Monday, 30 March 2015

Riff Raff

We are so lucky to be able to see our children in action. On Saturday we went to hear Ben's choir, Riff Raff, perform in a Bristol Church.

Since it was also Ben's last day of work in the guitar shop in Clifton, we met him back at his home early afternoon and then spent a few hours roaming the streets, exploring a bookshop, picking up a tasty lunch and then grabbing coffee at the Arnolfini by the waterside rather than spend too long looking at boats bobbing up and down in  large, grey waves and wind.

Granna and Grandad met us shortly after we arrived at the church, a little early so we ended up in the front row: embarrassing for  Ben but great for us!

The choir was unaccompanied and they knew all their songs by heart (our own conductor's dream). Because they were watching their two conductors so closely the timing was great and everything sounded beautifully crisp and clear. We could see and hear Ben singing with great gusto, and looking as though he meant it, a good lesson to me in looking active rather than nervous.

Great job Ben!
Meanwhile Max played a whole match with WRFC 1st XV, despite accruing various injuries, since they had run out of subs. Hopefully they appreciated him!

Drifter is now back in the water and Martin is trying to get her cleaned up (below deck every surface is currently covered in tools) so that he and Rosie can do a shake-down trip  over Easter if the weather is half decent. If the forecast is correct I shall opt to cook a hearty, hot meal on their return rather than join them.

Monday, 23 March 2015

More Pulling and Fixing

Martin has been down to work on Drifter almost every weekend of late. We were going to go together on Saturday but ended up sampling driveway stones and picking up a double bed en route, and since the mattress was naked atop the car we decided we should err on the side of caution and come home.

Max and I ended up gardening (mostly pulling up ground elder) and then went to help Claire clear bramble and bracken from her sprouting bluebells in the afternoon, culminating in a big bonfire. I walked back at dusk and everywhere was beautiful in the sunset, a crescent moon in the blue, deer in the woods and the smell of slow-roast lamb welcoming us back.
Martin was home too, having installed the new heater and completed some more jobs. It shouldn't be long before Drifter can get back in the bath! Some pictures of last week's work giving Drifter a pink bottom:


It has finally arrived! My new, sleek, and for the moment very clean new range cooker now has pride of place in the kitchen. And rather lovely she looks too.

It was quite a palaver getting to this point though. The manufacturer, Smeg, wouldn't confirm the power required and since we knew the induction hob might overstretch the existing cabling we had to rely on some helpful electricians.

They kindly came to re-wire on Monday morning, but had problems with our household electrics tripping, and also needed to dash off to get some new parts, which seemed to me a little un-prepared given that they had already been to quote.

However, by noon our old cooker was disconnected and everything ready...but the new cooker could not be delivered as the supplier's van had been stripped of its catalytic converter overnight by a gang attacking a dozen cars in Andover.

I would have been happy to wait but having put the old range on ebay to sell by that evening, I risked being cooker-less. Eventually the electrician and his mate persuaded the suppliers to come out and help him clear and load his own van with the new oven. So just when I thought we were in for a week's wait, four burly chaps rolled up and substituted old for new.
It took another few hours to complete the electrical work (I am really not sure why) and it all looked great.

But next morning when I came to read through the manual I found a setting that required us to turn off the cooker at the mains. As soon as we did this our house electrics tripped again and were hard to re-set. So back (most helpfully) came the electrician and they spent the entire morning trying to work out what was going wrong, eventually concluding that the new switch was itself faulty.

So it was only in the middle of the week that we were able to try our new cooking machine. It turns out that the induction hob is great: a little noisy to start, but clean and easy to use and SO quick to boil water that we have now invested in a stove-top kettle.
I am getting used to different oven settings, Max tried out the grill to cook us breakfast on Sunday, and the only thing that is still un-lovable is the storage drawer, which the manual claims is "useful and convenient". But overall, she is a beauty, isn't she?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Monday, 16 March 2015

Mothers' Day

What a lovely weekend.

Rosie managed to get home early Friday evening straight from the Special Needs school where she was working last week, looking fresh and lovely and with a beautiful bunch of Spring flowers for me. Her reward was to go off with Martin and Max early Saturday morning to paint red anti-foul on Drifter.

Meanwhile I was in Winchester rehearsing a big community work with other choirs, orchestra and musicians at the cathedral. It seemed to be complete chaos, especially when the cathedral choristers and organ started up for their service.

Our choir performed 'O Radiant Dawn' by heart, unaccompanied and echoing around the tall stonework to tingling effect. It was worth the afternoon's anguish just for those few minutes. And in the end the performance of the community composition "Conflict to Chorus" worked, old and young alike joining in a tapestry of wartime and traditional songs, improvisation and rousing orchestral accompaniment.

Just as I got home Max arrived with Ben from the station. So for Sunday we had a lively kitchen as the children catered for us all: a huge, colourful breakfast, all beautifully set and planned by Rosie, posh salmon and bagels for lunch from Max, and a delicious citrus chicken recipe with tasty accompaniments provided by Ben. Such a treat, and I didn't even have to shop for any of it!

We had intended to go for a walk but decided (in the grey drizzle) to play a game instead, so spent a jolly afternoon around the kitchen table playing Rapidough, which Max won in a late surge. And a great day was topped off with a Skype chat with Vicki as we relaxed by the fire in the evening.

I went to bed feeling very lucky, happy, and proud of our wonderful children.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Coughs and Colds

Life has been on hold here for a week or so, since the lurgy descended on me for the week, and then took Martin in its grip. We were both left shivering and coughing, so cancelled weekend plans to paint Drifter's bottom, and hunkered down at home.

Rosie had been intending to come and help, but is now coming next weekend, which will be super, as Ben, too, has said he plans to pop over. Yippee! There had been plans to see Kerry for her 50th birthday too, after her trip to Normandy with Mum and Dad, but in the end it was as well to keep ourselves to ourselves.

Vicki is now safely back in Buenos Aires after her month with us, and reports that she has found somewhere good to live for the next three months. The Nisman case rolls on, providing plenty of scope for social and political commentary at BubbleAR, and a good grounding for Vicki in the journalism she now thinks she might pursue.

Max has been down to Exeter for the weekend with Alex to visit Sam, sample the joys of Exeter University and the strong waves of the North Devon  beaches. We were pleased to see him safely back home, relieved that both he and the car had survived the trip.

So this evening I am off to choir for the first time in ages, still unable to take a deep breath without coughing, but anxious to show them I am not slacking. Mandy and I had an entertaining phone conversation yesterday, both of us unable to get more than a couple of words out before honking, which just set us off laughing and round in circles.

Not so entertaining for Martin, though, trying to get proper work done.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Carpe Diem

It is true, as they say, that parenthood doesn't end just because your children have left home.

You continue to fret over their health, their happiness and future, knowing that whilst you can support from the sidelines, the big decisions are now theirs. Some will turn out well, some be put down to experience: all will add seasoning to enrich the slow cook of the maturing child.

This week has seen both Ben and Rosie take brave steps. Ben handed in his notice at the guitar shop so as to take his career in a new direction, whilst Rosie took part in an improvisation competition and came through smiling.

Both have shown courage, a willingness to embrace the unknown and take a punt, knowing that things could go wrong but having the guts to have a go anyway.

We are immensely proud of them.