While I’m writing this letter I’m lying on the lounge settee under a sheepskin rug trying to keep my blood circulating. We are having another one of ‘our’ weekend power cuts. It wouldn’t be so bad if the weather wasn’t so unusually shocking. The wind is in the south and blowing a tremendous gale. Luckily it has stopped raining. For at least a week or so it’s just been bucketing down.
Here we have snow – winter came early this year. The woods are so beautiful when there is a fresh fall, (to speak a true cliche: it is like living in the middle of a Christmas card!) It thaws, and rains an incredible amount and gets very cold and snows again.
The whole family is now contemplating a move for a minimum of a year to Lagos – 35 degree all the year round with a constant 95% humidity – not my cup of tea (though remarkably like it, when you come to think of it).
We were amused with the radio report that traffic police, fed up with having to rescue people who ventured on the motorways against all warnings that they were impassable, had blocked the access roads with snowballs – presumably made with the aid of of front end loaders to push them along.
It’s been bitterly cold here yesterday and rained in buckets all day – I froze but sun out today again.
X gave me an umbrella, a truly magnificent structure when erected with about as much steel work as the Eiffel Tower. If I ever have the effrontery to put it up in town I shall expect the draught between all our new tower blocks to carry me smartly to the top of the parliament building. Cheaper than hang-gliding!
The further east we went the rain got heavier and the forecast got worse. We moved into a cabin on the coast. It poured solidly on the first 3 days, was dull on the fourth and absolutely glorious on the fifth day. Despite all that we had a very good time. We went to see the kiwi at Napier, looked at a very good model village and boated between the rains. We went to a flick and swam in the rain and had a lovely day on the beach on the Saturday.
In high summer we are sitting in all our winter clothes huddled over the fire – full on. It’s been THE lousiest summer of all time – I think we had the only vaguely reasonable weather for holidaying of anyone I know.
I’ve just realised that I have been sitting here most of the morning without having the fire on, so spring really has sprung in a small way already. The oak is on the point of bursting to leaf, which is pretty prompt of it only a fortnight late in spite of the bad winter we have had and the magnolia has been blooming away for days. I’ve managed to get the strawberry beds more or less sorted out but it is difficult to believe we shall get any plums this year as the blossom has all gone now, and not a bee to be seen anywhere so far!
Our house is on a steep rise on an unmade road and in the last downpour two deep channels were cut either side – we couldn’t get out as it was a foot deep and a foot wide. So they came along with dump trucks and graders and 7 men and filled in the holes. Alas, it rained again and all their cosmetic work was washed down the hill and filled up the drains in the road that crosses ours causing it to flood one foot deep at the edges, over to the playcentre on one side and to the park on the other.
The other day I was cutting the stalk out of a lettuce with a carving knife and it slipped so now I have 6 stitches and a most dramatic sling. It’s so difficult doing almost everything with only one hand. My thumb aches – don’t attack your thumb with a carving knife. It bled everywhere.
Had the lambs shorn yesterday. They never got around to them on Friday. They look so different without their wool – all angular – and with enormous great ears sticking out! We had a sharp shower this morning and they looked very disconsolate – the water was evidently getting through to their skin and making them shake themselves to get rid of it.
I think from various remarks they have made that they are very short of money for developing his place, and he is really caught in a cleft stick because it wouldn’t carry enough stock to produce a living for the family even when properly fenced and fertilised, so he had to go out working for other people doing fencing and so on, to keep the pot boiling, while all the time he needs to be doing the same work on his own place. It must be very frustrating.
It had been an awful week, she’d turned the dryer on and afterwards had found the little boy’s kitten had been asleep inside, of course it was dead, the inspector had been and she’d not got any of the 4 jobs she’d applied for.
X got bronchitis and the heater which we had ordered – and which we were planning on to save us almost but not quite literally from freezing to death – arrived with a huge dent and bash in it, so we were delayed getting that sorted out and another one sent. So for quite a time there we went through all sorts of physical hardships.
Well, the great day has come and gone, and we are – mirabile dictu – back in the building again. I must say that as I wandered round it last Thursday I couldn’t see how we possibly could be. Most of the lights were not working. The new doors were resting against little blocks of wood instead of proper stops – just roughly nailed to the frames; half the new woodwork did not seem to have been varnished; the carpet layers had not been near the place all day and had left piles of carpet, underlay and fish and chip papers all over the chapel – and so on – including the fact that we had 500 girls from the college in after lunch to try out the loudspeaker system which appeared to be a total failure! The carpet had ruined the acoustics. They still seemed to me to be a cross between Paddington Station and a public loo of the large sort. So the next day they ripped half the carpet up again!
I eventually managed to get a new Certificate of Fitness for the trailer this week, after a rather blasphemous morning trying to discover why the light wouldn’t work. And then when it come to it, the garage never asked me to turn it on!
We had a funny experience with the car a few weeks ago. The ignition switch and steering lock broke while the car was down town. As the device was attached to the car with snap-off bolts (to prevent theft) I had to co-opt the help of much gear and friends at college. We trooped off down town, plugged our power lead into the nearest house, drilled out the bolts, shorted out the ignition and drove away all under the noses of 2 policemen and passers-by – and no one asked what we were doing! Obviously an easy source of income.
They are mostly small huts called chattel houses built on about 16 inches of dry stone wall which forms the foundations and the rest is wooden with palm or wooden roofs. Sometimes some of the stones fall away and you see the huts balanced on what appears to be about three stones at incredible angles! There is one village where the people are all potters and work with the clay of the hill they live on. When it rains the land is extremely unstable and some of the houses have been I hear rescued from the bottom of the valley two or three times!! and just put back on some more stones.
I’ve at last finished my cardigan. I made it 2 sizes smaller than I’d buy as homespun is supposed to invariably stretch – but it’s 2 sizes smaller than I’d like. Pity. Perhaps it will give in wear. Very cosy.
Did I tell you I’d bought a digital watch to wear round my neck because whatever strap I used brought me out in a rash. To my fury the chain round my neck did the same there – most odd. But I can and do wear it over my shirt now. I can’t think how but I put it in the washing machine about 2 weeks ago and only found it when I took out the wash. V. wet inside and it’s the one thing the guarantee said: ‘It is not waterproof’. I rapidly took off the back and dried it and to my amazement it’s going wonderfully.
I had the most frustrating day yesterday. I decided I’d be all domesticated and make a Melton Mowbray pork pie to take to our bridge tournament tomorrow. I messed round boiling pigs trotters and cutting up meat off a hock, a nasty messy business, failed to make enough hot water pastry and had to start again, then got it half way through cooking, re-glazed it and put it back for an hour, setting the timer, but didn’t hear it over the TV and came to ages later. Don’t know if it’ll be edible. At the same time I made some chicken liver pate. I’d only bought half a pound of livers which made it all the more complicated with the recipe. It tastes gorgeous but I wonder if it was worth the messing about. What with marinating in brandy then adding sherry and cream, I think it might have been cheaper to buy some of the duck and orange pate I saw in the shop I was buying some real pork sausages in in the morning. I left those behind too, it wasn’t my day.
Our poor neighbour has just rung to see if we saw any strange bods about yesterday – he was working on some possum skins Saturday morning and today they’d all been stolen. He told us when we came he’d never locked anything up here – now we’ll have to put locks on the garage and check the door. Oddly enough when X was out the other night for the first time the dog started barking during the evening so I wonder if someone had been doing a little recce.
Must fly, more later – Now it’s before a really good TV production for a change starts, and on our better line, tho’ after swinging our aerial round to almost the opposite direction to that which we had it before, we can get enough of a reception to see anything important on TV 1 too now, well most nights, it depends on the weather!!
The removal people had delivered our stuff some days before. The labels on the boxes merely served to warn them where not to put them. One bedroom had the washing machine and four beds while another was simply piled to ceiling with assorted boxes. We got some beds organised by the first night but it took us 3 days before we excavated the easy chairs!
X gave up our al fresco shower after the first day but I managed to keep it up, even on the rainy nights – though being wrapped up from behind with a clammy cold wet curtain whipped suddenly up by the wind wasn’t a comfortable moment.
I have a notice in my tray of some other meeting next week I think. The meeting is about making this a ‘Year of Renewal’ (which I fear cynically is a euphemism for a year of demanding more money!) So I must make all sorts of good resolutions about not opening my mouth or I shall certainly be in the episcopal dog-house since I think we ought not be demanding more money from the laity in order to stay divided, but telling them to go and mix it with the Presbys etc. as soon as possible. We have 7 churches in a 1 mile radius here of which 5 are within a 1/4 mile radius.
How much does it cost you to ‘dial a gossip’? All our postage and phone calls/line etc. have gone up, and milk’s doubled to 8c a pint (do I hear a hollow laugh from you?)
Tuesday I had to go for my upper colon appointment at the hospital. Appointment at 9.30, which meant leaving at ten to eight to be sure of being on time. I got to the car park by 9.10 and the ward by 9.20. Dr. X arrived at 10.30 by which time he had a fine old queue. We talked, and he poked me in the tum, and said in effect, ‘I don’t know what it was, and it seems to have gone away anyway, so let’s call it a day.’ Which seems to sum up the situation fairly well. Perhaps it was the water, and either I’ve developed the necessary antibodies, or else am drinking less of it unboiled!