Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A turn-up for the turnip!

What a hoot. I heard this on "Saturday Live" last Saturday, in an impromptu poem written by one of the guests. Apparently sales of turnips have doubled in the current financial situation. People are buying more root vegetables and are going back to cooking basic, nourishing and (let's face it) old-fashioned food. Cool. I've never really stopped cooking old-fashioned food. I like simple stuff: homemade soups, cakes and puddings, roasts and stews. And it turns out these are what people are going back to.

Buying the mattress is progressing. Today I went on a mattress hunt while the last coat of floor paint was drying. I overcame my embarrassment and managed to lie down on several very smart mattresses. I made one salesman laugh when I confessed that my current mattress is 30 years old, and therefore older than him. Ugh! I dread to think how many generations of dead dust mites are piled up in that mattress. It's not going back on my bed, even if I have to lie on the (newly painted, beautiful white) floor. I've discovered that the local Council will take my old mattress away for a measly £8.60. Cheap at the price. Tomorrow I start on touching-up the walls, painting the skirting boards and moving everything back into my bedroom. If I can manage to make a decision on the mattress, I could have it delivered (free) on Thursday. And as my new Student is arriving sometime on Friday, I'd better get a move on.

I have been relieved of my Grandmotherly duties this week because of having so much to do here. I miss the little tyke though. Today being Tuesday, it felt rather odd not to be driving to Dorking to pick him up. (The Boyfriend took today off, and was going to collect Grandson from school this afternoon.) I did telephone to say hello at tea-time, but he wasn't really interested. He was watching something riveting on TV, so all I got was a "Hello Nana" and a kiss down the phone. Never mind, I'll take whatever scraps I can get.

I had a phone call from Daughter this evening. She had been out for a meal with some of the girls from the office, and was driving home, talking to me on her new hands-free phone. Today she had also had a conversation with one of the Managers at work, who was asking if she would consider taking on a Senior Administrator's job. They have been so pleased with the way she has handled the travel section over the last ten days, that they are moving her up! Already. Not that I'm surprised - I know how smart she is, and I'm so proud of her.

My new Foreign Student is another very nice young man. He arrived on Sunday afternoon from Switzerland. His english is pretty good, and he is very together considering that he is only 17 years old. Yesterday was his first day, and I started it badly by oversleeping for the very first time since I have been taking students. For some reason my alarm didn't go off, and I woke with a start at 8.10am. As breakfast is at 8, I was late. Bless him, he had eaten his cereal, without milk, and was very gracious about my lapse. I hastily gave him orange juice and made fresh coffee and toast. Oh dear. It wasn't a good start, but he laughed about it, and went off very cheerfully. I put a new battery in my clock and managed to make it on time this morning. Phew..

Friday, September 26, 2008

Pink, pink, pink..oh, just get on with it..

Sitting on my balcony this evening with a glass of pink wine, looking at pink clouds in the sky and watching an unbelievably pink jet-trail making its way across the sky, like a jewelled feather. It has been the most perfect day today, and if the old-fashioned weather forecasting methods are to be believed, it will be lovely again tomorrow. I do hope so, because I have spent most of today indoors, painting. Not the artistic sort of painting, but the domestic sort - with a brush, a damp cloth and a pot of Regency White acrylic eggshell. It all started on Monday this week, when the long-awaited makeover of my two double bedrooms began. It has meant completely emptying each bedroom in turn so that the manky old carpet could be lifted, cut up and taken to the Tip.
Daughter, the Boyfriend (and Grandson) helped me move the furniture on Sunday, so that I was ready for Monday morning. Promptly at 9am, the lovely Guy arrived to cut up and dispose of the said carpet. He then proceeded to sand, repair and fill gaps in the floorboards, and finally painted them with special floor paint. A lovely off-white colour. It looks gorgeous - a sort of cross between a beach hut and a New England house. The only problem was that as soon as we started putting furniture back, everything else looked tatty. Hence the reason why I have spent today painting. I have done the chest of drawers, the base of the Rocking Horse, and all the skirtings. And I have washed and re-hung the blue and white striped curtains. And rehung the pictures, which I've decided can only be sea-themes. So we have sea horses, painted beach huts, a collection of shells and miniature boats and a lovely beach scene. My hands are a total mess, but it all looks great. Well worth doing.

It took 3 days to do the first room, including an impromptu decision give the walls a fresh coat of white emulsion because they looked so awful when the floor had been done. And now we are at Friday, with me sleeping in the spare room, and the floorboards in my bedroom undergoing the same treatment. All well and good, but I have a Student arriving on Sunday, so all the stuff which was dumped in the single room has to be moved in with me tomorrow. Never mind, it will be wonderful when it's finished.

I have also decided to buy a new mattress for my bed, which is long overdue. When I was talking to the lovely girl at Mattressman (where else?) she asked how old my current mattress was. I was reluctant to admit to it, but did say that Son was 29 and my mattress was about the same age (actually I'm ashamed to admit that it's even older). She laughed and said that any mattress I buy now will be manufactured quite differently from the old one, and that I should go and try some mattresses before deciding on anything. She was very nice, and that does seem reasonable, but I'm reluctant to go into a bed shop and lie down, as she suggested. I have to decide soon, as I know that if I wait until my room is finished and the bed reassembled, I just won't do it. I have a lovely old oak bed, and when the floor is painted (and everything else I expect) the room will look wonderful. I know what you're thinking, photos are needed, and I promise to get my act together.

One of the reasons why I have been such a dilatory Blogger of late (beside the aforementioned activity) is that I decided, a month ago, to enter a Short Story Competition. I didn't want to talk about it beforehand, as I often find that if I talk about things I just don't do them. This time I was determined to actually get on with it, and I have been writing, editing, re-writing and generally agonising over it for the last four weeks. I gave myself a deadline (in fact the actual competition deadline is 30th September), and I stuck to it. I have been structuring my day so that I walk, shower, breakfast and then write. And it did work - I've posted my entry, and somehow it doesn't matter in the least what the result is - or isn't. The fact is that I've done it, and I'm going to do it again. Next month I'm going to find another competition to enter. It's all very well me calling myself a writer, but actually it's time to JFDI.

Last weekend with Grandson was just lovely, and we were very lucky with the weather. On Saturday we walked along by the sea to the playground, and spent a lively few hours there with a picnic. Then on Sunday morning we met up with Daughter and the Boyfriend at the Car Boot Sale, where I found a new copy of "The Tiger who Came to Tea" for Grandson. We came back here and moved furniture, and then went off to the Jack and Jill Windmills for the last time this year. It was the perfect afternoon, with a blue sky and a brisk breeze. I'm perfectly happy just sitting there in the sunshine with a cup of tea, watching the sails go round - it's quite magical.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Apologies to All...

Well, now I'm really hopping mad - despite having published this Post earlier today, it has now been wiped out by F****** Blogger. Grrrr. And though I had already had a couple of comments from friends, these have been disappeared too. I'll try to remember it. Basically, the gist of it was that Blogger will not let me publish the photos I have been promising for so long. Can't work out what's wrong, so I will have to call in Dan the Computer Man to help. So sorry. And when I try to log on to other Bloggers and leave comments, my computer keeps just freezing. It won't do a thing, and I have to turn it off and try again. I'm very fed up with it and do apologise to all of you. I'm not neglecting you, but I just can't seem to make it work properly. I promise to fix it ASAP and get back to you all very soon.

The weather is lovely here - a real Indian Summer. When I walked by the sea today it wasn't sunny to begin with, but there wasn't a breath of wind and the sea was flat and calm, with the soft sheen of a blue pearl. As I turned for home, Worthing Pier was quite clear, and the sun came out and turned the sea a darker blue. Gorgeous. There was a lone fisherman on the shore, and a lone swimmer breaking the surface of the sea with regular strokes. Wish you were here..

Must go, as I have to collect Grandson from school this afternoon. He is coming back with me for the weekend, so that Daughter and the Boyfriend can have some time to themselves. At least that's my excuse. I'm sure we will have a lovely time together, just chillin'...

PS. Another apology - to Dusty Spider and to Maggie May - thank you for visiting and commenting earlier. I did get your comments, but Blogger has since whisked both you and my Post away into the ether - vanished without trace. So if you're reading this strangely altered post for the second time - and wondering where your comments have gone - sorry, but I haven't a clue!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Time to go, Golden...

Oh, Gordon Brown, just get on your bike and let us get on with our crisis without you. Honestly, we know that you're not in the least concerned to help, you're only worried about your own status, and wouldn't have a clue how to read a gas meter anyway. And as for sacking the poor woman who had the nerve to question your leadership, well, we're right behind her. We know what a bully you are - that sort of news travels fast - and we have no wish to detain you further. Goodbye and Good Luck (and good riddance).

I'm sorry that another week has passed without any news (I nearly wrote "newts" - how appropriate) from me - it's just that I seem to be very busy, and then in the evenings I sink down and can't be arsed to get up again. Sorry. Last week I picked up Grandson from school on Tuesday, and could see that he is getting used to the discipline. He spotted me waiting, but stood behind the line with his Teacher until it was his turn to move. In the meantime, he called out and blew me a kiss, just in case I hadn't seen him. What a sweetie. We went home and sat with tea and cakes, played a few games and generally chilled out until Daughter came home from work. It's going to be my regular day for the time being, so I will be off again to meet him tomorrow. We had a bit of an upset at the weekend though, which I really should have seen coming. It had been Grandson's first full week at school (5 days of 8.45am to 3.10pm) and Daughter had ended up working four days too. Neither of them had done this before, and come Saturday they were both tired and tetchy. When I spoke to Daughter in the early evening she was very tetchy indeed, and let me have it when I defended Grandson. I tried to be reasonable, but couldn't get a word in. In the end she put Grandson on the phone and he said "It's not my fault Nana, it's Mummy. She won't listen to me." Well, what would you do? I knew it would be my fault, so I just rolled over. Of course I always defend him - he's only little. And has there ever been a child who would admit to being tired? Finally, she hung up on me in a temper, but luckily I was just going out for dinner with a friend and so I didn't sit here stewing about it. Later she phoned and left me a long apologetic message, saying that they had sorted it out and he had gone to bed after a cuddle and a story. Never mind, I've got broad shoulders. And anyway, a Mother's place....

We had a lovely weekend, weatherwise, so I walked beside the sea a couple of times (sorry Aims, just clean forgot my camera!) and spent several hours in the garden, doing an Autumn clearout. I also attacked the pond, because my water Irises have just got out of control. I dug out quite a few big roots, and at one point disturbed a large frog. We just looked at each other for a couple of minutes, and then it swam off to the other end of the pond. I was very pleased to see it, but couldn't find any of the babies. I do hope that they are OK. Hon. Grandaughter was here on Friday night and Saturday morning, which was lovely because I hadn't seen her since July. She was trying to spot the frogs, and her fish, but the duckweed was just too thick. It's her 10th Birthday next Sunday, and when I asked her what she wanted she said that she only wants either a Pony or a Cat. I have to say, she won't be getting either, but I wonder if I can think of a creative way of making her wish come true?

Speaking of Birthdays, Son will be 29 tomorrow. Another year has sped past, and when I think back to this time last year, things have really improved for all of us, but particularly for him - not that I like to tempt Fate. He phoned me on Saturday night from Ireland, where he was attending an Awards Ceremony for another part of the Music Industry, He sounded pretty drunk (why else would he phone his Mum?) and told me a long story about having gone up on stage to collect an Award for someone who wasn't there. Apparently he was then thrown out (!!) but came back to do his DJ set. And great fun was had by all. Did I say he's 29 tomorrow? Am I sure?

The other lovely thing that happened last week was that I went up to London on Thursday, spent a few hours looking around the shops at gorgeous clothes I can't afford, and then met up with Son to go to a private club in Soho. It was very smart and exclusive, and we sat in the top floor bar (which is a Roof Garden in Summer) drinking spritzers, listening to new live Artists for Son's work, and eating the most delicious food. (I had wonderful queen scallops with a very delicate saffron risotto.) Altogether a great evening. When I was on the train home, I sent Son a text saying how much I had enjoyed the evening, and he sent one back saying we should do it more often. Lucky me...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Rain Stopped Play.

The weekend was a complete wash-out, sadly. Son gave up on driving down when he was caught in a traffic jam, before he'd even reached Croydon, and in torrential rain. When we spoke on his mobile I suggested aborting the mission because he would have had something like five hours driving in all, getting to and from the Private View, and it was apparently still sheeting down there. It didn't seem like a good way for him to spend a precious weekend when he is so busy at work and needs all the relaxing time he can get. I spoke to my Artist Friend who said she didn't think many people would turn up (and apparently those who did got stuck fast in mud in the fields). I'd been looking forward to dressing up and drinking champagne, but the thought of having to go in wellies and raincoat wasn't quite the same. And it was blooming cold!

On Sunday I tried to find a Car Boot Sale, but had no luck there either. Although it wasn't raining on Sunday, it hadn't stopped for the previous few days, so all the fields were water-logged. I ended up at a Garden Centre sitting with a cup of lovely coffee and reading Harpers and Queen. At this time of year I'm more interested in clothes, as Autumn is coming on, and I saw some great looks in Harpers. Armani had some lovely black with leopard print stuff, and TOD had an advertisement with Gwyneth Paltrow looking lovely in caramel and beige cashmere and leather. I'm pretty sure I can't afford those things (and let's face it, I don't look anything like Gwynnie), but at least I know the look I'm aiming for. Bling jewellry seems to be the thing now too, so I'm delighted to have my "diamond" bling watch with the white leather strap. I saw a couple of versions of this in Harpers, but they were Designer jobs and cost around £3,000. Mine, bought on Bid TV, was a lot less, but still looks the part!

I walked down by the sea this morning, the first time for a while, and though it wasn't exactly warm and sunny, it was great to be out in the fresh air. I passed a house which I like very much, which sits on a corner overlooking the sea, and which has recently sold for £3million. My Gay Friend, who came for supper last night, told me that it has been bought by Denise Van Outen as a seaside retreat. It has wonderful views in both directions along the sea shore, but no garden. It does have a couple of large balconies, and is just a hop, skip and a jump to the beach, so perhaps she won't mind the lack of garden.

After our roast chicken last night, GF and I watched a programme about The Who, which I really enjoyed. I didn't much like their music in the 70s, except for Tommy the Opera, which I thought was quite wonderful. Fascinating, though, to see it all in retrospect. It is another piece of social history. Sadly, only two of them are left alive now, since Keith Moon and John Entwistle died. (Though hearing about how they all lived and what junk they were taking made you wonder how any of them were still alive.) Just like the Beatles I suppose. In Harpers and Queen there were pictures of Paul and Ringo at some posh Fundraiser or other. They looked healthy and happy, with their respective families. It's a miracle really that any of them have survived.
One of my BBFs said her Daughter went to a very posh party at the weekend, and saw Mick Jagger there. Apparently he now looks like a very old man. Not good. But at least he's still alive.

A Brilliant Post Script: Daughter passed her Driving Test (first time) on Saturday. Very exciting and very well deserved. Now she will be able to drive to and from work, and do the School Run (for the next 15 years!!). Ah well, progress...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Big School At Last.

Grandson started Big School yesterday! What an event. Apparently he couldn't wait to get there in his new uniform (all neatly name-taped by his Nana) and went up to introduce himself to his new Teacher. Very impressive. Daughter and the Boyfriend recorded everything on their camera phones, and when I went over in the afternoon, I saw all the photos. Daughter and I went to collect him from School just after 3pm, and it was still pouring with rain. We stood waiting under a motley collection of umbrellas, with all the other Mothers, until the Reception Class came out. The children were all holding hands, and carrying their book bags which were almost as big as they were. Grandson looked rather bemused, and was very pleased to see his Mumma. Daughter thought he might like to have a pizza at Pizza Express, but all he wanted to do was go home. So we all curled up on the sofa with tea, milk, chocolate biscuits and swiss roll, and watched The Aristocats on video together. It was very cosy and relaxing. When we asked what he had for lunch, his reply was "bsgetti and worms", which he apparently ate all up, with some custard! Anyway that was his first day, and he looked completely wiped out. Bless the boy.

This morning Terry Wogan was bidding us farewell again for a couple of weeks. I don't begrudge him his holidays, but I really don't look forward to his absences. I'll just have to put up with it I supppose. It's not quite so bad since I have discovered Radio 7, which has lots of plays and stories on most of the day. It's not a bad substitute. This morning Sir Tel played Bing Crosby singing "True Love" from the old film of "High Society" - and he said that it was one of his favourites. Me too. It's one film I haven't got on video, so I'll have to look out for it at the next Car Boot Sale. Great music and great stars: Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Satchmo, Bing Crosby and loads more whose names I can't recall.

I'm feeling very well now, but still have masses of stuff to catch up with - it's such a waste of time being ill. Today I have been doing boring things like paying bills and making phone calls that should have been done weeks ago. I did notice that when I didn't respond to a request from the electricity company to send a meter reading, they simply sent me an estimated bill instead. I guess they don't want to miss a chance to get their money in. (And for once, their estimate is actually more than I owe!) I heard on the news today that Golden Brown is covering himself with the opposite of glory, in his mis-handling of the proposed fuel payment to families! How can this Government keep getting it so wrong? Of course it wouldn't have been a long-term solution to give families a lump sum, but it certainly would have been a great help, and they could have kept working on a solution for next year. That makes sense to me, but not to greedy old Golden and his chums. And as for the half-arsed gesture regarding Stamp Duty, what a croc! As everyone I know is saying "Too little, too late."

Son is coming down from London tomorrow, and we are suppposed to be going to a rather posh Private View at a friend's house in the country. There will be paintings, sculpture and ceramics all displayed in and around their country house, studio and garden - except that in this weather I'm not sure how they will manage it. I spoke to my Artist Friend this morning, and she said that the fields are awash and the garden has been beaten down by the torrential rain. Not sure how many people will brave the weather if it's still like this tomorrow. And it's a shame because there will be masses of champagne and posh party food going to waste. We may have to force ourselves to go, equipped with wellies, macs and umbrellas. All in a good cause...