Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Missing Marlo

We went to bed on Monday night, leaving Marlo lying in his accustomed late evening position - on the kindling basket, next to the fire.

We haven't seen him since.

He didn't come up overnight, as is/was his habit, and join us on our bed.

He wasn't about when I went down at 4:00 to turn off a lamp that had been accidentally left on.

I got up, feeling very uneasy, at 5:00 and went out with a torch looking for him.  There was no sign of him, but it was a bit too early to be stood outside calling him.

I went out again later, when it was proper;y light.  No sign of him.  He didn't respond to calls, or the special Marlo whistle.

The Builder and I have been out and walked up and down the local roads, calling him.  We have looked in the nearby fields and in the hedgerows.

He hasn't been at the door to greet us when we have come home.  He hasn't been in for food.  I have no sense of Marlo's presence anywhere.

Marlo is missing.

We miss Marlo.

Unless he comes home and tells us where he's been and what's been happening, I don't suppose we will ever know.

We are very, very sad

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter Weekend

We had a fairly quiet and peaceful Easter weekend.

We headed out to the Chatsworth Estate on Good Friday.  We haven't been out that way for ages. Mainly we go if we are intending to visit the Farm Shop and we haven't been there for months and months and months.  Since we discovered the excellent butcher at Marsh Green we've been going there, partly because he's a fabulous butcher and also because it is significantly closer.  But he's gone now and we haven't been all that impressed with the meat since he went.  So we thought a jaunt out to Chatsworth might be in order.  And it was very, very lovely.  Very springlike. The sun shone and everything.

We called at the supermarket on the way home and it was absolute bedlam.  Anyone would think it was about to close for 24 hours.  As, indeed, it was.  But not until closing time on Saturday.  There was no need for massive panic buying on Friday!!  We did not panic buy.  We bought the things on our list and went home.

We all gathered at Freyja and Simon's place for the Easter feast, and very delicious it was too.  Freyja and Simon cooked up a splendid vegan feast and we all had a very jolly time

Flynn's first Easter Feast

Simon and Freyja, relaxing after preparing the feast 

Freyja, Tabitha, Gareth and Friend Stephen

Cally eating cake

Grandad Jim and Flynn
It was a beautiful day on Sunday.  Then I looked out of Freyja and Simon's kitchen window - and saw this
Storm heading our way from the moors

Storm gathering strength
Then we got hail, sleet and wind!

Yesterday Storm Katie hit.  A misnomer for a storm if ever I heard one.  All the Katies I have ever known have been lovely, peaceable, friendly people.  Storm Katie, on the other hand, delivered gales, sleet, snow, hail, rain, more gales and general disruption all around the country.  I stayed inside and cleaned things!

Nobody has yet been to inspect our house with a view to buying it.  It is very disheartening keeping it clean and tidy for no real reason ;-(

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Time Passes ...

... very, very slowly sometimes

I came back to work on January 18th knowing that I would be leaving.  I didn't know exactly when, but I knew it would be in the next few months and guessed that it might be sometime around Easter.

Time got away.  I had quite a few things to do and was kept fairly busy.

Then I had a conversation with the relevant people and confirmed an official leaving date of March 31st.  So more or less Easter time.  And time seemed tostop.

Now you and I both know that Dates in the Diary are much closer than they appear.  Things hustle up with unseemly haste, even when they seem ages and ages away. I assumed that would be the case with this too.

Not this time.  The University is closed from tomorrow through to next Tuesday.  I arranged to take Wednesday and Thursday off, coming into Sheffield on Thursday for a farewell lunch with people I have been in the habit of lunching with in the almost 19 years that I have been at SHU.

So, today is effectively my last day in the office.  And the last six weeks or so have gone very, very, very, very slowly indeed.  Almost as though today didn't actually want to arrive.  I simply cannot say that, although the individual days have taken their time, the weeks since my leaving date was decided have flown. They have not.  Today has been a long, long time coming.

And even now I don't absolutely believe it.  There is a large part of my brain which assumes I will be back at work after the Easter holidays.  That did not, however, stop me not just turning off but actually deleting the "get up and get ready to go to work" alarm on my phone when it rang this morning :-)

When I came for my very first interview at SHU, I walked into this building and thought that I really wanted to work somewhere that had had the imagination to turn a muddy wasteland into a beautiful airy atrium.  My first appointment was a six week temporary contract in the HR department as a receptionist. I started at the end of May in 1997.  I've been here ever since, without a break in service!

After a brief interlude in the Admissions Department, I came to the Learning Centre, on a permanent contract.  It didn't look like this then! It was quite dark and dingy.  Now it's all glassy and shiny and an innovative library.

Books?  Well of course there are books.  This is a library!

I've been in several offices in my time here.  This is the last one.

"So long, and thanks for all the fish"  (Adams 1984)

#timepasses  #farewelltoSHU

Monday, March 21, 2016

Food and merriment

Tabitha, Gareth, Cally and Flynn had been to a birthday party in Holymoorside on Saturday and had thought that they might come and stay with us overnight rather than heading straight home.

So The Builder and I went heading out for provisions. While we were out we called in at Strada Estates to hand in a set of keys.  We went to the library to return some books and to borrow another book and a couple of DVDs. We went to the supermarket for provisions for the evening. And we were home, ready to receive visitors when they rocked in after what sounds like a fun-filled 6 year old birthday party.

We watched the DVD of  Abner, the invisible dog, which we all expected to be dire but which was unexpectedly funny and engaging. We watched the DVD of  Happy Feet Two, which we all expected to be funny and engaging but which was strangely disappointing. Cally had noodles, broccoli, salami and soya sauce for dinner, which she seemed to enjoy. The grown ups had stir fried beef in black bean sauce with noodles, which we all seemed to enjoy.  Flynn spent most of the evening crying, but slept remarkably well overnight (to his parents' great delight!).

Marlo has taken over Flynn's car basket
Flynn on his first inspection tour of the garden
On Sunday we all talked to Grandma Stella and Grandpa Tony on Skype.  We had crumpets with various things for breakfast. Then all the visitors went away and The Builder and I made ready to go for lunch at Bea and Steve's place in Woodseats.

We had a delightful lunch. It was very delicious. The company was convivial. The wine flowed (except for The Builder's, for he was in charge of the car).

Spinach and asparagus soup ...
... followed by rolled pork, hasselback potatoes, veg and apple sauce
I didn't get a photo of the steamed treacle pudding :-(

It was a great weekend :-)  I am looking forward to the next one!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Well now, that was an exciting week

Lots of things happened.

On Monday, of course, it was Cally's birthday and we went out for a celebration dinner with her.

On Tuesday, late in the afternoon, Sharon from Strada Estates came and took lots of photos of our beautiful house, and we signed the paperwork that authorised them to put it on the market. She took some very beautiful photos:

All three photos taken by Sharon from Strada Estates for the brochure
On Wednesday I had lunch with Freyja. We went to Tok-you, which is rather confusingly a *Chinese* restaurant in the Sheffield City Centre.  It does very delicious food, although Freyja was a bit surprised to get little tiny chicken meatballs on her allegedly "vegetarian" tofu dish. Not that it was marked as suitable for vegetarians in the menu, but I don't think the Chinese waiter understood when Freyja asked for it to be meat-free (either that, or she didn't think of chicken as meat.  She does now!!)  They made Freyja another plate, which was meat-free.

On Thursday, the house went live on the Right Move property website. And Rupert and I went to the Open Afternoon that SHU was having for staff in their new building on Charles Street.  It's due to open for proper use after Easter but it was a really good idea to have the open afternoon so we could all go and have a look around.  It's seven storeys high, and has some fabulous views out over Sheffield

Looking across Arundel Gate from Level 7

Looking East-ish

I can see the Main building!

The Atrium follows the line of the old Brown Lane
and is crossed by open walkways on two sides of the building
On Friday the remnants of the D&S team went to the Training Restaurant for a French Menu for lunch. I am going to miss the Training Restaurant. The food and nutrition students do themed menus several times a year and the food is always very delicious and never very expensive, and the restaurant is ably run by the students.  

Oh - and the For Sale board went up at our place. I wonder if anyone will want to buy it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Cally's fifth birthday

It was Cally's birthday yesterday.  She is now a big, grown up five year old :)

By way of celebration her parents and baby brother, her aunt and Simon, her Gamma and Grandad Jim and family friends Nate and Duncan all met at Swanky Frank's for dinner after work (and school).  Swanky Frank's is an American style diner, which does American style diner type food.  In American sized portions!  On Mondays they have a magician who tours around the tables.  Yesterday the magician was a French bloke who was very good and who both puzzled and amused Cally a lot.

He came and did coin and card tricks while we were waiting for our starters and again while we were waiting for our main courses

Which pack of cards shall we choose?

Duncan and Nate, watching intently

Simon is wondering if he could replicate the trick
Freyja and Tabitha are fairly sure they can't!

Cally is just fascinated

They do a two course menu for £12 during the week.  The Builder had a starter and a main.  I had a main and a dessert. We intended to share the starter and the dessert.  Which we did.  But we really didn't need a large starter between us, followed by an ENORMOUS pizza each, followed by a sizeable chocolate ice cream sundae.  We have brought pretty much a complete pizza home with us. We will just have to have it tonight :)

Cally had the children's set menu, which was a pizza and a choice of dessert.  When they brought her dessert out, the two people waiting tables, and the magician came in with her plate, which was absolutely covered with tiny marshmallows and chocolate sauce and other sugary things, with a lit birthday candle on top.  We all sang happy birthday, including the two waiting staff and the magician.  Cally was very happy.  I'm not sure her parents will have enjoyed the sugar high followed by the sugar low, but there you go!  It was a good night and I was very impressed by the attention that was paid to Birthday Cally

Gareth, Freyja, Magician, Tabitha

Gareth and Cally with her pizza and a playing card magic trick

Tabitha and Flynn

Freyja and Cally

Mr Builder

Cally and her plate of sugar - I mean birthday chocolate

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sunday ...

... dawned bright and sunny

The garden in the early morning sunshine
 with clear signs of spring

No time to mess about in the garden, though.  I was off to Chesterfield in the newly tyred car.  It takes about 8 minutes to get from our place into the Chesterfield town centre at 10:00 on a Sunday morning - and there is plenty of choice for parking spaces!

I met Richard at the church with the twisty spire for the Passion Sunday service.  It was absolutely delightful. Very, very high church, lots of incense, lots of processions, beautiful music, hearty hymns and a rather good little choir. I have been in the church many times but never for the Sunday service. I really must go again!

Then Richard and I went back to Tupton, where The Builder had been doing useful things, and we had lunch

The pie that I had made yesterday
It's chicken, ham and apricot

Steamed chocolate pudding for dessert
We had the pie with potato salad and a green and red salad.  We had the steamed pudding (which The Builder had been in charge of while I was out) with a red fruit syrup, made using fruit from the garden from last summer.  It was all very convivial.

The whole weekend had been thrown thoroughly out of kilter, mind.  I had spoken to Stella and Tony at the usual time, but on Saturday rather than Sunday (they had bounced me on the Sunday in favour of a fish and chip adventure!).  This meant that I spent all of Saturday thinking it was Sunday and, on the whole, doing Sunday things.  Then, of course, we had the real Sunday.  I am very fond of Sundays, but it did all feel just a little bit odd.

I am definitely in countdown mode.  The end of my almost 19 year association with SHU is
oh-so-nearly in sight. Two weeks to go!