Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Where on Earth Has the Time Gone!?

I can't believe it's now almost September. The last couple of months seem to have been spent working, working and ... um, working!! Why is it that bosses have a nasty habit of waiting until they're practically boarding the plane for their holidays and then decide to send in loads of work? And, of course, being self-employed and working from home, they know I'm on tap 24/7 so they're perfectly happy to hop over to the South of France with their families and pick up their work via their mobile phones or laptops. In the meanwhile there's little ole me sitting here at home at 7.00 on a Sunday morning in my PJs and carpet slippers; curlers in me hair and mug of coffee in my little handies trying to decipher their holiday notes for 'onwards transmission' to La Belle France.

Still, at least we seem to have had a bit of a summer this year; almost reminiscent of summers from my childhood (during which time I was probably wearing rose tinted glasses!). It's just a shame that I've been stuck indoors through most of the good weather working like a demon. The only thing that's keeping me going is the thought that what money I'm getting now should help see me through the winter months so I may be able to afford a Christmas pudding this year instead of eating gruel!!!!

Since I last posted, Adam and I have new neighbours. We did have a divorced guy living there on his own. Have to admit we weren't particularly surprised he was on his own - he wasn't happy with anything. He wasn't content with the size of his garden; every plant I offered him he wouldn't take as he 'wasn't into sweet peas, fuchsias, petunias, alyssum ...'; he didn't like being an employee but then he didn't like being self-employed either when he tried it. In fact he didn't seem to like anything in life. Whenever we spoke to him about anything his usual response was 'bleedin' bastards'! Anyway, cutting a long story short, he seems to have met a lady who's obviously willing to overlook his faults, they each sold their houses and have bought a biggish bungalow between them.

We now have a very young couple living there. It's their first home together and at the moment they're very much in the 'go getting' and 'honeymoon' phase. They're getting stuck into the garden with great gusto but this hard work is interspersed with swift fag breaks and lots of kisses and cuddles. But they're a really friendly couple and they've got two cats - Turnip and Fizz - who unfortunately, at the moment, don't always see eye to eye with Cleo (Cleo seemingly has the upper hand despite her age compared to these two young whipper-snappers!)

The garden seems to be going great guns even without my usual ministrations due to pressure of work. The runner beans were doing so well they actually broke my little cane wigwam!! The cucumber plants are taking over the greenhouse and the cape gooseberries and peppers are looking strong and healthy. I even managed to get a couple of self seeded tomato plants out of the garden which seem to be coming along nicely. My flowers are doing well too - I decided last year that as I had loads of gladioli, dahlias and various perennials in the garden I'd try to fill the gaps with some hardy annuals which did quite well. Being a frugal Norfolk girl I collected some of the seeds (marigolds, antirrhinums, petunias, foxgloves and some rather nice pink 'opium type' poppies which had seeded from my neighbour's garden) and this year I literally slung 'em onto the ground, watered them so they didn't blow away in the gale force winds from earlier in the year and they've all come up beautifully so I have a really nice colourful garden.

Our native English hedge that Adam planted up the winter before last is bearing fruit - literally! - and this in turn is encouraging a load of bullfinches and dunnocks into the garden. And this year we've also got a good variety of butterflies. So far I've spotted two or three species of fritillaries, some peacocks, tortoiseshells and I've even seen a red admiral (which I haven't seen for years). We're having an excellent year for ladybirds this year. My mum can bear witness to this - she went to a small local seaside resort called Walcot with my sister and there were so many along the sea front they couldn't avoid standing on them.

I think this year must be particularly good for sloes too. We have a bush out in the meadow and it's completely blue with the berries. We would go out and harvest them but typically it's in one of the wettest parts and, as I'm only 5 ft 3 in, Adam's afraid I might disappear under the gloopy mud!! Our hazel tree seems to have a load of nuts but it's always a battle who'll get to them first - Adam or the squirrels. My money's on the squirrels but I daren't tell him!!

I've now rediscovered the Wii having put it to one side when I was working long into the evenings and weekends and found that jogging on Wii Fit can be a lot more fun if you mute the telly while you're doing it and listen to some 'get up and go' music on CD. I watched the film Mamma Mia and had forgotten just how much I loved some of Abba's more upbeat songs so I decided to dig out my Cher CD as well as a 'Hot Summer Nights' one (which includes Caribbean Queen by Billy Ocean; Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves; Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams; and various others of the same ilk) and I was so content jogging along and singing (of sorts!) that, on my first real jogging trip since I was about 21, I managed to clock up 35 minutes non stop. So there's my solution to all you couch potatoes, get a Wii, mute Wii Fit jogging and just jog along to your own happy tunes!!!

Well, it's now coming up to 5.00 so think I'll go down, dig out some old Beatles, Freddie & the Dreamers, Dave Clark Five, Rolling Stones, etc and do a bit of jogging and warbling before preparing my chicken salad!!

Glad to get back to my blog I have to say - let's hope I can keep it going in my hectic lifestyle!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Having, on Sunday morning, enjoyed an extremely laid back and leisurely breakfast of hot crusty bread with lashings of home made raspberry jam I decided I'd better try and get to grips with the gardening before the weather got unbearably hot. I spent the morning dead heading, feeding my plants (good old fashioned eco friendly tomato food!) and spraying my dahlias which I noticed were covered in black fly, I then got physical! Decided to tackle the weeds growing on my drive.

I'd deliberately left them this year as I'd noticed last year that some of my next door neighbour's plants had seeded on my drive so I thought I'd take a leaf out of the Scrooge Book of Financial Management and leave some of them to flower this year so I could gather the seeds. I particularly noticed she had some lovely pink opium type poppies that kept coming up year after year and this year I could see two plants poking up through the gravel. They haven't actually flowered yet but I'm hoping!! The task of weeding the drive was long and arduous as I couldn't just spray it in case the weedkiller hit the plants I was trying to save so I had to take the rose off the watering can and do each weed individually but I'm hoping it's going to be worth it when I have a good supply of antirrhinum, poppy and marigold seeds stored up for next year!!! I then finished up the first half of my day by planting up some cape gooseberries that Adam had grown from seed. Never grown them before so decided to go for the belt and braces approach! Planted a third in a large pot up against the garage wall, a third in the greenhouse to keep my cucumbers company and the last third I've left in a large pot which is now sitting in my porch. Surely one of 'em will bear fruit??

By this time I was particularly hot and bothered so thought I'd spend the afternoon catching up on a bit of telly that we'd recorded during the last couple of weeks, followed by a little bit of research into my next article and then, as I hadn't done any exercise other than the gardening for a couple of weeks or more, thought it was about time I dragged the Wii out.

By way of physical jerks as my father used to call 'em, I had a few games of tennis on the Wii followed up by a quick trip to the Wii 10 pin bowling alley. Obviously I wasn't as fit as I'd been when I played tennis a few weeks back as I lost 3 out of 5 games. There's something mildly aggravating about being beaten by a cartoon character!!

I then decided to get stuck into my latest article which is proving to be a bit of a bugger to fathom, but I'll get there eventually ... hopefully before Christmas.

During the evening, while I was trying to get my noggin round my research, there was a huge kerfuffle out in the garden. Cleo, bless her little white fluffy feet had caught a bloomin' baby blackbird and the parents were going ballistic. I managed to grab hold of the cat and carried her indoors kicking and screaming like a toddler while Adam checked out the blackbird which, although looking a bit dazed, seemed none the worse for his ordeal and after a bit of friendly persuasion fluttered off like a WW1 flying ace back to Mum and Dad.

The week turned out to be fairly uneventful. We did our Asda order on line on Tuesday but it became a bit of a nightmare. It seems as if just as we're getting used to something they have to damned well change it. You know how annoying it is when you go to your local supermarket and can find your way blindfold around the aisles and, two years later, go in to find they've moved everything around. It's exactly the same when we shop on line; this month they've 'improved' their website which, in effect, means that all the items have been shoved willy-nilly across the screen so the ordering took double the time. However, we managed to complete it and eagerly awaited delivery on Thursday morning.

Thursday came and our usual cheery delivery man came to the door. As normal, we went to the back of the van so he could clamber up to unload the bags of groceries and we waited to collect up the bags and carry them through to the kitchen. We've had a nice system going for the last couple of years - we put the bags container freezer and fridge foods near the freezer and fridge, those with tinned goods by the kitchen cupboards at the far end of the kitchen, the cat food ones near the cat food cupboard under the sink, the bathroom ones at the bottom of the stairs and the 'treat' bags such as crisps, biscuits, booze, etc over by our treat cupboard and shelves. But this time, we found that our delivery man was accompanied by another equally cheery chappy who was keen to carry the shopping inside. Apparently Asda, in their wisdom, had thought it would be a good idea for each driver to increase the number of orders he had to deliver in the allotted timeframe so, in order to achieve that, they put an extra pair of hands on the van to help. This second cheery chap helped carry the shopping through to the kitchen which is all very well but as my kitchen's at the back of the house I had him traipsing through the porch, through the lounge and into the kitchen. It then took us twice as long to pack the stuff away as we were in a complete muddle. Added to that was the fact that to be 'eco friendly' they'd cut back on carrier bags and left the jars and tinned stuff in crates so we had baked beans, plum tomatoes, sweetcorn and soup strewn across the worktop which we'd normally leave clear so we could portion up the fish, meat and chicken before freezing it.

In order to be eco-friendly our local Co-op have been giving us biodegradable carrier bags for about five years now so why Asda can't do that I don't know. What I do know is that I was, for once, extremely grateful to hear a fanfare emanating from my PC upstairs just as we were about to sort out our chaotic kitchen - an indication that I'd received an email. "Goodness", I said to Adam, "I think I might just have some work in". So I rushed upstairs to find that I'd got a nice juicy priority job. I called down to Adam extremely apologetically that I'd have to abandon him so I left the poor man buried somewhere in between the tins and the bags of frozen fish and began my work.

Now, my priority work is set on a deadline - I had 15 minutes of dictation which it was estimated would take an hour to type so having started it at around 12.00 I was expecting to get it back to the client by lunchtime. Needless to say this estimate fell by the wayside. My mother, bless her, who's now 80 decided to ring me. I knew I was probably in for a long 'listening' session as she started off, "I know you're probably busy but ...". I interrupted her and told her I was on a deadline to get some work back before lunch and asked if I could telephone her back later that evening. She told me I could but then continued, "I'm probably now going down to Sainsbury's and then I need to go into town. It's 'Roy down the road's' 95th birthday tomorrow. Did I tell you he's off to France next month for a D Day tour? I didn't know what to get him for his birthday. We've got a new fishmonger's in the town. I know he likes fish so I'll probably buy him a nice piece of fish for his tea. He's having some of us in the Close for an 'open house' tomorrow. I think I might be the only one going though because Jessie next door can't get down there with her walking frame. Hilda's not been too well so she won't be going. She's got a nasty cough and I keep telling her to go to the doctors. Shirley's not there so she won't be able to go. Did I tell you Shirley's had to have one of her cats put to sleep? And talking of cats ...". By that time I'd almost lost the will to live so interrupted her flow and told her that I really had to go. Although she sounded extremely put out, I had to be strong and told her I'd ring her that evening.

Talk about a stressful day!!! Thankfully Friday was less so and I decided to finish the day at 5.15 rather than 6.00. Well, after all, it was Poets Day (for those who are unfamiliar with the term it means p**s off early tomorrow's Saturday!). I decided to have a break from my usual CSI/Criminal Minds/Mentalist catch up and, instead had a quick wander through the radio stations on Freeview and chose the brilliant Smooth Radio. It's aimed at us more mature people and it was playing a really good selection of old 1970s disco music. It brought back many a happy memory of the school discos. I went to an all girls school and I can remember well the whole of the 4th year upwards queuing to dance with Mr Cosson and Mr Warr, the two sexiest male teachers.

Yesterday (Saturday) was spent doing various things. A bit of cooking, a bit of housework, a bit of gardening, fleaing the cat and a bit more research for my article. I got so deeply engrossed in my article and Adam, who's beta-ing a new game called Fallen Earth, became equally engrossed in his battles that, before we knew it, it was 7.00 so we ordered a wonderful Kebab Feast from a kebab shop in Norwich. You get a huge foil tray of different types of meat, two pittas, two portions of chips, a large portion of salad and a litre bottle of Coke. It costs £12.50 but then we can't eat it all in one go so we separate out the various types of kebab meat and freeze some of it. One portion of chips then goes into the fridge to be warmed through in the oven the next day for our evening meal. Even the large foil tray is washed out well and used when I make a steak and kidney pie or a lasagne so it can be frozen and then just chucked in the oven when I'm particularly busy. We then watched a DVD called Doomsday with Bob Hoskins in it. It was a bit gruesome but there's nothing like a bit of blood and guts when you're getting decidedly tribal, picking up a huge kebab and shovelling it into your mouth neanderthal style!!!!

And now, Sunday morning's here again and I'm sitting with my mid morning cuppa before I start yet more research for my article!!!

Speak to you next week!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

It Ain't 'Arf 'Ot Mum!

Phew! What a scorcher of a week! It's during weeks like this that I'm so glad I work from home. Admittedly I'm sitting in my un-air conditioned 9' x 6' back bedroom with two PCs most of the day but at least I have the opportunity to take a little wander round the garden with a lollipop in my hand or, better still, a nice cold beer or glass of white wine!

I have to say that most of my working week was spent on one or two really lengthy surveyors' reports - one on the condition of various warehouses on an industrial estate which wasn't the most inspiring piece of work, hence the need for numerous jaunts round the garden to keep me awake! But it keeps the wolf from the door and it's enabled me to be able to afford to replenish the wine/beer cellar!!

Monday night was a bit hairy! Not in the 'horror' sense but in a 'catty' sense. Cleo, as you'll know from my profile picture, is a long-haired tabby and white cat. During the summer months she loves to sit for hours in a wild area at the bottom of our garden waiting for some poor unsuspecting little vole or shrew to poke his nose out before pouncing, elephant like upon it (she's not exactly a super model; more of a Dawn French!), and more often than not, proudly presenting it to us in half eaten form in the middle of the night (bless!). Unfortunately she likes to hide in the undergrowth and comes in covered in nettles, twigs and goose grass. She then nibbles her fur to get the lumps out and then, worst of all, she brings up a hair ball which her 'Mum' has to clean up. So, every year, we give her a make-over. Mum holds her down while Dad gets the electric shaver out. Jolly good fun! Cleo has a nice new hair-do and Mum and Dad end up looking like Gizmo from Gremlins, only maybe not quite so cute!!

But you'll be pleased to hear that all that fur doesn't go to waste - it's recycled; we store it up and then put it out for the birds in early Spring so they can use it for nesting; not so much feathering their nests, but furring it!! This trip to the beauty salon does have a side-effect though. When Cleo washes over the next couple of days she naturally picks up loose fur which means she brings up hair balls regularly.

On Tuesday I was actually quite pleased to find it was blisteringly hot and sunny. Cleo, whether by accident or by design to vent her annoyance at being stripped of her long wavy locks, brought up two hair balls on the bed. So, there was I flapping around, working myself up into a sweat stripping the bed right down to the under blanket. I then had a tussle with the duvet trying to get it downstairs and force it, kicking and screaming almost (the duvet, not me!), into the washing machine; while Adam was struggling to get the dripping item over the 'whirly gig' linen line out in the garden I battled with the blanket which was marginally easier to get into the machine. Last load of the day - two sheets and a duvet cover.

Typically, despite the hot sunny day, the duvet and blanket were still damp when we got them off the linen line so we had to 'make do' - I got my sofa snug off the sofa and used it as a sleeping bag but without a zip at the side but as we only have the one, Adam got a double blanket out of the airing cupboard and a double sheet. He decided to lay the blanket out and put the sheet on top. He then laid on one half of the man-made sleeping 'bag' and pulled the other half over the top of him. The result? I had a blissful sleep; Adam, on the other hand, hardly slept a wink. He found himself totally cocooned and, as the night was particularly sweltering, it wasn't necessarily the best thing! And as for Cleo, she didn't bat an eye - she curled up by my feet blissfully unaware of the havoc she'd caused.

The rest of the week seemed to bumble along quite well, despite the heat, and I even managed to get to look at the basics for my next article yesterday afternoon, probably because all my surveyors and estate agents 'received last minute instructions to undertake inspections of property' - in other words, 'slipped off in the car for the afternoon to listen to the tennis on the radio'!! I'm going for another history one - a Tudor murder which involved a landmark Court case that ended in murder. I'm probably going to call it The Church, The Crown and The Christening Robe!!! Hopefully that's enough info to get you intrigued!

Despite a thunder storm yesterday afternoon, today seems just as hot as ever, so Adam and I were up bright and early, took a trip to the village of Coltishall to visit the post office and found that the holidaymakers are now starting to gather. There were several boats moored along Coltishall Common (as a matter of interest you may like to know it's owned by King's College, Cambridge and has been for centuries!). It's easy to tell the holidaymakers from the locals - the male holidaymakers can be seen wearing captains hats; the locals can be seen wearing straw hats or white 'cricket' hats!

There then followed a slight diversion to the Co-op in Spixworth to get ice cream and loads of salad stuff so we can expect the next Ice Age to descend any time now!! I've just indulged in a lovely ham salad and discovered that melon seems to mix well with smoky ham, iceberg lettuce, cucumber and pineapple.

I've watered the garden so think I'm going to sit here quietly now for the rest of the day and do a bit of delving into my next 'labour of love' article! And for those of you who very kindly take the trouble to read my blog, whilst looking into the latest article I came across a really interesting website so, For Your Eyes Only Commander Bond!, here's a link - http://www.exclassics.com. It also gives links to other similar websites. There are all sorts of interesting documents there and all are in the public domain!!!

Speak to you next week.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another Week

Here's my weekly update just for your amusement George!

On the whole the week went well. I was pleased to get my article about Cley Next the Sea published and, in the research, finding out that one of my fave singers James Blunt has his roots there! I'm now trying to decide where to go next - history behind another local village, biography of local gal or bor (Norfolk for boy!), or maybe something a little more gruesome?!! I shall probably ponder the point at length while I'm doing my housework later on today. I have quite an interesting Tudor murder lined up so might have a stab at that - no it wasn't by stabbing but rather an unusual method. I'll leave you hanging on that one - no it wasn't hanging either!!! I also want to try and get down some amusing notes about my childhood which I hope will turn out to be more of a 'short story' - and then perhaps, George, I can feel confident enough to get to grips with your novel idea.

The week was pretty hectic so far as work was concerned but I took Wednesday off to visit my mother who can be a trifle difficult to deal with these days. As I mentioned last weekend, my days with Mother can be quite eventful and last Wednesday was no exception. I had my itinerary set - catch the No 10 bus at 9.15 to get me from Spixworth to Norwich; arrival 9.45; go to the Bank and pay in some cheques I'd had hanging around for a bit; get the No 210 bus at 10.10 to take me from Norwich to North Walsham, where my mother lives; ETA 11.20. I'd then arranged to meet my mother in the market place, go into QD, Boots and the local greengrocer, go back to hers for lunch and then catch the 210 back to Spixworth at 4.20.

The day started well - for once the bus turned up on time and it was a nice new one rather than the usual old banger that we have at 9.15 which has something wrong with brakes - every time the bus stops it sounds as if the Queen Mary is coming into port!! We got about halfway into Norwich and suddenly the bus driver pulled into the side of the road, leaped out and ran back from whence we came. He returned with something in his hand - he announced that his front indicator which should have been on the front left hand corner of the bus had dropped off. He then announced that the next bus would be along in about 10 minutes. More than his job was worth to travel without that indicator as it was against health and safety regulations.

That wouldn't have allowed me enough time to catch my bus out to North Walsham so I then had to hike back a mile in order to catch the 210 bus. I'd been having a 'turf out' in the garden the previous weekend and had managed to dig up some day lilies, gladioli and perennial lobelias which I'd shoved in pots to take over to my mum's as she was complaining that her garden looked bare. I'd found that one of the houses I passed on my jolly jaunt back to the bus stop was obviously inhabited by either a non-gardener or a 'natural' one as there were all sorts of things growing over the path. I duly arrived back at the bus stop with my jungle still intact and waited for the bus to arrive. It was then I noticed that I was covered in greenfly. I knew it wasn't from my plants so it must have come from the jardin au naturel!!

The bus arrived and I sat down for the leisurely (although somewhat itchy - due to my infestation) ride through all the little villages via the back roads to North Walsham. The countryside is absolutely stunning this time of year and I just wished I could have asked the driver to stop the bus so I could take some photos, but no worries, I'll just drag poor old Adam out over the next couple of weeks so I can return with my digital camera!

I arrived in North Walsham on time but Phase 1 of the plan to pay in the cheques had had to be relegated to the bottom drawer. I alighted still with mini jungle intact despite the twisty bends of the back roads and Mum was waiting for me. Now to have a good old gander round QD, Boots, etc, etc. As soon as I got off the bus I could see that Mum had two full bags of something. Having said hello to each other she announced that she'd been to Sainsbury's, the Post Office and the greengrocer so we could head straight home. She said that her shoulder was now beginning to ache and she was feeling tired due to the humid weather so we should head straight back to hers. So, Phase 2 out of the window!!!

We got back to Mum's and I told her I'd remembered what she'd said about wanting some perennial plants to fill up the gaps in her garden and proudly presented my cuttings (now with the added bonus of greenfly!). As I said previously, she's getting a bit tetchy in her old age and doesn't believe in beating about the bush. I handed her the day lily and she immediately said, "oh no, not another one of those! You gave me one of those a couple of years ago and it's a damned nuisance. I keep meaning to ask Robin (her 'gardening man') to get rid of the one I've got out there now as it's too big". I bit my tongue and resisted the urge to tell her that she'd told me she didn't have enough plants to fill the garden so I just, very meekly, said, "well, you'll have to see if you can find a neighbour that'd like it". She, rather ungratefully, said I could 'shove them outside'. I suspect that they'll end up in the compost bin. So much for my good turn!

Despite this setback though, we had quite a good day and Mum, as she so often does these days, regaled me with stories of her childhood in Coltishall and some of Dad's tales of his war years. I duly recorded all the salient points in my limited memory so I can write them up later!!

And so it came to the journey home - bus late, but at least it turned up. All in all not too stressful but could have been better. I'd give it 8 out 10. (Can anyone remember what the TV programme was called back in the 1960s with that lovely lady who used to 'give it foive'?) Was it Pick of the Pops or something like that?

The rest of the week went relatively well - I got a bargain from Suttons Seeds online. 20 garden ready perennial plants for £25. I'm now an avid 'shop online' girl and Adam's amazed at the speed I can find comparable prices - everything from flowers to electrical goods! And I've got some wonderful websites that give me cashback if I connect through them. I've even signed up to a charity cashback site - every time I go through them to purchase something online, the PAWS centre (the local RSPCA shelter where Cleo came from) they get a percentage of what I paid.

I checked out the Woolies website on Friday and ordered Adam's brother-in-law a bag of pick-n-mix which I've had sent to him down in Essex. He was forced to retire early from the company he'd worked for for 47 years so thought we'd send him a little bag of treats to help him celebrate, although it sounds as if he's already getting into the swing of things. Adam's sister phoned us during the week (she's recently given up her job as a child welfare worker with the local council), and announced that she and Ray were sitting in the garden with their dog enjoying a Chelsea bun and a cup of coffee!

This morning we were up again fairly early, had a cuppa and took our little weekly jaunt to the local Co-op and couldn't believe our eyes! At the checkout next door were a couple, Stephen and Laura, who'd been neighbours of ours when we lived in Norwich. They'd both been teachers in Ethiopia and had bought a house in Norwich so that they and their two young sons could come home during the summer hols to catch up with old friends and relatives. When Adam and I had moved out to Spixworth we'd somehow lost touch with them but apparently they were now living in Spixworth themselves! Their youngest son, Tim, was with them - home from University for the weekend. He'd been 9 when we left Norwich and, as you can imagine, was unrecognisable from the little Timmy who enjoyed poking around our perennials looking for ladybirds! His older brother, Jonathan, must now be about 21 or 22 and apparently he was at University too. Stephen's now a lecturer in Norwich and Laura decided to give up teaching and is now doing a course at the University of East Anglia. Strange old world - full of coincidences!!!

Now, what to do today? Looks like a thunderstorm's a-brewin' so I might just indulge in a cup of tea and a piece of fruit cake (Mum gave me one when I was over at hers on Wednesday and it'd be a shame if we left it to go stale - well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). As it's so humid neither Adam nor I really fancy eating much so I'll probably stick some chicken portions in the oven to cook during the afternoon and then we can have chicken salad tonight or, if the weather turns cooler, we can take the chicken off the bone and use it in a stir fry. In the meantime, I'll probably catch up on a bit of CSI or Corrie or maybe do a bit more research into another article.

Before I end though, a message for George. You asked about the footpath in Coltishall. The footpath itself is still there but its just not as 'prettily presented' as it was when I lived in the village. You no longer have access to the whole of the meadow as it's been fenced off and the crooked wooden five bar gate has been replaced with a metal one. I suspect it's because the people who use the footpath no longer respect the 'laws of the countryside' and probably demolish wooden gates and chase the cattle that graze on the meadow. I can well remember taking walks through there with Mum, Dad, my older sister and our cat and the cattle used to love coming up to us and being stroked but these days they're liable to be set upon by yobs!!! Such is life, as they say!!!!

Speak to you next week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday, Blissful Sunday

So what's life been like in Norfolk this week? Quite uneventful. Lots of work and very little play. My planned day with my mother went awry. Both she and I developed stomach bugs on Tuesday (won't go into too much detail there!) so cancelled our get together on Wednesday, but as I was confined to the house that day for obvious reasons I took advantage of my quiet time, settled down on the sofa with my feet up, my little ASUS laptop and went adventuring in the great land of Google which showed me the way to my latest little gem of an article.

The rest of the week was all work and no play making Jackie a very dull and depressed girl but, come Saturday morning, I was feeling considerably brighter. Started the day with a visit to the local Co-op even before I'd had my early morning cuppa and breakfast! But it was well worthwhile - they had pecan and maple syrup pastries still warm from the bakery so - you've guessed it - I just had to buy a couple. Not both for me I hasten to add - one for me; one for Adam. They went down a real treat with a cup of coffee; not your everyday Asda one but a nice Douwe Egberts (ever so poash and refeened!). The shop also had some delicious hot crusty bread so we had a late lunch of slightly reheated fresh bread with Cheddar cheese (yummy! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!).

The morning was spent typing up my latest article for Triond and, in my 'writer's block' moments I got on with a bit of housework. It's amazing how much less boring housework is if you can concentrate your mind on something more exciting. For most housewives I suspect it's music, but for me it's thinking about the article I'm currently writing or thinking of another subject to add to my notebook. I honestly think I've got an addiction to writing. Whether or not it's a bad thing I don't know but one thing I do know for certain is that, since I discovered Triond it's brightened up my life no end. Maybe it's one of those mid life crisis things - but thankfully it's not the sort of crisis that involves me taking myself off into the wilds with hobnail boots, rucksack and a cagoule!!

But following this extremely fruitful writing/housework day, I did rather over indulge in the evening. Having had stodge for breakfast and stodge for lunch we then had a luvverly lasagne for dinner, but then we went just that one step too far! We brought out the cheapo cheesecake from Asda and added cream to it. Just as well we didn't have any 'waffer thin mints' or we might just have done a Monty Python Mr Creosote.

The night didn't go well. Adam woke up at about 3.00 with indigestion (no surprises there!) and then a couple of hours or so later we woke to the sound of crunching. Adam had a quick look over the end of the bed and our delightful little Cleo sat there crunch the head off a shrew. So, up I got and shooed her away with her towel that we keep on the end of the bed for her sleep on, while Adam gathered up the remainder of her early breakfast in a cloth. He decided he wasn't going to get dressed, go downstairs and give it a decent burial at 5.00 or so in the morning so he dropped it out of the bedroom window and said that if, by the time we got up, it was still there he'd bury it but hopefully the magpies, rooks, fox or visiting cat might just pick it up. Thankfully, it had gone by this morning.

So today I've decided I'm going to relax - I've just stewed up some blueberries that were on offer when we went shopping yesterday and put a joint of ham on to cook. We then intend to have some hot ham with the remainder of the loaf of bread we picked up yesterday and perhaps a bit of chutney and then I'm probably going to look into another article. It seems most people out there love anything that's gruesome and grisly so I'm going to Google a bit to see if I can find anything particularly mentally disturbing to cater for those needs!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Here We Are Again, Happy As Can Be ...

Not (as the age old song has it) because I'm with 'all good friends and jolly good company', although both these statements are true (I've got Adam and Cleo!), but because it's the weekend, the weather's fine and warm and I've got no work to do - yippee!

This weekend I've decided to get out in the garden for a couple of hours. Having had a quick walk around with my early morning cuppa I can see that despite the biting wind and the torrential rain we've had during the week my hardy annuals are taking a wary peep through the soil and I'm hoping the smiling sun will be enough to tempt them out. All is not lost on the cucumber and courgette front. I've noticed that, despite their battering by the elements, even they've got buds on them. So first job - bring out the Tomorite! Then I really must get the foxglove and marigold in. My sister gave me the marigold as part of a birthday present at the end of May and Adam's sister and brother in law gave me the foxglove as a belated birthday present when I met them at Southwold last weekend so I really need to treat that as a priority.

What then? Probably indoors for a couple of hours to flick a duster round, and then out to weed the flower beds and pots, dead head the rose bush, cut the lawn and generally enjoy the sun while it's out.

The week itself has been a real mix of highs and lows. On the low side, a few of my favourite clients have been on holiday which has left just the more awkward ones to work for which, in turn, leaves me out of pocket as I'm paid per minute of dictation rather than on an hourly basis. So earnings are down. On the other hand, on the 'highs', I have had a bit of time to throw a few articles out.

On another high note, I've been in touch with my friend at the TV production company that promotes my historical crime articles telling her that I haven't actually been doing 'crim law' articles recently but instead, I've done a couple on lesser known battles/wars, together with a biographical article on Christopher Cockerell. She's come back to to me this morning and said that she'll try and promote those as she wants to show that the company have other ideas than just crime. As she was a criminal barrister in London it was inevitable that her first major project would be criminal based.

As for the rest of the weekend, when I've finished my 'grub around' in the garden, my 'doings'' with the duster and my 'Wii hour' I'm going to try and find time to settle down to a few hours' research and a bit of writing.

Next week ... work as per but with a little respite probably on Tuesday. It's the ninth anniversary of my dad's death and, not surprisingly, Mum still feels a bit down at this time of year having spent 47 years of her life with him (quite a record by today's standards!) so we're planning a day out together. Thankfully she's not the morbid sort, loves a good laugh and, a bit like me, she finds that what should be a normal day out, tends to turn into a drama!

A few months ago we had a day in Norwich. Started well ... both her bus and mine arrived at Castle Meadow on time. We went into Castle Mall for a cup of coffee and a choccie muffin and hold our campaign briefing. First job, Boots in The Mall, then up to the market to get greengrocery, fresh fish, meat, cheese and sausages, across to Debenhams for a quick look around the clothes department to see what we couldn't afford, then on to M&S to buy a few little luxury food items and look at clothes that we could just about afford; up the top of St Stephens to the Co-op; back down the other side of St Stephens to BHS for lunch, call into W H Smith to buy magazines for the journey home; across to QD to look at things we could afford and then to Iceland to pick up a bargain or two. Then, at about 3.30 we aimed to be homeward bound.

Following coffee and muffin, we made it to Boots, the market, Debenhams and M&S, but as we left the rear entrance of M&S to wend our way up through the crowds to the Co-op, Mum managed to catch her toe on a paving slab and, if it hadn't been for some kind gentleman walking towards her, she would have landed flat on her face. But, despite all odds, she remained vertical. We then managed to get to the Co-op unscathed and even managed to scale the stairs without too much difficulty. By that time, it was almost lunch time so, before the Norwich Union Nosh brigade were allowed out of their ivory tower, we headed back to BHS to take cover in the restaurant.

Having enjoyed a good plate of fish and chips and a pot of tea, we left BHS at about 1.45 - around the time that the workers were returning to work. By this time I'd bought a fair bit of shopping but Mum, ever cautious with her pounds sterling, had just one small bag of food from M&S, and a couple of bangers and a Cromer crab off the market. Following lunch, she had, in the circumstances, taken hold of my greengrocery bag containing some apples, a cucumber, some carrots, some bananas and a cauli. Now, the restaurant is on the first floor and, as Mum is a bit like me and tends to trip over sixpence, I told her I'd go ahead of her down the escalator. Suddenly, on the journey down, I heard a muted 'oops' from behind me; as I turned to see what Mum had done, I saw out of the corner of my eye, a cauli flying past, followed by a cucumber and a shoe. I then turned sharply and saw mother lying on her back on the escalator, one shoe off and frock above her head. A young man who was obviously extremely distressed by seeing next week's washing, helped her to her feet, whereupon she turned to face back down the escalator, lost her balance and launched herself down the escalator without the aid of a parachute.

Someone at the bottom saw her cannon down and stopped the escalator. A very kind assistant came across to lift her up. Mum had cut her leg and laddered her tights so the assistant took us to the staff room to give her some first aid . She seemed okay but the assistant insisted that she sit still for a few minutes until the bleeding had stopped and, in the meantime, went and got Mum a new pair of tights off the shop floor. We then received a visit from the manager who took us back up to the restaurant and provided us with a free cup of tea.

It had obviously caused quite a stir in the shop as loads of assistants came to wave us off - whether this was because their lives are normally so mundane that it was the most dramatic thing that had happened all year, whether they felt sorry for Mum or whether they were just ensuring that we left the premises unscathed I know not! By this time it was around 2.30 and, as Mum's leg was still bleeding a little and it was obviously coming out in a huge bruise, we decided to call it a day. I left her sitting in the bus shelter while I ran up to WHS to get us each a magazine and we headed homeward an hour early.

So I wonder what this trip will bring forth? Watch this space next weekend!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Now That Summer's Here (or Not!)

I thought, at the beginning of the week, we were in for a nice long, hot, spell of weather but what began on a high, definitely sank throughout the week. Typically, on the lovely hot, summery days I was working long hours in my poky little office, so couldn't take full advantage, but yesterday (Saturday) when I was by the sea there were near gale force winds a-blowin' and today when I want to plant up some foxgloves and marigolds, it's not only cold and a bit on the blustery side, but, as a country girl, I can sense rain in the air!

On Monday afternoon I had my sister, brother-in-law and 10 year old nephew on the doorstep at 4.00. They'd been unable to visit on my birthday so brought over my pressies - a large pot of marigolds, a bottle of white wine (which was very gratefully received as I'm going through an extremely hectic time with my work and in need of a good chill out potion at the end of the day!), and an interesting 'herb starter kit'. The box stated that it contained three herb pots, three packs of seeds (parsley, chives and basil), a wood stand and compost. I opened up the pack and couldn't find any compost and instantly thought 'just my luck. I end up with the duff package!', but then I realised that what I thought was a little cork-like disc of plant food in the bottom of each pot was actually the compost. Having read the instructions, it said that the discs needed to be put into a bowl with a measure of cold water and allowed to expand. There'd then be enough compost to fill the pots. Haven't actually tried it yet but I'll be amazed if it works! But enough of my herby tardis tale.

My nephew, who's extremely irritating and not the best behaved child, was handed a DVD and booklet sent as a 'free sample' from some publisher or other, in the hope that we'd sign up for a thousand future editions at a bargain price of £15 a week or some such. He seemed happy enough reading the book (which was about tigers) until he discovered that the DVD, if twizzled around in the case, made a high pitched squeaking noise and that, of course, far exceeded the entertainment value of the booklet. Funny how he gains pleasure from 'winding up Auntie Jackie and Uncle Adam'!!!

The week continued rather mundanely, except for my evening hosing session. No, not some form of colonic irrigation or wet T-shirt competition - for those people who have met me, they'd know that most definitely wouldn't be a pretty sight but more the stuff nightmares are made of! - but in an effort to keep my annual seedlings and my wilting perennials and veg alive.

My efforts seemed to be bearing fruit (or at least leaves and flowers!) until Friday arrived. True to its origins (named after the goddess Frigg), it was frigging cold and windy which instantly knocked back the courgettes and cucumbers so I'm now left with some poor bedraggled little things that I'm hoping above hope will pick up if the weather perks up again.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny ... but typically it was cold and windy too. Just perfect for a day by the sea (not!!!). We'd planned to join Adam's sister, brother-in-law and mother at Southwold in Suffolk. Gaby, Adam's sister, telephoned to say that his mother didn't feel up to the journey but that she and Ray and Jake (their gorgeous little dog) would meet us on the sea front.

We arrived early at the allotted car park which we discovered was a pay/display so I leant into the hurricane force wind and pushed my way up to the meter to pay (being the law abiding citizen that I am) only to find that there were four different periods for payment - up to one hour, one to two hours, two to three hours, three to four hours and more than four hours. I wasn't sure which to choose so decided to phone Gaby on her mobile but discovered that my mobile had died completely - fully powered but unable to use as it said my SIM was unregistered, despite the fact that I'd been using it for the last couple of years or more!

I decided to go for the four hour option which would let us stay there until 4.00. Typically, the option I wanted would cost £3.05. Two pound coin inserted in slot - success; one pound coin inserted - dropped out; tried one pound coin again - success; five pence piece - couldn't even get it into the slot; tried second five pence piece - still couldn't get it into the slot; tried third five pence coin - still couldn't get it into the slot; timed out - two pound and one pound coins dropped through. Decided to opt for three hours which didn't require a five pence coin and then top up later if necessary.

By this time, Gaby, Ray (and Jake) had arrived. Ray said that the best fish and chips were at the other end of Southwold so we should follow him. We told him that we'd paid for the car park so he suggested we may as well make use of that time and we should travel in his car. So we spent five windswept minutes loading up our 'little extras' into the boot of Ray's car - camera, binoculars, coats and extra grub (we'd stopped off at our local Co-op on the way there and picked up a couple of bottles of drink and noticed they had an offer on at their in-shop bakery counter. Buy a pack of mini-muffins and mini-chocolate browniers, usually £1.75 each, for £3 - just the sort of healthy dessert one would need after eating fish and chips).

The fish and chips went down a treat. Poor Gaby then asked if we'd like a cup of tea as we only had cold drinks and she thought we might like something a little warmer. She'd brought two flasks of hot water with her but unfortunately, on opening the first flask she found it had broken somewhere on the journey between Essex and Suffolk.

We then took the dog for a brisk walk along the beach. As anyone who's walked along a soft sandy beach knows, it takes quite a bit of effort on a normal day, but add to that a 30 mph head wind and I'm certain we walked off not only the fish and chips, brownies and muffins but also honey nut cornflakes we'd eaten at breakfast and part of the chicken kiev, new potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn and peas from the previous night!!

We returned home windswept, well-gritted like the M25 in a cold spell (or maybe not!) from the sand and completely shattered! So, following a light snack and a glass of white wine (thanks to my sister!) I retired to my boudoir and spent a quiet hour or two with Tony Robinson on Classic FM, a good crime novel and a cuddle with the cat.

Well, it's now 1.45 on Sunday and we're having a nice, steady downpour so think I'll stop for a cuppa and a chocolate brownie/muffin and settle down to an afternoon of article writing - but which to do first? A little known battle story along the lines of my Beachy Head one; a gruesome tale of a Victorian poisoning, or a short one about my father's tale of the D Day landing? My heart tells me it should be the D Day landing one but my head tells me that I should be making progress on the former!!

The D Day article reminds me - during the week I spoke to my mother on the phone. She told me that one of her neighbours, Roy, who's 95 has just got his first passport as he's decided to travel back to Normandy for the first time in 65 years. The trip is, in part, being funded by the National Lottery to enable suitably qualified companions to travel with the veterans. Roy, having now obtained this passport has decided life is passing him by and he's booked himself on a cruise later in the year. My mum was questioning the wisdom of this solo trip and said that she wouldn't do it at the age of 95 in case she died on the ship. Always up for a laugh, I told her that it wouldn't be a problem - they could either bury him at sea or do as they used to do on on the old sailing ships; pickle him a barrel of rum until they returned to Blighty!!