A rather scary roller coaster

Today I went up to the flat to clean. I haven’t been for ages, mostly because Mirinda has been working every week day. Today, however, was a bank holiday Monday and the perfect opportunity to go up.

One excellent aspect of going into London on a bank holiday is, believe it or not, the peace, quiet and near empty trains. My journey in couldn’t have been smoother and I was very soon hard at it with Windex and paper towels.

The concierge has been moved from another block in our complex to ours and it’s now very different at the entrance. There was a rather short chap at the desk when I arrived whose forehead I greeted as I swanned by on my way upstairs. When I left, right next to the sign that said the concierge desk is open 24 hours a day, another, handwritten sign beside it, declared that the concierge would return from his lunch in an hour. Clearly they meant 23 hours.

I was there for about three hours before heading back home. At Waterloo I was greeted by a couple of dancing women wearing little more than pink feathers. There was another woman and a young man also dancing. It was rather odd because, apart from the sign they were dancing on, there was little indication as to what they were advertising. (Maybe it was the pink feathers…)

Pink and jiggles

The train home was as delightful as the one in and I was soon back in Farnham, heading up to Starbucks.

Because this is the centenary of the end of WW1, a whole load of metal silhouettes have been made to decorate various bits of the UK. I reckon they’re pretty dramatic. This is ours, next to the war memorial in Gostrey Meadow.

Lest we forget

At Starbucks I saw Emily (who I’ve started to call Rosie because of her floristy work and the big tattoo she had done) who has just returned from Amsterdam. I asked her how she’d gone and she said she had a brilliant time. Her favourite bit of the whole trip, she said, was the plane.

I found the idea that the best thing about a holiday was the plane journey a bit hard to fathom but she said it was the first time she’d ever been on one and it was just like a roller coaster. She was very excited. I told her she was crazy. I also told her that that would soon wear off.

I wanted to ask her more about Amsterdam (particularly as she was originally going to Florence) but the customers were building up and I had to let her get on. Perhaps later in the week. Before Saturday, anyway as she’s leaving and that’s her final shift.

I then went and shopped then walked home. The park, once more green and lush, made for a delightful stroll after the concrete and glass of the big city.

Lovely

I made chicken coconut schnitzel tonight which was deemed delicious.

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Sunday rain

Neil Simon died today! He brought me so many laughs. My directorial debut was a production of The Good Doctor, a series of dramatised stories written by Anton Chekhov and adapted by Simon. Then, a few years later, I directed (and starred in) Plaza Suite which, again, was very funny. He wrote so many plays. He was 91. 

Nothing like great play-writing or death in Farnham today. Actually, it didn’t stop raining all day so, apart from going shopping and getting wet, we didn’t leave the house. I say ‘we’…Mirinda didn’t leave the house at all.

It was market day today so I wheeled my trolley between the various covered stalls, buying the essentials like Sussex Charmer, TEA and free range duck breasts and, most important, some fantastic pickled asparagus. The pickle man wasn’t at the market last month so I was very much in need of his product this time.

Walking back, I tried to walk down the path that cuts behind the East Street development but the path has been closed to all feet. They are presently building a bridge for the trucks and various other bits of machinery to access the site. This means crossing the river as well as various other things not conducive with people walking.

I ended up retracing my steps and cutting through Victoria Gardens which, thankfully, has avoided the demolition team’s hammers.

 

Where once was a swimming pool

And, of course, a walk back on Market Day would not be complete without an update on the Swain and Jones site. While it’s progressing slowly, it is, at least, progressing.

I see a roof!

Back at home I tried another keto recipe I found on Instagram. This time I made the misnamed avocado crisps. I say that because they are not crisp at all. They are, however, avocado rich and delicious as a salad accompaniment.

Very cheesy too

For dinner, Mirinda had asked for moussaka so I was chained to the kitchen for most of the afternoon. Not that I minded. The moussaka is totally worth it. I also got to use my new mandolin slicer which cuts aubergine like a dream.

Meanwhile, Freya continues to vie for the title of laziest dog in the world.

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The big two oh

As part of her DBA, Mirinda has been interviewing graduates. In order to gather statistics the intention is to reduce the interview transcriptions to qualitative data using a software tool. Finding enough respondents is always difficult but she has been hopeful she could manage 20, the number her supervisor suggested she aim for.

This week (Friday in fact) she reached 20 graduate students and was overjoyed. While she has already started with the coding and shuffling, she can almost see the end of the doctoral road.

To celebrate this amazing milestone, we went to dinner to the restaurant of her choice. Perhaps surprisingly, she chose Bel and the Dragon at Churt.

Bel & the Dragon

I’ve never really thought about the name of the restaurant but tonight I overheard a waitress telling a diner that it comes from the Bible. After a very short search I have discovered that it refers to a narrative about Daniel (he of the lion’s den).

Bel refers to a pagan statue which the priests claimed was alive because it ate daily offerings. Daniel uncovers the ruse and the priests (and their families) who were the actual people eating them, were all put to death by the king because of it. The second story tells how a dragon was threatening a town and Daniel made some exploding cakes which the stupid dragon ate…then exploded.

Both of these stories were not included in the Protestant Bible because the old Jews who were responsible for collecting together the ‘words of god’ didn’t like them very much, preferring to give Daniel the lion story instead and scrapping the other two.

If anything, the Bel story is a brilliant evocation of deist denial and I can see why it was removed, however, the dragon story is as funny as many other stories and should have remained. If you ask me. And there is a precedent if you consider the Turkish St George and how he defeated one.

What that has to do with the restaurant, however, I do not know. Fortunately the food doesn’t explode after eating and the food isn’t stolen by priests. Or their families. The place doesn’t appear to be either religious or sensible so it’s a mystery. Just like the Mystery of Faith.

Apart from anything Biblically challenging, dinner was delicious, particularly the espresso martini (still the best I’ve ever had). I had mostly fish including an amazing poached salmon with miso crust atop an avocado salad.

Totally yum

Speaking of avocado, and as an aside, today, upon returning from the shops and wondering what to make for lunch, I happened to watch a recipe video on Instagram. It was sliced avocado with an egg and cheese, fried and then sprinkled with bacon. It was so lovely. And very simple to make.

Also lovely was my morning coffee with Lizzy. She’s working all the hours possible and is pretty exhausted during the week so our coffee morning has changed to a Saturday before her spin class. As usual, it was a delight.

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Too many Heads

Today my researching led me down a strange track. I was looking for a couple of William Heads who lived in Hale. At around the same time there were, in fact, three chaps called William Head living in Hale. Two of them were around the same age while the other was the father of one of them.

It took some intensive work but eventually I managed to work out the first one based on his next of kin in the army personal effects list. Then, of course, the information came tumbling out and I was able to piece together his entire life. The second William Head, however, proved impossible.

Interestingly, the ‘third’ William Head, the father, was a ‘refuse collector’ which I guess is a sort of scrap merchant who, along with his wife, Annie and their kids, may have lived in a caravan. (The census taker had written ‘scavenger’ in pencil beside his occupation which probably sums him up.)

That was in 1901, by 1911 he’d moved to Aldershot and become a ‘barrack sweeper’ and by 1915 he was in the army, joining up at the age of 46.

He was subsequently shipped out to France along with all the teenagers in order to fight for King and country. A little over six months later he was declared unfit for military service and shipped back home. It’s debatable whether he actually saw active service or not. He didn’t die until the 1930’s.

The Gostrey Meadow memorial was erected in the 1920’s so I’m assuming it’s not referring to him. It more than likely refers to his son but I wasn’t able to find out anything about him after 1901 when he was 11 years old. Of course, he could have died or run off with the circus…anything is possible.

Two heads are not better than one!

Maybe we’ll never know. Sadly.

Possibly the biggest achievement of the day was completing Panel Three of the Farnham Memorial. I’m not sure what my next memorial will be but I’m ready for it.

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Inconsiderate pig

As I walked into Farnham this morning, I’d not long left our street when I started smelling something foul. It was as if someone was burning a disgusting mass of lethal plastic, hair and green leaves. The smell didn’t vanish for the entire half mile walk along the path.

When I reached the end of the path and the beginning of the lane I found out what was irritating everyone’s noses and throats. The house that backs onto the park, the one owned by the person who wanted to turn the alley into his own private driveway, was burning off his foulness.

The smoke was so thick it was like a hell fog, risen from the infernal depths. This photo hardly does it justice.

Foul smoke!

This isn’t the first time, though it’s possibly the worst. He burns his rubbish quite regularly and, just as regularly, the smoke falls over the brick wall and suffocates anyone who walks or jogs by. Of course the guy doing the polluting has no idea (or just doesn’t care) because the smoke just disappears from his side of the wall. He might think differently if the smoke went back into his house.

A chap coming from the opposite direction remarked that it felt a little bit too early for such an evil conflagration. I agreed with him as our paths crossed.

Smoke and brimstone aside, the day was spent mostly doing housework, using the new washing line before dismantling it before Mirinda arrived home and taking the girls for a walk.

Freya had no problem walking in the park though she is still in season. Her limp was hardly in evidence though she still isn’t running. I think she needs her confidence building up again. She’s just like Day-z. If something doesn’t work, never try it again. Idiot dog.

Copse

Anyway, the park was lovely apart from the smelly collie that I keep unsuccessfully avoiding.

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Improving puppy

Freya’s condition (whatever that is) appears to be very slowly improving. Like Mrs Bennett, she has taken to her bed but during the brief forays on her feet, she is steadily getting steadier. The big test was going to be when it was time to go to the park.

So, after lunch (and after watching the end of episode 12 of Korean Odyssey) we headed up. Because Freya is pretty much finished with her latest season, I let her lead the way. This is what normally happens.

At our front door I ascertain that there’s no traffic before letting them both go. Emma, of course, bounces around in front of me because normally I’m carrying the Flicka-stik but all I see of Freya is her little white butt bouncing up the steps into the park. And that’s what happened today.

In fact, Freya managed a normal walk but without the usual running around, chasing Emma that she indulges in. Still, every step is forward at the moment so I figure whatever the problem has been, she’s recovering.

On our walk we met Freddy, a nine month old black cockerpoo and his owner (and her two daughters). All three humans went a bit delirious over Emma and Freya even going so far as to collapse onto the grass to cuddle and kiss them. Freddy was very interested in Freya, indicating that her season is not quite over, and rebuffed by Emma who only wanted her ball throwing.

We had a lovely chat. Freddy is the woman’s first ever dog. Having had dogs for most of my life, I find this quite weird. She is completely in love with Freddy though, as are her two girls. It’s lovely to see. They bounced away, over the hill in front of us as we headed for the woods.

As I reached the double bench along the Avenue of Trees, I noticed how green everything has returned to. It feels like only a week ago that it was all brown and dead looking. This morning the tractor was out cutting it all and it looked fresh and new.

Green, green

Back at home I had a couple of parcels waiting for me. One of them was a collection of tiny conifers which Mirinda had ordered on the weekend. They are to form a tiny woodland area in her pixie garden.

The other parcel was for me.

I heard about the benefits of goat’s milk soap on Instagram (my newest habit). Apparently, raw goat’s milk is good for various skin diseases, particularly when mixed with various other ingredients. One of these skin conditions which goat’s milk is supposed to relieve is psoriasis. Given I’ve now started using solid soap rather than liquid to wash with, I figured it was worth a try. (I’ve switched because of the plastic containers.)

A Milk Tray selection

And it all smells fantastic.

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The snore monster

On my trip down to Portsmouth this morning, I was ‘entertained’ by a chap with adenoid problems. He was pretending to watch something on his phone, his earplugs firmly protecting his fellow passengers from the noise and merrily snoring away. The earplugs had no effect against his snoring. He was very loud.

This wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the trains Wi-Fi was working properly. As it was, I logged onto it at Guildford and, almost an hour later, was still not connected to my blog. The train company claims you can work on board their trains because they offer free Wi-Fi. Yeah, right.

I wrote yesterday’s post in a document then managed to upload it on the train home where the wi-fi, for reasons known only to the Goddess Wiffi, was working properly.

The Snore Monster left the train at Havant in a major hurry. He was fast asleep when suddenly his eyes opened and he looked around like a thing possessed. He grabbed his stuff and was off the train in less time than it takes to sneeze. If I see him next week I might suggest he get more sleep at home.

Speaking of Guildford, I thought, in the interests of fairness and comparison, to include a photo of the ramp leading to Platform 8; the one that Terry prefers.

Terry might be right

And, for comparison…

Maybe Terry’s right

Work was excellent this week.

I managed to finish the boxes of books that are going to various other destinations. The spreadsheet is very long but at least it’s complete now.

The other week I wondered if anyone else was working on this project. Well, it appears that at least one other person is because the books from the Warrior have all gone. 

After I finished the boxes of books, Heather gave me a great job to do. Someone had entered a whole load of magazines into the library database. This was back in 2015 and they were really badly entered. Heather asked me if I could make them all a bit more consistent with the one she’d started.

People might not think this particularly exciting but it means that Heather is happy for me to go in and make amendments and generally enter stuff on the database. It’s a great show of faith. I sometimes wonder if people appreciate my skills but I have no such doubts when it comes to Heather.

So, I happily amended the magazine records until it was time to go home.

From a book – I just liked it

Puppy update: Freya has not improved much. She still just lays around, sleeping. It takes her a great effort to stand and when she does her back legs start shaking. The shaking goes after a while and she’s quite capable of walking around though climbing is still difficult.

Her eating hasn’t suffered that much.

I’ll try her with a walk tomorrow and then decide whether to take her back to the vet or not.

I miss my little mad monkey!

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Most skeins in an evening

This morning on the radio I heard the following story.

A woman (let’s call her June) had called in to discuss the stupidity of her local council. This is quite relevant at the moment because councils are having to justify every penny and save squillions of pounds in order to appease the Tory austerity measures. Seeking Stupidity has, therefore, become a bit of a sporting necessity.

June was ringing to talk about how her local council had sent a letter to her house claiming she could no longer park in her driveway unless she could do it without crossing the footway (their stupid word). The reason she couldn’t cross the footway (I really, really hate this word) was because she didn’t have a dropped kerb leading to her driveway.

Before I go any further, if councils are determined to call footpaths footways, I reckon they should at least have the common decency to call roads ‘wheelways.’

One might think it only fair that June’s council should so order her to follow the same rules that the rest of the country follow however, June explained, it’s not that obvious. Her road was built when the houses were originally erected in about 1930. All the houses have driveways but none have dropped kerbs. Everyone in the street bumps up, crosses the path and parks on their own driveway.

The person on the radio talking to her commented that this was not going to be too good for the car. June chuckled and replied that the kerb was only 20mm high and she hardly felt the bump. This prompted me to pay more attention because our dropped kerb, like everyone else in our street, would be about 20mm high. It made me wonder how on earth the council was going to create a dropped kerb when, to all intents and purposes, there was already one there.

June said it was going to cost her about £1500 to make it right and the work had to be carried out by a council approved company of kerb dropping professionals.

Apart from the terrible waste of time and effort, this story shows how ridiculously bureaucratic some councils are. And it’s not like it benefits anyone except for the kerb droppers I guess.

There were no such problems at our place as Gardener Dave and Michael turned up to work some magic. The garden always looks lovely just after they leave and they didn’t have to park across our dropped kerb because all the Crazies were off out somewhere, leaving four parking spots in the street.

In the latest Puppy News…Freya is still a bit sheepish with the use of her back leg. I took them both for a walk in the park after lunch and she was noticeably limping. Mind you, there was no way she was being left at home, she just walked slower than usual and ignored Emma more.

I think her season is almost over though when we ran into Rodney he was still very interested in her. Dave dragged him away telling him that we all had to suffer some frustration in our lives.

In the evening, we were on the terrace when a few skeins of geese flew over the house. Sort of like the six Chinooks the other night only a lot nicer. So nice, in fact, that it is one of Mirinda’s favourite things in the world. That’s the geese, not the Chinooks. I managed to get a skein on video.

To be strictly accurate, the video above features a ‘wedge’ of geese. It seems that a group when not flying is a gaggle, flying but not in formation it’s a skein and in a V shape, a wedge. Mind you, it’s a pretty sloppy ‘V.’

I wonder how many other creatures have multiple collective nouns?

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Garden update

Continuing on from previous years, I have included the latest image taken from the back of the garden looking towards the house. It is getting quite difficult to work out where I have to take it given the growth and establishing of various things. However…in reverse order…

2012

The office in 2012

2013

The office in 2013

2014

2018

Sadly there’s no dog on the path because both Emma and Freya were happy to stay in the library with Mirinda. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, and elsewhere in the garden, I finally did something I’ve wanted to do for years. Okay, I admit, there was a makeshift one in place once upon a time but, given the many changes it was consigned to the past permanently. As makeshift as it was, I still used it.

But makeshift no more! Today I buried a long, strong, hollow metal spike in the middle of the grass then put this in it.

Success!

And, no, it’s not an umbrella. Or an aerial. Or a beacon to attract the lizard mothership. No, once the cover is removed and it is clicked into action, it looks like this

Yay!

I was so pleased and the weather was so perfect that I washed a load (nine socks and a pair of shorts…which was all I had) and hung it out just to make sure it worked. And it worked a charm. Even better, it’s completely removable.

That’ll consign the dryer to emergency use only.

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The laziest cockerpoo

Today Mirinda was busy working on her DBA statistical analysis. There was a problem with a spreadsheet which we both had a go at fixing. Eventually she just re-copied the latest data into a fresh sheet and, voila, it worked.

I worked on the latest Blog Book given the Brittany 2007 worked out so well. The latest one is Ten Years of Paris which, hopefully will be ready to print this week.

In between wrestling with software issues, Mirinda worked in the garden, potting up bits and pieces and generally getting her hands dirty.

A rare successful sweet pea obviously NOT planted today

The weather was cooler than it has been though still pretty humid if you exerted yourself. At least there was no rain.

On the Freya front, we took her back to the vet. She woke up this morning and lazed about as if her legs were still inactive. When I forced her out of her bed, she was a bit unsteady but could walk without a problem.

Her jumping has completely stopped. She tries to push herself up but her back legs refuse to do anything. Because of this, I’m still picking her up. Mind you, she was fine on the back steps up and down into the garden.

Early in the afternoon, we took her back to vet just to check she was mending. The vet was more than happy with her progress. I repeated that she was just putting it on because she loved the attention.

Emma then disgraced herself in the waiting room. She obviously wanted to go to the toilet but rather than relieve herself before entering the building, she did it five minutes afterwards. At least it was just liquid. Still, most embarrassing. Not for her, you understand.

I made Joey layer cake for dinner preceded by asparagus in a lo-carb cheesy sauce I invented. It was very lush. I think we’ll be having it again tomorrow because I made too much.

The food didn’t last long enough for a photograph so here’s some Busy Lizzy instead.

At the base of the water feature
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