Saturday, 31 July 2010

Jolly Boys

Just been listening to the Jolly Boys singing Rehab on youtube which is quite fun for a lot of very old men. You will have to google it since I can't do links and things. A bit of a giggle - and hope for all oldies.

Another View -

Lazy Me

Here's the new mirror with the pubs ones either side.

Very lazy couple of days, pottering in the garden, lunch at Lye Torng, doing washing and so on. Pouring with rain this morning. It has just stopped so will ponder my possible movements today. Sent some freesias and some banoffee truffles to the nursing home.

Apparently people are not now going to be forced to retire at 65. Probably a good thing since I only got the job when I was over 65. I do hope no one is going to pull a fast one on me since the legislation does not come in until October next year.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

More Home Improvements

Pete has repainted the wooden plant stands and door in the front of the house. He has also hung the small mirror beside the large one in the living room, and one of the paintings in the spare room. He has virtually finished my picture wall in my bedroom (above) so things are pretty organised. I shall now tidy up the place a bit and put some stuff away. The back garden could do with a tidy up. Since Romy has been and removed all the wood and the bags of books there is a bit of space and the place looks much better.

Went to the hospital yesterday. Guess what? the kidney stone has gone. However they suspect a kidney infection so I must take the antibiotics and hope for the best. Seeing the quack tomorrow night, hopefully for a clean bill of health, ish.

Couple of days off, and apart from a limited domestic effort, not quite sure what to do. If there's another really sunny day, another Richmond trip may beckon. I do want to take a few more snaps of the area.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Monday morning

Pete destroyed the bamboo, but suspects it may come back. The plant has migrated to the garden on one side of me. Though the property is owned by the local council, and let, no one lives there. They just come and collect post, very infrequently. I noticed ivy growing against the wall on that side, too. My hydrangea seems to have survived so far, having been pulled up, then replanted. Pete also fixed a large mirror in my dining/sitting/studio room downstairs. I have a Victorian pub mirror on one side and will ask him to put another on the other side. He is coming this afternoon to put some wood treatment on my wooden plant stand in front of the house, and a bit on the door if there's enough in the pot.

This morning I shall collect some picture hangers and stuff, so that perhaps finish, or nearly finish, the picture wall in my bedroom. Romy may collect the spare books and wood this afternoon. I was hoping my antique drawing which is being put into a very fancy frame would be ready, but no. I still need to work out where to hang this to advantage, since the frame has cost a fortune, having been made to measure and I intend to get my money's worth from it.

Hmm. Have discovered that you can get floors from HarveyMaria with A - Z maps printed on. Mainly used by schools, but could look cute in the kitschen. They will also do lots of other designs. Rather tempting to have Elephant & Castle in my kitchen.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Michael Caine's Flat

Yes it's the top one. In Chelsea Harbour. Bought so that he could look across and down at Elephant & Castle, where he came from, according to our commentator.

- Very Pretty Old Church

Modern Flats - Right Next To

Battersea Bridge

Freshly repainted in the original colours.

Chelsea Bridge

A very pretty bridge, this was going to be replaced but local protest won out and an extra support was added underneath instead.

Japanese Buddhist Peace Temple

Seemingly, a Japanese businessman vowed to put these up in cities all over the world to promote world peace. Apparently this was the last one erected before he died - one of 40 or 50 worldwide.

House of Commons Going Westwards

Saturday, 24 July 2010


Yesterday I collected my papers and got on a boat to Richmond. With my freedom pass, a return cost £10.25. It was a two hour journey arriving at lunchtime, and the first boat back was at 4pm. Although the boat was full, I sat in very pleasant sun and greatly enjoyed the journey - will post up some pics, but my camera needed charging so missed some of the best bits.

Richmond now has pleasant green terraces down to the river, thanks to Terry Farrell. There's a square, Heron Square, with a food market on Saturday which was good, but I am spoiled by Borough Market. Unfortunately the old excellent hamburger joint, L'Auberge, has turned into a Nando's and there are too many chain bars and pubs. However I managed to find some lunch on a boat run by the tourist office, called 'Greedies',unlicensed but with excellent salads etc. Highly recommended. There was a Gaucho on the bank where the boat docked, but I preferred to sit in the sun on the river.

Running with the tide, we arrived back early, and I was back at home, slightly sunbaked, by 6pm. Romy had arrived home, and we discussed Pete's timing for getting rid of the triffid. I suspect this is going to be a major problem. We shall see. He is due here at 10am. It has been raining during the night, but I hope it will stay fine today.

Friday, 23 July 2010


Fed Kook. He is still biting my head to wake me up. Last night he nipped me on the calf a couple of times to remind me of feeding time. Rather cheeky.

The new taller triffid has grown another six inches. Leaves on the tallest (about 18ft)now opening. A friend is trying to grow bamboo in her garden so have warned against.

Choose and Book have sent me a text, a letter, and now a reminder letter about my appointment with the urologists next week, after I made the appointment on the telephone. Is this a nanny state or harassment? Annoying, at the very least.

Punters due back today, and Dorothy and Julian back sometime this weekend.

What shall I do today, I wonder?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Day Off -Thursday

Last night I fell asleep in front of a programme about gay men and their adopted children and woke up in the middle of Big Brother. This told me it was time for bed.

It was supposed to be pouring with rain, but so far it is warm and sunny. I shall tidy up a bit as the cleaner is due. I hope she is more successful with the cleaning than on her last visit, when it was scarcely noticeable that she had been. I shan't be able to paint while she is here, so I may clear off for a large part of the day. Not sure where.

Well. I started with South Bank. Had a coffee and croissant at RFH looking out over the river, see exhibition of Favela stuff from Brazil above. I then became carried away with percussion things in the shop and purchased too many.

Although not a brilliant day - occasionally thunderclouds but some sun too - purchased a ticket to go from Festival Pier, to St Katharine's Dock , back to Festival Pier via a short wait at Westminster where I read my newspapers - all for £5.25 with my Freedom Pass. Lunchtime, so I decided to treat myself to a wonderful lunch in Skylon. Only one glass of Chablis, no pud, just coffee. This used up most of the day, cabbed back and ended with a drink at Lye Torng. Most satisfactory, if rather expensive, apart from the fantastically cheap boat trip.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Another Work Day

Today is Tuesday. Spent Monday afternoon and evening struggling with a rather lurid seascape, featuring rather a lot of viridian green, but the sky is unresolved as yet.

Further call from Romy: two feeling ill and returned home by taxi; two more with sick relative returned home by train; one still sick but visited doctor and recovering with medication and another not 100%. I dread to hear what will happen by tomorrow evening and have asked Romy to report back if there are any further misadventures. Dear me, I am seriously wondering whether these 'holidays' are a good idea, given the general age and state of health of the punters. However, most are apparently thoroughly enjoying their stay and the weather has been good. Fingers crossed for the next few days. Thank God they are back on Saturday.

I have been out in the garden early - no, it wasn't a nightmare - the two extra triffids are still there. Oh dear. Another message to say another punter has gone home. And another punter we were sending on holiday had been rushed to hospital. I can't stand it. We are definitely jinxed.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Holiday Problems

Oh dear. Received a text from Romy, one faller in A & E and Romy with her waiting to be seen , then another faller being dealt with by one helper, then another feeling faint and dizzy with the last helper. So no spare helpers at the moment.

Romy rang back later. The faller had recovered somewhat, but the other appears to be worse, in bed, and vomiting. Seems she had become overheated and did not drink enough fluids. Romy said she had slept under an eiderdown in a boiling hot room with the window closed - so hardly surprising she was ill, but the vomiting sounded rather worrying.

Monday morning. No further news so I assume all is well. My kidney is hurting rather a lot, as usual for the morning, but I trust will improve during the day.

Made myself useful planting a lavender plant, doing two loads of washing, tidying up the garden, taking a dress to be shortened and doing a little shopping. After that, lunch at Lye Torng before painting yet another seascape. I was sitting in the sun in the garden for a bit, when I noticed two more triffids growing near my fence: one about eight inches tall and the other a couple of feet. The bamboo is camouflaged by the dull brown outside leaves. Romy has spoken to our Thailand expert and I have consulted Nibby who are both adamant that the plants must be destroyed before they start entering my house from below, starting with the patio. What a nightmare. I have ordered some Roundup spray and some Roundup root and trunk killer, both of which should arrive soon. The trick seems to be to apply the roundup within 15 seconds of cutting the stem so that the sap carries it back to the roots. I am more convinced by the guy who, in addition, takes a long handled electric drill to the stem centre as well then fills this with Roundup. We shall see. I shall not proceed until expert help is at hand. By then I will no doubt have a jungle to clear. Flame throwers come to mind.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Gracia 2003

Here's a couple of rather smudgy images of the street decorations in Gracia taken when I was there. The theme was sea, fishes and sea creatures, waves etc. Note in the picture on the upper right recycled bleach and other bottles turned into coral flowers etc. and the lower one shows jellyfish tentacles made of recycled plastic.

More Sea

Have started painting yet another seascape - all good fun but a bit of a challenge. I have now removed several shoots from the triffid and stuck them into pots to see if they will grow, which I doubt. At least now my hydrangea is free of spikes sticking into it. Romy is departing for Eastbourne today with two helpers and two coachloads of punters. I do hope the weather holds up. Eastbourne is notorious for stormy and windy downpours during our visits. At least it is a town with plenty of shopping and indoor places including a shopping centre.

Picked up a couple of lavender tubs - one has filled my windowbox and the other will go into an empty pot outside in front. Text from Dorothy to say they arrived in the middle of some kind of fiesta. I may check the dates of the Barcelona Gracia district festival which we always seem to miss, somehow. Just checked. It is on 15th to 21st August this year. If you can get there, just hop into a cab and get dropped off anywhere in Gracia and enjoy. The street decorations are absolutely fantastic.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Beast From The East

Here's the monster, growing happily.

Sorted out an appointment finally from the Choose and Book people: it seems, as Romy had suspected, that there is only one clinic between Guy's and Tommy's, so the 'choice' offered me did not in fact exist. I was foolish enough to google kidney stones, innocently thinking they were kind of round things like gallstones. No wonder they hurt like hell, as they can be pointed, sharp, star-shaped etc. A little knowledge........

Very irritating meeting the other night, but at least it's over until September now. Feeling somewhat jaded after this, today we somehow got the summer newsletter out and repaired to Fish where Romy purchased a wonderful lunch. I had thought I was buying, so ordered pretty freely. I shall definitely pay next time. We had a smoked haddock rarebit starter on tomatoes which was fabulous, followed by lobsters with mixed salad, and puddings of ice cream and sticky toffee. After coffee I could hardly walk. Eating so much is not ideal, particularly as one of the punters had sent in some snaps of me on the holiday wearing a sundress with giant flowers on it. I know I am absolutely enormous, but the large flowers made me look like a giant tablecloth with a head sticking out of the top, arms at the side and legs at the bottom. I shall either dye it black or convert it into cushions. I need to go on the 50% diet immediately, i.e. eat only 50% of whatever is on the plate. I shall postpone this no doubt for a day or two, or put it into action when dining out.

Kooky is lolling on the bed on his back with his back legs sticking up in the air, his huge rear paws with furry fronds at the ends. I suspect his previous vet may have deliberately removed most of his teeth. He certainly had a wild moment this morning but I managed to divert an attack on me with one of his toys which he savaged for several minutes.

Julian and Dorothy are off to Spain today. I do hope they manage to have a relaxing week in the sun.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Taller Triffid

Hard to see from this but it's grown almost another foot overnight. Spooky.

Lovely Sunday

Yesterday was Sunday. I tidied up the garden a bit, purchased a paper, and then Madeleine arrived. We experimented with various versions of iced coffee, and quickly agreed on a satisfactory version (lots of strong espresso, cooled with semi-skimmed milk and a small amount of single cream, poured over plenty of ice in the glass with a very small amount of sugar). We made a kind of salad Nicoise with tuna and anchovies, olives, potatoes and lettuce, a tomato salad with basil, and other bits and pieces. Madeleine had kindly provided new potatoes, masses of little gem lettuce, tomatoes and cream. We finished with a small bowl of cherries. It was so hot that we put up the sun umbrella for a bit. We drank Pimms and had a very relaxing day, chatting about family news and events.

Shortly after Madeleine left, Julian and Dorothy announced that they were bringing food and wanted to make a barbecue. So the evening went on with the most wonderful lamb kebabs made by Dorothy marinated in mint, garlic and harissa, with onion and baby tomatoes in the kebabs, accompanied by an elegant salad composed by Julian. We drank some excellent red wine from 1994, can't remember what it was. Finished with coffee from Dorothy's Nespresso machine. Dorothy purchased a solid state hard drive with my birthday money - 'like having a new computer' apparently, so a good buy. They are going to Barcelona on 17th for a well-earned break.

Altogether a most satisfactory Sunday. I feel a bit tired today, and mustn't forget to collect my Choose and Book forms. Dorothy and Julian think that my inability to deal with the Open MRI is attention-seeking behaviour rather than extreme claustrophobia. Julian tells me that if I were claustrophic I couldn't live in my flat, crowded as it is with possessions. Hmmm. Actually I am still very annoyed with myself about the MRI, and on reflection, I do think that the two hour tube journey in excessive heat, followed by the anxiety and lack of taxis at the other end, did not do much to put me in a positive frame of mind by the time I arrived, and may have contributed to the negative outcome. Still, I certainly don't think I could have done it anyway without some kind of heavy sedation.

Poor Romy is taking the punters to Bletchley Park today. I couldn't face it as there is a lot of walking, apparently. I do hope it all goes well. We were told that it was a very interesting place to visit. Romy then proposes to go to the office afterwards to finish the newsletter. Not sure this is a good idea at all.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Sea, the Sea

I seem to have become slightly obsessed with trying to paint sea since my return from Torquay. Dear me.

Triffid Growing Up - and Out

If you look in the middle of the hydrangea you will see the triffid going up and it has now grown through and above the roses and honeysuckle in the middle at the top of the picture. What you probably can't see is that it has thrown out small shoots in a couple of places at the side. It is now around 8' tall - from about 3' tall when I returned from holiday the Thursday before last. Hmm...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Becoming Sicker and Sicker

had a horrible journey to Hendon in the extreme heat - nearly two hours. Finally arrived at the so-called Open MRI Centre. As I lay back and the top of the infernal machine covered my head, I had a huge panic attack and had to come out. So two hours back home in the boiling heat and half a day wasted. Went back to the GP about the Choose and Book system. Arrived home to a missed call from her saying that the clinics only take place at Guy's, not St. Thomas. Too exhausted to move any further I will collect my Choose and Book forms from them on Monday and will attempt to book an appointment on Monday afternoon. I don't know why they offer you appointments at clinics which don't exist. It's enough to give you kidney stones.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Choose and Book Hospital Appointment System

Another disaster with Choose and Book. My GP gave me a choice of hospitals so I chose St. Thomas. Then waited another 20 minutes for the staff to give me the Choose and Book forms. At home, I rang the number given, but they suggested I should call back in the afternoon because they were so busy. Forgot to call them again but remembered by the following afternoon, and when I had given the special numbers and codes found out I had been booked to the wrong hospital. Rang my GP practise who said their Choose and Book receptionist was at lunch. Still at lunch an hour later. Rang again at 3pm, and she said I would have to visit the practise again to try and change the booking, and if this didn't work I would need to see the GP once more. What a rubbish system!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Painting Again

Spoke to Romy and Dorothy. Had a quiet day with a sweet and sour chicken at Lye Torng and pottered around. Chatted with my neighbour about the triffid. Seems he has planted some of his bamboo into the garden which would explain it. I may just see how it goes. I really don't mind a bit of bamboo near my fence, but may seek advice from Pete if he comes over to help hang my remaining pictures.

Did another painting. It is a kind of seascape with slightly choppy sea on a sunny day, in a portrait style, showing the different depths and the sky, which gives it a slightly abstract look.

Kidney Stones - Bugger!

Saw the quack this morning. The battery of tests paid off - seems I have a kidney stone. More gut tests to be done but at least I don't have bowel cancer which is a relief. My life is getting tiresomely medical. Only to be expected when one gets old I suppose but still unwelcome. As it happens my right kidney is playing up a bit this morning, so now I know why, though I had suspected stones all along.

Lovely sunny day, most washing done. Will stagger over to Lye Torng for lunch then subside in the garden for a bit. May even do a bit of painting this afternoon. We shall see.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Mother's 'Touch'

When I was in Devon, on returning from dinner with Sharon and Mike, we saw a very smartly dressed older woman leaving the hotel, to get into a chauffeur driven car. I had assumed she might be a local dignitary, but Romy told me she was Princess Diana's stepmother, Countess Spencer. I had not recognised her, because I had previously seen her a few years before at Battersea Antiques Fair, where she had a large and very structured hairstyle and was wearing a rather tightly fitting Chanel suit in very bright colours. Seems she is a customer of Sharon's.

I don't know whether I have mentioned this before, but many years ago my mother was canvassing for the Tories in Barnes, and had been asked to take Countess Spencer, then Lady Lewisham, with her for the day and give her some lunch. My mother rang her secretary to see what she would like for lunch and was told 'plenty of mousetrap cheese'. Slightly bemused, my mother supplied herself with a huge block of Cheddar cheese which was enthusiastically consumed at lunch time.

Later, canvassing in the streets of Barnes, my mother came across an open front door. Sensing all was not well, she left Lady Lewisham outside and went in, to hear a voice calling 'Help, help'. On opening a door she found a woman trying to pull a man from the floor, where he had fallen, back on to a bed. My mother helped, but the man appeared to be dead. "He's gone' cried the wife. My mother at this point placed her hands on his chest, trying to remember how to resuscitate someone. Suddenly, he took a huge breath, and started breathing again. 'You've the touch!' cried the wife, and my mother was left with the feeling that she had indeed 'the touch'. On hearing that my mother had been canvassing for the Conservatives, the wife vowed to vote Tory forthwith. My mother, somewhat shaken by her hidden powers, left to attend to Lady Lewisham.

The next morning a card of thanks from Lady Lewisham arrived by post. Lady L had obviously written this in advance of her visit and her secretary had posted it. Mother was most impressed by this efficiency,and the prodigious amount of cheese consumed by Lady L at lunchtime.

Apparently the husband saved by mother while canvassing survived for several more years. No doubt voting tory each time.

Wild Honey, Triffid and Tumbleweed

Here's the bamboo triffid. Growing in the middle of a shrub. It is about three feet high and the trunk is about one inch in diameter. Such a nightmare.

Had dinner at Wild Honey with Dorothy and Julian. Dorothy and I had rather salty fish , but the rest was fine. I had wild strawberries for pudding. Really good.

Ocado delivery due tomorrow. I must have a go at dieting to lose some of the extra kilos piled on while away. My ankles haven't gone down much yet.

Have been googling about bamboo. Seems it can be a serious problem. Apparently I should use a chemical killer and will have to spray it several times. Appears that it spreads underground with rhizomes and can have a huge root system with plants popping up everywhere, coming up through patios etc. Dear me.

Hen Girls, Garden Triffid and Fat Ankles

Jon managed to grab a pair of hen night girls for this snap in Torquay. He can't bear to be left out!

Strange thing. The people living at the back of my flat have huge pots of bamboo. I was not worried about this until yesterday. Right in the middle of a recently planted hydrangea I noticed a wide, tapering, tall thing with small leaves on the top. On closer examination this is a huge bamboo trunk which has shot up in the past week. I don't know how it has appeared unless the bamboo at the back, which is very tall, has somehow dropped a large seed or something into my garden. I am now waiting for the urban jungle to appear.

After a week of sitting, standing and walking, and being up late, my ankles have become like pig's trotters. They go down a bit at night, but I can only wear one pair of my sandals during the day, all other shoes being too tight. With a bit of rest and foot elevation at home, I am hoping they will subside in a few days.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Torquay Week

This lobster was the best bit. I managed to meet up with Jon and Charles and we had a super lunch at the Elephant in Torquay - home from home. I was so fond of lobster that I managed another lunch, finally followed by a last one with Romy. I may move into the restaurant soon.

One punter was ill throughout the stay but was not keen to return home. Instead she was taken to hospital and visited a GP . Seems it was mainly dehydration. Otherwise all was fairly OK apart from a couple of room changes and swaps and inevitable grumbles about 'modern' food. Actually the food at the Grand Hotel was delicious, and the service very helpful indeed. It was so hot that the rooms were like ovens, so fans were more or less continually switched on. There were trips out nearly every day which were enjoyed by all and I am now completely exhausted and several pounds heavier. We went to Paignton and Brixham and a rather good place called the House of Marbles in Bovey Tracey. I managed a few trips to the hotel's outdoor swimming pool, along with Romy and several punters. Wonderful in such hot weather.

I also managed to meet Mike and Sharon for a wonderful dinner at the Coombe Cellars in Combteignhead. This is a fantastic place in a superb location by the river. So good to see them again. I am determined to try and get down there again soon. Mike tells me he knows of a fantastic b & b which only has six rooms but has indoor and outdoor pools etc, and is very luxurious. He is going to send me a link to their site.

Kook was fine on my return. However the garden was a bit overgrown and dead looking because of the intense heat. I shall spend the next few days doing washing and gardening.

Dorothy's birthday today. Tonight he is going to a Japanese place but very late. Have arranged to go to Wild Honey tomorrow night with Dorothy and Julian.