Tuesday 25 November 2008

The return of the garden gnome

Please read the links.

A few weeks ago the drain, that the Irish flag layer tinkered with back in July, blocked. It is my husbands' department to unblock drains so when he was unable to get the drain rods down the drain he contacted the Irish flag layer (aka the garden gnome) and asked him to return to sort out the problem with the drain. For about two weeks, until the Irish flag layer returned, we had food from the waste disposal strewn around the patio, that he had laid in August. Water would go down the drain in small quantities. Trying to put too much water down at one time resulted in the area around the drain being flooded. You are probably thinking that it serves us right for having a waste disposal. We live in the country. If food is put into the dustbin bag animals invariably sabotage it and we have the contents of our rubbish bag strewn around our drive and out into the lane. The alternative could be to put the food on the compost heap, but not all food is suitable for this method of disposal and putting food on the compost heap attracts animals to it. Consequently, a waste disposal is quite a sensible thing to have.

After several phone calls between the Irish flag layer and my husband, the Irish flag layer and me, my husband and the Irish flag layer and myself and the Irish flag layer, he phoned one morning to say that he was in the area and would be round shortly provided the weather was not 'too wet'. It wasn't when he phoned but not long afterwards I decided that it probably was and that he would not turn up. It was that very cold Tuesday, at the end of October, when it rained, snowed and sleeted. There was an unexpected (on my part) knock on the front door. I opened it to find two drowned rats - the Irish flag layer and a mate. I was asked if it was 'too wet' for me to open the side gate so that they could get round to the patio at the back. 'How wet is too wet?' I thought. OK, the path was flooded and the garden was very wet but I have a cagoule and a pair of wellington boots. So I dressed myself up for the wet weather and opened the gate for him then retreated indoors to kept an eye on things from the kitchen. As it happens the gutter above the drain is broken and it drips. I am sure that having icy water trickling down your neck concentrates the mind and there is a knack to removing the inner sleeve of the drain. He managed to clear the drain in a few minutes. No chance of a shirtless flag layer today. He was wearing an acid yellow, fluorescent jacket with a hood. The garden gnome had become a hoody!

Friday 21 November 2008

Knowing me knowing you

I was gifted this meme by imbeingheldhostage about ten days ago. I do not think that I can put off doing it any more. So here goes:

(A) Four places that I go over and over
  1. Tesco
    I go to three different stores depending on how the mood takes me. Does that count as three? I suppose not.
  2. My greenhouse at the end of our garden
    I go twice a day in the summer and once a week in the winter
  3. Charity shops
    To get rid of our junk but I usually come home with someone else's junk
  4. The gym
    I do not actually go but would if I had not had housemaid's knee on and off since June
(B) Four people who e-mail me regularly
  1. Friends reunited
  2. Able labels
  3. Amazon
  4. The National Lottery
(C) Four of my favourite places to eat
  1. Pizza Piazza, Dorking
    We regularly ate here when we lived in Surrey
  2. The Italian Taste, Surbiton
    We used to eat here when we visited my mother in law
  3. The Bunbury Arms, Stoak, Cheshire
  4. The Goshawk, Mouldsworth, Cheshire
    It would have been easier to have listed four places that are not worth returning to.
(D)Four places you would rather be
  1. On a beach on a desert island
  2. In our garden
  3. Anywhere by the sea
  4. Not at work
(E) Four TV shows you could watch over and over
  1. Silent Witness
  2. Coast/Britain from Above type documentaries
    They always seem to be filmed on a sunny day
  3. Gardeners World
    I didn't care for Monty Don but I think that Toby Buckland is rather sweet and he knows a thing or two about gardening
  4. Ten Years Younger
    I can dream

    And now for the four people who I think will respond - the dotterel, Maggie May, Moannie and Strawberry Jam Anne. I am not telling them. Let's just see if they read this and are up for it.

Monday 17 November 2008

On reflection

There has not been much to report on the renovation front recently. This is because we try to concentrate on the cottage in the winter and the garden in the summer. Also the small jobs, which we do ourselves, tend to be straight forward and incident free, but in the last few weeks not everything has gone to plan. We have been without a full length mirror in the bedroom since the old bedroom was taken out, about 18 months ago, if not longer. Well, one wet Saturday my husband decided that we would rectify this issue. So off we went to purchase a new mirror, which would need to be fixed inside one of the wardrobe doors. By the time we returned home with our new mirror and tube of mirror glue it was no longer wet and an afternoon in the garden beckoned. The mirror then hung around in a corner of the bedroom for a few weeks whilst we gardened.

Fast forward to last weekend, when it was wet and I charmed (threatened really) my husband into gluing the mirror onto the wardrobe door. This involved removing the wardrobe door and lying it flat on the carpet until the mirror glue had dried and it was safe to re fix the wardrobe door. My husband had applied the glue when he realised that the instructions did not state how long it took for the glue to dry and I noticed that the glue was ten days out of date. Yes, even glue has an expiry date these days! Too late, now, to take it back and complain. We left the mirror for an hour or so, to dry, which was probably not long enough, but my husband can be impatient. I helped him screw the wardrobe door back into place and we carefully shut it. He collected up his tools and I headed into another room. As my husband descended the stairs the was a thump. 'What could that be?' we both thought. Really it could only be one thing. I gently opened the wardrobe door to find that the mirror had slid off the door. There are advantages to having a wardrobe stuffed full of clothes. Luckily the mirror was unharmed. I then had to spend, I don't know how long, removing the glue from the inside of the wardrobe door and the back of he mirror. We now have another tube of mirror glue and will be repeating this exercise, with I hope more success, the next time we have a wet weekend. What is really annoying is that my husband has done this before, in our previous house, without any problems.


November 23, 2008 - the mirror is now up. This time we used Evo-stik mirror adhesive. Last weekend we used some unbranded glue which was a complete waste of money.

Friday 14 November 2008

Being creative

I have been given me this pretty and unusual award by Mima. So it is a big thank you to her for being so kind. I have to list six things which make me happy then pass the award onto six blogs.
The six things that make me happy are:
  • having my husband home
  • our garden
  • seeing all our work on the cottage come to fruition
  • in the summer, a warm sunny day
  • sitting by a log fire in the winter
  • a relaxing bath after a hard day at work
I am passing the award onto three blogs that I have been reading for some time:

imbeingheldhostage - if I could only use one word to describe her blog it would be creative, so I can not, not give this award to her.
strawberry jam anne - for such a creative blog title
moments from suburbia - who always writes about something different

and three enjoyable blogs that I have recently started to read:

millennium housewife
sandi mcbride

Tuesday 11 November 2008

A resting place in the sun

A few years ago whilst on holiday in Western Crete we visited the Souda Bay cemetery, which was gifted to the War Graves Commission by the Greek people after WWII. There are 1527 graves of service men who lost their lives in the Battle of Crete, which took place between May 20 to 31, 1941. Most of those buried there are British but there are 447 New Zealanders and 197 Australians. Some are unknown. Most of them were late teens or early twenties. So young.

Souda Bay is a horse shoe shaped bay to the east of Chania. The cemetery, which is surrounded by eucalyptus trees, lies at the bottom of the horse shoe facing out into the bay. The setting is quiet and almost beautiful. The sea, which was like a mill pond that day, gently lapped the nearby shore. The cemetery is immaculate with rows of white head stones, neatly mown grass and tidy flower beds. There was not a weed, dead flower head or piece of litter to be seen. The cemetery is protected by the hills on its' northern side and the White Mountains to the south. These cast a shadow over the sea and give a slightly eerie feel. But the overwhelming impression is of a very peaceful, tranquil and serene location, making it very difficult to contemplate the bloody battle which took place not far away. I did not want to leave and there are not words adequate to describe what I saw.

Thursday 6 November 2008

A game of tag

I have been tagged by Gill to reveal six interesting things about myself. I only visited her blog to look at a recipe and and I got tagged! Her blog is worth visiting for the recipes alone, but seriously she does write some interesting posts. I have had to have a long hard think about this as I do not think that I am very interesting. Anyway, here goes.
  1. I was born and brought up in East Yorkshire. I have arrive in Cheshire via Bath, Oxford, London and Surrey.
  2. I met my husband on holiday, on a Greek island.
  3. I am a keen gardener and would spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week out in the garden if I could.
  4. At school I was a sprinter and played left wing for the school hockey team.
  5. Peppers and chillies do not like me and the smell of a dog can give me a migraine.
  6. I used to be a civil servant.
I am passing the tag on to the following six bloggers:

blog that mama
Denise - an English girl rambles
gone back south
millennium housewife

Sunday 2 November 2008

Everything he does

Last Thursday night we went to see the Canadian rocker, Bryan Adams, at the MEN Arena in Manchester. We arrived in good time so as not to miss any of the concert. At 7.30 pm we found ourselves sitting in a half empty arena as the support band took to the stage unannounced. We haven't a clue who they were. They were instantly forgettable and too loud to hear properly - I know that sounds like a contradiction but really they just seemed to be making a noise. After their half hour warm up slot they left the stage and it was another half an hour before Bryan Adams made his appearance, by which time any warmth that the warm up act had generated had risen up to the rafters, whilst the audience sat in a slightly chilly arena. Had we realised that the concert would not really start until 8.30 pm, my husband could have had another hour at work or we need not have bolted our meal then driven hell for leather down the motorway. What was also slightly disconcerting was that in the area where the stalls would normally be, the seats had been removed and the audience there were standing. The audience continued to make their way to this area and to fill up the other half of the seats during the warm up act and the following half an hour. For the duration of the concert people were milling around at he back of the standing area, and I felt as if I were watching from Picadilly Circus or Waterloo Station, as we were sitting at the back of the standing area. By the time Bryan Adams appeared the arena looked to be just about full, but I would not say that it was a sell out.

In the darkness it was difficult to see exactly what was going on, but we could see Bryan Adams on the screens either side of the stage. Then we realised that he was making his way, through the audience to a small stage in the middle of the standing area. From where we were sitting we had a pretty good view of his first two numbers, which he performed acoustically from this small stage. At the start of his third number his band came to life on the main stage and he made his way through the audience, back to the main stage. I am sure that most pop stars would not even try such a thing for fear of being mobbed. Now we were into a rock concert, albeit soft rock. It was raw, noisy and loud with a multitude of brightly coloured lights. At times the sound was so loud it was distorted. Bryan Adams performance could not be faulted, as he belted out his repertoire of hits for over two hours, bouncing around the stage as he sang. Strangely there was very little atmosphere in the area. Even the enormously popular Everything I Do, I Do It For You failed to rouse the audience. At last, and I mean at last as it was his final number, the guitar twanging Run to You had the audience on their feet. Then he was gone, returning a few minutes later to do a five number encore. By the time he eventually left the stage it was nearly 11.00 pm and time to head back down the motorway.