Isobel and Fiona Go Shopping

I live in hope that tonight it will still be today when I go to bed. True, I was between the sheets a whole hour earlier last night than on Sunday, but it was still more than hour after my desired bedtime. So again this morning was a later than anticipated start, and I did not take Westie Boy for the walk I promised him before I left for Belfast.

My intention had been to arrive betimes and spend few hours wandering and looking, maybe stop in one of the many coffee shops for elevenses, and go to the Linen Hall Library café for lunch. As it was I started with the lunch, a very lovely mushroom soup with some wheaten bread. Then I set to wandering, but as I had an engagement to meet Speccy at three o'clock at City Hall I needed to make sure I did not wander too far.

My wanderings found me a branch of Tiger, a much bigger branch than the one I usually patronise at St James Park station, and I duly wandered in and around it, emerging with several purchases, including a new collar for Westie Boy. I doubt if it'll make up for the missed walk, but it is a boyish blue, so when he feels doubts about the floral pink number he currently sports on his perambulations he will have an alternative. I think he's pretty comfortable with his sexuality, or lack of since he has been neutered, but it was an excuse. For myself I could not resist the carrot shaver which looks like a big pencil sharpener. Alas, I forgot to pick up some organic carrots in M&S before getting the bus back to Cousin's.

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The Neighbourhood and Billie

Today has been fairly quiet. We went out to a farmers’ market this morning, but actually it’s not until next Sunday, so we had a café breakfast and a slow wander down the street to buy fruit and veg in a shop.

Back at the house, a further shopping list was drawn up, and we set off on foot, Billie, the elderly dog leading the way. Vicki had told me Billie was not a cuddlesome dog, but last night she decided I was her new BFF and spent much of the evening with her head in my lap. She was equally attentive as I dressed this morning, commandeering the space between door and bed, so I had to step round and over her to get to anything.

Walking with an elderly dog demands frequent stops, bowls of fresh water, time to gather the muscles and energy to go the next hundred yards. The local shop owners know her, and she knows them. She seemed keen to join us as we chose a bottle of wine for later.

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30th April 2016, Captain’s Log

My watch strap has broken. OK, not exactly the end of the world, but very annoying, and a reminder of how much I rely on being able to glance at my wrist and know what time it is. A bit more annoying as I only bought the watch strap a week ago. I'm thinking about my bed and wondering if !MasterB will settle. He's not exactly had a lot of exercise today, though earlier this evening we played for a while and then I turned all the lights out so he could sit on my knee and look out at the ducks swimming beside us and the geese flying overhead. Celia may come tomorrow, and if she does, she has offered to look in my flat for his harness and bring it with her.

 

It's cool now after a warm, sunny day. Well, warm after the winds that were gusting first thing had calmed down. Cosy on das Boot, I had woken feeling too warm. That was the second time I woke. The first time was when Himself was vocally reminding me he had not had enough to eat. I did, for a nanosecond consider getting up then. It was as dawn was breaking, and I understand that otters are swimming the river then. If it had been a simple matter of strolling down to the river bank, being immediately rewarded by the sight of frolicking otters and then returning to bed, I'd have done it. But I think it's more of a wait in the cold light of a new day and hope.

 

I heard a cuckoo this afternoon. It seems to me I always hear my first cuckoo of the year when I am at the marina. I had to leave das Boot to get a newspaper. The nearest newsagents is at Burwell. I have been there lots of times. Somewhere I read that it is the largest village in East Anglia. Until today I had thought I knew its extent. But I decided on a different route back, turning left instead of right, then a series of right turns to bring me back to a familiar road, and Burwell stretched away and far beyond where I thought its boundaries lay. I passed a building advertising freshly laid eggs and homemade chutneys. I noted it for times when the hen lady has run out of eggs.

 

My morning drive took me through Reach where I dropped off several bags of used cat litter and found the recycling bank. At the Organic Farm I bought tomato plants and a second hand copy of a Len Deighton novel I read in the 80s, a bunch of yellow tulips that had been reduced to 50p because they were already open. They opened further in the warmth of the car, and are now boldly splendid in the blue and white striped vase Mother bought from the Oxfam shop. It was intended as a present, but she started using it, as indeed she did all the other things she bought that day. At the time I was puzzled. In retrospect, I realise it was one of the signs of her entry to dementia.

 

I was wearing Aunt's body warmer, and realised I was in the local uniform of the horsey community. There's a fair at Reach every May Day Bank Holiday, and the death defying rides, tooth rotting sweet stalls and all the rest of the paraphernalia is being set up.

 

Back at the marina, Ian was working on his boat. He and his wife Jackie have become people I look forward to seeing when I come east. They are warm, unpretentious, generous. True to form, Ian checked out the engine of das Boot. I have been worried as when we ran it a few weeks back no water came through, meaning it wasn't sucking up water from the river to cool the engine. He fixed it in a trice. The pump needed to be primed. Phew.

 

I spent the rest of the day being alternately active and lazy. I finished listening to a not very good story while digging horrible muck out of the window frames. I sat in the sunny fore cabin and read the paper. I considered the filthy exterior of the port side of the boat and wished I had got the water pump and hose out after lunch. Hence the plans for tomorrow morning if it's warm enough.

 

Unusually for me I have taken hardly any photographs, though I have my good camera and all my lenses. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next time. I don't know how many more seasons I shall have das Boot, but if I can manage it, I shall be here quite a lot this summer.

Of A Less Than Ideal Roommate, Unfounded Complaints, Sunny Days and an Outing for Aunt

Down in the guest room. The woman in the flat above has a television on loud enough for it to be intrusive. I am noting this as this morning she asked me to make sure I close the door to the guest room quietly as she hears it in her flat. Fair enough, and I know that I let it shut behind me with a bang when I arrived yesterday afternoon. After which I made sure to hold onto it and control the closure.

However, she went on to tell me that I had disturbed her several times between nine and nine thirty last night. I frowned at her. She misunderstood. “You'll know now,” she said with a forgiving smile.

“I wasn't in the guest room at that time,” I explained. “I was still with my aunt.” Aunt, who was looking equally bemused by the accusation, corroborated that I had been with her. I don't mind being blamed for noise I am making, but it is a different thing if I am going to get a reputation for inconsideration when I have been nothing of the sort, especially by a woman who listens to her television at full volume, and claimed today that she goes to bed about eight.

Hmmmph.

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Of Older Persons, New Irons, the Shard and Accidents

With timing that I found infelicitous, my birthday post included an invitation from the hospital to attend the Older Persons’ Unit to check out the state of my bones.

According to the government, I am a mere sprig of a thing, with plenty of years left on the clock before I can even think about drawing my pension. Yet in health terms, I am obviously considered to be heading for my final furlongs.

The double think required to keep both those ideas compatible seems to demand the mixed metaphors. I loved Alice in Wonderland as a child, but never expected to be living in a world where the Duchess and the Queen of Hearts seemed relatively sensible.

Anyway, this afternoon I had my appointment. I finished work at lunchtime, but it wasn’t worth going home, so having eaten, I had a mooch about the City, and did some window shopping for a new iron as I think mine is not going to last much longer. I don’t know if there’s an Older Irons’ Unit, but mine would definitely qualify. It was given to me by a neighbour who sold up to travel the wotld. That was around seventeen years ago.

It was one of those days when you are aware of power tussles among the weather gods; first one then the other seizing the controls, and leaving us mere mortals taking sunglasses on and off, being buffeted by winds, drenched by sudden heavy showers, and warmed by the sun.

I was dawdling along near the Monument when I realised the clouds were stacking up. I decided to head across the bridge to the safety of Guy’s Hospital.

The light was impressive.

Shard Under the Weather

Shard Under the Weather

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Minor Addictions

I don’t think I have an addictive personality, but I could be wrong. I took about twenty photos of MasterB this morning to add the several hundred I already have. There was another purpose. I was using a secondhand camera, an older version of my little Olympus and I want to see if it is working properly. The images are not as sharp as I should like. I think it focuses slightly differently from mine, so I need to play with it a bit more. Either that, or it has been dropped. I am thinking of giving it to Aunt. She tends to worry about new items of technology and this camera is definitely worn, so perhaps she’ll feel more relaxed with it. She’s ninety next month. I am also thinking of getting her a Blackberry Playbook, but I need to find out what her broadband charges woud be.
MasterB was playing on the stairs; rolling around and dilly dallying. I was standing on the flight of stairs below him, so poked the camera through the bannisters to take some photos. Predictably he moved in on the lens.


One of Cousin’s friends loves playing the slot machines. It’s a pastime that Cousin and I don’t really understand. I used to love the fairground one armed bandits of my childhood where you could play for a halfpenny a time, or if feeling really flush, a penny. Sixpence could last the whole visit. Cousin remembers liking even better changing a sixpence into halfpennies and feeling wealthy with so many coins in her hand. Continue reading

Of Dead Batteries, Kaput Kindles, Journeys Not Taken, and Margaret Attwood

Today has not gone to plan. I suppose that’s not unusual. My life isn’t run on military lines. But tonight I was supposed to be at the marina, aboard das Boot, and I’m not. I’m at home in London. My car battery has been playing up. I don’t drive very often, and thought that was probably the problem. So I checked it last night and the car started at once. This morning, as I began to pile bits and pieces into the boot, I thought I should check again before I got as far as loading the cat. Just as well. It was as dead as a dodo.
The garage made herculean efforts and got me a battery by early afternoon, but by that time I had decided to cut my losses and get on with things here. So, the new router is now set up and the old one advertised on Freecycle. No takers yet. I stocked up o frozen fruit for my next cake baking at the weekend, Continue reading

Of Gel Seat Covers, Vaseline and Ambience

Back to the bike hire place this morning as the sun streamed through the trees. I was handed a key with a number on it and sent to find the bike that matched it. A blue bike today, still a Gazelle, but this time the Ambience model. On Monday I was, fittingly enough, given the Surprise Hills, cycling a Chamonix. Apparently Gazelle is a major Dutch make of bike, going since the C19 and still made here.
However, despite its name, the ambience on my new bike wasn’t great. It slipped back from third to second gear all the time. At our coffee stop, I bade it a not very fond farewell and acquired a new bike, also an Ambience. During the stop, one of my fellow travellers remarked on the efficacious nature of Vaseline. Does it work, I asked. She was surprised I wasn’t already as lathered in the stuff as she was, and she’s the only rider with the JLo shorts. I trotted across to the mini market and made my second purchase of the day. So combined with the new gel saddle cover, I am walking more normally this evening than I was on Monday. Continue reading

Busy Bee

Last year was supposed to be the Year of the New Kitchen, to be followed by the New Flooring, and New Sofa Covers.

For various reasons, none of those things happened. The kitchen continues to fall apart, the carpet has almost achieved antique status, and I drenched the sofa in red wine a few weeks ago. Going backwards and forwards to see Mother in hospital, check out nursing homes, and simply working, meant other bits of my little home were also neglected, and boy does it show. Continue reading

A River of Stones: Day Fourteen, Invisible

I smiled hello at the girl when I saw her, but she looked straight through me. She’s about eleven-years-old; year 7 I’d say from her still tidy school uniform. I see her in the mornings when I am trying to get Not Cat to come in. She has started to ask me about him. Maybe it’s because she has red hair and feels kinship.
Today, being Saturday, she was wearing jeans and a pink jumper; not the best colour for her hair. And I saw her on the main road, just by the big supermarket and the pedestrian crossing. Not Cat was in the garden. Without him I meant nothing to her; I was another invisible, uninteresting adult.