Fire and Flood

The boys have gone to play snooker, the steak and kidney pudding has an hour and a bit still to steam, everything else is ready bar a few last minute blasts in the oven and I am finally sitting down with a glass of wine, gently throbbing feet and a slightly dazed sensation. I’m not quite sure how this happened. I had definitely planned for the last week and a bit to be a period of desultory progress with Christmas projects, finishing up assorted novels and possibly some light bulb planting.

Things began well. Mum packed her bag and went off home feeling a lot better. (I believe, once home, she gave her GP a speaking look and a firm, but ever so slightly derisive, sniff and that helped as well.) Keith and I agreed solemnly that there would be no more visitors and we would happily commit to acceptance of different aural entertainment requirements, stick our headphones on and lounge by the fire, respectively knitting and plotting (me) and demonstrating great intellect by the medium of sudoku (him). At a push there might be a communal effort for the crossword, but only if the mood was right. It rained. It rained a bit more. Actually, it rained a lot. The back lane became a meandering canal of cold tea. Lyra and I splashed through half heartedly to the corner of the road. At that point madam turned firmly for home and I, very much aware of the hole in my wellie, was not minded to protest. I repaired to the garret for some top quality projectifying with accompanying gruesome thriller, and may, as this progressed, have consumed an alp or two of Toblerone. All was very much well with the world.

Our usual New Year guests then called to cry off. Unforeseen family events had forced a change of plan. This was sad, as they are excellent fun, but I was starting to warm to the concept of just letting it all hang out after Boxing Day this year when Keith explained that, in compensation for crying off, they would come at the end of November and stay for a while – bang in the middle of my not quite last minute Christmas panic. I am now trying to work backwards to see when the salmon for curing needs to be procured and wondering about the logistics of an early game pie. Lachlan got in on the act and invited over one of his old chums from school who has moved north. So much fun did he and Matthew have yesterday, creating the mother of all bonfires to clear up remnants of storm Arwen, complete with “ancient torches” manufactured from branches, an old T shirt and kerosene (the boy definitely takes after me) that the visit was extended. An even bigger bonfire was wrought today and the luncheon pies were warmed in the embers by the elven (or possibly hobbit) pair. But Matthew is a dear and it is always lovely to see him. Even better – it seems he may be the proud owner of a number of stone/ceramic troughs which need to be got rid of to accommodate Landrover parts. A host of new garden projects beckons…the abandoned sewing will wait.

After the rain, and a supplementary flood when Keith’s shower overflowed and descended through the kitchen lights, the weather perked up. With Matthew and Lachlan on dog walking detail it seemed I had run out of excuses. Keith “borrowed me” for a day earlier in the week to tackle some of the long grass which has seeded all over the copse. He has since stuck at this task doggedly but, sensing a list of urgent tasks as long as my arm with a cherry picker extension, I resisted the urge to chip in and diverted into planting up the second order of bulbs. I spent an entire day grovelling under the plum trees on the back lawn yesterday, planting what I thought were tiny daffodils but, when the reading glasses were finally deployed, turned out to be muscari latifolium. Today, glasses on, I finally found the tiny daffodils and also the cyclamen and the anemone nemorosa. I swarmed under the lowest branches like a commando wielding a hand fork. With the first frosts imminent I’ve also been steadily lifting the dahlias. I managed three varieties today before I ran out of boxes and confidential shredding paper. We need to have a run at the bank statements and order more wine before I can get the next batch in…

Keith was on catering detail yesterday so, after darkness had driven me indoors, I decided to sort out the photos for the annual planner. That was the next few hours gone! I had planned to order an early copy to proof read before the bulk order, but when I saw the postage I reevaluated the rustic, home made charm of misplaced words. You have been warned…..

Well, I am now rejoining this after the successful unmoulding and consumption of the steak and kidney pudding. Thankfully, there are leftovers enough for tomorrow when the quiet life and desultory sewing/knitting/ reading will be resumed…

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