Thursday, October 19, 2017

Curly Baps

It has taken me a little while to get back in the swing of things since my sojourn in England and London. I learned while I was away, that the capital and the country are actually different places* or, at least, so says LS who declared to me that she could 'never live in England' despite having lived in London ever since she graduated. Myself, I couldn't live in London but I very much love to visit it.

But first, there was Norfolk where I stayed with my daughter Katkin and her family. Master James was a delight, utterly obsessed with trains and other modes of transport but mainly trains. Unfortunately, he wasn't entirely well when I was with him - treated us all to a spot of projectile vomiting, a skill he has inherited from his mother. If it were an Olympic sport she could have been a gold medallist. Thankfully, she grew out of it and so will James.

And, like his mama, he has lovely curly hair. Apparently, it had been due for a trim but his parents decided to postpone it so I could enjoy his curls. I was reminded of my old friend Sheena who doted on children with curly hair and would often snip a keepsake lock with or without parental consent. It seemed a harmless hobby back then. No doubt, these days,  she'd have been prosecuted. Sheena would have adored our James.

Katy and James at Brancaster

*This might explain the Brexit vote in London where 59.9% voted to remain. Very much at odds with England as a whole.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Night Before Norfolk

Well, here we are - the night before I leave for deepest Norfolk. I didn't plant the daffodil bulbs or rack the wine. I think it's safe to assume that both of these tasks can be postponed for ten days or so.

I did plant the garlic though it wasn't a straightforward task. You see there is this little white hen who can escape her enclosure even though the surrounds are more than eight foot high. I think she flies onto the branch of a tree and from there launches herself over the fence. From then on she does fun things like root through the compost heap, lay eggs in secret, private places, nibble Nelly's chard and uproot her leeks.

Evie finds the secret nest (photo by Zoe)

So I planted about half the garlic and went back to the house for more cloves and a wee coffee. And when I got back there was the little white hen who had unplanted it. So a job that should have taken an hour took nearer two for then I had to build an intricate cage around the bed to prevent further incursions. The little white hen tried to blame the damage on the polytunnel robin but I knew that was a lie. Little robins couldn't do that much mischief in so short a time.

Today I started packing and when I got bored with that the girls and I went out to pick damsons. I thought they were over but the Wee came round (just back from four weeks in Vietnam) and informed us that he'd spent the morning making damson jam. Of course, I'll not be making jam as wine is far nicer. We got about six pounds from the tree. Enough for twelve bottles of wine.

Martha picking damsons

From tomorrow I'll be away from the keyboard. I haven't decided if I'm going to take my iPad. Maybe not. A week away from the internet might be good.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Garlic and Sourdough

There is a trip planned for next week and I have an awful lot to do before I leave.

  • Plant garlic.
  • Rack wine.
  • Plant daffodils.
  • Turn up new black trousers.
  • Buy toiletries.
  • Organise spending money.
  • Buy presents.
  • Wrap presents.
  • Sort clothes for packing.

Today I made a list - not the one above. And collected my big suitcase from the attic. I put my long list on top of it and smiled a satisfied smile. That'll do. For today.

I also had this conversation with Bert.

I'll be wanting you to keep my sourdough mother alive when I'm away.
What! Can't you get Hannah to do that?
It's not hard.
I'll never remember.
I'll also be expecting you to put the recycling out on Wednesday night.
But if you don't do that it's not the end of the world. However, that sourdough has been going for seven months now. I'd hate it to die just because no-one was able to give it a spoonful of flour, a dribble of water and a wee stir.
Can't you take it with you? If I forget you'll yell at me and if Hannah's responsible for it you won't yell at her.
This is true. But Hannah's got enough on her plate. I'll get Les to remind you.

Last year's garlic

I'm definitely not taking that sourdough mother with me. Imagine trying to explain that to airport security.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Bonnie's Stuff

Bonnie, March 2009

Bonnie came to us as a neglected and unloved dog who had lived her life on the end of a chain. Her collar, a stiff, cracked old thing, had chafed all the fur from underneath her chin. She was matted and smelly and very timid. The first thing we did when we knew we would be keeping her was to give her a bath. Afterwards, I wrapped her in old towels and covered her with a woolen blanket. She seemed baffled by the attention but not unhappy. As soon as I could I bought her a new collar, soft leather, and bright red. She seemed pleased with it and wore it the entire time she was with us. I kept it for a long time after she died but eventually disposed of it.

That was her first possession. She never 'got' balls. Her thing was squeaky toys. She loved them even after she had carefully detached squeaker and eyes. I kept her stuff in a straw basket and every night she'd take them all out item by item. And the first thing out of the basket was always the plastic Santa Claus. Bonnie really did like her stuff.

Bonnie, in January 2012. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Last Day of September

This is the last day of my September Every Day Blogging Marathon and I'm feeling slightly jaded. Seeking inspiration, I checked the archives to see what Nelly posted on this day ten years ago.  It happened to be about Banjo Man. And included a very good picture taken by Zoe, a ridiculous video clip and a frothy piece about how much I loved Marty.

And as it happened, Nellybert had the Banjos around last night for a quiet and pleasant evening of music and story-telling with a side-order of boking. These days Marty plays guitar when he's not gigging and he is becoming rather good at it. I was sitting there with old Frank on my lap and I was absent-mindedly stroking his long bat ears and I had this thought. Young dogs and puppy dogs are much loved by everyone. Puppies just want any warm friendly body to lie against and then they are content. But old dogs, old dogs that are not one's own old dog are a different matter. When they choose to lie on a lap and have their ears stroked and then fall asleep then that is a great privilege, one that should be acknowledged and appreciated for old dogs are discerning.

Friday, September 29, 2017

29th September

Bert says,

If there's one thing that will gladden a countrywoman's heart it's a big pile of brand new buckets.

He may well be right about that. By the way, thanks, Richard. I love my new buckets.

Bert also said,

Why are you photographing the buckets on their own? Shouldn't you be in the picture too so people can see what a big stack of buckets there actually are?

O.K. You take the picture.

And he did and it was a terrible picture. He footered around with the camera settings and made my trousers too baggy and my feet too long. But not to worry for I found some sort of rudimentary editing application that went some way to remedy these problems.

It's a big improvement. But I might have to have a word with Richard about the buckets. They seem to have warped.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

28th September

My youngest granddaughter was on her own today as her big sister was engaged in after-school activities. We ran errands, did homework, watched Paw Patrol (dreadful show) which she loves it so much she bought Paw Patrol underpants with her own money. After her allotted telly time was up we collected seed, gathered eggs and changed a bed. She is very good at pillowcases. She told me that she likes doing grown-up things. 

I'm looking forward to tomorrow as I'm going to Belfast with Mrs. Banjo a.k.a. Jazzer. Our plans include a really good lunch, some browsing around the shops and a few little drinks. But I will set my alarm in order to prepare for the trip because, since Hannah started driving herself to work, I've been missing my early starts. In fact, I am in danger of becoming as tardy a slugabed as my husband. And that would never do.

Now I must go add sugar and yeast to my grape wine, or as vintners prefer to call it, just plain wine. An early night is called for as I have lots to do in the morning.

And now - a random picture. It's my most-favorited on Flickr.

Macy in Drumkeeran Moss