Wednesday 30 December 2009

Birthday visit

We were expecting Pete to come to stay, so Mas got in some shopping, and I made up the bed and generally tidied up the house in readiness. Mas lost his voice, and when Pete arrived he briefly joked that we had found Mason's mute button, and when his voice started coming back and he was whispering Pete said he sounded like a Mafioso.
We exchanged presents, then we had a sloe gin (courtesy of Pete, but next year I resolve to make some too,) before having a tasty meal of roast ribs and all the fixings. We later watched 'I love you to death' with Kevin Kline which Pete had not seen before, and is based on a true story, but is funny. After this Pete and Mas began to watch 'Batman Begins' while I cleared up.

It had been a nice day, apart from Mas having a sore throat.

Today we got up earlyish and had a relaxed breakfast together, listening to the music CD Lorraine had given me, which is very peaceful. Wynford called around bringing me a present that Glen had put aside for my birthday today. He told us the details of his mother's passing, and was extremely upset and sad.

Pete and Mas finished 'Batman Begins', and we had a nice turkey dinner together before Pete headed off home, taking the subdued painting I had done for Lorraine with him.

Not long afterwards Maheena called in bringing me a birthday present, and I had the chance to give her Varun's preset as it is his birthday today as well. We stayed talking for quite a while, Maheena very sad about Glen's passing too. When she left, Florence called and chatted too, and Diane as well. By this time I was feeling very tired, and Mas was feeling much worse.

Monday 28 December 2009

Shocking news

After another poor nights sleep we thought we would take it easy today, and Poppy called to see if we knew what was happening next door as they had seen the ambulance too. Mas went round to next door, and we found out that Glen was still in hospital. Mas invited Wynford and Barry to come round as we could cook something for them, but they were too distracted. In the evening Maheena and Satish called round and told us the shocking and sad news that Glen had died in the early evening. Everyone was stunned. They said they were going to tell Poppy and Ben next.
Mas was beginning to get a sore throat, so we took it easy all day, and kept warm, but I am sure both our minds kept wandering back to the sudden and unexpected death of our friend.
Today Poppy and Ben called around, both saddened and shocked by Glen's passing. They also bough some leftover dessert and a bottle of red wine which neither of them like. We took it easy again, Mas feeling somewhat worse, and both of us feeling exhausted.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Boxing Day

After a rather poor nights' sleep we had a late breakfast, and relaxed until 2.00pm. We had been invited to Poppy and Ben's for a meal with some of their family. Poppy had laid out a long table in their conservatory for the grown ups, and everything looked cheerful, bright and cosy.

Poppy had made a huge meal with a roast chicken, lamb and a turkey, and rice cooked in a traditional Persian way, all of which were delicious. Later she served multiple desserts, which were also too tempting. At one point a sweet little 18month old girl was told by her mother to apologise to Lilu, the dog, for hitting her, which she did.

There was lots of laughter, and Ben was imitating the odd TV advert, making us laugh again. They have a really nice family, and everyone seemed so good natured. Eventually some people left, but we stayed on for a little while with them, before dragging ourselves home, across the road.

We were just getting ready to go to bed when we noticed that an ambulance was parked outside our next door neighbours' house. I noticed Glen and Wynford walk to the ambulance and get in, and it was a long time before it drove away; we wondered if Barry had been taken ill, or whether Glen had fallen and hurt an arm. We went to bed feeling rather concerned.

Friday 25 December 2009

Christmas Day

Today the weather was bright but very cold, and Maheena's birthday too! At 2.00 Oktay, as planned, picked us up and then drove off to pick up his niece and nephew as well. We arrived safely at Cheshunt where we were greeted by Monika who said that Milan had hardly been able to wait for all of us to arrive.

Monika had laid the table which looked beautiful; she said it was the best one she had done. It was at this point I found I had forgotten to bring my camera! There were eleven of us, and Monika made a splendid Czech meal for all (last year she made a Turkish meal), that consisted of lots of different courses and many colourful platters of food, including one with lots of different small sweets that had been home made in a traditional way.

We spent a long time eating and talking, and had a large shot of gluvine made from plum brandy before we started; for medicinal purposes of course. Afterwards, some of the more stalwart of us went for a walk in the snow with the children, looking at the splendid decorations that were displayed by some of the people in the neighbourhood. It is amazing how easily Monika's mother Olga and I can communicate, neither of us having a word of the other's language.

We sat around talking and eating more than we should while the children played upstairs. Little Milan and a friend's daughter decided that they would get married when they grew up (they are presently only five years old). When it was time to go home Oktay took his nephew and niece home, and then drove back to Edgware with us, luckily there was not much traffic on the roads. We arrived home about 1.30am, only to find that the cat had almost finished packing his bags as he thought we had left home for good as we had been out so long. We then went tiredly to bed. It had been another nice day though!

Thursday 24 December 2009

A Winter Wonderland day out

This morning I took a few small presents next door to Glen and Barry's.
Tania and Robert arrived about 2.30pm, and we walked to the station leaving Mas working contentedly at home. We tubed to Green Park, and then walked to Hyde Park where the Winter Wonderland had been set up. While the moose head below was speaking at some length in German, Tania found out that her friends would be arriving later, so we decided to get something to eat first.

Tania wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Park Lane, and so we did.

Entrance to the Hard Rock Cafe.

As we went in, we were told we would have to wait some time before there was a free table, but we had a drink, and the time soon passed. It was very busy and crowded. Eventually we were served by a very friendly, but incredibly loud Spanish waitress, no doubt she had to train her voice to be heard above the rock music.
We returned to the Winter Wonderland afterwards.

And before long we met up with Tania and Robert's friends, and had some mulled wine and chatted. I was shocked to hear later that Robert's friend was going to do his yearly Christmas swim in the Serpentine river tomorrow, despite there still being snow on the ground!

Haunted House

There were lots of people with their children enjoying the lights and rides.
As it began to get very cold and time for the children to leave, Tania, Robert and I walked back to the Station and then home to Stanmore. When we did get home, walking carefully on the slippery ice, we found Mas had cooked a very tasty Christmas Eve feast, which we all enjoyed.

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Walking with Margaret and Henry, and a magnetised cat.

Robert and Tania phoned, and talked about their recent holiday in Dubai. They then invited us to go down to town tomorrow and visit the Winter Wonderland with them, and some friends. I said I would go with them, but Mas wanted to stay home and work.

The snow was still on the ground, but the sun was shining, so I walked round to Margaret and John's to give them the small gifts we had for them. Margaret was looking after the dog, Henry, so we went for a short walk with him.

Mas and I watched old video tapes in the evening, including an old Bergerac, it was strange to see John Nettles looking so young, and to see the Jersey scenery.

I woke up during the night to the sound of stampeding cats. Needless to say the dark intruder had eaten all Salty's food, we can always tell because he licks the plates clean and is very neat and tidy, and I am sorry to say Salty is a very sloppy eater with poor table manners. It is now obvious that the Tabby has procured a magnet too, so can use our cat's door.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Diane's visit and a night at the opera

Today Diane is coming to visit, so after getting up rather late on this cold day Mas shot out to get some shopping, while I tidied and straightened up the house and made up a bed for Diane. It began to snow quite heavily, and Diane called to see whether we could collect her from the station, which we did.

We had a really nice day with her. Mas volunteered to cook while we watched The Marx Brothers in A Night at the Opera (I think he would prefer to have his teeth extracted rather than watch the Marx Brothers!). We had a leisurely meal , a succulent salmon dinner with sparkling wine ( and sparkling repartee?)

Later we saw another favourite film, which Diane had not seen before, but I do not remember which one, before we tottered off to bed.

In the morning we had a slow relaxed breakfast before Mas took Diane off to the station as she had to get some Christmas shopping. It had been like old times!
The weather got colder, and in the night Salty came upstairs, and slept lying along my leg, not from affection, but for my body heat!

Sunday 20 December 2009

Snowy bonhomie and keeping cozy

I spent the next two days trying to sort out small gifts for friends and neighbours, and wrapping them. The weather being colder we cooked warm soups for lunch, and baked things in the evenings.

On the way to the post office I saw Maheena and Glen, and we were joking with each other. It had snowed again overnight, and I walked very carefully to the post office as there was black ice on the roads. I met another neighbour, and we chatted and joked. Complete strangers were telling each other to be careful and not to slip, and there was a lot of bonhomie about. While washing up, from the kitchen window I saw one neighbour in his 90s walking up the road to take his younger friend the newspaper.

On Saturday it was still snowing on and off. I noticed that we had paw prints of various sizes all over our garden, and bird prints. These were also over most neighbouring shed roofs, but our vandal neighbour's garden was pristine, no living thing had entered his space at all; it is as if the area has an invisible barrier around it.

In the evening we watched 'Merlin,' Colin Morgan plays Merlin, and he did a great job of acting when he found out that he was a dragon lord. We also saw another excellent Wallander, but the snowy wintry scenery seemed a bit too real and familiar.

On Sunday morning Poppy called round to say she was going to the shops and would we like her to get us some shopping too, we did not need anything, but thought it so kind of her to ask us. Lilu the dog has got a chest infection, and Poppy thought she may have got too cold with snow on her fur, and she ate lots of it too.

I have been listening to lots of music on, especially crisantemi (Chrysanthemum) by Puccini, and all the spaghetti western music by Ennio Morreconi. The weather is very cold so we are keeping ourselves cosy during the evenings.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Snow Party

I woke up early, and was quietly listening to the radio in bed when Salty meowed urgently under the door. Thinking he was in trouble I let him in, and he burst out purring. Once I was settled in bed again he lay on my arm and wedged his head under my chin and went to sleep! He stayed put until I eventually got up, which was unusual.

We had been invited round to Margaret and John's in the evening where we met up with the usual suspects. In all there were ten of us and three children. As usual Margaret and John had made a lovely party spread which we all enjoyed, and John had cooked an apple pie with apples from the garden.

It was nice to see our friends, and everyone had a good time chatting and laughing until it was time to go home. As we left we all found that it had been snowing all the time we were indoors, and we had to be careful walking home as everything was frozen, especially the roads. Nevertheless, it had been a really nice evening, and John and Margaret deserve medals for giving everyone such a nice time.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Snow in Ontario and here too.

We started writing some Christmas cards, and thought about putting up decorations, but because we have bought all the Geraniums into the conservatory there really is no room.
In the evening Manu and then Margaret phoned, she is planning an evening party.

Later we watched a funny film called 'Mars Attack!'. It was fairly stupid, but I thought the funniest part was when the invading Martians were destroyed by the broadcast sound of Slim Whitman singing The Indian Love Call from the show RoseMarie in his yodelling style ( which I like even if the Martians didn't). Sadly for the Martians it made their heads explode!

On Monday we went to Stanmore and got lots of shopping and had lunch at The Man in the Moon. In the afternoon we made a Madras curry and a fruit pie for dinner tonight. Salty got overexcited by the smell of the cooking curry, and he jumped onto the cooker twice to see what was happening; it was fortunate that we did not have pot roast cat too. As a concession we baked him some Pollack which he loves.

Today I started putting up a few decorations. Joan sent this picture from Ontario, they have had quite a snowfall, and are expecting more!

Surprisingly it snowed here as well, just a light shower or two, but it has got much colder. We watched a few reruns on TV and had a cozy evening.

Salty does not mind snow or the cold weather, but his tail fur stands on end when he gets really cold. We had more snow today. We had another cozy evening, and had boeuf a l'orange after a glass of sherry. We watched another stylish Poirot with interesting art deco scenery.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Unusual films and a French Market

The weather turned colder. After breakfast I found another small dead mouse hidden in a corner, and disposed of him in the green recycling bin. We went off to Stanmore and did various chores, then in the afternoon I walked to Edgware and posted things at the post office, and then did some window shopping.

In the evening we watched a video called 'Tai -pan' about Hong Kong around the time of the opium wars. It was a colourful and interesting film.

Today we went off to St. Albans early, and found that the French Market was there as well as the usual street market. Tania and Robert were on holiday, but we had a nice lunch at Sazios as usual, and our waitress was from Estonia originally.

Pete called and chatted in the evening, and later we watched a French film called 'The Poisoner,' it is a good film, but could end up making its' viewers claustrophobically paranoid about small villages and gossip. Later it was quite a relief to watch Wallander which was just a normal murder with a good plot.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Traumatic vet visit and beginning to do Christmas cards

Yesterday we had to take Salty for his booster injection. He meowed all the way to the vets, and when she examined him he left wet footprints on the examination table he was sweating so much. He weighs nearly 4 kilos now, and the vet thought he looked very healthy, and gave him a worm pill too. We went carefully home again, Salty still very unhappy in the car, and us reeling from how much the outing had cost us. Salty spent the rest of the day recovering and sleeping, and I cooked him some pollack as he really enjoys that fish sometimes.

Today was bright and sunny, and Salty back to normal chased rainbows from the crystal all over the carpet, and watched them moving across the ceiling, while we had a late breakfast. Making the most of the weather I moved the Geraniums from the back window box, and planted them in a tub to overwinter in the conservatory. I called Margaret, and had an early surprise birthday card from Christiane and Eddie. Later I started doing some Christmas cards, which I know I should have already finished.

Monday 7 December 2009

Nice lunch and good eyes!

We had to get some shopping, and as the sun was shining we went off to Stanmore where we also had one of the roast Sunday dinners at the Man in the Moon. They do very nice Sunday lunches there, which includes a drink of your choice in the price. We came out feeling cheerful, and later for exercise I walked to Edgware and collected Mason's prescription medicines. It was dark when I got home again.

Toby phoned in the evening too which was nice as well. In the evening we watched an old tape of the Corsican Brothers film which made a change.

This morning I had an appointment at Specsavers to have my eyes tested. It is about three years since they were looked at, but I was told my eyes were healthy, and only the reading vision had changed slightly, not enough to warrant new glasses. I had been told before that I was getting cataracts, but these are still very small and don't seem to have got any worse.

Afterwards Mas and I went to Stanmore as we had seen two Opera mask faces that we really both liked, and reminded us of Budapest. The shop had been closed on Sunday, but when we got there today they had already been sold. Spoke to Pete later to see if all was well.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Feeling end of yearish

Salty was out all night again, and the reason was probably that he lost his collar, with the magnet on it ,and so he could not get in. Luckily it had not been so cold during the night. We went off to Borehamwood and bought another collar for him, and put it on him, with a spare magnet. Now he will look like a spectral cat at night...white with glowing eyes and a reflective collar. We deactivated the cat door until he gets used to the new adult cat collar. The Tabby cat found that the cat door was no longer locked for him, so came in at night and ate up all Salty's food as usual.

Mas continued to have problems with his recently opened bank account, and once again had to queue up in the bank to try to get it sorted out. It is like Ground Hog Day with these banks. Feeling fed up we had lunch in the pub, and came out feeling normal again (or what seems to pass for normal).

Today Mas had to visit the bank again, and when he came back he cleared up the last of the leaves from the front garden and cut the grass. I did the back garden accompanied by Salty.
This should be the last grass cutting this year!

Poppy called round, and we walked Lilu to the park. There were lots of different dogs in the park being walked by their owners. We got talking to a nice boy who was taking his dog Dizzy Rascal walking, but the puppy was not old enough to be taken off the lead yet. Poppy and Ben have also invited us to visit them on Boxing Day.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Party animal and racing dog.

In the morning I walked down to the library and poked about looking at the books and music for a while, and later Mas and I went to Stanmore to check our bank balances and look in some of the shops.

Salty went out as usual around seven in the evening. We watched a 'Lewis' detective story; they are putting one on each evening this week. This is a follow on series from 'Morse,' and is also set in Oxford with interesting and rather involved story lines. Luckily there is very little shouting or car crashes and the background music is good.

We prepared to go to bed, and Salty still had not shown himself; he usually returns for a snack before we go to bed, and the temperature suddenly dropped.

When we woke in the morning there was a thick frost everywhere, luckily Salty came indoors as we got up; I expected him to have frost bite on his toes, but he was looking as usual, but he had obviously had an active time, dancing the night away, as he slept all day without waking for food.

I walked down to Edgware went to the post office and made an appointment to get my eyes checked as it is about three years since I have been to an optician's.

Poppy called in for me, and we walked to Stonegrove Park with Lilu the dog. We walked round the park several times, but there were no other dog walkers around. Lilu rushed around like a miniature race horse looking very funny with bouncing ears and tail. She also ran through some muddy puddles, and chased Magpies.

When we walked home Poppy said she would bathe her dog when she got home; she had been for a job interview that morning and was waiting for a phone call with the results. Later she popped over and said she had got the job she wanted, which is excellent.

Mas and I watched a Poirot, with David Suchet and Hugh Fraser. I am always surprised by Hugh Fraser as he bears such a strong resemblance to my father, which is strengthened by the period setting. We also watched another episode of Lewis and eventually staggered off to bed with square eyes.