Yesterday we poured more concrete to fix the swaying fence post - the earlier dried-in-twenty-minutes concrete was still damp. The post has give but no sway. we fitted a latch to the side gates so that when I leave it with the bicycle I can shut it from the outside. If need be I can padlock it too.
Then today we fitted the back gate's bolt, and curiously a second five metre extension cable was not quite enough; a four way adaptor gave us a necessary extra metre to use the drill.
I need to move the composter and contents, but that can wait. A fun job. Interestingly, I fit through the gap between shed and fence better than I did last weekend.
The side fencing is going to rot at some point, but ought to last the year. The posts look sturdy. Perhaps I can persuade N he needs to holiday with me in a couple of years. I'm generous, I know. Actually, having held nails and hammers, I think I could do it with the existing posts, but my practical talents are culinary not DIY.
It all needs the PC equivalent of creosote, but that is a job for the Easter vac. N suggested I could paint it blue, and I countered with the suggestion of a seascape, complete with boats, beach and lighthouse, and even lights. This was roundly rejected as being frankly too gay. Heigho.
Discovery in the garden is I have some brambles growing. I will persuade it to grow in a different direction, but fresh blackberries I like. Perhaps an elderberry cutting might also take.
We started with the easy bit, fitting the fence panel in that was flush with the two posts. The ground needed a big of redigging to make it flat, but the clasps nailed onto the posts with little difficulty. Then we had to fit the weatherboard in. Instinct would be to lower it in, but it's hard to lift a 6'x5' panel five foot in the air when there is a tree overhead. There was enough give in the posts to fix it in.
The second one was more difficult, given that one of the posts is 30 degrees from the line of the fence, and a foot shorter. We had to hammer the clasps much wider, and then hope they didn't sheer when we hammered to flush to the board. Thankfully I took the opportunity to dig up and move the camelia to a place where it is hopefully less likely to fry in the dawn's early light, so we had room top swing a hammer.
That much took an hour or so and leaves a two foot gap in the fence behind the shed. We repaired the boarding that was there before, pro tem, but we need something a bit better. "How about a gate?" suggested N. Yeah, sure, take the fence down and move it two foot along, why do I need a gate to the back of the shed? I thought about the wheelie bins, but I don't fancy such a trip with kitchen rubbish there. But I had considered having the composter there and it is clearly damper back there. So a gate it will be, eventually.
And one day that concrete will dry.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The measures are in American cups (8 fl oz, about 200g??), although I used British ones (5 fl oz) even though I'd looked it up.
1/2 cup butter - that's a mean half of your standard 250g pack. Use unsalted if you like
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar - or 1.5 cups of white sugar and add some black treacle. In fact add black treacle anyway.
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Chocolate chips - up to 350g, but I got away with 100g or so
2 1/4 cups plain flour - that's probably more than a pound. 500g
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
Soften the butter, let cool, and mix with sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Mix flour, bicarbe, salt in a bowl.
Stir the dry into the wet.
Stir in chocolate chips.
Roll bits of the dough into balls. Depending on how claggy your mix is, you may wish to flatten them before you put then on a greased baking tray.
Cook at 375F/190C/Gas mark 4 for 12-15 minutes. They will still be soft, but harden on cooling.
They can be stored for up to 5 days. Yeah, right.
That left us enough time to fix the poorer of the two second class weatherboards, and both look more than presentable. If the gods are with us then we can affix these to the posts tomorrow, somehow. We have the fixings. And a two foot gap.
It is damp and claggy under foot so that 1) the concrete that dries in 15 minutes is still wet 2) the lawn is ripe for a recreation of the Somme and 3) my few bits of carpet are now mud coloured. But progress has been made, ahead of schedule.
So in the gales we got instead of five cm of snow a fortnight ago, I acquired a fencing need. One of the posts has snapped, and the weatherboarding has seen better days. But John has long since disappeared into a retirement home, and has hardly been seen since. So it fell to N, as so often, to be my designated adult.
Unfortunately, he couldn't spare me that half hour on Sunday looking at the situation as he was at his dad's, having been to the rugby, so we took a look Monday night with a torch. He came back to me the next day with a reasonable quote, and got me to check the order. "I take it we order the concrete nearer the time?" I emailed.
"POST FIX IS THE CEMENT AND BALLAST FOR THE POSTS," he shouted.
"Do the posts come with that, then, or are we going to salvage the existing ones?"
"FORGOT THE POSTS."
Just as well I did check the invoice, then.
So yesterday all the stuff arrived, and I put what could be fitted into the shed, which is just as well given the snow. I helped unload, including carrying a comedy piece of wood of some four metres in length. I now have a spade, which will be useful for gardening. I can't help but notice that these new weatherboards are much taller than the ones they are replacing. Some surgery may be required.
Last night B asked me if N had fixed the fence yet. Odd, as I don't remember talking to him about it and I don't see why N would. Maybe he heard me ask N in the first place. Faster than the speed of light is gossip. I fear it will be another fortnight before the fence is done. I hope it can survive that long.
I was convinced it wouldn't snow today - the website said sleet and it was sunny all day if cold - but I was wrong, and now I am deluged with apologetic emails, and queries as to whether the only place they could have got the essay question was today's lectures. Sigh.
Microwaved the brussels for three minutes (which was slightly too long) and shallow fried them with baby mushrooms and a dash of soya sauce. I reckon it needed sesame seeds, but it has potential as a side.
Thus it was that I cooked four new things tonight, which was a little uncautious but seemed to come off. I'd planned some kind of meat sweet and sour or stir fry, but Tescos ( - ah, Tescos, thereby hangs a tale - but yesterday they ) didn't have anything suitable. I had some beef mince indoors, and I tried for something vaguely Chinesey, but couldn't find my five spice so it was more Indian in the end. This was also bulked out with rice, which I get right most times these days. This was to go with the sea weed, which I finally decided I ought to try cooking. The oil took a while to get up to heat, so the first batch was a little soggy, but the rest hit the mark. I've enough left for two more servings, although I may try doing it with cabbage. When I bought the sea weed, I also bought some gelatinous rice balls, which are poached from frozen and were interesting. Neither N nor I know if we like them, but they are at least interesting. Finally I did sweet and sour brussels sprouts, which he really liked, although I have to say I thought the parmesan came through a little strongly. I'd meant to add some sherry to the marinade, but I forgot about this when I got home. Still, I have half a pound of them left, so I could do them with my remaining half of the toad in the hole from yesterday.
I have to say I am impressed with myself. A year or so it used to terrify me to cook for somebody else - with the exception of chocolate puddle pudding - but this was three new recipes and one concoction. Go me.
When I got to the bus stop, I realised that I would have half an hour wait until the next service. So half hour wait, fifteen minute journey, ten minute walk. Or walk for about half an hour or so. I set off to walk, going foolishly but right down a fdootpath I've never used before, through a housing estate and up to the Westgate. Along the way I get a txt from N, telling me he's in the pub, and I request a cup of coffee. The walk turns out to be just shy of forty minutes, but is mostly downhill.
N and I were both going up to London on Saturday so we make the arrangements; I offer to ring him to make sure he's up. My suggestion is 8, but he wants longer, so I ring him when I get up at 7.15. He sounds pretty awake, and so I decide one phone call would be enough, as I'm not his nan. I get to the station in time to buy my ticket by 9 and wait for him to be late. Sure enough, he rings me at 9.15 - he fell asleep again. I can either catch the train without him, or go up to his place and catch the next one. Hey, it's only half an hour. Naturally we miss that next one as well, by 30 seconds. I'm now an hour behind schedule.
Of course, as we're changing trains at F so he can get his local service, all of this has added ninety minutes to the journey in return for making the time pass more quickly by having company for the journey. Hum ho.
Meanwhile three quarters of the Prefab Four are being crap or the trains are and it's not certain when they will be in town. They want to do the Tate Britain slides, so having done the Patrick Hughes exhibition at Flowers I head down south of the river. The queues for the slides at t'Tate are ridiculously long and I can see us getting very discontent. I text them warning them this, and so they decide to go to the British Museum instead. OK, back to the tube and back north to Russell Square.
The signage is lousy from the tube, and I very nearly head off in the wrong direction before I recall a journey from the BM to there with lamentables and abrinsky, reverse that in my head, and find the back entrance in Montague Street. I take charge for the first time that day, and award myself a cup of coffee before I txt the others of my arrival. At least I found a Yo Sushi in the Brunswick Centre, the latter having been transformed beyond recognition since June.
We eat sushi, and go to the Clarke do, and I make my way home on the last train from Charing Cross to West. I get in at 00.15, which gives me time for a couple at the Bell& before retiring, about 2am. I'd read most of The Observer on the train; it always feels like a bit of time travel to read a Sunday paper on a Saturday.
Tonight I should be out of the cinema at about 10.50 - I'm not sure when the next bus will be but I suspect another half hour wait. Or another walk.
Edit: Yes, film finishes 10.50, last bus was 10.45, previous film finished half an hour before so they could have started earlier. This time I ended up walking down Tyler Hill, having still not located the lit pathway which would take me more directly to town. I got to the Bell& for 11.15, and could have made the Doves for closing time.
I see Pan's Labyrinth has a having it both ways ending - although of in the real world the fascist win and Franco rules Spain for another threee decades. Does the fate of one girl make any difference?
I wasn't sure about going out on the Saturday - I don't feel comfortable in big groups of drinkers, and well, there's sometimes a culture clash or a generation gap (I'm 9 years older than the next oldest person last night, 16 years older than another of them). I figured I'd go along for a couple and bail before the club.
I was in the Doves an hour earlier than then others, although I'd been told 7.30, and had a few before we went onto the Old City Inn, which we'd been in the night before. As it was raining, we took a taxi down to Casey's, which was packed. Ha Has for an expensive and sweet pint. And then round the corner to the Beer Cart Arms, which I think is the only pub within the walls I've not been in before. There was a charge to get in, but only a quid. I was briefly left behind, whilst I finished a second pint, and ran into the guys at The Old Brewery.
At least I kept off shots. I txted someone as follows:
Small have x
Nope, I don't, either. I can't even work out what it was trying to predict. I'm hoping it didn't send, as I kept getting error messages.
I woke at about 8.30, and didn't really sleep again, and managed a little work before 12, and have done those revisions. Now to plough through the rest of the marking. Sigh.
There is a gap in the early hours. I clearly got home, although I seem to recall a long way round, I clearly opened the front door, clearly locked and bolted it, clearly got to bed, but left out that getting undressed part, and proceeded directly, do not pass water, to the oblivion fully clothed.
With shoes on.
( New Year's Eve )( New Year's Day )( Tuesday )( Wednesday )
Last night we decided to try The Cuban, a new bar/restaurant squeezed into a very narrow space and on several levels. N's been there before, with his ex, but clearly we weren't in the mood to go there the last time we went for a crawl together, although we've talked about it often enough. Because of the architecture, the bar is only about two metres long, and because they specialise in cocktails, service is slow to get to and slow to get that drink once you are there. Different people, different worlds: I perceived it as a very female crowd (3:1 on some tables), N as very male. We moved on quickly.
The Hobgoblin is a chain, but has its own tatty character, and the beer's good. For some reason we always end up on the table nearest the back doors, and often freeze as a result. We had our usual table. For once the place was free of my students. After a couple there we moved to the Bell&, which was full of squaddies and so we moved on; fortunately I hadn't been able to get to the bar. As always we disagreed about the precise route between the two pubs - I cut down past the theatre and the Tales, turning right at Scribes, he tends to walk further up the High Street or past Orange Street. I'm sure my route is quicker, but I would say that, wouldn't I?
The Buttermarket being ruled out of order, we went to the Old Brewery. Quieter than last weekend, and less bovvered about my hoodie. The music was better to, and I was bullied into boogieing. There appeared to be some kind of teacher's Christmas do on, and the dance floor altered according to the decade of the tune. We kept going for two hours or more, until we ran out of money for Guinness, and staggered home before they started kicking us out.
Of course, I'd left the alarm on for 7.15, so I awoke early, but it was 10.30 before I worked my way up to a bath. I've finished another entry, and now I'm off to look at posters. I'm convinced town will be hell, but I'll see. N is keen for more drink tonight. I don't think I can do another 2am. Christmas week will be spent in bed.
99,115 / 160,000
I think there's something in the water at the moment.
Let's, for the sake of a label, call him Travis, although that's not his name. He was looking glum the other day, and my first assumption was that he had split up from his girlfriend. Nope, the reason was more life changing than that, and suddenly I'm called upon to give advice I feel distinctly unqualified to give. Walking back home from the Doves with NW, we were chatting about whether we'd given the right advice to Travis, and whether we'd given him too much of a hard time, and I also inadvertantly indicated that come Sunday night I'd be in need of a shoulder. Although I also said that I probably wouldn't be able to talk about it.
This is called ( foreshadowing )
Last year, with a reasonable garden in Henry Court, I created myself a little patch of earth and grew a couple of tomato plants and some brussels. I got a few tomatoes off the tomato plants, but the brussels never quite took.
N and I had been talking about wanting to do a proper maze, the one in the Dane John being impossible to get lost in even if a) it's dark, b) there is rain all over your glasses and c) you are drunk. I know because I tried. I even tried drunker. It needed something bigger for that maze experience, so he searched his memory and I searched the net and we both came up with Crystal Palace Park. After a certain amount of negotiation we found a window that suited both of us, and we headed for his place which would be the start of the expotition.