Sunday 31 May 2009

A Taste of Spain and other meals

Tania drove to Edgware, and then we went off to Baker Street where we met Evelyn. We walked to Regent's Park, had tea and a piece of cake at the Garden Cafe there, then looked at the rose garden.

Later we walked to Regent Street, which had been cleared of traffic for the day to host 'A Taste of Spain'. This was a promotional event for various regions of Spain to show their cultural heritage and sell things too. There were huge crowds attending, but everyone seemed in good spirits. Later I heard that the weather was warmer than Morocco at the time.

We had an enjoyable day although our feet were sore from standing and watching different displays. We went to Nando's and had a welcome meal and bottomless drink which revived us somewhat; we were too hungry to wait for the giant paellas to be cooked.
When we had seen everything and were really tired Tania and I decided to go home by bus. Evelyn, who is made of stronger stuff, went on to do some window shopping. As we bussed home we were pointing out places of interest to each other. Tania phoned Robert to say she was coming home, and he said that he was driving down to Mason's so that we could all go out for dinner!
We had dinner at our Man in the Moon which was fun, then we went home. As Tania and Robert were about to leave Poppy and Ben came out and were talking to us too. It turned out to be a very sociable day.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Kindness and returning friends

Today was another sunny hot day. We went off to St. Albans, and were surprised at how clear the roads were for a Saturday. Mas started shopping, and I went off to see if I could find The Rock Guy who sells all manner of beautiful stones which I always like looking at. He only works in the market on a Saturday. When I a saw him he asked me how I was, and I told him. He gave me a small piece of Petalite which he said was a good preventative for many illnesses, told me how to meditate with the stone and how to cleanse it afterwards. He would not take any payment which is typical of him.

We hurried to the Bua Thai restaurant and met Tania and Robert for lunch there, and caught up with all their news. We got a little more fruit afterwards, and I drove home while Mas snoozed. When we got home we saw Poppy's car and Ben's van parked opposite our house, so knew they had come back from Guernsey where they have been living for some time. The people who had been renting their house called by to say goodbye, and said they had found another flat to live in.
Kittens picture sent by Joan

Friday 29 May 2009

Groundhog days

Another day of kitchen work. Mas plastered part of the kitchen ceiling while I painted on the first coat of cupboard paint. Mas was leaning backwards while putting on the plaster and it was dropping onto him in splatters. When he finished it, he took off his T shirt, and as he went upstairs he caught sight of himself in the mirror "Good Lord! I look like a dawg!" he said. Surprised, I asked what kind, he said "101 Dalmatians", when I remarked that they had black spots he said "you can't get everything right!" He always makes me laugh.

In the spirit of entente cordial both of us had compromised on the colour of the cupboard paint, Mas preferred a mauvey mushroom colour while I veered towards yellow. We got what was called 'Stoneware'. Reading the paint tin which said 'do not overwork the paint' I understood why; it was so that the paint had enough energy left to run, which it did. If I had named the colour of the paint I would have called it 'ancient porridge'.

Another Groundhog day! Another coat of cupboard paint, and we kept remarking on how clean it looked, how much larger the kitchen seemed, all day. We both hate it of course, but won't admit it. In the end we said we would see how it looked when the new flooring was done, and if we did not like it after a year we could redo it. Privately I thought if I have to look at that colour for a year I would be like Dracula exposed to daylight; I would turn to dust and blow away.

Today we spent cleaning up, I did all the tiles, cupboards and fridge. Mas began repairing the concealed, over counter light which has not worked for years. It is horrible that once one room is done, all the others look worse and suddenly need fixing up as well. At this point Mas and I were too tired to think anymore, especially about starting on another room!

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Memories of my mother and Walter Matthau

Today Salty bounded into the house when we got up. He is sporting a red, sore, nose, just at the tip, but does not seem too bothered about it.

Mas had to go off to the bank this morning and do various other chores. I began painting the ceiling and walls in the kitchen; the plan is to start at the top and work down.

While I was painting, I remembered my mother decorating, and me helping her from a very young age. The first step had been to buy some cider to drink while we worked, and the second was to get two glasses! The ceilings in our flat were very high, and we had to work on ladders, or standing on a chair placed on a table; the surprising thing was that neither of us ever fell off! I suppose that these days all this would amount to child abuse, but it was fun at the time! I do not recall that she ever drank cider at any other times.

After the depredations of the war my mother enjoyed decorating, and also liked to change the function of each room frequently, so all the furniture was dragged from room to room, and colour schemes changed. If my mother bought some new paint, and liked the colour, she would use all of the leftover paint on odd things, so door handles and pipes were often highlighted in this way, or door panels; I remember Eau de Nile being a particular favourite.

I finished the walls, which took several coats of paint, and the ceiling, except for one area that Mas is going to re plaster tomorrow. In the evening we had a glass of red wine to celebrate our progress, some pizza, and watched an old favourite film with Walter Matthau called Hopscotch.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Strangleing cats and painting preparation

On Saturday we took Salty back to the vets to have his tail checked; he is repairing nicely. The vet said if she saw him again too soon she would strangle him, and I said I would help her to do it.

My eyes were hurting today and I thought that I may be going to get a cold after such cold swimming yesterday. We went back to the DIY store and changed the colour of our paint, and got more floor wood.

On Sunday the weather was warm and sunny, but I spent the day washing down the walls and cupboards with sugar soap, thus breaking the habit of a lifetime as I have always painted over grime and cobweb so sealing them in. Reflecting on this later I decided to go back to my old ways next time, too much preparation is for the birds!

I also managed to get in a bit of gardening, and planted a few more cuttings; I am trying to spend a bit of time each day in the garden to raise my vitamin D levels. The garden is looking nice at the moment. Mas went off and got some shopping, and yet more DIY stuff. I did not get a cold, and my eyes are OK again. I am reading a book by Alan Coren called The Cricklewood Dome. I have always admired people who can write about ordinary, everyday things, and make me laugh out loud.

Friday 22 May 2009

Chores and swimming lessons

Yesterday passed in a blur of preparation to do our kitchen makeover. We found some wood for the floor, loaded it into our car together with special cupboard paint that is supposed to cover melamine. On the way back we spotted Jim and Mary, waiting at the bus stop, so stopped to pick them up, forgetting that the back seat was filled with wood; Mary however squeezed herself in, leaving Jim to come home by bus.

We watched The Mentalist, I am beginning to really dislike his character, always smirking in the face of tragedy, and the X Files. It is pathetic how little of interest there is to watch now that we have 500 channels to choose from.t

Today I dashed off to the library, getting my books back under the wire just in time. We then went swimming, feeling very virtuous as we got into the very cold water. Some young boys were being tested to see if they could swim, one could not, so he had to sit on the side while his friend swam as they had not got a responsible adult with them. Mas volunteered to look after them, and before long, with Mas teaching him, the boy could swim the width of the pool!

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Cat astrophes, kitchen DIY and lunch

We kept Salty indoors overnight, only to find he had knocked two plants off the conservatory windowsill, breaking a hand painted painted bowl in the process, but at least he seemed to be feeling well. After clearing the mess up I did a bit more in the shed, then walked to Edgware to collect prescriptions, on the way back I met Mary and Jim, and they talked to me for almost an hour.

Later Mas and I discussed changing our kitchen, as it is looking rather scruffy, so went off to a DIY store to collect some paint charts, and also looked at wood veneer flooring, as the one we have seems to be wearing out.

Today we planned to go to St. Albans, but Robert could not meet us as he was too busy, and Tania has started her new job. We drove up admiring all the new foliage on the trees, and stopped to take a few photos on the way. Once in St. Albans we had lunch at Sazios before collecting our shopping and heading home.

Click on photo to enlarge.

I spoke to Pete, and also Margaret phoned and chatted. We watched the X Files and Numbers in the evening.

Monday 18 May 2009

Traumatic cat neutering and relaxing with Genghis Khan

We got up early and took Salty off to the vets before we even had our morning coffee. We left him there, and went home and had breakfast. Both of us felt sad for the cat, even though we believe we are doing the right thing for his health, apart from the fact that we cannot afford to support his love life.

We moped around all day doing our usual chores, and got shopping at Stanmore and went for a pub lunch. We collected Salty from the vets at 3.30pm, and took him home. The vet had cleaned up the bites on his tail, and shaved off a lot of his tail fur as well as neutering him; he was very pleased to be home again.

Florence phoned and chatted, and in the evening we watched a Russian version of Genghis Khan which was very interesting. We had been advised to keep Salty in all night until the anaesthetic was out of his system, so we did, and went to bed quite early

Sunday 17 May 2009

Good news from Tania, and last meal for doomed cat

Yesterday I walked to Stanmore for the exercise, and picked up a small amount of shopping before going home, and painting more of the shed.

Tania sent me some special gloves in the hope that I could wear them when trying to play the guitar, so not cutting my fingertips. She also enclosed a card she had made, using a photo she had taken when we were on holiday in Madeira; this bought back a lot of nice memories.

I phoned Tania later, and found out that she has got the job that she applied for some time ago, and is very pleased, and will start her induction next Monday.

Today Salty began taking his antibiotics. He has had them before and loves them. He begs for them and purrs while eating them. He is feeling better now, and is more lively.

I did more painting in the shed which also involves sorting things out and tidying up, and deciding if anything should be thrown away, or recycled. I watched a funny episode of Last of the Summer Wine in the evening. Salty had his last meal at 8.00pm, and we kept him indoors all night as we had to make an early start to go to the vets in the morning.

Friday 15 May 2009

Planned preventative medicine

When we got up Salty was looking a bit mopey, his tail was still hurting and he did not eat very much. We decided we should take him to the vet again, and made a late afternoon appointment.

I went off to the hospital as arranged, and for a change had a mammogram, afterwards I met one of my friendly nurses in the hospital who cheered me up by sorting out all my appointment problems.

I went home as quickly as possible afterwards to go to the vets with Mas. The vet after looking quickly at his tail gave him a shot, and some penicillin pills for me to give him at home to prevent abscesses. We agreed to have him neutered, and fixed the date, and the vet said when he was anaesthetised she would look at his tail properly.

In the evening we watched a NCIS and then I went into the garden and took the dry laundry off the cloths line when it was dark. I wondered briefly if I removed all my cloths whether I would glow in the dark after so much radiation, and how long it would be before Edgware had a ghostly reputation.

Thursday 14 May 2009

Hurt tail and debt of gratitude

Yesterday morning Salty rushed indoors purring loudly but also trembling violently. I had noticed that he had not run in with his tail raised as usual, so I thought he had hurt it. He would not let me look at it, so I thought it must be really painful, ans spent time calming him down.

Mas had planned to meet a friend at lunchtime, and he was out until late afternoon. Salty spent most of the day sleeping, so I painted half of the interior of our garden shed in leftover white paint, it had become so dingy it looked like a medieval prison cell.

Salty seemed much better in the evening and ate with a good appetite, but he still was not raising his tail.

Today we were expecting Pat for lunch, but as the weather was not good enough to eat in the garden we decided to go to the Man in the Moon for a pub lunch. Pat arrived bearing wine and flowers, and we went of and had a meal which we all enjoyed.
We came home and had a few glasses of wine in the conservatory; we had a lot to talk about as we had not seen each other for some time. Mason had bought a chocolate brownie cheese cake (1,000 calories a slice), and we had some of that too before Pat had to leave and go home.
Pat is an old friend to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Glossy magazines and an itchy business

We had a day at home clearing up, gardening and cooking. Myk called round with an update on the traffic situation, and Maria sent round lots of glossy magazines for me to read which was a nice surprise. I like looking at them in case there are any unusual colour schemes that may be useful to me, and I enjoy reading the recipes of delicious desserts although I am generally too lazy to actually make them.

Diane phoned sounding rather chipper, and Pat phoned too. Mas and I relaxed in the evening and watched something not very memorable before going early to bed.

Today Salty came in covered in strange, long wriggly fleas which could jump too. I was surprised to see fleas on him as we have Frontlined him. I spent about an hour combing him which he usually likes, but today I had to struggle with him while I did it, and put up with a lot of fearsome growling. Eventually they were all dispatched, but I got a crop of bites too. Mas went off to the chemist and got me some antihistamine cream to rub on.

Afterwards I did some gardening, before putting all my cloths into the washing machine and myself into a bath, and tried not to think about wriggling insects anymore.

On Tuesday I checked Salty at length to see if he was still clear of fleas, and then we went swimming. The water was so cold, a couple of penguins swum past me in the pool, but as usual we felt invigorated walking back to the car later.

Saturday 9 May 2009

Marion's birthday party

Yesterday we were busy shopping in the morning, and in the afternoon I coloured my hair. I got distracted doing other things and left the colour in my hair a bit too long. I rinsed and washed it, then noticed I had a dark line across my forehead where the shower cap had been, which would not come off. Typical!

In the evening we went to White Hawk's Medicine Lodge (aka Marion's house). It was Marion's birthday a few days earlier so she was holding a party to celebrate this. By mistake Mas and I arrived a bit early , so I helped Marion prepare the food and chatted to her while Mas was talking to people in the garden. As usual Marion had lots of interesting people to talk to, and it was nice to see her family again, but a bit shocking to see how mature they are now, when I remember hearing the youngest on a baby monitor many years ago.

A huge fire was lit in the garden with people sitting around chatting, and some indoors too. There was a lot of delicious food and interesting conversations going on. I discovered that Marion's brother Phil has the same taste in funny books as I do, and also that he has other talents as well as being an actor. In the meantime mini hot air balloons were being released into the dark night air, and we could see them rising and disappearing into the distance.

We has a really enjoyable evening, and got home much later than we had previously intended.

Friday 8 May 2009

Living Crafts at Hatfield House and dinner too!

Yesterday after doing our usual chores we went swimming at Copthall, and came home feeling quite virtuous. I spoke to Pete too, catching up our news. In the evening we watched the X Files and The Bill, then I went off to listen to some cheerful music while I did the washing up.

Today we had breakfast, and then went to collect Tania from St. Albans. The three of us drove off to historic Hatfield House to look at The Living Crafts show.

The weather was extremely windy all day and mostly grey and overcast, but luckily there were only occasional showers. As we went on a Friday there were not too many crowds, and the weather had probably put some people off as well.

This jazz quartet, The Franklin Street New Orleans jazz band is usually playing to a large surrounding crowd of enthusiastic people, but today they were cold and almost being blown away and could only be distinctly heard down wind, but they were all being cheerful still.

Tania was interested in the weaving and felt making guilds, and may visit them later. She bought a small hand loom in the meantime to get started and to try it out. I was interested in the silk painting section.

Beautiful Barn Owl being shown in aid of owl protection.

Prise winning angora sheep; there were lots of hand spun and woven items for sale.

We saw lots of work by some of the craftspeople that we admire. There was a group of children doing maypole dancing, but as most of the children were at school there was not a Punch and Judy show, or Morris dancing which we have usually seen. We stayed till the end, but it all became empty quickly, lots of people being intimidated by the high winds. Let us hope for the exhibitors sake that the weather improves for the weekend.

We drove Tania home, and admired the spring flowers in the garden including black tulips. Mas was feeling very tired, but we found that Tania had phoned Robert earlier and asked him to put the roast into the oven, which he had done. This unexpected meal was delicious and we really enjoyed it.

Later I drove us home, and we watched a NCIS before going off to bed.

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Clear scan and verdant countryside

Yesterday was my turn to go to the Royal Free hospital where I had a blood test, and was told that my recent scan was clear. While I was at the hospital Mas took Salty to the vets to have his stitches out; Salty did his best to shred Mason's jacket sleeve clawing through the side of his carrying box.

Toby phoned in the evening which was nice, and we watched John Nettles in one of the Midsomer Murders; it is lucky we live in the suburbs as the countryside is obviously much too dangerous!

Today we drove off to St. Albans and met Tania and Robert in Sazio's for lunch and got our usual shopping before driving home. The countryside is looking lovely now in full leaf, with lots of horse chestnut trees in flower and yellow fields of oil seed rape in bloom.

Monday 4 May 2009

Visits from friends, to hospitals and round the bend

On Sunday we had invited Tania, Robert and Diane over hoping that the weather would be good enough to eat out in the garden, but it was cooler with a chilly breeze. Luckily the house was still fairly tidy so we could concentrate on preparing the food until they arrived.

This exotic huge flower, which Glen and Barry gave us last year, has flowered at last.

We had a nice afternoon with our friends, Mas cooking rather too much food. We managed to sit in the garden for some time, but it was a bit chilly. Later Robert and Tania gave Diane a lift to the station before going home themselves.

We went off to bed quite early as we were feeling tired after our marathon entertaining weekend.

On Monday we got up early as Mas had to go to the Royal Free Hospital for some tests. Salty was not to be seen, usually he is waiting for us to get up. We had breakfast, and I drove Mas to the station.

Salty had not eaten any food during the night, and had not slept at home. When it began raining quite heavily I became more concerned as I know if he was nearby he would come indoors to get out of the rain. I phoned Pete, telling him I thought someone may have stolen him as he is so handsome; Pete said he wasn't and that no one would want him as he has such an ugly tail!

I walked down to Edgware whistling as shrilly as I could looking for him, and getting some strange looks on the way.
Mas came home from the hospital happy to have got the tests over with, and relieved that there is nothing serious the matter, and went round the block looking for Salty without any luck.

When it began to get dark I walked in a different direction, whistling again. I could not see him, but walking past Margaret and John's house I spotted him and called. He gave me such an indifferent look that I had to look carefully at him to make sure it was him. He moved from front garden to front garden, then he sat down next to two small cats and they all looked at me! I got hold of him and marched round the bend to our house with him growling all the time, I had obviously shown him up in front of his friends!
I had an email from Joan. Spring has finally come to her part of Ontario and she sent these pictures of Wake Robins and Dog Toothed Violets growing in the woods

Saturday 2 May 2009

Garden party

Today we rushed around in the morning, me tidying up, and Mas making final preparations to the food. Satish bought plastic plates, napkins and food round that Maheena had made. In short order around 3.00pm there were eleven adults and four children present, and all in our small kitchen at once which was very confusing for Mas. We managed to shepherd them into our sitting room and conservatory and finally into the garden where they settled; the weather was warm and sunny for a change.

Everyone had drinks and food and seemed very cheerful, with lots of joking going on; a lot at Manu's expense. Mas and I were busy trying to make sure everyone had the things they needed and also to talk to everyone. The children were trying to play with Salty, but he was being a bit wary. I did call him over so that Radovan could stroke him for a moment. I had my camera, but did not have time to take pictures.

People began leaving as twilight came; I had to almost arm wrestle a few people to stop them helping with the clear up. When the final person left we were happy that things had gone well, and that we had the chance to do it. It is remarkable how many friends we have that resulted from taking classes locally; sadly these classes are no longer available for us.

Friday 1 May 2009

CT scan and swimming

On Thursday I had to go to the Royal Free Hospital for a CT scan. While waiting I sat next to a very interesting man who had, at some time, been fitted with a pacemaker which had made all the difference to his life. I had bought my library book to read, but we were so busy talking I did not even open it. It is odd how strangers can talk about details of their lives that would not even be shared by best friends.

When I got home our local paper had been delivered, and I saw that my hero Myk Tucker had won yet again! The construction company that has been using our quiet local roads to drive their giant trucks through will now use the right roads, keeping to the the original agreement with the council. Another triumph for Myk!

I walked to the library quickly to return my books and to get a teach yourself guitar playing book. Today we went swimming for the first time this year. The pool was almost empty, and the water very cold, but we felt much invigorated by the swim. Previously we had got some shopping in for the get together tomorrow, and I did an emergency house clean and tidy up indoors and in the garden.

We are expecting nine adults and four children to come to us tomorrow afternoon, so Maheena and Mas have been planning what food to prepare.