Monday, 1 June 2020

Life In Lockdown - Day 72 & 73

On Sunday (day 72) Jon was up first. He made tea and brought it back to bed, where we read until 8.45, how very decadent! We had toast for breakfast, I put a load of washing in the machine, pegged it out and then shortened and hemmed a pair of shorts Jon had bought from a charity shop a couple of years ago.

Jon went round to Tony's with some groceries he'd managed to get him from his foray into Farmfoods the previous day. After a mammoth blog catch-up, I watered the patio plants, Jacob's enclosure and the veg plot.

Watering the garden is rapidly becoming my favourite task of the day. It's hard work and it takes ages but every morning I discover something new has burst into life overnight.

Including the clump of sweet peas scrambling up a long-dead apple tree, how on earth did they get there?

Remember me showing you this tiny chest of drawers somebody had knocked up in his garden shed from an old cigar box? They sit on my dressing table and house my pendants and the earrings that I can't hang up. They're cute but a bit brown and the wood's not the greatest quality, its time to breathe some new life into them.

I sanded it down, wiped it over and gave it a couple of coats of paint then, while it was drying,  cleaned out the pond. A job we've put off since last Autumn. 

It's a bit of stinky task, dredging up all the muck festering at the bottom & being up to the armpits in brackish water but, by the time I'd finished and disposed of the last of the slimy leaves, Jon arrived back in time to help me with my drawer makeover, cutting the Indian wrapping paper down to size & glueing it in place - he's much more steady-handed than I am.

A coat of fast-drying varnish later and it was ready to go back in the dressing table. The trouble is that, when you improve something, everything else starts looking shabby. The to-do list is never-ending.

After our noodles, I assumed my regular position on the lawn with The Alienist, happily interrupted by a visit from neighbour Ray, delivering us a home-made sourdough loaf which he'd kindly sliced and put in a freezer bag just in case we already had plans for tea so we could eat it later in the week.

While the lads decamped to the undergrowth.

Jon potted up our heritage pink tomatoes and then joined us for a lazy afternoon in the sunshine.

Although the sun doesn't set till after 9pm, with twenty-six trees in our garden, it's all but vanished by 5pm so I slipped on this block printed organic cotton kaftan I'd bought from Tuk Tuk, a tiny boutique in South Goa, back in February. The owner worked for a world-famous designer in New York for many years but, disillusioned with the terrible working conditions of the workers in the Asian factories she used to inspect & the endless hamster wheel of fashion, decided to create her own range of sustainable, non-trend-led, beautifully made, artisan-produced clothing. It's the first time I'd worn it and was excited to discover that it had secret pockets. 

 After another session with the hosepipe, I caught up with blog comments whilst Jon cracked on with making tea, a delicious cauliflower & broccoli (from the freezer) and paneer curry.

 Later we watched the second part of the harrowing two-part documentary about The Jonestown Massacre (co-produced by Leonardo DiCaprio) on the BBC i-player. It had happened in 1978 when we were both 12 so, although we were both aware of it we didn't know the full story. It's riveting but awful. To lighten the mood we watched the penultimate episode of Killing Eve, with yet more violence & murder. Considering what a cheerful soul I am, what with my choice of reading & viewing, I do seem to have an insatiable appetite for the macabre!

Monday (day 72) was Frank's birthday. We're not sure how old he is, the vet reckons somewhere between five and seven years old. When I got up this morning I sung Happy Birthday to him, then did my Wii Fit session. When Jon got up we had our fruit and yoghurt and sat in the sunshine drinking coffee. The birthday boy was definitely back to his usual self after the trauma of the dental surgery, vocalising his displeasure at the choice of cat food available.

Ever the cat slave, Jon drove to Pets At Home to stock up on cat food, nipping into Poundland next door for bird food and some car-related bits and then swung by the Co-op for tomatoes and cucumbers and, despite having Ray's loaf in the freezer, couldn't resist a sourdough loaf with Kalamata olives, strategically placed next to the entrance.

After my daily watering session, as always helped by cats wanting to play, I planted the catmint in the border (Frank doesn't like this variety as much as the old one so it's safe for now). I dragged the Victorian cast iron bench ends from their previous position under the lounge window then threaded the climber that I thought was dead through the slats. Look at spiky bastard, isn't he pretty with his fluffy blossoms? Shame he's such a vicious swine.

Next, I went upstairs & retrieved the chests of drawers I use to store my make-up and bangle collection.

Both once stood on my Mum's dressing table, housing all manner of bits and pieces. Marcus and I loved to have a rummage through them when left to our own devices as children. One day we discovered some baby teeth in an envelope and came to the conclusion that the Tooth Fairy didn't exist (but kept it a secret between ourselves for a few more years.)

Under Mum's ownership, the drawers were sprayed bronze and papered with William Morris wallpaper, when I inherited them ten years ago I decoupaged them with vintage Bollywood posters I'd photocopied from one of my film books. I still love how they look but they were starting to get tatty so it was time for a change.

I set about stripping off the paper and applying the first coat of paint whilst Jon got on with planting out the French beans, creating his own wigwams with sticks from the woodpile. The copper hoops were rescued from an outbuilding in the parental home, they really do seem to keep the slimy slugs at bay.

On the subject of vegetables, do you think we've got enough tomatoes?

The weather was so deliciously hot that my paint was dry within half-an-hour. I applied another coat and then took a break for noodles. After we'd eaten Jon papered the drawer fronts while I varnished the carcasses.

We heard the familiar crunch of gravel and looked out to see our friend Mark with a tray of marigolds and a couple of mystery plants. He'd brought round the van he'd just converted into a campervan and we admired that and chatted for a while.

After he'd driven off I potted up the new additions and gave them a thorough watering.

By now my varnish was dry and the drawers were ready to be refilled with make-up and bangles and returned to the bedroom where they're now making the dressing table look very drab..

We lounged in the sunshine on the bedcover for a couple of hours and watched Jacob as he bumbled around his enclosure.

Once the sun had vanished behind the trees I covered up my bikini with this dress.

 When we arrived in Goa after two weeks travelling around Rajasthan I realised that I'd neglected to pack my beach dress and bought this organic cotton, handmade, block printed maxi dress from Cotton Cottage in Margao (check them out HERE). As the temperature was touching 90°C, I didn't bother trying it on in the shop (their "S" always fits perfectly) and, as we only had a mirror above the bathroom sink in our guest house, I didn't have a clue what it looked like. I wore it almost every day for three weeks and it felt so comfy that I assumed I looked like I was wearing a sack.

I was amazed when I saw my reflection in the bedroom mirror today, I love it!

Tea was Kalamata olive bread, cheese, pickles and salad with some homemade potato salad sprinkled with chives from the garden. After I've given the garden the final watering of the day we'll be watching Grayson Perry's Art Club and we might be naughty and watch the final episode of Killing Eve on the I-player rather than wait for next Sunday.


See you soon! Stay safe, stay sane & stay in touch.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Day 70 & 71

Yesterday (day 70) would have been my Dad's 91st birthday, he was born on 29th May 1929 and died five years ago, in 2015. A man of mystery & intrigue, he wasn't one for idle chit chat and kept himself very much to himself. Only when we were clearing the parental home did my brother & I discover that, in 1957, he attempted to sail from the UK to New Zealand, was shipwrecked off the Spanish coast and ended up making the front page of The Times. You can read more about him HERE.

 The day got off to another early start and, after putting the free book chair outside (with a couple of further additions) I was watering the patio plants at just gone 6am, noticing that a couple more Oriental poppies had graced us with their presence. 

After my final Wii Fit session of the week, I dyed my eyelashes & brows and had just caught up with Blogland when Jon got up. We ate breakfast and we sat outside in the sunshine with a mug of coffee.

Is it just me or, after ten weeks of being surrounded by familiar things, something new seems rather a novelty? Like the soap I opened yesterday, I'd bought in Goa back in the days when we could travel freely.

Jon's plan for the weekend was to make Jacob a new pen and, as we also needed compost and, as a certain someone who shall remain nameless, had trodden on our ancient watering can & wrecked it, a replacement watering can were added to the list. Today would be the first time in over two months that I'd been in the car and six weeks since I'd set foot in a shop - how exciting! I thought I'd wear my repaired dress by way of celebration.

We drove to B&Q (a DIY superstore on the outskirts of town) but saw that there was a long queue snaking along the side of the building. While we're not exactly short of time neither of us really wanted to spend an hour standing in a queue on a bleak retail park next to the motorway so we drove to the small garden centre up the road from us. Mercifully there was no queue and the shoppers were adhering to the designated route marked out on the floor. I'd considered buying a few plants for Jacob's enclosure but they didn't look very inspiring and, as it would involve picking each pot up to read the planting labels (something we're not supposed to do), I decided it would be easier to make do with what I already had at home. We managed to tick the wooden fencing and compost off the list but there was a distinct lack of watering cans - so we paid and drove back arriving home to discover that all the books had been taken and the chair was empty.

While Jon drew up a plan for the tortoise pen I went online and searched for watering cans, stumbling across one on a builder's website (I've no idea how I ended up there) for just shy of £12 and, as they also stocked something else we needed, we qualified for free delivery. Hooray! I stripped off to my bikini, slapped on some sun cream, grabbed the kitchen knife and weeded between the cracks in the patio, then moved all the pots and swept the whole lot.

After a break for noodles, I got out the bedspread and my book and prostrated myself on the lawn .
The Alienist - if, like me, you loved the BBC's Ripper Street then you'll enjoy this!
Like the crazy fool he is, Jon set to work on building the new tortoise enclosure, in the heat of the midday sun.

Once the enclosure was up and secure, Jon took apart the old tortoise run and moved Jacob in. The planting could wait until tomorrow.

We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing in the sunshine with the lads and a couple of bottles of beer for company. 

Jon prepared tea - salad with his homemade spelt bread....

I watered the plants again and browsed eBay, as luck would have it, this gorgeous 5metre length of Anokhi block printed fabric had just been listed for an absurdly low Buy-It-Now price. Of course, I had to have it. 

We visited the Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing on our travels last year HERE, I still get palpitations when I look back at our photos.

Later we drank rum, watched a couple of Antiques Roadtrips we hadn't seen before and a programme where Mark Tully travels by train across Pakistan to the Afghanistan border.

On Saturday (day 71)  I got up at 6am and saw a handsome fox the size of a German Shephard running around the lawn hotly pursued by Stephen. I swear he gets dafter the older he gets. I made tea and brought it back to bed. I read, Jon dozed. When we got up at 8am I stripped the bed and threw everything in the washing machine and put the houseplants in the bath for their weekly soak while Jon made sausage sandwiches.

Lockdown nail paint of the week is Barry M's Pistachio.

After breakfast, I pegged out the washing, watered the patio plants and sorted out some plants to go into Jacob's new pen whilst Jon went out for supplies (namely prawns, Frank's run out). Once he returned and he'd had to coffee to get over the trauma of a trip to Farmfoods and the dodgy clientele it seems to attract, we started to plant out Jacob's enclosure. 

 Jacob is a Hermann's tortoise, a species that hails from the rocky hillsides and beech forests of the Mediterranean so any plants we've seen growing in the wild on our travels in Greece are perfect for his new home. 

Luckily for him (and us!) we'd got plenty of suitable plants already growing in the garden, no need to splash the cash in the garden centre.

To simulate the rocky terrain we moved a few rocks from various parts of the garden and the old washing up bowl we used to take camping with us before we upgraded to a fancy pop-up one was filled with rocks and gravel and sunk into the enclosure so he can immerse himself when he gets the urge.

To imitate the forest floor I shredded the trimmings we couldn't fit into the garden waste bin from Jon's epic hedge cutting session earlier in the week.

When I sold the parental home the first thing I treated myself to wasn't an it-bag, a mini-break or a pair of designer shoes, it was a garden shredder. I'm never right, am I?


Here's to the next 45 years, Jacob!

After an hour spent dozing in the late afternoon sunshine, I brought in the washing and made the bed whilst Jon prepared tea, cheese & jalapeno bites from Farmfoods, a salad of green peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber and some potato fairies (is that just a Walsall thing or does anyone else call them that?) It was soon demolished, we hadn't eaten since 8.30am.

Tonight's plan involves several cheeky glasses of rum. We've bloody earnt it. I thought we'd be watching Canadian crime series Cardinal but it doesn't start till next week, instead, we've watched part one of a two-part documentary on the Jonestown Massacre. 

Stay safe, stay fabulous and see you soon!