Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fun times with friends......

image

The workmen are back again. I do believe that there is enough stuff needing fixing around here to keep them busy for another 6 months, but the main things are nearly done. They are finishing up work on the stairs today. They no longer creak and groan quite as much, and the railing has been brought into the 21st Century, thanks to a genius idea by moi and genius workmanship by them. And much measuring, re-measuring and did I mention re-re-measuring? It paid off. My stair rail now looks stunning and the newel post no longer leans.

The house is still upside down, and still needs painting and still needs sorting, but baby steps are good.

image

As I mentioned, life is chaotic. Finding place to sit and rest ice and elevate has been a challenge, but as soon as one sits, one has an immediate nap. At times that nap lasts for hours. HOURS, I tell you. 

Our American visitors are back in Philadelphia, and a good time was had by all while they were here.  Last Thursday was my UN day. Diana had a friend from New Zealand visiting for a few days, and I had a friend visit from South Africa for the afternoon - she and I last saw each other 45 years ago in school. We both remembered so clearly that I sat in front of her in class, and we had so much to talk about. Like the 45 years, a husband each, 6 children between us, and siblings, travels, homes.......

It was a delight.

And, true to form, it felt as if we had been chatting just the other day. I absolutely loved seeing Gwyneth - and I look forward to many more meetings. Getting to know her lovely husband was also great.

image

And into the midst of this, my American visitors arrived. Sandy and I grew up a road apart in Cape Town, but only really became friends at UCT, when we were both on the Rag Committee for years. I had never met his lovely wife, Joy, so that was very exciting. They were here for a few days, and we managed to show them our little corner of England, and there was much eating involved.

image

 Eating I did not have to cook, thankfully. The weather even behaved and they had some incredibly hot sunny days to enjoy the gardens of Castle Ashby and other vital essentials like Waitrose.

image

And then workmen returned. They were banished last Tuesday because the house had to return to something resembling a home while guests were in and out. And hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel. I swear if the stairs looked more presentable, I would just paint them and let them be. They, like the rest of this house, seem to have been built without due care and attention, sadly. And once you put one thing right, the rest looks worse than ever.

Groan.

White paint will make it all work. I like white paint. The decorator I called is booked till next year, so that was a non-starter. 

We will make a plan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A not so clever move.......

image

So the mess continues. There are men in the cupboard under my stairs as I speak. 

image

They are fixing the stair case, which creaks. The stairs have no carpet. That is piled up in the lounge too. 
And therein lies the tale of the past few days. 

Last Thursday, the plumber returned with the last two giant radiators. One was not quite what I thought it would be, but I have become attached to it, and it is now fine. It was just a bit of a surprise at the time. I was calm, people. Be impressed. Anyway, I decided to leave and go back to my friends' home, where I was keeping their dog company, to escape the drilling and vibration. There were people boxing in pipes, lying on the floor attaching radiator pipes and all the rest. So I walked across the lounge....

tripped over that cardboard...

image

and executed a move worthy of Olympic Gold. I crashed onto the floor, hitting the coffee table and tool boxes on the way down with the bad leg. The very bad leg. Oy. Breathing became optional. The workmen were lovely, and Diana was a real star  - she came running, and managed to stop them from touching me or my leg and, thinking fast, gathered up the patches which anaesthetise. And that was when I realised that weight bearing was not an option, so we managed to get me into the car and off to hospital, where they showed little to zero knowledge of CRPS, and only x-rayed on the demand of both my present children. David joined us there. Me? I sat in the wheelchair and sobbed. The pain was off the charts.

image  

Both feet were swollen, and so was my knee, but nothing was broken. Or, as the unhelpful Dr K said, the knee is fine. The foot is fine. Hmmm. Fine? If you mean not broken, I get that. But fine? So, with a little urging, he supplied crutches, but told me to go to my GP and ask to be referred to the pain clinic. Not good, given the nature of CRPS,with the need for immediate pain relief, but hey, we are alive and fine. Ish. He did say to go to bed for 5 days. 

So that was clever of me, wasn't it? 

And crutches? They are medieval instruments of torture. 

Monday, July 07, 2014

The house is upside down.......

My house is in chaos. The heating has been (almost) replaced, but the holes in the wall remain, and the carpenters are hammering and plastering and rebuilding cupboards open to the attic as I speak. The large radiators will be delivered and installed (I hope) today, and the last heat testing will be done. Again, I hope. The plumber doing the bathroom is calling later to discuss details. The first windows, and doors and fascia boards are done, and the front of the house will be sorted tomorrow, as in bay windows, door etc. 

And access to this computer has been impossible. There will be photos too, people. I like to share the chaos. The hair remains on end, the house needs to be ENTIRELY redecorated, and my daughter has been dangling from the rafters all weekend, painting the kitchen. Brilliantly.  

We will get there. 

Breathe, Linds.

I am the eternal optimist.

However, the body is creaking mightily. I cannot stand the nest begin disturbed. So I have totally overdone everything. And then today marks the 8th anniversary of the death in this family which changed absolutely everything. Eight years, my friends. Eight. 

And that means that it is over 8 years since I started blogging. 

I have been reading a couple of things recently, referring to those days and how much they are missed by some of us. Yes. Me too. They were good times. In a sense, it is like looking back at the 50s, in terms of the Internet. The innocent times, where we only wanted to connect, communicate, be among people we could learn from, exchange ideas, help, get involved with on our blogs.  Before the days of monetisation, stats and book deals. 

And youth. 

The young ones once grinned benignly at the thought of blogging, especially Mums blogging. And then those young ones suddenly woke up and the rest is history. They took over the internet. Youth generally does this, as it is the way the world works. Old out, new in. Just look at the ages of politicians. After the last European thingy, I googled them all. 30 something. Mainly 47. Hmmm.

Anyway. 

The young ones arrived and suddenly it all changed. It was impossible to actually communicate with them, because their focus was on different things, in a sense. Comments were never acknowledged. There was no way to communicate privately and all of a sudden, it was like fan mail. I remember writing to pop stars in my youth. They never answered themselves either, but got secretaries to do it all. 

To be honest, when you have comments in the thousands, there is no way on God's green earth that you can answer them all, now can you??

But what I am trying to say is that the ESSENCE of blogging - that personal connection disappeared. 

And we are responsible for that, you know. 

We took our eyes off the people we had become close to, and eyed the new ones with a little awe and a whole lot of suspicion, and then we rolled over and died. Those of us who were here 8 years ago know what I am talking about. The saddest thing is that some of those lovely women blogging back then just sort of faded away from the blogging world. And this is what I actually wanted to say at the start before I got side-tracked, as I always do........ There is and always has been room for everyone. I think the worst possible development was when those who had been around a while started comparing themselves and their blogs to the new ones, and we ALL KNOW that comparisons are odious, now don't we??? We do indeed. 

There was no need. 

Everyone has a voice. And everyone has the space to use it here on this great big wonderful on-line world. And after a year or so of fumbling blindly along the path of life, I am reclaiming my spot. I am going nowhere. This is my corner, and I just want to be among friends - if I could ever work out why the Blogger reading list is refusing to list recent posts that would help. Or maybe I need to export my list to somewhere more helpful. Girls? Help? 

I may talk about things more later. 

Progress, people. I don't always love it. And the carpenters need tea and coffee. 

PS: I think about some of the absent bloggers a great deal, you know. I wonder if they are okay, how their children are doing, where they are. I care about them. Facebook is not the answer to everything. You can't tell stories on Facebook, can you......



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Where is Ty when you need him.........

In what is going to be the flavour of the summer, here we go with The House Renovation - Day 1, minus the great army of people and the cruise as in the TV programme, of course! 

Well, you see, yesterday evening, as in after 6pm, I had a call to say that the new doors and windows were arriving today and that they would be starting work at 8am. This is a few days earlier than expected. And what you don't know is that after I hit "publish", I packed 7 boxes of the contents of the linen cupboard (not all linen, I hasten to add - my quilt collection, season change stuff etc) and sat back feeling very clever.

They were all piled neatly in front of every door and window which is being replaced today.

Not every door or window is being changed, I hasten to say. Just those needing replacement. Or panes of double glazing which have popped.  To me, the extension of our house is still the new part. I think of it as new. It is now 17 years old and I am told it is OLD. Hmmm. Things lasted back in the old days. Why do I sound like my grandmother? Ah. That could be because I am indeed a grandmother.

So, last night, David was moving water butts and compost bins and garden furniture, and we had to find space for the mountain of now totally in the way boxes. And I have been up since dawn. They are wrestling mother's bedroom window out as I speak. I must go and take more photos.

Window out. Rest of house still standing. You never can tell, you know. (Are you enjoying the blow-by-blow report here?)

image

I am in need of more coffee.

And a steam mop.

The new window is going in now. I have made more tea and coffee. The sun has vanished. Dinner prep has begun. I am a little distracted by the footsteps up and down the stairs and the voices, and finding something interesting to relate has escaped me for the moment. 

I will be back.






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Boxes are the feature of the day......

Did I mention that we are having our heating changed? We are indeed. The hot air system we have is appalling, and we are changing to radiators. This is both economic and wonderful, except for the fact that every single room in the house is going to be a) disrupted and b) need decorating after the work is done.

Groan.

And I have spent the last who knows how many years helping everyone to decorate and sort their homes, and now I have run out of inspiration in a huge way. My only solution is to say I want white. White! Make it white! And this whole house will be painted white, so help me. Where is the Nester when you need her??? 
Then there is a new bathroom to come too, but at the thought I sort of want to crawl into a cupboard and sit there with a blanket over my head sucking my thumb, rocking back and forth. White! I want white!

Time for a holiday. Or two.

Anyway, as I speak, the plumber is coming to check measurements, and the boxes are piling up. The kids will be here to move anything I want moved to a storage unit for a few weeks while the work is done, because I cannot risk falling over mountains of Stuff. I need to get rid of Stuff. Lots of Stuff.

image

It is amazing what you find. This is one of a pair of moth or mouse eaten bed socks which I knitted when I was about 7. You can clearly see that knitting was never going to be my thing. So I took a photo of it and tossed it in the bin. Keeping it for 53 years is long enough. 

image

I started packing some boxes today, and managed a couple and it is so humid that I was in danger of melting into a puddle. So I watched Roger on Centre Court. I do love Wimbledon.

  image

I am back. The plumber arrived. He did his plumbery thing, and we sorted the plan of action for Monday. 8am. There is a mountain to move here. So when he left, I packed another heaven knows how many boxes. The house is filling up. 

While I was sorting the un-hung paintings and photos, and discarding unwanted frames, I found this photo of me with my Dad. This was taken the night before I left with the children to live in the UK. Geoff was in Hong Kong. 1990. I was 36.

image

It is a lovely photo. Dad has that mischievous look in his eyes. 
I miss him. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer has arrived............

Well, in the midst of the looooong silence, I have moved up a decade, and survived to tell the tale. I have been away for the weekend, had visitors and continued to teach my ladies how to use or not use the iPad. Therein lies another story.  I have changed the house to summer and planted the garden. 

I also need a nap.

I have a new computer and this, people is the first real thing I am attempting on it, and as my adult children are all not here, I am patting myself on the back for not blowing up the internet. Oh heavens, I will now have that FBI place monitoring everything I say. Oh well, welcome! You will enjoy the prattle re granddaughters, children, crochet, gardens and tennis, I am sure. 

Yes - Wimbledon starts today. It takes Wimbledon to really make us believe that summer is a fact, not a distant dream. Regardless of the weather. Today is greyish but warm, and the sun is trying to shine.  Andy Murray starts his defence of his title this afternoon, but we are British here, and I suggest that hoping for another victory is not a good option. Being pleasantly surprised should one miraculously happen to occur is much less damaging to the blood pressure, as recent World Cup disasters have proven. Sigh. 

It could be depressing, you know - we keep losing. Oh well. Looking on the bright side, I popped into the hairdresser the Friday before the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, and let the little apprentice cut and highlight my hair. She is such a honey. She did very well. It was a very long procedure. Very long. But hey, I like having my hair done and the morning whizzed by. So did lunchtime. Early Afternoon. 

My hair was not green.

Brixham and start of summer 14 073

The plan was to do nothing for my birthday. As in, I have been too exhausted to contemplate anything, so my close friends and family arranged for us to go out for breakfast at one of my favourite garden centres. Actually, that is a misnomer. It is The Place To Gather around here, and we love it. 

And so, the day before my birthday, we had a splendid outing and a delicious breakfast. All my children were supposed to be here, but Missy had just recovered from chicken pox when her Dad managed to catch it. He most definitely had it as a child, but caught it again so he stayed home alone while Ann and Missy came to join in the birthday fun. We really missed him. (He is taking after his mother. You are only supposed to get chicken pox once. I had it 3 times. )

Their gift to me is a new all singing all dancing BBQ with all the bits and pieces, so he really needs to be the one to christen it, after his brother did the assembly for him. Something to look forward to! 

Brixham and start of summer 14 095 

I was about to open the BIG box containing the BBQ. I had a great helper. 

Brixham and start of summer 14 107 

There were many balloons about. They are still hanging from the rafters in the kitchen. I believe in drawing these things out. 

On my birthday, the phone rang a great deal, and so did the doorbell, and so much for saying that I didn't want anything special - Diana baked cakes and it was a lovely, people filled day. I was incredibly spoilt by everyone. I have an envelope full of amazing gift vouchers!  

 60 is not so bad. 

Actually, age has never bothered me at all. It is the numbers I can't get my head around. 60. How did that happen? Was I asleep for part of it? 60? When? How is that possible? 

Brixham and start of summer 14 162

So, after a fairly manic week, Diana and I drove down to Dorset. edited : Dorset? What? I mean DEVON.  DEVON. Brixham is in Devon. Sigh. The new car is a delight. Thank heavens for automatic gear boxes! We dropped our friend, Tessa, at the station in Exeter so that she could catch the train to visit her son in Falmouth for the weekend, and we  headed on towards Brixham, stopping at Totnes on the way to explore a little. I remember this part of the world so well. When Geoff and I got married, we lived in Devon for the first year, and spent so much time out exploring. He had family in Dorset too, so these are old hunting grounds for me. 

Brixham and start of summer 14 160

We were on our way to a lovely celebration. My friends, Cathy and Tony, were celebrating their ruby anniversary with a fabulous weekend. Their friends and family gathered from all over the place/world, and we were there to join in. 

Cathy and I have been friends for 38 of those 40 years, you see. When Geoff and I were sailing back to South Africa on the RMS Windsor Castle, to live for a few years when I was expecting Andrew, I met Cathy on board. She was travelling alone, and told me of her sea-faring husband. I told her of mine and so a friendship was born. 

Once we had arrived in Cape Town, we bumped into each other in the shopping centre and discovered we were living opposite each other in the same road. And so the long and happy friendship grew. I am godmother to her daughter, and she is godmother to mine. She, however, is a stellar godmother. I am a diabolical one. I do love my goddaughters though. I have two. Neglected. But loved.  

Brixham and start of summer 14 354 
Congratulations, Cathy and Tony - you are a wonderful example of how marriage should work. 
And we love you both. 

image

So that was the exciting part. Linds actually left the village. There have been a great many medical issues this year. We are conquering all, but it has been tough, I confess. And, for those who remember, at long last, I had a letter of apology from the hospital. We have finished the battle although the potential class action one rumbles on in the background. The stress levels have been high, believe me. But thank God it is over. 

image

I nearly forgot to plant the garden. I decided to cut back the flamboyant enthusiasm and be more selective and that lasted for about 10 seconds. I love my garden. So the planting of seeds began. Late, but still..... 
And they grew, and I planted and this year, they seem to be doing the work while I sit and watch and marvel at their beauty. 

image

And at the beauty of the little one who is not so little any more. She loves watering my garden, and I love her. 

Summer is here, and Linds is back. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Bluebells..................

This last weekend, our Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, was the best time EVER for bluebells. We wanted to go and see them from Thursday, and finally got our act together on Sunday after church, and wandered through the countryside to Coton Manor to visit the Bluebell Woods. I didn't know that half the bluebell woods in the world are in the UK. And I have never seen such a glorious profusion of bluebells. Put  bluebell woods on your bucket lists, people - they will take your breath away.

Bluebell Wood, Coton Manor

The gardens are beautiful at Coton Manor, but we decided to head straight for the bluebells, given the fact that the sun was shining and half the population was thinking along similar lines. So many people!

Bluebell Wood, Coton Manor

And, even anticipating the purple-blueness, our response to the first sight of them was "Oh WOW!". So very beautiful.

Bluebell Wood, Coton Manor

The trees are beech, and the green of the leaves was a perfect foil for the bluebells. Add the dappled sunlight, and it could not have been better. 

Bluebell Wood, Coton Manor

Walking back to the restaurant (for tea and scones and cake), we passed the manor - the wisteria looked and smelled amazing. We will have to go back to see the rose garden when the roses bloom too. And the wildflower meadow. 

Bluebell Wood, Coton Manor

But the bluebells - they are special..........

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday morning..............

Well, good morning to you all. I am hoping those of you in Arkansas are good - that tornado seemed horrendous. While it is a grey day in Middle England, we do not have to cope with a tornado, and I am very thankful for that, believe me.

012

I have been typing away here for the past half hour. You will be so happy to hear that I have so far deleted:

A discussion about stains and their removal from garments
The nappy dilemma gripping the nation this morning. Apparently some children are wearing nappies at school. Some even into the mid teens. Nappies= diapers.
A discussion re putting babies into over-crowded nurseries at 5-6 months.
Mention of the need to clean carpets. 

It must be Monday.

image

I had a lovely expedition to the garden centre on Saturday, and I did indeed buy some small plants for my hanging baskets. Not many, but I do love the million bells and if I wait another few weeks, I would have to pay 3x the price for larger plants. I like the teeny ones I can grow on in the green houses. 

Actually, it was the shortest Garden Centre trip in living memory. I was in the door, popping the 6 plants in the basket and out within 10 minutes. I did not mooch. I  did not browse. I did not even glance at the other 99.9% of the huge place. I must have been coming down with some mystery illness. 

image

It is apple blossom time here, and the scalped tree is starting to look better with some signs of greenery and pretty flowers. It always looks so odd when it has been pruned back hard, as it has been this year.

011

Rather like I do when I have had my hair cut. I always look odd then too. I am now writing about identifying with trees. Maybe I should step away for a moment, and research What Topics To Write About On The Blog instead. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A season for growing..............

IMG_2785

April vanished as well. Almost. Sigh. I am getting worse and worse at this, people. Intentions are good, but reality is something else. As you can see, Spring arrived a while back. The rape-seed (canola) is everywhere and so is hay fever. That stuff is a nightmare for just about everyone.

In a fit of spring-like fever, we spent a good part of the Easter weekend down at the allotment. David did the work, and I pottered up and down. Issuing instructions, as one does. The head of the allotment committee has hens down there. In fact, loads of people keep hens. His, however, seem to have the run of the place, and were pecking away at the purple sprouting broccoli quite happily. And other assorted vegetables. Unfortunately, none of their owner's vegetables, though. David did some chicken herding but it was useless. Have you tried herding hens? And a rooster? Hmmm. 
IMG_2803

The raised beds are ready for planting, the rest of the allotment has been rotivated, thanks to the hard work  of friends and son, and the broad beans are planted. it is way too early to plant more at the moment. But here at home, the pots of potatoes are doing well, and the lettuce, spinach and peas are flourishing. Never mind the blog being neglected, mustering the energy to do the garden is also requiring a Herculean effort. And this is me, Linds, speaking. 

What can I say. It has been a tough year. 

IMG_2794

But I have planted seeds. And I have got a fairly full greenhouse. Nothing like normal years, but there will be colour. And pretty stuff. And tomatoes. And herbs. And vegetables. 
IMG_2796
Diana spent two weeks down south while Andrew and his family were on holiday. Missy is getting so big - she is 5, tall, skinny, and absolutely wonderful, of course. School holidays are now over, and Diana is home again. We have the delightful prospect of the advent of a new central heating system to contemplate in coming months. This will entail much re-organisation of Stuff. Much throwing out. And the thought is enough to send me back into hibernation mode again. And the loft needs emptying as well. Insulation, you see. Groan. 

IMG_2793

But it has to be done, and we will be ever so thankful next winter. When we are WARM. 
IMG_2788

After a dismal, wet early morning, the sun is attempting to shine as I speak. I had to get up at dawn, you see, because my friend sent me a message to say that my Facebook page appeared to have vanished, so that meant get up and get downstairs and investigate it all. So I did. It seems to be there. But then I decided to do more changing of the passwords and re-organising of everything again. 

So, perhaps more coffee and a trip out to the garden to investigate any new growth is in order. Maybe a visit to the garden centre as well. We will see..............

Monday, March 10, 2014

Out in the garden..........

image

Yesterday was the most glorious sunny day this year. So far. It was all I love about Spring - sun, warmth, daffodils, buds on everything, starting to prepare the garden. Seeds, bulbs. Love, love, LOVE it. 

It was my turn to take everyone to church, which only starts at 11am, so I popped out early, after loading the washing machine, because sun also means washing outdoors, to get petrol. (I got there in the end, so stop sighing over my convoluted sentences!) After I left the petrol station, I came to a circle in the road - one way meant home, and the other went towards our favourite country park. 

The country park won. It was filling rapidly with cars, even though it was very early - people walking dogs, hiring bikes, families out for a stroll and playing at the amazing playground. Just perfect. So I walked slowly around the lake. I had no phone or camera with me, and that made it even better, because I could just immerse myself in the peace of the place. It was a wonderful way to start my day.

So, I still had time to get home, hang out the washing and attempt, for the third time, to reheat and drink my coffee. Sadly, that did not happen because church called. 
image

We don't bother much about Sunday lunch around here - we tend to eat an early evening meal which is a mixture of lunch and supper, so once I got home, I decided that the call of the garden was too loud to ignore. For the first time this year, I was out there, tidying up the winter stuff, and yanking out some weeds, dismantling the wrecked plastic tomato greenhouse. This is a great time, because you can see the weeds. By summer, I give up, because they are entwined with pretty flowers. I transplanted two big lavender plants out of pots and into the bed, and in went some dahlia bulbs as well for good measure. I want to focus on doing less this year. Growing stuff which grows and sorts itself. 

Less is more.

Stop rolling around with laughter, people. 
I know I say something like this every year and then go and compulsively plant a zillion seeds.
What can I say.

I went down to the allotment earlier this morning to pay for the manure which will be delivered this week. A lorryload. That will be fun. Then this weekend, I get to watch the men distributing it all over the place. My beds need refilling. Remind me not to plant more than one or maybe two courgettes this year. I still have half a freezer full of the stuff. More beans though. I need many beans. And butternuts. And gem squash. 

Enough of gardens.

I will just add that, after an hour outside yesterday, I was doing an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the Hunchback Of Notre Dame. David did the last of the sweeping and tidying. And far away, Missy discovered the delights of swingball, according to her Mum's photos. 

I remember swingball. Such fun!

Now, to end today's missive, I have added a photo which I saw on Facebook - taken by the friend of a friend, Bronwyn Hendricks.(I think!) 

You need to know that South Africa is in the middle of Load Shedding Season. That means that there is not enough electricity generated to meet the needs of the country, so they have a schedule of when it is switched off in which areas on which days. To just about everyone. 
Well, there seems to be enough to supply Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc, but not enough for domestic consumption. Yes. This is beyond the comprehension of most people. However, there have been some hysterically funny photos on Facebook. The South African sense of humour is prevailing. For example, there is a sketch of a CD, entitled "Esk*om Unplugged" with a list of songs like Candle in the Wind, Dancing in the Dark etc. Esk*om being the electricity giant supplying electricity to the nation. 

And then there is this........

image

This is the main morning daily newspaper in the Cape, Brilliant. Just brilliant. 

Load Shedding. Hmmm. It may yet come this way, I suppose. 

And now I am off to Oxford with my daughter on an adventure..........