Life on public transport

What an odd and sometimes annoying morning I had today. I was off to Portsmouth for work and, having dropped the girls off with Sue, sighed as the number 5 bus to Farnham station scooted by as I was still hobbling towards the bus stop. This meant an unexpected wait of 15 minutes for the number 17.

More annoying than the delay however, was the fact that an inconsiderate builder had decided to park his over-tall van between the bus stop and the end of the road, making the signalling of the bus quite an ordeal. In fact I had to stand in the road for the driver to see me rather than sail by.

The view from the footpath

I reached Farnham station just as my train to Guildford was leaving it. I settled down with a coffee and my book for the half hour wait for the next one. I wasn’t too annoyed because this merely reduces the wait at Guildford and gives the buffer a bit of a bash.

Of course, my later train to Guildford was inexplicably held up along the way. We sat at a red signal for what seemed like ages but was actually just long enough to make me late for my Portsmouth connection by the time we reached Guildford. In fact, as I stepped from the train I noticed a Portsmouth train just leaving with a swoosh of satisfaction.

I walked down, then up the ramps to platform 4, through a veritable flood of commuters all going in the opposite direction and threatening to wash me downstream. Finally reaching the safety of the platform I realised the train I’d watched leave was actually the all stopping service and my usual train was, in fact, delayed. Which was a good thing this morning and made things match up a bit better.

All was well, or so I thought, as we headed for Haslemere. Then we stopped and the door bells started going a bit mental. We sat at the platform for a while before the guard decided to let us know that the doors in the rear carriages weren’t working. He said they were being fixed and we’d move as soon as they were. (I was seriously glad that Mirinda wasn’t with me knowing her weird door phobia.)

The delay was increasing as the doors refused to budge. Then, suddenly, a computer voice announced something like “Message for the guard – ADFS is now connected.” It was very mysterious but, of course, meant the doors were fixed and we were soon on our way again.

In the end it made me about 20 minutes late so I had to go into the dockyard along with the public rather than before them, which I rather enjoy.

I had an email last week regarding the new entrance arrangements for the library. No more need to go to security and get a navy pass. Now it’s just a matter of walking all the way as far as the Victory, go through a gate then walk all the way back again then straight into the library.

The trouble was, I couldn’t find the gate because the only one between the buildings had stark warnings plastered all over it. I then saw a fellow volunteer approaching and suggested he looked like someone who would know the way in my usual jolly fashion. He assumed I was a member of the public and was lost.

This ex-navy chap didn’t recognise me even though we’ve been sitting next to each other for a year. We have chatted, exchanged jokes and…well, the normal stuff. This wasn’t my invisibility but some sort of New Appearance Field I’d stepped through. I hope he wasn’t in charge of watching for things or recognising enemy as opposed to friendly ships when he was in the service.

So, having assured him I was also a volunteer and used to sit next to him in the old office, he showed me how to access the long road between the buildings and we walked to the library.

Between the buildings

It was quite a walk, particularly with a stranger.

Work was a return to the warships of the world V800 section which I thought I was going to complete before the day was out. No such luck. I managed to get through about 20 before the time rolled around to the one to go. Heather informed us all that there’ll be no volunteering for the next two weeks because of general absences following which I left.

Me waiting for trains and buses and things

(The woman above is actually Scylla, the Greek myth that sailors feared. It was she who stood opposite the fearsome Charybdis. As sailors avoided Charybdis she would pick them off. It seems an odd choice for a naval ship but this figurehead came from a screw corvette built at Sheerness in 1856 and broken up in 1882.)

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Making steps

Today was another glorious day. Not too hot, though hot enough to dry three washing loads on the line, not cloudy at all and, naturally, no rain. It was the perfect late September, just gone summer day.

I decided against going to the gym because my cough hasn’t quite cleared up and I was still feeling a bit unwell. For the same reason I decided against going into Farnham at all. In any case, the day was perfect for working in the garden, something I rarely do and there was plenty of food.

The main job I had to do in the garden was to complete the siting of the hose from the terrace to the greenhouse. Gardener Dave and Stan had completed the bulk of the bracketing yesterday but there was a few more required up the back and some staking along the higgledy piggledy palisade. There was also the stretch along the greenhouse slab though that had to wait for the delivery of more stakes.

I didn’t cut the hose and fit the ends because I want Mirinda to decide how much overhang she wants. The hose was 164′ so there’s a lot to play with while intact but this could easily be rendered extremely annoying if I cut too much off.

Before starting the hose, however, I rang an electrician to get a quote on supplying electricity to the greenhouse so Mirinda can install a plant heating system which, apparently, she needs. Sean the Sparky told me he could drop over in the late afternoon.

This worked out perfectly, as it happened. I’d taken the girls to the park then returned. I was about to head up the back of the garden when Emma let me know someone was at the door. It was Sean and Phil. They made the correct comments about the extension before looking at the greenhouse and pacing out the distance.

The quote was given immediately and accepted just as quickly. Sean said he could do it next week until I told him I’d be in Naples. I said I was free the week after but he said he might be in Barbados. He left it that he’d ring me. I hope he’s not going to be like the torrent of decorators who quote to work in the library then just vanish.

The main job I started and completed today however, was using the remaining terrace tiles to create steps to the greenhouse and beyond, to the tool shed. I was very happy with the result and have to say that working up that end of the garden in the shade was something of a treat.

Emma on guard

The stakes turned up at about 4pm so I completed that as well. In fact, it was a very productive day. And, by the end of it, I was feeling a lot better.

The day was further improved when I had a call from Mirinda in Manchester – I didn’t hear from her yesterday. She told me about a couple of women at the conference who claimed that they regularly channelled their inner Mirinda by asking “What would Mirinda do?” when presented with a sticky situation. And so they should, I say!

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Why Dave was livid

The last time the gardeners came, Gardener Dave told me he was livid but, because of the circumstances, I wasn’t able to ask what had caused his lividity. Today he returned (without Lou and with Stan) and, having toured the garden and given the jobs as dictated by Mirinda, I asked him.

He was livid because of Joe. Joe was the young lad who was with him last time and who was off to uni last week. Joe came across as completely competent and able. Dave said this was all a veneer (he didn’t use the word ‘veneer’), that he was a complete idiot (he did use the word ‘idiot’ along with a few others) who had no idea what a garden was.

Apparently, when Dave told him to get rid of a bramble under our holly tree, Joe started attacking our wild rose not knowing the difference. Fortunately he only cut it back prior to digging it out and Dave stopped him in time. This was possibly the least bad thing he managed to do in his short time with the gardeners.

According to Andy (the Polish gardener who doesn’t mince his words) his brain is too far from his feet. According to Stan (who shakes his head with grimness every time Joe’s name is mentioned), Joe is scared of flies, spiders, wasps, dirt, hedges, ladders, shears and doesn’t know how to use neither a rake nor a shovel.

I asked why on earth he was working with them but I didn’t get a satisfactory answer. Dave reckons he wants to be a river fireman but doesn’t know how he’s going to climb a ladder. Stan just shook his head.

Interestingly, Emma didn’t bark at Stan even though he’s only been here once right back when we started having the gardeners. He says it’s because he has, at present, six red setters at home and all dogs think he’s one because he smells of them.

While I was organising and interrogating the gardeners, Mirinda was finishing up some documentation for Sarah before heading off to Manchester for the next few days for work. I’m rarely jealous of her work things but she getting to go on a tram then was staying on a quay…obviously I was jealous this time. She said she’d take a photo.

After they’d finished running a hose to the greenhouse, Dave and Stan bade me farewell and set off for their next job.

Naturally, I took the girls to the park and, for a change, Freya decided she wanted to run around after the ball.

They are impatient for the ball

She normally only does it to annoy Emma and gives up after a few runs but not today. Today she chased and retrieved many times. I would hold Emma back in order to give Freya a chance.

Being Freya, she always knows where the ball is but can’t always pick it up because her mouth is smaller than Emma’s. She has to get it in a position where her teeth can skewer the holes in the ball. She does this by turning it with a front paw (or two). It’s not always successful but she does try a few times before giving up.

Anyway, all in all, they both had a jolly good run today, which doesn’t often happen when they’re out with me.

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The fight for the red chair

This morning, at Starbucks, I told Chantelle that her new hair reminded me of Daenerys Targaryen. She looked at me like I’d said “grhmugoth hgnfgubt“. I turned to Clara and said that she must know who Daenerys Targaryen is (or was) but she was equally dumbstruck. Next I asked Sam, who had just started his shift. Again, he had no idea.

When I said she was from Game of Thrones, all three said they’d never watched it. Mind you, when I said it was Emilia Clarke, Clara had at least heard of her.

I showed Chantelle a photo of Daenerys Targaryen and she realised what I meant about her hair but it was all too late by then.

And this was not my only Game of Thrones encounter today.

As I trundled home with my basket on wheels behind me, a little black blur of fur raced up to me, launching itself at my legs. It was little Luna, who I haven’t seen for ages. She was followed in a more sedate manner by Vivienne and her daughter.

We talked about summer and how it had been. I asked her about her data analysis re her Masters and, when prompted, I told her my Sunday was going to be heavily dominated with a spreadsheet. We then discussed, it being England, the weather.

I suggested it was a lovely start to autumn and Vivienne agreed. Her daughter, however, mouth down-turned and clearly unimpressed said she hated autumn because of the ‘mooshy’ leaves. I said that was fair enough only without ‘mooshy’ leaves we’d soon run out of dirt or perhaps she didn’t like dirt either. She grunted.

When pressed for which season she did like she said, with chillful delight, “Winter!

It was then that I realised who she reminded me of: Arya Stark. I suggested this and Vivienne suddenly said I was right and she’d never noticed. Her daughter asked who this person was. Her mum said she was in Game of Thrones which I suggested she didn’t really need to know too much about (she seemed to be around 12) except that Arya Stark was an amazing character who wouldn’t like ‘mooshy’ leaves either.

I was very grateful that Vivienne knew who Arya Stark was and I said farewell with a happier spring to my step…well, maybe not exactly a spring.

And, as I said, the rest of my day was spent working on a spreadsheet for Mirinda except for a short break to go to the garden centre to buy a load of hose fittings in order to supply the greenhouse with a water supply, which the gardeners will fit tomorrow.

The view from my office laptop

Working in my office meant I was able to listen to the fourth and, as it turned out, final day of the fifth and final Ashes test. It was very exciting and almost looked, for a moment, that we would win but then, finally and decisively, Joe Root took an amazing catch to seal the win for England. So a draw and we retained the Ashes. Given the amazing summer of cricket I reckon this is a fair result. It also marks possibly the most exciting Ashes test series I’ve ever lived through.

Then, at the end of the day, I had my own fight for the Iron Throne as the puppies vied for favoured position on the Red Chair.

Not sure which one is now the ruler of Westeros
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Surprise lunch

Having walked up to Farnham for essential supplies, and returned, somewhat exhausted, I sat in my office and rang mum. I didn’t call last week and Denise told me she’d been the recipient of countless texts saying I hadn’t called for ‘ages’. It shows the importance of regularity when it comes to mum.

Today she was full of news about the new bus. Yes, finally, the home has a bus of its own. I had been a bit concerned that the residents would all be just stuck at the home, only venturing out when with their kind friends and relatives took them somewhere else. Hopefully the bus will give them a lot more freedom.

Mum also told me about poor Les who had a small heart attack over dinner. Les and Glenys always sit with mum and I met them when I was over in May. Anyway, they were sitting eating when he suddenly stopped and turned, as mum said, ashen. Mum, in her account, went and found a ‘proper’ nurse and Les was rushed off to hospital.

He was returned a few days later feeling heaps better and, thankfully, still alive.

After hanging up, Mirinda suggested we pop over to Frensham and have lunch at the Holly Bush (which reminds me…in the Spanish police procedural we’re currently watching, the translator keeps spelling ‘Holy’ as ‘Holly’ so we get things like “Holly Hell, Sergeant!” though, to be fair, too much Holly can be quite hellish I guess) a suggestion I was more than happy with.

The day was beautiful, the sharing platter we shared, a delight, even the beer was welcome (it should be noted that I haven’t felt like any alcohol all week). Of course the puppies enjoyed it as well. In fact, Freya grabbed a bit of manchego rind off Mirinda’s plate with all the speed of an annoyed rattlesnake.

After this delightful surprise visit, we settled back at home, me in my office, Mirinda in the library, working on an essential spreadsheet for her work. This took most of the day. Still, it was lovely sitting, looking out the window, over the top of my laptop, at the mass of morning glories surrounding the obelisk at the moment.

The only photo I took today was across the front of the almshouses, showing the new lead covered shelters.

Looking perfect

Meanwhile, the Australian cricket team were fighting a losing battle on the third day of the fifth and final Ashes test. We may have already retained the Ashes but it’s still not nice losing. Still, in a summer of unpredictability (as far as cricket is concerned) who knows what will happen in the next two days.

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My turn

Following the major puppy clipping of yesterday, it was me in the scissor position this morning. Given I was forced to sit on the loo for far too long first thing, I almost cancelled but whatever has been annoying my gut settled down enough for me to get going and I headed into town.

As I reached the stile at the beginning of the lane I spotted a very odd thing. A pile of dog poo bags which appeared to be filled with other dog poo bags in, what looked like, a sort of green sandbag pile. It was most peculiar.

No, they are not filled with dog poo

Maybe that’s the way they are delivered. Whatever, it seems odd given I’ve never seen it before. And it’s not like I’m a stranger to the stile.

Anyway, I headed to the hair-chair and sat and talked food and relationship situations with my hairdresser until she had me looking completely different after which I went to Starbucks for my first latte of the week. It was then to Waitrose for tonight’s dinner (roast sea bass on med veg).

As I passed the almshouses, I noticed the guy trimming the lead for the small coverings. I stopped and told him what a brilliant job he was doing. I think he was pleased but it wasn’t without due because they do look amazing and I’m fairly certain it’s a bit of a lost art.

The walk home was very telling and I soon realised that I wasn’t quite 100% better. Mind you, the park looked lovely.

Back at home I took a while to recover before taking the girls to the park where I sat on the grass and was pleasantly attacked by every dog that went by. I was sitting on the grass because a couple of canoodling teenagers had my bench and I couldn’t be bothered walking any further. It didn’t bother the girls and I rather liked the doggy attentions.

My hair…though I need a shave

Back at home I made a paleo loaf then waited for Mirinda to get home before making dinner. We then compared health notes before getting back to the Spanish crime drama we’re watching at the moment.

Emma for no reason
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Going the long way

Today I woke up feeling a bit better. The cough is still with me and I still felt quite tired all day but, basically, I felt better than I have. This was a very good thing because I had to take the girls to see Kate and have their coats cut.

I realised that Mirinda would prefer me to cancel their appointment but, as long as I could get there and back (and there and back again) I wanted it done. They have been unwittingly picking up a lot of the park and bringing it home which isn’t good for anyone.

So, we left home with enough time for a rest on the way if needed.

As we approached the top of the park, a couple of women walking a small black and white dog approached us. One of the women exclaimed that she thought it was me, as she’d explained to her friend. She didn’t know I had dogs and it was the lack of my basket that fooled her. I normally see her on my way into town to the shops.

I did stop once, to take a photo of the girls as a BEFORE photo. They are nothing like the poodles and never do anything together. This single photo was the best out of about a hundred. They really are pests.


Other than that, we just saw a lot of dogs before arriving at Kate’s. She took them away and I headed back home along the all weather path, dodging around incredibly rude cyclists.

Yesterday I say a YouTube video showing a cyclist head butting a pedestrian which demonstrated why a lot of people don’t like cyclists. The pedestrian was walking across a busy London road WITH the green man when this cyclist rode through the red light and almost hit him.

The pedestrian yelled something which was probably something like “Excuse me, dear chap! Take care!” The cyclist turned his bike around and approached the pedestrian with what can only be described as absolute menace. The pedestrian was clearly remonstrating with the cyclist about his bad road use. The cyclist, clearly a violent thug, lowered his head and slammed it into the face of the pedestrian who went flying onto the footpath. The cyclist then rode away as concerned on-lookers helped the pedestrian.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s the video:

Now, I’m not saying the cyclists in Farnham Park are THAT bad but they do expect me to get off this narrow path rather than ride on the grass.

Long, windy road

Having survived my walk back, I had just over an hour before having to head back up so I put the cricket on for a bit (avoiding any Geoffrey Boycott segments).

I’d checked the buses and there was a number 5 which would get me to Kate right on time so I caught it up and very soon had the girls ready to walk back down the hill.

Apart from a lady who was lost and wanted to walk into Farnham (Freya wanted to point her in the wrong direction but I set her on the right path) the trip back was pretty slow and steady with very few dogs to greet.


Late in the day I dyed my hair because I’m getting my own haircut tomorrow.

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So pleased to see you!

The cough is still with me, irritating me, driving me a bit batty. I am also still quite weak if I exert myself. For this reason I thought it wise not to go to work today. Plus, as it turned out, I have a dose of diarrhoea which would not have been fun on the multiple trains I take on a Wednesday.

And so I did very little (apart from research dead soldiers between snoozy naps and walking the dogs in the park. Actually, we didn’t go very far at all today. Or rather I didn’t. Emma goes miles chasing her ball and Freya tends to go where the squirrels lead.

My only human contact was with a chap who walked by us with his dog. After talking about whether he should get a second one (I said yes) he said it was great how much dogs love you. I agreed. He then said:

“Lock your wife in the car, and lock your dog in the car and see which one greets you most when you get back.”

Things were so dull, I didn’t even take a photo.

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God awful cough

It’s always easy to tell when I’m seriously ill. Firstly I don’t want to drink any alcohol and secondly the house starts to look very messy in a very short time.

This morning at Waitrose I sailed straight by the beer shelves and before I went to bed I realised that I do more housework than I thought given the current state of the house.

I did walk the dogs up to the park and, it would appear, I managed to get a bit of sympathy from Freya…or is this confusion? Emma was only interested in her ball.

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It has taken a while but, finally I have become an unwilling victim to Mirinda’s bronchial trouble. It started with the vague beginnings of a tickley cough last Friday which I successfully banished to the back of my self preservation medicine box – I didn’t want to miss the conference. But today, it decided I’d held off long enough.

It would be fair to say that I felt like shit. I didn’t go to the gym. I didn’t go into Farnham. I didn’t even walk the dogs. It’s a good week for Mirinda to not be here.

Not that I didn’t accomplish something.

On Friday two big boxes were delivered. This was Mirinda’s new potting table. Well, the bits for it, anyway. I figured I’d put it together. I didn’t think it would take me long.

Two things I hadn’t considered when I started. Firstly, being unwell meant I was a bit slower and having to stop for breath and a jolly phlegmy cough a few times didn’t help. And, secondly, the people who made and packed the potting table sent the wrong instructions.

Having unpacked everything I was quite surprised to discover a few extra bits and pieces (I’m not talking spare screws). I looked at the instructions and they were for building a work table. My first thought was how slack that was given not everyone has the manual background that I do. My second was to think about what I was going to do.

The way I saw it was I had two options (ignoring the one about not doing it at all). I could call the company and ask them to email me a scan of the correct instructions or, the choice I chose, I could just work it out. And, to be fair, I did have a photograph to use from their website which helped a bit.

And so, by the end of the day, this perfectly fitted into the spot it was bought for which, apart from anything else, proves that Mirinda CAN measure things and buy accordingly.

Potting table
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