Hobbies 5

The sand-yacht

X is now embarking upon making a sort of sand-yacht using 3 secondhand skateboards for wheels and two broomsticks for a mast – said like that it rather sounds as if he’ll look like a cross between a witch and Tarzan in full flight!

I’m enjoying the Scottish dancing though at present feel much more inept than on the first night! The more you realise that you’re doing things wrongly, the more discouraging it is! However, we have about half an hour actual lesson for the new ones now so with any luck things may improve. Unfortunately I’ve found so far that one can do brilliant skip changes, setting reels etc. when practising but go completely to pieces when you have work out where to go as well!

Having bought a half gallon of resin at vast cost I tried to encapsulate my pumice head as no one has found a way to preserve pumice. What to do it in was the first difficulty, then I decided the best thing we had to hand was a sherry flagon. I got it standing on its neck end straight, and filled it to the shoulder with resin. (Having first tied pieces of string soaked in petrol round the base, set it alight and then plunged into cold water, and broke it off – a little alarming!) When dry I waxed this and the rest of the flagon, suspended the head upsidedown inside and started pouring the catalysed resin down the side; it said you shouldn’t pour more than quarter of a inch at once as the heat builds up and could crack it. I began very carefully, keeping the next lot of resin on ice to slow down gelling, but the afternoon drew on and I got more and more reckless until the thing gave off enormous heat – and yes, they were right, it cracked all over! and bang went my head and about $8 worth of resin! The little paper weight I tried with seed heads inbetween times worked like a dream, of course.

Our recorder group seems to be falling to pieces which is sad… Of course there was also X, who was so earnest, and used to organise little concerts for us with various groups of captive audience like pensioners which we hated – but she gave us up a couple of years ago now, and I can’t say that we were sorry, ingrates that we are! Our trouble is that none of us find time to practise regularly, so we never get any better, which must be very dull for real musicians.

Last Friday we all set off for X for our jolly bridge tournament; at present we’re saying never again. We excelled ourselves by coming bottom, very shaming. It was totally exhausting. We played from 1.30 on Saturday to 5.30 p.m., off to find our dinner, back at 7.30 and play until nearly 11 p.m. Back at 9.30 a.m. Sunday and play until 1 p.m. Then a light meal laid on by their super club (cost quarter of a million) whilst we waited for the results. (Wish we hadn’t!) Half way through Sunday morning I was so tired I could hardly follow suit yet alone be cunning.

It’s really very maddening, X is trying watercolour landscapes too, and he’s really so much better than I am, without really trying! … [Next day] When we got back after a cuppa we went back to finish yesterday’s painting; of course all colours had changed; X’s was super anyway and mine is a mess, bah! I beat him two days running at Scrabble tho’!

I do find dressmaking so much more relaxing than painting etc. as I don’t have to think so much, but now I really have no more excuses and must be creative or just admit I haven’t got what it takes, which I have a sneaking suspicion is the case!

It really does surprise me how many of my acquaintance here appear to spend all their time playing golf, bowls or croquet by day, and bridge by night. Maybe they do do all sorts of useful things in between – and come to think of it I suppose it’s not really any more constructive to spend my time growing vegetables to eat and cutting up wood to burn.

In between times I’ve bought a fibreglass boat! 9’3” long – it’s still in the shop while I chase a trailer which I hope to have by Friday. It looks a sweetie and is (provisionally) to be called Giggle.

X is having a nasty time trying to work out the bridge scores from last night, someone must have made a wrong move and some couples played the same hand 3 times without noticing it! We had a phantom twice and others didn’t have one at all, what the computer will make of the results I hate to think!

I’ve bought 32 ounces of natural wool to make X another Aran jacket, she’s worn hers almost nonstop for 5 years, and it’s beginning to look like it, I’ve lost all my lovely nails I grew on our holiday, usually not having something to do with my hands in the evening, so I hope this will be therapeutic as well as cover X. [The nails haven’t got mislaid but nibbled off…]

Pets 2

She really is a most surprising and individual dog – much too friendly, normally, as a guard dog though occasionally she produces menacing barks and growls. Every now and then she suddenly goes haywire and rushes about, often going off about fifty yards and then coming charging back straight at you. If she actually hit one at top speed she would certainly knock one over and probably break your leg as well, as she is about 10 inches across the chest and weighs 3.5 stone. Other times she dances around off all four paws at once and she has a remarkable heavy breathing act. But in another mood nothing will do but to snuggle up and lay her head on whatever portion of ones anatomy is available – however uncomfortable that leaves the rest of her!

Dancing off all four paws

There is a dog of ancient vintage, which I don’t think will last long but it doesn’t worry me as much as the thing the previous girl brought. It was a mad mongrel that barked and jumped up at everybody. So it was not with any sorrow that I said goodbye to that particular animal!

About two weeks ago she went up the hill with X and started racing down and rolled over dead – heart attack. Too sad – we miss her and in fact chose the place we’re going to to be near walking country. However, no doubt we’ll be more tempted to walk if it doesn’t mean going the same way always or take the car. We’ll wait and see how we feel when we’re settled before thinking of another.

Our beautiful Irish setter ran away one day and never came back. Either someone stole her, or she may have been shot for running deer. Either is equally possible. It hurt a lot to lose her, even though setters traditionally have a roaming tendency, and she had slipped off enough times for us to know that one day it would be for good.

We had to let the old dog be put to sleep and we got a 4 year old boxer, quite small, from animal welfare. It has been an exhausting 3 days as we have no gate and 400 metres of only barbed wire fence. But she is settling down and stays close to us. We can shut her in the little back yard when we both go out – only for church mostly.

Last year I entered a competition to name one of Henny Penny’s little chicks. I was lucky enough to win one. Eggburt was delivered three weeks ago.

Silver linings

X and I played together at the Bridge Club (my appointed partner most timely lost a relative-by-marriage at an advanced age and just the right moment) and came second, which pleased us greatly.

I realised that my brand new small case had 2 holes – because of the weight of my shopping it had dragged on the ground, so presto I hitched a lift for the rest of the way – very thankful to my Guardian Angel!

Today they have gone back to eat the remains of the feast, except that X can’t eat much having been in hospital last week; her colon is inflamed and must be on a diet before they operate! She is none too pleased, but she has lost 3 pounds in 2 days, and was glad to tell me.

I’ve had 3 happenings. I thought I’d lost my great great uncle’s ring and spent a morning hunting for it – then was just going to go out when I thought I’d better ask our neighbour as we’d had tea with them and there it was under the couch I was sitting on. Joy. Then X collecting luggage and bits for our jaunt put his hand in the top of the linen-cum-everything cupboard and found the pair of glasses I’d lost some six months ago AND I had a phone call to say I’d won the raffle of an Aran knit cardigan.

We were doing some rush shopping and got back just as the traffic cop had ordered a tow away – he rushed to his bike and managed to cancel it just in time – so her ticket was $20 instead of $40 – she played the organ at a funeral the next day, she said it would just pay it!

I’ve got flu or something at the moment. About half the school is down with it so I suppose I would hardly miss getting it. It’s a blessing in disguise really cos they’ve had to cancel house drama which was going hopelessly anyway. I was going to be a headmaster in my play but I was terrible at it. That just leaves us with a musical evening, a bio/geog trip and market day – all of which I’ll probably miss (hopefully) at this rate.

The agent’s visit occasioned a certain amount of activity such as doing a clearance in the garage – which for the moment is startling (at least to me) in its orderliness!

I heard from X last week. She remarked that although it was easier to read my typing and I got more on the page, she felt she’d lost the spirit of adventure when reading my letters!

Handwriting v. type

Diet ideas

I’ve lost a bet with X to lose half a stone. I think I’ve put on 2 lbs and she, maddening child, has lost more than she set out to! This cold weather makes me want to eat more to stoke up, and last week’s bridge, or lack of it, didn’t help. I turned up all set to find my partner was already sitting with someone, she’d just failed to put our date in her programme. I was so cross I came home, bit all my nails off and then raided my tin of meringues and whipped lots of cream and ate no less than four!

He is on to something new in natural food, etc. and now his wife is on a completely raw diet; they gave me a taste of her raw bread and it did awful things to my glands and turned my mouth down so I couldn’t even try to say it was lovely! Anyway at present she is blooming and he said it was all because of twice a day raw wheat shoot drink which is grown from special organically grown wheat, from which they make their bread. He showed me the masses of little trays he was growing his wheat in; it is ready 10-14 days after sowing, about 6 inches high, when he puts a handful in a glass of water (collected once a week from a friend’s bore!) and puts it in the liquefier and you drink it straight away!!

Raw bread and wheat grass

Wasn’t it maddening, the abscess didn’t stop me eating, I could do with losing a stone! A friend of ours has just been on brown bread and water/ coffee/tea and no milk on alternate days for 2 weeks and lost 2 kgs.

We’ve just had the most sumptuous plum pie with lots of cream as Lent is over. I’m an ass, perhaps that’s why I lost nearly 1/2 a stone. I must try and restrain myself.

I heard from X that she’d gained 3 lbs – I wonder if she’ll keep it up. Do hope so.

He only weighs a few pounds more than me – tho’ admittedly I’ve suddenly gone to nearly 11 stone and can hardly bend in the middle and none of my clothes fit so I must take action TOMORROW! The doctor’s quite unsympathetic and says it’s because I feel better and the pills I’m taking have changed my metabolism and increased my appetite – no help at all!

Our newly married aged friends have just returned from a painting holiday having lost 9 lbs each, all through taking half a teaspoon of cider vinegar in water 3 times a day, sounds foul but I’ll try anything once.

The diet book looks much easier than all that calorie counting, I was surprised how alcoholic I can be without a thought! But sad that my rather heavy homemade brown bread is 18 grams an ounce; can’t believe I can keep down to 50 a day.

Ill judged comments 3

I don’t remember judging her on this or anything else but could have suggested she made up her mind which was difficult with boyfriends in tow. If people tell me about their troubles I think silence is condoning. If I’m supposed to say Yes Sir, No Sir, I’d rather not be involved. Did she complain to you? I have more things to cope with than worry anymore on that score tho’.

Our party for the young gang was Tuesday. I’ve not recovered yet – 24 and us! …All went well except X practically threw them out half an hour earlier than they’d been invited for – two people came to collect young and he got muddled! on top of me telling someone their daughter was definitely not at our party when they rang up when she was sitting 2 yards away from me. I had some explaining to do the next morning. I was afraid she would be on the mat as to just where she was!

Pause of over an hour while X calls – she’s a bit dangerous as she’s a bit (quite a bit!) deaf and a terrific gossip – the combination produces libelous remarks!

Coming as he has from a rather liberal state school to a fairly conservative private school he’s objecting to calling the teachers ‘Sir’ – for a variety of very good reasons I might say! I don’t feel very happy giving him the full guff about respecting his elders and betters as his tutor is a complete twit! I’ve suggested that he go and ask his headmaster why this form of address is still considered appropriate when no one else in the country uses it. Should be interesting!

My opinion, uncharitable and unchristian etc etc, is that they have fled her manipulation and deviousness and need to control them.

She was talking to an acquaintance at a party the other day who commented that she never wears wraparound skirts as ‘they really make one look like the back of a bus’. X was wearing her rather snazzy homemade wrap-around skirt! Oh well, a very cuddly bus she is too!

A cuddly bus

 

 

Making money

We have been picking oysters to get some money together for the trip. Oysters are to the island what coals are to Newcastle – they are everywhere. The beach is the economic heart of the island and we are right there! As far as manual work goes, the work is good. There are five of us working for one guy, and it only takes about an hour and a half to fill lots and lots of buckets and fling them, full of oysters, into a big truck. We have to fill the truck, and we work about three nights a week. Money is good. We have been working all this month, and by the end of it we will have earned our return train-fares. Maybe we will be ‘oyster millionaires’!

oyster picking

We sat for the best part of an hour watching semi-finals and finals of shearing competitions. I’ve never watched an expert before, and they certainly are fascinating. How they don’t cut the sheep to pieces I can’t imagine as they shave them very close, and go whizzing round their necks and up and down their tummies quite unable to see where the shears are going, for the wool that is piling up on top of them.

He got a job with the local daily paper moreorless as the sweeper-up in their printing shop, and was then offered a chance to work the guillotine, and so on round and up, until a year or so ago they made him factory manager for all their printing.

In passing she mentioned X’s baby – don’t know when it arrived – evidently everyone is delighted with everything as X has large house, 2 maids and a nanny – who says money doesn’t talk?!

We opened the tea garden ready or not! I am still making table cloths. We have 8 tables for 2 or 3 inside then 2 verandah tables and 2 large tables in the gazebo. I am doing the outside cloths, round with pull up string so they don’t come off in the wind! Embroidered by machine of course – leaves, posies, insects and squirrels, grapes etc. I already had to make one for a customer.

My policy that I took out at the age of 21 matured a few days ago. It was only for £200! though with profits is now worth £550 (i.e. about half what £200 would buy in 1933!!) Not much of a bargain really as I must have paid in a total of about £230 over the years. Unfortunately I have lost the policy so I haven’t got the money yet.

Characters 4

Her brother was there one day marching about the garden with a broom pretending to be a soldier (grown man) so it must be a family failing.

How are your awful neighbours – my awful neighbours are about as awful as usual, if not worse. Luckily for me a v. nice young couple (both lawyers) have moved into the other side of the semi next door which is occupied by one of these awful people! they don’t like her any more than I do and I sorta think they are going to something about it – being lawyers!

X sent me a cutting from one of their papers all about him and his peculiarities. There were several glaring mistakes which made me feel smug – the ancestral seat of the family for instance. We dined with him at his house, big yes, but hardly baronial. The old house was burnt down with his cousin in it which is why he inherited the title. I do pity his wife having to sit through endless journalists getting copy from him and rehearing all the old stories.

We’ve just filled out our Census forms, what a to-do – practically want to know how many times you go to the loo. I felt a bit shamed having to tick ‘no school qualifications’ and only 9 years schooling! Put my MBE after my name to cheer me up.

We left at 9.40 a.m. We popped in on the Xs at about 3.15 hoping to cadge a bite of lunch. She had gone out with the kids and he was painting the kitchen. He assured us we were welcome to sit on the lawn and eat the ice blocks we’d brought them but he was going to continue his painting and listen to his cricket. That sort of thing is very hard to stomach – especially when the stomach concerned is empty!

We went home and to X’s for supper. She had a beautiful house in a village with a square surrounded by arches. Her house is three storeys and the gravel terrace leads to the bank of another river running in a valley with trees on the other side. The furniture and paintings were gorgeous and she had done the dining room walls with gold material. One of her sons was in for dinner and we dined on homemade pate and then goose with exotically done potatoes then salad and then an enormous creme caramel. The white-coated man servant was summoned to pass round the dishes by a little silver bell and it was all very gracious living!

The evening was disastrous – my pet parishioner (who gave me the can of oil) is so alone and knows he’s odd – but I didn’t realise how odd and was rather fed up with X who finds him very offputting. He was quite batty and talked utter balderdash in the most delightful and cultured way all evening, interspersed with his wild stories of being damned to hell by Cardinal so and so and committed to the asylum by Bishop someone else – he’d lift his eyes to heaven and mutter ‘Oh the madness, the madness’ – all very unnerving. He thanked me charmingly for the evening and X said talked perfectly sensibly all the way home. He was a fighter pilot in the war. I was so sorry for all the others. It wrecked the evening for them.

worried man

Unfortunately I didn’t really take to X who was staying and I think v v was probably true – a most loud and aggressive person as my desiderata says! Anyway we got along.

Do you remember X at my hairdresser’s – by repute anyway? Well he was arrested last month dressed in women’s clothes at a club and caught giving the man he was dancing with a pep pill!! Much to my surprise he was still at the firm and as cheerful as ever when next I went. Actually I like him – he’s a pleasant boy. I gather he was fined $70.

I found two boys on the train who were crossing Paris on the metro – one who was rather a bore and who unfortunately was coming on my train but I managed to avoid as I had a couchette and the other a civil servant of some sort who was taking unpaid leave after 9 months recovery time after a nasty incident – he was staying in a hotel on business somewhere and during the night a skylight fell in and badly cut up one eye. He was hospitalised for months and had spent the months off work wandering about Europe – he was quite interesting. Unfortunately he had mistaken Montpelier for Montmartre so had at least another day’s travelling to do to get to the people he as staying with.

There was great excitement in the town yesterday morning as some bod escaped police custody and was caught locally, on the crashing into two police cars and into the fence of a friend of mine – who says life in the country is boring?! Only two weeks ago someone was caught with a bag of unstable gelignite at the pub down the road – he was dropped off there by a petrol tanker driver who had given him a lift – things could really have gone with a bang!

Sorry your new job didn’t come off – at least you’re not as inately optimistic as me – even now I am slightly surprised that anyone more suitable than me could have applied for a job!

Things children say 3

He’d been to a rather surprising sculpture display at the art gallery and when he got back to school he was asked to draw whatever he liked best at the art gallery. ‘So,’ he said, ‘I drew me’!

How are you? I have just learnt how to do writing. Mummy hos boughty me two Guitir bookS. and I am up to exercise 20. I am also Working on the Cherry Song. love from X   P.S. and at School we are working on a 100-years ago

A few week’s ago my class & school Had a bomb-scare, it was very scary. The dog’s came but They could not find the bomb. 10 minutes later the same man rang up St. X. In both school’s there was no bomb.

‘Mummy – I don’t understand’ / ‘What don’t you understand?’ / ‘Me’. As X says most profound for a 2 year old!

X and Y had apparently got into a mix-up the day before – X says that he was trying to get one of the paints out of his paint tray for Y and the tray slipped – but whatever it was, their mother answered the howls and discovered Y pouring with yet more of his frequently letted blood. I suspect X’s account of the incident may not have been exactly the whole truth and nothing but as he is being very possessive at present about anything he wants to play with.

X talks with a slight lisp which is fun at present, and he hasn’t started showing off yet, and chats away to himself about the oddest things. I asked him where his trousers were and was told ‘they gone shopping’.

School is being a great success. He endeared himself to his teacher on his first morning by walking in and saying, ‘You knew I was coming, why didn’t you put my name on my peg so I could hang my coat up?’ Little darling!

[A unit on safety in school] We also had the kids wandering round with ‘dangerous objects’ for a display – one easy way to have an accident I’d have thought! One boy brought a hand grenade which he swore was live. I have my doubts myself!

[Birthday request] A pad of drawing paper ‘white like my shirt on both sides. This intrigued me and his mother thought it very funny as he obviously felt fobbed off with some he’d been given to scribble on with print on the back, and obviously newsprint was not wanted!!

I got her to read road signs – 2 classics we had: ‘falling debts’ instead of ‘Falling Debris’, and ‘Wondering stock’ instead of ‘Wandering stock’.

[child of 2y] ‘Oh daddy you’ve spilt your puddy. Naughty daddy. I won’t spank you this time, but if you ever do it again I’ll be very cross.’

Older child had been speaking about her school project on gnomes. When she had finished the younger one proceeded to say something like, ‘The Catholic church is telling the members to go back to eating no meat on Fridays.’ Older one looked puzzled and said, ‘But there aren’t any gnomes alive today are there?’ Dad said, ‘No, why do you ask?’ Reply, ‘Then how can Catholics eat gnome meat on Fridays?’!!!

Gnome meat

 

Volunteering 2

One likely candidate is a fairly ‘rough diamond’ who has been with us about 18 months – a man who X is apparently denigrating saying we don’t want a trade union secretary as a president! I can’t think of a better training for managing our members than to be a T.U. secretary!

We had the first of the Greenpeace beach clean-ups last Saturday for the new season, and managed to collect quite a pile of junk. It is odd that there is one particular stretch of beach near the river mouth which seems to specialise in bathing shorts, and similar bits of clothing. Very odd. I have noticed it several times, and this time I think I got three pairs, and another man working in the same area said he had got some too.

The swimwear triangle

We had the Bridge Club AGM last night – a lot of waffling, under woolly chairmanship by our retiring (thank goodness) president. The next one is the wife of a Brigadier, and will keep us all in order and be efficient and hardworking and lucid, no doubt. All the more important, so far as I am concerned, since I am now back on the Committee as they were having trouble finding a treasurer and I said I would take a turn.

I’ve just sent away to find out if I’d be suitable for any VSA vacancies for next year and if it sounds likely I may follow that up further to see if they’d take me. That’s usually also for two years and counts as continued service over here which is a big factor in getting jobs. I get enthusiastic and not in turns about the idea (typical!) but think on the whole it’s a good thing to do and if I’m going to do it then now is a better time than in 2 years time.

Talking of incompetent volunteers, a fortnight ago we broke up the path from my study door to the garage and prepared it for re-concreting. It ‘only’ took 2 1/2 hours for 2 qualified civil engineers, a medical specialist, two accountants and an educationalist at tertiary level. Yesterday I hoped the concrete was going down – but no luck. Someone had boobed over ordering the materials so it looks as though we shall be stumbling over the sub-structure for another 3 weeks until the team can reassemble. A pity.

I am delighted to say that we managed to introduce some new blood into our vestry and reduce the average age a bit at our Annual Meeting. This had all been organised beforehand and just as well since again we only had 24 people present (out of a magazine distribution of 700!) It is said that a lot of people stay away for fear of being elected to do something if they come.

House repairs & housekeeping 4

I am glad we didn’t have to build – our valuer and lawyer warned us against it as you never know how much it will all end up as and we’ve got an established garden with a 35 ft oak tree +++ and it’s all in very good condition.

I don’t envy you the trauma of property hunting – I was quite exhausted and bemused after seeing about 20 – and only too glad to clinch the first one we saw when it ‘came back’.

On Christmas Day we let off 3 borer bombs. [Strange antipodean custom???] Alas I dropped the match on the one under the house instead of lighting the fuse and the instant pall of black smoke was accompanied for about 5 seconds by a 3 ft tongue of flame which lapped hopefully at the floor boards above! As I’d just warned the fire people that I was letting off the bombs I had visions of my calls for the brigade being laughed off with ‘Oh she’ll be right, mate – it’s only a borer bomb; now if you’ll give us a couple of minutes we’ll get stuck into a couple of dozen Christmas beers in the office here.’

Flames at Christmas

I spent a couple of hours one afternoon taking the TV aerial off the chimney (which has frequent and large cracks in it) in the hope that this would prevent it getting worse. I borrowed one ladder – a heavy wooden one – from our neighbour to get up to the roof, and slung our aluminium steps over the ridge to get up to the chimney stack – and when I had finished I left the wire brace round the chimney and wished I had a couple more to help hold it together. I’ve also managed to make the third part of the bookcase – and hope that when I’ve finished painting and bring it upstairs it’s going to be a bit more of a success than the disastrous other bits.

We’re so tidy it’s agony – I hope it sells quickly for that alone! We decided that to keep inside and outside to present state all the time we’d need a gardener and maid!

The problem is to know how to dry out the batts in the roof, even when you have stopped the leak. I discovered a nail sprung, above, and caulked and hammered that, and then cut a two inch hole in the ceiling and rigged up the old Electrolux to blow air in through it. After most of a day it seemed all dry, so I plugged the hole with a round of softboard fixed in with Polyfilla. Just when I had got it all painted the next day we had another gale with heavy rain – and it was evident that I hadn’t cured the leak! So the whole process has had to be repeated – this time I put gungy tape all down a join in the roof where the edge of one sheet is bent up a bit and presumably catching a lot of water that drives in in a high wind.