On the way home we watched the bungy jumping. One cheeky young man called out, ‘Are you going too, granny?’ Afterwards I wished I’d said yes, if he’d shout me! Why don’t you think of these things at the time?

[Child of 8y] About mother’s lacy black bra: ‘A see-through bra! Oh well, I suppose it’s cheaper.’

[Child of 9] Realising he’d missed something which sounded interesting, he said, ‘Oh bother, I wish my ears were poking into your conversation.’

missing something

After about half an hour he [owner] turned up with his two daughters. He was licensed for 4 people which he already had booked (plus his friend and baby, plus his girlfriend and 3 year-old!) so we became his cousins for the day and booked into the third B&B bedroom with en suite.

He is building a yacht an hopes to sail in some enormous race ‘If he can find a sponsor’ – I can’t think why people be expected to pay for someone to indulge themselves.

She tried the place I suggested and got it wrong, and went straight to the place without an interview, so it was a wasted journey, I told her she’d need a 3 week notice to get a proper counsellor, but someone else said just turn up. So, I’m fed up with being taken as not knowing anything – I’d phoned up and found out.

Ageing – 4

I went for my compulsory 76 driving test in December and was told his only complaint was I wasn’t quick enough off the mark at lights etc. – which held traffic up – but I won’t push it – I know my reactions and the ability of the car best. An old boy of 88 locally went into the side of a car and wrote it off, the second car in 2 years.

Slow on the off

I am distressed I have not heard from my cousin for 2 years; as he is my only remaining relative, I would like to know if they are still in the land of the living. Would you be a dear and phone them for me? My address book has suddenly disappeared – I will have to put their number down later in the letter.    … X has found my address book though so here is their phone number – no, it isn’t – I haven’t got it!! Here is the address. She is more with it – it’s a pity I’m not! – so I hope she answers the phone.

They came out to tea on Saturday – he is pretty sick with cancer though of which bit of him I don’t know – but he battles on very cheerfully – so we enjoyed their coming.

Poor old X, it’s so hard when she’s helped everyone for so long. It must be hard for Y – she said in a letter when she goes to the nursing home the father sits with his head in his hands saying he wishes he was dead, and X bursts into tears – so unlike her.

Now I’m on 2 different anti-bs, to be taken at different times, so I have to write when down carefully, or I certainly wouldn’t remember if I’d taken them or not.

Isn’t getting old sad? I’m not going to put anything in writing or help any but mine own in future – the stress is too much. The most trivial things put me in a tizz – making hair appts, then cancelling them, and the like.

He’s in a bad way, looks awful and really isn’t all there – and [wife] keeps telling him so. I’m sure he shouldn’t be driving

Today we didn’t wake up until 9.30 so had to put a move on to get to church. Lovely little building and a good service. One of the congregation was to be 96 this week – she walked down the v. steep path to the church in a more spritely way than I!

She had to take over the driving on the motorway as I was sleepy. It’s incredible how easily I go to sleep when I sit down during the day, though I find it difficult to sleep more than 6-7 hours in bed!

Nuisances of life 2

A woman had run her car into the side of X’s the day before and had really upset him – especially as it was just after he’d left Y sitting down while he collected the car from parking place – and not only lost her but the car too! and they finished up being driven round in a police car.

The owners will spend only the barest minimum in upkeep. We’re still waiting to have a leaky loo and roof fixed, to say nothing of the bathroom and kitchen redecorating. There isn’t one window ledge that hasn’t got paint flaking off – two grow moss! and the wallpaper is about 12 years old – and looks it. The carpet is worn down to the felt in a number of places and the previous tenants not only smoked very heavily, but apparently kept various animals locked inside all day while they worked…

[Re irritating habits of the public touching display of painted silk goods] I forgot to tell you about a card with a piece of similar weaving with ‘Feeling swatch’ written on it! Would this keep your customers’ grimy hands off?!

At least I managed to find a couple of books and a pleasant card for X’s birthday – though at the moment most of our ferries are carrying the same cargo backwards and forwards several times across Cook Strait because the shunters at Picton are not working overtime in protest at a new roster, and the Union refuse to fill the place of any man who is absent for any reason, and then the whole gang say they can’t safely unload any wagons! Anyway the card went by air.

My new pullets were no sooner given the freedom of the field than they wormed their way through the hedge in order to grub about under the blackberry and other scrub on my neighbour’s side. What’s more, though five of them returned for the night, the sixth insisted on roosting in an inaccessible bush – so that if it started laying I certainly wasn’t going to get the eggs.

Making a run for it

I don’t know why, but all my greens have come to nothing, and though we got beans they never really recovered from the sheep’s attack. There are lots of tomatoes, but I doubt whether most of them will ripen now and quite a number are infested with caterpillars that make large holes in them – though whether to go in or to come out I haven’t discovered and it is a matter of some importance!

House repairs 2

We are settling into our house well. There’s lots of little maintenance jobs and plenty to do in the garden. X has spent quite a bit of time making a workshop in the basement so he could unpack his tools and dozens of jars of assorted workshoppy things! There are now lots of shelves made with wood we scavenged from offcuts bins at local timber places! The next thing is the bench, then he’ll put in 2 windows. I’m pleased he’s a handyman!

I know exactly how you feel about these light bulbs that won’t come out and when they do they leave the metal bit behind in the holder and what is inside the metal bit at the top of the bulb is what falls out into ones eyes and wherever else.

Today I am forced to sit down not having any electricity to even cook my lunch or to indulge in a cup of hot water. Yes, you might have guessed, the workers are still at it. The cold and hot water tanks are not outside but the mechanics for the drilling is not working, must be replaced after the interference of the plumber and the electrician!! Now all the wires and channels are in place, but nothing is connected, so let’s wait: what will happen next?!!

Whilst at the shop we saw some so-called foolproof security locks, so we’ve put 4 of them on the windows we’re most likely to forget to shut, or need some air from.

I started using that old push machine for washing carpets with on the dining room at 1 p.m. – one I had specially well cleaned in the morning. It was amazing, after 2 days I hoovered again, and on top of usual bits and dirt, at the bottom of the bag there was about 2-3 tablespoonsful of grit, and it looks a much better colour.

At last the man found out what was wrong with the TV – virtually new guts – so $250 later it’s working beautifully – but seldom anything worth watching! If anything else goes I fear it means a new one.

We had high winds and rain for a couple of days and were dismayed to see water running down the outside of the sitting room stove pipe (recently swept). The next day the reason became clear – the cowl over the top had blown off – I think the sweep must have given it a good biff with his brush and broken part of the holding-down straps. Anyway, I had to replace them, which was not easy, as the cowl itself and the top of the chimney were both pretty rusty and thin. I riveted the straps onto the cowl, and then drilled holes in the chimney for self-tapping screws, which was a sensible suggestion from the man when I went to buy more rivets.

Biffed by the sweep


In the process of being redecorated by previous owners it had lost the knobs off both sides of 2 bedroom doors (plus latches and locks) and there were 4 built-in cupboards all knobless and catchless so that was 4 doorknobs, 5 cupboard knobs and 4 magnetic catches to fix for a start. And there was an awkward ancient tap in the garden which created a fountain every time it was turned on to provide cold water for the laundry [?sounds a bit primitive even for 35 years ago!]. I had to borrow wrenches from a new neighbour at the back to mend that one +++.   I enjoyed it all very much with a nice sense of achievement.


[Re a portrait commission] I am working madly to get the head of X right – I was delighted with it but when Y brought X for a check I found some major surgery was needed – top off his head and chunk off his chin – and somewhere I’ve lost the likeness on the way.

Headless & chinless wonder

I spent some time before breakfast today sorting out my knitting machine … It’s a fascinating thing – fortunately X reminded me how frustrated I got when the whole thing came off the needles!!

We finished the last of 28 hands at the same time – looking longingly at the tables laden with sandwiches and luscious cakes – I sneaked 2 and dashed out… Oh, surprise, surprise – We came 2nd. I phoned to tell my partner as she’d left before they gave out the results and after seeming pleased she started telling me all the things I’d done wrong!!!

It’s sad so many of my paintings came home – but 2 sold was more than some – I welcome them back but can’t think where to put them. I’m all agog to get going again – new spray for my gun and paints – now all I need is some good ideas. I mustn’t be so violent – but I do like working in inks. X remarked, ‘I liked your paintings – but they need space’ – nicely put!!

I am halfway through a set of chessmen [on the lathe] (very fiddly), and have broken off from that to make a big pot, the last couple of days, to take a margarine plastic pot inside – as a Christmas present. It has one flaw in the lid, (which is also too loose, really – it was difficult to measure as the underside was attached to the faceplate of the lathe, and the overhang was about half an inch). But as X says consolingly, ‘Everything has flaws, including us.’

She’d just had 2 visitors from overseas round who wanted to know all about her work in 10 minutes flat, in the middle of trying to finish off a lot of orders; she fitted them in – it took 2 hours – and gave them a pizza lunch, but wouldn’t give them the name of her dyes whilst they were still here. She said if they wrote when they got home she would then!

X makes her paper with odd grasses and dried flowers actually in it. It’s difficult, she’s so pleased with her own work, I can raise no enthusiasm!


X and Y got office cleaning jobs in the holidays. X not very keen, finished after a week and got a job to look after ten under-2s with one other adult instead. The man in charge of the cleaning told X what a pity it was Y had to go back to school, he was so good he could have joined his team!! Y being a straight As boy, thought it was rather a giggle but it’s his first job and at $7 an hour he was glad of it.

Her son is a doctor with his own practice and living on a farm with stabling and 6 of his own polo ponies but is worried as another doctor has come to the area and is undercutting his charges?!!

Worried about competition

It worries us most that your ‘minder’ will use your request for extra time away at Easter to put you on a lesser rate – she sounds a skunk.

It sounds an interesting place to work – lots going on and lots of support. Lots of expectations too – she said the headmaster was more likely to ask you what was wrong with your programme than with the child if someone causes trouble or walks out!

I asked her what in fact did people want to know about this odd bird for – and she said she rather wondered too, but it looked good on her CV!!

That chief of yours sounds so mad that it is surprising she hasn’t been given the push by the department. But I suppose mere madness is not enough for that. But to miss the union meeting and then demand that the minutes be changed as she would like is hardly explainable in any other way!

I wrote to the company [who make tinned food] some time ago, to ask why they had no women on the board of directors seeing that most of their customers were women – and eventually got a very chauvinist reply to the effect that the question had never arisen so far, but when it did any woman who had adequate qualifications and experience would be considered along with male applicants. I suppose it would be a waste of time to write back and enquire how many of the existing male board do the shopping for their households and the subsequent preparation of most of the meals.

X was talking the other day of moving to a much larger farm – but that must be the tenth pipe dream he’s talked about in the last two or three years. He would have to sell this place first, and that’s not going to be easy, as the land really is pretty rough, the fencing is far from complete – and wool and sheep prices are hitting new lows each year so not many people will be wanting to buy, I fear – nor to lend money to help.

Ghosts / supernatural

At last I’ve collected and unpacked the boxes of stuff you sorted out from [her house]. When I opened the lid of the long box with the dowsing stuff in it, it was such a strange and happy feeling, as though she came out of the box!

I’ve been thinking of you so much – and I was when you had your heart/eye upset – it must have come on the waves.

I started on the clay head and after 3 days it was beginning to take a likeness; I covered it with wet cloths each night and 2 days ago when I took them off – lo and behold the whole face had fallen off. I’ve given up and written to Dame X telling her what had happened and decided I needed her to give it her blessing before starting – so now I wait and shall see. She’s 98. [And in a later letter] I must start another head first – I’ve got some Raku clay and will try her once more – the last one was a flop too. She died just after I’d written asking her permission.

Her face fell

Did I tell you I had distinct feeling X [partner who recently died] came and asked if I’d found the little red leather prayer book he bought for my confirmation and then decided to buy a jersey instead. Altho’ he’s written in it, a lot of the pages are still stuck together and I never remember seeing it before – isn’t it odd? – it’s a delightful collection of old prayers.

X has threatened the workers on one estate with a touch of obia (very strong black magic worked by several women in most villages) if they light him any more cane fires and it has worked almost miraculously so far. They won’t tell definitely on the ones they know are doing it because of obia and most exacting punishments like having their houses burned down.