Monday, 23 February 2015

Snowdrops

It's good to get out for a walk a couple of times a week, especially now that waves of snowdrops add softness to the dark ground . Hooked up to my I-pod on a windy day I learn choir songs as I go, though this week a friend reported hearing strange sounds across the fields. Embarrassing, not least because I have been singing along to higher soprano parts for fun. Carried away by and on the wind.

Martin brought me some lovely flowers this week, and I bought myself a stitching awl to repair bits n' pieces for the boat. What treats.
Still, better than being down on the hollow boat in these cold winds. I have kept the stove lit here at home whilst Martin has been cleaning out the fuel tank, moving tracks, fitting winches and generally pulling Drifter to pieces. Hopefully not too long before we can start putting her back together again.

On Thursday I had a day out in London, meeting up with Rosie for lunch and enjoying a wander around the medical curiosities in the Hunterian Museum.
A fascinating place, with bits of bodies and bones amongst sections of animals, medical tools and a video of a brain operation. Not for the squeamish, but interesting to see, for example, a preserved jaw showing all the generations of teeth waiting to come through, and multiple foetuses aborted 200 years ago when to give birth to five babies at once would surely have been ended badly.
It was raining when we left so we nipped across Lincoln's Inn Fields to John Soane's museum to give Rosie a flavour. By the time they shut we were definitely ready for a cup of tea and indulgent cake, with time for a good chat before we went our separate ways.

Rosie was delighted to have been offered a summer job at Buckingham Palace, which should be interesting as well as good for her cv and hopefully some connections. Now she is waiting to hear whether she can get some work as a cover Teaching Assistant in the meantime (they are taking an eternity to process her criminal record check).

We tripped through the rain to The Law Society in Chancery Lane (via some very posh toilets with statue) where I was attending a Women Lawyers' session on Social Media, whilst Rosie crossed town to attend an improvisation show with a bunch of her class.

The training was interesting in so far as I thought I could do it, and it gave me some helpful insights into how law firms use social media. Over wine and good nibbles afterwards I got chatting to a lovely lady, who turned out to have gone not only to Durham University but also to Linklaters. Small world.

Next day I went to a new chiropractor who did some work on my back (which dare I say seems to have had some effect); the boys took Bluebell in for her MOT (which she passed); and Mum and Dad dropped in on their way back from half-term helping at Jenny's. They were able to see Vicki before she went off to Oxford then back to BA, and we were able to hand over the key for their trip to France next week.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

More Jobs

Martin had a busy week in California, but was back in time for an indulgent meal and celebration on Valentine's Day. Vicki was away in Oxford (and London) and Max managed to sort himself out for the evening, so all was peace.

Back home I attended my 'naughty drivers' course: half a day in an hotel in Basingstoke being told the statistical and moral risks of driving over the speed limit. Apart from the annoying, primary-school style delivery, it was effective in making people remember how to drive well, and I guess if it saves just one life or serious accident it will have been worthwhile.

The family shower started leaking again. The only way we could replicate the pools of water below were by leaving the shower door ajar, so after admonishing Vicki we presumed all would be well.

Which it was, for a few days, but now the problem has returned and we are scratching our heads trying to work out where the leak is coming from. Of course the only access is through chopped floorboards in the downstairs loo so sight-lines are rubbish. Another round of grouting and sealant and we'll take it from there.

Oh and last night the friends who are borrowing our house in France reported on arrival there was no electricity! Luckily they were able to light fires to keep warm but it was an unpleasant start for them to what was a much-needed break. It seems the mains switch is misbehaving, as it did eventually stay on after an hour or so's trauma. So there's another job to sort from afar.

Still, the last couple of days have been gloriously sunny and blue, with morning frost. Max and I spent yesterday morning chopping down a dead tree (trying to rescue the rose around it) and weeding some beds, giving ourselves quite an appetite for the mix of pancakes we cooked up for lunch. Happy Pancake Day!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Whirlwinds

Just back from a wonderful long weekend in Normandy with the girls and Martin is already over in California, his feet barely having touched the ground.

Rosie has finally finished at Explore so was able to get back home for a few days, and Vicki managed to squeeze in a trip to see friends in Oxford (and bagsy an excellent room for next year since she was virtually at the top of the list) before reaching home a few hours before we left early Friday morning.

It was a windy crossing but crisp and sunny once we got to the house, where the Gs had prepared a delicious soup lunch for us. We took ourselves off for a walk around the fields and woods, exhilarating in the wind and sunshine. There are lots of trees down in the glade so we shall have to drag some back for supplies, meanwhile had fun cracking and tossing them.
The farmer had his cattle all out in the very marshy fields, but the sheep were inside and very noisy!
Vicki brought an offering to the leader
It was a good thing we had taken our wellies as even the higher fields were deep mud, making for very energetic walking.
We walked back up across La Lande, petting the horse and donkey en route, and noticed the brambles along the back of our wall are being cleared.


Back home, we kept both fires burning so were warm and snug. Rosie and I did a tour of the Depots Vente but didn't find any good beds so left the sleeping arrangements as they were. I managed to sew small covers for a couple of pieces of furniture that were scuffed (presumably by dogs).

Designer Cabbage Hat
Huge mistletoe by the gaz  
Sunday dawned gorgeously frosty and misty, perfect for a brisk walk around the top fields as the scenery gradually revealed itself. Another occasion when my camera can't do justice to the scene.
 Rosie made madeleines, which turned out perfectly and made a great noon-time snack.
Ron and Grace came round for a meal that evening, and the following day helped Martin sort out the concrete access to the fosse septique so that it is now safe. I managed to sort through some of the piles of stuff in the study (where our bits are now dumped out of the way of guests) and we somehow managed to eat loads of fresh croissants, coffee, bread and cheese and scrummy meals.

Not a bad way to spend a cold February weekend!

Max stayed at home hoping (in vain) to get a contact for work, but was a great help when we got back late Monday night after delays from road closures, managing to help unpack Martin's car so that he could whizz off next morning for his flight to America.

I had the joy of waiting for the RAC in a cold country lane the afternoon before we left, having picked up a nail in the wheel, so took that to be fixed once we got home (ending up with two new front tyres). We took Rosie back to her train to London, and Vicki and I did a trawl around Basingstoke to try to get her Christmas present. 

So back to the usual weekday cares. I have to submit a first draft of my marketing portfolio by the end of the week, Vicki is sorting out her ticket back to Argentina, and Rosie is making plans to create work for herself. Ben is nearly over his flu, and Max's shoulder is good enough to train with the rugby team provided he is careful.

And it is Half Term next week and it doesn't affect us one jot!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Snowdonia

Max went with a friend to Alex's dad's holiday home in Wales a week or so ago, to enjoy a bit of lad time.

They came back having chosen the absolutely best day to climb Snowdon, with clear blue skies, and came back with some wonderful pictures. Max has only sent me one with him in it so here it is:

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Rugby Man

Max was awarded this woolly hat after playing for  Winchester 1st XV a while back and I forgot to pop a celebratory photo on here. So here he is, helping himself to a sandwich at lunchtime, all togged up for a chilly afternoon.
Max's shoulder is still sore, though the physio has told him he might be able to do non-contact training next week if it is strapped up. So perhaps he is on the mend.

He has been able to do the odd shift at the pub (where he is on call but rarely gets the call!) but hasn't really worked all month so is getting very fed up. However, he and I spent a useful morning last Sunday helping my friend Claire clear her garden for the spring, for which she was most grateful.

Max has been talking to Hotmax (based in Harewood Forest) about doing some part-time work for them but it has yet to materialise. He has also applied for more jobs, including one in Leckford which sounded promising as they contacted him, but it turns out he must apply online. Such a nuisance as you just then become one of a list of names, whereas Max has done some work experience with them and so you would think they might like to shift him a bit closer to the top of the list.

Still, progress of a sort in both departments, so with any luck February should bring some good news for Max.

Back to Four

Victoria flew back in from Argentina (via lengthy stopovers in the US) on Thursday morning, looking fresh and lovely and remarkably full of beans after such a long journey.

We had been hoping she might be upgraded due to her 21st birthday, but the flight had been changed and was jam-packed. Nevertheless she was lucky to leave the States at all, with three feet of snow in Boston, and Birmingham airport closed here due to high winds and snow.

It was a crazy day for a big birthday, but we managed a celebration drink in the evening as she opened her Christmas and birthday presents, then nipped to dinner in Stockbridge.
It sounds as though Vicki has had a super time in Buenos Aires at BubbleAR, where a big murder scandal is currently rocking the administration, despite the heat and mosquitos. She has travelled to some beautiful rural areas, and across to Chile, on humungous bus journeys, and made a lot of friends. At some point soon we hope to see lots and lots of pictures!

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Health Service

Well, having criticised the NHS in my last post, I must now praise it.

I spent the weekend with sore tonsils and  earache, so dialled our local surgery on Monday morning expecting to have to sit on the phone for half an hour in a queue, as is usually the case. But I got through straight away, was told to take an emergency appointment, saw the doctor quickly and was back home with antibiotics and advice before coffee time.

So it is true, then, that using our national health service can be straightforward, customer-oriented and efficient. And virtually free (prescription charges are now £8.05, for the record, about the same as the co-payment we used to have to make in America for a medical appointment even though the costs were insured).

Isn't it marvellous?