The first rainy day for quite a while finds me sat in my study adding to the family blog and listening to an Enid Blyton tape. Last week Charlotte dropped a carrier bag off, full of old cassette tapes that she had listened to as a child and now Lucas and Ellis enjoy. Except they are getting a bit battered now (the tapes not the children) and she has requested that I convert them to CD. This entails playing them in their entirety and recording the audio on to my PC, ensuring that I keep returning to the room to check on whether the tape needs turning over or to burn the file to CD. Thankfully, I am able to get a little garden work done at the same time but poor Nan, whose ashes sit on the cupboard next to my desk has to listen with no escape! So far she hasn’t complained.
Preparations for the scattering of Nan’s ashes seem to be progressing satisfactorily. Caergwrle Community Council have agreed to the siting of a memorial bench next to the War Memorial near to the entrance of the castle in which Nan has requested her ashes be scattered. Even Flintshire Highways Authority who also need to sanction my request have done so. I am now waiting on the next meeting of the Community Council who meet on April 1st to consider the appropriateness of the bench I have selected. They have conveniently requested ownership of the bench for future maintenance, though as yet it isn’t clear as to who arranges for the bench to be permanently placed in situ. The bench suppliers don’t install so either the Council will arrange this and charge me (I guess) or I will have a word with cousin Jeff who is a builder and sort something out.
Charlotte and Nan would meet each Tuesday and have lunch somewhere in Harborough. Charlotte an I now continue this tradition, sometimes preceding the meal with a short invigorating walk. One such expedition was when Sara joined us and we visited Harrington, braved a crossing of the A14 and then had jacket potatoes at the Tolly Marche Arms.
Another particularly enjoyable lunch was when Sarah again joined us for a circular walk from Gumley to Laughton with lunch at The Bell. Sue and I had done the same a couple of weeks prior and again we were blessed with superb walking weather. The lambs were a delight to see, though we had to be wary of the ewes as we passed through the fields.
Another highlight was lunch taken in the market in Harborough, principally as I treated my self to some Dim Sum from an Asian eatery , I noticed for a future visit that there was also a Sushi eatery sited within the market. How cosmopolitan Harborough is becoming! Not surprising then, that the following week we chose to dine at the White Orchid, a Thai restaurant.
Sue’s wrist continues to be a problem. The hospital is satisfied that they have done as much as possible to aid the healing process and the cast has now been taken off and a series of physiotherapy sessions set up to help mobility. The hand and wrist continue to look swollen, particularly towards the evenings when the days activities take their effect. In support of the physiotherapy sessions at the Cottage Hospital, Sue has certain activities to do on her own. She does these quietly on her own in one of the spare bedrooms. I discovered her one morning going through one of the routines, suspecting she had converted to Islam I was relieved to hear that one particular routine involved kneeling and a towel. The fact that it was towards Mecca was apparently coincidental. As a precaution I have hidden her passport. During the following week, on returning from a session at the hospital we had lunch at the Queens Head in Saddington and reassuringly I noticed she opted of a hamburger and fries, phew!
Now that spring is firmly here I have started to venture out into the garden and allotments. I am determined not to let the sap rise too quickly (as in past years) and have everything planted up before the frosts have decidedly finished. However, a few warm sunny days is not to be wasted, so broad beans and onion sets are in and so is a row of peas along with the seeds for next winters leeks. Despite that we are struggling to work our way through this winters crop. I have lost count of the number of leek and chicken/ham pies I have made (sometimes twice in one week!) The other day I made a lot of little ones (though on reflection they weren’t THAT little) for freezing. I still have just over 100 to pick and dispose of. In the garden I have mowed and cleaned the pool a few times, as well as transplanted 90 strawberry plants into one of the raised beds. During the late autumn I had brought two of the largest vines from the family vineyard and moved them to a very sunny spot along the fence in the back garden. They had been planted at a different angle to the others at the end of their rows and had grown large but had insufficient sun to ripen the fruit. This week I ran wire between the posts I had erected previously and attached the vines (one red, one white) in expectation of a very heavy crop. As an experiment, I dug the fresh lawn cuttings (full of moss) into the raised bed by the greenhouse in an attempt to improve the soil structure (quite clayey). We shall see. It certainly is less smelly that farmyard manure, and cheaper.
On Friday the 13th Sarah and Lee got the keys to their house in Leicester,
On the Saturday Sarah had to work, so Lee and a cousin hired a van and moved all the stored furniture from Cotgrave and Charlotte’s garage and ours. It ended up being a long hard day for the both of them, but Jamie and I helped out with the loading of the stuff from our garage and Suraj and Charlotte did the same from theirs. It is lovely to have our garages back! When Sue and I moved into our first house we had very little. Not so with Sarah and Lee, the only thing they haven’t got to complete the phrase ‘fully furnished’ is a dog, and I believe that next week this minor omission will be resolved.
The following day I was in Leicester myself, though in different circumstances. I watched Leicester Tigers lose to Exeter as a guest of Peter Howard who had a corporate box. He owns Marston Trussell Hall and last summer did some waitering service at a charity function for him and I guess this was a thank you. I was accompanied by Sean and Paul and we had a thoroughly good time.
The day afterwards I travelled up to Sarah’s house. They are keen to personalise it, so things have to be done. They were busy painting when I arrived so I set about plumbing in the washing machine. By the time I had done that and had lunch of fish and chips from the local chippie Sarah had to go to work. Lee and I worked through the afternoon, he built a TV cabinet downstairs while I built the bedroom furniture upstairs. After completing putting a wardrobe together, Lee showed me a rather nice engagement ring and asked me what I thought. Twigging straight away that he wasn’t proposing to me and that he was enquiring as to whether I approved of him asking Sarah to marry him I judged that this was a win/win situation. I got my garage cleared out and now he was volunteering to bringing some peace and quiet to my old age (when I eventually get there). I was home for 8.30pm, having left Lee still hard at it moving things around. The next day I was again back in Leicester, but this time I took Sue for a hospital appointment. That was the day we had lunch in Saddington.
The next day, after giving Lee time to pop the question and receive the appropriate response, I returned to Leicester to spend a pleasant late afternoon with Sarah and Lee putting up curtain rods and fixing the TV aerial.
The following day Sue and I went to Kettering and watched ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ at the Silver Screen Odeon. I wonder when we will qualify for the Gold? and when did Bronze pass us by? It was good film, much better than the Russell Crowe nonsense, ‘Noah’.
On the 19th I helped Charlotte cut back some Laurel bushes in Rothwell before travelling with Sue that evening to see the ‘Australian Pink Floyd’ . Brilliant concert, great light show and not surprisingly packed out. The only drawback was the average age of the audience. Being in the circle meant there was a fair number of fellow fans between ourselves and the stage. The annoying thing was that all the way through the performance there seemed a never-ending flow of bladdery compromised reprobates making their way to littlest room in the building. Surely, at such a wise age they could limit their liquid intake sufficiently to enable them to remain in their seat throughout the performance? We did!
Saturday the 21st saw Sue Charlotte and I meet up with the Council walking group in Oundle for a chilly but pleasant historic walk. We had lunch at the Ship Inn. I was bitterly disappointed in the pie I had ordered, it was more of a stew in a case with a lid. NOT A PIE!. To make things worse, unfortunately all the other dishes ordered looked yummy.
On the 25th I met up with John for our first walk of 2015. When I was planning the walk on my PC I had high hopes that it would be a good one, and we were not disappointed. The weather was perfect for a a good ramble and the pub lunch was exceptional. We are resolved to return again, probably when he returns from skiing in France.
The following day, having not yet graduated to Gold, we again attended the Silver Screen and saw ‘Unbroken’. Thoroughly enjoyable true film and superbly directed by Angelina Jolie.
The 27th was the end of the school term and the start of the Easter holidays for Lucas and Ellis. Also, it was last day of work for a past colleague, Richard Blewitt. I had been invited to a secret luncheon at the school to celebrate his leaving. It was nice to meet up with some of the staff that turned up to help celebrate: Debbie Goodband, Janet Lord, Shirley Camfield. Of course the present staff also attended, some of which I knew but most I didn’t. It was truly a surprise to Richard (as in my experience, most things are) and he seemed to enjoy being the centre of attention. The buffet was excellent though there was an absence of wine or any other celebratory liquid (how times change). Shirley, Janet and I had a good nose around all the classrooms when all had to leave and satisfy their various duties. Before leaving the premises I sat with the new Head in her room and chatted for half an hour and discussed the current issue of an absentee Deputy. She was keen on my thoughts and I think made a few mental notes on the subject. We got on well and I promised to visit again sometime in the future. We shall see.
That night was curry night though we had spare ribs and paella instead. Sarah was working and Suraj was suffering from severe Manflu and was taking antibiotics so stayed at home. Jamie is also ill and sent his apologies in the morning, but during the afternoon perked up and though obviously still unwell, attended. After the meal, Charlotte and Sue went to Harborough Theatre to watch a film and I and the boys and Jamie settled down in front of the wood burner, and watched the England v Lithuania game on the big screen with nibbles and beer. A lads night out. However, by half time I was the only one still awake and cheering on our boys in white.
The following days was another opportunity to meet up with old friends when I attended a Vice Presidents luncheon at the Rugby Club. Suraj also came with me and though ill enjoyed the meal, but it was too cold for him to watch the match from pitch side and remained in the clubhouse curled up in a nice warm window above a radiator. It was an excellent game, high-speed with very good skills, certainly a huge improvement on the last time I saw them. Charlotte picked us after the match and on returning to Willow Bank we decided to have an Indian Take-away for tea. The portions when they arrived were quite generous and a was a bit of a struggle to make them disappear but we managed. While Suraj and I were enjoying ourselves at the Club, Sue, Charlotte and the boys watched a performance of Basil Brush at the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering. Apparently they had as much fun as we did.
During the meal we discovered via Facebook that Sarah and Lee were on their way to Grimsby. A phone call discovered why. The one missing element of a fully furnished house was a dog and they were about to rectify that. It isn’t available for collection until next week so it looks like we know what they will be doing next weekend.