Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Friday, January 30, 2015

Snow and Ice

There was snow forecast for yesterday. There were weather warnings and all sorts. So it wasn't any great surprise to wake up yesterday morning to find that there was a bit of snow about the place.  But not a huge lot it must be said.  It didn't inconvenience us at all getting to the station.

There was quite a bit more snow in Sheffield, and it was actively snowing.  From time to time in the course of the morning it snowed quite heavily, with big, thick, fluffy snowflakes. The Builder reported no falling snow in Tupton, until about 10:30.  By then there was quite a lot of snow in Sheffield, and people who lived up, or beyond the steep hills that Sheffield is made of were struggling to get into the city centre. Lots of lectures were cancelled. There weren't many students about. Many staff members tried to get in, only to be thwarted when they got to the steep hills, and had to turn back.

By midday, the snow had stopped falling in Sheffield and the sky was blue and the sun was shining. But Julia and I both had messages from our spouses that the snow was falling thick and hard in Chesterfield and Tupton and the roads were looking iffy.  The Derbyshire County Council put a message onto Twitter to say that the roads were at a standstill and quite treacherous in Chesterfield and not to travel there unless your need was urgent. Julia and I abandoned ship and made our way to the railway station - feeling a bit like frauds because, as I said, the sun was shining and the roads were fairly clear.

The sun was shining when we got to Chesterfield too.  I went with Julia towards the church. Julia was going to walk home. I was going to take a bus.  The traffic on the road was almost completely stationary. And there, by the pedestrian crossing was a bus that was heading my way.  I decided not to go up to the church but to head down the road to the next bus stop, thinking that I might make it there before the bus did.  On the way I walked past another bus.  And then another.  And I got to the bus stop several minutes before the first of them made it. The bus driver said he would not be going into Tupton, but would be staying on the main road.

No worries.  I hopped off the bus at the Tupton corner and walked in the sunshine down Queen Victoria Road, feeling very definitely like a fraud.  There was no severe weather here. The sky was a deep, dark blue.  But the pavements were snow-covered and icy and I had to walk with care. And it took me two hours to get home instead of the more normal 45 minutes.  I was quite glad, really, that I was doing it early in the afternoon in the sunshine, and not in the evening in darkness!

There was more snow overnight, and it was below freezing when we left this morning. It normally takes us ten minutes to drive to the station but this morning it was almost 40 minutes. And the trains were in disarray. But there was no real hassle getting to work. True, it took longer than normal, but nothing like two hours.  It is a glorious day and the countryside between Chesterfield and Sheffield was beautiful, the snow glistening in the morning sunlight.

I'm quite glad I decided to wear my walking boots yesterday and today though!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Australia Day Dinner in Sheffield

It was Australia Day yesterday so we gathered after work at Tabitha, Gareth and Cally's place for an evening of Aussie burgers, wine and merriment. Nate (who hails from Adelaide) and Duncan (who does not :-D ) were going to come too but they have been struck down with floooooo so didn't. Simon also didn't come, but not because he has flu. He was busy doing something else.

 Tabitha asked Gareth to hang an Australian Flag at the bottom of the stairs.  So he put up this one :D

Cally was very excited. Not only were there visitors and cake, but she got to show us all her brand new bedroom as well

Freyja came by after work

The Builder just came by. He doesn't do "after work" any more!

Waiting patiently for the burgers

Preparing the burgers

A Melbourne steak night salad to go with the burgers

I can't eat lamingtons*, so I made a "shamington" cake instead, with sugar sprinkles and stars instead of coconut.

It was a good night. But we had to leave quite early.  I have a stupidly early start on Tuesdays and didn't want to be out too late.

*Lamingtons are squares of sponge cake, covered all over with chocolate icing and dredged in dessicated coconut.  They are ubiquitous in Australia and are often sold as fund raisers for schools and children's groups, amongst other things. I can't eat them because of the coconut

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pottering around in Chesterfield

We had snow on and off during the course of last week. Not enough to stop us getting around, although the snow on Wednesday stopped me going out for a lunchtime walk. There was enough in parts of Sheffield to make life difficult for people though.

Fortunately by yesterday all traces of snow had disappeared.  This was convenient for me because I had an appointment at the optician's in Chesterfield.  So mid-morning The Builder and I hopped on the bus and trundled into town.  We could have taken the car but The Builder gets free bus travel after 09:30 in the morning and it is cheaper for me to buy a day ticket for the bus than it is for us to take the car in and pay for parking.

The parish church with its twisted spire
Looking back towards the church

The rather fetching Tourist Information Centre
 We were in town a bit early for my appointment so we had a potter around in the market and the market hall.  We went for a wander up some of the side streets and alleyways and enjoyed what was really a lovely winter's morning

The market square, looking towards the market hall
 After I had had my eyesight and hearing checked (both in fine fettle, thank you for asking :-) ) we hopped on another bus and headed towards home.  We jumped off the bus when we got to The Wingerworth and called in for lunch

The Wingerworth in the daylight
Looking across the car park
The Builder, waiting for lunch
Burger for me
 And then we walked home

Looking across the main road. It's clouded over now

Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Report

We had really rather a nice weekend. It was quite gentle.

We took Freyja and Simon for their inaugural visit to Costco on Saturday morning. We usually go on Fridays, after I have finished work and have never been on a Saturday before.  It was really quite remarkably busy!  And I should probably have sorted out the freezer, the store cupboards and the pantry before we went. All of the Costco and supermarket shopping had to sit about waiting, while I emptied, defrosted and re-organised the freezer when we got home.  While I was about it, I sorted out the pantry and the two kitchen store cupboards.  They all look beautiful now. I'm not sure what Freyja and Simon did with all their shopping.  We offloaded it in their lounge room when we dropped them off and their kitchen is downstairs, more or less in the basement.

It being a beautiful winter's day yesterday, we went for a walk in the morning. Not a long walk, but a very pleasant one.  We might have walked longer, but I wanted some cider for my slow roasted pork and if we didn't get that under way relatively early, we wouldn't be eating until well into the evening. Besides, we wanted to start tidying the driveway. Now that we've started the process, we would quite like to get it finished. The Builder is hoping to start widening the gateway today, if the weather holds. And we should be able to have the tarmac put down fairly soon after we've got the space ready. I don't think it will cost a huge lot - and we won't pay extra to have all the pretty things that some people have done to their drives.

Come on part of our walk with us:

Frosty hedgerow

Light covering of snow in the field

The sky was a glorious shade of deep blue

Frozen pond

A close up, so you can see the bullrushes

Winter landscape

Looking back towards Tupton

Saturday, January 17, 2015


We've finally had the kerb dropped so we can get the car into the drive
 I really don't know why we haven't done this before.

I know why we didn't do it when we first moved in.  We looked into it and at that stage you needed Planning Permission, plus you needed a council appointed kerber to do the job and it was going to cost ridiculous amounts of money to have it done.  So we didn't bother.

We knew that the planning laws had changed, and from time to time discussed whether we would investigate having the kerb dropped, but never did anything about it.  Mostly we parked the car in Ward Street, which is the next block down.  You can't park outside our place, because there are double yellow lines.  Every now and then we would put the car on the drive, but the front wheels didn't like going over the kerb, and the bottom of the car scraped along the edge when we tried to get back out.  It was never very successful.

Then Phil, two doors up, had his drive done, and Steve and Debby next door had theirs re-tarmaced. While the chap was there we asked about having our drive done.  Seemed we didn't need planning permission any more, and he had the necessary permissions to drop the kerb.

Then we went to Australia and more or less forgot all about it;.  Except for those rare occasions when we parked on the drive and the car didn't like it.

So I rang the bloke and asked him to give us a quote.  We had EXACTLY that amount of money in the saving account. And he came yesterday and did it.

I really can't think why we didn't do this before!!!

The Builder is going to widen the gateway, up to the street sign. The car only just fits between the existing walls.  And then we're going to tidy the drive up, get rid of the rubble, the boxes and the overgrown garden bed, shift the soil and fill the gap with concrete to provide a hard surface - and then the bloke is coming back to tarmac the drive and it will all look beautiful

This is how it looks at the moment:

Sunday, January 11, 2015


The weather yesterday morning was absolutely horrible. It was very, very, very, VERY windy, which was accompanied by some quite strong showers. We were at Bishops' House in the morning and weren't expecting any visitors at all.  We wouldn't have gone to look at a little museum in that weather, and particularly not when the forecast for the afternoon was much better. The only reason we were there is because we had said we would be!   So it definitely made us jump when the door flew open and in came three people!!! It was just as well we were open - they had come from just north of Derby to have a look around.

Meersbrook Park from Bishops' House
At 1pm the afternoon team turned up to relieve us and we took ourselves off to Paul and Carol's place for a delicious late lunch.  They had cooked Moroccan style food: saffron rice, Moroccan meatballs with lemon and a chickpea and vegetable tagine. It was lovely food and a convivial afternoon.  We didn't feel the need for any dinner yesterday evening :-D  Paul baked the rice in a covered dish with some water. I usually use an absorption method but the baked method was really lovely. I might give it a go.

It's a much nicer day today. It's still a bit windy, but nothing like it was yesterday. And the sun is shining.  We might go out in a bit for a potter around

Saturday, January 10, 2015


I'm hee-ere. Puff puff puff. Am I too late?

Yes you are!!  Where have you been?

Still. You're here now. I was beginning to wonder if you'd ever turn up 

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Marlo Visits the Vet

We took Marlo to the vet yesterday evening. He wasn't very happy about being put into his cat basket. In fact, it is mostly used as a chicken and duck basket. It's excellent when we want to bring new poultry home because it's plastic, so easily cleaned, and impossible for animals to break out of if it is properly shut. Not that Marlo tried to escape after we had convinced him to go in. He sat on his blanket, watching through the grille and only miaowed once or twice in the car. He even seemed quite interested while we were waiting in the clinic's waiting room.

The vet was lovely. She was gentle with Marlo and talked to him nicely and examined him thoroughly. She thinks he might have mild hip dysplasia and arthritis in his spine.  She would only be sure if she ran some scans, but Marlo would have to be anaesthetised for that and I think it's cruel to anaesthetise and animal to no real point. Even if we knew for sure he had hip dysplasia and arthritis all we could do would be to give him anti-inflammatories. And the vet prescribed those anyway.

Marlo was much less reluctant to get in the cat basket when it was time to come home!

He's had two lots of the anti-inflammatories and seems to be a bit brighter. I think he's moving a bit better too.  He's a bit miffed though because the vet says that he's a bit overweight and needs to lose some weight. Less food in his bowl and fewer cat treats!

Oh - and the vet gave him his worming tablet in two seconds flat!!!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

And Back to the Usual Routine

I sighed slightly to myself as I turned all the weekday alarms back on on Sunday morning. I had started to quite enjoy the lack of structure to life over the two weeks I had been off but (largely) at home.  Then I turned my face towards Sunday and forgot about getting up on Monday morning. Until Monday Morning!!

I enjoyed Sunday.  We didn't do anything much. I had given a bit of thought to going out and digging over one of the flower beds, preparatory to replanting it in the spring.  But everything was frozen. No snow, but a hard, hard frost.  So I didn't bother.  We went to Marsh Green instead and pottered about indoors and generally pootled.

And then it was Monday morning.  It was dark, dark, dark when the first alarm went.  It was dark when the second alarm went.  It was dark when we left to take me to the station.  And I don't mind being at work so much, it's the haste and bustle and purposefulness of the pre-work morning that came as something of a shock. It always does, of course. But I had got used to thinking: well, I'll just do this and then I'll have a cup of tea and then I'll do that and then I'll have a sit down and read a bit of my book and then ....  Mind you, I am not sure that a completely unstructured life would really be very good for us. There's only so much sitting about you can do in a day or week or month or lifetime :D

We're taking Marlo to the vet today. I suspect he has arthritis in his back legs and I want to get him checked over.  He can't jump properly any more and one of his back legs seems unstable.  Plus, of course - I want him to have that worming tablet that he wouldn't let me give him the other day. The vet can give it to him.  Although, I don't know what I am going to do if the vet decides he needs tablets to improve his bounce and his back leg :S:S:S:S:S

Saturday, January 03, 2015

New Year Lunch

It's been over a year since Freyja and Simon came to our place.  (I wonder what we did to upset them :-D ).  They came yesterday for a slightly belated New Year lunch, accompanied by Taffa and Cally - but not Gaz who was the only one of us gainfully working yesterday.

I did an Oriental style vegetarian platter for lunch.  It was rather tasty.

Then Freyja and Simon went away and a bit later Gareth turned up.  He, Taffa and Cally stayed overnight (and are still here; I think they are expecting lunch at some point!)

It's raining with determination today.  It's a bit gloomy, but I suppose it is much easier to move around in that 6cm of snow.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Welcome to 2015

Happy New Year, everyone.  I hope it's a sparkling, shining, glorious year for us all (even if I do expect it to have a few "interesting" moments, for me at least). It's the Year of the Sheep - which is my year. I must remember to use my Year of the Sheep chopsticks lots and lots this year

It crossed my mind while I was pottering around this morning that today marks ten years exactly since The Builder and I moved into The Mudhut near the Botanical Gardens in Sheffield.  I picked up the keys on New Years Eve and we moved in on January 1st, 2005.  That ten years certainly shot past!  Happy New Decade to us :-D
13 Khartoum Road, January 2005

Farewell to 2014

The last couple of days of the year passed nice and slowly. The Builder de-snowed the car yesterday and we drove slowly and cautiously to Tesco for a few supplies. We had been thinking about Sainsbury's but we were still unsure that we would get up Hag Hill and Twitter had alerted me to an accident down by the Wingerworth pub which had half the main road blocked.  There was an accident on the way into Clay Cross as well, which ha happened moments before we went past.  Fortunately, it didn't cause massive traffic problems and there was a police officer controlling the traffic when we came back.

We bought some worming tablets for the cat while we were out.  I mashed one up and put it in some tasty food for him.  He recoiled from the tasty food as though we had put poison in it.  Which I suppose, from his point of view, we had!  So we tried to force a second one down his throat.  For an exciting moment or two we thought we had succeeded.  Then he spat it out :-S  The cat won! But I will win in the end.  I shall take him to the vet and let the vet give him a tablet :-D

Today we slithered and slipped up to the bus stop and went into town.  I have discovered that there is a small Oriental supermarket tucked away down a side street, off the main shopping streets in Chesterfield.  Much more convenient than driving into Sheffield when Oriental supplies are called for and I am not at work.  It took ages to find it, but we did eventually.  And it will certainly do for supplies, although I think I will still mostly use the Sheffield ones. They're bigger and better stocked with the sorts of things I am likely to be looking for. But it will certainly save us having to go all the way into Sheffield when I need tofu or curry sauces and am at home.  Then we slipped and slithered up to the Market Hall and thence to The Rutland for a spot of lunch. We should have worn our walking shoes rather than our ordinary outside shoes.  The Builder nearly tipped over several times while we were mooching about!

And so home, where we have passed a quiet afternoon and evening.  We watched the New Year fireworks in Paris and Berlin (on the telly box - we don't have access to an Instantaneous Matter Transfer Device, alas).  The Builder has gone to bed.  I am just waiting for the London fireworks to appear on the telly and then I too will declare the day and the year over.

Many people have said that they will be glad to see the back of 2014.  It wasn't too bad a year for me.  Unremarkable in many ways. Mostly I quite enjoyed it.  I think that 2015 may well have some "interesting" moments for me.  But I hope that it is generally a happy year for us all.