The long grass

We are getting a gardener. It’s been a bit difficult finding one to come out but finally one turned up today. His name was Phil and he’s the boss. He’ll be sending two other guys out to start the garden clean up in two weeks. We are both delighted. I’m hoping these guys will be better than Chris was.

Mind you, that didn’t mean I couldn’t cut the grass. It’s gone a bit mad which is understandable given we’d been away for so long. Also the rain for the past week hasn’t helped. Whereas the sun over the last few days helped a lot.

Here is how it looked before I started:

Just a bit bushy

It was a hot old job (the temperature was rather high under the blazing sun) and I had to empty quite a few catchers full of grass clippings into the compost but, eventually, it was looking a little more presentable:

Phew!

For the last ten days (or so) I’ve been on antibiotics. This has meant I’ve not had an alcoholic drink for the last ten days (or so). Of course, a man works up a pretty big thirst cutting the grass. Particularly when it’s thicker than a suicide bomber. Water just doesn’t cut it beyond a mild slaking during the deed.

In the fridge was a bottle of Peroni. It was saving itself for just such a moment. It was possibly one of the best beers I’ve ever had. It went down like a dream…only better because I remembered it.

Egged on by my success, I then decided to high pressure spray the outside of the ceiling lantern. And what a difference it made. We’d forgotten that you were supposed to be able to see through the glass. Now it’s dazzling once more.

The rest of the day was spent prepping for tomorrow’s lunch: a Japanese banquet with Suzanne and Rafi.

In case anyone thinks the second photo above is actually our patch of grass…here’s the real finished product:

Ah, better

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All the news that’s fit to read

Maison Blanc is a French patisserie chain. The one in Farnham, in the Borough, was where I would occasionally (before the lo-carb regime kicked in) buy two almond croissants as a Sunday treat. Maison Blanc make the BEST almond croissants.

Imagine my surprise when today I saw that Maison Blanc have closed down. All the shelves were bare, staff there were none, the place had a very abandoned look about it. I guess there’s just too many cake places in Farnham.

Talking about the Borough…the entire corner with Castle Street was closed off this morning by a huge drainage truck. The big sucker of a machine was chugging away drawing up whatever nasty stuff lives under the pub. The traffic wasn’t very happy with the situation but the pedestrians had access to a lane in order to walk around the truck.

There seemed to be an inordinate amount of men standing around in flouri jackets, smiling and exchanging jokes as the sucking went on. It had all gone by the time I returned, much later in the day.

I had a Talking Newspaper session today, the Alton recording which is the late one. As I reached the West Street cemetery the traffic was a nightmare. Cars were parked all over the place, like a slapdashy car park. I could vaguely see a group of people near grave so I guess it was a funeral. Given the number of cars, I can only assume it was an important or very popular person.

When my team turned up at the studio all three of them were talking about the traffic problems after Bob’s favourite roundabout (Coxbridge for the uninformed).

The recording went well. I had a new reader today (this was her second session) and she quickly slotted into the chaos and craziness that is one of my recordings. In fact, while she started quite withdrawn, she was soon laughing and joking with the rest of us. We all had a lot of fun.

Back at home I found Mirinda home early from work. A lovely (though very warm) day.

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Not Gene Kelly

Today I had a meeting with Nick (at work) regarding my return to the Science Museum. He started off by telling me he had some bad news and then started telling all of this good news. Finally, after a good deal of riding around the subject he told me that I could no longer enter information on MIMSY; that London would be falling in line with the other museums in the group. He thought I’d be devastated.

I asked if I’d still be researching the ship models. He said yes, of course, I’d just be putting the information in an upload file which would then go into MIMSY. I suggested that this would make it easier because I was always doing double the work with spreadsheet and MIMSY anyway. I think he was very pleased that the change didn’t bother me. I understand and, while I’m a bit upset that I won’t be able to update the database directly anymore, at least I can still do the stuff I love. And it’s not personal.

After that we agreed on a date for me to start back.

I’d planned for our meeting this afternoon because I was meeting Mirinda for dinner and the theatre. I almost didn’t make it because Nick wanted to walk around a new exhibit featuring the stored ship models complete with crates and plastic wrap. It’s hard to describe but looks very ethereal.

Anyway, we were halfway round when one of the guys responsible for the exhibit came up and started chatting. We then met up with the other guy who worked on it. I had to excuse myself in order to get to the restaurant. A pity because I was enjoying the chat.

I managed to get to the restaurant in under half an hour – South Kensington to Goodge Street (which includes a change at Embankment) and a walk to Charlotte Street – which at peak hour, has to be a record.

Unusually Mirinda was there ahead of me.

We had decided to go to Roka, a Japanese restaurant that just happened to pop up on the Facebook feed the other day. While I don’t, as a general rule, do things on the say so of Facebook, I am so glad we did this time. The food was fantastic – we had the taster menu – and beautifully presented. There were lots of delicious courses.

The only slight glitch was the fact that, while they appeared to have an entire wall made out of plum wine, they insisted that didn’t have any. And the non-alcoholic drink (because of antibiotics) I ordered couldn’t be made because, according to our waiter, they’d run out of Kiwi fruits…although we had one with the dessert. Go figure.

Still, we ate and were away in time to take our seats at the Dominion Theatre for an incredible night of musical entertainment.

A while ago Ben suggested to Mirinda that we should go and see An American in Paris. She said that he raved about it. When she told me to buy tickets all I could think about was how his last recommendation had gone for me (Jesus Christ Superstar at the O2) but, I figured I’d risk it. I am so glad I did.

The show was fantastic. There was lots of great Gershwin songs, terrific dancing and an amazing set. I would find it difficult to find anything to fault about the whole show. It was just superb. And it looked like the cast were loving it, which always makes a big difference.

Cast-wise, while not Gene Kelly (who, of course couldn’t sing), Robert Fairchild was an excellent Jerry Mulligan with the added advantage of being a terrific singer as well as a dancer. If I had a favourite (apart from the amazing set design) it would have to be Leanne Cope who was a delight as Lise Dassin. In the ballet sequenced at the end, Leanne and Robert owned the stage. For someone who isn’t that keen on dance, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Utterly brilliant and highly recommended, An American in Paris is what musical theatre should be.

By the way, one of the things that concerned me regarding not having been at the museum for so long is that I’d miss the opening of the new V&A Exhibition Road entrance. Well, I can announce that it isn’t finished yet so I might yet get to see it!

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Grey gone

Just before we left for Oz and Japan, I dyed my hair. It’s not often you are away long enough for it to need re-doing when you get back. Six weeks, though, is about right. So today I dyed my hair.

I also had an unscheduled nap in the afternoon because I’ve suddenly caught a cold. Just sniffles and a sore throat but enough to keep me awake most of last night. Actually, rather than the cold, I was kept awake by a continuous nightmare involving a holiday in Thailand. I can’t remember any other details but it was frightening.

Lack of sleep and my first walk in the park for yonks both conspired to send me off to Snoozyland. I was woken up when Mirinda called. Disorientated, I had no idea what the noise was until a little more wakefulness cleared my head. The other day I changed my ring tone (it was the Theme from Dexter; it’s now the theme from Rick & Morty) and at first I thought Freya had decided to watch something on the telly.

The park, by the way, looked glorious in its lush greenness. This is my favourite time in the park; all the life has returned and the world is beautifully peaceful.

Squirrel Tree has almost disappeared behind greenery. The last time I posted a picture of the Squirrel Tree it was stark and lifeless (apart from the squirrels) now it just shouts life.

Back at home Freya had a bit of a stand-off with a squirrel in the garden. It was on the floating table and she raced out onto the terrace to have a go at it with her silly little growly barky noise, as she does. The squirrel ran up the tree and stood safely ensconced in a fork, hissing and carrying on at Freya. This just made Freya shake with fury and make louder growly barky noises. It was very funny.

When Freya gave up, the squirrel returned to the floating table.

The day was so beautiful, it was almost enough to make me forget the atrocity that struck Manchester last night when a dead moron decided it would further his cause by killing little girls. At least he’s dead.

Then, later in the day, I heard that Roger Moore died. I remember how much Kim Evans (from high school) thought he was Roger Moore. It was the time of The Persuaders and, of course, I had to be Tony Curtis. I know what happened to Roger but I sometimes wonder what happened to his doppelganger, Kim.

I forgot to add a photograph of my Yakuta which I bought in Kyoto.

Gazza-san

So comfortable, so light, so Japanese. Now where is the public bath?

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Blackbird slaughter

This morning I braved a trip into town on my own. Okay, I caught the bus but even so, everything went fine. My foot ached a bit by the time I returned but I think that’s because of lack of use rather than anything else. The swelling has significantly decreased and the pain has gone. Yay!

On the way out I saw the most amazing thing. Amazing for me, I mean because I’m sure it’s not THAT amazing.

As I left the house I saw a big adult buzzard slowly circling our street, getting lower as the circles decreased in size. Suddenly, while I was still quite a distance away, it swooped down like a rocket, wings in, beak arrow-like and just as deadly. It disappeared behind a tree, on the footpath, so I couldn’t see what was happening. A car then started up and the buzzard flew away.

When I reached the spot where it had landed I realised what it had been doing. Two bits of a dead blackbird were scattered on the path – a head and a wing. I didn’t see the buzzard kill it but it must have and was just eating it when it was interrupted by the car.

After turning the corner, heading for the bus stop, I stopped as I spotted the buzzard coming back. It circled and circled then disappeared from view again as, no doubt, it finished breakfast.

Then, in another bird related episode, I saw a whole flock of sparrows standing on the chicken wire fence that runs between the Crazies Bed and the Wildflower Patch. Now, that might not sound that incredible, after all they do spend a lot of time carrying on in the hebe which is just the other side of the fence.

What was amazing was that they were all standing on the wire at 90 degrees to the ground…horizontal rather than vertical. One sparrow would be a bit odd but this was at least ten of them. It was like it was some sort of sparrow art installation. As soon as they saw me, they all flew away but for that moment I was part of something special.

Not so special is Emma’s new found love for cow manure. Late in the day Mirinda took them both up to the park and decided, not heeding Sue’s warning about Emma’s new thing, to go via the Queen’s Bottom which, this time of year, has cows in it. And cows mean lovely fresh, disgustingly steamy cow pats. She was gross. Fortunately Freya didn’t do the same (she has been known to eat them).

And Emma hates baths so much…

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Mirinda in the garden

Today I (sort of) took it easy after yesterday’s big excursion. Mirinda, on the other hand, did anything but.

She decided to attack the Crazies Bed armed with pitchfork and secateurs. And what a difference she made. The biggest problem was the small rose bush at the base of the obelisk. It was being weighed down by everything around it, the blooms facing the ground rather than hunting for the sun. After a lot of concentrated work, she had freed them.

They actually look a lot better than the photo. They are cochineal and beautifully bright.

Emma also helped a bit.

As for me, I spent a lot of the day working on things on my laptop that needed fixing and/or amending. It was a lovely day to spend in the office, among the wilderness that is the Wildflower Patch. That’s when I can see over the Candy Bed which having finished with the daffs then tulips is now mostly weeds.

I’m not even going to mention the grass until it is dry enough to cut.

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Outside!

At the risk of sounding agoraphobic, I was a bit worried about leaving the house today. Don’t get me wrong, being stuck in the house for a week has been quite lonely (at times) and restricting (at all times) but, obviously it had to be borne.

And so, this morning we headed into Farnham and I couldn’t help feeling a bit of trepidation. I mean what if my Starbucks family had forgotten my order?

Victoria at the bar

As if!

As I walked in, Sue, Victoria, Serina and Chantelle all chimed in with a “Hi Gary!” and they told me how much they’d missed me and eagerly asked how wonderful my trip was and…well all sorts of things.

Standing waiting for my coffee I told Chantelle about the Japanese toilets. She was quite taken with the heated seats because, she said, in the winter she’ll often sit on her hands first thing in the morning because of the cold seat.

I then sat happily drinking my first silky milk latte for almost two months. I was waiting for a text from Mirinda who was having her eyes tested. It’s my job to help her choose new frames…because she can’t see them without her glasses.

So the text came and I popped sort of next door where she had narrowed the choices down to three. To this total she then added one so it was four. There was a bit of back and forth negotiation between her and the glasses lady (who lived in Melbourne as a young girl many years ago) regarding the thickness of the glass and suitability of the frames.

There was also some discussion regarding the stupidity of people who believe in homeopathy, the cuteness of fairy penguins and Demodex mites which live on everyone’s eyelashes and exist because…well, no reason I can see.

Good job they’re small

Actually ‘frames’ isn’t exactly correct given they don’t have a frame. The new glasses are just lenses with arms attached. I’m not sure what she’s paying for because ‘frame’ there is none. I guess someone has figured out how to charge for designing nothing. Now that’s very clever. Still, they looked very good and her new sunnies are well cool.

After a shop we then returned home where I rested my foot for a bit.

Later in prevening, given the rain held off for a short while, Mirinda took the girls to Frensham for a lovely stroll around the little pond.

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Photo processing

The foot continues to deflate and my ability to walk is gradually returning. Today I actually went outside…in between showers.

I managed to hobble to the end of the path. This was quite depressing given how much work needs doing in the garden. Mirinda is trying to find a gardener who could do a bit of maintenance every week/fortnight but, so far, without any luck.

While Mirinda worked I managed to retire to my office where, over the course of the day, I managed to load the best of my Oz and Japan photos onto Flickr. There were breaks, of course.

I managed to take a couple of photos of some blooms.

Azaleas

Things are basically back to normal (as long as I take it easy – I don’t want a reversal), making lunch and dinner, washing, etc. I even had a bath!

Tomorrow, Mirinda has promised to take me shopping. Given I haven’t left the house for a week, this will be a major treat. Starbucks here I come.

Clematis &
potato vine

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Taking back the kitchen

I don’t think there’s actually a right or wrong way to organise one’s kitchen. I think that most kitchen people have their own unique way of doing it. I know I do and, having used other people’s kitchens, my small sample space would prove me correct.

Since our return from Japan, Mirinda has been making herself at home in my kitchen. Obviously this was a necessity and I would never complain because her meals have been delicious and joyously received. And it’s always nice to have someone else wash and clean up afterwards.

However…

Today, given my always improving foot situation, I attacked the kitchen. I was happy after about an hour. And I made my own lunch – it was either that or go hungry given I was alone. Then I cleaned up afterwards.

I also managed to run the Dyson around. It felt good being useful.

Mirinda was home by 8:30 and I had dinner ready for her.

Apart from a slight swelling and a bit of ache, I almost feel back to normal…well, normal for MY feet of course.

Also, I wouldn’t feel sorry for Freya not getting anything. She has no interest in anything that doesn’t concern her tummy. Except when it comes to The Archers. This is how she acts when The Archers is on.

And the dogs may have wanted to go for a walk today but, regardless of my elephantine foot, it hasn’t stopped raining all day. Here’s the view out the back door.

Green, green, la la la la

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Swell reduction

So Mirinda headed off for London today while I did very little except try and melt my foot with my mind.

When I woke up this morning I found I could actually hobble without hanging on to everything stable. Okay, I walk like a weirdo but just the tiniest bit of independent mobility made me almost cheer with delight.

I Skyped with mum for a bit and then…well, not a lot more.

I listened to a bit of radio, watched a bit of TV (I have discovered Rick and Morty, an insane animated show by Dan Harmon of Community and Harmonville podcast fame) and worked on the blog.

I tried to change the header image above but it wouldn’t let me. Because I can’t get out to the office, I have to work on the hybrid which doesn’t have the software I need. That’ll have to wait then.

I also added a few of my phone photos from Japan to Flickr. Again I’ll have to wait until I can get to the office before adding my camera photos – there are quite a lot.

I managed to make dinner for myself…okay, it was just a pizza to heat but I did add spinach and an egg. I also managed to wash my feet which they desperately needed.

The doctor suggested I use an emollient on my feet to prevent anything nasty managing to sneak in. To do that, I really need freshly washed and clean feet. I used the floor washing bucket. It was very successful and felt bloody good!

See how dull my days are at the moment? It’s all about the feet. It’s a good job it’s not a butt problem.

Obviously, there’s not a lot of photographs being taken at the moment. In order to brighten up this post, then, here’s a photo of a lovely boat in Mosman Bay. I rather fancy having it to travel across the Channel to St Malo.

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