Pieces Of Hate

March 26, 2017

What better way to spend Mother’s Day, you might think, than spending some time with your mum and helping her with her jigsaw.


Anything is better.

My mum loves jigsaws. Absolutely loves them. I’m quite partial to them myself, but mum loves then. She’ll polish one off in no time. Job done. Onto the next.

But we’ve scuppered that.

For several months a jigsaw has sat unfinished at mum’s. It’s a picture of Tutankhamun’s casket, which is easy enough, and a black background which isn’t.

The background has remained unfinished since day one. The casket was a doddle. But  the rest of it is just all black.

And it’s ridiculously hard to put together.

You can tell that, as the jigsaw is second-hand (at least) and has what mum calls pieces that have been wanked about.

Because after a couple of minutes in the presence of the black pieces you just want to use any brute force technique you can get your hands on to get the pieces together.

For a while mum struggled because she’d left several salient pieces in the box. But now they’re out of the box things aren’t any better. She hasn’t even done the edges.

We tried to help today. We didn’t help. If anything we’ve just provided something new for mum to do as she pulls apart the pieces we put together.

I don’t think it’ll be finished before next Mother’s Day…

The Bush Whisperer

March 25, 2017

This morning I was, again, caught for a chat by our neighbour. There I was merrily pegging the washing out and she was, again, asking me if the people from the scaffolding place had been round about the broken paving slab and what-have-you because she’d been texting them about it. They haven’t, and she’s going to text them again. Which means, come Monday, we get to have the conversation all over again.

During the course of the conversation, I was asked what my plans were for the day. What my plans were was, at that very moment, rapidly changing. I had planned on emptying out the shed and starting to sort all that crap out, but as I realised that I would be running a constant risk of conversation about the mess the scaffolders left, I said that I didn’t really have anything planned. Carole was off to Harrogate to do arty-farty things and I was just going to potter.

And then, predictably, I was told off for not making the most a gorgeous day like today.

One of the benefits of just pottering round the house on a gorgeous day like today is that I get to see the people who have told me off for not planning to enjoy it by being out in the sunshine also not being out in the sunshine at all. Unless it was to have a fag. Or to sit on the back doorstep on your phone whilst epilating the hairs from your feet.

I mean, as it happened, I did venture out into the harmful UV rays to get a bit of Vitamin D. And to, after several years, try and extricate the remains for the trellis arrangement from the ball of foliage that used to be a merrily climbing clematis. It was like a giant game of kerplunk, where the wood was the straw and the clematis the marbles.

Sort of.

What it boiled down to, pretty much, was me shouting “Oh come on!” to a piece of wood and a bush as I tried to separate them, baffled by what it could possibly be that was holding one to the other.

And if that’s not making the most of the sunshine, then I don’t know what is…

Whose Line Is It Anyway

March 24, 2017

I took advantage of the sunny weather, and the fact that the path no longer looked like a boating lake, to restring the washing line. This choice may or may not have been determined by the fact that I had a duvet cover and a sheet which needed to be hung somewhere and nowhere to really put them. But also because it just needed doing.

So out I went.

It was mid-morning. I was on a break from bread making, so I had twenty minutes or so to kill while my dough became less sticky. Let’s say, for arguments sake, it was about half past ten. Mainly because that’s what time it was.

I tied one end of the massive roll of washing line(TM) – something we must have acquired from dad because, up until I finished with it, it was beautifully rolled up and because it was far more than we could possibly need – to the hook by the kitchen window and was halfway down the garden when next door popped out.

In her dressing gown.

I’m not comfortable talking to my neighbours at the best of times. But when they are barely dressed, I’m even worse. This may stem from the time I saw far, far too much of one of the neighbours as she ate her breakfast outside in just a dressing gown. Or it might just be to do with the fact that I was brought up to not be in a dressing gown outside – especially at half past ten in the morning. Either way, I was a little perturbed.

“I’ve bought you a washing line, you know?” she says.
“Oh,” I said. Because I didn’t know. “You didn’t have to do that,” (because she didn’t) “we already had one.”
“The one I bought has wire in the middle…”
“This one has wire in the middle. The old one had wire in the middle, so I don’t know how they managed to snap it all..”
“Well, the one I’ve bought for you is grey, do you want to use it anyway? It won’t show the discoloration…”
“Ummm… no no, it’s fine. But thank you.”

Not to mention the fact that I have already tied this one onto the house! Also, while we’re at it, what discoloration? Are you now saying that any mucky marks on our white washing line offend you? Am I likely to find you in the garden polishing the line?

Obviously I didn’t say the bit in italics. I mean, I did when I got inside and there was just me, a cat and some bread dough.


Get Back On The Horse

March 23, 2017

Yesterday, during a dry and sunny spot in the weather, I took advantage of the weather to dry a few bits and pieces on the clothes horse. I have not, as yet, strung up the new washing line, so I was restricted to leaving the stuff on the horse and just standing that out on the patio.

I think it was about 10 minutes before I happened to glance out of the window and noticed that nothing on the top section of the clothes horse appeared to be there. Which is always a fun moment, I find.

I went outside, and found that things had blown off and were nestled within the confines of the lower bars. I retrieved and rehung them. I came back inside and resumed my general pottering.

A little bit later, I glanced out again.

And once more, the clothes horse was bare. Where once there were tea towels, now there was naught.

But this time the clothes horse had not saved them.

Tea towels were strewn upon the patio.

And you know what?

I was suddenly extremely glad we had an OCD neighbour with a cleaning fetish. I mean, the path was still water-logged which was half the reason there was no new clothes line, but those paving slabs were clean. Which meant, by extension, the tea towels were also clean.

It was as if the planets had aligned to show me the error of my ways in judging our neighbour to be one sandwich short of a picnic when it came to her diligent washing of our paving.

I feel I should apologise.

I mean,  I won’t, because if the path doesn’t dry out soon the RSPB are going to come and proclaim it as a wetland habitat and ducks are noisy, plus I was once practically eaten by a goose, so that’s not what we want to happen.

But I was quite pleased to not have to wash the tea towels again…


March 22, 2017

There’s really nothing better on a cold, wet, Wednesday than being in the house.

Except when the van pumping the cavity wall insulation into houses further down the street is parked directly outside.

With the generator/pump combo running.

For four hours without a break.

Luckily, despite having having had portacabins brought to site, the guys doing the work (in between destroying gardens, cracking plasterwork etc) don’t hang around that much. A full day amounts to about, ooo, four hours of generator/pump time.

If you’re lucky.

Sometimes a full day amounts to someone opening the portacabin window flap for a bit, then closing it and leaving.

But still on generator days, when it’s not even outside the house being sorted – probably because it’s so annoying – it does tend to grate more than a little bit.

For four hours.

I don’t know if I mentioned that bit or not.

Waking Up Is Hard To Do

March 21, 2017

I couldn’t sleep last night.

Foolishly, rather than engage in any activities to relax my brain, I decided to pour hours of internet delving into my family tree. I spent ages trying to find any news report or obituary for two members of my tree who died in the same year, recorded in West Ham.

I couldn’t find anything. Which was, and is, annoying. But what it meant was that I went to bed with all my neurons firing – searches I could do, other approaches I could take, that sort of thing.

So I lay awake. For two and a half hours.

During which time Carole slept soundly.

I considered getting up. But if I got up – is it even getting up if you’ve not been to sleep? – and Carole awoke to see I wasn’t there, she’d assume I wasjust staying up and playing on the xbox. She would judge me, harshly, and be very disapproving.

So I couldn’t get up. Well, I couldn’t… unless Carole knew why I was getting up. Which would mean she would have to be awake. Which she was not.


For a good portion of the time I lay awake, I was trying to wake Carole up. I fidgeted. I sighed, loudly. I watched a video on YouTube, with the volume on at the beginning… accidentally, of course.


I had to resort to gentle tickling to raise her from her slumber. And then when she muttered something about it being 2 in the morning, I could lay out how I hadn’t yet slept and was getting up.


I mean, as Caz put it, I essentially woke her up to provide an alibi. But still…

Splish Splash She’s A Washin’ My Path

March 20, 2017

Have you ever had one of those days when all your neighbour wants to do is wash your patio, but you’re not actually wanting her to do that?


Come on, you must have? Surely it happens all the time?


Just me, then.

The scaffolding has been removed from next door today. Nothing has been smashed – to be fair, there was very little left they hadn’t already trashed – and it’s all done and dusted. I can set to work re-stringing washing lines and start the mammoth task of emptying the shed out for the annual Spring move-everything-out-then-put-it-all-back-athon.

And now I can do that on a patio which is cleaner now than it was before the scaffolders came and destroyed everything.

Our next door neighbour has some sort of OCD when it comes to things like this. She cuts the grass with nail scissors and spends hours and hours going over it with the mower. She washes her patio a lot. Usually at the expense of any washing we have in the garden. And, today, she was off her rocker with cray-cray because the scaffolders had left her in a right old state.

And then she felt the need to tidy up our garden even though she “shouldn’t be doing this, they hould, but… you know…” I saw her through the frosted glass of the kitchen door. I couldn’t work out what she was doing at first, but it turns out she was sweeping up the mud that had been left.

Except, and here’s the thing, I had put that mud there about five minutes before when I tipped up one of the pots which doesn’t seem to drain to let some of the water run off. I was happy to leave it until it was drier and then sweep it up. But it was bugging our neighbour too much.

So she rinsed everything.

“I was just wondering if you wanted me to wash your patio down?”
“No, don’t bother. It needs more than just a rinse. I’ll sort it out.”
“Are you sure? I was just thinking I’d run the hose along here… and just rinse away this mud. Because if it dries it will just blow into your house when you open the door…”
“Okay, I’ll get the hose…”


Even places the workmen haven’t been.

I mean, she’s flooded the garden. You need a dinghy to get down to the bottom of the path, where I need to go to do the washing line. But hey, at least the patio is clean.

And the best bit of it was, it wasn’t even her water she was using. Or ours. It was her neighbour further up. She just hooked her hose to their outside tap and went to town. I sincerely hope they’re not on a meter, because she must have run up a good few pounds if they are.

Maybe I’ll let them come and look at our new water feature to make up for it.