Rest Day

All this culture and sightseeing is hard work, so today I had a rest day. Nadia was working in the garden. She hasn’t lived in this house for long, and it’s a bit of a project. She has lots of plans for when time and money allow, and as it was yet another glorious day, she was keen to get into her gardening gear and get on with it.
I hung out the washing, and performed a few indoor chores, prepared some food for tonight, and once the sun had dropped a little, set off to explore Upper Hutt, a ten minute walk away and a chance to look at the neighbours’ houses.

Garden furniture

So far my knowledge of this neighbourhood has been confined to the walk from the station to the supermarket and then home.
I was surprised to find how big it is. There is lots I didn’t see, but I homed in on a shop selling eco friendly products and second hand vinyl. Then I found the Turkish restaurant. I was hoping for a deli attached too, but it wasn’t to be. However, a few doors down I found the Indian shop which is where I shall head if I run out of lentils. The independent book shop was frankly disappointing, but at the chain store I found an A-Z of London in convenient size for just $5. Bargain.
Not sure about the gun shop though.
The cycle racks are well designed, there is far more street sculpture and art than I photographed on this tour.

Walk this way

Cool bin

Monsters go this way

Spaghetti bike rack

Cool bike rack

Not sure about this one

I shall have to go back. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Return of the Cat Woman

When I saw Octavia on Sunday I mentioned how strange I found it that I have become a go-to person about cats in the neighbourhood. I’m sure I don’t know more than the average cat owner, though my addiction to the various pet programmes on the television has taught me a lot, and living with Cat was an education in itself. When the penny finally dropped that Cat was a permanent fixture rather than a temporary self-invited guest, I borrowed books about cats from the local library, books that are no longer in the collection, read about nutrition, and general cat care. That’s about it.

Octavia reckoned it was because I have been involved in a few cat rescues locally. Funnily enough I had been thinking about Trevor earlier in the day. Then there was Odysseus, Izzy and, of course, Cookie.

Continue reading


Oh my. What a lovely evening.

It was the first night of a new community film club. In the same place where we go to Book Club in SE5. The book club Celia and I joined after peering at an indistinct poster behind glass that was covered in condensation.

Michèle happened to be passing. Oh do join our book club, she said. But we don't live here, we said. We are from further up the road; part of the SE17 tribe. No matter, said Michėle (or words to that effect), you are still welcome.

So the SE5 tribe opened its doors to us, and communication between two neighbourhoods opened up.


The opposite of those stories people tell you about people in cities living lonely lives surrounded by millions. Continue reading

Fecund Friday

It was the wisteria that did it. Another grey day in London. Honestly, you could count the moments of sunshine on the fingers of one hand.


Anyway, there it was tumbling all over the neighbours’ house. It must have been blooming for days, but some reason I only noticed it this morning. The weather doesn’t prepare me for the way the plants have flowered. So, I opened my eyes and saw wondrous things. Huge huge tulips, roses, weeds; a cornucopia of colour to which I have been blind. No camera alas.

So this evening, I decided to stroll my local turf and see what I could see.

First NotCat in the tree, with a red rose behind him.

Red Rose and Ginger Ninja

Then roses everywhere. These pinkish white ones looking like notes on a scale.

A Scale of Roses

Continue reading

A River of Stones, Day Twenty-Five: Discovery

I assumed the eighteenth century house was the venue for the talk about its chequered history, but when I checked the details, I saw it was in a library I have never visited in an area I know only slightly. It wasn’t that far away from home, but an awkward journey by public transport, and too many busy main roads during rush hour for me to feel happy about the bike. I decided to walk. A slight tussle with Not Cat who thought he should be allowed out made me slightly late, so I set off at a good pace, practising the new techniques I am learning.
The first part of the walk was familiar territory, but when I turned off the main road into a street I have driven down but never walked before, I found an unsuspected neighbourhood of gracious houses either side of a generous street. The lights were on in most, but few had drawn their curtains. The rooms looked comfortable, there were high ceilings and works of art. There was a pub on the corner, and musicians were tuning mandolins and fiddles around a table inside. Early Victorian gave way to the details the later Victorians loved to include in brickwork above doors and windows. There were almshouses on one side of the road next to a park, locked against the dark. Another main road, and after some bleak, surely soon to be demolished buildings, there were cosy bars and restaurants, their names telling me of a local Portuguese community.
The flyer had advertised refreshments with the talk, and I anticipated cups of tea, which I don’t drink, plus a plate of biscuits. What delight then when I arrived at the threatened Victorian library to find wine, red and white! and nibbles. I walked home the same route. The next time, I’m going to do it in daylight.