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!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, this morning I can look out of my window and see the beginnings of a well sorted summer garden. Having got all my plants in over the Bank Holiday weekend we then had a couple of mild days with rain to water them in nicely. Unfortunately though I think one of my cucumbers has bought it - we had a day of strong wind which seems to have given it a real battering but I'm endeavouring to use my vegetable vet skills to bring it out of it's cucumber coma! But I can now see some of my seeds struggling through the soil and my red hot pokers are starting to 'poke'.

As I'd worked hard most of last weekend, Adam decided it'd be nice to have an early evening drive out on Bank Holiday Monday. We needed to post some letters so we went via back roads to the village where I spent the first 26 years of my life - Coltishall. It's only five or six miles up the road but since my mother and father moved a few miles further north to the market town of North Walsham back in 1999, we tend to drive through it rather than stop. Typically, as it was a Bank Holiday, one of the roads through was closed for roadworks so the traffic was diverted (not that there's a huge amount of traffic) and also, just as typically, the diversion signs were here, there and everywhere but gave little information. Fortunately we knew where the little back lanes were to lead us to the post office but I pity any poor visitors/holidaymakers, they probably ended up somewhere between Devon and Yorkshire!

By going along the back lanes I have to admit I was saddened by three things.

When I lived in the village the banks were full of brambles, crab apples and basically native hedging but since I last went round that way, all the hedgerows had been stripped. I spent so many happy years walking and cycling there, grubbing through the cow parsley and nettles on the banks to pick the blackberries and crab apples.

The second thing I noticed was that an old wooden five bar gate across a meadow had been replaced with one of those hideous metal ones and the kissing gate attached to it to enable use of the public footpath had been taken away and a wire stock proof fence had been placed along the edge of the meadow. I assume this is to stop yobs and idiots who don't control their dogs from getting to the bullocks that are normally in there but it's somehow taken away that idyllic country feel from such a beautiful area.

The third thing which dismayed me somewhat was that a pretty little 1920s house, painted pale pink and set in its pretty little cottage garden complete with apple trees had been knocked down, the plot had been flattened and cleared and a large new house was under construction. The house had been built by a Mr and Mrs Girling who had a daughter. After Mr and Mrs Girling died, their daughter who had remained a spinster continued living there until she died a couple of years back. I'm sure Miss Girling would have been devastated if she'd known her lovely little family house and her beautifully tended garden had been razed to the ground.

But at least some good came out of the 'diversion' - I've now decided to have a stab at writing up a few notes on my childhood memories. I think I've been fired by the fact that I'm currently typing up some memoirs for a retired surveyor and estate agent and also I want to try my hand at something akin to a biography, which hopefully will lead me to starting on my first novel (thanks George for the inspiration there!!).

The rest of the week has been extremely hectic work wise but, in these hard times, it's good to know that at least I'm earning a living when so many are struggling.

Wednesday was my birthday - I worked all day but we decided to order a kebab for a treat. We use a Norwich kebab house that delivers to our village for an extra £1. Again, being ever frugal, we order the special meal deal which means we get two portions of fries and salad, a bottle of coke and a huge tray of mixed kebab meat/chicken. We only use one portion of the fries and eat about half the meat which means we can then freeze the remainder of the meat and reheat the second portion of fries for dinner the following day!!

The rest of the week has been busy but at least the weather's been good. I find myself feeling really smug on hot summery days as, working from home, I can wander off down the garden when I want to, do a bit of watering and (as I did yesterday afternoon), have a nice drop of lager and lime to ensure I keep cool, calm and relaxed to cope with the extra work.

Adam and I should have been in Southwold (Suffolk) today to help celebrate Adam's mother's and my birthday but Adam's mother wasn't able to come so it's been put off for a further week. Still, it gives me a chance to catch up with some work, do a bit of research into my next article (another murder tale) and maybe get started on my 'biography'. I'm also expecting my sister to phone and make arrangements to drop in as I didn't get to see her on my birthday. She's got a 10 year old son (my one and only nephew) so we'll probably take a walk out in the sun through Spixworth Park. Not your swings and roundabouts type park but the grounds of the old Spixworth Hall Estate - plenty of running around space and a wooded area to poke around in (and that's just for us adults!!). The lovely thing is it's just a couple of minutes' walk from our house so we don't even have to use the car.

Well, time to have a clear up around the house in case the family come in to land without a prior appointment!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Can't Believe It's a Bank Holiday!!

After a really hectic week of working 8 til 6 - plus some, I was so relieved to get to Friday; our fish & chip night! Not that we buy them from the chip shop. Being related to the 'Tight-Wad' family we begrudge buying fish and chips from our local chippy which are running in grease and cost three times the price of 'home made', so we chuck Captain Birds Eye into the oven with Mr McCain and they normally come up with quite a good meal between them!

Saturday saw me busily delving around in my flower beds, bum in air, trying to prepare the soil for planting up today (Sunday). Adam had a pal over for the day and he likes to use my PC - they play online computer games together so, having finished out in the garden I ended up on the Wii (again!!) playing tennis and doing my half moon and triangle yoga moves. I was extremely impressed as Connie the Wii Console told me I now had a physical age of 32!! Not bad for an old 'un!

Following the departure of Adam's friend Nick, as the evening was so nice and warm we took a quick trip out to Coltishall - a village nearby, and where I grew up - posted our postal vote forms for the elections at the beginning of June and then took a leisurely walk along the river bank before heading home for dinner. Unfortunately, however, I daren't do a body test today as I rather over indulged last night - a huge skate wing with chips and, at Adam's insistence(!) a load of fried onions and tomatoes as he'd done too many to fit on the plate with his rib eye steak!! We then followed that up with another Tight-Wad recipe - a lemon torte from Asda (cost us the princely sum of £1!).

Feeling extremely replete and lazy, we decided we'd watch a DVD - the latest Batman movie; have to admit I found it so exciting I fell asleep at about 10.30 so went to bed and, as luck would have it, my second favourite piece of music was playing on the radio - Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams so the day didn't end too badly. The only real downside was the fact that I learned I was allergic to cucumber plants.

I found the other day that my fingers on my right hand were itchy and had come out in a rash so, being typically me, I decided to keep sticking my hands into the various plants I had growing indoors to see what happened. Discovered that sweet peppers, courgettes and statice were fine but I shoved my hands into my cucumbers, so to speak, and ended up with a vegetably transmitted disease. Of course, my mother, neighbours, Uncle Tom Cobbly and all thought I should immediately dial 999 and call out all emergency services to tend to my pimples, but having put a load of lavender oil onto said affected area, I'm still alive and kicking today and not a pimple in sight.

I was relieved to find that today dawned bright, sunny and warm, so, having indulged again at breakfast time with toasted crumpets, lashings of butter and strawberry jam (thought I'd need something substantial to sustain me for my gardening!), I set to and I'm now free from pots on the windowsills. I'm just hoping that Cleo doesn't decide to roll around on the plants I so tenderly planted up - but c'est la vie - if she does, she does. I don't suppose we'll starve if we lose the odd courgette or cucumber.

The only blight on my otherwise relaxing day was the fact that Barmy Blackbird seems to have returned, or possibly son of Barmy. Last year we had a male blackbird that gave the distress call from various roofs and aerials in the vicinity during daylight hours throughout the whole of spring and summer and even took to dive bombing anything that moved - including me, Adam, Cleo, all our close neighbours and even cars that passed in front of the house. We couldn't imagine that he'd actually survive until this year as we thought he'd be caught by something or run over but today he's been twittering away at me but, as yet, hasn't taken to dive bombing - Alfred Hitchcock's birds spring to mind. I keep imagining next summer - three or four generations of Spixworth's Barmy Army lining up on the TV aerial ready to run kamikaze missions, complete with flying helmets and goggles.

Anyway, I'm now indoors feeling more than a tad grubby so quick rub down with an oily rag, into PJs and then down to prepare a slightly healthier dinner. Yes, I DO feel guilty at my lack of willpower over the last few days so it's going to be rabbit food tonight - a lovely(!) healthy salad with nerry a chip or fried onion in sight!!

And tomorrow? As it's Bank Holiday Monday it's bound to be pouring with rain - we just couldn't be lucky enough to have three good days could we? Don't be silly; of course not - I've got a load of washing to do as I've been spending my normal housework hours in the garden!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Feeling My Age - Plus Some!

It's been a long old week. Business has been 'brisk' to say the least. Been working 8-6 most days with just enough time to down the odd cheese and marmite sandwich - all of this work being property related; so seems things are finally moving on the market. My advice, if you want to pick up a bargain, now would seem to be a good time to buy - property prices are lower than they've been for years but there's light at the end of the tunnel.

The Wii regime is still going strong but I got a mite depressed by doing the body test every day so decided to limit that to once a week, but now getting into the yoga and muscle workouts, plus of course the hula hoop and step. Unfortunately I still can't control my feet - when I'm 'stepping'. I find myself tripping over the Wii balance board. I can't quite work out how they expect me to keep an eye on the TV screen to see what the next move is AND find the board with my feet. Same with the yoga. Connie (my Wii trainer) instructs me to follow her moves and then tells me to move my head so I'm facing in the opposite direction. I obviously need surgery to have a third eye inserted somewhere behind me (no rude comments please!). Still, despite my lack of third eye, I can now become a 'half moon', a warrior, a chair or a palm tree at will.

On Tuesday we took delivery of a new Freeview/Hard Drive/DVD player to run in tandem with our original Freeview/recorder. On opening we found that it was broken, contacted the supplier who arranged for it to be picked up on Wednesday afternoon and replace it, at the same time, with a new one.

On Wednesday morning Adam had an eye appointment at Specsavers. As Norwich isn't keen on cars we took the bus in. Living out here in the wilds our buses aren't always that reliable. Admittedly we're fortunate enough to have one every 30 mins (in theory!). Unfortunately it seems First Bus think we're all farmers out here who are, in all likelihood, going to take our chickens or pigs to market so they send us the oldest, dirtiest buses in the garage which have a tendency to break down just shy of the village. We've therefore taken to getting the previous bus to that which we should need. For once, the earlier bus was on time so we spent a leisurely half an hour wandering round the market where Adam instantly headed for the butchers section to visit Mr Pickering the Sausage Man! He's quite a celebrity in Norfolk (Mr Pickering, not Adam) and is often heard on Radio Norfolk.

We then arrived in good time for Adam's eye appointment. What an experience that was!! We normally visit a smaller practice but the guy decided to sell up and move to Lowestoft and, as Adam normally buys contact lenses online, he thought it would be better just to go for a 'quickie' check up, get the prescription and then do his own thing. We went to the main reception desk who immediately sent us upstairs to the next reception desk. That reception desk sent us to another waiting area where a petite young lady in equally petite mini skirt, beckoned a grinning Adam to join her at an open plan computer 'station' some 6 ft or so away. She then proceeded to go through all his personal details - name, age, address, telephone number, medical conditions, etc. So what's happened to privacy? Any weirdo who dropped in for a free eye test on the State could now be privy to all this information - I'm just waiting for a heavy breather to phone on our ex directory number or come knocking on the door and start talking about his medical conditions.

Adam was then taken to another open area where his eyes were tested. He then returned to me and was then taken by a guy (not wearing a mini skirt you'll be pleased to hear!) into another room to do the final eye test to determine his prescription. The only good thing about the experience was that Adam was able to pick up a pair of 'emergency' glasses for £25. Yes, he can now walk proudly down the street donning the new specs, tapping on people's shoulders and quoting "You should have gone to Specsavers"!

Following our Specsavers visit we ventured through M&S and ended up buying one of their Chinese meals (a real bargain, just like the real thing from a takeaway but half the price). Then off to the bus stop to get the charabanc home, diesel fumes and springs up the bum as we went over the speed humps at no extra cost!

On Wednesday afternoon our replacement Freeview, Hard Drive with DVD player arrived intact. Adam set it all up and found it worked fine until he tried to use it alongside the telly and our previous Freeview/HDD twin recorder. He found that the remote controls conflicted which meant we COULD use the new item - we had sound for the TV programme and could record ... but unfortunately we could only record the channel we were watching. We then discovered that we could watch a DVD but we had to listen to the programme we were recording. Useful eh? So, once again, Adam contacted the company we'd bought it from, told the nice lady all about it who was very apologetic and arranged to have it collected on Friday morning.

Thursday was pretty uneventful except for the fact that the cat decided to bring up a fur ball while I was eating my Shreddies - a bit of a turn off first thing in the morning but that's yer luck. During the morning we did notice a couple of volunteers from Hillside Animal Sanctuary out in the meadow behind the house checking the 'stock proof' fences so presumably during this coming week we'll be having some rescued horses out there. They obviously didn't do a particularly good job though as that afternoon, when I went down to make a cuppa, I looked out of the back door - did my eyes deceive me? I thought I could see highland cattle out there in the distance! My first reaction was to phone Specsavers to make an eye appointment for myself but as this seemed a little radical I grabbed the binoculars which we keep to hand in the study upstairs for bird watching and took a quick squint. They were definitely highland cattle - three of, two medium sized and one small, one with incredibly huge horns! They'd obviously come through a break in the fence somewhere between the meadow and the next door farmer's bit of 'set aside' (basically a bit of scrubland with various bushes).

Friday dawned cold and wet but I didn't have time to look out at it much as I had foot on pedal, headphones glued to earholes and hands working 90 mph on the keyboard due to an overload of details for new houses onto the market, etc, etc. Having finished work at around 6.00 I took a quick turn around Triond to find out what my mates were doing and managed to find some really interesting new friends. I then joined Connie on the Wii and turned myself into a half moon and a warrior for quarter of an hour and then watched a DVD before deciding to call it a night at around 10.00 and went to bed with John Brunning (DJ on Classic FM) and to start my new book. C J Sansom - a Tudor murder mystery.

Now, this morning, up with the lark. cup of tea, out to the local Co-op at about 9.30, back with top up bread, milk, cheese and washing powder - and freshly baked Danish pastries, of course! Seems Adam and I have now hit the 'OAP' entry zone. We found ourselves shopping with older members of our community. They obviously have the foresight to get into the Co-op before all the younger people with their unruly kids. It's far more pleasant and relaxing than later in the day so suspect we'll be doing it again.

Following that, home James, kettle on, coffee made, Danish pastry on plate and up here to blog for a bit before I start on the day's household chores.

So, that's my week so far - but there's still a good day and a half left so who knows, I still have time to become a Wii chair or palm tree or to book my surgery to have my third eye implanted!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekend Wind Down

Thought the weekend would never arrive. Funny how a shorter working week due to Bank Holidays always seems longer than a normal one!!

I've been having fun this morning trying to get the new Triond widget installed on my blog and think I may have done it but I'll have rely on my blogging pals to let me know whether or not it works. It SHOULD lead my friends to my latest articles so you can keep an eye on what I'm writing about.

The cat's still not too well. We've come to the conclusion that someone's put down some sort of weedkiller or fertiliser that isn't animal friendly as she seems to be back to her normal self after a day indoors but as soon as we open up the cat flap she comes down with diarrhoea and sickness. Following her recent 'confinement' we allowed her out last night and, once again, she's picked up the lurgy so we're going to be hanging around the house all weekend to keep an eye on her. I'm just glad I've got loads of hobbies that don't involve travelling!!

Hence my relatively early blog while I'm having my mid morning coffee!! Don't know why I didn't start a blog up before as it's like chatting to a neighbour over the fence - I can just talk about the most ordinary of things and have a bit of a laugh to brighten the day.

Despite our downer this morning with Cleo being ill, Adam made me laugh. He's into homebrew and decided to make an early start this morning in getting it into his gallon plastic containers. Having filled one with hot water to fight off any bugs, he put his hand over the spout and gave it a good shake, forgetting that the steamy water would make the thing expand. Needless to say he took his hand away from the spout and the water spurted everywhere!!! As he said, just as well the water was warm and not freezing cold. I really should have run to his aid but I was doubled up with laughing.

He also had me in stitches last night when we were doing our WiiFit programme. Following on my 71 hula hoop spins Adam thought he'd outdo me. Talk about a whirling dervish - it was hilarious watching him from the rear!!!!!! But have to admit he did outdo my 71 spins twice over, although I don't think I'll be following his example as we can be seen from the road 'strutting or jiggling' our stuff'. Our lounge window looks out to the front of our property and our telly is in the corner of the room so our exercises have to take place slap bang in the middle of the window. All I can say is, thank goodness our road isn't very busy or we'd be having the men in their white coats turning up on the doorstep at regular intervals.

That reminds me of when Cleo first joined us back in 2003. Having picked her up from the RSPCA one Sunday afternoon, she immediately found her favourite spot at the end of the sofa and was soon curled up asleep. Unfortunately she decided she'd wake up in the early hours of the morning and have a quick tour of the house - basically this involved flying up and down the stairs at great speed and jumping on every level surface she could find (including the bed!). She finally seemed to settle down by about 2.00 in the morning and we'd just dropped off to sleep again to be woken by a male voice. Adam's alert far quicker than me and rushed off down the stairs. I heard him talking to someone and then he came back to the bedroom. Cleo had somehow managed to dial 999 but thankfully had also managed to hit the speakerphone button at the same time. The male voice was someone from emergency services asking us which emergency service we wanted!! Adam then had to try and explain that our new cat had phoned and we didn't actually want emergency services. Wonder how many calls they get of a similar nature!!!!

And thanks George for making me laugh yesterday with your comment on my Ascott Martyrs article. I have to admit that I hadn't really thought about Fanny Honeybone - bet she'd get called a few choice names at school these days!!!!!

Anyway, I'm now about to 'blog off' and have a bite to eat but, if I get bored later I might come back to you all for a 'chat'.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hot Off The Press

Well, here it is my friendly blogger bods! A link to my latest masterpiece!!


Following yesterday's blog I'm pleased to report that my WiiFit has now confirmed that I've lost 1 lb in weight, my fitness age is 5 years below my real age, I've finally managed to master the hoola hoop - from a lousy 10 spins I managed to top 71 in 1 minute last night, and I'm top of the leader board on step aerobics (although the latter is no real great achievement as my only opposition is Adam who's a muscular 6'1" hulk so not too light on the tootsies)!! Once again I tried the aerobics/alcohol combination and it certainly seems to work for me!!!

Today didn't start off particularly well. Cleo the cat, who'd had a horrible stomach upset for a couple of days but seemed to have recovered last night and managed to polish off a bowl of tuna, seems to have got diarrhoea badly again this morning. We've decided that she's probably taken in some sort of fertiliser or weed killer so we've now confined her to barracks for a day to ensure she doesn't take in any more. She's not happy with the idea at all and scowls at us when we go near her, but then it's no picnic for us either - as Adam so delicately puts it; it smells as if we're living in a sewer! But unfortunately there's little else we can do - at least while she's shut in we can keep an eye on her and, if she gets any worse, we know where she is and can drive her to the vet at a moment's notice.

Well stomach thinks the throat's been cut so must away to the kitchen to get my Wallace & Gromit lunch - cream crackers and cheese before embarking on my next tranche of typing. Hopefully I'll have time this afternoon to get on with my new crime/murder article.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

So the May Day Bank Holiday despite a promising start on Saturday, turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I'd hoped to get cracking in the garden as my runner beans really needed planting out. I'd had them growing in a large pot on the bedroom windowsill but they were slowly creeping closer to the ceiling and I was beginning to have concerns that I'd wake in the middle of the night and find Jack hiding under the quilt between me and Adam, grasping the goose that laid the golden eggs and the words 'fee fie foe fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman' emanating from the roof!

However, Saturday's gardening was put to one side as Adam's mother, who's a widow in her mid 80s had to have her cat put to sleep. Naturally she was devastated. Despite the fact she lives next door to Adam's sister, she felt the need to keep in constant touch with us by phone as unfortunately Adam's sister and brother in law are not 'cat people' and we're very much 'feline friendly folk'. This contact had to be undertaken long distance by phone as she lives in Earls Colne in Essex and we live some 80 miles away in Norfolk. Of course, we didn't begrudge her the time but we had thought we'd have a couple of lovely days ahead of us but, Sunday began dull and windy as did Monday.

By Monday afternoon I decided I just had to do something with my triffid beans so I donned wellies and fleece and spent a couple of hours out there in near arctic conditions. While I was out there I'd noted my Busy Lizzies were more like Droopy Doras as they were becoming pot bound so decided to risk putting them in the ground too - what's the betting we have some really hefty frosts in the next few days?

And then, back to work yesterday morning. I thought I'd have time to get to grips with my latest gruesome article as normally things are pretty quiet work wise following a Bank Holiday but I can only imagine that the dire weather was nationwide and all my clients spent the weekend indoors catching up on their dictation. In between work was no go too - my long haired cat had a bout of diarrhoea and sickness so any spare time was spent on hands and knees on the vinyl floor in the kitchen washing her nether regions!! Needless to say she was thoroughly cheesed off with us and , from the glares she gave us during the evening, obviously felt utterly humiliated.

However, all has not been lost. I've managed to put together a short article on another subject which I hope to have published over the next day or so and I'm still hoping that things will quieten down so I can get to grips with my more detailed article. Watch this space!

The only ray of sunshine over the weekend was the fact that I've apparently lost 17 years off my age! I'm still trying to keep going with the WiiFit on a regular basis and, following a couple of G&Ts on Sunday evening I found that I was able to keep my hips swivelling and keep the old hoola hoop going for about 30 seconds whereas normally it would drop round my ankles after about 3, and I also managed to keep rhythm with the step aerobic exercises. Obviously the alcohol lubricated the muscles. So, I'm pleased to inform you that despite being 48 I now have a fitness age of 31. Think the moral of this story is that it's better to exercise when you've downed a couple of gins than to do it completely sober!!!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What a Week!

What a hectic week! Typically I wanted to get some research done for some future articles but, as luck would have it, half of England suddenly decided it was time to put their properties up for sale so I was inundated with work. Fortunately I did find time to continue with my Wii Fit programme - conversely however, somewhat unfortunately it assessed my age at 63 midweek (and I'm only 48!). But by yesterday (Friday) I'd got that down to 43 and finally seemed to get my sense of rhythm with the 'step' class, but I still can't master the hoola hoop. Reckon my hips are just too big to accommodate the hoop!!

We had a restless night midweek which probably aided my premature ageing! At about 1.00 am our cat came into the bedroom at breakneck speed and whipped round the room like something possessed. Having put on the bedside light, I could see her at the bottom of the bed with something decidedly furry in her mouth. Instantly thinking it was a rat I got my partner, Adam, to get out of bed and investigate while I quickly disappeared under the covers. The cat let go of said furry friend and Adam discovered it wasn't a rat at all but a poor, frightened but still very lively baby rabbit. So, up I got to try and get the cat away from baby bunny while Adam got dressed. By this time the rabbit had entrenched itself under the bedside table so Adam had to get down on hands and knees to pick the poor thing up before taking it downstairs and placing it under the hedge at the bottom of the garden. Having checked the following morning there was no sign of the rabbit either dead or alive so we're hoping that it found its way home across the meadow. Watership Down eat your heart out!!!

I did find time during the week to email Gordon Brown on the 10 Downing Street webpage to ensure my voice was heard on the Gurkhas' plight. I hadn't been aware that there was going to be a major rally until my 'friend' George Whitehead pasted his blog the previous day. Thanks George for pointing it out. I still can't believe that the government would be so short-sighted as to deny the loyal and devoted Gurkhas access to our country and yet allow into the country all manner of layabouts, criminals and terrorists willy-nilly who are a constant drain on our welfare system. The Gurkhas are far too loyal to expect money for nothing and their settlement here could be a great asset to us.

The other main topic of conversation at the moment seems to be swine 'flu. It seems we're constantly being exposed to peculiar diseases from foreign climes which leads me to believe there's some divine being telling us that we shouldn't be travelling so easily from our native lands to far distant countries. If we do travel outside Europe I would suggest that everyone, on returning to the United Kingdom should undergo six months in quarantine!!

Adam and I have always considered that it's all very fine and dandy people having long haul flights here, there and everywhere but these are the very people who constantly bemoan the fact that we should be eating organic food, recycling and trying to save the planet. They obviously can't see the wider picture that by flying they're not only polluting the atmosphere but also promoting the need for larger airports which take up so much of our beautiful landscape. Add to this the noise pollution factor and it's relatively bad news all round.

Adam and I live in a village relatively close to Norwich Airport but we seldom had major aircraft noise. Due to the fact that we were a stone's throw from the RAF Coltishall air space, they were unable to fly close to our house. However, the government, in their wisdom, decided to close the base which was the last fully functional Battle of Britain base. When RAF Coltishall was in existence we could expect to wake up to the sound of birdsong and look out onto clear blue skies, but since the closure we've noticed that the blue has now turned decidedly 'streaky' due to vapour trails as more and more airports from the Midlands and beyond make use of that space. The helicopters from Norwich Airport also seem to enjoy taunting the village - they fly in extremely close to the houses thereby infringing on our privacy as well as our ear 'oles! In fact, during the summer months we find ourselves having to close the windows before making a phone call.

We no longer need worry about missing vital clues from Midsomer Murders or Marple, however, as we've invested in a hard drive recorder. This has been a sound investment, not only because we can pause 'live' programmes and start them up again when the helicopters have gone over, but we've now got into the habit of recording absolutely everything so we can zip through the adverts. By doing this we're finding that we can watch three one hour episodes of CSI or Criminal Minds in about a couple of hours. Which, of course, leaves us more time to get back on the Wii Fit and do a bit of exercise - well, maybe not!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Things Ain't What They Used To Be ... Or Are They?

While sitting here waiting for some work to arrive this morning, thought I'd take a quick flick through the Telegraph online and was instantly drawn to this - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/5210489/Identity-of--jigsaw-body-parts-murder-victim-solved.html.

While researching a recent local history article I came across a murder that took place in Victorian Norwich which immediately grabbed my attention, so much so that I actually put aside the article I was researching and decided to look into the murder case instead. Having worked in the Cathedral Close in Norwich for over 20 years I found it amazing that I'd regularly walked the very street where this gruesome event took place and hadn't been aware of it. (http://www.authspot.com/Short-Stories/Trouble-in-Tabernacle-Street.336079).

So often we crave the 'good old days', but were they really that great? The murder and mutilation of Jeffery Howe recently was shocking and horrific, but it certainly bears similarities to a lesser publicised murder which took place in Norwich around 150 years ago.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Day Over and Deeper in Debt

... as the old 1960s song Sixteen Tons says!

The day started on a high - I had some work in from one of my favourite clients to keep me going for an hour or so and then .......... nothing! Eventually I got one or two bits and pieces filtering through - probably about enough to keep the wolf from the door for the next couple of days. The highlight of my day was unpacking my monthly Asda order which was delivered to me during the morning but now, sitting here at 6.00 pm in my study with the window open, the sun shining, a lovely warm breeze blowing in and the sound of bird song in the air my spirits have been well and truly lifted.

At the end of the day, provided I can pay my household bills and feed me, my partner and the cat it's all I need from life. Who needs to go to the pub or the cinema or take expensive holidays? It'd be nice to be able to afford to do it once in a while but, being 'income restricted' I've come to appreciate what really matters in life. I'm far more fortunate than so many other people in the country at the moment. I have my own little slice of tranquil rural England just outside my window, I have a roof over my head, I have at least some work, unlike many others during this time of recession, I have a close family and, all in all, life ain't so bad. Anyway, tomorrow's another day and I could be inundated with work.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Good, The Bad and (Possibly) The Ugly

I got up this morning feeling decidedly depressed.

Having worked out hard on Wii Sports and WiiFit last weekend and pulling a muscle, I'd decided to give it a rest for a few days but to try and maintain a healthy and balanced diet until I was able to bend and stretch again. I was extremely good during the day yesterday but then things went a little awry. I finished work at around 5.15 and my partner reminded me we had some post that needed sending. As our post box is in the centre of the village, we took the lazy man's route - got in the car rather than take a 40 minute walk. Unfortunately the local fish & chip shop is immediately opposite the post box and essence of hot fat tickled our taste buds and we found ourselves strangely drawn over the threshold!!

So, I woke up this morning feeling very down at heel. I then settled myself at my PC ready for a deluge of work but nothing seemed to filter through so not only had we spent £9 on a very unhealthy meal last night to undo all the hard work we'd done on the Wii over the weekend, I hardly earned enough to replenish the piggy bank during the morning.

Then things took a turn for the better! First of all I got a whole load of work in after lunch from one of my favourite clients, and then I received an email from a newly formed independent TV company that makes historical crime docu-dramas - Archive TV - who are interested in promoting some of my recently published articles.

I already have visions of Martin Shaw, Stephen Fry and Amanda Holden being cast as characters in TV productions of my local history articles as all three have bases in Norfolk, but knowing my luck I'll end up with Russell Brand, Ronnie Corbett and Vanessa Feltz!!

Maybe there is some being out there in the wide blue yonder watching us - the boost I got this afternoon far outweighed the gloom that started off my day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All in a day's work

Thanks to the downturn in the property market I've now been sucked into this blogging lark! I'm normally sitting here at home busily typing up surveyors' reports or estate agents' particulars but as there's less work out there at the moment, I've taken up writing articles just to pass the time and that's somehow led me to start up a blog.

I love writing articles for publishing on Triond - http://www.triond.com/users/jackie118 and my real passion is history, in particular the more gory side of it; true crime/murder tales and true ghost stories are right up my alley.

At the grand old age of 49 I suspect I'm not going to get a huge 'following' of fellow bloggers but hopefully those of you who do find me will enjoy reading some of my articles and get a laugh out of some of my daily incidents.

I'm currently researching for my next article (my most gory one yet!) but, in order to take a break from my keyboard, I've been WiiFitting!! My partner, Adam, and I invested in a Nintendo Wii a couple of weeks ago and it duly arrived the middle of last week. Adam set it up and we spent a couple of evenings completely engrossed in Wii Sports. In fact, it instantly became an addiction. Adam was supposed to cook dinner but, come 8.00, we still hadn't eaten so we quickly switched on the oven and threw a pizza in for 20 minutes. Two rounds of golf later, which took us about 40 minutes, we remembered to take the pizza out - not quite burnt to a cinder but pretty close! We hurriedly slung that down our necks and did a bit of ten pin bowling and suddenly, lo and behold, it had gone midnight!

Over the weekend we WiiFit up and running. We both set up our fitness regime. Adam's fitness age was calculated at 49 years - bit of a bummer as he's 51! Mine came out at a very disappointing age of 52 which was a bit demoralising as I'm only 48!!! But following a good workout - yoga, followed by aerobics, followed by numerous games of tennis I finally ended up with a fitness age of 49. Not exactly what I wanted as I was hoping to drop at least another year off that to at least bring me into line with my true age, but then again, as I'd pulled a muscle in my bum and my back due to all the running around I suppose it wasn't too bad. Needless to say I'm taking it a little easier for a couple of days before I go for it again.