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!!

1 comment:

  1. A thoroughly good read as usual, Jackie.
    Ah, the seaside on a wet and windy day, there's nothing quite like it. Except, perhaps, my wife's friends turning up at the front door!