Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Medieval Meanderings

My but we were lucky with the weather yesterday.

It was the day of the annual Medieval Market in Chesterfield and I had arranged to take the day off to go and investigate with my friend Bea (who is on leave for all of this week). I haven't been before.

And the sun shone.

All day!

And it was lovely and warm.

In fact, it was probably just as well that I had arranged to meet Bea in Chesterfield, otherwise the temptation to stay and potter in the garden might have overcome my investigating and exploring inclinations.

I met Bea by the church and, while I was waiting for her, watched the doings in the medieval encampment in the churchyard. It was all very exciting. There were people wandering about in medieval dress. Although I don't think it was very medieval to be smoking or drinking coffee!!

Tuesday isn't usually a market day, though there are one or two vegetable stalls which are permanently there. Yesterday the market square was bustling. There were bric a brac stalls and more tombola stalls than you could poke a stick at and craft stalls and second hand book stalls and all sorts. It was great fun. I bought two hand potted mugs and some stationery and - a hand knitted finger puppet dalek!!!!! There were men on stilts wandering about and nearly a public execution in the market square. There were also fairground rides for the smaller children. Not in itself very medieval, but the concept of playing during the fair certainly fits! It was really rather nice. And warm. And sunny.

We went to look at the museum, where there was a man demonstrating the medieval art of book making and a lady showing us how to weave. There are also lots of information boards about the history of Chesterfield (I knew there had to have been a Roman fort there - the "chester" bit of the name tells you that. I had no idea where it had been, though. Or why. Do now!) The main exhibition at the moment is of pottery. They're doing a Christmas exhibition in December. Must remember to go and look.

Then Bea and I took ourselves to the Chandler pub. It started advertising organic food not all that long ago. It also has real ales and real ciders. The food is lovely, and quite adventurous (Bea had a pork and apple burger with roasted new potato "chips"; I had a three bean salad with toasted pita bread and dried tomatoes). We sat outside in the smokers' garden (it is now illegal to smoke in enclosed public spaces, which includes pubs, clubs and bus shelters with three sides - so the one heading into town from Tupton is smoke-free, having three full sides and a roof; the one opposite is not, having only one full side and two little tiny bits of side and a roof). There weren't many smokers out there and the sun was shining and why should the smokers have all the fun? I must say, though, it is a great pleasure to walk into pubs now. They smell of beer and wine and food, and you can see from one side of the room to the other. The only pubs which are exempt from this new rule are the pubs in Stoke on Trent. Apparently, the enforcement of this law is a council rather than a police matter and the council in Stoke forgot to vote themselves the right to issue on the spot fines! This now has to wait until they meet in August!!!!!!!

So. Two bottles of rather strong cider and a bean salad later, we went into a card/gift/furnishings shop I have long thought looked interesting (It is - I deeply covet the extendible oak table; a mere snip at just under £400) and I went home on the bus, intending to play in the garden. Instead, I sat in the dining room and played with the lap top. I bought a "new" keyboard on eBay and had installed it in the morning (a surprisingly easy task). So nice to have a laptop with a space bar. And an X key. And, more especially, an S key which had vanished from the equation last week.

All of our vegetables last evening came from the garden and the allotment. Potatoes, little zucchini, carrots, broad beans and peas. And very tasty they were, too.

Normal service is restored today. It is raining. I hope it stops or slows down by Saturday. We are supposed to be going to Wiltshire/Dorset (the cottage is just inside Wiltshire; Shaftesbury, the nearest town, is just inside Dorset). Gloucester and Tewksbury are still more or less under water. So is Upton on Severn, where we are planning a long weekend pub crawl with Bea and Steve in the spring. Hopefully, it will have dried out by then! At least the M5 has reopened. People travelling along in last Friday night got stuck and had to stay on it all night!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My knees hurt!!!

So we finally managed to get up the Twisty Spire church tower. The Builder had taken the vixen into the garage in Chesterfield for them to look at it after Nick our Mechanic had been scathing about their repairs. They didn't argue or anything. Just arranged to get the extra parts to fix it properly. So we were in good time for a Trip into Chesterfield and a mooch about the shops and the market before it was time to go up the tower.

Lindsey bought Harry Potter. She has taken it to Paris. I shall read it when it comes back. I hope she remembers to bring it back!!!

The trip up the tower was fantastic. The verger took us up, amid deep warnings about how many steps there were and how narrow the steps were and how treacherous it all would be. Nearly frightened Lindsey and me out of going (Lindsey's ankle is still bothersome. I do not care for small, dark, enclosed spaces). Still. It was easy enough going up to the bell ringing chamber. Some of us got to play with the bells. Ian tried pulling on a bell rope and nearly got swung away! The verger gave us some of the history of the church and the tower and the twisty-ness of the spire. The spire is just sat on the tower, held there by gravity and magic. They think that the twist is probably deliberate. There are churches in France and Germany which also have spiralled tiles. They, however, have spires which stand up nice and tall. Ours has curved round and sort of under and is now about 9' out of true. They think the spire was added to the tower at the time of the Black Death and that the cause of the curve might be a combination of poor workmanship and lack of understanding or physics and ponder whether it was because the master craftsmen had all or mostly died.

Anyway. Up we went to look at the bells. And while we were there it was noon and the Big Men chimes and the noontime chimes all sounded. Magnificent! Then we went up and looked up into the spire, and looked at the timber struts which have been put up to stabilise the twist and bits of the curve. Then the brave amongst us (the space between the spire and the waist high wall and railing isn't exactly wide) went out onto the tower itself to admire the view. And what a magnificent view. It wasn't sunny but it was very clear. To the south you could clearly see the church tower at North Wingfield, which you can see from our south facing bedroom (it's about a mile and a half from our place). It really was fantastic. There will be photos. But you'll have to nag Ian about putting his photos online. He took all the ones of people going up and down. I took views!

Back on the ground, we went to The Rutland next the church for a not-too-bad pub lunch, then took ourselves into Sheffield for a Nice Cup of Tea with Freyja and Mark and then on to Penny and Steve's for another Nice Cup of Tea and a catch up. Penny was recovering from her final bout of chemo and looked tired and frail but otherwise quite cheerful. Joseph and Imogen were in good form. Lindsey and I came away with pictures they had drawn for us. I also came away with a jar of red currant jelly which Penny had made the previous weekend. She's had a rough time of it lately - she was in hospital a couple of weeks ago with a grumpy heart. They think that might be down to the chemo, stress and having all this going on while there are two small children at home! Anyway. Fingers crossed now for a full, speedy and undramatic recovery.

On Saturday evening we went to what was the Famous Red Lion on the Darley Dale Road. It closed down for refurbishment sometime over the winter and has reopened as the Red Lion, having lost its famousness. It's also transformed itself into what is effectively a seafood bistro, though it does do things other than fishy things. We were greeted by a cheery young girl who was about to escort us to our table when a bumptious, large man interrupted to demand if we had a reservation. We ignored him. I think he might be the maitre d', or perhaps the owner. Anyway. Lindsey and I decided to share a seafood platter. Ian ordered a lobster thermidor. The Builder asked for sea bass. Ian also ordered a bottle of New Zealand wine. Some time later the food arrived. Ian was presented with a lobster aioli. He pointed out that he had asked for a lobster thermidor. The maitre d' (for it was he who had brought the lobster to the table) didn't seem too bothered by this. Ian persisted. The maitre d' sort of sighed and offered to have some thermidor sauce added (thus demonstrating that he had no idea what a lobster thermidor was!). Ian let it go. Off we munched. The Builder's sea bass was the smallest fillet in the world. Our seafood platter was primarily made up of frozen and not well defrosted shellfish. We had to ask for the wine, which eventually turned up, opened, in a cooling bin. We had to ask for glasses! Eventually they turned up. I poured the wine. We all sipped. It was the WRONG wine!!! When a hapless lady turned up later and asked if everything was all right, I told her that it most certainly was not. Oh dear. Off she went and came back with the offer of free desserts. At least she cared! And it must be said that the desserts were magnificent. But at over £100 for the main courses and a bottle of wine, I'd have expected better food, better service and the right wine. You can see why it is no longer famous! Pity. A decent seafood restaurant near us would have been a Fine Thing Indeed. But I don't think we'll be going back there again.

Lindsey and Ian have gone to Paris for the week. The Builder and I went to the Herb Nursery at Hardstoft instead. A considerable improvement on Paris, I'm sure you'll agree

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A trip to Leeds

I was in Leeds yesterday for a training session on the new interface for digital mapping which is rolling out in September. I managed to get a seat on the somewhat over crowded train by dint of abandoning my manners and pushing in in front! The two other folks from (the University of ) Sheffield were not so lucky (or perhaps so brazen!)

I've never been to Leeds before. At least, not as somewhere to stop. I've been round it several times on my way to York or Edinburgh or wherever. On one notable occasion I drove into it, absolutely inadvertently, and found it almost impossible to get out again. I've been to the hospital. But that hardly counts as going to Leeds - all I saw was the hospital. In my mind, Leeds was grim and grimy and scary. And it isn't; not a bit of it. It more or less reminds me of the bits of Melbourne down towards Spencer Street, where the banks and wotnots are, but without the trees. And the sun was shining, the buildings have all been cleaned, and it was a very pleasant walk to the University. Lots of lovely Victorian architecture. And the University campus is lovely too. A proper campus. Nice and integrated.

Had a bit of trouble finding the senior common room where we were assembling for coffee, mind! Found it eventually, more or less by accident.

We had lunch later in the senior common room. No trouble finding it when lunch was in the offing (and by then I knew where it was!) I had smoked haddock lasagne. It was magnificent.

The course was quite good too. There was someone there who had been at the three day course I went to in Edinburgh last year. I enjoyed the content. We got to play with putting mapping information into a GIS in the afternoon. Fun.

Then I came home. The Builder reported that it was Very Wet indeed in Sheffield. Wasn't wet in Leeds. Or at any point until close to Sheffield. Got home. Wasn't wet there either. In fact, the washing was quite dry. Am beginning to think it must be Sheffield!

Lindsey and Ian were in London frivolling at Billy Elliot. Due back late on Thursday evening.

Clarissa had myseriously vanished to Cornwall for a fortnight so wasn't in Leeds when I was about. Coincidence, do you think?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lindsey has arrived

My goodness but that was hard work.

It usually takes about an hour and a half to get from Sheffield to Manchester airport. I left two hours, just in case. Off I trundled. And the heavens opened! Could hardly see where I was going. Fortunately, at the time I was trundling through Nether Green, Ranmoor and Crosspool so it didn’t altogether matter. I could go quite slowly and there wasn’t much traffic about. The rain cleared and I headed out into the Peak District, intending to take the Snake Pass across to Glossop and hence on to Manchester.

The only flaw in this otherwise scintillating plan was that the Snake is closed for three weeks :S By the time I discovered this, I had reached Ladybower and had no alternative but to head down through Bamford and follow the diversion signs. Which mysteriously vanished at one T intersection!

I fetched up in Grindleford and took the A623 across towards the A6 which took me into Stockport. Not such a disaster. I had determined, with the help of the road atlas and the AA route planner, that this would be an ideal way of getting from the airport back to The Sidings.

So. All was going well. And then I got to Stockport. Not been there before. Unless you count passing through on the train and once, my first Christmas here, being taken to the station by Andy Woolles on the 28th December. Following the signs to the M60. Following the signs to the M60. Following the signs …. Oops. The signs have gone. And I seem to have reached a part of the A6 which has been chopped in half! Turned around in a handy supermarket car park and headed back. Found a road to the M60. Not all that clearly marked but it was at least a sign. Ended up on a little roundabout. And came to a complete halt.

ONE HOUR later I had travelled the mile or so I had been from the junction to the M60. Now running seriously late. And a tad frustrated because the major road signs were covered up by trees so I wasn’t entirely sure that I was in the right lane for where I wanted to go. I could have been in the slightly faster moving inner lane - but that wasn't clear without the sings being visible, until I got quite close to the roundabout. But finally on the motorway and heading for the airport.

The traffic heading back all seemed to be at a complete and total standstill. All lanes. All slip roads. Oh dear. Had best plan an alternate route if I aver actually do get to the airport.

Which I did. A mere hour late. And found Lindsey stood outside with the smokers, taking in the Manchester air.

While we were taking a loo stop and seeking out water supplies, we plotted an alternative route home.

Off we trundled. I was about to pull into the motorway heading West, when I noticed that the slip road had cleared. I abruptly changed my mind and headed back the way I had come, noticing JUST too late to change my mind that the slip road might have cleared – but the motorway had not. It took an hour to make our way, slowly, slowly to the Stockport turn off. Should have taken five or ten minutes! After that, though, the run home was great. Although Tabitha and Gareth seemed convinced that we should have taken the alternative route through the north of Sheffield. Which wouldn’t have been entirely convenient, given that I wanted to end up about 20 miles south of Sheffield. And would have kept us on the congested motorway for even longer!

And so, at 21:15, I finally struggled inside The Sidings, six and a quarter hours after I had left work! And just in time for The Builder to go to the station to meet the 21:30 London train, which was bearing Ian back to us.

As we were taking Lindsey’s bags out of the boot, I noticed The Builder materialise by the front gate. Odd. How did he know we had arrived. And look. There’s Marlo sat on the wall, watching us too. It appears that Marlo had not been dead chuffed when The Builder got home at 17:15 without me. He had been in and out and in and out all evening. And just before we got home he went and sat in the driveway. As we got home, Max next door began to bark and bark. The Builder went to investigate and found Marlo sat on the wall watching us pulling up. He must have heard the car!

The Builder lost his phone (again!) on Monday evening. He noticed as we were going to bed. A quick hunt revealed it not. So yesterday morning, while he was in the shower, I went on a hunt of the car and the van. No sign of it. He had it in the car on Monday evening, for he sent me a message just before I got to the car to come home. Where else ha he been? Waitrose? Seems unlikely he would have dropped it there without anyone noticing, but not absolutely impossible. We also went to collect some wood from a house in the village, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t drop it there. I was watching him and the man loading it into the van and would certainly have noticed if the phone had fallen. Perhaps he dropped it while he was loading the wood into the shed. I went to investigate. And as I approached the shed, my phone calling for his, I could hear a sad and pathetic whimpering from the long grass. As I got closer, I could hear it vibrating. And there it was. Quite how it had survived the night’s torrential storms is a mystery. But it’s still functioning.

Mind you, I don’t think it wants to stay with The Builder . It keeps trying to escape. He lost it in the car park at work last week. Someone handed it in to reception and it was given back to him almost before he’d noticed it was missing. Mind you, it’s hardly surprising that it keeps trying to escape. The Builder makes no bones about the fact that he hates it!

It has been a day or two for losing things. Freyja sent me a text message yesterday to say she had left her glasses in The Builder’s van. Or – she thought that’s where she’d left them. They are not in the van. They were not to be seen in the car park. She still doesn’t have them. They appear to have vanished without trace.

Then, when Lindsey was getting into the car at the airport yesterday she suddenly stopped and said: Goodness. Where can my glasses have gone. She had had them tucked into her shirt as we were putting the bags into the boot and the back seat. She did not have them when she herself got in. WE had a hunt around where the car had been parked and in the car. And the glasses have not been seen again.

Do you think there’s a glasses black hole meandering around Yorkshire and Lancashire?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I was loitering with intent outside the Adsetts Centre on Friday evening, idly contemplating the rain, when what should I espy – but an Ian, wandering along Fargate dragging a travel bag behind him. I quickly grabbed my Ian-net and captured him. Shortly after, The Builder arrived to help me escort my captive back to Tupton. A quick stop in Waitrose for basic essentials such as bread, milk and wine, and off we went. The captive was subdued that evening by the application of gin, wine and rump steak.

On Saturday it was not, actually, raining! The Builder went to the Van Gemeren garden centre to see if he could get a part for his brush cutter, having decided to take it in his van. No luck. The bloke has never heard of the make. He thought it might be one of those products that has fallen off the shelf at a Chinese sweat factory, though it appears it is in fact German. The Builder has since been searching on the internet to see if he can find a spare part. So far, no joy. The grass in the orchard is beginning to resemble a suitable hiding place for tigers and giraffes! To cheer ourselves up we took ourselves and the Ian Captive to Chesterfield, partly to collect a parcel at the Sorting Office and partly for a potter about. I think Ian quite liked the Chesterfield Town Centre. It missed the worst of both the German and the Planning Office depredations that have beset most other northern conurbations and still has an interesting mix of old, middle and new buildings all jostling together. The market square and indoor market were saved by a vigorous public protest some years ago when the planners were intending to knock it all down and build another shopping complex, or car park or something. Would have been quite some loss. The market square is lovely. We were briefly tempted by the prospect of a tour of the twisty spire at mid-day – but had failed to bring our cameras. We are planning to go on next Saturday’s tour (11:30, nota bene) bringing cameras and Lindsey!

Time for tea. And quite coincidentally, a brand new coffee shop has opened in Tupton. It opened on Wednesday, so we don’t know anything about it. We headed back to the village and went to investigate. It’s not bad. Not bad at all. It does a fair hot chocolate, and all right coffees. It has a little menu that we didn’t investigate, having had scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and tomato on toasted muffins at 10:00. But it looks good. And most importantly, it smells like a proper coffee shop when you go in. Thus fortified, we went home with the intention of doing a little domestic organising and then going out. I put the washing on. The Builder put the laptop on. Ian picked up his book and promptly went to sleep, Marlo ensconced on his lap. I hung the washing out and made a cake. I think it was the cake fumes that eventually stirred Ian! Off we went on the wetlands walk, in the sunshine. It was rather nice. You could see where the floods had got to during the Great Floods of 2007! We met a collie with a ball and its walker. We saw the highland cows (but not the Hebridean sheep which have gone away for sheering; there is a little flock of ordinary sheep in there at the moment). Then we came home and sat outside with cake until it was time to make an early dinner. For Ian was heading into Sheffield with his GPS Katy in the Vixen to go to the cinema with Freyja and Mark. A 21:30 screening. I was in bed and completely out to it before the film had finished, I would reckon.

On Sunday, normal service was resumed and it was raining! We met Freyja at the Chesterfield station at 12:00 and all repaired to the Three Horseshoes at Spitewinter for Sunday lunch. I had pre-checked that they did veggie options. They did not, however, do a veggie option for starters that tempted Freyja. Prawn cocktail tempted me. Salmon and dill fishcake tempted The Builder and Ian. We had roast beef and Yorkshire puds and all the usual stuff (Freyja had a feta and Mediterranean vegetables pie with all the usual stuff. They even specially made veggie gravy for her!) Then we were viciously and meanly assaulted by chocolate. Two desserts amongst the four of us. Profiteroles covered in chocolate mousse and a chocolate junkyard, which was a chocolate cream type thing, covered in lots of different bits of chocolate and chocolate sweeties. Was amazing! This was all washed down with a remarkably nice bottle of red wine. I do like the Three Horseshoes. It has an absolutely amazing view, looking straight out over Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. Not yesterday, however. I think The Nothing had gobbled it up. It was all shrouded in cloud and mist and fog! I’ll have to take photos the next time I’m there in the sunshine!

Ian has escaped!!!!!!! Aided and abetted by Freyja. They forced us to drive them to the station where Freyja departed back to Sheffield and Ian escaped down to London. We went back home and devised a cunning trap in the front door to catch him the next time he’s about. It’s disguised with fairy lights, so he’ll never notice.

We had a kerfuffle last week. The Builder went downstairs to make the morning cup of tea, as is his weekday wont, at about 5:30 (yes, I know, but we leave quite early and I do like a nice cup of tea before I have to get up). Gazing idly out the window, he was. When suddenly a heron glided gracefully in and perched on the back fence, gazing thoughtfully into the fishpond. Now I like herons. I think they are a very elegant, beautiful bird. But I’m also quite fond of the fish. The Builder is very fond of the fish and isn’t that fussed by herons. He made a commotion inside the window, the heron took fright and flapped away. The Builder went down to the shed (after the tea!!!) to look for netting. All we had was some bright green pea netting. That is now draped not-so-elegantly over the pond so small things can get in and out, but herons can’t! We still have six fish (three disappeared in the spring, followed several days later by another one. I do not suspect the heron of that – the heron would have scoffed the lot!)

We have insured the car for Ian and Lindsey to drive it while they’re here. In anticipation of many miles being driven over the next few weeks, we also sent it to the village mechanic for servicing. The Builder rang me up that lunchtime to inform me there was bad news about the car. It needed two new tyres and the front wheel tracking was buggered. Oh. What a pity. Oh well. “You don’t sound very concerned”, said he. That’s cos I’ve got no idea what you just said. He explained it. I was none the wiser but gathered it wasn’t very good and might be expensive. I commiserated. Then I looked it up on trusty old Google. And discovered that what he’d been telling me was that the wheel alignment was buggered. Oops. Not good. Not good at all. No wonder he was anxious. As it happened, Nick the mechanic managed to repair it not terribly expensively. But it seems that there were several things that needed repairing after the Great Snow Event (we seem to have had a lot of Great Meteorological events this year) that in his opinion either hadn’t been done or had been done badly. Hard to know if the alignment was one of them – Fiats do have alignment problems. But unfinished repairs are definitely amongst them! Now that the alignment has been fixed, the car is handling very much better. Strange to say!!

Lindsey is on her way!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The garden seems to have survived the downpours of the past fortnight. The broad beans looked a bit the worse for wear, but we've put sticks around their beds and twined string around so they've got something to lean on! I've planted cabbage, cauli, broccoli and sprout seedlings amongst the broad beans in the hope that the pigeons might miss them. The surplus I've planted in other beds and netted them. The *big* downside of all this rain has been that the slugs are a positive army, rampaging across the kitchen garden. I have, though, found some organic slug pellets which are friendly to animals and birds but not friendly to slugs (I don't think they are particularly attractive to snails, though). So far, so good.

The sweet potato has finally broken through the surface in the greenhouse! And The Builder spent a merry time yesterday pricking out side shoots in the tomatoes, which are growing profusely. The tomatoes out in the open aren't growing quite so fast, though the cherry tomatoes are doing fine. My Cape Gooseberries and yellow capsicums are almost big enough now to plant out in the greenhouse - though they'll need some sort of slug protection too. The slugs took no time at all to find a way in when there was good reason to!

We are starting to eat the potatoes. The first earlies are virtually ready. The Lady Balfour (second earlies) are delicious, but are a bit small yet. We have almost finished the cherries and the raspberries in the garden. The peas and broad beans are fantastic! Also, the carrots (growing in a box) are big enough now to thin and eat. They are very sweet.

I've sown more carrot seeds in two separate boxes, more lettuce in the salad box and more beetroot in the pea bed.

Everything seems to be enjoying the sunshine. Including Marlo!

Oh. And I've noticed (belatedly!) that the plan has been lying to us. There is one less garden bed than I put in. Not to mention a volcano I forgot to put in. Here's the amendment

The problem with having several weeks of very wet weather at this time of year is trying to get the washing dry. Not so bad in winter - the central heating is on and, in complete defiance of classiness and sophistication, I drape washing over all the radiators until it is dry. It might have been wet these last few weeks - but it has emphatically not been cool enough to put the heating on! We bought a new clothes horse, which helped. The Builder put up a retractable line in the dining room - which also helped, until it fell off the wall and covered me with damp clothes! It's been put back up with longer, stronger screws! But nothing, no not nothing helped the waistbands on The Builder's boxer shorts to dry. By the time they did dry they smelled all musty and had to be washed again. In the end I resorted to ironing them dry!!!!!!!

At least last week we knew when it was time to go home. Each evening, between 4 and 5, the skies darkened, the clouds rolled in and we had torrential showers for an hour or three. Even on Friday, which was quite a nice day, we were treated to a light shower at 5. So it came as something of a worry on Saturday, when I was working in the Adsetts Centre, and it failed to rain at all, all day, even at 5. Did that mean, I wondered, that I had to stay in the building until the next time it rained? No - I left according to the clock. Just as well. It hasn't rained since. At least, not anywhere I've been. I'm told it did rain in Sheffield over the weekend. Didn't in Chesterfield, not even when a HUGE big black cloud pulled over on Sunday at lunchtime and looked distinctly threatening.

I had been gardening when it did that. Planting out cabbage, broccoli and cauli seedlings amongst the broad beans, in the hope that the pigeons wouldn't notice them. Marlo (who was supervising) and I moved inside and passed the rest of the afternoon (me, not Marlo, who just went to sleep) drinking wine and watching the British F1 race, then the Wimbledon men's final. I baked bread and organised a roast beef dinner for when The Builder came home from laying flooring in a friend's parents' kitchen. The washing dried outside. I had done a little tidying and organising in the morning. It was a highly satisfactory Lazy Day.

I had another one yesterday. I had the day off, Just Because, and really did very little. I did go to the garden centre in Hasland (the one that sells snakes, inter alia) to see if they had a replacement for the starter pull thingie for the brush cutter. He didn't know, based on the information I had. Went home to get the brush cutter itself. Had an amusing time trying to get into The Builder's shed, then trying to get the brush cutter out. There was absolutely no way it was going to fit into the car, and I couldn't find any further information. Had an even more amusing time trying to get it back into the shed!! I ambled into town at lunchtime on the bus. Did some banking, pottered around the shops and the market, spent The Builder's money, pootled about, bought an astonishingly tasteless roast pork sandwich at a sandwich barrow (it was being kept warm in a bath of hot water - meant it was very succulent but tasted of nothing at all!) then came home again. Did a positive Everest of ironing, made some more bread and a cake, read m'book. It was a lovely day doing not very much.

If only life were like that! Back at work today.

Last week I was pottering about, early one morning, in the back garden by the pond. I saw something black dart out of the way and stopped to look down, expecting to see a spider or two. But no - it was a number of the tiniest of tiny, tiny frogs. Ever so cute.

Ian has arrived in our time zone. He's spreading sunshine and warmth all over England. It's still not raining here. I might have to water the garden this evening! A little tiny burst of summer.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I don’t know why I was surprised, really. I’ve seen the photos of the flooding at the Ravenside Retail Park. Even so, I was quite taken aback when I went to go to Pets At Home on Saturday morning and found all the stores shut and boarded up. I’m not sure about Currys. That appeared to have people in it. But whether they were shoppers is another matter. Mind you, these shops had had water half way up their windows last week, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised at all!

The weather wasn’t too awful over the weekend. Nothing like as catastrophic as the early warnings had suggested. So we decided to go down to Salisbury on Sunday just for the day. We left at 8:15 and arrived at 11:30. Not bad going. Actually, it’s quite good driving at that time ion a Sunday. The motorways are all empty! We found The Builder’s parents in good form, and very appreciative of the supplies we had brought down. Rhubarb and shallots from the allotment, picked on Saturday afternoon. Peas and raspberries from the garden, picked at quarter to eight on Sunday morning. They don’t come much fresher than that. We took them to The Bull in Downton, a five minute or so drive from their village. It’s been refurbished. It has a new French chef. It serves fantastic roast beef, though The Builder’s father found his a bit gristly. It also serves rather nice apple crumble and custard. Not really a summer dessert. But then, it’s not behaving like a real summer!

On the way down, I had said to The Builder that I wanted to go to the supermarket to buy some water chestnuts. Not that I couldn’t get them in Sheffield, but it’s a bit of a trek to the Chinese supermarket at lunchtime and the Sheffield Waitrose, for some reason, doesn’t stock them. At one point I said: Oh – and I could also do with some mumble mutter wotsit. OK, said he. We’ll go after lunch. Got to his parents’ place. Do you think I could remember what it was I wanted in addition to water chestnuts? Not only that – neither could he. Very irritating! We dropped his folks off after lunch and made our way to the supermarket. Water chestnuts and …? Water chestnuts and …? Picked up the book of picnic food I had borrowed from the local library, against us ever having any picnic weather ever again. Leafing through it, ran across a picture of some bread buns. *That’s* it! Yeast. I need yeast. Nothing I’ve made with the latest batch has risen. I suspect it of being dead yeast! We now have fresh yeast.

Got back about 6pm. A long time in the car. A long way to go just for lunch, though it was a mighty fine lunch and it was good to see Gwen and Mick. But it’s useful to know that it can be done. And perhaps next time my back might be slightly more forgiving of 7 or so hours on the road!

Our new, ever so earnest government is being ever so, ever so earnest about the latest lot of terrorist attempts on the UK. It’s difficult to take the new Home Secretary quite seriously, yet. And Gordon Brown telling us that “I want the country to cooperate with the police. I want you to be vigilant” merely had me thinking “I want doesn’t get”. Which is not an entirely helpful thought under the circumstances. Bring back Tony and the grown ups, I reckon. They at least seemed to know what they were doing. But the BBC stood deliciously defiant, if every one else was being vigilant and earnest and evacuated. It ditched whatever it had been planning to do for the Sunday Service on Radio 4 and we were treated to the live broadcast of an equally deliciously defiant service from the cathedral in Glasgow. Peace and love and calm were preached, yes. But the message that the Christians were there and Singing a Glad Song was very loud.

We were coming home on Sunday evening and had just reached the M1. My mind turned to what we might have for supper. We didn’t need much, having had a large lunch. Pity we don’t have any soup in the larder. A Very Silly Thought. I don’t like tinned soup. Too salty. And a very odd consistency. There are times when only tinned tomato soup will do, but they are rare and usually involve me being poorly sick. Hmm. Pity I don’t have anything to make a soup with. A Very Very Stupid Thought Indeed. There is a drawer in the freezer absolutely full of home made stock. We had turkey soup with shallots, garlic, broad beans, peas and tarragon from the garden. I added a few noodles. Was wonderful. Very much better than tinned soup!