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 - 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.