We met friends for lunch at an old pub just off the M5, as they were travelling from the North East to Cornwall for a holiday. After a lovely couple of hours of catching up, we went our separate ways, and The Gardener and I carried on to the nearest John Lewis (almost two hours' drive from where we live! Oh, the deprivation I have suffered as a result!) to look at tumble dryers.
We were clearly in an irresponsible mood, for we spurned the sensible dryers and ordered a television instead. And a good sound system to go with it. The Gardener hates tv, and usually falls asleep in seconds, making him a less than companionable viewer, but he does have a huge library of music and also relies on YouTube for more, so we justified the mad expenditure by telling ourselves we would use the new system "for everything". Hmmm.
By choice, we have not had a television for about five years. And now we do; our sitting room will need to be rearranged to accommodate it. After the clever, sleek, unnervingly large object was delivered, and we set it up, we remembered why we had consigned our old temperamental telly to the loft - television programmes are mostly dire, and the news is even worse when delivered with pictures than it is on the radio.
So, fearing that we might have made an impulsive, expensive error, but rather thrilled with the picture quality, we have dug out our old DVDs and CDs, and are learning the language of apps and Netflix instead of the heat pump condenser dryer that had been our original aim. The new telly sits awkwardly on a cupboard for now, cables trailing everywhere: with our thick stone walls, and the horrors of drilling into them, we hang nothing up until we are certain that it will be in its right place for a long time. And we keep forgetting to use it....
But life hasn't all been consumerism gone mad.
|Before: bright-eyed and enjoying a box of bubble-wrap|
She was kept in overnight for observation and blood tests - I hadn't been prepared for this, and found myself on the verge of tears after handing her over. Having taken her as a rescue eight years ago, aged about 18 months, half-starved and desperate to be loved, I have a very special place in my heart for Lottie, who despite her apparent frailty, rules the others with an iron paw, and is mistress of the Death Stare when displeased.
I suspected some sort of middle ear complaint, having watched her over-careful walk, like someone who was trying hard to disguise the fact that they were slightly drunk, and the toppling off the arm of the sofa every time she fell asleep. But being kept in a cage for observation perhaps prevented this becoming obvious, although I'm sorry now that I wasn't more questioning when I handed her over.
The tests all came back as normal; Lottie came home, stalking round the house, inspecting all areas in a careful but dignified manner, with her devoted followers Millie and Scooter trailing about after her rather pathetically; they had missed her.
|"She's back! She's back!"|
Then I had to go back to the North East for the funeral of a dear friend's mother. Despite the sad occasion, it was lovely to meet up with most of my old friends again; this was the first time I had returned since I moved to Somerset more than five years ago, although I have had visits from them all in that time.
For them, it was the first time they had seen me since I grew out my hair colour and turned Gracefully Grey. Or - more accurately - just Grey.... Surprisingly, it was well-received, and we talked about needing to rethink one's (clothing) colours to suit the new hair. Rethink my tatty old dog-walking clothes? Radical. The experimental tiny pink streak that I'd had put in a couple of weeks ago had washed out, but I'm considering making this a regular/variable feature. That or a lilac rinse - remember those? Only kidding.
|Perhaps less Dame Edna|
|but a touch of Helen Mirren?|
I spent my visit apologising for the germs; brave friends hugged me while instructing me as they did so not to breathe on them. During the service, I found that hymns are a reasonable cover for coughing and blowing. If I hadn't felt so ill, I would have yearned to stay up North for longer and catch up with everyone, but I was glad to get home to The Gardener and my own bed, to spend the day (and half the night - this is being written at 3 a.m.) in my dressing gown, honking, blowing and sipping pineapple juice for the tickly cough.
Next month, Baby E, who is just starting to walk, and his mother are coming to visit, as much for the clean air as for the chance to be spoiled rotten. London is worryingly polluted, and Baby E has constant colds and coughs. His Grandma had better be well by then, ready to fly the flag for Somerset's healthy environment.