Friday, November 28, 2014

I got home from work yesterday evening and found this parked outside our house!

What?  No, no - it's not the Tardis.  It's a police car.  With many traffic cones, closing off Bridge Street and Hag Hill.

I knew the road was closed, for The Builder had rung me to say that he might be delayed picking me up from the station because the road was closed.  I hadn't realised that there was a police car with its blue lights on, parked pointing towards our driveway.  They are building a housing estate towards the top of Hag Hill and a truck had managed to spread clay and mud all over the hill and vehicles were struggling to stay on the road.  So the road had to be closed until it could all be cleaned up - which took a couple of hours and infuriated everyone who wanted to travel up or down the hill. It particularly infuriated people who live in houses up the hill who had no alternative route they could take. There aren't all that many houses up Hag Hill. It's mostly fields.  But there are enough.  I think some of them gave up in the end and parked around our place and walked the rest of the way.  There were unfamiliar cars parked around about when we came out this morning.

The road is beautifully shiny and clean now.  A great big road cleaning truck came and sorted it all out.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Markets and Merriment

We woke up this morning to persistent and determined rain.  This was a tiny bit of a worry.  We had plans for this afternoon which involve being outside.  Although, if it continued to rain like this, we might very well have amended those plans!  Some of them, though, didn't require dry weather.  So at 11:00 we hopped in the car and took ourselves into Sheffield.

They were holding a medieval fair at Bishops' House so we went there first for a bit of a potter around. By the time we got to Norton Lees, where Bishops' House is situated, the rain had dropped to a persistent drizzle.  There weren't crowds of people in the house (and I think not as many stalls as in previous years, but I'm not sure about that). But there were enough to give it a gentle buzz.  And by the time we came out, the drizzle had more or less stopped and it was just grey and damp.

We drove into the city centre - and found that the places where I had intended to park were all chock-a-block full.  So we parked in one of the multi-storey car parks and made our way to The Rutland (the Sheffield one; would have been silly to park in the Sheffield city centre if we were intending to go to the chesterfield Rutland :-D ).  There we were met by Tabitha, Gareth and Cally, and by Freyja and Simon.  I had thought that this was the first time that we had all been together in one place since Freyja got back at the end of August.  But I am reminded that we have, in fact, all met for lunch at Tabitha, Gareth and Cally's place.  However, Freyja and Simon are heading off to Darwin and Melbourne on Saturday, so it was nice to get together for lunch before then!  And a delightful lunch it was too.

When we came out, the grey clouds had gone away, the dampness had dried out, and the sun was shining in a blue, blue sky.  So we wandered down The Moor to look at the fair ground rides and the animals from the Heeley City Farm and the Christmassy things.  The Builder and I didn't plan to stay for the official turning on of the Christmas lights, but we were happy to  wander around and look at things in the sunshine.  And the Moor Market was open as well.  It's not usually open on Sundays but it is now up until Christmas.

Then the Builder and I pootled off home again, where he watched the final Grand Prix of the season, which we had recorded for him (it was actually on while we were in the pub).  And everyone else hung around to watch the lights turned on, and to inspect the Christmas market on Fargate.  I've already inspected it.  I have bought myself a new hat from it :-)

I enjoyed today a lot.  But I am very tired.  I haven't been sleeping well for some reason.  I think an early night might be called for!

Tabitha, Freyja and Cally on the Runaway Train this afternoon

Sunday, November 23, 2014


You may possibly remember (although you probably don't!) that our wall oven died on us last January, just before we were due to head to Singapore, thence Melbourne and Japan.  We decided that we wouldn't replace it at the time, given that we were about to disappear for a month, so bought a little bench-top oven and made do with that.

While we were away we decided that if we were going to buy a new oven, we would save up and buy a proper, nice double oven.  The Builder would make adjustments to the cupboard the oven sits in so it would fit.  And from time to time we would look at ovens in shops or online.  And we would ponder.

In the meantime, of course, we got used to living with a mini-oven, frustratingly slow though it could be at times.

Then we realised that Christmas was just around the corner.  The mini-oven almost certainly wouldn't do for showcase Christmas cooking.  So we griddled our lions, amassed what money we had in one place and went to Curry's this morning to sort out our oven.

We couldn't have our first choice.  Not only were there none in store for us to take home, but there were also none available for delivery in the foreseeable future :-S  So we decided to go for our second choice.  None available in store for that, either, but at least we could have one delivered in a week or two. That will do.

I was just about to pay for it when the lady said: "I assume you have an electrician on standby to fit your new oven?"  We assured her that no electrician would be needed.  The cabinet for the oven would need adjustment, but The Builder could do that, and we already had an electrical socket to plug it into, where the previous oven had been.

She looked at us.  "Oh no," she said.  "You can't plug in a double oven.  The voltage is too great.  You need to have it hard-wired in by an electrician."

That won't do.  In order to have it hard wired, we will need to have the whole of the downstairs rewired, in which case we might just as well have the whole place done properly.  And if we were going to do that, we would have had one or two of the overhead lights moved, and have sorted out the various odd socket locations and removed some switches that don't seem to have any particular purpose.  It would be a massive and very expensive undertaking.  Not one that we have budgeted for, not one that we have saved for - not even one that is high on our priority list of things to do. No double oven for us, then.

So we bought this instead

The Builder installed it with almost no fuss and it now has a piece of pork shoulder slow roasting in it.  I'm going to make some cupcakes as well - the little oven makes nice cakes but my 12 space cupcake tin won't fit in it. New ovens take a bit of getting used to so I need to practise and play with it.  So far it seems to be quite effective.  But really, there was no need for all this waiting, saving and making do.  If we had only known that double ovens couldn't be plugged in to a socket --- we could have bought this back in March!!

(But as several people have pointed out, we do now, effectively, have a double oven with this and the mini-oven combined.  And we have a bit of money sitting by to kick start our next project.  Shall we have the wood burner or the dropped kerb done next, do you reckon?)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


We made an unexpected trip to Salisbury this weekend.  The Builder's mother went into hospital on Friday for an operation on her hand and shoulder.  She had to have cancerous growths removed.  We knew she was going in.  We knew when the operation was.  But it was only after I had got home from work on Friday that I thought - you know, we really ought to go down and visit her in the hospital.

I had a look at my diary and discovered that I had no appointments on Monday, so I put in a leave request for Monday and booked us into The Swan in Stoford on Sunday evening.  Visiting hours at the hospital are from 2pm so we took ourselves off at about 11 and got down there in time to go and visit for an hour or so.  Gwen was looking quite cheerful but was a bit cold and a bit bored.  She's not used to spending all her time cooped up in bed but can't get out of bed because of the drainage tubes and so on.  Anyway, we warmed her up with some extra blankets and left when she was beginning to look a bit tired.

We used to stay at The Swan in Stoford very regularly but haven't been for quite a while.  It was rather nice to stop by again.  But we didn't stay long after we had checked in.  Jeanette and Matthew had invited us to go to their place near Portsmouth for a Sunday roast.  And very tasty it was too.  Bailey their puppy is now six months old and nothing like as scared of things as she was the first time we met her.  It was good to see Rebecca and Evie too (as well as Jeanette and Matthew, of course!).  Then back to Stoford, time for a glass of wine in our room there, and so to bed.

I slept very well.  It was quite a comfortable bed.  But not for The Builder.  The doona was too short for him and his feet well and truly poked out from underneath it.  He woke up several times with frozen feet!!!! He should have put his socks back on :-D

We had a plentiful breakfast, which really should have seen us through until we got home again.  And we pootled into Salisbury and went shopping and browsing in Waitrose (which has been refurbished and completely changed around since last we were there!!), and in Lakeland, and in Dingham's, a tardis like cookshop on the market square.  But what to do then?  It was much, much too early to go back to the hospital.  It was only 20 past 11.  So we got into the car, out of the rain and drove off pondering where to go.  Then I saw a sign to Stonehenge and remembered that there is a brand new visitor centre there which I quite fancied seeing.  So we went there.  And it's beautiful!  Fortunately, we could go just for a short time because we have National Trust membership cards.  You wouldn't want to spend £15 just to look at the visitor centre!!!  However, entry was free for us and we had a lovely time pottering around, even if we didn't really feel much like going to inspect the stones themselves in the rain!!

The new visitor centre in the rain
They've built huts like the ones the original builders of Stonehenge would have lived in

Inside a hut
It's quite a cosy little neolithic village

Right.  Hungry work, exploring visitor centres and the gift shops of ancient monuments. Breakfast had definitely worn off, so we headed back into Salisbury and had lunch at The Old Mill.  Simon and Steve have now decamped off to Monmouthshire and there are new owners.  But unusually for new owners, they have kept pretty much all of the old staff, who remembered us from our previous few visits.  The food is as good as it was before too. An excellent lunch.  Then we made a quick visit to the hospital to visit Gwen and then headed on home.

It took FOR EVER to get home ;-(  There were hold ups everywhere, caused by broken down trucks, minor bingles, big bingles, and (very excitingly for us, although not for the occupants of the car) a vehicle on the motorway absolutely and positively ablaze!!!!  I've never seen a car quite so comprehensively on fire!  But eventually we did make it home, where the cat was very pleased to see us.

Back to work today.  Can't say I feel like going.  I'd very much rather stay in our cosy bed, where the king sized doona is more than big enough to cover The Builder's feet!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I don't think the fog lifted at all yesterday. Not even when it rained.  And it definitely did rain - we were heading out (fortunately in the car) and the heavens absolutely opened!  Didn't daunt the fog, though.  And it didn't daunt us.  We went to the Post Office to send some stuff Japan-wards.  We went to Clay Cross and dumped some stuff in the clothes recycling bin and we finally made it to Marsh Green to visit the Farm Shop.  No Christmas market this week, so we could actually park the car and go in.

The Under Gardener has begun digging up around the pond.  But no digging today, in the fog and the rain

Grassmoor seems to have vanished

Dogwood bush 

Twisted Witch Hazel, just starting to turn colour

Looking up towards our house
The fog didn't daunt the chickens and the ducks either.  I let them out for a wander around, and the chooks made a hasty beeline for the greenhouse and amused themselves for ages and ages having a massive dust bath.  The duck and chook run is exceptionally muddy at the moment, so no dust bathing is available in there.  The ducks don't mind the mud and the rain so just pottered about outside, dabbling up many tasty morsels from under the leaves and grass and fallen over flower plants

Curry, coming to see if I have any tasty titbits (I didn't)

Dimsim is moulting.  Funny time of year to moult, in my view!

Fennel and Celery out enjoying the chance to explore
Right.  I'd better get on.  We're heading down to Salisbury shortly and I am not ready!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Feasting and Fireworks

Well that was a really lovely weekend.  We didn't do very much - apart from eat, drink, feast and watch fireworks, but that was good enough!

It absolutely chucked it down on Saturday. It poured and poured and poured and poured!  We made a dash to the car, during one of the less pouring bits of the morning. We had intended to call out to Marsh Green for a few bits and pieces but when we got there we discovered that they were having a Christmas Market and the car park was absolutely chockablock full.  We gave that up as a bad idea and pottered out to the Garden Centre and then to Sainsbury's instead.  We haven't been to Sainsbury's for simply ages.  It was quite hard to get to for about 6 weeks.  They had the bridge by the station closed while they did road repairs up by the station entrance, so we couldn't get there by that route.  We could, of course, have gone along the main road, but they are doing major roadworks along there at the moment and the queues are quite substantial most of the time.  It's only a five minute drive to the Tesco in Clay Cross, so we've been going there instead. However, I much prefer Sainsbury's and now that the bridge is open again we are heading back there when a supermarket is required.

While we were out, Tabitha rang to tell me that Cally was going to a birthday party in Chesterfield, and did we fancy meeting them for a late lunch when the party finished at 2pm.  A nice thought, but perhaps not today.  We have foodie plans for later in the day!

It's a year since the Wingerworth re-opened after a full refurb and the acquisition of new owners. As a celebration (and given that this was one of  the weekends that people were having their bonfire parties - bonfire night was actually on Wednesday so people pretty much had both weekends to choose from), the people at the Wingerworth had a bonfire and fireworks party planned.  The bonfire was lit at 6:30 with the fireworks starting at 7:30.  We don't usually eat as early as 6:30, but I booked us a table for that time anyway, so we could go out and watch the fireworks. (This was why I didn't want to go out for lunch at 2:30!!!)  The Wingerworth is about a 2.25 km walk from our place and it had actually stopped raining, so off we headed on foot. And found that they had given us a table by the window, overlooking the bonfire and the fireworks.  No need for us to head out into the cold after all!!!

Wingerworth Pub, Saturday evneing

A huge bonfire down in the car park and beer garden
The view from our table, looking down on the bonfire

We had an absolutely delicious meal, washed down with plenty of wine and even a glass of port to accompany the watching of the fireworks.  We were on foot, so no one had to worry about driving home again!  The fireworks were spectacular and the car park was absolutely full of spectators.  Was a great evening.

A message from Tabitha.  Gareth had got the wrong day for the birthday party that Cally was due to attend.  It was actually on Sunday.  Did we fancy meeting them for lunch on Sunday instead.  Well, yes.  We can do that, or alternatively, they could all come to our place instead.  And that is what they did.  I did barbecue-style food, but cooked and served inside. It might not have been raining any more, but it was only about 8d outside and everything was all soggy wet.  Much more comfortable sat in our dining room rather than outside in the wind and damp.  Cally had already eaten, so she sat in the lounge room and watched telly and coloured in with the colouring books I had bought and played with our teddies and had a small plate of hot chips.  The rest of us sat at the table and ate sausages and steak and hot chips and drank wine (apart from Gaz who was driving home).  It was a lovely, if unexpected, Sunday lunch party.

We had our first frost of the season last week.  It looked very beautiful - but it didn't do our zucchini/courgette, cucumber or butternut squash plants any good at all.

Frost-tinged mint leaves and flowers

Twisted witch hazel in the frost

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Morning excitements in the garden

The Builder was bringing in the bins this morning when he heard a commotion out the back.  He went to investigate. And found there was a young-ish fox in Marina and Dean's garden trying to get at their chooks.  Indeed, the fox very nearly succeeded. He bashed in the gate to their run and took off after the chooks.

The Builder yelled, and the fox positively flew over the fence ... into OUR poultry run!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Builder, in his slippers (he hadn't bothered to put proper shoes on just to bring in the bins), rushed down, flung open the gate, rushed into the muddy, muddy poultry run and chased the fox (which had designs on our ducks and chickens, now it had found them) away.  It jumped over the fence and into the field at the back. And then made its way back into our garden, up the path, and out onto the street through the channel we have between our porch and next door's fence so that Marlo can come and go!

Marina's chickens, our chickens and our ducks were not in the least bit impressed with the incursion of a fox into their ordered lives.  I don't think that we or Marina are very impressed either.  The Builder and I have seen foxes occasionally in the fields and out and about but no sign that they were in the least bit interested in our garden - not since The Builder blocked up the gap in the fence between our garden and the field well before we got the very first lot of chickens. Marina says she saw it come out of our driveway and head towards the farm.  I fear that it is not going to forget that there are chickens and ducks residing in Bridge Street. The Builder is going to get some battens and some wire and raise the height of the fences around the orchard, but that's not going to be done in a hurry.  In the meantime we are going to have to put the ducks and chooks to bed at night.  This won't be an issue with the chooks but the ducks might not be quite so biddable. And I am not at home this evening to help :-D

It might be time to buy The Builder a new pair of slippers.  He had been thinking about doing this and I think his mind has now been made up!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Last week wasn't too bad, then.  A few meetings (one over quite a pleasant breakfast in the student cafeteria), a few sessions in the cupboard, some one-to-one meetings with post-graduate students.  It was all quite calm, and culminated with a Friday lunch with Tabitha and Nate who dragged himself away from his explosives to join us at Wa Ding - and then I had Friday afternoon off :-)  Another week done.

The weekend was quite busy as weekends go.  We were at Bishops' House on Saturday morning.  It was a lovely day and we had a steady stream of visitors through the house.  In the afternoon we headed to Waitrose and then on to Costco, doing our bit to keep the economy afloat :D And so home.

Sunday I was working the last of three SHU Open Days.  There were three of us, this time, showing people library services but even so we were very busy.  I don't know what the stats were for the three open Days, but my guess would be that this last one was the largest by some way.  I was quite tired by the end of it!

So it seemed like almost no time at all before it was Monday morning and I was back at the station waiting for the train to start yet another week. I enjoy both volunteering at Bishops' House and working the Open Days, but the Sunday Open Days always seem to fall on the same weekend as our regular Saturday at BH and lo - there is the weekend gone!

On the other hand, I will enjoy the extra money when it comes my way.

This week is looking, from this perspective, calm and peaceful and quiet.  I have a Japanese class tomorrow evening, I have a couple of sessions in the cupboard in my diary, and not much else.  Might be able to get on and clear the backlog of paper work, office work and other things that are awaiting attention.

Oh - I meant to say.  We have new neighbours.  Debby and Steve eventually gave up on the idea of selling their house.  Nobody much was showing any great interest, and some friends of their son were looking for somewhere to live, so they've rented it to them.  They moved in over the weekend and seem very pleasant.  They have two young children, but not the dog that I saw wandering around in their garden early on Sunday morning. That belongs to Grandma and was just visiting.