Jamie and me sharing afternoon tea …
Whilst I was housesitting I browsed through the hundreds of books on the shelves in nearly every room and came across this poem, which I had not read before. It made me cry because it reminded me of my beloved Jamie-dog who, sadly, I had to have put to sleep (due to kidney failure) in 2009.
I have done mostly what men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can`t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-feet trotting behind.
Day after day, the whole day through
Wherever my road inclined -
Four-feet said `I am coming with you!`
And trotted along behind.
Now I must go by some other round -
which I shall never find -
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-feet trotting behind.
Rudyard Kipling – 1865-1936
So we are back home for a couple of weeks – then off to London for a while (have to look for exhibitions I want to see there). I will be posting and catching up with you all soon and telling you of our adventures.
Posted in Jamie, Memories, Poetry | Tagged Jamie, memories, pets, poetry | 14 Comments »
George and I were pleased to be reunited when I arrived at the Abbey on Wednesday. Boy it’s chilly in these old houses – this one is made of stone with stone floors downstairs and, to compound the felony, the worksurfaces and large table in the kitchen are … marble!!! Still I’ve been here before so knew to bring plenty of warm clothing with me. An added problem is that, although there is central heating, it is kept low because of the valuable old paintings that hang on the walls – well I’m all for art (I think!)
I’m busy preparing for my video shot on Wednesday – a short intro to my website then a clip of me painting – I’ve chosen to paint a bantam cockerel as they are one of my favourite subjects and one with which I am totally happy and confident. George gives me a funny look when he catches me practising my intro in front of the mirror …
The drains are playing up here so we can’t use the washing machine and drier which is in the office where I am typing this … we have to go next door to The Undercroft (a wonderful building with high vaulted stone ceilings) as the owner has given us permission to use their facilities. So bagwash people we have become …
The cat gave me a lovely welcome and certainly remembered from our visit here last year. He is quite a character – when he wants to come in he hangs by his fingernails on the stone windowsill in the kitchen and squizzes us through the glass! When we are upstairs he knows we will let him in if he goes onto his favourite garden seat so we keep an eye open for him there. Too cold for puss to be out too long even if he has got a nice thick coat.
Just a short note this time – hope to catch up with you all later.
Posted in Housesitting Tales | Tagged animals, cat behaviour, George, Housesitting, humour | 7 Comments »
It`s been quite a week and it`s hard to realise it`s only Tuesday (well heading rapidly towards Wednesday as I write).
George headed off on the housesit on Saturday – the car was well-laden as we have boxes of stuff we always take with us – we are supposed to supply our own food (although we are given a food allowance) so all the basics arrive with us. We are still puzzled as to the disappearance of George`s favourite carving knife and sharpening stone – we are both sure they were well-wrapped and packed together with our corkscrew for a housesit we had last summer. We have hunted high and low and they haven`t turned up at home yet we cannot believe we left them behind in the house because we did not need to use them – ah well. Anyway, having waved George farewell I turned back into the house to begin to tackle the things I wanted/needed to do before following him later.
I am on a rota to lead the Intercessions in our church – my turn on Sunday – the first Sunday in Lent. That was top of my list so I did my preparation before writing the prayers – that was Saturday evening. On Sunday morning I woke up with a cold – I never get colds – cough, snuffle, sniff. Oh dear. It cleared up a bit by the time the service started at 10 am and I was able to read the prayers with a clear voice. Job done. The next thing was a meeting in the church with the chair of our Mission Committee because we are planning an Art & Flower Festival in the church in May. I wanted to see where the picture stands could be put so as not to interfere with the Sunday church service. OK – that didn`t take long – a quick sketch of the sites and off home.
Dinner was already cooking in the slow cooker – slow braised skirt of beef – it smelled good. It tasted even better. Not certain where the rest of Sunday went … but I made some delicious Butternut Squash soup for lunch and put some in a container to take down to George on Wednesday.
Monday – developed a cold sore on my top lip and I am due to film a video clip for my website next week too! Herpes simplex takes its time – I used to suffer from them a lot but haven`t had one for ages. Had the second portion of braised beef with some rice for dinner and froze the other two portions for when George and I return. Sorted out a route map for my drive to the place where I am being filmed and began to work on my presentation. Looked at two or three video clips on the site to get some idea of what will happen. Realised what I had already written was inappropriate … back to the drawing board.
Tuesday – I did not want to get up! I wanted to stay in my nice, warm, comfy bed. There was a thick frost outside. George had asked me to go to a local shopping outlet to buy some embrocation cream he wanted. Didn`t he realise I felt rough? The car was covered with frost. I did not want to go outside to scrape the frost off … brain clicked in … I waited for the sun to defrost the car! Grabbed the last of the home portion of soup and a roll for lunch and then off to the hall to set up for the Chinese Brush demonstration which I had arranged for our art group for the afternoon. You would not believe how long it has taken me to find someone who would give us a demonstration on this beautiful art form – well someone who was good at it that is. She was expensive – our small group sucked in their breath when I told them her fee but boy she was worth every penny. After watching her work we were each issued with a large piece of Chinese paper, given some ink and loaned a palette and a brush and we had to set to work. Most of the group produced a sort-of version of the Cherry Blossom we were supposed to be copying. Me? well I filled my sheet of paper with trunks, branches mainly and the odd rabbit and flower popped in. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Steamed lemon salmon for dinner with boiled potatoes and broccoli – George doesn`t like fresh salmon so I indulged myself in his absence. Cold much worse in the evening – sniff, snuff over the phone to George who ordered me to have some whisky. I did as I was told and made a stiff hot toddy and off to bed. Couple of hours sleep and now wide awake – no more whisky but, for the present, no more cold …
Tomorrow (Wednesday) I have a taxi coming to the house to take me to the bus stop where I will travel by coach to Coventry where George will be at the coach station to meet me and take me to the housesit – he says he will be glad to see me – to share the work with him!!!!!! I will have computer access so will be able to keep in touch but as I have to go outside in the courtyard (that`s where the office is) I doubt if I will be blogging at near-midnight …
Posted in Home thoughts | Tagged chinese brush painting, colds, George, Housesitting, painting, teaching art | 11 Comments »
The day he moved out was terrible
That evening she went through hell.
His absence wasn`t a problem,
But the corkscrew had gone as well.
Thought I would share this Wendy Cope poem with you – it always makes me laugh.
Posted in Poetry | Tagged humour, poetry, Wendy Cope | 9 Comments »
Rodin : The Kiss
The Kiss (detail) by Gustav Klimt
The Kiss by Alfred Einstaedt
Now here you are going to have to excuse me on two counts. First of all, George has gone off on the housesit (I will follow later next week) so I can`t grab him and do a photo of us in a loving embrace using delayed shutter and secondly, George has taken my camera with him. Sooooooooooo I have to cheat slightly for this one and have `borrowed` photographs which mean `The Kiss` to me.
The first photograph is of the magnificent life-size sculpture by Auguste Rodin it is in the Musee Rodin in Paris but there is a copy in a museum in London (I can`t remember which one) but I remember seeing it some years ago and marvelling at the way Rodin had turned the cold, white stone into living, breathing flesh.
The second photograph is a detail of the famous `The Kiss` by Gustav Klimt. It is a shame that I didn`t show the full picture as part of its attraction is the sheer length of those figures. Klimt has used gold lavishly and to great effect in this wonderful painting.
The final photograph was taken on August 14, 1945 – President Truman had just announced the end of WWII. The Life magazine photographer Alfred Einstaedt just happened to be in Times Square and he noticed this ecstatic sailor, grabbing every girl he saw and kissing her in jubilation. He grabbed a nurse and Einstaedt took the picture that was to announce that the war had ended! An iconic image – it was published in Life and it made the front cover of the UK magazine Picture Post – I can still see it in my mind`s eye.
To my mind this is the best and most meaningful `kiss` photograph ever taken.
Posted in Weekly Photo Challenge - | Tagged art, memories, painting, weekly photo Challenge : The Kiss | 5 Comments »
Another beautiful house to look after for just over two weeks. It will be good to return again and make friends with Lucky the cat (the main reason we are there). Although there is a regular team of staff in and out, the cat gets lonely at night!
I`ve packed lots of woolly-pullies as these large houses can be draughty. This one has a large log fire in the sitting room (which is on the first floor so logs have to be carried upstairs – not always by us as Dave (the factotum) is usually very helpful.)
Living, as we do, in our small bungalow we will certainly get lots of exercise here!
Posted in Housesitting Tales | Tagged Housesitting | 15 Comments »
When I first married in 1956 I left my job in London and went to work with a firm of solicitors in Southend. This saved both the expense and the time spent commuting. The office came as a bit of a shock – I was a secretary and had been quite high-powered in London – I was employed to work for the Senior Partner in the firm I was joining but, somewhat foolishly, I had not asked to see my office. `My` office – hah! I was set to work in a large room with about eight other girls – all banging away busily on their manual typewriters – what a racket! The noise came to an abrupt halt when I lit up my first office cigarette of the day – shocked faces peering over their machines and one spoke `We don`t smoke in here…` Oh dear – I apologised and learned to either have a quick puff in the lavatory or wait until lunch-time.
I soon got used to working with others – they were nearly all in the same situation as me – newly married young women – busy homemaking (and some baby-planning). The office chit-chat was very domestic. We swapped recipes, knitting and dressmaking patterns, books, magazines and plants.
One day someone asked `Would anyone like a gingerbeer plant?`. `Oh yes please` I replied – thinking it would keep my rather straggly spider and castor oil plants company. The girl said she would bring it in next day.
Next day arrived and she made her way up the office to my desk clutching … no – not a nice, green houseplant but a jamjar filled with an awful-looking brown sludge slurping murky liquid on the top. My face fell as she thrust this object into my unwilling hand – `It`s a gingerbeer plant` she said brightly, `I`ve typed up the instructions for you` and handed me a piece of paper from which I learned that this thing had to be fed daily with sugar and ginger and then, after a week strained off and the sediment halved – you gave the other half to an unsuspecting friend, colleague or mug. It must have been my turn that week!
Well I persevered and, to be fair, the gingerbeer did taste good but I soon ran out of friends and people began avoiding me in case I should thrust a jar into their unsuspecting hand whilst passing. I resorted to tipping half the sludge down the sink each week – feeling like a murderess and so terribly guilty. In the end the whole lot was washed down the drain. `Freedom` I screamed – looking at the place in the kitchen where the tyrant had sat, demanding to be fed daily, for weeks.
Why has this topic come to mind? Well I am fairly new to WordPress and entered it at a comparatively fallow time of the year so was able to write and contribute daily – my loyal followers increased and my `Likes` grew – I was feeding them daily (like the gingerbeer plant!) This morning, for the first time no visits – zilch – nothing. No stats. Few comments. No new followers. As I have said, George has been unwell for nearly two weeks (and thank you all for your good wishes) and I have been busy with things domestic (he usually does the shopping and cooking), in addition I run an art group on a Tuesday and attend another group on a Thursday (that ensures that I paint at least twice a week!) I am also in the early stages of organising the art side of an Art & Flower Festival in the church in May, our own art club exhibition in April, going to headquarters of the Society for All Artists next week to make a video clip to go on my SAA website and we are off on a housesit for nearly three weeks …
I have been a little too busy and neglected my WordPress Gingerbeer plan! It, too, needs regular feeding to thrive.
Posted in humour | Tagged George, Housesitting, humour, memories, painting, teaching art | 18 Comments »