Destructo-dog

Emma has a problem working out which mail items are hers and which are not. She sees everything that comes through the letter box as being part of an elaborate plan to keep her amused. The game, which she invented, consists of someone (usually the postman but could be a campaigning politician) pushing something through in time for her to grab it, take it into the extension and rip it to shreds.

Ages ago I bought a letter cage in order to save things like theatre tickets and shipping journals from her teeth. Of course, when I empty the cage I always give her anything I don’t want, seeing as she seems to enjoy chewing up such things as Tory/Brexit advertising and double glazing bumpf.

Of course, she still attacks the letter cage but it has managed to withstand her full frontal assaults. Well, up until today anyway.

She decided she’d had enough so, after the postman had shoved a few envelopes through the door she went into full-on Destructo-Dog Mode. Here is the result of her attack:

Her punishment was purely coincidence as I took them up to the vet after lunch to have their yearly shots. Actually, it wasn’t much of a punishment because Emma quite likes going to the vet, possibly because she gets a lot of attention.

Freya isn’t so keen. As we sat in the waiting room she was shaking with anticipated fear on my lap while Emma (also on my lap) just sat and watched, completely at ease. Things didn’t improve once inside with the vet either. Emma was perfectly behaved and passed everything with flying colours, even the spray up the nose.

Freya though was clearly concerned about…who knows. The vet said she was fine though her heart was racing given her odd fear of…who knows. She spent a lot of our time there pushed up against me while the vet examined her. She really is a fearful dog.

Of course, after we’d left the vet and were on our way home, she was perfectly okay, all fears forgotten. Mind you, I have to start cleaning her teeth and I reckon she’s not going to like that much.

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All about the game

Yesterday I had a text from Nicktor asking if I’d like to go to watch a game of football tonight. Aldershot weren’t playing so he suggested we go to Hartley Wintney and watch their FA Trophy game against Wesfield (which I think sounds like a shopping centre but is, in fact, in Woking). Of course I said yes.

Mind you, at lunch time it was suddenly pouring with rain after a lovely morning of sunshine, meaning the girls didn’t go to the park as soon as they would have preferred. Then, when the rain eased off and we left, the still drizzly rain kept Freya and me under the shelter of a big tree while Emma ran back and forth after her ball.

But, as the day wore on towards night, the rain went away and left the dry but cold that we’re used to at this time of year. As we waited for Nicktor I listened to The Beatles White Album with Freya on my lap. When we reached Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey, my gusto singing meant her tail would wag and she’d look up at me. At first I wondered why then I realised and sang even louder.

But…the football…

The amazing thing about Hartley Wintney is the fact that they have an amazing club house. A fully functioning bar with some decent beer on tap (I’m ignoring the nonsense beginning with ‘F’) and all warm and toasty. We were early and took full advantage of the cosiness on offer.

Nicktor had been before when his boys were playing for the Haslemere Under 14’s team. They played on the HW ground back then so this wasn’t Nicktor’s first trip. Mind you, he insisted that he didn’t feel right about ticking the ground off as a new one when he watched a bunch of young kids playing rather than a real, albeit non-league, game.

So, after a few beers, we took our place against the fence, delightfully siting ourselves between the two dugouts. This was a bit of an eye opener for me. I was quite surprised at the amount of abuse hurled at the poor referee by the HW manager. And this poor linesman heard a lot of stuff he really shouldn’t have had to.

In fact, we were both quite surprised because if a player abuses the referee he can be booked and, if any dissent is bad enough, sent off. Apparently managers can swear and abuse with impunity. I reckon this sort of behaviour should be stamped out.

And speaking of ‘stamping out’…there was an incident in the first half which occurred in front of me which I was not happy about. It was at the left of the photo above (pity I didn’t have my phone ready) and was a tackle on a Westfield player. He was left sprawled on the ground and the HW player who had also fallen over but regained his feet, walked over the prone player on the ground.

It was blatant and obvious and in plain sight. How the referee didn’t send the player off I’ll never know. It was also right in front of the Visitor’s bench so, naturally, there was a great uproar over both the foul behaviour and the lack of suitable punishment.

Mind you, like a lot of things in sport, it was evened out in the end because there was a pretty bad tackle in the second half (it was too far away from us and Nicktor had just handed me a Werthers so I missed it) which caused an equally great uproar. The referee booked someone and the game continued but, as the member of the Westfield coaching staff told a member of the HW coaching staff, it made them even.

Apart from the abuse from the coaching staff, the game was a lot of fun and we enjoyed it a lot. It helped that we weren’t supporting either team so could just enjoy it for the game.

Of course, it was also lovely seeing Nicktor. It’s always lovely when it’s just the two of us.

Oh, and the score was Hartley Wintney 2 – 1 Westfield.

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Seeing the trees for the wood

Today had one of those glorious, sun shine ridden mornings that make gardeners rejoice. While the north of the country is deeply underwater and rivers are raging and the rain continues to lash down, our little bit is perfectly calm and pleasant. It just shows how disaster can be another world away when it’s just a few hours up the road.

That goes for the bush fires raging through NSW and Queensland at the moment as well. If anyone really needs an indication that the humans have stuffed this planet up, just look at the bushfire frequency increase in Australia (and the ones in California). The flames, I hear, are being fanned by excessive heat and strong winds. I’d go further and say that extreme weather events are fanned by human stupidity to see the wood for the ashes.

No extremes here in Surrey though as Gardener Dave and yet another sidekick turned up. It was cold but clear so they set themselves to work, going through Mirinda’s list (she had to go to work first thing) and making the garden look as good as new.

I’m always astounded by the changes wrought once they’ve gone. It’s almost like another garden from the one they started with. The Hot Border, especially, has undergone massive change and is now looking very respectable.

The grass (which Mirinda laughingly calls The Lawn) is having another treatment, this time in an attempt to eradicate the excess of moss. This requires a special sprinkling of seedy stuff. This, in turn, requires fencing off to keep the girls away. Dave reckons they get it on their paws and, I don’t know but assume, lick it off.

Anyway, the three of us wrestled a whole bunch of chicken wire to cut the garden in half which Emma saw as a challenge and completely negated by going under the holly tree.

The other big job was transplanting the lavender plants which have not enjoyed their home along the path. It’s because of the drainage from water coming off the park and nestling in the garden. The lavender does not like it and is suffering. The solution is to put a wooden raised bed along the path, rather than leaving it flat.

Before building the raised bed, the plants have to be trimmed and removed, which is something else that Dave did today.

As for me, I pottered around the house before taking the girls to the park where we met two beautiful miniature poodles who decided that our two were worthy of their attentions.

They reminded me of Carmen and Day-z except that they were friendly.

Anyway, the park was lovely though the wind was quite chill and the clouds started to cluster in a signal for us to go back home. Not that it rained. At all.

Avenue of Trees
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Mistaking wasabi for avocado

The last time we went for a UK celebration meal, we discovered the amazing Pulpo in Arlesford. It serves amazing tapas and is very popular. That night we also discovered (but didn’t try) a new Japanese restaurant directly across the road from Pulpo called Dashi. Given it was my birthday in the week, it was my choice for a restaurant. Dashi was always going to be the one.

While my actual birthday was last Wednesday, the restaurant was full on Friday and yesterday we were both a bit busy so it was decided we’d go tonight. At first we thought we were going to be the only ones there, given the place looked deserted, but the restaurant is actually upstairs where the other diners were hiding.

Not that there were thousands. In fact, when we arrived, there was a family of four and a couple. While we ate another couple arrived, ate then left. Mind you, it was a Sunday.

Speaking of the family of four…it was very nice seeing two small children not only eating Japanese food but also eating it with chopsticks. And then, to top it off, eating wasabi ice cream. Now that’s two well brought up kids.

The Taste of Japan

We had the set menu (for 2) which was superb. A lovely selection of plates from sashimi to chicken, from sushi to green tea stuffed pancakes. I thoroughly enjoyed it though it did make me wish I was eating it in Kyoto or Kanasawa. Actually I really miss Japan which is surprising given I’ve only been once for two weeks (Mirinda has been twice, lucky thing) and it doesn’t look like we’ll be returning until 2021. Still, good to know there’s a brilliant Japanese restaurant not too far away.

Actually, there’s two because Sushi Jun in Farnham is excellent (though different).

Rather than wine, and after a bit of confusion, Mirinda had plum sake while I went for the warm sake sans plum to wash down the food (after my Kirin beer, of course). It was all utterly delightful, even the 30 degree sloping floor. Honestly, I felt like I was high on a throne looking benevolently down upon my subjects.

Plum sake etiquette

Given the sad fact that we were badly treated by Bel and the Dragon in Odiham and also given the departure of my favourite Farnham restaurant, I think Dashi may just be my new favourite go-to celebration eatery. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Highly recommended for both food and sake. We’ll definitely be back.

Though, a little word of warning. Be careful you don’t mistake the wasabi for avocado like Mirinda did. The effect on your tongue is not a happy one when you’re not expecting it.

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In the Shadow of the Great War Surrey 1914-1922 – the launch

I started shaving years ago. Okay I’m not very consistent but I do know what I’m doing. Or so I thought.

I’m currently engaged in actively shaving every couple of days, a mania that occasionally afflicts me but never lasts, and so, last night I dutifully dragged the blade over my face.

This morning, looking bleary-eyed into the mirror I thought it strange that my upper lip appeared more bristly than one would normally encounter after one sleep. Then I realised I’d actually missed that bit.

I only hope this is a momentary error rather than the gradual decline into shaving omissions. I’m really not prepared to leave the house with half a hairy chin.

Not that I really want to discuss the onset of shaving Alzheimer’s. Instead…

Today I went up to Woking (I’m not sure if it’s ‘up’ because it’s a bigger place than Farnham or ‘up’ because it’s north-ish) and the Surrey History Centre in order to witness the culmination of four years of work by many, many people. It was the launch of the book that, over the last four years has been made as a companion to the Surrey in the Great War: A County Remembers project which has gathered together stories about the people and place of wartime Surrey. It’s the project for which I have been researching the names of the fallen from memorials throughout the county.

While Woking looked a bit grey and dull, it was lovely returning after a while especially seeing the roadworks outside the station entrance seem to be complete.

Though, typically when it comes to man v machine, I see the machines have won again. You used to be able to walk down the side of the station where the bed has now been placed. I had thought it was going to be a bit of a ‘shared space’ but I guess not.

Anyway, as the rain started spitting, I took my leave of the station and continued down to the centre where warmth and dry beckoned.

The programme organised by Kirsty and staff – I would mention all the staff by name but, it’s a sad fact that I was very remiss in collecting their names – was delightful. (Mind you, I did get to finally meet Phil who I have been emailing for yonks regarding monument records…always great to put a face to a name.)

Anyway, we were treated to a recital, a talk on a diary and, of course, the launch of the book. Oh, and lots of food and drink, always a stalwart of these things.

We started (eventually) with a recital by Valerie Fry and Chris Hooker called Keep the Home Fires Burning. It combined music and poetry of the Great War which meant an incredibly emotive 50 minutes. Chris played his clarinet and Valerie recited poetry in a wonderful glimpse of the trenches, the soldiers, love and loss.

Taken from the back of the room

I hadn’t realised just how haunting the clarinet can be as Chris played such songs as Keep the Home Fires Burning, Pack up your Troubles and I Wonder Who’s Kissing her Now? The programme also included a bit of pre-recorded piano for some of the numbers, which was great but, truly, I loved the ones that just used the clarinet.

The music was one thing but the poems that Valerie read had my eyes starting to moisten with their poignancy. The works included the well known In Flander’s Field, the not so well known (by me) The Rainbow and one by Valerie herself, For the Record. They were all very emotional and, in my mind anyway, painted a vivid picture of why we must never go through this sort of global conflict again. I’m not a big one for poetry but the poems Valerie read painted pictures large and small of the hell that was the Great War.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; 
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/)

There then followed a short break in order for us to all recover, sup and refresh…

…ahead of the rather incredible tale of Frederick Arthur Robinson and his diary of the war years.

Fred was a successful Cobham businessman who started his dairy on the first day of the war and, having written every day, stopped when the Armistice was signed. 3,400 typed pages was his legacy. Sometimes dull, sometimes amusing, always interesting as an occasional look at the way the war affected the people at home. (Mind you, I feel I should add that while Fred’s effort was definitely epic and an amazing resource, it was only for four years whereas MY diary has, so far, been going for over ten with equal measures of dullness, amusement and interest.)

And then came the moment we’d all been waiting for. Without a flourish of trumpets, flapping of flags or 21 gun salute, Kirsty declared the book launched. She also quoted lots of stats that I really should have written down or at least photographed…but I didn’t.

I was mentioned a couple of times (in despatches?) firstly because I managed to beaver away, researching, while I was in Queensland back in May and also because I wasn’t currently at home working on more biographical details to add to the more than 27,000 biographies presently on the website.

It was a great afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was also great seeing Kirsty given it’s been ages; getting soaked walking back to the station was well worth it.

Possibly the best news was that the project will be extending to April for some of us. I was worried that I’d have to stop today, leaving Walton-on-Thames only two thirds complete.

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Draw me a picture

Ages ago, on the night that signalled the last time I’d attend a live opera screening at our local venue, I was told off for trying to take a photograph of the screen at interval. It was for this blog and disadvantaged no-one. The audience were streaming out of the space so it didn’t bother them, the people on the screen were in New York so they didn’t care and it’s not like I was aiming for some sort of financial gain.

Actually, the one disadvantage was my blog was left a little less attractive.

Then, tonight, we went to a gig at the same local venue. How many gigs have we attended here and quite happily taken a couple of photographs? (That’s a rhetorical question because it’s loads.) Tonight we saw singer songwriter Xxxxx XxXxxxx and were thoroughly enjoying it.

Then, during the second half, Mirinda was about to take a quick photo with her old iPhone when a rather rude man came up and told her, in no uncertain terms, not to. This, effectively ruined the show for us.

At this point in time I have no idea if it was the venue’s idea or the performer so, currently, I’m blaming them both.

If it’s the venue then the performers need to set them a bit straight about the advantages of social media to their careers. If it’s the performers then I don’t understand why they’re happy to promote themselves via t-shirts and word of mouth but not on social media.

I don’t have much reach as far as blog writing is concerned but some people do. On Twitter I have 930 followers and on Instagram 101 people are following me. That’s not a lot however, exponentially those numbers can grow.

I have written to the venue for clarification on this draconian rule which seems to fly in the face of the modern world and will update if I ever get an answer. If the venue blames the performer I shall then write to her.

I mean, seriously folks, it’s free advertising, FFS!

(I do wonder whether anyone would complain if I set up an easel and did a quick watercolour of the performer. Or sat with a sketch pad and, with charcoal swishing across paper, created an unflattering caricature. Pity I can’t draw.)

As Mirinda said, it is accepted practice to take photos at a gig. It’s not like the images are ever going to be of any great standard and it’s a practice that predates the advent of phone camera ownership. I took some truly awful photos of Slade back in the 1970’s and no-one ‘touched my cuff’ and told me off.

Anyway, here’s my tribute to the performer and a hope that this post reaches as many people as possible.

It would have been really nice to know before the gig that there was an embargo on photography because we’d not have bought so much merchandise. We love supporting talent but it should be a bit quid pro quo.

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Parking anywhere they want

Currently our local paper is full of stuff about pollution. Our market town is choking on the fumes of the endless streams of cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes almost constantly queuing through it. It feels like a revolution is starting with people on one side and vehicles on the other.

I wrote a letter to the paper a fortnight ago on the issue of dependency. Essentially I claimed that a desire for independence had reduced most people to being dependent on their cars (and vans and bikes and…). This week I had a response from someone who, while agreeing with me, said we needed to find out why people are driving into our town before condemning everyone.

I’m going to respond to this response and suggest that anyone serious about reducing the amount of pollution in our town wouldn’t care about the why but should concentrate on the how.

Something else that was suggested in the local paper was that people could be a bit more considerate and not leave their engines running, a point I would extend to not blocking footpaths, like this:

That’s three cars making it difficult for both pedestrians and drivers

The car on the left and the second van on the right both have their engines running. I suppose this is a further signal that they’re not going to be very long. It is also an indication of how important they think they are in that they can flout the road rules and inconvenience everyone else.

My favourite today, however, was this fellow who is not only parked half on the footpath across double yellow lines with his engine running but was also eating his lunch. I guess he must be incredibly important.

There were quite a few instances of driver arsholery today.

I witnessed one almost accident caused by a moment of stupidity in West Street when a person in a very big four wheel drive thing suddenly decided they could fit the behemoth into a Fiat sized parking spot on the opposite side of the road. A quick swerve of the steering wheel saw an attempt of the impossible.

What the driver had failed to see was that coming towards them was a cyclist, obeying the road laws for a change, followed by a small van. Both had to suddenly stop. The van missed hitting the cyclist (just) while the cyclist almost fell off the bike anyway.

The insistent parker, completely unflinching, momentarily reversed then, finally convinced of the folly, drove away without a backward glance. The cyclist showed great restraint I have to say, something they don’t always do.

Like the cyclists in the park who feel that the all-weather path was put there for them.

But enough griping. The park looked lovely this morning as I walked to the studio to record the Farnham edition of the Talking Newspaper.

Not a cyclist in sight

Maybe everyone should just be a bit more considerate.

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Where the wild pumpkins grow

I did get older but I didn’t lose my hair. Of course, it WAS many years ago…what the hell! I’m the age that Paul McCartney sang about. I’m 64 and I don’t care. And not only don’t I care, but I actually don’t feel any different to when I was 63…though that was just yesterday. But, moving away from pop song lyrics…

It was a beautiful morning for my 64th birthday complete with digital messages of birthday tidings from Fi then Denise then Dawn, Lauren and Bob and, unbelievably, Uncle Ronnie. Meanwhile, the sky was blue, horizon to horizon, with the temperature firmly settled in single figures. And no rain. It was perfectly crisp and sparkly. And autumnal.

I went to the gym but I didn’t go into Farnham. I returned home straight afterwards, following a good hour of working out.

Back at home I had a coffee, wrote my blog post for yesterday then set about doing some washing and cutting up some cardboard boxes now that the recycling allows some extra space in the Otto bin. These were from our wine delivery.

I was about to take the girls to the park when an Amazon delivery turned up. It was the heater for Mirinda’s greenhouse and yet more cardboard to be cut up. I set it aside then took the girls to the park. As we climbed up a slight rolling hill, something caught my eye as it sat in the crook of a tree.

How come, every Halloween, Farnham is littered with carved up pumpkins for weeks afterwards? They hang around by front doors and in driveways. They are even in the trees. I always think it’s a terrible waste of food but why they then stay and gradually rot is very mysterious.

It’s a pumpkin tree, ma!

I did read on Twitter that, perhaps people are putting them out to feed the Little Creatures of the Woods, something I’m not entirely convinced of. What animals eat pumpkin? I mean apart from pigs, something my father always said was the only thing they were good for – the pumpkins not the pigs.

Back at home, I unpacked and organised Mirinda’s new heater so it would turn on whenever the temperature dropped below seven degrees. I figured I’d have to wait a bit to see it in action given the ambient temperature in the greenhouse was still up at 12.

I checked the greenhouse at 17:30 but the temperature was still only 9 degrees.

Being my birthday, I had a few glasses of wine, a beer and some pistachio liquor. Life was beautiful…even the orchestra was beautiful.

When I went to bed, the temperature in the greenhouse was seven degrees and the heater was yet to turn on.

Vera, Chuck and Dave did not put in an appearance.

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He’s the type that mother warned us about

This morning I set off for the gym half an hour before Mirinda left for work. I felt sure that she’d overtake me given my less than perfect pace. But she didn’t. She’s come down with a bit of a cold so maybe that explains it.

By the time I reached the lane where I turn off the park I gave up looking behind me.

The lane where I turn off

There followed the usual round of cycling, heavy weight lifting, hip spreading and so on and so forth then, naturally, a coffee at Nero and shopping. Then home.

Today in the park we met Hugo. Hugo is a Westie who, his owner asserts, is a bit brazen when it comes to the ladies. He is only ever interested in bitches and tries to lead them astray at any opportunity. He tried with Freya today but she just jumped up on a bench and was safely out of reach of his straying paws.

We then met Emma’s twin.

He was a cocker-poo and, from a distance, looked exactly like Emma. Mind you, he wasn’t acting like her. He was wrestling with a big white fluffy thing twice his size. His owner was talking to the big white fluffy thing’s owner and I figured they must know each other.

When the cocker-poo reached us his owner told me that they’d only just met. I was amazed. My two will happily go and say hello to dogs they know but I would find it very odd for them to start playing with strange dogs. Particularly to the extend that these two were cavorting and wrestling.

Anyway, I chatted with the cocker-poo’s owner for a bit. She admired Emma’s tight curls (after saying how similar she was to Max, her dog) and I mentioned they were close to their next haircut. She told me how she had started clipping him herself. She does it gradually, she said. Apparently Max is quite happy for anything to be cut except his legs. She said that last week he looked like an 80’s reject with big, curly leg warmers.

I told her I was deemed useless at hair cutting and wasn’t allowed to do anything but trim the hair around their eyes when they started walking into walls through lack of sight.

Oh, how we laughed.

The rest of the day was spent doing housework. Then, after tea, I watched an amazing Spanish film.

It was called Solo (Alone) and is based on a true story. It features a surfer who slips off a narrow path one day, heading for his favourite secluded beach, and winds up hanging off a cliff over the ocean.

From the film

He pushes himself into the water and, though he gashes his hand and breaks his pelvis he manages to get himself to a small inlet beach where he remains for hours. He is, eventually found, swimming two kilometres off the beach and rescued. He was gone for 48 hours.

The reason I originally chose to watch it was because it starred the amazing Aura Garrido, my favourite Spanish actor. I ended up enjoying it for more than just Aura. I didn’t know anything about it but it played like something that was true and showed how amazing human’s can be in life or death situations with overwhelming odds against survival.

Also from the film

‘Highly enjoyable’ isn’t really the best description of this film. It’s more in the realm of ‘ridiculously harrowing’ (particularly the fish hook scene) but is nicely done. The beach scenes and the Canary Islands also do quite a good job.

And, of course, there’s Aura.

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Gaz the idiot

I had such a lovely day planned for myself. Because I was down to read for the Talking Newspaper magazine edition this morning and given Mirinda was working from home, I decided to go the gym first then head for the studio. Then, I figured I’d stroll back into Farnham after the recording and have some tapas at Bloom. I would then go shopping, maybe pop into Elphicks, maybe not, and slowly return home.

Mirinda had food in the house for her lunch and she’d be there for the puppies. It seemed to be a perfect plan. Sadly it was actually a deeply, deeply flawed plan.

It all started off perfect. The gym was great and I even posted a PB (with apologies to David W for the use of the acronym) on the Lat Pulldown (35kg) and felt quite hoist when I left, bouncing along the narrow footpath, heading for Nero’s.

Of course, the schools have gone back so Starbucks is, basically, a no go zone for the time being. Not so Nero’s which welcomed me and made me a delicious coffee which I sat and sipped before heading back out into the Borough.

Normally I would walk via all the back alleys but, for some reason, today I decided to walk along West Street which was where I ran into David W (not literally and actually he hailed me from behind) and we walked together, chatting about sport (the dreaded PB) and travelling through Europe by train when flying is so bad. He wasn’t reading but was on duty in the office today.

(Given David W’s propensity for writing letters to the paper, I was surprised he didn’t mention my ‘philosophical’ effort from last week unless that was why we started talking about train v plane travel.)

Anyway, eventually we walked into the studio and I was greeted with a questioning Tony who was very surprised to see me. Tony was presenting the magazine. I smiled with a certain degree of uncertainty. He chuckled as he told me I wasn’t rostered on.

I checked the roster and, of course, he was right. Ages ago I’d made a swap with Judy and I was down to read for the December magazine. Oh, how we laughed.

I wished them all a happy session, took up my stick and started off walking again.

Now I was in a quandary. I could have headed for the library, I guess, and waited for Bloom to open so I could still have my tapas but I didn’t have pencil or paper with me so that seemed a bit pointless. (For research. I guess I could have just sat and read.)

I thought I’d pop into Starbucks and have a coffee given it was now gone 10 and the school drop-off parents should have gone.

Except they weren’t.

In fact, not only were the school drop-off parents still there but they had invited along the Loudest Parent of All along just to amplify every personal detail about them. As an example…one of the parents was, quietly, talking about the difficulties with his wife and how he felt guilty about blaming her for him not completing his university education. The Loudest Parent of All then told him (and everyone else in Starbucks) about the advantages of counselling in getting over most bumps in the road.

(I find it odd that the Loudest Parent of All has the loudest pre-school child of all because I’m amazed the child hasn’t just given up trying to be heard. Contra-wise, the child just goes a few levels louder. It makes for a very noisy coffee.)

Andrew was there, working away on his big boy laptop. I went over, as I was leaving, and asked him how on earth he could concentrate on work with all the noise. He looked me in the eye and, with a sad grin said “Fuck knows, Gaz!” I smiled back and left him to it.

I had decided to go shopping then just go home. But the weather intervened. As I was walking down Long Garden Walk, the rain started and I was looking at a rather damp and soaking trek home. It was 11:10 when I turned right instead of left onto Castle Street and went into Bill’s for brunch.

Remains of Eggs Royale and a Peroni

I haven’t been in since the redecoration and I reckon they’ve done an excellent job. It has the feel of a garden room. The service was a delight and I thoroughly enjoyed it apart from the fact that my eReader was flat and I was forced to ‘read’ my phone instead. Just another bit of bad planning by me, I’m afraid.

As I sat and ate (and drank) the rain went away and the sun came out. I knew it was time to leave. I collected my various packages and walked home, as the sky grew progressively darker. Given how the rest of the day had panned out, surprisingly I didn’t get rained on.

Anyway, the day was still a joy particularly when I related it to Mirinda who agreed that I’m an idiot. Still, I get to do it all again in early December so maybe then I’ll get to Bloom for some tapas.

Emma doesn’t think I’m an idiot
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