Monday 31 March 2008

Catching up with friends and mud walking.

Jana, Monika, Olga and children, Milan and Radovan arrived in the morning. We have not seen each other for a while so there was a lot of chatting to catch up on. Jana had been on a short holiday to Spain and bought some wine, a huge spanish pineapple and a large box of coconut cakes she had made at Monika's which were delicious. Little Radovan is sweet; this was the first time we had seen him as he is about ten weeks old.

All too soon Monika and Olga had to leave ,and go home with the children.
The weather was grey, windy and raining from time to time. Jana and I set off for our planned walk. From Elstree we squelched across the sodden fields, then as it began to rain heavily we went into the Waggon and Horses and had a coffee sitting in front of the fire. It is a very cozy pub, and was built in the 15th centuary. We talked for a long time until the rain became lighter, and we left. We crossed the road and walked across the fields for hours, still talking. Eventually we came across Battlers Green Farm.

The fire at the Waggon and Horses Pub

The farmyard is now a horseshoe shaped area with shops of various kinds, including a farmers' produce shop. Luckily the cafe was still open and we had a very strong and aromatic pot of coffee and warmed up. When we were leaving the waiter remarked that we must have really needed the coffee as we looked so wet and bedraggled.

Battlers green Farm
We walked back through Letchmore Heath, Jana pointing out my favourite house, then headed off to Elstree across fields and through woods. We were trying to get home by 7.00pm as Mas would be making a meal for us, also it was getting dark. This is the most dreary weather we had walked in, and somehow we had walked further than we usually do which is odd when all the fields and woods were so waterlogged.

We arrived home around 7.00pm. We sat in front of the fire, Jana stretching out to dry her rolled up trousers. We both had mud plastered up our legs to well past our knees, and we talked with Mas while we waited for Oktay to arrive. Eventually we went and had dinner as we thought he must have got held up. Mas had made a really tasty turkey dinner which we soon made short work of, and we had a glass of red wine with it.

There had been a muddle with communications, so Oktay had already eaten by the time he arrived. We sat in front of the fire and chatted till we all became really tired, and Oktay and Jana went home to Monikas, and we were sad to see them go.

It had been a very nice and eventful day. It is a shame we do not all live closer to each other.

Friday 28 March 2008

Royal Free Hospital visit

On Friday Mas and I went to the hospital and after waiting for a while got the results of my tests from the doctor. We went straight home afterwards as it was raining. Diane and I spoke on the phone for a while; she is going to Kent for a week for a change of scene. Jana phoned and we made plans for tomorrow. Robert sent a cheering e-mail too. Mas and I watched TV, doing familiar low key things.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Art at the Radlett Centr and soup in the Art Cafe

Yesterday Diane phoned and we exchanged news and talked for a while, and I heard from Betty too which was nice.

Mas and I decided we needed a break from our usual routine, so we drove to Radlett, a village close to us which is built on either side of the old Roman road that runs from London to St.Albans (Watling Street). It began to rain so we went into the Radlett Cente to look at the art.

They have a theatre, two art galleries and a cafe, with the library next door.
Zoƫ Bennett was exhibiting her Funky Florals in the Apthorpe Gallery, and Martyn Cohen's photographic art was displayed in the Ground floor gallery. His was unusual work as he had taken woodland photographs, and made pictures of a single shot and a reversed one attached, and again one shown upside down and another reversed upside down one, making one large picture. From a distance the pictures made a curious designs.

Mas and I had a light lunch of soup in the Art Cafe,and afterwards we did a little shopping, and bought a few bargains in a sale where everything cost £1.50 before coming home again.

The Radlett Centre

Sunday 23 March 2008

Emergency tree felling followed by snow and cookies

On Good Friday we discovered that an elderberry tree close to the house had lurched sideways due to the roots having lifted because of the blustery strong winds we have been having recently. We decided the only course of action was to cut the tree in half as it has a divided trunk. A lot of the day was spent cutting it down and chopping up the pieces; just as we finished the sky darkened ominously, and it began to hail ferociously.

As soon as the hail turned into rain we heard a loud clap of thunder, so I rushed around the house unplugging TV and computers (thinking of the Hi Fi system we lost to lightening previously!) After this we had a cup of tea and waited for the storm to pass so that we could get on with the things we usually do.

On Saturday we went off to get shopping, and had a breakfast and change of scene at The Man in the Moon, as we drove home it began a thick snow shower, and became cold so we stayed
home for the rest of the day, lurking around and doing our usual things; Mas on the computer, and me trying to paint a particular picture.

On Easter Sunday we woke to a white world as it had snowed overnight, and was still snowing. Sadly by the time I had drunk my second coffee, the thaw set in, and the snow had almost melted before I took these pictures. So there was to be no snowballing for Mas and I !

As the house felt cold, despite the heating being on, I made some leek and potato soup. I also decided to make some of Romy's cookies, despite my deep misgivings about my ability to divide 1¼ cups of sugar by ⅔ . Luckily it was possible, using the cooking tools that Romy had given me previosly. I made half the batch with ginger chopped into it, and used hazle nuts too.
Mas strolled by as I was putting them on the rack to cool, and said "Flapjacks....mmm." I said "No," so he took a bite and as he was walking past and said "Interesting" The house was warmer, and it smelled good as well! I had better not make them again as we will just eat them!
We watched The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency in the evening which we both liked. Luckily they are making a series of this which will be shown next year.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Chatty lunch at Sazios and exotic lizard face.

We drove up to St. Albans as usual to visit the market, and to have lunch with our friends. Robert, having recently been discharged from hospital has been invited to attend hospital for tests similar to mine. Despite these hideous medical thingys we had some red wine and a nice lunch and a good time, exchanging opinions and bringing each other up to date with what has been going on since we last met.

The weather was not good, and we watched TV for a while before going to bed.

Mas has recently bought some special blue mouth rinse which he has been using, so I thought I would use it too, as it smells very nice. Having rinsed my mouth, swishing it about for 30 seconds I discovered that my mouth and tongue had been stained bright blue, and if I stuck my tongue out I looked like an exotic lizard. This cannot be right! I still had a blue mouth the following morning! The odd thing is that it does not do it to Mas.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Visit to the Affordable Art Fair

Toby phoned briefly to say he had arrived home safely. After doing a few chores Mas and I went off to the Affordable Art Fair as usual, and as usual we called into the Oriel and had a white wine in the downstairs bar before taking the courtesy bus from Sloane Square.

The Oriel

We thought that the displayed art was better this year, and it was being well attended despite it being the last day of the exhibition.

Wellington boot dogs!

A bark jewel

We returned home exhausted after this outing!

Saturday 15 March 2008

Toby's return home and going to the Transport Museum

We got up early as planned, and drove off reaching the airport in half an hour, but it took half an hour extra to park the car. After Toby checked in we all had a coffee and got in another talking session before Toby, sadly, had to go. Fortunately it may not be too long before he can come back, and try to spend more time with Pete too.
After he went through the exit, we left and returned home, with just enough time for me to have a quick bite of lunch. Mas drove me down to Edgware, and I went off to Covent Garden to meet Mex.
As I was a few minutes early I walked around and took a few photos; I do not remember seeing such crowds of people there before!

London's Transport Museum

This man is playing an ancient musical instrument called a sheng, it is 3,000 years old and the organ and accordian are developed from the design. The music played on it is sweet and haunting.

I met up with Mex, and we looked around the museum which has had a multi-million pound face lift since I last visited it. It is now much more fun for children as there is a lot for them to intereact with .

The "dizzy room"

There was a room full of watercolour illustrations of the men working on the renovations to the museum which were works of art in their own right.

Some posters were displayed,

this is a small sample.

There was also a time travelling lady from the 1930s prepared to talk about all the small details of her life, living in the metroland suburbs, now that the underground railway had been extended into the countryside. She did charity work (unpaid of course), bought up her children, employed a cook, and her husband commuted to the city to work. Her life sounded ideal!

Afterwards we walked to the Photographers Gallery where we had tea and a cake and chatted before going off home on the tube to our separate homes.
I felt really tired at the end of this eventful day, and Mas and I went to bed rather early.

Friday 14 March 2008

Lunch at the Fishery and Toby's final evening

We had a late breakfast, Toby feeling rather fragile. At lunch time we went to The Fisheries for a light meal which we enjoyed, and were served by a charming smiley waitress. (It is so nice to see people smile!)

We relaxed at home for most of the day, and Mas made a nice evening meal which we ate by candlelight. Inadvertently I dropped a pea on the table and it rolled at some speed towards Mas, who seeing it peripherally sprang into the air and was ready for the attack. This reflexive action caused Toby and I to jump too, and then we laughed a lot at the idea of the killer pea!
Toby carefully drank shandies when out with his friends on his final evening, having already packed his case for an early start tomorrow. Pete phoned and chatted for a while.

Thursday 13 March 2008

Lunch in Letchmore Heath and mooching in Hampstead

We went early to Letchmore Heath, and had lunch at the Three Horseshoes which was very nice, and Mas talked to Roy Skeggs who we had last seen when Toby and Romy were here together. He is a very interesting person.

Later Toby and I went off to Hampstead to walk, but it began raining in a dismal way. Despite this, we walked about looking at the architectural details and then stopped for a coffee, and later a drink at the Holly Bush before returning home. After dinner Toby left for the evening to meet up with his pals, and we went off to bed just as he arrived home again.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Relaxing and talking with Toby and hospital visit

Toby arrived home late from Wales, due to bad weather and flooding on the railway lines. We had a nice evening catching up on the news and chatting while we had dinner with a nice bottle of red wine. We were all rather tired and later watched TV for a while before going off to bed.

The next day we had breakfast, and Toby went off to spend the day with Gerald, and Mas and I went to the Royal Free hospital; Mas accompanying me in case I had to have anaesthetic, but I did not. When we left the hospital we had a coffee and quick lunch in Belsize Park before returning home again. We had a nice dinner with Toby when he returned, with lots to talk about as usual.

When we got up we had a long breakfast drinking coffee, and eventually decided to go to The Man in the Moon for lunch which made a nice break. Afterwards Toby and I went for a walk, and also called into the Two Jays bookshop to look at the books. Toby left early to meet Pete in town for the evening, and Mas and I relaxed and watched TV for a while.

Saturday 8 March 2008

Toby in the UK and local goings on

Yesterday just as I was going to email Toby and wish him a nice journey he phoned to say he had already arrived, and was on his way to Wales to see Danny. I managed to plant pansies in the front and back window boxes, the weather was so sunny I felt like setting to and tidying the whole garden, but did not, and did a bit more spring cleaning instead. Mas and I sat and watched New Tricks on TV which was quite funny.

Today after writing a letter and clearing up I walked to the library. I was astonished to find a small group of grown men having a tantrum as the library was closed, and will not reopen for a week. While I was reading the notice about the closure another elderly man arrived, and the decibels increased, the air became blue. I beat a hasty retreat before they began rioting!

As I was walking home the local church had a notice outside inviting people to come in. The church is called St. Margaret of Antioch, but is referred to as St. Margaret's. The church tower was built between 1370 and1375, and is made of rag stone, and under the present church there are foundations of a smaller church which may date back earlier than the tower. Possibly the longer name refers to when the church must have been Roman Catholic, but changed to Church of England after the reformation. The rest of the church is brick and has been altered and added to over the years. (Oddly opposite St. Margaret's church there is a pub called The Mason's Arms.)

I came across a blog, the Edgware Neighbourhood Watch blog, and is written by the skipper (a police Sergeant), part of the Safer Neighbourhood team which is useful and friendly. This team hold a surgery in the local shopping mall once a week.

The weather is grey and depressing, so I made some soup and small cakes as comfort food before we settle down to watch an old cowboy film. (At least it is easy to tell who the good and bad guys are!)

Friday 7 March 2008

Unexpected illness and anxious driving

On Wednesday we went to St. Albans as usual, to get shopping, and meet up with Tania and Robert. We had lunch at the Bhua Thai restaurant and talked. Robert has been unexpectedly very ill and in hospital recently, but is looking and feeling much better now, so we had a lot to talk about before going back home again.

Yesterday we took four more pictures to Linda Blackstone's house in deepest Hertfordshire. I have become very nervous of driving, and if Mas is driving I feel the same, except on our usual driving routes. Anyone else could drive and I would have no fear at all, which is very unreasonable. We managed to deliver the paintings to her and get back to Stanmore, with me white knuckling it all the way. I had to have two restorative alcoholic drinks to get over the stress, despite it only being midday. We went shopping afterwards, and I walked past two friends without seeing them until they called me. We returned home, me feeling sheepish, and I spent the rest of the day trying to tidy up my studio.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Monday we seemed to be doing chores all day, we renewed our travel passes and got shopping, and I began to do a little emergency spring cleaning so that we could walk safely through the house without tripping over things that were in the wrong places.

On Tuesday we did worse chores and paid bills which seemed to take up most of the day.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Mother's Day flowers and garden centres

Mother's day, and Pete sent me some lovely flowers! Talked to Pete on the phone, and Mas said afterwards that I had been laughing all the time!

After breakfast Mas and I went off to a garden centre in Mill Hill to look at plants for conservatories. We had a look around, and decided to resuscitate our own plants; before we left we had a coffee at the centre and looked at the aquarium fish which is always colourful.

Some of Pete's flowers.

Saturday 1 March 2008

On FORM with Christiane and busing home.

As planned I met Christiane at Hendon and we travelled by tube to Olympia and went to the FORM: London exhibition. There were lots of interesting things displayed : ceramics, pottery, furniture, jewellery, sculpture, beautiful and striking felt carpets, and all kinds of art. We stopped midway and had a coffee and mini biscuits, then continued looking. I think we saw everything!

Before we left we shared a pizza at the Pizza Express then decided to go home by bus. We took the 27 bus and took the scenic route to Chalk Farm, but instead of the bus stopping at the station it stopped by a large supermarket. We asked the directions from a friendly man, and soon we zipped home on the tube. That was an interesting and fun day out!
Toby phoned in the evening to let us know he would be arriving from Canada very soon which is exciting!