Sunday, October 29, 2006

Right Folks. It's Finger Crossing Time Again

The house next door sold at auction on Friday. 75k. 10k more than the guide price but less than it was originally on the market for and more or less what the guide price was for the original auction.

It's been bought by a developer. I nearly said speculator -- and I think that might be what he is beginning to think he is. It appears that he didn't actually look at the inside of the house before he bought it. According to The Builder, who has been chatting with him over the fence(!), the inside is in something of a parlous state and is much, much worse than he expected it to be.

Anyway. The finger crossing. In the course of conversation yesterday, The Speculator happened to mention that the garden was somewhat big. Very big really. Quite enormously big. The Builder said that we had enquired of the repossession people whether we could buy back the bit behind our fence but had had no response. The Speculator's ears pricked up. Might we be interested? Well of course; if the price is right. How about if he just ran a fence along from where our fence ends and give his house a tiny garden and us a huge big L-shaped garden? Absolutely; if the price is right. So he has gone off to talk to his surveyor and lawyer and whatever. We do not know what a fair price would be. But you need to keep your fingers and toes crossed. We would dearly like that piece of land. If the price is right!

Continuing on the garden theme, The Builder has been working very hard out there. He's started the brick paving up from the back fence, so the first box doesn't start to move about -- or fall about! He's made a second box. He's dismantled the first part of the breeze block raised bad and transferred the soil into the first wooden box. He's started knocking down the wee little wall in front of the shed. It's all coming on remarkably well.

And today is a simply stunning day. The clocks went back this morning and we had an hour or so sat in bed, drinking tea and watching the view out the bedroom window, bathed in sunlight. It's only a part view, because it's cut off by the bathroom wall. But we could see the sheep in the field, ambling about. We could see huge seagulls flying about the ponds at the sewage works. There were loads and loads of birds, including some blue tits flitting about between our place and Steve and Debbie's place, hovering around air vents and on the guttering and on the hooks for the hanging baskets and things. The trees are slowly starting to change colour, so you get a lovely multi-coloured display among the trees heading up the valley. It was all very pleasant. Then I had to get up and get ready for work.

The Builder is not working this weekend. He's carrying on with the garden. And keeping a weather eye out. I've hung the washing on the line!!

I've been lunching a bit this last week. I had lunch, on a whim, with Richard on Thursday. We went to 230, 0r 228 or whatever the number is of the restaurant where the Blue Moon used to be. Had a lovely chicken and bacon salad and raspberry and cranberry juice. On Friday I met Freyja in the re-located Blue Moon and had sweet potatoes stewed in a cream sauce with loads of salad. There were almonds in the salad!!!!! Ate loads before I realised. Didn't have a reaction, though. I'm beginning to think that the almond allergy might have passed. Not sure about the coconut one -- I wouldn't be astonished to learn that there was coconut milk in the cream sauce; couldn’t taste it but it had that sort of texture, if you see what I mean. However, the rest of the tree nut allergy definitely has not passed. Cashews are a menace!!

Freyja brought me a present. It's a frantaniastic knitted multi-coloured winter hat. It's wonderful! Freyja seemed to be in good cheer. Think it must have been her vegetable stew!

As I left Freyja and headed back to the Adsetts Centre I realised that there was a market on Fargate. Wandered down to see what it was. It was the craft market. I had forgotten it was due this weekend. I had a lovely few minutes pootling about looking at things. Some rather lovely things. Including a beautiful, soft, cuddly purple and other coloured poncho. Tibetan, it is alleged. Stroked it. Cuddled it. Wanted it. Not too bad a price – only £15. But I only had £5 in my wallet. Sigh. Aha – but there is a bank just over there. Big grin. Went to the bank, came back to the stall and I am now the proud owner of a soft, soft, snuggly Tibetan poncho. Waiting for appropriate weather to wear it.

Won’t be today. I’ve just been outside. It’s still, sunny, blue skied and about 19d

Monday, October 23, 2006

Apples and things

I called at Chatsworth on Friday afternoon.

They were celebrating Apple Day. For the whole weekend.

There was a gazebo out the front of the farm shop filled with baskets of loads of different English apples -- varieties that you can't get in the supermarkets. I hadn't heard of lots of them. I bought one of each variety and came home with a huge big bag full of different sized and shaped, interesting apples. And a Bramley.

I also came home with one of those pale green spiky cauliflower/broccoli thingies (it's an Italian style cauliflower but I'm sure it has a proper name), two bags of rare "breed" potatoes, huge big beetroots, various other vegetables, lots of ciabattas ("What are those things, dear?" "Oh, they're Italian. You won't like them" "But that lady [me] is buying loads of them. Do *you* like them, dear?" Well yes. I toast them for 5 minutes or so in the oven to crisp up the tops and we have them for our lunchtime sandwiches. "Oh. That sounds good. Can I come and live with you and your kitchen?" !!!). Then I bought some pâté, some smoked mackerel pâté, various sausages and two beautiful boneless pork chops. And some Chatsworth brewed ale for The Builder. And some chestnuts. First of the season. Clearly for The Builder and not me. And, also for him, some lambs kidneys. He does seem to like them; a man of odd tastes!!! And then I went to the Chatsworth garden centre and bought loads of bulbs and a pink flowering verbena. Then I went home before I could be tempted to buy anything else! Over the moors. A new way home. Was very pretty. Except that I turned the wrong way in Holymoorside and ended up in Chesterfield and had to come home the last leg on the A61.

We had beef Wellington for dinner on Friday. I used the pâté from Chatsworth. And a piece of fillet that came in the beef box I bought there a couple of weeks ago. And we had some boiled pink fir apple potatoes (they look like long stubby thumbs, or perhaps like semi flaccid male members, and taste fantastic). And various vegetables including the Italian cauliflower. Do wish I could remember its name.

Last night we had the boneless pork chops, with the Bramley apple and vegetables from the Hangingwater allotment, and some (oven) chipped Arran Victory potatoes. I grow Purple Arran sometimes; I might grow some Arran Victory and Pink Fir Apple potatoes as well if I can get the seed potatoes. The Builder spent most of the evening asleep. Sound asleep. Kind of curled up in his club chair. He's a bit big to curl up in a club chair, but he simply wouldn't go up to bed!! In the meantime I surfed the pay-TV channels and watched old episodes of Time Team, then Inspector Gadget and the Wombles and Portland Bill until I got bored and decided we would *all* go to bed!

The Builder wasn't working today. I am working, but I'm at Psalter Lane and that's open 1-8 on Sundays. We both had a morning off! HOORAY!!!!!! No reason to get up at 05:15 to make the tea. No reason to get up just after 05:30 to make lunches and breakfasts and things. No real reason to leap out of bed at all, really. So we didn't. Well, not till later anyway. I did some useful inside things like washing and ironing. And we've been gardening. It was very windy and rather cloudy and a bit damp, but not actually raining this morning. I've planted the bulbs and the verbena in the new, triangular, garden bed. I've also rescued lots of very tiny wild strawberry runners from the condemned raised bed and edged two sides of the triangle with them. The third side is edged with rescued yellow irises. If all goes well, we should have small purple tulips, scented small narcissi and lots of scented crocuses in the spring in the new bed. And, great excitement, The Builder has built the first of the new raised bed frames. It's a humungous big planter which runs almost the width of the back of the garden (ignoring the sheds, of course). He went out and bought sand and cement ready to start laying the bricks behind it to hold it in (we're intending to cover the concrete, plus paths and things with bricks). He was intending to make a start on that this afternoon, assuming the rain held off. It's still too warm to uproot the fruit trees; they haven't really properly begun to lose their leaves yet. But assuming we can get the gravel and soil to fill the new containers, we should be able to shift them late in November or even some time in December. Sooooo exciting. The wooden box at the back of the garden makes it look different already, and the breeze block raised bed is still there!

A fishy day today. We had Yorkshire oak-smoked kippers with tinned tomatoes and toasted French bread at half past eleven (with pink grapefruit juice, and a crumpet each with local honey). Tonight there will be grilled haddock, potatoes and vegetables.

It's only 6:00. There's two whole hours to go before I can go home. It's raining merrily and most of the students have gone home. It's raining in Tupton as well. I wonder how much The Builder got done in the garden before being driven inside.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A little autumnal gardening

I have had a lovely day “off”. It’s not really off -- I’m at work now. But I was at home, or out and about until I left for work at 3:30.

It was raining this morning, which I rather thought might scupper my gardening plans. So I did some washing and some ironing and pottered about and generally meandered. Marlo meandered with me. The Builder did not. We had dispatched him through storms, tempests, downpours and lakes on the road off to Rampton to continue building secure wards for the poorly patients. We didn’t have storms, just a bit of rain. But nevertheless, I had cocoa and crumpets for breakfast and cups of tea as the morning progressed and did some light cleaning and some light tidying and some general creating of order. Oh, and I finally worked out how to use the new photocopier! I have yet to use it as a printer, but photocopier will do for now.

Then I took myself off to the Dunstan Hall Garden Centre. Gill and Peter gave me some National Garden Gift Vouchers back in August and I thought I might use them to buy something for the new garden bed. I wandered around (it had more or less stopped raining by then) and selected a yellow flowered viburnum (not that it’s flowering now; it has lovely red leaves at the moment!) and some pansies and some local honey. I paid for these myself. Then I used Gill and Peter’s vouchers to buy a lovely twisted Witch hazel. A purple one. At least, it has purply leaves and purple catkins. It’s very sweet. And will be lovely in winter because it has twisted branches. Well, twigs, really, at the moment. But it will grow! I’ve planted the viburnum and witch hazel in the new garden bed. I’ve also rescued the lambs ears which were suffering somewhat under the hydrangea in the pot on the front - don’t know what to call it, really. I always want to refer to it as the front verandah, though it doesn’t have a verandah. Like wise, can’t refer to it as the front porch. No porch! Anyway, out the front. I hadn’t realised quite how effective an umbrella the hydrangea was. The poor lambs ears were getting very dehydrated and bedraggled. So. They’re in the new bed, I hope enjoying the drizzle, plus I’ve moved some small snapdragons and some tiny wild strawberry plants from the soon to be demolished raised bed at the back and put them in the new bed. It’s starting to take shape.

Then I went to the allotment. The new allotment. Very exciting. I’ve made my first sowing on it. The Builder dug up one useable bed a few weeks ago. I have now sown three short rows of green broad beans and three of red. I’ve never had red broad beans before. Apparently, if you steam them, they retain their redness when you cook them. So yes. Very exciting. New allotment and all that. But it was a bit sad too. It was the final and very last nail in the coffin of the Hangingwater allotment. I’ve not given it back yet, but there will be no further plantings by me up there. Was quite wistful, really. And I was definitely conscious of the “ghost” of Martin hovering. Not that Martin is dead (or he wasn’t the last I heard). Not that I would necessarily have expected to see Martin even at Hangingwater on a damp Thursday afternoon - but I never will see him on this allotment and he’s never going to be there to complain about how closely together I’ve put the plants and there will be no further companionable sitting about on summer evenings, leisurely watering and chatting and him complaining that my unorthodox gardening techniques nevertheless seem to work :-( . I might have to persuade him to move to Tupton and take on an allotment here. I wonder what Mrs Martin will think!!!

Speaking of allotments, I must find the time soon to go and gather in the rest of the sweet corn. It might be unbelievably mild for October (which it is; it is therefore also unbelievably foggy quite often!) but it gets quite chilly at night. And some of the leeks might be getting almost big enough to use as thinnings. Might go on Saturday. I’m at Psalter, which is not a huge distance.

So. I went home. Made some soup. Pottered about. Had a shower. Got dressed for work (can’t go in my muddy trackies!). Came back downstairs. Made a cup of tea. Was quietly supping the tea when there was an enormous crash. The cat and I looked around. Couldn’t see anything. Shortly after there was another crash and Max the dog next door started barking. Went out to investigate. Steve and Max were investigating too. It was the man from Arnold Laver delivering The Builder’s wood. Hooray! The destruction of the breeze block raised beds gets ever closer!!

An hour and ten minutes to home time. I’ve had my share of the soup. I rather enjoyed it. Hope The Builder enjoys his too!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


You may remember that last weekend we couldn’t buy bricks for the garden project Phase Two because the brick reclamation place was closed.

Well. I rang them on Monday and placed an order for 1000 bricks. £420, plus £20 delivery. A bargain! Oddly enough, I didn’t happen to have £440 pounds loitering about that close to pay day so said I would pop a cheque in the post on Tuesday if they wouldn’t mind organising delivery after the cheque had cleared. They didn’t mind. Business concluded. Excellent.

I was quite busy yesterday. Desk first thing. Teaching on and off through the day. Organising things. Rushing about. At lunchtime I had a message asking me to ring the brick place. Oops. I do hope nothing has gone amiss. But no. They were ringing to ask if it was OK if they delivered them that very afternoon!!! But I haven’t paid for them yet. I haven’t even put the cheque in the post. No worries, said they. We’re sure it will arrive.

When I eventually got home yesterday evening, there were two pallets of bricks in the drive. I’ve posted the cheque. Excellent. Mind you, they’re very trusting in Chesterfield. You wouldn’t catch folks in Sheffield giving you 1000 bricks before you’d paid for them. So, Phase 2 of the garden project looks to be in hand. The Builder can start playing with the bricks whenever he is minded. And time allows!

And, in fact, Phase 3 is also in hand. The Builder occupied himself on Sunday afternoon digging over the next new garden bed along from where the patio is going to be. The turf is now on the compost heap. The weeds have gone away this morning in the green bin (garden waste and cardboard). It’s ready for planting. I’m thinking I might put things which have winter interest in there. The rest of the garden is flowery and scented in spring and summer, and even a bit in autumn. We need wintery stuff.

The Builder has also got the first allotment bed up and ready to roll. I’m working late tomorrow. If the weather is clement, I shall plant the over-wintering broad beans. I’ve got the usual ones and some red ones this year. Apparently, if you steam the red ones they retain their colour!

So. Gardening is going apace. Thanks, largely, to The Builder getting stuck in.

I’ve had quite a pleasant day today. It’s been fairly peaceful and quiet. I’ve sorted out my desk and done some book ordering and read some papers and been to a meeting and generally meandered through the day. Would have been entirely uneventful – except that I LOST my phone :-( I hunted high and low, once I realised it had gone. Then in sorrow I rang O2 and had it barred. Then I sent out an email – to which Richard responded with an instruction to check lost property for a phone had been handed in at about the time mine had gone astray. Hooray! My phone is back. But silent. It will take 24-36 hours to get it unblocked apparently. At least it’s back though. I felt strangely bereft without it – if for no other reason than I use it as my clock!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sunday musings

I oh-so-nearly succeeded in the Stay Awake and Talk to Tony challenge last Wednesday. I watched Autumnwatch at eight and stayed awake no worries. (Sadly it's finished now; pity. Springwatch lasts for 3 weeks :-( This only lasted for two and had red deer on the Isle of Rhum, and seals somewhere out in the Hebrides and autumn birds in Lancashire, and badgers and hedgehogs and foxes and lots of things.) Anyway. I stayed awake for that, then was watching Jane Horrocks in "Who do you think you are", which traces family trees for celebrities. Was watching, watching, watching. Nearly half past nine. Washed the dishes. Watching, watching, watching. nearly quarter to ten. Tidied kitchen. Watching, watchi ..... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Fortunately, at about 2 minutes past ten, The Builder woke up. Realised the time. SHOUTED. Made me jump!!! Was certainly awake then. Talked to Tony. Had another glass of wine, started to drift off again. Went to bed.

Sigh. Am very seldom awake much beyond half past nine any more. Sigh. **JUST** managed to stay awake for the last episode of Galapagos on Friday night. And then went to sleep during QI. Not that I thought I had, until I watched the repeat on Saturday evening (much earlier, mercifully) and realised how much I'd missed.

Said I'd turned into Tony! Although it must be said that I do not enjoy half past five am at the moment. It's pitch dark and a bit damp and a bit chilly and an ideal time for snuggling back under the doona and going back to sleep!!!

I can't decide what the cat is doing, either. Every morning (including Sundays :(:(:(:(:(:( ) at about 04:53, he either jumps onto the chest of drawers and plays with the light tassel and knocks things off until The Builder sits up and roars, or he bites The Builder's feet until The Builder sits up and roars. I am undecided in my mind whether he is just being wakeful, playful and annoying, or whether he's decided that our alarm clock is perfectly obviously going to fail this morning and he must simply get us up himself. I suspect the latter. On the other hand, he's perfectly capable of being annoying too!

I had a day off yesterday. A WHOLE day! I don't think anyone had noticed. Apart from me, and I didn't say anything :-) I still had to get up early, though. I might have had the day off, but The Builder did not. Half past five on a Saturday. Gloom. Sigh. :-( And again today, as it happened. Half past five on a Sunday is just rood, it is. Very Rood Indeed!

So. What to do with my day? Well, a little cleaning, tidying, washing and ironing. I chatted to Lindsey on the MSN Messenger. I had cocoa and toast and boiled eggs. When The Builder left at 06:15, Marlo and I snuggled in the nice, cosy dining room and pottered a bit. I transferred some photos from my camera to the laptop. Mid-morning I decided to go to the Post Office to post a form for Simon and some letters for The Builder. On a whim, I decided to drop into the village butcher's shop (we are a very lucky village indeed. We have a Post Office AND a Butcher. So many villages these days have neither). And discovered that the butcher has many things in common with the fish and chip shop (we've got one of those too!). To whit: It is very good quality; it is much enjoyed by locals and people who travel to get to it; there are large queues on Saturdays. Actually, the fish and chip shop has such large queues on Friday and Saturday evenings that it's almost unusable at the times you might want to buy a take away dinner, though it is open quite late. We had fish and chips on Thursday last week when the queues are more bearable. The butcher is open until 12:30 on Saturday lunchtimes, and does a roaring trade up until then. He knows everyone (except me!) by name, knows what they have, and teases the little old ladies mercilessly. I waited and waited and waited and then bought some gammon and some fat sausages and a pork pie. I do not myself eat pork pies but The Builder does. He tells me it was a very fine pork pie!

He was home at lunchtime, Saturday (and today, Sunday. They only work the mornings at weekends). So he and I went into Chesterfield and ordered the wood for the new raised beds and didn't order the bricks for the paths because the brick place was shut, then we went into Sheffield. The Builder has a new phone. Or at least, he did have a new phone. He'd had it for about 4 days. And it abruptly stopped working. No worries, thought we. We'll take it back and get a replacement. Then we'll go shopping and then we'll go to the allotment. Don't do it. Do not get a phone through Phones 4U. If you should be foolish enough to ignore this advice and go to Phones 4U and the handset should die -- DO NOT take it back to replace it on a Saturday afternoon. We had to wait for an hour or so before anyone could deal with it, then it took HALF AN HOUR to persuade the man that he could exchange it, that he should exchange it, that, by law, he HAD to exchange it. Then he did exchange it. He was wriggling very hard though. Can't think why. It was perfectly obvious that there was a fault with the handset. Wasn't going to cost him anything to exchange it. Sigh. Took about 10 minutes to exchange a kettle at John Lewis, and that included queuing time at lunchtime on a Friday! Managed the supermarket shopping after that but had lost the will to do anything else so abandoned the allotment and went home.

Where I had a wine calamity. We had eaten dinner (lamb chops, tiny, tiny potatoes from the allotment, tiny, tiny caulis from the garden, little leeks and carrots from Waitrose and a red currant gravy (red currant jelly made by me with currants from the lottie) ). The Builder went to sleep. I decided to broach a new wine cask. Couldn't get the cardboard bung thingy open. Tried harder. Still couldn't get it open. Tried to pierce around it with a blunt knife. Cardboard bung thingy appeared to be stuck hard on. Tried to prise it away with the knife. CRISIS! Pierced the bladder!!! Alarm. Run about and fish out the large glass jug. Try to decant wine into that. Wine trickling through breach in bladder. Small plastic thingy over spout glued firmly in place. Wouldn't shift. Prised that off with blunt knife. Hole in bladder getting larger. Decant wine into glass jug. HORRORS. Jug not big enough. Rush about. Grab large, very expensive teapot from collector's dinner service set. Fill that. Fill two wine glasses and a tumbler. Drink tumbler contents while cleaning up wasted wine from benches and floor. The cat watches all this with amused interest. The Builder sleeps through it all. Fails to notice all the containers filled with wine this morning and asks in a musing way if I have taken the new cask back downstairs into the cool room. Restrain self from throwing jug of wine at him. Wicked waste that would have been!

Just under an hour and we can go home. Now all we need to do is to persuade the students to leave at 5 o'clock. 24 hour opening doesn't start until tomorrow!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

We have definitely been having autumn weather. It’s been foggy, misty, wet and dark, interspersed with sun and warmth.

I was at Collegiate on Monday. Got there around 08:00 and had coffee while I was settling into the day. I thought I might go and wash my coffee cup and go to the loo before the students arrived. Got up, looked out of the office door, and saw my colleague Rupert looking a bit shell shocked in the vestibule. Looked further. It seemed rather dark outside, as though the heavens were about to open. Then I realised there were about 70 students waiting outside to come in. Decided to defer my loo and coffee cup washing expedition for a short while. For it had just started bucketing down, the students were all soggy wet – and about 30 seconds later the doors opened and they came streaming in something like a tsunami. Rupert was safely in the office by then!!!

You might remember that last Wednesday I cleaned The Sidings from top to bottom so it was all shiny and glowy. On Saturday morning I got up at about 07:30 and ambled into the bathroom. The bath was absolutely full of little muddy paw marks. So was the sink. Look – so too is the bathroom floor. Looked accusingly at the cat who made “No, no; wasn’t me” type noises. Looked at my feet. Not little paws for me. And The Builder has huge enormous feet so can’t have been him, either. Either the cat was telling me lies, or some strange random cat had come in through the upstairs, top opening, ajar not actually properly open bathroom window and gone on a paw print rampage through the bathroom. No. Doesn’t seem likely to me, either. Had to clean before I could go to work!

We have been busy in the garden and the allotment. Well, when I saw “we”….. The Builder has marked out in the back garden the next phase in the garden redesign. He’s about to order the bricks, wood and soil for it. Should be beautiful next summer. He’s also been to Loughborough to dismantle and collect greenhouses that we bought on eBay. They are now in bits on the allotment waiting for him to have time to reconstruct them. The soil is quite friable so I am hoping to plant over wintering broad beans and garlic on the new allotment in the next couple of weeks. Things are starting to come together.

I cooked a lamb kidney for the very first time ever during the week. There was one in the lamb box I bought last Wednesday. Sent out an SOS for cooking instructions (strangely, there are no instructions in my breakfast books, nor in any of my cook books; I was stunned!). I was fairly stunned when Ian didn’t seem to know how to do it. So I took instruction from Richard. I cut it in half and removed the white grungy bit in the middle. I then soaked it over night in milk and fried it in butter with tomato and mushrooms and served it on fluffy toast. The Builder was fairly surprised to come downstairs on a work morning to find me taking the frying pan off the stove. He was astounded to find there was kidney on his plate. He seemed very happy with it, mind.

I don’t think anything else much has happened this week. The Builder and I’ve been very, very busy. The Builder was asleep for Autumn Watch last night, despite the cute seals, the magnificent red deer and the glorious highland cows (I poked him to look at those but he just growled – and he a Cowman’s son!). He woke up to eat his dinner then went back to sleep until it was time to go to bed. Then he fell into bed and slept right through until Marlo started playing with the tassel on the light cord at 05:05, as is his habit. I think he was perhaps a bit tired. I stayed awake until news time, at least. Now I just have to stay awake this evening until it is time to Talk to Tony. A challenge. I’m yawning vigorously now and it’s only 17:00. (And I’m still in the office – need to relocate to The Sidings.

Mind you – all this evening sleeping means that the alcohol supplies last much longer than usual. Silver linings and all that!

Went to the Post Office and lunch time and got very damp. Looks as though that's about to happen again on my way back to collect The Vixen. Which, by some odd chance, is parked outside The Mudhut. A circumstance which almost never prevailed when we lived there!!!

Must go. There's a beef and vegetable casserole awaiting my return!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Eek! I've been kidnapped by Aliens

I’m sure I have. An Alien creature has invaded my body, captured my mind and has driven me to a complete Cleaning Frenzy. It’s very scary.

I’m on the evening duty today. Ordinarily that means we work from 1 or 2 until 9pm. Because I worked several very long days last week, I took this afternoon off as time in lieu. Didn’t need to be here until 5. So, 4.30, really, to be sure I was here on time to take over the desk.

So did I spend the morning in bed and drinking tea and surfing the net? Did I sleep and potter? Did I watch daytime TV? Did I heck. I made The Builder’s breakfast and lunch and waved him off, lunch box in paw. I fed the fishies and the cat. Then I started cleaning. I’ve cleaned everything – to within an inch of its life. Our bedroom sparkles; I’ve even dusted the louvered wardrobe doors! I hate the carpet in our room; it’s a silly champagne colour and looks filthy no matter what I do to it. It needs vacuuming several times a day and shampooing several times a month (doesn’t get any of this, mind you!). When we first got the house, I thought it would be the patterned carpet in the rest of the place that would get to me, but no – that’s wonderful; you can’t see any dust or dirt or bits on it at all! Anyway. I’ve cleaned the bathroom, including the shower which is problematic for cleaning purposes, AND I’ve washed the floor. I’ve hoovered the whole house (you can’t tell on the patterned carpet!) and cleaned the kitchen and washed the kitchen floor AND the windowsill, and tidied the lounge room (not an arduous task!) and sorted the dining room and the whole house just GLOWS. It’s shiny like a shiny, shiny glow worm. Sits up and preens! (Me, not the glow worm!)

I’ve done the ironing (not that there was much) and swept the back courtyard and watered the outside pots and cleaned the doors and swept the larder and … Oh yes! I went to Chatsworth and bought a side of lamb and a beef box and a chicken and loads of sausage thingies and that’s all in the freezer. I went to Rowsley on the way to go to Julian Graves for seaweed coated peanuts and mixed nuts and snacky things for lunches. It was eerily deserted. There were cars in the car park but very, very few people. Was a bit spooky. Never been there and found it so quiet! I also called in at the Chatsworth Garden Centre, where they had lemon trees and lime trees but no orange trees. Will keep hunting. Or wait till spring!

So you see. I HAVE been invaded by a space alien. No sensible Frances would spend what was effectively a day off cleaning and tidying and polishing! If you look carefully, you can see the real, lazy, indolent Frances, hidden, peeping out from behind the back of the eyes. We must mount a rescue bid! The cat simply went into hiding. I think he thought I was going to clean, tidy or sweep him! He thought it was rather fun when I was sorting out the fairy lights on the plants in the dining room though. Tiny lights on a string for him to play with :-)

In attention to contending with furtive, capturing Aliens, I note that my transformation into Tony is nearing completion. I was pottering around outside quite early this morning, welly boots on, admiring the sunrise, the dew on the grass; the fresh feel to the morning, the fluffy clouds; the birdies singing, the sheep bleating. Admiring the bright sense of Beginning that the morning has. How nice, I thought, cheerily. Early Morning is such a lovely time. WAIT! STOP! REWIND!!!!! EARLY MORNING?!?!?!?!? But I like evenings. I like the night. The peace that darkness brings, the solitude, the calm. But no. I am usually asleep these days, usually in my arm chair, by 10, 10:30 (might have something to do with the somnolent content of the 10:00 news :-) ) I leave my last glass of wine of the evening until the following evening. I bound out of bed in the mornings (well, I slither, but the end result is the same) by 05:45, having had a cup of tea brought to me by 05:30. Who does this all remind you of (apart from the cup of tea being brought)? Tony, that’s who. I *am* Tony!!!

Sigh. Cleaning. Lark behaviour. Tidying. Ambling about in the dew in my wellies and dressing gown. Where will it all end?
Had quite a pleasant drive into Sheffield. Left at 3:25, got here at 4:10. Even found somewhere to park in the city centre. Really must remember to organise an evening parking pass for the next time, though. And really must read the parking times and limits more carefully next time as well. Ended up paying twice through inattention (didn’t put enough money in the first time, had to pay again to bring the expiry time up to 6:30, when the need to pay ends!)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Autumn Musings

I would have updated the blog before now, but nothing very much has happened.

I’ve been busy.

Very, very, very busy.

Rushing about like a demented chook, is me!

This week is quite a bit quieter than last week was. Next week should be fairly peaceful too. Then I’ve got a couple of steady weeks and most of November will be demented.

Sigh. I think it’s like moving house. If we really remembered what the start of the academic year is like, we’d only ever do it once.

Local news.

The lady across the road with the gorgeous, gorgeous cottage garden has died :( The Builder was speaking to her a couple of weeks ago and she said that it was beginning to get too much for her. I don’t think he expected her actually to pop her clogs, though. There were ambulances and all sorts outside her house one late afternoon and then the house became empty. It appears that that horrid, smug, smarmy, git-boxer Nazeem Wotsit (was arrested and jailed for driving very, very fast into an oncoming car and breaking the driver into lots of tiny bits – and then said on release that people should feel sorry for him too because nobody died and he missed the birth of his baby. Pff!!!) Anyway, it seems that he is the grandson-in-law of the late lady across the road. He has been spotted wandering in and out of the house. Not by me! I hope the people who eventually buy her house love her garden. It’s really beautiful.

The house next door which is empty was put up for auction. Didn’t sell. People came and cut the grass and tidied up a bit. Put up for auction again with a different auction house. New sign and everything. I noticed this morning that the sign is now out the back, lying on the lawn. Wonder what that means …
The Builder was parked outside No 6 QVR the other morning, for the first time in weeks. Went out at first light to go to work to find that the wing mirror had been more or less pulled off and one of the wipers had been bent out of shape. It is very, very tempting to blame Mr Grumpy – if for no other reason than he threatened to do unpleasant things to the van if it was parked outside his house ever again. But something funny seems to be going on there. His car has often not been parked there overnight, or during the day. ~My source of gossip, Steve Next Door says he doesn’t know what’s going on, but nobody has seen him about much. But we still assume it was he who tried to mangle the van. The builder is considering getting rid of it and buying something a bit smaller. A post office van, perhaps.

What else? Can’t think what I’ve said about the allotment. The Builder has dug the first bed on the new lottie, ready for the garlic to be planted in the next couple of weeks. We’ve bought not one but TWO greenhouses on eBay, for The Builder to pick up next weekend. He is not working next weekend (I am :-( ). He was supposed to be on Saturday, but last weekend T’Other Jim failed to show, but had already been paid. So the boss has decided that Our Jim could have a paid day off as well. Hooray! We’ve also started making serious autumn/winter plans for the next phase in the garden. I can see me having to get out there with measuring line, fork and spade sometime soon.

I’ve been doing autumn cooking as well. I bought a small box of cooking tomatoes last weekend and have stewed them and put them in the freezer. We had a lovely spaghetti dish last night made with some of the stewed tomatoes, with balsamic vinegar, tarragon, shallots, petit pois peas and broad beans with tiger prawns and scallops. Was Very Yummy Indeed. We had slow roasted brisket for our Sunday roast. We’ve been eating the leftovers in sandwiches and salads.

So it seems that things have been happening. I just haven’t had time to write them down. Sigh!
Must dash. Another meeting. At least in meetings I don’t have to enthuse, inspire, encourage or bounce!

I've booked us a week on the Broads in March. The weather may be awful but it's the start of the season so there should be not many people about. Rather looking forward to it. Life on a Broads boat is very slow and lazy :-)