Dead ends

Today at work proved quite frustrating. Two chaps proved very elusive. Common names combined with inadequate records made it impossible for me to trace them. I’m not going to give up but will have to try a more labour intensive approach.

What makes it worse is the fact that they follow each other on my spreadsheet. Two blank rows! Not good.

Anyway, apart from those two, I managed to fill in a few others.

One sailor, for instance, who went down on HMS Black Prince during the Battle of Jutland. (Or, as I like to call it, The Battle of How Stupid Can You Be? after the refusal to use the new telegraph system to alert the fleet, instead depending on little flags that they couldn’t see.)

The sailor’s name was Alfred Eagleton and he was a career sailor having joined the Navy in 1907. His parents owned a pub in Downing Street which is no longer there. It was called the Bird in Hand.

The pub was originally where Robert Dyas is now but closed in 1928.

Speaking of buildings, I noticed the back of this office block in Woking this afternoon. That’s a lot of aircon units.

I also noticed that the new paved area in front of Woking station is heading on apace. Now they have blocked off the pedestrian walkway down the side and opened up a section of the new area. I have to say it’s a lot more pleasant than squidging along the path.

It’s going to look pretty good when it’s finished.

On the way home, after doing a small bit of shopping for dinner, I had a sneaky pint in my favourite Farnham pub (Nelson Arms) given it was so hot. It was a great pleasure to sit with a cold beer in an almost empty pub (most drinkers were outside in the sun) and have a quiet read. Nothing like it after a hard day’s graft at the old computer.

I then went home to make Mirinda a variation of an old favourite meal, veal pizzaiola. I substituted coconut flour for the wheat stuff, added asparagus and spinach and made up a batch of courgetti spaghetti rather than use pasta but it was still delicious.

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Moving logs

Mirinda wants a greenhouse. She has wanted one for a while and we’ve been planning for it. A while ago we marked out a possible site with string and nails.

After due care and consideration Mirinda decided she wanted it positioned a little closer to the house. This would mean clearing the stick groynes from behind The Former Residence of Xun Ma. She decided they could go parallel and a little distance from the back fence.

Today I started doing exactly that. Though not till the afternoon. In the morning I had the gym then a coffee meeting with Matt, the real estate agent who is trying to sell the cottage.

It seems the woman who really, really wants it can’t seem to sell her house and therfore can’t afford to buy ours. This is very frustrating.

We discussed possible strategies moving forward then laughed about Germany’s World Cup woes.

It was then home to the girls, lunch and the usual walk in the park.

The weather was perfect again.

Then, and with various implements of groyne construction and my little red speaker I headed up the back.

While I listened to Columbia and Senegal play a decidedly dull first half then desperate second half of their final group stage, I built then filled a new groyne.

That’ll keep the insects happy

The old ones were getting lower as I filled the new one. Interestingly, a lot of the old sticks had already started to break down, leaving mostly twigs and bits of crumbly wood.

The next stage will require a bit more work as the corner posts will need to be attached to the concrete that once sat beneath the shed. The old groynes can now go though because we’ll get the gardeners to take away the rest of the sticks in them.

All in all it was quite the productive day, finished off with a surprise text from Mirinda saying she was coming home…which, among other things, meant a proper cooked dinner.

Griddled tuna steak, fried cauli rice and pak choy

Also, I dyed my hair today.

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Germany’s going home

The holders of the World Cup, Germany, lost to South Korea 2-0 today. Sweden beat Mexico 3-0. Germany needed to win. They didn’t. They have not progressed out of the group stage. It’s the first time they’ve not progressed beyond the group stage since 1934. It was a bit of a shock. I imagine the British papers will be full of it tomorrow.

While it’s not good for Germany, South Korea played superbly and fully deserved to win. I know this because I listened to the game while I cleaned the absolutely disgustingly rank water feature. It took some scrubbing but, eventually, it wasn’t so smelly and I could actually see through the water.


I probably mentioned it before but it’s because of the trees leaning over the fence from the Crazies’ side. They drop seeds, leaves, whatever into the bowl and in quite quick time, the pump gets a bit full of smooshy stuff and the bowl turns a bit green. It’s easily fixed with just a bit of elbow grease.

The water feature clean up was in the afternoon. In the morning, after the gym, I had a delightful coffee with Lizzie in Starbucks. She told me all about her new job which she is rightly excited about and the prospect of actually getting paid.

During our chat we talked about what made us angry. With her it’s the lies spread by ‘interested parties’ about nutrition and what is and is not good for people. I was a bit hard pressed to give a definitive answer to what made me angriest. Then, this happened on the way home:

A woman getting on the bus today was peering at the side of it. I told her the number.
No,” She said “I want to make sure it’s not full of Nepalese.
Why,” asked I.
I don’t like them!” was her reply.
Well, I don’t like racists but that doesn’t mean I’m not catching the bus.
She gave me an odd look then boarded the bus before me.

I guess that sort of open prejudice makes me very, very angry, mostly because I don’t understand why people think other people are so different when we’re all pretty much the same.

(Well, except for the majority of car drivers who are nearly all inconsiderate arseholes. I was thinking about that while I was in the park with the dogs. What is it that turns normal everyday people into inconsiderate arseholes just because they climb into a car? Is it something to do with the fact that they are sitting comfortably in their temperature controlled cages, with nothing much to do apart from gently push a lever or slightly turn a power assisted wheel? Are they actually bored?)

The park, by the way, was absolutely glorious. I’m getting a bit bored with just how glorious it is at the moment.

Mind you, the lack of rain is a problem. Up in the moorlands near Manchester, a huge fire was blazing throughout the day. The heathland is dry as an Australian summer and the peat just keeps it alight. On the radio a fire ‘expert’ was talking about what the fire services were doing. He explained that they were trying to create firebreaks.

The person on the radio asked what a firebreak was. After the ‘expert’ explained the term, he then went on to say that it’s all a bit pointless because the peat burns underground and the fire just goes under the firebreak to continue the other side.

Coming from Australia, the idea of a firebreak is second nature and makes infinite sense but not when the fire can cheat and sneak underneath your defences. That can’t be fair.

Anyway, no homes had been lost nor were there any casualties so there’s that to be grateful for. Mind you the loss of about 2,000 acres of heathland is not such a good thing. When I went to bed, the cause of the fire was still unknown…possibly because they were too busy trying to stop it to worry about how it began.

Meanwhile back in Surrey…I attempted to make ramen tonight. I think I overheated the dashi because it went a bit cloudy. This doesn’t affect the flavour much but it should look more like broth than creamy soup.

I used the second duck breast in it and, regardless of the look, it tasted very good.

Ignore the udon noodles…there weren’t any ramen ones

I do love ramen!

Then, after all was done and dusted, I watched the Brazil v Serbia game. I felt very sorry for the Serbs. They worked really hard, almost scored a number of times and actually made the Brazilians look a little less than their reputation normally merits.

Then, like they’d been woken from a Rip Van Winkle type slumber, during which they dreamed they were a normal football team, they fought back and completely dominated the game, forcing the Serbs to play off. Eventually Brazil won 2-0 but, had they bothered to get out of first gear, it could have been so much worse.

Brazil beats Serbia 2-0

Brazil is going to be hard to beat…but that is hardly news.

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Store cupboard tapas

At the market on Sunday I bought a couple of duck breasts. Tonight I was going to knock up something with them, possibly featuring cabbage. Then, on Monday, I spotted a perfectly sized aubergine and realised we hadn’t had berenjenas for ages. I bought it with the idea of making it as a sort of tapas entree. Things, however, didn’t exactly turn out that way.

Something that did turn out was the Internet…eventually. First thing, after the gym, I tried calling mum, using my phone as a mobile hotspot. This absolutely refused to work no matter what I tried. I could access the Internet without any problem but as far as VOIP was concerned, it wasn’t happening. Every time I managed to ring on Skype, it just dropped out.

A photo of a fun fair sign, just to calm any reader who might be about to get a bit stressed.

Of course, the landline was also down so it’s not like I could call the old fashioned way. It was very annoying, to say the least. I’m busy every morning this week. I arranged to call mum (at least we could text) on Saturday morning rather than this morning.

Once I’d finished not talking to mum, I wanted to check the BT fault I’d created yesterday. ‘No avail’ was as close as I managed. There was no fault. Actually, that’s not entirely true. My phone app claimed there was an open fault but, when I went through the silly rigmarole to access our account online (why???), a sign of fault there was none.

I decided there was nothing for it but to call BT. I searched for a contact number. It’s surely a sign of the times that the only option was a chat facility. No problem, I thought, I’ll chat.

The only real problem with chat facilities on websites is how they want you to type out the problem you want to chat about then, as soon as they start chatting they ask you what you want to chat about. This has happened to me a lot so these days I merely cut and paste my original entry but it has to be frustrating. Why ask if the person on the other end isn’t going to look at it?

Anyway, I chatted with two people whose names indicated they were from somewhere on the subcontinent and, after explaining the problem was told:

‘I am going to look, please give me 5-7 minutes.’

About seven minutes later, the person returned to say that the fault had been fixed and cleared off the system. Obviously I was in the office while the hub is in the library so I had to walk into the house to check the lights were all blue so I wrote…

‘I am going to look, please give me 5-7 minutes.’

And, would you believe it? He was correct, all lights were blue and it was all working perfectly. There was no explanation; nothing. I told the person so, said thank you and signed off. And suddenly the day seemed just a little bit brighter.

(Yesterday I’d asked on the I Love Farnham Facebook forum if anyone was having Internet problems and someone posted that a BT van was parked next to the cabinet at the Six Bells and an engineer had been working on something most of the day. Call me suspicious; call me cynical; did someone cut the wrong wire? I’ll never know.)

Mirinda was working away on the terrace and was quickly happy and appeased after being updated on the connection situation.

The rest of the day involved me working in the garden. I planted (finally) the zinnias that Mirinda had bought last week as well as properly sinking and placing the stepping stones through the area that needs a new name but is still called the Wildflower Patch. I had to stop at one stage because it was too hot and I was melting. I sat on the terrace and waited for the sun to go behind the house.

Such blue skies

Eventually the sun dipped behind the roof and I finished the path. Then it was into the kitchen.

Actually I’d been in and out, preparing the aubergine prior to griddling but now it was time for some serious cuisine-ing. And it was about now that our dinner changed from my ‘sort of’ plan to a whole world of pot luck tapas.

The completed menu consisted of:
– sheep cheese gouda and sausage marinated in za-atar and oil
– mashed up bacon and egg
– (not quite ripe) guacomole
– mixed olives marinated in cumin and oil
– berenjenas with the barest drizzle of pomegranate molasses and griddled asparagus
– chilli avocado stuffed red peppers
– duck breast on garlic ribbon cabbage

I was quite pleased with it all given I was basically using what I had in the fridge and cupboard to make it all up…except for the berenjenas which someone else made up to the delight of the world.

Al fresco tapas

And it all tasted GREAT!

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Life without life

Today the gardeners were due to arrive. And they did, which was good though not with Gardener Dave who is presently holidaying in Belgium. This time it was Mike (as usual) but alongside a chap who was either called Dan or Sam. (Because I didn’t hear him properly then instantly forgot anyway, I’m going to call him SamDan for clarity.)

This week I had to look after them. Given she was still feeling a little unwell, Mirinda remained, Mrs Rochester like in the bedroom, pretending she didn’t exist. She would text me whenever she needed anything and I’d slip away, unnoticed and make her tea or collect her prescription or lock the dogs up there with her.

The Crazy Bed

It’s very onerous for me looking after the gardeners. I get a detailed list, of course but that only helps so far. Still, everything went very smoothly today and SamDan proved to be very nice. So nice in fact that he and Mike discussed with me the shortcomings of Bill, the guy who removed our hollyhocks telling stories that highlighted his inability to operate well in a customer situation. It wasn’t just us then, I was glad to hear.

So they headed into the garden and worked solidly for four hours apart from having a cup of coffee halfway through. By the time they’d finished the garden looked a lot better with the grass a decent length, a lot of weeds vanquished and the banana tree lopped, its dead branches removed.

All was well.

I then made lunch before heading to the shops…which was when the world fell apart. At some stage between midday and 4pm, the Internet stopped being accessible. Now, I realise to a lot of people this wouldn’t be that big a problem however with Mirinda working from home and most of our entertainment web dependent, I was not too happy.

I immediately logged a fault with BT and then waited. Eventually I discovered (by accident) that they would aim to fix it by tomorrow at 5pm. Given that was it, we had to make do without Netflix or the music library. (I tried a number of ways of using my phone to play Netflix shows through the TV but nothing worked.)

After dinner we watched the very entertaining film Women which we happened to have on DVD and had never watched. It’s extraordinary because there are no males in it until the very end.

Part of the Garden of One Thousand Yaps

Hopefully the Internet will have returned by tomorrow…

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New heights of glory

Today was really all about England’s victory over Panama in the World Cup. There are some miserable English ‘fans’ who have said it was against very weak opposition and therefore, somehow, doesn’t count but the majority of England fans are joyous.

Of course my day wasn’t JUST football. I went up the road first thing to shop. Given it was Market Sunday I had my wicker trolley ready to fill with goodies.

I also took the opportunity to wear my new t-shirt. It’s supposed to represent ramen but I think it’s more like a bowl of noodles…which ramen mostly is, I guess.

Gaz in the park wearing Japanese cuisine

I was going to make the usual Chez Gaz salad for lunch until I had a text from the still poorly Mirinda wanting chicken soup. This changed the shopping list somewhat but, fortunately, she sent it before I’d started shopping.

And the chicken soup I made up was given a big vote of ‘perfectly delicious.’

It’s yellow because I overdid the carrot a bit

And then the football.

Mirinda normally knows the score from my shouts and whoops but there were just too many in this game. Even for someone who doesn’t like football (or even care about football) Mirinda was surprised at the 6-1 scoreline at full time. And so she should be!

It was a wonderful game. The Panama team started the game fouling everywhere, proving the truth of that old adage ‘if you can’t show any skills cheating is not an option.’ Okay a lot of that was down to the ‘take no prisoners’ referee who decided to get in with the yellow cards as soon and as often as necessary. While the damage was done as far as the awarding of two penalties successfully converted by Harry Kane, was concerned, it was all too late by the time the second half came around and they calmed down a bit. After all, England had already scored five.

While most of the six goals came from set pieces, Jesse Lingard’s goal in the 36th minute was spectacular. Not forgetting Kane’s hat trick.

Panama did score once and it was their first ever goal in a World Cup final match. The fans, of which there were many thousands, cheered like they’d won the entire competition. It was great to see the fans getting right behind their team.

Overall, it was simply glorious. as was dinner sometime later.

As per Mirinda’s request, we had simple lamb chops with cauli mash, sauteed courgette and asparagus and creamed spinach.

Not as much gourmet as plain and scrummy

It worked really well with the rose sancerre.

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All around the garden

After the longest time (we reckon it’s probably around 18 months) Mirinda has come down with a cold. Our better living regime has helped keep her healthy but eventually, the common cold gets us all. And, before anyone thinks it was because I had a cold last week, in my defence, I had mine on Sunday and her’s didn’t turn up until the end of the week. I have no idea how long a cold can lay dormant but I’d say it wouldn’t be five days.

Anyway, because of quarantine restrictions, Mirinda stayed in bed for a lot of the day except for when she was lying on the sun lounge, on the terrace, in the sun, covered in cockerpoos. She had a lovely easy day. I reckon if there’s a good side to having a cold it has to be the fact that you get to laze around and just chill. Given Mirinda’s job, that has to be a great thing.

However, there was no lying around for me. After shopping (food and drugs) I made lunch then took the girls to the park…

…where Freya discovered a giant version of herself. It was an exact replica although blown up (and a male). Even her brown ears and the little patch on her back matched. It was quite weird. His owner was equally amazed. Freya was just freaked. Emma didn’t care at all given she was looking after her tennis ball in the shade.

Back at home, I headed into the garden to finish the long waiting plantings that didn’t happen because of my ultra busy week.

With Radio 5 Live commentating the World Cup through my Little Red Speaker, I weeded around the obelisk in the Hot Border (some nasty, nasty nettles) before putting in six sweet peas around the base. It was then onto Mirinda’s tool shed which needed a bit of silicone sealing around the gaps that shouldn’t have been there. I then hit the Garden of One Thousand Yaps with six foxgloves, dotting them around the existing foliage.

Satisfied, I sat with a beer in Clive’s Corner, enjoying my work and listening to the end of the Mexico v South Korea match from Russia. It sounded like a definitive Mexico win with a consolation goal to the Koreans in the dying moments of the game. Even though it was a bit one sided, it sounded very exciting.

Where’s my beer?

Eventually, after Mirinda woke up and had a relaxing bath, we had dinner (Thai green curry chicken) before watching The Bridge.

For Mon

Speaking of Mon…she had another fair in Essex today and, by the look of things, it went very well. Hopefully the Purple Elephant will have another great showing tomorrow as well.

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Uncovering lives

Today, rather than highlight the poor chap who lost his life in France, I thought I’d write more about his family. Naturally I’ll include him as well given he was a major part but not just the fact that he died being a hero.

Captain Alan Crundwell

Alan was, I think, headed for great things. His father was a successful solicitor and his brother was headed the same way but, following his own life, he decided to study chemistry. For reasons I guess we’ll never know, he went to Germany to study, at Freidburg University.

All was well until war was declared and Alan figured the best idea was return to Britain. He had a chance to finish his studies at Cambridge (Caius College) but, instead, he decided his country needed him more. He joined up, was sent over to France, was wounded, recovered and was promoted to Captain then temporary Area Commandant before being shot and killed in 1918, just over 100 years ago.

Of course, Alan Crundwell did a lot more than that. According to the men who served beside and under him, he was a hero who would always be the last out of a battle, making sure the men under him were safe without a thought for his own safety. In fact, the only reason he was shot on the day he was was because he found out that his old battalion was a bit short of officers and so he went and joined them rather than leave as his orders dictated. An extraordinary man.

His father, as I said, was a solicitor. Born in 1858 near Tunbridge Wells, Ernest Crundwell was the second son of a tanner. In 1881, at the age of 22, he was living in lodgings in Clapham, working as a Solicitor’s Clerk. By 1884 he’d met Henry Potter, a Farnham solicitor, and gone into partnership with him. The firm became Potter and Crundwell, then Potter, Crundwell and Bridge.

Ernest’s first son, also called Ernest, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a solicitor, clerking under his father. Though interrupted by the war, Ernest junior managed to survive and returned to Farnham and his father’s law firm.

Moving along to 1922 and Ernest junior, at the age of 33, decided to marry. Enid lived in Farnham, the daughter of a school inspector. His father, Ernest senior died three years later at the age of only 66.

Somewhere along the line, Ernest junior had a son who followed the family into the law firm but the trail is a bit too cold to follow much further. Fortunately I discovered the Farnham law firm of Bells. They are the latest incarnation of Potter and Crundwell and purport to be one of the oldest law firms in the world.

Their headquarters is now in South Street, a building designed by the same man, Edward Mountford, who designed the Old Bailey. The beginnings of this old Farnham law firm predate the building, which was completed in 1890 on the instigation of Henry Potter, Ernest’s (senior) long time partner. The beginnings can be found in 1768…which is a long time for any firm, law or otherwise.

And they are still thriving, holding something like 5,000 wills in their basement…which is a huge chunk of the population of the town.

Bells solicitors

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Lost and found

And another day out of the house for me. It’s been a week of them so far and isn’t about to change too soon.

Today I was presenting the Haslemere and Liphook edition of the Talking Newspaper which means leaving the house at 10am. In which case the girls had an early walk. They also had a late walk when I returned but that was six hours after I left.

I had a jolly team today oddly made up of mostly men. I say ‘oddly’ because generally I have all women readers. Today poor Margaret was the rose in a bush of thorns.

The stories were all pretty much of a muchness until we were almost finished. Paul had run out of stories and I had a few to spare so I gave him one I thought would be amusing.

It concerned the police and their attitude towards lost and found items. The piece started by stating that taking lost and found items had never been part of their remit but they did it as a courtesy more than anything else.

The piece then went on to say what they would and wouldn’t take and where to take things that they wouldn’t. All very straight forward if somewhat ‘listy.’

Paul started smirking at the beginning then totally lost it when he reached the bit that said the police would not take food. He managed to pull himself together and finish but it was very funny.

When I took over from him I wondered who takes found food to a police station anyway?

Who on earth sits down on a park bench and, noticing a Grinster pie next to them, immediately decides the only thing to do is take it to a police station?” I said. “Am I the only one who finds that just a bit mad?

They were all laughing and I smoothly and effortlessly moved onto the sports report.

It was awfully good fun.

Back at home, having walked the dogs for the second time today, I made a Paleo loaf for my lunch tomorrow and started the fermentation process on a new batch of sauerkraut before settling down to watch Argentina totally humiliated by a wonderful Croatian team.

Dinner was basically a kitchen cupboard and bottom of the fridge mash-up.

For Mon

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Uncovering dead Romans

A few weeks ago I spotted a Tweet regarding the current exhibition at the Museum of London, Docklands. For several reasons I really wanted to go. Firstly, the last exhibition (Crossrail) had been superb, secondly, I really like the Museum of London, Docklands and thirdly, I really love the Romans and their truly all appropriating ways. (As opposed to the Brexit style Anglo-Saxons.)

I thought Dawn might be interested as well given her PhD is on burial practices, albeit Neolithic rather than Roman, so I sent her off the details and asked if she’d be interested. She was so we planned a date and that date was today.

We met at Waterloo then took the Jubilee line across to Canary Wharf because I had to drop something at the flat first. This meant we could have lunch at the wonderful Turkish deli, Hazev. I delighted both my tastebuds and Dawn’s eyes with my spicy garlic sausage omelette while she had a huge slab of a ricotta eggy filo pastry thing (with a couple of mezzes thrown in). It was a perfect lunch.

We then had a stroll across to West India Quay, with a detour through the UnderWonderland that is Canary Wharf.

Then across to the museum we wandered and into the exhibition.

‘Last year, a Roman sarcophagus was found near to Harper Road in Southwark. As only the third sarcophagus discovered in London since 1999, archaeologists at Pre-Construct Archaeology began working immediately to reveal its secrets, and what the unique find tells us about the ancient city that 8 million people now call home.’ MoL website

The sarcophagus was almost intact. The archaeologist who first discovered it thought he was scraping away a big rock but, gradually, as he unearthed more of it, he realised it was one big carved lid. It then started to take on the slow-coach concentrated removal that all of us ex- and current archaeologists know so well.

Anyway, eventually he (and a few diggery chums) lifted the lid off and then found a big stone coffin full of dirt. It would have proved far too destructive to remove the dirt on site so the entire thing was dug out, encased in a timber frame and lifted, very carefully, out of its hole and transported to a lab where careful removal could be completed.

The sarcophagus itself needed a bit of fixing up before so this was done until it was ready for display in this exhibition. I have to say I’m quite surprised it was all done within a year given the wheels of archaeology are notorious for grinding excruciatingly slow.

The sarcophagus

As well as the sarcophagus, there is also on display its last occupant, a woman. Tests are still underway on her so there’s not a lot known…yet. But this amazing find isn’t all there is to see. The MoL has brought together over 200 finds including 28 dead Roman Londoners, to show what (little) we know about Roman burial practice. It’s all very impressive.

Among the various artefacts are grave goods, jewellery, iron rings, many pots, some intact and not so intact glass and a few iron rattles which were used during the burial in order (they think) to ward off evil spirits. There’s even a modern version that you can rattle yourself. Given I tried it and no evil spirits suddenly appeared I can only assume (like all people who believe in higher powers) that it worked.

Probably my favourite artefacts, however, were two Venus figurines that had been found in a child burial.

Sadly, while there was a lot of stuff, there wasn’t a guide book so a lot of this post is guess and conjecture…on my part.

One thing I found very interesting (and I wish I’d known when I was writing my dissertation) was the fact that almost no two Roman burials appear to be the same. Given the wonderfully inclusive nature of the Romans, I figure that they just practised whatever practices they wanted and made up bits if they weren’t sure. While hell for anyone trying to work things out, it’s wonderfully refreshing for me.

Having filled our senses with as much skeletal remains as possible (always handy having an expert on hand to tell me what’s what and where it goes) we headed outside for a sit in the sun accompanied by an alcoholic beverage each. I enjoyed a lovely, refreshing Meantime IPA while Dawn enjoyed something that wasn’t what she actually wanted but enjoyed nevertheless. We then wandered down to the ferry for the start of our trips home.

Docks across the Quay

What a splendid day we had and, to cap it off, I managed to get home with time to plant some sweet peas, tie up some roses then watch Spain v Iran in a spirited World Cup game which was the best I’ve seen so far. In fact, I’m thinking of supporting Spain from now on. They won, 1-0.

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