Sunday, October 27, 2013

A walk in the park

I’m sitting at my desk this grey, wet Sunday afternoon, with the leaves from the ash trees whirling past my study window as the rising gale tears them from the branches. The radio and TV news is full of dire predictions of the worst storm in years for the southern half of the UK, so I've taken refuge in remembering the very pleasant weekend away DH and I enjoyed a couple of weeks ago.

We had gathered for the weekend with DH’s two younger brothers and their wives at the home of my dear mother-in-law in the Cotswolds and the weather wasn't promising. It had rained almost non-stop the previous day, so when the sun broke through the clouds on the Saturday afternoon we took advantage of the respite to go for a walk in a local beauty spot, Batsford Arboretum

The house is privately-owned and not open to the public, but the fifty acres of beautifully-landscaped parkland which surround it contain a wonderful collection of specimen trees, always an attraction for my tree-loving (though not, so far as I know, tree-hugging) husband. The landscaping we still see dates back to the 1860s and predates the rebuilding of the house in the 1890s, but both were the work of members of the Mitford family, who owned the estate for several decades. During World War One it was the home of the famous (to some perhaps infamous) Mitford sisters until it was sold in 1919.

A parkland vista
And in the far distance deer may safely graze

Though our visit was in early October there was sadly little of the glorious autumn colour we had been hoping for. The very cold late spring seems to have pushed the subsequent seasons back by several weeks and most things were still very green as we strolled happily among the trees and admired the views. I can only hope that the forecast storm won’t wreak havoc among the magnificent old giants that stand with such dignity in their beautiful setting, having survived the Great Storm of 1987, when so many millions of their fellows were not so fortunate.

Just in case here are some more images from our lovely afternoon walk in quintessentially English landscaped countryside.

Batsford House in its setting

A few glimpses of colour

Living sculpture

A magnificent beech 

Such grandeur

Trio in a green study

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Even Homer sometimes nods

I occasionally wonder how (to coin a phrase) I manage to walk and chew gum at the same time.   

I've just treated myself to my very first e-reader - not a Kindle, but a Nook, because above all I want to be able to borrow e-books from the library (via my laptop to the reader) and Kindles don't let you do that. I'd thought first of getting a tablet, but we're on a wired network here, not wi-fi, so that wouldn't have worked. However, what silly me didn't take into account is that I would need wi-fi to register my e-reader with the manufacturer (the book chain Barnes & Noble) to get it to work at all. 

The result is that I have a spiffing little e-reader, fully charged, but not able to go anywhere until I head off to borrow my sister's wi-fi tomorrow. Doh!

At least I don’t have to grapple with a cat at the same time….

Image via Google

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The joys of country living

Those of you with retentive memories may recall the domestic crisis suffered by the Transit household back in the early spring. It’s the kind of problem familiar to anyone who has ever lived in the depths of the country, though thankfully rare. Much more common for those without mains water is the heart-stopping moment when the flow of water from the well slows to a trickle and then to a mere drip or two.

Our well is uphill from the house and so relies on gravity to keep the water flowing into the upstairs storage tank which feeds our house supply. In the past, when the children were still at home and our water usage was much higher, the well would occasionally run dry, with consequences I need hardly spell out. A new and better-located well put paid to this particular problem, but there is still always the risk that air will gradually find its way into the pipe-work until the flow of water slows or even stops, as the siphon which draws water out of the well finally breaks.

Yesterday, being Monday and the day after our return from a weekend away, was wash-day and the washing-machine churned away happily, dealing with load after load. There wasn’t a hint of a problem with water supply, but unbeknownst to us the water tank was gradually being emptied and last night it finally ran dry - halfway through the dishwasher cycle!

It was far too late by then to do anything about the situation, but bright and early this morning any interested spectator would have found DH and me in the open garage adjoining the kitchen, listening anxiously as air whistled and bubbled from the drain valve in the water-pipe which runs up the side of the house to the storage tank. Finally the tiny trickle of water stopped completely and so did the bubbling and whistling.

Had the siphon finally broken or not? Was there a problem with the pipe-work or with the well itself? At least the weather was dry and sunny if we had to investigate further. DH and I looked unhappily at each other and back at the drain valve and waited…and waited… Suddenly, with an explosive and profoundly welcome swoosh, water started to run and then pour from the valve again and we were saved. Until next time…

I can promise you that DH and I never take running water for granted and we never, never waste it. 

Image via Google

Monday, October 07, 2013

The wheels on the car go round and round…

This being a chauffeur business is certainly keeping me busy. Last Tuesday I had to take DH to the health centre for a BP check (still far too high, but gradually coming down) and on Friday across the hills to the hospital for an ultrasound scan of his carotid arteries. This was followed by a very welcome and enjoyable weekend visit by DS who came by train, so had to be collected from the station. Except for the hospital visit (a nearly 80 mile round trip, none of the extra journeys are very long, but it's amazing how they mount up. Thank goodness for the comfy new car. 

This afternoon it was back to the health centre to see the GP to get him into the system for his medication. DH is not a good passenger – too many years of driving many miles alone in connection with work - but he's having to get used to being driven. I’m pleased to report that the initial white knuckles and worried looks have diminished as he has accustomed himself to not being in control of the car for once, but he still can’t wait for the end of the month when he will be allowed to drive once more.

Our lovely GP has checked for us and found out that my cataract operation has been rescheduled for November 5th, though we’re still waiting for the official letter to confirm that date. So life is gradually getting back onto a more even keel and we’re even starting to make plans for our annual family visits for Christmas and New Year. In the meantime, the daily walks are continuing and at the weekend DS and my dear brother-in-law helped us to dust off and reassemble the exercise bike, as we both heed the wake-up call to get fit and stay fit. Even when DH can drive again, in the Transit household the wheels will continue to go round and round.

And while we're on the subject of wheels....