Flora and Freya

My poor little monkey had a very disturbed night. She kept rising to a seated position, staring off into the darkness. Clearly she was uncomfortable and it was difficult lying down. At least she didn’t vomit anything else. Mind you, there was so much last night I doubt there was anything left inside her to eject.

I eventually decided to leave them to go shopping. Giving them a twisty treat, Freya acted normal and snatched it out of my hand. However, when I returned home she didn’t rush out to greet me. She was clearly not happy.

As I prepared breakfast and started into my day, I realised she was lying on the top step of the stairs with the woe begone face displaying her lack of understanding. I knew I had to call the vet. An appointment was available at 11:15. We took it.

The new receptionist at the vet went all gooey over Freya, who I was holding. She stood up to give her a pat. Then she saw Emma. Forget Freya! “She’s beautiful! What a lovely colour!” Typical. Fortunately, it’s something I’m used to. I give Freya enough love anyway.

The vet gave Freya a very good and thorough examination. She said that there appeared to be nothing in her stomach but further down she was quite tender. I reckon that’s amazing.

Freya was very good about being poked and prodded and was eventually taken into the next room where Flora, the vet, gave Freya the puppy, a shot of something opium based. She was zonked for the rest of the day, caring about nothing.

I was told to make her something bland for dinner (rice boiled in a chicken stock cube) and Flora gave me three tablets for her.

My poor little monkey

My poor little monkey

Eventually the time came for me to leave for the Maltings. Tonight I was off to see Hannah Scott with Dawn. This was a gig rescheduled from March, when Hannah had a terrible throat infection. Mirinda, normally would come too but she was off to the ballet tonight so I asked Dawn if she’d like to join me.

Hannah, as usual, was excellent. She (and Stefano) played a few new songs which will be on their new album to be released sometime early next year. They did a few of the very old songs but, as usual, not my favourite.

This always happens and I’m quite used to it now. What I do is put it on the Sonos as soon as I get home and pretend it’s live.

Hannah & Stefano

Hannah & Stefano

Freya was a bit better but still not overly active and, as far as I could tell, she hadn’t been to the toilet.

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Squeaky Alsatian

Today was a rather tired day. Waking early and seeing Mirinda off set the day in slow motion really.

I went shopping early, walking through a strangely deserted Lion and Lamb Yard…


…then Skyped with mum who was very bright and cheerful. We had a lovely natter.

After lunch I took the girls to the park for a bit of Flicka Stik action.

Today I was attacked by three big dogs…in the nicest possible ways.

First up was a mad collie who was obsessed by Emma’s tennis ball (I didn’t throw it after seeing the steely look in his eyes) along with a beautiful Alsatian who squeaked. That sounds weird but she really did. It was a sort of half bark half squeal…that came out as a squeak. Particularly bizarre coming from an Alsatian.

The owner told me that she had a horrid neighbour with six motorbikes who complained about the squeaking Alsatian while happy to rev his motorbikes when he feels like it. I told her that humans are nearly always worse than dogs.

The collie REALLY wanted Emma’s tennis ball but I wouldn’t let him have it. They moved on, eventually.

Then, while I was sitting on the bench, throwing the ball for Emma, Rodney came over to say hi. Dave and Gail were walking into town and pointed me out to him. He came running up the hill after stopping and staring at Freya for a bit in the same manner that she does to other dogs. He not only came over to say hello, he also jumped on the bench so he could walk all over me as well. Such a fun dog. I love Rodney.


That was it for dogs…and people.

Speaking of ‘people’…Emma Rice was sort of sacked from the Globe today. The administration decided her modern, ever changing style of theatre didn’t suit the museum that is the Globe. She will have another season next year but then her job as Artistic Director will pass on to someone a lot more dull and reliable. Such a shame. Her Dream was easily the best thing I’ve seen at the Globe. Such magic and skill; so beautifully imaginative. Oh well, back to the Elizabethan for us regulars.

Then, back to dogs, Freya decided to vomit all night. It wasn’t pretty. When she wasn’t evacuating puke, I was cleaning it up. She must have eaten something that no-one else did.

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Nothing, nowt, nada, asgjë, ezer, semmi, nihil, لا شى, 没有, bugger all

I have to say that my rotten knee has caused me a lot of stress when it comes to figuring out something to write about each day. I guess I could talk about the bus trip into Farnham and my half hour in Starbucks…actually I just did.

So what else happened? Not a lot.

Mirinda worked from home…actually I’ve just realised I forgot to mention that she was mentioned in Hansard last week. After a bit of a search, I discovered she was also mentioned in Hansard in July. Then, last week, Joe Johnson (brother of Boris) quoted her again. Here is what she said:

It is clear that the dominance of the one-size-fits-all model of university education is over. Fee rises have transformed students into more critical consumers and the government is right to recognise this in their reform package. Students are calling out for pioneering institutions offering alternative education models and an increased focus on skills that will prepare them for the careers of the future—with the mind-set and agility to fulfil roles that may not even exist yet.

Joe finished by making the statement that “We must not be constrained by our historical successes.”

Reading through the discussion in the House, there’s a funny exchange at the beginning…

JJ: It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair once again, Mr Hanson, although we have not made as much progress in your absence as you might have hoped. It is also a pleasure to see the hon. Member for Blackpool South in his place on time to start the proceedings. I am glad that he did not have to scapegoat Network Rail for his late arrival.

GM: I know that the hon. Gentleman wishes to defend the Government in all shapes and forms, but that does not necessarily involve defending Network Rail. If he carries on in that vein I might have to examine his record of interests to see whether he has shares in the company.

The Chair: Order. Members will have to fill me in on that at a later time. In the meantime, I call the Minister.

JJ: If the hon. Gentleman wants to lodge his time of arrival at Victoria, we can verify his claim with the operator and get to the bottom of his late arrival.

​It never ceases to amuse me reading the proceedings in parliament. I guess it’s the dull dryness of all that legislative dross that makes them want to inject a bit of life and humour.

Anyway, as I said, Mirinda worked from home. She took a break in the afternoon to take the dogs for a walk around the park (where Emma decided to roll in cow manure) then, later on after the sun had vanished to the other half of the planet, she took them around the neighbourhood just as the weather started drizzling.

Emma looked a lot better after a bath though she wasn’t very pleased with losing the lovely cowpat aroma.


Mirinda then announced that she had a breakfast meeting tomorrow and would have to leave the house at 6:15am. I’d like to say we had an early night…but we didn’t.

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Late bloomers

I can’t remember having so many flowers at this time of the year before. Particularly roses. And not just these yellow roses…

…there’s also a few red ones. Speaking of ‘red’ the clematis is also in bloom…again. I can only imagine it’s because I’m not doing any gardening.

The leaves have also started falling onto the terrace reminding me that I’ll have to sweep them up this year because my leaf sweeper is in Queensland.

Not a lot happened at home today. Mirinda Skyped and I cooked (a lovely tagine that took four hours). We did pop down to Pets at Home to get the girls enough food to tide them over while they stay with Sue, and Homebase for some John Innes #3 and, naturally, Mirinda took the girls for a lovely long walk at Thursley.

We also started watching Glitch, an Australian series that recently started on Netflix. We’ve just finished the latest series of Rake which almost made us homesick seeing as it’s filmed in Sydney.

In fact there were quite a few shots featuring St James’ church where I worked for a bit back when I erected air conditioning. They wanted to convert their crypts to office space and they hired Wildridge’s for the air. I think I worked there for a week.

Glitch, on the other hand, is filmed in Victoria and is in the country. Even so, it’s very, very Australian and reminds us of the many hours spent touring through old towns…though without the dead people. Anyway, the first episode was excellent and we’re hoping for more too come.

To finish off…here’s some more flowers

Snapdragon & lobelia

Snapdragon & lobelia

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Winter pots

Today Mirinda planted up a load of winter pots adding a bit of colour to the (badly in need of weeding) garden.


She also planted up the pixie garden having first enacted a bit of devastation on the old contents.


I lent a hand as much as I could but the old war wound (knee) was in need of some resting every now and then. I did manage to wheel the barrow up and down the path a bit.

And, finally, a mahonia update:


Looks like there’ll be a lot of blooms…eventually.

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Smaller than Freya

We saw a lot of dogs up the park today. Along with Charlie the Labradoodle we also met four chihuahuas. This made Freya very happy because it’s one of the few breeds she can lord it over.

The little chap above stopped with us for a bit of a romp and then trotted confidently off. His owner then appeared all huffy and puffy with a walking stick and a second chihuahua. She asked if I’d seen the first one. I told her he’d just gone off and pointed in the direction. She swore under her breath and set off in pursuit.

Sitting on the bench I came across this rather cryptic note on a newspaper page.


Given the mysterious shoes, I’m wondering whether they are both spy communications. I’ll now be looking for a third thing in order to triangulate the possibilities.

My knee was feeling a lot better today so, rather than just sit on the bench flicking the tennis ball and occasionally calling out Freya’s name, I decided to try walking up to the Avenue of Trees. This was good and pretty much pain free. It was coming back, walking downhill, that started to hurt. Still, I was fine after a bit of a leg rest on the lounge.

It was worth seeing the trees if nothing else.


I also managed to go into town first thing to go shopping. It feels pretty good to get back into my routine. Now if I could just walk into town instead of waiting for the bus, things would be perfect.

A worn out cockerpoo

A worn out cockerpoo

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Making Christine laugh

This week I was called three times by three separate presenters asking if I could swap into their slots. Two of them were this week; today in fact. I’m generally more than happy to swap but it’s very difficult when I’m already recording on the day they want me to swap into. So I had to say no. (The third swap was for while we’re away and I said it would be quite difficult getting to the studio from the Alhambra.)

And so, mid-morning, I left for the bus stop, watching three buses drive passed me as I struggled to make the bus stop before too many more went by. No more did go by and I wound up waiting for 20 minutes! Good job I had my book…and my physio exercises.

I was presenting the Haslemere edition this week and had an all lady team (unusual and very pleasant). One of my readers was Christine who is always up for a laugh and almost as cheeky as me. When I saw her name on the roster it instantly made me smile. A favour I returned during the recording.

We had a new listener this week, a woman called Marjorie. Whenever we have a new listener I make a bit of a fuss, mentioning them a few times through the recording and giving them a special ‘goodbye’ at the end.

This week, during the What’s On section I mentioned that it was that horrid time of the year when we have to put up with awful gangs of kids wandering the streets followed by lots of dog scaring fireworks and I just suggested that perhaps Marjorie could plan to be out that night. Sitting opposite me, Christine erupted into laughter. It was delightful. I told the engineer to leave it in.

Following the long walk back to Waitrose, my knee was a bit sore. Following the short bus trip back home, I rested it.

Autumn in the Waitrose car park

Autumn in the Waitrose car park

I forgot to mention that I stayed up for the third and final US presidential debate this morning. When I told one of the other presenters that that was why I was looking a bit tired he wanted to know why I bothered. When I told him it was for the comedy he nodded sagely, agreeing with my assessment that the Americans have no idea what a debate is let alone democracy.

Speaking of which…I was wondering why the other two people standing for the US election don’t get to debate although they are on the voting paper. It turns out that anyone standing for election who doesn’t poll more than 15% of the (hypothetical) vote then they’re excluded. Really? How is that democratic?

It seems to me that basically if someone is independent, regardless of how brilliant they might be for the country they don’t stand a chance because the two main parties in America have it all sewn up. I bet most American voters have no idea there’s actually four people running for election in November.

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Runners gone; empty bench

Up the park, the mysterious runners had mysteriously gone…as you’d expect. Meanwhile the puppies ran around like lunatics as if the shoes had never existed.

Empty park under grey clouds

Empty park under grey clouds

Late in the day I left the puppies to their own devices while I headed into town. I was off to meet Mirinda. We had tickets to see No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter. But, of course, dinner was first.

Naturally we met at Salieri’s where I had the carbonara while Mirinda enjoyed the sea bass.

Best restaurant EVAH

Best restaurant EVAH

I’d love to include a photo of the theatre but I’ve decided not to. Every time we visit the theatre in London they get more and more aggressive with their ‘no photo’ rule. I understand they don’t want people photographing the play while it’s being performed but I have a problem with them not allowing photos of the auditorium before or after the play. So, rather than give the theatre free advertising, I’m only going to talk about the play.

It’s not very often that Jean Luc Picard (Star Trek), Gandalf (Hobbitses) and Ser Alliser Thorne (Game of Thrones) all share the same stage but tonight they did. Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and Owen Teale were joined by the wonderful Damien Molony for a mesmerising though generally baffling play. While it was baffling and confusing in equal measure it was also very funny…and frankly menacing.

I think Patrick had a bit of a cold and his throat was going so we were probably lucky he performed. I’m sure that Andrew Jarvis (understudy) is very good but we’d booked especially to see Patrick & Ian so would have been pretty devastated if he’d been off sick. (Particularly when we’d already had that with Sheridan Smith!)

Anyway, it didn’t and the play was wonderful…though baffling…and menacing.

I do rather love absurdist theatre. It’s so much shorter than Wagner.

Don't tell any one about this...

Don’t tell any one about this…

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Back to Guildford

Today I made the long multi-transportational journey into Guildford good the results of my blood, urine and x-ray donations of last month.

Fortunately I didn’t have to climb the big hill as the appointment was at the Nuffield hospital instead. Actually I encountered it that way. I had a choice of appointments and took the easiest one.

I was there in plenty of time and waited like a condemned man not exactly delirious about his last meal.
The good news was that I am amazingly healthy. Blood, urine and x-ray all proved there’s not much wrong with me. The bad news is that he still doesn’t know what’s causing the foot problem.

I asked if he thought it might be a physical problem, prepared to astound him with my newly acquired muscular knowledge but he was adamant. No, the problem is definitely neurological.

The plan now is for me to have another set of electrical tests six months after the first ones (February 2017) in order to determine where there’s changes. This might give an indication of something other than darkness in the distance.

So, after a very short chat, I headed back home to a couple of manic puppies, none of us any the wiser.

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Before today, I’d never seen a Wagner opera before. I’ve heard the music and singing, naturally, but never sat and watched one in its entirety. Now, having seen my first one I can safely say, I’ll never see another one.

My Wagnerian virginity was broken by the New York Met production of Tristan und Isolde not really live from new York.

Before going any further I just want to say something about the stupidity of the Farnham Maltings (and the Met) in their attitude to photography and social media.

When I’ve been in the audience for live performances, the audience is encouraged to Tweet or Facebook or respond using whatever social media site you want. After all it’s all good advertising and, for them, it’s free. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it. So why, I ask, am I not allowed to take photographs of the cast being interviewed during the intervals?

I mean it’s not during a performance and there’s no point in using a flash so I’m not sure why it should be a problem. It really feels to me like they want as much free advertising and public approbation as possible while not giving anything back. It’s not like the photos would be any good: I only ever want them for my blog in order to report on whatever I’ve seen.

But they don’t want me to so I’ll respect this nonsense and also refuse to advertise for them. No more Tweets, no more Facebook status reports including them. All’s fair, after all. And, naturally, I’ll tell everyone I know to do the same thing.

Anyway, they had nothing to do with my lack of pleasure at watching the opera. For that I blame Wagner. Completely. The guy didn’t have a red pen.

FIVE HOURS! That’s how long it was. That’s a long time to sit and watch anything but this was just sublimely dull.

Okay, the singing was obviously beautiful and the music lovely but it just went on for too long. There was a lot of totally unnecessary stuff that I found just a bit annoying. Add to that the almost complete lack of colour and it starts getting awfully dull. Apart from a dark red dress worn by Isolde for a bit, the rest was almost all black and grey…that’s the costumes and the set.

And something else that I found really, really annoying. In the final act a lot of the singers pronounced the letter ‘T’ with an annoying plosive that became far more overpowering than the songs. Is this a thing with Wagner? If so, it’s a right pain. If not then why the hell were they doing it?

Over all I can only say that while I really do love opera, I can’t say I’m very keen on Wagner.

Mirinda petty much agrees with me on this given she was waiting outside for me for around 40 minutes wondering when the damn thing was going to finish. Her last text read

Phone almost flat. I’m going home. Find your own way.

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