Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Arachnids and Phobes.

catching Well I wasn't going to put a picture of one of 'them' at the top of this post was I?

This morning at 6.00am I evicted last night's leggy visitor with the aid  of my trusty long-handled dust buster.

I opened the window first and lofted him into the morning air to enjoy his first flying lesson.

Felt quite pleased with myself, not even a shiver, despite only about three hours sleep.

Oh how stupid to think the largish, thin-legged chap was a one off.  I should have known better.

Just having a pre-bed wash and there in the corner of the bathroom was a huge - and I mean huge - black, thick-bodied beast about 3 inches across.

I beat a hasty, dripping retreat and tried to work on a strategy.

The dust-buster in hand I crept across the floor and attempted to edge it on to the nylon bushy end, but it scuttled away behind the wash-basin and vanished.

Yes I know they can't really vanish.  I know they pop their bodies into any available crevice and drag their ghastly legs in after them, but there was no sign of it anywhere.

So  far I've made three 'surprise' visits in the hope of  catching it unawares, but spider don't do 'unawares'.

My father used to joke about my terror of spiders and quote "The coward dies a thousand deaths, the hero only one".  To which I would reply "He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day".

The only thing is, flight is not an option, and if I have to get out in the night (as it were) 'it' will be waiting for me.  So now what do I do,  hang from the ceiling like a bat for fear it will run over my feet?  Or just sit up all night AGAIN?

Nocturnal reflections

The first night which sees the return of my friend Insomnia.

We have been close associates for most of my adult life but recently (since the advent of the new bed) I have been sleeping an unusual percentage of the night.
Sometimes as much as four hours at a time.

No particular theme comes to mind for this post so it's just a question of odds and sods, sorry, for my more sensitive readers - odds and ends.

The first this which strikes me is that it is cooler tonight than for the past week - no bad thing methinks - but still with too many windows open I am attracting unwanted company from first a largish moth (not my first choice of visitor), and worse, much worse, a quite large spider.

He is of the medium small bodied, very long legged variety and I want him OUT.

Damn it!  He is now lurking behind a chest of drawers behind me, so this is being typed faster than I wanted with much glancing over my shoulder in case he has re-emerged.

I had meant to write a post about the Jubilee service at St. Mary's on Sunday, which was attended by the High Sheriff of the county, the Bishop and the Archdeacon.

The church looks absolutely wonderful, with flags, bunting and millions of flowers - yes I have taken photographs and will post them at some stage, though not in this present over-populated space.

I have unfortunately had a few spells of illness recently and am currently not up to scratch so blogging has not been the first thing on my mind.  But, when things return to normal I shall probably get my old enthusiasm back.

Oh dear, oh dear, There is now an other sound which needs investigating...........

Just nerves getting the better of me I think.  It sounded as though someone was on the roof. !  Not possible, I think, but, just in case, I have now shut all the big windows which were open.

When the British Gas engineer came (see recent post) he solved the water heater/radiator problem and went up into the loft to check that everything was OK up there.  He assured me all was well, which I assume also includes the fact that no-one has taken up residence up there.  No, I'm not serious, I'm really not that nervous.

It is strange though,  isn't it how general debility added to tiredness can send the imagination into overdrive?

When I was a child my mother had to check my wardrobe and under the bed for me before I could settle to sleep on many nights.  My general jumpiness caused John much amusement (and occasional irritation) and it was not until after his death that I suddenly ceased to worry about who or what might be lurking in odd corners.

Tonight is an exception!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Senses and sensitivity

In case anyone hasn't noticed, it has become very warm.

Lovely, some people think.  Too hot too soon, other people think.
Let's get the "barbie" out, quite a lot seem to think.

Hold your nose time again. I think

What is it about the first few sunny days which causes half the human race to lose its mind.

Why is it a good idea to sit, sweating profusely in a group of equally sweaty, pale-skinned (from living under a stone all Winter), people of all ages types, sizes, shapes and tastes, in order to celebrate the return of the sun to our cold and drafty island?

Having been talked into communal eating al fresco, regardless of dietary peculiarities, and the obvious penchant of the local insect population for greasy smelly food, it is deemed odd, or fussy to say in a small, uncertain, wavering voice "Er, I'm a vegetarian".

Reactions can vary from "Ooh what do you eat then"? to "well, you won't mind eating (burgers, sausages, etc) just this once will you?" or even sometimes "We know that don't we, so we've got you some (invariably salmon) fish.

If I dare to say, which has been known, "I'll have a jacket potato with some cheese" they look pityingly from their sweating, glistening with fat, faces, "you don't know what you're missing". they say.

Neighbouring barbeques compete, with the smell of chilli predominating.  Smoke rises from a dozen gardens.  Pongs fit to make your eyes water fill the hot humid air and everyone is suddenly silent as they/we stuff our faces as though food were going out of fashion,

The gardens which, in the early morning were full of the scent of lilac and soft Spring fragrances are reminiscent of some North African street market,  Even the birds have departed, overcome by fumes.

Luckily, this type of weather is comparatively rare in our hallowed land and the public feasting phenomena
equally rare, so as I remove the clothes-peg from my olfactory organ and escape to the comparative cool of a silent empty house with all its windows open, grab a huge glass of water and heave my hot feet onto a footrest I muse in blessed odour-free, silence on the strangeness of the 'reserved' British at play.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Household Demons

There is no logic to the way the demons who inhabit my house start new campaigns for absolutely no reason, I 
have politely requested that they leave, sworn at their malign influence, laughed at their incongruous efforts to take over my life (as if I had no say in the matter), and considered exorcism.                                                      

As must by now be apparent, they also inhabit my computer.  I tried to put their picture top left of this post but it keeps moving down and won't let me print where I want.  Perhaps it is trying to escape off the edge of the blog.

This morning, it being a very warm day I switched on the water-heating part of my gas central heating system so I could shower and get a machine-load of washing  on before leaving for St. Mary's.

My shower is graciously permitting about 1 litre of water per minute - the shower took 15 minutes!  and, not content with that, the radiators were all blazing hot.

I knew, once I'd sorted out the great 'bed' dilemma of previous blogs, there'd soon be another problem along to fill the gap.  But, but, why does it have to be water?  Just when the weather gets hot?  When my annual gas maintenance visit is overdue?

Have explained at length, very politely, even the bit where I pointed out they were a month overdue, that I do not want hot radiators when the outside temperatures are sizzling and, wonder of wonders, they are sending an engineer out tomorrow morning.

Yes I can hear the demons gibbering in the corner but I'm trying to ignore them.

Monday, 21 May 2012

It doesn't take a lot

For once, this morning, I got to St. M's in time for the whole of morning prayer.
No 1.  a good start.

Quite a pleasant morning, enough to occupy me without overload.
No 2. a no-problems morning.

Home in good time, not long to wait for a bus.
No 3. easy journey.

When I had had lunch my singing teacher picked me up and took me off for a singing lesson.
                                                                                    Sang well for once - "He was Despised" from 
Messiah, and "Where Corals Lie" from Sea Pictures.

Both my teacher and I enjoyed the lesson thoroughly and I returned home to find that my tree peony had opened one of its three flowers fully.
After weeks of cold and wet we had some sunshine and the shrub was celebrating.

Just to round things off, I watched the final "highlights" from the test at Lords, and to my delight we beat the "Windies" with 5 wickets in hand.

I am no Pollyanna as you may have noticed, but, just now and then, accidentally, a day to be glad about sneaks in under the door.

This was one such.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

More on the Saga of "The Bed"

 Those of you who read of my struggles with a heavy mattress on my new bed will be aware that it was unlikely that the muscular " mattress fairy" was going to solve my problems for me.

Having tried, unsuccessfully , to fit a divan trim since this also, like the turning of the mattress involves lifting and moving said lead weight, I sought for and found a solution.

A catalogue dropped through my letterbox at just the right time and, wonder of wonders, there was a choice of five different "easy fit" valances.

So simple did this sound, and so good to look at were they that I ordered two.

They arrived creased and crumpled beyond recognition so I thought "they'll have to wait till I change the bed, and I'll iron the one I am going to use"

It was like trying to iron the great wall of China, a great never-ending snake of pleated white cotton.

However, two short breaks and half an hour later it was ready to be fitted.

Oh dear, oh dear, why hadn't I read the instructions first.

First words "remove mattress from base"........ Aaaarh!

Well I shoved and pushed the beast about four inches away from the base and prepared the adhesive strips applying them to the base while propping the mattress against my shoulder and hanging on to the valance with my 'other' hand.

I know I must sound like the world's worst wimp, but oh to be 3 inches taller, 10 years younger and just a little less "cack-handed".  Not a nice description, but one common in Birmingham where I grew up, and oh so very apt when applied to yours truly.
This is the finished article.  It is entirely possible that when it is due to be changed again, I may do as royalty did in Tudor times, and simply move house!

Why is nothing ever as simple as 'they' make it sound?

After that, merely making the bed up, even with the battle of the duvet, was simplicity itself.

I promise never to mention the subject again!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Do you ever have days when......?

Disgruntled from constant soakings.  Fed up  with being wet.  Tired of looking at, listening  to rain, it was pure joy (and some disbelief) to open my eyes to brilliant sunshine this morning.

Instantly full of energy - well, in my head anyway - I leapt out of bed with a huge list of things to do in mind.

Raising the blind on the bedroom window I saw that the tops of the cars in the close were all covered in frost.  Hmm funny I thought, it must be earlier than usual if there is still frost about.

Reason suddenly dawned when I looked at the clock.  Not 6.15am, nor even 5.30am,  4.55am!  Back to bed, forget all your plans, start again in an hour or so.

Useless of course. Once awake, wide awake so read for a few minutes, good book, gripping story, glanced at clock.  6.30am.

What happens to time?  How does it do that?

The sun was still bright and the sky clear and blue so started all over again.

I had to put some washing on, had to get a bus into town to the library, so got going in good time.  Mission accomplished in record time, back home to get on with the rest of the list.

Not a hope.  Every time I started one job I was reminded of something else that needed doing, so moved to that, and by the end of the morning had about six different things started and unfinished.

I don't think I have a butterfly brain, (I could be wrong), so what is it that makes it so easy to flit from one thing to another seamlessly and achieve virtually nothing but spend a whole morning doing just that?

By late afternoon I had forced myself to complete all the unfinished tasks and decided I'd do some weeding.

"I'll just have some green tea and a sit down first", I thought.  Then looked at the TV Times while drinking said tea and found that the "Young musician of the year" semi final was on, and that was the end of that.

An hour and a half later I have abandoned all thought of weeding for today, and thoroughly enjoyed a really excellent programme.

Procrastination?  Well maybe, but I'll just play the female 'right to change her mind'card.

Besides, the weeding has been accumulating for many many months, a day or so more won't hurt.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

From the bottom of the pond

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a friend on a trip to a us garden and Manor House of National fame.

It had of course, rained quite a lot in the morning, but we piled into the coach around lunch-time and headed off to see the annual display of tulips.

As we disembarked the heavens opened once more and we stood under our brollies listening to a fairly long-winded description of the mediaeval manor and some of its history.

We then started our walk around the admittedly beautiful display of rare, old, and new tulips.  They were breathtaking, and the gardens were a lovely sight, but it continued to rain and we were quite glad to be able to get into the old well-house with its collection of excavated artifacts.  We started our tour of the house an hour after arrival, damp and pleased to be out of the rain for a  while.

Not their fault I know, but I had been there several times before over a period of 30 years, and the lengthy tales of the inhabitants of the house over the centuries, while interesting, did not make  up for  badly aching legs and nowhere to sit.

When we had finally completed the tour of the house, we started on the bit of the garden we had not previously covered, and it began to rain in earnest.  This was no trifling piddling little shower, it was a monsoon.  So we headed for the tea and cake on offer in a nice warm dry tea-room.

As we clambered, in various states of sogginess into the coach, we all, amazingly, agreed that it had been a truly lovely afternoon, that the house and its history were fascinating and the gardens fabulous.
"Pity about the weather, but then you can't have everything can you?" we said.

It has now poured for about five  weeks (feels more like five months) and I offer this, as a little, personal plea.

Rain please stop I pray
Cease right now and stay away,
This is not some childish whim.
Simply that I cannot swim.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The "Look Away Show"

This enchanting image is not the reason I'm addicted to the BBC TV show Holby City.

Believe me, I am squeamish in the extreme, and this show has a very high "squeams" factor, but......I'm hooked.

This is not the first time I poured out my enthusiasm for this always good, often excellent drama series, and it will probably not be the last, since that is the nature of addiction.

Tonight's episode was particularly gripping with the introduction of yet another "power-mad" female consultant to stir up the hostile  reactions of the 'old guard'.

True, it had only one of my two favourite characters tonight, the gorgeous, enigmatic Henrik Hansen. (yum).
The other favourite, Freda the Transylvanian Goth with the fabulously 'fake' Russian accent, was sadly missing but heigh-ho, I can manage with just one to drool over.

I really don't care how accurate the medical jargon is since I have no aspirations to be a surgeon, but it seems pretty convincing to me.

The patients' story-lines are always interesting, sometimes funny, often poignant, occasionally challenging, much like real life after all, and if the carryings-on of the staff are somewhat exaggerated, so what?  It all makes for good TV.

It has a consistently good cast, but there is one down-side for me.  The need at certain points (in the operating theatre), to turn my head away while relying on the noise of bleeping heart monitors and tubes sucking blood out of wounds gives me a guide as to when it is 'safe' to look again.

Meanwhile the evil ice-queen Jac Naylor, or dear bumbling Elliot save - or occasionally  lose - the day.

I do go on a bit don't I?

But, oh I do hope the series runs for ever, or at least, for my lifetime.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Anno Domini and the Muhammed Ali Effect.

Today being housework day (groan), I started off determined to make light work of the usual chores, first of which was to change the (new) bed.

If anyone else out there has had a similar experience I would appreciate their wisdom on this most boring and routine of jobs.

First of all, I have never in all my life owned a double bed.  Years of twin beds made the stripping and changing procedure seem a doddle.

Oh what a different story trying to fight a massive 4'6" duvet and cover into submission.  I am 5'5"" and quite strong and athletic (well, that's what I thought anyway), but after the battle with this great tent I feel about 2 feet tall.

Worse, much worse, was the attempt very quickly abandoned, to turn my mattress.  The instructions which came with it ordered me to turn it about once a fortnight for the first year, and once a month thereinafter.

Ha!  guess who's mattress will never be turned - no, not even once.

It weighs a ton, is about 12 inches deep and, since they didn't include a spare set of muscles with it, will stay exactly as it is until it, or I leave home.

Then there was a brief lull in the rain and I thought, "fresh air" and headed for a patch of cleaver which is about 4 feet high and is slowly strangling what is left of my garden.

Once out there, it became obvious that my puny efforts would make so little impression on the jungle, that it was hardly worth trying.  Nevertheless, I tugged and yanked at several feet of this awful clinging - and for me- allergy triggering monster and found that even in heavy-duty gauntlets my hands were  getting hot and sweaty and beginning to itch.  So I abandoned that for the time being and headed for some nettles.

The gloves are a useful barrier for these and I now have a large pile on the stone paving awaiting bagging up, but since it is now pouring again I have left that for the next job.

This is vacuuming the whole house, and guess what. the vac needs emptying.

S.. it!

I already feel as though I've done ten rounds with Muhammed Ali and I am after all, an old lady.

Coffee time.