which repeated the 2, which helped) 87 397.

The local telephone numbers all start (after the code) 89, followed by 4 digits, which gives me problems.  It's like breaking a code, there isn't enough to go on.  I remember the numbers, just not whose phones they apply to.  I can remember my PINs, however, because I apply myself.

As for numbers I like - these are not lucky numbers, I don't have lucky numbers - these are usually related to my age.  I think that the year before the change of decade is too much like standing on one leg with the other about to step forward, so I'm not too fond.  Last decade was different, because it was a square  I like squares and am looking forward to 64, as it will be both square and cube, the only time I will have such an event except when I was a year old.  I am fond of ages that are divisible by 3, especially if they are the product of two prime numbers.  69 will be brilliant, upside down, back to front, 23x3 so product of two primes, and generally enjoyable in all ways.

In fact, I have little objection to the 'up' years in any decade anyway.  Roses always thinks of Wednesday as the 'hump' day in the middle of the week, but then it's downhill swiftly to the weekend.  The downward slope of a decade is just leading on to be 10 years older overnight.

Saturday 10 September 2011

But no deeper in debt

Phil's parents are over for the weekend and they all came over for lunch today.  It was warm enough to sit outside in the morning, but we came in to eat - we made it simple, salads and so on.  Gus is three weeks old today, a pound and a half heavier than when he was born, and now just (we think) starting a growth spurt, as he's been feeding and sleeping more in the last day or two than he has for a while.  After lunch, Al and family came in and the three older children went off to play while the babies were cuddled.  Hay is also pretty hungry right now, he's over the colicky stage and spends a lot of time awake.  He finds it boring to lie down for long, enjoys being with people and is starting to take an interest in toys.  It's interesting to compare the two of them, a week less than three months apart in age.  It'll be brilliant, watching them grow up together.

After tea, the Norwich family left and then we went next door because Al and Dilly had invited us for dinner.  I have rather dreadfully (but enjoyably) overeaten today and must cycle energetically for the next week to counteract its effects.  Both Ro and Wink phoned during the day too, I've been very looked after.

And I really am feeling most alarmingly old.  I prefer odd numbers, especially those divisible by three.

Friday 9 September 2011

Posterity - or, does my ego look big in this?

I'm so sorry.  I'm not sure what happened to yesterday, I wondered why I hadn't received any notification of comments.  So, this is yesterday's post, okay?

The day started absurdly early because I had said I'd be at the school assembly at 9 o'clock.  I know, darlings, I washed my hair and ironed two whole garments, specially.  Then I had a meeting with the Head, because there's a whole lot of stuff to sort out this term, and then the conversation got around to the First World War, as it does.

It was perfectly sensible, a staff member's father had recently died and the Head referred to that, as she is very upset, and I said that I'd known him (the father), he lived in our village and, when he moved here, I'd asked him to read out the Roll of Honour at the Remembrance Day service, he being one of our few remaining residents who served in WWII.  He had become a friend; I was already friends with his daughter.

I mentioned, as I have here because it always shocks me, that 25 of our village's young men (which had to be almost all of them) had died in that war, and that led the conversation on to those boys of the Grammar School, the precursor to the present High School, who had been in the armed forces at that time.  One of the schoolmasters had lost his life in the Great War, and something had moved him (the Head), being a historian and very interested in the subject and the school, to look up the school magazine from that period.  He brought out a book, which comprised the magazines from 1914-1924, and said he had ended up reading it from cover to cover, it was so interesting.  He said that the Sage's family name had recurred time after time.

The Sage's father had three brothers and all four of them had attended Yagnub Grammar School, Pa having been nearly 16 when the war started.  He and his younger brother were mentioned many times in the magazine, for academic and sporting achievements,  then he was mentioned as having graduated from Cambridge and becoming a member of the Law Society, as was his eldest brother.  The Head has lent me the book to show the Sage, and I think that all our children will be interested.

Genealogy is so popular nowadays and I don't really get it - I honestly don't care what my forebears were doing a couple of hundred years ago, unless there's something that lets me see them as people.  For example, my three-greats-grandfather was big on public service 160 years ago, as am I, I suppose - don't know if that's nature or nurture, but it is some sort of connection (and also, coincidentally, with the Sage's family) and I know a little of him as a person because of some letters we have, but I have no great urge to research the family.  I'm not that into it.  But this is different, because we did know him, my elder children remember Grandpa lovingly and we will all be really interested to read about his schooldays.

I've always been a TW3 sort of girl - it's over, let it go.  But blogging has made me see the interest in keeping a record, not just for me now, but for the future.  I pity any poor person who reads all my waffle once I'm dead or gaga (not planning either right now, but at least the former is bound to happen, I'm ageing jolly fast, I can tell you) as there's so damn much of it - but, having read it, that person will really know me pretty well.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

ReZistance is futile

Hadrian is now three-and-a-half months old and is a fat and cheerful baby.  All mine were very chubby, so were H's brother and sister, but all became thin once they were two or so, they just grew outwards before upwards.  Zerlina, on the other hand, was tall and skinny from the start. I have not been able to get Hadrian to acknowledge me at all.  I looked towards him and he looked away.  I moved to his line of vision again and he refused to catch my eye.  I chattered to him and he looked politely bored.  My sister came to visit and he looked at her at once and started to smile charmingly.  I thought that was a bit off, I have to say.

However, the other day, I somehow made the breakthrough.  He suddenly, when I was holding him, noticed the top I was wearing, which was white with red and black markings.  He found it very interesting and gazed for some time.  Then he glanced up at me.  He looked me in the eye, then looked all around my face and finally gave me the most splendid smile.  Since then, he's smiled whenever he's seen me.

Tomorrow, I'm planning to go to Norwich again.  I know, darlings, mad consumer frenzy has me in thrall.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Number please

When you want to replace an appliance, it can be quite tricky to find the particular features that you want. Recently, for instance, when I needed a new washing machine for one of the London flats, I needed it to be a particular size - but that wasn't offered on the website.  Price, colour, manufacturer, but not size.  But that was fundamental - if it didn't fit in the space, it didn't matter if everything else was right.

Quite often, it's only after buying something that you find out what feature you liked in the old machine that you don't get in the new one.  Even if you knew that you wanted it, it might not be mentioned.  You want an example? Darlings, you shall have one.  Our last telephone.

Our last phone had an amber light to show that the answerphone was switched on.  Then there was a red light, which flashed when there was a new message, and stayed on without flashing when there was a message which had been listened to but not deleted.  This was ideal.  The first one to see it listened, if it was for him/her they dealt with it and deleted it, if it was for the other person it was still visible so he/she listened, dealt with, deleted.  That phone finally died, some years ago, and I was unable to find one which I was sure had the same feature.  The present one, which (with four handsets) was expensive, doesn't.  A light shows that it's on or flashes to show a new message.  And that's all.  Once it's been listened to, it doesn't show.  And this causes a few ructions.

The thing is, I'm not very telephone minded, and the Sage is.  So it's usually he who listens to messages.  When I get in, I'll check the phone, possibly not for a while, but he goes to look straight away.  Most messages are for him anyway, people normally phone me on my mobile, text me or email.  But if there's a message for me, he leaves it for me to find.  However, if there's not a new message, it doesn't occur to me to check the answerphone, particularly because he doesn't really know how to delete messages and so there might be 15 of them to listen to before I find the most recent and so I tend only to do it if there's one for me ... which I only know if he's told me.  Today, he told me there was a message for me, I listened to them all.  One for me was from last Wednesday, which quite dismayed me.  Another for me, he'd phoned back and not even told me.  The third, fortunately, I remembered who it was from and was able to look up her number - because afterwards he tried to delete the old messages but lost that one instead.

This is not intended to be a complaint, the Sage and I manage to live with each other's shortcomings.  What I would like to know is, if anyone has a telephone that shows messages, even when they've been listened to once, please let me know its make and model, because I will buy it.  I will pay hard cash not to be irritated.

Another thing, when I bought this phone I listened to its own answerphone message and I was quite dismayed by the speaker's voice.  Dreadful vowels, darlings.  I couldn't put up with it.  So I had to record my own message, posh little girl with a surprisingly deep voice being better than no discernible regional accent (which would have been fine) but badly spoken - but that means that most people, when leaving a message, speak to me whether it is for me or not.  "Hello, Z, will you tell the Sage..." ... probably not, I'll not have heard it in the first place.

Monday 5 September 2011


Having spent a lot of time holding babies of late, I've been thinking back to when Al was born.  He was due a couple of days after Weeza's second birthday, but actually arrived a couple of days before it, missing the First of April by a day.  He was born at home, or rather at my mother's home.  It was a bit unusual, 35 years ago, not to have a hospital birth but I'd hated the stay in hospital when Weeza was born, our doctor, near retirement age, was very willing to officiate and I was in perfectly good health, apart from the anaemia that affected me in each pregnancy, to the extent that I had to have iron injections.

The only stipulation that Dr Kit made was that an oxygen cylinder should be on hand, so it was ordered from the local chemist.  It arrived on the morning of the 2nd, and I went to help the van driver bring it in.  "Better not," she said.  "Might bring on labour, it's jolly heavy."  I didn't tell her that I was already in labour and had been for a few hours.

It all went well, I put Weeza to bed in the evening and was then free to get on with having the baby, who was born at 10.30 at night.  The oxygen was not required, and the doctor left about an hour later.  The midwife, who was the wife of the Lowestoft Methodist minister, finished with us by midnight, and my mother came in to ask if she would like a hot drink.  "I'm quite hungry, actually," I remarked.  She said there was a cold leg of lamb in the fridge (Dave not being here, I don't have to be concerned that anyone will point out that you would expect meat in the fridge to be cold, so I won't explain that it had been cooked, part-eaten, cooled and then put in the fridge) and she could make sandwiches.  So, ten minutes later, baby asleep in cot, we were all eating sandwiches and drinking tea.

I did sleep, later, and trotted out in the early morning to go to the loo, and then picked him up and fed him when he woke, and changed his nappy.  Weeza came in to greet me.  I lay her down to change her nappy and 'kissed her all over her face', which always made her shut her eyes, hold her breath and open her mouth with pleasure.  My dear little girl looked so big and white against her skinny little baby brother.  I felt wonderfully lucky.

Al was welcomed into a very happy household, in fact.  My mother had remarried in February, six years after my father died, and her husband had lived alone for many years.  He was thrilled to find that her children welcomed him and treated him as one of the family from the start, and the birth of a baby in their house made him really feel like a grandfather.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Z is cheerful

In the last couple of weeks, I've finally relaxed completely.  I kept August as clear as I could, but it's only been since Gus's birth that, I can now look back and realise, all tension has drained away.  As a result, I'm not fretting about the work that September will bring, but looking forward to it.  Which is a bit stupidly naive for someone as old as I am, I'll be grumbling in no time!

Having said that, I remember that there was a whole set of papers that was due to be emailed out this weekend.  It will wait until tomorrow.  I'm still on holiday until then.  I lay in bed reading for an hour this morning before getting up, it was like old times.  It still puzzles me that, after half a century of reading voraciously, I hardly read books at all at present.  I read a fair bit, two newspapers per day, quite a number of blogs and a few pages of two or three books, but I used to read anything up to two books most days and that's gone completely by the board of late.  I'm up to page 233 of the book I started last night, however, so maybe things will revert to normal again.  

In my end-of-season enthusiasm, I'm filled with determination to keep some control over what I do - that is, to do what I would like to and not let the obligations take over from the pleasure, as tends to occur.  If there's too much on and something has to give, it's the social and pleasurable events that are lost every time.  I really shouldn't let that happen.  Actually, I know what it is, I start the autumn well and then, as the days get shorter and darker, I have less energy and being sociable doesn't quite keep its appeal.  But it's wrong and I should make the effort, or just give apologies for a few more meetings.  I can't quite remember the last time I went to a concert, the theatre or the cinema in Norwich, I didn't go to the gardening club at all last year and I only managed a few Nadfas lectures which, considering I belong to two societies, is a bit daft.

If anyone has an iPad/iPhone and is looking for a good puzzle app, do try Aqueduct.  It starts easy but ends up very tricky indeed.  The last half-dozen levels took me hours but, having completed the whole game, I've reset it and started again.  The free version, Aqueduct 101, has enough levels for you to know if you like it.  I don't think it's available on Android at present.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Judge Zeddy

Last night, I drank beer rather than wine.  I was cooking a fish curry and lager seemed appropriate.  I checked the label: 1.8 units.  That is a really quite annoying level of alcohol - one is not enough and two is too much.  So tonight I'm drinking red wine, a proper drink.

The Domestic part of the show schedule read - Lemon Drizzle Cake, 3 Cup Cakes, decorated, 5 Choc Chip Cookies, 5 White Bread Rolls, 5 Cheese Scones, Jar of Jam, Jar of Marmalade, Jar of Chutney, Jar of Pickles, 6 Eggs, A Jug of Summer Drink (non-alcoholic) and Gentlemen's Class - Fruit Crumble.

I shall repeat that list with, as far as I remember, the number of entries.

Lemon Drizzle Cake (10), 3 Cup Cakes, decorated (0 - I know darlings, none, its not that sort of village, evidently), 5 Choc Chip Cookies (5), 5 White Bread Rolls (2), 5 Cheese Scones (about 8), Jar of Jam (8), Jar of Marmalade (5), Jar of Chutney (11), Jar of Pickles (1), 6 Eggs (1, unusually.  Usually it's a popular class), A Jug of Summer Drink (non-alcoholic) (3) and Gentlemen's Class - Fruit Crumble (9).

Marie and I sampled every one, except the eggs, one of which we cracked into a saucer and examined for quality - there may have been only one in the class, but it still has to be worthy of first prize, which it was.  Perfect, new-laid and lovely colour, inside and out.  In almost every class, we had to sample several of them at least two times before we were sure we had made the best choice.  With the jams, we couldn't decide between two good damson jams and gave them equal third place.  We also gave an additional prize somewhere else, can't remember where, think it was two equal seconds.

At some point, when we were earnestly debating the merits of different examples, I said "This would be a damn silly way of earning a living, if we were actually being paid!  But of course, that it's all for fun doesn't make it not important.  There was only one entry in the pickle class, but we tasted it anyway, and it was excellent, a lovely cucumber pickle that I took a second spoonful of because it was so good.  The chutneys were hard going.  We left them to last, there were a lot of them and there wasn't that much to choose between them, all nice but none exceptional, and we were tired of tasting and the jam had taken its toll.  After all decisions were made, of course, it was time for lunch.  I didn't eat much.

Al will be on a different postal round next week, because the person whose round it really is has returned from long-term sick leave.  He will be on a bike.  In town, new round to learn, different day off.  His van needs a new exhaust, so he's borrowing my car on Monday.  It's rather bigger than he's used to (an elderly Mercedes estate car) so we will take a spin round the village tomorrow to get him used to it.

P.S.  A query about how we judge the eggs, which is on appearance only -  The eggs are fresh, raw and in their shells.  We don't eat them, we look at them to see if they match well in colour or size (if all from the same breed, they don't have to be), then crack one onto a plate and look at it again.  A really fresh egg has the yolk sitting well up on the white, which isn't watery.  Ideally, there are no white spots or red streaks on the yolk, but there's a bit of luck involved there, one might crack the only egg with an imperfect yolk.  Oh, and the shell has to be strong and crack neatly.

Friday 2 September 2011

Birthday month

Wink left after an early lunch, and phoned at 5.30 to say she's back home.  There was an accident (presumably) on the M25 on the other carriageway, she felt very sorry for the people in the miles of tailback.  Some of them were sitting on their stationary car roofs in the sunshine, so they must have been there for quite some time.  The traffic wasn't too bad on her route, though there are nearly always some hold-ups somewhere or other.

Today is Dilly's birthday, the first of five family and several friends' birthdays this month.  Hadrian's present to his mother was a full 9 1/2 hours' sleep last night.  She said she woke several times and checked him to make sure he was all right, though!  I'm pretty impressed, none of mine managed more than a few hours at a time without being hungry.  Hadrian certainly doesn't look at all undernourished, he's a chubby baby.  So were his elder brother and sister, but they aren't now, although Pugsley is naturally stocky, though not at all fat.  As is the way of things nowadays, Squiffany, at 6 1/2, is already aware of body issues, but fortunately not worried about them and knows she is slim - and is pleased about that, without fuss.

I didn't do much this afternoon.  I'd intended to go to the plant nursery to buy some bulbs, but the sun was shining and I lounged about a bit instead.  The area near the newly paved area is intended to go back to rough grass with bulbs in it - at present, there are snowdrops, aconites and bluebells in it, mostly, but I'm going to add some more low-growing, early bulbs because the area won't be disturbed.  I'm also going to plant a rosemary bush, mine has died.  The cold winter nearly finished it and the spring drought finished it off.  Having one near the house will be more convenient.

Tomorrow, I'll be judging the Domestic classes again at the next village's annual show.  I've looked up the schedule, there are a dozen classes ranging from chutney to lemon drizzle cake.  I think a slice of dry toast for breakfast will suffice.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Oaks, acorns, pundits...

Over the years, the grass has crept over the edge of the drive - only by a few inches, but when we have it resurfaced, obviously we want to go back to its original width.  So this afternoon, Jamie started the boring job of scraping off  grass and earth to the edge of the tarmac.  He also cut through the ivy on the big oak tree on the drive.  It is normal to have ivy growing on trees of course, and a healthy tree isn't damaged by it, but the oak is probably 300 years old, or so the Sage thinks, and it needs all the help it can get.  The ivy growing on the trunk rather masked the full sight of the circumference, and the picture above still doesn't make it entirely apparent.  But its size may be more evident in this picture.
That is all one tree - half of it, of course, it is in the middle of a hawthorn hedge.  A branch has grown rather too far down and we'll have to trim it, it would be a pity if a delivery lorry tore it off.

Last year, the acorns were stunted and misshapen, I don't know what happened to them, but this year they are big and healthy.  There is one small seedling that we will try to keep, near the corner of the field where it will not be in the way, but usually they grow in completely unsuitable places.

There used to be three oaks alongside the drive.  One died years ago, and it is that tree that fell over, blocking the drive, a year ago.  The second one has lost its major branches and is still healthy, but in its declining years.  I don't know how long this one has before it starts to diminish in strength, but it's magnificent now.