The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Monday, 12 August 2013

It All Makes Work...

The Husband and The Naval Nephew (who is staying a couple of days druing his summer leave from the Royal Navy) are putting up the new tent in the front garden as a trial run.  No problem, I hear you cry, two strapping chaps, and both technically trained engineers/mechanics.  There are one or two obstacles;

1) The tent was an eBay "bargain" and came without poles or pegs

2) The manufacturer failed to give us the specs for replacements when I e-mailed, but merely answered with a pro forma about suppliers/retailers doing all that sort of thing

3) So we looked at what The Husband calls The Destructions that came with the tent, and also watched (several times) a 5 minute YouTube video showing two people from a major supplier putting up the very same tent in a very neat and orderly fashion

4) Then I did a back-of-an-envelope calculation (actually on the back of an envelope, how good is that?) and ordered replacement kits for the three main poles and the window frame structure, and several guy and tent pegs

which all arrived today, so

5) The men have spread the tent out in the front garden and discovered it's probably bigger than the lawn

6) The lawn is on a slope.  Quite a steep slope

7) The Naval Nephew hasn't had breakfast yet, and he's a lad who values his food

8) I have bribed them with the promise of sausages sarnies as soon as it's up and recognisable as a tent, albeit a tent on a slope

It looks robustly tent-like and quite sensible from this angle, wouldn't you say?

 But go round to the other side and the tribulations of trialling a tent on a slope are all too evident

We may have to wait quite some time for weather warm enough to give us an incentive to leave an actual real house with beds, bathroom etc and instead take up residence in a sky blue lightweight fabric igloo.  Last time we camped, in Anglesey in July, it was during an Azores High with temperatures in the upper 20s or 30s centigrade.  Today it is 17c and cloudy.

Maybe next year...

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Picking Up Threads

It's quite a while since I troubled the ether with my inconsequential tippy-tap-typing, which is usually a sign that there is nothing happening worth setting down, or so much happening I don't have time to gather my thoughts and write.  As ever, it's a bit of both.  When the weather is warm and dry I am outside in it, if it is overcast or raining, I am catching up on the chores that were neglected when the sun shone, and if we have visitors I am too busy nattering to them to natter on th'interweb.

We have also been away again, on a sort of royal progress through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire staying with close family and dear old chums.  Last Thursday we drove the MGB over to Gloucestershire on a very hot and sticky day, and stayed with my nearest-in-age sister.  Her husband was away elsewhere, so it was just the three of us humans, and two dogs, ours and her new granddog, a five-year-old chihuahua. 

He elder daughter has taken this little creature into her life as an urgent re-homing and into the family's hearts, but she was away on holiday so the granddog was with granny.  The little dog has had a troubled and unsettled past so is an anxious creature, and as is often the case with little dogs this anxiety can translate into a huge show of aggression with strangers.  We ignored her yapping and snarling and snapping at our ankles and let her approach, held out the back of our hands to sniff, and - eventually - lick, so that after a time her neurosis abated and she let us fuss her and even pick her up for a cuddle.  Trouble was, every time we left the room she forgot who we were and so the whole rigmarole started up again! 

Thankfully she is fully accepting - but unfortunately a little too protective of - her new female humans, my sister and my niece, but slightly less so of my brother-in-law, who occasionally comes in for the being-kept-at-bay treatment.  But it has only been five weeks, so her confidence that she is somewhere safe and accepting has yet to grow. 

It's lovely to see my sister fussing over a little life as, like with me, there are no grandchildren even on the horizon yet, even though our three daughters are all in their thirties.  She chatters away to the dog very soothingly, so it's easy to see why she is one of the humans the little creature has bonded to and feels protective of, even if the expression of her attachment can be this annoying running up and snapping at ankles.  On the second day I decided to show some irritation with it and barked at her to get in her bed, which she did immediately, somewhat stunned, so that may be the way to go in future!

Our next port of call was the Cotswold market town of Witney, where I lived for two decades whilst in a relationship with and then married to The Daughter's father.  He has moved to France since he retired, renting out the erstwhile family home, so I could relax knowing there could be no annoying bumping into one another on the street.  See some of my earlier postings for why I feel like this!  It's mostly that he goes on and on about himself and shows nothing more than a fleeting perfunctory interest in our doings, The Husband's and mine.  The Young People would say he is a long way up his own arse. 

An excellent expression for extreme self-absorption, don't you think?

We stayed overnight there with old friends of mine I have known for almost thirty years, our daughters were playmates and school contemporaries, we socialised and helped each other out with childcare, all that young parents sort of stuff.  The husband is a recently-retired GP, and the wife is a part-time singing teacher and choir conductor, she and I have done a lot of gigs together over the years, and shared the same singing teachers when younger.  A lot of growing tendrils are intertwined which - although we see each other only annually, at most - means the conversation never wanes when we are together.  There is something so comfortable about conversing with people who need little or no explanation and background-filling.  Picking up the threads and catching up is so easy.

Of course, The Husband has only known them a relatively short time as he isn't from the same area and only knows them through me, but he and the husband of the other couple share a surprisingly large number of interests and get along famously.

The sun shone, we sat at the shaded outdoor table in their pretty walled garden and felt easy and relaxed.  I suppose as one ages one appreciates the friendships that go a bit deeper even more, without actually relying on them.  After all, we all have our families and other friends we see more often to turn to in emergencies, and the like.  The more distant Old Chums aren't for that.  They are for touching base with who we used to be and celebrating who we have become, they are a way of plotting the journey, and sometimes even the struggles, between the two.

So after an enchanting interlude of twenty-four hours with them we moved on to Oxford itself, where The Daughter, Her Husband and Our Grand-dog live.  We had two nights with them, another couple of days of ease and relaxation with nothing intense or jarring about it.  They have been together for seven years now, married two of them, and we have gradually got to know our son-in-law in that time and to see him for the sterling character he is.  Of course, The Daughter wouldn't have chosen him, and married him, had he not been, but it's wonderful to have it confirmed every time we see him.

Their dog, a beautifully bonkers springer spaniel, is also a re-homed animal.  They acquired him two years ago when he was five.  He is affectionate, calm and welcoming to both us, and also to his "uncle" (our Westie), who is a senior statesman next to him, being now eleven to his seven.  There has never been a growl or a snarl between them, they just co-exist alongside one another with perfect equilibrium. 

How different would our lives be if The Daughter had that chihuahua, and not my niece!  EEEK!
  Funny how life pans out for the best...