Friday, 13 July 2012

"It's a funny old game."

It wasn’t until we wanted to watch the first semi-final of Euro 2012 that we discovered that the new windows blocked the television reception. I was almost tempted to phone Everest to get them to put the old ones back in. Fortunately the weather was still pleasant, so we set the aerial up outside, gaffer-taped to a microphone stand and stood on an upturned barrel. Typically, the weather deteriorated on Thursday, so we were forced to go into Kettletoft to watch the other semi-final in the pub. I donned my Germany shirt and regretted it as soon as we arrived to find the bar packed with Dutch workmen. We sat in the corner and were soon chatting to a couple holidaying on the island and another couple who have recently taken up residence. Andy (I know! Another one) and Karen run Ferret Education and Welfare (FEW) and invited us around to see their animals, including a skunk. If we don’t see them before, they are holding an open day in mid July that will definitely be on our ‘to do’ list. Alas the game itself went with tradition and my interest in Euro 2012 ebbed.

A serious bout of ‘man-flu’ decimated my weekend. A consequence of not making it to the swimming pool on Friday and Assen never racing the Dutch TT on a Sunday meant that I spent the whole of it not knowing what day it was. I just knew that it ended with a football match, so I looked out for that, if for no other reason than I knew that that would be the night I had to stay up late and put the bin out.

Gail decided that the new week would start with her painting the shower cubicle. It is only fair that if I do the outdoors stuff then she has to do the indoors. I was asked to assist, however, with taking down a rotten, wooden shelf. I was thus engaged, employing nearly all the expletives at my disposal, when the cavalry arrived. Our friend Andy still insisted that he owed us a day from our polytunnel exploits. Today he turned up in his van to see if there was anything we needed done. With his help, indeed it was he that did most of it, we put up a curtain rail in the bedroom and rearranged the kitchen worktops to accommodate the cooker. Then, while extracting the snapped screws of the stubborn shower shelf, we discussed the cubicle itself. It is located in the corner of the room, is partitioned from floor to exceptionally high ceiling on one side and likewise above head height on the final side. This means that there is a large, unventilated space above in which plumes of steam hang around, peeling the paintwork and generally making everything soggy. I was hoping to drill some holes in the partitions but, in the end, we agreed that it should be possible to remove both of them above six and a bit feet. That would cure the damp and improve the light in there, too. It would also save Gail some painting. I just need to develop the hero blobs to have enough courage to take the unwanted sections out. Watch this space.

After Andy had left us, we hung up the new blackout curtains that Gail had ordered over the internet. Smokey took full advantage of the darkness and slept all afternoon. It was amazing. Not only because we weren’t getting meowed at all the time, but knowing that there was a place where night was a genuine possibility in the land of, to all intents and purposes, the midnight sun. After six nights at the mercy of pale skies and a sun that refuses to be a stranger, not for a few more months at least, we were looking forward to a good long sleep. If you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know we’ve overdone it.

Photo courtesy
I’d been spending far too much time moping around and feeling sorry for myself with my stubborn flippin’ cold. Consequently there was absolutely shed loads of weeding for me to do. Yeah! Grubby knees and fingernails coming right up. I’ve been remembering to water all the plants in the shed, which is quite good for me as I’m usually an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ kinda idiot. Before I get to go inside, however, have to let the house-martins know that I’m coming so that they can fly off out of a broken window. They circle about outside while I’m busy in there and, after I’ve left, they gradually swoop closer and closer before returning inside to roost. Some of the plants are beginning to outgrow their pots. Some just need thinning out and re-potting. The squashes are starting to flower. I’ve replanted some of the carrots to give them more space and so it’ll be interesting to find out if my interference has been of any benefit or if those I’ve left crammed together in the old bed will do better. Interesting to me at least. 

After swimming and shopping, we sat down and watched Andy Murray get through to the final at Wimbledon. I hate tennis, but British successes in sport are less frequent than Halley’s comet so it’s one of those ‘being there’ (in front of the TV at least) moments. Having seen first and second practice from Silverstone I was surprised to see that they were playing at all. I had already gathered from news and friend’s FB comments that the weather has been quite nasty again in the old place. We had a gorgeous day. Gail snapped over fifty shots with her camera and I had to babysit the cat as she had her wandering boots on in the sunshine. Everything changed at about six o’clock. It had been quite breezy all day, but it was suddenly obvious that some very low cloud was scudding across from East to West. It was like watching time-lapse. Gradually, but consistently, the fog grew thicker and thicker until visibility was down to only a hundred metres. That means that we lost sight of the neighbours. I still don’t understand how it can be so foggy and yet windy at the same time. I should have taken my Geography studies a bit further, I suppose.

Snapshot image from video footage. Want one!
After watching final practice from Silverstone, we headed out to Lady to visit the ferrets at the open day. Those creatures are so cute. We were given a little talk about ferret history and ferret care. We got to watch ferret races but most of all we got to watch a ‘gang’ of ferrets frolicking about. We even got to stroke a skunk and even though it sounds more like it’s a euphemism for something else, we actually did the literal thing. It got me thinking about how there are no predators, other than the feral cat population and some guys with guns, to keep the rabbit population under control. Perhaps ferrets are the answer. Well, ferrets, a big sack and a rock. And maybe someone else can handle the sack and the rock bits. Knowing us, we’d be weaning our ferrets onto a vegetarian diet.
Marsh orchid having a jolly time on my 'lawn'.
                The grow box that I’d planted months ago suddenly leapt into life. I’m assuming that it hadn’t really and it was just that I hadn’t checked in on it for a while. I had no idea what the plants were, but it certainly looked like some of them would benefit from a little more space and something to climb up against. A bit more digging and weeding later, what I am reliably informed are broad beans were happily trained to something sturdy and the little shoots that I’d left behind have been able to collectively loosen their belts. But the activity had upset the locals and I was chased indoors by a swarm of angry, hungry flies. It will be a while before I am confident enough that it is safe to get the washing in but as it’ll be light until about 11, I’m sure the little bastards will be asleep by then. The clothes line is out the back of the house and we tend to spend most of our time there looking around at the wild flowers that are flourishing. There is a huge abundance of marsh orchids. There are so many that it would lead one to assume that our back garden is in fact a marsh. Actually, that sounds entirely accurate and explains a lot.    

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