Nose first

The last bed of the raised beds on the terrace, was looking a bit bare. A plant which I’d transplanted from the front years ago, wasn’t performing as well as it should. It seemed to be the perfect solution for both.

So, armed with shovel, chicken manure and Emma, I dug it up, made a hole and planted it in a better place – the plant, not Emma. Hopefully it will now grow a bit better. At least the bed looks a little better populated now.

Halfway through the day, Emma proved just how gross dogs can be. One of them (and I think it was Day-z) had deposited a rather sloppy poo on the terrace. In itself, this isn’t a big problem (much better than inside) because the tiles clean very easily. I had an ever ready poo bag in my pocket so I bent down and scooped up the majority of the mess.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a flash of caramel fur and with the accuracy of a poo seeking missile, Emma buried her nose in the now full bag.

She quickly retreated a few feet and started sneezing and trying to wipe her nose. Though in some sort of mild distress, it didn’t stop her tail from wagging vigorously.

I took a moment to put the poo bag somewhere safe and quickly scooped her up, keeping her at arms length, then deposited her in the laundry sink. It was at about this time that her tail stopped wagging. If there’s an opposite of wagging, this happened when I turned the tap on and aimed the warm water at her face. She didn’t like the shampoo either.

Meanwhile, Day-z, the usual bath recipient, stood watching and, I reckon, laughing.

The desperate race to remove all trace of the foul mess from her nose, face and paws was soon over and I then attacked her with a towel. Most dogs quite like the towel. The rubbing, the tousling, the general ‘play’. But not Emma. She just tries to bite me through the towel and attempt to escape. She didn’t.

A startled but decidedly sweeter smelling Emma emerged from the laundry and immediately attacked Day-z, presumably for laughing at her predicament.

Apart from plant and canine rescue, my day was a bit administrative. I had to renew Mirinda’s passport, book Sidney in for her MOT, organise some paperwork for our share holdings, yadda, yadda, yadda. All a bit mundane. Of course, my Skype session with mum and dad was anything but mundane as we discussed the economic impact of the G20 on Brisbane and the reason why kid free areas on cruise liners should be strictly observed.

The latter refers to Tracey and Bob’s latest foray into the world of cruising the world’s oceans. It wasn’t a great success with the food being slop, the pools being full of screaming kids (and possibly urine) and the aforementioned kid free areas packed with out of control children. Poor Tracey and Bob.

My final daylight job was to cover the top of the steps with the huge plastic sheet as rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Given the slope of the tiles which sends the water off the terrace rather than into the house, I was in a bit of a quandary about how to ‘seal’ the plastic on the top step. There was easy access under the plastic sheet and straight into the hollow section. I had suggested gaffer tape but really didn’t want to stick it al over the tiles.

Casting my eye around for a possible solution, I happened to glance at the bags of gravel. It struck me! Flood defences! Lacking big sacks of sands, I started lining up the bags of gravel to create a sort of levee. Hopefully it will work. We shall see when the rain stops.

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break,
When The Levee Breaks I’ll have no place to stay.
Led Zeppelin

Chairs of the absurd

Things returned to normal today with me walking Mirinda up to the station (she had interviews to conduct today and needed to go in) then going shopping before returning home to two very excited dogs.

I didn’t have long to play with them. Because of the long waiting time for new furniture, we have been forced to use our old chairs for Christmas. Not that there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just that they don’t really match anything…except for themselves.

When we bought the new set (years ago) the blue ones were stored away with the old dining table. Everything was stored away in one of the sheds. Fortunately, it wasn’t the shed with the rotten roof.

Today, seeing as it was bright and sunny with no chance of rain, I dug it all out. The garden started to look like an Ionesco play with bits and pieces strewn along the path and under the gazebo.

I discovered all manner of things I hadn’t seen for years (and some I swear I’ve never seen before). It was all pretty much mundane though I did manage to work up a bit of sweat. Emma helped by getting under my feet as often as she could and by taking small things out of the shed and hiding them in the grass.

Eventually, I had the chairs and the table released from the clutches of cobweb and ivy and moved them onto the terrace for intensive cleaning. The legs for the table especially. They were in dire need of a few gallons of WD40 before I could even think about undoing the bolts.

By the end of the day (which comes early now that the clocks have gone back) everything was back to normal except the front room had a dining table in it and a row of blue chairs was sitting along the glass sliding doors. All very surreal.

In between carting furniture and other detritus from one place to another in a seemingly pointless exercise, I had to work out how to sell Mirinda’s shares. This has taken me since August and, rather than getting clearer, has become muddier, the further I dig into the murky waters of Share Trading. Eventually, though, I cracked it (with the help of a couple of very helpful people at the other end of an email address) and had a bit of a Eureka Moment. Hopefully I’ll be far better armed when the same thing happens next year.

All in all, a physical and successful day.

Emma does Hankley

This afternoon was Emma’s first trip to Hankley. And she loved it. As Mirinda said it was a synaptic overload of new things.

In the nature of the usual Sunday, the morning was spent at ease (shopping, Skyping, etc). In the nature of a Daylight Saving Sunday, it meant an extra hour’s sleep. And, I’m glad to report, the dogs took advantage of it as well. My sleep was gloriously uninterrupted. Things have turned a corner in the early morning calls to arms.

At the other end of the day it meant an earlier sunset so our walk around Hankley grew progressively darker as we walked around it. Not that that matters, as we discussed, Hankley always looks beautiful. Though Mirinda wondered if we’d have thought so when we first arrived in the UK. She recalls that it all looked a bit bleak when we first came over in 1998 for our holiday/business trip with Liz and Wendy. Though, of course, we didn’t visit Hankley so perhaps it was just Wiltshire.

By the time we returned to the car, Emma was suitably tired out (though not tired enough to stop her vomiting her lunch up all over Sidney’s back seat. I don’t think she’s going to be a good traveller – I remember the vomit on the trip back from the Isle of Sheppey only too well.

For this week’s roast, we had pork with green butter (I have to note which roasts we have so Mirinda can select the next week’s) and the two remaining Moroccan syllabubs, a new Chez Gaz dessert.

All round, a pretty perfect Sunday.

And, I almost forgot! Another big day for Emma in that she has finally conquered her fear of the stairs. She now, quite confidently, runs up and down them.

Finding Lake Weewee

Sometimes, I find unpleasant surprises in the laundry. This morning it was a lake. At first I thought there was just a little puddle of piddle in front of the cage. Further investigation revealed a far bigger expanse of liquid pooling under the cage and extending to the wall. This was clearly the work of more than one dog.

I spent quite a while cleaning this up. It was little wonder that the dogs didn’t need to go to the toilet first thing. While it wasn’t a pleasant job, it was preferable to the poo spiral of the other week.

Nasty surprises aside, Tiler Mark turned up this morning to fix the glass splashback in the kitchen. It didn’t take very long though it will need grouting sometime next week. It’s going to make a big difference given the amount of spray on the wall behind the hob.

Gold leaf and glass

I left him to it (with Mirinda for company) while I went shopping. He’d left by the time I returned and, after admiring the gold tiles, we settled down for an early lunch, prior to a trip up to the Maltings.

A while ago we went to see a Trinity Laban classical guitarist at the Maltings and there was another one today. Chrstian Wood, to be precise. He has a website here.

He took us on a tour of South America. Due to some sort of administrative error, there was no programme so, sadly, I can’t say what he played. However, I found this on his website regarding today’s concert: “…various works by Antonio Lauro, Sergio Assad, Barrios-MangorĂ©, Piazzolla and more.” I must say, he was very good and the music was beautiful.

The concert was in the East Wing Dance Studio, somewhere I’ve never been at the Maltings. Fortunately, Mirinda was there for her Mindfullness workshop so we didn’t have to depend on the unhelpful directions supplied by the front desk.

Out the back of the Maltings

Rather than drive straight home afterwards, we decided to go to Leatherhead to sit on some chairs. Mirinda found a lovely furniture shop that sells the sort of stuff you can model to your space. You can choose the type of wood, the colour of the upholstery, the finish, etc. But before we decide to buy furniture, we have to sit on it first. There’s no point in buying something that looks good but is unkind to your bum.

We found some perfect dining chairs and a very nice (though ludicrously expensive) lounge. We’re going to think about them. They take about ten weeks anyway, so they’d not be ready this side of Christmas. We’ll wait.

Opposite the furniture shop was this lovely building.

The Approach – 1905

It is an Edwardian gabled, red brick shopping parade on North Street. It is now occupied by Hamsey’s Bed Centre with rather gaudy signage. That’s really all we saw of Leatherhead. Though it did mean a lovely drive home through the countryside where we first lived in Surrey. It was like a trip down memory lane. Actually, it WAS a trip down memory lane.

The Queen’s visit

No Science Museum this week. Apparently Queen Elizabeth II wouldn’t like the way I dressed. Nothing to do with the quality of my work or the fact that I do it all for nothing. No, regardless of what the other normal human beings I work with think, the Queen has a problem with jeans, t-shirt and shirt over the top.

The reason the Queen was concerned with my work outfit was because she was at the museum to open the new Information Age gallery today. I wasn’t that bothered and, frankly, wasn’t keen on what she’d be wearing anyway.

So, rather than having yet another historically insignificant blog post about some forgotten engineer/shipbuilder/model maker, this post will be even more dull.

I decided to go into Canary Wharf and clean the flat, given that Mirinda was working from home. What I didn’t realise was that Mirinda has been experimenting with genetic modification.

When I arrived at the flat, as usual, I opened the big window to get some fresh air. When I turned back into the flat, a smell hit me. It wasn’t pleasant. However, the corridors of the flats ooze evil cooking smells and I thought it was someone cooking something foul in a neighbouring flat. I went into the bathroom.

A few lightbulbs had died so I figured I’d go and buy replacements before I started any deep cleansing. Of course, the nearest lightbulbs of the type I needed were about a mile away, buried deep under ground, within the Canary Wharf complex. Fortunately, I knew this and just headed straight for Robert Dyas.

On the way back I stopped at Paul to pick up something delicious for lunch.

Back at the flat, the odour was still lingering but I thought nothing of it and sat and ate my baguette while watching a snatch of something on the TV. Replete, I started.

The bathroom was first and I left it sparkling (with all bulbs now blazing) and moved into the bedroom. This was soon once more habitable. Next the kitchen. Then it struck me. Well, to be honest, it struck my nose.

A small white plastic bag, securely tied at the top was almost calling me to sniff it. It was far too compelling to resist. After the small but defining sniff, I recoiled, gasping for air, reaching for something solid to prevent any fainting. The evil smell was emanating from the bag. I could almost hear Vincent Price beseeching me from within. “Help me…help me!

Using a barge pole, I managed to manoeuvre the bag and it’s evil contents out of the kitchen and into the corridor. It fought me, valiantly, but I persevered and soon had it in the lift. Fortunately, I rode down to the ground floor alone.

Eventually, I hefted it into one of the big bins downstairs, watching helplessly as all the other rubbish in it leapt out, trying to find somewhere out of its reach. I slammed the door and went back upstairs. And the smell was gone.

I don’t know what it was and I never want to know. It was enough that I moved it elsewhere. I had a fleeting sense of regret for the poor person who next enters the garbage room. It was very fleeting being replaced almost immediately by an overwhelming sense of nasal relief.

Later, when quizzed, Mirinda said it was her friend.

Anyway, that was all the drama. I finished cleaning then left for the return trip home, happy in the knowledge that another failed experiment had been disposed of for the good of humanity.

I bet Elizabeth R has never smelled anything quite like it.

Gas and stardust

Alvin Stardust died today. He was 72. In a few weeks, his first album for 30 years is due to be released. That’s rather sad.

But onto brighter things…ages ago I had a moan about the decorators leaving their rubbish when Tatt-man had specifically stated that decorators are the tidiest of the trades. I have no idea where he got that from. It was patently not true at our house. In fact, I now know which trade really is the tidiest of them all. It’s the gas fire fitter.

Yep, Stealthy Dave finally installed the fire today. He had a few problems (it took eight hours rather than the three he claimed and he had to drill an oval shaped hole because of the bend in the flue) but I have to say that he is the tidiest tradesman I have ever come across.

As he worked away (with the ever reliable and friendly Dan…who I accidentally called Don when they were leaving), more and more bits and pieces littered the floor. He took up most of the extension, drop cloths protecting everything. It looked a right mess when they stopped for lunch and I went inside for the first time in hours.

Actually I spent most of the day in the office, determined to complete the tax stuff for the accountants. (Which I did. Yay!) I had to keep the dogs out of the way and figured the office was the best option. We took breaks, wandering around the garden as Stealthy Dave and Dan slaved away.

At one stage, the usually mild mannered and pleasantly disposed Dave let out a string of expletives (this was because of the unexpected oval hole he needed to drill) which had me concerned it was going to grind to a halt again.

But I was worried needlessly. At about 5:30, he came out to the office, beaming with joy, to tell me it was finished.

Two things struck me when I walked into the extension. Firstly the fire, which is totally beautiful and looks amazing. And secondly, the fact that the place was spotless. Not a sign of any rubbish, dust or bits of old copper. I was stunned.

After I gushed over the fire and thanked them effusively, I couldn’t help but comment on how tidy everything looked. Stealthy Dave almost blushed with delight. I told him he was the tidiest tradesman and could come back any time. He shook his head and said “No offence, but after the problems we’ve had with this fire, I’m hoping I’ll never come back!”

When Mirinda arrived home, the fire absolutely delighted her too.

The stealth is in the house!

Hanging pictures

Today saw the picture rail go up in the extension.

I had a phone call from Builder Dave as I was midway through collating rent and charity payments, costs and losses (for our tax return). He wanted to know whether I’d be around at lunchtime so he could apply the primer to the steps and so that Carl could put up the picture rail. Naturally I told him I’d be here.

Carl managed to put up the picture rail in about half an hour (though Dave didn’t bring any of the oak oil and Carl didn’t bring any oak filler for the holes). Dave, on the other hand was very quickly finished because the step tops are still too damp for the primer. Maybe by the end of the week. At least he took away a load of builder’s rubbish from the front room. I say ‘rubbish’ but a lot of it was actually usable, so better than throwing it away.

So, Dave and Carl were gone after about an hour and I returned to more taxing tasks.

I had a slight break in the afternoon when the DHL lady returned to pick up a parcel I had to send back to Germany. It was the same woman as last time, the one who wanted to kidnap Emma. She couldn’t stop cooing over her. Today she told me about her boxer puppy and how he only obeyed her husband. She finds this irritating. I told her that the boxer clearly sees her husband as god (like our’s think of me). She claimed that the boxer should take notice of her because she’s god’s god. I couldn’t argue with that.