Friday, August 22, 2014

House renovations never go smoothly.........

Now, if life would just work in a simple fashion.......

The interesting house renovation developments around here now revolve around disasters. Yesterday was an ordinary day, until the plumber announced that the new bathroom basin unit had arrived broken and that it would be late next week before it arrived. 

Then he discovered that one of my new tall radiators had a small rust hole and needed to be replaced immediately, so I had to track down the other plumber (a long story) and he finally called back to tell me that it would take a week or 10 days for that to arrive, and not to worry, it could be installed when it suited me. 

Well, no, because I do not want radiators full of water to be removed on top of my new carpets. Which will now have to be delayed. 

And then a lovely friend arrived to put up a couple of new lights. Well, one was new. The other was begin moved. And suddenly all the lights in the lounge and nook ceased functioning. That required a call to his brother-in-law, who arrived at 7pm and the two of them worked on it all until after 10 last night.

And as they were leaving, victorious, I tried to switch on the outside or entry light so they could see where they were going and neither worked. Cue corporate nervous breakdown. They are returning to continue work in the near future. 

And my lounge looks like this. I have 4/5ths of a bathroom in it. 

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In daylight, the front door looks rather pretty, with the hanging basket in full bloom. The rest of the garden is definitely showing many signs of autumn. Apart from the dahlias, of course. I am tempted to start emptying baskets. Diana's sunflowers are still climbing towards the sky - they will be stunning when out. There will be photos, of course. Photos are good. 

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Here you can see the Great Electrical Team Pondering the Mysteries of the Lights. These things have to be documented, don't they - the story of my life.......

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I was keeping well out of the way, believe me. David was manning the power switch. "Power Off" "Power On" repeated by all to ensure no-one was accidentally fried. 

And now for a little light relief. Those balloons I got up at dawn to chase across the valley. Here are a few photos. I am so glad I did go out when I did, because that was the last time over the festival weekend, that they were actually able to fly. They look so beautiful floating in the sky. I remember my flight 10 years ago perfectly, and the silence was what astonished me. I absolutely loved begin up there above the world. How many of you have flown in a balloon? Just fabulous!

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This red and black one landed in the field just beyond that hedge on the left. 

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Right time and right place. 

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So, I am sitting here, waiting for the bathroom plumber to arrive. The bathroom is empty of the old suite, (see above- that is the old bathroom in the skip) and has been plastered. The plaster is almost dry and then I will need to paint it a zillion times so that it is all sorted before the bath etc goes in. 

He has done the marine ply on the floor, for the tiles, and the radiator is in place. And this is a bank holiday weekend. Things are going too slowly for me. I need it all to be done. The carpets are waiting. The lounge carpets need to be taken up too. Cut up. A weekend job, perhaps. 

Well, Mr Bathroom Plumber Man has arrived and is hard at work in the bathroom above my head again. I am on kettle duty. Tea. Coffee. 

I will be back.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It sounds as if the sky is falling in..........

Morning all - we need sound effects here. As I speak, the plumber is ripping out my bathroom directly over my head. There is much thunderous crashing. And tiles are hitting the floor with remarkable ease.

In short, it seems as if the entire bathroom was a pack of cards. Take one thing out, and the rest will all gently fall off. Or so says the plumber. There is a small skip at the front door, and I will endeavour to fill it up as well, once the bathroom is all out. I am taking photos. We need to document Stuff, after all, don't we.....

The past couple of weeks have been marked by paint. A great deal of paint, and marking and also of reading. I have a friend who has written a book, and I am getting to read it first. I am not skimming. I am delighting in it all. Sigh. And the paint is embedded in my pores. The nails are past help, and the skin of the hands is now a deathly white. Did I mention that I was painting the whole place white? White. Easy to clean and redo. And it will look nice and fresh when it is all done, but right now we are halfway to nowhere. A friend came and did three coats on the ceiling last week which was amazing. I hate doing ceilings. And the furniture is mostly out of the lounge and into everywhere else in the house, to make painting easier, and also in preparation for the new carpets. They are bought and paid for and are loitering in a warehouse until the bathroom is done.

Soon.

When the painting is finished.

The carpet will be gone - cut up and down to the allotment this week, and the rugs have been cleaned. A friend from church mentioned on Facebook on Saturday, that she had done her house with the hired carpet cleaner available everywhere - and I commented that it was on my list. Don't worry, she said, I have time and plenty of shampoo, and she arrived at my house and proceeded to do 4 large rugs for me. How wonderful is that? I am SO thankful!

Drying them is taking some time, but they will be ready soon.

So, with painting, physio, being back in the pool for classes a bit, painting, sorting stuff, reading, painting, the days have flown by too rapidly. Oh, and the freezing of beans, harvesting of squash, courgettes, baking of courgettes, and visitors - many visitors, watering, and general stuff like laundry. Ironing. Need I say more.....well, I have not been lying back on a chaise being fanned by slaves and fed grapes. Even though I should apparently be doing the lying back, begin mindful and doing precisely nothing more. Apparently. Maybe if they threw in the slave fanning and grapes it may become easier.

But that is not going to happen.

Right. Let me go and find some photos. I will be back.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fun times with friends......

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.......

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

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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...

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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.

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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?)

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.