Saturday, March 29, 2008

Looking forward, Looking back..

I've just come back from a wonderful classical music concert at the Dome. It was the London Philharmonic Orchestra performing, and we had the Overture to the Thieving Magpie, and then a Beethoven Violin Concerto, followed by Scheherezade by Rimsky Korsakov. Just fabulous. The violin soloist was amazing, and brought tears to my eyes with his playing. Scheherazade always reminds me of our dear old Stepfather Cyril (whom we called Squirrel), because it was one of his favourite pieces of music. He was a bluff Yorkshireman who called a spade a spade, and wasn't much of a looker either, but he was pure gold. He and my Mother met while on holiday in the Italian Lakes. They had each been persuaded by friends to go on this holiday, and apparently Squirrel had taken the place of someone who cancelled at the last moment, so we always thought they were fated to meet. Anyway, he fell for my Mum on sight and she ran the other way. He pursued her throughout the holiday (they were both in their fifties at the time) and then kept turning up on our doorstep afterwards. My Mother held him off for months, but he was determined. In the end he persuaded her to marry him, and it was the best thing she ever did. He loved her so much and they used to go for walks, hand in hand. Squirrel loved Classical music and played his records whenever Sister and I visited, which was fairly often. They hadn't been married very long (about three years) when he was diagnosed with Lymphoma, which was then quite incurable. Sadly, he didn't last very long. He was put in the Royal Marsden Hospital, which was wonderful, and my little Mum went to see him and sit with him every day, from St. Albans to London and back again on the train. She did this for six months, until he died, and although we were expecting it and it was a blessing in the end, it was terribly sad. By the time he died, they had been together for only four years, and she was devastated. I think their time together was the only time in her life that she was really happy, and she had had that happiness snatched away from her. My Mum lived for another 18 years, but she was never really happy again after Squirrel.

Bad news for my planned trip to France - Son's Completion date is now 24th April. I felt very fed up when I heard it this morning, but there's nothing I can do about it. I just have to get on with it and make a new plan. Must phone BF in France and see if and when she can fit me in. I just hope she won't be too pissed off.
Heigh Ho, life is what happens when you're making other plans, I suppose. Again ...

Friday, March 28, 2008

At Home and Abroad...

I'm sitting winding down with a glass of wine before we start the final cookery lesson. My little Swiss Hobbit is going home tomorrow (I can't believe it's been 12 weeks!) and we have been doing the cookery lessons this week. He has really enjoyed my home-cooked food and wants to learn how to make it, so Hey Presto! We started on Wednesday with his favourite which is a Stir Fry: we fried garlic and shallots in some olive oil, and then we added sweet red peppers, chestnut mushrooms and finally some fat prawns (plus a good dollop of sweet and sour stir-fry sauce, which I didn't make). I showed him how to cook the noodles, and while he was stir-frying, I made the salad. He was thrilled to bits, and couldn't believe we had done it in 20 minutes from preparation through to sitting at the table to eat. And it was truly delicious. Yesterday he wanted to make a carbonara sauce (ham, cream, mushrooms) which we stirred into fresh tagliatelle (plus another salad). And tonight we are going to make a classic Bolognese, which will give him the option of producing lots of different dishes: he can add chilli and beans to make Chilli con Carne, eat it with baked potatoes, turn it into a lasagne or serve it with mashed potatoes as a Shepherd's Pie. (I know it should be lamb, but I can explain that to him.) Hopefully, he will be able to carry on when he is back home in Zurich. I know this is really basic stuff, but that's all he needs to get started. And he seems very enthusiastic.

During one of our conversations in the week, he was telling me that all Swiss men who have been in the Army (conscripted of course) are sent home with their guns! This means that approximately half the population of Switzerland has guns stashed away at home. I was horrified until he explained that they don't actually have any ammunition - or at least they do, but it's in a sealed box and if the seal is broken when "they" examine it, the punishment is prison. Only in Switzerland, I thought. How on earth would the authorities deal with that here? As the Hobbit said, the Swiss are not only "neutral" but also "very law-abiding".

It will seem rather strange without him - for a while at least. He is leaving tomorrow at midday, and will be back in Zurich with his Father by the evening. Father has apparently broken his hand (he was pushed downstairs by his scorned lady friend when he asked her - for the second time - to give his keys back), and has had two operations to fix it. While he was in hospital the ex-lady friend went to his flat (surprise, surprise) and trashed a couple of things - including his favourite picture. All I can say is that it's lucky she didn't know about the gun in the drawer!! Truth really is stranger than fiction. How much better it would have been if his Father had simply changed the locks after they had split up. And less costly in every way. "Hell hath no fury", as they say...

By the way, there is progress with Son's new flat. It seems to have taken ages, but they are about to exchange Contracts - maybe they did it today, but I haven't heard. I don't like to count anyone's chickens, but it does seem imminent. The hopeful date they have given for Completion is Monday 14th April - by a strange coincidence, that's the date I was hoping to leave for France! Luckily, I hadn't booked a flight, and have not yet confirmed dates with my BF there. It hopefully won't delay me by more than a couple of days, but I can't leave before because I have quite a lot of his stuff here: one large bed (in pieces), one large mattress, one large mirror, assorted bedding, towels and clothes, the piano stool, one large wardrobe (in the downstairs entrance hall) approximately 5 boxes of records, a loft half full of boxes containing God-knows-what rubbish and the keys to the Storage Unit which is stuffed to the gills with yet more (probably) rubbish. Poor Son, I don't envy him having to sort that lot, but it has to be done. It's mostly stuff he has carried around with him since leaving home to go to Uni, and I don't think he's looked at it for years. Actually, I'm sure it will be a good "cleansing" process if he can get rid of the things that have been cluttering up his life. He sounded quite cheerful about the whole business today, so let's hope it goes smoothly.

PS. I did buy the car. I put a deposit down and am going to collect it on 7th April. It really does look like a good deal. It is an 04 Reg. Fiat Punto (I've been driving a Punto very happily for the last 8 years, so it's familiar) with only 20,000 miles on the clock, one lady owner and a full history. It's a dark grey metallic, and looks immaculate. I get a year's Tax and MOT, plus a Warranty which I can add to if I want. And it does seem a very good price. It got to the point where I thought JFDI (as my ex-friend Barbara used to say) "Just F****ing Do It." So I did!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It might as well be Spring.

The sun is shining today, and it looks much more like Spring with a capital S. Down by the sea, yesterday and today, there was evidence of the rough weather we had at the weekend. Two beach huts had been blown to pieces, literally, and had had their contents strewn across Hove Lawns. There were bits of roof, doors, sun loungers, deck chairs and assorted personal items all around - looking rather sad. The roof of one hut had buried itself in the grass, so must have landed with quite some force. And along the sea wall buttresses of shingle had built up on the sea side, with islands of pebbles and shells thrown over onto the Promenade side. There was an empty Lobster Pot marooned on the beach, just the one, and great hillocks of shingle had barricaded the steps. That's about as much drama as we like in Hove - and now the sea is looking very well-behaved again, with sun sparkling on the little waves and seagulls strutting about as if they own the place, just as normal.

I heard a very funny comment on Terry Wogan this morning - though I'm sure it wasn't intended to be. The subject was drivers who are ignoring the signs of tiredness - like yawning! I do wonder who they are talking to sometimes. Hands up those of you who don't know that yawning is a sign of tiredness. Give me strength!

I'm off in a minute (when I can screw up the courage) to look at a couple of cars for sale. I need to change my ancient Fiat Punto (13 years old) for a newer model. I'm sure that not all second hand Car Dealers are crooks, but as I have become pretty much invisible as I've got older, I may need some moral support, or something to make me more visible (lipstick?). I have asked one of my male BBFs to come along and give it the once over if I find anything I like. Heaven knows if that will make any difference, but I'll feel better about it I think. Wish me luck..

Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Old Eggs.

So sorry, I've been off enjoying myself despite the terrible weather. On Saturday I drove up to Kent, across country, to stay with my Aristocratic BF. On the way I went through rain, hail, sleet, snow and sunshine. Amazing. It was great to get there, and we soon settled in round the fire. Actually I was listening to the Tottenham match on Radio 5 on the way, and arrived in time to watch the second half on TV. Great goals in the second half, and a good result. (2 - 0 to the Spurs.) Son was at the match and sent a message saying that it was bloody freezing (they had snow there too) and very frustrating until they scored. Oh it is hard supporting Tottenham, patchy is a polite way of describing their form, but we are old die-hard supporters and that's that really.

ABF and I were reminiscing about things past. We have known each other since I was pregnant with Son and her youngest son was 4 years old. That's nearly 29 years. Our (then) husbands were partners in a Video Company in London, and she and I became good friends when we were househunting in Kent. We always say that our friendship outlasted both marriages. She was married (also for the second time) to a charming man who was a nightmare to live with. He was always off somewhere (in a chauffeur-driven Roller) and would turn up unexpectly with 10 friends in tow (having been at the Races or something similar) and demand a perfect dinner - which she would of course produce. Dear old T, he had champagne tastes on no money (the money was all hers), but he was a charmer. Sadly, he died about 10 years ago, and ABF was there to the last, looking after him when his then wife couldn't be bothered to sit with him in hospital. I really think ABF is a saint - she has certainly earned her wings.

Just to round off the weekend, I drove back this afternoon through a veritable blizzard. But I had my food parcel to look forward to when I got back home. ABF always thinks I don't eat properly, and invariably sends me home with lovely treats. Today it was some Manuka Honey, three fat slices of home-cooked ham, two organic fruit yogurts and a bottle of Rose wine. Just so I don't go hungry...

I'm still catching up with my Blog readers, and am adding three more to my Blog list, with more apologies for taking so long. First Rising Rainbow, who visited me back in January to make a comment, and whose life with Arabian horses is completely fascinating to me - she could be speaking a foreign language, but I do try to follow what she says. Then there's Expatmum, who now hails from Chicago and is bravely raising her family and writing most successfully in the USA. Brilliant. She too hates shopping and loves James Taylor, so we have a lot in common. I wish I could give her good news about Per Una! Last up for today is Potty Mummy, who sympathised with me about getting rid of the old - pictures and paperwork, childrens' drawings and all. She seems to have had the same sort of over-indulgent Easter as I've had. Still, when the weather is so awful, what else is there to do? Now where did I hide that chocolate egg?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Please and Thank You

I have been housebound today because of the Handyman being here to do the odd jobs. In fact I ended up doing a fair bit myself, and it was a good learning curve, because the lovely Bill had forgotten to bring his specs! Now, as those of you who've ever put together an Ikea Flatpack know, you have to read the 'destructions' and, according to my Swedish friend, follow them to the letter. Bill borrowed a pair of my glasses, but wasn't keen on wearing them, so we had a few false starts until I took charge (at least in the reading department) and insisted that he did it all in the right order. I had already checked that we had all the pieces of wood, screws, knobs etc and ticked them off on the list, so I knew we wouldn't get half way through and discover we were short something or other. The result is brilliant. It looks very good and I'm slowly filling it up, picking the piles of clothes off the floor and folding them into my lovely new drawers. Bill did a good job on the bathroom ceiling, and on my new (Ikea) blind, but couldn't turn off the water to do the tap. I'm going to follow Aims' advice, and find out how to do it myself!

So while I was stuck indoors, I decided to catch up on all my Blog visitors and say my thank-you's to everyone who takes the trouble to read and comment on my Blog. I've begun by adding Blossom Cottage (if only I knew how to embed links!), who is another Aquarian but doesn't seem to have posted since 21st February. Blossom, where are you? Next I've added Milla, who was so lovely and helpful when I was worried about my Daughter and her pre-cancerous cells, last year. She's a Pisces, and lives in Gloucestershire (my first house was an Old Forge in Orridge Street, near Hartpury in Glaarster). Sorry it's taken me so long Milla. Next up, Soft in the Head, whose lovely house in the Limousin has me green with envy. She is always so thoughtful and visits me regularly. Thank you SITH. Then comes Lady Thinker, another deep-thinking Pisces who hails from Sidmouth (that's where I went for my first "dirty weekend" about a hundred years ago - with the man I married when I was 22!). Thank you Penelope, it was great fun catching up with you. That's all I've done today, but don't worry, now I've started, I'll finish...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Catching up.

Goodness me, I've been slacking in the Blogging department, with no real excuse except I've been busy doing nothing! The weather has been so indifferent that I haven't even been tempted to walk by the sea - and that's pretty unusual. I had the lovely Grandson here over the weekend, while Daughter was gadding off to play with her old friends in Cambridge. She dropped him off around lunchtime on Saturday, and I took him to a childrens' Birthday Party at the King Alfred Leisure Centre in the afternoon. (Who names these ghastly places? This one looks a grey and red tacky concrete and rubber construction, with tubes coming out of the sides where there used to be slides into the swimming pool. It is without doubt one of the ugliest blots on the landscape ever seen.) Anyway, I digress. It was so warm when we walked into the place that my glasses instantly steamed up (no kidding), and I couldn't see a thing. Not a good look. Grandson wasn't phased, and raced into the party room ready to rock! There were probably 40 children there, aged from 0 to about 8, plus their parents and some grandparents, so it was rammed with heaving humanity. Plus a Bouncy Castle and lots of climbing things for them to chase each other over. The trestle tables literally groaned, and I have never seen so much cake! Chocolate Cake, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Thomas the Tank Cake, cakes dotted with chocolate buttons, cakes shaped like dinosaurs, plus muffins, chocolate Rice Crispy Cakes (two kinds, milk and plain), fruit cakes, chocolate chip cookies and biscuits and homemade sweets .. It was a veritable sugar-fest, and those little tykes were itching to get their hands on it. After crisps, a few sandwiches, juice and the ubiquitous cake, for which they all sat on the floor and ate off of paper plates, they raced into battle once more. In all, I think Grandson didn't stop running for two hours. He was bright red and pouring with perspiration when it was time to go. Every child was given a balloon and a Party Bag, and we walked home feeling suitably bushed. Good fun though.

Next morning he woke at 5,30 AM!! Not so much fun. I managed to stay in bed until 7, but that was it. We got up, had breakfast (he had sausages, I had a croissant) and the rest of the day was a rather tired blur. It was raining all day, so neither of us felt much like moving. We played with his marble game and his cars, watched the odd movie, built a few things with bricks, and generally chilled out. By the time Daughter arrived back from her frolics in Cambridge, I was nearly asleep. When they were leaving, Grandson kept on running back up the path to give me another kiss and hug. He must have done it half a dozen times. There's nothing like a kiss and a hug from my little darling.

Monday was pretty Mondayish. I met up with a friend for a cup of coffee and mooched around Zara afterwards. Then I came back to see Bill the Handyman who is at last coming (tomorrow) to put my chest of drawers together. He is also going to do a few other handy jobs that I have saved up for him - filling the cracks and re-painting a bathroom ceiling, putting up a new blind and re-washering the kitchen tap. Sometimes I think that a man around the house would be handy - I wouldn't have to pay him in cash, that's for sure. But I'm sure it would be costly in other ways. Perhaps I'll just keep things the way they are for now.

So today I've been clearing stuff away so that he can get a clear run at things tomorrow. I undid the Ikea pack and carried the pieces upstairs a few at a time (thanks to all you Blogging geniuses for the tip), cleared everything from the bathroom, found a dust sheet and moved all the piles of clothes from my bedroom so that the fox can see the rabbit (is that right? "fox"?). Anyway, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. He's arriving at 9 am tomorrow morning, right after breakfast with my little Hobbit. Incidentally, we were eating supper tonight when that same little Swiss/German spotted some fireworks being let off in a neighbouring garden. He looked puzzled, and then asked me "Is it allowed?", looking very concerned and very German. "Is it allowed!!" I spluttered, "of course it's allowed. We live in a free country!!" Don't get me started...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Day Tripper.. yeah..

I feel like a new woman today. I decided yesterday that I would go to London after all, and visit the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park. Sister was coming with me, but she had a bad attack of the "builders" yesterday, in that they started knocking the render off the outside walls of her flat, and into her garden. They had threatened to come back again today, so she didn't dare leave them to it. I therefore ended up going on my own. Actually, it was quite fun. I started off by missing my train from Hove, so had to catch one to Brighton and change. I then decided to get off at Gatwick and catch a Victoria train, which was more convenient for Sloane Square. Unfortunately, I ran for the wrong train, and ended up on a Gatwick Express by mistake. The Ticket Collector lady was so lovely though (quite unexpectedly). I explained that I had run for the train and was too late to jump off again, and she was charming. I showed her my ticket (a Senior Railcard/Day Tripper) and she politely invited me to sit down and enjoy my journey. I got to Sloane Square and caught the Courtesy Bus to the Art Fair (very comfy) and then met up with some friends. My Artist Friend (Bosham and Kirdford) has some pictures exhibited here, so it was interesting. We wandered around, stuffing ourselves with images, and had to sit down with tea or coffee at regular intervals for some light relief. In all, I saw only one picture I would have bought and taken home, but it was good fun. We then repaired to Peter Jones and sat in the top-floor Restaurant looking out over the London landscape. Lovely. London is so exciting, and I hadn't been for over a year. It filled me with the urge to do more, to be more creative and to see more people, places and things. I sat and dozed in the train back, and then jumped on a bus at Brighton Station, which delivered me to my door.

Lucky me, I opened my front door to find a lovely raffia-tied box with some gorgeous home made muffins from the girls downstairs - and an impromptu invitation to supper.
I whizzed indoors, made sausages and mash for my two students, and took myself down with a bottle of Prosecco. We had a lovely lamb concoction, with smashed potatoes (roasted) and leeks, followed by strawberries with mint and pecan ice-cream. Yummy. And lots of alcohol and lots of laughs. It was the perfect end to the perfect day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

An Apology and a Rant..

Have just realized that I was actually tagged again - by my dusting friend, Dusty Spider. So sorry, Dusty, to have left you out of the previous post. I'm hoping against hope that the list I posted yesterday will do for this one too - I despair of thinking of any more interesting things about me. But I will get together a list of wonderful, deserving Bloggers to pass it on to. Duck now..

I have been reminded by another Blogging friend about the mostly appalling behaviour of men when they are getting divorced and are faced with parting with some of their money - especially when it's for frivolous expenditure like feeding and clothing their children - or keeping their ex-wives out of the workhouse while they are doing all the physical (and emotional) work involved in bringing up the next generation! I may be exaggerating slightly, but in my experience, and the experiences of many of my friends, this has been an all too frequent occurrence. My Daughter still remembers the times when I was reduced to tears by her Father when the children needed new shoes, coats, or anything else that seemed excessive to him! These awful encounters, mostly on the telephone, were shaming too. My self-esteem was on the floor for many years because of our financial dependence and his avowed determination that we should not ever be allowed to feel either comfortable or secure. Despite an "agreement" which was reached between us, I was never allowed to feel that I could depend on it, and always had to account for every penny I spent. I did this, and smiled, mostly because I was trying to keep the peace and make the childrens' relationship with their Father a reasonable one. It didn't work. Because the more I bent, the more he leaned on me. It's the rule of the jungle I suppose. With hindsight, I probably should have told him where he could stuff his money. (I'm sure we would have survived.) And I know for sure that I should have gone to a lawyer and not depended on his "goodwill".

Fortunately I don't have to speak to him any more. He now lives on the other side of the world, and is married to wife number 4. Not that I mind this in the least - it seems perfectly fine to me (and I'm so pleased I'm not still married to him). We don't speak because of his attitude when Daughter was dumped with my baby Grandson; he wouldn't help her financially (which was desperately needed at the time) because he assumed that I would have had some money left over from our financial settlement of five years previously. Despite having paid for two children at University, who were living, eating and quite unreasonably, wearing clothes, and even taking into account that he had screwed me down as tight as he could on the said financial agreement, he thought I might have been living it up on the proceeds. I emailed him a reply which I should have sent him many years before, but which was nevertheless satisfying because I said, at last, what I needed to say to him. But I never cease to be amazed at the meanness he can exhibit, towards his own and only children. He has already told them that he intends to leave them nothing when he dies! (It's all going to wife No.4, who is "his life".) The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Twice Tagged.. only one set of answers.

I've been tagged, twice, which means that I have to think up several things that are either interesting or different (or even peculiar) about me to share with the Blogging world. It has taken me ages to think of them, so here goes, and I hope they're not too boring:
1. I'm allergic to cats, dogs, horses, sheep and ash trees.
2. I used to sing with a Jazz Trio.
3. I have dyed my hair every colour from black through to white over the last 30 years.
4. I am left-handed in just about everything, except peeling potatoes and playing golf.
5. I was an identical twin, but my twin sister was born dead.
6. I was one of the lucky people who happened to see the Beatles' last performance together, on the roof of Apple Corps in Savile Row.
7. Sorry, can't think of any more.

Thanks to Family Affairs and Retired and Crazy for tagging me. Does this mean I have to pass it on? I suppose it does, so I'll have to go away and think about that now.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Stormy Weather...

"I must go down to the Sea again" as John Masefield wrote. This morning the sea was definitely calling. I'd heard the weather forecast and the warnings about staying away from the coast, but "the call of the running tide" was irresistible! So I wrapped up warm, jammed a woolly hat down round my ears, and braved the wind and the rain. It was, truly, a magnificent sight. The sea was huge, and looked as if it was boiling. Massive waves were crashing on the shore, throwing up great clouds of misty spray and foam. In fact, there was a very watery sun shining for part of my walk, but everything else was grey. The clouds were so dark and so low, they blended with the sea, making the whole a wild, grey, wind-lashed sea-scape. Seagulls, looking like white dots and dashes silhouetted against the dark sky, were floating, wings outstretched, on the currents of wind. And I was almost the only one walking today - just one or two intrepid walkers scurried along, crunching over stones, shells and seaweed that had been thrown up onto the promenade by the high seas. It was precisely the scene that John Masefield had described in his Sea Song poem.. "the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls"

As I walked back home, I met up with the husband of one of my friends; he had a newspaper tucked under his arm, and was suitably wrapped up against the weather. He said that they were planning to go down for a look at high tide, despite the warnings! I may have to go down to the sea again too..

Friday, March 7, 2008


Thank you to all my Blogging friends who have offered such sterling advice regarding my flat-pack drama - I get so cross that I'm not as strong as I think I am, and it obviously stops me thinking things through in a logical fashion. Anyway, just as I was prepared to open the flat-pack and carry it in piecemeal, an offer of help came from my next-door neighbours. They offered their strapping young son, and we then enlisted the extra help of the tree-surgeons who have been pruning our local trees this week. The result was that the offending article was carried in with ease and deposited in my hallway.

The tree-surgeons, who come around once a year, are very helpful chaps and this year have also given my Cherry tree a short back and sides (at my request). I happened to spot them yesterday and asked if they would be prepared to cut back said tree, and they were more than happy to oblige - for a small fee. Great for me because I've been meaning to get around to it for the last three years. I asked them to be especially careful around the pond, in case my frogspawn was disturbed - not sure if frogspawn has feelings, but I didn't want to take any chances with my future little froglets.

After this frantic start, I drove to Dorking to spend the day with Daughter and Grandson. Daughter and I had lunch and then collected Grandson from Nursery. He came running up to us with a big scratch down one cheek - and of course it had all been documented by the staff. Apparently another little boy had scratched him in an attempt to get out into the garden first. Grandson was perfectly OK about this, and said that the other little boy had apologized. I must say, they deal with these things in a very organized way, and the children do learn that there is no action without a reaction. A good lesson in life I suppose. Daughter has also had a letter to confirm that Grandson has a place at Primary School for September. Good news, I guess, but I remember waving goodbye to my two on their first days at Big School, and I wouldn't be in her shoes for anything. Oh, the mangled tissues and heartrending sobs - and that was just me!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fishing for Compliments.

My Horoscope today says that I am "wizard-like" and can make myself seem taller, stronger and prettier today. Magic. Can I please include thinner? Apparently it's something to do with Venus and Neptune being in a positive position which gives me more "allure" today. I wish. But thinner would do - I'm going to concentrate on thinking myself thin. I did my brisk walk this morning, in a brisk breeze, beside a silvery sea that was running quite a high swell. There were people out fishing this morning too - it's that particular high tide with big waves that brings them out. I wonder if they ever catch anything?

Yesterday was spent mostly painting my old wardrobe which has just been fixed by John the Carpenter. Daughter had this wardrobe in the flat for a couple of years and had managed to break the door by pulling on the wrong side every time she opened it. However, John the Carpenter worked his usual magic, took the broken door off its hinges, repaired it beautifully, and now it looks as good as new. I'm going to give it another coat of paint today (looking my alluring self in the oldest clothes I can find to paint in!), so that it's ready for Son to take to his new flat. John has also stripped the old oak piano stool, which Son wants to go with his piano - when he gets one! My parents had the piano stool made for me when I was learning the piano, several centuries ago, so it's getting on a bit. It's very heavy, with a lovely square seat and solid handles at the side. Under the seat, which I'm going to re-cover in a gorgeous zig-zag pattern cut velvet, there is a big, square compartment to hold piano music. I'm so pleased that Son wants it, and wants a piano. It's only a pity that he didn't want to learn to play when he was younger - of course he wants to now, particularly as his main passion is music and making music. Still, better late than never, I suppose...

PS. I'm so cross because I can't lift the #*@"*@! Ikea flat-pack chest-of-drawers out of the boot of my car, let alone carry it across the road and into the house! Any Bloggers out there who can help? Come on, Billy, you're not that far away are you?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Of Frogs, Fun and Flowers..

The big excitement here is that I have had a visit from Mrs Frog, and my little pond is full of frogspawn! Perhaps it doesn't sound so exciting to you, but I'm thrilled. On Saturday when we were all going out for Mother's Day lunch, the Boyfriend's daughter said she had seen a frog in my pond, so we all had a look, but couldn't spot it again. She was obviously right, though, because there was the frogspawn this morning, looking like a large jelly with black spots. Not very inviting, and definitely not edible - unless you're a hungry fish. Luckily I have only one small fish left in the pond, so hopefully we will have lots of tadpoles who survive to become little frogs.

Today was freezing cold again, so Brighton BF and I set off for a lovely cosy day at Ikea. I am in desperate need of a chest of drawers in my bedroom, since I gave mine to Daughter when she moved. Consequently, all my clothes are in piles on the carpet, and because most of them are black, I have to go through everything every day to find what I want to wear. I also gave her the bookcase from my bedroom, so I have piles of books on the floor too. Combine this with the fact that Son's bed and mattress are propped against my bedroom wall until he can move into his flat, and you get a picture of complete chaos, which is not the most restful scenario for a bedroom. So the trip to Ikea was not so much an indulgence as a necessity. We managed to find lots of other things to buy too - but the main thing was getting the chest of drawers (flat-packed) into the car. Now all I have to do is get someone to help me to put it together. Anyway, the rest of the day was enjoyable, beginning with their lovely coffee and pastries (what diet?) and ending with a reviving cup of tea before setting off home. I didn't buy the bookcase (one thing at a time), so will probably have to go back again soon. Oh dear.. They did have some lovely standard lavender bushes, which were very tempting, but by then I was all spent out.

The other thing I keep forgetting to mention is that I have a gorgeous Japonica which is bursting into bloom in my garden. It is covered with tightly-curled coral buds which open into bright little bunches on bare stems - very uplifting - and almost everyone who walks past comments on it. It grows along the wall, like a hedge, and is quite a star. I have another smaller, white-flowered Japonica, called Jet Trail, which was given to me by my ex-Arundel (now in France) Best Friend about three years ago. This little darling starts to flower in January and just keeps on bursting more little buds every day. It's very pretty, and I have sat it in a large pot by the front door, so that I see it every time I go in or out.

Son appears to be having a great time skiing in Colorado - his photo on Facebook shows a perfect winter wonderland scene. His comment? "double black. first day. Yee-ha!"

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pretty chilly out there..

I did take myself out for a constitutional this morning, but it was a pretty cold one. There was a freezing wind blowing from the west, whipping up the waves to a white-topped frenzy. And the beach was scoured clean of shingle at the water's edge, showing a lovely clean ribbon of sand. Not the weather to hang about though, so I scurried back in to warm up. Now the evening is closing in, dark, grey and wintry. I'm not going to venture out again today.

Yesterday evening was quite good fun after all. I invited Gay Friend to join us for supper, not only to add a little height to the proceedings (he is a good 5' 10") but to give me a hand too. I cooked a roast chicken, with lots of roasted vegetables, and we had a homemade soup first, and blueberry meringues for dessert. It was not the easiest as regards conversation, because my French Lady really doesn't have any English conversation to speak of. We did laugh a lot though, and my little Swiss Hobbit came out of his shell (or should it be his burrow?) and positively shone in the conversation stakes. I was very impressed, and it did mean that we had a very pleasant meal, which was enjoyed by everyone. After we had finished and cleared away, GF and I retired to the Sitting Room to watch the last half hour of "Lark Rise to Candleford". Then, we were lucky enough to happen upon "The Graduate", which, amazingly, GF had not seen before. What an elegant film it is! And I just adore the Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack. Katharine Ross looked as stylish today as she did then, and it was so funny. I could feel the awful discomfort of the 21 year old, just coming to terms with his manhood and having to deal with the desperately inane conversations and behaviour of his parents and their generation. It was 1968 and they could have been on another planet. No wonder it was such a watershed movie. It did stop me in my tracks though - I suppose our grown-up children must feel a bit the same. I know we don't judge them in the same way and, hopefully, we don't push them headfirst into the Rat-Race any more. But we can't really be their friends, can we? They need us to be parents. Anyway, that was the perfect end to a perfect Mother's Day, and I hope all you Mothers had a very good day too.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

One Day Early..

I have had my Mothering Sunday today, and it was just perfect. I had Grandson to stay yesterday, and so our day started really early. He was awake at 6am, full of beans, and I just wanted to bury my head in the duvet and go back to sleep - no such luck. So we got up at 7, which wasn't too bad, and had a very relaxing morning. I cooked him sausages for breakfast, which he wolfed down, and I had oatmeal and tea. (No toast, butter and marmalade because I'm trying to get the weight down a bit.)

Anyway, as I was getting out of the shower there was a knock at the door, and I just managed to get there (in dressing gown and rollers) to receive two parcels from the Postman. Special Delivery. One was from Son, a big parcel inside which was a lovely card and three packages: I had a gorgeous scarf, soft cobweb grey with an even softer lining, a fabulous book of Vogue Covers, and a dear little bar of organic olive oil soap which has a leaf pressed into the top. Typically, they were all beautiful things, carefully chosen, and the card came with "loadsa love". Son is on his way to Colorado today for a week's skiing, so it was lovely of him to remember and send such perfect gifts.

My other parcel was from Sister, who had phoned me previously to say that she had found some stuff for my Birthday, which she hoped I would like. Well, I just loved it. She had chosen a complete Summer outfit for me - white cropped linen trousers, a black t-shirt, a red and white spotted cotton trackie top and a great red and white striped belt - and as a bonus, there was a white caftan-type top with sequins round the neckline. I was so surprised and thrilled. That outfit is going to France ASAP. How wonderfully thoughtful that was - I phoned her straight away to say how much I liked them.

Next came Daughter with the Boyfriend and his little girl - Grandson was so excited that it was a job to get him dressed for their arrival! I had another lovely card from Daughter, and more presents: blue hyacinths and purple tulips (what a gorgeous combination), a dear little tin filled with strawberry and champagne truffles (very slimming) and the prettiest little spotty china tea-spoon rest (very useful). I was feeling completely overwhelmed by this time - and then we went out to Otello, the new deli-type restaurant along the road, and had a wonderful lunch. The children had really good pizzas, Daughter and I shared a chicken kebab and salad, and the Boyfriend had a grown-up pizza. All lovely, and we had puddings afterwards too. I chose the most delightful Almond and Amaretto ice cream (well worth the capitals). It was probably the best ice cream I have eaten outside of Italy. The children were as good as gold, and we all had a lovely time. In fact the whole day was perfect. I wobbled back up the stairs (did I forget to mention the wine?),lay down on the sofa to watch a Saturday film after they had gone - and woke up a couple of hours later!
That was my Mother's Day, and I couldn't have had a better one, even if I had waited until tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have another French Lady arriving - she last stayed with me in November when she came for a few days. This time it's for two weeks, as she has booked herself into a Language School for a course. We had a very jolly conversation (in French) yesterday when she phoned to confirm her visit. I realized that she wasn't going to manage the details in English, so it seemed only polite to speak in her language. And, surprisingly, the French came easily - needs must I suppose. I usually find that when I go to France it takes a few days to get my ear in with the language. Anyway, we will have to talk English while she is here, for practice, and I have warned my little Swiss hobbit that he will be expected to engage her in conversation. I'm sure we will make a very merry band of midgets. (I'm about the tallest, at 5' 2"!) I'll report back tomorrow, after supper..