Monday, March 31, 2014

It is just as well that on Friday afternoon they sent out an urgent request for cover at Collegiate Learning Centre for Sunday afternoon!

As far as I was concerned, I was already doing the afternoon cover at Collegiate.  It was in my diary, in my online calendar, on the calendar at home and in my head.  I had worked out which train I was going to catch. I was intending to walk up Ecclesall Road. It was all planned. I had even decided which train I would catch on the way home

Then they sent out the request for cover.  I rang them up.  I thought I was doing that shift?  No, they said. You're at Adsetts.  Adsetts?  Yes, Adsetts.

I looked back at the original email.  It very, very clearly said Adsetts.  Can't think where I got Collegiate from! And just as well they sent that request out, otherwise I'd have come in on an early train, walked up Ecclesall Road and then just have had to walk straight back again!!  As it was I had an extra hour pottering around at home and then walked across the road from the station and into the Adsetts Centre, where we had a pleasantly quiet afternoon with just enough enquiries to make it interesting and not so many that it was fraught and frantic.  Must read any future weekend working emails more carefully!

The advantage of working in the Adsetts Centre on Sunday afternoon was that when Tabitha sent me a message saying that she, Gaz and Cally were in town and did I fancy meeting them for a quick drink in the Sheffield Tap by the station, I could do.  If I had had to come from Collegiate I would have only had time to hop on my train.  I've not been in the Tap before, although it (re-)opened quite some time ago.  It's rather nice.  A bit on the expensive side, but a lovely building.  Must go in there again one day.  It was nice to see Taffa, Gaz and Cally as well. A pleasant end to the weekend

It was a pleasant weekend all told.  The weather was lovely on Saturday so we got out into the garden for a bit.  We even had our lunch sandwiches sat outside on the patio!  We met Bea, Steve and Richard at The Nettle for dinner and had a merry evening of fine food, good conversation and just a tiny bit of alcohol.  We had to go later than we would ordinarily choose because they had a large birthday party in the restaurant. We were perfectly happy to eat in the bar area and even happy to eat late.  It was just unfortunate that the clocks went forward by an hour early on Sunday morning and we all missed out on an hour's sleep!

Steve and Debby Next Door have moved out ;-(  They haven't sold their house yet but they have bought their new place and done some cosmetic work to it.  They moved their furniture out on Friday and have been back to do some work on the old place - but they have gorrrrrrrn for ever as our lovely neighbours ;-(

More sad news. Roger and Kate had hoped to join us at The Nettle on Saturday evening.  Alas, in the event they were unable to come.  Kate's mother has been very poorly sick in the hospital for a couple of weeks now.  Then she developed pneumonia and, sadly, died late on Saturday afternoon - although I think it might have been a blessing for her; the last few weeks have not been fun from her point of view.  RIP Margaret.

It was hard to get up and come to work today.  It was dark when the radio came on.  Dark and foggy and damp.  And my body was convinced that it was only 4:30 :-S  Still, it will be lovely and light when I get home again this evening.  It will probably still be foggy and damp, but at least it will be light.

Monday, March 24, 2014

My own, personal, private long weekend

I've been quite busy since I got back to work a month ago.  There have been loads of meetings, more desk shifts than I would normally expect, and some quite long days.  So I arranged to take Friday off as time in lieu.

We morphed quite quickly into doing Saturday things.  The sun was shining. The sky was blue.  The breeze was gentle.  We pottered about in the garden and did some general tidying. We went to The Nettle for lunch. We pottered about a bit more. The washing flapped lazily on the washing line.  The ducks, then later the chooks wandered around in the garden. It might almost have been early summer, except that it was a tad on the chilly side for summer.  But pleasantly mild for early spring.

We pottered about a bit more on Saturday itself.  We ambled around locally and bought supplies for the weekend. The weather wasn't as good, so we didn't do much in the way of pottering in the garden. We pottered inside instead.  We caught up on a few telly programs that we had recorded and not got around to watching. I did some baking. I didn't do any of the cleaning and tidying I had intended to do. It was a lovely, lazy day.  It might almost have been a Sunday :-)

Then it was Sunday. A day of sunshine and some very heavy showers. Some quite startling hails showers. And quite a lot of wind at various points.  Every time we thought that we might get into the garden to carry on weeding and tidying up, or that we might go to the allotment for some leeks, beetroot and sprouting broccoli, the clouds turned immediately black and it rained.  So we gave up on those ideas and turned our attention to gluttony instead.

I had made a slow cooked beef and mushroom stew in the slow cooker with some shin that I had bought in a value pack from Marsh Green.  It was sitting there, waiting to be used for something.  So I made some suet pastry and encased the stew in the pastry then steamed it for several hours.  And so we had this for Sunday lunch:

followed by this:

It was, of course, far too much for two to eat at a sitting.  There is lots left for today and tomorrow.

So that was it.  My own, personal, private long weekend.  And very enjoyable it was too.

I have a quieter week in prospect.  And it was a beautiful morning when we got up today.  The sun was just coming up in a clear, clear sky.  The sky was tinged lightly pink. And everything was as white as white can be.  I have dug out my winter clothes!

Spring is coming slowly in

We have been having some lovely weather recently.  Plenty of sunshine, pleasantly mild for the time of year.  A bit of rain.  A few very windy days.  And you can see that spring is upon us.  The hellebores are in full flower,

the daffodils are out ,

and so are the primroses.

We have made a start on weeding the flower beds

This one has been weeded

But this one very clearly has not.  Really, it needs digging over rather than just weeding

Now we have turned our attention to the side path

As you see, it's very mossy and still quite overgrown from the end of last summer and the beginning of autumn

We've only got about a third of the way down.  We had intended to do more, but the weekend was one of sunshine and some quite heavy showers (including quite a spectacular hail shower!)  It needs sweeping but at least we are beginning to get rid of some of the moss.  And the soil between the bricks is still sufficiently wet that the weeds are mostly quite easy to pull out.  

There is still quite a bit more to do though

I am hopeful that the weather will continue to improve and we'll be able to crack on.  The Under Gardener wants to get the allotment begs dug over too, and the kitchen garden needs attention as well.

We've still got the ducks and the chooks separated. I still haven't been able to find any female ducks and any lead that I come across proves to be a false one. I am hoping people might be hatching ducks even as we speak! We let them out when we are at home.  First the ducks and then later the chooks.  The poor ducks still stay down close to the chicken run.  The chooks, on the other hand, have abandoned the ducks and amble happily all over the garden.  They came up and helped me with the weeding the other day - and then dug over the newly weeded flower bed when I had gone inside. Fortunately only one of the little transplanted primroses got dug out :-D (I have put it back).

I am hoping to start sowing some seeds this week, to germinate inside or in the greenhouse.  I might not put the tomatoes and chillies to germinate in the greenhouse.  It was a glorious morning when we got up today. The sun was shining.  The sky was a deep, deep blue.  And it was about -3d.  And there was a very heavy frost.  Not ideal for tomatoes and chillies!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Goodness Meee, Cally is Three!

It was her birthday on Friday. She had a fun day at home with her parents who had both taken the day off work

Her party was on Saturday.  She shared it with her little friend Dylan, who has just turned four.  Their parents rented a local church hall. They had a small bouncy castle.  Cally took the pirate tent that The Builder and I gave her for Christmas. A friend came and did face painting.  There were sandwiches and pastries and cake. A great deal of merriment was had.  A great deal of sugar was consumed. The children all had a lovely time.

The Builder and I had a lovely time too.  At home.  Pottering about in the garden in the sunshine :-D

We went to the after party instead.  A party for grown ups.  With pizza.  And wine.  Cally had a good time at that too, I think.  She was absolutely hyper on all the sugar and all the excitement and all the presents and all the fuss. She didn't have wine.  At three she is still a touch too young.  But she did have pizza.

It's funny, because it hardly seems three years since she was born.  On the other hand, I don't really clearly remember her as a tiny baby. She seems to have always been nearly three to me :-D

We've been having quite a good time, setting aside the fact that The Builder's mouth still hurts and he finds it hard to chew. But the weather has been very pleasant.  Lots of sunshine, mild for the time of year. We haven't really done very much but we've been out pottering in the garden when time permits. It's quite nice sometimes to have a few days of quiet pottering about.

On the other hand, it's also quite nice to have fun things to do and exciting things to look forward to.  Matthew, Belinda, Sage and William are coming across in June. We are going to have a long weekend in Dublin with them, then they are going to London for a week, then they are coming to stay with us for a week.  I've just booked our flights to Dublin. That is all very exciting indeed.  And then there are other visitors proposing to come over the summer.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

An "Exciting" Start to the Morning

I was in the middle of getting dressed yesterday morning at about 6:15 when my phone rang.  Odd.  Who would be ringing me at that time of the morning?

I picked the phone up and looked at it.  It was a +61 number that my phone didn't recognise.

Even odder.  What Australian would be ringing me up at that time of the morning, using a number that my phone didn't know?

I answered it.  It is true that it was an Australian - but it was an Australian who usually lives in London and who at present is living in California.

A big puzzle.  Why would Freyja be calling from an Australian phone? Why wasn't she using her own phone?

No matter.  Why is Freyja ringing me at that time of the morning, no matter which phone she was using?

Aha! She didn't have her phone with her and was calling from a public phone looking for (her) Simon's phone number.  I don't have (her) Simon's number. And anyway - why was she wanting to ring him? Shouldn't he be there, in San Francisco, with her, bearing tea and gravy mix?  Yes he should.  At the airport. But Freyja couldn't find him.

I can't help, sorry.  But Tabitha has (Freyja's) Simon's number and I have Tabitha's.  I gave it to Freyja.

Tabitha, in the meantime, peacefully snoozing for it was not yet her getting up time, was somewhat surprised to get a text message from Simon (I am going to assume from here on that you are all aware that I am not talking about my brother in this post) saying that he couldn't raise Freyja and would Tabitha mind Skyping her to tell her where he was.  At about that point, Tabitha's phone rang and it was Freyja asking for Simon's number. A few text messages and phone calls later Freyja was united with her tea supplies, her gravy mix - oh, and Simon.  And Cally and Gaz were wide awake and wondering what on earth was going on :-D

It turns out that the number that was on my phone wasn't prefixed with a +61 (signifying Australia) but with a +619, indicating that the call was coming from a phone making an international call in California. Apparently the public phone Freyja was calling from didn't feel the need to prefix it with a +1, which would have told me that it was an American phone!

Anyway.  All's well that ends well. Simon is in San Rafael, with Freyja, on holiday.  And I now do have his number, Just In Case :-D

The Builder had an "exciting" day yesterday, too.  It was his Day at the Dentist, when he had to have six of his lower "biting" teeth taken out.  They went all loose and wobbly around Christmas. There wasn't much that could be done at the time, because we were about to head off for four weeks overseas.  It was all organised for when he got back. And now his biting teeth have all gone and he has some shiny new teeth in their place.  He also has some shiny new back teeth, to replace a few which have disintegrated and been removed over the years.  The only problem is that he can't chew!!  I was going to put him on a nice, wholesome diet of gruel for a few weeks but Stella and Lindsey wouldn't let me.  I have had to make soups instead!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Out to dinner - not at The Nettle!!

There's a pub on the main road between Tupton and Chesterfield. It was called The Hunloke Arms. We went to it a couple of times, when we first moved to Tupton. It was OK - but then over time we found The Nettle and The Three Horseshoes and a couple of other places that we liked better and we went to them instead.

Sometime last summer The Hunloke closed down and builders and painters and decorators and things moved in.  It re-opened sometime around Christmas, re-named as The Wingerworth. We noticed that it had been re-named and that it had re-opened, but we were saving up for Christmas and to go off Jumping Around in the Time Zones, so we didn't go to visit it.  But we marked it down as being worth an inspection. The Three Horseshoes has closed down, the other places that we were going to have gone downhill. Our local pub options have more or less reduced to The Nettle, and to The Rutland by the church in Town. A bit of variety is nice, sometimes so we decided to go for a look see.

It's now Lent and on Monday we will give up alcohol for the rest of Lent (we've already given up chocolates and sweets and cakes and things).  I thought we ought to drop by before going on the wagon!  This weekend would have been ideal, except that The Builder is having most of his lower teeth out this afternoon and might not absolutely feel like going out to eat in the next couple of days. So we decided that a pre-dentist meal out would be the way to go. So we went last evening.

And it was lovely. The interior has been really well renovated.  The staff were charming and attentive. The menu is small, but more than adequate and mostly locally sourced. The food isn't absolutely up to the standard of The Nettle, but then not many places are. But it was very good. It's British Pie Week this week and they had a specials menu with various pies on it.  There are vegetarian options. The Builder very much enjoyed his venison and mushroom pie. I very much enjoyed my sirloin steak and salad. The chips might have been a bit crisper, but they were very tasty. Alas - they had forgotten my mushrooms, but I really didn't need any more food so it wasn't a disaster.

The big advantage of The Wingerworth is that it is in walking distance. In the summer you could walk through the nature reserve and up the footpath through a field.  In the winter you could easily walk along the pavement. I think it might take around 30 minutes walking along the road. We took the car last evening because it was raining and we were feeling lazy.

We will go again. We ate in the restaurant last night and I want to check the bar menu.  But we are absolutely and most definitely not going to forsake The Nettle. It felt quite odd to be turning out for a meal and not heading there!!

Monday, March 03, 2014

It was a lovely, lovely day on Saturday. And I was at work in the afternoon :-(  Mind you, I was at the Collegiate Learning Centre so at least I got to look at the blue sky and the sunshine!

It's a beautiful beautiful day today.  Blue sky, bright sunshine (perishing cold though - the car was properly frozen this morning!)  And I'm at work.

Yesterday I was not at work. And it rained pretty much all day.  No gardening for me, then.  So we ate roasted things from the mini oven. It's slower than the fan oven used to be, in the days when the fan oven actually worked, but it made us a mighty fine Sunday Roast. And we drank plentiful amounts of wine. And we watched telly. And we pootled around. And we pre-empted Pancake Day and had pancakes for supper. It was a very relaxed Sunday afternoon.

We've been trying to lay our hands on a couple of female ducks to save Dimsim and Curry from the unwanted attentions of the drakes.  We keep them separated at the moment, but I let everyone out yesterday morning.  Dimsim positively galloped over to the drakes.  They galloped over to her. They were delighted to be reunited.  Then the drakes decided to demonstrate their delight in a, um, grown up way.  Dimsim was not delighted by that!  They've been separated again. So, as I say, we've been trying to get some female ducks who might be slightly more delighted than the chooks. It's proving to be surprisingly difficult.  I wish Lindsey's ute people would come here because there seem to be virtually no ducks available locally, and certainly not Indian Runner ducks.  We may have to travel further afield (although Ballarat is a bit more further afield than I really had in mind!!)