The Filing Cabinet of Joy

Today was my training day for the Library Relocation Project at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Coincidentally, it was also my first day working at the Library Relocation Project at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The trip down was largely uneventful. I have to say, though, that it’s wonderful travelling against the commute. When I was at the Science Museum, the likelihood of not getting a seat was always frightfully high. Going in the opposite direction means that the likelihood of finding someone else in your carriage is pretty minimal. And, for the bulk of the journey, I was in 444 stock which is always comfortable.

To relieve me of any sense of loneliness in the largely empty train, I had an unexpected bout of Messaging with Mirinda’s cousin Rebecca as the train glided down through the Hampshire countryside.

Arriving at Portsmouth I walked to the entrance and was allowed through ahead of the paying public and wound up at the security office at the same time as Heather (my boss and the librarian) and Stephen, another volunteer. We wandered over to the library generally talking about the weather which, for a change, was not actually raining.

The weather, apparently, is blowing north so should be dry for the foreseeable. I’ll believe that when I see it.

Once in the library Heather took us to the shelves and indicated which books will be ours to work on which we carried out to the room where we’ll be working on them.

The books I’ll be working on are down that long hall to the door in the distance

She then gave us a laptop each and took us through how to create a copy and what to do with it with regards the relocation needs and requirements.

I’m not going to bother going through everything because it would be exceedingly dull for most people reading this…I mean for anyone reading this. However, I found it delightful. The Adlib database is fantastic. I’m fairly certain we looked at it during my Masters because it sort of looks familiar although many versions later.

Anyway, chiefly what I have to do is create a copy of the book if one doesn’t exist and enter all the information I can. This includes the more mundane like Size and Condition as well as more esoteric things like an Abstract which I’m to compose if there isn’t one extant with the book.

For my first session I had a couple of very rare books from the 1760’s as well as a centennial history of the Society for Nautical Research of which, of course, I’m a member. (By the by, Librarian Heather has submitted articles for the SNR journal, The Mariner’s Mirror. I’ll have to have a look. She said she’s managed to avoid becoming a member but is often asked to submit pieces.)

And so the morning passed by far too quickly. Normally I’ll be working through the day but this week, because of various things, that wasn’t possible so I left at 1:30pm.

Walking back through the dockyard in the early afternoon is a lot different to doing it before 10am. The minor number of employees in the morning is replaced by the tourist hordes vying for triumph in the volume stakes.

I managed to get a train within five minutes of reaching the station and was soon on my way to Guildford, then Aldershot. Then, my longest wait.

I was at possibly the worst Bus Interchange in the Universe. The whole thing works as efficiently as breathing on the moon. After the wonderful Hard Interchange which I’d walked by earlier, this is just the pits.

Pick a bus, any bus, nothing makes it easy

Eventually I made it home to two insane puppies who I immediately took to the park for a much needed rain free runaround. Except that eventually it rained. Freya, naturally blamed me while Emma didn’t notice the drops at all. They were quite muddy when we returned home as were my jeans, thanks to Emma and her over expressive paws.

I’m so looking forward to going back to work next week. Talking to Mirinda later she asked which one I preferred (Science Museum, Surrey History Centre or Portsmouth Historic Dockyard) and I had to admit that there was no favourite simply because each one has different requirements. All of them keep my mind active and I have a strong sense of doing something helpful.

Even so, I love actually working in a library with books and a library database. It is, after all, what my Masters was supposed to prepare me for.

Expect a fair number of photos of my favourite ship from now on…

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Annoying changes

The other thing we did yesterday, mostly because of the persistent rain, was to actually book most of our French holiday. We’re planning to spend two weeks in the Dordogne and I thought we should actually get some of our plans made into reality.

So I booked the ferry out there, the plane back, the hire car, hotel at St Malo and a cruise around the harbour for an extra St Malo day. Meanwhile Mirinda found a couple of places she’d be (theoretically) happy to stay in for the longer stretch of the holiday.

Money was spent and the excitement started the slow build. It felt good. As I said, that was yesterday.

Then Mirinda called me in the middle of today.

She rarely calls in the middle of the day because her days are generally chockas. She sometimes calls me if she’s walking between meetings that are happening in different buildings but not very often.

Today, however, was following a meeting with her boss.

He wants her to speak to the main board at their next major meeting about how her work is progressing. While this isn’t particularly onerous, it is a bit irritating.

Firstly because it’s in Milan and secondly because it falls right into the middle of our holiday plans we bought and paid for yesterday.

Obviously Mirinda explained that she had plans and her boss happily replied that the company would reimburse any losses. And we will have to replan everything.

It was then my job to work out what we could change or refund and what we’d lose. It took a while.

Another thing I did last night was to start my own cream cheese and whey production. The cream cheese is a bi-product really. I actually want the whey for another go at some sauerkraut. Not that there’s anything wrong with cream cheese.

This is how it happily hung overnight and through the day for the requisite 24 hours.

Making whey while the sun shines

Finally, at about 6pm, it was time for the Great Unwrapping. This was rather delicate given my rough construction of two triangular supports for the spoon. They were sitting either side of the bowl and temporarily made of chopsticks, bamboo skewers and masking tape.

However, I managed to get it all open without any accident and plonked the cream cheese into a glass jar.

A blob of cream cheese

Upon tasting I declared it the most delicious bi-product I think I’ve ever sampled. Creamy, cheesy, yummy.

On the other hand, the whey looked more like something you’d take to the lab to ascertain how your UTI was progressing.

Whey in the fridge

Obviously I didn’t taste it. It’s for the shredded cabbage which I’ll buy tomorrow. I should report that it didn’t smell of anything.

But, back to the holiday un-planning…having worked assiduously I found out that we will lose about half the amount we outlaid. This is because a few things can be changed or refunded while others cannot. And of course, we won’t actually lose it because Mirinda’s company will reimburse us.

We now need to replan the whole thing for, maybe a month later.

And I almost forgot, it didn’t stop raining all day.

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Return of the rain

The appearance of the missing sunshine was fleeting. Today it rained pretty much all day. Annoyingly it was also a bit humid so the wearing of a raincoat was irritatingly hot. Well, for me, anyway.

Most of the day the view out the back window was something like this:

Although still not feeling 100% I felt okay to walk into town and go shopping. At least I managed to comfortably sit in Starbucks for my usual blog writing time. The walk back was a little uncomfortable but not too bad given there was a toilet at the finish line…so to speak.

While I’d worn my raincoat to the shops, it was too steamy on the way back so I was in just a t-shirt when I ran into Luna and her owner. Ms Luna commented on how I didn’t appear to really be dressed for the weather. She, like everyone else I’d seen, was wrapped up in a raincoat and numerous other and various weather proof layers.

When I said it was too hot, indicating that my raincoat was in my shopping trolley, she agreed that it was a bit steamy. I wondered, as I walked away, why people seem to enjoy being so uncomfortable in favour of being a bit wet. Particularly when that discomfort makes you wet anyway.

And so, as the rain fell, we stayed indoors and bemoaned the fact that it didn’t look like letting up for at least another week. It meant I couldn’t finish off the obelisks (rain meaning I couldn’t use electric tools outside) or put up cables for holding the wisteria against the house (rain meaning I couldn’t use electric tools outside).

The dogs were not happy. Actually, Freya wasn’t bothered because it gave her a chance to help Mirinda with her DBA.

At least we had pork with green butter for dinner which added a little bit of joy into an otherwise miserable day.

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Monumental waste of sunshine

Yesterday morning when I woke up for work, I felt an uncomfortable pain in my tummy. It was the sort of pain you get when you’ve eaten a snail that’s not quite dead and is trying to make its way back up the alimentary canal. As the day progressed the pain would come and go, occasionally rendering me incapable of moving. Fortunately, given I was at work, most of my day is spent sitting down so moving is not exactly a requirement.

The other area of non-movement was in the body evacuation zone. It was like the snail, on its slow progress north, was holding up everything going the other way.

On the way home I researched kefir drinkers who suffer from stomach pain and discovered that some people do react this way. I also discovered that you are supposed to start off with about a tablespoon a day then progress slowly up to a full glass after about 23 years. This is some information I could have done with a few months ago.

Not that I’m saying that this tummy thing has been caused by the kefir. I was just making sure I wasn’t poisoning myself with microbiotics.

Anyway, that was yesterday. This morning I woke feeling worse. The pain was lower down (obviously the snail was slipping backwards) and still coming in waves.

I managed to get to Starbucks but didn’t feel well enough to sit and type for very long. I did drink my latte but that was about it. After shopping I managed to make it home.

I then went back to bed, where I remained until about 3pm. I snoozed and dozed and slept.

While a day in bed was clearly better than anything else I could have tried doing, I really wish it had been raining. After all the wet we’ve had over the last month, a day of sunshine is not the day you want to spend out of commission.

So, the jobs I had planned were not done. It felt like a massive waste of a day. Oh, and there was no action in the evacuation zone.

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A century on

On April 1 this year the RAF turned one hundred years old. That’s not to say there weren’t pilots flying prior to April 1, 1918, it’s just that some of them flew for the Army and some of them flew for the Navy.

I remember when I was researching at the Science Museum uncovering the Fleet Air Arm, something I had no idea ever existed. Now I discover that there was also the Royal Flying Corps which was part of the Army. Then, during the final days of the Great War, someone decided that Britain needed a third defence force and the RAF was born.

The reason I’m writing about this is because today I researched a guy called Edgar Baigent who, after extensive training, joined the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) as a mechanic.

Edgar was an exceptional young boy. He attended the East Street School in Farnham, where he held the record for never being late and also never missing a single day of school. For this achievement he was presented with a silver watch from the Reverend TG Gardiner (from the school board) and a book about the Life of General Gordon from the headmaster Mr CJ Walker.

His father was a prominent local builder and, for a while Edgar worked for him as a labourer. He then moved to the firm of Messrs Crosby and Co, another building firm before heading to Cranwell College in Lincolnshire where he undertook his training. RAF Cranwell still exists and is the starting point for new recruits moving into the air force but back in 1917 it was just starting up.

(In fact RAF Cranwell was established as an Air Force College after April 1918 because it was a naval base before the amalgamation date. The RNAS established the training facility at Cranwell on April 1, 1916 and that’s where Edgar trained.)

Following his successful training, Edgar was stationed at HMS Daedalus, an onshore base for seaplanes. Then, in early 1918, he was transferred overseas, to Dunkirk. And that’s where he died.

On the night of June 4, 1918, a German aerial attack on the airbase at Dunkirk mortally wounded Air Mechanic 1st Class Edgar Baigent. He died the next day from his wounds.

The morning of June 4 he wrote to his wife saying he was ‘quite well.’ The next day she received the dreaded telegram.

Just so there’s no confusion, the grave stone in the above photo is NOT Edgar’s. He was buried in France, along with so many other British service personnel during the Great War. The grave stone above is in the churchyard at St Andrews, Farnham and I just thought it was a nice way to end this post.

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The pixies answered my prayers!

Today was glorious. Blue sky and sunshine all day. Almost makes up for the gallons of rain we’ve endured.

Of course I took full advantage of it by working on the obelisks.

Before I could do anything though I had to head up to the gym for a much needed work out. Because of various things I haven’t been able to this week and I’ve been missing it.

The first thing I noticed was that the bike I usually use had been taken out of commission. Last week one of the pedals was having intermittent hiccoughs. I guess it’s now being fixed…or being left to rot. Still, I’m not precious about which saddle I sit on, so I just used the next one. I didn’t notice any difference to my unmoving 12km journey.

A little later, at Starbucks, I was delighted to see Emily serving. It feels like ages since I’ve seen her. She assured me I saw her last week. Hey ho. She claimed I’d forgotten because she’s instantly forgettable. I told her it’s because time moves so slowly between seeing her that it feels forever. She laughed.

After shopping I headed home and made a plan of action regarding the obelisks. I needed some essentials like wood and paint and sugar soap so the plans were hatched.

Then I made lunch before heading down to Homebase.

Don’t let anyone tell you that two pieces of treated timber measuring 150x25x1800 are not awkward when you’re also carrying a bag with assorted bits of stuff. All I can say is that it was a good job I went to the gym in the morning. Though I imagine my upper arms will ache tomorrow.

I reached the house as Mirinda was leaving, taking the girls for a walk on Farnham Heath. Emma was a bit confused that I was just getting back as she was leaving. I don’t think that has ever happened before.

While they were having their pleasant jaunt I started measuring and cutting and screwing and swearing (a bit) until I had all the tops replaced, ready for sanding then painting.

Apart from each of the sides at the top needing to be replaced, all three needed new lids as well.

It was then into the kitchen to make some Paleo bread then dinner.

Someone else enjoying the warmth of the sun, safely behind a pane of glass, was this little monkey.

Well, until Emma reclaimed it that is.

Oh, and I meant to mention this the other day but then instantly forgot. It’s a bit of a mystery that I can only think was accidental.

I used to have three little butter dishes like the one in the photo below. I now only have one (the one in the photo below).

All by myself, I don’t wanna be, ALL BY MYSELF! ANYMORE!

There’s quite a few cupboards in my kitchen and everything has a place. The two other little butter dishes, however, are not in theirs. I think some helpful person has put them away and I just haven’t found them…yet. I hope I do. Eventually.

Until then, I guess it will remain a mystery.

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Who’ll stop the rain? Anyone?

I can’t believe there’s still any water in the air. While there’s been no flooding (that I know of) it feels like it’s been raining forever. Except when it snowed.

Today, after walking up to the shops in the drizzly rain and walking back in an unexpected rain interval, I rang mum to see, or hear, how she was going. She sounded a bit croaky and was in pain but she sounded clear headed. She’s using dad’s old Zimmer frame (or wheelie walker as they call them in Queensland) so she can move around and sit whenever she needs to.

She’s basically confined to the house but the pain is relieving the boredom of not going out. Given the Commonwealth Games have just started, I guess she can watch some of the events. Hopefully the pain will lessen as the days go by and her knee gradually heals. Denise is taking her back to the doctor for a check up in, she thought, two weeks.

As for me, I spent the day trying to start fixing my obelisks. All three are in need of a bit of maintenance and repair…actually more repairing than maintaining if I’m being honest. I mean one even has lost a bit of one of its legs.

Three poorly obelisks

I’m not sure how long ago I made them but I think they’ve fared quite well under the circumstances. The circumstances being that I never maintain anything and they’ve just sat in the garden, falling over occasionally when the wind gets too strong.

They’ll need a good sanding as well as having their tops replaced. However, that won’t be happening today. Every time I went outside to start, it rained. I am seriously sick of getting wet.

Of course we waited for a moment of clear sky to go to the park. We managed to get just into the park when the rain started but by that time Emma was pretty much committed to it. Freya wasn’t impressed (she doesn’t like the rain and, I think, would have preferred to stay asleep in the house) but we continued on.

Eventually we were soaked through but it didn’t matter by then because there’s a limit to the amount of wet anyone can actually get.

Back at home there was a lot of washing and towel rubbing of the puppies. Then me.

The only really constructive thing I did was make a new batch of mayonnaise (this time with coriander). And washed and dried a lot of towels.

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Spare a thought for Gardener Dave and Polish Andy. As I waved them goodbye and wished them well at their next job, I hoped they didn’t get too wet. Gardener Dave sighed and said he was already soaked and feared he would be for the rest of the day. Given it was only midday, I felt extremely sorry for him. It’s not the best weather for gardening.

A big job done – the fence and shed cleared of detritus

The rain comes in waves punctuated with spatterings of sunshine. Because it’s spring the sunshine, when it speckles the ground, is not strong enough to dry you off. For the poor people working outside today, it would have been decidedly damp and moist.

And muddy. We mustn’t forget muddy.

The park

There is a lot of mud. Emma keeps bringing it home on her legs. Like today.

There was a brief spell of Rain Freedom after lunch so we grabbed it with both hands and enjoyed the park for a bit. For most of that bit, anyway. Emma had a couple of other-dog run ins which possibly blighted the outing somewhat. For her, anyway.

The first one was her arch nemesis, the greyhound. Emma was picking up her ball, her back to the open spaces, when suddenly a flash of brown and white appeared from nowhere. Like a pesky insect, the greyhound buzzed Emma then turned and ran back to her owner. Emma dropped her ball, turned around and barked but she was too slow, the greyhound was gone. She was totally confused.

The second one involved a big white dog.

Emma had reached the spot where I’d thrown her ball, collected it and was on her way back to me. This big white dog was in her way. As is normal for Emma (but makes no sense) she dropped her ball, stepped back and started barking at the other dog.

The big white dog picked up Emma’s ball and started teasing her with it, suggesting if she wanted it then she should come over and play. Emma just stared, aghast at the rudeness of the big white dog.

The owner of the big white dog eventually intervened, telling his dog to drop the ball, which she did. Once she’d moved away sufficiently, Emma raced in to retrieve her ball then came running back to me.

The third one involved Alfie, a very funny little black and white poodle crossed with an Ewok. He wanted to play with the girls and would keep chasing Emma every time she ran for her ball. Alfie’s legs being a lot smaller than Emma’s meant that he continuously fell behind. There was no way he was going to reach the ball before her.

When Alfie’s owner reached us he thanked me for wearing Alfie out a bit.

Freya, I should add, played with all three of these dogs without any problem at all.

The fourth encounter was a bit odd. It wasn’t even a real encounter.

As we reached the little kid’s playground on the way home, Emma spotted a man with three young collies on leads. I think he was training them. Emma stopped in her tracks, transfixed by them. Her tail went down and she was deaf to my entreaties.

The guy and his collies were not close to us. They were up on the hill, at least 60 metres away. I’m amazed that Emma could see them let alone feel they were a threat.

I was a bit concerned that she’d run away and decided to put her lead on. Meanwhile the guy with the collies must have realised there was some sort of problem and so he stopped, telling his charges to sit beside him.

Emma didn’t move as I clicked her lead on then, as if nothing had happened, she started heading for home, her tail up, ball clenched firmly in her mouth. There wasn’t a backward glance. It was as if nothing had happened. She’s an odd dog sometimes.

Freya, on the other hand, just roamed around, sniffing and looking for squirrels to chase.

PS: I heard from Denise that mum was home after her knee operation. I’m going to call her tomorrow.

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The old change up

Why on earth do people buy bottled water? They already pay for the water in their taps which is perfectly good to drink. Buying bottles of water is merely paying again for something they’ve already paid for and have easy access to. And if one turns on the tap and pours a glass of water and drinks it, there’s no plastic or glass bottle to dispose of afterwards. I don’t get it at all.

I had to go to Nero’s today because Starbucks didn’t open until 8:30, it being a bank holiday Monday. I assumed (idiot I am) that they’d be open half an hour before Waitrose, which opened at 8. Anyway, had the weather been nice and pleasant I might have sat on a bench and read for 40 minutes but the weather was wet and dreary so I walked around the block to where Nero was gloriously open. I had my coffee here instead. And it was very nice.

The gardeners didn’t come this morning as Mirinda expected. She thought they’d work on a bank holiday. She had the tea and coffee out on the counter, had moved Max and was up and ready for them. I had mentioned that they probably wouldn’t be working on a bank holiday. Eventually she re-read the text from them and discovered that they had never planned to come today and would arrive tomorrow morning.

Actually they were very lucky because the weather was awful. Lots of continuous rain. I do feel we have had more rain than necessary. It can stop now, please.

Most of the day was, therefore, spent inside. While Mirinda worked on her DBA, I washed the extension floor and started the infinite pile of laundry (no sooner do I get it down than it starts back up again).

I then rehung Mirinda’s art gallery in the Library. She asked me to do this quite a while ago and I thought I’d put it off long enough and so set to it. It was a long, arduous task with quite a few instances of position change and…change again.

I realise the two round pictures need to be moved to the left a bit.

This was so exhausting that we decided to go for a drive afterwards to recover.

Mirinda suggested we head over to the Duke of Cumberland for a drink then drive back. This was all fine and dandy until we reached the Bourne to discover a traffic jam for no reason. Like a fair few others, we turned around and found another way that avoided the blockage. We wound up driving down lanes we’d never seen before. We also discovered an edge of the South Downs National Park which we didn’t know came so close to us.

Eventually we reached the pub and, after a wander around the muddy garden, went inside for a Timothy Taylor’s Landlord and a red wine, relaxing in front of the rather pathetic kindling fire.

A small part of the very green garden around the Duke of Cumberland

Not that they needed a fire. The pub is quite cosy and warm without it and the temperature was not very low. Still, it did make it rather idyllic. (Mirinda had suggested that she sit by the fire and I have the other chair in case I fried but, as she said, the fire never actually put out any heat.) We sat and chatted and listened to the locals nattering until our drinks were finished. We then drove home.

Yesterday Mirinda had asked for lasagne so when we arrived home, I rushed around like a lunatic in my kitchen and made her one.

I was very pleased with it.

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Waking up to Headless Clara

Looking back over my posts, to this time in 2013, I noted that the garden wasn’t full of colour (other than the daffs) and the reason was the unseasonably cold weather. As I sat and looked out at the garden, we seem to have the same situation in 2018. And it has been a cold year so far. And wet.

Other years we have had tulips and forget-me-nots, the grass has been lush and had its first cut, the garden has started to grow again. One year we even had the magnolia in full bloom. This year, though, the garden is bleak and, apart from the bright yellow of the daffodils and freesias, pretty much devoid of colour.

Something else that’s bleak is the Scandi crime thriller we’re watching at the moment. It’s called Bordertown and makes a very good argument for not living in Finland. There are not a lot of laughs and the murders are designed to appal and disgust. A couple of the characters are (almost) likeable…it’s hard to be more generous. Even the colour is grey apart from specially selected spots of red.

In saying that, it is gripping and we’ll watch the rest of the first series though whether we return for a second is debatable. Actually Mirinda is pretty adamant that she won’t be watching it if it comes back.

On the home front, Boris woke up with the owls and was soon ensconced with me and the girls downstairs listening to the radio – Susanne went back to bed after dumping him with me. Of course I was up early though I blame Headless Clara who decided to move into our bedroom in order to avoid Boris in the night. She might be headless but she’s a bit restless.

So we (me and the dogs) found ourselves snoozing on the lounge. That makes it all sound very cosy. There were a couple of times that all of us were quietly dozing but they were few and far between. For one thing, Boris at full stretch does take up a lot of the lounge.

In the toilet stakes, all three went outside to the loo (I had Boris on a lead) and managed to poo, all at the same time. Naturally I praised Boris for this great achievement.

Eventually the rest of the house wandered downstairs and we sat with tea and coffee and iPad and chatted. They were leaving at about 11 so I was making brunch.

A while ago I ‘invented’ these eggy, bacon, muffiny type things based on a Rachel Khoo recipe. Mine have fewer carbs than hers so are acceptable in Chez Gaz. Anyway, they were a big hit the first time I made them and again, this second time.

Mmmm, savoury muffins

After spending about an hour collecting Boris’ possessions and playthings and essential toilet training paraphernalia, packing the car and saying goodbye, we were left alone. Mirinda tried to Skype Bob and Fi while I washed the floor.

The rest of the day was spent in DBA work and tidying up before Mirinda headed out the front to try and sort out the wisteria. In true gardening style, it must look worse before it can look better.

For dinner I made my first naked burgers and they were good…particularly the big bowls of Chez Gaz guacamole which is always appreciated.

And so peace descended on our house and we gradually drifted into the night as the rain restarted. We spared a thought for Susanne driving home (they visited another friend before heading back to Bath). The girls just enjoyed the return to the status quo. I don’t think they’ll be missing Boris.

Beautiful boy

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