Fifty Shades of Green

A sad day today. My kettle, which I have had since I was a student, went to the small electrical recycling event held at Kennington Park and did not come home. I honestly thought it was going to last me my whole life. It was second hand when I got it, a hand-me-down from someone who probably got a more sophisticated model that turned itself off when it boiled.

They don’t make the.m like this anymore

It has been with me through thick and thin, as an undergraduate and post graduate; as a newly qualified teacher right up to this morning when I boiled it for the last time to make my morning coffee. It’s been in halls of residence, slum accommodation, dodgy rental flats, social housing, my own home. But a while ago I decided to tackle the limes ale around the spout. Mistake. Once removed, I realised it had been stopping my kettle from leaking. I looked for ways to repair it. I found some advice but, lacking a soldering iron or any experience in using one, success seemed unlikely. I contacted the company that made it, Swan. They regretted they could not help, but they did offer me a substantial discount on a new kettle. A clever way to retain my custom and for me, a useful way of narrowing my choices. Still. Saying goodbye was hard and I kept putting the moment off.

Finally, this week, with Celia’s help I made my decision between a stainless steel kettle and a rather more expensive pale green model. It arrived this morning.

On trial


The picture shows it having its first boil, I don’t know why I sat it on a piece of bubble wrap, but I definitely felt it was on trial. Continue reading

MasterB’s Shore Leave

I’m a bit wet. I have been standing in the rain between the marina and the river for several minutes. MasterB decided about an hour ago that he would like to go ashore. Once onto the gunwale, I lifted him and carried him to the path. I still don’t have a gangplank, and his leaps from prow to shore are not good for my nerves. I strapped him into his harness, sorry, make that his Mynwood Cat Jacket. I was a bit over zealous and he couldn’t move until I loosened it a bit. He made for the fence and gazed across the field. Then he turned his attention to the rise where my car is parked. The ginger and white feral was sitting there. MasterB sat down. Then he lay down. He watched. He waited. The minutes passed. Ten of them. I try to be patient, but I was getting bored. I sat down too and started talking to him, suggesting we had a little walk. I’d like to think it was my persuasive arguments, but it was probably just that he has decided the feral posed no immediate threat, and in a couple of minutes we were off again. I thought I felt rain in the air. MasterB was sniffing and watching, walking fairly steadily and calmly, his ears swivelling round at sounds. A swan paddling at some lick along the river caught and held his attention. He stared, one front paw raised above the ground. Continue reading

Sicilian Holiday (1)

Cigno didn’t seem the most obvious name for the hotel’s female tortoiseshell cat, but with a mixture of languages and mime, the proprietor explained she was called after the swan for her elegance and beauty.

The cat’s name wasn’t the only thing that surprised me about Sicily.

When I lived in France, I met several Sicilians and they were uniformly serious and dour. So I was unprepared for the smiling, friendly attitude of the locals. My efforts at speaking Italian were met with patience.

Encouraged,  I persevered, dragging words and phrases from my memory, gradually piecing them together with a few bits oif French and Spanish like glue. My top moment was being congratulated for asking for a glass of house red wine in perfectly grammatical Italian.

Perhaps we were like the first swallows of spring. Heralds of tourists to come bringing our money to their businesses. Or maybe it was a tradition of welcome to the outsider.

Again,  Italians from the mainland had told me what a closed society Sicily was. Neighbouring villages, they said, eyed each other with suspicion, and preferred to marry among themselves.

I had visions of inbreeding, low foreheads and lower intellects.

Instead, Rumanian girls who had arrived looking for work had married the local boys. Happy families of mixed nationalities displaying no anxiety or coldness about differing cultures.

So it was a shame and a shock to meet the only miserable Sicilian of the trip on the last day, just hours before we left. He opened up the monastery for us to visit, but seemed to have left his smile at home. He glowered, arms folded, as we looked about. Maybe he had a cold in the head, but as an advert for the loving nature of God and the Christian church, he left a lot to be desired.