29 September 2013

Good morning – hope you’ve all had a splendidly splendid week. Our Autumn colour (such as we get it here) is starting to show itself – our Boston Ivy went from deep green to bright red in about six days. The weather similarly has felt decidedly Autumnal, if perhaps somewhat warmer than might be anticipated. We’ve had damp, foggy mornings followed by pleasantly warm afternoon sunshine (sometimes).

Penelope's PatioWe’ve had a very busy week. Patios have been cleared, hedges have been trimmed, bonfires have been burned, etc., etc. Of course, what I really mean is that Ms Playchute has had a very busy week. I have been heavily involved in uttering encouraging words from time to time and was rewarded for my support by being given responsibility for igniting the bonfire of garden trimmings her efforts produced.

The patio at the side of the house is truly a sight to behold. It had become exceedingly untidy as weeds, flowers and even small trees had established themselves in the joints between the paving slabs. I’m sorry I didn’t get a “before” and “after” photograph – I’ve only got the “after” but let me assure you – Ms Playchute has done a magnificent job. She has raked out the joints, removed all the unwanted vegetation and is planning to re-point all the slabs so that future vegetation is held to a minimum.

As well as weeding the patio, she also had a go at trimming the hedge between us and the farmer’s field to the south. This is always a contentious and dangerous task – we’re always afraid that the farmer will shoot us if he sees us tampering with “his” hedge. One has to be very circumspect and leave a few straggly bits on the far side of the hedge so that it appears untouched. Thankfully, she lived to tell the tale again this year.

The weeding of the patio and the trimming of the hedge created a sizeable pile of vegetation in our bonfire pit (the area formerly known as “the pond”) which required my expertise and attention. We also had a significant quantity of old scrap timber which needed to be disposed of so I was instructed to light the bonfire and get rid of everything.

And what a bonfire it turned out to be! We lit it on Saturday afternoon and it was still smouldering away on Tuesday morning. When it was at its height on Saturday evening I was a bit concerned that the fence, fence post and/or the adjacent elm tree would also go up in smoke and I did have to dampen down the fence post as it started smoking but fortunately everything survived. Unfortunately, Penelope has continued “tidying” and the pit is full again. I can see more playing with fire on the horizon.

On Thursday morning Penelope and I were enjoying our morning cuppa in bed when we heard a knock on the front door. This turned out to be the Grundon man who had arrived to empty our Klargester. This did not come as a complete surprise as I had booked for them to come. However, when arranging the collection I was told to expect them in the “late morning.” Now tell me, what does “late morning” mean to you? 10.00? 11.00? Nope, apparently 8.00 am is late morning to the sewerage collection fraternity. “I could have been here at 5.00,” the driver informed me, “but I thought I would make another collection first.” Thank goodness!

The other major “excitement” this week has been our Molly’s enforced visit with the vet – she has been very poorly indeed. Some months ago we spotted that she had what we thought was an haematoma. She (and the other dogs) have had them before and it’s never caused any issues. On Tuesday morning she dashed out in the morning, as usual, to do her business and dashed back in again to have her morning snack. However, an hour or so later when I came to accompany her on her morning stroll around the recreation ground, she seemed very, very slow.

Now, in her advanced years she has become somewhat slower than in years gone by but this was slow – considerably slower than normal, slower than a herd of snails travelling through peanut butter.

With hindsight, I am embarrassed to admit that I was somewhat impatient with her. “WTF is up with you this morning – we’ve got places to be, people to see!” She dragged herself around, bless her, but she was clearly in a somewhat distressed condition. Later that afternoon, as she continued to pant and wheeze and generally behave very lethargically, Pen noticed that the “haematoma” had transformed itself from the size of a grape into a mass the size of a grapefruit. Off to the vet where it was discovered that she had a very high temperature and that the “haematoma” was, indeed, a less than pleasant mass. Two nights of antibiotic drip and a biopsy later and we were able to collect her on Thursday afternoon. We won’t get the result of the biopsy until later this week but it’s not looking good. Very distressing as you can imagine.

I ran across a number of “interesting” articles this week. Firstly, some photographs from the US National Beard and Moustache Championship held earlier this month in New Orleans. (Donna posted another link on Facebook with some additional photographs).


Some of these are truly astonishing. I can see that I have a bit of work to do with my facial hair to get ready for the championships next year.

Then there were several articles about the end of the VW bus now produced only in Brazil where production will finish at the end of this year.

VW Bus

And finally, an article about how Spanish parliamentarians are considering moving Spain’s time zone so that it exists in the same time zone as the UK.

A team of Spanish parliamentarians have recommended that the country take a step back, reclaim its lost hour, and live out its future on Greenwich Mean Time alongside the likes of Britain, Morocco and Mali.

It makes sense geographically but just goes to illustrate the arbitrary nature of time zones. Now, when it comes to Daylight Savings, don’t get me started!

I did warn you! No new recipes or photos from the XCstravaganza celebrations received this week so another video! A bit of background – during the festivities Annabelle and I regularly went through a routine of showing each other our bellies and then shouting “Put it away!” at each other. Here she is showing me her belly from the beach while I was in a kayak in the lake. I think she gets somewhat disenchanted with the game as I paddle further and further from shore.


Just be grateful I excluded the part of the video showing me exposing my belly!

Love to you all,