Sunday, April 26, 2009

Progression and digression?

It’s been a while since I posted. I have been trying to deal with things, but fate has conspired to allowing me to take one step forward and two steps backwards. These are some of the frustrations that have taken place in the last few weeks.

There was the watch. It belongs to the ProdigalD’s husband and she left it here before Christmas for me to get a quote for a repair. She’d got one locally and it was too expensive.

I took it to two different places and one was half the price of the other, so I accepted that quote. It was repaired, and it sat in my drawer until PD and spouse came in February. Spouse wore it for one day, and told me it wasn’t working. Three months of the guarantee had gone by now, but I took it back. Another few weeks passed and the second repair was done. I collected it and this time I wore it myself. I only needed half an hour to discover that by shaking my hand around (it’s an automatic watch, you need to do that) I could get it to change from 10.50 to 11.10 and back again. It’s back at the shop now. Mission not accomplished.

The TV. You may remember my pleasure at having bought a new TV in a morning after the old one gave up. We got it home and we got a good picture on digital. Nothing on analogue, however, and no Sky connection. After a week, I watched Lewis on ITV. The picture on digital broke up leaving me very frustrated. (No analogue.) I rang up the helpline, and a nice girl gave me good instructions. Not only did we get a fabulous picture on analogue, but we got our Sky freeview connection too. (There were also built in free stations on the TV, but they were different ones.) M & I were delighted with this. All we could want from the TV. Except that the video wasn’t connected. M didn’t care, but I was sure there’d be an occasion when we’d want it. I instructed him to buy another Scart connection (I think that’s the right word) and he bought one the next day. Because of the cramped position of the TV, he couldn’t connect to the video, so I suggested he unplug Sky and put it on the other side of the TV. He did – and you know what – it didn’t work. What’s more he couldn’t reinstate what we’d achieved the day before. Changing everything back didn’t work. We lost Sky; we lost the good analogue picture and we lost Channels 1, 2 and 3 on digital. We had to call in an engineer, and though he got everything else working, he couldn’t get the Sky box to work. Probably when we’d unplugged and replugged, we were asking too much of it, and it gave up the ghost. So after one successful night, mission not accomplished.

The curtains. We took down the curtains in the room that was once the PD’s room and is now used when the granddaughters come to stay. We had the curtains cleaned; then we took down the ones in our bedroom, put up the girls’ room curtains, and had our curtains cleaned. They had something called a blackout lining, but actually I’m told it’s a thermal lining. I was subsequently told that thermal linings should be hand-washed and hung up. So how does one reconcile this with the curtain material that says ‘dry clean only’? The result, at any rate, was a disaster - actually much worse than can be seen on this photo. The lining virtually disintegrated and each time they were touched, flakes of lining fell to the floor. The curtains have been up a long time, and this was their first cleaning. If that sounds bad, it’s because the room had been decorated at the time of their first going up, we had new double glazed windows, and the room doesn’t really get dirty at all. But the length of time we’d had them meant that the store that made them will not take any responsibility for them. The dry cleaners had warned us in advance that there might be damage, though I was unprepared for the extent. We have put up the girls’ room curtains again, and our curtains are to be relined. Mission not accomplished.

Things I have done – read two books for the Reading Circle – The Outcast by Sadie Jones – a worthy Orange Prize shortlister. I’d never heard of it, but I thought it a very good read, with a damaged hero on a downward spiral into self abuse, alcoholism and violence, and a strong brave young heroine, both suffering differently dysfunctional families. The Island by Victoria Hislop. Could have had the first 100 pages or so lopped off and definitely the last possibly 50. I enjoyed the middle though. Quite a revelation to discover that there was a leper colony on an island outside Crete only fifty years ago.

A talk is in process of preparation for a talk in early May. And we Goldenford girls will be delivering another talk at The Deli in Farnborough, also early May. Our fame is spreading. I hear too that at least two Tainted Trees have gone from Waterstone’s Guildford, and four of the five at Surrey libraries are out on loan.

Today, M & I have been at Wisley Gardens where we wandered around the fruit area. The Bramley apple tree is 200 years old this year. And ours is in flower once again, despite its phenomenal crop last year. I’m worried about pollination, though. I’ve hardly seen any bees this year, and everyone has probably heard about problems with the bee population.

When M & I when for tea, he tripped over a step and landed on the floor. I didn’t even see it, I was collecting the tea and cake. He reported to me that he’d gone ‘base over apex’; (I’m sure I’m the only person who understands his language) and that people had come rushing over to him. Now he’s complaining his leg hurts, so I’m dosing him with aspirins. This comes at a time when he’s had several business calls and is intending to go off to a job tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted with the progress. We left Wisley without having a good look at the rhododendrons which should have been the stars of today’s visit. But I did buy a new pink one for the garden. I’ll take a photo, once it’s planted. It’ll be a nicer picture than the curtains, that’s for sure.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What to put on a canape

Like half the country, no doubt, I watched The Apprentice tonight. Though I never normally watch 'reality TV', I'm an Apprentice addict - if only for the expressions on Nick's and Margaret's faces as the teams do dreadful things.

Afterwards M & I sat speculating on what one should produce for smart City people. Even though the girls won the task, the sight of huge hunks of French bread with undressed tuna sitting on top, or virtually empty wraps surrounded by fields of lettuce, left us most underwhelmed. M doesn't know the first thing about catering, but he could see that the guests were uncomfortable with their so called finger food.

Without really being able to work out costings, I thought that smoked salmon should have featured somewhere. I would have produced crisp toast covered with it, with maybe a twirl of creme fraiche on top - just for the look of it. Savoury crackers or pizza bases would surely have been easier to eat than thick bread, and one could put such toppings as ratatouille, avocado pate as well as smoked salmon and maybe the chicken tikka that they mentioned themselves. That way a range of different coloured toppings could be produced. Surely, the important thing about canapes is that you can pop things in your mouth in one bite and carry on talking.

Well thank goodness it wasn't me doing it - and I don't have to worry about that sort of catering until my next Christmas do for the neighbours.

It was a beautiful day today, and the garden is still lovely. The polyanthus are opening up and the daffs are still around. Now we have some pink hyacinths and muscari (grape hyacinths), which, if it's not a contradiction in terms, are a forget-me-not blue. There's also a shrub in the garden photo, whose name I've forgotten. It has white flowers now and will shortly produce bright red leaves - and if anyone can supply the name, I'll be most grateful.

Sorry for boring you with similar photos, over and over again. I feel a little like Monet perhaps, always trying to better his water lily pictures, or perhaps trying to capture something beautiful.

Irene came over and it was good to have an uninterrupted natter about food, families - and of course, our books and writing. We are giving a talk at Guildford library on Saturday at 11 a.m. Do come if you're in the area.