Sunday, August 26, 2007

Smoke gets in your eyes

Typical. As soon as we get some lovely weather - and it has been glorious today - some twunt fires up a barbecue and fills the garden with smoke and stink, driving us indoors again with the doors and windows closed. I wouldn't mind on a campsite but I know for a fact that all the houses around here have kitchens. By all means eat outside, but at least cook indoors and keep the smells to yourself.

Today's other rant; I hate cars when they won't start.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Don't stand so close to me

It came as a shock to Beattie to learn that not all dogs are as placid as she is.

Poor girl. That's gotta smart.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Now the feeling's gone

It's always the same. Scenario 1: Your car develops an annoying, expensive sounding rattle so you take it to the garage and they can't find anything wrong and you can't make the rattle happen - until you drive away having paid your bill.

Scenario 2: Your dog starts limping so you make an appointment with the vet, only to have him walk into the surgery (thus qualifying for a consultation charge) as sound as a bell.

Scenario 3: A tooth starts jumping every time you bite something hardish, so you make a dentist's appointment, but when you get there you can't remember which tooth it was and they all need prodding to find out and then they all hurt. Another bill.

The latest is Scenario 4. For months and months I was having the occasional funny wibbly turn when my blood pressure would drop through the floor, my chest felt as though my heart wanted to burst out of it and I'd feel faint for a couple of minutes till it all got back to normal. Gradually it started happening more and more frequently until it was several times a day. So I made a doctor's appointment and was referred to a cardiologist. Since the hospital appointment came through I've felt fine.

There's the dilemma. If I keep the appointment then I'll feel like a fraud and a time-waster. If I cancel it the wibbliness might come back and I'd have to be referred again. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

He'll never let you down

Once in a while I get called upon to help out Dalmatian Welfare. Sometimes I get asked to visit and assess dogs that people want to give up for rehoming, sometimes to help transport them from their old home to their new one (old owners and adopters are never allowed to meet or have direct contact with one another), and sometimes do a home-check on potential adopters. Today was a home-check day, so to make sure they knew what they might be letting themselves in for I loaded Harry (as being big and bouncy) into the car and set off to meet the family. I 'd been told they already have a labrador (just out of season - phew! That could have been tricky!) so at least I knew they were used to dogs of that size.

They were a lovely family. We went in and the lab said hello to Harry, showed him her favourite toy then went outside. I chatted to the parents and the children (polite, friendly, not nervous of a strange dog) and waited for Harry to do his worst; better to put them off at the outset.

Always expect the unexpected. He said hello to them then stood quietly at my side, for all the world as if he never chased anything or knocked anything over or made a nuisance of himself. He didn't make any movement to suggest he might cock his leg on anything. Even his hair stayed firmly attached when I tried to demonstrate how much they shed.

Next time I'll take Piglet as well. That should do the trick.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Wednesdays he goes shopping

As you may or may not know, The Boy's halfway through his Arboriculture course, with plans to be a tree surgeon after qualifying. He's being taught how to handle a chainsaw properly, with minimal risk of careless self-mutilation, and is learning a lot about the different species of trees and their ideal environments. His holiday placement has involved a lot of clearance with felling and logging, so when he had to fell a particular tree that had grown in a certain shape, he decided to keep part of it as a curiosity. He turned the section upside down and carefully trimmed it so it balanced. A friend (so he assures me) whittled the final detail, and now this charming sculpture graces our patio.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Like little sugars and spice

Another highlight from the weekend was the wonderful conversation we, as a group, had with two delightful little girls who were with the family group sitting in front of us. They must have been about nine and seven years old, and had been extremely well brought up. They were confident but not cocky, and extremely good conversationalists. The elder approached us first, and asked us in a very polite adult manner whether we were having a good time, and whether it was our first festival. We chatted with them about this and that, and they showed us the strange alien-in-an-egg toys they were playing with. At some point, and I'm not sure how it happened, the matter of Omally's identity arose, and somehow the words 'King of Sweden' were uttered. The younger girl's eyes opened very wide, and she sidled over to Ned and asked him if this was true. When it was confirmed (we'd have looked silly to have denied it!) she asked how Ned knew that. Manfully resisting the opportunity of using the obvious Monty Python quote as being unsuitable, Ned said that he knew this because he was his cook, and received a very hard stare. She went over to Mallers and asked him, if he was a King, why wasn't he wearing his crown? The temptation to say it was at the dry-cleaners was almost irresistible, but the reply was that he was in disguise because he was on his holidays. There followed a very earnest conversation about how differently things are done "in our country" as we all struggled to keep straight faces.

I wonder if that little girl will go through life thinking she met the King of Sweden at Cropredy Festival.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It all comes round again

This year's Cropredy Festival was just the most brilliant few days I've had in a long time. Wall-to-wall sunshine (apart from at night, of course. That would be silly). The whole thing was just fantastic. The weather, the company, the food, the beer and of course, the music.
Waiting for the kick-off.

An imitation of that well-known Belgian statue, the Mally'king Pis.
Stu did some very impressive juggling with various artefacts of different sizes and weights, but for some reason declined my offer to throw an axe at him to incorporate into the flow. No idea why - he was wearing his boots after all. Be careful with that axe, Eugene mallet, Stu.

After a busy session of signing CDs, Richard Digence seemed rather pleased to be able to use bigger writing on an LP sleeve.
Some of the line-up I've heard before - some I liked and wanted to see again, and some who kindly gave me an opportunity to catch up on sleep! Then there were some that were new to me; Mad Agnes stood out as having a wide range of styles and seemed more than competent. Hummingbird were well worth listening to (Maris, Edwina announced she was trying to keep her voice deep because last time she was told she sounded like Minnie Mouse!). Jools Holland was great and Lulu can still do 'Shout'.

After being voted the Most Influential Folk Album Ever by Mike Harding's Radio 2 audience, the surviving Fairports of that line-up reformed and performed the album live, with Chris While standing in for Sandy Denny - a real treat. The final day was opened, as usual, by Richard Digance who never fails to get the crowd 'warmed-up'.

The high point of the whole festival (incidentally all tickets were sold out a fortnight ago - the first time that's ever happened) was of course Fairport Convention's own closing slot. They came on stage shortly after 8pm and kept up the most amazing energetic enormously professional performance for four hours. This year was the first time they've had a back-screen showing the performers themselves, which meant that everyone got close-up views of just how stunning the musicianship was. They also had the lyric for their famous (!) hit "Si tu dois partir" so that everyone could sing along;

and the film produced for the enhancement of "Matty Groves" was a sheer delight! The weekend was brought to a close by the traditional finale of "Meet on the Ledge".

Other memories: much Thinging was done on Friday night, with several new Favourite Things thought of but forgotten by the morning; the burger-stall's music system, which thankfully couldn't take the pace and died on Saturday morning; Cropredy Virgins' amazement at the standard of the 'facilities'; watching what must have been the space shuttle (a bright orange light that traversed the sky from horizon to horizon every 20 minutes or so) with Mallers; Beattie being an absolute star - I'm not sure she really enjoyed it (she had to stay up well past her usual bedtime) but it was better than not being with us, and there were loads of trodden-on chips to hoover up when we relaxed our guard; Stu's paddling pool that he kindly shared; Mally's super-soaker that he not-so-kindly shared (!) ... it just goes on.

It was the best time!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Whatever happened to the heroes?

Well, one of them lives at Genie Towers. A bit of background; several years ago we noticed that the paint on the fascia of the gable at the front of the house was starting to flake and, because it's very high and we don't like going very high we started contacting decorators and asking them for quotes to do the job. How many do you think responded? That's right, none at all. Year after year we searched for a tradesman wanting work but obviously they've all won the lottery and don't need customers. It's not even as if it was a very big job - just very high. No way on this earth would you get either Ned or me up a ladder that high even though the painting would be a POP.

So the job was left and left, with the paint getting shabbier and shabbier, until a friend bought a scaffolding tower which he offered to lend us. We borrowed it, hoping to do the work over the May bank holiday, but it rained, and whenever we were free to do it the weather wasn't co-operative. But this week the sun shone, so we got the elements of the tower out of the garage and started.

If there was a flat, solid surface in front of the house the job would have been much quicker, but there's lawn and flowerbeds, so first we had to find bits of timber and blocks for the legs to stand on securely. A second problem was that the platform was too narrow to do the whole lot at once, and, when fully constructed, the tower was too heavy to move. So each complete coat meant the tower had to be constucted, the work done on as much as could be reached, deconstructed, moved a couple of feet, reconstructed and the work done, deconstructed, moved again, reconstructed, the last bit of work done, then deconstructed for the last time that day because the paint had to dry before the next coat could be applied.

Occasionally we had the base fractionally too close to the house when we built the tower, only to find we couldn't put the topmost sections on because of the eaves and had to take it down and start again. Those were not happy times.

But at last it's finished! Those of you who went GoAping with us know exactly how pathetic I am with heights, but few realised that Ned's only marginally better. So for him to go that high, even with a reasonably steady platform to stand on, took a huge amount of courage. He's my hero.

Of course, the problem is that now the guttering looks shabby, and could really benefit from being taken down, sand-blasted and repainted before being replaced. I'd better not mention that yet.

Friday, August 03, 2007

If you leaf me now

Oh dear.

In all my years of gardening (I started dabbling when very small, with a little patch of the garden of my own) I've never been stricken with blight on either my potatoes or tomatoes. This year the weather conditions have been ideal for it and we've had both. The spuds had to come out a couple of weeks age, with some of the crop salvageable; yesterday I noticed the tomato plants - even the ones in the greenhouse - were looking decidedly dodgy and this morning there was no getting away from it. They were infected too and have had to come out and be destroyed. It's a rotten shame because the crop was looking promising. Of course it also means that the soil in the greenhouse is infected so we won't be able to grow toms straight into it next year, and we'll probably have to take a couple of years out from growing spuds at all. Damn damn damn. All that work and nothing to show for it.

Apparently it's the same all over the country, so watch out for huge price rises for home-grown veg this winter.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Today is only yesterday's tomorrow

The good news is that the swelling from the bites is subsiding. AA neighbourhood doctor recommended antihistamine tablets (okay, can manage that) as well as sitting with my legs raised and holding cold compresses on them. That would be quite a challenge at work, so had to go by the board. Although the information about the tablets said that they don't cause drowsiness, they certainly make me woolly-headed; so much so that yesterday I quite forgot I was meant to be doing both shifts, and it was only a slightly petulant phonecall from the vet asking if I was on my way yet that got me there at all. With Ned's co-operation at giving me a lift into the village I managed to get changed and into work within 4 minutes of the phonecall, but it meant I hardly knew which way was up, and by the time the afternoon shift was over I was totally wiped out. I'm not sure which is worse - the discomfort from the bites or the muddle-headedness.