Monday, October 27, 2014

A day full of surprises

Up towards the roundabout on Queen Victoria Road there is a complex of health and beauty businesses.  There are hairdressers and nail people and beauticians and teeth whiteners and all sort of things.  I noticed a little while ago the the nail clinic had closed down.  This didn't surprise me unduly.  You wouldn't necessarily expect a nail clinic to flourish at the bottom of QVR. In fact, I am surprised that nail clinics flourish at all!

Anyway, as I ambled up on Saturday morning for my 9:00 hair appointment, I noticed that there was a new sign outside the little car park.  It appears that the nail clinic has transformed into a sandwich shop.  Much more useful, in my view.  I'm not sure if it is entirely a takeaway outlet or whether there are seats inside.  I had brought with me just the money for my hair cut and it didn't seem kind to go and peer through the window when I had no intention of buying anything.  But I might wander up another Saturday when I am at home and see what they do.  Not next Saturday, though.  We are off to Bishops' House next Saturday.

So.  I wandered into Angie's hair dressing salon -- to find a complete stranger stood inside! This was definitely a surprise.  Where is Angie?  On holiday perhaps?  No.  It seems she's left.  Gone.  Just like that! The Saturday before, apparently.  The two young women who are now resident in the salon don't really know where she's gone or why, although they think she has moved her business to Ashover.  Ashover isn't all that far, I suppose.  It's a bit beyond The Nettle.  But it's a bit of a step just for a hair cut, when there are hair dressers actually in Tupton that I can walk to.  The nice young woman kindly fitted me in, since I thought I had a 9:00 appointment.  And it turns out that both of them used to work in the salon next door , where I used to go before stomping off and joining Angie's salon up in Grassmoor (and which later moved to Tupton and has now gone further afield, possibly!). I have made another appointment with them.  But it was definitely surprising.  Angie hadn't mentioned that she was thinking of moving the last time I was there, and it wasn't that long ago.

Home I went, and The Builder and I went out to Marsh Green for some weekend foodie supplies and then back to Clay Cross so I could buy him a new tablet. There isn't actually anything wrong with his iPad, but increasingly you can't update the apps on the iPad 1 and some app developers are taking the earlier versions out of commission.  So, for example, he couldn't use Skype any more. A cheap and cheerful tablet with a newer operating system seemed to be called for.  I went with the Hudl, which is Android based but made by Tesco.  This may surprise you, since I am not, as you are probably aware, a huge fan of Tesco, but the Hudl gets good reviews and it was cheap and cheerful and looked cute. The Builder seems entirely delighted with it. He can have all the latest apps, including Skype.  I must say that it is fun to play with. But I am saving up, inter alia, for a new iPad and am not tempted by the cuteness of the Hudl.

Apart from all that excitement, we had a fairly quiet weekend, following my Three Busy Weeks. We remembered to put the clocks back, although I did forget to change the clock radio in the bedroom and woke up at what the clock said was 4:30 but which was in reality only 3:30. In both cases it was far too early to get up, but it did mean that I was lying wakefully in bed for much longer than was necessary :-(  I think we had successfully adjusted all the clocks and timers now, except for the clock in the car which rather alarmingly informed me that it was 8:30 this morning as we set off for me to catch the 7:49 train from the station!

I do have a moderately busy week ahead this week, but my diary mainly has red (meeting) appointments in it, a couple of green (one-to-one meetings with students)sessions, a few cupboard (blue) sessions and a lunch appointment.  No yellow blocks this week

Friday, October 24, 2014

Three Busy Weeks - nearly done

So far this week has been OK.  Tuesday was exceptionally busy, but Monday and Wednesday almost approached normal busy-ness and today has been remarkably quiet.  The student I was expecting this morning didn't show up, my meeting this afternoon was postponed and there was even time for a little stroll outside at lunchtime.  Only tomorrow morning to worry about - I have no teaching or other engagements planned tomorrow afternoon - and then that will be that.  For now!

I am enjoying my Japanese classes at the moment, although I am very glad I am not teaching them! I decided to repeat Level 3 this year; I'm not sure that I really understood a lot of it last year.  Anyway, the class this year is a composite class of Levels 2 and 3, so you have a really mixed ability range. There are people who have come up from Level 1, intending to do Level 2.  there are people who have done Level 2 and were intending to repeat it. There are others who had done Level 2 once or even twice and were intending to go on to level 3. And then there are three of us who have done Level 3 once and were intending to repeat it.  As I say - I'm very glad I am not having to design classes that make all of those groups happy!!!  However, as one of my classmates who is also repeating Level 3 said, it's quite nice going back to the nursery slopes and reminding ourselves of some of the basics.  And in fact, I had been thinking not so long ago that I wouldn't mind revisiting Levels 1 and 2 just to consolidate some of the earlier things that I think I had forgotten about. So a win for me, then!  Plus, of course, I actually understand what's happening in the classes and can even answer some of the questions :-D

Richard came for dinner last evening, bearing a huge bag of eating apples - and refusing to take away with him any of our remaining Bramleys because he has more than enough apples to be going on with.  I might have insisted except that the remaining Bramleys are not the best that we had.  They are a bit mottled and bruised. They taste good, though. We've been having stewed apples with various flavoured yoghurts with our lunches.  Bramley apple with lemon curd yoghurt is a dessert positively made in heaven.  Anyway, we had a lovely dinner (if I do say so myself) - home made salmon fish fingers, since you ask, with home made chips and mixed vegetables in a Japanese curry sauce. The Builder and i might have had a tiny bit of wine on the side.  Richard didn't because (a) he was driving back to Sheffield after and (b) he's on pain killers for a bad back and didn't want to go to sleep while driving back to Sheffield. A pleasant mid-week interval.

And now there is just tomorrow to go and my Three Busy Weeks will be done.  Until more busy weeks find their way towards me :-)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Three Busy Weeks - Two Down

Two down and one left to go. And the one left to go isn't unwaveringly busy.  It has two VERY busy days in it and three relatively all right days.  But it's a bit daunting, looking at it from this perspective, it must be said.

But last week is now done.  We didn't have the excitement of the internet going away - just our external phone lines :-D  This meant, of course, that we couldn't ring out, but it also meant that people couldn't ring in!!  It was very quiet in the Enquiry Cupboard!

My calendar for last week had lots and lots of yellow (teaching) sessions in it, blue (cupboard) sessions and red (meeting) sessions.  But it also had an instruction to go to the pub after work on Friday, which included several people from our team, plus Paul and Linda who have abandoned us for a life of leisure and indolence.

There was another SHU Open Day on Saturday which I came in for.  As you will be aware, I enjoy working the open days, but I have to say that I was very tired after this one.  There were only two of us working in the Learning Centre so we had lots and lots of tours around the building to do.  I was therefore extremely pleased that I had had the foresight earlier in the week to book a table at The Nettle for Sunday lunch.  They do a carvery on Sundays, and they do it very well indeed.  I had a plate full of very delicious turkey, with roasties and mash and veg and a Yorkshire Pud and gravy and sauces and things. The Builder had all of that too, but he had roast beef rather than turkey. We shared some wine with it and went home feeling replete and fairly happy.  We should really go out for Sunday lunch more often, it's a very pleasant way of spending the middle point of Sunday.

Right then.  tomorrow I have two lectures to deliver and two workshops to rfun.  I guess I had better get on and write/prepare/organise them!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Three busy weeks - one down

Last week loomed rather darkly on the calendar.  If you looked at my online diary it was absolutely full of yellow slots (teaching sessions), red slots (meetings), blue slots (duty advisor shifts) and bright green slots (things to do and prepare).  It was a bit intimidating, from the perspective of last Sunday!

In fact, it went fairly well. The students were all amiable and attentive. The classes seemed to go quite well. The meetings were uncontentious. The only problem was on Tuesday when, mid-morning, external access to the internet disappeared.  This might not seem such a big issue to you - but things like our library catalogue, our subject guides, our databases, all sorts of things that we use extensively, are hosted externally.  And it is very hard to teach students how to use them when you can't get to them!!! It made the middle part of Tuesday a bit challenging for those of us who had classes scheduled.  In fact, after I had tried to run one class without the internet, I cancelled the next two.  For the last one the problem had been fixed.  Mercifully!  Wasn't just us, though. Universities across Yorkshire and Humberside were affected.  My Japanese class on Tuesday evening was postponed, not because there wasn't any internet access which we don't really need for the classes, but because the school where they are held was being used for a parents' evening.  I was not unhappy about that. It meant I got to go home instead of trying to engage my brain in student mode :-)

The other thing that was scheduled for last week, which had been worrying me quite a bit, was that I was timetabled to go to Collegiate and to do a law session.  I know pretty much nothing about the law databases. I had swotted up on the databases we were supposed to be looking at in the session but I still wasn't at all confident about this.  In the event, the somewhat over-stretched law librarian rocked up just before the session and asked if I would like him to do the session with me.  I practically bit his hand off!  He did it much better than I ever could have done. But I am better prepared now for next time!

I had lunch with Freyja on Wednesday in Wa Ding, a new Chinese grocery with a small cafe above. It was very encouraging to walk in and find that it was quite busy and that the clientele was largely Oriental.  Always a good sign, I find.  And the food was lovely.  We got two enormous plates of food for £10, plates so enormous that we struggled to eat them.  Maybe next time we should share a plate

And so the week passed, in a puff of activity.  The weekend passed in a lazy, leisurely sort of a way. We had no plans and didn't do very much.  Except that I stewed another mountain of Bramley apples.  I have run out of jam jars now for my apple sauce.  I have some plastic post which I could use to store apple sauce in the freezer, but probably not enough to cope with the large bag of remaining apples.  I think we are just going to have to shovel down apple-y things over the next couple of weeks before the apples go off.

It has been very autumnal around our place this last week or so, although Sunday was a beautiful day. I ought to have got out and started pruning the garden.  But I peeled apples instead!

Autumn vista

Looking out the kitchen window on Sunday at lunch time

Is that a duck I spy down the path, asks Marlo

So one very busy week down.  Two to go. Then things should drop back to normal.  Which isn't to say there is nothing to do, just that it's not quite so frantic

Monday, October 06, 2014

Out and about - again!

We were at Bishops' House yesterday morning.  We were expecting to be quite quiet.  It was raining and blustery in the morning.  It was a tad chilly. It wasn't a nice morning for wandering about in the park.  In the event, we were busier than we anticipated.  A couple of children came in with their grandparents to finish up some school work they were doing on Tudor England.  Another set of grandparents brought their grandchildren in for a look around.  A SHU Student Crew member brought a large group of International Students in as part of a cultural walking tour of Sheffield.  And it stopped raining so people came out into the park and dropped in to say hello.

We headed home, via the supermarket.  And not long after we arrived home Tabitha, Gareth and Cally came by to pick us up, and we all went out to Ashover (near The Nettle) for the Ashover Vintage Engine Fair and Light Show.  We knew that it was happening because someone gave us a flier for it when we were in Clay Cross last week.  I think we might not have bothered going, except that the entrance fee was being put towards fund raising for the air ambulance.  And Ashover is no distance from our place.  Once again, I'm really pleased that we did go.  The fair wasn't hugely big, but it was very cute and we all had a really good time.  There were tractors and campervans and trucks and one steam machine.  Various people were doing Halloween-y things, others were doing early Christmas-y things. Cally had a ride on a fair ground ride. We didn't stay for the lights because we had got there a bit too early to wait for darkness - and because after we had been there for an hour and a half or so we were all getting a bit cold.  I think that next year we'll go a bit later, wear coats and gloves and look at the lights.

Taffa, Gaz and Cally came back to our place (just as well, really, because we had gone to Ashover in their car and while it isn't all that far from our place, it would be a serious walk to get home!) and stayed over night.  The Builder got up early this morning to watch the (extremely wet) Grand Prix race in Japan.  I got up very early because I had to go into work this morning.  Cally slept in until 7:30, which is quite late for her and thus for her parents.  She tells me that she "had a very big sleep in my bed"!.  Gaz, Taffa and Cally gave me a lift into work (the first train that runs from Chesterfield to Sheffield on a Sunday morning isn't until 10:03, and I needed to be there for 9:30). It was the SHU Open Day today and they like to have staff available to take visitors around the Learning Centre and to tell them about library services.  I quite enjoy doing the Open Days.  Not, it must be admitted, at 8:30 when I need to start getting ready to go, but once I get to them they're quite a bit of fun.

And now I am home again, restorative glass of wine in hand, waiting for my salmon and chips to cook, and thinking slightly gloomily of the Very Busy Week I have in store.

Click on Aviator Cally to get to the fair

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Out and about, eating and drinking

On Thursday morning, The Builder sent me a message asking if we were going to the Bishops' House talk, which Ken was giving to the volunteers that evening.

I had completely forgotten all about it.  We had received invitations several weeks ago by email, but hadn't discussed it, hadn't put it on the calendar and I hadn't put it in my diary.  So no, then.

But we didn't have any plans for Thursday evening, and Ken's talks are always interesting, plus it's nice to meet with some of the other volunteers.  Because we always volunteer together, we only ever see the people who are coming in on Saturday afternoon and even then only for a few minutes.  So we decided that we would go, now that the Bishops' House people had sent out a reminder.

So Jim, drove into Sheffield after I finished work and we went to the (Sheffield) Rutland for an early bite to eat.  A Slutty, Rutty Butty for me, please. (A chip butty enhanced with a thick bacon steak, cheese and a slightly spicy stewed tomato sauce).  Fish and chips for The Builder

It's just as well that we did decide to go to the talk.  There was hardly anyone there. And that was a real pity, because it was a fascinating talk, looking at the development of Bishops' House itself and the surrounding area from the 16th century to the present day.  I wonder if it was because it was a Thursday and people were working or studying the following day.  I know that we left a little earlier than we might have done had I not been working the following day. But I'm glad we went.

I have recently started following the blog Feast and Glory, which looks at foodie things in and around Sheffield.  A couple of weeks ago it alerted its readers to a forthcoming Street Food Night Market, which was to be held just down the road from SHU and which looked as though it might be fun.  So I arranged with The Builder to meet him in Sheffield yesterday evening to go and have a bit of a look see.  Tabitha decided that she would come too. It was lots of fun.  We had wine. We had vegetarian spring rolls with a bean sprout salad. We had a pizza with ham and mushrooms.  We had tacos with pulled pork. There was lots more food to try, but we were getting quite full.  They are hoping to have these Street Food markets on a monthly basis, although they might not stay in the disused building that it was based in yesterday. The wood fired stalls were based outside in what is now a small council owned car park and I think the council was a bit uneasy about the loss of revenue that is the consequence of shutting a car park for a day.  I hope they do find somewhere else, though. It was a great little event. It ran from 5:30 to 10:30 yesterday and is running again today from 2.  But we can't go again.  We have other plans for today.
Getting ready to rock and roll.  It hadn't quite started when we got there. There were lots of people about half an hour later

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Late September

The tomato plants in the kitchen garden were all hit by blight a couple of weeks ago and had to be dug up.  This was a very great pity because they were absolutely laden with oh-so-nearly ripe tomatoes.  Fortunately, the plants in the greenhouses on the allotment are blight free and are still producing prodigiously.

The runner beans are oh-so, oh-so nearly finished.  There is one, perhaps two pickings left.  But we have had absolutely loads and loads and there are lots in the freezer, in packs with the onions and tomatoes ready for winter stews.  There are also a few courgettes in the packs.  It's not that we haven't had plenty of courgettes (mostly in the form of button squash); there have been lots but they haven't grown very big and so we have needed more of them to make up a meal.  There are lots more yet to come, provided that we don't get an overnight frost in the next few weeks.  There are also little cucumbers on the way, and a few carrots left in the boxes.  There are also corn plants on the allotment that are probably nearly ready. We haven't checked them for a few days.  I must remember to do that!

I am still making my way through the Bramley apples that the Under-Gardener picked a couple of weeks ago.  I think a few sessions of apple-sauce making are in order, although we have been enjoying apple and blackberry pies (with blackberries from the brambles in the orchard) and apple cakes recently.  Plus I have discovered that if you put stewed Bramley apples in with vanilla or lemon yoghurt and add the tiniest bit of honey, you have a magnificent lunchtime dessert.

We hve finally given up on the kiwi fruit vine in the greenhouse in the garden.  It has never produced even so much as a single flower and it has been busy trying to knock down the greenhouse.  The Under-Gardener has removed it so we can use the space to grow something more productive.  Possibly winter cabbages and broccoli, if it's not too late to find any, or more tomatoes and capsicums next spring.

Fennel and Celery appear to have got over the loss of Hoisin and the trauma of whatever it was that happened.  We've opened the fence up properly between the two sections of the orchard and the two ducks and two chickens are mingling happily.  When there is someone at home during the day, we let them out to forage in the kitchen and flower gardens. They seem to enjoy that a lot.  We are getting three eggs most days, and four eggs ever two or three days.  Dimsim is not a prolific layer, but then she isn't supposed to be.

And so now we are turning our attention a little to next season.  The Under-Gardener has planted overwintering onions and garlic today, and he is preparing the garden and allotment beds for the spring.  And I am about to start pruning and clearing in the flower garden.  I am planning to completely dig over the two main flower beds this autumn and winter and to restock in the spring.  I am, of course, not intending to dig up the shrubs but the majority of the flowers will go so I can make an attempt to reduce the number of pernicious weeds.  And the alpine strawberries!!!

The kitchen garden layout today
and the allotment