Saturday, April 30, 2016

A week of small incidents

Well now.  That was a more interesting week than I had been anticipating. Nothing very exciting happened.  Nothing of any great importance. It was more that I hadn't really been expecting anything much beyond Monday.

Monday was Gareth's birthday (and ANZAC Day, but that didn't really register much in the UK).  The Builder and I took ourselves into Sheffield early in the evening and we met Gareth, Tabitha, Cally, Flynn and Ginger Rich at Swanky Frank's for dinner.  We also met another friend who lives in Holymoorside. He had been heading back from SHU on his bicycle and had not one but two punctures on his way up the hill into Woodseats.  He abandoned his bike at Tabitha and Gareth's place and came to Swanky Frank's for a drink while waiting for his wife to launch a rescue mission in her car :-D  We had a good time.  There was another magician, who was very good.  The Builder and I had learned from our previous mistake and ordered a less substantial starter to share. This meant that I managed to finish my pizza - unless you count the crusts!

On Tuesday, Liam the Plasterer came to visit.  You may remember that we had organised for a painter to come and tart up the outside of our house.  Alas, he wasn't free until mid-August and we definitely don't want to wait that long.  Liam came to have a look and declared that he could do it for a very similar price - in Mid-May.  That seemed much better.

I had an email from Julia on Tuesday asking if I knew that Alison W was leaving the SHU library (I did) and that her leaving do was to be at the Devonshire Cat on Wednesday after work (I didn't know that).  So on Wednesday I headed back into Sheffield, this time on the bus.  The Continental Market is in town so I went for a potter around that, and for a wander around the permanent market.  I took my phone to the Mac Repair shop for a new screen. I went for a stroll in the Millennium Gallery. Then I met Julia and we head to the pub for a couple of hours of carousing.  I think if I do this again, though, that I might arrange to stay over.  We had to leave to catch the bus back to Chesterfield just as a wave of late arrivals turned up. It was good to catch up with people.  I haven't seen a lot of them since before Easter.  Some I hadn't seen for even longer. Several people who have left over the past few years also came.

Thursday wasn't especially notable.  But on Friday I went for my first volunteering session at the Clay Cross Food Bank.  It was more fun than I had expected it to be.  They partnered me up with an experienced volunteer and we helped to make up food parcels for the clients who came in. The clients  are referred by places like the CAB, or social workers or health visitors and the food bank volunteers make up food parcels based on the number of adults, children and infants in the household. While the clients are waiting they are talked to by some of the volunteers and given a hot drink and some cake or biscuits.  It was all very friendly.  The volunteers on Friday (at lunchtime) are almost all older or even elderly people, although there are a couple of younger ones.  I enjoyed it, and, of course, it was a useful thing to be doing.  I shall go back next week, I think.  Much better to be doing useful things than sitting about at home doing nothing in particular.

The weather has been dismal this week.  Properly wintery.  We've had snow and hail and sleet and rain and wind and freezing temperatures, although many of the morning have dawned deceptively sunny.  We've had the heating on and even lit the fire as the week progressed. We don't have much wood left and don't want to buy in another full load. I am hoping that the weather will eventually warm up to more normal levels.   But there is some wood left and we decided that we might just as well use it!

I don't suppose the weather is going to warm up this weekend.  It's the May Day bank holiday weekend.  Lots of people have outside events organised.  It's bound to be cold, wet and windy!

Cally and her Bat Minion at Swanky Frank's

Monday, April 25, 2016

Not Going to Work

... has some advantages.

It means that you can wander into town on the bus on a Friday morning with your husband, meet your daughter and grandson, and have a potter around the shops and the market.  You can drop into the library, spend your birthday gift vouchers in M&S, amble about.  You can go to the new burger bar for lunch and even have a glass of wine.  Nothing pressing needs to be done; you can do what you want when you want.

It means that you can have friends around for Sunday lunch and prepare asparagus with fried eggs on toast, followed by fish and chips (with sea bass, prawns, squid and scallops, home made chips, and a fennel, cucumber and orange salad) followed by chocolate and ginger mousse with various types of home made fruit jams to accompany it and there is plenty of time to get everything done. You can have lots of wine because you don't need to get up particularly early the next day. And you can leave ALL the dishes untouched because there is plenty of time to do them in the morning.

You can potter around until mid-morning in your pyjamas and have toast with vegemite and a cup of tea at morning tea time.

You can do nothing at all, if you are minded.

There are some disadvantages, though.

Like there is no further money coming in, so you should probably be being much more frugal than you have been lately.  All this shopping and lunching and spending is not good for the long term budget.

There is no real incentive to get anything in particular done by a particular time, so often nothing in particular gets done at all.  After all - it doesn't really matter; there is plenty of time to do things tomorrow.

There is no real need to be up and dressed by a set time - so you are still in your pyjamas, eating toast and vegemite at half past ten in the morning, which might not matter if this was a public holiday (which it is in Australia). But it isn't here and it might seem to be just a little slatternly to be lolling about in your night wear in the middle of a weekday. Imagine if an unexpected visitor had dropped by!

There is a weekly routine in place - it's just that I am happily ignoring it :-D

Must Do Better!

There are some advantages to having the house on the market and ready for inspection, even if nobody seems to want to inspect it.  It might be tedious having to keep it clean and tidy at all times, but it did mean that when I got up (bright and early) yesterday morning and thought: "Bea and Steve are coming to lunch, what do I need to do this morning?", all I needed to do was prepare food.  The house was already visitor ready!!!

Flynn doesn't care about any of that
Sleeping, eating and lazing about are fine activities in his view

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Back at home

We came back on the train from Edinburgh without incident. Marlo was sleeping on the lounge room windowsill when we got back. I think he was a bit surprised to see us.  Freyja had been at our place for most of the nights we were away and I got the impression he was expecting her, or Bev Next Door rather than us.  He seemed pleased to see us - but Freyja is definitely more snuggly than we are!!

Since then we've more or less settled back into a routine. We are working at keeping the house clean and tidy, just in case anyone ever decides to come and look at it. We've arranged with the painter to come and do the front and side of the house. It is looking a bit tatty and sorry for itself. We had intended to have the paint re-done this spring anyway and figured that we might as well go ahead.  He's coming some time in May. We'll ask the estate agent to come and take some sunny pictures when that's been done.  I think the house might look more inviting if it's photoed in a newly decorated state and in the sunshine.  We might also suggest that the size of the garden is downplayed a bit.  The estate agent was very excited by the garden, but we fall a little between two stools.  The garden is too big for people who don't like gardening and not quite big enough for people who are looking for a small smallholding. We know it will appeal to someone - it's just a matter of finding them!

We took Marlo to the Cat Clinic at the vet on Tuesday. He wasn't at all happy about this!  But the vet is fairly happy.  She says that he has done better than she would have expected for an "elderly gentleman" who had been trapped in someone else's house for two weeks and had been three weeks without the anti-inflammatories he takes for arthritis in his hips and lower spine. He has developed a heart murmur but she didn't seem too worried about that. Otherwise, he seems to be fine.

The weather has been lovely this week.  Definitely spring-like.  We've got out into the garden and done some more tidying up.  We even sat out on the patio yesterday afternoon for an hour or so when we had given up digging/weeding/mowing for the day. They are forecasting a return to more wintry conditions at the weekend so we are enjoying the fine weather while it lasts.

So all is well.  Except thatI dropped my phone when we were coming back into the house when we got back from Scotland.  It fell flat on the ground, and was in its case.  So I wasn't entirely delighted to find that the screen is now cracked and covered in spidery lines. Fortunately, it is still working, but we're going into Sheffield on Monday. I'll take it to the Mac Repair place next door to SHU and get them to replace the screen.  I might take my old laptop in and get them to refurbish it while we're about it.  The Builder's laptop is very definitely on its last legs!!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Going Home

We had our last breakfast at Tiffyhall - looking out the window at a sudden snow storm!

Fortunately, by the time we left to head in to Kirkwall, the snow had stopped and the sun had come out.  We went in to town and filled the car, then headed back to the airport - where I managed to get into the wrong place and ended up trying to drive around the taxi area.  This, naturally, was quite difficult as I don't have any of the required passes to open the gates :-D  It is very fortunate that Kirkwall is a very tiny airport and someone came out to sort me out!

It takes approximately three minutes to get through security at Kirkwall.  It took the bloke ahead of us a bit longer.  He has metal kneecaps and made all the security alarms Very Excited Indeed.

Then we flew to a wet and windy Edinburgh.

It had crossed my mind on Thursday evening that we were not actually obliged to go to the Premier Inn allegedly out by the airport.  I could cancel the booking without penalty any time up to an hour before we were due to arrive.  So I did.  And booked us into another Premier Inn actually in Edinburgh itself.  It was about £10 more expensive than the original booking, although I suspect it wouldn't have been if I had booked it back in January when I booked everything else.

There is an airport bus which costs £4.50 per person and which stops a two minute walk from the new hotel.  The new hotel is not in the middle of an industrial estate (although there is a construction site next door), nor are there any car sales yards nearby.  There are, instead, lots of pubs and cafes and tea rooms.  We went to Milk for lunch. We did not go out for a wander around (it was still wet and windy) but we could have, had we wanted to.  A much better option all round.

We are heading back to Chesterfield on the lunchtime train. And thus will end our Orkney Adventures, which we have very much enjoyed.  You should go.  I'll come with you

Fortunately we could wait until the snow stopped to pack the car

A brightly coloured tiny plane

Taking off into the sunshine

Friday, April 15, 2016

An Orkney Adventure, Day Four

Our last full day and the weather forecast wasn't absolutely brilliant.  But rain wasn't forecast, the wind had dropped and it wasn't all that cold.  So we looked over the guide leaflets and decided to go island hopping.

To get to South Ronaldsay you don't actually need to go by ferry.  You can reach it and the smaller, intervening islands by causeways.  So we drove down as far as you can go before you fall into the sea.  Then we turned back and headed to the Tomb of the Eagles.  We rather enjoyed it.  The talks were given by the daughter of the bloke who discovered the Bronze Age building and the neolithic tomb. Then we went out, clad in proper walking shoes, to look at them.

Bronze Age hot water room

Those of you who know me well will be aware that I am not particularly fond of small, dark, enclosed spaces. Generally speaking, my feet flatly refuse to walk into them.  You will therefore not be surprised that I viewed this entrance to the neolithic tomb with some disquiet.  I knew that the tomb was quite small, although I also knew that it was fairly high and not very dark.  Even so, my hands and knees were not at all keen on the idea of crawling through the (short!) tunnel to reach it.  So I sent Farley in first!!  Then, of course, I had to follow.  I couldn't leave him there - although I suppose I could have sent The Builder in to collect him. He, mind you, was pondering the question of whether he would actually fit in the tunnel!  Turned out that he did, and he followed me in.  I was very pleased with my hands and knees for following Farley in!!

How am I going to fit through there?
More to the point, how will I convince my hands and knees to crawl through there?

I followed Farley in :-)
Inside a neolithic mounded tomb

Walking back to the Visitor Centre

The cliff top walk was lovely.  The sun even came out for a bit. Then we hopped back in the car and headed back to St Margaret's Hope and then out to Hoxa Head where we had lunch in the Tea Rooms. The location was spectacular (although quite a way out of Hoxa) and the food was OK. But if I had to pick one of the two tea rooms to visit a second time it would be the Birsay Bay tea room, where the food was much more than just OK.

Then we headed back to Deerness by a roundabout way and went exploring (by car) the little roads we could see from our windows.  We could see occasional cars, buses, people on horseback and walkers out there and figured there had to be some way of getting to it.  And we found that the roads mostly led down to little bays and beaches where people were walking their dogs.  It was all rather lovely.  A nice little corner of the world.

And you could do a lot worse than to stay at Tiffyhall Holiday Cottages if you are minded to come exploring in The Orkneys.  Very well appointed, lovely and light and spacious, excellent location - although you will really need a car if you want to do proper exploring.

It was snowing when we left this morning.  A distinct contrast to the weather of the previous three days!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

An Orkney Adventure, Day Three

Right then.  What to do today?

We have Orkney Explorer Passes which allow us in to several of the Historic Scotland sites.  We used them to get into Skara Brae but it seemed a bit wasteful only to use them the once.  So we set off back towards the north of "Mainland".

No rain, but it was quite cloudy and very windy.

First we called to see the Ring of Brodgar, which was brooding and atmospheric (and windy!!)

Then we drove on up, past Maeshowe, which we couldn't visit because you have to pre-book and we hadn't. So we waved in its direction and carried on to the Broch of Gurness, which we could go into. The ticket office was closed for lunch when we got there but fortunately it re-opened after a few minutes

The weather was improving by the hour. So we pottered back up to Birsay where we found the tea room open and stopped for afternoon tea and then a wander around the bay

Then we headed back to base where we spent a pleasant evening watching the sea and eating a chicken and mushroom pie which I made with leftovers from the previous evening.  I have to say that this is an extremely well appointed kitchen for a holiday cottage.  So far I have been able to find everything that I have wanted!

We are heading south today. The weather looks a bit sullen, but no rain is forecast and the wind has dropped.  I am hoping for a bit of clifftop walking

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

An Orkney Adventure, Day Two

Well now.  We know that the smoke alarms work!!

Tina and Paul, whose farm we are staying on, have chickens.  The chickens are laying!  So they left us half a dozen eggs in our kitchen.  When we were at the supermarket, I bought the makings of a proper breakfast.  I set to making it this morning and within seconds the smoke alarms had gone off.  On and on and on they went.  We opened all the windows.  We opened the door. I already had the extractor fan on.  I think we had almost finished eating breakfast before they stopped.

There is almost no danger of us dying through smoke inhalation while we are sleeping. The racket was enough to wake the dead!!!

The eggs are very delicious though :-)

Right then.  We are here because I want to go and see Skara Brae.  Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day.  It was forecast to be the best of the three days that we are here, so it seemed best that we go then.

We decided to do a roundabout route, so we could see as much of the island as possible.  I hadn't actually intended to go into Stromness, still less to drive along its tiny, cobbled main "street" - but my navigator had other ideas - or perhaps just missed the turn that would have by-passed Stromness.  The guide book says that it is worth a visit.  It says nothing about not trying to drive along the main street!!!!

Once we had escaped, I turned on the sat nav and asked it to take me to Skara Brae which it did, without further incident :-D

The settlement didn't used to be so close to the sea, and they think it was very much bigger. It was, of course, very sensible not to build your village right next to the sea, but the (new) bay that it now sits beside makes it a very beautiful location indeed.

While we were there we visited Skaill House, a seventeenth century mansion. It was mostly kitted out in Victorian style and was very splendid.  But I much preferred my potter around Skara Brase

We drove up to Birsay, intending to have lunch in a cafe there which has had good reviews.  Alas, it is not open on Tuesdays.  We did find a ruined castle to explore.  But no lunch

So we kept driving around the island and eventually went back to the cottage for a late lunch.  Then we went to look at The Gloup, which Paul (one of the farm hosts) had suggested we might find interesting.  Gloup is, apparently a Norse word meaning chasm and locally means a blow hole.  We didn't know that when we went to find it.  It started out looking like this

Just a stream. Not very exciting
Then it abruptly turned into this

Much more exciting
The seabirds love it!

Not quite such beautiful day today, but the sun is shining fitfully and it isn't raining.  Don't suppose we should spend absolutely all day sitting about doing nothing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

An Orkney Adventure, Day One

Actually - the biggest adventure has been actually getting here. Not that it was particularly difficult.  It just took a lot, lot longer than we expected it to!

We took the 11:00 train from Chesterfield to Edinburgh, which proceded in an orderly manner. I had booked the weekend upgrade to First Class so it was comfortable as well as orderly.

We arrived at Edinburgh Waverley station on time. Then we took a taxi out to our Premier Inn hotel.  £25 it cost.  TWENTY FIVE POUNDS!!!!!  The hotel is labelled as an airport hotel, and you absolutely know what you're getting with Premier Inns, so it seemed a good bet when I booked it.  What I didn't realise was that it was out in the middle of an industrial estate and surrounded by nothing more exciting than car sales lots.  Absolutely nothing to do at all.  And not only miles from Edinburgh but also miles from the airport. The taxi (there's no shuttle bus) to the airport cost £10 on its own.  We're booked in there on our way home as well.  Not quite sure what we're going to do all afternoon, stuck out in the middle of an industrial estate with nothing to do but buy cars!

Anyway.  We made our way out to the airport and got there in plenty of time for our 2:30 flight.  Just as well, all things considered.  The queue to get through security was worse than the queues at Heathrow!!  The staff were saying that they didn't know why but that it had been amazingly busy for a couple of weeks.  They had put it down to the Easter holidays, but pretty much everyone is back from that now and things hadn't improved.

We went to YO! Sushi for lunch.  We've not been before (The Builder is not especially fond of sushi), but they do curries and katsu and other tasty Japanese lunchtime treats and it was very tasty.

Then it was time to make our way to our boarding gate.

Look!  There's our little tiny plane
We waited.  And we waited. And we waited.  Then an announcement came.  Our flight was delayed because of "technical" problems.  Delay expected to be about half an hour while they fixed it.  We waited.  And we waited some more.  Plane broken!  A new plane was flown in, while we waited and waited and waited a bit longer.  Alas, the new plane also had "technical problems".  So we waited bit longer.

Three hours after the original scheduled departure time we were eventually allowed on to the original, now repaired tiny plane and off we went.  Fortunately we did not have a connecting flight, nor were we booked on to any ferries.  We just had to get there, collect our car and find our holiday cottage.  Other people, alas, had missed their connections and their ferries.  They were not best pleased!

So we arrived at the minute aerodrome at Kirkwall, about an hour after we left Edinburgh,  collected our car and without too much difficulty found our holiday cottage, a mere three hours after we were due!  Then we had to drive back into Kirkwall for some provisions. Kirkwall is not the biggest city in the whole wide world but it does boast three supermarkets, one of which is a Tesco which is open until midnight. Then we went back to the cottage and settled in.

It's a lovely location (we can see the sea and some islands, some crofts and some windmills and lots and lots of birds) and a pretty little barn conversion.  It's all good

The view from our sleeping loft this morning

Monday, April 11, 2016

Secret Wedding

I don't think I've ever been invited to a Secret Wedding before.

On Friday afternoon, a softly whispered message came our way.  It made its way to Tabitha and Freyja as well.

"We are getting married tomorrow.  If you want to see, be at this place at this time. Bring your families. But Hush.  Say nothing.  It's a secret."

So we all scrambled to rearrange our day. The Builder and I moved our Saturday afternoon plans to the morning.  Freyja cancelled her afternoon plans.  Tabitha and Gareth moved theirs a little. And we were all in the appointed place at the appointed time to watch the nuptials, wearing hastily organised wedding finery. (I wore a dress that Stella gave me and a pair of sandals that are actually Lindsey's but happen to be at my place at the moment!)

Several other people we knew were also there (along with a few people that we didn't know).  It was a very lovely wedding ceremony and I am glad that we were invited and that we were able to go.

We had a lovely natter afterwards with the people that we knew, then the bride and groom and their immediate intimates went elsewhere, and the rest of us made our way back to our respective homes.

But, of course, I can't tell you about it - because it's a secret!!

I'll tell you more when it isn't a secret any more :-)

The Builder and I went home and had homemade pizzas for his birthday tea. We had a pleasant, lazy evening.  And I went to bed at about 10, or perhaps 10:15.

I was peacefully sleeping when The Builder burst into the bedroom.  "Quick," said he.  "Get up!".  But I don't want get up.  Why should I get up?  There are no alarms sounding.  Go away and let me sleep.  "No, no," said The Builder.  "Get up. You really want to go downstairs."  No I don't.  But he was absolutely insistent.  So I got up and went downstairs.  And there, sitting on the carpet was this:

The Builder had been pondering the idea of going to bed when there had been a hammering at the lounge room window.  Not wishing let mad axe murderers in he had opened the window slightly to see what this strange behaviour was in aid of.  It was the bloke who lives in Number 12.  He had found Marlo in his cellar.  I think he and his wife had been away for a couple weeks because they had seen paw marks on the kitchen floor and had heard a bell and soft miaowing and they are not the sorts of things you would not notice for almost two weeks!  Once they let the cat out he had belted up towards our place.  They knew we had a black cat because they see him in the front window, so he came to see if it was ours, and if it had come home.  And home indeed he had come.  I *said* that he would come home if he could!

He's very thin and was hungry and thirsty.  But otherwise seems unharmed.  He is very, very snuggly mind. I think he purred all night long.

So, a birthday, a secret wedding, homemade pizza for tea and the return of the Prodigal Cat.  Not a bad day, then.

Mr Number 12 came round this morning to make sure that Marlo had indeed come home and that he was OK.  They think that he had got into their place through their cat flap, which they locked when their cat died 18 months or so ago.  Alas, they had accidentally locked it to that cats can get in but not then get out again.  I think they've probably fixed that now.  And Bev next door dropped in to check him out.  She and various other neighbours have been looking for him when they were out and about.

Just as well I hadn't got rid of his bowls and cat food, although we are quite low on biscuits.

The Builder and I relocated to Edinburgh on the 11:00 train. We're flying to Kirkwall tomorrow lunchtime.  Freyja has headed out to Tupton to make sure that Marlo really is back home :D  (Bev is going to feed him  and keep an eye on the house when nobody is there; we get back next weekend.)

A Freyja selfie

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Falling into a routine - of sorts!

I have definitely fallen into some sort of a routine this week.

I've been getting up around 7:30 or so, after couple of cups of tea and a gentle slide into the day.  (I had turned off the radio alarm when I stopped getting up to catch the 07:10 bus, so we were both highly startled on the morning that the buzzer came on at 5:00!  We almost never use the buzzer, preferring to wake up to the radio so it was an unfamiliar as well as an unnecessary noise. Positively had us leaping out of bed to find out what the unholy racket was! It had been set by accident when turning the radio off the previous morning :-S  I have reset the time of the alarm to something more sensible, in case it happens again!)

I set myself the task this week of deep cleaning the kitchen between 9:30 and 11. I have scrubbed the tiles, scrubbed the stove top, cleaned the oven, washed the cupboard doors, cleaned the fridge, turned out the drawers and have almost finished turning out the cupboards.  I am positively exhausted.

I have also cleaned the bathroom and dusted throughout the house.  I have swept and washed the kitchen and bathroom floors.

I hate cleaning!!!!!!!

The Builder has run Henry the Vacuum Cleaner through the house a couple of times, cleaned the fireplace, put in a couple of replacement light switches, fed and watered the chickens and ducks each day and kept the bread, milk and wine supplies topped up.

We have done a bit of gentle gardening, when the weather has permitted.

Then at lunchtime we have poured a glass of wine and settled down for an afternoon and evening of TV watching, drinking wine, eating food and dozing.

So definitely a routine.  But I am not sure that it is ideal to treat every afternoon as though it were a Sunday afternoon. It's very pleasant and I have been enjoying the afternoon telly offerings that I haven't had the opportunity to watch before.  But it does seem to be a bit of a waste of time and the dozing means that I am not sleeping all that well at night. I tend to listen to the BBC World Service when I am wakeful overnight, so I am very well informed about all sorts of things - but also I am a bit tired.

I think when we come back from Scotland next weekend, I might need to find something else to do on weekday afternoons. Plus, I really don't want to spend all my mornings cleaning.  A bit less cleaning, a bit more something more interesting - perhaps like Japanese practice. Maybe the weather will improve enough so that we can spend the afternoons out doing useful things in the garden.  I think I need a new routine!

It's The Builder's birthday today.  Happy birthday to him!

An evening rainbow - or two

A spring morning


Rosemary in bloom

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

A Much Happier Weekend

We definitely needed a cheery weekend after the sorrows of last week.  And fortunately we got one.

Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn came to our place on Saturday afternoon and we spent our time munching on snacks, supping on various drinks, watching TV, pottering about and generally amusing ourselves.

Sunday dawned fairly bright and sunny.  We had a delicious breakfast. We spoke to Stella and Tony (having remembered that the clocks in Victoria had gone back to standard time!). We went for a pre-lunch wander around in the wetlands.

The Builder went to collect Freyja and Simon, who were joining us for lunch, from the Coach Station.  I moved into the kitchen and commenced spiralising things.  I spiralised zucchini and carrots, sweet potato, and ordinary potatoes. I didn't spiralise the cauliflower or the broccoli!

Freyja took the food photos

The spiralised sweet potato chips were a great success.  The spiralised ordinary potatoes were a great disaster. The vegetables were delicious, as was the roasted lamb.  The tofu was a bit over cooked but I thought tasted ok (except that you couldn't really taste the sesame oil, ginger, lemon and garlic I had added). Fortunately I had also roasted some new potatoes so we had an ample feast, even without the disastrous spiralised potatoes.  We had banana cake to finish.  It was all very tasty and cheery.  Just what we all needed :-)

I'm going to try the spiralised potatoes again and see if I can make them less disastrous.  And the tofu, to see if I can make the sesame oil and other flavours more pronounced.

I had intended to take myself off holiday mode yesterday and move into Ordinary Time, doing useful things and behaving more as if I was working than lounging around. However, I was reminded at lunch on Sunday that The Builder and I are actually off on holiday next Sunday.  It hardly seemed worth moving into Ordinary Time for six days so in holiday mode I remain, staying in my pyjamas and dressing gown until well into the morning, drinking tea and generally loafing about. Although I am in the process of properly cleaning the house!

We went out to Chatsworth yesterday and called in to the Garden Centre for some new slippers each. More expensive than the ones in the supermarket, but I am hoping that they will last a tiny bit longer. Then we went to the Farm Shop cafe for a spot of lunch. While we were at the farm shop, I also bought the makings of a fish platter which we will have tonight (we didn't need anything more hearty than beans on toast last evening after our delicious lunches).  I might give the spiralised potatoes another go :-P

We are going to have to be much more frugal when we go into Ordinary Time in a fortnight.  But when in holiday mode ...

Friday, April 01, 2016

A difficult week

This has turned out to be quite a difficult week

We still haven't found Marlo. I'm not really expecting to now. I think if he was going to come home he would have done so by now, and I have looked pretty much everywhere I can think of where a dead or injured cat might be.

Yesterday was my last official day at Sheffield Hallam.  The Builder and I headed into Sheffield by bus and met a number of people for lunch at The Banker's Draft in the Sheffield city centre.  Most of the people that I have regularly had lunch or spent lunchtime with while I have been at SHU joined us, including some people who have left, some who were on holiday for the Easter break, some who had to go back to work, and Tabitha, Freyja, Cally and Flynn. It was by no means a sad lunch. I rather enjoyed it.  I didn't go into any SHU buildings - I am intending to go in for a retirement afternoon tea (not mine, I hasten to add!) next Tuesday so will get an opportunity to say a final goodbye then.  I was a bit wistful this morning when I double checked to see if my @ shu email address had been closed and found that it had (I knew it would be really; I've had any number of emails warning me that it would terminate at the end of yesterday).  I think wistful is probably the best way to describe my feelings about the end of my association with SHU. The end of an era and worthy of note.

Then yesterday evening we had news that our friend Gill had died.  We have been waiting for the news.  She has gone downhill very quickly since we saw her at the beginning of last month.  

Gill was very kind to Ross, Tabitha, Austin, Freyja and me when we first came to Sheffield.  She gave me this tree as a decoration for our first, temporary home when we didn't really own anything very much.

It was only the height of a supermarket pot plant when it came to me
It's grown a bit!
She sourced spare bedding and kitchen odds and ends for us.

For several years she and I would regularly go to the Sunday evening pub quiz at the Rising Sun in Ranmoor. 

She introduced us to people, places and things.

Our early life in Sheffield would have been very different had it not been for Gill's kindness.

We didn't see much of each other once The Builder and I moved to Tupton. She and Peter lived far on the other side of Sheffield and we weren't conveniently located any more. But I am glad we saw her at the beginning of March and I am very sorry that our proposed luncheon at the beginning of May will now not be able to happen.

Vale Gill.  And thank you.

Gill and me, Nether Green 2002

Gill, Tupton 2009

Gill and her mum, Forge Dam 2016